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Letter ReferenceJohn X. Merriman MSC 15/1912:122
ArchiveNational Library of South Africa, Special Collections, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date2 July 1912
Address FromDe Aar, 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 De Aar
2 July 2nd 1912
4 Dear Mr Merriman
6 It would be impossible for me to tell you the depression I felt when I
7heard Hertzog had been appointed Minister for Native Affairs. But I
8passed through the bitterness of death in South African affairs when
9the Union was formed. It was then to me as if a wagon were drawn up at
10the top of a mountain & set slowly going back-wards over the edge - at
11first to move slowly but surely & steadily back-wards down a gentle
12slope, but gaining more & more speed as it moves down breaking &
13crashing everything that comes in its way, & its left at last at the
14bottom. I may be mistaken but I have always looked for a steady back
15ward movement for ten or fifteen years. I am simply obliged not to
16think of public matters which I am so powerless to help or touch. One
17sits by watching a tragedy. Do you note the wires in the papers saying
18there is no unrest in Basuto Land? That is the prelude to saying that
19there is!
21 I am deeply sorry about Sauer. It seems to me & & Burton ought to have
22resigned & they with many or at least some of us who would have stood
23by them through thick & thin would have formed a powerful third party
24able to keep any party in power from doing too many evils. It is in a
25powerful third party that the political hope of South Africa lies -
26such as it is. And are there men single minded enough to form such a
27party to renounce the hope of power & three or four thousand a year
28for impersonal aims?
30 I have been studying the defence act - with the blue book of military
31law - without which it is ?misunderstanding & its deep evil cannot ha
32be understood.
34 //A friend has just sent me from England a book called "Revolutionary
35Types" in it is an article on "Toussant L'ouvertoure." Which gives a
36few more details of his life than I have yet been able to get. But his
37real life is yet to be written. A literary friend to whom I wrote
38about says there is practically nothing in the British Museum but that
39is Paris there are the richest material for a life - political &
40orther documents & valuable article on him written at or soon after
41his time in magazines newspaper &c.
43 I wish I could start some one on writing a real life.
45 Did you note Fichard last out burst on the parliament being removed
46from Cape Town. It certainly will be under any conditions before long.
47When the Union was started before the parliament met two or three dead
48leading men told me in Pretoria it would not be there for more than
49two or three years at the most. This isn't a very cheerful letter
51 Yours ever
52 Olive Schreiner
54 ^My husband is away at the Victoria Falls. I have not seen a human face
55or spoken to a human being since he left ten days ago except my wild
56little coloured girl. One is almost as cut off from the world at de
57Aar as on a desert Island!^
The book referred to is: Ida Ashworth Taylor (1904) Revolutionary Types London: Duckworth.