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Letter ReferenceSmuts A1/188/72
ArchiveNational Archives Repository, Pretoria
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date13 May 1905
Address FromEastbergholt, Tamboer?s Kloof Road, Gardens, Cape Town, Western Cape
Address To
Who ToIsie Smuts nee Krige
Other Versions
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
Legend
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 Eastbergholt
2 Tamboer’s Kloof Rd
3 Tamboer’s Kloof
4 May 13th 1905
5
6 My dear Isie
7
8 Nearly every day for months I’ve been meaning to write to you but
9I’ve not been writing to any one of late. I am better now again. I
10hope I may still get over to Stellenbosch to see your mother before I
11leave. I am so sorry to hear Daisy’s little baby is gone. I am so
12glad to have her address. I am writing to her. I will go & see her if
13she can’t come to see me.
14
15 Thank you so much for the beautiful tin of biscuits you sent me. I
16thought as they came from Stellenbosch they were from your mother; but
17when I wrote to her she said they were from you. We still had some to
18eat in the train on the way down. I am so glad to hear of little Santa
19running about & doing mischief – no doubt she doesn’t look so much
20like an angel as when I saw her – but that’s better!
21
22 I sent you a letter yesterday in the news. I wasn’t well enough to
23re-writ revise or reread the proofs & there are a lot of
24printers-errors as in "Forges Valley" for "Valley Forge" &c but it
25doesn’t matter. My husband has just returned from Hanover where he
26had to be for a couple of weeks on business. We shall go up four ^weeks^
27few from to-day I expect. I have not got Cato’s photo yet. I shall
28never forget the surprise she gave me when I saw her in your arms!!! I
29want to ask you a question Isie: of course you need not answer it
30unless you feel you can, & like to just take no notice of it. When I
31was in Pretoria you said something to me about people saying I only
32liked unreadable de Wet & not Botha or de la Ray. I didn’t have time
33to ask you more then as the nurse came in, & the next day I left. But
34someone from Bloemfontein told me the same thing, that I had said de
35Wet
was the only real general, that Botha & de la Rey were no generals!
36 – can you think of anything so mad! – & they wouldn’t tell me
37the name of the person who had told them! I had said: If you could
38tell me who told you I should be very glad, because I am in my own
39mind thinking it is a certain person who did it deliberately from spite
40& I don’t like to think so of any one; & may be quite unjust to them.
41 And it’s bad to feel you may be unjust to any one. I’m sure its
42no Dutch Africander; that I know. Not only have the greatest
43admiration for all the the three generals but I really am not in a
44position to say which was the best general. If I had to chose a great
45head general for a war out of the three I should probably chose de la
46Ray
. But I realy have no means of judging as under martial law I never
47even saw the papers, & to determine which was the greatest you would
48have to know the exactly the difficulties each one had to contend with,
49 & the relative means at his disposal
. de la Rays men all say he was
50best, Bothas men that he was, de Wets that he was! And I don’t
51believe any of us knows!!
52
53 Of course personally I have a feeling for de Wet I can’t have for
54the others because I know him personally & have had long talks with
55him, & I’ve never exchanged one word with either of the others &
56only shacken hands once. Just as I love your husband better than all
57three, not because I say he is always a greater leader but because he
58is my friend. It always seems so small to me, this drawing comparisons
59between men who have to the last of their power fought for their own
60country. I no more believe all the lies told by Africanders about
61Botha & de la Ray having taken the money that ought to have gone to
62the people than I believe the story that your husband walked off with
63£25,000 which he has kept for himself. A student of history knows
64that is always from the hands of the people for whom a man has
65sacrificed himself & risked all that he receives the hardest blows. I
66have never felt any thing that the Jingoes said of me in the
67very least but when Dutch Africanders have come to me & demanded money
68from me, & when I said I really hadn’t any more to give, have said
69that of the thousands I got from the Transvaal government for writing
70for them before the war & since, I ought to have plenty to give them
71– I have felt a little pained. Oh Only the other day before I left
72Hanover a rich Boer woman flaunted into my little room & began talking
73of the money I had made out of the Trans-vaal & by show being on the
74Africander side. You know you can’t answer such people – you just
75let them talk on. You can’t answer such people. Not only did I lose
76all the little I had in Johannesburg & have my little house ^in
77Kimberley^ blown to pieces with boems boms & looted by the English
78between the many so that I was left without a penny in the world,
79but even the money with which my husband went to England to speak for
80the Republics was given him by an Englishman relation of mine who did
81not wish his name mentioned, but every act of kindness & consideration
82I have ever received in my life except from you & your husband & your
83dear mother & my friend Miss Viljoen, has been from English people. I
84have not one smallest tiniest thing to thank Dutch Africanders for.
85You may say my husband earns his living now among Dutch Africanders
86– & a poor little living it is – but I have never taken one
87sixpence of my husbands money since I married, I support myself
88entirely by my own writing & pay every week half of all the household
89expenses, so they cannot even throw it in my teeth that I am earning
90that from them. My dear old brother died in England five years ago &
91left me a couple of hundred pounds & on that & the proceeds of some
92articles on the woman question which I have published in America I
93have been living ever since. The living of my husband & myself in
94Hanover even this included doesn’t come to more than £10 a month; &
95all he gets in parliament & a third of what he gets in Hanover has got
96to go to pay a competent assistant, whom he would not need if he were
97not away at parliament for three months. I am telling you all this not
98because it matters at all, but simply that you may know how impossible
99it is I should believe any of the lies they tell of the Botha & de la
100Ray
& your husband.
101
102 // I’ve seen Malan & his wife once since I was down here. Their dear
103little boy ?Jacquie has quite hopeless heart disease but the baby girl
104is fine & well. Yes I wish so much I could up to Pretoria a little
105this winter, but I can’t. It is bad that we always are here in the
106winter & you in the summer. I’m so glad it’s going so well with
107the two little daughters.
108
109 Your very loving friend
110 Olive Schreiner
111
112 ^This letter is private, just for yourself & your husband. Dont show it
113to Miss Hobhouse or anyone.^
114
Notation
What the proofs were that Schreiner mentions she was correcting cannot be established.