"Post-war typhoid, misery, common bond gone" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner: Mary Sauer MSC 26/2.11.50
ArchiveNational Library of South Africa, Special Collections, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter DateSaturday 2 April 1892
Address FromMatjesfontein, Western Cape
Address To
Who ToMary Sauer nee Cloete
Other VersionsRive 1987: 203-4
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 Matjesfontein
2 Saturday
4 I'm all right. When I got back I had an awful sore throat so ?swelled
5I couldn't speak for some days. It had been coming on some some days
6in town; I think I may have got it from kissing my brother Will. I am
7hoping he will get all right over his influenza. It is so terrible to
8work when one is ill. I'm as well as possible & working hard now.
9Yesterday something came right my big book that I've been thinking
10over for years. I was so glad. We had a beautiful rain here last night.
11 Tomorrow will be so beautiful after it.
13 I've had a rather curious illustration of the difference which I find
14it impossible to help making between English-men & Cape men. There was
15a young officer ye a Captain here the other day. He's only been a
16couple of months in South Africa, & in a few hours he & I were really
17more of good comrades, understood each other than I would know or
18understand any Cape man. He passed this morning, & we were delighted
19to see each other, & I've promised to let him know when I come to Cape
20Town. & I saw him off to his carriage, & we waved our hats furiously
21to each other till the train was out of sight like two boys. Why can't
22Cape men & women approach each other in the same loving, simple
23trustful way? It makes life so beautiful & noble to mind. I can't help
24thinking that the fault lies with women. But when I have tried to
25treat Cape men simply I have been so terribly wounded I shall never
26try again, though I love them! It's very funny, I can't quite
27understand myself what the difference is.
29 I worked 13 hours yesterday, not counting the time I took for my meals.
30 I l shall get everything done & go off to England next year, & you &
31Mr Sauer must come too. & you see how nice it is, & how lovely the
32social & intellectual life is.
34 I hear that Mr Rhodes is leaving for England on Wednesday Is it true?
35I hope it is not on account of his health?
37 Good bye dear one.
38 Olive
40 If Dorothy's music box gets out of order take it to ?Jacksons. I got
41it there ^so they ought to put it right cheaply.^
The 'big book' referred to is likely to be either From Man to Man or else the 'sex book' left in Johannesburg when the South African War started and destroyed when Schreiner's house was damaged. Parts of the latter were published in the US in two articles on 'Woman', and these eventually became Woman and Labour. Rive's (1987) version omits part of this letter and is also in a number of respects incorrect.