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Letter ReferenceLife/1
Epistolary Type
Letter Date29 September 1879
Address FromLelie Kloof, Eastern Cape
Address To
Who ToErilda Cawood nee Buckley
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner (1924) The Life…: 137
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
When Cronwright-Schreiner wrote The Life of Olive Schreiner, he included a small number of largely complete letters which do not appear in The Letters, then destroyed them. They are included here for sake of completeness. However, when Schreiner’s originals can be compared against his versions, his have omissions, distortions and bowdlerisations. Consequently the relationship of these letters embedded in The Life... to what Schreiner originally wrote cannot be gauged, and they should therefore be read with caution.
1My dear Mrs Cawood,
3I have got your letter with the stamps. I wanted you never, never to
4pay for the books; but, as you would not like that now, I will keep
5the money, and when Juta sends the account I will pay for them.
7I got a letter from Annie. I did not know whether it would be right to
8answer her: at last I decided not to write, but to send her my
9likeness: I knew you would not like her to be pained; and I do not
10think I did wrong.
12I do not at all blame you for not loving me any more. We cannot help
13love’s going, any more than we can help its coming; and when it is
14gone, it is better to say so.
16For myself, I have always liked you not for anything you were to me,
17but what you were in yourself, and I feel to you as I have felt from
18the beginning.
20Therefore, believe me to remain, if not your friend, one who loves you,
21Olive Schreiner.
Cronwright-Schreiner provides the date of the letter and the address it was sent from. This letter was written in response to the following from Erilda Cawood, dated 25 July 1879 (Cronwright-Schreiner (1924) The Life...: 136-7):

My dear Olive,

I have the less reluctance to write as I now do; because I think, from what you know of me, you are quite prepared for what I have to say. I no longer love you, and cannot act hypocritically. If you needed friends, I could not have allowed my heart to turn against you. You are rich in intellectual, influential friends. And I am quite sure you only valued my acquaintance because you thought I loved you. And I have loved you, at times with an almost idolatrous love. I have sometimes felt it in my heart to say, Olive Schreiner I love you so, that for your sake I could become anything. That is why God in His goodness and wisdom used you as a means to show me what an awful soul-destroying thing freethinking is. You know, I have often told you I can only learn through my affections.

I must tell you I am not alone in what I now feel. Richard and I have both, while pointing out to the children that they owe you gratitude, told them that you are God’s enemy and that they cannot love God and you at the same time. I tell you this, so that you shall be spared the pain and humiliation of expecting more from them, than they have been taught to give.

You know Olive, if I were a free thinker I should be a much prouder one than you are. I would never be able to accept hospitality and kindness from Christians, knowing, that if they knew me as I really was, they would fly from me, affrighted. You will say, why did I accept help and friendship and kindness from you, then? The reason is I really did not know what freethinking was till you taught me.

Yours truly,
Erilda Cawood