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Letter ReferenceKarl Pearson 840/4/2/73-78
ArchiveUniversity College London Library, Special Collections, UCL, London
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter DateThursday 11 June 1886
Address FromThe Convent, Harrow, London
Address To
Who ToKarl Pearson
Other VersionsRive 1987: 81
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.
1 Convent
2 Thursday
3
4 To say what I want about your paper would be to write another.
5
6 Shortly – I think the first part seems not to be your own work. It
7is a series of assertions where only possibilities, probabilities &
8high probabilities are allowable. This is not your fashion but very
9much that of many German thinkers of a certain school, who see a
10probability, work it into a connected theory & stare at it till they
11think it is proved forever. Didst thou stand at the elbow of the
12Almighty & watch man developing from the brute that thou knowest all
13these steps?
14
15 The last part of the paper was splendid, invaluable, (fragmentary as
16it was) touching on the very core of the man sex question, especially
17in one sentence. I hope you will work it out. Much that is in it, as
18far as my knowledge goes, has unreadable ^never^ been worked out before.
19That idea, one may call it a truth, that the position of woman is not
20the outcome of Christianity, but Christianity, as we know it, is the
21outcome of the Teutonic ^(we need a more comprehensive word than
22Teutonic)^ mode of thought fertilizing a foreign idea ^is of
23far-reaching importance.^ Would it not be well in dealing with this
24question to study carefully the form which Christianity has taken when
25held by an African or Asiatic race as in Abyssinia, etc? It would give
26a good side light.
27
28 That book of yours must be published. Was it written at first in
29German?
30
31 //You made some smaller assertions in your paper the other evening
32over which I could hardly remain quiet. After the large mass of
33evidence I have collected on the point from married women (& from
34medical men though that is of small importance) I can not doubt that
35you are wrong in saying that women feel any dislike to intercourse
36with their husbands during pregnancy. I will send you some of the
37letters on the point. What evidence have you got on the other side,
38that you coolly base an argument on it? Except Mrs James Hinton not
39one woman whom I have asked knows anything of ^it^. One woman whom I
40asked told me that during the whole period of pregnancy she had the
41same physical desire for as a woman has just after her periods. It may
42not be good for a woman, but that she has as much desire ^(often more)^
43than at at other times, I think is proved. You will be struck when I
44send you the letters. Do men feel repugnance to a woman at this time?
45I do not know. The only man I have ever been able to speak to on that
46matter was a brother of mine: he said he felt strong passion towards
47his wife at such times, and she towards him, & that they gratified it.
48But one case is nothing.
49
50 //You are changed very much: you are not a boy as you used to be. I do
51not quite understand what the change is.
52
53 //I am writing now to a prostitute who lives in Upper Gloucester Pl.
54She is so sweet that when she thinks men are poor she gives them back
55their money.
56
57 O.S.
58
59 ^I want to know her. If you would like to someday I might introduce you
60to her. She is one of the very highest and therefore most difficult to
61get at.^
62
63 ^Don’t show my scribbles to any one but Parker. ("Thinks that they
64are worth showing to any one!!") But you know ^^what I mean^^ I like to
65write to my friends with out thinking. It’s a small hour of the
66morning & I’m sleepy.^
67
68
69
70
Notation
'Your paper' refers to Pearson's 'A Sketch of the History of Sexual Relations in Germany', read at the Men and Women's Club in June 1886. It is unclear which particular book of Pearson's Schreiner refers to. Rive's (1987) version of this letter has been misdated, omits part of the letter, and is also in a number of respects incorrect.