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|Letter Reference||Karl Pearson 840/4/3/76-79
|Archive||University College London Library, Special Collections, UCL, London
|Letter Date||Monday 11 October 1886
|Address From||9 Blandford Square, Paddington, London
|Who To||Karl Pearson
|Other Versions||Rive 1987: 105-7
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, 11 October 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 has been written on this letter in an unknown hand. The name of the addressee is indicated by content and archival location.
9 Blandford Square
Isn’t Parker splendid! What a horrible mist I was in, none of us
5: were really clear but Parker. His brain ^is^ so delightfully clear &
I’ve been in bed ten days with inflammation of the lung. I got them
9: to bring me here on Saturday ^week^ from Acacia Rd because I thought I
10: should get better here. Tonight was the first time I’ve been out.
11: I’m much better now, but my mind whas was in such a haze when I
12: tried to catch an idea it slipped away from me, & I seemed to be
13: feeling in the mist. Have you ever been so weak you have had that
14: mental feeling? – And all the people’s faces seemed in a haze.
That idea of the sex-relations as a thing anterior to, & having laws
17: quite independent of the sex legislation of "the state" in the usual
18: acceptation of the word is not an unvaluable idea worked out as it
19: should be, though as I expressed it it was nonsense.
I want to write to you about Donkin. I am very miserable about him. He
22: is in a state of much mental depression; if you or Mr Parker come
23: across him in the Savile or else-where please show interest in him. I
24: would be very glad if you could get him to write a paper for the club.
25: His admiration for you would make any friendship you could extend to
26: him a very valuable thing to him just now. He knows I will never marry
27: him, but as long as I am in England & above all in London I cannot
28: help causing him misery. I am always perfectly well in the heart of
29: London & nowhere else ^in England^ so that if I remain in England at all
30: I must live here; the other step would be to go out to the Cape, - & I
31: cannot feel that that either would be right. You will forgive my
32: troubling you about this; but tonight as we were driving home for the
33: first time for months he seemed happy & absorbed in the paper you had
34: been talking about his perhaps writing.
I have had two trying visitors today: ^(trying because one wishes to
37: help them and hasn’t the means)^ strangely enough both somewhat of
38: the ^same^ kind. One whas was a woman who has been a prostitute but for
39: seven years she has been living with one man & keeping almost quite
40: faithful to him. He had promised to leave her provided for; now he has
41: died suddenly & left no will. Of course the son won’t give her
42: anything. She is in great distress; & says she cannot do anything &
43: never has & must go back to the old life. I’m going to see her on
44: Sunday. The other woman this afternoon is one whose son had has
45: seduced a woman & had two children by her; now his wife has found it
46: out. & the Both she & the other woman are in such a wretched mental
47: condition that one does not know which to pity the most. There is one
48: point on sexual matters on which my mind is utterly made up - & that
49: is, that double sex- relations whether on the part of man or woman are
50: utterly opposed to the deepest laws of human nature, & are productive
51: of nothing but evil to the individual the offspring, & society; & the
52: more highly developed the individuals the more unworkable become these
53: relationships. Every fibre of violated human nature quivers in agony &
54: anger ^against^ them. The shortest marriage ending at the end of even
55: six months, would be better than our present form of union which gen
56: pretends to be single & life-long & generally is double. This is one
57: of the most painful cases I have seen. I will tell you about it some
58: day. The poor old mother was walking up & down my bedroom crying &
59: wringing her hands long after it was time for me to start, so I went
60: with my head full of many things to the Club.
//There are some questions which when you have time I should like you
63: to answer, if you will. (1) How many men have you known who have
64: reached the age of 30, & been absolutely celibate? (2) What in England
65: among the middle classes should you say was the proportion of celibate
66: men? (3) Do you think that as a rule a cultivated man’s ideal (that
67: which he thinks would give him the most happiness if it could be
68: perfectly attained to) is of union with one person or with many more
69: than one?
I’ve got a great many other questions I thought of to ask you when I
72: was ill, but I don’t remember them now.
//Will you write the introduction to Mary Wollstonecraft? It would be
75: a very great help to me, & I would help you with it as much as I could;
76: by criticising it?? & I would copy it out to save you time, if only
77: you will take the responsibility. The relation of Mary to Godwin gives
78: one such a splendid opportunity for treating of the ideal form of
//I have had a note from the Editor of the Fortnightly ^today^ saying he
82: wishes to see me; I suppose to try & get me to write a woman article.
83: If only I could rest emotionally I could work here so splendidly all
84: this winter & get my book done. I’m afraid it will never be worth
85: dedicating to you!
90: ^You look more fit than when I saw you last standing with Mrs Cobb in
91: the British Museum. You make a person always so unhappy for nothing.
92: You’ll be much stronger when you are forty than you are now.
Please send back the pamphlet Mrs Walters sent as it was a borrowed one.
Haven’t you any notes on the woman in Germany subject you could let
97: me look at yet? I think I should understand them even if they are not
98: worked fully into form.
Schreiner agreed to write an 'Introduction' to a new edition of Mary Wollstonecraft's (1792, London: J. Johnson) A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
, but which was never completed. A very early draft fragment of it appears in Carolyn Burdett (1994) History Workshop Journal
37: 189-93. The book Schreiner wanted to 'get done' is From Man to Man
. The pamphlet sent by Mrs Walters has not been established. Rive's (1987) version omits part of this letter and is also in a number of respects incorrect. A continuation of the letter occurs in Schreiner's letter to Pearson of 12 October 1886 (840/4/3/80-81).