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Letter ReferenceKarl Pearson 840/4/1/21-26
ArchiveUniversity College London Library, Special Collections, UCL, London
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter DateSunday 19 July 1885
Address From9 Blandford Square, Paddington, London
Address To
Who ToKarl Pearson
Other VersionsRive 1987: 65-6
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 of this letter has been written on in an unknown hand. Schreiner was resident in Blandford Square from early July 1885 to early August.
1 Sunday
3 My dear Mr Pearson
5 Thankyou very much for your letter. When I came home I carried on our
6conversation for an hour or more walking up & down my room. Yes, I
7knew you felt these things, but perhaps not in the way a woman can
8feel them.
10 Sometimes when I have been walking in Gray’s Inn Rd & seen one of
11those terrible old women that are so common there, the sense of
12agonised oneness with her that I have felt, that she was myself only
13under different circumstances, has stricken me almost mad. Do you
14think any man could feel so? I feel so about all these poor women.
16 //I agree with you that the Criminal Law Amendment Act, will not touch
17the matter, there will be not one prostitute in England less at the
18end of the year because of it, nor because of any law that could be
19passed. What then has the Pall Mall done? - Simply this - it may have
20warned a few sl girls, & it may have roused a few thousand women from
21their long selfish sleep ^on sexual matters^; if it has done this it
22will not be a small thing; it’s effects will tell after many days. I
23do not know if you will at all sympathize with me, but my feeling is
24not one of hatred to the men who do these things. One is irresistibly
25driven back to look at the women who bore these men, & in whose hand
26they lay for the first twelve or fourteen years their life. What have
27these women done for them; upon the most solemn, the most beautiful,
28the most important and the life & death giving side of their natures,
29how have they ^been^ instructed? Unreadable Of course you may say that
30these women were themselves the slaves of men, where were they to gain
31the physical, the intellectual ^& the moral^ knowledge, which would
32enable them to teach their sons the beauty importance of the sexual
33sides of their natures. This is quite true; & so we come back to the
34old point, that we can^not^ hate any one. Man injures woman & woman
35injures man. It is not a case for crying out against individuals ^or
36against sexes,^ but simply for changing a whole system. When we have
37pure strong mothers able see the beauty & importance of the sexual
38side of life, we will have pure strong men able to guide themselves
39nobly. Before that day comes women will have to have to have made
40themselves absolutely free of material dependence on man, their
41reasons & their wills will have had to be cultivated. It seems a long
42way off, but I always feel that it must come at last & I do think the
43Pall Mall letters have been wise if they have awakened only a thousand
46 I saw Dr Donkin yesterday. He is going abroad in August ^September^ &
47October, but will, I think, like to read us a paper in November; but
48he would like to know more about our particular standpoint. I have
49sent him your paper, & told him about Mr Parker.
51 Thank you for the copies. I should like a few more, as I want to send
52to Miss Lord, Roden Noel &c all people who are interested in our
55 Yours very sincerely,
56 Olive Schreiner
58 I hope you be able to read my handwriting I am writing very hurriedly,
59as I fear you may be leaving for Germany tomorrow. I hope you will
60have a restful time there. Don’t you think Mr Parker might give us
61his historical paper in October instead of November.
'Your paper' refers to Pearson's 'The Woman's Question', read at the first meeting of the Men and Women's Club in July 1885. R.J. Parker's 'Sexual Relations among the Greeks of the Periclean Era' was read at the February 1886 meeting of the Men and Women's Club. The Pall Mall Gazette comment refers to its editor W.T. Stead's four articles under the heading of 'The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon' on prostitution and the age of consent, published in the paper on 6, 7, 8 and 9 July 1885. Rive's (1987) version omits part of this letter and is also in a number of respects incorrect.