"Going to Europe to try treatments, borrowing money from Will Schreiner, payment in copyright; writing plans" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceSteyn Papers: Emily Hobhouse (Olive Schreiner) 156/3/12/4
ArchiveFree State Archives Repository, Bloemfontein
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date8 October 1903
Address FromHanover, Northern Cape
Address To
Who ToEmily Hobhouse
Other Versions
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
Legend
The Project is grateful to the Free State Archives Repository for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of their collections. The letter exists in the form of a handwritten copy made by Emily Hobhouse; the original cannot be traced.
1From Olive Schreiner
2Copy
3
4Hanover
5Oct 8th 1903
6
7
8Dear Miss Hobhouse,
9
10I am afraid you must be very tired. No one who does not know the
11country can realize all the simple hard labour you have gone through.
12I sympathized greatly with your letter in the South African News about
13the difficulty and complexity of distributing to the needy wisely and
14rightly and justly. Even with my washing machine I have found a
15difficulty. I found the machine cost £12 not £10 as I had thought. A
16friend in Cape Town contributed this extra money and I, out of my own
17pocket, paid the carriage from Cape Town to this which came to £2.16.0,
18 the machine thus costing £14.16.0 when it got here.
19
20I felt sure Mrs Nienaber was now provided for. When I got here I found
21she had developed kidney disease of a most troublesome form (floating
22kidney) and the doctor had strictly forbidden her to wash. So I am
23landed with it on my hands. I shall try to put it up for auction at
24the next Bazaar for orphans & widows.
25
26What I want to ask you is this. There is a much harder case in the
27town than Mrs Nienhaber's even. There is a man called David Cilliers,
28who was imprisoned for 6 months because the Boers came to his farm,
29while he was in Hanover not on the farm at all. He developed terrible
30heart disease as the result of the fever he got in prison. When he was
31nearly dead he was allowed to come out, in what we thought a dying
32state. His farm had been ravaged, his crops, furniture and stock
33destroyed. He lost about £1200 & was left quite penniless with a wife
34and six little children, the eldest of whom is 8 years old! The doctor
35says he is in such a state that manual labour must kill him, and yet
36he is obliged to do hard physical labour here to keep his wife &
37children. His father is a very poor but good and respectable man & her
38old father is equally poor.
39
40What I want to know is, if I am able to sell the machine might I give
41part of the money to him. We are all trying to help Mrs Nienhaber now,
42because she is ill. No one is trying to help him, and he is too
43independent to ask help. Let me know. It is wonderful how to give the
44least little bit of effective and wise help takes time and thought. I
45don't know how you have got through all you have done. I do wish so I
46could see you if only for one day before you go.
47
48Yours with deepest good wishes
49Olive Schreiner
50
Notation
Emily Hobhouse sent lists detailing those who had given donations to the post-war relief fund she organised and distributed to newspapers for publication; these appeared in many papers including the South African News in September and October 1903. The closest thing to an actual 'article' which appeared is a lengthy letter: Emily Hobhouse 'The Distress in the North' South African News 3 October 1903 (p.8); this concerns the ill-effects of dolling out small amounts that will do no long-term good.