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Letter ReferenceKarl Pearson 840/4/2/90-91
ArchiveUniversity College London Library, Special Collections, UCL, London
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter DateSunday 23 June 1886
Address FromThe Convent, Harrow, London
Address To
Who ToKarl Pearson
Other VersionsRive 1987: 84-5
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. The date has been written on this letter in an unknown hand. Schreiner was resident at the Convent in Harrow from mid May to the end of September 1886.
1 Sunday night
2
3 My dear Mr Pearson
4
5 I have spent today not in telling stories to children, but with an
6older child, a prostitute, a woman with sweet blue-eyes & a loveable
7bright child’s face. I had not seen her before, but I had written to
8her & today she came to see me from London. We have been out in the
9fields nearly all the day. She said she was very happy here & she was
10coming again soon. I should like to bring you & her together. I feel
11sometimes as though part of your work in life were like that of your
12own Christ, to show some women that there is something more beautiful
13possible in the relation between men & women than they have dreamed of.
14 Perhaps some day I shall read bits of your play to her. There is that
15scene in which Mary & Jesus talk, & in which Mary rushes away, that I
16love. I see always more & more the possible regeneration of the race
17in that new union ^of friendship^ between man & woman: it must & will
18come at last, our dreams are not delusions but the forerunners of the
19reality.
20
21 //I felt so loving to that woman this afternoon: these women are just
22like big children, you know, they have such a strange passionate love
23for flowers: she ran about & picked them with a joy that hardly any
24grown up person has in them. With all her childishness she has a
25keenly analytical mind! She made today some of the subtlest remarks as
26to the differences between men & women & the causes of these
27differences that I have ever heard from a woman. If you passed her in
28the street you would think her a very refined sweet woman of the upper
29classes ^.(& so she is)^
30
31 Yes, please come on Monday: but should you even then be hampered with
32work put it off later.
33
34 Yes, criticism is good (even the poorest criticism may be helpful) but
35only in the last stage of one’s work. In the early stages when one
36still shapes one’s theory & collects all possible data, it is an
37impertinence. To criticise oneself then is bad. Much more to have
38another’s imbecilities thrust on you.
39
40 O.S.
41
42 You may tell anyone & every one that I asked you to come & see me ^as a
43personal favour^; it’s a little minded pride that objects to asking
44or being supposed to receive a favour.
45
46 Wednesday
47
48 Would you like me to ask Mrs Anderson (I won’t call her a prostitute,
49 she’s a woman that I love) on Monday? I’ve just had a^n^ long
50interesting letter from Miss Müller. I wish you could make time to
51see her before you go. Her mind is working on the subject of socialism
52at last & a little touch from your mind might help her a great deal.
53She shouldn’t unreadable spending She wants to break out of her
54present life & doesn’t see how. (Professor K. Pearson (to himself)
55"This benighted individual wants one to go running about after every
56fourth woman in London; & at the same time expects one to produce work
57that shall stand the test of the ages! Humph!" - The Professors
58remarks become inaudible here
.)
59
60 //Do you ever have a sudden great longing to see a particular one of
61your friends? I have often. Sometimes it is my mother I get the
62feeling I must see her little bright intellectual old face; it is
63irresistible. I feel I must run down to the docks & take my place in
64the steamer. I had it about my brother (whom I’ve hardly heard from
65for so many years since I became a freethinker) a few weeks ago, then
66it wore off. Sometimes I have the feeling about music, an unreadable
67of irresistible longing to hear it for no particular reason. Last week
68I had that kind of longing to see you; but it’s gone now.
69(Professor K.P. "Ill regulated mind!!")
70
71 //It will be splendid to have the historical papers published.
72
73 //Ed Carpenter & I had a long restful morning in the fields on
74Thursday. We were discussing the need there is in modern life for
75institutions taking the place of the old Monastic & Conventual systems,
76 which might absorb & give human ties & interest to those not fitted
77or not willing to enter on marriage, & not strong enough to live alone.
78 One sees the need of such institutions for the weak, but the way to
79them is not clear. One needs a gigantic central enthusiasm. I have
80thought of this question much since I have been in the convent.
81
82^This epistle does not require a reply, but a line to say whether I may
83come to meet you at the station (Metropol. from Baker St) or whether I
84shall meet you at the church, & whether you would like me to ask Mrs
85Anderson. ^
86
87 O.S.
88
89
90
91
Notation
The 'bits of your play' refers to: Karl Pearson (1882) The Trinity: A Nineteenth Century Passion-Play Cambridge: E. Johnson. The 'historical papers' given at Men and Women's Club meetings were: R. J. Parker 'Sexual Relations among the Greeks of the Periclean Era' (February 1886), J. W. Rhys David 'Early Buddists of India' (March 1886), N.W. Tchaykovsky 'Russians of Middle Ages'(April 1886), Lina Eckenstein 'Sketch of Sexual Relations in Rome' (May 1886), and K. Pearson 'A Sketch of the History of Sexual Relations in Germany' (June 1886). Rive's (1987) version has been misdated, omits part of this letter, and is also in a number of respects incorrect.