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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner BC16/Box2/Fold1/Jan-June1899/27
ArchiveUniversity of Cape Town, Manuscripts & Archives, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date2 June 1899
Address From2 Primrose Terrace, Berea, Johannesburg, Transvaal
Address ToPrime Minister's Office, Cape Town, Western Cape
Who ToWilliam Philip ('Will') Schreiner
Other VersionsRive 1987: 356-7
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. 'Personal' has been written on an attached envelope, which also provides the address this letter was sent to.
1 2 Primrose Terrace
2 Berea Estate
3 Johannesburg
4 June 2nd 1899
6 Dear Laddie
8 Your wire was one of the most valued of the things life has brought me.
9 I have been both surprised & deeply touched by the reception my the
10article has met with from hundreds of Uitlanders in Johannesburg. What
11we have to do during the coming years is to bring Dutch & English
12South Africans & all the inhabitants of South Africa into closer touch
13& kinship.
15 I wish I were not so very poor, then I would give the money & on the
16same day I would set up two monuments one over the grave on Doornkop
17where the poor English boys are lying, who Jamieson brought in to
18their deaths, & another at Slachters Nek, (the Doornkop monument to be
19subscribed to by all African women with Dutch blood if they wished it,
20& the one at Slachters Nek to be subscribed to by all English women if
21they wished to) unreadable this that verse of old Burns on both
23 "Then let us pray
24 that come it may,
25 As come it will for a’that;
26 That sense & worth, o’er a’the earth,
27 May bear the gree, & a’that
28 For a’that & a’that
29 It’s coming yet, for that;
30 That man to man the world o’er
31 Shall brothers be for a’that."
33 We might have a great day at both places, & so to speak bury our war
34hatchet, being only South Africans.
36 What I feel so profoundly is that what divides the truth loving just &
37sincere on both sides now, is only prejudice & wounded pride, & this
38the selfseekers & evildoers take unreadable hold of to work their
39plans. We can’t do away with them, but we can unite the other side.
40There is no real interests to divide the honest working man or
41professional in Johannesburg from the Boer, there is no real interest
42dividing one state from another if prejudice were laid aside.
44 To me of course the whole of our problem is only one tiny section of
45that great question of bringing nearer that great day, when nation
46shall not lift up sword against nation, neither neither shall they
47learn war any more – while we shall not live to see – "but it’s
48coming yet, for a’that."
50 Of course war may come yet & destroy all our plans; but I feel now, as
51if there were some chance of staving it off. But our difficulties will
52not be ended, they will rise again, & we have to continue to struggle
53against them.
55 Good bye my darling Laddie. Love to them all at Lyndall.
57 Your little sister
58 Ol
60 Dear old Reitz has offered to translate the article into Dutch, of
61which I am glad. I had a wire from from him last night to that effect.
62He’s a real good sterling man: there are not many such. Smuts is all
63right but personally ambitious, & that is always a dangerous thing in
64a public man. I hope you men in Cape Town will be able to hold
65together. I realize more deeply than you would think some of your
66personal difficulties there. Tell Solomon how heartily I congratulate
67him on his success. I wish I could meet Milner: but do not like to
68leave Johannesburg till all chance of war is over. I feel as if there
69might be something for me to do here if war broke out, & I couldn’t
70be separated from Cron. If war comes, as long as the Boers are winning
71it will be all right, but as soon as they are loosing they will come
72in & raid the town.
74 I have been hearing much for cattle-burgers who have been out among
75them, & they say they are quite mad. Even the women say if there is
76fighting now they must spare no Uitlanders, they must shoot them all.
78 Ach my dear lad, its a wicked thing. You who are down in Cape Town can
79hardly realize how it looks to us who are here face to face to face
80with it. The majority of Johannesburgers j don’t want to fight,
81won’t fight, & they are to slaughtered to fill the pockets of a few
82speculators, who are none of them brave enough to remain here.
84 I suppose we shall know all in a few days.
86 All the women & children of the Reformers & intriguers have left &
87most of the men. My next door neighbour Mrs Pullinger left yesterday.
The article referred to is An English South African's View of the Situation, originally published in the South African News over three successive days; see 'Words in Season. An English South African's View of the Situation' South African News 1 June 1899 (p.8), 2 June 1899 (p.8) and 3 June 1899 (also p.8). It was also reprinted in a number of other newspapers. It then was published as a pamphlet, then as a book. A second edition of the book was ready but withdrawn from publication by Schreiner when the South African War started in October 1899, so as not to profit from this. Rive's (1987) version omits part of this letter and is also in a number of respects incorrect.