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Letter ReferenceElisabeth Cobb 840/1/1
ArchiveUniversity College London Library, Special Collections, UCL, London
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date21 December 1884
Address FromAlexandra House, Denmark Place, Hastings, East Sussex
Address To
Who ToElisabeth Cobb nee Sharpe
Other Versions
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
Legend
The Project is grateful to University College London (UCL) and its Library Services for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Special Collections.
1 Alexandra House
2 Denmark Place
3 Hastings
4 Dec 21 / 84
5
6 My dear Mrs Cobb
7
8 Thank you for Matthew Arnold’s speech: it interested me very much.
9
10 I shall be very glad to know how it is that W.H. Smith got his
11monopoly It is a great injustice But the real evil, it seems to me,
12lies deeper.
13
14 When the writer refuses to be lead by the public, & labours over his
15least picture with the same implacable faithfulness to nature that the
16man of science has to show before he reaches any truth; when he
17forgets the circulating libraries & the publishers, & the paying time
18& works as though he & his work were alone in the world, at last, in
19the long long run, the public must follow him, even two old ladies in
20the country. The two old ladies are so strong because writers are so
21faithless; they walk with one eye on thuth, & one eye on society & the
22publishers returns. Neverthe-less the harm that a man like W H Smith
23can do is very great; the writer may starve before the long long run
24comes, though ^of course that doesn’t make any difference in his duty.^
25
26 Thank you much for your letter. I shall like to come & see you, & hope
27I shall be able to come up to London in February.
28
29 Some friends of mine have been writing to me about a woman’s weekly
30paper or a monthly review which they would like to see started on a
31rather large scale. I cannot say I feel much sympathy with such a plan;
32 do you? The disease from which we are suffering, is the
33classification of men the human race according to the sexual
34difference which is not a sound basis for classification in any but
35purely sexual matters. We are human beings in the first place men &
36women in the second. We want the wall of separation between the sexes
37two halves of the human race done away with not made higher. Don’t
38you sometimes feel that workers on the woman’s side make as great a
39mistake, as men have made on the other in this matter.
40
41 I hope you are feeling a little stronger now. You looked so weak the
42last time I saw you.
43
44 Yours very sincerely,
45 Olive Schreiner
46
47 I hope your sister is better. After Friday my address will be 4
48Robertson Terrace.
49
Notation
Matthew Arnold gave a number of lectures during an 1883 US tour, including on literature and science, Emerson, number, and literature and dogma. The 'speech' sent to Schreiner is likely to be: Matthew Arnold (1884) 'Numbers; or, the Majority and the Remnant.' Nineteenth Century 15 April 1884, 669-85. The 'friends writing to me about a women's weekly paper' is likely to refer to the Women's Penny Paper.