"Angry exchange with Little, Brown & Co, 'Stray Thoughts on South Africa' is not published" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner BC16/Box3/Fold2/1903/4
ArchiveUniversity of Cape Town, Manuscripts & Archives, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date28 March 1903
Address FromHanover, Northern Cape
Address To
Who ToBetty Molteno
Other Versions
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 name of the addressee of this letter is indicated by salutation and content.
1 Hanover
2 March 28 / 03
3
4 Dear Friend
5
6 I was to grieved to see in the paper yesterday that your brother
7Percy’s eldest boy is dead, & I am so afraid that your brother was
8away in the Transvaal at the time. It will be a terrible blow to him
9because he has such a sympathetic deep nature.
10
11 I cannot get a house or even a room in the village so I shall have to
12go away at the end of April some where but where I can’t think.
13^(Cron will stay at the hotel while he is here).^ P I am writing to find
14if they would take me at that Lamoen-fontein place, a few miles out of
15Beaufort West, but its very expensive & they are all jingoes, &
16Beaufort doesn’t suit my asthma much, but I must go somewhere. I
17wonder if I went there if you & Miss Greene could come for a little
18time. It would be something so beautiful to think of. Cron has bought
19an earf here but it will be more than a year before the little ^three
20roomed^ cottage can be built as we can’t get any workmen here.
21
22 I do wish you two & I could be at Lamoen-fontein together. It would be
23something to look forward. I have always thought what a sad things it
24would be to live to be eighty or ninety, to have out lived all your
25ties & human connections; & now I seem to have done that though
26comparatively young. Of course it is largely my health that makes life
27so lonely; if I could go to Europe there are still many of my old
28friends to whose dear faithful hearts the war has made no difference.
29Perhaps I too am less loveable than I was. My heart isn’t less
30tender than it used to be but the last seven or eight years have been
31very hard; & I have got a kind of crust over me, through which I
32don’t seem able to get to to people as I used to in the dear,
33beautiful old Matjesfontein days, & in England. Do you see the "New
34Age" regularly? I could send it you if you don’t.
35
36 Some of our prisioners came back yesterday. Poor Mrs Nienaber was
37crying bitterly, her dead will never come back, her husband & his
38young brother!
39
40 Good bye, my own darling friend.
41
42 Olive
43
44 Have you got the Soul of a People Isn’t it lovely? Tell me what you
45feel.
46
47 I wrote a little note to the author through his publisher thanking him
48for the pleasure his book gave me & asking him if ^not^ him if ^to
49answer the letter, as I only wrote thinking^ he was the man who wrote
50to me from Burma in 1889. He has however sent me a letter of 6 sheets;
51attacking me on the war. He says he is not the man who wrote to me. I
52am so very very sorry I wrote to him; but he need not have written to
53me as I begged him not to write. It doesn’t make any difference in
54my love for his book. I am sure he has a great beautiful nature or he
55couldn’t have written it.
56
57 Do you know these lines of Brownings,
58
59 "One who never turned his back, but
60 marched breast forward,
61 Never doubting clouds would break,
62 never dreamed though right
63 were wasted, wrong would triumph,
64 Held we fall to rise, are baffled to fight better,
65 Sleep to wake."
66
67 I love them so much, I have them pasted on the wall at the side of my
68desk.
69
70 Oh I long to see you Miss Greene so, to fold my arms right round you.
71Is she really quite better?
72
73 ^Have you read Walt Whitman’s poems much? I used to feel Browning was
74the poet I personally cared for most but of late no one seems quite so
75to express my heart as dear old Walt. He will never be understood much
76by the men & women of the present, but after hundreds of years, the
77developed men & women of the future will see how far he had moved
78beyond his age.^
79
Notation
The 'Sleep to wake' verse comes from the 'Epilogue' to Robert Browning's (1889) Asolando London: Smith, Elder & Co; The other books referred to are: Harold Fielding Hall (1898) The Soul of a People London: R. Bentley & Son; Walt Whitman (1855) Leaves of Grass Brooklyn: New York.