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Letter ReferenceKarl Pearson 840/4/3/76-79
ArchiveUniversity College London Library, Special Collections, UCL, London
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter DateMonday 11 October 1886
Address From9 Blandford Square, Paddington, London
Address To
Who ToKarl Pearson
Other VersionsRive 1987: 105-7
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 9 Blandford Square
2 Monday night
3
4 Isn’t Parker splendid! What a horrible mist I was in, none of us
5were really clear but Parker. His brain ^is^ so delightfully clear &
6cool.
7
8 I’ve been in bed ten days with inflammation of the lung. I got them
9to bring me here on Saturday ^week^ from Acacia Rd because I thought I
10should get better here. Tonight was the first time I’ve been out.
11I’m much better now, but my mind whas was in such a haze when I
12tried to catch an idea it slipped away from me, & I seemed to be
13feeling in the mist. Have you ever been so weak you have had that
14mental feeling? – And all the people’s faces seemed in a haze.
15
16 That idea of the sex-relations as a thing anterior to, & having laws
17quite independent of the sex legislation of "the state" in the usual
18acceptation of the word is not an unvaluable idea worked out as it
19should be, though as I expressed it it was nonsense.
20
21 I want to write to you about Donkin. I am very miserable about him. He
22is in a state of much mental depression; if you or Mr Parker come
23across him in the Savile or else-where please show interest in him. I
24would be very glad if you could get him to write a paper for the club.
25His admiration for you would make any friendship you could extend to
26him a very valuable thing to him just now. He knows I will never marry
27him, but as long as I am in England & above all in London I cannot
28help causing him misery. I am always perfectly well in the heart of
29London & nowhere else ^in England^ so that if I remain in England at all
30I must live here; the other step would be to go out to the Cape, - & I
31cannot feel that that either would be right. You will forgive my
32troubling you about this; but tonight as we were driving home for the
33first time for months he seemed happy & absorbed in the paper you had
34been talking about his perhaps writing.
35
36 I have had two trying visitors today: ^(trying because one wishes to
37help them and hasn’t the means)^ strangely enough both somewhat of
38the ^same^ kind. One whas was a woman who has been a prostitute but for
39seven years she has been living with one man & keeping almost quite
40faithful to him. He had promised to leave her provided for; now he has
41died suddenly & left no will. Of course the son won’t give her
42anything. She is in great distress; & says she cannot do anything &
43never has & must go back to the old life. I’m going to see her on
44Sunday. The other woman this afternoon is one whose son had has
45seduced a woman & had two children by her; now his wife has found it
46out. & the Both she & the other woman are in such a wretched mental
47condition that one does not know which to pity the most. There is one
48point on sexual matters on which my mind is utterly made up - & that
49is, that double sex- relations whether on the part of man or woman are
50utterly opposed to the deepest laws of human nature, & are productive
51of nothing but evil to the individual the offspring, & society; & the
52more highly developed the individuals the more unworkable become these
53relationships. Every fibre of violated human nature quivers in agony &
54anger ^against^ them. The shortest marriage ending at the end of even
55six months, would be better than our present form of union which gen
56pretends to be single & life-long & generally is double. This is one
57of the most painful cases I have seen. I will tell you about it some
58day. The poor old mother was walking up & down my bedroom crying &
59wringing her hands long after it was time for me to start, so I went
60with my head full of many things to the Club.
61
62 //There are some questions which when you have time I should like you
63to answer, if you will. (1) How many men have you known who have
64reached the age of 30, & been absolutely celibate? (2) What in England
65among the middle classes should you say was the proportion of celibate
66men? (3) Do you think that as a rule a cultivated man’s ideal (that
67which he thinks would give him the most happiness if it could be
68perfectly attained to) is of union with one person or with many more
69than one?
70
71 I’ve got a great many other questions I thought of to ask you when I
72was ill, but I don’t remember them now.
73
74 //Will you write the introduction to Mary Wollstonecraft? It would be
75a very great help to me, & I would help you with it as much as I could;
76 by criticising it?? & I would copy it out to save you time, if only
77you will take the responsibility. The relation of Mary to Godwin gives
78one such a splendid opportunity for treating of the ideal form of
79marriage.
80
81 //I have had a note from the Editor of the Fortnightly ^today^ saying he
82wishes to see me; I suppose to try & get me to write a woman article.
83If only I could rest emotionally I could work here so splendidly all
84this winter & get my book done. I’m afraid it will never be worth
85dedicating to you!
86
87 Good bye
88 O.S.
89
90^You look more fit than when I saw you last standing with Mrs Cobb in
91the British Museum. You make a person always so unhappy for nothing.
92You’ll be much stronger when you are forty than you are now. ^
93
94 Please send back the pamphlet Mrs Walters sent as it was a borrowed one.
95
96 Haven’t you any notes on the woman in Germany subject you could let
97me look at yet? I think I should understand them even if they are not
98worked fully into form.
99
100
101
Notation
Schreiner agreed to write an 'Introduction' to a new edition of Mary Wollstonecraft's (1792, London: J. Johnson) A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, but which was never completed. A very early draft fragment of it appears in Carolyn Burdett (1994) History Workshop Journal 37: 189-93. The book Schreiner wanted to 'get done' is From Man to Man. The pamphlet sent by Mrs Walters has not been established. Rive's (1987) version omits part of this letter and is also in a number of respects incorrect. A continuation of the letter occurs in Schreiner's letter to Pearson of 12 October 1886 (840/4/3/80-81).