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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner BC16/Box2/Fold4/1901/1
ArchiveUniversity of Cape Town, Manuscripts & Archives, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter DateThursday January 1901
Address FromHanover, Northern Cape
Address To
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 month and year have been written on this letter in an unknown hand. Schreiner was resident in Hanover from September 1900 to October 1907, after 1902 with visits, sometimes fairly lengthy, elsewhere. The name of the addressee is indicated by salutation.
1 Dear Friend
2
3 I was very glad to get your letter, though letterwriting does not seem
4to be worth much now a days The commando as you will have seen from
5the papers, is said to have past through the south of Middle bu
6Hanover district & now to be between Middelberg & Graaff Reinet. They
7visited some farms ^Dutch & English^ in this district, but only
8commandeered a couple of horses, & did no harm to any one. It We have
9a lot of soldiers here defending the town, Brabant’s Horse, I think.
10not unreadable so
11
12 Two trains have been taken near Naauport by the Boers. One I The Boer
13commandent when the one train was taken came up to the woman
14passengers & assured them they were quite safe that there was nothing
15to fear, & gave one lady some brandy & water in his mug, who was
16fainting & crying out with excitement. He then went round & gave
17several of the wounded English soldiers brandy & water, with his own
18hand. They only burnt the goods trucks & disarmed the soldiers & let
19the passengers come on. Some one who came from Phillips town when the
20commando was there says it was a very curious thing to hear the
21commando morning & evening singing psalms in the koppjes. There was a
22drizzling rain, & through the mist you could hear them singing among
23the rocks. They are a strange people these, how little the world
24understands them? People know them very little if they suppose they
25are going to take revenge for the house burning & destruction in the
26Republics. It is curious to hear how kindly they talk of these
27soldiers here. One woman said to me yesterday, "I pray to God if the
28commando ever comes, & there is any fighting here, that none of these
29poor English soldiers get killed. I hope the commando will just say
30"Hands up," & so no one will be hurt." I have never yet heard a word
31of bitterness from any soul here with regard to soldiers, but they
32feel very bitter with regard to the civil authorities who have brought
33martial law here, & are doing all they can to embitter their lives.
34
35 Please send this letter Cron, at once. He doesn’t seem to get my
36letters to him. I am so very glad he is with his mother in Cape Town &
37so glad you & Miss Greene are not here. If Miss Hobhouse came up she
38would be all right, the jingoes would not dare to do anything to her.
39But I doubt much whether Milner will give her a pass ^: I have no fear
40of the English soldiers nor of the Boers.^
41
42 Good bye dear.
43 Yours ever
44 Olive
45
46
47
Notation
Schreiner's comment about never receiving letters from Cronwright-Schreiner was passed on by Betty Molteno, with his response to Molteno, mis-dated 5 January 1900 (it was January 1901), as follows:

Private
‘...Thank you for Olive’s note of the 2nd, which I now return. She is wrong in stating that I’ll I “seem never to get” her letters. I hear from her by every train that comes down ^(practically every day)^ and I write to her daily and always particularly acknowledge the receipt of each ^letter^. ^As^ she gets my letters quite regularly, I can’t understand how she comes to the conclusion that I “never seem to get her” letters. I wish she could be got to some quiet place. It is not good for her to be there. But what can one do under the present horrible conditions? She really ought to be out of the country, in Italy for instance: but there’s the sea journey which I fear she might not be able to stand, as she seems very much run down. I have asked her to see a Dr there. If she is really ill & can get his certificate, the authorities may let her go away or let me up to take her away.’

VRE