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Letter ReferenceKarl Pearson 840/4/3/122-124
ArchiveUniversity College London Library, Special Collections, UCL, London
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date1 November 1886
Address From9 Blandford Square, Paddington, London
Address To2 Harcourt Buildings, Temple, London
Who ToKarl Pearson
Other VersionsRive 1987: 112-13
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
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. The date of this letter has been derived from the postmark on an attached envelope, and the name of the addressee and the address it was sent to are on its front. Schreiner was resident in Blandford Square from early October to late December 1886, when she left England for Europe.
1 In great haste
3 There is something I want to say to you, I’ve wanted to say it to
4you for a long time. You of all people would be the best to combat the
5Hinton-theory, your head is clear & true, but the fear comes to me
6"What if in doing it he were fighting for himself?"
8 Long ago when I read that sentence in your club-paper about Hinton, it
9put me in such a rage that I could have torn it ^the paper^ up small &
10put it in the fire; I was just then in the rage of my Hinton-hatred. I
11had not long before that read the thoughts on home! I couldn’t speak
12to you about that sentence in your paper, because I felt I hadn’t a
13right to. It was a kind of personal matter; & didn’t bear on the
14general subject. Afterwards I heard it implied that you were an
15Hintonian. It made me very bitter. Now have you not perhaps heard this;
16 have you not thought bitterly of that sentence & wished it unwritten?
17Do you not feel you are wronged? Is there no little element of self,
18the desire to right yourself in your bitterness against Hinton? Look
19deep into your heart & see. It would be such a terrible thing if while
20you seemed to be fighting only for abstract truth & unreadable ^right^
21there was an element of self in it! I can’t bear to think of this.
22You must be so absolutely pure & fleckless. My life is so broken &
23flawed it is always far from the ideal but you must keep close to it.
24I have an infinitely stronger hatred for Hinton & cause for that
25hatred than you have.
27 You must look into your own heart, & see if all your hatred against
28Hinton is abstract. Is there no element of selfishness, is there
29nothing that Karl Pearson has suffered that influences you; if it had
30been Irving or a Mormon whom you heard of yesterday for the first time
31would you have felt the same? The great danger which we who would
32fight for or lead humanity have to guard against is the mixing up of
33our personal interest with the things we fight for. Keep thy hands
34pure & thy head pure & thy heart pure from any touch of self: I wanted
35to say this to you long ago when I was at Kilburn.
37 Perhaps when you look deep into your own heart you see that, all
38element of self put apart your calm abstract hatred of these views
39impels you in all you feel or do. If it is so you must fight. Look
40deep & dispassionately into your own heart & see.
42 //I alsow felt a weary despairing feeling of all humanity on Friday
43night. – "Is there none true, is there none fighting for anything
44but self?" - but when those feelings come is it not that we have
45fallen below our higher level? If in that one human soul that is
46always with us we kept a pure high life could we despair of humanity?
47I know not what I have done but surely I must have let some ^mean^
48selfish desire creep into my heart that I am so despairing of humanity
49lately. Would one feel so despairing about the meanness & smallness of
50women? if if there was not something in one’s own soul that answered
51back to it?
53 Thanks, many, many thanks about Chapman. I will write & tell you what
54I do about it.
56 O.S.
58 I write this in great haste.
Pearson's 'club-paper about Hinton' could refer to 'The Woman's Question', which he read at the first meeting of the Men and Women's Club in July 1885, but could also refer to his (September 1885) 'Note on the sexual feeling', which he had intended to be a Club paper but was dissuaded from presenting by Schreiner because of her objections to some of its assumptions. Rive's (1987) version of this letter has been misdated, omits part of the letter, and is also in a number of respects incorrect.