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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner BC16/Box3/Fold3/1904/54
ArchiveUniversity of Cape Town, Manuscripts & Archives, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date24 November 1904
Address FromHanover, Northern Cape
Address To
Who ToBetty Molteno
Other Versions
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. The name of the addressee of this letter is indicated by salutation and content.
1 Hanover
2 Nov 24 / 04
4 My darling Friend
6 You seem to be always with me sometimes almost present to me. I hope
7you are feeling stronger. I fear the autumn which is the time I have
8to leave England is pressing you down. You will feel much better when
9the winter comes if it is sharp & stimulating. I don’t think any one
10not born in South African can understand how the autumn English
11climate affects us. The continent is quite different. Paris is a
12splendid stimulating climate. I hope by this time you have met your
13young sister & that perhaps you & she are now travelling about on the
14continent together. I feel great sympathy with her: when people get a
15certain point they feel they must live their own life & have to break
16away. Try & visit Munich. It’s one of the lovely & delightful places
17on earth. Art, music, old buildings & simple German life & everything.
18Did I tell you I was perhaps going up to Oom Paul’s funeral at
19Pretoria? I know it may make me ill, but I feel I must. I wish you
20were here to go with me.
22 If Alice can’t come out next spring, & you have to come out, feel
23such a great longing for Africa perhaps you & I might travel a little
24while Parliament sits; say go to Pretoria & stay with the Smuts’s a
25little. Cron wants to stay with his mother while parliament sits, & to
26go & stay quite alone in the boarding house in Tamboer’s Kloof now
27the beloved Purcell's have gone is not much good, though one has the
28beloved glorious mountain. I just mention this in case you are making
29plans with Miss Greene.
31 I wonder sometimes if that farm Lily Kloof that I loved, & have
32dreamed to live on ever since I was a girl & a governess there, would
33perhaps suit you & Miss Greene. You are near to the Pringles & those
34nice Baviaan’s River people on one side & now the war fever is dying
35they might want to send their girls. Did I tell you Nessie Pringle was
36to married to a Mr Ross.
38 It’s about 10.30 now & I’m going to bed to read Bryces American
39Commonwealth. Do Cron is down at his office, but will I expect be in
40soon. He has started a cricket club. I am so glad as it gives him some
41interest in this monotonous life. The young ladies are getting up a
42club concert for it. I can’t take part in the concert as I don’t
43play, but I’m giving a cricket ball to the young man who pl attends
44practise most regularly during the season, just to take an interest in
47 To-day for the first time for two months I went out into the village
48as a couple of people are ill & I went to see them. The people here
49don’t distress me any more, I’ve just let them drop from me.
50It’s strange how suddenly you can do that; how a moment comes when
51you don’t care any more, & you can look back at people & say "are
52you the people who used to agonize me so?" & wonder! Yes, this
53reaction among the people is much, much sadder than the war.
55 I do wish you could see my meerkats; they get sweeter & sweeter every
56day. "Litty-von" is the most intelligent big eyed tame fearless little
57meerkat I ever saw. I could write a long letter about him. My little
58Kaffir remains a good & sweet as ever; he has a strange complex little
59nature. Curiously sensitive. The more I know Kaffirs the less I am
60able to understand where their inferiority comes in.
62 I am writing at my little war story still but I only manage a few
63lines a day & not always that. I’ve been house cleaning the last two
64days, & haven’t written any thing. It’s called "Elaands Laagte"
65It’s not much. But it relieves my mind to write. Heaps of little
66stories come to me in the night when I lie awake; but you know in a
67way it’s not worth writing them out. English people don’t want my
68stories any more, & South Africans don’t read or care for anything
69that is like art.
71^Good night beloved friend. I am just writing on to feel a little
72nearer you. As I was walking up & down at the back of the house just
73now there was such a beautiful moon rise. ^
74 Olive
76 Yes, I felt so quite quite sure Miss Greene ought to go to Hellen.
The book referred to is: James Bryce (1857) The American Commonwealth London: Macmillan. The 'little war story' referred to as 'Elands-Laagte' was later published as '1899' in Stories, Dreams and Allegories.