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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner BC16/Box2/Fold1/Jan-June1899/14
ArchiveUniversity of Cape Town, Manuscripts & Archives, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date17 April 1899
Address From2 Primrose Terrace, Berea, Johannesburg, Transvaal
Address To
Who ToBetty Molteno
Other VersionsRive 1987: 359-60
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 date has been written on this letter in an unknown hand. The name of the addressee is indicated by salutation and content.
1 2 Primrose Terrace
2 Berea Estate
4 Dear Friend
6 Your letter made me very glad. Cron said when I told him you were
7perhaps coming in June "That’s fine!"
9 I do hope you will be able to come. We’ll have such fine times out
10on the larks ridge & June is the best month of the year here between
11the rain season, & the wind season. I am sure the complete change will
12rest you, & oh how good it will be for me. And we’ll go to Pretoria
13& see Oom Paul. It’ll be cold & stimulating too, & Miss Greene will
14be able to fancy it’s England.
16 I do wish I could ask you to stay here. I’ve got a large empty room
17with not a thing in it & I could easily hire two beds, & we could all
18share the washingstand in the bath room. The difficulty is about
19Cron’s mother. I had not been here two weeks before she wrote &
20proposed that I have the two sons here to board with me, & that she &
21her daughter should come & live with us. ^This is Private.^ I couldn’t
22say yes. It meant the giving up of all possibility of work for my life,
23 & I have absolutely not the strength.
25 All this has been very sore to me; one of the bitterest troubles of my
26whole life. But I have done the only thing I could. I know she expects
27me to invite her to come, & spend next summer with me: but I can’t.
28I’ve thought it out. & I don’t feel it right. I know all the
29family are feeling pained with me. They would never understand that
30you & Miss Greene or Mrs Sauer, who would take just what I had & not
31object to our simple way of living but quite rather enjoy it, are
32quite different from people who depend so much on the little external
33comforts of life. There is a boarding house near here which is very
34nicely situated, & if you could get a room there you could come & take
35all your meals with us & we could be together all day; & at the same
36time the dear old lady would not feel pained by thinking I had other
37people in my house, when I could not have. She is really an
38excellently fine & noble old old woman in many ways, truthful &
39straightforward, but with an inaptitude for seeing that other people
40also have their lives to live & duties to perform. She is to me an
41interesting study. An iron & indomitable will; mighty affections,
42concentrated on herself & her ^own^ children; without one drop over for
43any other soul. Her absolute control over her children is something I
44have never seen equalled. They seem helpless & without wills where she
45is concerned. ^The day after^ tomorrow I am going to take two of
46Cron’s cousins over to Pretoria to see the old President, & I shall
47see Smuts & Reitzs & hear the news from that side. I believe myself
48that Chamberlain means war; & that nothing we here can do will stop
49him. G
51 I’m so glad the new paper is out, but its almost too late. I am
52afraid Chamberlain & Rhodes have gone so far there is no drawing back
53now. To me this South African problem is never in any sense one of
54Dutch & English. It is to me only capitalist foreign speculators &
55investors against the people.
57 Good bye dear heart. Oh do come.
58 Olive
60 ^I’m so ?new^
Rive's (1987) version of this letter has been misdated, omits part of the letter, and is also in a number of respects incorrect.