"South African whites all philistines, no classes" Read the full letter
Collection Summary | View All |  Arrange By:
< Prev |
Viewing Item
of 174 | Next >
Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner: Mimmie Murray 2001.24/9
ArchiveNational English Literary Museum, Grahamstown
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date25 April 1912
Address FromDe Aar, Northern Cape
Address To
Who ToMinnie or Mimmie Murray nee Parkes
Other Versions
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
Legend
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.
1 De Aar
2 April 25th 1912
3
4 Dear Friend
5
6 Thank you for your letter. You can't think how pretty the children
7beautiful karross looks over the sofa in my little study. It makes it
8quite another room. I am writing now with my feet on your little
9footstool & a big fire burning in my fire place, as the rain is
10falling out side & I always love a big fire if it is possible to have
11one, keeping both the big glass door & window open at the same time.
12
13 I have returned the medicine Mrs Meredith so kindly sent me, as I've
14got mine from England. I'm so glad you all had such a good time at
15Port Elizabeth. I wish next year you could all come to Cape Town if I
16am there I should feel like having my family all about me. How is your
17garden doing? All my roses are going out of bloom except the two Macon
18Dinges which are covered with buds & flowers. We are having lovely
19rains.
20
21 I've so much to say I don't know where to begin. I wish we could have
22a talk of an hour or two.
23
24 You say the committee in Cape Town criticised you so &c - but was it
25the committee or Mrs Solly. She has been doing all kinds of things
26trying to run every thing her own way. The committee had to oppose her
27& she threatened to resign as secretary, but has changed her mind & is
28continuing.
29
30 You ask about that central committee. I would have nothing to do with it.
31^What do you want a central Committee for??^
32
33 It seems to me that for the next five or eight years our work in S.A.
34is simple "spade" work, as it was in England 25 years ago. What we the
35women who desire the emancipation of all women have to do is to try to
36make those women who have not seen its importance to see it, to hold
37endless drawing room meetings, even if they be only meetings of 9 or
3810 persons.
39
40 To try & advance the education of all girls by all in our power: to
41read & study social & public matters ourselves, so that, when we have
42the vote we shall be able wisely & independently to use it, each for
43those ends we think most important. The men in S.A. are much more
44liberal & enlightened on the woman question than the mass of ourselves,
45 & it is ourselves we have to try to rouse, & enlighten.
46
47 As soon as a very large mass of women in S.A. wish for the vote men
48will give it them at once. Our condition here is very different from
49that of women in England
.
50
51 See how generous men have been in offering every University honour to
52women? The judges have now decided that as far as the law goes women
53may be attorneys; & I have no doubt when some of our women have
54qualified as Barristers they will be allowed to practice.
55
56 It is not by hanging about around members of Parliament sending
57petitions, & begging for the vote - but by labouring to rouse &
58enlighten ourselves & to fit ourselves for using it, that it seems to
59me we shall be best doing our work in S.A. today.
60
61 If I lived in C. Town or any other large town every fortnight I should
62have an At Home afternoon for discussing all questions related to
63women's position, and sometimes an evening At Home to which young
64Barristers & other men who cannot come in the day could come. We
65should in a friendly way discuss all sex problems. We would not need
66to have set speakers every time. With the vast amount of splendid
67literature on the woman questions we can get now, I would much rather
68let some one read something an extract from some book or pamphlet &
69then discuss it. If every member who had a little house of her own
70would do this, we should soon number thousands where we now number
71hundreds.
72
73 I would have the meetings - as I have always had all meetings I have
74had - not as meetings of any special society but after each gathering
75I should try to collect members of the society. The W.E.L. is simply a
76society for educating women to desire the vote, but at private
77meetings one can discuss all the side issues which are so immensely
78important - such as temperance, prostitution, the education of women
79&c, &c, &c.
80
81 This is the direction in which I feel our work lies. We should see
82that there was not a village or hamlet in S.A. to which some suitable
83person carefully chosen had not been sent to try & rouse women to
84think on the matter.
85
86 What we want today is an evangelist movement, rousing & touching the
87women of S.A. not a mere little political movement centering round the
88parliament house in C. Town. When the mass, or even a very large mass
89of women & men in S.A. feel it is right that women should have their
90share in guiding the state, & that is wrong & an injustice injuring
91the nation to withhold it from the politicians will move at once.
92
93 The most important point of all is how we are educating & influencing
94our young girls, who in the ten years time will be the women of S.A.
95guiding its destinies - teaching them to be brave, to fear nothing; to
96desire freedom for themselves & all other women on Earth: - trying to
97make them feel they have a duty to themselves & also to the world at
98large.
99
100Later. It is evening now & I am just going to get tea ready, am
101writing a few lines while the kettle boils. I wanted to write to you
102about Miss Hyett & many other things, but I can't this time.
103
104 I have never been able to do any writing this year either in Cape Town
105or here. It was very delightful to see my dear friends in Cape Town &
106it was better than being here in the heat, but I could only get
107through the day by tying down most part of it. I can never get blood
108enough now in my brain to work without getting faint. The love of my
109friends is very precious to me - but oh how I long for a little more
110strength to do a little more work. I have done nothing with my life.
111
112 Give my dear love to the children - Miss Hyett wrote so
113enthusiastically about them. She says she is sure they more than
114justify all your methods of bringing them up, when they are grown.
115
116 Good bye
117 Olive
118
119 ^P.S. Dear friend, Would you mind returning me the pages of this letter
120from three to six. A friend in Cape Town wrote to me to-day asking me
121what form I thought our work for the vote should take in Africa, I
122can't write again to her so if you wouldn't mind sending them back to
123me I can send them to her, which will save my writing.^
124
125
126
Notation
The paragraph in this letter beginning 'It seems to me that for the next five or eight years?' through to and including the paragraph beginning 'The most important point of all is how we are educating & influencing our young girls' are those referred to by Schreiner in her P.S. as being on pages 3 to 6.