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|Letter Reference||Karl Pearson 840/4/3/122-124
|Archive||University College London Library, Special Collections, UCL, London
|Letter Date||1 November 1886
|Address From||9 Blandford Square, Paddington, London
|Address To||2 Harcourt Buildings, Temple, London
|Who To||Karl Pearson
|Other Versions||Rive 1987: 112-13
The manuscript of this letter by Olive Schreiner belongs to the Archive referenced above; its ownership of the original should be acknowledged by referencing the letter as indicated: 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 Karl Pearson, 1 November 1886, University College London Library, Special Collections, UCL, London, Olive Schreiner Letters Project transcription’. Please also supply letter line numbers for specific quotations.
The Project is grateful to University College London (UCL) and its Library Services for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Special Collections. The date of this letter has been derived from the postmark on an attached envelope, and the name of the addressee and the address it was sent to are on its front. Schreiner was resident in Blandford Square from early October to late December 1886, when she left England for Europe.
In great haste
There is something I want to say to you, I’ve wanted to say it to
4: you for a long time. You of all people would be the best to combat the
5: Hinton-theory, your head is clear & true, but the fear comes to me
6: "What if in doing it he were fighting for himself?"
Long ago when I read that sentence in your club-paper about Hinton, it
9: put me in such a rage that I could have torn it ^the paper^ up small &
10: put it in the fire; I was just then in the rage of my Hinton-hatred. I
11: had not long before that read the thoughts on home! I couldn’t speak
12: to you about that sentence in your paper, because I felt I hadn’t a
13: right to. It was a kind of personal matter; & didn’t bear on the
14: general subject. Afterwards I heard it implied that you were an
15: Hintonian. It made me very bitter. Now have you not perhaps heard this;
16: have you not thought bitterly of that sentence & wished it unwritten?
17: Do you not feel you are wronged? Is there no little element of self,
18: the desire to right yourself in your bitterness against Hinton? Look
19: deep into your heart & see. It would be such a terrible thing if while
20: you seemed to be fighting only for abstract truth & unreadable ^right^
21: there was an element of self in it! I can’t bear to think of this.
22: You must be so absolutely pure & fleckless. My life is so broken &
23: flawed it is always far from the ideal but you must keep close to it.
24: I have an infinitely stronger hatred for Hinton & cause for that
25: hatred than you have.
You must look into your own heart, & see if all your hatred against
28: Hinton is abstract. Is there no element of selfishness, is there
29: nothing that Karl Pearson has suffered that influences you; if it had
30: been Irving or a Mormon whom you heard of yesterday for the first time
31: would you have felt the same? The great danger which we who would
32: fight for or lead humanity have to guard against is the mixing up of
33: our personal interest with the things we fight for. Keep thy hands
34: pure & thy head pure & thy heart pure from any touch of self: I wanted
35: to say this to you long ago when I was at Kilburn.
Perhaps when you look deep into your own heart you see that, all
38: element of self put apart your calm abstract hatred of these views
39: impels you in all you feel or do. If it is so you must fight. Look
40: deep & dispassionately into your own heart & see.
//I alsow felt a weary despairing feeling of all humanity on Friday
43: night. – "Is there none true, is there none fighting for anything
44: but self?" - but when those feelings come is it not that we have
45: fallen below our higher level? If in that one human soul that is
46: always with us we kept a pure high life could we despair of humanity?
47: I know not what I have done but surely I must have let some ^mean^
48: selfish desire creep into my heart that I am so despairing of humanity
49: lately. Would one feel so despairing about the meanness & smallness of
50: women? if if there was not something in one’s own soul that answered
51: back to it?
Thanks, many, many thanks about Chapman. I will write & tell you what
54: I do about it.
I write this in great haste.
Pearson's 'club-paper about Hinton' could refer to 'The Woman's Question', which he read at the first meeting of the Men and Women's Club in July 1885, but could also refer to his (September 1885) 'Note on the sexual feeling', which he had intended to be a Club paper but was dissuaded from presenting by Schreiner because of her objections to some of its assumptions. Rive's (1987) version of this letter has been misdated, omits part of the letter, and is also in a number of respects incorrect.