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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner BC16/Box1/Fold1/1892/12
ArchiveUniversity of Cape Town, Manuscripts & Archives, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter DateTuesday 13 September 1892
Address FromMatjesfontein, Western Cape
Address To
Who ToWilliam Philip ('Will') Schreiner
Other VersionsRive 1987: 208
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 has been written on this letter in an unknown hand.
1 Matjesfontein
2 Tuesday 13 / 92
4 My old Will,
6 I hope when this reaches you you will be settled in the old Man’s
7study, feeling comfortable. I had a letter from Fan yesterday, & shall
8try to run down & have a look at them before you return.
10 Sauer, Innes &c passed this morning on their way down from Kimberly.
11On Sunday morning Rhodes & Sivewright passed on their way back from
12Prince Albert. Rhodes came over to call on me. When Sivewright found
13he had slipped the leash he came over in a great hurry & took him away
14saying their train was soon going. They need not fear me. How much
15time & trouble people waste over imaginary dangers.
17 I should like to see you working with Rhodes but only if you could
18stand perfectly erect - so we shall not see it I fear. He is It is ?I
19great & sincere himself; there is not a spot of t hypocrisy in Rhodes;
20he never calls his diplomacy principle; ‘my actions are ^based on^
21policy all policy’ he says when you try to argue with him on any a
point; thus other men who often always make capital out
23of high principle become hypocrites when they play Rhodes’ game. In
24a sense Rhodes is the sincerest human creature I know. He sees things
25direct with out any evil. He said about about a meeting There is no man in
26the world to whom I could show myself as nakedly, & who can at times
27show himself as nakedly to you.
29 If you go to see Watt dear, or if Fred does, don’t make out that you
30don’t believe I’m ever going to get publish any more books,
31because it’s only in the hope of getting a lot of my books, that
32he’ll act fairly & with the first things I send him. I am sending
33down my Boer article to get it published in Cape Town before I send it
34home. & then I really shall reread "From Man to Man" & have that & the
35Buddhist Priest’s Wife ready to take home with me in April.
37 The Buddhist Priest’s wife is much the best thing I have written. If
38all I have ever written were put on one hand, & the Bud. Priest’s Wife
39on the other, & it was said one must be burnt, I should let all the
40others go, so I left that behind me when I died. The first idea of the
41story as it were came into my head one morning eighteen months ago
42when I was lying in bed in Pine Grove - early in the morning, but the
43substance of it is that which I have lived all these years to learn, &
44suffered all that I have suffered to know.
46 The weather has been warmer the last few days, & I’ve got coals up
47from Cape Town, so I’m able to get up in the morning & work from six
48till I go to bed, & am very happy. If I had had health I should have
49made a great thing of my life. My legs are swollen & that always
50relieves my chest & head, but don’t say anything about this to any one.
51 There is something so repulsive to me in disease; don’t say
52anything to any one.
54 That Little Barrister whom I thought was your office boy passed here,
55& we had a talk. There’s something touching to me about him. He has
56a great affectionate sort of admiration for you, nearly all the
57younger barristers seem to have, I like them for it. The dear old
58Governor is such a child! He tried so much to make me believe he
59didn’t know you were going on the 7th & wondered what you were going
60for. I’m fond of the old man. They pass down here Sunday next.
62 Tell me all about Wilfred, Eastbourne. Don’t tell me the old man is
63looking older. I can’t bear to think of it.
65 I write every day to the little mother now. I’m so afraid of
66something happening to it her, & I can do little but write.
68 W I have written another letter to Lady Dilke, but enclose this in
69case you want to use it.
71 I would have sent you a letter to Mrs Drew Mr Gladstones daughter but
72you said you didn’t want to see him. I’m afraid there’ll be no
73one in town now.
75 I enclose a letter for my friend Mrs Ritchie in case you go to Oxford.
76She’s very brilliant, or used to be before she married. I’ve not
77seen her since. Her husband is a professor.
79 Mrs Philpot to whom I enclose a letter is an old friend. Her husband
80is a fashionable West End Dr, but has written a novel, is fond of bill
81billiards, & an intellectual man whom I think you would like.
83 Good bye, dear Laddy. You can send me a long letter in return for this.
84 Thine
85 Olive
87 Rhodes & Sivewright were thrown out of a cart the other day. Rhodes
88seems destined to realize my dream of him covered with blood.
The 'Boer article' is one of Schreiner's 'Returned South African' essays. These were originally published in a range of magazines; she intended to rework them in book form, as Stray Thoughts on South Africa. A dispute with a US publisher and then the outbreak of the South African War (1899-1902) prevented this, and they were in the event with some additional essays published posthumously as Thoughts on South Africa. Rive's (1987) version omits part of this letter and is also in a number of respects incorrect.