"How OS makes bread, the yeast, the sheep tail fat" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceLetters/493
Archive
Epistolary Type
Letter Date12 December 1910
Address FromPortlock, Graaff-Reinet, Eastern Cape
Address To
Who ToAdela Villiers Smith nee Villiers
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 297
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
Legend
When Cronwright-Schreiner prepared The Letters of Olive Schreiner, with few exceptions he then destroyed her originals. However, some people gave him copies and kept the originals or demanded the return of these; and when actual Schreiner letters can be compared with his versions, his have omissions, distortions and bowdlerisations. Where Schreiner originals have survived, these will be found in the relevant collections across the OSLO website. There is however a residue of some 587 items in The Letters for which no originals are extant. They are included here for sake of completeness. However, their relationship to Schreiners actual letters cannot now be gauged, and so they should be read with caution for the reasons given.
1To Mrs. Francis Smith.
2Portlock, Graaff Reinet, 12th Dec.
3
4... If ever anyone were to try and write my life the thing they would
5never understand would be the dominating, over-mastering horror I have
6of coming into contact with human creatures from whom I shrink and
7whom I feel false. Whole pages of my life would be quite
8incomprehensible if one didn't understand this. There is just -, and
9in a lesser degree two or three men and two or three women to whom I
10feel this; I just want never to see them, never to hear their names,
11never to speak to them, never to write to them, never to remember that
12God made them in this world. I left England and came out to this
13country the first time I came out mainly to escape one woman, who
14would persist in coming to see me and writing to me though I told her
15what I felt to her
, and returned all her letters unopened. It's not
16what people have done to you; it's what you feel they are, you shrink
17from. They form a blur on the whole of humanity for you. Fortunately
18they are so very few, and there are so many brave and noble and true
19natures. I seem so fortunate in my life and to have met so many.
20That's why it's so nice being on this farm; the people are all so
21simple and open and true. There’s not a person here whom I don't like,
22even the servants and the over-seer's wife (a Boer woman who weighs
23over 400 pounds!). Life isn't beautiful unless you can love and go out
24to every human creature about you; it's so terrible there should be
25anyone you can't love and trust.
26