"Been to Women's International Federation meeting, woman in street says 'traitor meeting'" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceHRC/CAT/OS/4a-viiiHRC/OS/FRAGHRC/CAT/OS/NFPcc
ArchiveHarry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date25 January 1888
Address FromAlassio, Italy
Address To
Who ToHavelock Ellis
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 127-9; Rive 1987: 133-4; Draznin 1992: 441-2
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 is composed of a number of pages, which are now separated in the HRC collections as the result of pre-archiving happenstance. In the absence of other information, dating the letter has followed Draznin (1992), who has done so by reference to versions in Cronwright-Schreiner's (1924) The Letters... and the Lafitte Letters typescript in the British Library. Schreiner stayed in Alassio from late October 1887 to February 1888 and from early April to May 1888.
1Glad you are working at Norwegian.
2
3It’s just that paper of Pearson’s that you & he agree on, & its
4just that side of his nature is like yours & unlike mine!!!
5
6When I want to go to Trafalgar Sq & fight the enemies of Freedom of
7the hour wildly, & get my head broken in, you say I am a fool, & you
8are right When I run about after prostitutes, & ?choo Mrs Wedons K P.
9writes to tell me I am a fool & wicked for leaving my work, & he is
10right. Goethe was a far more highly moral man than Shiller. The man
11who sits quietly in his study writing & working out a great scientific
12truth while dow his little petty state is going to pieces, it’s
13greater, more human, more moral than one, who like myself would rush
14out wildly & fight.
15
16You of all people I ever met (infinitely more than Karl) are a man of
17the study & nothing else. You are perfectly dead to the other side,
18that is your weakness & your strength. That is why you will do great &
19useful work in the world. The world is crashing about you – & sit
20grubbing out whether an old English dramatist put two dots over his i.
21Your dearest friends are being dragged to prison; ^&^ theory that you
22have been interested in are being practically tested; cruel & wicked
23wrong is being done to innocent little children – I ^to^ you look with
24astonishment and disapproval on another when you come to see them &
25they are not untouched by it it! (You remember that day when you came
26to see me in London?). Your very medical work you only undertake under
27compulsion & necessity, & give you £200 a year you would curl
28yourself up in abstract study & thought for the rest of your live.
29
30In time of revolution & war you will never be found, you will never be
31in the market place. Miss Clapperton will,
32
33Alassio
34Italy Nov 9 / 87
35My old Ell

36
37so will Eleanor Marx Aveling, so will Podmore & Thickness, so might
38Pearson or I, so will not you. Your greatness is your absolute absence
39of the enthusiasm of the market place. When that Pall Mall ^Revelations^
40affair happened, it was all Pearson could do to keep himself from
41dashing wildly into the fray; I wrote & collected the women. You sat
42by quietly & felt nothing & did nothing. I know that there is a little
43to be said in favour of the practical side of my nature, but but side
44of my nature that
45
46^is like yours is the most^
47
48^valuable, & the one with which my work is done. I don’t think you
49have ever realized your own character or your own aims. K P. has about
50four thousand times^
51
52^as much enthusiasm of the market place, as you have.^
53
54Olive
55
56I didn’t want that bit of MS. back I’ve got piles & pile like that
57that I just threw into the fire. I could write a book like that in a
58week Yes, it’s part of Rebekah’s diary. Rebekah is me I don’t
59know which is which any more; but Bertie is me, & Drummond is me, &
60all is me, only not Veronia & Mrs. Drummond (except a little!).
61Sometimes I really don’t know whether I am I; or I am one of the
62others.
63
64I like
65
66Miss Robinson has written she & her sister wish to come here.
67Everybody want to come where I am. It’s so funny
68
69Olive
70
Notation
Upside down on the first side of the last sheet of paper, but excised, is 'Analysis of truth This'. The manuscript Schreiner does not want back is a discarded part of From Man to Man. 'That paper of Pearson's' is likely to refer to 'Sex and Socialism', first read to the Men and Women's Club and then published in To-Day 1887; it was re-published in Karl Pearson (1888) The Ethic of Freethought London: T. Fisher Unwin. The 'Pall Mall revelations' refers to its editor W.T. Stead's four articles under the heading of 'The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon' on prostitution and the age of consent, published in the paper on 6, 7, 8 and 9 July 1885. 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.