"Saddest & loneliest old years eve, old days at Heald Town" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner BC16/Box11/Fold1/Dated/27
ArchiveUniversity of Cape Town, Manuscripts & Archives, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date After Start: Tuesday May 1908 ; Before End: December 1908
Address FromMatjesfontein, Western Cape
Address To
Who ToAnna Purcell nee Cambier Faure
Other Versions
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
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. The month and year have been written on this letter in an unknown hand; however, content suggests that December is a more likely date given when 'the troubles' in the Cape Women's Enfranchisement League occurred.
1 ^Tuesd^
2 Wednesday morning
4 My darling Anna
6 I’ve not been out any where or written a letter or done anything
7since my spree last Friday & Saturday, thats why I’ve not written.
8Joey will have given you my message.
10 What I mean is that I can’t interfere with your way of working out
11the matter. Everything goes wrong if different people with different
12ideas work at the same thing. Do you see what I mean darling.
14 My idea of the whole matters was very simple. As the committee
15(according to my idea) had exceeded their powers in joining us to the
16National union), a union called into being before there was a union or
17National government at all!!!) - & my idea was that the committee
18should simply say it had exceeded its powers & rescind by a vote all
19it had done. It would have taken about five minutes. Mrs Macfadyen &
20Mrs Garrett had not a majority so they could have done nothing – &
21the thing would have ended. It was all done by the committee – as
22far as I understand – & what they did they had a right to take back.
23Why you want it to come before the general yearly meeting I can’t
24understand. We didn’t pass it, & we have have nothing to do with y
25it. Mrs Solly is such a wise business like woman that she must see a
26way out & I leave it all in her hands. But I can hardly second her
27proposal, because my conclusion position is that you could not legally pass
28such a thing & therefore your passing it was so much wasted breath,
29– it doesn’t exist as a resolution of our society because there
30was no right to pass it.
32 If however you need my vote at the general comm yearly meeting I will
33give it in any way you & Mrs Solly wish. I will be guided by Mrs Solly.
34 She will understand my position even if she does not agree with it.
35The petition is a small matter which need not have been mentioned
36because if you do away with the unreadable connection with the
37National Committee the petition goes if itself! You would never have
38been quite within your rights if you as a committee had decided that
39we the women of the Enfranchisement League of the Cape of the Cape
", should present a petition asking for the vote on the same
41terms as the men of the Cape Colony. I would have thought it a mistake,
42 but I should ^not^ have questioned. Where you seemed exceeding your
43right was in giving us over into the hands of persons whom we did not
44elect in other states, & in appointing the permanent chairman of the
45National Union which I do not think you were competent to do.
47 My idea was to get 50 or 60 of the members of the society to sign a
48paper saying – that we had heard a report that the committee of the
49"Woman’s Enfranchisement League of the Cape Colony
", had given over
50the control of our affairs in connection with the Union Parliament
51into the hands of women of whom we had not elected, & binding us to
52support petitions from other states with which we might not agree, &
53we therefore begged the committee to rescind what it had done, the
54report saying they had done it was true."
56 There would have been no need to need to mention Mrs Macfadyens name
57at all.
59I called an ^informal^ meeting ^of some friends^ to discuss this plan. I
60was going to have it in my own room at Tamboer’s Kloof, but as I
61thought it would have been too difficult for Mrs Brown to come & I
62would have liked her to be present I proposed our meeting at her house
63in Rondebosch. When I got there I had no opportunity given me to put
64the plan forward as the paper Dr Brown read took up the whole time. I
65still think my way was the best if I had been allowed to suggest it.
66As you are conducting it in quite a different way; a way I can’t
67understand I can’t do any more acting. But if you need my vote at
68the general yearly meeting or at any other time to rescind what the
69committee did I will give it.
71 Please send this letter to Mrs J E de Villiers & ask her to send it at
72once to Mrs Solly & ask her to send it on to Mrs Brown at once.
74 Yours ever
75 Olive Schreiner
The paper read to the WEL meeting by John Brown cannot be traced.