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Letter ReferenceMary Gladstone (Mrs Drew) Add. 46244, ff.151-154
ArchiveBritish Library, Department of Manuscripts, London
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date After Start: 6 January 1888 ; Before End: 15 January 1888
Address FromAlassio, Italy
Address To
Who ToMary Drew nee Gladstone (m. 1886)
Other Versions
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
The Project is grateful to the British Library for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Special Collections. The letter has been misdated as 'end of 1887' by an unknown hand. However, content shows it was written after Schreiner's letters to Mary Drew of 5 January and before that of 16 January 1888.
1 Alassio
2 Riviera
3 Italy
5 Dear Mrs Drew
7 Would you do me the very great favour of sending the little ms. not
8back to me but to Havelock Ellis, 8 St Albans Pl. Blackburn,
9Lancashire as he keeps all my ms while I am abroad.
11 I could not get the "New Antigone" at Florence so have not yet read it.
12 I am wondering curiously whether the heroine will be at all like a
13very interesting woman I know. She is the only person I ever met who
14had been brought up as a freethinker & socialist, & her character is a
15very interesting study. She is, oddly enough nothing so much as a
16Christian of the old old stamp, before men learnt to doubt. She has
17the same childlike faith which cannot be shaken, & all that is great &
18beautiful for her is bound up in her faith, & for that she lives. She
19cannot understand doubt! She never reasons! She believes & would lay
20down her life for her faith & sees nothing beyond it. We look before &
21after; she looks only straight forward. What Christianity is she can
22never be made to understand, any more than an old Greek could. She is
23in every way an interesting study Of course one knows many people who
24have grown up without the Christian faith, but then they have
25generally grown up without any profound faith at all.
27 I was much concerned a little while ago to hear your father was not
28well. I watch him always with the intensest interest.
30 Have you ever noticed that it is only men with very complex many-sided
31natures who preserve their ^intellectual^ youth far into life? The
32nature which moves only in a single direction however strong &
33valuable, mentally wears out early. Goethe, Victor Hugo, all men who
34have had that marvellous power of retaining youth & vigor have been
35"manysided" & your father is the crowning illustration. I suppose it
36comes to pass because in these men one part of the brain can rest &
37recover power while another works; in the other type it is not so (a
38very materialistic explanation!) I am very sorry I shall not be going
39back to England next year, because perhaps I should have had the
40pleasure of seeing you, & I should have liked it so much.
42 I am writing a long novel now & I love the people in it even better
43than in an African Farm, but I don't know when it will be done.
45 Please believe me,
46 Yours sincerely
47 Olive Schreiner
The 'little ms' Schreiner refers to cannot be established but is likely to be one of the many allegories she was writing at this time. The 'long novel' she is writing is From Man to Man. The book referred to is: William Barry (1887) The New Antigone London: Macmillian & Co.