"Wonderful Dot Schreiner, tall thin woman who caused me no end of trouble" Read the full letter
Collection Summary | View All |  Arrange By:
< Prev |
Viewing Item
of 1895 | Next >
Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner BC16/Box1/Fold2/1895/1
ArchiveUniversity of Cape Town, Manuscripts & Archives, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date20 April 1895
Address FromThe Homestead, Kimberley, Northern Cape
Address To
Who ToWilliam Philip ('Will') Schreiner
Other VersionsRive 1987: 250-1
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.
1 The Homestead
2 April 19^20^ / 95
4 Dear Laddie
6 I am specially anxious that a letter should reach Seymour Fort the day
7he arrives. Will you please drop me a P. Card saying when he is
8expected if you know. If I don’t get the card I shall take it you
9don’t know. It’s rather important.
11 I wish I had fuller news of you. I have had an idea that if President
health gave way, de Villiers might take his place & you
13become Chief Justice. I should like this. I should like to see you out
14of the world of party politics just as I should never like to see Cron
15in it. To me (perhaps I am mistaken) it always seems that your
16marvellous powers of mind & peculiarities of character would be put to
17their highest use, if you were at the head of some great commission
18bent on codifying the confused vast body of English law; or some
19colossal intellectual work of that kind. Cron I always think I should
20like to see British Resident over ^among^ some great body of barbarous
21people, a post like Clerk’s in Basutoland, for instance.
23 You never know the stuff thats in him till you see him among his
24dependents, such as his fifty servants at Krantz Plaats. He is a firm
25ruller, & consequently he rules without effort & without ^seeming^ force.
26 The pity in life, the grand wrong to me has always seemed, that we
27human folk can’t get into our right places. Here & there you find a
28man or woman, big or little quite in the right environment, & there is
29a sense of infinite satisfaction; but it doesn’t happen often.
31 It’s sorrowful to me that it will be so long before I can see you
32again, if ever. I am daily & hourly expecting to be taken ill; but
33have felt no ill effects from my fall.
35 Good bye my old Laddie.
37 Your little sis
38 Olive
40 Cron sends greetings. One of his great regrets is that you & he are
41not working shoulder to shoulder ^but it may come yet.^
Ten days after this letter was written, Olive Schreiner’s baby daughter was born after a difficult delivery and died soon after, regarding which a moving sequence of telegrams was exchanged between Cronwright-Schreiner and Schreiner’s older sister Ettie. On 30 April 1895, Cronwright-Schreiner’s telegram from Kimberley was:

'From Cron
To Stakesby Lewis
Gardens Cape Town
Fine baby girl all well'

Her response, later that day from Gardens in Cape Town, was:

'From Ettie
To Cronwright-Schreiner
Rejoicing with you'

On 1 May 1895, he then telegrammed:

'From Cron
To Stakesby Lewis
Gardens Cape Town
Our baby is dead'

The first telegram has written on it in Ettie Stakesby-Lewis’s handwriting, “Just received as I was about to close your letter. Return these please.” The last telegram has written on it, also in Ettie Stakesby-Lewis’s handwriting, “Reached me as I put the other one in your letter – Oh pray for them, pray for them.”.

Rive’s (1987) version omits part of this letter and is also in a number of respects incorrect.