"Sauer's last act, no glimmering of modern truths in South Africa" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceJohn X. Merriman MSC 15/1913:71
ArchiveNational Library of South Africa, Special Collections, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter DateWednesday June 1913
Address FromDe Aar, Northern Cape
Address To
Who ToJohn X. Merriman
Other Versions
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
The Project is grateful to the National Library of South Africa (NLSA), Cape Town, for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Special Collections. The date has been written on this letter in an unknown hand.
1 De Aar
2 Wednesday.
4 Dear Mr Merriman
6 I thought your speech on the Native Bill very fine, but oh if you
7could have seen your way to vote against the Bill! But the speech was
8exceedingly fine.
10 Up here one knows little how things are going. But if the result of
11all this wrangling is to break up the purely racial parties that exist
12at present it will not have been with out its good. There really ought
13to be three parties in this country - the extreme flagwaving folk, on
14one side with their wretched imperialism & the extreme taal
15retro-gressives on the other; & a third of liberal enlightened men of
16both races in the middle; but I suppose there is small hope of that
17^just at present.^
19 I wonder what you really think of the position of affairs now?
21 I have just been re-reading some very old books. "Robinson Crusoe";
22read last when I was 9 years old. I must say I'm tremendously
23disappointed with it. I'd no idea there was so much endless padding &
24unnecessary moralizing in it. Then I've been reading for the first
25time Duma's "Three Mus-keeters." What a wonderful thing genius is! I
26who hate above all things fighting, adventure & filibustering, have
27read it with breathless interest. There us really nothing a man of
28genius can't write about & make it interesting! Have you seen "The New
29Statesman"? Mrs Sydney Webb has sent me the first copies & wants me to
30write for it. It is in a way interesting but I think not nearly as
31good as "The Nation." There is too much "tall" modern writing in it.
32What I joy there is in turning from that type of English to the old
33classical writers, even "Robinson Crusoe"! I think we owe much of this
34^modern^ decedence in the English language to Meredith & ?Bates. It
35might be forgiven in Meredith because I believe it was natural to him,
36but its hideous in the men who affect it. As some politicians use a
37cloud of words to cover their real meaning, so some writers invert
38their sentences & use impossible words in wrong places to hide their
39want of thought.
41 Please remember me very kindly to Mrs Merriman. I am so sorry I saw so
42little of while in Cape Town, but I was able to go nowhere while at
43Muizenberg except twice to lunch & four times to the house owing to my
44unfitness. I hope you keep fit. We can't do without you.
46 Yours very sincerely
47 Olive Schreiner
The books referred to are: Daniel Defoe (1908) Robinson Crusoe London: Longmans; Alexandre Dumas (1908) The Three Musketeers London: Thomas Nelson and Sons.