"Your astonishing letter, family duties, will never mention Katie's name as long as I live" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner: Extracts of Letters to Cronwright-Schreiner MSC 26/2.16/92
ArchiveNational Library of South Africa, Special Collections, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeExtract
Letter Date16 July 1903
Address FromUitkyk, Northern Cape
Address To
Who ToS.C. (‘Cron’) Cronwright-Schreiner
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 238-9
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. There are some differences between this transcription and the version that appears in The Letters....
1 …When I said ‘chance’ in my other letter to you I should perhaps
2have said ‘fate’. But either come to the same thing. What I meant
3was the condition in which a human creature loses all faith in their
4own will & therefore almost certainly in any other will-power or wills
5eating through time & space - a faith which obliterates all
6distinction of right or wrong, & throws up all strife after any ideal,
7& sulks swiftly after pleasure & self gratification. It were better
8for that man that he had not been born. Perhaps poor old Rhodes
9suffered from it, Jameson today. It doesn’t matter for the ordinary
10^London^ fashionable weakling man, who has nothing to do in life
11but spend money & amuse themselves. But for men in a healthier
12atmosphere, who have perhaps work for others to do in the world, it is
13a ghastly horror when this disease grasps them. It was not in the
14sight of such a faith that William Porter & Sir George Grey & Saul
or Darwin or John Stuart Mill did their work, as vast &
16uncomprehensible in its ultimate nature as light, or time, or space,
17or matter generally is that other vast reality, which we know & feel
18more intensely than anything less in the universe, the will within us
19that is not time nor space, that is not light not heat;
20uncomprehensible in its ultimate essence by our puny intellects as is
21everything else in the universe, yet never for a moment to be ignored
22if we do not wish to wreck our lives & makes a fool’s play of our
23existence. I can’t express well what I mean, darling, I’m so tired,
24 but perhaps you make out for your ^little wife.^
26 Goodbye, dear one.