Letters of Olive Shreiner

To Havelock Ellis

Bole Hill,
29th July, 1884.

I was going to tear up the bit I enclose [destroyed] but I won't because perhaps you would like to see it. I can't explain what I mean by this fear, not even to myself; perhaps you can for me. I am so afraid of caring for you much. I feel such a bitter feeling with myself if I feel I am perhaps going to. I think that is it. I feel like someone rolling a little ball of snow on a mountain side, and he knows at any minute it may pass out of his hand and grow bigger and bigger and go–he knows not where. Yet, when I get a letter, even like your little matter-of-fact note this morning, I feel: " But this thing is yourself." In that you are myself I love you and am near to you; in that you are a man I am afraid of you and shrink from you.

Do you know that butterfly that the artist of the beautiful makes in Hawthorn's story?

Yesterday I heard part of Ibsen's play, Ghosts, still in MS. [Read to her by Aveling.] It is one of the most wonderful and great things that has long, long been written. I wanted you so, too, to be sitting there by me, to hear it. There was one line.... It made me almost mad. I cried out aloud. I couldn't help it.

How is our exam going? It's this dry-as-dust part of the work that must be so horrible, especially, you see, if you don't think in your future life of making the practice and study of medicine the central point (and I feel most distinctly that your "call" is to literature, just as mine was, in spite of my medical longing).

Mrs. Walters says that I seem years gladder and younger than when she saw me this time last year, just as if I was only fifteen. Do you know it is you who have made me feel so young? Almost altogether you. I feel younger, much, than when I was a child of ten.

I think of you like a tall angel, as you looked at the Progressive meeting.