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Letter ReferenceHRC/CAT/OS/3b-iv
ArchiveHarry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter DateThursday 4 December 1884
Address FromAlexandra House, Denmark Place, Hastings, East Sussex
Address To24 Thornsett Road, South Penge Park, London
Who ToHavelock Ellis
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 48-9; Rive 1987: 56-7; Draznin 1992: 243-4
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
The Project is grateful to the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, the University of Texas at Austin, for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Manuscript Collections. This letter has been dated by reference to an associated envelope and its postmark, which also provides the address it was sent to. Schreiner was resident at two addresses in Hastings from the end of November 1884 to the end of April 1885.
1Thursday Night
3Harry, I am fell feeling so much better this evening. I’ve worked a
4little. I slept well last night after about one o’clock till then I
5was in such agony thinking there was no Hereafter, that there wasn’t a
6time when you & I & Louie & my Brother & all of us will know &
7understand each other; that death will be the end of all this loving.
8How easily one understand how men invented heaven –
10“Where the the blighted life reblooms,
11Where the broken heart the freshness
12Of its bouyant youth resumes.”
14You letter came to me about an hour ago. Oh yes, ^Harry,^ you are part
15of me. I kept fancying last night how you will die at last. You know,
16my horror is (I don’t think it but I feel it!) – that, we won’t
17perhaps turn to nothing, that through all eternity we shall be
18wandering in the dark, & trying to find eachother again, never come
19across each other in infinite space. Forever, & forever to be alone,
20with a sick yearing in your heart for those you loved & never to find
21them. I don’t nurse these thoughts – they flash on me when I try to
22read & think.
24If I go to Montreux I shall pass through London, & we shall see
25eachothers faces for a few moments: but each has the other in the
32I don’t expectorate nearly so much now. I was out walking a long time,
33today: I can not make up my mind whether it is better for me to stay
34here or to go. What do you think? It would weigh heavily if you could
35come & stay with me here say for a week at Xmas, but I cannot rooms, &
36in this house we could never be together.
38I am writing such a funny that is to say singular scene, I don’t know
39how it came into my head, where Veronica goes to look at John F a
40man’s clothes. It is ^in^ the place of a whole condensed chapter. I must work;
41 we must have money; just a little.
43I can’t have so many dots. How is it. Take iron. It seems to me as
44though cold sponging would strengthen you so. I sponge all the upper
45part of my body with ice cold water every morning & it strengthens me.
47I feel such horror of all the people in this house. I don’t think it
48is a morbid feeling. You would have it more strongly than I if you
49were here. Good night. I feel you close to me. I won’t think about
50your dying tonight.
Schreiner’s quotation is from an H. Bonar poem called ‘The Meeting Place’. The scene involving Veronica she refers to is in From Man to Man. Draznin’s (1992) version of this letter is in some respects different from our transcription. Rive’s (1987) version omits part of the letter and is in a number of other respects incorrect. Cronwright-Schreiner’s (1924) extract is incorrect in various ways.