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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner BC16/Box3/Fold5/1906/31
ArchiveUniversity of Cape Town, Manuscripts & Archives, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date30 December 1906
Address FromHotel Milner, Matjesfontein, Western 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. The letter is written on printed headed notepaper.
1 Hotel Milner,
2 Matjesfontein
4 Dec 30th 1906
6 Dear Friend
8 I am going to try addressing this letter to Switzerland straight. I
9have also posted this week one letter to Alice at Norwich & last week
10one to her to Harston. You never seem to get my letters. I can’t
11understand it. I am so glad & full of joy for you when I think of the
12happy time which you & Alice will be having together when you get this.
14 Yes, when two human souls are very near together as yours are, it may
15very often happen that as they walk along the path of life one feels
16it must walk on the g right side to gather material, & the other feels
17it must walk on the left; if they both obey the instinct, then when
18they come together again each has more & richer material to build up
19the common life, & so both are richer. When human souls are not really
20united (however much one of them may love the other) then each
21physical separation is a drawing further & further from each other,
22till at last theres nothing left but that only shows there never was
23any real union. It’s so curious with some of my dear friends in
24England how though we’ve been sixteen years divided, we seem to grow
25nearer & nearer. Other people who externally one seemed ^externally^
26just as intimate with one seems to have drifted right away from.
28 May you both have a beautiful & glad new year my beloved friends. I
29cannot say I think you ought to come to Africa this year. Things seem
30to grow sadder & less desirable here year by year. There is no work
31for us here in the public life of the country, at least for me I know
32there is nothing but to forget it as much as possible.
34 Cron came to spend three days with me at Xmas. It was very good to see
35him, but heat & dust & noise of de Aar had told much on him. I am so
36glad he has gone to spend ten days with his mother in Cape Town. He
37tells me his business at de Aar is doing very well, & he is thinking
38of starting a paper at de Aar, ?but as I told you in my last, but I
39suppose you never got it. I am returning to Hanover - & shall live
40there alone likely for a year. The doctor says I cannot go back to de
41Aar ^till we have a house of our own^ as the smell of the engine smoke &
42the dust completely breaks me down, & I can nothing to Cron’s
43happiness or comfort till I have a house I can keep for him.
45^Good bye my beloved friends. My sweet girl Adela Smith is still very
46weak & ill after her operation. She can’t get fat or strong. I have
47written to Lady Constance Lytton to see if it might not be possible
48for her to go to Alice’s home in Norwich while Alice is there. I
49some how feel it will cure her. She will love Alice so much & Alice
50will love her But perhaps its not possible. ^
52 Olive
The concern Schreiner expresses in this letter about Adela Smith’s health was long-standing and shared with other people. A few weeks before this letter, in October 1906 Elizabeth Loch, wife of Sir Henry Loch the former Governor of South Africa and also Adela Smith’s aunt, wrote to Schreiner as follows:

44, Elm Park Gardens,

26 Oct 1906

My dear Olive Schreiner

It was so good to see your writing again & thank you for sending me such a kind letter, when you were so ill & suffering – Oh! I do feel so sorry - & I fear when the heart is weak & the breathing difficult from asthma it makes a great deal of suffering – I do hope you will let me know when you are really better, & send me a message when you are writing to unreadable Adela.

We are still very anxious about poor Adela she does not seem really to improve, & is still in bed with the lame system –

I have my dear second daughter Evelyn with me ^in my home^ she came back yesterday after 6 weeks away ^in Scotland^ & goes to her sister at Aldershot tomorrow – I do miss her very much she is so bright & full of life, but she hates London at this time of year so I like her to fly about & get pleasure in it - & I try to get accustomed to my rather lonely life - & when I am well & not depressed I can get on well – but all is so different to what it used to be – tho’ I have so very much to be thankful for.

I shall be so glad to see your brother & his family when they come to England. Will you tell him this from me & ask him to write to me before they arrive & give me their address – the daughters must be at a very interesting age –

I do hope this will find you better dear Olive Schreiner. I cannot bear to think of you suffering.
Yr affate
E. Loch