"Fighting Boer women" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceLetters/451
Epistolary Type
Letter Date10 December 1889
Address FromNewlands, Cape Town, Western Cape
Address To
Who ToAdela Villiers Smith nee Villiers
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 228-9
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
When Cronwright-Schreiner prepared The Letters of Olive Schreiner, with few exceptions he then destroyed her originals. However, some people gave him copies and kept the originals or demanded the return of these; and when actual Schreiner letters can be compared with his versions, his have omissions, distortions and bowdlerisations. Where Schreiner originals have survived, these will be found in the relevant collections across the OSLO website. There is however a residue of some 587 items in The Letters for which no originals are extant. They are included here for sake of completeness. However, their relationship to Schreiners actual letters cannot now be gauged, and so they should be read with caution for the reasons given.
1To Miss Adela Villiers (later Mrs. Francis Smith.)
2Newlands, Cape Town, 10th Dec.
4...Oh, this is a wicked wicked war. When I see our bonny English boys
5falling and know how many hundreds have yet to fall, and our own brave
6South African lads dying while the... who worked up the thing go to
7their garden parties and lounge about with their cigars and champagne,
8a bitterness rises in my heart that I never thought could. It is
9strange what a kindly feeling the Boers have for the soldiers; an old
10Boer woman said to me the other day with tears, telling me of her sons
11fighting in the Free State (one of her nephews is already shot), "and
12these poor English soldiers, why should they come out to die? We have
13nothing against them; they have nothing against us. Why, why, should
14we have to shoot them? the poor boys." It's all so ghastly that I
15can't write.