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Letter ReferenceSchreiner-Hemming Family BC 1080 A1.7/40
ArchiveUniversity of Cape Town, Manuscripts & Archives, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date After Start: Sunday 1901 ; Before End: 1903
Address FromHanover, Northern Cape
Address To
Who ToHenrietta ('Ettie') Schreiner m. Stakesby Lewis (1891)
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. This letter has been dated by reference to content. Schreiner was resident in Hanover from September 1900 to October 1907, after 1902 with visits, sometimes fairly lengthy, elsewhere. The Balfour plan was first mooted in 1901 but occurred after the death of Rebecca Schreiner in September 1903. Content suggests she had not died when this letter was written.
1 Hanover
2 Sunday morning
3
4 My darling
5
6 I hardly know whether I am sorry about your accident because I believe
7that some such thing is the only way in which you will ever get a
8little rest.
9
10 Yes it would be very beautiful if my chest were so that I could come &
11live in or near Cape Town so that I could sometimes come & see you.
12
13 The loneliness of my life here something ?uncannie, I used to feel as
14if my reason would give way under it. But since I got that book things
15seem easier to me. I have just been reading another book he has
16written since called "The Hearts of Men." It is like a key to "the
17Soul of a People
" to me. All the ideas & thoughts in "the Soul of a
18People
" are mine, seem written from my own heart, only much more
19beautifully & sweetly than I would have written them, but there was
20something about the way it touched me that I couldn’t understand.
21Now I have read "the Hearts of Men" I quite understand why it must be
22so. In "the Hearts of Men" there is much about his own childhood &
23youth, & the which his thoughts & religious experiences followed each
24other & grew is so exactly like my own that it sometimes seems
25impossible two souls should have had experiences so exactly alike.
26
27 He must have had something the same feeling to my writing because of
28that long beautiful letter he wrote me in 1890 just when I came out to
29the Cape. It was so beautiful that I put it away in the little box
30where I put father’s and Ellie’s hair & there it was burnt when
31the British burnt my things in Johannesburg. but I never answered it.
32Such a sharp pain comes to me when I think that if I had answered it
33we might have become friends. But it doesn’t matter now. People have
34invented heaven so that there might be a place where all the mistakes
35we have made in this life shall be put right.
36
37 I am so sorry to hear Ettie Lewis is so ill. I have been thinking so
38much of her ^before I got your letter^. It’s very tragic.
39
40 I hope your knee is better my darling, but not so much better that you
41don’t rest!
42
43 Good bye darling.
44Olive
45
46 If I should be able to say save money enough to go to Balfour in the
47winter is here any chance of your being able to go with me? I want so
48to go & see father’s grave once more. Cron will be away at
49Parliament all the winter, & that is the time of year when I can
50travel best in the Eastern province. Think it over."
51
Notation
The books referred to are: Harold Fielding-Hall (1901) The Hearts of Men London: Hurst & Blackett. Harold Fielding (1898) The Soul of a People London: R. Bentley & Son.