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Letter ReferenceJohn X. Merriman MSC 15/1913:134
ArchiveNational Library of South Africa, Special Collections, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date20 July 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.
1 De Aar
2 July 20th 1913
4 Dear Mr Merriman
6 I have not answered your last interesting letters because I have been
7too ill to write to any one. Letters mean so much to me in this
8solitary life that I feel it a great loss when I can't write.
10 I am very anxious about Mr Sauer. Is it not tragic that the last act
11of our dear friend's political life should have been, if he is taken
12from us, the framing of that native land bill? It runs against all he
13has so faithfully upheld during his life. How little place & power
14look when one approaches the end of the journey. Nothing matters but
15the knowledge that in however small a way one has always fought
16against human injustice & oppression. If only we could awake South
17Africa to see to-day that though for the moment we can refuse the vote
18the right to hold land & nearly all other human rights to the vast
19native population of South Africa the day is coming, in less than 15
20years when the millions will rise up & demand, what we might by
21generously giving them now win their love & gratitude. Dispise not the
22day of small things. A class or a sex or race refused in a so-called
23democratic state under 20th century conditions the right to take its
24share in in the government of the state will ultimately be driven the
25lamentable use of force, & answer repression with resistance which
26must shake society to its foundations. It is hard to leave South
27Africa seeing no little glimmering of the great modern truths among
28its leading people.
30 "Oh hadst thou known even more, in this thy day, the things that make
31for thy peace - but now they are hidden from thee!"
33 I hope you are keeping well.
35 Yours very sincerely
36 Olive Schreiner
38 PS. A friend told me the other day that you had become much more
39liberal on the woman question than you used to be. I hope it is true.
40You of all men must know that it is by changing & expanding that we
41live. The doctors say that physically a man or woman is just as old as
42their arteries; when these have hardened & will not expand, we a
43physically old at any age, & while they have the power of expanding &
44changing we are physically young. (I expect your arteries are in a
45very good state, much better than mine!!) So it always seems to ^me^,
46that spiritual & mental old age has come on when we cannot expand
47anymore & modify our ideas.
49 To die young is to "die learning." We can't wish anything better for
50ourselves or for those we love. Years do not make age. It is so
51beautiful to me with my old brother Will that he has expanded & grown
52so wonderfully in the last few years. People often say of you "But
53Merriman said this or that ten or twenty years ago!" My answer always
54is - "That is the glory of Merriman, that he is eternally young &
The quotation beginning 'Oh hadst thou known even more' cannot be traced but is likely to be from the Bible.