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Letter ReferenceJohn X. Merriman MSC 15/1905:228
ArchiveNational Library of South Africa, Special Collections, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date19 December 1905
Address FromHanover, Northern Cape
Address To
Who ToJohn X. Merriman
Other Versions
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
The Project is grateful to the National Library of South Africa (NLSA), Cape Town, for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Special Collections.
1 Hanover
2 Dec 19 / 05
4 Dear Mr Merriman
6 I was very glad to see from the papers some time ago that though South
7Africa was near meeting with serious loss through a cart accident, we
8came off all right. I hope you felt no ill effect at all.
10 //Have you read "the Souls of Black Folk" yet? I am very anxious to
11know what you think of it. My copy is wandering about some where in
12Cape Town, Mrs Purcell had it & I asked her to send it on to Dr Beck.
13I wonder if it will appeal to any one just as it does to me!
15 //I have just finished reading Bryces "Studies in History &
16Jurisprudence" There is not much that is new in them & nothing that is
17mentally stimulating (the power to stimulate always seems to me the
18peculiar mark of genius) but I was much interested in his comparison
19of the differences between the Australian & Canadian powers of ^federal^
20Government. I had no idea before how very far the Canadian was behind
21the Australian, though I knew it was so.
23 A friend of mine, a Englishman of science but who has spent much of
24his time in the United States & in Canada, always tells me that it is
25a revelation to pass over the border from Am the United States to
26Canada The instantaneous difference is in the sense of freedom &
27independence ^& instinctive^ & high vitality, is, he says something
28almost inconceivable. Yet the people on both sides of the border are
29generally of the same race & often even blood relations! His verdict
30is the more interesting because he is strongly English in feeling I am
31absolutely convinced that that "Colony" which first starts on an
32absolutely free life of its own subservient even in name to none, will
33astonish the world by a mental & social afflorescence, which would
34never have been possible if it had remained in a state of even titular
35subservience. I need not tell you how splendid I thought your reply to
36those Imperialist questions.
38 The difference between a free confederacy of independent ^& equal^
39states is as different from Empire as health is from disease as life
40is from death - If ^they could only see it.^
42 My friends the Lawrences are now in Cape Town & will be there till the
433rd of January. I hope much they will meet you. He has a singularly
44sweet sympathetic spirit, & she a singularly strong & clear intellect.
45Their visit here was to me like rain on parched ground. My husband & I
46leave this week Saturday for Cape Town & shall stay there over Xmas &
47New Year so I shall see them again. I am very anxious to hear their
48view of Transvaal things, Chinese especially.
50 All good wishes to yourself & Mrs Merriman for the New Year & Xmas.
52 Yours sincerely
53 Olive Schreiner
The books referred to are: W.E.B. Du Bois (1903) The Souls of Black Folks Chicago: A.C. McClurg; James Bryce (1901) Studies in History and Jurisprudence Oxford: Clarendon Press.