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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner BC16/Box1/Fold3/1896/6
ArchiveUniversity of Cape Town, Manuscripts & Archives, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date20 January 1896
Address FromMiddelburg, Eastern Cape
Address To
Who ToWilliam Philip ('Will') Schreiner
Other VersionsRive 1987: 264-5
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. Schreiner has misdated the year this letter was written in, which is clearly 1896.
1 Middelburg
2 Jan 20 / 95
4 My dear Laddie
6 I have been laid up for some days, with immensely bad cough or would
7have written.
9 What I want to explain to you now is about the poor little mother. She
10seems to me quite off her head really!! She wrote to me some ten days ago
11a most wild letter, saying there were terrible accusations made
12against you that people said that you & Rhodes had send Jameson & knew
13of his ?rade &c, &c, &c - & in fact wrote as though you were in danger
14of being hanged or something of the sort!!
16 I never discuss any political matter with her of course –, always
17carefully avoiding such topics –, but seeing her in such distress I
18thought I would make matters straight for her by telling her that she
19was quite mistaken; that I had seen all the papers &c, that no human
20being was accusing you of being concerned I in the plot with Rhodes -
21& that my private opinion was that you would be made Prime ^Minister^
22when parliament met – at least that it was quite on the cards.
23unreadable I shou - & that no man was at present standing better in
24public opinion & especiall with the Dutch than you.
26 I thought this would comfort & over joy her heart, but was surprised
27yesterday to get a letter from her saying that my letter was cruel;
28that an accusation made against Rhodes was ^the some thing as^ made
29against you &c &c. I enclose you my reply to this extraordinary letter
30– but what I am anxious you should understand, dear, is that when I
31wrote telling mother you had broken politically with Rhodes & that
32everyone knew it I had not got your letter I was writing entirely off
33my own bat
. I want you to understand that anything you like to write
34to me in entirely sacred; that I will not even to show it to Cron, if
35you wished other wise; & that. If you do wish it known that you
36are not on the side of Rhodes & the Chartered company in this
37^Transvaal^ matter, then you had better write & tell the dear little
38mother so; because in her love for you she might do harm. I heard from
39some one in Grahamstown this morning that they had thought you were
40opposed to Rhodes in this Chartered move on the Transvaal, but that
41mother says you are heart & soul with Rhodes. I would write a wise
42very tender letter to the dear old lady ^if I were you^ & tell her that
43in these troublous times, it is best for the relatives of public men
44to be very careful what they say of them. I am always very careful not
45to answer questions about you put to me by any one, because people
46always suppose that a man’s relatives speak with authority.
48^I wish I could write more dear, but I’m very unwell. ^
50 Olive, your little sis
52 ^Of course, you mustn’t mention to the dear little mother that I
53advised you to write. unreadable She might misunderstand it.^
Rive's (1987) version omits part of this letter and is also in a number of respects incorrect.