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Letter ReferenceSchreiner-Hemming Family BC 1080 A1.7/69
ArchiveUniversity of Cape Town, Manuscripts & Archives, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date22 October 1903
Address FromHanover, Northern Cape
Address To
Who ToHenrietta ('Ettie') Schreiner m. Stakesby Lewis (1891)
Other Versions
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
The Project is grateful to Manuscripts and Archives, University of Cape Town, for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Manuscripts and Archives Collections.
1 Hanover
2 Oct 22nd 1903
4 Darling
6 I’m so glad you had that good meeting. I know how it strengthens one
7when you have felt you could do no more work to find the old power is
8still with you, & life is not quite useless to ones fellows. Many
9intellectual American women I have known hold firm their own personal
10experience, that a womans best time of work is after 50. That about 50
11she has a time of great dis-co-ordination & after that shas has
12sometimes a much larger power of work than even before. Perhaps you
13have twenty -
15 Oct 28th
17 Dear I got so far last Friday but have been unwell since & unable to
18write to any one.
20 I return the letter my darling, you don’t seem able to understand,
21dear one. One only wants to be free of the attacks of some people & by
22having any thing to do with them you expose yourself to them. You may
23say when you know people are dangerous & stab below the belt wouldn’t
24it be much more politic to make friends with them. But I have never
25made friends with any soul because I feared them yet.
27 Can’t you understand one just wants to be left alone mentally &
28physically by the people whom one mistrusts. That unless they repent &
29confess their wickedness one only wishes to forget their existence. If
30they were poor & lonely one would do any thing one could for them,
31otherwise one wishes to forget they are. I shouldn’t have sent you
32that not letter. But it brought back to me so clearly the meanness of
33his attacking me & stabbing me under the guise of brotherhood a
34creature, who directly, ^or indirectly,^ has never done him the smallest
35injury or wrong
. But it’s best to forget quite.
37 Please What you say, my darling about remembering the past has
38profound truth in it; though I can’t see how it touches Theos making
39use of the ?past he was my brother & Will’s to stab us in the back. If
40he had never seen us till the week before the cowardice would have
41been just the same! I think too while you are profoundly right in one
42way in saying that men forget & have no past, you are wrong in another.
43 It is in matters of sex that men’s memories differ so entirely from
44womens; it is there that as you say, ^so truly,^ unreadable though there
45are a few exceptions (The only exceptions I know are three men of
46undoubted genius, a write, a noted man of science, & a great
47mathematician) they are rare that men & women are unlike. You will see
48how I deal with just this point in my novel. There is I believe a real
49physical poss basis for this difference in men & women’s memories as
50regards sexual emotions & relations. In the fact lies one of the grand
51points about which the tragedy of human life centres. The man does
52simply not remember what he thought & felt with regard to sex emotions
53- & the woman forgets nothing! A man remembers quite as well as a
54woman, the day he was top of his glass class & got the prize, he never
55forgets that through life. But the day he said good bye to the little
56school girl he loved, & how he wept when he said good bye to her, that
57he quite forgets Only a few men of genius who all women as well as men
58remember all the past & live with it as with today.
60 I am glad I didn’t come down now for the 25th. I should only have been
61ill there, & we couldn’t have gone on Sunday. I hope I will be able to
62come, early next month.
64 It’s very beautiful about old Jackson. I’ve only mentioned mothers
65death or showed her picture to one person in Hanover or anywhere. Its
66a Miss Viljoen a little old maid of about 40. She is uneducated in the
67ordinary sense, & can only speak Dutch. The day Mother’s picture came
68she was in my bedroom & it was on the mantle piece & I showed it her.
69She Yesterday she came & asked if I would mind letting her look at it
70again. She said, "I often say to myself when once it is framed
72 ^& hung up I shall often go there to look at it." I said to her "Do you
73know it makes me so happy when I look at it." She said "Oh yes; it is
74a thing to make a person feel happy!" So you see it’s not even only to
75us that picture seems so beautiful & wonderful.
77 Good bye darling
78 Olive^
The novel referred to is likely to be From Man to Man.