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Letter ReferenceSmuts A1/186/73
ArchiveNational Archives Repository, Pretoria
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date1 July 1896
Address FromThe Homestead, Kimberley, Northern Cape
Address To
Who ToJan Smuts
Other VersionsRive 1987: 286-7
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
The Project is grateful to the National Archives Repository, Pretoria, for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Special Collections.
1 The Homestead
2 July 1st 1896
4 Dear Mr Smuts
6 Thankyou heartily for the letter I got just now. I respond sincerely
7to its sympathetic attitude. With regard to the native the four later
8articles of the series will explain it as they all deal more or less
9with it. All I would ask now, is, why you should think it a necessary
10corollary that, if the dark & light races do not cross in blood there
11must of necessity be hatred & bitterness between them? I hold (of
12course I may be mistaken) that so unlike are the black dark & white
13races in this country, that were they equals in education & in social
14rights, & were they absolutely mingled together politically, in the
15matter of marriage the white would still prefer the white & the black
16the black, & fusion would go on very slowly. It is exactly because of
17the terrible chasm which in the minds of many men divides them from
18the dark races that the mixture of bloods in its least desirable form
19goes on. It was not when the native races were free & richly endowed
20with social and political rights, that the great fusion took place, &
21I believe that exactly in proportion as we raise & educate the native
22races ^& endow them with social and political rights^ such fusion will
23become rare
. Where it does occur, it will be as the result of a vast
24affection and sympathy, & will so lose its worst features. llllll
26 No, my papers are not the result of marrying a political husband!
27These articles were all written exactly as they now stand four years
28before I met him for the first time!!!
30 He sends friendly greetings to you. He went to hear your lecture, &
31his remark when he came back, was; (I unfortunately unable to go!) –
32"He is very earnest & sincere, but he doesn’t know Rhodes!" I will
33also allow that when the first news of the raid reached us, one of his
34first remarks was, -"What will Smuts say now!!!" To me, the forefront
35of all Mr Rhodes’s offences, has been his attitude towards the Dutch
36who loved & trusted him. Many men are devoted to the winning of money
37& fame for themselves; but few have deliberately stabbed to the heart
38a whole people who trusted in, & followed them. The position of the
39Dutchmen who have changed their attitude towards Mr Rhodes during the
40last few months is a matter for anything but ridicule to me. It is a
41matter of profound shame that the action of an Englishman should have
42made it necessary for them so to change.
44 Both my husband & myself will be delighted to see you if ever you
45should visit Kimberley; let us know if ever you come up, please.
47 Yours very sincerely
48 Olive Schreiner
The articles Schreiner refers to are those originally published pseudonymously from 1891 on as by 'A Returned South African', intended for publication in book form as 'Stray Thoughts on South Africa'. However, although prepared for publication, a dispute with a US publisher and the events of the South African War prevented this. They and some related essays were posthumously published as Thoughts on South Africa. Smuts's lecture was on behalf of his then employer De Beers and given in response to Schreiner's The Political Situation, read by Cronwright-Schreiner in Kimberley Town Hall in August 1895. His lecture was reported verbatim in the Diamond Fields Advertiser on 30 October 1895 and is reprinted in (eds) W.K. Hancock and Jean van der Poel (1966) Selections From the Smuts Papers vol 1 Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp.80-100. Rive's (1987) version of Schreiner's letter is in a number of respects incorrect.