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Letter ReferenceHRC/CAT/OS/4a-i
ArchiveHarry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date2 February 1887
Address FromClarens, Montreux, Switzerland
Address Toc/o Dr Grey, Dalton-in-Furness, Cumbria
Who ToHavelock Ellis
Other VersionsDraznin 1992: 426-7
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 an associated envelope and its postmark, which also provides the address it was sent to. The stamp of the Hotel-Pension Roth, Clarens, Montreux, is on the envelope. The final insertion is on the back of the envelope.
1My Harry boy, Thou understandest thy little comrade & knowest less of
2her even than Donkin!! I’m very much myself & have been very happy
3working. I ought n’t to talk to you about Karl at all, but
4some-times I feel that it will always keep dividing us if you don’t
5understand at all. If I had had the only kind of feeling you seem to
6understand as love, do you think that caring for him as I have done
7for two years nearly (ever since I was at Portsea Place), I would
8deliberately have gone away to Bournemouth & shut myself up in the
9convent, just because I felt close & more one with him when physically
10I was furthest away from him? The feeling I have is like that I have
11for Heine & Emerson only stronger ^infinitely^ Only for a great man of
12genius could such a feeling be felt & I think only for one who was
13physically very weak. As Mrs. Clifford says, “I can’t understand
14any woman’s seeing him without loving him ^& wanting to fall down at
15his feet^ & I can’t understand any woman’s thinking he’s a man.”
16
17Karl told me more than a year ago that he had never had any sex
18relationship even of the Hintonian type in his life, never kissed a
19woman passionately. What you must have misunderstood was my saying
20that Mrs Cobb was not straight forward to her husband. The feeling she
21has for Pearson is a much more deadly one from a husband’s point of
22view than any sex-feeling! If I had ever supposed a woman so much
23older & wiser as Mrs Cobb is ^capable of seducing^ than our baby I
24should as
^could be^ capable of seducing him, I should have struck her
25dead as I nearly did Miss Jones when once she hinted that Karl had had
26a sex relationship with Mrs M C- I had simply to get up & go away, if
27I had di stayed I would have divulged things he told me in confidence.
28What Mrs. Cobb has done has been to be brutally selfish, to try &
29injure any one who she thought was his friend. I cannot show you any
30of the real letters that have passed between Karl & myself. If I could
31you would perhaps under-stand. If I thought him capable of ever the
32same amount of animality that is beautiful in other men, some thing
33would be gone from my life that would never come back to it.
34
35^If a sex relationship were useful for his health or happiness of
36course I should enter on it, but I should feel that a great beauty had
37gone from my life. I got a letter from him the other day, but I have
38put it away & told him I will open & answer it in five or six months time.
39 I have seen some letters of his to Mrs Clifford, he seems in great
40agony & depression, but he must work out life’s problem for himself.
41I shall not help him.^
42
43^I’m not going to write to any body from now to the first of March.
44You write to me eh?^
45
Notation
Draznin's (1992) version of this letter is in some respects different from our transcription.