"Not got passion for Ellis" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceHRC/CAT/OS/1a-v
ArchiveHarry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date19 April 1884
Address FromEdinburgh Hotel, St Leonards, East Sussex
Address To24 Thornsett Road, South Penge Park, London
Who ToHavelock Ellis
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 15-16; Rive 1987: 37-9; Draznin 1992: 44-5
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
Legend
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 an associated envelope.
1Edinburgh Hotel
2April 19 / 84.
3
4My dear Mr. Ellis
5
6That extract from Mr. Hinton’s letter I liked very much; though I
7could not quite understand it I could fill in. James Hinton’s life
8has been a help to me. Sometimes I get an almost despairing feeling,
9that woman will have to save woman alone, – & yet I feel that to be
10impossible
. Strength comes when I see one man’s heart that has seen
11these things, & burnt over them. He has chimed in with the thought &
12feelings that are just now dominant in my life. I shall like to read
13that article of yours upon him.
14
15The book I am revising now is the story of a woman, a simple,
16child-like woman, that goes down, down. I wish I wish I had more power;
17 I would put it all into this book; I would write so that no one who
18read it should ever forget it. You will find many artistic faults, but
19I think you will sympathize with it.
20
21Thank you for tellingl me about “Arabella” Your sonnet is much
22more beautiful to me now, much. When I first came to England I was
23nursing in a Hospital for a little time, & I had such a beautiful girl.
24 She was almost dying of inflammation of the lungs. A little thrill of
25pleasure used to run through me every time I had to touch her or do
26anything for her, & she used to open her sweet eyes, just like two
27stars, & look at me. I don’t know if I should have liked your sonnet
28quite so much but for that. That is the best of writing what is true;
29other lives are sure to answer back to it. I wonder if your girl
30looked like mine
31
32Strauss’s life of Jesus is very different from Renan’s, I think
33better; though I like I Renan. I shall be glad when his life of his
34sister is published. It will be the record of a true relation between
35a man & a woman
36
37I love Shelly, & there is another man whom I love in that same
38personal way, Hein¬rich Heine. I personify myself with him. I know
39how & why he wrote every line that he did write. There is more depth &
40passion in one of his sneers, more quivering ?reflecting ^tenderness^
41veiled under it, than in the out-cries of half the world. I feel that
42I owe a debt of personal gratitude to the girl who comforted him in
43his “Mattress grave”.
44
45I have not the same personal feeling for Hinton that you have, who
46know so much more of him than I can from that life; but one thing that
47draws me to him very much is his fear of feeling: that comes out so
48clearly in the extract you sent me. Some people dare not feel fully
49– all life must be a long self-repression.
50
51I have never seen that picture that you mention. I have always thought
52that she stood so. How else could she stand.
53
54If you know of any very good book will you please tell me of it. I got
55down ten last time, & of them all only Hinton’s life was a real book.
56 I want scientific reading^:^ my mind needs it just now.
57
58I like to write to you
59
60Yours sincerely,
61Olive Schreiner
62
63May I, please, copy your poem “Arabella” & send it to a friend of
64mine. She will like it so much.
65
Notation
'The book I am revising now' is From Man to Man. Ellis's 'Sophia Perovskaia' is in his Sonnets With Folk Songs. His sonnets were not published as a set until 1925, although some of them appeared contemporaneously in journals and magazines; see Havelock Ellis (1925) Sonnets With Folk Songs From the Spanish Waltham St Lawrence: Golden Cockerel Press. The books referred to are: David Strauss (1835-5) Life of Jesus (2 vols, trans George Eliot) London: Williams & Norgate; Ernest Renan (1864) Life of Jesus London: Trubner & Co. 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) version is incorrect in various ways.