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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner BC16/Box1/Fold4/1897/22
ArchiveUniversity of Cape Town, Manuscripts & Archives, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date17 November 1897
Address FromThe Homestead, Kimberley, Northern Cape
Address To
Who ToWilliam Philip ('Will') Schreiner
Other VersionsRive 1987: 315-17
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. Schreiner was resident in Kimberley from early August 1894 to November 1898.
1 Nov 17th 1897
3 Dear Laddie
5 I am feeling very played out & ill so that I hardly know how I shall
6write this letter to you, but it must be written. Cron has told you of
7this matter with regard to his vote & he is sending you all the
8letters that have appeared in the papers with regard to it. Now I want
9to ask you a few questions with regard to the matter that I may know
10how to act.
12 Cornwall has retained Solomon to undertake the case against Cron. We
13intend to fight it out to the bitter end though it should cost us
14every farthing we have in world, & leave us penniless.
16 Questions
18 1) Would Innes take the case if I gave him £50? It is the uttermost I
19can spare. I do not like to ask him till I know whether it would be at
20all worth his wile. I have an idea that £200 would be more what we
21ought to offer him; & I feel it might injure him ^with his party^ to
22take any case which was against Rhodes; for while ostensible Cornwall
23is bringing the a action it is really Rhodes & De Beers who are behind.
24 Please write freely to me on this point.
262) If we cannot get Innes, & I don’t for one moment suppose we can,
27which is the man here you would advise us to take. Berton is an ^old
28school^ friend of Crons, & is I believe anti Rhodes in heart though he
29says nothing. All the other men here are as far as I know pure Rhodes
30men. Is there any
32 3) Is there any attorney here whom we can trust we have spent several
33pounds already on a little man called Brown, but I know he is a Rhodes
34tool & we are paying him for what he has already done.
36 3) This is the important question.
37 My idea is to employ no lawyer at all for Cron to defend himself.
38Simply to go into court, to say he meant all he said; that he refuses
39to call the witnesses on his side ^or mention the names of the
40informant^ as in a place like Kimberley it would absolute ruin to them.
41(One of the most important witnesses is a man in the employ of ^one of^
42De Beers directors who would be absolutely ruined if we mentioned his
43name, but we would not of course say this in court!) He (Cron) would
44call me as his only witness. I went to Cornwall’s office before we
45left for England when we were deciding about our visit to England. I
46had been to Donald Currey’s office here to ask how long a return
47ticket would hold, & on hearing that it was only for 6 months, I went
48to Cornwall’s office (He is the agent for the Union Line) to ask him
49whether they could grant a return ticket for more than the 6 months.
50When I got to Cornwall’s office he was standing in the door way with
51his hands under his coat tails. I told him I was Mrs Cronwright
52Schreiner who had before written ^& called^ for plans of steamers, &
53times of sailing &c, & that I had come to hear whether they could not
54issue us return tickets for more than 6 month. Mr Cornwall answered
55rather gruffly that they could not, & went away. He was alone in the
56office at the time, unfortunately or we might get his evidence ^of his clerk^.
57 Now do you think there would be any use in my giving this evidence.
58Is a woman allowed to give evidence in her husband’s favour?
60 ------------------------------------------------------------------
61 ------------------------------------------------------------------
63 4) Do you think my idea a foolish one & that we should have a lawyer??
64As 5) we cannot call the witnesses, unreadable there would not be much
65use in a lawyer barrister except to cross question the enemies
66witnesses. Roper ^the proprietor of the paper^ says he will come &
67sweare that a man called Tomson who once was in his employ told him
68that he was in a much better thing, as Cornwall was paying him for
69unreadable £7 (seven pounds) a week to go round from house to house &
70compose the roll in Rhodes interest. This is the only man who says he
71is willing to stand to his statement in court; & with three such
72judges as Lange, Lansdowne & Hopley, I do not think there is the
73slightest hope of ever wining the case whatever evidence we bring
74especially against a splendid lawyer Solomon. What do you think?
75 ------------------------------------------------------------------
77 5) If we lose the case what do you think the damages are likely to be?
78They say Cornwall is going to demand £1,000.
80 6) If we have to pay Cornwall’s cost what do you think they are
81likely to come to?
83 7) This house & furniture are my own property bought with my own money
84so that they cannot touch them, & I have got ^nearly^ £800 eight
85hundred in the bank of Peter Halket money still, which of course they
86can also not touch. But Cron has nearly £200 pounds ^(two hundred)^ of
87his own in the unreadable bank, it will not be so much by the time the
88case is decided as out of this he has to pay the lawyers &c &c. Now if
89they take all he has & that does not cover costs & damages
, what will
90they do next
92 If they sell him up or make him insolvent, if he earns money again,
93can they take it from him say at the end of they a year? I don’t
94think they can but I want to know for certain what is the worst they
95can do
97 People here say that the sympathies of the man in the street in
98Kimberley are strongly with us. But no one dares to speak.
100 I wish I wasn’t so stone broke, dear heart. If I thought having
101Innes would win the case I’d give him £200, but it’s not worth
102paying it out for nothing? If I can just pull myself together enough
103to finish the last Stray Thoughts, articles (there are now only two
104more articles to be revised) I should get at least £900 for it. I
105have been offered that by a London publisher already. I have his offer
106^in black & white^, but have not yet accepted it. If only I could get
107stronger all would be well, but I’m not the woman I used to be
108physically, yet I mean to fight to the end.
110 Why don’t you & Hofmeyer & your party try & unseat Rhodes for
111bribery in the Barkly districts as soon as he is elected?? What has
112gone on there is the common talk of the streets here, it surely would
113not be very difficult with your skill & power to get a dozen men who
114would swear to the truth. We talk of Transvaal corruption & want to
115convert Oom Paul to the ways of purity!!!!
117 Thy tired little sister
118 Olive
120 I enclose a cheque for £4 dear. Please keep it or we shan’t like to
121trouble you again with any questions.
123 Do you think it would be any good my coming down for a day & having a
124talk with you? It would do me such good. I all but started off by last
125evening’s train. If you think it would be any good my coming just
126wire "Come." I may come whether you wire or not. I’m so tired; I
127want to talk with someone whom I can trust. You can trust no soul here
130 Ol.
131 Love to all the dear ones.
'What will they do next' in lines 89-90 is underlined three times. Rive's (1987) version omits part of this letter and is also in a number of respects incorrect.