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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner BC16/Box1/Fold3/1896/32
ArchiveUniversity of Cape Town, Manuscripts & Archives, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date21 October 1896
Address FromThe Homestead, Kimberley, Northern Cape
Address To
Who ToBetty Molteno
Other VersionsRive 1987: 293-4
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. The name of the addressee is indicated by content.
1 The Homestead
2 Sep 20 / 96
3 Oct 21st 1896
5 Dear Friend
7 I’m just writing a line to tell you I’m getting stronger, as you
8might think I was very bad. Please I’ll send you my story Peter
when I’ve done copying it out. I know you will call it a
10Christian story, but it’s not, it’s only human!!!!!
12 It isn’t, you know, for lack of money to pay my passage ^&c^ that I
13can’t go in November, but I must have my book done; so that if I get
14ill or can’t work for the year & a half while we are in England
15^Europe^ my mind may be at rest. I never can work in England, the
16climate makes me too ill; but in Italy I can, & even in Paris.
18 Cron has plenty of money too, but I made him promise before we got
19married ^engaged^ that he would go on spending all his spare money for
20his mother & sister, just as he had before. The first step towards
21true & beautiful marriages, seems to me & has always seemed ^to be^ that
22marriage & material interests should be severed; exactly as friendship
23& material interests should be severed.
25 Suppose immediately you expressed affection & sympathy for another
26woman, she began to ask you how much you had in the bank & what your
27means were before she started a friendship with you – where would
28the beauty & joy of it be!
30 Of course two souls that really care for eachother, whether they be of
31the same sex or opposite sexes whether they be merely friends, or
32husband & wife, will always carefully consider each others ?material
33good, & if they can help each other, they will do so - but that is
34quite a different thing from basing a demand on all another has, on
35the fact of an affection
37 Suppose There are half a dozen people in the world not related to me
38in any way, whom if I thought they were in need of material help, I
39would think myself of the most p simple necessity to supply, not from
40a sense of duty, but as a joy – but that’s quite a different thing
41from a demand! The more I have studied marriage the more it has always
42seemed to h me that the root of all evil is the putting the physical &
43material before the spiritual. I’ve seen such ghastly pictures of
44marriage – men & women living together peacefully all their lives
45not bound by any true spiritual or intellectual tie by but simply by
46there common material interest, that I have perhaps almost a morbid
47horror of husband & wife mingling up their material
49^interests. It’s principally for Cron’s sake I want to go to Europe,
50 but for mine too. I’ve such an idea before I die, of going to look
51at the art in Italy with him & hearing the music at the Richter
52concerts. But life is so beautiful here I shouldn’t want any more. ^
54 Good bye. Give my love to Miss Green.
55 Yours ever & ever
56 Olive
Rive's (1987) version omits part of this letter and is also in a number of respects incorrect.