Book Trace – Little Essays of Love and Virtue (Angela Zanga – Theofanaki)

CoverSpineInside front page

I was able to find some small notes in “Little Essays of Love and Virtue” by Ellis, Havelock. It was difficult to find a book from 1800 to 1923 with writing on the inside but there was some underlining and three words written on pages 134 to 135. Ellis was a British physician, psychologist, writer, and social reformer who studied human sexuality. In these seven chapters (“essays”) he discusses “certain fundamental principles” (v) about relationships and sexuality and reproduction.

"Infanticide" "Abortion" "Birth Control"
“Infanticide” “Abortion” “Birth Control”

The two pages pointed out by a previous reader are in the last chapter, The Individual and The Race.The underlined part is, “(It was chosen by) Francis Galton, (less than fifty years ago, to express) “the effort of Man to improve his own breed (134-135).” This line is in references to eugenics. Ellis goes on to explain that failing to consciously “improve his own quality” (his being “man” of course) can lead to  “suffering.” He makes it very clear that he is in support of eugenics.

The three notes taken down by a previous reader are ‘infanticide,’ ‘abortion,’ and ‘birth control.’

Infanticide is scrawled neck to an example of “primitive eugenics” and the “mika operation” in Australia. I did a quick search and found a the mika operation to be, “the establishment of a permanent fistula in the bulbous portions of the urethra to render the man incapable of procreating; said to be a practice among certain Australian aboriginal groups.” I’m not sure why infanticide was written next to it when this would be sterilization.

Abortion is next to a sentence on infanticide. I am, again, not sure why it was next to a sentence on killing an already born child, but it is.

Birth control is written next to the section on some kind of eugenics, though I’m not sure exactly what forms Ellis is referring to when he says that “most civilised nations of the world have devoted all their best energies to competitive slaughter.”

All in all, it is obvious that Ellis himself was a ethnocentric, eugenics supporter and the person who wrote in the book may not have been completely aware of what he was saying.

Here is a link to the whole book and…

Here is a snippet of the first two pages of The Individual and The Race:

“The relation of the individual person to the species he belongs to is the most intimate of all relations. It is a relation which almost amounts to identity. Yet it somehow seems so vague, so abstract, as scarcely to concern us at all. It is only lately indeed that there has been formulated even so much as a science to discuss this relationship, and the duties which, when properly understood, it throws upon the individual. Even yet the word “Eugenics,” the name of this science, and this art, sometimes arouses a smile. It seems to stand for a modern fad, which the superior person, or even the ordinary plebeian democrat, may pass by on the other side with his nose raised towards the sky. Modern the science and art of Eugenics certainly seem, though the term is ancient, and the Greeks of classic days, as well as their successors to-day, used the word Eugeneia for nobility or good birth. It was chosen by Francis Galton, less than fifty years ago, to express “the effort of Man to improve his own breed.” But the thing the term stands for is, in reality, also far from modern. It is indeed ancient and may even be nearly as old as Man himself. Consciously or unconsciously, sometimes under pretexts that have disguised his motives even from himself, Man has always been attempting to improve his own quality or at least to maintain it. When he slackens that effort, when he allows his attention to be too exclusively drawn to other ends, he suffers, he becomes decadent, he even tends to die out.

Primitive eugenics had seldom anything to do with what we call “birth-control.” One must not say that it never had. Even the mysterious mika operation of so primitive a race as the Australians has been supposed to be a method of controlling conception. But the usual method, even of people highly advanced in culture, has been simpler. They preferred to see the new-born infant before deciding whether it was likely to prove a credit to its parents or to the human race generally, and if it seemed not up to the standard they dealt with it accordingly. At one time that was regarded as a cruel and even inhuman method. To-day, when the most civilised nations of the world have devoted all their best energies to competitive slaughter, we may have learnt to view the matter differently. If we can tolerate the wholesale murder and mutilation of the finest specimens of our race in the adult possession of…”


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