It was not until the beginning of the eighteenth century, when the publication in London of a book of most alarming nature* first called attention to the, asserted, evil consequences of the vice, that masturbation, hitherto treated with such easy indifference by both society and the Church, was openly and vigorously denounced. Tissot, with his "Traite de L'Onanisme," followed; and behind him came a host of quasi-scientific writers—Voltaire, Lallemand and others—who more than made up, by their wild and fanciful pictures of the ruin and misery consequent upon the practice, for all the previous apathy of society concerning it.
The well meaning but highly exaggerated statements of these writers, while directing popular attention to an undoubted evil, worked, nevertheless, a great degree of unnecessary social suffering; and put into the hands of unscrupulous quacks a lever, the more pernicious that it possessed the sanction of then recognized medical authority, which has occasioned unspeakable dread, misery and remorse to thousands of ignorant and misled youth, of both sexes. So prolific and profitable a field of empirical enterprise, comprising, as it does fully four-fifths of the unmarried of both sexes, could not, in the nature of things, be neglected. Scarcely a publication of any character, therefore, notwithstanding that many wise laws have been enacted to restrain that species of wicked charlatanry, can be read without encountering the covert or open advertisements of these "nerve-specialists," " lost-manhood" restorers, and "self-abuse"doctors; in which, for a given sum, either cash or in instalments, the despairing martyr of self-indulgence may be restored to society, practically "as good as new."
1 "Dictionairo de TheoloRi'e Morale." ' "Compend. Theolog. Mor.," il, 417.
» Gury. " Compend. Theolog. Mor.," Vol. ii, 417.
* hoc. cit., p. 255. 1 Vid. " Onania," etc., lot cit.
It may be proper to state here, what any reputable physician will at once tell these unfortunates, first, to keep away from quacks and advertising " specialists," whose ignorant treatment can hardly fail to work irreparable harm; and secondly, having placed themselves under the care of a reputable physician, to go home and sleep soundly, with the conviction—which the true and conscientious physician will lose no time in implanting in his patient's mind—that in the first place about three-fourths of the physical evils, catalogued as resulting from the vice, are purely imaginary, or common to a dozen other causes, and secondly, as in the case of drinking, there is only one way to cure the habit, and that is to quit it. If there be not a sufficient fund of mental and moral stamina to accomplish this, all the medicines and "nerve tonics" ever compounded will be of no avail. The true status of masturbation, however, will be more fully detailed, and dwelt upon, in the section devoted to Artificial Erotism.