W.T. Stead Journal Entry (January 20, 1889)
Quoted in J. W. Robertson Scott, The Life and Death of a Newspaper (1952) pp. 243-244
I stand at the point of one of the most momentous, perhaps the most momentous of all human acts, the begetting of a new soul. Poor little creature yet unconceived. Why do I have to face the frightful responsibility of saying that thou shall be? Because it would seem God hath need of thee. I did not intend thee to be born. I have brought five into the battlefield and I thought five is enough. But it would seem that I was mistaken. All my five have grown up well. The youngest is five. Happier children I never knew. Life to them has been a gift of joy. So far they have had no reason to curse me for begetting them. Now God seems to want another soldier.
I will set forth simply what has taken place. I have from the birth of Willie practised simple syringing with water. Of late always withdrawal. We never used anything but this. Intercourse limited to twice a week, and withdrawal taking place just before the supreme moment, never did me any harm. The pleasure I think is rather greater than when the emission takes place in the natural way. If thrice or four times in the week I got deaf with apparent wax formation in the right ear. Desire increased with years rather than diminished, and the last twelve months I worshipped my wife with my body, as the Prayer Book has it, more than ever before. She also was responsive and affectionate. The pleasure was far greater for her than when she was first married. (For me it was immeasurably so.) Nor could we say positively that the interruption did her harm. It did not interfere with her satisfaction, rather enhanced it.
In July happened the carriage accident, following which came her acute despondency and absolute loathing of me. Melancholia culminated in her going to Heywood Smith’s hospital. There she had some cautery performed. She was better when she came out. But when in the hospital and all intercourse ceased for six months ovarian pain began to develop. Dr. Smith said pregnancy would give the ovaries rest and Dr. Gale strongly recommended a child.
We had never decided definitely to stop breeding. My wife’s passionate love for babies always made me feel that there was a lurking desire in the heart to have another little one. When she began to see that her health seemed to stand in urgent need of recovering by conception, she said she would like another baby. I was for a time somewhat dismayed. The sorrow and the struggle and the agony of the world, the sense of its sin and its despair made me reluctant. But I thought we could bring up six as easily as five. Willie is now getting up to 14. The little one would be a great blessing to Emma. It may be that God may not make my seed quicken. That is for Him to decide. We both prayerfully hope that he will not unless He will take the child for His very own and use it for His Service from the womb up. We prayed about it and it seemed to come quite clear. So this night we shall have uninterrupted intercourse for the first time for five years, in the hope of getting a daughter who may, I hope, be the Lord’s from her conception, and may do valiantly for the Lord and for her sex. Perhaps by the time she comes to womanhood, the lot of woman may not be so hard as heretofore.