Young Men – A working man who accidentally found a cure for Youthful Folly, after doctor’s failed will gladly send Cure Free to sufferers. Enclose stamps. – Fred Watson, P.O. Elizabeth St North, Melbourne.
Advertisement in the West Coast Times, 14 May, 1906
One of the things that Mr. Bligh talked about in his one and a half hour lectures on impurity was the number of quacks trying to sell fake masturbation cures. He had two complaints. Firstly, he was incredulous that newspapers were allowed to print the advertisements at all considering the topic which they broached. That they were allowed to do so because they were ambiguous (“youthful folly”) was just not good enough. Complaining about ambiguity seems a curious thing for Mr. Bligh to do given his steadfast refusal to name the very thing he built his entire lectures around. The second point that angered Bligh, and here I am in complete agreement with the man, was that the products these people were selling were completely bogus and in some cases dangerous. He particularly railed against the electric belt cure. I think we can all agree that anything to do with electricity and genitals is probably going to be bad. It is also reassuring to see that the scams of today existed one hundred years ago; people trying to sell men useless things to do with their penises.
Bligh made quite an extensive tour of New Zealand in 1906, and his movements can be traced through the pages of the regional newspapers. He seemed to follow the same schedule in every town: a few lectures at boys’ schools, two lectures on the Perils of Impurity (men only), and one of the Power of Womanhood (women only… except for Mr. Bligh presumably). He was generally very well received. In Ashburton he spoke for an hour and a half and “dealt with the sacredness of the reproduction of life, and pointed to the many lessons that could be learned from the birds and animals” (for example the praying mantis?). In Hokitika he recommended the book Confidential Talks With Young Men by Dr. L. Sperry whose guide to married life suggested a married couple could manage sex four times a month without coming to harm.
Greymouth, c.1900, Alexander Turnbull Library
The White Cross League was in Wanganui by August of 1906 now with a free rail pass from the government. The reporter for the Wanganui Herald further enlightens us on the content of Bligh’s speech when he says that the great man “remarked on the care with which the breeding of stock was carried on, and deplored the fact that, through a senseless feeling [of] misplaced modesty, people… took no interest in the propogation of a healthy human race.” Bligh ended his lecture to the women of Wanganui on a curious note, quoting the Saviour: “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone.” Charitable no doubt, but also perhaps suggesting that he and his audience were wankers.
Of course things didn’t always go Bligh’s way.
In the course of his address at the Greymouth District High School on Thursday last, Mr. Bligh stated that at the conclusion of his lecture to the Taylorville school boys on the previous day, he asked all those who desired to live good and pure lives to stand. All the boys but one stood up at once, whereupon the headmaster, Mr Scott, presuming the lecturer’s request had not been fully comprehended by this lad, approached him asked him why he had not stood up with the others. Imagine the master’s astonishment when the boy coolly replied: “I can be good sitting.”
Monday, 21 May, 1906, Grey River Argus