"In losing the friendship of the Republics, England has blown away one of the bulwarks of Empire, when England stands where we stand today let her remember Soouth Africa" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceLetters/518
Epistolary Type
Letter Date30 May 1913
Address FromDe Aar, Northern Cape
Address To
Who ToAdela Villiers Smith nee Villiers
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 326-7
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 Mrs. Francis Smith.
2De Aar, 30th May.
4... When I was a tiny child I too was always making stories and poems
5and I feel as if I knew just all he feels and thinks. But I never
6showed anything I wrote to anyone. I used to walk up and down in the
7bush or at the bottom of the garden by the great willow tree making
8them aloud to myself. Will and the little Kaffir boy used to hide
9themselves near by, and then suddenly burst out on me, saying, "We've
10heard the whole story, we've heard every word!" And I used to feel I
11wanted to kill myself. I used to dance with rage and bite my hand, and
12then they used to say, "Look at the little scorpion, stinging itself!"
13which of course made me feel more than ever I wanted to die and leave
14a world where I couldn't even makes stories in quiet! They say this
15little boy is the gentlest and most affectionate of children, but if
16anyone touches or reads his MS. without his permission he is white
17with rage. I would really like to go up to Pretoria to see the child
18if I could. His mother told me that once (he was then about 6) he was
19writing in a corner and his aunt came and looked over his shoulder. He
20turned round on her furious with rage; it was his writing, his own,
21she had no right to look at it! Afterwards his mother came to him and
22asked him if he didn't think he was very unkind to be so angry with
23his poor aunt, &c. He said nothing at the time; but when he wished his
24aunt good-night, he whispered to her that, when she went to her room,
25she must please look on her bed. There she found, pinned out on the
26coverlet, a long poem in blank verse, in reparation.