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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner BC16/Box2/Fold1/Jan-June1899/32
ArchiveUniversity of Cape Town, Manuscripts & Archives, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date11 June 1899
Address FromJohannesburg, Transvaal
Address To
Who ToWilliam Philip ('Will') Schreiner
Other VersionsRive 1987: 360
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 year has been written on this letter in an unknown hand.
1 Box 406
2 Johannesburg
3 June 11
4
5 Dear old Laddie
6
7 We went over to Pretoria on Saturday at Esselins invitation & spent
8Saturday & Sunday with him at the hotel, & met a great many young
9Transvaalers barristers &c at dinner.
10
11 Esselin is rather an interesting & curious study to me. I wonder how
12you measure him, the man’s alertness & quickness is delightful to me.
13
14 Almost every one one meets in this country thinks so slowly if they
15think at all. But I haven’t yet quite taken his measure. I don’t
16feel quite sure I’ve got the key to him yet. Have you?
17
18 We saw dear good old Reitz. I got him to translate a verse of Burn’s
19for the Dutch edition of my paper, my favourite "A man’s a’ man
20for a’that" & he’s done it really splendidly! I begged him to
21translate the whole & he’s going to try.
22
23 Here the militarymen are manufacturing the war scare & the panic is
24growing stronger & stronger, practically all the women & children who
25can afford it are fleeing, & there is no more business doing.
26Johannesburg is a very, very, curious study at this moment.
27
28 Smuts is very hopeful in event of war. My fear is that the Burgers &c
29are going in too hopefully. I am afraid that the first big reverse
30they have will therefore be very depressing, & if once war does come
31it will be only by holding on to the bitter end, that will save us. I
32see Rhodes has had another long interview with Chamberlain!
33
34 Good bye, dear Laddie. Your small sister
35 Olive
36
37 unreadable I am having the Reitzes Dutch translation ^of my paper^
38printed to circulate at once among the Burgers as Reitz thinks it
39would be well, during the next two weeks. If war does break-out you
40men in the Cape Ministry will have to keep your heads exceedingly
41level & cool. Must do nothing that could lead to your being forcibly
42ejected. One ^sometimes does most by holding oneself in.^
43
44 ^Personally Esselin is a man I feel I could work with & get on with. A
45feeling for instance which I have not got with regard to Sauer of whom
46he reminds me a little.^
47
48
49
Notation
The paper referred to is An English South African's View of the Situation, originally published in the South African News over three successive days; see 'Words in Season. An English South African's View of the Situation' South African News 1 June 1899 (p.8), 2 June 1899 (p.8) and 3 June 1899 (also p.8). It was also reprinted in a number of other newspapers. It then was published as a pamphlet, then as a book. A second edition of the book was ready but withdrawn from publication by Schreiner when the South African War started in October 1899, so as not to profit from this. Rive's (1987) version has been misdated, omits part of theis letter, and is also in a number of respects incorrect.