"Affection, farm for sale, go mad here" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceAlfred Mattison, Goldfields Collection, MS 16098/3
ArchiveCory Library, Rhodes University, Grahamstown
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date13 February 1901
Address FromHanover, Northern Cape
Address To
Who ToAlfred ('Alf', 'Mat') Mattison
Other Versions
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Legend
The Project is grateful to the Cory Library for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of their collections.
1 Hanover
2 Cape Colony
3 Feb 13 / 01
4
5 Dear Mat,
6
7 I was ever so glad to get your letter & the photo. I haven't got a
8photo I can send you here but I'll send you one "when the War is over"
9& I can go any where & get anything. I am now up here, hundreds of
10miles from the coast in a little village: with the war all about me.
11We are under Martial Law. No one is allowed to be out of his house
12after 8 o'clock, all lights must be out at 9; & we are not allowed to
13stray out of the village not even to go for a little walk. Cron asked
14for a pass from the military to come up from Cape Town but they will
15not give him one so I have not seen him for two months, nor any of my
16friends. I have hired an empty room in a house here, & put in a
17stretcher & a table, & do my cooking on a spirit lamp, & I & my little
18dog Neta live together.
19
20 There are said to be 20,000 English soldiers within a few miles of
21this place, & that de Wet with 3000 men is trying to come down & they
22are trying to surround him, & for ten days people have momentarily
23been expecting the village to be attacked. Troops with cannon are on
24the kopjes round, & there is watch keep up all night. But what the
25future will bring no one can say.
26
27 One just waits week after week. Several people I know have lately been
28arrested, which is much worse than dying on a battlefield. It's all a
29funny world! Give my love to Ed & tell him, & the Miss Fords my news.
30The military censor opens & reads all letters, but I'm glad to say he
31let yours come through all right. I've often wondered why the & how
32the Christians came to invent Hell. But last night when I was lying in
33bed it struck me that the early Christians lived in a time very much
34like this under the Roman Empire, during its decline & fall; & of
35course the poor things believed in hell because they saw it. Hell is
36Martial Law. Give my love to Florence, & tell her that one day "when
37the War is over" you & she must come out here, because I don't expect
38I shall ever be feel well enough to go to England again. I hope you're
39very happy & the world going very well with you, dear Mat. Is your
40mother still living? Are you thinking of getting married one of these
41days or is it still in the far future?
42
43 Drop me a line soon. I hope Mr Censor will letter this letter through.
44
45 Good bye,
46 Olive Schreiner
47
48 I still laugh sometimes when I think of you, & the old farmer. You are
49just like Cron, good at fighting!! I'm sorry you didn't see Cron. I
50often told him about you & that you & he were very much alike, in
51character & also a bit in appearance.
52
53