"Mill's Logic as most affecting OS spiritual life, her debt to Mill can never be repaid" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceKarl Pearson 840/4/5/3-5
ArchiveUniversity College London Library, Special Collections, UCL, London
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date5 February 1888
Address FromAlassio, Italy
Address To
Who ToKarl Pearson
Other VersionsRive 1987: 135-6
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 has been written on this letter in an unknown hand. Schreiner was resident in Alassio from late October 1887 to February 1888 and from early April to May 1888.
1 I cannot understand how I could have misunderstood you. It flashed on
2me five minutes ago! I have opened & read the note I shall not send it
3to the woman; she is not a woman we can^not^ help. We must reserve our
4strength for those to whom we can be of use. I shall copy it & send it
5to several other women where it will be of aid. Your name not being
6signed will not be mentioned. What you say of mother & child is
7invaluable, but you lose sight entirely of this thing – you fail to
8realize the glory, & dignity (I use the words advisedly) of man’s
9creative power. The feeling of the importance unreadable of fatherhood
10is in spite a feeling yet in its first infancy, in spite of the father
11rights. What is the "physical-woman", but inert matter, till man
12exerts his ^all-marvellous^ power upon her, & creates life. The morality
13of the future will spring largely from the growth in men of reverence
14for their own power, in a gigantic increase in the sense of their
15responsibilities as creators, & the dignity & importance of their
16office. Every attempt to sever the pro-creator & that which he creates
17is a distinct step of retrogression towards that savage condition in
18which the woman was suppose to be more nearly related to the child
19because her relation was more grossly palpable: scientific knowledge,
20& the necessities of developing human nature, with negative every such
21attempt. The order of development will be in an opposite direction.
22Mankind will not again relinquish the one p valuable outcome of the
23ages of mans supremacy! It shall grow broader & richer, & it shall
24develop, but it shall not be cut down. You have studied & thought out
25so deeply the position of woman, why have you not given the same
26thought to man?
28 Do not trouble to return the MS. if unworthy. The The idea, that of
29the unity & identity of Humanity (& of all things?), is the
30allimportant conception, which as yet, only vaguely grasped, lies
31under the socialistic & humanitarian manifestations of our age.
32Humanity is a little child that has been biting it’s own feet &
33hands & putting it’s own finger in the fire; now, it has just begun
34to discover that these feet & hands are I! - it is looking at them in
35astonishment it does not yet understand how it is. This consciousness
36is what under so many forms is waking in our age. If you find this
37expressed in a narrow, personal manner in the MS. throw it into the
38fire. I shall know by its not returning that you have done so; & shall
39try again, & do better.
41 I shall not require your help again likely, for many years, but I
42shall send you the books I inreadable
. I shall expect you to strike me
43firmly, & unsparingly if I should require it at any time. I have a
44right to demand this ^of you^ of you. unreadable words.
46 I cannot let this go without saying one word.
48 Are you striving to shut yourself off from excessive demands. You
49cannot have solitude & separation from London life. In it, are you
50realizing that your first duty is rest; are you pressing out your
51juice when it has hardly had time to form? Is that terrible on, on, on,
52 eating you? Have you realized that an hour’s joyful work of a brain
53leaping up spontaneously from its rest
, surpasses in value the anxious
54unreadable work of years? If I had stayed in London for two years more
55I should have broken down forever under intense pressure, with out any
56disease, & done no more work. Are you guarding yourself from a like
57fate? Are you putting your hand over yourself & saying ‘Rest, that
58is your highest duty ^to the world just^ now’? Have ^you^ infinite faith
59in yourself &, if the next year passes without any work, ^will you^ know
60that your ideas & your work are ripening? Work on slowly, steadily, do
61not seek to expand, ripen. Do not seek to kills out any part of your
62nature. ^Develop all round.^ Steadily seek for all that unreadable ^may^
63be relax that tension when it becomes agony. Know that this
65 ^is your ^^highest^^ duty ^^now^^. I do not say do nothing; I only say "rest".
66Each human beings mode of rest is different. unreadable Strike
67yourself mentally when you wish to run about everywhere, make yourself
68lie down! This must be done if we are to have your best work.^
70 ^You will not reply. I am bound to write to you thus.^
72 The registered parcel arrived safely.
74 There was a letter in it addressed to one to whom it has not been
75given. I shall let her have it when she has done all her work. The
76dreamer thanks you for it: she put you in a position in which you
77could not help writing to her. It & your time must not be wasted in
78letters, we must have ^more work from you.^ I take the great liberty of
79sending you the MS. It would be a matter of great assistance to me if
80you would draw your pen through one of the opinions on the back. I am
81quite unable to judge of the value of my own work any more, & I must
82publish something. You will kindly if occupied when it comes keep it
83till a convenient time. I find it harder to determine what I shall
84publish than to write. All my work is so imperfect.
86 You will please not write to me, but simply return the MS. I do not
87feel justified in taking your time over it at all. Before two years
88are passed may we not hope for the first instal-ment of the "Early
89woman in Germany"?
91 If ever it be necessary to write on business, will you kindly put that
92word outside the letter & it will be attended to at once.
94 O.S.
96 ^You will not allow me to publish it if it is unsuitable, you will
97judge it as if it were your own?^
Which of her manuscripts Schreiner had sent to Pearson cannot be established. 'Early woman in Germany' perhaps relates to the later development of Pearson's 'A Sketch of the History of Sexual Relations in Germany', read at the Men and Women's Club in June 1886. Rive's (1987) version omits part of this letter and is also in a number of respects incorrect.