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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner BC16/Box2/Fold1/Jan-June1899/16
ArchiveUniversity of Cape Town, Manuscripts & Archives, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date20 April 1899
Address From2 Primrose Terrace, Berea, Johannesburg, Transvaal
Address ToLyndall, Newlands, Cape Town, Western Cape
Who ToWilliam Philip ('Will') Schreiner
Other VersionsRive 1987: 348-9
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. The address this letter was sent to is provided by an attached envelope.
1 2 Primrose Terrace
2 Berea Estate
3 Johannesburg
4 April 20th 1899
5
6 Dear Will
7
8 Your letter which reached me this afternoon caused me great surprise.
9I could not for a moment have supposed that Sauer was acting in so
10vital a matter as that of special train without your knowledge. I was
11much concerned ^last week^ when I learnt what he had done, because it
12was a tactical error; but I had no idea it was also illegal. I felt
13sure if you had given your consent that it must be legal i.e. that the
14official who consented to the special train must have been exceeding
15his rights in doing so: Even believing that I thought a great mistake
16had been made, giving the enemy cause to blaspheme your position in
17this matter is a most profoundly difficult one; at the same time you
18undoubtedly did right under the circumstances not to allow it to
19induce you to make a break-up in the ministry. The day you leave your
20post, even if means the beginning of the end as far as war in South
21Africa is concerned.
22
23 //I did not, of course, mean you should not visit Pretoria if you came
24up: but that I thought if ever you did come up it ^would^ be more
25serviceable if there was no possible blowing of trumpets in the
26opposition papers - "The Premier of the Cape Colony has come up to
27visit Paul Kruger" &c.
28
29 //There is one small matter in which it seems to me you might well act.
30 There is very bitter feeling here among the attorneys & solicitors
31because men who pass in the Transvaal are not allowed to practice at
32the Cape. If you could move in the matter (of course I don’t know if
33you can), it would in a small way be helpful to good feeling, towards
34yourself & therefore towards your government.
35
36 //As far as I can judge, & I see a good deal of people of many kinds
37here, the feeling of the average Johannesburger is now much more
38favourable to the government, & much, very much more opposed to war
39than it was when I came here 6 months ago: (I take as examples some
40such Jews I know, trades-people, clerks in offices, such as Cron’s
41brothers &c &c). But the League is busy with its hellish work; they
42are up to something again; & the feeling of the average Johannesburger
43will matter little when the British troops are pouring over the Natal
44Border.
45
46 I am a little easier than I was a couple of weeks ago: I think we were
47very near to the edge then! I am afraid for a lover of peace a very
48bellicose spirit is residing in me. I could take a gun myself & fire
49on the British soldiers. "Friends," as the Quaker said to the pirates,
50when he piked them, "Thee must stay aboard thine own ship."
51
52 Good bye dear
53 Olive
54
55 ^I can’t tell you how much I feel with you in this train affair.
56Sauer is the weak point in your ministry.^
57
58
59
Notation
Rive's (1987) version omits part of this letter.