"Best blood of youth, beginning of half century of war" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceEdward Carpenter 359/35
ArchiveSheffield Archives, Archives & Local Studies, Sheffield
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date21 January 1889
Address FromMentone, France
Address To
Who ToEdward Carpenter
Other VersionsRive 1987: 147
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
Legend
The Project is grateful to the Sheffield Archives, Sheffield Libraries, Archives and Information Services, for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Archive Collections. The date has been written on this letter in an unknown hand.
1 Mentone
2
3 My dear old Edward
4
5 You don’t know how precious your last letter has been to me. You can’t
6understand.
7
8 I’ve read your paper in Pioneer. I like it best about the nakedness,
9but I like all, except where you talk against the intellect. You do
10understand, my Ed’ard, that the same joy and peace comes to my little
11soul from reading Spencers First Principles or Mills Logic or even
12Gibbons Decline & Fall that comes to it from looking at a sunset
13behind these tall mountains. God can and does reveal himself through
14the intellect as through nature, through the reason of the man as in
15the blowing of the wind. Thou darest no more blaspheme against the
16intellect than another dare against nature.
17
18 What you, who have been over taught, are striking at, is that wretched
19choking of the intellect that goes on in schools & colleges, but we,
20people who have never been over fed like myself, we who have never
21been to school who have never been taught anything, we cannot feel as
22you do. You have been over fed. We are dying of hunger. That’s true
23about things coming to us when we don’t care any more. But then we
24can’t be said ever to have them. What we have gained is the power to
25do without them, the part of ourself which wanted them we kill slowly,
26& the benefit is that so much more is dead. This sounds sadder than I
27mean, but I think you
28 understand.
29
30 I would like to have heard the discussion at the "New Noah’s Ark." It
31will have been lovely I’m sure. Will you please send me all you write.
32If you ever should go to Mr Pearson’s again would you send me
33something out of his garden; pick it for yourself. You know my heart
34lives always in that little study in Hampstead; ^it is like a little
35chapel to me;^ it is all so beautiful to me. Now I know that he never
36needed ^wanted^ my friendship ^I can rest.^ It’s to me as if he was buried
37personally but so beautiful to know he’s alive & working ^impersonally.^
38All goes well and happily & me here. Such loving letters from my
39people rejoicing at my return to the Cape in August. It’s not a secret.
40 I’ve told the Robertses. My hospital plan has to be given up, no room
41for me.
42
43 I’m writing something very lovely. Edward, it isn’t really the
44intellect & nature that are at war, it’s the personal & impersonal.
45
46 Your sister
47 Olive
48
48 ^I’ve got a beautiful likeness of Walt Whitman. I wonder if you would
49like to see it? I’ll give it you if you would value it. I value it, so
50I’d like to give it you.^
51
Notation
The 'very lovely' thing Schreiner was writing cannot be established. The references are to: Edward Carpenter (1889) 'Civilisation: Its Cause and Cure' Pioneer January 1889; Herbert Spencer (1862) First Principles London: Williams & Norgate; John Stuart Mill (1843) System of Logic London: Parker; Edward Gibbon (1776-1787) The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire London: T. Cadell. Rive's (1987) version omits part of this letter and is also in a number of respects incorrect.