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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner: Extracts of Letters to Cronwright-Schreiner MSC 26/2.16/436
ArchiveNational Library of South Africa, Special Collections, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeExtract
Letter Date25 March 1908
Address FromMatjesfontein, Western Cape
Address To
Who ToS.C. (‘Cron’) Cronwright-Schreiner
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 276-7
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
The Extracts of Letters to Cronwright-Schreiner were produced by Cronwright-Schreiner in preparing The Life and The Letters of Olive Schreiner. They appear on slips of paper in his writing, taken from letters that were then destroyed; many of these extracts have also been edited by him. They are artefacts of his editorial practices and their relationship to original Schreiner letters cannot now be gauged. They should be read with considerable caution for the reasons given. Cronwright-Schreiner has written the date and where it was sent from onto this extract, that he had mentioned Ruskin in his letter and ‘she refers to this & then goes on.’. There are some differences between this transcription and the version that appears in The Letters....
1 …He’s a curious antidote to this commercial, striving,
2self-seeking, individualistic world. Man is not meant to live striving
3against his fellows, but living in an organised union with them. Is it
4right & not wrong that we can feel no restfulness in this life; that
5we ask ourselves ‘is life worth living?” & say ‘what do I live
6for?’. One never feels that if one is living with and for others,
7because the deep instinct for unity with our fellows is satisfied.
8That is why the Kaffir is happy in his tribe, a poor miserable looking
9creature, knocking about in one of our individualistic modern towns,
10organically united to nothing… For us of course life in South Africa,
11 & especially up-country, is abnormally & horribly isolated. The Boer
12has his church, the one large impersonal interest that unities him
13with his fellows & gives him an object to live for & sacrifice himself
14for; every time the church bell rings it is the call to a common life
15with his fellow men...
17 …---- very well expressed this idea when he said how much one lost
18if not being of the same religion as the mass of people in your
19society because you could not weekly go there together with those
20sharing your deepest convictions in an act which was the common
21expression of them. I think this deep craving for union of thought &
22feeling with the mass of our fellows & this endless sense of want when
23we have it not is one of the deepest elements making for growth &
24advance; but we must not seek for its satisfaction by trying to step
25back to a lower level of intellectual or emotional growth than that
26which we have gained, but endure the craving, till, far in the future
27- or never - we find our own...