Copyright transcription: © Olive Schreiner Letters Project. This transcription can be freely used as long as copyright is acknowledged and it is referenced using the following citation: ‘Olive Schreiner to Havelock Ellis, 10 January 1885, NLSA Cape Town, Special Collections, Olive Schreiner Letters Project transcription’. Please also supply letter line numbers for specific quotations.
|Letter Date||10 January 1885
|Address From||4 Robertson Terrace, Hastings, East Sussex
|Who To||Havelock Ellis
|Other Versions||Cronwright-Schreiner 1924: 55-6
When Cronwright-Schreiner prepared The Life...
(1924) and The Letters of Olive Schreiner
(1924), with few exceptions he then destroyed the original letters in his possession. When Olive Schreiner’s originals can be compared with his edited versions, his versions are severely shortened, and/or inaccurate in sometimes minor but sometimes major respects, and/or are combinations of a number of original letters. The status of ‘the Cronwright-Schreiner letters’ is therefore that they are artefacts of his editorial practices, rather than being ‘Olive Schreiner letters’ as such. Consequently, where original letters which appear in The Letters...
have been traced, they appear in the context of the appropriate archive collections and not as ‘a Cronwright-Schreiner letter’. In addition, where a version exists as one of the Extracts made in preparing The Letters...
, the extract version is provided because usually longer and in other ways closer to the characteristic writing practices of Schreiner’s original letters. The remaining ‘Cronwright-Schreiner letters’, of which this is one, are provided for the sake of completeness, because they give clues as to where Schreiner was resident at different points in time, and indicate some of her activities. However, they should be read and used with considerable caution for the reasons spelled out here.
1: To Havelock Ellis.
2: 4, Robertson Terrace, 10th Jan.
4: Last night I couldn't lie and rest. In my half-asleep state I prayed
5: and I cried. I wanted someone I didn't see to put its arms around me
6: and comfort me and help me to bear. It's interesting as showing how in
7: states of great weakness our childish habits and thoughts come up as
8: the higher nature sinks lower. It shows of how little worth those
9: deathbed sayings are. I hope I shall die with my head clear. ...
10: Afterwards I got up and put a cold compress on my chest. The relief
11: was immediate and immense. Do you know, long ago, when I broke that
12: blood vessel it was the thing that saved me. I wore one for three
13: months because as soon as I took it off the expectoration and pain
14: came back. Dr. Fergus showed me how to make it. He was a young doctor,
15: something like you. … Send me Marcus Aurelius if you have him.