Traps for the Young
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
"Traps for the Young" (1883) by Comstock.
Take, for instance, a well-known book, written by Boccaccio. This will illustrate the prevailing practice, and the obstacles met in the efforts not to suppress its sale to literary men and students, but to prevent this, like a wild beast, from breaking loose and destroying the youth of the land. The morals of the youth first. Virtuous men come frompure-minded boys, not from those whose thoughts are charged with filth.
I recognize the fact that the book here referred to (which I do not purpose to advertise by naming) has become part of our literary inheritance from the fourteenth century, and was considered a text-book of pure Italian of that age. Secondly, that literary men regarded it in every age as obscene and inde- cent. Even Boccaccio himself, before he died, repented of his works, and solemnly warned the youth of Florence against his own loose and profane novels. Thirdly, I find Dean Milman, in his history of Latin Christianity, describing him " as the most irreligious writer of his age, by reason of his assaults upon the dominant religion of his day ; and the most immoral writer of all ages, by reason of his gross immoralities." Speaking of this work in question, he says : ' ' Tale follows tale, grad- ually sinking from indecency into obscenity, from mockery to utter profaneness. " The Church of Rome in vain attempted to prohibit it, or cleanse it of its indecencies and license an edition of it. With mutilations and interpolations, it survived in its original shape, by reason of its historical interest as one of the earliest and most famous text -books of pure Italian, but at the same time as an exhibition of all the wit and all the indecencies of mediaeval novels. Not disputing these literary and historical claims, I claim it should be kept to its uses in the literary world just as medical works and prints should be kept to their proper uses in the scientific world.