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Letter ReferenceKarl Pearson 840/4/1/43-53
ArchiveUniversity College London Library, Special Collections, UCL, London
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date11 October 1885
Address From16 Portsea Place, Westminster, London
Address To
Who ToKarl Pearson
Other VersionsRive 1987: 67-8
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 date of this letter has been written on in an unknown hand. Schreiner was resident in Portsea Place from early August to late October 1885.
1 Dear Mr Pearson
2
3 I made a mistake so we all went to 86 Portland Pl. & had to go down to
4the club. Miss Müller was very disappointed She went up in a cab to
5the house to see if you were there, & we waited lunch till half past
6two.
7
8 Ye I wanted to talk with you. Your letter of yesterday pained me very
9much & I wrote you a rather bitter letter, but I’m glad I didn’t
10post it, as I’m sure you didn’t mean what your letter seemed to
11imply.
12
13 Dr Donkin would or could no I thought that the men at the club were
14perhaps laughing at you for going to talk with a lot of old maids and
15man-haters about your man’s rights, & so I felt sorry for you. As it
16is if such things as you say are said about the club I as ^probably^ the
17youngest woman there & whose name would most certainly be mentioned,
18think I should give most pity to myself, certainly more to all my the
19young unmarried women than to the married whose established position
20&tc. makes them far less liable to be hurt by things that are said. I
21did not tell Dr Donkin that you in any way mentioned Ray, but asked
22him about him ^on my own account^ & said that I understood men in the
23club were making remarks that hurt you. He was very much cut up about
24it, & said he would of course not come to the meeting. I agreed he was
25had better not come, & was not coming myself, (as if there is any
26blame it rests entirely upon me) but thinking it over today I feel it
27would cause much talking, and Miss Müller would be hurt. As she reads
28the paper & says she has seldom been able to speak with such freedom
29to any man & to Dr Donkin, I have thought it better he should come,
30much against his will, as he is morbidly sensitive; but if he were to
31stay away it might cause people really to think there was something to
32be concealed. I don’t know what you may or may not know of Dr Donkin;
33 but after three years of close acquaintance, the impression left on
34my mind is that there is no man, not even yourself in whom I feel
35great trust, whom a woman can so completely trust as Donkin. I think
36this feeling is unreadable universal among the women who know him. He
37has felt greatly interested in the club, & has much wished to meet you.
38 & if you I feel more acutely for his sake than for mine, & go to the
39club with great difficulty & with a bitter conquest of pride. I am
40very thankful my paper is not to be read. Please do not think I asked
41Dr Donkin to come: he told me Mr Parker had asked him when they had
42their talk. I very long ago made up my mind that I would not ask any
43one, or take a more prominent part in the club that I could help.
44Please don’t send this letter the round of the women of the club,
45though apparently a public letter it is really private, as I am
46writing in great hurry & have not time to pick my words. I have not
47told Dr Donkin what you said in your letter so he is meeting you with
48the kindest feelings. Please do not show him too pointedly what you
49may think of his being there, as I am making him go because I think it
50better. You will not be troubled in future with anything that I have
51done. This letter seems nastier than I mean it to be. I have sincere
52respect for you & feel in some ways more sympathy with you than I have
53ever felt with any mind. But I think it would have been better if you
54had kept the club entirely to yourself, & a circle of personally
55intimates friends, all with
56
57 Experience has proved to me that With regard to "free love" I have
58long made up my mind that it is a peculiarly devilish thing. I believe
59most strongly that no union should be formed except in the hope of its
60being lifelong, though I differ entirely from the persona ^orthodox^
61view of ^its^ being right to keep on the union when love has died. As
62long as it is I kept on it should be rigorously & closely held to, but
63I believe it may be right, if does not cost too much suffering to
64others openly & frankly to break it. I have a large number of personal
65men friends in London of all kinds, but of this I am sure that not one
66of them, least of all worldly men like George Moore-, would believe it
67possible for me to belong to any society in which there was any
68treatment of love that was not pure & high. I am not so wonderful &
69good as they think me, but it has struck me almost pathetically how
70readily, even in what are called men of the world if you will but
71strike the right note, you ^a woman^ can call out the higher & more
72ideal nature that by does slumber in every man. It is principally by
73personal action & interaction that we shall rise to a higher state.
74All this is the a kind of answer to the last part of your letter.
75
76 I am very weary tonight & am afraid this is very confused.
77
78 O. Schreiner.
79
80 ^Miss Müller says she said Albermarl St but I don’t think so^
81
82
Notation
Henrietta Muller read 'The Other Side of the Question' to the Men and Women's Club in October 1885. Rive's (1987) version omits part of this letter and is also in a number of respects incorrect.