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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner BC16/Box3/Fold6/1907/31
ArchiveUniversity of Cape Town, Manuscripts & Archives, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date30 November 1907
Address FromHanover, Northern Cape
Address To
Who ToWilliam Philip ('Will') Schreiner
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.
1 Hanover
2 Nov 30th 1907
4 My dear old Man
6 Let me know when there is any chance of seeing you on your way to
7Queenstown; there is much I want to say to you but I’m ^not^ up to
10 I would like to see you enter parliament if you enter it at all an
11absolutely free man having taken up the mantle of no man. But politics
12is to me a sore sore sordid thing all through except f in these great
13rare time of crisis when once in 100 years men are quite lifted out of
14themselves & the wretched little personal questions by some great aim.
16 Private
18 Cron has had a nasty blow at Beaufort West. Old Weelar has played him
19one of the dirtiest tricks a man ever played on another; "Bonapart
20Blenkins" isn’t in it! The things is that he trusted Weelar, & would
21hear me when I told him what he was; "I know him, & you don’t." was
22always his male reply. Why is it men will always judge of men & women
23by their words which can always lie, instead of by their faces or &
24the ring in their voices, & even their way of walking, which can never
25lie. But it isn’t quite fair to say all men judge so; some men like
26Ed Carpenter & Havelock Ellis are far keener judges from reality, &
27would be far more difficult to take in by words than I am. Poor old
28Cron was quite broken for some days it seemed to me, & hardly spoke at
29all. If men like you & Cron who have not the "political instinct" then
30they must expect blow, upon blow, upon blow! It’s not a very high or
31noble gift, no one need regret very much not having it. Its an inborn
32gift like the ear for music Malan has it, & uses it. on the whole in a
33very noble way, Sauer has it (what ^as Jim^ Innes used to say of him, "a
34marvellously political nose!") Hofmeyr has it, & hasn’t got much
35else, but has it to a pre-ternatural extent ^but only in a small mean way.^
36It tells you what men really mean, when they shake your hand & promise
37to vote for you & ^say^ that you will come in at the top of the poll &
38need have no fear; it tells you how large numbers of people are moving,
39 & will move & most move; & its shows you the line of political action
40which will arise years before hand, if you have it in its highest form.
41 It is quite distinct from all principles & views; it is simply a
42per-ception of what is, & of what is & is not possible. A good great
43man will use it in a good great way, a small bad man in a small one.
44But its absolutely necessary to be a successful politician: & why men
45who haven’t got it should want to go into politics I can’t
46understand. With your wonder ful intellectual gifts & your attractive
47& magnetic personality you might have succeeded in almost any line of
48life you had taken up, except too, you will ^would^ never be a really
49successful politician or a successful money-maker ie speculator &c (no
50Schreiner ever could succeed in the latter. You would make a splendid
51judge, a good administrator, a first ^rate^ Governor, & many other
52things; but, as a party politician or a fin money-maker, the rare
53gifts you have are of not avail, & the gifts you have not are wanted.
54I only hope ^to^ see you Chief justice one of these days, & perhaps
55later a Governor of one of the Colonies (If you don’t spoil all your
56chances while you are a politician!!!) Your clue was not to have
57allied yourself, directly or indirectly, with the leaders of another
58party: to have gone into parliament owing nothing to any human one
59^creature^ but your ^own^ electors: & then to have sat down quietly in the
60crossbenches, attacking no one, defending no one, dealing only with
61principles & ideas in a large way - & to have waited! – waited!
64 By coming in as the mantle-up-picker of Jameson (I know you don’t,
65you don’t pick it up. I know you are nothing to him; but the world
!) you have prevented that falling to pieces of the SA Party
67& it’s reorganization on healthier lines. From your own stand point
68especially, you are doing exactly all you don’t want to do!! If
69Jameson had just quietly with drawn & not stood for relection, & there
70had been no powerful de Beers movement any where, it would have been
71impossible to keep all the so called South African part together, &
72both parties would have broken up during the first year, as they must
, on questions of principle. But what I believe to be a
74great good has been put off indefinitely. Men forming financial rings
75shall not rule the country says says the best sense of the country,
76whether they be "de Beers & Chartered Men", or "Wine Sellers &
77Growers", what is best & bravest in the country will fight them.
79 Good bye darling. I can’t write any more I’m a broken stick.
80 Olive
82 Private
84 Malan is fighting all he can for Cron, but even so it is touch & go
85whether he will be strong enough to bring him in. And Cron came back
86from his tour so certain his seat. was perfectly safe, that there
87would be no SA opposition!!!!
89 Do you know there’s a very stiff pull feeling pull against each each
90other between the Transvaal & Freestate Governments just now? Much
91stronger than before. (This is of course strictly private). I have it
92on the best authority. If I could afford it I would go up to the
95^to see how things really are going.^