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Letter ReferenceSchreiner-Hemming Family BC 1080 A1.7/93
ArchiveUniversity of Cape Town, Manuscripts & Archives, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date29 January 1907
Address FromHanover, Northern Cape
Address To
Who ToHenrietta (‘Ettie’) Schreiner m. Stakesby Lewis (1891)
Other Versions
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
The Project is grateful to Manuscripts and Archives, University of Cape Town, for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Manuscripts and Archives Collections.
1 Hanover
2 Jan 29th 1907
4 My own old Ettie
6 How my heart is with you in this awful, the most awful of all sorrows
7on earth which has over taken you. I knew it must come to this at last
8my dear one. I saw clearly three years ago when I was at Tamboers
9Kloof first that his mind was gone. I didn’t like to say anything to
10you about it, or to any humanbeing. And he’s got steadily worse. I
11hope great things from his going to Valken berg. it is always better
12(strange as it seems) in such cases that people should be far away
13from those they have known & loved, especially those very near to them.
14 I would not even go to see him if I were you, any of you, till he
15begs terribly.
17 I had a dear friend in England married to a beautiful talented young
18barrister. They were a most tenderly attached couple sharing all each
19others lives. Then she went through three awful year; naturally the
20best tempered of men he used to abuse & attack every one. If an editor
21would not take an article of his he used to go & threaten to kill him
22& abuse him; & all her life for three years was spent in trying to
23excuse him to people & stop actions against him. No one but she knew
24he could not help it. Then he tried to murder her & the children &
25kill himself. After he had three times tried to kill himself she gave
26all her children away to his relations & said she would devote her
27life to nursing him, as the doctors said his case was softening of the
28brain & hopeless. He got worse & worse; at last she gave him & then
29let him go to an asylum where he never saw her or the children or any
30of his friends & he began to get better, but as soon as he saw any of
31his relations of friends, especially her whom she ^he^ had tenderly
32loved he went back.
34 They left him there for some years: & he is now so well that he lives
35again with her & the children & writes brilliant articles in the
36magazines! This gives one hope. I am only sorry that the man who is
37attending him is some one from the Highlands ^Dr Berry tells me^. I
38should like every link with the past broken for a while. But there is
39this great comfort that you can hear exact news of him weekly. I do
40wish they him some gardening or more or less ?comforting physical work
41to do. Pretend to him he must work to earn his living & that he can’t
42get his meals till he’s done so much. They did so with a man I knew in
43England & the affect was wonderful. The one thing that makes me very
44anxious is that his physical health seems good. Those cases are always
45the most hopeful where there is terrible physical weakness & falling
46away of flesh. Oh my darling I have no words to tell you how I feel
47for you, & dear Wynnie & Effie.
49^I know how hard it is for you all.
52 Good bye my dear one
53 Olive^
55 ^There is a wealthy lady here who I fancy would like to send a daughter
56of about 14 to you who suffers slightly from fits which they fear may
57become epileptic. Have you room for more? Is Eveline ?Centlivres
58getting better? Is the place paying now? I do hope so.^