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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner BC16/Box3/Fold4/1905/9
ArchiveUniversity of Cape Town, Manuscripts & Archives, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date6 March 1905
Address FromHanover, Northern Cape
Address To
Who ToBetty Molteno
Other Versions
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. The name of the addressee of this letter is indicated by salutation and content. An attached black edged mourning envelope with no postmark provides the name of the addressee and the address the letter was sent to.
1 Hanover
2 March 6 / 05
4 My darling Friend
6 I do hope that influenza has not paid you a long visit. You are not in
7a state of health to be pulled down further.
9 I wonder if as soon as you get better you will not go on the continent
10a little. Soon it will be getting to hot to enjoy most parts of Italy,
11& the rainy season comes on in Rome & elsewhere. I am keeping very
12well. We are having our brief spell of fine weather here. Yesterday
13the wind hardly blew
!!! When we get back here in the middle of June
14there will likely be 14 degrees of frost & cutting winds day & night!
15I have been reading three books on central Asia, & it seems to me that
16the only climate exactly like Hanover in the world
18^are the highland desert plains of central Asia. I am so glad Hellens
19school seems answering. Its such a pity you can’t get your money out
20of Nel’s Poort now. Farms, lovely farms are going for an old song.
21It seems to me it would be so beautiful if you would make a "home" out
22here while Miss Greene is working up that school, & then she could
23come when her work is over, & she begins to hunger as she will, to the
24dry air of Africa. Cron would help you all he could in business
25matters, & he’s so good at business. ^
27 Olive
The Schreiner Letters Project is grateful to John Barham and the Greene Family for kindly allowing us to include the following related letter from Alice Greene to Olive Schreiner, which is part of the family collections:

85 Newmarket Rd.
7 / 3 / 05

Darling Friend,

How often & often I have thought of you during the last two months when I, too, have been cabined & confined by pots & pans, puddings & pies & all the etceteras of housekeeping! I have pictured you every day, I think, in the little house at Hanover, & you cannot think how lovely the entire picture is, - you & your little boy, & the mere-cats & poor Nita, & the lovely house ^room^ with the ?Holy-land view back & front, & the picture of the dying saint with the big feet, & everything else. But I have never been able to write one word, because somehow I couldn’t. I find I dont fit extra well into England & its ways now, & of all desperately bad people to run a decorous English house I am about the worst. I feel as if I had been at boarding-school with a vengeance!

However, this is not a grumble, because I have loved doing it for Helen, & have been of use, I know I have, & it has been great fun, in a way, learning how to do things English fashion, & I am heaps more experienced than I was two months ago, & I have had our darling friend with me nearly all the time, & so I have been happy. Just that one last thing is enough to make me that, leaving out all the rest.

However, when all is said & done I expect I shall come out of this experiment in April with the resolve that never, never again will I let a house sit upon my shoulders. I feel as if I would rather live in a tent or a wagon all my days! Dont take this seriously. It is only to show you that I know how you must feel sometimes. But the whole thing has been very salutary. I know now where I belong, - & it is not to proper English life.

After all this about being tied & bound to a house you will guess that I was puzzled how to execute your commission about the sewing-machine. For Norwich is quite beyond running^-up^ distance to London, & I dont think I could even have managed ^even^ that. So I wrote to Dr. Alice Corthorn, (who had already written to me about it) & asked her if she could give me any advice on the subject, sending on your letters in which you gave me all the details of the commission. She wrote back saying that she herself was ill, & moreover did not understand machines & such things. But she has a friend who does, & with her help she meant to execute your commission. The bill is to come to us & the machine will then be sent off to await Miss Brown at the docks. I do hope all will be right. I will let you know as soon as I know anything further. We shall all of us be terribly anxious to know whether it really is the one you wanted, because otherwise it will be too dreadful. But I do wish you had never told us to do it, for I feel as if you are really adding the last straw in proposing to make your own clothes! How can you dream of it? Send me your measurements & I am sure some English tailor would do for you all you want. But to waste your precious powers of heart & brain over a sewing-machine! – it is too terrible. I wish I were with you to tell you all I think about it, but writing is a poor means of expressing oneself, & perhaps I shall only vex you with this scolding.

Our darling friend is more precious more beautiful & dear than ever. She is making the most of this rather – for her – dreary waiting-time at Norwich by poking about in all its quaint nooks & corners. We study it together as much as possible, & I think in time to come, when serv-ants, bills, puddings & tradesmen have all faded from one’s mind, Norwich will stand out as another of our lovely bits of life together, when we sat listening to lovely music in the old Cathedral, explored the Castle, dropped into quaint Churches with exquisite windows, explored all the old winding highways & byeways of this historic old city & altogether enjoyed ourselves in our own way. No time for more.

Dearest love from