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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner: Havelock Ellis 2006.29/17
ArchiveNational English Literary Museum, Grahamstown
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date30 September 1899
Address FromKarree Kloof, Kran Kuil, Northern Cape
Address To
Who ToHavelock Ellis
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 227-8; Rive 1987: 384
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
The Project is grateful to the National English Literary Museum (NELM) for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Manuscript Collections. The date has been written on this letter in an unknown hand. Schreiner stayed on a farm near Kran Kuil from late August to mid November 1899. The start of the letter is missing.
1 [page/s missing] the company. It's very hard to refuse.
3 Johannesburg is now practically depopulated, & the women & children
4are fleeing out of the Free State also into the Colony. But I have not
5the slightest doubt war will spread throughout the whole country.
7 You scorn my love for England & English men. Well I have traveled a
8bit about the world I have lived in South Africa, 30 out of forty-odd
9years of my life, & still the noblest dearest & most beloved humans I
10have met remain Englishmen in the main. Not only you & Carpenter & all
11the others I personally love & admire, but such men as dear old
12General Sir William Butler, who threw up his post here as general in
13the British army & has gone home because he said the war would be a
14gross immorality, are to me as fine representatives of the race human
15as any I am likely to see, according to my view. And this is not
16taking into view the great army of the dead from Shakespeare & Milton
17to Shelly, Darwin, George Elliot & Browning. An Englishman is like a
18Jew he seems to be either Christ or Judas; but on the whole much as I
19love all races of men I have yet been thrown into contact with I think
20we do pretty well. Not better than other races, but [page/s missing]
22 if a cultured person, with any knowledge of human nature!!
24 An old Boer woman I once knew after half an hour running down the
25English for their pride & selfishness & cruelty, said "And yet, when
26you do get an Englishman good he's the ?best on earth."
28 However I have written a whole long article almost a book on the
29Englishman in Africa which will explain my views. Public affairs are
30so bad one can't write of them any more. Dear old Herbert Spencer has
31spoken & Morley & other but they have
33^waited till it was too late. Six months ago it would have saved the
36 Olive^
The 'long article almost a book' Schreiner refers to is An English South African’s View of the Situation, originally published in the South African News over three successive days; see 'Words in Season. An English South African's View of the Situation' South African News 1 June 1899 (p.8), 2 June 1899 (p.8) and 3 June 1899 (also p.8). It was also reprinted in a number of other newspapers. It then was published as a pamphlet, then as a book. A second edition of the book was ready but withdrawn from publication with Hodder and Stoughton by Schreiner when the South African War started in October 1899, so as not to profit from this. Rive's version of this letter has been misdated, omits part of the letter, and is also in a number of respects incorrect. Cronwright-Schreiner's (1924) version is incorrect in various respects.