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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner: Edward Carpenter SMD 30/32/j
ArchiveNational English Literary Museum, Grahamstown
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date4 July 1911
Address FromDe Aar, Northern Cape
Address ToMillthorpe, Holmesfield, Sheffield
Who ToEdward Carpenter
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 302
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
The Project is grateful to the National English Literary Museum (NELM) 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 an attached envelope.
1 De Aar
2 July 4th 1911
4 Dear E.C.
6 I wrote you a longish letter to go off by this week's mail but I must
7have put it into an envelope addressed to some one else by mistake,
8for gone it is! Fortunately there was nothing it would matter any
9one's reading.
11 //Thank you for that interesting notice of the man, but he's not my
12man. He was quite the opposite type Tall, dark, powerfully built,
13rather reserved & sarcastic - fonder of asking questions than of
14giving answers - the man who might make a revolution - but would never
15talk of one! I think he was a mining engineer. He came out I believe
16to prospect some mine in or lands in the interests of a man called
17Conybeare, who used to be member of parliament.
19 Its long long years since I met him; it must have been in 1991 or 1992
20or at at very latest 1993.When I went to England in - 93 that time
21when Bob had just got engaged before I married my impression is that
22when I spoke of him to you & Bob you both said you knew him! We didn't
23say much about him, I just mentioned that I'd met him & he said he
24knew you, & you as though you knew him very well. He was the type of
25man who might have been a public school man & a University man. I
26think what attracted me to him was the sense of deep, restrained,
27passion. When I say his eyes were wicked - I mean that they were the
28eyes of a man who if he wanted anything very much would be driven by
29passion to strike down every thing that stood in his way
; & who could
30yet be very tender. We only spent one afternoon together up on the
31mountain side. He told Miss Conybeare he wanted to meet me & he & his
32friend were only in Cape Town for a few days, so she asked us all to
33go for this climb on the mountain, & we lay among the silver trees
34high up on the Devils Peak & talked. I had a curious feeling that
35there was a singularly close friendship between him & his little fair
36common place companion - a may man almost his own years age I
37should say he was then between 25 or or 28 so he must be far
38over 40 now.
40 It is very curious why I want to know if he's dead or what became of
41him! I always used to expect to hear of him turning up among the rich
42mining engineers at Johannesburg. But I don't know if he was a mining
43engineer or but it was my impression he was.
45 I spend my life so entirely alone now, most of it shut up in this room,
46 that my mind goes roving much over the past, & things & people I knew
47when I still lived among humanbeings seem so close & real to me.
49 I wonder if you & Bob have got the copies of Women & Labour I sent you
50yet? Its a curious idea of yours that Gibbon! of all people had
51anything to do with my view in the book. Its always seemed strange to
52me that Gibbon seems almost to ignore the existence of woman! &
53certainly never touches on any problem of sex.
55 Where he is valuable is in his dissection of the rise of Christianity
56but above all he, & he only, paints widely & clearly the causes which
57have led to the division of Europe into its present form of nations.
58Monson's Rome, now, teams with interesting information with regard to
59woman; & all the old Greek plays & Homer, & even dear old Heroditus
60pours light on the question of woman & her position in ancient times.
62 I am going to have a great pleasure tomorrow when Ida Hyett is coming
63to stay at the hotel for a week, & I shall see her every day. We are
64having the best weather of our year now beautifully cold & dry & the
65veld has quite a tinge of green after the late rains, so I hope she'll
66enjoy it. No one has ever been to see me here since Keir Hardie was
67here some years ago, so its a grand event.
69 My brother Will has gone to attend the Universal Races Congress in
70London, or rather sails tomorrow. I wonder if you'll be going & meet
71him there. He's a grand old fellow - his nature & sympathies deepening
72& widening so wonderfully as he grows older. He is also taking his son
73& daughter to Cambridge.
75 Good bye dear old Edward.
77 Thine ever
78 Olive
The book referred to is: Theodor Mommsen (1867-77) The History of Rome Leipzig: Reimer & Hirsel.. Cronwright-Schreiner's (1924) version of this letter is incorrect in various respects.