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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner BC16/Box2/Fold3/1900/1
ArchiveUniversity of Cape Town, Manuscripts & Archives, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date1 January 1900
Address FromCape Town, Western Cape
Address Toc/o Lucy Molteno, at Mrs Tom Andersen's House, Kenilworth, Cape Town, Western Cape
Who ToBetty Molteno
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 date of this letter has been derived from the postmark on an attached envelope, which also provides the name of the addressee and the address it was sent to. The address the letter was written from is indicated by content.
1 Dear Friend
2
3 I send you a lovely poem of dear old Jackson Millers, sent me from
4America. Your letter astonished me, dear. Why shouldn’t we have
5happy intercourse as happy as we may when death & murder of man by man
6are about us. I have been looking forwards so to you & Miss Green
7coming, for I have been so terribly lonely here. Except my dear little
8sister-in-law I have had hardly a soul to speak to. I have seen
9nothing of the Innes, little of the Sauers, it seems to ^me^ every one
10is so absorbed by their own work that there is little inclination for
11human relations: & after the loneliness of Johannesburg I never felt
12so inclined for them. Even the commonest women in the streets seem to
13me beautiful after the Uitlanders. Cron will I think go on Wednesday
14week. We have been having long talks, & I think he will be able to do
15much good in many ways by enlightening the English as to the two great
16facts that it was a cowardly lie (if he knew it to be untrue, & a
17piece of stupidity if he did not) for him ^Milner^ to say that there was
18a great plan to over-throw England, in Africa, & to say the Colonists
19were rebels when even today I am sure that quite one half if not more
20of the people in the Colony would give their lives for England & six
21months ago there was no wish even on the part of the up country Dutch
22to escape from her rule. Also to prove there never were any Boer
23cruelties at Johannesburg, that it is the Uitlanders who have
24inflicted wrong on the Boer. Cron feels so very bitter against England
25that he may not always put things in such a way as to help England
26towards the path of right - I don’t think you can ever guide people
27unless you feel sympathetic towards them & wish them to do right
28^sympathetically,^ & don’t hate them. But if he feels he ought to go
29no doubt it is the right thing, & I shall do all I can to help him.
30
31 I haven’t asked my brother about that arming the natives in the
32Transvaal. We never dis-cuss politics in any way, as regards the
33Colony. He holds, & quite rightly, that he has no right to speak to
34any one out of the Cabinet of any thing that goes on in it, except
35officially, so I never ask him questions; I have not even mentioned
36Milner’s name to him him since the first week I came nor has he seen
37one of my cables. (He ^My brother^ did not know he was sending them till
38he saw them in the papers.) I am always so afraid of compromising any
39other persons & doing harm by what I do that I never little any human
40being see anything I print till it is in print. England Then I only am
41responsible.
42
43 I am finishing my book on the woman question & the Stray Thought
44pieces
, & hope Cron will be able to get them published while he is in
45England, & then I shall have plenty of money. Aren’t there many
46things now one needs to do with money, not for oneself.
47
48 Good bye my own darling friend
49 Olive
50
51 ^As long as the ministers I hope the ministry are pulling cordially
52together. As long as they are a cabinet they must be loyal to one
53another. My brother has never said a word that was not appreciative &
54sympathetic of any of his colleagues. I should be glad for his sake to
55see them go out of office because I see the pressure is almost killing
56him, but I don’t know enough to know whether it is the duty of the
57ministry to go out, or whether they would be doing wrong. I have not
58seen Milner since the day after I came here. He doesn’t want to see me.^
59
60 ^My sister-in-law & ^brothers^ the children all leave for Kalk bay today,
61& I shall be alone for the next two months after Cron has gone. I am
62going to get all my writing done that I can go to England or America
63or the Transvaal if necessary.^
64
Notation
The poem by Jackson Miller cannot be traced. The 'book on the woman question' refers to the manuscript, left in Johannesburg when Schreiner went to Karree Kloof in late August 1899, which was destroyed when her house was badly damaged and burned by marauding troops during the South African War; parts of it were published in the US in two articles on 'Woman', and these eventually became Woman and Labour. 'Stray Thoughts on South Africa' was to have been composed by the essays originally published pseudonymously as by 'A Returned South African'. Although prepared for book publication, a dispute with a US publisher and also the events of the South African War prevented this. They and some other essays were posthumously published as Thoughts on South Africa.