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 Mary Brown nee Solomon, 1895, NLSA Cape Town, Special Collections, Olive Schreiner Letters Project transcription’. Please also supply letter line numbers for specific quotations.
|Who To||Mary Brown nee Solomon
|Other Versions||Cronwright-Schreiner 1924: 218
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. The year of this letter is implied by its place in the sequence of Cronwright-Schreiner letters.
1: To Mrs. John Brown.
2: (? Date.)
4: You know that in the depths of my heart I have such a yearning pity
5: for you. ... The infinite powers that shape human life may know that
6: he is not more responsible for being as he is than if he had some
7: physical disease. I believe many men and women are born with many
8: beautiful and emotional qualities, but without the will power to
9: govern their action; and men who would pity them if they had a
10: drooping eyelid or a lame leg, hate them - but it is not right.