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Record number: WCP3335

Sent by:
Prestonia Mann Martin
Sent to:
Alfred Russel Wallace
3 July 1913

Sent by Prestonia Mann Martin, Grymes Hill, Staten Island, USA to Alfred Russel Wallace, [Old Orchard, Broadstone, Wimborne, Dorset] on 3 July 1913.

Record created:
30 November 2011 by Mayer, Anna


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LETTER (WCP3335.3303)

A typical letter handwritten by author in English and signed by author.

Held by:
British Library, The
Finding number:
BL Add. 46442 ff. 212-213
Copyright owner:
Copyright of the Prestonia Mann Martin Literary Estate.

Physical description

Transcription information




Grymes Hill

Staten Island

July 3 1913

My dear Mr. Wallace,

I am greatly obliged for your kind words about my book "Is Marking Advancing?" Although I realized only too well that an adequate scope of the subject was beyond my reach I felt the need of a similar examination, and so I devoted many happy years to the consideration of it according to my ability.

Indeed I have read and with delight your work on "Social Environment and Moral Progress" and experienced [[2]] a degree of gratification to see that you too hold that no biological progress has occurred in man since the great epochs of the past.

As I go on it seems to me more and more evident that under our present social order no progress is to be looked for. I I do not say that it could not take place if a happy combination of circumstances (such as came together on two or three occasions in the past) should occur again. But the positive evils of our economic system mitigated[?] by charity, which effects a continuous inverted relation, are a more appalling obstacle than the merely negative obstructions inherent in the ignorance and helplessness of previous ages.

[[3]] and We are less ignorant and less helpless but on the other hand we are more perversely entangled in our own economic errors.

I agree with you most heartily in believing that the only hope lies in a new form of selection -- and the superior (sexual) selective power of woman compared with man is a subject which is at present engaging my attention. I feel certain that if women did the choosing it would be better done. But our society practically inhibits her selecting at all and thus loses one of the most powerful existing natural agencies for progress. now

On the other hand -- altho[ugh] I have looked upon myself as a socialist for some twenty years [[4]] I find myself of late years coming to doubt more & more that woman's economic independence secured by her entering competitive industry only to be exploited by men for their profit is going to put her in any better position as regards her chief function. I think she is being run off the track where she needs sex emancipation and is being deluded with economic emancipation as a substitute.

At any rate something very real is the matter with woman -- in these days -- and neither industrial independence or political emancipation do not can assuage her trouble. I sometimes think that she as a sensitive barometer of human welfare in her present [1 word illeg.] is merely the instrument through which our general human distress at being stunted & held back from our normal ground is being manipulated.

With renewed thanks | Very sincerely yours | Prestonia Mann Martin [signature]


1. Written in the top left of the page in an unidentified hand is "No answer required".

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