Margaret Sanger, "Hail! Not Farewell!," Apr 1923.

Source: " Birth Control Review, Apr. 1923, p. 84 Margaret Sanger Microfilm Edition, Smith College Collections S70:0998."


Hail! Not Farewell!

Doctor Charles V. Drysdale and Mrs. Bessie Drysdale have resigned their offices in the New Generation League of London. This means a great deal. It means first of all that for the first time in seventy years the Birth Control movement in Great Britain has been deprived of the Drysdale leadership. For approximately seventy years the great idea has been guarded, cultivated, tended with all the courage and bravery of unflinching devotion. It has been mainly due to the disinterested, the loyal devotion of the Drysdales that the flame of our cause has been kept alive and not allowed to die out–-a torch burning more brightly now than ever before. From the early 'Fifties, when George Drysdale first published his epoch-making gospel of Birth Control, "The Elements of Social Science" ," throughout the Victorian era, through the tempestuous days of the Great War, down to these chaotic days when the whole world has been desperately driven to a realization of the fundamental need for conscious control of populations, it has been these brave self-sacrificing Drysdales who have kept alive the idea. It has been a noble tradition of the Drysdale family–-this quiet unceasing service, this loyalty to the idea.

George Drysdale, the valiant author of the "Elements of Social Science " was the greatest nineteenth century prophet of Birth Control. The founder of the Neo-Malthusian (New Generation) league was not George, but his brother Charles R. Drysdale, and the latter's wife, Dr. Alice Vickery, pioneer of feminism and freedom, a woman of such unflinching and far-sighted vision that she remains today an example for all who seek the liberation of womankind and the human race. The League was organized as an outcome of the celebrated Bradlaugh-Besant trial in 1877–-the parent of all similar leagues existing in the world today. The advocate of Birth Control in those hyper-respectable days was looked upon by shocked Victorian eyes as a monster of profligacy and wickedness, one who was interested solely in the degradation of women. For two physicians boldly and openly to champion such a cause was to entail great professional loss and even ostracism. The Drysdales did not hesitate. Today they would see the seed they so courageously planted and cultivated bearing healthy fruits and grown into a world movement.

The retiring president of the New Generation League is the son of Dr. Charles Drysdale, a nephew of George Drysdale. He has nobly carried on the Drysdale tradition, as has his wife Bessie Drysdale. The latter has indeed worked so hard as administrative director of the movement in England at the sacrifice of her health, that a long rest is now imperative. When, after openly challenging the Birth Control law of the United States, I went to study the European movement the first people in England to open their arms to me were the Drysdales. It was indicative of their breadth of vision that while they themselves did not need to challenge the English laws, they realized at once the importance and the educational value of such a course of action in the United States. Staunch and uncompromising has been their conviction throughout their long years of service. They have ever made generous financial contribution to the cause. Seeking always to keep the movement on a scientific and dignified level, they have ever come to the defense of persons arrested for the cause of Birth Control, regardless of whether the victim was intellectually in agreement with their personal opinions, whether he was Socialist or Anarchist, Democrat or Catholic.

The Drysdale school of thought stems directly from Malthus and the individualist Manchester school of economics. It is a sturdy, rational, self-respecting and unsentimental doctrine that they have promulgated. They are opposed to current convictions concerning the dictatorship of the proletariat and the ever increasing demands of labor. And so their retirement, at the moment labor begins to awaken to the necessity of the conscious control of human procreation, exemplifies the same fine selflessness, the desire not to act as a hindrance, a check on the progress of the movement. Honesty, intellectual integrity, firm conviction--these fine qualities are synonymous with the name of the Drysdales. And their retirement from active leadership is one of the most eloquent expressions of this integrity of spirit. The younger generation bows in reverence and respect to the passing of the old. Hail! but not farewell.

MARGARET SANGER.


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