Gandhiji led a seven-year long struggle in South Africa from 1907 to 1914 for the security and dignity of the Indian settlers in that country who were subjected to humiliations by the white rulers. In his account of that struggle, Satyagraha in South Africa, he makes special mention of three European women who "never missed an opportunity of doing a good turn to the Indians" - Emily Hobhouse, Olive Schreiner and Elizabeth Molteno.
Gandhiji wrote this book in prison, entirely from memory, not as a definitive history of the satyagraha, but as a guide to his followers in India. It contains a few errors and many omissions. Little is said, for instance, on how these women helped the Indian cause. Not a single letter from these women to Gandhiji in the crucial period of 1913-14 - and they wrote many - is available in the Indian or South African archives. There is little information on their assistance in books on Gandhiji, except for some references, partly erroneous, in the memoirs of Prabhudas Gandhi and Raojibhai Patel.
But in my research on Gandhiji and South Africa, I was able to find some unpublished letters by Gandhiji, through the kind courtesy of the University of Cape Town Libraries, the South African Library and the University of Witwatersrand Library. These letters and further information I obtained from various sources indicate that the intervention and assistance of these remarkable women was crucial in enabling Gandhiji to secure a settlement with General Smuts and return triumphant to his motherland.
The three women - Emily Hobhouse was British and the other two South African - belonged to influential families. They were pacifists, feminists and, indeed, socialists in their outlook. They had courageously opposed the barbarous war launched by British imperialism against the Boers in 1899, and had become intimate friends. They were distressed when peace led to an alliance of Britons and Boers against the Africans, Coloured people and Indians, and responded to appeals by Gandhiji for justice to the Indians.
Two other women associated with them also deserve recognition: Alice Greene and Ruth Alexander.
Gandhiji's acquaintance with the women
Gandhiji came to know Olive Schreiner, Miss Molteno and Miss Greene during his tireless efforts to secure understanding and sympathy among the Europeans. (He was specially interested in friends of the Boers who could use their influence on the regime in the Transvaal and later of the Union of South Africa.) He met Emily Hobhouse and Ruth Alexander only in 1914. He admired these courageous women of principle, not only for their unqualified and unhesitating support of the rights of the Indians, but also for their convictions and sincerity. They too understood and admired him as few Europeans did, and became his intimate friends.
Emily Hobhouse (1860-1926)
Emily Hobhouse, daughter of a churchman in Britain, dedicated herself to the movement in Britain against the Anglo-Boer War. Her visits to the concentration camps in South Africa where Boer women and children were confined - and thousands perished - and her campaign in Britain to help the victims of this dirty war had much to do with the ending of the war. She earned the reverence of the Boer people and the great respect of Boer leaders like General Louis Botha and General Jan Christiaan Smuts.
She had a great regard for India. She had met many Indians at the home of her uncle, Lord (Arthur) Hobhouse, who was a Law Member of the Council of the Government of India and later of the Privy Council. She was, therefore, distressed that the Boers, who had heroically fought for their freedom, joined with the British South Africans after the war to oppress the Indians.
She arrived in South Africa in December 1913 to attend the unveiling of a memorial to Boer women in Bloemfontein, but was forced to remain in Cape Town because of illness. That was the time when Gandhiji most needed help and she provided it without hesitation.
Olive Schreiner was not only the most prominent South African writer of the time but a woman of advanced views. Her writings on the future of South Africa read even today as the most perceptive and prophetic and can well be an inspiration for all those who seek to build a non-racial democratic South Africa.
During her stay in Britain in the 1880s, she developed friendship with Havelock Ellis, Eleanor Aveling, the daughter of Karl Marx, Edward Carpenter, the socialist whom Gandhiji admired, and many other intellectuals.
She vehemently opposed the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902 and was virtually interned by the British authorities.
I do not know when Gandhiji first met Olive Schreiner - it may have been in 1907 when she moved to De Aar - but he was proud of the friendship. Indian Opinion, in an editorial note on January 2, 1909, probably written by Gandhiji, had highly commended her for a letter she wrote on the race problem, commenting that she was of "greater permanent value to the world than a continent of Napoleons."
Gandhiji said in his speech on South Africa at the Kanpur Congress in 1925:
"I claim the privilege of having been a close friend of that great poetess and philanthropist and that most self-effacing woman - Olive Schreiner. She was a friend of the Indians equally with the Natives of South Africa. She knew no distinctions between white and black races. She loved the Indian, the Zulu and the Bantu as her own children... Such precious men and women have also been born and bred in South Africa."
In 1909, when Gandhiji was leaving on a deputation to Britain, Olive Schreiner went to the ship in Cape Town with her sister and, in defiance of the racist authorities, shook hands with Gandhiji and expressed sympathy for the Indian cause. Gandhiji was thrilled. He wrote: "She performed this ceremony most heartily in the presence of a huge crowd and both the sisters were quite for a few minutes with us. Fancy the author of Dreams paying a tribute to passive resistance." She was instrumental in persuading her brother, W.P. Schreiner, a promiment liberal parliamentarian, to support the Indian cause.
The admiration of Gandhiji to Olive Schreiner was reciprocated. She told Mrs. Sarojini Naidu in London in 1914: "Tell your young Indians that Mr. Gandhi is the greatest spirit that has ever come to South Africa; he is the Mazzini of the Movement."
Elizabeth M. (Betty) Molteno (1852-1927)
Betty Molteno came from a very prominent South African family. Her father, Sir John, was the first Prime Minister of the Cape Colony, and her brother was the first Speaker of the South African Parliament.
Tired of riches and leisure, she took to teaching and became principal of a girls' school in Port Elizabeth. She was forced to leave her job because of her opposition to the Anglo-Boer War. She supported Emily Hobhouse and developed a close friendship with her.
She was not happy at the developments after the War and went to England. She met Gandhiji in London in 1909.
Returning to South Africa in 1912 she visited the Phoenix Settlement: "Your sweet Phoenix is a poem - a dream of loveliness," she wrote to Gandhiji.
She bought a cottage at Ohlange, a mile or two from Phoenix, and was there during the crucial phase of the satyagraha, lending invaluable moral support which no European of her standing could conceive of.
Visiting the Phoenix Settlement in November 1913, when Gandhiji was in prison, she saw Soorzai, an invalid Indian worker, brought there by his family and colleagues after he was brutally flogged by his estate manager on suspicion of leading a strike. Soorzai was subsequently jailed and died in prison on December 10th. Miss Molteno went to see the dead body in the hospital, joined the funeral procession organised by the Natal Indian Association in Durban, and later testified at the inquest.
She spoke at an Indian meeting in Durban on January 4th to welcome the Reverend C.F. Andrews - Gandhiji was among the other speakers - and called on Indians to identify with Africa: "Only as you learn to call Africa your Motherland can you become worthy children of her sacred soil."
Indian Opinion (January 7, 1914) quoted her speech as follows:
"... After the Boer War I saw that Boer and Briton would have to unite, but would they try to do it at the cost of their dark brothers? Broken-hearted I went to England. For eight long years I remained away from Africa - in body - never in soul and spirit. And England and Europe have sent me back with this message to white South Africa: `Open your hearts - your souls - to your brethren of colour'. We are in the 20th century. Rise to the heights of this glorious century. Try to comprehend the words of DuBois - that grand and sympathetic soul: `The 20th century will be the century of colour.'
And I say it is also the century of the woman. She, too, is divine and supreme. She, too, must play her God-appointed part - and in this 20th century her part will be a great one."
On January 12, 1914, she spoke at a meeting to welcome Mrs. Sheikh Mehtab and Hanifa Bibi, the two Muslim women passive resisters, on their release from prison. On January 20, she spoke at another meeting to welcome a group of women passive resisters from the Transvaal, and expressed the hope that in the future multi-racial South Africa, women would take a prominent part.
Alice M. Greene (died 1920)
Alice Greene, friend and companion of Miss Molteno, came from another distinguished family. One of her uncles was head of the Admiralty in Britain. Her brother, principal of a public school in Britain, was father of Graham Greene, the famous novelist.
She was Vice-Principal of the school in Port Elizabeth of which Miss Molteno was Principal. She too opposed the Boer war and was an advocate of women's rights.
Ruth Alexander deserves mention in this group though she arrived in South Africa after the Anglo-Boer War and was not involved in the anti-war campaign.
Daughter of an American Jewish scholar, Ruth married Morris Alexander in 1907 at the age of 19 and went to South Africa. Advocate Alexander - a relative of Herman Kallenbach, associate of Gandhiji - was a Jewish leader and liberal Parliamentarian who had been helpful to the Indians. Ruth soon became an admirer, disciple and friend of Olive Schreiner.
Gandhiji first met her in Cape Town in February 1914. He and Kasturba stayed at the Alexander home on their last night in South Africa in July 1914.
The course of the Satyagraha and the situation in December 1913
Gandhiji launched the satyagraha in the Transvaal against the Asiatic Registration Act in 1907. Five hundred Indians courted imprisonment, from among the small Indian population of less than ten thousand in the province. Through the intervention of Albert Cartwright - a journalist respected by the Boers for his opposition to the Ango-Boer War - a provisional agreement was reached with General Smuts and the prisoners were released at the end of January 1908.
But there were misunderstandings on the agreement and the satyagraha was resumed later that year. Two thousand and five hundred persons defied the law by 1909, but the movement seemed to be petering out with no success. Gandhiji went on a deputation to London that year but found the British Government unwilling to intervene. He moved to the Tolstoy Farm in 1911 and seemed to be whiling away his time. He alone perhaps held firm to the faith that true satyagraha, even by one individual, cannot but succeed.
Jail-going was suspended to give time for talks with the Government of the Union of South Africa which was formed in 1910. Gopal Krishna Gokhale visited the country in October 1912 and obtained assurances from General Botha, the Prime Minister, and senior cabinet members (General Smuts and Patrick Duncan) that action would soon be taken to meet the main Indian demands. Gandhiji closed the Tolstoy Farm and moved to the Phoenix Settlement in Durban.
But again, the agreement broke down and satyagraha was resumed in September 1913. This time women were allowed to join the satyagraha, especially since the Courts had refused to recognise Indian marriages and the government refused to validate them. Work stoppage by mine workers was also envisaged, but only on the issue of the three pound tax on Indian labourers who completed indenture and became free.
Gandhiji's wife, Kasturba, insisted on joining the satyagraha, despite her poor health, and was in the first batch from Natal which crossed the Transvaal border in defiance of the law. Two of his sons, Manilal and Ramdas, also went to prison.
Gandhiji expected less than a hundred satyagrahis, but the participation of women electrified the atmosphere. Thousands of workers in the coal mines came out on strike in response to appeals by the women, and Gandhiji led a "great march" of 4,000 workers from Newcastle, Natal, towards the Transvaal border. He was arrested and sentenced on November 11th to nine months' hard labour.
Gandhiji had not intended to extend the strike, but in his absence, it spread spontaneously to the municipalities and plantations. It soon involved some sixty thousand Indians in the largest general strike that South Africa had seen.
The Government mobilised police and the army and together with mineowners and plantation managers, attempted brutal suppression of the strike. Several workers were killed; some were stabbed by Zulu guards, on orders from the managers; thousands were brutally assaulted in mine compounds turned into prisons - but the poor, illiterate workers stood firm in their resolve: "When Gandhi Maharaj is in jail for us, when the the queen and the princes are in prison for us, we will not go to work."
The brutality against the women and the workers aroused opinion in India, and led to protests all over the nation. Contributions for the satyagraha poured in, not only from professionals and students, but even from princes, including the Nizam of Hyderabad. Ratan Tata, the industrialist, made a munificent donation. The Reverend C.F. Andrews and several British residents (missionaries and civil servants) contributed to the fund.
The Indian and British Governments were obliged to act. Under pressure from them, the South African regime appointed a Commission to investigate the Indian grievances and charges of violence, and released Gandhiji and his two European colleagues (Hermann Kallenbach and H.S.L. Polak) on December 18th. With its usual duplicity, however, it appointed to the Commission one judge and two notorious anti-Indian agitators.
On Gandhiji's advice the Indian community pledged to boycott the Commission unless the community was consulted and one or two members acceptable to the community were appointed to the Commission - failing which the struggle would be resumed with a march on New Year's Day.
Leaders in India and Britain who had pressed for an investigation could not understand the seeming intransigence of Gandhiji. Frantic appeals came to him from Gokhale, his mentor; on behalf of Lord Hardinge, the Viceroy, who had publicly expressed sympathy with the satyagraha; and Lord Ampthill, who headed a committee of supporters in Britain. But Gandhiji would not budge from his vow. He was set to go into wilderness.
Intervention of Betty Molteno and Emily Hobhouse
Kasturba was released from prison on December 22nd. She had been on a fruit diet before arrest but the prison authorities deliberately refused her fruit. She came out in shattered health. A huge welcome procession planned in Durban had to be cancelled and she was taken to Phoenix to recuperate.
Miss Molteno went to see her and was shocked to hear of the prison treatment. She could not understand why the government had to be so cruel to the frail woman. She wrote about Kasturba and the Indian struggle to Alice Greene in Cape Town and requested her to speak to Miss Hobhouse.
On December 27th, Gandhiji received a telegram from Miss Hobhouse, whom he and the Boers admired so greatly, appealing to him as a "humble woman" to postpone the march for fifteen days. Gandhiji consulted his colleagues and agreed because of his esteem for her.
This is how Alice Greene described the origin of the telegram:
"She (Miss Hobhouse) was sitting up on her couch... and round her shoulders... was your little Indian shawl from Durban, which I gave her yesterday and which she has worn since. It suited her beautifully. Directly I told her I had sent off a telegram to Gandhi and that you had suggested her sending one too. She instantly took pencil and paper and wrote down a long telegram which I sent off... She sent it to Maritzburg to catch him at the mass meeting this afternoon. It was to the effect that her personal sympathy was intense but that she would venture to advise patience. It would not do to alienate sympathy and even endanger the very cause itself. Could he not wait until the meeting of Parliament before having recourse to further resistance? Even yet English women had not achieved full freedom. She used much gentler language than this, but that was the gist of it. She told him also that everything was being followed with much sympathy and feeling."
She then wrote a long letter to General Smuts recalling her special connection with India through her uncle. She said that as a woman without a vote, she sympathised with other voteless folk as the Indians. She then pressed him to meet and talk to Gandhiji:
"You see January 15 is the date now proposed for another march. Before then some way should be found of giving private assurance to the leaders that saisfaction is coming to them. Their grievance is really moral... never will governmental physical force prevail against a great moral and spiritual upheaval. Wasted time and wasted energy, dear Oom Jannie..."
General Smuts could not possibly ignore an appeal from her. Gandhiji was invited to Pretoria and negotiations began on January 13th. The Reverend C.F. Andrews, who accompanied Gandhiji to Pretoria, wrote:
"There can be no doubt that during the days that followed the influence of Miss Hobhouse with the Boer leaders did much to pave the way to a reconciliation. While we were in Pretoria she wrote again and again both to Mr. Gandhi and myself. She thus kept herself in touch with the whole negotiations and took part in them."
Gandhiji was surprised to see a great change in the attitude of General Smuts and that was undoubtedly due to Miss Hobhouse. A provisional agreement was reached on January 22, 1914.
Gandhiji in Cape Town
Gandhiji and Kasturba went to Cape Town in mid-February to bid farewell to the Reverend C.F. Andrews and to follow the developments on the Indian question. Kasturba's condition deteriorated and gave cause for grave concern.
Miss Molteno, Miss Greene and Mrs. Alexander frequently visited the Gandhis at the home of Dr. A.H. Gool where they stayed and enquired about her health. The aristocracy of South Africa was thus visiting and paying respects to a simple woman from India and her husband!
Miss Molteno was busy introducing Gandhiji to influential personalities. Gandhiji wrote to Kallenbach on February 25, 1914:
"What is happening just now is that I am becoming a society man and Miss Molteno is the instrument... She is undoubtedly a tactful peacemaker."
Miss Molteno not only took the Gandhis to the palatial Molteno estate, but arranged for them to meet Miss Hobhouse who was now staying at Groote Schuur, the residence of the Prime Minister, as the guest of General and Mrs. Botha. There they met Mrs. Botha - as well as Mrs. Gladstone, the wife of the Governor-General - who were both friendly and considerate.
Gandhiji had written many times to General Botha for an interview but without success. But a few days after meeting the Gandhis, Miss Hobhouse invited Gandhiji again for a discussion at Groote Schuur - and General and Mrs. Botha joined them.
When Miss Hobhouse died, Gandhiji wrote in an obituary in Young India on July 15, 1926:
"She played no mean part at the settlement of 1914...
"Let the women of India treasure the memory of this great Englishwoman."
Gandhiji cherished the friendship of these women and tried to maintain continuing contact.
When he went to London in August 1914 - and he soon fell ill - Olive Schreiner was already there and rather ill. They kept in contact through Hermann Kallenbach.
Olive Schreiner, as a pacifist, was very upset when Gandhiji decided to raise an Indian Volunteer Corps during the First World War. But she continued her friendship and spoke at a farewell meeting on the eve of his departure for India.
Also in London, Gandhiji visited Miss Hobhouse who was equally opposed to the war.
Mrs. Schreiner died soon after the end of the War and I am aware of no letters by her to Gandhiji after 1914. But Gandhiji and Miss Hobhouse continued correspondence until her death.
Mrs. Ruth Alexander sent a letter to Gandhiji on April 4, 1926, through the Reverend C.F. Andrews. She wrote:
"Dear Mr. Gandhi, I am touched more than I can tell you when I look back at the time when you did me the great honour to stay with me and to talk with me, and remembered how patient you always were with me, how uncondemning even of things you must have disapproved. It was wonderful of you.
"Let me tell you, for the pleasure it gives me, that you have always been, since I knew you, and always will be, until I die, one of the three great souls with whom I live from day to day, beyond those who speak to me from the printed pages. My father and Olive Schreiner are the other two...
"Please remember me to Mrs. Gandhi, whose gentle courage I have never forgotten..."
Pacifist, Feminist, Socialist
I have stressed that these women were pacifists, feminists and socialists: the common ideology not only brought them together, but explains the affinity of Gandhiji to them.
Gandhiji believed in non-violence and was a pacifist though he supported recruitment to the army until the end of the First World War because of his faith in the Empire and his feeling that Indians must learn to fight before they can embrace true non-violence.
He had great interest in feminism and his success in encouraging the participation of women in the political struggle was no accident. When he went to London in 1909, he went to see Miss E. Pankhurst, the leader of the suffragettes, and attended many of their meetings. He wrote often in Indian Opinion about equality of women and the role of women in the struggle for justice.
Gandhiji also believed in socialism. He came in contact with socialist thought during his student days in London. Socialism had not then become rigid or doctrinaire. His thinking was similar to that of Edward Carpenter and others who were concerned not with mechanisation and rising production and consumption, but with equality, quality of life, and protection of the environment. They believed that man should not be enslaved by machine and alienated, and should not shun physical labour.
Gandhiji knew socialists in South Africa and spoke at least twice at the Socialist Club in Johannesburg.
In 1912, when Gokhale was visiting South Africa, J.T. Bain, a socialist, met them and the question came up as to their attitude to socialism. Gokhale said he was a socialist "to some extent", but Gandhiji declared himself an "out and out socialist".
The satyagraha of 1913-14, with the heroism of the poor working men and women, strengthened the conviction of Gandhiji that they were the "salt of the earth" who would free India. He identified himself in dress and living habits with them.
The convictions of Gandhiji explain the bond which linked him to the European women who helped him and his cause. They understood him, as did the Indian labourers in South Africa and later the people of India. But those critics who tried to place him in their pre-determined categories - moderate and extremist, for instance; those who assumed that he must be a reactionary if he wore peasant clothes or professed religion; and those who called him an agent of Gujarati capitalists because he did not advocate class struggle and tried to unite the Indian community in the struggle for its dignity and honour - could not understand Gandhiji nor the admiration he evoked among the greatest men and women of this century. I hope that the new information which is becoming available will persuade scholars in India and South Africa to reconsider their assumptions and understand the real Gandhi.
SOME UNPUBLISHED LETTERS OF GANDHIJI
Letter of January 5, 1914, to Miss Emily Hobhouse
5th January, 1914
Dear Miss Hobhouse,
It was a perfect pleasure to have received your very kind and generous letter. Had I known how to approach you before, I would undoubtedly have endeavoured to enlist your large heart in our behalf. It was during the Boer war that I came to admire your selfless devotion to Truth, and I have often felt how nice it would be if the Indian cause could plead before you for admission; and it is evident to me that your first telegram uttering a note of warning was an answer to that yearning. I am loath to write to you on this question, as Miss Molteno has told me how feeble you are now in health. She was good enough to read to me a part of Miss Greene's letter, telling her in most pathetic tones how it was the duty of those who loved you to refrain from imposing fresh burdens on you. I am, therefore, torn by conflicting emotions. But, as Miss Molteno, who knows you better assures me that to expect you now not to interest yourself in our cause is to misjudge you and to aggravate your illness, because you would, she says, fret about us without being enabled by us to render your assistance effective.
If your health permits and if the climate on the North Coast of Natal would not be too trying for you, I would esteem it a privilege if you could take rest on the little settlement at Phoenix where "Indian Opinion" is published. Miss Molteno knows the settlement well. It is situated about eighty feet above sea-level and is exposed to certain winds which sweep across the hills that overlook the settlement and purify the atmosphere. The scenery around is certainly very charming, the site is beautifully isolated, there is no bustle or noise, it is two miles from the nearest station and I venture to think that you will find loving hands to administer to your wants, and nothing would give me personally greater pleasure than, if I were free, to be able to wait upon you and nurse you. You will, I hope, consider this offer as coming from the heart without the slightest hesitation accept it if you can.
I will not weary you with copies of correspondence and details about the question. I enclose the telegrams exchanged between General Smuts and myself, which speak for themselves. We have always accepted what we could get in matters of detail, but, in this matter of the Commission, we are solemnly bound to sacrifice ourselves for the principle of consultation. In striving to secure this recognition of an elementary right, if we must, for the time being, forfeit public sympathy, we must be prepared to do so. Knowing that the truth is on our side, past experience will enable us to have patience, and, as days go on, the mists of ignorance will be removed, the cloud will lift and I have no doubt that Truth will conquer. What we have asked for is the smallest measure and, if the Government obstinately refuses to grant that measure of justice, surely it will be an indication of their dis-inclination to recognise the status of British Indians throughout the Union. Indeed, through my twenty years' experience, I have been able to gather many an indication of the same spirit and it is really against that that we are fighting. In those matters to which Passive Resistance is directed, I hold there can be no compromise. Could Daniel have compromised by bowing to one of the laws of the Medes and Persians and not to others, or would the whole body of those laws have represented the influence of Satan and, therefore, been unacceptable in toto?
The last paragraph of your letter seems to assume that we are following the tactics of the high-souled militants of England. May I say that we have not only not copied them, but, wherever it has been necessary, I have drawn a sharp distinction between their methods and ours. Indeed, I used to have long discussions with the followers of the great Mrs. Pankhurst on this very question. At no stage, do we believe in the use of physical force, but I am free to confess that we have certainly been encouraged, in the hour of our weakness, by the noble example of devotion to duty and self-sacrifice that the militants have set, though we condemn their methods and tactics as suicidal and beneath the dignity of woman.
I hope that God will restore you to health and spare you for many a long year to continue your noble and unassuming work in the cause of Humanity.
I am, Yours truly,
Letters to Miss Elizabeth M. Molteno
23rd Feb 1914
Dear Miss Molteno,
My impression is that I said we would call on you tomorrow (Tuesday), but Dr Gool does not remember. Not to make any mistake we shall be coming there between 3 and 4 tomorrow and take our chance.
The visit to Miss Hobhouse was entirely successful. It was a perfect pilgrimage for me. Mrs Botha was all you described her. She was most kind to both of us and most loving towards Mrs Gandhi. Thank you for all this. Incidentally we met Lady Gladstone too... Are you not pleased? With our regards to you and Miss Greene
I remain Yours sincerely
24th Feb 1914
Dear Miss Molteno,
I am sorry to have to inform you that Mrs Gandhi has had a relapse and she is at the time of writing lying in bed. She wants me therefore to say that whilst she would try her best to keep the appointment for tomorrow, she might not be able to go out at all. I thought that I should let you know this. In any case I shall expect you tomorrow afternoon and we shall be able to discuss. If she is very ill, I would also have to remain in to be by her side. It is a great pity events have turned out so. But man proposes?
I am Yours sincerely
27th Feb 1914
Dear Miss Molteno,
How nice of both of you to have come yesterday! I was out seeing Miss Hobhouse at her request. She wished to discuss the marriage question with me. I am deeply grateful to you for having brought me in contact with that noble soul. To be with her is a spiritual uplifting for me. We meet on Monday.
With regards from us both to you both
I am Yours sincerely
8th March 1914
Dear Miss Molteno,
I am sorry both of you had to rush away yesterday. I was in the act of shaving when you were announced. You had hardly gone when I came out of the bath room.
You will be glad to learn that Mrs Gandhi is decidedly better today. I had a most anxious week but if today's condition continues the danger is over for the time being.
I enclose for your acceptance and Miss Greene's a copy of Mr. Andrews' lecture. If you want more copies or if you want me to send copies elsewhere please let me know.
With regards to you both from us both
I am Yours sincerely
Dear Miss Molteno,
I know that I owe you a letter. But since leaving Cape Town I have passed through so many trials that I have not had the time or the inclination to write really to anybody. Mrs. Gandhi had a very serious relapse and she absorbed all my time. Then followed a disciplinary fast of 14 days - the severest trial of my life. The fast was broken on Saturday last and I am feeling much better today. Mrs. Gandhi too has responded to the careful nursing and today for the first time after my return to Phoenix I am at the Press working at the desk having just left Mrs Gandhi to her household work.
Now I know you will excuse me why I should not have written a line to you after that very serious conversation we had. Do please let me hear from you.
I had a very sweet letter from Miss Hobhouse this week. I am not replying just yet but may do so next week. Mrs. Gandhi often recalls your love to her and thinks of the kind friends in Cape Town. Manilal is still in Johannesburg with Mr Kallenbach. With our united regards to both of you I am
20: 7: 14
Dear Miss Molteno,
I had your two letters. I am sorry we were not able to meet to say goodbye to one another. Mrs. Gandhi and I cannot forget the affection you and Miss Greene showed us during our stay in Capetown. May God reward you for it.
Do please write to me occasionally. My address will be Rajkot via Bombay. With our united regards to you both
LETTER OF OLIVE SCHREINER TO GANDHIJI, AUGUST 15, 1914
30 St. Mary Abbotts Terrace
Telephone 3350 Western
My dear Mr. Gandhi
I have at last got your address from the Steamship's Company. I want much to see you. Could you and Mr. Kallenbach perhaps come and see me here, or could I meet you anywhere. I was struck to the heart this morning with sorrow to see that you, and that beautiful and beloved Indian poetess whom I met in London some months ago and other Indian friends had offered to serve the English Government in this evil war in any way they might demand of you. Surely you, who would not take up arms even in the cause of your own oppressed people cannot be willing to shed blood in this wicked cause. I had longed to meet you and Mr. Kallenbach as friends who would understand my hatred of it. I don't believe the statement in the paper can be true.
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