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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner BC16/Box1/Fold5/1898/29
ArchiveUniversity of Cape Town, Manuscripts & Archives, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date26 September 1898
Address FromThe Homestead, Kimberley, Northern Cape
Address ToGirls Collegiate School, Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape
Who ToBetty Molteno
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. This letter is by and from Olive Schreiner, with Cronwright-Schreiner acting as her secretary or amanuensis. The name of the addressee and the address the letter was sent to are provided by an attached envelope. The name of the addressee is also indicated by salutation and content.
1 The Homestead
2 Kimberley
3 26 Sept. 1898
5 My dear Friend
7 I should have replied to your two kind notes to me but that Olive has
8written to you herself. She has asked me to write to you this morning
9& tell you that she will soon probably go to, or near, Beaufort West,
10or to Johannesburg, for a change. She says perhaps you may be able to
11join her. It would be so nice if you could. For a day or two after her
12return she was very well, though still feeling the strain she suffered
13on her trip, but last Saturday week, when it was very raw & cold, she
14drove out in the afternoon, with the result that that night she had a
15very bad attack of asthma which lasted night through next day and into
16the night, and quite prostrated her. Though she got over it
17comparatively, she has not been quite free of asthma since. Last night
18again she had a very bad attack, & today is quite broken down. She
19says it is her heart: this makes me very anxious ^as her heart is weak.^
20She is very despondent about herself, unnecessarily so, I hope; but
21the agony she goes through is enough to destroy a even a more
22magnificent constitution than her own. She has never been well here
23since our neighbour started a stable. Ah! The tragedy of what to most
24is such a trifle! The smell of stables is particularly pernicious to
25her, & the effluvium of the stable hangs about, especially at night,
26to such an extent as at times to be thoroughly disagreeable even to
27myself whom it does not affect injuriously.
29 Unless some radical change comes over her, I do not think she can
30continue to live here. Her journey to Jo’burg (whither I think she
31is likely to go rather than to B. West) is partly with a view to
32ascertaining whether she will be well there now. If she is, we must
33trek – a very awkward state of affairs unless I can get some work
34there. I will advise you definitely of her movements. I think she will
35be well in Jo’burg. Last time we went up, she was quite broken down
36when we left here, but she was quite ^splendidly^ well up there at once,
37"well, like other people", as she touchingly remarked. Poor little
38woman; I do not suppose anyone but myself knows at all what a life of
39physical agony she leads - which to her means the acutest mental agony
40because it prevents her going on with her literary work. And one can
41do next to nothing for her.
43 I cannot accompany her on these trips, for the simple reason that our
44funds won’t run to it. As you say, she ought not to be alone in any
45place where she may be ill, but the difficulty is that she can endure
46so few people under such conditions. You & Miss Green are always a
47delight to her; I do not know how to thank you for your goodness to
48her recently. She wants to love, in fact does love, all nature,
49animate & inanimate, with an all absorbing strenuous love, but so few
50people want can endure the strain of such a consuming exalted passion:
51they don’t want it and don't understand it. I think, however, in
52fact, feel sure she’ll be well in J’burg. I am today writing to Dr
about a room. Hospital Hill is about 6,000 feet, which is 2000
54higher than this. I think she’ll have Dr ?Costhuis out to thoroughly
55examine her today: I wish we had a better man; he has a kind of
56sympathy (in a related form) which is necessary in any medical man who
57attends her, but I wish I had more faith in his ability.
59 Goodbye. We are both grateful to you & Miss Greene. Love from us both.
60 Your friend,
61 S.C. Cronwright Schreiner