"Dinizulu, my boy Jim" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceEdward Carpenter 359/82
ArchiveSheffield Archives, Archives & Local Studies, Sheffield
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date13 November 1898
Address FromPO Box 2, Johannesburg, Transvaal
Address To
Who ToEdward Carpenter
Other VersionsRive 1987: 340-1
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
The Project is grateful to the Sheffield Archives, Sheffield Libraries, Archives and Information Services, for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Archive Collections.
1 Box 2
2 Johannesburg
3 Trans Vaal
4 South Africa
5 Nov 13th 1898
7 Dear E.C.
9 I don’t know what makes me suddenly want to write to you this
10morning unless it be that Johannesburg always makes me think of your
11poem "Perhaps in his infinite mercy, God may remove this man."
13 Heres this great fiendish, hell of a city sprung up in ten years in
14our sweet pure rare African velt. A city which for glitter & gold, &
15wickedness - carriages, & palaces, & brothels, & gambling halls, beats
16creation. And all around us are the dear little innocent field flowers
17still growing as they grew for the ages, from the very same roots for
18years & years, between the grand new houses that were put up last year
19f or a few months ago. I think you must be a poet, Ed’ard, or I
20wouldn’t keep having your lines in my mind every time I stir out
21here. Just behind this houses on the ridge of the hill there are
22beautiful everlastings & other wild flowers growing among the rocks,
23with houses before & houses behind them, & they always look so
24surprised. I always have such a sense of being an intruder as I walk
25about among them. Isn’t it curious most people seem never to realize
26the possibility that they are intruders on the earth!
28 I have never hated any place as much as Johannesburg, and yet there is
29a curious kind of charm about the place because of the nature thats
30not quite strangled yet. My heart has quite broken down, & the doctors
31say I must not work again for many years. I don’t know if they know
32it, but I know its forever.
34 Cron has gone to try & make arrangements for his going into an
35attorneys office as I shan’t be able to earn enough to keep us both
38 We have been having a big fight with the Capitalists in the Colony, &
39I think thought there is still a long & stern fight before us, we are
40winning. Rhodes’ doom is written up against him though he may delay
41his hour for a few months or even years. My brother & other friends
42who form the new Ministry are making a good fight.
44 When the spirit moves you, write to the above address as I expect we
45shall have to live here now. Every evening Cron & I leave this great
46terrible boardinghouse & go on the ridge. And last night we found a
47lark’s nest in the grass with four eggs in!!! Just away to our right
48was Barnato’s big pallace, not finished yet, which cost £350,000 so
49far, with marble pillars from Italy! This is a curious place. What
50does it all mean
52^Write & tell us how the world goes with you, & give my love to dear
53Kate Salt if you happen to write. ^
55 Olive
Rive's (1987) version omits part of this letter and is also in a number of respects incorrect.