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Letter ReferenceLetters/397
Archive
Epistolary Type
Letter Date20 April 1890
Address FromMatjesfontein, Western Cape
Address To
Who ToHavelock Ellis
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 183-4; Rive 1987: 169-70
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.
2Matjesfontein, 20th April.
3
4It is one of those glorious and beautiful days on which simply to be
5alive is cause for “blessing and praising God." It is perfect, so
6still, so still, the motionless Karroo with the sunlight shimmering on
7it. The stainless blue, with just one little cloud floating in it like
8a ship, one doesn't know why. It is so strange to think that trees and
9grass are as beautiful to you as this stern Nature is to me. I can't
10describe to anyone the love I have to this African scenery; it is to
11all others as the face of the woman he loves best is to a man as
12compared to all other faces. It is not like at all - it is different.
13I am writing at my book, but I just took it into my head to write a
14word to you. Now I'm going on.
15
16Evening. - I have been sitting ever since this morning with a poor
17woman who is dying of consumption. I have just been making her some
18tapioca. I am afraid the end is coming, and am expecting her daughter
19to come and call me up to-night. The old, old mystery: What is it!
20That old passionate questioning came back to me more strongly to-night,
21 as I sat by her and watched her gasp, than ever since I was a child.
22Let us love each other! In the midst of life we are in death. I don't
23have to try not to hate anyone any more. I couldn't hate if I wanted
24to. But I can't love as I could either. I've no doubt I should make a
25much better wife or friend now. But I don't think I shall ever fasten
26myself on to any living thing again.
27
Notation
‘My book’ that Schreiner was 'writing at' could refer to From Man to Man.