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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner BC16/Box3/Fold1/1902/23
ArchiveUniversity of Cape Town, Manuscripts & Archives, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date27 July 1902
Address FromHanover, Northern Cape
Address To
Who ToBetty Molteno
Other Versions
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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 name of the addressee is indicated by salutation and content.
1 Hanover
2 July 27 / 02
3
4 Dear Friend
5
6There is much to write of, but there seems to be no time & no strength.
7 Thanks for your P.C.
8
9 Our case defending Pinaar ^the man^ who was charged with murder &
10train-wrecking was lasted from the Friday of one week to the Friday of
11the next. We did all we could to get a shorthand writer from Cradock,
12but none would come though we would have paid anything for it. So I
13had to sit next to Cron & report. I think I got every word down in
14both questions & answers, as all was translated & that gave time to
15write. We fortunately have a good magistrate here, an Englishman Mr
16Strong: who though very strong on the English side conducted the case
17with impartiality, which would not have been the case if we had still
18had that terrible man Van Reinabelt who was here till some months ago.
19The chief witness against Pinaar is a man called Van der Berg the man
20through how whose evidence our three Hanover men were executed at de
21Aar. He goes went about boasting before the trial that he had got
22three of his fellow Africanders shot & he would have a fourth, Pinaar.
23But he will find hm out he was mistaken. We not no only have a number
24of witnesses who hav can show that he lied when he said that he was at
25train with the men against whom he turned Queen’s evidence at de Aar,
26 but we got Commandant Malan as a witness who swears that the ^he^ never
27spoke to this man, & never to his knowledge saw him &c. Malan gave his
28evidence splendidly I think the most terrible thing I have ever seen
29in my life was when we brought the murderer face to face with Malan in
30the court. Cron says he wishes he had never seen it it will haunt him
31to his dying day: that mean wild animals face of the man who has
32brought three innocent men to death & two so near it that they are now
33serving their 5 years sentence at Kimberley, & who is now trying to
34hang another. There was no remorse, no feeling, but it was like the
35face of a wild animal who sees the net tightly about it. One feels as
36if it were such a terrible thing to be human as if ones own humanity
37were degraded in him.
38
39 The preliminary trial of Pinaar is now ended, & we are waiting to hear
40what Tom Graham says of the papers which have been sent down. If he
41commits Pinaar for trial before the judge it will in a way be well
42because it will give the case more prominence, & we are keeping back
43some of our best witnesses ^to appear^ in case it does go before the
44judge. But I don’t see how with the evidence before him the Attorney
45General can do anything but say there is no case against Pinaar. We
46are all waiting for his reply.
47
48 M ^General^ Malan is one the most remarkable men I have ever see; like
49no other human-being but himself, as much an individual character as
50Rhodes or Oom Paul. Cron made a very good remark about him when he
51said he was like a volcano under ice.
52
53 He is not in the least like any other Africander I ever saw. He is a
54young man about 30, with a curious droop in one eyelid. He has
55something of the magnetism about him that Gladstone had. He was to
56have been kept in the prison here, but the magistrate very kindly
57allowed him to go into a private house. He had a guard over him but we
58were allowed to go & see him. Of course you people know nothing about
59him, but he has been running rings round Hanover for the last year & a
60half, catching our scouts just outside of Hanover, giving them coffee
61& sending them back. Have you seen his photos? They don’t do him
62justice or give you the slightest idea of the man!
63
64 The relations of the three executed men were in court. All the world
65will soon they were perfectly innocent. Then I shall be able to die in
66peace. The death of those men has eaten into the very core of my being.
67
68 We are not in our own little house yet. As soon as I’ve moved in if
69I feel well enough I’m going up to Johannesburg. And when I come
70^back^ I hope I shall be able to settle down & do some work, I have so
71much I want to write. But I doubt whether one will ever do any good
72artistic work while one has a house to look after, though it will be
73easier in my own house than in some one elses as now, where you must
74keep every thing scrubbed & shining & clean for their sakes. It is all
75very well for theorists to talk of combining manual labour with mental
76& if it is mere mechanical labour like digging or turning a machine,
77it may be possible to combine both: but complex semiphysical
78semi-mental labour like house keeping ^if you have no servant^ or
79attending to children is the death of any intellect. I sometimes feel
80as if I had become only a machine for cleaning pots & floors. If there
81was any kind of boarding house here which would take us we would go to
82it, but there is none.
83
84 I shall likely be coming down to Cape Town in October to see my mother
85for a few days, as they say she is getting very feeble. I shall see
86you all. It seems too good to be true.
87
88 Is-ie Smuts is still ill & at the sanatorium at Pietermaritzburg Write
89me when you hear of Miss Greene’s safe arrival in England. Cron is
90very busy. He sends much love.
91
92 Olive
93
94
95