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Letter ReferenceKarl Pearson 840/4/2/54-56
ArchiveUniversity College London Library, Special Collections, UCL, London
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter DateMonday 10 May 1886
Address FromSt Dominic?s Convent, Mutrix Road, Kilburn, London
Address To
Who ToKarl Pearson
Other VersionsRive 1987: 76-7
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. The name of the addressee is indicated by content and archival location.
1 St Dominics Convent
2 Monday
4 I think that one of the things most difficult of attainment & found
5only in the men & women of the most developed type, is that power of
6analyzing & of resisting the association of ideas, which results in
7being able to separate the man from the opinions he may hold; &, yet
8more, to separate in the man the man the weak & false part, from the
9true, & in the theory the false from the true. I think this is a
10condition of mind which it is most difficult to find in a woman
11because her narrower life has allowed of less development. I do not
12know how you would reason out the relation of this quality to sexual
13differences, - but this is an old matter of difference between us.
15 //With regard to Miss Haddon; she does not see that the great aim in
16life is to dis-cover truth, i.e. the true relation between phenomena,
17the fact which is - & having found it that our duty is never to shut
18our eyes to it or to help other people in shutting their eyes to it -
19so she could never be to me an "angel of light". What she ought to do,
20holding is to sacrifice home friends, relations, good name, the
21sympathy of those she most prizes, for the sake of what she holds the
22truth, (I know two women in Africa & one in England whom I should
23expect to sacrifice children, friends, good name, in the cause of
24abstract truth. How many do you know? How many men even?). Miss Haddon
25is not an angel of light. The Christian spirit, is strong in her, but
26there are many beautiful sides to her character. The other afternoon
27when I saw her we were talking of men of genius, & how much greater
28you feel some individuals to be than their work makes it possible to
29prove that they are. You were mentioned as a man of this type, & she
30broke forth generously, that one felt you were a good & great man &
31added that "after all he has done valuable & good work as well". This
32seems a very little thing, but it seemed to me very magnanimous. One
33so seldom finds a humanbeing who can look at another, without being in
34anyway blinded by that persons relation to themselves. I feel grateful
35now to any one who will show me a little bit of the ideal.
37 //Sometimes I have thought I saw in you a little swerving from that
38following after the absolute truth, & it has cost me some pain, but I
39will write of that some other time.
41 I send you my copy of Walden; it’s a very bad edition, the extracts
42are not well arranged. On page 320 you will find his adequate excuse
43for having left the woods, on 323 a little allegory that pleases me a
44great deal. Perhaps it is only people who for many years have led a
45wild absolutely solitary life that see much in him, but parts you will
48 I am going to write a preface to Mary Wollstonecraft if they will let
49me say just what I want to say.
51 Yours ever
52 O. S.
54 It was good of you to think of that at Basel.
56 I did speak to you coming out, & to Mr Parker; but you didn’t hear
57me. I was so glad to see you.
59 //When that poor wretch is to be taken off to the torture the second
60time Beatrice ought to have taken all the guilt on herself, forging in
61it, clearing her mother & her brother. The judges should have
62condemned her to instant death., & she The curtain should fall as she
63is led off with a beatific smile upon her face. "Not guilt! God’s
64avenger!" Your last sight of her should be of something calmly
65triumphant. Don’t you think so.
67 ^I am going to the Harrow Convent on Saturday.^
The 'preface to Mary Wollstonecraft' is the 'Introduction' Schreiner agreed to write for a new edition of Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792, London: J. Johnson) but which was never completed. A very early draft fragment of it appears in Carolyn Burdett (1994) History Workshop Journal 37: 189-93. 'Walden' is: Henry David Thoreau (1854) Walden, or Life in the Woods Boston: np. Rive's (1987) version omits part of this letter and is also in a number of respects incorrect.