"Climbing Table Mountain, silence is golden, don't talk about personal, love you for loving Shippard" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner BC16/Box1/Fold3/1896/19
ArchiveUniversity of Cape Town, Manuscripts & Archives, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date8 July 1896
Address FromThe Homestead, Kimberley, Northern Cape
Address To
Who ToBetty Molteno
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 addressee of this letter is indicated by salutation and content.
1 The Homestead
2 July 8 / 96
6 Dear Friend
8 I want to ask you a question: you must not answer me if you don’t
9like or think it right to do so. I wanted to ask it you when you were
10here but I felt you might not like to answer it. A young man, a
11connection of my mine, a close friend, & very dear to me, but very
12young, is more or less in love with or paying attention to the
13daughter of a lodging house keeper ^in Johannesburg^ with whom he
14boarded. His mother & other friends of his are very distressed about
15it & have written to me as I have meet ^met^ the girl. He also has
16written to me. I believe she will just lead him on & on, & then throw
17him off if a richer man offers; or, worse still she will only make him
18marry her ultimately! He says he would never think of marrying her, it
19is only a friendship. I know you have not had her in your school, but
20I think you have had her eldest & her younger sisters Susie Carter, &
21Mable Carter. I have never seen these two & know nothing of them. But
22are they girls you would like to see your youngest brother very
23intimate with? Don’t answer me if you don’t like: just leave my
24letters unanswered
. But if you can tell me what you think of them it
25will be a help to me. I doubt my own judgement a little. Some years
26ago I met this girl at a farm did not know who she was nor anything
27against her, but I & the friend at whose farm I was staying took a
28strong dislike – mistrust, I should rather say – with regard to
29her. This matter has been troubling me for some months. If I don’t
30say what I feel, then afterwards if she gets him to marry her & all
31his life is destroyed I may reproach myself: if I do say what I feel I
32may afterwards think I had not sufficient ground. I will not repeat to
33any human-being your opinion. I only ask, if, your beautiful young
34sailor brother were falling R into the hands of one of the two girls
35you know, would you be satisfied? I feel responsible because it was
36through my action largely that the young man fell into their hands. I
37know they are very pretty respectable girls, but are they earnest, are
38they thorough? I’m always afraid when I ask questions of putting my
39friends into an awkward position; don’t answer unless you feel it
40quite right to do so. I thought I should do so much work while I was
41alone here, but I’ve been in bed almost ever since Cron left.
43 Did I tell you of the high complement Cron paid you, the highest
44complement you could pay a woman? Cron was sitting by the fire the
45other evening & he said nodding "The charm of Miss Molteno is that you
46never can believe she’s not married. She’s like a universal mother."
48^I’m so glad you are having a good time.^
52^Some people think it doesn’t matter who a man marries that he can
53live his own life, but its more certain damnation, spiritual & mental
54to a man to marry beneath him spiritually than it is to a woman. In
55the long run a man always sinks to the level of its wife.^