"South African whites all philistines, no classes" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceHRC/UNCAT/OS-116
ArchiveHarry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter DateSunday 24 April 1887
Address FromAlassio, Italy
Address To
Who ToHavelock Ellis
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 115-6; Rive 1987: 127; Draznin 1992: 435-6
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 year is indicated by the place of this letter in the archival sequence.
2April 24
5My Harrie, my old other self. How is your cold, & how are you
6altogether I wish so I knew. I know I oughtn’t to have written as I
7did, but I couldn’t help it at the time sweet.
9Nothing in my life has been more holy & sacred to me than your love
10for me. I feel always that no man ever has or ever will give me me a
11love so pure perfect, & purely noble as yours has been.
13I wonder if you understood what I meant & how strongly I feel that I
14only I am to blame in every thing. I am not saying this simply as one
15says a thing to comfort another. You were very thoughtless to write to
16Mr Pearson but that was all to me you have been at heart most
17absolutely true at all times. You did^n’t^ & don’t understand
18anything, my darling. Perhaps I ought to have explained many things to
19you long ago. But the it is such agony to a nature like mine to be
20always explaining. The glory of our relation has been that I thought
21you understood without any explaining.
23I shall never feel such sympathy on many side of my nature with any
24humanbeing as with you.
26But now, my sweet, I am quite worn out, & it will be many years before
27I have anything to give any one. I have been bled to death. I’m not
29Harry darling, you ^know^ you have been such a help to me more help than
30anyone except Karl Pearson has ever been more help even than Willy

33I don’t think in the last five days I’ve past two minutes without
34thinking of you. I am in such agony lest you are very miserable & you
35are so far from me I can’t get to you to comfort you. I send my
36tenderest kiss to you. I long to kiss you, anything that isn’t
37sexual. Perhaps I haven’t been quite true to you, perhaps I ought to
38have been willing to pain you. In future I am going to pain people. It
39is all wrong this trying to shield others we must be as willing to
40give pain as to bear it when truth requires it. Somehow all my life
41seems a mistake to me now, & no one else all through to blame but I.
42Perhaps someday in the future I shall see differently.
44I think I have thought you knew instinctively much more what I was
45thinking & feeling than you did. I fancy you must have been guided or
46influenced by what Donkin said, I mean his account of what passed.
48You were quite right to write my own boy. You did^n’t^ know anything.
49I feel more loving to you than ever I did. My head isn’t better yet.
50I walk up & down up & down, & I think so of you & fear you are so
51miserable. Donkin has written another letter reproaching me with my
52cruelty. Yes I have beencruel but it
54I don’t think you even understand my feeling about love, as a
55progressing & ?progressual thing. I mustn’t write anymore my head
56gets too bad, my Harry How is your head does it ache so on the top. I
57leave this on Monday I go to Genoa, & from there work my way to
58Switzerland. Write to my brother’s care
60^I had a letter from Ed. Carpenter. He’s nearly the only human being
61I feel as if I would like to see.^
63^I have not heard from my mother this week, & I am afraid Fred is
64keeping news from me. When I don’t write you will know it is because
65I write to no human being. Don’t say anything in a letter sent to
66Fred that everyone can’t see because my sister in law may open it.^
Draznin's (1992) version of this letter is in some respects different from our transcription. Rive's (1987) version is taken from Cronwright-Schreiner. Cronwright-Schreiner's (1924) extract is incorrect in various ways.