"No religious etc differences in Women's Enfranchisement League" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceKarl Pearson 840/4/2/57-59
ArchiveUniversity College London Library, Special Collections, UCL, London
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter DateWednesday 13 May 1886
Address FromSt Dominic?s Convent, Mutrix Road, Kilburn, London
Address To
Who ToKarl Pearson
Other VersionsRive 1987: 77-8
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 has been written on this letter in an unknown hand. The name of the addressee is indicated by content and archival location.
1 Convent
2 Wed. night.
3
4 I think if you read your paper & Parker’s criticism together, they
5would form the most valuable paper that has yet been read at the club,
6& I say this highly as I think of Mr Parker’s ^last^ paper. I
7couldn’t write on "man’s prejudices" because I don’t believe
8there are any prejudices peculiar to man. I don’t think anything so
9complicated and intellectual runs with the sex difference. I stand
10open to correction, but the conclusion which up to the present I have
11been led to, is that this, that the mental difference with ^which^ is
12correlated with & answers to the physical sex difference, will be
13found to consist almost entirely in an emotional difference showing
14itself in the emotions connected with sex. The differences I mean are
15such as these - that there is in in the human male a tendency to prize
16the female more before he possesses her, & in the female to prize the
17male more after she has been sexually possessed by him. Of course
18friendship & sympathy & many other things may enter to obscure this.
19but I think a subtle & wide analysis will show it is there, & other
20difference of the same kind. I, however, feel still too uncertain that
21I have
& see too much on the other side to write on the subject. May
22be I am all on the wrong tack. It seems to me that with out direct
23scientific experiment - such as I once mentioned to you - no certain
24conclusion in the matter can be arrived at, only a somewhat strong
25probability.
26
27 If I go out to the Cape I will send you a very interesting paper for
28the club, being the views of Hottentot, Kaffir, Bushman & Basuto men &
29women, taken from their mouth^s^, & set down word by word in answer to
30my questions, of course giving my questions also. This would be of
31real value.
32
33 I never thought of the cheap edition of Mary Wollstonecraft knocking
34ours on the head; but it doesn’t matter, one only wants people to
35read it & this will be cheaper. I doubt whether I shall be able to
36write the preface. Rhys is broad minded enough himself but the book
37has to pay. What I have to say of Mary Wollstonecraft is not to excuse
38her & not ^even^ to justify her; but to show that her greatness lay in
39this, her view with regard to marriage; & her action with regard to it.
40 That she is the greatest of English women because she saw a hundred
41years ago with regard to sex & sex relationships what a few see today,
42& what the world will see in three hundred years’ time. This will
43not be what Rhys wants I think. I shall see him on Sat. week & tell
44you what he says.
45
46 //The letter I enclose will I think interest you. I hardly like to
47show it to anyone because all expression of deep feeling is sacred;
48but it throws an interesting light on the question whether the love of
49offspring is not as strong in the one sex as in the
50
51^other. When you remember that mentally & physically the writer is like
52Ray Lankester in type though more refined & not one given to
53expressing "emotion" the letter speaks more strongly. It is strange
54how his whole nature seems to have been touched, it is years since he
55wrote to me so tenderly as this. Don’t show the letter to any one
56else. ^
57
58 O.S.
59
60 I suppose there are thousands of men feel so to their children though
61no one suspects it. It is monstrous of the Hintonians to say that a
62woman’s desire for children corresponds to a man’s desire for
63sexual love. A woman’s desire ^^for children^^ corresponds to a man’s
64desire, is the same.
65
66 Reading your paper ^^letter^^ over I see I have entirely misunderstood you.
67 I thought you meant you would read that very good criticism of
68Parkers on your first paper & then & then yours in reply to him. They
69would form a splendid ground for dis-cussion.
70
71
72
Notation
'Your paper & Mr Parker's criticism' is Pearson's 'The Woman's Question' and Parker's 'A Note on Mr Pearson's paper' read at the Men and Women's Club in November 1885. 'Mr Parker's ^last^ paper' is 'Sexual Relations among the Greeks of the Periclean Era', read at the February 1886 meeting. 'Our' Mary Wollstonecraft refers to a planned Introduction to a new edition of Mary Wollstonecraft's (1792, London: J. Johnson) A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, which Schreiner agreed to write but never completed. A very early draft fragment of it appears in Carolyn Burdett (1994) History Workshop Journal 37: 189-93. Rive's (1987) version of this letter has been misdated, omits part of the letter, and is also in a number of respects incorrect.