"Birthday of the REVIEW and of Havelock Ellis"




Margaret Sanger Microfilm Edition, Smith College Collections, S70:990.
Birth Control Review, Feb. 1923, pp. 27-28.


Havelock Ellis



Birthday of the Review and of Havelock Ellis

With this issue of the BIRTH CONTROL REVIEW, we pass our sixth birthday, and with our own anniversary we also celebrate the birth day of the great benefactor of women and of the human race, Havelock Ellis. The first number of the REVIEW was published in February, 1917. Considering the high infant mortality rate among American publications devoted to the spread of an idea, we feel that we have every reason to congratulate ourselves. In these days it is indeed a difficult task, almost an impossible task, to find supporters for any length of time for a fundamental cause. It is even more difficult to increase the number of faithful readers of a monthly unflinchingly devoted to a single idea. Due to the fine spirit of self-sacrifice and loyalty which characterizes our work in all departments, the BIRTH CONTROL REVIEW not only survived, during its early infancy, the troubled years of the War (1917-18), when so many non-commercial publications were snuffed ignominiously out of existence, but our circulation actually jumped from 2,000 the first year to 10,000 in the year 1922. We have "carried on"-–in spite of all sorts of difficulties which blocked our path–-some of the obstacles deliberately placed in our way by enemies aiming to destroy our movement and our magazine. But these obstructions seem to have inspired our workers and our friends to even greater courage and bravery. We have not merely won out in this sharp struggle for existence, but most of our readers tell us that there has been a constant and easily recognized improvement both in the quality and importance of our contributions, as well as in the dignified appearance of our pages. It is gratifying to report that our circulation is no longer confined to the United States. Copies of the BIRTH CONTROL REVIEW are sent every month to all the important civilized countries of the globe. Bundle orders are sent to South America, to Mexico, to Cuba, to Egypt, to India, to Great Britain, to Germany, to Japan and to China. This achievement will seem the greater in view of the fact that the REVIEW is kept alive mainly by people who are interested in the worldwide promulgation of the principle of Birth Control. The BIRTH CONTROL REVIEW is not only the voice of the movement here but it is the only magazine in the country devoted to the scientific exposition of the population question in its many and various aspects. The circulation of the BIRTH CONTROL REVIEW presages in a word, the universal practice of Birth Control. Join us in this great work!

There is no man living to day to whom humanity is more indebted than Havelock Ellis. There are other voices, louder, harsher, noisier voices than his, voices making themselves heard above the sound and fury of the chaos of these days. In the last three decades many leaders have arisen–-soldiers, politicians, statesmen–-all blind leaders of the blind! Some of these leaders have caught the ear of nations and of crowds. There have been poets, dramatists, philosophers, who have been acclaimed by the press, who have won for themselves tremendous reputations almost overnight. For a day or so they have been surrounded by a blaze of glory; and then pathetically the light has been extinguished. In the meanwhile, this great prophet has lived on almost in obscurity, far from the shouting and the tumult. The gaudy rewards of fame and popular acclaim could mean nothing to such a man. And with the passing of the years there has been no aging of this divinely radiant spirit. His wisdom has deepened; his vision has retained its calm and serenity; there has been no senescence, no growing old in this spirit. The reward of this life of inspired and unceasing service to humanity has been the gift of eternal youth. For is it not the chief characteristic of youth to look out upon the world not as entering the gloom and darkness of eternal night, but as emerging into the roseate dawn of a new day? This has been the vision of Havelock Ellis, and this vision he has, with his inexhaustible resources of erudition, of science, of art and superhuman inspiration, awakened in the younger generation of the world.

It would be an easy thing to say that the world has beaten a path to his door. But it would be nearer the truth I think, to realize the radiant quality of his work. Ignored, suppressed, condemned by the ever-vigilant powers of darkness, the books of Havelock Ellis have, nevertheless, wrought the great miracle. They have found their way overseas, to far countries, across deserts, over barriers set up by ignorance and official stupidity, into lonely cottages. They have kindled the spark of life. They have turned darkness into light; cowardice into courage, dismal doubting into self-reliance. It has been, first of all, this luminous radiation of a great spirit that has evoked the response of gratitude, that has inspired young men and women the world over to express their eternal indebtedness to Havelock Ellis.

The younger generation owes yet a greater debt to the wisdom of Havelock Ellis. For this wisdom is not confined merely to the theme of love in its various manifestations. It penetrates into every field of life. In an age that has been characterized by the violence and pugnacity of so many small minds, by the calamitous activity of so many little men, stridently and egotistically asserting their superiority, and ruthlessly leading suffering and imperilled humanity into disaster and social shipwreck, here is one man, great enough and far-seeing enough to point the way to a real civilization. He has never exhibited that ignoble passion for immediate recognition that corrupts so many minds of the present day. He has never descended into the market-place, nor beaten a drum to attract attention to his books. He has not indulged in controversy or dispute. His mind possesses a fine plasticity; it has never ceased growing. Havelock Ellis is interested in ideas new and old. He tests these ideas not by their modernity nor by their weight of tradition; but by their inherent validity. He possesses an almost miraculous power of separating the wheat from the chaff. He bridges countries and centuries. He can awaken us to the ageless wisdom of Lao-Tse; and he can enjoy the literary heresies of a James Joyce. That the world might learn of comprehensiveness from him!

Sanity and Health are the fine ideals upheld by Havelock Ellis from the very beginning of his career as a scientist and writer. By sanity and health–-we must be careful to qualify–-he has never meant that narrow, constrained or hysterical outlook on life that has too long masked itself under the defensive name of "normality." There can be no true sanity, no true health either in mind or body without an invigorating freedom of outlook. Moreover without the radiant, resolute vitality that is the finest fruit of freedom and health, men and women can never develop the courage and self-reliance to create the real civilization of the future.

Who more eloquently, more spiritually, and, in the truest sense, more poetically than Havelock Ellis has realized the power and the eternal strength of woman? In this field he is the prophet as well as the pioneer. To his pages both men and women must inevitably and finally turn to gain a full understanding of themselves and of each other. In the years to come, indeed throughout the whole of this long, century, men–-not merely the writing men, the literati, the intellectuals; but men of every age and every class-–must be taught, at least to some small extent, to know Woman, as Havelock Ellis with his divine intuition and wisdom so thoroughly knows her today. The benefits of such a revelation cannot be calculated. Upon this knowledge will be built the new civilization. But Man cannot know Woman until Woman begins to know herself, and women no less than men must turn to Havelock Ellis to aid them in their quest of self-revelation.

This strange, lost, wandering world of ours, worshiping false gods, led by evil shepherds into almost bottomless pits, straying like lost sheep in the dark, or stampeding insanely after miraged rewards must somehow be brought back to the realization that the real secret of life cannot be found outside of ourselves. We must give up our romantic dreams and, as Havelock Ellis has so often told us, create with our own humble powers our own future. This new world will not be brought nearer to realization by subscribing to grandiose social or political schemes; but by the attainment of sanity and health in our individual lives. For among the latest words of his published in this country, we read: "Every well-directed step, while it brings us ever so little nearer to the far goal around which our dreams may play, is at once a beautiful process and an invigorating effort, and thereby becomes in itself a desirable end. It is the little things of life which give us most satisfaction and the smallest things in our path that may seem most worth while."