"Olive Schreiner's birth certificate" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceLetters/514
Archive
Epistolary Type
Letter Date23 March 1913
Address FromMuizenberg, Western Cape
Address To
Who ToHavelock Ellis
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 322-3
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.
2Muizenberg, 23rd Mar.
3
4I’ll soon be going to De Aar. I'm so ill here that I look forward
5joyfully to escaping from the sea damp, though Cron says it's still
6very hot at De Aar. I often wonder if Nauheim, or some specialist
7treatment like that Edith has, could still do me any good. But unless
8I could get better during the winter and do some work I couldn't
9afford to come to England. I wouldn't mind the risk of dying on the
10voyage, that wouldn't matter. I'm so happy when I think of my sister
11Ettie lying so peacefully in her grave after all those awful years of
12anguish. To-morrow is my birthday; I shall perhaps go and have dinner
13at my brother Will's. He's looking very ill too, just as Fred did
14those years before he died.
15
16Death is just nothing; but it's a gradual dying while you seem to live
17that's so ugly. There's just this, that when everything else is gone
18in life you can still and endure - when there's nothing else to do. I
19don't know how people can endure unending physical anguish if they
20can't fall back on the thought that they've caused any wilful physical
21or mental pain to human beings or animals. If all the world is
22permeated by injustice and suffering by sentient creatures on each
23other, one clings to the thought one hasn't willingly consented to it,
24or tried to increase it, as a drowning man clings to a straw. If I
25could be cured to-morrow by torturing animals I wouldn't have it.
26
27The native question becomes darker and darker here, and one can do
28nothing. I've been wanting so long to write one little paper on it -
29but I can't.
30