Read To Mrs. White Peak of A Woman of the World, free online book, by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, on

One of the Pillars of Respectable Society

Ever since your call and our conversation regarding Sybyl Marchmont, I have felt a rising tide of indignation.  It has reached the perigee mark and must overflow.  If it reaches you and gives you a thorough soaking, I shall feel satisfied.

I have always known you were only half-developed.  There are many such people in the world.  They serve their purpose and often do much good.  They miss a great deal of life, but as they rarely know that they miss anything, it is a waste of sentiment to pity them.

I have pitied you, nevertheless.  I have often wished I could give you the vital qualities you lack.

My pity turned to indignation when I heard you express yourself in such unqualified terms of condemnation regarding other women who happened to be unlike you in temperament.

You say there is a certain line which no well-born and womanly woman can pass in thought or feeling or action.

You regard the true women of earth as a higher and rarer order of creation than the best of men, and any woman who by action or word confesses herself to be quite human in her temperament, you feel is, to a certain extent, “unclean and unsexed.”  You believe the really good women of earth are always on a plane above and beyond the physical.  When any woman falls from her pedestal you despise her.

How dare you, madam, sitting in your cold, white chastity, lay down laws of what you consider purity, morality, and cleanliness, for other human souls?

How dare you condemn those who do not reach your standard?

What do you know of life, great, palpitating, throbbing, vital life, terrible and beautiful life, terrible while passing through the valleys of temptation, beautiful upon the heights of self-control?

How dare you assume greater virtue, greater respectability, greater fineness of sentiment, than the tempest-tossed, passion-beaten souls, about you?

What do you know of real virtue, real strength?

You have been poor, you tell me, in worldly riches, and you have been lonely, yet you have never once degraded your womanhood by an “unworthy " impulse.  Never known a temptation of the senses.  Those things disgusted you.

You have preferred toil to taking favours from inferiors, and you have kept yourself clean in thought, word, and deed, and now you have the reward of such virtues-a good home, a husband, and children.

You are a more devoted mother than wife, as you have always dwelt upon a lofty white peak of chaste womanhood, from which any descent into the earthly realms of life and love was repugnant-so rarely “pure” and high your nature.

Yet you have been a dutiful, loyal wife, and you are a devoted mother.

You despise all carnal-minded women, and cannot understand how women fall-save that they lack good birth and breeding.

You will aid in a benefit for their reformation, but you do not want to see them or to come near them.  It makes you ill.

You are to be congratulated on never having added to the evil in the world.

But permit me, madam, to tell you some truths about yourself-and the large army of “respectable women” you represent.

However “well born” you may be, you are only half-born.  The complete human being has three sides to his nature-spiritual, mental, physical.

The men and women who are evenly developed on the three sides are few.  This is sometimes their fault-sometimes their misfortune.

We all pity the human being who is mentally dwarfed.  We are sorry for the one whose spiritual nature is undeveloped.

But why should the many women who are devoid of the physical qualities of human nature presume to lay claim to perfection and to regard the normal woman as a suspicious character?

You have a fine, active mind, a highly spiritual nature, but you are stunted in strong, physical emotion.  You are incapable of it, and pride yourself upon the fact.

If that pleases you, well and good.

But how dare you criticize God’s complete human beings, who feel the great vibrations of the universe, who glow and thrill with that divine creative force, who live a thousand lives and die a thousand deaths before they learn the glory of self-conquest.

How dare you shrink even from those who fall by the wayside, and call your shrinking “purity”!

Let me ask you another question: 

How dare you turn away from that girl who went through the door of the Magdalene Home you helped establish, with her fatherless child in her arms?

She fell from woman’s holy estate!

Yes, through mad love for a man-she loved him with her soul, her mind, her body.  She lacked knowledge, balance, and wisdom; she had only love and passion.

And you, madam, how about your children?

They were born of a “dutiful” wife.  You descended from your lofty altitude unwillingly-only at duty’s call.  You are so “refined,” yet you are a loving mother and pose as the highest type of woman.

God never made in his whole universe of worlds such a “duty” as unwilling motherhood.  Motherhood without the call of sex for sex is indecent-criminal.  You, too, madam, fell.

That girl in yonder “home” your “charity” helped establish, who loved unwisely, fell.  Her fall was through love-yours through a legal ceremony.

All the churches, all the religions and the laws of earth, cannot make motherhood holy and right without the mutual mental, spiritual, and physical union of two beings.

Heaven and earth both must sanction a child’s conception to produce a “well-born” soul.

There is no greater sin on earth than the creation of a human life without complete accord of the creators.

No wonder the world is full of miserable half-born beings, when mothers like you claim to be the Madonnas of earth.

No wonder natural, complete, striving souls hide their true natures under a false exterior, when women like you rule church and society.

What shame or degradation is there, pray, in being animate with the all-pervading impulse which underlies the entire universe?  Every planet, every tree, every flower, every insect, is the result of sex seeking sex, atom calling atom.

The universe is because of the law of sex attraction.

And you, poor, puny, pallid woman, dare decry and despise that law, and dare insult God’s animate creature!

Know this, madam, there is no strength worth boasting that has not conquered weakness.  No virtue worth the name that has not conquered temptation.  No greatness of character that has not overcome unworthy impulses.

Enjoy your negative goodness and be glad you are “good.”

Morality is acceptable to the world, however it conies; but dare not sit in judgment on other human beings fighting battles whose smoke never reaches your nostrils, striving for heights of which you never even dream, and who meanwhile have missed certain degradations which you seem to consider creditable achievements.

Madam, I bid you adieu.  That word means “I commend you to God,” the God who made the two sexes, and intended love to unite them.

May He enlighten you in other lives, if not in this.