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Letter ReferenceHRC/CAT/OS/3b-xxvii
ArchiveHarry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date25 December 1884
Address FromHastings, East Sussex
Address To24 Thornsett Road, South Penge Park, London
Who ToHavelock Ellis
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 52; Rive 1987: 61-2; Draznin 1992: 277-8
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
The Project is grateful to the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, the University of Texas at Austin, for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Manuscript Collections. The address this letter was sent to is provided by the envelope associated with it.
2Xmas Morning
4I wonder what you are doing this morning.
6I send you the first sheet of my letter to Mama to tell you what I
7have been doing.
9Fancy I haven’t got Tuesdays letter yet.
11The sun is shining so beautifully into my room. I wish you were here.
13I like Roden Noel’s poems. “Byron’s grave” & “The two Magdalenes” are
14as wholes the poems I like best, but these lines in Northern Spring
15are to me wonderful.
17“A bird hath a nest in a twilight of leaves,
18All woven of mosses, & lichen & down;
19An eye there is glistening a bosom there heaves;
20You may see there love’s miracle when she hath flown –
21Four delicate ovals flecked faintly with wine –
22She is guarding the mysticle marvel of life,”
25They seem to me quite to reach the high water of poetry. Perhaps I
26feel so because I am so one with animals & animal life, for I can’t
27tell why the lines affect me as they do.
29Oh those mornings in the bush at Ganna Hoek, when I used to go & lie
30under the rock & the birds used to come quite close to me & make love.
31I used to see them ^(kock-¬o-veets)^ singing to each-other, kiss
32each-other, rub their sweet little heads against each-¬other, & fly
33away, & one saw in one’s mind all the love & wonder to the end the
34little eggs coming, & the nest & the new little lives. I have often
35lain for an hour waiting for their coming. & wasn’t it strange they
36used always to come to the one place.
38Ach, I want to go back to that old life. I want to go away from this
39life. But if I went back could I live the old life. To my little
40mother it seems that life was so hard because I was half starved & had
41to work so hard. If any one could know how beautiful it was! And the
42five months at Eastbourne when I had every comfort & luxury was the
43bitterness of death to me. ^because I was of no use to anyone.^
45I think Harry if I go to the Engadine it will be very splend. I have
46been reading about it. I you could come & see me there, in the summer!!!
48Xmas Eve.
50I have got your two letters & Louies card. Thank her. I liked you to
51tell me about that girl.
53Miss Jones came again to-day. After she went last time I thought “Well
54of course she will never come again; was it right of me to be so
55pointedly cold, I may say rude.” & here she comes again. I am sure
56that she thought you were here. I don’t know how is that she has the
57power of irritating (not angering) me so. I can’t tell now, a long
58rigmarole about a book of hers that you have by “Roden Noel.” She
59would send me quite mad if I had to live with her for a week, even if
60we were talking about quite indifferent subjects. To see her put a
61room neat nearly sends me daft.
63And the thing is I feel I ought to be so sorry for her, & I am sorry
64for her.
66My brother didn’t send me the money he generally sends me for Xmas, he
67sent me a beautiful dress instead I didn’t get any letter
69^from him today.^
73^Send the bit of Mamma’s letter back because I want to send it to her.^
The poems referred to are in: Roden Noel (1884) Songs of the Heights and Deep London: E. Stock. Draznin’s (1992) version of this letter is in some respects different from our transcription. Rive’s (1987) version omits part of the letter and is in a number of other respects incorrect. Cronwright-Schreiner’s (1924) extract is incorrect in various ways.