Howard Atwood Kelly to Jane Addams, May 18, 1912




May 18, 1912.

Dear Miss Addams:

Thank you for Hecker's History. I am so glad to own it and a little later will read it carefully. I note at once p. 57, which you have turned down, touching the opinions of the fathers'. I think I shall ask you to leave out the reference to St. Augustine, however well-proven it may be, so as not to draw an extraneous interest and discussion into so important a question. It will offend our Catholic friends, a few of whom are good, earnest men, ready to help, and it will raise a discussion on a matter which is foreign to the issue at hand. I say this in spite of my strong conviction that the whole Roman Catholic system is a politico-religious one and that every country that has been under it, like Mexico and South America, becomes utterly decadent in its morals. Roman [Catholicism] has had full and free sway in Mexico and has brought the people down to the lowest possible bed of moral decadency, and many of the priests, themselves, are utterly corrupt men.

In a recent article I wrote on Converting Sentiment into Action in the Vice question I mentioned Ellen Key as an impure, unhealthy sex propagandist. This remark brought forth the strongest kind of protest from Mrs. Frederick Peterson, of New York, who is ready and willing to help me in the fight against Vice but is, unfortunately, a great admirer of Ellen Key. So I think there too I made a tactical mistake in bringing in unnecessarily an outside issue. Since writing the above article I have been reading Ellen Key's "Love and Ethics", which Mrs. Peterson sends me, and am greatly reinforced in my previously formed opinion. If this life ends everything and I am not responsible to God and there is no eternal life beyond, then these things may be true, and the best solution of life to my conception of life is that the best that is in it, both for the present and for the ages to come, is first to learn the lesson of self-control, to be master over my body and mind and their desires, and then to learn the lesson of sacrifice, to forget all about my miserable old self and to yield my life to the very last drop of blood in the loving service of others, particularly the sorrowing and suffering and the down-trodden ones. This is my creed, but without the old Bible it has no basis of authority whatever; it has no force; no life and power.

Thank you again for the book.

Faithfully yours,

Howard A Kelly [signed]

Item Relations


Allowed tags: <p>, <a>, <em>, <strong>, <ul>, <ol>, <li>