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Letter ReferenceKarl Pearson 840/4/4/1-2
ArchiveUniversity College London Library, Special Collections, UCL, London
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date25 January 1887
Address FromHotel Roth, Clarens, Lake Geneva, Montreux, Switzerland
Address To2 Harcourt Buildings, Temple, London
Who ToKarl Pearson
Other VersionsRive 1987: 119-20
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
Legend
The Project is grateful to University College London (UCL) and its Library Services for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Special Collections. The address this letter was sent to is provided by an attached envelope.
1 Hotel Roth
2 Clarens
3 Lake of Geneva
4 Jan 25 / 87
5
6 Dear Mr Pearson
7
8 Dr Donkin has sent me your message. Thank you for thinking the
9allegories worth publishing. I don’t value them; have many; can
10write any number; don’t think any one would care to publish them. If
11you don’t like to keep or burn, kindly return them, direct, to me
12here.
13
14 //I am working. Do you know the delicious sensation when the work that
15has been bending down on you for years crushing you, falls to your
16feet, & you know that you will master it at last, cost what it may? It
17is the effect of contact of nature that gives this strength to me.
18
19 //I never inquired of Dr Donkin what passed between yourself & him,
20nor have I opened the letter you wrote him, which at my request he
21sent me. I have complete confidence in both. You entirely
22misunderstood me - that is a small matter. Certainly, it is one that
23ought to cause neither of us one moment’s perturbation. May I trust
24that in your case this is so? It would be selfish & unjust to
25ourselves & to the world to waste on this trivial matter a brain-throb
26that should be expended on our work.
27
28 //I shall send next week to Mr Parker the paper for the club which I
29was prevented from finishing by my illness. Keep it for six months &
30make any use of it you like. If you & Mr Parker should think the
31strictures on marriage & the received view of sex relations too strong
32you are at full liberty to soften them. I should prefer their being
33left. You can read it with or without my name. Probably you would find
34it more interesting in the latter case. It supports the view that in a
35highly complex state of society a multiplicity of forms of sex
36relations are absolutely necessary, that these will arise; that the
37most highly developed individuals driven by the force of circumstances
38will, consciously or unconsciously, experiment in sexual matters; that
39it is beneficial for society that they should act so (the condition of
40its growth!) but that it is desirable that they should act
41cons-ciously. The argument in support of this view is drawn mainly
42from the consideration of the laws of growth in the animal world (say,
43the growth of a shell-fish!). I use this analogy which exists between
44physical & social growth as more than an illustration; as a powerful
45argument. I believe I am justified in doing so; but the argument is
46ill knit. If Mr Parker, before returning it, would put his finger on
47the weak points, & add a few ^marginal^ note where he thinks the
48argument unsound, it would be a great favour. unreadable I rate his
49critical faculty as higher than that of .any mind with which I ever
50came into contact.
51
52 //Please do not write to me.
53
54 //From time to time I hope I may know what you publish. Of the
55importance of that life’s work that lies before you, and in the
56strength that will accomplish it, I feel never a moment’s doubt -
57absolute certainty. Thanking you for the mental stimulation to which I
58owe all the little work or thinking I have done in the last
59year-&-a-half, & any life lived at other than the lower level; & for
60the magnificent straight-forwardness of all your dealing with me.
61
62 I am,
63 Yours faithfully,
64 Olive Schreiner
65
66 I took action in a small matter some time ago. It was a purely
67impersonal & intellectual one. Afterwards I found I was acting against
68you; that you were working for an end I was working against. I should
69have acted exactly as I did had I known, but I absolve me to myself by
70telling you as you are never likely to know.
71 Life is very happy here.
72
73 Please forward this to Mr Pearson.
74
75 31 January 1887
76 I sent this to Dr Doctor Donkin to forward, but he has returned, as he
77says you send no message, so forward now I wrote one allegory last
78night & another this morning. Life has never been so beautiful & rich
79to me as since I came here. How comically you & Dr Donkin have
80misunderstood me!!!!
81
82
Notation
The paper Schreiner was planning to 'send next week to Mr Parker' was never completed. The allegory she had written cannot be established. Rive's (1987) version omits part of this letter and is also in a number of respects incorrect.