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Letter ReferenceMary Gladstone (Mrs Drew) Add. 46244, ff.157-159
ArchiveBritish Library, Department of Manuscripts, London
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date16 January 1888
Address FromGrand Hotel, Alassio, Italy
Address To
Who ToMary Drew nee Gladstone (m. 1886)
Other Versions
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
Legend
The Project is grateful to the British Library for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Special Collections.
1 Grand Hotel
2 Alassio
3 Italy
4 Jan 16 / 88
5
6 Dear Mrs Drew
7
8 //Thank you very much for your letter. Thank you also for the card.
9The writer must be very interesting from what you tell me.
10
11 Thank you for the little poem also I think it is very beautiful. I
12should like much to see the stories. Have they been printed? If you
13sent them me here I should take great care of them & return them, as
14I'm not going to London this summer. I am going for a long walking
15tour, by myself, in Austrian Tyrol.
16
17 I don't think the little dream had a moral! It's just, you know, an
18expression of certain feelings that come to me: not very j clearly put
19together. I don't know why I sent it to Mr MacColl. There are some
20things one can feel, but never very clearly express to another, or to
21oneself in words. The great joy one feels at the sense of unity in
22things, & how that consciousness helps one to rise above the little
23selfish griefs & passions of life when nothing else can. I think the
24only place were it is expressed is in the Confessions of St. Augustine,
25 where he & his mother stand at the open window. Isn't all the
26relation between those two beautiful the most beautiful relation that
27ever existed between a man & a woman. I sometimes dream that perhaps
28one day such relations will not be as un-common among men & women as
29they are now. that men will often feel that their mother's have born
30them "once with the body & again with the spirit." Have you any
31children? I think it must be such a beautiful thing to have a child,
32more beautiful than writing a book. Thankyou very much for your letter.
33 I liked it very much.
34
35 Yours very sincerely
36 Olive Schreiner
37
Notation
The 'little poem' and the stories referred to were by Laura Lyttleton (nee Tennant), whose husband Alfred had been curate (and a cousin by marriage) to Mary Drew's father, the politician W. E. Gladstone. Laura Lyttleton had died following childbirth in 1885, leaving a number of unpublished poems, stories and drawings; Mary Drew wrote a family memoir of her. The 'little dream' Schreiner refers to is one of the many allegories she was writing at this time. For the book referred to, see: J.G. Pilkington (trans. 1876) The Confessions of St Augustine Edinburgh: n.p.