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Title: Youth and Sex
Author: Scharlieb, Mary, 1845-1930, Sibly, F. Arthur
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Dangers and Safeguards for Girls and Boys



























Probably the most important years in anyone's life are those eight or
ten preceding the twenty-first birthday. During these years
_Heredity_, one of the two great developmental factors, bears its
crop, and the seeds sown before birth and during childhood come to
maturity. During these years also the other great developmental force
known as _Environment_ has full play, the still plastic nature is
moulded by circumstances, and the influence of these two forces is
seen in the manner of individual that results.

This time is generally alluded to under two heads: (1) Puberty, (2)

By Puberty we understand the period when the reproductive organs are
developed, the boy or girl ceasing to be the neutral child and
acquiring the distinctive characteristics of man or woman. The actual
season of puberty varies in different individuals from the eleventh to
the sixteenth year, and although the changes during this time are not
sudden, they are comparatively rapid.

By Adolescence we understand the time during which the individual is
approximating to the adult type, puberty having been already
accomplished. Adolescence corresponds to the latter half of the
developmental period, and may be prolonged even up to twenty-five



1. Changes in the Bodily Framework.--During this period the girl's
skeleton not only grows remarkably in size, but is also the subject of
well-marked alterations and development. Among the most evident
changes are those which occur in the shape and inclination of the
pelvis. During the years of childhood the female pelvis has a general
resemblance to that of the male, but with the advent of puberty the
vertical portion of the hip bones becomes expanded and altered in
shape, it becomes more curved, and its inner surface looks less
directly forward and more towards its fellow bone of the other side.
The brim of the pelvis, which in the child is more or less
heart-shaped, becomes a wide oval, and consequently the pelvic girdle
gains considerably in width. The heads of the thigh bones not only
actually, in consequence of growth, but also relatively, in
consequence of change of shape in the pelvis, become more widely
separated from each other than they are in childhood, and hence the
gait and the manner of running alters greatly in the adult woman. At
the same time the angle made by the junction of the spinal column with
the back of the pelvis, known as the sacro-vertebral angle, becomes
better marked, and this also contributes to the development of the
characteristic female type. No doubt the female type of pelvis can be
recognised in childhood, and even before birth, but the differences of
male and female pelves before puberty are so slight that it requires
the eye of an expert to distinguish them. The very remarkable
differences that are found between the adult male and the adult female
pelvis begin to appear with puberty and develop rapidly, so that no
one could mistake the pelvis of a properly developed girl of sixteen
or eighteen years of age for that of a boy. These differences are due
in part to the action of the muscles and ligaments on the growing
bones, in part to the weight of the body from above and the reaction
of the ground from beneath, but they are also largely due to the
growth and development of the internal organs peculiar to the woman.
All these organs exist in the normal infant at birth, but they are
relatively insignificant, and it is not until the great developmental
changes peculiar to puberty occur that they begin to exercise their
influence on the shape of the bones. This is proved by the fact that
in those rare cases in which the internal organs of generation are
absent, or fail to develop, there is a corresponding failure in the
pelvis to alter into the normal adult shape. The muscles of the
growing girl partake in the rapid growth and development of her bony
framework. Sometimes the muscles outgrow the bones, causing a peculiar
lankiness and slackness of figure, and in other girls the growth of
the bones appears to be too rapid for the muscles, to which fact a
certain class of "growing pain" has been attributed.

Another part of the body that develops rapidly during these momentous
years is the bust. The breasts become large, and not only add to the
beauty of the girl's person, but also manifestly prepare by increase
of their glandular elements for the maternal function of suckling

Of less importance so far as structure is concerned, but of great
importance to female loveliness and attractiveness, are the changes
that occur in the clearing and brightening of the complexion, the
luxuriant growth, glossiness, and improved colour of the hair, and the
beauty of the eyes, which during the years which succeed puberty
acquire a new and singularly attractive expression.

The young girl's hands and feet do not grow in proportion with her
legs and arms, and appear to be more beautifully shaped when
contrasted with the more fully developed limb.

With regard to the internal organs, the most important are those of
the pelvis. The uterus, or womb, destined to form a safe nest for the
protection of the child until it is sufficiently developed to maintain
an independent existence, increases greatly in all its dimensions and
undergoes certain changes in shape; and the ovaries, which are
intended to furnish the ovules, or eggs (the female contribution
towards future human beings), also develop both in size and in

Owing to rapid growth and to the want of stability of the young girl's
tissues, the years immediately succeeding puberty are not only those
of rapid physiological change, but they are those during which
irreparable damage may be done unless those who have the care of young
girls understand what these dangers are, how they are produced, and
how they may be averted.

With regard to the bony skeleton, lateral curvature of the spine is,
in mild manifestation, very frequent, and is too common even in the
higher degrees. The chief causes of this deformity are:

(1) The natural softness and want of stability in the rapidly growing
bones and muscles;

(2) The rapid development of the bust, which throws a constantly
increasing burden on these weakened muscles and bones; and

(3) The general lassitude noticeable amongst girls at this time which
makes them yield to the temptation to stand on one leg, to cross one
leg over the other, and to write or read leaning on one elbow and
bending over the table, whereas they ought to be sitting upright.
Unless constant vigilance is exerted, deformity is pretty sure to
occur--a deformity which always has a bad influence over the girl's
health and strength, and which, in those cases where it is complicated
by the pathological softness of bones found in cases of rickets, may
cause serious alteration in shape and interfere with the functions of
the pelvis in later life.

2. Changes in the Mental Nature.--These are at least as remarkable
as the changes in the bodily framework. There is a slight diminution
in the power of memorising, but the faculties of attention, of
reasoning, and of imagination, develop rapidly. Probably the power of
appreciation of the beautiful appears about this time, a faculty which
is usually dormant during childhood. More especially is this true with
regard to the beauty of landscape; the child seldom enjoys a landscape
as such, although isolated beauties, such as that of flowers, may
sometimes be appreciated.

As might be anticipated, all things are changing with the child during
these momentous years: its outlook on life, its appreciation of other
people and of itself, alter greatly and continuously. The wonderfully
rapid growth and alterations in structure of the generative organs
have their counterpart in the mental and moral spheres; there are new
sensations which are scarcely recognised and are certainly not
understood by the subject: vague feelings of unrest, ill-comprehended
desires, and an intense self-consciousness take the place of the
unconscious egoism of childhood.

The processes of Nature as witnessed in the season of spring have
their counterpart in the changes that occur during the early years of
adolescence. The earth warmed by the more direct rays of the sun and
softened by recurring showers is transformed in a few weeks from its
bare and dry winter garb into the wonderful beauty of spring. This
yearly miracle fails to impress us as it should do because we have
witnessed it every year of our lives, and so, too, the great
transformation from child to budding woman fails to make its appeal to
our understanding and sympathy because it is of so common occurrence.
If it were possible for adults to really remember their own feelings
and aspirations in adolescent years, or if it were possible for us
with enlightened sympathy to gain access to the enchanted garden of
youth, we should be more adequate guides for the boys and girls around
us. As it is we entirely fail to appreciate the heights of their
ambitions, hopes, and joys, and we have no measure with which to plumb
the depths of their fears, their disappointments, and their doubts.
The transition between radiant joy and confident hope in the future to
a miserable misinterpretation of sensations both physical and
psychical are rapid. It is the unknown that is terrible to us all, and
to the child the changes in its body, the changes in its soul and
spirit, which we pass by as commonplace, are full of suggestions of
abnormality, of disaster, and of death. Young people suffer much from
the want of comprehension and intelligent sympathy of their elders,
much also from their own ignorance and too fervid imagination. The
instability of the bodily tissues and the variability of their
functions find a counterpart in the instability of the mental and
moral natures and in the variability of their phenomena. Adolescents
indeed "never continue in one stay;" left to themselves they will
begin many pursuits, but persevere with, and finish, nothing.

Youth is the time for rapidly-succeeding friends, lovers, and heroes.
The schoolfellow or teacher who is adored to-day may become the object
of indifference or even of dislike to-morrow. Ideas as to the calling
or profession to be adopted change rapidly, and opinions upon
religion, politics, &c., vary from day to day. It is little wonder
that there is a special type of adolescent insanity differing entirely
from that of later years, one in which, owing to the want of full
development of mental faculties, there are no systematised delusions,
but a rapid change from depression and melancholy to exaltation
bordering on mania. Those parents and guardians who know something of
the peculiar physical and mental conditions of adolescence will be
best prepared both to treat the troubles wisely, and by sympathy to
help the young people under their care to help themselves.

One of the phenomena of adolescence is the dawn of the sexual
instinct. This frequently develops without the child knowing or
understanding what it means. More especially is this true of young
girls whose home life has been completely sheltered, and who have not
had the advantage, or disadvantage, of that experience of life which
comes early to those who live in crowded tenements or amongst the
outspoken people of the countryside. The children of the poorer
classes have, in a way, too little to learn: they are brought up from
babyhood in the midst of all domestic concerns, and the love affairs
of their elders are intimately known to them, therefore quite early in
adolescence "ilka lassie has her laddie," and although the attraction
be short-lived and the affection very superficial, yet it is
sufficient to give an added interest to life, and generally leads to
an increased care in dress and an increased desire to make the most of
whatever good looks the girl may possess. The girl in richer homes is
probably much more bewildered by her unwonted sensations and by the
attraction she begins to feel towards the society of the opposite sex.

Probably in these days, when there is more intermingling of the sexes,
the girl's outlook is franker, and, so far as this is concerned,
healthier, than it was forty or fifty years ago. It is very amusing to
elders to hear a boy scarcely in his teens talking of "his best girl,"
or to see the little lass wearing the colour or ornament that her
chosen lad admires. It is true that the "best girl" varies from week
to week if not from day to day, but this special regard for a member
of the opposite sex announces the dawn of a simple sentiment that
will, a few years later, blossom out into the real passion which may
fix a life's destiny.

The mental and moral changes that occur during the early years of
adolescence call for help and sympathy of an even higher order than do
the changes in physical structure and function. Some of these changes,
such as shyness and reticence, may be the cause of considerable
suffering to the girl and a perplexity to her elders, but on the whole
they are comparatively easy of comprehension, and are more likely to
elicit sympathy and kindness than blame. It is far otherwise with such
changes as unseemly laughter, rough manners, and a nameless difference
in the girl's manner when in the presence of the other sex. A girl who
is usually quiet, modest, and sensible in her behaviour may suddenly
become boisterous and self-asserting, there is a great deal of
giggling, and altogether a disagreeable transformation which too
frequently involves the girl in trouble with her mother or other
guardian, and is very frequently harshly judged by the child herself.
In proportion as self-discipline has been taught and self-control
acquired, these outward manifestations are less marked, but in the
case of the great majority of girls there are, at any rate, impulses
having their origin in the yet immature and misunderstood sex impulse
which cause the young woman herself annoyance and worry although she
is as far from understanding their origin as her elders may be. The
remedies for these troubles are various. First in order of time and in
importance comes a habit of self-control and self-discipline that
ought to be coeval with conscious life. Fathers and mothers are
themselves to blame if their girl lapses from good behaviour when they
have not inculcated ideals of obedience, duty, and self-discipline
from babyhood. It seems such a little thing to let the child have its
run of the cake-basket and the sweet-box; it is in the eyes of many
parents so unimportant whether the little one goes to bed at the
appointed time or ten minutes later; they argue that it can make no
difference to her welfare in life or to her eternal destiny whether
her obedience is prompt and cheerful or grudging and imperfect. One
might as well argue that the proper planting of a seed, its regular
watering, and the influences of sun and wind make no difference to the
life of a tree. We have to bear carefully in mind that those who sow
an act reap a habit, who sow a habit reap a character, who sow a
character reap a destiny both in this world and in that which is
eternal. It is mere selfishness, unconscious, no doubt, but none the
less fatal, when parents to suit their own convenience omit to
inculcate obedience, self-restraint, habits of order and unselfishness
in their children. Youth is the time when the soul is apt to be shaken
by sorrow's power and when stormy passions rage. The tiny rill
starting from the mountainside can be readily deflected east or west,
but the majestic river hastening to the sea is beyond all such
arbitrary directions. So it is with the human being: the character and
habit are directed easily in infancy, with difficulty during
childhood, but they are well-nigh impossible of direction by the time
adolescence is established. Those fathers and mothers who desire to
have happiness and peace in connection with their adolescent boys and
girls must take the trouble to direct them aright during the plastic
years of infancy and childhood. All natural instincts implanted in us
by Him who knew what was in the heart of man are in themselves right
and good, but the exercise of these instincts may be entirely wrong in
time or in degree. The sexual instinct, the affinity of boy to girl,
the love of adult man and woman, are right and holy when exercised
aright, and it is the result of "spoiling" when these good and noble
instincts are wrongly exercised. All who love their country, all who
love their fellow men, and all who desire that the kingdom of God
should come, must surely do everything that is in their power to
awaken the fathers and mothers of the land to a sense of their heavy
responsibility and of their high privilege. In this we are entirely
separated from and higher than the rest of the animal creation, in
that on us lies the duty not only of calling into life a new
generation of human beings, but also the still higher duty, the still
greater privilege and the wider responsibility of bringing up those
children to be themselves the worthy parents of the future, the
supporters of their country's dignity, and joyful citizens of the
household of God.

Another characteristic of adolescence is to be found in
gregariousness, or what has been sometimes called the _gang spirit_.
Boys, and to almost as great a degree girls, form themselves into
companies or gangs, which frequently possess a high degree of
organisation. They elaborate special languages, they have their own
form of shorthand, their passwords, their rites and ceremonies. The
gang has its elected leader, its officers, its members; and although
it is liable to sudden disruption and seldom outlasts a few terms of
school-life, each succeeding club or company is for the time being of
paramount importance in the estimation of its members. The gang spirit
may at times cause trouble and lead to anxiety, but if rightly
directed it may be turned to good account. It is the germ of the
future capacity to organise men and women into corporate life--the
very method by which much public and national work is readily
accomplished, but which is impossible to accomplish by individual

3. Changes in the Religion of the Adolescent.--The religion of the
adolescent is apt to be marked by fervour and earnest conviction, the
phenomenon of "conversion" almost constantly occurring during
adolescence. The girl looks upon eternal truths from a completely new
standpoint, or at any rate with eyes that have been purged and
illuminated by the throes of conversion. From a period of great
anxiety and doubt she emerges to a time of intense love and devotion,
to an eager desire to prove herself worthy, and to offer a sacrifice
of the best powers she possesses. Unfortunately for peace of mind, the
happy epoch succeeding conversion not unfrequently ends in a dismal
time of intellectual doubt and spiritual darkness. Just as the
embryonic love of the youthful adolescent leads to a time when the
opposite sex is rather an object of dislike than of attraction, so the
fervour of early conversion is apt to lead to a time of desolation;
but just as the incomplete sex love of early adolescence finds its
antitype and fine flower in the later fully developed love of
honourable man and woman, so does the too rapturous and uncalculating
religious devotion of these early years revive after the period of
doubt, transfigured and glorified into the religious conviction and
devotion which makes the strength, the joy, and the guiding principle
of adult life.

Much depends on the circumstances and people surrounding the
adolescent. Her unbounded capacity for hero-worship leads in many
instances to a conscious or unconscious copying of parent, guardian,
or teacher; and although the ideals of the young are apt to far
outpace those of the adult whose days of illusion are over, yet they
are probably formed on the same type. One sees this illustrated by
generations in the same family holding much the same religious or
political opinions and showing the same aptitude for certain
professions, games, and pursuits. Much there is in heredity, but
probably there is still more in environment.



These may be briefly summed up by saying that we have to provide
adolescent girls with all things that are necessary for their souls
and their bodies, but any such bald and wholesale enunciation of our
duty helps but little in clearing one's ideas and in pointing out the
actual manner in which we are to perform it.

First, with regard to the bodies of adolescent girls; Their primary
needs, just like the primary needs of all living beings, are food,
warmth, shelter, exercise and rest, with special care in sickness.

Food.--In spite of the great advance of knowledge in the present day,
it is doubtful whether much practical advance has been made in the
dietetics of children and adolescents, and it is to be feared that our
great schools are especially deficient in this most important respect.
Even when the age of childhood is past, young people require a much
larger amount of milk than is usually included in their diet sheet. It
would be well for them to begin the day with porridge and milk or some
such cereal preparation. Coffee or cocoa made with milk should
certainly have the preference over tea for breakfast, and in addition
to the porridge or other such dish, fish, egg, or bacon, with plenty
of bread and butter, should form the morning repast. The midday meal
should consist of fresh meat, fish, or poultry, with an abundance of
green vegetables and a liberal helping of sweet pudding. The articles
of diet which are most deficient in our lists are milk, butter, and
sugar. There is an old prejudice against sugar which is quite
unfounded so far as the healthy individual is concerned. Cane sugar
has recently been proved to be a most valuable muscle food, and when
taken in the proper way for sweetening beverages, fruit, and puddings,
it is entirely good. The afternoon meal should consist chiefly of
bread and butter and milk or cocoa, with a fair proportion of simple,
well-made cake, and in the case where animal food has been taken both
at breakfast and dinner, the evening meal might well be bread and
butter, bread and milk, or milk pudding with stewed or fresh fruit.
But it is different in the case of those adolescents whose midday meal
is necessarily slight, and who ought to have a thoroughly good dinner
or supper early in the evening;

One would have thought it unnecessary to mention alcohol in speaking
of the dietary of young people were it not that, strange to say, beer
is still given at some of our public schools. It is extraordinary that
wise and intelligent people should still give beer to young boys and
girls at the very time when what they want is strength and not
stimulus, food for the growing frame and nothing to stimulate the
already exuberant passions.

An invariable rule with regard to the food of children should be that
their meals should be regular, that they should consist of good,
varied, nourishing food taken at regular hours, and that nothing
should be eaten between meals. The practice of eating biscuits, fruit,
and sweets between meals during childhood and adolescence not only
spoils the digestion and impairs the nutrition at the time, but it is
apt to lay the foundation of a constant craving for something which is
only too likely to take the form of alcoholic craving in later years.
It is impossible for the stomach to perform its duty satisfactorily if
it is never allowed rest, and the introduction of stray morsels of
food at irregular times prevents this, and introduces confusion into
the digestive work, because there will be in the stomach at the same
time food in various stages of digestion.

Warmth.--Warmth is one of the influences essential to health and to
sound development, and although artificial warmth is more urgently
required by little children and by old people than it is by young
adults, still, if their bodies are to come to their utmost possible
perfection, they require suitable conditions of temperature. This is
provided in the winter partly by artificial heating of houses and
partly by the wearing of suitable clothing. Ideal clothing is loose of
texture and woven of wool, although a fairly good substitute can be
obtained in materials that are made from cotton treated specially.

This is not the time or place in which to insist on the very grave
dangers that accompany the use of ordinary flannelette, but a caution
must be addressed in passing to those who provide clothing for others.
In providing clothes it is necessary to remember the two reasons for
their existence: (1) to cover the body, and (2) as far as possible to
protect a large area of its surface against undue damp and cold.

Adolescents, as a rule, begin early to take a great interest in their
clothes. From the time that the appreciation of the opposite sex
commences, the child who has hitherto been indifferent or even
slovenly in the matter of clothing takes a very living interest in it;
indeed the adornment of person and the minute care devoted to details
of the toilet by young people of both sexes remind one irresistibly of
the preening of the feathers, the strutting and other antics of birds
before their mates.

Girls especially are apt to forget the primary object of clothing, and
to think of it too much as a means of adornment. This leads to
excesses and follies such as tight waists, high-heeled shoes, to the
ungainly crinoline or to indecent scantiness of skirts. Direct
interference in these matters is badly tolerated, but much may be
accomplished both by example and by cultivating a refined and artistic
taste in sumptuary matters.

Sleep.--Amongst the most important of the factors that conduce to
well-being both of body and mind must be reckoned an adequate amount
of sleep. This has been made the subject of careful inquiry by Dr.
Dukes of Rugby and Miss Alice Ravenhill. Both these trained and
careful observers agree that the majority of young people get far too
little rest and sleep. We have to remember that although fully-grown
adults will take rest when they can get it in the daytime, young
people are too active, and sometimes too restless, to give any repose
to brain or muscle except during sleep. In the early years of
adolescence ten hours sleep is none too much; even an adult in full
work ought to have eight hours, and still more is necessary for the
rapidly-growing, continually-developing, and never-resting adolescent.
It is unfortunately a fact that even in the boarding schools of the
well-to-do the provision of sleep is too limited, and for the children
of the poor, whose homes are far from comfortable and who are
accustomed to doing pretty nearly as their elders do, the night seldom
begins before eleven or even twelve o'clock. It is one of the saddest
sights of London to see small children dancing on the pavement in
front of the public-houses up to a very late hour, while groups of
loafing boys and hoydenish girls stand about at the street corners
half the night. There is little wonder that the morning finds them
heavy and unrefreshed, and that schoolwork suffers severely from want
of the alert and vigorous attention that might be secured by a proper
night's sleep.

Great harm is done by allowing children to take work home with them
from school; if possible, the day's work should finish with school
hours, and the scanty leisure should be spent in healthy exercise or
in sleep.

Overcrowding.--In considering the question of adequate sleep it
would be well to think of the conditions of healthy sleep.

For sleep to be refreshing and health-giving, the sleeper ought to
have a comfortable bed and an abundant supply of fresh air.
Unfortunately the great majority of our people both in town and
country do not enjoy these advantages. In both town and country there
is a great deficiency of suitable dwellings at rents that can be paid
with the usual rate of wages. In consequence families are crowded into
one, two, or three rooms, and even in the case of people far above the
status of day labourers and artisans it is the exception and not the
rule for each individual to have a separate bed. The question of
ventilation is certainly better understood than it was a few years
ago, but still leaves much to be desired, and there is still an urgent
necessity for preaching the gospel of the open window.

Exercise.--In considering the question of the exercise of
adolescents, one's thoughts immediately turn to athletics, games, and
dancing. As a nation the English have always been fond of athletics,
and have attributed to the influence of such team games as cricket and
football not only their success in various competitions but also their
success in the sterner warfare of life. This success has been obtained
on the tented field and in the work of exploring, mountaineering, and
other pursuits that make great demand not only on nerve and muscle but
also on strength of character and powers of endurance.

Team games appear to be the especial property of adolescents, for
young children are more or less individualistic and solitary in many
of their games, but boys and girls alike prefer team games from the
pre-adolescent age up to adult life. It is certain that no form of
exercise is superior to these games: they call into play every muscle
of the body, they make great demands on accuracy of eye and
coordination, they also stimulate and develop habits of command,
obedience, loyalty, and _esprit de corps_. In the great public schools
of England, and in the private schools which look up to them as their
models, team games are played, as one might say, in a religious
spirit. The boy or girl who attempts to take an unfair advantage, or
who habitually plays for his or her own hand, is quickly made to feel
a pariah and an outcast. Among the greatest blessings that are
conveyed to the children of the poorer classes is the instruction not
only in the technique of team games but also in the inoculation of the
spirit in which they ought to be played. It is absolutely necessary
that the highest ideals connected with games should be handed down,
for thus the children who perhaps do not always have the highest
ideals before them in real life may learn through this mimic warfare
how the battle of life must be fought and what are the characters of
mind and body that deserve and ensure success. It has been well said
that those who make the songs of a nation help largely to make its
character, and equally surely those who teach and control the games of
the adolescents are making or marring a national destiny.

Among the means of physical and moral advancement may be claimed
gymnastics. And here, alas, this nation can by no means claim to be
_facile princeps_. Not only have we been relatively slow in adopting
properly systematised exercises, but even to the present day the
majority of elementary schools are without properly fitted gymnasia
and duly qualified teachers. The small and relatively poor
Scandinavian nations have admirably fitted gymnasia in connection with
their _Folkschule_, which correspond to our elementary schools. The
exercises are based on those systematised by Ling; each series is
varied, and is therefore the more interesting, and each lesson
commences with simple, easily performed movements, leading on to those
that are more elaborate and fatiguing, and finally passing through a
descending series to the condition of repose.

The gymnasia where such exercises are taught in England are relatively
few and far between, and it is lamentable to find that many excellent
and well-appointed schools for children, whose parents pay large sums
of money for their education, have no properly equipped gymnasia nor
adequately trained teachers. When the question is put, "How often do
you have gymnastics at your school?" the answer is frequently, "We
have none," or, "Half an hour once a week." Exercises such as Ling's
not only exercise every muscle in the body in a scientific and
well-regulated fashion, but being performed by a number of pupils at
once in obedience to words of command, discipline, co-operation,
obedience to teachers, and loyalty to comrades, are taught at the same
time. The deepest interest attaches to many of the more complex
exercises, while some of them make large demands on the courage and
endurance of the young people.

In Scandinavia the State provides knickerbockers, tunics, and
gymnasium shoes for those children whose parents are too poor to
provide them; and again, in Scandinavia there is very frequently the
provision of bathrooms in which the pupils can have a shower bath and
rub-down after the exercises. These bathrooms in connection with the
gymnasia need not necessarily be costly; indeed many of them in
Stockholm and Denmark merely consist of troughs in the cement floor,
on the edge of which the children sit in a row while they receive a
shower bath over their heads and bodies. The feet get well washed in
the trough, and the smart douche of water on head and shoulders acts
as an admirable tonic.

Another exercise which ought to be specially dear to a nation of
islanders is swimming, and this, again, is a relatively cheap luxury
too much neglected amongst us. Certainly there are public baths, but
there are not enough to permit of all the elementary school children
bathing even once a week, and still less have they the opportunity of
learning to swim. There is much to be done yet before we can be justly
proud of our national system of education. We must not lose sight of
the ideal with which we started--viz. that we should endeavour to do
the best that is possible for our young people in body, soul, and
spirit. The three parts of our nature are intertwined, and a duty
performed to one part has an effect on the whole.



If measured by the death-rate the period of adolescence should cause
us little anxiety, but a careful examination into the state of health
of children of school age shows us that it is a time in which
disorders of health abound, and that although these disorders are not
necessarily, nor even generally, fatal, they are frequent, they spoil
the child's health, and inevitably bear fruit in the shape of an
injurious effect on health in after life.

That the health of adolescents should be unstable is what we ought to
expect from the general instability of the organism due to the
rapidity of growth and the remarkable developmental changes that are
crowded into these few years. Rapidity of growth and increase of
weight are very generally recognised, although their effects upon
health are apt to be overlooked. On the other hand, the still more
remarkable development that occurs in adolescence is very generally

As a general rule the infectious fevers, the so-called childish
diseases--such as measles, chicken-pox, and whooping-cough--are less
common in adolescence than they are in childhood, while the special
diseases of internal organs due to their overwork, or to their natural
tendency to degeneration, is yet far in the future. The chief troubles
of adolescents appear to be due to overstress which accompanies rapid
development, to the difficulty of the whole organism in adapting
itself to new functions and altered conditions, and no doubt in some
measure to the unwisdom both of the young people and of their

This is not the place for a general treatise on the diseases of
adolescents, but a few of the commonest and most obvious troubles
should be noted.

The Teeth.--It is quite surprising to learn what a very large
percentage of young soldiers are refused enlistment in the army on
account of decayed or defective teeth, and anyone who has examined the
young women candidates for the Civil Service and for Missionary
Societies must have recognised that their teeth are in no way better
than those of the young men. In addition to several vacancies in the
dental series, it is by no means unusual to find that a candidate has
three or even five teeth severely decayed. The extraordinary thing is
that not only the young people and their parents very generally fail
to recognise the gravity of this condition, but that even their
medical advisers have frequently acquiesced in a state of things that
is not only disagreeable but dangerous. A considerable proportion of
people with decayed teeth have also suppuration about the margins of
the gums and around the roots of the teeth. This pyorrhoea
alveolaris, as it is called, constitutes a very great danger to the
patient's health, the purulent discharge teems with poisonous
micro-organisms, which being constantly swallowed are apt to give rise
to septic disease in various organs. It is quite probable that some
cases of gastric ulcer are due to this condition, so too are some
cases of appendicitis, it has been known to cause a peculiarly fatal
form of heart disease, and it is also responsible for the painful
swelling of the joints of the fingers, with wasting of the muscles and
general weakness which goes by the name of rheumatoid arthritis. In
addition to this there are many local affections, such as swollen
glands in the neck, that may be due to this poisonous discharge. One
would think that the mere knowledge that decayed teeth can cause all
this havoc would lead to a grand rush to the dentist, but so far from
being the case, doctors find it extremely difficult to induce their
patients to part with this unsightly, evil-smelling, and dangerous
decayed tooth.

The Throat.--Some throat affections, such as diphtheria and quinsy,
are well known and justly dreaded; and although many a child's life
has been sacrificed to the slowness of its guardians to procure
medical advice and the health-restoring antitoxin, yet on the whole
the public conscience is awake to this duty. Far otherwise is it with
chronic diseases of the tonsils: they may be riddled with small cysts,
they may be constantly in a condition of subacute inflammation
dependent on a septic condition, but no notice is taken except when
chill, constipation, or a general run-down state of health aggravates
the chronic into a temporary acute trouble. And yet it is perhaps not
going too far to say that for one young girl who is killed or
invalided rapidly by diphtheria there are hundreds who are condemned
to a quasi-invalid life owing to this persistent supply of poison to
the system.

Another condition of the throat which causes much ill-health is well
known to the public under the name of adenoids. Unfortunately,
however, many people have an erroneous idea that children will "grow
out of adenoids." Even if this were true it is extremely unwise to
wait for so desirable an event. Adenoids may continue to grow, and
during the years that they are present they work great mischief. Owing
to the blocking of the air-passages the mouth is kept constantly open,
greatly to the detriment of the throat and lungs. Owing to the
interference with the circulation at the back of the nose and throat,
a considerable amount both of apparent and real stupidity is produced,
the brain works less well than it ought, and the child's appearance is
ruined by the flat, broad bridge of the nose and the gaping mouth. The
tale of troubles due to adenoids is not even yet exhausted; a
considerable amount of discharge collects about them which it is not
easy to clear away, it undergoes very undesirable changes, and is then
swallowed to the great detriment of the stomach and the digestion. The
removal of septic tonsils and of adenoids is most urgently necessary,
and usually involves little distress or danger. The change in the
child's health and appearance that can thus be secured is truly
wonderful, especially if it be taught, as it should be, to keep its
mouth shut and to breathe through the nose. In the course of a few
months the complexion will have cleared, the expression will have
regained its natural intelligence, digestion will be well performed,
and the child's whole condition will be that of alert vigour instead
of one of listless and sullen indifference.

Errors of Digestion.--From the consideration of certain states of
the nose, mouth, and throat, it is easy to turn to what is so often
their consequence. Many forms of indigestion are due to the septic
materials swallowed. It would not, however, be fair to say that all
indigestion is thus caused; not infrequently indigestion is due to
errors of diet, and here the blame must be divided between the poverty
and ignorance of many parents and the self-will of adolescents. The
foods that are best for young people--such as bread, milk, butter,
sugar, and eggs--are too frequently scarce in their dietaries owing to
their cost; and again, in the case of many girls whose parents are
able and willing to provide them with a thoroughly satisfactory
diet-sheet, dyspepsia is caused by their refusal to take what is good
for them, and by their preference for unsuitable and indigestible

A further cause of indigestion must be sought in the haste with which
food is too often eaten. The failure to rise at the appointed time
leads to a hasty breakfast, and this must eventually cause
indigestion. The food imperfectly masticated and not sufficiently
mixed with saliva enters the stomach ill-prepared, and the hasty rush
to morning school or morning work effectually prevents the stomach
from dealing satisfactorily with the mass so hastily thrust into it.

There is an old saying that "Those whom the gods will destroy they
first make mad," and in many instances young people who fall victims
to the demon of dyspepsia owe their sorrows, if not to madness, at any
rate to ignorance and want of consideration. The defective teeth,
septic tonsils, discharging adenoids, poverty of their parents and
their own laziness, all conspire to cause digestive troubles which
bear a fruitful crop of further evils, for thus are caused such
illnesses as anæmia and gastric ulcer.

Constipation claims a few words to itself. And here again we ought
to consider certain septic processes. The refuse of the food should
travel along the bowels at a certain rate, but if owing to
sluggishness of their movements or to defects in the quality and
amount of their secretion, the refuse is too long retained the masses
become unduly dry, and, constantly shrinking in volume, are no longer
capable of being urged along the tube at the proper rate. In
consequence of this the natural micro-organisms of the intestine cease
to be innocent and become troublesome; they lead in the long run to a
peculiar form of blood-poisoning, and to so many diseased conditions
that it is impossible to deal with them at the present moment. The
existence of constipation is too often a signal for the administration
of many doses of medicine. The wiser, the less harmful, and the more
effectual method of dealing with it would be to endeavour to secure
the natural action of the bowels by a change in the diet, which should
contain more vegetable and less animal constituents. The patient
should also be instructed to drink plenty of water, either hot or
cold, a large glassful on going to bed and one on first awaking, and
also if necessary an hour before each meal. Steady exercise is also of
very great service, and instead of starting so late as to have no time
for walking to school or work, a certain portion of the daily journey
should be done on foot. Further, in all cases where it is possible,
team games, gymnastics, and dancing should be called in to supplement
the walk.

Headache.--Headache may be due to so many different causes that it
would be impossible in this little book to adequately consider them,
but it would not be fair to omit to mention that in many cases the
headache of young people is due to their want of spectacles. The idea
that spectacles are only required by people advanced in life is by
this time much shaken, but even now not only many parents object to
their children enjoying this most necessary assistance to imperfect
vision, but also employers may be found so foolish and selfish as to
refuse to employ those persons who need to wear glasses. The folly as
well as selfishness of this objection is demonstrated by the far
better work done by a person whose vision has been corrected, and the
absolute danger incurred by all who have to deal with machinery if
vision is imperfect. Among other causes for headache are the defects
of mouth, throat, stomach, and bowels already described, because in
all of them there is a supply of septic material to the blood which
naturally causes headache and other serious symptoms.

Abnormalities of Menstruation.--The normal period should occur at
regular intervals about once a month. Its duration and amount vary
within wide limits, but in each girl it should remain true to her
individual type, and it ought not to be accompanied by pain or
distress. As a rule the period starts quite normally, and it is not
until the girl's health has been spoiled by over-exertion of body or
mind, by unwise exertion during the period, or by continued exposure
to damp or cold, that it becomes painful and abnormal in time or in

One of the earliest signs of approaching illness--such as consumption,
anæmia, and mental disorder--is to be found in the more or less sudden
cessation of the period. This should always be taken as a
danger-signal, and as indicating the need of special medical advice.

Another point that should enter into intimate talk with girls is to
make them understand the co-relation of their own functions to the
great destiny that is in store. A girl is apt to be both shocked and
humiliated when she first hears of menstruation and its phenomena.
Should this function commence before she is told about it, she will
necessarily look upon it with disgust and perhaps with fear. It is
indeed a most alarming incident in the case of a girl who knows
nothing about it, but if, before the advent of menstruation, it be
explained to her that it is a sign of changes within her body that
will gradually, after the lapse of some years, fit her also to take
her place amongst the mothers of the land, her shame and fear will be
converted into modest gladness, and she will readily understand why
she is under certain restrictions, and has at times to give up work or
pleasure in order that her development may be without pain, healthy,
and complete.



The years of adolescence, during which rapid growth and development
inevitably cause so much stress and frequently give rise to danger,
are the very years in which the weight of school education necessarily
falls most heavily. The children of the poor leave school at fourteen
years of age, just the time when the children of the wealthier classes
are beginning to understand the necessity of education and to work
with a clearer realisation of the value and aim of lessons. The whole
system of education has altered of late years, and school work is now
conducted far more intelligently and with a greater appreciation of
the needs and capacities of the pupils than it was some fifty years
ago. Work is made more interesting, the relation of different studies
to each other is more adequately put in evidence, and the influence
that school studies have on success in after life is more fully
realised by all concerned. The system of training is, however, far
from perfect. In the case of girls, more particularly, great care has
to be exercised not to attempt to teach too much, and to give careful
consideration to the physiological peculiarities of the pupils. It is
impossible for girls who are undergoing such rapid physiological and
psychical changes to be always equally able and fit for strenuous
work. There are days in every girl's life when she is not capable of
her best work, and when a wise and sympathetic teacher will see that
it is better for her to do comparatively little. And yet these slack
times are just those in which there is the greatest danger of a girl
indulging in daydreams, and when her thoughts need to be more than
usually under control. These times may be utilised for lighter
subjects and for such manual work as does not need great physical
exertion. It is not a good time for exercises, for games, for dancing,
and for gardening, nor are they the days on which mathematics should
be pressed, but they are days in which much supervision is needed, and
when time should not be permitted to hang heavily on hand.

Just as there are days in which consideration should be shown, so too
there are longer periods of time in which it is unwise for a girl to
be pressed to prepare for or to undergo a strenuous examination. The
brain of the girl appears to be as good as that of the boy, while her
application, industry, and emulation are far in advance of his, but
she has these physiological peculiarities, and if they are disregarded
there will not only be an occasional disastrous failure in bodily or
mental health, but girls as a class will fail to do the best work of
which they are capable, and will fail to reap the fullest advantage
from an education which is costly in money, time, and strength. It
follows that the curriculum for girls presents greater difficulties
than the curriculum for boys, and that those ladies who are
responsible for the organisation of a school for girls need to be
women of great resource, great patience, and endowed with much
sympathetic insight. The adolescent girl will generally do little to
help her teachers in this matter. She is incapable of recognising her
own limitations, she is full of emulation, and is desirous of
attaining and keeping a good position not only in her school but also
in the University or in any other public body for whose examination
she may present herself. The young girl most emphatically needs to be
saved from herself, and she has to learn the lessons of obedience and
of cheerful acquiescence in restrictions that certainly appear to her
simply vexatious.

One of the difficulties in private schools arises from the necessity
of providing occupation for every hour of the waking day, while
avoiding the danger of overwork with its accompanying exhaustion. In
the solution of this problem such subjects as gymnastics, games,
dancing, needlework, cooking, and domestic economy will come in as a
welcome relief from the more directly intellectual studies, and
equally as a relief to the conscientious but hard-pressed woman who is
trying to save her pupils from the evils of unoccupied time on the one
hand and undue mental pressure on the other.

Boys, and to a less extent girls, attending elementary schools who
leave at fourteen are not likely to suffer in the same way or from the
same causes. One of the difficulties in their case is that they leave
school just when work is becoming interesting and before habits of
study have been formed, indeed before the subjects taught have been
thoroughly assimilated, and that therefore in the course of a few
years little may be left of their painfully acquired and too scanty
knowledge. Free education has been given to the children of the poor
for nearly fifty years, and yet the mothers who were schoolgirls in
the seventies and eighties appear to have saved but little from the
wreck of their knowledge except the power to sign their names and to
read in an imperfect and blundering manner.

Here, too, there are many problems to be solved, one among them being
the great necessity of endeavouring to correlate the lessons given in
school to the work that the individual will have to perform in after
life. It would appear as if the girls of the elementary schools, in
addition to reading, writing, and simple arithmetic, sufficient to
enable them to write letters, to read books, and to keep simple
household accounts, ought to be taught the rudiments of cookery, the
cutting out and making of garments, and the best methods of cleansing
as applied to houses, household utensils and clothing. In addition,
and as serious subjects, not merely as a recreation, they should be
taught gymnastics, part singing and mother-craft. No doubt in
individual schools much of this modification of the curriculum has
been accomplished, but more remains to be done before we can be
satisfied that we have done the best in our power to fit the children
of the country for their life's work.

Another of the great problems connected with the children in
elementary schools, a problem which, indeed, arises out of their
leaving at fourteen, is that of the Continuation School or Evening
School, and the system which is known as "half-timing." It is well
known that although young people from fourteen to sixteen years of age
are well able to profit by continued instruction, they are, with very
few exceptions, not at all well adapted for commencing their life's
work as industrials. The general incoherency and restlessness peculiar
to that age frequently lead to a change of employment every few
months, while their general irresponsibility and want of self-control
lead to frequent disputes with foremen and other officials in
factories and shops, in consequence of which the unfortunate child is
constantly out of work. In proportion to the joy and pride caused by
the realised capacity to earn money and by the sense of independence
that employment brings, is the unhappiness, and in many cases the
misery, due to unemployment, and to repeated failures to obtain and to
keep an independent position. The boy or girl out of work has an
uneasy feeling that he or she has not earned the just and expected
share towards household expenses. The feeling of dependence and
well-nigh of disgrace causes a rapid deterioration in health and
spirits, and it is only too likely that in many instances where
unemployment is continuous or frequently repeated, the unemployed
will quickly become the unemployable.

So far as the young people themselves are concerned, it would be
nearly always an unmixed benefit that they should pass at fourteen
into a Technical School or Continuation School, as the case may be.
Among the great difficulties to the solution of this problem is the
fact that in many working-class households the few weekly shillings
brought into the family store by the elder children are of very real
importance, and although the raising of the age of possible employment
and independence would enable the next generation to work better and
to earn higher and more continuous wages, it is difficult for the
parents to acquiesce in the present deprivation involved, even though
it represents so much clear gain in the not distant future.

At the present time there are Evening Schools, but this system does
not work well. All busy people are well aware that after a hard day's
work neither brain nor body is in the best possible condition for two
or three hours of serious mental effort. The child who has spent the
day in factory or shop has really pretty nearly used up all his or her
available mental energy, and after the evening meal is naturally
heavy, stupid, irritable, and altogether in a bad condition for
further effort. The evenings ought to be reserved for recreation, for
the gymnasium, the singing class, the swimming bath, and even for the
concert and the theatre.

The system of "half-timing" during ordinary school life does not work
well, and it would be a great pity should a similar system be
introduced in the hope of furthering the education of boys and girls
who are just entering industrial life. There is reason to hope that a
great improvement in education will be secured by Mr. Hayes Fisher's

Another subject to which the attention of patriots and philanthropists
ought to be turned is the sort of employment open to children at
school-leaving age. The greatest care should be taken to diminish the
number of those who endeavour to achieve quasi-independence in those
occupations which are well known as "blind alleys." In England it is
rare that girls should seek these employments, but in Scotland there
is far too large a number of girl messengers. In this particular, the
case of the girl is superior to that of the boy. The "tweeny" develops
into housemaid or cook; the young girls employed in superior shops to
wait on the elder shopwomen hope to develop into their successors, and
the girls who nurse babies on the doorsteps are, after all, acquiring
knowledge and dexterity that may fit them for domestic service or for
the management of their own families a few years later.

The girls of the richer classes have not the same difficulties as
their poorer sisters. They generally remain at school until a much
later age, and subsequently have the joy and stimulus of college life,
of foreign travel, of social engagements, or of philanthropic
enterprise. Still, a residue remains even of girls of this class whose
own inclinations, or whose family circumstances, lead to an aimless,
purposeless existence, productive of much injury to both body and
mind, and only too likely to end in hopeless ennui and nervous
troubles. It should be thoroughly understood by parents and guardians
that no matter what the girl's circumstances may be, she ought always
to have an abundance of employment. The ideas of obligation and of
duty should not be discarded when school and college life cease. The
well-to-do girl should be encouraged to take up some definite
employment which would fill her life and provide her with interests
and duties. Any other arrangement tends to make the time between
leaving school or college and a possible marriage not only a wasted
time but also a seed-time during which a crop is sown of bad habits,
laziness of body, and slackness of mind, that subsequently bear bitter
fruit. It is quite time for us to recognise that unemployment and
absence of duties is as great a disadvantage to the rich as it is to
the poor; the sort of employment must necessarily differ, but the
spirit in which it is to be done is the same.

One point that one would wish to emphasise with regard to all
adolescents is that although occupation for the whole day is most
desirable, hard work should occupy but a certain proportion of the
waking hours. For any adolescent, or indeed for any of us to attempt
to work hard for twelve or fourteen hours out of the twenty-four is to
store up trouble. It is not possible to lay down any hard and fast
rule as to the length of hours of work, because the other factors in
the problem vary so greatly. One person may be exhausted by four
hours of intellectual effort, whereas another is less fatigued by
eight; and further, the daily occupations vary greatly in the demand
that they make on attention and on such qualities as reason, judgment,
and power of initiation. Those who teach or learn such subjects as
mathematics, or those who are engaged in such occupations as
portrait-painting and the higher forms of musical effort, must
necessarily take more out of themselves than those who are employed in
feeding a machine, in nursing a baby, or in gardening operations.



The great problem before those who have the responsibility for the
training of the young is that of preparing them to take their place in
the world as fathers, mothers, and citizens, and among the fundamental
duties connected with this responsibility must come the placing before
the eyes of the young people high ideals, attractive examples, and the
securing to them the means of adequate preparation. As a nation it
seems to be with us at present as it was with the people of Israel in
the days of Eli: "the word of the Lord was precious (or scarce) in
those days; there was no open vision." We seem to have come to a time
of civilisation in which there is much surface refinement and a
widespread veneer of superficial knowledge, but in which there is
little enthusiasm and in which the great aim and object of teaching
and of training is but too little realised. In the endeavour to know a
little of all things we seem to have lost the capacity for true and
exhaustive knowledge of anything. It would appear as if the remedy for
this most unsatisfactory state of things has to commence long before
the years of adolescence, even while the child is yet in its cradle.
The old-fashioned ideas of duty, obedience, and discipline must be
once more household words and living entities before the race can
enter on a period of regeneration. We want a poet with the logic of
Browning, the sweetness of Tennyson, and the force of Rudyard Kipling,
to sing a song that would penetrate through indifference, sloth, and
love of pleasure, and make of us the nation that we might be, and of
which the England of bygone years had the promise.

Speaking specially with regard to girls, let us first remember that
the highest earthly ideal for a woman is that she should be a good
wife and a good mother. It is not necessary to say this in direct
words to every small girl, but she ought to be so educated, so guided,
as to instinctively realise that wifehood and motherhood is the flower
and perfection of her being. This is the hope and ideal that should
sanctify her lessons and sweeten the right and proper discipline of
life. All learning, all handicraft, and all artistic training should
take their place as a preparation to this end. Each generation that
comes on to the stage of life is the product of that which preceded
it. It is the flower of the present national life and the seed of that
which is to come. We ought to recognise that all educational aims and
methods are really subordinate to this great end; if this were
properly realised by adolescents it would be of the greatest service
and help in their training. The deep primal instinct of fatherhood and
motherhood would help them more than anything else to seek earnestly
and successfully for the highest attainable degree of perfection of
their own bodies, their own minds, and their own souls. It is,
however, impossible to aim at an ideal that is unseen and even
unknown, and although the primal instinct exists in us all, its
fruition is greatly hindered by the way in which it is steadily
ignored, and by the fact that any proclamation of its existence is
considered indiscreet and even indelicate. How are children to develop
a holy reverence for their own bodies unless they know of their
wonderful destiny? If they do not recognise that at least in one
respect God has confided to them in some measure His own creative
function, how can they jealously guard against all that would injure
their bodies and spoil their hopes for the exercise of this function?
There is, even at the present time, a division of opinion as to when
and in what manner children are to be made aware of their august
destiny. We are indeed only now beginning to realise that ignorance is
not necessarily innocence, and that knowledge of these matters may be
sanctified and blessed. It is, however, certain that the conspiracy of
silence which lasted so many years has brought forth nothing but evil.
If a girl remains ignorant of physiological facts, the shock of the
eternal realities of life that come to her on marriage is always
pernicious and sometimes disastrous. If, on the other hand, such
knowledge is obtained from servants and depraved playfellows, her
purity of mind must be smirched and injured.

Even among those who hold that children ought to be instructed, there
is a division of opinion as to when this instruction is to begin. Some
say at puberty, others a few years later, perhaps on the eve of
marriage, and yet others think that the knowledge will come with less
shock, with less personal application, and therefore in a more natural
and useful manner from the very beginning of conscious life. These
last would argue--why put the facts of reproduction on a different
footing from those of digestion and respiration? As facts in the
physical life they hold a precisely similar position. Upon the due
performance of bodily functions depends the welfare of the whole
organism, and although reproduction, unlike the functions of
respiration and digestion, is not essential to the life of the
individual, it is essential to the life of the nation.

The facts of physiology are best taught to little children by a
perfectly simple recognition of the phenomena of life around them--the
cat with her kittens, the bird with its fledgelings, and still more
the mother with her infant, are all common facts and beautiful types
of motherhood. Instead of inventing silly and untrue stories as to the
origin of the kitten and the fledgeling, it is better and wiser to
answer the child's question by a direct statement of fact, that God
has given the power to His creatures to perpetuate themselves, that
the gift of Life is one of His good gifts bestowed in mercy on all His
creatures. The mother's share in this gift and duty can be observed
by, and simply explained to, the child from its earliest years; it
comes then with no shock, no sense of shame, but as a type of joy and
gladness, an image of that holiest of all relations, the Eternal
Mother and the Heavenly Child.

Somewhat later in life, probably immediately before puberty in boys
and shortly after puberty in girls, the father's share in this mystery
may naturally come up for explanation. The physiological facts
connected with this are not so constantly in evidence before children,
and therefore do not press for explanation in the same way as do those
of motherhood, but the time comes soon in the schoolboy's life when
the special care of his own body has to be urged on him, and this
knowledge ought to come protected by the sanction that unless he is
faithful to his trust he cannot look to the reward of a happy home
life with wife and children. In the case of the girl the question as
to fatherhood is more likely to arise out of the reading of the Bible
or other literature, or by her realisation that at any rate in the
case of human parenthood there is evidently the intermediation of a
father. The details of this knowledge need not necessarily be pressed
on the adolescent girl, but it is a positive cruelty to allow the
young woman to marry without knowing the facts on which her happiness

Another way in which the mystery of parenthood can be simply and
comfortably taught is through the study of vegetable physiology. The
fertilisation of the ovules by pollen which falls directly from the
anthers on to the stigma can be used as a representation of similar
facts in animal physiology. It is very desirable, however, that this
study of the vegetable should succeed and not precede that of the
domestic animals in the teaching of boys and girls.

Viewed from this standpoint there is surely no difficulty to the
parent in imparting to the child this necessary knowledge. We have to
remember that children have to know the mysteries of life. They cannot
live in the world without seeing the great drama constantly displayed
to them in family life and in the lives of domesticated animals. They
cannot read the literature of Greece and Rome, nay, they cannot study
the Book of Books, without these facts being constantly brought to
mind. A child's thirst for the interpretation of this knowledge is
imperative and unsatiable--not from prurience nor from evil-mindedness,
but in obedience to a law of our nature, the child demands this
knowledge--and will get it. It is for fathers and mothers to say
whether these sublime and beautiful mysteries shall be lovingly
and reverently unveiled by themselves or whether the child's mind
shall be poisoned and all beauty and reverence destroyed by depraved
school-fellows and vulgar companions.

In the hope of securing the purity, reverence and piety of our
children, in the hope that they may grow up worthy of their high
destiny, let us do what we may to keep their honour unsmirched, to
preserve their innocence, and to lead them on from the unconscious
goodness of childhood to the clear-eyed, fully conscious dignity of
maturity, that our sons may grow up as young plants, and our daughters
as the polished corners of the temple.




My contribution to this little book was originally intended for the
eyes of parents, scoutmasters, and other adults. Since 1913, when the
book was first published, it has been my privilege to receive from
these so many letters of warm appreciation that it seems needless to
retain the apologetic preface which I then wrote. The object which I
had in view at that time was the hastening of a supremely important
reform. I have to-day the very deep joy of knowing that my words have
carried conviction to many adults and have given help to countless

One result of this publication was entirely unlooked for. It did not
occur to me, as I wrote, that the book would be read by boys and young
men. It was not written at all for this purpose. In some respects its
influence over them has, however, been increased by this obvious fact.
In this book boys have, as it were, overheard a confidential
conversation about themselves carried on by adults anxious for their
welfare, and some at least are evidently more impressed by this
conversation than by a direct appeal--in which they are liable to
suspect exaggeration.

I have received hundreds of letters from boys and young men. These
confirm in _every_ way the conclusions set forth in this book, and
prove that the need for guidance in sex matters is acute and
universal. The relief and assistance which many boys have experienced
from correspondence with me, and the interest which I find in their
letters have caused me--spite of the extreme preoccupation of a
strenuous life--to issue a special invitation to those who may feel
inclined to write to me.

Great diversity of opinion exists as to the best method of giving sex
instruction, and those who have had experience of one method are
curiously blind to the merits of other methods, which they usually
strongly denounce. While I have my own views as to the best method to
adopt, I am quite sure that each one of very many methods can, in
suitable hands, produce great good, and that the very poorest method
is infinitely superior to no method at all.

Some are for oral teaching, some for the use of a pamphlet, some
favour confidential individual teaching, others collective public
teaching. Some would try to make sex a sacred subject; some would
prefer to keep the emotional element out and treat reproduction as a
matter-of-fact science subject. Some wish the parent to give the
teaching, some the teacher, some the doctor, some a lecturer specially
trained for this purpose. Good results have been obtained by every
one of these methods.

During recent years much additional evidence has accumulated in my
hands of the beneficent results of such teaching as I advocate in
these pages, and I am confident that of boys who have been wisely
guided and trained, few fail to lead clean lives even when associated
with those who are generally and openly corrupt. I must, however,
emphasise my belief that the cleanliness of a boy's life depends
ultimately not upon his knowledge of good and evil but upon his
devotion to the Right.

    "Self-reverence, self-knowledge, self-control,
    These three alone lead life to sovereign power."

Where these are not, it is idle to inculcate the rarest and most
difficult of all virtues.


_September 1918._


The term puberty will so often be used in the following chapters that
a brief account of the phenomena of puberty may appropriately be given
at the outset of this work. Puberty is a name given to the age at
which a boy becomes capable of being a father. In temperate climates
this age is reached at about fifteen years, though some boys attain it
at twelve and some not until seventeen. The one obvious and invariable
sign of puberty is a change of pitch in the voice, which assumes its
bass character after an embarrassing period of squeaky alternations
between the high and low tones.

The age is a critical one, as several important changes take place in
body and in mind. The reproductive organs undergo considerable
development and become sensitive to any stimulus, physical or mental.
The seminal fluid, which in normal cases has hitherto been secreted
little, if at all, is now elaborated by the testicles, and contains
spermatazoa--minute organisms which are essential to reproduction.
Under the stimulus of sexual thoughts this fluid is secreted in such
quantity as to give rise to involuntary discharge during sleep. These
nocturnal emissions are so often found among boys and young men that
some physiologists consider them to be quite normal. My experience
leads me to doubt this conclusion.

Another physical change associated with puberty is the growth of hair
on the pubes and on the face: in this latter situation the growth is

With the capacity for fatherhood comes a very strong awakening of the
sexual instinct, which manifests itself in passion and in lust--the
unconscious and the conscious sex hunger. The passion shows itself in
a ludicrously indiscriminate and exaggerated susceptibility to female
attractions--a susceptibility the sexual character of which is usually
quite unrecognised. Among boys who have sex knowledge there is also a
tendency to dwell on sexual thoughts when the mind is not otherwise
occupied. Passion and lust do not at once develop their full strength;
but, coming at a time when self-control is very weak, and coming with
all the attraction of novelty, they often dominate the mind even in
normal cases, and may become tyrannous when the reproductive system
has been prematurely stimulated.

A heightened self-consciousness and an antagonism to authority so
often follow the attainment of puberty that they are usually
considered to be its results. My own experience with boys satisfies me
that this conclusion is not correct. Self-consciousness, when it
occurs in boyhood, is usually the result of an unclean inner life.
Puberty merely increases the self-consciousness by intensifying its
cause. When the mind is clean there is no marked change in this
respect at puberty. The antagonism to authority so often observed
after puberty is the product of unsatisfactory external influences.
With puberty the desire to stand well with others, and in particular
the desire to seem manly, increases. If a debased public opinion
demands of a boy the cheap manliness of profanity, tobacco, and
irreverence, the demand creates a plentiful supply, while it also
suppresses as priggish or "pi" any avowed or suspected devotion to
higher ideals. A healthy public opinion, working in harmony with a
boy's nobler instincts, calls forth in him an earnest devotion to high
ideals, and causes him to exercise, on the development of his powers
and in a crusade against wrong, the new energies which a wholesome
puberty places at his disposal.



Of the perils which beset the growing boy all are recognised, and, in
a measure, guarded against except the most inevitable and most fatal
peril of all. In all that concerns the use and abuse of the
reproductive organs the great majority of boys have hitherto been left
without adult guidance, and have imbibed their ideas from the coarser
of their companions and from casual references to the subject in the
Bible and other books. Under these conditions very few boys escape two
of the worst dangers into which it is possible for a lad to fall--the
artificial stimulation of the reproductive organs and the acquisition
of degraded ideas on the subject of sex. That many lives are thus
prematurely shortened, that many constitutions are permanently
enfeebled, that very many lads who might otherwise have striven
successfully against the sexual temptations of adult life
succumb--almost without a struggle--to them, can be doubted by no one
who is familiar with the inner life of boys and men.

Of these two evils, self-abuse, though productive of manifold and
disastrous results, is distinctly the less. Many boys outgrow the
physical injuries which, in ignorance, they inflict upon themselves in
youth; but very few are able wholly to cleanse themselves from the
foul desires associated in their minds with sex. These desires make
young men impotent in the face of temptation. Under their evil
dominance, even men of kind disposition will, by seduction, inflict on
an innocent girl agony, misery, degradation, and premature death. They
will indulge In the most degrading of all vices with prostitutes on
the street. They will defile the atmosphere of social life with filthy
talk and ribald jest. Even a clean and ennobling passion can do little
to redeem them. The pure stream of human love is made turbid with
lust. After a temporary uplifting in marriage the soul is again
dragged down, marriage vows are broken and the blessings of home life
are turned into wormwood and gall.

That a system so destructive of physical and of spiritual health
should have lasted almost intact until now will, I believe, shortly
become a matter for general amazement; for while evidence of the
widespread character of youthful perversion is a product of quite
recent years, the assumptions on which this system has been based are
unreasonable and incapable of proof.

Since conclusive evidence of the prevalence of impurity among boys is
available, I will not at present invite the reader to examine the
assumptions which lead most people to a contrary belief. When I do
so, I shall hope to demonstrate that we might reasonably expect to
find things precisely as they are. In the first and second chapters we
shall see to what conclusions teachers who have actual experience in
the matter have been led.

There are several teachers whose authority in most matters stands so
very much above my own that it might seem presumptuous to begin by
laying my own experiences before the reader; but I venture to take
this course because no other teacher, as far as I know, has published
quite such definite evidence as I have done; and I think that the more
general statements of such eminent men as Canon Lyttelton, Mr. A.C.
Benson, and Dr. Clement Dukes will appeal to the reader more
powerfully when he has some idea of the manner in which conclusions on
this subject may be reached. I have some reason, also, for the belief
that the paper I read in 1908 at the London University before the
International Congress on Moral Education has been considered of great
significance by very competent judges. By a special decision of the
Executive of the Congress it--alone of all sectional papers--was
printed _in extenso_ in the official report. Later on, it came under
the notice of Sir R. Baden-Powell, at whose request it was republished
in the _Headquarters Gazette_--the official organ of the Boy Scout

It certainly did require some courage at the time to put my results
before the public, for I was not then aware that men of great eminence
in the educational world had already made equally sweeping, if less
definite, statements. Emboldened by this fact and by the commendations
above referred to, I venture to quote the greater part of this short

"The opinions I am about to put forward are based almost entirely on
my own twenty years' experience as a housemaster. My house contains
forty-eight boys, who vary in age from ten to nineteen and come from
comfortable middle-class homes.

"Private interviews with individual boys in my study have been the
chief vehicle of my teaching and the chief source of my information.
My objects in these interviews have been to warn boys against the
evils of private impurity, to supply them with a certain amount of
knowledge on sexual subjects in order to prevent a prurient curiosity,
and to induce them to confide to me the history of their own knowledge
and difficulties. In my early days I interviewed those only who
appeared to me to be obviously suffering from the effects of impurity,
and, of late years, the extreme pressure of my work has forced me very
reluctantly to recur to this plan.

"For several years, however, I was accustomed to interview every boy
under my care during his first term with me. Very rarely have I failed
in these interviews so to secure a boy's confidence as to learn the
salient facts of the history of his inner life. Sunday afternoon
addresses to the Sixth Form on the sexual dangers of late youth and
early manhood have resulted at times in elder boys themselves seeking
an interview with me. Such spontaneous confidences have naturally
been fuller, and therefore more instructive, than the confidences I
have invited.

"Many people are inclined to look upon the instruction of boys in
relation to adolescence as needless and harmful; needless because few
boys, they imagine, awake to the consciousness and problems of sex
until manhood; harmful because the pristine innocence of the mind is,
they think, destroyed, and evils are suggested of which a boy might
otherwise remain unconscious. To one who knows what boys really are
such ideas are nothing less than ludicrous.

"Boys come to our school from many different classes of preparatory
and secondary schools. Almost every such school seems to possess a few
boys who delight to initiate younger boys into sexual knowledge, and
usually into knowledge of solitary vice. The very few boys who have
come to me quite ignorant of these matters have come either straight
from home at ten or eleven, or from a school in which a few young boys
are educated with girls. Of boys who have come under my care as late
as twelve I have known but two who even professed total ignorance on
sexual subjects, and in one of these cases I am quite sure that no
such ignorance existed.

"In a large majority of cases solitary vice has been learned and
practised before a boy has got into his teens. The lack of insight
parents display in relation to these questions is quite phenomenal.
The few who mention the subject to me are always quite satisfied of
the complete 'innocence' of their boys. Some of the most precocious
and unclean boys I have known have been thus confidently commended to
me. Boys are wholly unsuspicious of the extent to which their inner
life lies open to the practised eye, and they feel secure that nothing
can betray their secrets if they themselves do not.

"In no department of our life are George Eliot's words truer than in
this department: 'Our daily familiar life is but a hiding of ourselves
from each other behind a screen of trivial words and deeds, and those
who sit with us at the same hearth are often the farthest off from the
deep human soul within us--full of unspoken evil and unacted good.' We
cannot prevent a boy's obtaining information on sexual questions. Our
choice lies between leaving him to pick it up from unclean and vulgar
minds, which will make it guilty and impure, and giving it ourselves
in such a way as to invest it from the first with a sacred character.

"Another idea which my experience proves to be an entire delusion is
the idea that a boy's natural refinement is a sufficient protection
against defilement. Some of the most refined boys I have had the
pleasure of caring for have been pronounced victims of solitary sin.
That it is a sin at all, that it has, indeed, any significance, either
ethical or spiritual, has not so much as occurred to most of them. On
what great moral question dare we leave the young to find their own
way absolutely without guidance? In this most difficult and dangerous
of all questions we leave the young soul, stirred by novel and blind
impulses, to grope in the darkness. Is it any wonder if it fails to
see things in their true relations?

"Again, it is sometimes thought that the consequences of secret sin
are so patent as to deter a boy from the sin itself. So far is this
from being the case that I have never yet found a single boy (even
among those who have, through it, made almost complete wrecks
physically and mentally) who has of himself connected these
consequences with the sin itself. I have, on the other hand, known
many sad cases in which, through the weakening of will power, which
this habit causes, boys of high ideals have fallen again and again
after their eyes have been fully opened. This sin is rarely a
conscious moral transgression. The boy is a victim to be sympathised
with and helped, not an offender to be reproved and punished."

I desire to call the attention of the reader to two points in the
foregoing extract. I was particular in giving my credentials to state
the character and limitations of my experience. Everywhere in life one
finds confident and sweeping generalisations made by men who have
little or no experience to appeal to. This is specially the case in
the educational world, and perhaps most of all in discussions on this
very subject. Some men, at least, are willing to instruct the public
with nothing better to guide them than the light of Nature. It would
greatly assist the quest of truth if everyone who ventures to address
the public on this question would first present his credentials.

There is danger lest the reader should discount the significance of
the statements I make in the foregoing paper by falling into the error
of supposing that the facts stated apply, after all, to one school
only. This is not by any means so. The facts have been collected _at_
one school; but those which refer to the prevalence of sex knowledge
and of masturbation have reference solely to the condition of boys
when they first entered, and are significant of the conditions which
obtain at some scores of schools and in many homes. I venture here to
quote and to warmly endorse Canon Lyttelton's opinion: "It is,
however, so easy to be misunderstood in this matter that I must insert
a caution against an inference which may be drawn from these words,
viz. that school life is the _origin_ of immorality among boys. The
real origin is to be found in the common predisposition to vicious
conceptions, which is the result of neglect. Nature provides in almost
every case an active curiosity on this subject; and that curiosity
must be somehow allayed; and if it were not allayed at school, false
and depraved ideas would be picked up at home.... So readily does an
ignorant mind at an early age take in teaching about these subjects
that there are no conceivable conditions of modern social life not
fraught with grave peril to a young boy, if once he has been allowed
to face them quite unprepared, either by instruction or by warning.
And this manifestly applies to life at home, or in a day-school, or
in a boarding-school to an almost equal degree."[A]

[Footnote A: _Training of the Young in Relation to Sex, p. 1 et

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.

Before passing from matters of personal experience, it may interest
the reader if I give particulars of a few typical cases to illustrate
some points on which I have insisted.

_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 B._--A delicate, gentle boy of eleven, an only son, was sent to
me by an intellectual father, who had been his constant companion. The
lad was very amiable and well-intentioned. A year later he gave me
particulars of his corruption by a cousin, who was three years older
than he. Since that time--particularly of late--he had practised
masturbation. He had not the least idea that it was hurtful or even
unrefined, and thought that it was peculiar to himself and his
cousin. He knew from his cousin the chief facts of maternity and
paternity, but had not spoken to other boys about them. He was
intensely anxious to cleanse himself entirely, and promised to let me
know of any lapse, should it occur. In the following vacation he
developed pneumonia. For some days his life hung in the balance, and
then flickered out. His father wrote me a letter of noble resignation.
Terribly as he felt his loss, he was greatly consoled, he said, by the
knowledge that his boy had died while his mind was innocent and before
he could know even what temptation was. It is needless to add that I
never hinted the real facts to the father; and--without altering any
material detail--I am disguising the case lest it should possibly be
recognised by him. I have often wondered whether, when the lad's life
hung in the balance, it might not have been saved if Death's scale had
not been weighted by the child's lowered vitality.

_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 younger
brother 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

_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.

These are merely specimen cases. Cases A, B, and C illustrate my
assertions that parents are wonderfully blind; Cases B and E, that
quite exceptional refinement in a boy gives no protection from
temptation to impurity; Case D, that a boy, even in an extreme case,
does not know that the habit is injurious. In respect of their
severity, C, D, and E are not normal but extreme cases. The reader
must not imagine that boys ordinarily suffer as much as these did.



I propose now to make clear to the reader the fact that the
conclusions I have reached as to the existence of sexual knowledge
among boys, and as to the prevalence of self-abuse, are entirely borne
out by the opinion of the most distinguished teachers and medical men.

Canon Lyttelton writes with an authority which no one will question.
Educated at Eton, he was for two years an assistant master at
Wellington College; then, for fifteen years, headmaster of Haileybury
College, and has now been headmaster of Eton for over six years. He
has intimate knowledge of boys, derived, as regards the question of
purity, from confidential talks with them. The quotations which follow
are from his work _Training of the Young in Laws of Sex_. Canon
Lyttelton does not think it needful to make statements as to the
prevalence of impurity among boys. He rather assumes that this
prevalence is obvious and, under present conditions, inevitable. I
have already quoted one passage which involves this assumption, and
now invite the reader to consider two others. "In the school life of
boys, in spite of very great improvements, it is _impossible_ that
sexual subjects should be wholly avoided in common talk.... Though, in
preparatory schools of little boys under fourteen, the increasing
vigilance of masters, and constant supervision, combined with constant
employment, reduce the evil of prurient talk to a minimum, yet these
subjects _will_ crop up.... It should be remembered that the boys who
are talkative about such subjects are just those whose ideas are most
distorted and vicious. In the public school, owing not only to freer
talk and more mixed company but to the boy's own wider range of
vision, sexual questions, and also those connected with the structure
of the body, come to the fore and begin to occupy more or less of the
thoughts of all but a peculiarly constituted minority of the whole

"Men, as I have shown, have been severely dealt with by Nature in this
respect: she has forced them, at a time of life when their minds are
ill compacted, their ideas chaotic, and their wills untrained, to face
an ordeal which demands above all things reverence based on knowledge
and resolution sustained by high affections. An _enormously large
proportion_ flounder blindly into the mire before they know what it
is, not necessarily, but very often into the defilement of evil habit,
but, still more often, into the tainted air of diseased opinion, and
after a few years _some of them_ emerge saved, but so as by fire."[B]

[Footnote B: Pages 4 _et seq._: the italics are mine.]

The following are quotations from the _Upton Letters_, written by Mr.
A.C. Benson. Mr. Benson is one of the most distinguished of modern
teachers: he has had long experience of public-school life both as a
boy and as a master: he has that insight into the heart of boyhood
which can come only to one who has affectionate sympathy with boys and
has been the recipient of their confidences. It will be abundantly
evident from the passages which follow that in Mr. Benson's opinion no
boy is likely to preserve his "innocence" in passing through a public

"The subject is so unpleasant that many masters dare not speak of it
at all, and excuse themselves by saying that they don't want to put
ideas into boys' heads. I cannot conscientiously believe that a man
who has been through a big public school himself can honestly be
afraid of that." "The standard of purity is low: a vicious boy does
not find his vicious tendencies by any means a bar to social success."
This, of course, assumes that the vicious tendencies are a matter of
notoriety. A similar implication is involved in the following: "I do
not mean to say that there are not many boys who are both pure-minded
and honest; but they treat such virtues as a secret preference of
their own, and do not consider that it is in the least necessary to
interfere with the practice of others or even to disapprove of it." He
further gives it as his opinion that "The deadly and insidious
temptation of impurity has, as far as one can learn, increased," and
tells us "An innocent-minded boy whose natural inclination to purity
gave way before perpetual temptation and even compulsion might be
thought to have erred, but would have scanty, if any, expression of
either sympathy or pity from other boys; while if he breathed the
least hint of his miserable position to a master and the fact came
out, he would be universally scouted.... One hears of simply
heart-rending cases where a boy dare not even tell his parents of what
he endures." It would thus appear that in some of the premier schools
of the world impurity is a matter of notoriety, sometimes of
compulsion; and that, to a boy's own strong inclination to
concealment, is superadded, by the public opinion of the school, an
imperious command that this concealment shall, even in heart-rending
cases, be maintained.

No one, I think, will maintain that private schools _as a class_ are
in the least degree lees corrupt than public schools; while there are,
I am sure, at least a few schools in which public opinion condemns
_open_ impurity, and will not tolerate impure talk. And while I am
confident that it is possible, not merely to attain this condition in
a school, but also to reduce private impurity to a negligible
quantity, impurity--in one form or another--is, in general, so widely
spread in boys' schools of every type, that it is difficult to
understand how anyone familiar with school life can doubt its

Let us now consider the opinion of Dr. Clement Dukes, the medical
officer of Rugby School and the greatest English authority on school
hygiene. In the preface to the fourth edition of his well-known work
_Health at School_, Dr. Dukes writes: "I have studied children in all
their phases and stages for many years--two years at the Hospital for
Sick Children in 61 Ormond Street, London, followed by thirty-three
years at Rugby School--a professional history which has provided me
with an almost unique experience in all that relates to the Health and
Disease of Childhood and Youth, and has compelled constant and steady
thought upon every aspect of this problem." In an earlier work, _The
Preservation of Health_, Dr. Dukes gives his estimate of the
prevalence of masturbation, and quotes the opinion of other
authorities whose credentials he has verified; In this work, on page
150, he writes of masturbation: "I believe that the reason why it is
so widespread an evil--amounting, I gather, although from the nature
of the case no complete evidence can ever be accurately obtained, to
somewhere _about 90 to 95 per cent. of all boys at boarding-schools_--is
because the boy leaves his home in the first instance without one word
of warning from his parents ... and thus falls into evil ways from his
innocence and ignorance alone.... This immorality is estimated by some
at 80 per cent., by others at 90 per cent. Another says that not 10
per cent. are innocent. Another that it has always begun at from eight
to twelve years of age. Others that it is always worst amongst the
elder boys. Others that 'it is universal.'" Professor Stanley Hall,
in his great work on _Adolescence_, after a similar and exhaustive
review of the numerous works on this subject in different languages,
concludes: "The whole literature on the subject attests that whenever
careful researches have been undertaken the results are appalling as
to prevalence." And yet there are people who deprecate purity-teaching
for boys because they feel that a boy's natural modesty is quite a
sufficient protection, and that there is danger of destroying a boy's
innocence by putting ideas into his head! To hear such people talk,
and to listen to the way in which they speak of self-abuse as though
it implied monstrous moral perversion, one would think that the
condition of morals when they were young was wholly different. The
great novelist Thackeray gives little countenance to this opinion when
he writes in _Pendennis_: "And, by the way, ye tender mothers and
sober fathers of Christian families, a prodigious thing that theory of
life is as orally learned at a great public school. Why if you could
hear those boys of fourteen who blush before mothers and sneak off in
silence in the presence of their daughters, talking among each
other--it would be the woman's turn to blush then. Before he was
twelve years old little Pen had heard talk enough to make him quite
awfully wise upon certain points--and so, madam, has your pretty
rosy-cheeked son, who is coming home from school for the ensuing
holidays. I don't say that the boy is lost, or that the innocence has
left him which he had from 'Heaven, which is our home,' but that the
shades of the prison-house are closing fast over him, and that we are
helping as much as possible to corrupt him."

Before concluding this chapter I would caution the reader against the
error of supposing that the opinions expressed by Canon Lyttelton and
Dr. Dukes are indicative merely of the conditions they have met at
Haileybury, Eton, and Rugby. They are equally significant of the
conditions which obtain in the innumerable schools from which
Haileybury, Eton, and Rugby are recruited; and as there is no reason
why other preparatory schools should differ from these, they are
significant of the almost universal condition of boys' schools.



The evidence I have adduced in the previous chapters will convince
most of my readers that few boys retain their innocence after they are
of school age. There may, however, be a few who find it impossible to
reconcile this conclusion with their ideas of boy nature. I will
therefore now examine current conceptions on this subject and expose
their fundamental inaccuracy.

There are some people who imagine that a boy's innate modesty is quite
sufficient protection against defilement. Does experience really
warrant any such conclusion? Those who know much of children will
recognise the fact that even the cardinal virtues of truthfulness and
honesty have often to be learned, and that ideas of personal
cleanliness, of self-restraint in relation to food, and of
consideration for others have usually to be implanted and fostered.
Among people of refinement these virtues are often so early learned
that there is danger lest we should consider them innate. The
susceptibility of some children to suggestions conveyed to them by the
example and precept of their elders is almost unlimited. Hence a
child may, at two, have given up the trick of clearing its nostrils
with the finger-nail, and may, before five, have learned most of the
manners and virtues of refined people. The majority, however, take
longer to learn these things, so that a jolly little chap of ten or
twelve is often by no means scrupulously clean in hands, nails, ears,
and teeth, is often distinctly greedy, and sometimes far from

That cleanliness and virtue are acquired and not innate is obvious
enough from the fact that children who grow up among dirty and
unprincipled people are rarely clean and virtuous. Were it possible
for the child of refined parents to grow up without example or precept
in relation to table manners and morals, except the example and advice
of vulgar people, who would expect refinement and consideration from
him? Is there anyone who has such faith in innate refinement that he
would be content to let a child of his own, grow up without a hint on
these matters, and with such example only as was supplied by
association with vulgar people? Yet this is precisely what we do in
relation to the subject of personal purity. The child has no good
example to guide him. The extent to which temptation comes to those
whom he respects, the manner in which they comport themselves when
tempted, the character of their sex relations are entirely hidden from
him. He is not only without example, he is without precept. No ideals
are set before him, no advice is given to him: the very existence of
anything in which ideals and advice are needful is ignored.

If in conditions like these we should expect a boy to grow up greedy,
we may be certain that he will grow up impure. At puberty there awakes
within him by far the strongest appetite that human nature can
experience--an appetite against which some of the noblest of mankind
have striven in vain. The appetite is given abnormal strength by the
artificial and stimulating conditions under which he lives. The act
which satisfies this appetite is also one of keen pleasure. He has
long been accustomed to caress his private parts, and the pleasure
with which he does this is greatly enhanced. He does not suspect that
indulgence is harmful. This pleasure, unlike that of eating, costs him
nothing, and is ever available. His powers of self-control are as yet
undeveloped. He can indulge himself without incurring the least
suspicion. He probably knows that most boys, of his age and above,
indulge themselves. The result is inevitable. He finds that sexual
thoughts are keenly pleasurable, and that they produce bodily
exaltation. He has much yet to learn on the subject of sex, and he
enjoys the quest. Wherever he turns he finds it now--in his Bible, in
animal life, in his classics, in the encyclopædia, in his companions,
and in the newspaper. Day and night the subject is ever with him. It
is inevitable. And at this juncture comes along the theorist who is
aghast at our destroying the lad's "innocence," and at our "suggesting
evils to him which otherwise he would never have thought of." "The
boy's innate modesty is quite a sufficient protection"!

To me the wonderful thing is the earnestness with which a boy sets
about the task of cleansing his life when once he has been made to
realise the real character of the thoughts and acts with which he has
been playing. Boys, as I find them, rarely err in this matter, or in
any other, from moral perversity, but merely from ignorance and
thoughtlessness. Severe rebukes and punishments are rarely either just
or useful. The disposition which obliges the teacher to use them in
the last resort, and the rebellion against authority which is said to
follow puberty, arise almost invariably from injudicious training in
the home or at school. Boys who have received a fair home training,
and who find themselves in a healthy atmosphere at school, are almost
invariably delightful to deal with; and even those who have been less
fortunate in their early surroundings adapt themselves in most cases
to the standards which a healthy public opinion in the school demands.

It may be thought that the mere reticence of adults about reproduction
and the reproductive organs would impress the child's mind with the
idea that it is unclean to play with his private parts or to talk
about their functions with his companions. This is a psychological
error. For some years past adults have avoided any allusion to the
subject of excretion, and the child assumes that _public_ attention to
bodily needs and _public_ reference to these needs are alike
indelicate. He does not, however, conclude that excretion in private
is an indelicate act, nor does any sense of delicacy oblige him to
maintain, with regard to companions of his own sex and age, the
reticence which has become habitual to him in his relations with
adults. Why should the child think it "dirty" to fondle and excite his
private parts or to talk about them with his boy friends? The
knowledge which makes us feel as we do is as yet hidden from him.

The same thing is certainly true of conversation about the facts of
reproduction when those who converse are uncorrupted. Another element,
however, at once appears when these facts are divulged by a corrupt
boy, because his manner is irresistibly suggestive of uncleanness as
well as of secrecy. Similarly when self-abuse is fallen into
spontaneously by a boy who is otherwise clean, no sense of indecency
attaches itself to the act. When, however, it is taught by an unclean
boy, there is a feeling of defilement from the first. In boys under
the age of puberty this feeling may overpower the temptation; in boys
above that age it is, as a rule, totally inadequate as a safeguard.

Many people imagine that a boy who is impure must betray himself, and
that if no overt acts of indecency are observed the innocence of a
boy's mind may be safely inferred. Knowledge on these subjects has,
however, been almost invariably gained under conditions of the utmost
secrecy, and the behaviour of adults has effectively fostered the idea
of concealment. Hence we might expect that the secret would be
jealously guarded and that any overt act of impurity would be avoided
in the presence of adults with even greater circumspection than the
public performance of an excretory act. The habit of self-abuse,
moreover, is practised usually under the double cover of darkness and
the bed-clothes. The temptation occurs far less by day than by night,
and a boy who yields to it in the day invariably chooses a closet or
other private place in which he feels secure from detection.

To many people it is inconceivable that a lad can harbour impure
feelings and habits without obvious deterioration; but even if a
child's lapses into these things were associated with conscious guilt,
does our knowledge of human nature justify us in supposing that evil
in the heart is certain to betray itself in a visible degradation of
the outer life? If we believe the language of the devout, we must
admit that the most spiritual of men hide in their heart thoughts of
which they are heartily ashamed. It is not into the mouth of the
reprobate but into the mouth of her devoted members as they enter upon
their sacramental service that the Church puts the significant prayer,
"Almighty God, unto whom all hearts be open, all desires known, and
from whom no secrets are hid; Cleanse the thoughts in our hearts by
the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit." Inconsistency in adults is far
too well recognised to need proof. In children it is even more
obvious, and for this reason that, looked at aright, it is the faculty
of maintaining the general health of the soul, spite of local morbid
conditions--a faculty which is strongest in the simpler and more
adaptable mind of the child.

Impurity as a disease has a long incubation period. When he contracts
the disease, its victim is often wholly unconscious of his danger;
and, both because the disease is an internal one and is slow in
development, it is a very long time before obvious symptoms appear.
Meanwhile a corruption may have set in which will ultimately ruin the
whole life.



It is difficult to exaggerate the evils which result from the present
system under which boys grow to manhood without any adult guidance in
relation to the laws of sex.

It has already been stated that the immediate physical results of
self-abuse are small evils indeed compared with the corruption of mind
which comes from perverted sex ideas. They are, however, by no means
negligible; and are, in some cases, very serious. The great prevalence
of self-abuse among boys, combined with the inevitable uncertainty as
to the degree of a boy's freedom from, or indulgence in, this vice,
makes it very difficult to institute a reliable comparison between
those who are chaste and those who are unchaste. Greater significance
attaches, I think, to a comparison in individual cases of a boy's
condition during a period of indulgence in masturbation and his
condition after its total, or almost total, relinquishment. I have no
hesitation in saying that the difference in a boy's vitality and
spiritual tone after relinquishing this habit is very marked. The
case _D_ quoted in Chapter I. is, in this respect, typical.

In my pamphlet, _Private Knowledge for Boys_, I have quoted a striking
passage from Acton on the Reproductive Organs, in which he contrasts
the continent and the incontinent boy. But in the case of men like Dr.
Acton--specialists in the diseases of the male reproductive organs--it
must be remembered that it is mostly the abnormal and extreme cases
which come under their notice: a fact which is liable to affect their
whole estimate. The book can be recommended to adults who wish to see
the whole subject of sex diseases dealt with by a specialist who
writes with a high moral purpose.

My own estimate is given in the pamphlet already referred to. After
quoting Dr. Acton's opinion, I add:--

"You will notice that Dr. Acton is here describing an extreme case. I
want to tell you what are the results in a case which is not extreme.
My difficulty is that these results are so various. The injury to the
nerves and brain which is caused by sexual excitement and by the loss
of semen leaves nothing in the body, mind or character uninjured. The
_extent_ of the injury varies greatly with the strength of a boy's
constitution and with the frequency of his sin. The _character_ of the
injury varies with the boy's own special weaknesses and tendencies. If
he is naturally shy and timid, it makes him shyer and more timid. If
he is stupid and lazy, it makes him more stupid and lazy. If he is
inclined to consumption or other disease, it destroys his power of
resisting such disease. In extreme cases only does it actually change
an able boy into a stupid one, an athletic boy into a weak one, and a
happy boy into a discontented one; but in all cases it _weakens_ every
power a boy possesses. Its most prominent results are these: loss of
will-power and self-reliance, shyness, nervousness and irritability,
failure of the reasoning powers and memory, laziness of body and mind,
a diseased fondness for girls, deceitfulness. Of these results, the
loss of will-power leaves the boy a prey not only to the temptations
of impurity, but to every other form of temptation: the deceitfulness
destroys his self-respect and turns his life into a sham."

Of incomparably greater importance than Acton's wide but abnormal
experience and my own narrow but normal experience is the experience
of Dr. Clement Dukes, which is very wide and perfectly normal. No man
has probably been in so good a position for forming an estimate as he
has been. Dr. Dukes thus sums up his opinion: "The harm which results
is moral, intellectual, and physical. _Physically_ it is a frequent
drain at a critical time of life when nature is providing for growth
and development, and is ill able to bear it; it is a powerful nervous
shock to the system ill-prepared to meet it.... It also causes
muscular and mental debility, loss of spirit and manliness, and
occasional insanity, suicide and homicide. Moreover it leads to
further uncontrollable passions in early manhood.... Further, this
vice enfeebles the _intellectual_ powers, inducing lethargy and
obtuseness, and incapacity for hard mental work. And last, and most of
all, it is an _immorality_ which stains the whole character and
undermines the life."

In this passage Dr. Dukes refers to the intellectual and moral harm of
self-abuse as well as to its physical consequences. Intimately
connected as these are with one another, I am here attempting to give
them separate treatment. It is, however, impossible to treat perverted
sex-knowledge and self-abuse separately; for though in young boys they
are found independently of one another, and sometimes co-exist in
elder boys without any intimate conscious association, their results
are identical. In the following pages, therefore, I shall refer to
them jointly as impurity.

The earliest evil which springs from impurity is the destruction of
the intimacy which has hitherto existed between the boy and his
parents. Closely associated with this is that duplicity of life which
results from secrets which may be shared with the coarse but must be
jealously concealed from everyone who is respected. Untold harm
follows these changes in a lad. Hitherto he has had nothing to conceal
from his mother--unless, indeed, his parents have been foolish enough
to drive him into deception by undue severity over childish mistakes,
and accidents, and moral lapses. Every matter which has occupied his
thoughts he has freely shared with those who can best lead him into
the path of moral health.

Henceforth all is changed. The lad has his own inner life which he
must completely screen from the kind eyes which have hitherto been his
spiritual lights. Concealment is soon found to be an easy thing. Acts
and words are things of which others may take cognisance; the inner
life no one can ever know. A world is opened to the lad in which the
restraints of adult opinion are not felt at all and the guidance and
inspiration of a father's or mother's love never come. How completely
this is the case in regard to impurity the reader will hardly doubt if
he remembers that all parents believe their boys to be innocent, and
that some 90 per cent. of them are hopelessly hoodwinked. But this
double life is not long confined to the subject of purity. The
concealment which serves one purpose excellently can be made to serve
another; and henceforth parents and adult friends need never know
anything but what they are told. It is a sad day for the mother when
first she realises that the old frankness has gone; it is a very, very
much sadder day for the boy. There is no fibre of his moral being but
is, or will be, injured by this divorce of home influences and by this
ever-accumulating burden of guilty memories. "His mother may not know
why this is so," writes Canon Lyttelton; "the only thing she may be
perfectly certain of is that the loss will never be quite made up as
long as life shall last."

Another injury done by impurity to the growing mind of the lad is
that, in all matters relating to sex, he learns to look merely for
personal enjoyment. In every other department of life he is moved by
a variety of motives: by the desire to please, the desire to excel, by
devotion to duty, by the love of truth, and by many other desires.
Even in gratifying the appetite most nearly on the same plane as the
sexual appetite--namely, that of hunger--he has more or less regard
for his own well-being, more or less consideration for the wishes of
others, and a constant desire to attain the standard expected of him.
Meanwhile, as regards the sexual appetite--the racial importance of
which is great; and the regulation of which is of infinite importance
for himself, for those who may otherwise become its victims, for the
wife he may one day wed, and for the children, legitimate or
illegitimate, that he may beget--his one idea is personal enjoyment.
One deplorable result of this idea will be adverted to in the next

When boyish impurity involves a coarse way of looking at sexual
relations, as it always must when these are matters of common talk and
jest, the boy suffers a loss which prejudicially affects the whole
tone of his mind and every department of his conduct--I mean the loss
of reverence. It is those things alone which are sacred to us, those
things about which we can talk only with friends, and about which we
can jest with no one, that have inspiration in them, that can give us
power to follow our ideals and to lay a restraining hand on the brute
within us. Fortunately the self-control which manifests itself in
heroism, in good form, and in the sportsmanlike spirit is sacred to
almost all. To most, a mother's love is sacred. To many, all that is
implied in the word religion. To a few, sexual passion and the great
manifestations of human genius in poetry, music, painting, sculpture,
and architecture. Exactly in proportion as these things are profaned
by jest and mockery, is the light of the soul quenched and man
degraded to the level of the beast. Considering how large a part the
sex-passion plays in the lives of most men and women; considering how
it permeates the literature and art of the World and is--as the basis
of the home--the most potent factor in social life, its profanation is
a terrible loss, and the habit of mind which such profanation
engenders cannot fail to weaken the whole spirit of reverence. I must
confess that the man who jests over sex relations is to me
incomparably lower than the man who sustains clean but wholly
illegitimate sex relations; and while I am conscious of a strong
movement of friendship towards a lad who has admitted impurity in his
life but retains reverence for purity, it is hard to feel anything but
repulsion towards one who profanes the subject of sex with coarse and
ribald talk.

As a result of the two evils of which I have now spoken, together with
the physical effects of masturbation, young men become powerless to
face the sexual temptations of manhood; and many, who in all other
relations of life are admirable, sink in this matter into the mire of
prostitution or the less demoralising, but far crueller, sin of

Thrown on the streets, usually through no fault of her own, often
merely from an over-trustful love, the prostitute sinks to the lowest
depths of degradation and despair. It is not merely that she sells to
every comer, clean or bestial, without even the excuse of appetite or
of passion, what should be yielded alone to love; but it is also that
to do this she poisons body and mind with spirit-drinking, leads a
life of demoralising indolence and self-indulgence, is cut off from
all decent associations, and sinks, under the combined influence of
these things and of fell disease, into a loathsome creature whom not
the lowest wants; sinks into destitution, misery, suicide, or the
outcast's early grave. Writing of the young man who is familiar with
London, the Headmaster of Eton says: "He cannot fail to see around him
a whole world of ruined life--a ghastly varnish of gaiety spread over
immeasurable tracts of death and corruption; a state of things so
heart-rending and so hopeless that on calm consideration of it the
brain reels, and sober-minded people who, from motives of pity, have
looked the hideous evil in the face, have asserted that nothing in
their experience has seemed to threaten them so nearly with a loss of

Into the contamination of this inferno, into active support of this
cruel infamy, many and many a young man is led by the impurity of his
boyhood. Such at least is the conclusion of some who know boys best.
Thus Dr. Dukes writes:

"This evil, of which I have spoken so long and so freely, is, I
believe, _the root of the evil of prostitution_ and similar vices; and
if this latter evil is to be mitigated, it can only be, to my mind,
by making the life of the schoolboy purer.

"How is it possible to put a stop to this terrible social evil? How is
it possible to _elevate women_ while the demand for them for base
purposes is so great? We must go to the other end of the scale and
make men better; we must train young boys more in purity of life and
chastity BEFORE their passions become uncontrollable.

"Whereas the cry of every moralist and philanthropist is, 'Let us put
a stop to this prostitution, open and clandestine.' This cannot be
effected at present, much as it is to be desired; the demand for it is
too great, even possibly greater than the supply. If we wish to
eradicate it, we must go to the fountainhead and make those who create
the demand purer, so that, the demand falling off, the supply will be

[Footnote C: _The Preservation of Health_, p. 161.]

To this I venture to add that by teaching chastity we not merely
decrease the demand for prostitutes, but we greatly diminish the
supply. Few girls, if any, take to the streets until they have been
seduced; and the antecedents of seduction are the morbid exaggeration
of the sexual appetite, the lack of self-control, and the selfish
hedonism which youthful impurity engenders.

The selfishness, and consequent blindness to cruelty, of which I
write, manifests itself quite early. A boy of chivalrous feeling,
whose blood would boil at any other form of outrage on a girl, will
read a newspaper account of rape or indecent assault with a pleasure
so intense that indignation and disgust are quite crowded out of his

If, repelled by the coarseness of the streets, the young man allows
lust or passion to lead him into seduction, he commits a crime the
consequences of which are usually cruel in the extreme; for in most
cases the seduced girl sinks of necessity into prostitution. So blind,
so callous does impurity make even the refined and generous, that many
a young man who can be a good son, a good brother, a noble friend, a
patriotic citizen, will doom a girl whose only fault is that she is
physically attractive--and possibly too affectionate and trusting--to
torturing anxiety, to illness, to the horrible suffering of undesired
travail, to disgrace, and in nineteen cases out of twenty to ostracism
and the infamy of the streets. Murder is a small thing compared with
this. Who would not rather that his daughter were killed in her
innocence than that she should be doomed to such a fate?

Many young men are ignorant of the fact that sexual relations with
prostitutes frequently result in the foulest and most terrible of
diseases. Venereal diseases, as these are called, commence in the
private parts themselves, but the poison which they engender soon
attacks other parts of the body and often wrecks the general health.
It gives rise to loathsome skin disease, to degeneration of the
nervous system and paralysis, to local disease in the heart, lungs,
and digestive organs, and to such lowering of vitality as renders the
body an easy prey to disease generally. No one is justified in looking
upon this risk as a matter of merely private concern. Health is of
supreme importance not merely to the personal happiness and success of
the man himself, but also to the services he can render to his
friends, to his nation, and to humanity. Even if a young man is
foolish enough to risk his happiness and success for the sake of
animal enjoyment, he cannot without base selfishness and disloyalty
disregard the duties he owes to others. Further, the man who suffers
from venereal disease is certain to pass its poison on to his wife and
children--cursing thus with unspeakable misery those whom of all
others it is his duty to protect and bless.

One cannot help feeling at times that the blessings of home--and of
the monogamy which makes home possible--are terribly discounted by a
condition of things which offer a young man no other alternatives to
chastity than these terrible evils. Now that year by year the rising
standard of living and the increased exactions which the State makes
on the industrious and provident cause marriage to be a luxury too
expensive for many, and delayed unduly for most, the problem of social
purity becomes ever greater and more urgent. The instruction of the
young in relation to sex provides the only solution, and is, I venture
to think, incomparably the most important social reform now needed.

I am confident that a boy who receives wise training and sex guidance
from his early days will never find lust the foul and uncontrollable
element which it is to-day in the lives of most men; that in a few
generations our nation could be freed from the seething corruption
which poisons its life; and that, while freer scope could be given to
the ineffable joys of pure sexual love, very much could be done to
diminish the awful misery and degradation engendered by lust.

If children had from their infancy an instinctive and growing desire
for alcohol, with secret and unrestrained means of gratifying it; if
by its indulgence this desire grew into an overmastering craving; if
throughout childhood they received no word of warning or guidance from
the good, but were tempted and corrupted by the evil, we should have a
nation in which most men and women were drunkards, ready to break all
laws--human and divine--which stood in the way of an imperious need; a
nation in which, among those who declined to yield to iniquity, the
craving for drink caused unceasing and life-long struggle.

On the young man of to-day we lay a burden which no ordinary man was
ever yet able to bear. His boyhood and youth become, through
ignorance, the prey of lust; his passions become tyrannous; his will
is enslaved. Even if he contracts marriage, his troubles are not at an
end, for man, _as an animal_, is neither monogamous nor wholly
constant. His neglected sex-education makes him far more susceptible
to physical attractions than to those qualities which make a wife a
good companion, a good housekeeper, and a good mother; and but too
often, as a result, the beneficent influence of marriage is transient;
the domestic atmosphere ceases to be congenial; both husband and wife
become susceptible to other attachments, and the old struggle begins
all over again.



The reader who has followed me through the preceding chapters will, I
hope, feel that, whatever objections there may be to giving explicit
instruction on sex matters to the young, such instruction is immensely
to be preferred to the almost inevitable perversion which follows
ignorance. If we had to choose between a state of "innocence" and a
state of reverent knowledge, many people would doubtless incline to
the former. No such option exists. Our choice lies between leaving a
lad to pick up information from vulgar and unclean minds, and giving
it ourselves in such a manner as to invest it from the first with
sacredness and dignity.

Even if the reader is still inclined to think that sex-knowledge is,
at best, an unholy secret, he will hardly doubt that it can be
divulged with less injury by an adult who is earnestly anxious for the
child's welfare than by coarse and irreverent lips.

I am not content to leave the reader in this dilemma. I am confident
that the following words of Canon Lyttelton spring from the truest
spiritual insight: "To a lover of nature, no less than to a convinced
Christian, the subject ought to wear an aspect not only negatively
innocent, but positively beautiful. It is a recurrent miracle, and yet
the very type and embodiment of law; and it may be confidently
affirmed that, in spite of the blundering of many generations, there
is nothing in a normally-constituted child's mind which refuses to
take in the subject from this point of view, provided that the right
presentation of it is the first."

Nothing more forcibly convicts the present system of the evil which
lies at its door than the current beliefs on this subject. At present,
sexual knowledge is picked up from the gutter and the cesspool; and no
purification can free it entirely in many minds from its original

    "Love's a virtue for heroes!--as white as the snow on high hills,
    And immortal as every great soul is that struggles, endures,
            and fulfils."

This is the prophet's belief, and yet, putting on one side those who
actually delight in uncleanness, there appear to be many people who
look upon the marriage certificate as a licence to impurity, and upon
sexual union as a form of animal indulgence to which we are so
strongly impelled that even the most refined are tempted by it into an
act of conscious indelicacy and sin. Such people read literally the
psalmist's words: "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my
mother conceive me." It is surely some such feeling as this which
makes parents shrink from referring to the subject, which underlies
the constant use of the word "innocence" as the aptest description of
a state of mind which precedes the acquisition of sexual knowledge.

That individuals, at least, have risen to a loftier conception than
this is certain; and the only possible explanations of the prevalence
of the current idea are that sex-knowledge has almost always been
obtained from a tainted source; and that, while the coarse have not
merely whispered their views in the ear in the closet, but have, in
all ages, proclaimed them from the house-tops, the refined have hardly
whispered their ideas, much less discussed them publicly. Children
growing up with perverted views have listened to the loud assertions
of disputants on the one side, have witnessed the demoralisation which
so often attends the sexual passion, but have received no hint of what
may be said on the other side of the question.

An instructed public opinion would be horrified at our sovereign's
taking shares in a slave-trading expedition as Queen Elizabeth did. We
are aghast at the days when crowds went forth to enjoy the torture at
the stake of those from whom they differed merely on some metaphysical
point. We have even begun to be restless under man's cruel domination
over the animal creation. But we have made far less advance in our
conceptions on sexual matters; and we are content here with ideas
which were current in Elizabethan days. But for this, no passion for
conservatism, no reverence for a liturgy endeared by centuries of use,
could induce us to tell every bride as she stands before God's altar
that it is one of her functions to provide an outlet for her
husband's passion and a safeguard against fornication. Lust is at
least as degrading in married life as it is outside it. No legal
contract, no religious ceremony, can purify, much less sanctify, what
is essentially impure.

Those who desire to assist in the uplifting of humanity cannot afford
to be silent and to allow judgment to go against them by default.
Courage they will need; for a charge of indecency is sure to be
levelled against them by the indecent, and they may be misjudged even
by the pure.

This is not the place in which so delicate a matter can be fully
discussed, nor does space permit; but if the movement towards sex
instruction is not to be stultified by the very ideas which evidence
the need for it, the subject cannot be wholly ignored here, and I
venture to throw out a few suggestions.

Are we indeed to believe that the noblest and most spiritual of men
will compromise themselves in the eyes of the woman they love best,
and whose respect they most desire, by committing in her presence and
making her the instrument of an indelicate act? A great poet, who
remained an ardent lover and a devoted companion until his wife died
in his arms--blissfully happy that she might die so--has written:

    "Let us not always say,
    'Spite of the flesh to-day
    I strove, made head, gained ground upon the whole.'
    As the bird wings and sings,
    Let us cry, 'All good things
    Are ours, nor soul helps flesh more, now, than flesh helps soul.'"

Again: are we, who believe in a Divine government of the world, able
to imagine that God has made the perpetuation of the race dependent
upon acts of sin or of indelicacy? Did He who graced with His presence
the marriage at Cana in Galilee really countenance a ceremony which
was a prelude to sin? Did He who took the little children in His arms
and blessed them know, as He said "for of such is the kingdom of
heaven," that not one of them could have existed without indelicacy,
and that they were but living proof of their fathers' lapses and their
mothers' humiliation? Is He whom we address daily as "Our Father"
willing to be described by a name with which impurity is of necessity
connected? And has He implanted in us as the strongest of our
instincts that which cannot elevate and must debase?

Again: it needs no wide experience of life, nor any very indulgent
view of it, to feel some truth at least in the words Tennyson puts
into the mouth of his ideal man:

                        "Indeed I knew
    Of no more subtle master under heaven
    Than is the maiden passion for a maid
    Not only to keep down _the base in man_,
    But teach high thought, and amiable words,
    And courtliness, and the desire for fame,
    And love of truth, and all that makes a man."

And yet this passion is indisputably sexual passion, and the chastest
of lovers has bodily proof that the most spiritual of his kisses is
allied to the supreme embrace of love. Our body is the instrument by
which all our emotions are expressed. The most obvious way of
expressing affection is by bodily contact. The mother fondles her
child, kisses its lips and its limbs, and presses it to her breast.
Young children hold hands, put their arms round one another and kiss;
and, although later we become less demonstrative, we still take our
friend's arm, press his hand with ours, and lay a hand upon his
shoulder; we pat our horse or dog and stroke our cat. The lover
returns to the spontaneous and unrestrained caresses of his childhood.
These become more and more intimate until they find their consummation
in the most intimate and most sacred of all embraces. From first to
last these caresses--however deep the pleasure they bestow--are sought
by the mother or the lover, not _for the sake of_ that pleasure, but
as a means of expressing emotion. He only who realises this fact and
conforms to it can enter on married life with any certainty of
happiness. The happiness of very many marriages is irretrievably
shattered at the outset through the craving for sexual excitement
which, in the absence of wise guidance, grows up in every normal boy's
heart, and by the contemplation of sexual intercourse as an act of
physical pleasure.

And once again: It is the experience of those who have given
instruction in sex questions to the young that by those whose minds
have never been defiled the instruction is received with instant
reverence, as something sacred; not with shame, as something foul. I
venture once more to quote Canon Lyttelton, who sets forth his
experience and my own in language the beauty of which I cannot

"There is something awe-inspiring in the innocent readiness of little
children to learn the explanation of by far the greatest fact within
the horizon of their minds. The way they receive it, with native
reverence, truthfulness of understanding, and guileless delicacy, is
nothing short of a revelation of the never-ceasing bounty of Nature,
who endows successive generations of children with this instinctive
ear for the deep harmonies of her laws. People sometimes speak of the
indescribable beauty of children's innocence, and insist that there is
nothing which calls for more constant thanksgiving than that influence
on mankind. But I will venture to say that no one quite knows what it
is who has foregone the privilege of being the first to set before
them the true meaning of life and birth and the mystery of their own

To the arguments thus briefly indicated it is no answer to say that
sexual union is essentially physical, and that to regard it in any
other way is transcendental. Among primitive men eating and drinking
were merely animal. We have made them, in our meals, an accompaniment
to social pleasures, and in our religious life we have raised them to
a sacramental level.



We have now seen that impurity is almost universal among boys who have
been left without warning and instruction; that, under these
conditions, it is practically inevitable; that its direct results are
lowered vitality and serious injury to character, its indirect results
an appalling amount of degradation and misery; finally, that there is
nothing in sex knowledge, when rightly presented, which can in the
least defile a child's mind. All that now remains is for us to
consider by whom and under what circumstances instruction on this
subject should be given, and what assistance can be rendered to boys
who desire to lead chaste lives.

Without doubt, instruction should be given to a boy by his parents in
the home. When young children ask questions with regard to
reproduction, parents should neither ignore these question nor give
the usual silly answers. If the occasion on which the question is
asked is not one in which an answer can appropriately be given, the
child should be gently warned that the question raised is one about
which people do not openly talk, and the promise of an answer
hereafter should be made. Then, at the first convenient hour, the
child can either be given the information he seeks or told that he
shall hear all about the matter at some future specified time, as for
example, his sixth or eighth birthday.

In the absence of questions from a child, the ideal thing would be for
the child, at the age of six, seven, or eight, to learn orally from
his mother the facts of maternity and to receive warning against
playing with his private parts. Whether at this time it is best to
teach him the facts of paternity is, I think, doubtful. Canon
Lyttelton is strongly of opinion that the father's share in the
child's existence should be explained when the mother's share is
explained, and there is much weight in what he says. If the question
of paternity is reserved, it should not be on the ground that there is
anything embarrassing or indelicate about the matter, and, when the
facts are revealed, the child should clearly understand that they have
been withheld merely until his mind was sufficiently developed to
understand them. The only safe guide in such matters is experience,
and of this as yet we have unfortunately little.

The question next arises: should it be the mother or the father who
gives this instruction? As regards the earlier part of the instruction
a confident reply can be made to this question. The information should
be given by the parent whose relations with the child are the more
intimate and tender, and whose influence over him is the greater.
This will, of course, usually be the mother. The subject of paternity
may, if reserved for future treatment, be appropriately given by the
father, provided that he and his son are on really intimate terms. If
timely warning is given to a child about playing with his private
parts, no reference need be made to self-abuse until a boy leaves home
for school, or until he is nearing the age of puberty.

There are many mothers whose insight and tact will enable them to
approach these questions in the best possible way and to say exactly
the right thing. There are others--a large majority, I think--who
would be glad of guidance, and there are not a few who would certainly
leave the matter alone unless thus guided. It was mainly to assist
parents in this work that I published last year a pamphlet entitled
_Private Knowledge for Boys_.[D] This embodies just what, in my
opinion, should be said to an intelligent child, and it has, in my own
hands, proved effective for many years past. In the case of _young_
children the teaching should certainly be oral, _provided_ that the
mother knows clearly what to say, has sufficient powers of expression
to say it well, and can talk without any feeling of embarrassment.
Unless these conditions co-exist I recommend the use of a pamphlet. As
I have found that children often do not know what one means by the
"private parts," I make this clear at the outset.

[Footnote D: To be obtained post free for nine stamps from Mr. M.
Whiley, Stonehouse, Glos.]

Some into whose hands this book may come and who have boys of twelve
and upwards to whom they have never given instruction, may possibly be
glad of advice as to the manner in which the subject can best be dealt
with in their case. For boys of this age, I am strongly of opinion
that it is better in most cases to make use of a pamphlet than to
attempt oral instruction. Probably they already have some knowledge on
the subject; possibly some sense of guilt. If so, it will be found
very difficult to treat the matter orally without embarrassment--a
thing to be avoided at all costs. I was interested to find that on
receipt of my pamphlet Professor Geddes--one of the greatest experts
on sex--placed it at once in the hands of his own boy, a fact from
which his opinion on the relative merits of oral and printed
instruction can easily be inferred.

Many of my readers who have boys of fourteen and upwards to whom they
have hitherto given no instruction will, I hope, feel that they must
now do this. I venture, therefore, to give a detailed account of the
manner in which I should myself act in similar circumstances. I should
arrange to be with the lad when there was no danger of interruption,
and in such circumstances as would put him at his ease. I should tell
him that I was conscious of unwisdom in not speaking to him before
about a subject of supreme importance to him; that I took upon myself
all blame for anything he might, in ignorance, have said or done; that
through ignorance I had myself fallen and suffered, and that I should
like him now to sit down and read through this pamphlet slowly and
carefully. When he finished I should try by every possible means to
make him sensible of my affection for him. I should associate myself
in a few words with the sentiments of the writer, and should invite
the lad to tell me whether he had fallen into temptation, and if so to
what extent. A confidence of this kind assists a boy greatly and
establishes a delightful intimacy.

There are several points with regard to purity-teaching which need to
be emphasised.

Such teaching can hardly be too explicit. "Beating about the bush" is
always indicative of the absence of self-possession. The embarrassment
manifested is quickly perceived even by a young child, and is certain
to communicate itself to the recipient. It is of paramount importance
that the child should, from the first, feel that the knowledge
imparted is pure; anything which suggests that it is indelicate should
be studiously avoided. The introduction of a few science terms is
advantageous in several ways: amongst others it relieves the tension
which the spiritual aspect of the question may engender, it gives a
lad a terminology which is free from filthy contamination.

It is important that the information given should be full, otherwise
the boy lives in a chronic state of curiosity, which, to his great
detriment, he is ever trying to satisfy. If the reader feels that the
information is dangerous, and aims, therefore, at imparting as little
as possible, he is not fitted to do the work at all.

No greater mistake can be made than that of taxing a boy with impurity
as though it were a conscious and egregious fault. I have already
expressed my strong opinion that, in almost every instance, the boy is
a victim to be sympathised with, not a culprit to be punished. This
opinion is shared, I believe, by everyone who has investigated the
subject. It is certainly the opinion of Canon Lyttelton and Dr. Dukes.
It is, indeed, easy to exaggerate the conscious guilt even of boys who
have initiated others into masturbation. Apart from the injustice to
the boy of an attitude of severity, it is certain to shut the boy's
heart up with a snap.

If a pamphlet is used it should, without fail, be taken from a boy
when he has read it. Much harm may, I fear, result from supplying boys
with the cheap pamphlets which well-meaning but inexperienced persons
are producing.

Should the time ever come when parents give timely warning and
instruction to boys, a very difficult problem will be solved for the
schoolmaster. But in the meantime what ought the schoolmaster to do?
The following plan commends itself to some eminent teachers. As soon
as a boy is about to enter the school a letter is sent to his parents
advising them to give the boy instruction, and a pamphlet is enclosed
for this purpose. This plan has the decided advantage of shifting the
responsibility on to the shoulders of those who ought to take it. The
weakness of the plan arises from the fact that most parents do not
believe in the prevalence of impurity among boys, and are quite
confident that their own boys need no warning. Hence they may do
nothing at all, or merely content themselves with some vague and quite
useless statement.

The traditions of most boys' schools make it impossible for those
intimate and respectful relations to exist between masters and boys
without which confidential teaching of this kind may be even worse
than useless. Where masters are invariably referred to disrespectfully
if not contemptuously, where a teacher's most earnest address is a
"jaw" which the recipient is expected to betray and mock at with his
companions; where to shield profanity, indecency, and bullying from
detection is the imperative duty of every boy below the Sixth; where
failure to avert from a moral leper the kindly treatment which might
restore him to health and prevent the wholesale infection of others is
the one unpardonable sin, only one or two teachers of a generation can
hope to do much, and the risk of failure is immense. I can hardly
believe that the present race of teachers will long tolerate the
system I here advert to. Public opinion _can_ be organised and
enlisted as strongly on the side of Right as it is now, but too often,
on the side of Evil. Mr. A.C. Benson is very moderate when he writes:
"To take no steps to arrive at such an organisation, and to leave it
severely alone, is a very dark responsibility."

Even in such a school, some good is, I know, done by tactful public
references to the existence of masturbation and to its deplorable

The question is not free from difficulty even when the general
atmosphere of the school is healthy and helpful. If one dared to leave
this instruction until the age of puberty, the lad would be capable of
a much deeper impression than he is at an earlier age, and the
impression would be fresh just at the time at which it is most needed.
In the case of boys who have come to me at nine or ten I have
sometimes ventured to defer my interview for four or five years, and
have found them quite uncorrupted. On the other hand, within an hour
of penning these lines I have been talking to a little boy of eleven
who commenced masturbation two years ago while he was under excellent
home influence. One such boy may, without guilt, corrupt a whole set,
for impurity is one of the most infectious as well as the most
terrible of diseases. The ideal state in a school is not reached until
periodical addresses on purity can be given to all with the certainty
that by all they will be listened to and treated reverently and
respectfully. Such addresses cannot well be made the vehicle of sex
information, but they can be so constructed as to guide those to whom
individual instruction has not yet been given, and to strengthen those
who, spite of full instruction, periodically need a helping hand.

What results may we reasonably expect from adequate and timely
instruction? I have so rarely met a case in which this has been given
at home that I can only infer what these results might be from the
cases in which my own instruction has been given in time. In almost
every instance I feel sure that the results have been beneficial,
that the temptation to impurity has been little felt, and that a
healthy and chaste boyhood has resulted. Canon Lyttelton writes: "The
influences of school life have been found to be impotent to deprave
the tone of a boy who has been fortified by the right kind of
instruction from his parents." This I can well believe, for, if the
schoolmaster can do much, there can be no limit to a power which has
been cradled in the sanctity of home and cherished by a mother's love.
This appears to be the emphatic opinion also of Dr. Dukes. Of a boy
thus favoured, Canon Lyttelton writes: "He will feel that any rude
handling of such a theme, even of only its outer fringe, is like the
profaning of the Holy of Holies in his heart, and he will no more
suffer it than he would suffer a stranger to defile the innermost
shrine of his feelings by taking his mother's or his sister's name in
vain. All the goading curiosity which drives other boys to pry
greedily into nature's laws, in blank ignorance of their mighty
import, their unspeakable depth, and spiritual unearthly harmonies,
has been for him forestalled, enlightened, and purified."

It is a sad step down from such a boy to the lad who has been given
warning after corruption has begun. Most boys feel such shame in
confessing to failure that one has to accept with reserve the
statements made by even the most truthful of those who are treading
the upward path. After making due allowance for this source of error,
my experience enables me to say confidently that, if a boy has not
been long or badly corrupted, a radical change of attitude may be
expected in him at once, and the habit of self-abuse will be instantly
or rapidly relinquished. Very different is the case of a lad who has
long practised masturbation, or who has practised it for some time
after the advent of puberty, or who has associated sexual imaginations
with the practice. Few such boys conquer the habit at once, however
much they desire to, and, if the above conditions co-exist, a boy's
progress is very slow, and years may pass without anything approaching
cure. If in addition to the temptations from within he has foes also
without in the form of companions who sneer at his desire for
improvement, controvert the statements made to him, and throw
temptation in his way, his chance of cure must be enormously
decreased. Of such cases I know nothing; for my experience lies solely
among boys who have, outside their own hearts, little to hinder and
very much to help. As I have dealt elsewhere with the question of aids
to chastity, I will make only a brief reference to it here.

The mind is so much influenced by the body that purity is impossible
when the body is unduly indulged. No man exists who could inhale the
vapour of chloroform without an irresistible desire to sleep. Under
these conditions the strongest will would not avail even if the victim
knew that by surrender he was sacrificing everything he reverenced and
held dear. The lad past the age of puberty who has much stimulating
food, who drinks alcohol, who sleeps in a warm and luxurious bed and
occupies it for some time before or after sleep, is certain, even if
he takes much exercise, to be tempted irresistibly. Dr. Dukes
considers that a heavy meat meal with alcohol shortly before bedtime
is in itself sufficient to ensure a lad's fall.

Meanwhile, no abstinence which it not unduly rigorous, can save a boy
from impurity if he gets into the habit of exchanging glances with
girls who are socially inferior, if he reads suggestive books, looks
at stimulating pictures and sights, and falls into the hopeless folly
of entertaining sexual thoughts even momentarily. He who has not the
strength to tread out a spark is little likely to subdue a

The best and most timely teaching will never make carelessness in
these matters justifiable, and a boy who has once been corrupted and
desires to master his lower nature has no chance of self-conquest
unless he gives them his constant and careful attention.

It is very important to fill a boy's leisure with congenial
occupation. Idleness and dullness make a boy specially susceptible to
temptation. On the other hand, the fond parent who satisfies a boy's
every whim and encourages the lad to think that his own enjoyment is
the chief thing in life does his utmost to destroy the lad's chance of
purity--or, indeed, of any virtue whatever.

Can anything be done for boys and young men who have become the slaves
of self-abuse to such an extent that they groan in the words of St.
Paul: "The good that I would I do not, but the evil which I would not,
that I do.... I delight in the law of God after the inward man, but I
see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind and
bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O
wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this
death?" Can anything be done for the lad who has become so defiled by
lustful thoughts that his utmost efforts fail to carry him forward,
and even leave him to sink deeper in the mire. There are many, many
such cases, alas! for as Dr. Acton says, "The youth is a dreamer who
will open the floodgates of an ocean, and then attempt to prescribe at
will a limit to the inundation."

Yes there is a remedy--I believe a specific--which can rapidly and, I
think, finally restore strength to the enfeebled will and order the
unclean spirit to come out of the man. It is hypnotic suggestion. Let
not the reader, however, think that the matter is a simple one. In all
ages any great advance in the art of healing has, by the ignorant,
been attributed to the powers of darkness. The Divine Healer Himself
did not escape from the charge of casting out devils by the prince of
the devils, and, while hypnotic suggestion has long been used for
therapeutic purposes on the Continent and is now practised in
Government institutions there, the doctor or clergyman or teacher who
uses it in England runs great risks; for in this subject, as in all
others, it is those who are entirely without experience who are most

In the case of the schoolmaster, its use in this connection is
practically excluded. If he applies to a parent for permission to use
it he probably runs his head against a blank wall of ignorance; for
hypnotism, to most people, means a dangerous power by which an
unscrupulous, strong-willed Svengali dominates an abnormally
weak-willed Trilby whose will continues to grow weaker until the
subject becomes a mere automaton; and most of us would rightly prefer
that a boy should be his own master--even if he were rushing to
headlong ruin--than that he should be the mere puppet of the most
saintly man living. The human will is sacred and inviolable, and we do
unwisely if we seek to control it or to remove those obstacles from
its way by which alone it can gain divine strength. Meanwhile the
stimulus by which the mind acquires self-mastery usually comes from
without in the form of spiritual inspiration; and to remove from a
boy's path an obstacle which blocks it and is entirely beyond his own
strength is equally desirable both in the physical and in the
spiritual realm. Those who think that without this obstacle a boy's
power of self-control is likely to receive insufficient exercise will,
of course, object to the instruction advocated in this book. If it is
unwise to remove this obstacle from a boy's path it is equally unwise
so to instruct him as to prevent the obstacle from arising. In
_trustworthy_ hands hypnotic suggestion is a beneficent power which
has no dangers and no drawbacks, and to decline to use it is to accept
a very serious responsibility.

For the teacher a further difficulty--not to mention that of time--is
that, without betraying a boy's confidence or inducing him to allow
his admissions to be passed on to his father, it is impossible to give
his parents an idea of the urgency of the case.

Altogether the time for hypnotic suggestion in education is not yet,
but the day must come when its use is recognised not only in physical
cases such as nocturnal emissions and constipation, but in all cases
in which the will-power is practically in abeyance, as it is in bad
cases of impurity.

For intelligent parents the difficulties are far less, and if any such
care to pursue the subject farther, I would refer them to the volume
on _Hypnotism_ in the People's Books series or to one of the larger
medical works on the subject, such as _Hypnotism and Suggestion_, by
Dr. Bernard Hollander.

To those who know boys well and love them much, there is something
intensely interesting and pathetic about the spiritual struggle
through which they have to pass. The path of self-indulgence seems so
obviously the path to happiness; self-denial is so hard and
self-control so difficult. "The struggle of the instinct that enjoys
and the more noble instinct that aspires" is ever there. The young
soul reaches out after good, but its grasp is weak. It needs much
enlightenment, much encouragement, much inspiration, much patient
tolerance of its faults, much hopeful sympathy with its strivings, if
it is ever to attain the good it seeks. In the past it has met,
without light or aid, unwarned and unprepared, the deadliest foe which
can assail the soul. An appetite which has in all ages debased the
weak, wrestled fiercely with the strong, and vanquished at times even
the noble, is let loose upon an unwarned, unarmed, defenceless child.
Oh, the utter, the utter folly of it!

For life after death the writer has no longing. Immortality, if
vouchsafed, appears to him to be a gift to be accepted trustfully and
humbly, not to be yearned after with a sort of transcendental egoism.
But to him the wish to--

                "Join the choir invisible
    Of those immortal dead who live again
    In minds made better by their presence"

grows ever stronger as the inevitable end draws nearer.

To save young lives from the needless struggles and failures of my
own, to secure healthy motherhood or maiden life to some whom lust
might otherwise destroy, to add, for some at least, new sanctity to
human passion--these have been my hopes in penning the foregoing
pages. It has been my privilege and joy, in my own quiet sphere, to
preserve boys from corruption and to restore the impure to cleanness
of heart. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity these pages afford
of extending this delightful work. When the hand which writes these
lines has long been cold in death, may the message which it speeds
this day breathe peace and strength into many an eager heart.



I warmly invite any boy who has read these pages to write to me if he
feels inclined to do so. Since this book was first published I have
received hundreds of letters from boys who have, without any definite
invitation, understood that it would please me much to hear from them.
Many boys feel all the better for frankly confessing their
difficulties to a man who fully understands and sympathises with them.
Some desire advice about their own case. Anyone who accepts this
invitation will do wisely to give me a full and frank history of his
difficulties. His confidences will, of course, be strictly respected.
He will also, I hope, remember that I am an extremely busy man with
many and urgent claims on my time, and that I cannot always reply as
quickly and as fully as I should like to do.


Before a young man marries he should always seek advice from a
trustworthy source with regard to his conduct as a husband. No
satisfactory book is, or perhaps could be, published on this subject;
and even if a young man can make up his mind to consult a doctor, it
is by no means every doctor who has the needful knowledge on this
subject or the best moral outlook. It has been my privilege to help
several in this matter, and I am always happy to do this.


I earnestly warn you against those who, by advertisement in the
papers, offer to cure young men who are suffering from weakness of the
private parts and other ills which impurity entails. Many such
advertisers are little better than rogues, who are out to make money
by trading on the fears of their victims; their "treatment"--quite
apart from a far greater cost than at first appears--often does more
harm than good. In every case in which disease or weakness exists, or
is suspected, a reliable medical man should be at once consulted. If
this is done, a cure may generally be looked for. Do not write to me;
this is a doctor's business, not mine.

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software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.