"Johannesburg, lust for gold, moral decay" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceT120 (M722): W.T. Stead Papers/59- pages 231-2 & 251-252
ArchiveNational Archives Depot, Pretoria
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date After Start: January 1896 ; Before End: July 1896
Address FromKimberley, Northern Cape
Address To
Who ToWilliam Thomas Stead
Other VersionsRive 1987: 295-6
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
Legend
The Project is grateful to the National Archives Repository, Pretoria, for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Micofilm Collections. This letter has been dated by reference to when Schreiner’s article on slavery was published, which was during the first half of 1896. She was resident in Kimberley from 1895 to late 1898.
1Private
2
3My dear Friend
4
5Thanks for the letter you sent me. I have had a great many from all
6parts of the world about that Halfcaste article. Don't doubt my deep
7friendship for you however much I differ from you on politics. I am
8quite sure if you saw the moral & social devastation Rhodes has worked
9in this country with his money you would feel as I do. It’s not Rhodes
10I object to it’s his money
, which damns him himself in the first place,
11 & causes him to damn others. If Rhodes had no money I don't believe
12for a moment he would or could do the lightest harm in this country. I
13use the words with the greatest earnestness & meaning, it’s his
14damnable & damning gold which has first ruined himself & is now,
15through him, ruining South Africa. The day will come when - both in
16this country & in America – the Englishspeaking men & women will rise,
17& end for ever the power, of these millionaires who seek to crush
18beneath the weight of their gold the freedom of a whole people.
19
20Yours ever,
21Olive Schreiner
22
23Private. P.S. The reason why the last articles haven't appeared is
24that I've been very ill. I've had three mis-carriages since the birth
25of my last child, & at the last I nearly died; I am now pregnant again;
26 but the doctors have ordered me to keep quite still avoiding
27especially all mental excitement or the evil will recur: so I am not
28going to bring any more articles out for a couple of months till I am
29stronger. I am There have been so many misunderstandings about each
30article I have brought out (I mean people mistaking & misunderstanding
31what I said,) ^not you!^, that I'll wait till I'm better in a few months.
32 I'm telling you this because some people have given other reasons for
33my silence. This is, of course, for yourself alone.
34
35I hope you are quite strong & well now.
36OS
37
Notation
Schreiner has underlined ‘Private’ at the start of the letter three times and has drawn a box around it. The slavery article was one of Schreiner’s ‘A Returned South African’ essays, originally published in a range of magazines and intended to be reworked in book form, as Stray Thoughts on South Africa. A dispute with a publisher and then the outbreak of the South African War (1899-1902) prevented this, and they were in the event with some additional essays published posthumously as Thoughts on South Africa. Rive’s (1987) version omits part of this letter and is incorrect in minor ways.