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Letter ReferenceHRC/CAT/OS/4b-ix
ArchiveHarry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date23 May 1890
Address FromMatjesfontein, Western Cape
Address To98 Earlsbrook Road, Earlswood, Redhill, Surrey
Who ToHavelock Ellis
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 187-8, 188; Draznin 1992: 464-5
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. The address this letter was sent to is provided by the associated envelope.
1Matjesfontein
2May 23 / 90
3
4My journal hasn’t got on this week. I’m expecting English letters.
5It is snowing & raining here all the while, & I sit alone in my room &
6cough, so it isn’t very nice; but it will be summer one day.
7
8Why don’t I get a faster with my work. Why must I write every thing
9with my blood? Other people don’t. And I could write in water, three
10novels a year! What is this terrible compulsion over one. There must
11be a God or what is it. I am very lonely. And what increases my
12loneliness is that I know one can’t get lodings in this country so
13I’ve no where to go if I leave Matjesfontein. It snows & rains all
14the time here, we haven’t seen the sun for two weeks.
15
16You know my work is too fine, I mean it doesn’t do after working all
17these years people would probably have understood it better if its –
18It doesn’t

19
20The waiter was rude to me this evening I am so sorry when anyone is
21rude to me.
22
23May the 24th
24
25The post has come this morning. Thank you for your letter. I suppose
26you know that Karl Pearson is to marry Maria Sharpe. I suppose they
27are married now. Thank you for the journal it is so nice to hear of
28all you are doing and seeing. I think I should work just as much in
29Paris as here I have always worked in Paris. It is London that kills
30my power of work.
31
32Good bye. There is a little sunlight upon the hills this morning. I am
33so grateful for ¬it. Of course you don’t like tobacko & I shouldn't
34think Symons would, it is carrying coals to New-Castle. Louie would
35like it & it would do her as much good as it would do you harm. The
36effect of tobacco is to calm & the nervous system & emotions, like
37opium. What need is much more a glass of champagne than a pipe. To me
38all stimulants are poison. “Calm me my God and keep me calm!” I am
39being worn out by going too fast. When I have smoked three cigaretts,
40my nerves are not acting in the same slow fashion that many peoples
41are with out it. I have given smoking lately because I can’t afford
42cigaretts, & the common Cape tobacco is bad, but I have at once become
43more sleepless, & high tensioned.
44
45People are so irrational about these things. Suppose the healthy about
46of nervous irritability is represented by 20, & your nervous system
47stands at 215, five degrees below, & mine stands at 25, five degrees
48above. Then just because a stimulant raises my nervous irritability it
49will be poison to me, & medicine to you. Of course there are side long
50effects of tobacco on the digestion &c apart from its direct effect on
51the nervous system. With me it increases my appetite, not directly of
52course, but indirectly by helping me to sleep. I am reading Ruskin
53
54I am going out of a ride on horseback this afternoon if it leaves off
55raining. I don’t feel anything in the world today.
56
57Goodbye
58Olive
59
Notation
Draznin's (1992) version of this letter is in some respects different from our transcription. Cronwright-Schreiner's (1924) extract is incorrect in various ways.