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Letter ReferenceSCCSTheLetters/Stead/7
Epistolary Type
Letter Date1896
Address From57 Grove Street, Gardens, Cape Town, Western Cape
Address To
Who ToWilliam Thomas Stead
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 220-1
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
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. There is a small group of separate typescripts of SCCS-edited letters to W.T. Stead, which appear in The Letters but for which no originals are extant. Schreiner letters to Stead where originals survive will be found in relevant collections; the SCCS extracts are included here for sake of completeness. However, their relationship to the original letters cannot now be gauged, and so they should be read with caution for the reasons given.
1Grave Street, Cape Town. (No date. ?1896.)
2To W T. Stead.
4Each man's and woman's sex relations seem to me something holy, sacred
5and personal to themselves and the person with whom they enter on them.
6 The pure and beautiful ideal seems to me absolute love and friendship
7of one man and one woman, the two blending into one. All departure
8from it is to me evil, whether in marriage or not. But I do not feel
9called upon to crush those who depart from the ideal. Rather, I thank
10God when I see in them other great and beautiful qualities, and I say,
11let us make the most of these good things in our brother, and be
12thankful that none of our common human flesh is wholly removed from
13the beautiful. I think Dilke can be of great use to the world as a
14politician (but I don't know him personally, I have never seen him)
15and therefore I dare pass no judgment on his personal relations, which
16are entirely his own affair and those of the men and women concerned.
17When the Dilke case occurred some people cut me because I said I would
18still regard Mrs. Crawford as a woman if on meeting her we had tastes
19in common, not because I think it right to deceive one's husband, but
20because we are here in the world to love and help each other under all
21circum-stances. I know you are angry with me. Be it so! Years ago,
22when you were in trouble, I parted for ever from the human being I
23loved best in the world because he said the condition of our continued
24friendship was that I should not sign the memorial in your favour; I
25have only seen him once since; if I was willing to part with him then,
26I would also be willing to part with anyone now. You don't know how I
27value your friendship. But I could also give it up. I do not justify
28Dilke, I have nothing to do with his relations. I have only to do with
29his public political relations. I would all men were ideal. I would I
30myself were. I never met one who was. If we could have great
31all-loving, all-tender, all-true, all-wise men for our politicians and
32writers and editors, then the heaven of which we dream and for which
33we labour would be here already. Meanwhile we must prize any humanity
34or goodness or intellect in our fellows, and seek to develop it. If
35you are not too angry with me write a little word and say that if you
36think me wrong you can still forgive me.
Cronwright-Schreiner places this letter as possibly in the 1896 sequence, although Schreiner seems to have stayed at Grove Street only once, in August 1891; he has mis-transcribed the address as ‘Grave Street’.