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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner BC16/Box5/Fold1/1912/47
ArchiveUniversity of Cape Town, Manuscripts & Archives, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter DateThursday 10 October 1912
Address FromDe Aar, Northern Cape
Address ToChambers, St Georges Street, Cape Town, Western Cape
Who ToWilliam Philip ('Will') Schreiner
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 date of this letter has been derived from the postmark on an attached envelope, which also provides the address it was sent to.
1 De Aar
2 Thursday
4 My dear Laddie
6 I’ve been wanting to write to you for days, but the old pump doing
7its work badly, & with the themom at 90 in the cool shade near the
8study door (as it stands now) one is troubled with rather continuous
9attacks of faintness at this height.
11 I had a lovely little note from Ursie yesterday; she’d just been
12having lunch with my old friend Havelock Ellis & his wife. They were
13both delighted with her "so sweet & genuine", Ellis calls her. I
14almost cried when I read her note; it brought so back to me my first
15meeting with him him 30 years ago; she describes him exactly as he
16struck me then, only now his shock of hair is "iron grey" & then it
17was coal black. Its absurdly sad growing old dear. Its one of the
18tragedies so deep that people can’t talk about it or write about it.
19One of the many things that lies silent buried in the human breast.
21 I had a letter last week from that old friend of mine Bob Muirhead,
22who I think I told you Oliver so reminds me of in character. He’s
23married now with a good family & we write to eachother about once a
24year. He says he met a man from Africa the other day at a friends
25house a large Basuto land trader called Slesser; a unreadable m who
26told Bob you were "the finest statesman in South Africa". There are
27many who think so of you, dear; but minorities have no voice in this
28country. He (Slesser) of course sees that war is meditated against
29Basutoland. He thinks the Basutos the finest race he knows, morally
30far above the ordinary white man.
32 Cron is all right; his cold soon went off. But all de Aar is down with
33influenza & unreadable. Drysdale, the magistrate is seriously ill, in
34some houses four & five people are in bed. As I never go out I have
35escaped so far.
37 I have taken a room at Schmitts Cafe at Muizenberg for January &
38February. I have to pay £12 a month for the room alone & am to board
39myself. It is a terrible price to pay for one little room. The
40Government out to put up a big building with 50 or 100 rooms to let.
41Ruth Alexander has been trying all over the place & can get nothing
42cheaper. Nearly every thing is taken already.
44 Please address the enclosed envelope to Earl Grey in England if you
45know his address. I don’t know how to get it & I want to write to
46him on the native & other questions, in case he should come out here
47as governor. Not that it’s any use; but one does what one can.
49 I wrote begging Wynnie &c not to have that flower day: I told them
50exactly what would result. I supposed you saw that letter in the
51"Argus" about it? Of course it was inevitable. Strange how devoid of
52taste & fine feeling some humanity are. There will be more
53unpleasantness about that fund which the "Schreiner Family" are
54collecting for a memorial to their sister. You will see, dear. I do
55think relatives should have nothing to do with collecting such funds,
56or controlling them.
58 The little kitten is lovely – quite a Persian. He had never been the
59house till yesterday evening. Then Kitty brought him up the steps –
60he can climb himself – & into the dining room where Cron & I & the
61dogs were. It was the prettiest little scene I have ever seen in
62animal life. She introduced him to us all. She came up to Cron & me &
63rubbed herself against us & purred, & she went up to the dogs & licked
64them & purred, quite evidently she was asking us all to accept him as
65one of the family. Her anxiety was something touching. Puppy licked
66him & was very friendly; Ollie just sat close to me with her nose in
67the air. I could not have believed a cat could have shown so much
68feeling & intelligence. He’s as pretty a kitten as I’ve ever seen.
70 Sancho is well, but lonely as usual, poor little fellow.
72 Good bye dear. You’ll think I’m writing you a book.
73 Tell me when you have news of Oliver.
74 Your small sister
75 Ol
77 The drought here is terrible. All the bushes that were here when you
78were here are burnt up.