"Don't come, Cron's dear old mother" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceLetters/137
Archive
Epistolary Type
Letter Date16 November 1885
Address From16 Portsea Place, Westminster, London
Address To
Who ToHavelock Ellis
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 86; Rive 1987: 68-9
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
Legend
When Cronwright-Schreiner prepared The Letters of Olive Schreiner, with few exceptions he then destroyed her originals. However, some people gave him copies and kept the originals or demanded the return of these; and when actual Schreiner letters can be compared with his versions, his have omissions, distortions and bowdlerisations. Where Schreiner originals have survived, these will be found in the relevant collections across the OSLO website. There is however a residue of some 587 items in The Letters for which no originals are extant. They are included here for sake of completeness. However, their relationship to Schreiners actual letters cannot now be gauged, and so they should be read with caution for the reasons given.
1To Havelock Ellis.
216, Portsea Place, 16th Nov.
3
4Never, except perhaps when I was at Dordrecht, has my mind worked and
5expanded as it does now. Never have I felt I was doing so much or had
6so much to do. It’s just because of that that I feel no wish ever to
7think or talk of myself, or to give way to aimless emotion of any kind.
8 The one thing that troubles is where I am to draw the line between
9the duty I owe to all the many people whom I feel I can help and
10influence (in what I at least think the right direction), and my
11writing, which may influence people at large. I often feel as if my
12real work lay with individuals. I sometimes am filled almost with
13terror at the sense of the power I have over them, without wishing or
14trying to exert it at all. I can easily understand the influence my
15books might have; but when people tell me, as Mrs. - did the other day,
16 that if she came near me her whole life would be moulded and changed
17by mine, that already the world didn't look the same to her, I feel a
18kind of wonder and oppression. I can't bear the feeling sometimes.
19Even in your case I can feel my individuality sometimes oppressing you.
20 You don't need me, I'm not good for you, I think. I don't know how it
21is, I've never analysed, I never analyse nowadays. I just live on and
22act as my first impulse directs. Even to analyse and look at myself as
23much as this letter requires is acutely painful to me. It's very funny
24why it should be so. Perhaps some day I shall understand. Now I just
25think and work on as I feel. I have grown in the last six months; I
26could do what I could not before. Perhaps I shall get back my old
27strength, with the added sym-pathy that these three terrible years of
28darkness and weakness gave me.
29
30I have been working at my Man and Woman thing with intense delight
31to-day. Even you don't understand the way I love to work, and this
32article will be all as real work as Waldo's death-scene. I am always
33satisfied if I see more, if I like my work.
34
35It is strange, but sometimes, when I come near other minds, and we
36touch each other, I have the same sense of joy I have in my work. It
37is an end in itself.
38
39It is late. I have been walking up and down in the dark and wet in
40Blandford Square alone. I'm beginning to like the fog. I've found out
41what a wonderful thing it is; there's something so wild and uncanny in it.
42
43Perhaps when my paper is done everyone will laugh at it. But it
44doesn't matter; I know what I feel and I have the joy of writing. When
45I've done this paper and my book (I'm not going to hurry myself), then
46I'm going to live among these women and know them. Good-night, my
47comrade, my sweet old helper, who is so dear to me and part of myself.
48... You must come to the Ghosts reading: Roden Noel is coming.
49
Notation
The ‘Man and Woman thing’ was intended for presentation at a Men and Women’s Club meeting, but was never completed.