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Letter ReferenceHRC/UNCAT/OS-19
ArchiveHarry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter DateMonday 23 March 1885
Address From4 Robertson Terrace, Hastings, East Sussex
Address To
Who ToHavelock Ellis
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 65, 66; Rive 1987: 62-3; Draznin 1992: 325-6
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
Legend
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 information written onto it by Ellis. Schreiner was resident at two addresses in Hastings from the end of November 1884 to the end of April 1885.
1Monday night
2
3Is my sweet boy sad tonight? I have been sitting in the chair by the
4fire tonight thinking about him. I wish I were rich, you you know I
5begin to be afraid I shan’t get so much for this book. It will be so
6very small one small volume after all this work. If people only knew
7how easy it was to write three, how difficult to write one.
8
9You know, darling, when I say I am happy I don’t think you
10understand. I think you think I mean something like what is ordinarily
11called happiness. I don’t think the feeling I call happiness has
12much likeness to that. It means that I am for a time in a condition to
13master my own feelings & keep them from rending me
. I don’t think
14you know what feeling is to me. How it can rend even my physical
15structure. When I was a little girl I came of church one Sunday, I was
16sent out for some thing. When I got out it was all so wonderfully
17still on the mission station, no one was about in the midday there was
18not a sound, & up in the sky there was one large white. It was a thing
19I have never seen but that once, it was a large round mass of clouds
20standing in the middle of the sky, & it silvered over on the side
21facing the sun, & dark on the under side, & the top was all like
22turrets & castles. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen, I
23got more & more excited & quivering when I looked at it it was so
24wonderful me, I thought God had sent it just on purpose when he knew
25that I should be coming out of church that I might see it alone. I
26almost fell on the ground with feeling. I wouldn’t be so foolish now;
27 but still I could pray like when I was a little child that I might
28not feel too much.
29
30I
31
32Just got your letter. I wish I was in London. I have got my babys old
33Shely too. I love to look at its old worn leaves, & cover. Ach, my
34sweet! Fancy I didn’t know till your letter came that tomorrow was
35my birthday! I thought it as Wednes-day. I never shall be right about
36any date.
37
38I got a letter from my bro. Will the other day that made me sad.
39
40I feel a little bothered about this fullness of blood in the, it’s
41not headach, you know it’s it’s just as if my head and especial my
42neck were full of blood. I’ll spong them with cold water when I’m
43sitting in my hot bath.
44
45I’ll not be sad. Life is a battle to be fought, quietly persistently
46at every moment.
47
48My treasure, it would be very happy if I had you here tonight.
49
50Olive
51
52Tuesday
53
54What a beautiful present I’ve got, eh? It is like you. You see you
55said you couldn’t be taken. Thankyou my darling.
56
57My brother & sister-in-law sent me a broach, & a card so I have quite
58a grand birthday. It is such a glorious day outside only I feel sad. I
59want to cry. It isn’t because it’s my birthday. I’ve other
60things. I must get to my writing, & then I lose sight of my own
61individuality. Oh that likeness is so good. Thank you, my sweet ?look.
62It’s just the little Henry in the knickerbockers.
63
64Olive
65
Notation
Schreiner's 'this book' is likely to refer to From Man to Man. Draznin's (1992) version of this letter is in some respects different from our transcription. Rive's (1987) version is taken from Cronwright-Schreiner. Cronwright-Schreiner's (1924) version uses material from two letters with different dates and is also incorrect in various ways.