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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner BC16/Box2/Fold2/July-Dec1899/3
ArchiveUniversity of Cape Town, Manuscripts & Archives, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter DateThursday 6 July 1899
Address FromJohannesburg, Transvaal
Address To
Who ToBetty Molteno and Alice Greene
Other VersionsRive 1987: 366-7
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 date has been written on this letter in an unknown hand. The names of the addressees are indicated by salutation and content.
1 The City of Dreadful Night
2 Thursday morning
3
4 My dear Friends
5
6 I was so anxious all night about Miss Greene though I couldn’t help
7feeling she would be better by the time she got to Bloemfontein. I
8hope you had your carriage to yourselves all through.
9
10 Cron & I went last night to a lecture at the Jewish working man’s
11society. On our way back about 11 we got into the train. The conductor
12(not our conductor) was standing at the door & got into conversation
13with Cron or rather he began to talk & wind up by unreadable saying,
14"And there’s nothing for it," – moving his hand across his throat
15– "but to cut the throats of Schreiner Hoffmeyer & Sauer."
16
17 Cron said, "But do you know that Mr Schreiner happens to be my brother.
18" The man looked at him astonished for a moment, & that then said, "Ah
19well, it isn’t I who say it you know, its what I always hear the
20gentlemen on the train say! Schreiner & Hoffmeyer must have their
21throats cut," moving his hand again across his throat. Y Cron said
22"Why you are talking nonsense, you might as well say Sir Alfred Milner
23must have his throat cut." Then the man trot-out about the wickedness
24of Hofmeyr’s going to Pretoria, how dare he go to Pretoria &c. He
25was quite sober; it seems to me the people here unreadable are going
26quite mad.
27
28 You don’t know how beautiful it has been to have you here but I miss
29you so.
30
31 My darling boy is looking so tired & depressed. He is much too simple
32& straight for living in the world, especially such a world as
33Johannesburg. I will write tomorrow & tell you if there is any fresh
34news. Cron sends his love to you both. He said last night he wished so
35much he had been able to have had some long talks with you. He seems
36to have time for nothing now as at night he has to read law or do the
37work there is not time for in the office. He says there is so much
38talking & chatting in the office he feels no real peace & quiet for
39work. Every one seems off their heads here
40
41 Private
42
43 Please be very careful, darling friends, especially in Cradock, not to
44mention any political news that folks might take hold of, that or
45little things like that dinner we were asked to to d tonight – we
46are not going - I don’t think that other peoples affairs are talked
47of so much as ours, & politically & personally one can’t be too
48silent now-a-days - except with ones chosen friends. I had a second
49invitation to a dinnerparty last night from some Jewish millionaire
50but refused. It is strange what makes them all so anxious to have me
51all at once when they have all been so perfectly indifferent to me all
52the time!! Of course every one in Cradock knows Cron & me, he’s got
53a cousin living there, & all our political views & domestic concerns
54are matters of that extraordinary interest, that people seem to take
55in those for whom they yet care nothing! unreadable People seem so
56wonderfully interested in our domestic concerns - do we keep one boy
57or two, & how much does Cron earn &c &c
58
59 Pri
60
61 -------------------------------------------------------------------
62
63 As I sat writing ten minutes ago a terrible thing happened. I am glad
64Miss Greene was not here actually to see it. How (It’s about 11.30 a
65beautiful sunny morning.) I went to the ^back^ door to answer a knock,
66when I opened it I found a little man standing there who mends our
67shoes, with him was another man w a Jew. The man was covered with
68blood a terrible object he had one huge hole in the back of the head,
69one blow seemed to have broken his cheek bone, & blood was streaming
70from a wound on his nose which seemed broken. It appears that m here
71in broad daylight not far behind our house n in in the trees three
72Kaffirs attacked him striking him first time on the back of the head
73they their then held their hands over his mouth to stop his cries. It
74has made me feel a little sick. He says a few moments before he was at
75my back door. It wouldn’t seem so sad if it wasn’t such a fine
76morning.
77
78 Good bye my dearly loved ones. Don’t have any anxiety about us. We
79shall come all right unreadable whatever happens; I mean nothing
80really matters so much that can happen to one, & the inner life
81nothing ought to be able to touch. You don’t know how precious you
82both are to me.
83
84 Olive
85
86
87
Notation
Rive's (1987) version omits part of this letter and is also in a number of respects incorrect.