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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner BC16/Box1/Fold3/1896/36
ArchiveUniversity of Cape Town, Manuscripts & Archives, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter DateDecember 1896
Address Fromna
Address To
Who ToWilliam Philip ('Will') Schreiner
Other VersionsRive 1987: 299-300
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
Legend
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 month and year, and the name of the addressee have been written on this letter in an unknown hand. The beginning of the letter is missing.
1[page/s missing]
2
3 to go by that vessel, we are not responsible. It will of course be
4very unpleasant for us. Rhodes & his sister would of course act with
5perfect refinement, but Metcalf & the other low fellows who generally
6follow in his wake may make it very unpleasant for us.
7
8Please And Cron may make it very unpleasant for them if they insult me!
9 But we are going to keep to ourselves as much as possible, & having
10Miss Molteno & Miss Green we shall have a party.
11
12 Yes, Rhodes will say in public nothing!, & in private he will haul up
13those men & say that way war is certain, and wh send them half mad
14with enthusiasm; as one leading Bay man said to Cron, If Rhodes can
15only bring on a war we’ll forgive him everything! And then he will go
16to Cape Town & talk ‘Dear old Afrikander’ to you & Hofmeyr; & you will
17be quite touched. I can understand you but Hofmeyr, that keen
18?pan canny old Dutchman, with not two grains of poetry & emotion
19in his nature!!!! There is coming a big awakening one of these days
20for you two!! The spirit of the Lord is upon me & I could prophesy –
21but I refrain.
22
23 I had a letter lately from one of the jingos in London a man deeply in
24with the Chartered Company, & an intimate friend Jameson & Rhodes, but
25a very old friend of mine. He says to me ‘You don’t see that we must
26bring on a war now, & wipe the Dutchman out of South Africa once &
27forever." It will not be so easy as they think, but if once Rhodes &
28his party can get only two English women, nay only one, shot say in
29the bombardment of Johannesburg, the whole English nation will stand
30up, the evil half simply to smash the cursed Dutchman, the best half
31of the nation simply because they have been made to believe that the
32English are being cruelly oppressed & illtreated by the Boers
, & that
33in wiping out the Dutch they are taking the side of the weak & the
34oppressed. Now it is to this public, which really is the great British
35public apart from the speculators & military men on the one hand, &
36apart from the ignorant jingos of the street on the other, that my
37little book is addressed. If that public lifts its thumb there is war,
38if it turns it down there is peace; now if, as in the present case
39they are indifferent & just letting things drift, there is no knowing
40what they may be surprised into at the laye last moment. It is for
41them & not at all for the South African public th (who would not
42understand it) that the book is written. They must know where the
43injustice & oppression really lies, & turn down their thumbs at the
44right moment.
45
46 But it is ill fighting money. One of my friends, trying to persuade me
47the other day, suggested that if we could crush the Boer now, it might
48be much better for the native in time to come. Now no person feels
49more strongly our duty to the native than I do. But we cannot do wrong
50to day that good many come tomorrow. I cannot understand how any
51person who professes a large humanitarian attitude, & who is actually
52endeavouring to kill out national & racial bias with regard to the
53native, yet indulging it to the uttermost with regard to the Boer. For
54my self, I only by a stern & continual effort seek to regard the
55native as a man & a brother; the Boer I actually do so regard; & the
56very motives which lead me to take up my attitude with regard to the
57native are identically those, which lead me to my attitude towards the
58Boer. "Do unto all men even as ye would that they should do to you"
59
60 Cron has gone in to a meeting of the League to present his report of
61the PE meeting, & I expect there will be very hot discussions.
62
63 Yours Olive
64
65
66
Notation
Rive's (1987) version omits part of this letter and is also in a number of respects incorrect.