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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner BC16/Box2/Fold1/Jan-June1899/8
ArchiveUniversity of Cape Town, Manuscripts & Archives, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date8 March 1899
Address From2 Primrose Terrace, Berea, Johannesburg, Transvaal
Address ToUmtata, Kaffir Land, via King Williamstown, Cape Colony (Eastern Cape)
Who ToWilliam Philip ('Will') Schreiner
Other Versions
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 address this letter was sent to is provided by an attached envelope. The final insertion is written on the attached envelope.
1 2 Primrose Terrace
2 Berea Estate
3 Johannesburg
4 March 8 / 99
5
6 Dear Laddie
7
8 I have your wire; the long letter I want to write I can’t write
9today. This is a note on business. Yesterday I got the enclosed letter
10from the little mother I have thought over it all night & have
11resolved to send it you. I have felt that if the little mother should
12die soon you might feel I had not quite done my duty by you in not
13letting you know I am sending her by todays post £12; that will be a
14pound a month for one year, & so she can write to the dear old man at
15Eastbourne & tell him to send her only £4 a month; but if you felt
16you were able to add £2 a month he would only have to send £2 which
17he would not feel much.
18
19 I know how in your present position you must be pushed for money; but
20if one could relieve the intense pain the little mother evidently
21feels at taking the poor £5 a month from Fred alone I know you will
22feel as I do that it is a joy to help her. During the last 19 years
23since I went home & asked Fred to give mother the allowance of £60 a
24year he has given mother of course over £1,200 & I think he does feel
25that the rest of the family might help a little. I think this from
26something he said to me in England though I have been of course most
27careful not to breathe such a thing to mother. If we could only all of
28us, her five children) spare her £1 a month she would have the little
29sum she requires. I sent her £20 last year but this year I have been
30a bit hard pressed (Ortsman has refused to pay me that £51 for my
31article which he published) & I sent her only £1 at Xmas instead of
32the £5 I always send if I can.
33
34 The dream of my life is that before mother dies I should have earnt
35enough to make her last few years free money ?anxiety; but it seems
36almost more likely that I may not at last be able to support myself.
37But I may pull together yet.
38
39 Ah Will, when I think of what other mothers demand from their children,
40 you don’t know how heroic our little mother seems at our £80
41plodding on on her £60 & never asking for more. Cron’s mother with
42when getting £25 a month! was always grumbling & complaining & asking
43for more. And even Fan’s old mother had £300 a year & was able to
44make her daughter wait on her & her own house. Last year the dear
45little little mother wrote to me in the greatest distress that she
46owed Greatham £2 ^& had got a bit behind hand with her little grocery bill^
47& asked me to lend it her, & the very day the £5 came from Fred she
48returned it me, & would not hear of keeping it!
49
50 Its a curious thing in life, especially with regard to woman, that the
51more you complain & demand the more you get. Cron & his brothers a
52sacrificing their whole life lives to their mother, & yet they are
53affected by the abiding consciousness that they are not doing for her
54what they ought. It think it is the contrast between her & our little
55mother which makes me feel such sympathy with her. I gave Cron’s
56mother £120 out of the money I got for Peter Halket, & she never even
57has written to thank me: but at once wrote to say that her daughter
58needed a new piano the old one was not good enough; & that when Cron &
59I were struggling along on less than £200 a year I doing all the
60washing & ironing myself! It has made me realize how really great our
61little mother’s conduct is being satisfied with £5 a month. It not
62much you know Will, when you have to pay £1 a month rent as she does,
63it only leaves £4 for food clothes, Doctors bills, stamps, medicine
64&c.
65
66 Be careful in writing to the little mother not to tell her I sent you
67her letter, but to that I wrote to you asking you to pay £24 a year
68towards the £5. Dear I know you will be glad I have written to you,
69eh? I have only done it after much thought. I do realized so clearly
70how in present position you need to exercise great economy.
71
72 Your little sis
73 Olive
74
75 ^I hope to feel more fit & send you a letter about many things in a few
76days. All good be with you my dear Laddie.^
77
78 ^Willie Brown the son of my friend Dr Brown is dead. Suddenly at
79unreadable Return Mother.^
80
Notation
There is a note attached in very shaky writing from Rebecca Schreiner to one of her children, probably Olive, which has not been transcribed because it is almost impossible to read.