Youth and Sex eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 102 pages of information about Youth and Sex.
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 truthful.

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Youth and Sex from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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