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Letter ReferenceUCT BC 16 1899-Sun
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter DateAugust 1899
Address Fromna
Address ToLondon
Who ToSun
Other VersionsRive 1987: 387
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.
1From Olive Schreiner To Sun London
3We call attention to the American people to the grievous condition of
4matters in South Africa. Thousands of hired soldiers are being landed
5on South African soil to attack the little South African Republic. The
6farmers who formed it at infinite cost, and who are the descendents of
7men who arrived in Africa two hundred years before the English arrived,
8 are being called on to relinquish their independence and give up
9their land and its gold or to die. After having made every concession,
10and offered a franchise to foreigners more liberal than that of
11England herself, and seeing that nothing will assuage ^appease^ their
12enemies but that the desire is to obtain their land with its gold, and
13not any reform, this small and heroic people is preparing to face the
14whole might of the British Empire. Even the women are arming
15themselves, young lads are being called from school to fight at their
16father’s side, and the whole little people of farmers is rising up to
17face a conflict more unequal than that of William the Silent against
18Spain, or the Greeks against Persia. Let the Americans clearly
19understand that this is no war between English and Dutch as such. It
20is an endeavour on the part of a small but exceedingly wealthy and
21powerful section of persons to gain possession of the Transvaal gold
22fields. Their immense wealth has largely enabled them to gain command
23of the press, and by means of misrepresentation with regard to the
24people and the government of the Republic, such as we believe no
25nation has ever been subjected to before, they are endeavouring to
26mislead the English nation and induce them to consent to war. Hundreds
27of English South Africans who like myself have not one drop of Dutch
28blood in our veins, and who are bound by the ties of the profoundest
29affection and sympathy to England which is our mother land land, feel
30deeply the shame and sorrow of our situation. It is unreadable because
31we are English we would avert from our country’s head the weight of
32the most colossal crime and blunder which has stained her annals since
33George the Third sent his troops to control the internal government of
34the United States. The intellect and the conscience of England is with
35us in our struggle for justice, from Herbert Spencer to ^and^ John
36Morley to Frederic Harrison; the loftiest unreadable voices of the
37English race are raised t to recall their people to a higher path of
38justice and wisdom, and in denunciation of a policy which would murder
39a nation to fill a few pockets. What we ask of our American kindred is,
40 that by the expressio expression of sympathy they should strengthen
41the hands of those Englishmen who in South Africa and England are
42fighting for peace and justice.
Schreiner’s cable, of which this is the manuscript, was dispatched for her by Will Schreiner for publication in the Sun newspaper in the USA. Rive’s (1987) version of this open letter is incorrect in a number of respects. Rive also states state the cable appeared in a British newspaper of this title, while the opening line shows its destination was the USA; presumably it was sent to the British office of the American Sun.