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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner: Mary Sauer MSC 26/2.11.47
ArchiveNational Library of South Africa, Special Collections, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter DateJanuary 1892
Address FromCape Town, Western Cape
Address To
Who ToMary Sauer nee Cloete
Other VersionsRive 1987: 198-9
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. The month and year have been written on this letter in an unknown hand. Content indicates Schreiner was in Cape Town when it was written. The letter seems to follow Schreiner's letter to Mary Sauer of 8 May 1892 (MSC 26/2.11.53).
1 My darling old Mary
3 We had such a splendid day up the mountain yesterday. You were the old
4only person I wished was up there with me. It was one of those
5beautiful days that one never forgets as long as one lives. We started
6at four & came back at nine in the evening & were walking nearly all
7the time, on every side of the mountain. I know my way all over it now,
8 I shall be able to go alone. Some day you must come up with me. You
9can have a horse.
11 I've got your letter. I'm so sorry if I hurt you any way dear by what
12I said. Silence is always golden, speech is always only silver. One
13can't explain things & it's better to say nothing. I didn't think your
14friend would ever have dis-cussed her deepest & most sacred feelings
15with me, or even that she had done so with you; ^I know her nature is
16much to sensitive^; but I thought she might wish to come & discuss Mr
& his character & affairs with me, as Mrs Sievewright & other
18people always try to do, & I get so weary of personalities always that,
19 nothing else, between women. They don't want to discuss a man's
20public character, his policy (& even that, with regard to people I
21unreadable know, I am not particularly fond of dis-cussing!!) but they
22want to discuss all the smallest little personal things about them &
23that makes life ^so^ un ideal. As I turned upon a woman once because she
24wanted to discuss Mr Sauer with me, so I should turn on any one who
25wanted to discuss Mr Rhodes. I'm always surprised at the way people
26discuss my little affairs, am I engaged to this one or that, have I
27quarrelled with so & so that I don't go to see them!! When they might
28discuss my writings & my view of life which would be far more
29interesting: I never have thought anything hard of either of the
30people we mentioned: I think them both as good & beautiful as ^any^
31people are in the world & I never mention them to any one either
32singly or together; so I can go back to my work & forget all about
33them! I never doubt your nature & its truth & loyalty: that is just
34what I love & respect so much in you. And I believe you would always
35be perfectly loyal both to him & to her, & say only & do only what you
36felt would be best for the happiness of both. So we need never mention
37either of them again. You are the only person to in Africa to whom I
38can talk about individuals & I don't talk much to you!! Do I??
40 I'm going to a picknik with Mrs Innes to Constantia on Saturday
41perhaps, if Miss & Mr Conybeare aren't spending the day with me. Are
42you going? I hope so. The doctor says I've been working too hard, &
43run down, & that I must go out every day; so I'm going out; but it's
44much happier to sit in this beautiful room & work! I'm going to print
45my Buddhist Priest's Wife & I'll send you a printed copy. I like it
46best of all the things I've ever written. It's the only thing in which
47I spoken from all sides. It's very short, yet I was nearly three
48months writing it. I do so much more work here than at Matjesfontein.
49I don't know how it is. Perhaps it's good to be in pain & ?stiff into
50work. At Matjesfontein I'm too happy!
52 Tell Mr Sauer please to send back my little scribble about heaven. I
53want to join it into my journal at the place were it belongs.
55 I've had such beautiful letters from the woman my friend Ellis has
56married, & from a friend who has a little Baby that she says she gives
57to me. I'd show them you only they are too beautiful to show to any
60 Good bye darling. Don't be cross with me. You are the only close
61friend I have in this country except my brother Will. I love you for
62loving Ella Shippard.
64 ^Please don't think I don't understand her, & wouldn't do anything to
65increase her happiness that I possibly could.
67 Olive^
69 ^Please ask Mr Sauer to send my little MS to my brother's office. I'll
70get it there tomorrow when I go in
72 OS^
'The Buddhist Priest's Wife' was published in 1923 in Stories, Dreams and Allegories. The 'little MS' is 'The Salvation of a Ministry' and appears in: Olive Schreiner (2005) Words In Season Johannesburg: Penguin Books. Rive's (1987) version omits part of this letter and is also in a number of respects incorrect.