"Detailed advice for nursing Will Schreiner just before his death" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner BC16/Box5/Fold2/1913/37
ArchiveUniversity of Cape Town, Manuscripts & Archives, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter DateThursday 12 September 1913
Address FromDe Aar, Northern Cape
Address To
Who ToWilliam Philip ('Will') Schreiner
Other Versions
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
Legend
The Project is grateful to Manuscripts and Archives, University of Cape Town, for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Manuscripts and Archives Collections.
1 Thursday
2 Sept 12th 1913
3
4 Private
5
6 My dear old Man
7
8 It was good to see the dear old face for a moment Saturday will be a
9sad day for you seeing the last our boy for a time. It would be nice
10if you could come to Europe next year. Can’t you?
11
12 As to my going, dear. It is just like you to have want to let me have
13the money dear. Now my plan is this. You will see from the enclosed
14letter that
Cron has offered to pay my passage there & back so I have
15only to provide for living expenses & Drs & cures for the year. I
16shall so have to be away for a year & two months at least not getting
17back here till the March of the next year because I can’t try the
18Nauheim cure till the ^English^ summer as it doesn’t, nor do most
19other cures work in winter; & it would be madness for me to come back
20at the beginning of the African summer to undo at once any little good
21I may have got.
22
23 I have sold the copy-right of my Dreams & Dreamlife & Real life, &
24have not enough to pay for all expenses that may arise; (I may sink
25into Etties last state & have a year or more of dying ^very unreadable^)
26so I would be glad of £200 pounds to set my mind at rest. My living
27expenses when I am used to live in England came to nearly £100 a year
28including dress &c – & I shan’t be able to do it for less now I am
29not so well, & can’t live as I always did in a little room doing my
30own cooking – I may have to go to cheap hotels & boarding houses –
31& the doctors & cures run into money so dreadfully that they will cost
32another £100. With £200 I ought to do well.
33
34 Now I can’t borrow the money from you as a pretense when I know I
35might die & you lose it. You have to work much to hard darling, at an
36age & in a condition of health in which you ought to be able to retire
37& give yourself up to Politics or anything that pleased you free of
38care.
39
40 What I propose is this I have an MS the Prelude of my big novel. I
41have been offered £300 for it & refused it because I always have had
42a hope I might be able to get better & finish my novel. But its quite
43complete in itself
. If I die there will be a boom in me & my writings
44for a little time as there always is, & you will get more than £300
45for it. Will you let me send it to you, you drawing up a little
46business like document saying I have given it to you, to be published
47after my death. or when But that if before my death I am able to
48return the £200 & want it to print with my novel you will return it
49to me. If after my death it fetches more than £200 divide the money
50give the money for a little scholarship for girls at the South African
51College. I would, a prize for the best essay on English literature for
52example. Will you let me have the £200 on these terms. I shall not
53want all all the money at once you can give me £50 when I sail in
54December; & send the rest when you hear from me that I’ve got safely
55over the voyage.
56
57 I know dear old Pethick Lawrence & other of my friends would let me
58have the money at once, but I would rather take it from you. You are
59quite mistaken dear in thinking I am such a hard, proud person I
60won’t take help from others. I don’t think I’ve ever refused
61help in my life when it was freely offered me. But with you dear one I
62feel you are too generous. Everyone comes to you for help, & you would
63give less to others because you had helped me – if it were so & you
64wouldn’t lose by it I wouldn’t mind at all just taking the money
65without any surety of its being return. The world seems rather sharply
66divided between two sorts of people – the people ready to sacrifice
67everything to their fellow men & not who ought to be defended against
68themselves – & the people who never will do anything for others
69though they can & ought.
70
71 Oct 15th. 1913
72 Dear I began this letter a month ago, but I have not sent it because
73I’ve been so ill it has seemed impossible to me I should ever need
74the money. I don’t feel myself any great hope of treatment doing me
75any good – my heart alone they might easily benefit, but my lungs
76are getting worse & worse, & that is hopeless. My friend Emily
77Hobhouse
has been practically cured by that man Carloni in Florence, &
78she had a much enlarged heart & arterio-schlerosis of all the arteries
79especially the aorta as I have. But her lungs are perfectly sound. My
80lungs are completely broken down & hardened by the left-lung asthma.
81The doctors here say I am not breathing with my left lung at all, &
82only with part of my right. Through these lungs the heart has to force
83the blood & I don’t see how anything can really be done. If I had a
84place in Africa that suited me as Blauberg suited Ettie I would just
85stay on quietly here in Africa & wait for the end, but I have no where
86to go. I have never recovered from my last years stay at Muizenberg.
87My lungs have been much worse ever since. I feel I want to go to
88Europe especially if the end is coming because there are nursing homes
89& places where I can stay & trouble no one. I don’t see what is to
90become of me in this country.
91
92 Forgive this long letter; but I want to explain. Pethick Lawrence says
93I must cable to him when I leave, & he or his wife will be waiting
94ready to take me on to Italy when I land in England. I shall only stay
95three or perhaps 4 days in England to see Mackenzie & other
96specialists. I fee fear I shall not see our children as they will be
97away on their holiday. I am going to sail on the Edinburgh Castle on
98the 6th of December.
99
100 Good bye my dear old brother. If Carloni does me any good at Florence
101you must come & try him. Your lungs are still sound & he might cure
102you. Florence would be a much nicer place to go to than Nauheim. Quite
103the most lovely city in the world except Rome.
104
105 Your good for nothing little sister
106 Olive
107
108 I wouldn’t pretend to borrow the money from you. If I couldn’t
109give you a surety I would rather just ask you to give it me.
110
Notation
The 'big novel' referred to is From Man to Man.