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Letter ReferenceLetters/467
Archive
Epistolary Type
Letter Date6 June 1907
Address FromHanover, Northern Cape
Address To
Who ToAdela Villiers Smith nee Villiers
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 270
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
Legend
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 Mrs. Francis Smith.
2Hanover, 6th June.
3
4... Yes, you are wonderfully right about my brother Will. He is the
5most generous enemy who ever existed. The more a man has injured him,
6the less he will injure back. It's something he's got from my father,
7whom he is physically very like, only my father was an even bigger and
8a much finer built man. It is such a noted trait in his character that,
9 when he was Prime Minister out here, one of his colleagues remarked
10that “If only Schreiner would be half as polite and considerate to his
11friends as he is to his enemies the Government would work."... But the
12real beauty of his character comes out in his personal relations with
13those dependent on him or needing his help, his children, his servants,
14 poor young barristers struggling at the Bar - anyone who wants help.
15Except my old father I never knew any human being so lavishly generous,
16 taking such a delight in assisting other human beings who may be
17nothing to him at all. Yes, he is a freethinker in religion, as I am;
18but he always takes the lawyer's view even of that. He was more
19enthusiastic in writing about you and Con. then he almost ever allows
20himself to be. I was quite astonished. He is a man of intense passions
21and emotions, always holding them down. There is something almost
22awful in that self-restraint in which he habitually lives.
23