Still among the old books…

Let me say first off that not everything in old books is risible or embarrassing…

But to proceed.


OK then… I should add that what may be found in this tome is pretty much what was available to me when I was growing up in the 1950s.

And I guess the thrust – pardon the expression – of this work is to encourage sex education, so to that extent it is progressive. But the things one reads! I do wonder about Dr Sibly!

One of the facts which I always tried to elicit from boys was the source of their information, or rather the character of that source, for I was naturally anxious not to ask a boy to incriminate any individual known to me. In many cases, information came first to the boy at home from a brother, or cousin, or casual acquaintance, or domestic servant. In one of the worst cases I have known the information was given to a boy by another boy—an entire stranger to him—whom he happened to meet on a country road when cycling. Since boys meet one another very much more at school than elsewhere and spend three-fourths of their lives there, of course information is more often obtained at school than at home. My own experience leads me to think that in this respect the day-school—probably on account of its mixed social conditions—is worse than the boarding-school…

Case A.—The father and mother of a boy close on thirteen came to see me before entering the lad. They had no idea that I was specially interested in purity-teaching; but they were anxious to ascertain what precautions we took against the corruption of small boys. They struck me as very good parents. I was specially pleased that they were alive to the dangers of impurity, and that the mother could advert openly to the matter without embarrassment. I advised them to give the boy explicit warning; but they said that they were anxious to preserve his innocence as long as possible. He was at present absolutely simple, and they hoped that he would long remain so. It was a comfort to them that I was interested in the subject, and they would leave the boy with confidence in my care. As soon as I saw the boy, I found it difficult to believe in his innocence; and I soon discovered that he was thoroughly corrupt. Not merely did he begin almost at once to corrupt other boys, but he actually gave them his views on brothels! In a private interview with me he admitted all this, and told me that he was corrupted at ten years of age, when he was sent, after convalescence from scarlet fever, to a country village for three months. There he seems to have associated with a group of street boys, who gave him such information as they had, and initiated him into self-abuse. Since then he had been greedily seeking further information and passing it on…

Case C.—A boy of fourteen came to me. He was a miserable specimen in every way—pale, lethargic, stupid almost beyond belief. He had no mother; and the father, though a man of leisure, evidently found it difficult to make the lad much of a companion. I felt certain from the first that the boy was an exceptionally bad victim of self-abuse; And this I told his father, advising him to investigate the matter. He was horrified at my diagnosis, and committed the great indiscretion of taxing the boy with self-abuse as though it were a conscious and grave fault. The father wrote during the vacation saying that he found I was entirely mistaken: not, content with the lad’s assurance, he had watched him with the utmost care. As soon as the boy returned to school I interviewed him. He admitted readily that he had long masturbated himself daily—sometimes oftener. He had first—as far as he could remember, at about six—had his private parts excited by his nurse, who apparently did this to put an irritable child into a good temper! My warning had little effect upon him, as he had become a hopeless victim. He was too delicate a boy for us to desire to keep; and after a brief stay at school, during which we nursed him through a critical illness, he left to finish his education under private tuition at home…

Case D.—This boy came to me at thirteen. He was always a conscientious and amiable boy, but was nervous and dull. By fifteen his dullness had increased, and he complained of brain-strain and poorness of memory. Finally he began to develop St. Vitus’s dance. I sent him to our school doctor, who returned him with a note saying that his condition was serious—that he must stop all work, &c. &c. I was in my study when the lad came back, and I at once told him what was the matter. He frankly admitted frequent self-abuse, which he had learned from an elder brother. He had not the least suspicion that the habit was injurious; but was very apprehensive about his future until I reassured him. He wanted me to write at once and warn a youngerbrother who had fallen into the habit. By great effort he got himself rapidly under control. His nervous twitchings disappeared, his vitality improved, the brain-fag gradually ceased; and when he left, eighteen months later, he was fairly normal. His improvement continued afterwards, and he is now a successful man of business and a married man.

Case E.—This boy entered at twelve. He was very weak physically and highly nervous—owing, his people thought, to severe bullying at a previous school. He was an able boy, of literary and artistic tastes, and almost painfully conscientious. He was very shy; always thought that he was despised by other boys; and was a duffer at games, which he avoided to the utmost. With my present experience I should have known him to be a victim of self-abuse. Then, I did not suspect him; and it was not until he was leaving at eighteen for the University that we talked the matter over, on his initiative. Then I found that he had been bullied into impurity at eleven, and was now a helpless victim. After two years at the University he wrote me that, though the temptation now came less frequently, he seemed absolutely powerless when it did come; that he despised himself so much that the impulse to suicide often haunted him; but that the cowardice which had kept him from games at school would probably prevent his taking his life. With the assistance of an intense and devoted religious life he gradually began to gain self-mastery. It is some years now since he has mentioned the subject to me…

Baden-Powell was gruff but rather less sensational in Rovering to Sucess.


The whole of this marvellous and complicated process is a work of God the Creator. The germ from which you were made was passed down by your father just as he came from the germ of his father before him; and so away back into the Dark Ages.

And you have that germ in you to pass out, when the time comes, to join with that of your wife in making your son.

So it is a sacred trust handed down to you through your father and his fathers from the Creator-The Great Father of all.

Sometimes, when this semen is forming over-rapidly, you may find that you pass some of it out in your dreams while you are asleep. This need not alarm you; it is the natural overflow. If brought on by oneself the act is called “self abuse” or “masturbation”.


Young men are sensible enough, and are willing, to take advice if they can only get it, and I am certain that if only these things which I have mentioned above were better understood by them they would avoid many of the distressing and sometimes agonising times they go through. It often used to be taught that self abuse is a very dreadful thing leading to insanity and, at any rate, causing permanent and severe damage to the system. Now this is a grossly exaggerated picture to say the least of it. Self abuse is obviously brought about by unnatural conditions. If we were living in a primitive state of nature, boys would behave about sex matters just as our friend the stag!

There would be no moral or social check to sexual inter- course. They cannot do this for moral and social reasons, but that does not take away the primitive sexual instinct which is at the bottom of their desires. No, to have the desire is natural, so don’t blame yourself for this and don’t waste time in self torture if you have abused yourself£ The tension is sometimes so great that many fellows have at times practised masturbation. What is it really? It is the gratifying of the sexual instinct by giving oneself the feeling of satisfaction. In other words it is a form of self love, which is obviously not a thing to cultivate.

Now we are members of a community governed by certain moral laws and social conventions. Promiscuous sexual intercourse is forbidden by these moral laws, so here is the dilemma. Primitive desires versus moral and social laws. We have granted we cannot escape the desires. If our aim is to lead a healthy decent life for ourselves and others, we shall soon adjust these difficulties. Sex is not everything in life, and other energies take the place of sex and relieve the strain.

Cold showers and hikes…?

Still, better that than:

I ask those who are responsible to the Being who gave them little children what are they doing to save those children from the Hades of masturbation? What would you think of a man who would stand unmoved by a blind child and see it walk to the brink of a precipice and fall into the depth below? But where is the difference between such an inhuman creature and a parent or guardian who will carelessly watch his own little one, falling into the abyss of masturbation, which, though it may not mean death, in every case means that the victim will be somehow or in some way maimed for life? Of course he often recovers and becomes a good and useful citizen, but he would have been better and stronger and nobler if not tainted and wrecked by the influences of the vice.

There is no name too harsh to be applied to such unfeeling, prudish parents. The lowest animals protect their own progeny from destructive influences, but these so-called parents who are travesties on the name, allow their children to be ensnared in the pitfalls of this frightful vice without an attempt to give them warning, without an effort to save them, without a word of expostulation or protest.

In the name of decency, of humanity, of common kindness I bid you, parents and guardians and teachers, if you have one atom of truth, of honor, of love in your hearts, warn your hoys — and your girls, too — of the frightful evil in question so that they may learn to hate and shun it.

That’s from this:


“…the actual practice and discussion of masturbation continues to be a social taboo within most societies.  Former Surgeon General Jocelyn Elder was immediately dismissed by President Clinton in 1994 after she stated that masturbation ‘is something that is part of human sexuality and its part of something that perhaps should be taught’.” – Afraid to Ask.