Letter to Edward Weeks

LAST month Dean Woodbridge spoke his plain mind about Bertrand Russell. We do not often print letters from publishers, but this which expresses a very diverse opinion should have its day in court.
DEAR Mr.WEEKS:— I am taking occasion to comment on Dr. Woodbridge’s review of Bertrand Russell’s Marriage and Morals, with which I must take issue. Though my position as Mr. Russell’s publisher may seem a biased one, and though you may therefore feel that publishers comments on reviews should not be printed, yet I am wondering whether the controversial nature of Marriage and Morals may not carry a sanction for a publisher’s statement in your columns.
Dr. Woodbridge cites as an example of nonsense Mr. Russell’s statement. ‘Marriage in America, as in the First Epistle to the Corinthians, is conceived as an alternative to fornication.’ This may well be an example of nonsense when plucked out of the text of the book, but if read as sequential to Chapter V. entitled Christian Ethics,’ it assumes an entirely sound meaning. Dr. Woodbridge says, ‘The old-fashioned, the religious, affectionate husbands and wives, affectionate parents and children, even many lovers, themselves beyond morals and marriage, are pretty sure to lay the book aside with feelings varying from violent anger to amused distaste.’ This seems to me a too complacent assumption that the ideas of the majority represent the need of an evolving race. Dr. Woodbridge quotes Mr. Russell, ‘What I am saying is that sex intercourse apart from love has little value, and is to be regarded primarily as experimentation with a view to love.’ And Dr. Woodbridge says. ‘Some may call this a dangerous doctrine. It ought rather to be called silly,’ etc. This, I think, is a superficial observation which Dr. Woodbridge himself later refutes. Certainly Mr. Russell’s idea of making people aware of the valuelessness of sexual intercourse as an expression in itself is the best means of controlling sex, which Dr. Woodbrklge says in the last paragraph of his review is necessary to prevent ruin. The resulting inanity of sex is the surest way reaching ultimate sex idealization in love, which is what Dr. Woodbridge himself espouses, so that Mr. Russell’s presentation of an irrefutable psychological truth leads to the effective control of sex as a force, also Dr. Woodbridge’s goal. The fact that Mr. Russell’s ideas are at sharp variance with the practices and opinions of convention seems to be Dr. Woodbridge’s objection to them He is too deeply prejudiced against radical change to permit himself to see that Mr. Russell and he are apparently at one in their basic ideas.
Faithfully yours,