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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner: John & Mary Brown MSC 26/2.2.16
ArchiveNational Library of South Africa, Special Collections, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date14 September 1906
Address FromThe Hotel De Aar, De Aar, Northern Cape
Address To
Who ToMary Brown nee Solomon
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. This letter is on hotel printed headed notepaper, with a drawing of the hotel sign.
1 Hotel "De Aar"
3 De Aar, Sep 14th 1906
6 Dear Friend
8 Thank you for your letter.
10 I've written to Merriman & Will about that ^urgent^ matter. No doubt I
11know many of the members who vote but I don't know who they are. Would
12it be too late to give me a list? Is the Rev Bender one?
14 I enclose you a letter from Emmeline Lawrence which may interest you.
16 I got such a letter from a woman I don't know in the Free State as has
17touched me very much. She wrote asking if she migh hope to open a
18correspondence with me as there were some things she wanted to talk
19about very much. I wrote & told her my health did not allow of my
20doing much writing now. But she wrote me yesterday a letter, which I
21got yesterday telling me so much of the sad tragedy ^story^ of her life
22with an unfaithful husband, that & the problems before her; she has
23been married 22 years & has 8 children was married herself at 19. She
24had not been married many months when she found out his secret
25infidelity. I have forgiven not once she cries but till seventy times
26seven. She cries in ?h says, & I don't know what is right or what I
27should do! Her letter has made me have anew that terrible wish, the
28only one I have uncrushed still that I could get somewhere where I
29could revise & finish my book, because just this one thing it would be,
30 that it might make such lonely struggling women as she less lonely.
31Oh it would be so beautiful to think when I was dying that I had done
32that. I should feel then I had done something with my life that it was
33not all failure & loss. It would square life to me.
35 I can't see my path now very clear; & in these days I am trying to
36come to some decision. While I am up in these heights ^4000 feet & 5000^
37I will never by my heart be allowed to work: I could never even have
38written that little letter on the Jews up here. At Matjesfontein my
39heart goes quite slowly & I can eat & lie down. I could pay the hotel
40charge for three months & then Cron says he would pay it for me for
41three, making six months, & I could test if in that time I got so much
42better that I could work. But there is the great difficulty that you &
43only you will be able to understand that I can't leave Cron here: here
44in this horrible dust wretchedness. I would just be longing so for him
45that work would be for that reason impossible, even appart from the
46fact that although I was better physically at Matjiesfontein I might
47yet not be able to work.
49 There is also a little old farm house here about 2 miles or a mile & a
50half out of De Aar. The air is clear & much cooler there Cron says he
51would buy himself a motor-car to come up & down in morning & evening.
52It will be rather far from every body & I shall have to try to get a
53servant to stay with me as it would be hardly safe to be there so far
54from every one, but I don't I near a wild camp like this, but I think
55it will end in my trying that. Of course there will be moving all the
56furniture from Hanover, & the rent for one year, so that if I fail
57there would have been as much spent besides all the work as would have
58kept me at Matjesfontein for six months. But I should be near Cron & I
59feel I must try that first. I don't mean to worry you my darling by
60telling you all this, I just want to share my plans with you. I would
61be nice at Matjesfontein to feel I was nearer to you all: But I don't
62know how I could stand being so far from Cron & knowing he was in this
63miserable place.
65 ^Now I must write to that friend in the Free State. I can't help her
66but I can sympathise with her. As she says "Can't our mind speak to
67each other across the wide veld."^
69 Olive
'That little letter on the Jews' is Schreiner's 'Letter on the Jew'. It was read by Cronwright-Schreiner at a Public Meeting of the Jewish Territorial Organization in Cape Town in July 1906; it was published in the Cape Times 2 July 1906 (p.8); it also appears in a shortened version as Appendix F in (ed) Cronwright-Schreiner (1924) The Letters of Olive Schreiner London: Fisher Unwin.