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Letter ReferenceLetters/584
Archive
Epistolary Type
Letter DateJanuary 1920
Address From9 Porchester Place, Edgware Road, Westminster, London
Address To
Who ToAdela Villiers Smith nee Villiers
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 366-7
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 Mrs. Francis Smith.
29, Porchester Place, London, Jan.
3
4... No, people don't tire me. Unless they are personally very rude or
5unkind to me, they are a rest. I never find human beings a stimulant;
6they are a narcotic. My sister Ettie is the only person I've ever
7heard express what I've always felt; she said, "It's good to have
8human beings about you, it stops you from thinking and feeling too
9much." When I was strong and able to work I loved solitude, and
10thought human creatures were often such a bore because they stopped
11one from really thinking and from feeling intensely. ... Now, when I
12am always trying to stop myself from thinking and feeling too much,
13almost any kind of human creature is a rest. I try to get the old
14woman to stop when she brings up my coals just that I may see her. If
15I were rich and could afford it I should go every night to a theatre
16or a music hall or a dance club. (I've only been to a theatre once in
17the last three years and never to a dance club!) Because it's so
18restful to sit still and see masses of human beings about you and
19watch them and sort of live through them. If I didn't get out in the
20omnibus every day I couldn't live - I'd have been dead long ago.
21Partly it's the shaking of the omnibus that does me such good, but the
22great thing is to see the human beings - even though they are often so
23rude and unkind to each other since the war! But a sweet thing
24happened to-day. I had to go to the dentist, and it was awful to have
25to walk from Oxford St. to Wimpole Street because there's no bus - but
26when I was in Wimpole St. a dear old woman came up to me and said,
27"You are very very bad, do take my arm! I can see it's your heart." I
28thanked her and said I was only two doors from the house - but wasn't
29it sweet? I think those little kindnesses, from people who don't know
30who or what you are, are in a way almost more than the kindness of
31those you know - because it’s just general human kindness - it’s
32mankind feeling for mankind!
33