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A Solemn Appeal

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    [Under this caption, O. S. FOWLER, in his work entitled, “Amativeness,” has spoken to the point. May the reader feel the force of his timely admonitions. - ED.]SOAP 181.1

    “A few palpable facts. A single physician in a factory village of some two or three thousand inhabitants only, had at one time over seventy venereal patients, besides many who were under the care of other doctors in the place! Look at the practice of those who advertise to cure this class of diseases. Catechise physicians on this point. Cast your eye over almost any newspaper, and then see how much of their relative space is occupied with advertisements of cures and practitioners of ‘certain delicate diseases!’ This diabolical business advertises double and quadruple above any other! This tells the doleful story. And the countless bills - half of all you see posted up in all our cities - echo its saddening notes! Madam Restell’s riches and murders re-echo more plaintive still the groans and woes of unhallowed passion! A physician recently avowed his belief that if, by any secret means, however painful or dangerous, he could prevent progeny, he could make a princely fortune in a year. Thank God! no one has found out a specific preventive. Nor ever should; because this will throw open the floodgates of passion, and trample under the foot of unbridled lust nature’s great ordinance, nature’s great laws. Hear our news-boys either boast of their licentiousness, or else tantalize those whose native modesty is not yet wholly effaced, of their failure!SOAP 181.2

    “What kinds of edibles command the highest price in the market? Those that stimulate this passion, and because they create impure desires. What mean those oyster stews, and crab parties, and terrapin soups, and squab suppers, wild fowls, cloves, and a host of other like things? Eaten, in many instances in high (?low) life, expressly to beget unhallowed desires! Oh! shame, where is thy blush! Do you want more proof? Behold the fertile South. But particulars are too revolting, both as regards the beastly indulgence of whites with blacks, and the number of rakes and harlots among the latter! Our world is literally FULL of sensuality!SOAP 182.1

    “O, virtue! how few worship at thy holy shrine, or keep thy robe of spotless innocence unstained with carnality! To say what proportion keep their robes white, and know only their lawful companions, it is difficult to say, but not many stones would be cast if they alone cast them. Alas! how few observe the seventh commandment! And how almost universally is chastity sacrificed to lust, in one or other of its forms!SOAP 183.1

    “But even this is not all; is not the most; is not the worst! One other form of this vice is doubtless little less appalling, and another is probably even more so! Reference is had, first, to excessive indulgence in wedlock, and next, to private sensuality. Few know that any excess of the former, however great, can possibly be sinful, and almost all suppose that marriage entitles to its right in any desired excess. But does marriage entitle the parties to kill each other or themselves? Little do we realize how many are dying continually around us from this sole cause. How and why this proves thus injurious, we shall see hereafter.SOAP 183.2

    “Would that we could here end this painful chapter. Its worst, because most common, form still remains untold. We refer to SELF-ABUSE.SOAP 183.3

    You look surprised. “A false alarm,” you exclaim. “Impossible!” But put it to any numerical test you please. Catechise promiscuously every boy you meet, and then say if nine in every ten, from eleven years old and upwards, and half, from seven to eleven, do not practice more or less? Many who deny in words, own up in deed by the shame manifested - a sure sign of guilt. Of those still older, the proportion is greater yet. Question the keepers of our hospitals for bad boys and poor children. A friend took a boy about ten years old from an asylum for poor and orphan children, and finding that he took every opportunity, when alone, to perpetrate this filthy practice, chastised him often and severely, but to no purpose, and finally kept his hands tied behind him as the only preventive, but at length disposed of him as incorrigible. The boy has since died. I have known boys not yet four years old, both practice it, and also indulge with the opposite sex; and known hundreds ruined by it before they entered their teens! Nor are any children safe from this loathsome habit. Especially are our schools the nurseries of this vice, where it is often practiced in companies. ‘I speak what I do know, and testify what I have seen.’ Nor are any of even our own dear children, though watched however closely, safe from this corrupting and deadly snare!SOAP 184.1

    “Nor am I alone in this view of its extensive practice among children. Dr. Woodward, higher authority than whom I could hardly quote, writes thus, touching this matter: ‘Those who hold these opinions,’ namely, that information on this subject is either unnecessary or injurious, and ‘are hardly aware how extensively known this habit is with the young, or how early in life it is sometimes practiced. I have never conversed with a lad twelve years of age who did not know all about the practice, and understand the language used to describe it.’ Remember, he who expresses himself thus strongly, is a cautious, discreet man, and always says much less than he means. So alarming does he regard this evil, that he has devoted a work to its exposition, entitled ‘Hints to the Young.’ Wm. C. Woodbridge, so long and so ably devoted to the cause of education, and whose means of knowing was extensive, thus writes in that able work, ‘The Annals of Education:’ ‘A topic in Physiology which “artificial modesty” has covered up until a solitary but fatal vice is spreading desolation throughout our schools and families, unnoticed and unknown.’ ‘Thousands,’ says E. M. R. Wells, a distinguished teacher in Boston, ‘of pure minded and amiable boys and young men, are undermining their physical constitutions, and prospectively corrupting their souls, by a pleasurable, and, to many of them, an innocent, gratification.’SOAP 185.1

    “‘What,’ says a fond parent, ‘our high schools and colleges contaminated with this vice? Even so. They are the most infected; first, because their boys are highly organized, and such experience proportionally greater pleasure and injury; and secondly, this vice pre-eminently is catching, especially as they commingle thus freely with each other. 1This sending children to school however select, is a most grievous evil; because, as children are imitative creatures, all the bad habits of all the scholars are adopted by all the others. Our common schools are complete nuisances, by thus propagating vice, nor can the evil be remedied till parents educate their children. An English medical author remarks: ‘Some children escape this knowledge till puberty; the majority, it is to be feared, however, commence earlier.... Schools generally have the credit of germinating this enervating fascination; but it is also acquired from the tuition of associates at home - from servants, relations, and others with whom they sleep.’ ‘Concealment,’ says A. Walker, ‘is quite impracticable.’SOAP 186.1

    “Ruinous and prevalent as this practice is among boys, it does not end with childhood; but extends its sway, and deepens its power, as adolescence increases. One would think this is merely boyish, foolish practice, which age would correct; but years only serve toSOAP 186.2

    increase it. I do not delight to scandalize my fellow-men; I would not trespass upon the reader’s credulity, but I solemnly declare, as my deliberate conviction, that few of my own sex wholly escape this snare; while thousands on thousands die annually from this one cause! My sources of information are not few, nor limited, nor recent. This work I have contemplated for ten years, and of course directed my observations and inquiries accordingly. I have been consulted in cases, almost without number, by those on the brink of ruin, who sought relief from its consequences. I know its subjects by its infallible signs, and, go where I will, in the busy street, in the lecture room, in the family, they throng me like leaves in autumn. One who knows, and is connected with West Point Academy, said he believed it to be practiced very generally at that institution; and that the debility occasioned thereby was the reason why so many of its students were unable to pass examination. In 1841, on application from the author of ‘Facts and Important Information for Young Men,’ in a communication to him on this subject, I expressed my views as follows:SOAP 187.1

    “‘PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 8, 1841.SOAP 187.2

    “‘Mr. G. - , Dear Sir: Your letter and book are received. I am right glad you have taken hold of this subject. Much as reform is needed in other matters, no reform - no, not even that in reference to alcoholic drinks - is demanded half as much as in reference to this solitary vice. To this conclusion my practice, which, you know, has not been limited, and my means of information, which have been varied and extensive, have led me reluctantly, but inevitably. And, what is most deplorable, unlike other forms of vice which prey upon the coarse and the vulgar, this is even more likely to attack those of fine feelings and ardent temperaments, and otherwise unblemished morals. They are not aware that this is one of the greatest sins that they can commit.SOAP 187.3

    “‘I have of late seen this evil to be so alarming, and its ravages on the intellect, and morals, and health, so fearful, that I have contemplated preparing a work on the phrenological organ of Amativeness, to consist mainly of the physiological, intellectual, and moral effects of this vice; but I rejoice that you are before me in this matter.SOAP 188.1

    “‘I could give you a vast number of facts that have come to my knowledge. A few days ago, a young man who had been a gentleman, called upon me, in a state of mind and body truly wretched - the mere wreck of a man. His head was affected and painful, the back part of it in particular; and his mind was literally distracted with these horrors which this indulgence always induces. His mind was flighty, his appetite destroyed, and the tones of his voice the very personification of grief. Both his head and his conversation gave evidence of superior talents in ruins. Fifty times, in the course of an hour, did he exclaim, “O my God, what shall I do! I am mad, I know it. What can I do?”SOAP 188.2

    “‘In laying open his case, in order that I might give him advice, he mentioned his having been much addicted to this habit, and would often bring his hand to these parts, an invariable sign of their being in a fevered state, either by secret indulgence, or indulgence with the other sex. His anxiety was, to escape the mad-house, and regain self-control; because on this he had always prided himself. On inquiring of him as to the prevalence of this evil, he said that nine-tenths of his acquaintances were given to it.SOAP 189.1

    “‘On inquiring of one of the physicians in Blockley Alms House, Philadelphia, as to the number of its inmates who were brought into the insane department by its instrumentality, he started at once upon his feet, and spoke with great energy and emphasis of its influence in inducing derangement, and narrated several very interesting cases. In my visit to that institution a few days ago, I saw several insane patients who were brought there by this vice, and whose hands were tied, to prevent self-pollution.SOAP 189.2

    “‘If it is facts that you want, I assure you they exist in abundance in every degree of aggravation. Let the young be warned, for most of its victims become so ignorantly. Let us have light, especially in our institutions of learning; because there, the absence of exercise, the seclusion from female society, and the character of their studies, especially those that cultivate (vitiate) the imagination, all tend to induce and increase the evil.’ “SOAP 190.1

    “Nor am I alone. All who say anything, corroborate this sad testimony. Dr. Alcott, whose authority will deservedly be regarded as weighty, writes concerning it thus:SOAP 190.2

    “‘We believe that a majority of our diseases and infirmities - our aches, our pains, and our deformities, too - after the age of puberty, are either induced or aggravated in this way. Believe it, did we say? Would to Heaven this expression were as strong as the nature of the case and the character of the facts warrant. We know it is so, as well as we know anything of mathematical demonstration, or the actual testimony of our senses.’SOAP 190.3

    “Dr. Snow, of Boston, confirms this painful testimony, as follows:SOAP 190.4

    “‘Self-pollution is undoubtedly one of the most common causes of ill health that can be found among the young men of this country. From the observations that I have been able to make, I am satisfied that the practice is almost universal. Boys commence at an early age; and the habit once formed, like that of intemperance, becomes almost unconquerable. In boarding schools and colleges, it obtains oftentimes without an exception. Hence the many sickly students, and the many young men of the most brilliant and promising talents, who have broken their constitution and ruined their health, as it is said, “by hard study!”’SOAP 190.5

    “Nor, in my humble judgment, do any of these statements overrate the evil; but far underrate it, as regards its prevalence in this country. English authors speak almost as freely regarding its prevalence there. If it is less extensively practiced in France, it is probably because licentiousness proper takes its place.SOAP 191.1

    “‘But our females, at least, are safe,’ exclaims the fond mother. ‘My daughter’s native modesty is her shield of protection.’ Would to God this were so! but facts wrest even this consolation from us. They may be less infected, yet woman, young and modest, is dying by thousand, of consumption, of female complaints, of nervous or spinal affections, of general debility, and of other ostensible complaints innumerable, and some of insanity, caused solely by this practice. On this point, Dr. Woodward again thus speaks out:SOAP 191.2

    “‘About two years ago, a young woman, aged twenty-two years, came under my care, in a state of the worst form of insanity. She was furious, noisy, filthy, and, apparently, nearly reduced to idiocy. She had been in this condition many months, and continued so for some time while with me. She was pale and bloodless, had but little appetite, frequently rejected her food, and was reduced in flesh and strength. Finding her one day more calm than usual, I hinted to her the subject of masturbation, and informed her that, if she practiced it, she could not get well - if she abandoned it, she might. She did not deny the charge, and promised to follow my advice strictly. In two or three weeks from that time, she was perceptibly better; her mind improved as her health gained; and both were much better in the course of a few weeks. The recovery was very rapid in this case. At the end of six months she had excellent health, was quite fleshy, and became perfectly sane; and has continued so, so far as we have known, to this time.SOAP 192.1

    “‘Not long since, a case of periodical insanity came under my observation, the subject of which was a young lady. The disease had existed ten years without any material change. Suspecting that masturbation was the cause, I directed her mother to ascertain, if possible, and inform me. Some months after, I received intelligence that my patient was better, and that my suspicions of her habit were confirmed by the observation of her friends. The case is not without hope, although of so long standing, if the cause be removed.SOAP 192.2

    “‘Three or four similar cases have been under my care recently, in which individuals of the same sex have been reduced to the same degraded state. They are now, and will continue to be while life remains, a melancholy spectacle of human misery, without mind, without delicacy or modesty, constantly harassed by the most ungovernable passion, and under the influence of propensities excited to morbid activity by a vice far more prevalent than has been supposed. A large proportion of the “bed-ridden” cases, of which there are so many in the community, will be found to have originated in this cause.”’SOAP 193.1

    “Mrs. Gove, in her Lectures to Ladies on Anatomy and Physiology - subjects which every woman should understand - thus discourses concerning its prevalence among her sex.SOAP 193.2

    “‘About eight years since, my mind was awakened to examine this subject by the perusal of a medical work that described the effects of this vice when practiced by females. This was the first intimation I had that the vice existed among our sex. Since that time I have had much evidence that it is fearfully common among them.SOAP 193.3

    “‘There is reason to believe that, in nine cases out of ten, those unhappy females who are tenants of houses of ill-fame, have been victims of this vice in the first place. Were this the peculiar vice of the low and vulgar, there might be more excuse for the apathy and false delicacy that pervaded the community respecting it. But it invades all ranks. Professed Christians are among its victims.SOAP 194.1

    “‘Our boarding and day schools are sources of untold mischief. A short time since, two sisters, ladies of the first respectability, informed me that, when very young, they were put to a female boarding-school, where this vice prevailed, and the practice was explained to them. They were blessed with parents who were willing to converse with and warn their children, and they escaped the contamination.’SOAP 194.2

    “One of her correspondents writes that she ‘became addicted to solitary vice about the age of nine years.’ ‘Facts and Important Information to Young Woman,’ etc., a work which we recommend cordially, details many instances illustrative of the prevalence of this vice.SOAP 194.3

    “My own practice and observation, as to its prevalence, confirm and considerably exceed these statements. I have one infallible test, which I often apply without the knowledge of its subjects, and thereby detect many who little suspect me of knowing their secret practices. Called to prescribe for as young woman, and knowing from this sign what caused her complaint, I sought an interview with her mother, to whom I disclosed my suspicions. She said she thought her daughter innocent, but knew she had slept much with an elder girl who was addicted to it. I asked her what she knew concerning its prevalence. She said a girl in her neighborhood had just died from its effects, and that the female operatives in a neighboring factory practiced it almost universally; as she learned from one of them. She named other factories in which it was hardly less prevalent. I know little girls below their teens, who thus abuse themselves, and, from my application of the test named above, am constrained to believe the practice alarmingly extensive among the fairest portion of creation! I sicken at the thought. Oh! woman, ‘who hath thus bewitched you that ye should’ thus depart from the paths of delicacy, and health, and happiness?SOAP 195.1

    “But I forbear, simply alleging that the plague is all around and all among us. None of our daughters or sons are safe, however carefully we may guard them, till we cast out ‘this accursed’ plague from among us. And being a common enemy, it can be extirpated only by community of effort. Single hands can do but little. Nothing but combined, concentrated, and long-continued exertion can avert the wide-spread and insidious contagion. Come, up and doing, every lover of his race, every lover of his own dear children. Even for their sakes, if on no other account, gird yourselves to this disagreeable but indispensable work of philanthropy and reform, till we drive this common enemy from our midst. O gracious God! save our youth, for they border on ruin. Must they indeed fall a prey to a vice so brutal? Must they decay and die in their youth, but not till all the horrors of even a youthful death give relief to their tortured bodies and souls? Save especially female purity, and maiden loveliness.SOAP 196.1

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