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Letter ReferenceHRC/OliveSchreinerLetters/OS-DailyNews/1
ArchiveHarry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date28 December 1885
Address From9 Blandford Square, Paddington, London
Address To
Who ToStandard
Other VersionsRive 1987: 70-1
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. Schreiner was resident at Blandford Square from October to late December 1886.
1Sir,
2
3A short time back the remark was made in my pres-ence, that in London
4no Englishwoman was safe from the hands of the police.
5
6I regarded this statement with the cool scorn with we are apt to
7^regard^ unreadable those ^statements^ which we regard ^consider^ ^as^ ^who make^
8uncritical , ^statements^ & nothing we unreadable ?away A few miserable
9& for-lorn women with out money or friends might suffer; but the mass
10of English women armed with friends & intellectual power were safe
11from insult. There It is an ^imperturbable^ ^certain^ marvellous
12philosophic calm with which from ones study fire^side^ one surveys the
13wrongs ^sufferings^ of one’s fellow^s^ men.
14
15Before setting down the facts which I wish to make public, but^to avoid
16mis-conception^ it may be well ^necessary^ to state - that I am a writer,
17that I have taken an interest in the ?raising the protected age ^in^ of
18girls, that my name will be found among the two hundred Englishwomen
19who signed the recently published letter on the^at^ subject.
20
21On Sunday I spent the evening with a friend whose husband is a well
22known medical man at the West End; on leaving, a friend, a wellknown
23 [wordspace] ph [wordspace] connected with one of our large hospitals
24offered to accompany ^conduct^ me home. The square in which I live is a
25large & quiet one, well lighted, & closed at one end by a convent.
26
27We alighted from the le cab, the man having drawn up at the wrong
28number. We walked slowly up ^& down^ the square & down ^for a few moments^
29continuing our conversation ^dis-cussion^. A police-man passed us & said
30good evening in an ^somewhat^ insulting tone ^manner^. He then turned
31short, n & said – “What’s this, what’s up here ^what’s up here^
32what are you doing here; I won’t have this ^what are you doing here^”
33– or words to exactly that effect.
34
35My friend said that the house before which we stood was the one in
36which I lived.
37
38He said he didn’t believe it: he had watched us from the ^being
39standing at the^ corner of the square:
what was I doing out at that
40time of night” ^&c^ (it was about twelve o’clock) & he ^said^ would
41ring the bell.
42
43My friend^We^ said that he might ^do so^ My friend offered him his card, & said
44^?ruefully^ with selfrestraint & politeness that he was astonished at
45the his interfering with two persons who were in no way breaking the
46public peace. The man then ^He^ said, “I’ve nothing to do with you,
47I don’t want to interfere with you. It’s her want ^I’ve to do with^”.
48 unreadable ^He had touched the knocker bell but too lightly to be heard^
49He had appeared to ring the bell but too lightly for anyone to have
50heard it.
51
52We moved a few steps further. He said I had better stand still where I
53was that if I tried to go away ^otherwise^ he would walk ^take^ me off to
54the station: he said something about keeping busy on on I asked my
55friend for his pencil & a piece of paper that I might take his numbre
56number. He said something of an insulting nature about having his eye
57on me & add,
^He said “want my number do you^ “I’ll walk yer off
58the the station.”

59
60He touched the bell lightly again & then came down the steps & said in
61a skurlking ^skulking^ whisper, that if if I would give him my address
62he would go away. It was evident that he wanted money. I told said I
63told him to ring the bell again loudly & he would be answered & learn
64my address. He touched the knocker lightly; but as some one was
65expecting me the door was at once opened. We asked him if he were
66satisfied: he slunk down the steps with the look of a disappointed
67wild animal greed.
68
69If anyone thinks it a matter of ^any^ importance than an individual well
70able to defend themselves should be insulted, they are entirely
71mistaken: but there are in London more than a hundred thous-and women
72who are unable to defend themselves against the our police.
73
74Anyone wishing for the number of that police-man may have it on
75application. My address is enclosed.
76
77Yours &c
78O.S
79
80London Dec: 28th 1885.
81
82
Notation
Two different drafts of this letter exist (see also HRC/OliveSchreinerLetters/OS-DailyNews/2). It was published in January 1887 actually in the Standard, was responded to, with this response receiving a further reply from Schreiner; see The Standard / 5 January 1887, page 5, col 6. Rive's (1987) version includes parts of both drafts and is in various other respects incorrect.