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Berjiiett, De Robigne Mortimer 

imthony Comi:^tock: his career of 
cruelty and crime. 



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The Champions of the Church" 



A CHAPTER FROM -^ , 



BY D. IM. BENNETT. 



Price Twenty-Five Cents. 



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NEW TOBBl: '»,*'* 

B. JIf. BENNETT, 

3ERAL AND SCIENTIFIC PUBLISHING HOUSE, 

SCIENCE HALL, HI EISHTH STBEET. 

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ANTHONY COMSTOCK. 

This compilation of Christian Champions — those who in 
the name of morality and the Christian religion have perse- 
cuted and annoyed others — would be incomplete without a 
reasonable notice of the character who heads this sketch. It 
would be doing himself and the public serious injustice not 
to place him side by side with those unworthy compeers of 
his who have abused the arbitrary power which for a time wa» 
placed in their hands. In every instance these persecutors 
who in the past have been so ready to ruthlessly deprive of 
liberty, happiness, and life their unfortunate victims, who did 
not subscribe to the doctrines enjoined by the ruling powers, 
have done so in the name of the religion of Jesus and under 
the auspices of the highest system of morality said to be 
known to man. 

Comstock has evinced the same energy, the same cruelty 
the same intolerance, the same hardness of heart, and the same 
unyielding persistence in harassing and hunting down those 
who presumed to differ from the orthodox standard of religious 
thought— and have dared to be independent in matters of the- 
ology, medicine, and the literature pertaining to them — that 
have marked the envenomed persecutors of the past centuries. 
It is the time and the advance that has been made in civilization 
that have made the difference. This man has evinced the dis- 
position of hatred and cruelty that a few centuries ago would 
Lave made a first-class Torquemada, Calvin, Alva, Charles IX., 
or Matthew Hopkins. Could he have the power he craves and 
the requisite opportunity, it is not to be supposed he would 
be far behind those notorious characters in the work of 
desolation, cruelty, and bitter persecution which they showed 

1009 



r 



1010 THE CIlAMriONS OF THE CilURCFI. 

themselves so capable of performing, lie evidently engages 
in his work of persecution with the same degree of zeal and 
pleasure that marked the conduct of the Christian torturers 
and assassins alluded to. It is seriously doubted whether the 
Church has ever had a cruel zealot in its employ who has 
labored with more resolution and zest than this active agent 
of the Young Men's Christian Association. 

It is not to be denied that those bloody persecutors, com- 
missioned by the Church to torture and slay the hapless 
victims who fell in their way, each possessed some good 
qualities and that among the heartless acts they performed, 
some were commendable. So it is with Anthony Comstock ; 
he has done some good ; and far is it from the writer of these 
pages to deny him any of the good he has performed, 
though the means by which he reaches his ends, and by 
which he brings the unfortunate to punishment, are not such 
as good men can approve. Among a certain class of vile 
publishers he has accomplished a reform that must be placed 
to his credit, but the system of. falsehood, subterfuge, and 
decoy-letters that he has employed to entrap his victims and 
inveigle them into the commission of an offense against the } 
laws is utterly to be condemned. V 

The want of discrimination which he has evinced between 
those who were really guilty of issuing vile publications — 
whose only object was to inflame the baser passions — and 
those who published and sold books for the purpose of edu- 
cating and improving mankind, has been a serious defect with 
this man. While he has suppressed much that is vile, he 
has, to a much larger extent, infringed upon the dearest rights 
of the individual, thus bringing obloquy and disgrace upon 
those who had a good object in view. And upon those who, 
in a limited degree, were in fault, he has been severe and 
relentless to a criminal extent He has evinced far too much 
pleasure in bringing his fellow-beings into the deepest sorrow 
and grief; and under the name of arresting publishers ofi 
and dealers in, obscene literature, he has caused the arraign- 
ment of numerous persons who had not tlie slightest inteo-- 



ANTHONY COMSTOCK. 101 1 

tion of violating the rules of propriety and morality. Could 
he have expended his zeal and energy only upon those who 
deserved punishment, and have brought them under the rule 
of the law by fair and honorable means, his record would stand 
far better than it does to-day. 

In that case he would not have been compelled to make the 
humiliating confession which he made in a public meeting of 
clergymen and others in Boston, May 80, 1878, where he was 
endeavoring to organize a branch, auxiliary "Society for the 
Suppression of Vice," the parent society of which is of 
Comstock's origination, and located in New York. While 
Comstock was addressing the meeting, the Eev. Jesse H. 
Jones (Congregationalist) arose, and expressed a wish to ask 
Mr. Comstock a few questions. He was permitted to ask 
three, when a disposition was manifested that the interroga- 
tories be not continued. The questions propounded were as 
follow: 1. "Did you, Mr. Comstock, ever use decoy letters 
and false signatures ? 2. Did you ever sign a woman's name 
to such decoy letters ? 3. Did you ever try to make persons 
sell 3^ou forbidden wares, and then, when you had succeeded, 
use the evidence thus obtained to convict them?" To each 
of these questions Comstock answered, " Yes, I have done it," 
whereupon Mr. Jones, with firmness of manner, asserted that 
" Mr. Comstock had been guilty of what would be considered 
disgraceful in a Boston policeman." It is unfortunate for the 
reputation of Mr. Comstock, and the society which sustains 
him, and in whose name he works, that the most of his busi- 
ness, and the larger share of his victims and arrests have been 
brought about by these agencies. He has simply acted the 
part of a despicable spy and detective. Falsehood, deception, 
traps, and pitfalls for the unwary have been the agencies he 
lias employed in the prosecution of his nefarious business. It 
is confidently asserted that he has written thousands upon 
thousands of decoy letters, bearing fictitious signatures of 
both men and women, and written for the purpose of inducing 
unsuspecting persons to commit an offense against the laws, 
and to be guilty of a crime which they would not otherwise 



X 



1012 THE CHAMPIONS OP THE CHURCH. 

have thought of committing. It must be admitted by all 
honoi-able men that this is a contemptible course to be pur- 
sued by a society of moral, high-minded men, which was organ- 
ized in tlie name of morality and the Christian religion. It is 
a question for moralists to decide whether, when a cause or 
a system has to be sustained by such a dishonorable course of 
conduct, it would not be better that the society disband and 
its agent resort to a more honorable means of obtaining a 
livelihood. 

Anthony Comstock is a native of New Canaan, Conn., 
where he was born March 9, 1844, and where he resided 
through childhood and youth. It is unnecessary to inquire 
into the details of his early life. There have been worse boys 
as well as many far better than he was. When quite a young 
man, and during the war of the Rebellion, he obtained a posi- 
tion as sutler's clerk in one. of the Connecticut regiments, 
which he held for a while, but for sufficient reasons was dis- 
charged. Subsequently, about the y^ars 1871 and 1872, he 
was in the employ of the dry -goods house of Cochran it 
McLean, 464 Broadway, New York, whei-e he served in the 
capacity of traveling salesman ; but in due time the firm saw 
fit to dispense with his services. 

It was while connected with this dry goods house that Com- 
stock seems to have conceived the brilliant idea of waging a 
warfare upon the publishers and venders of obscene litera- 
ture, as well as all who dared to deviate from the rule pre- 
scribed by his saintly societies. Being a member of the 
Young Men's Christian Association, he not only acted under 
their auspices to a certain extent, but he originated a new 
organization, called " The New York Society for the Suppres- 
sion of Vice," or rather, perfected an organization that had 
previously been begun. It was modeled and named after a 
similar society in London, which made it its business to hunt 
down and prosecute those who do not think and act accord- 
ing to the orthodox standard, and which in 1877 prosecute( 
Mr. Charles Bradlaugh and Mr& Annie Besant for publishini 
Dr. Charles Koowlton's "Fruits of Philosophy," a work c 



ANTHaNT COMSTOOK. 1013 

merit which has been sold for forty years in that conntrj and 
in this; and in the spring of 1878 prosecuted and convicted 
Edward Truelove, an old Freethought publisher eighty-six 
years of age, and secured a sentence of four months' impris- 
onment and a fine of fifty pounds sterling. His offense was 
selling Robert Dale Owen's "Moral Physiology," a work of 
decided value which has been sold in England and in the 
United States for more than a generation. 

The London Society for the Suppression of Vice was 
founded three-fourths of a century earlier than its namesake 
of New York, and was conducted by the same system of 
espionage, decoying, and informing that has characterized 
its more modern namesake ; and So learned and good a man 
as Sydney Smith entertained a very indifferent opinion as to 
the character of the men composing it He says : " It is hardly 
possible that a society for the suppression of vice can ever be 
kept within the bounds of good sense and moderation. If 
there are many members who have really become so from a 
feeling of duty, there will necessarily be some who enter the 
society to hide a bad character, and others whose object it is 
to recommend themselves to their betters by a sedulous and 
bustling inquisition into th^ immoralities of the public. 
The loudest and noisiest suppressors will always carry it 
against the more prudent part of the community ; the most 
violent will be considered as the most moral ; and those who 
see the absurdity will, from the fear of being thought to 
encourage vice, be reluctant to oppose it. ... Begin- 
ning with the best intentions in the world, such societies 
must, in all probability, degenerate into a receptacle for 
every species of tittle - tattle, impertinence, and malice. 
Men whose trade is rat-catching, love to catch rats; the 
bug-destroyer seizes on his bug with delight ; and the 
suppressor is gratified by finding his vice. The last soon 
becomes a mere tradesman like the others; none of them 
moralize, or lament that their respective evils should exist in 
the world. The public feeling is swallowed up in the pursuit 
of a daily occupation, and in the display of a technical skill" 



1014 THE CHAMPIONS OF THE CHURCH. 

As to Sydney Smithes views of the means and the kind of 
agents which the society employed to secure its victims and 
to make its arrests, he expressed himself as follows : '' An 
informer, whether paid by the week, like the agents of this 
society, or by the crime, as in common cases, is in general 
a man of a very indifferent character. So much fraud and 
deception are necessary for carrying on his trade — it is so 
odious to his fellow-subjects — that no man of respectahility 
tvill ever undertake it It is evidently impossible to make such 
a character otherwise than odious. A man who receives 
weekly pay for prying into the transgressions of mankind, and 
bringing them to consequent punishment, will alwa3^s be 
hated by mankind, and the office must fall to the lot of some 
man of desperate fortunes and ambiguous character. If it 
be lawful for respectable men to combine for the purpose of 
turning informers, it is lawful for the lowest and most despi- 
cable race of informers to do the same thing; and then it is 
quite clear that every species of wickedness and extortion 
would be the consequence." 

Every candid person must acknowledge the correctness and 
force of these remarks. An honorable, good man will never 
willingly accept the office of a spy and informer to lie in wait 
and watch for the errors and weaknesses of his fellow-beings 
and then, by decoying them on and entrapping them, use their 
simplicity or their confidence to throw them into prison and 
effect their utter ruin. 

The New York Society for the Suppression of Vice was 
incorporated by the Legislature of New York, May 16, 1873, 
chiefly through the efforts of Anthony Comstock, its secretary 
and active agent, and the Young Men's Christian Association, t 
fle also procured the enactment by the United States Congress, X 
and by the Legislature of New York State of a series of acts, 
which were placed in both the national and State statute books, 
and which are believed by many to be subversive of the very 
principles of American liberty and destructive to individual 
rights guaranteed by the Constitution of our country. Of ' 
the gome half dozen of these Comstock acts, which by his^ 



ANTHONY COMSTOCK. 1015 

urgent efforts have become parts of the laws of our land, two 
sections will here be given as specimens of all : 

Sec. 3893. No obscene, lewd, or lascivious book, pamphlet, picture, paper, 
print, or other publication of an indecent character, or any article or thing 
designed or mtenaed for the pievention of conception or procuring of abortion, 
nor any article or thing intended or adapted for any indecent or immoral use or 
; nature, nor any written or printed card, circular, book, pamplilet, advertisement, 
1 or notice of any kind giving information, directly or indirectly, where or how. 
^ or of whom, or by what means either of the things before mentioned may be 
' obtained or made, nor any lettei upon the envelope of which, or postal card 
tipon which indecent or scurrilouti epithets may be written or printed, shall bo 
' cairied in the mail ; and any person who shall knowingly deposit, or cause to be 
deposited, for maihng or delivery, any of the herein before-mentioned articles or 
things, or any notice or paper containing any advertisement relating to tlie 
aforesaid articles or things ; and an}-- person who, in pursuance of any plan or 
scheme for disposing of any of the herein before-mentioned articles or things, 
shall take or cause to be taken, from the mail any such letter or package, shall 
be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and shall, for every offense, be fined not 
less than one hundred dollars, nor more than five thousand dollars, or impris- 
oned at hard labor not less than one year, nor more than ten years, or both. 

Sec. 5389. Every person who, within the District of Columbia, or any of the 
Territories of the United States, or other place within the exclusive jurisdiction 
of the United States, sells, or lends, or gives away, or in any manner exhibits or 
offers to sell, or to lend, or to give away, or in any manner to exliibit, or other- 
wise publishes or offers to publish in any manner, or has in his possession, for 
any such purpose, any obscene book, pamphlet, paper, writing, advertisement, 
circular, print, picture, drawing, or other representation, figure, or image on or 
of paper or other material, or any cast, instrument, or other article of an 
immoral nature, or any drug or medicine, or any article whatever, for the pre- 
vention of conception, or for causing unlawful abortion, or who advertises the 
same for sale, or writes or prints, or causes to be written or printed, any card, 
circular, book, pamphlet, advertisement, or notice of any kind, suiting when, 
where, how, or of whom, or by what means, any of tlie articles in this section 
hereinbefore mentioned can be procured or obtained ; or manufactures, draws, or 
prints, or in anywise makes any of such articles, shall be imprisoned at hard 
labor in the penitentiary for not less than six months, nor more than five years 
for each offense, or fined not less than one hundred dollars, nor more than two 
thousand dollars, with costs of court. 

While there are commendable features in these laws it must 
be confessed that the foregoing sections are excessively severe, 
besides being indefinite. When such heavy penalties are 
imposed, the offenses for which they are prescribed should 
Wj clearly marked out If obscenity, indecency, and immor- 



1010 THE CHAMPIONS OF TSlt CHUBCH. 

ality are crimes to be punisbed by fine's of $5,000 and itoprisa- 
ment at hard labor for ten years, they sbould at least be clearr 
defined, so that every person can know what the law consideis 
immoral, what indecent, and what obscene. 

A learned jurist has said that " no legislative body in malv 
ing laws should use language that has to be defined and con 
strued by othera Every crime should be so clearly define( 
that there can be no mistaking it. Murder, homicide, arson 
larceny, burglary, forgery, and so forth, are so defined tha 
they cannot be misunderstood. It is not so with obscenity 
the term is left to be construed by judges, lawyers, juries, and 
whoever chooses to decide what is obscene and what is not. 
If obscenity is a crime punishable by fine and imprisonment, 
it at least ought to be correctly described so that it may be 
known in what it consists, and so that an accused person 
shall not be at the mercy of a man or a number of men who 
•onstrue what is obscene, what is indecent and immoral, by 
their own particular opinion or notion of morality and immor- 
ality. What is obscene to one man may be as pure as the 
mountain snow to another, and one man should not be empow- 
ered to decide for other men." 

To procure the enactment of the foregoing laws, Comstock 
made frequent journeys to Washington, and he carried with 
him, it is said, a satchel full of lewd, filthy books, pictures, 
and devices which he spread out before congressmen and 
which he induced them to believe were being sent through 
the mail by scores of tons to the youth of the country 
and to the young school children at seminaries, boarding- 
schools, and so forth. After the law-makers had been 
regaled with a view of these unclean curiosities, they seemed 1 
to be prepared to vote. Aye, on almost any kind of laws for I 
which their vote might be solicited. It is to be regretted that 
they could not have displayed better judgment than to 
destroy the very principles of American Liberty and Individ- 
ual Freedom for the sake of protecting school children from 
the imaginary belief that improper mail matter was sent them. 
If it is true that such mail matter is sent them, how easy 

/ 



ANl?HOirT COMSTOCK. 1017 

it would be to obviate it by having it inspected by teachers or 
guardians before passing it over to the children. This coiil(^ 
be readily done without violating the Constitution of our 
country or crashing the rights of the entire people. 

The time and mode by which these laws were enacted were 
extremely discreditable to American legislation. The final 
passage took place in the closing hours of the Forty-second 
Congress, on the third of March, 1873, when within a few 
hours, and when the house was in the wildest state of confu- 
sion, and numbers of the members were under the influence of 
ardent spirits, some two hundred and sixty acts were hur- 
ried through without inquiry or consideration. In many 
instances even the titles of the bills voted upon were 
unknown to members* 

The signing by President Grant was performed in the 
same hurried, reckless manner. Hundreds of laws were thus 
signed by him without the slightest examination on his part 
and as rapidly as, one after another, they could be handed him 
by an attendant And thus were placed upon our statute 
books a set of laws that should never have appeared there in 
the way they do. The personal wrongs that have been 
inflicted under them have not been few nor trivial. 

A very similar set of laws were, by the personal exertions of 
Mr. Comstock, and by a similar style of tactics, passed by the 
Legislature at Albany and became a part of the laws of the 
State of New York, and combined with the United States 
laws just referred to, they have proved an engine of oppres- 
sion to many individuals who under them have been suddenly 
brought to the deepest grief. 

It will probably not be out of place to briefly narrate 
some of the cases which Mr. Comstock has mercilessly'proee- 
cutsd under the laws which he procured to be enacted, as 
well as to show the true character of the man when he is able 
to bring unfortunate persons under the weight of his power. 
Attention is called to the means employed by him in securing 
his victims and the amount of mercy evinced towards 
them when brought under his ban. 



1018 T£3 CHAMPIONS OF THE CHURCH. 

1. Case of Charles Mackev, of New York, who was 
^.ngaged in publishing a popular weekly story paper and in 
selling a miscellaneous variety of books, and who was 
arrested by Comstock in 1872 or 73. Mackey issued a cata- 
logue of his books which he sent out to various parts of the 
country. Comstock sent to him for certain books, by mail, 
upon which, with the circular, he caused Mackey's arrest 
There were no obscene books among Mackey's stock, though 
some of the titles on the catalogue were somewhat suggestive, 
as " Ovid's Art of Love," " Prostitution in Paris," etc. The 
case was tried before Judge Benedict of the U. S. Circuit 
Court Comstock was the only witness. He testified that he 
had not received any obscene book from Mackey, and that he 
did not know of anything obscene that Mackey had in his pos- 
session save his catalogue. Mackey's lawyer asked the privi- 
lege to show to the jury that none of the books named in the 
catalogue were of an obscene character. This the judge would 
not permit, holding that the titles were obscene whether the 
books were or not Hecharged the jury accordingly, whereupon 
a verdict of guilty was brought in, and Mackey was sentenced 
to one year's imprisonment besides a line of $500. It was a 
heavy blow to Mr. Mackey. Previous to the arrest lie stood 
high in the community and was doing a flourishing business. 
He was worth some $40,000, but the conviction, trial, and sen- 
tence nearly ruined him. His paper expired, his book 
trade went down, his reputation was blasted, his friends for- 
sook him, and all because Anthony Comstock, Judge Benedict, 
and the jury did not approve of the title of the books upon his 
catalogue. It was a decided case of legal persecution and 
oppression. 

Cm the day Mackey was taken from the prison to be sen- 
tenced, Comstock showed the natural meanness of liis charac- 
ter by requesting that handcuffs be j)laced on Mackey, when 
he was remanded to prison, the same as upon the thieves and 
other felons. The suggestion was acted upon, and Mac Key, 
who had stood so fairly in the city, was handcuHcd to a con- 
victed thief and thus rawched through the streets. Com- 



ANTHONY COMSTOCK. 1019 

s|ock placed himself close by where the prisoners passed, and 
bkuckled and grinned at Mackey as though he enjoyed 
absolute pleasure in a fellow-being's ignominy and disgrace. 

2. Case of James Sullivan. — This gentleman was a 
dealer in books and light literature at 113 Fulton street. 
Comstock, as protector of the morals of the public, visited 
Sullivan's establishment, and, pulling out three dollars from 
his pocket and laying them on the counter, «aid, " I want a 
copy of ' The Lustful Turk.' " Sullivan replied, " I do not 
keep that kind of books. You see what stock I have. I 
will be glad to sell you three dollars' worth of such as I 
have, but I have none of the kind you call for." Comstock 
replied that he wished a copy specially of " The Lustful 
Turk," as he wished to send it to a friend in the country. 
Sullivan again assured him that he had nothing of the kind. 
Comstock put his money in his pocket and took his leave. 

In February, 1873, Comstock caused the arrested of Sullivan 
and took him before a United States commissioner for send- 
ing information through the mails as to where improper books 
could be obtained. The Grand Jury, upon Coinstock's cvi 
dence, found a bill ; and at the trial in the Januarj^ following, 
before Judge Benedict, upon Comstock's evidence, a verdict of 
guilty was easily obtained. Comstock swore that in March, 
1872, he had sent a letter from Norwich, or Norwalk, Conn., 
in the name of Jerry Baxter, to Sullivan, asking for a circu- 
lar of fancy literature, and that in return he had obtained a 
list of books of various kinds ; but the list had no name or 
address upon it to show that it came from Sullivan. Judge 
Benedict, however, instructed the jury that the reception by 
Comstock of that circular and envelope, which he had carried 
in his pocket eleven months before he brought suit, was ^jrima 
facie evidence of Sullivan's guik Upon this remarkable 
ruling, and upon Comstock's uncorroborated testimony, Sulli- 
vun i»as found guilt}', and Benedict sentenced him to one 
year's imprisonment and a fine of $500. Sullivan is ready 
to take a solemn oath that he never sent the circular ; that the 
writing on the envelope was not }iis at all, and that Comstogk 



1020 THE CHAMPIONS OP THE CHURCH. 

perjured himself two or three times in giving evidence against 
him. But his business was broken up, he was made wretched, 
and disgraced for life, because Comstock swore that he had 
received under a fictitious name a catalogue without name or 
address I Is this the ultimate of American liberty ? 

3. Case of Leander Fox & Son. — These gentlemen kept a 
bookstore on Canal street, near West Broadway. They had 
been in business many years, and bore a first-class reputation. 
Mr. Fox, the elder, was advanced in years, and was probably as 
favorably known, so far as his acquaintance extended, as 
any man in the city. He had maintained an unblemished 
character. He had, of course, seen his share of the troubles 
and vicissitudes of life, but it was reserved for Anthony Com- 
stock to bring this gray-haired old man to sorrow, to prison, 
and disgrace, and to this end he worked assiduously for 
several years. During all this time he called repeatedly at 
the store of Fox & Son and inquired for various obscene and 
indecent books. Mr. Fox invariably told the gentleman that 
he kept nothing of the kind, and never had. 

Failing in finding anything there of the sort he is so fond 
of inquiring after, he resorted to his favorite expedient of 
writing a decoy letter in a false name and ordering a copy of 
a work upon which he could arrest him. He accordingly 
ordered a copy, to be sent by mail, of Dr. Ashton's " Book of 
Nature and Marriage Guide " (published and copyrighted by 
Benjamin T. Day), a work which had been sold regularly for 
twenty years and by nearly every dealer in the city. Upon 
receipt of the order, young Mr. Fox, not having a copy on 
hand, went out and bought a copy from the trade, and mailed 
it The elder Mr. Fox did not see the order or the book. 
Comstock was doubtless filled with joy as his eyes fell upon 
the work thus received, and, " Now," thought he, " I have the 
game within my grasp that I have been lying in wait for so 
long." Ho lost little time in causing the arrest of father and 
Bon for being caught in the trap he had so skillfully set for 
them, and he had the extreme humanity to cause them to be 
arrested late on Saturday afternoon in a snow-storic, that they 



A25^^THONY COMSTOCK. 1021 

might be unable at that late hour to procure bail, and thus 
have the ignominy of lying in prison over Sunday. This was 
a favorite game of Comstock's, and he has played it upon 
many occasions. But Mr. Fox, being so well known, was 
able to procure bail, and to evade the punishment that Cora- 
stock had so cunningly planned for him. 

Messrs. Fox & Son employed the distinguished attorney, 
William A. Beach, to defend them, but Comstock managed 
to have the case brought on while Mr. Beach was at Albany, 
and they were thus placed at great disadvantage, and were 
unable even to procure such witnesses as they should have 
had. Under the circumstances, it was very little trouble for 
Comstock to swear both father and son into prison. 

The jury, such as they know how to get up in the United 
States District Court, found them guilty, and sentenced them 
to prison for a year. 

Think for a moment of the sad havoc such an event must 
have caused in their business, the sorrow and agony it must 
have created in their families. Think of the grief of the 
wife of the old gentleman, who had sojourned with him 
through life's trials, to have him cruelly torn from her by 
such a malicious hand and thrown into prison upon the dis- 
graceful charge of dealing in obscene literature and sending 
it through the mails. 

Fortunately for Mr. Fox, he had a warm friend in Thurlow 
Weed, who, as soon as he learned that his friends Fox & Son 
were in prison for selling a book of which many thousands 
had been previously sold, and havitg great influence with 
President Grant, succeeded in having both father and son par- 
doned out " Kissing goes by favor," and when a man is in 
prison it is a lucky thing to have a friend who has influence 
at court, but when a poor man, without friends, gets into 
prison, no matter how unjust the conviction may be, he would 
have to serve his time out, though death might be his fate 
before it was over. As it was, Fox and his son had to lie 
several months in durance, and at a time, too, when ace Jicr 
son was on his dying bed without the presence and care of 



1022 THE CHAMPIONS OF THE CHURCH. 

his father. Should the Fox family entertain the warmest 
afiection for Anthony Comstock, who is such a special favor- 
ite with the Y. M. C. A. and the S. F. S. V.? 

4. Case of Mrs. Woodhull and Miss Claflin. — These 
two sisters were, in 1872, publishing their " Weekly," a large 
sixteen-page paper, devoted to their peculiar views, and 
having a circulation of nearly ten thousand copies. Tliey 
certainly had the same right to publish a paper that any 
other resident of the country possessed. They saw fit, in the 
fall of 1872, to publish intelligence in reference to what has 
since been known as the Beecher and Tilton scandal, but it 
was no more obscene than has been published in every daily 
paper in the city. Comstock caused their arrest in Novem- 
ber, 1872. They were thrown into Ludlow Street Jail and 
their paper suppressed. Thus was a great wrong inflicted 
upon them as well as upon their numerous patrons in all parts 
of the country They printed such a paper as their patrons 
approved of, and they had as much right to be served as any 
other portion of the community. Their paper was not only 
suppressed, but the printer and the stereotyper who did the 
work for the ladies were also arrested and subjected to great 
inconvenience. 

Their bail was placed so high that they could not give it, 
and they were compelled to lie in prison many weeks prior to 
examination, the victims of the most bitter, intolerant spirit 
that ever ruled in this country. Their bail was divided up 
on different points, and, in the aggregate, is said to have 
amounted to over $80,000. It was the evident intention to 
keep them in prison without an examination, and thus sup- 
press their paper. 

In January, 1873, Mrs. Woodhull and Miss Claflin were 
again arrested and imprisoned, but, after several weeks, they 
were brought before Judge Blatchford of the U. S. Court^ 
and he decided that they were illegally imprisoned, and that 
they had violated no law of the country. District Attorney 
Purdy proposed a nolle prosequi in the case, but their 
attorney objected, and the judge instructed the jury to find a 



i\ 



ANTHONY COMSTOCK. 1023 

verdict of acquittal, thus disposing of the case once for all, 
and preventing the prisoners being arrested again on the same 
charge. 

This prosecution from first to last was a piece of cruel 
oppression towards those two women, and was wholly uncalled 
for. They had done nothing to merit such treatment fron 
the Government. It damaged them to the extent of at least 
$20,000, and though they have applied to Congress to reim- 
burse them for the great wrong done them, nothing lia? 
been yet effected. These women were unable to recovei 
from the loss that had been unjustly imposed upon them. 

5. George Francis Train was arrested in 1873 by Corn- 
stock on a charge of obscenity, and was thrown into the 
Tombs' damp, gloomy prison, where he lay in his close cell 
for six months. His offense consisted in publishing certain 
indecent passages from the Bible without a word of comment 
It was evident that his accusers got ashamed of their conduct 
in arresting a highly intelligent man for publishing a limited 
number of extracts from the Bible in all their native purity. 
They wished to get him off their hands without a trial, but 
he refused to leave prison until duly tried and discharged. 
This they evaded. Finally, an order was issued from Albany 
to raze the unhealthy Tombs prison to the ground. Under 
this state of things Mr. Train left the prison, after which 
nothing was done toward tearing down the Tombs. To keep 
a citizen in prison so long, on so frivolous a charge, is a dis- 
grace to the government and an outrage upon the rights of an 
American freeman. 

6. Case of John A. Lant. — In the spring of 1875 Mr. 
Lant moved his little paper, the "Toledo Sun," from Toledo, 
Ohio, to this city. It was a Freethought journal, and was far 
from immoral in its tone. It had not been here long, how 
ever, before it attracted the attention of Cornstock, who 
resolved that it shouhi be suppressed. He abused newsdeal- 
ers on the sidewalk who presumed to sell the little paper, and 
he barshly threatened a friend of ours with imprisonment in 
tho Toml^ for selling tha "Sun" containing Ingersoll's 



1024 THE CHAMPIONS OF THE CHURCH. 

''Oration on the Gods." After various devices, \in sent an 
order to Mr. Lant for his paper, in the name of E. Semle^, 
Green P^arms, Conn., eulogizing the paper and urging Lant to 
press on in the good work he was doing. He ordered several 
back numbers, published before the paper was brought to 
New York. The most objectionable matter was a letter from 
Dr. E. P. Miller on physiological matters and a prayer by 
Train called "Beecher's Prayer." Some of the matter was 
not, perhaps, in the best possible taste, but there was nothing 
immoral in the papers. 

Lant was thrown into Ludlow Street Jail and kept there 
two months, so as to effectually prevent the publication of his 
paper, and unexceptionable bail was refused Finally, upon 
a writ of habeas corpus, Mr. Lant was removed from prison 
and admitted to bail, which was placed at $5,000. His final 
trial came off in December, his family suffering in the mean 
time for the very necessaries of life. His trial was short and 
severe. Comstock testified to writing the decoy letter in a 
fictitious name and receiving the " Sun " in return. The 
principal question raised at the trial was as to whether the 
matter objected to was obscene. The rulings of Judge Ben- 
edict were invariably against the accused. The charge to the 
jury was of the same hard, unfeeling character, and it was 
sufficient to induce a verdict of guilty, though not the slight- 
est crime had been committed. The sentence was eighteen 
months at hard labor in the penitentiary at Albany, and 
$200 fine. Thus this man, in a feeble state of health, was i 
torn from his wife and three little babes, who were wholly j 
unprovided for, and at the commencement of winter. Hist 
prison life, with the labor that was imposed upon him, wasj 
very unfavorable to his health. He had, while there, some^*-^ 
nineteen attacks of hemorrhage from the lungs and bronchial i 
tubes. It is almost a marvel that he lived to serve out his.! 
time. When lie returned to his family he was entirely with-)' 
out money and without business. This was an aggravated case,) 
and shows to what length a spirit of persecution and intoler-l 
ance m.'^y be carried in thia so-oeiUed free Anxrica. | 



1 



AM-HONY COMSTOOK. 1()25 

7. Case op Simpson. — ^This man kept a news and literary 
depot on Centre street, near Pearl street, for many years. It 
is not denied that he was an offender, and that in years past 
he sold works of an immoral character. It is not wished to 
defend him, or to apologize for him in this connection, but 
the case upon which he was tried and sentenced to ten years' 
imprisonment at hard labor, and a fine of five thousand dol- 
lars, seems one of extreme severity. Gomstock got upon his 
track and was determined to place him in prison. He first 
caused his arrest for selling a card called the "picnic card," 
which was pla3^ful, but not immoral or vile. This was found 
insufficient But not so a card referring to the marriage of 
Nellie Grant to Sartoris in the language of a naval engage- 
ment, without an absolutely obscene or immoral word in it 
The issuing of this card which could not possibly do much 
harm to anybody, afforded sufficient grounds, under the laws 
of Congress, for Comstock to pursue the man, for the jury to 
find him guilty, and for the merciful Judge Benedict to 
sentence him to ten years' imprisonment at hard labor, and a 
fine of $5,000. In view of the trivial character of the offense, 
this seems to have been the severest sentence ever imposed 
in this country. Many a foul murderer, robber, thief, 
embezzler, defaulter, ravisher, calumniator, perjurer, or forger 
has gone scot-free, or with very insignificant punishment, 
while this man is compelled to spend ten years of his life in 
prison, at hard labor, with a fine of a sum larger than many 
earn in their whole lives hanging over him, and all for the sell- 
ing of a card without an immodest word upon it It seems 
almost incredible. Yet such is the truth. Under the Com- 
stock laws almost anything is possible. 

8. Case OF Hunter & Co.— This firm does an extensive 
publishing business at Hinsdale, K H. Their paper, " The 
Star Spangled Banner," has a wide circulation. They also 
sell many books and miscellaneous goods. Anthony Com- 
stock let his evil* eye rest upon them, and he plotted their 
overthrow. He commenced operations by writing decoy 
letters from New Jersey (probably Squan Village), ordering 



1026 THE Cx .iilPIONS OF THE CHURCH. 

a simple French arrangement, sometimes called a ^*safe." 
This was the first one sold, and also the last, and this was 
sent by mail for Comstock's special benefit, though ordered 
under a false name. Anthony, thus armed and equipped, 
visited llinsdale and arrested Mr. Hunter and four of his 
clerks, and had them carried off to be examined, though the 
clerks had nothing to do with the matter. He also seized 
and carried off a portion of their property, and ransacked the 
entire place to see if he could find anything obscene with 
which to feast his morbid appetite, but he found nothing of 
an improper character. 

After Mr. Hunter had thus been spirited away, Comstock 
showed his extreme honesty and truthfulness by going to Mr. 
Hunter's dwelling and saying to Mrs. Hunter, " Mr. Hunter 
says you are to give me that package of fancy books." She 
knew nothing of anything of the kind, for the very good 
reason that there was nothing of the kind there. But, to 
increase his glory and renown with the members of the socie- 
ties to which he belongs, he caused to be published in the 
Boston dailies, with flaming headings, accounts of the enor- 
mous seizures of obscene matter he had made in Hinsdale, 
claiming that it was the headquarters for villainy in the State. 
This was evidently done to prejudice public sentiment against 
Mr. Hunter, and to make it appear that he, Comstock, was 
^oing a tremendous business in making seizures of matter of 
the most vile character. 

Hunter & Co. have reason to be thankful that their case 
was not tried before the United States Circuit Court in this 
city. Had Judge Benedict been the judge before whom it 
was tried, the sending of that one simple, trivial apparatus, 
under his stern rulings, might easily have cost them two or 
more years' imprisonment and a fine of from three to five 
thousand dollars. As it was, though the case was not pressed 
against them, it cost them thousands of dollars, to the almost 
utter ruin of their business and an amount of trouble and 
intense anxiety on the part of themselves and families that 
never can b# fully estimated. The most cruel and heartless 



ANTHONT COMSTOCK. 1027 

part of the work of the informer in this case was his studied 
efforts to blacken their characters before the public by his 
false representations that tons of immoral and indecent matter 
were found upon their premises, when not the smallest part of 
it was true. Nothing immoral or obscene was found upon 
their premises, simply because it was not there. It is veij 
easy to make false representations about others, and in this 
way to injure them to an incalculable extent; and a man who 
deliberately and maliciously does this, for the purpose of car- 
rying out his own evil designs or to add to his own reputa- 
tion and glory, ought to be shunned as the most dangerous 
fiend in the land. 

9. David M asset's Experience. — Mr. Massey was a mer- 
chant of SL Louis, and did a somewhat extensive and success- 
ful business until the war of the Kebellion. His business 
was largely in the South, and upon the breaking out of the 
war his trade was cut off., and thousands of dollars due him 
by his Southern customers could not be collected, and, like 
hundreds of others in similar cases, he was utterly ruined. 
He came to New York to find something to do. He obtained 
a clerkship with Eogers & Co., 787 Broadway, and there he 
became a victim to the wiles of Anthony Comstock, who sent 
a decoy letter to the house or to Mr. Massey, ordering some 
fancy pictures. Massey enclosed in an envelope a set of wliat 
were called "Black Crook " pictures, being representations of 
the ballet girls in costume as they appeared on t]je stage. 
Such pictures were very common in this city a few years ago, 
and stared passers-by in the face from scores of windows. A 
party who saw Massey put the pictures into the envelope will 
swear there was nothing obscene among them. But on the 
trial Comstock produced some very obscene pictviies and 
swore he received them by mail from Massey. Mi*. Massey 
contended in the strongest terms that Comstock conmiitted 
perjury in his testimony against him, but it was sullicient to 
send him to prison for a year, wnth a fine of $^oQ^. 

Without saying that Comstock committed perjury in this 
case, we can only say it was perfectly easy for him to do sa 



1028. THE CHAMPIOira OF THE CHURCH. 

Now it is submitted to tbe reader whethei* the liberty of Ameri- 
can citizens is safe when a designing, dishonest, and unprin- 
cipled man, as Comstock has proved himself to be, and with 
a morbid fondness for sending people to prison, has the power, 
by his individual, uncorroborated testimony, to send hundreds 
of persons to prison^ as he has publicly boasted of doing. 
It is extremely unsafe to place so much power as Com- 
stock has wielded in the hands of a man like him. 

The sister of Massey, heartbroken at the disgrace brought 
upon her brother and family, died, and was carried to an 
untimely grave. Mr. Massey left prison greatly impaired in 
health. He returned to St. Louis and was compelled to go to 
the hospital. When last heard from he was lying at the 
point of death. Another victim of the moral censor and 
spy, Anthony Comstock. 

10. Case of Dr. J. Bott, and OTHER&-^In the spring of 
1872 Anthony Comstock made a trip to Washington and 
entered upon an enterprising, characteristic speculation, to 
which his talents and inclination so eminently adapt him. 
He rented post-office Box 260, provided himself with a lot of 
letter-heads belonging to the Treasury Department (which 
must have been dishonestly abstracted by himself or some 
other person), and wrote some eight or ten letters t6 as many 
physicians in this city. He assumed the character of a poor, 
unfortunate young girl who had been seduced and was in a 
condition to become a mother, and appealed in a most pitiful 
manner to those physicians to do something to relieve her. 
The following is a copy of the letter sent to one of the physi- 
cians, and upon comparison they were all found to be of the 

same tenor : 

" Washington, D. C, March 18, 1873. | 

" Dr. Selden — Dear Sir: I am an employee of the Treasury and I liavo got! 
myself into trouble. I was Hoduecd about four months ago, and I arti now aboutl 
throe mouths pone in the family way. The person wlio seduced me has run j 
away and I do not know wiiat will become of mo if I do not get relief. I ami 
a poor clerk and get only si.xty dollars per month, and liave to keep a wiu- 
owed mother and a crippled sister, so that E send you all, in fact moiC*lian I 
•aa spare, hoping tliat you will send mo something that will relievo mo. ' 

** Now, dear Doctor, send it right away, and send it by mail, for I do not 



ANTHONY eOMSTOCK. 1029 

want any oqo to hare a breath of suspicion about the matter. For God's sake 
do not disappoint a poor ruined and forsaken girl whose only rehef will be sui- 
cide if you fail me. 

'* Yours faithfully, Miss Anna E. Ray. 

" Please send package by mail to * E. A. R.,' Box 260, "Washington, D. C, and 
have it securely sealed." 

Twenty dollars were placed in each letter and the same 
registered, so the parties receiving them were obliged to sign 
a receipt before obtaining the letter. 

Letters of the same character were on the same day mailed 
to Dr. J. Bott, 84 Amity street ; Dr. Alex. R King, 10 Amity 
street ; Dr. Dubois, 38 Great Jones street ; Dr. Andrews, 45 
Bleecker street; Dr. Marcus Jacoby, 161 Bleecker street 
Dr. C. W. Selden, 67 Amity street Such a cry of distress 
would move many a sympathetic heart to do something to 
afford relief, though no money was enclosed, but the two 
together were supposed sufficient to affect the stoutest 
heart 

Some of the physicians named suspected this was a " put 
up " case and sent nothing ; others sent simple preparations, 
not calculated to produce any specific change in the person 
taking them, whether male or female. Others again, sent 
emmenagogue medicines adapted to the nature of the case. 

Dr. Bott sent a simple powder of oxide of bismuth and 
powdered gentian, which is a simple stomachic and would not 
harm a woman in any condition. The prescription for the 
powder was filled at the drug-store on the corner of Sulli- 
van and McDougal streets. 

One of the physicians sent a box of common purgative 
pills, one sent pills and a decoction, and some, as observed, sent 
nothing. Comstock, having caught his game in the trap he 
had so skillfully set, came on to New York, feline-like, to 
play with them. He had all the physicians arrested who had 
sent him any medicines to get him out of the unpleasant 
condition which he represented himself to be in, and in due 
jtime they were brought to trial, convicted, and sent to prison. 
Dr. Jacoby was an exception; he had money. By paying 
$1,600 he asciipod a trial and consequent imprisonment 



1030 THE CHAMPIONS OF THE CHURCH. 

How much of that sum Anthony Comstock got, and where 
the balance found a lodging place, is not generally known. 

When Dr. Bott was arrested he was cast into Ludlow Street 
Jail, where he lay six months before his trial came off, and 
when it d'.d take place, it was a very summary affair. Com- 
stock exhibited the registered letter receipt which Dr. Bott 
signed, a copy of the letter written, and the bismuth and 
gentian powder which the doctor sent him. Judge Benedict 
ruled that no other testimony was necessary, and refused to 
allow Dr. Bott, through his attorney, James D. McClelland, 
Esq., to introduce testimony to show the simple nature of the 
powder sent, which he wished to do by the druggist who 
prepared it He ruled that the doctor's sending any powder 
in response to Corastock's fraudulent decoy letter was prima 
facie evidence of his guilt, and peremptorily charged the jury 
to find a verdict of guilty, which they did without leaving 
their seats. 

The sentence of Dr. Bott was eighteen months in Crow 
Hill penitentiary, Brooklyn, which, with the six months in 
Ludlow Street Jail, made two years, for the heinous crime of 
sending through the mail a simple stomachic powder, and 
which he never would have sent had not Comstock decoyed 
him to do so. 

One who has not tasted the bitterness of prison life cannot 
fully appreciate its ills. Dr. Bott lost an arm in the late war. 
Being naturally a man of fine sensibilities, he was broken 
down and crushed by the weight of the great misfortune that 
befell him, and so were his family. They were disgraced and 
outraged. The doctor's health gave way under the hardship 
and deprivation of prison life. He was sick while in prison,* 
and came out a mere wreck of his former self. He subse-/ 
quently passed a considerable portion of his time in hospitals ;1 
his health was ruined and his spirit completely broken down./. 
In December, 1877, the writer visited his bedside during the • 
closino: hours of his life. He died the followiriir ni^^ht Asl 
the writer watched him drawing his few remaining breaths,^ 
be instinctively exclaimed, " This is but another result of the 



ANTHONY COMSTOCK. 103X 

American Inquisition. This is the finale of another unfortu- 
nate victim of Anthony Comstock's cruelty and greed." 
This case of Dr. Bott's is thought to be at least the twentieth 
in which Comstock, by his relentless prosecutions and perse- 
cutions, has sent the victim to an untimely gi-ave as surely as 
though he had shot him or stabbed him to the heart. 

11. Case of Mr. Kendall. — This man was a dealer in 
rubber goods. Comstock, by a decoy letter, induced Kendall 
to send him by mail a rubber female syringe, a useful and 
valuable instrument For this enormous crime he was 
arrested and disgraced, thrown into prison, kept there for six 
months, and his business entirely ruined. 

12. Case of Mr. Weil. — This gentleman was a photogra- 
pher, pursuing the even tenor of his way on Broadway, New 
York, not far from Twelfth street He was a quiet, well-dis- 
posed citizen, but Comstock fain would ruin him. Comstock, 
in person, or by his deputy, visited his gallery in search of 
improper photographs. Weil informed him that he made 
nothing of the kind. "But will you make them if I bring 
you the negatives?" "No, sir; I wish to do nothing of the 
kind." But finally Comstock discovered in the gallery an 
artistic photograph which Weil had taken of his own little 
boy in undress. This, in Comstock's eyes, was a heinous 
offense against the peace and morality of the country. The 
photographer's negatives were seized, his property carried off, 
and he was subjected to much trouble and considerable 
expense. 

In a similar way many photograph galleries were raided, 
and negatives and apparatus to the value of thousands of 
dollars forcibly carried away. The censor and protector of 
public morals deemed photographs of classic statuary and 
paintings grossly obscene, and this was a sufficient incentive 
for him to seize and remove negatives, instruments, etc In 
this way many photographers were seriously wronged. 

It is reported that victims have been arrested, tried, and 
imprisoned for sending through the mails photographs and 
piints of statuary like Power's Greek Slave, the original of 



1032 THE CHAMPIONS OP THE CHURCH. 

which hundreds of thousands have viewed with the purest 
and grandest emotions of pleasure. 

13. Case of Dr. William Morrison. — One of Gom- 
stock's feats was bringing this worthy gentleman into serious 
trouble. He is an Englishman, but was twenty 3^ears in this 
city, and is most respectably connected, both in England and 
in this country. He kept a drug-store at 515 Pearl street, and 
connected with that store for many years had been a trade in 
what was called "French Remedies and Goods." Comstock 
had his evil eye, or possibly his pious eye, on the doctor, and 
secretly worked his downfall He wrote letters simulating a 
young lady in the upper part of the city, asking for certain 
articles forbidden by the laws to be sent through the mails, 
to which the doctor promptly replied that the trade was in 
violation of law and he would have nothing to do with it 

In October, 1877, Comstock renewed his epistolary corre- 
spondence with Dr. Morrison. This time he simulated a 
young lady by the name of Ella Bender, of Squan Village, 
N. J. She wrote a very confidential letter to the doctor and 
asked for some information or some remedy that would pre- 
vent her being unfortunately caught should she be exposed. 
The doctor simply enclosed in an envelope iin old leaf of an 
advertisement referring to Hooper's Female Pills, which have 
been a standard medicine for a hundred years, and are not 
capable of doing much good or harm. 

" Miss Ella " again wrote more affectionately and confiden- 
tially to the doctor, speaking to him in very endearing lan- 
guage, chiding him for his want of gallantry in not writing 
her and signing his name to the letter. She in plain language | 
informed the doctor that she was under the necessity of \ 
making a living in the best way she could, and that some- \ 
times she had to do certain things a little against her will, 
and she wished him to send her some of those " French appli- 
ances " that would keep her safe and sound. He replied that ' 
it was against the law to send anything of the kind by mail, 
and he should not do so. Again she wrote the doctor, grow- 
ing still more affectionate and urgent in her appeals, and 



ANTHONT COMSTOCK. 103«5 

informing him that her sister would probably buy some of 
the same kind of goods if he would send her one of his 
circulars. She wrote four letters in all, at which time the 
doctor was so far seduced by her artfulness as to send her a 
pessary and a " safe." 

This was enough to do the business. The crafty hypocrite 
and falsifier had met with the success which his heart cov- 
eted. He at once took steps to arrest the doctor with the 
view of immuring him within the walls of a prison. He 
visited the doctor's place of business, accompanied by a 
United States deputy -marshal who had borne him company 
upon many a similar errand of cruelty, heartlessness, injus- 
tice, and terror. It was soon made apparent that Miss Ella 
Bender, the Squan Village girl who wanted to buy some 
" French fixings " that she might engage in certain liaisons 
without danger to herself, and Mr Anthony Comstock, the 
eminent Christian, the noted agent, inquisitor, and detective 
for the United States Government, the agent and secretary 
of the Society for the Suppression of Vice, and the pet cham- 
pion of the Y. M. C. A., were one and the same person. Miss 
Ella, instead of being a dashing, fascinating brunette of the 
female persuasion, turned out to be a coarse, burly, hard- 
cheeked, sandy-haired, merciless masculine, with a frightful 
scar on the left side of his face inflicted while he was making 
an illegal arrest by the one-armed Conroy. 

While on that friendly call at the doctor's, Comstock, in 
rummaging a private drawer in a writing-table, played the 
sharp game of abstracting the letters which the sweet "Ella " 
had written to her "Dear Doctor," and carried them away 
with him. 

The information respecting this case was obtained from Dr. 
Morrison, direct He was duly indicted and tried, before 
Judge Benedict and a verdict of guilty, upon Comstock 's evi- 
dence, was rendered against him. At the instance of the 
doctor's lawyer, sentence was deferred, and the doctor, fearing 
it might be too severe, determined to forfeit his bail and leave 
for Europe, so Comstock did not have the pleasure of send- 



X034: THE CHAMPIONS OF THE CHURCH. 

mg this man to prison. Dr. Moi-rison stated emphatically 
that Comstock in giving his evidence in the case perverted 
the truth. Whether or not this was so the writer has no 
means of knowing; but putting on the best possible construc- 
tion of the case in Comstock's favor, it was one of criminal 
duplicity, falsehood, and intrigue ; Comstock used decoy letters, 
false signatures, and so forth, and induced the old doctor to 
commit an offense that he otherwise would not have thought 
of committing. 

14. Case of Charles Conroy. — Conroy is a one-handed 
man, having been born without a right hand. He made a living 
by selling books and pamphlets, mostly of Dick & Fitzgerald's 
publications, being song books, dream books, books of games, 
letter writers, books of etiquette, and so forth. He did busi- 
ness in this city, and also in Newark, K J. It was in the 
latter city that Comstock commenced his attack upon him. 
Conroy did an advertising business, and had letters sent to him 
in different names. Comstock, deeming this a great offense, 
applied to the U. S. Commissioner in Newark for a warrant 
for the arrest of Conroy. The Commissioner, however, not 
deeming the matter complained of as being sufficient to justify 
the issuing of a warrant, refused to do so, whereupon Com- 
stock decided to arrest Conroy without a wan-ant He 
accordingly arrested him without the slightest color of 
authority, taking him forcibly and hustling him into a cov- 
ered carriage, and drove off without ceremony, and took him 
before the commissioner, who held him for examination. 
While Conroy was being conveyed to prison he told Com- 
stock that he had arrested him without the slightest authority 
and with no warrant Comstock's reply was, " If I do not 
succeed in convicting you on this arrest, I will follow you up 
until I get you into prison." As they neared the prison and 
Conroy saw its grim walls looming up before him, he remem- 
bered his wife and child at home, and how they would be left 
to suffer while he was immured within prison walls, and he 
realized how unjust and cruel the arrest was. He took his 
little pocket-knife, the only weapon he had, and with his left 



ANTHONY COMSTOCK. 1035 

hand gave Comstock one blow upon his left cheek, cutting a 
bad gash nearly two inches in length. Comstock recovering 
himself, hastily pulled his pistol from his pocket and placed 
it at Conroy's head, and at that instant the carriage door was 
opened and the jailer appeared with another pistol, which he 
also presented unpleasantlj^ near Conroy's head. Thus, with 
a pistol on each side of his head, the overpowered man with a 
single hand, deemed submission the wiser part and, he was 
placed in a cell. He was tried upon the charge of commit- 
ting an atrocious assault upon an officer. Comstock, of 
course, appeared against him and with his testimony obtained 
a verdict of two years' imprisonment in the State prison at 
Trenton. On the day the prisoner was sentenced, some 
twenty of Comstock's bosom friends, members of the Young 
Men's Christian Association, went from New York to Newark 
to witness the interesting proceedings. And when the pris- 
oner had been conducted to the State prison at Trenton, Com- 
stock took the trouble to make a journey there to impress 
upon the keeper or warden that Conroy was a very dangerous 
man and ought to be kept in the closest confinement, in pur- 
suance of which advice Conroy was confined in a very close 
uncomfortable cell during the hottest weather. When his 
term had expired, and before he had left the steps of the 
prison. Comstock was on hand, and had him again arrested 
on the original charge of receiving letters in a fictitious name, 
had him tried, convicted, and sentenced to another year in 
prison. This statement was obtained from Conroy himself. 

The cut which he inflicted on Comstock's face was some- 
what serious, bleeding badly on his way home and weaken- 
ing him considerably. But his Christian friends being very 
sympathetic with him, in consideration of the great peril he 
had been placed in, and the danger he had incurred in the 
cause of morality and justice, made him up a purse of several 
thousand dollars for his great suffering and loss of blood. 
This entire case was one of aggravated injustice and wrong 

Comstock's attention has not been wholly given to sup- 
pressing dealers in contraband literature and tabooed articles. 



1036 THE CHAMPIONS OF THE CHURCH. i 

He has been as much opposed to physicians and medica 1 
authors who presumed to write and publi^^h medical work's 
heterodox in character as to heterodoxy m religion. He 
has worked as much in the interests of the " regular " 
school of physicians as of the regular school of theologians. 
Let it once be known that a physician was publishing a popu- 
lar medical work, which presumed to step aside from the 
beaten track of regular practice and Comstock considered 
him as his legitimate "game." He pursued such with the 
same relentless rapacity as other classes of offenders. A few 
such cases will be given as samples of many others for which 
there hardly is room. 

15. Case of Dr. E. B. Foote. — This was an instance 
where the greatest injustice and cruelty were inflicted upon 
one of the purest, best, and most amiable of men, whose life 
has been spent in instructing and improving his fellow-beings 
by giving them such information as is well calculated to aid j 
them to be more healthy, more happy, and better and more| 
useful men and women. His medical works possess the 
highest value, and have been introduced into hundreds of 
thousands of families, which to-day stand ready to bear 
testimony to the great benefit they have derived from the 
physiological, hygienic, and moral lessons which he has so 
ably imparted. 

His character is elevated, and his desire is to elevate and 
benefit his fellow-beings. In his medical experience, runninglj 
over a third of a century, no man can truthfully charge himf 
with an action prompted by an improper motive, or with an 
attempt to procure an abortion or anything of the kind. His 
coui*se has been singularly free from everything of the kind, 
and it is only alluded to because of the efforts on the part of a 
cruel i)ersccutor and prosecutor to cast this vile stigma upon 
him. The cries of "mad dog" and "abortionist" are easily 
raised by those who would willingly inflict wrong upon thei 
deserving ; but how unjust to do so when there is not thei 
slightest grounds for such conduct I 

Dr. Foote was an unfortunate victim of a designipg^i 



ANTHONY COMSTOCK. 1037 

tinscrupulous, relentless persecutor. Because he has been 
considered not fully orthodox in his medical status, because he 
has presumed to give highly valuable instruction as to how 
some of the greatest evils of society may be morally and legiti- 
mately obviated, the ire of his prosecutor was aroused against 
him. He was seized as a criminal and as a disseminator of 
unclean literature ; he was falsely charged ; he was obliged to 
give bail to avoid being thrust into prison ; the most intense 
anxiety and unhappiness were forced upon him, upon his 
estimable wife, his aged mother, who resides with him, and 
I upon his children and his friends ; he was forced to stand trial 
in a court where the utmost severity is the rule, and where the 
strict construction of an unjust law was made to bear heavily 
upon him ; thousands upon thousands of dollars were stripped 
from him ; his business injured to the extent of fully $25,000, 
and an amount of that intense anxiety and apprehension 
which cannot be estimated by dollars and cents, and which 
no person can realize who has not been made to experience it 
i All this has been brought upon a man who had not committed 
a fault — who had not done the first thing towards violating 
the laws of honor, virtue, or morality. 
j For some twenty years Dr. Foote has employed the few 
moments he could snatch from professional labors in writing 
such physiological works as he sincerely believed were needed 
by the people — in 1857-8, " Medical Common Sense ;" in 
1869-70, " Plain Home Talk," embracing the main features 
j of the first book; in 1874-5, "Science in Story," which has 
I received commendation, not only from the secular but from 
the religious press. Thus far the work has received no 
adverse criticism. In these works, and in pamphlets issued 
from time to time, the doctor has labored to show the neces- 
{ sity of improving humanity by having no children born the 
i creatures of accident; in other words, has treated indirectly 
[ and directly, in nearly all the works he has written, on the 
: importance of scientific propagation, no less in the human 
I family than on the stock-farm. That is to say, this has been 
one feature of his writings. The consideration of this 



1038 THE CHAMPIONS OF THE CHURCH. 

important subject naturally led to the devising and prescrib- 
ing of effective means for making what John Stuart Mill 
called "conjugal prudence" possible in all cases wherein 
disease was to be entailed on offspring, or indeed in all 
instances wherein the reproductive function might better be 
rendered inoperative. This information was imparted in a 
pamphlet entitled "Words in Pearl for the Married," which 
was prepared for the purpose of answering a score of ques- 
tions which are asked daily of a physician in extensive 
practice. To make it as unobjectionable as possible, it was 
set up in pearl type, so as to make it only thirty-two pages of 
about the size of a letter envelope, in which it was invariably 
sent sealed^ under letter postage. Its object in great part was to 
save letter- writing when questions were asked, which its pages 
directly answered. The pamphlet took strong grounds agai nst 
producing miscarriage or abortion. When the postal obscene- 
literature law was passed, some of its pages, referring to the 
prevention of conception, in conflict with the new statute, 
were promptly expurgated. Shortly after the Congressional 
law was enacted, a similar one was passed in our own State, 
forbidding the devising or supplying of any means whatever 
for the prevention of conception. The doctor was assured by 
his legal adviser that this clause would never be enforced 
against physicians ; but not being a member of the conserva- 
tive school of medicine, and his advice often being sought 
upon a subject so intimately connected with his pet hobby •£ 
scientific propagation, he thought best to put himself upon a 
legal footing both in respect to the Congressional and State 
laws. In doing this he followed legal advice. 

Nevertheless, in January, 1876, he was suddenly and unex- 
pectedly called upon to give bonds in the sum of $5,000 for 
his appearance before the United States Court, an indictment 
having been found against him, at the instigation of Mr. Corn- 
stock, for sending an alleged obscene pamphlet and notices of 
preventive articles through the United States mail. It 
apprars that these were sent, in answer to a decoy letter, to a 
Mrf. Seraler in Chicago, who, in her application, expressed 



ANTHONY COMSTOCK. 1039 

great admiration for the doctor's "Plain Home Talk." 
Orders of this character, however, seldom came to the personal 
notice of the doctor. They belonged to the order department, 
where the clerk in charge had, without consultation with or 
permission from his employer, sufficiently changed his arrange- 
ments to place him in a questionable position before this 
iron-clad law. First, it was confidently believed a nolle prose- 
qui would be entered by the prosecuting attorney ; next that 
the indictment would be quashed ; and finally, when the case 
came unexpectedly to trial, on the twenty-first of June, 
acquittal was fully expected up to the moment when the jury 
retired for their decision on the twenty-sixth ; even the prose- 
cuting attorney, it is said, looked for nothing better for his 
side than a disagreement of the jury. It was, therefore, a 
matter of great surprise when the jury, after an absence of 
only twenty minutes, returned with a vei-dict of guilty I The 
rulings of the judge were peculiar. The defense, while 
believing that the pamphlet was not obscene, considered 
it a strong point that the publication was only sent through 
the mails sealed and under letter postage. Judge Benedict 
in his charge turned this point against the defense by saying 
substantially that those who would not buy such a work over 
a counter could obtain it in a sly way through the mails. 
Although the order clerk distinctly testified that he had sent 
the notice through the mails on his own responsibility, and 
with no permission from his employer, the judge charged that 
the principal should be held responsible the same as a bank 
officer would be for a notice of protest issued by a subordi- 
nate ! Judge Benedict further said that medical works need 
not be sent by mail ; that they could be sent by express ; 
seeming to ignore the fact that the peculiar statute not only 
prohibited certain publications from going through the mails, 
but any notices in print or writing stating where such publi- 
cations could be obtained. 

After the rendition of the verdict, bail was doubled to $10,- 
000, for which the doctor must find bondsmen or go to prison. 
Counsel were sure that Judge Benedict under the circum- 



1040 . THE CHAMPIONS OF THB CHURCH. 

Stances would not impose a fine of perhaps more that $100. 
The prisoner was a physician; the pamphlet was nothing 
more than advice which is orally given by every well-knowi> 
practitioner to his inquiring patients. These circumstances, 
together with the unauthorized character of the notices, 
would be considered. 

The judge was urged by personal appeal and written to by 
anxious friends and patients of the doctor to deal leniently 
with him. Among the letters passed through the hands of 
his attorneys to Judge Benedict was one from an ex-governor, 
who said he knew the prisoner to be " an excellent citizen, a 
man of studious habits and pure life ;" one from a physician 
of prominence in the homoeopathic school, a professor in one 
of its universities, and a high officer in one of its societies, 
who said he was satisfied of Dr. Foote's " genial humanitari- 
anism, keen intellect, and honest purpose ;" one from an inde- 
pendent physician, graduate of a first-class allopathic univer- 
sity, and ex-professor of several medical universities, who 
remarked that " physicians generally agree that the pamphlet 
contains nothing but candid and rational answers to questions 
usually asked," and so forth ; one from a noted clergyman, 
who expressed his hearty approval of the Doctor's publica- 
tions, including his pamphlet, and who said he had placed 
two sets of *' Science in Story " in his Sunday-school library : 
one from a sculptor whose work in artistic bronze beautifies 
one of the rambles in Central Park; one from an old and 
honored publisher, who originally brought out Harriet Beech er 
Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin;" one from a professor high in 
the eclectic medical profession, together with many others, 
all testifying to the fact that the doctor was entitled to mercy. 
On the eleventh day of July, while thousands of people were 
crowding the Centennial Exposition in commemoration of the 
birth of this great free republic, Dr. Foote was fined $3,500 
for publishing a little work which a large number of intelli- 
gent and reputable physicians and thousands of good people 
throughout the United States believed to contain onl}' such 
information as at least every adult had a right to know I 



ANTHONY COMSTOCK. 1041 

(Sentence was not passed for sending the notices.) It was 
fully believed by the doctor and his friends that this victirr 
of a clumsy statute barely escaped the State prison ! The 
fine and costs of defense exceeded $5,000. The developments 
during the trial led many to the conviction that the law and 
its agents were being employed by conservative member? of 
the profession to destroy a Liberal medical writer and practi- 
tioner. Circumstances have come to the knowledge of the 
doctor since the summer of 1876 which have led him reluc- 
tantly to believe that these suspicions, in which he was too 
charitable at the time to share, were well founded. At all 
events, it was a case of great injustice and illiberal tyranny 
on the part of a bigoted Christian society and their over- 
zealous agent 

16. Case of Dr. E. C. Abbey. — Dr. Abbey is a resident of 
the city of Buffalo, and is a gentleman of the highest intelli- 
gence and moral worth. He graduated in 1861, thus having 
been a legal medical practitioner for more than a sixth of a 
century. He is a prominent member of the Masonic frater- 
nity, and enjoys a first-class reputation among the wide num- 
ber who know him, and is thoroughly indorsed by the best 
men of all classes in whose midst he has dwelt for many 
years. 

He has written and published a work on the sexual system 
and its derangements. Sexual diseases have been made a 
specialty by him ; which study was induced by what he wit- 
nessed in this connection while pursuing his collegiate studies. 
When about to issue his work, he placed the manuscript in 
the hands of the district attorney, who pronounced it legal and 
not in conflict with any law. After its publication he sub- 
mitted it to the best medical counsel in the State of New 
York, as well as the best legal talent, including the Hon. 
Daniel F. Day and others, who pronounced the work alj right 
from a legal point of view and one whose circulation would, 
as calculated, do a great amount of good. lie had not the 
slightest motive to issue an improper or an immoral book, 
and be took every precaution to obtain legal and able coun- 



1042 THE CHAMPIONS OF THE CHURCH. 

eel upon the subject A copy was taken to U. S. Commis- 
sioner Fillmore, son of ex-President Fillmore, who declined 
to entertain the case at all. Before another commis- 
sioner the result was different Anthony Comstock s atten- 
tion was called to Dr. Abbey's work, and, as it imparts to the 
masses information upon the important subjects of human 
physiology and the laws of health, he decided it was an improp- 
er work to receive mail facilities. His detective commenced 
operations. Decoy letters were employed. Dr. Abbey sent a 
copy of this work to Comstock, giving all the facts about its 
publication, the names of men of standing who had endorsed 
the doctor's character, and asked the conservator of the pub- 
lic morals of America to state his objections to it He assured 
Comstock also that an arrest and trial were unnecessary ; that 
he was ready to make any modification deemed necessary. 

It was perhaps an error on the part of Dr. Abbey to take 
this course. He was arrested and his books seized as obscene. 
This was unquestionably a high-handed outrage. They 
should not have been seized as obscene until pronounced to 
be of that character by proper legal authorities. Comstock, 
kowever, considered himself conipetent to decide what is 
obscene, and any popular work designed to circulate among 
the masses, and which gave any information upon the subject 
of human physiology, he pronounced obsccna He has said, 
in his very positive and offensive manner, " No works on 
physiology shall be allowed to go through the mails." The 
rights and liberties of American citizens have indeed sunk 
to a low point if a man of the very moderate literary and 
scientific acquirements of Anthony Comstock shall become 
censor of the public press and the United States mail, and 
shall have the power to say what books the people may read, 
and what they may not read, what they may send and receive 
through the mail, and what not I Was it for this kind of 
liberty that our fathers fought and bled in the days of the 
Revolution ? Was it for this kind of universal freedom that 
the great struggle was made to sustain our Government in the 
kie rebellion ? 



ANTHONY COMSTOCK. 1043 

The wrong thus perpetrated against Dr. Abbey by seizing 
his property and holding it without legal authority was con- 
tinued nearly three years, his books, as understood, being thus 
wrongfully and unjustly detained. When taken before Judge 
Wallace of the U. S. District Court, Dr. Abbey very promptly 
admitted that he had deposited his medical work in tlie mail 
and that he was proud of having done so, regarding the same 
distinctly as his right and duty. He raised objections to the 
indictment as not being specific, and claimed firmly but 
i-espectfully that his work was not in any sense an obscene 
book. The jury that tried him were fresh from their barns 
and firesides, and were unfortunately of a class incompetent 
to judge of the merits of a medical work. They had not, in 
fact, read enough of works of that kind to constitute them 
capable judges of their true merits. The District Attorney 
read a few isolated passages which, to the unlettered minds of 
such a jury as are often seen sitting to try matters they do 
not understand, sounded plain and reprehensible, and late on 
Saturday evening, when they were tired and anxious to return 
home, they readily decided the case adversely, and in five 
minutes found that valuable medical work an obscene book. 

This was another instance of high-handed outrage upon a 
worthy citizen who presumed to impart information to his 
fellow-beings that they ought to have and which he was fully 
able to give. But he was not within the medical " ring," and 
hence his troubles. 

Other physicians in St. Louis, Indianapolis, and other cities, 
have been annoyed in a similar way by Comstock, suffering 
heavy damages at his hands, but their cases will be passed 
over. 

To enable this representative of the Young Men's Christian 
Association to perform his dirty work, he has found it neces- 
sary to have an accomplice and assistant The person who 
has filled this position is Joseph A. Britton, alias Cohen, alias 
Andiews, alias Levy, etc. He is said to be a renegade Jew, 
who now claims to be a member of a Christian church. That 
fee 18 base enough to be a fitting tool and companion to 



10^ THE CHAm»IONS OF THE CHURCH. 

Anthony Comstx)ck there cannot be the slightest doubt The 
two have worked together to ensnare and beguile unwary 
persons to commit offenses for which they could be arraigned 
before the American Inquisition, the United States Courts. 
Often has Britton endeavored to buy obscene books and 
pictures, and often has he filled his pockets with the vile 
trash and tried to sell them to simple-minded dealers. If the 
talent and industry these two men have given to the execrable 
business they have engaged in could have been bestowed in a 
more worthy direction, it would have been far better for them 
and all concerned. They are eminently worthy of each other. 
A few cases which the spies and informers have jointly 
worked up, will be given ; 

17. Case of John Manning. — Manning is a young man, 
and, in 1875, started a little news and literary stand on the 
corner of New Chambers and Pearl streets. He had been 
open but a short time when he received visits from Com- 
stock's assistant, Britton. He bought papers, etc., of 
Manning, and called in from week to week, until he became 
well acquainted, and was regarded by Manning as a friend. 
Britton on one occasion asked for fancy photographs. Man- 
ning told him he had none, and that he had never dealt in 
anything of the kind- " But," said Britton, " cannot you get 
some for me ? If you have an opportunity to pick up any, 
save them for me, and I will pay you a good price." This 
request was repeated several times, and Manning told him if 
he saw anything of the kind he would get them. Some time 
after this he had an opportunity to buy some photographs 
of nude figures, statuary, etc., and thinking they might suit 
his friend Britton, he purchased them for him. He did not 
deem it best to keep them in his store, but put them in his 
trunk at his boarding-housa Britton called soon after and 
was told he had some photographs for him. "Keep them," 
said Britton ; "I will call again and take them." When he 
next called, Comstock accompanied him, and remained 
outside the place while his accomplice went in to work the 
ruin of vonncr Mnnnincr. Thft latter told thft villain Britton 



ANTHONY COMSTOCK. IO45 

that the pictures were not in his store, and that he would have 
to lock up his place and go over to his lodging-house, which 
he did, Britton accompanying him. As soon as he got out- 
side, Britton signaled to Comstock that he had the pictures, 
and Comstock immediately arrested the unsuspecting young 
man, without a warrant or the slightest authority, and dragged 
him off to prison. The trial and conviction followed in due 
time. Comstock appeared against the accused, and swore 
that certain pictures were taken off the person of Manning 
which Manning affirms he never saw till Comstock produced 
them in court and swore them on to him. Manning will take 
hjs oath that this is the truth. He was sentenced to one 
year's imprisonment; and a stigma and disgrace was thus 
designedly and shamefully placed upon the young man that 
will injure him for life. It is a most disgraceful charge to be 
imprisoned for selling obscene pictures. One thing, however, 
is certain, this young man would not have thought of engag- 
ing in that kind of traffic had he not been repeatedly urged 
to do so by the accomplice of this agent for the Y. M. C. A. 
and the Society for the Suppression of Vice. 

18. Case of A. Prosch. — Mr. Prosch is a worthy gentle- 
man, sixty-four years of age. His life has been be3^ond 
reproach and singularly free from all objectionable practices. 
He has never drank liquor or used tobacco, he has never 
attended theatres, or played a game of cards, and has been 
unusually careful to avoid bad company and to shun even the 
appearance of evil. He has lived a quiet, unobtrusive life, 
and no one can justly speak ill of him. He is an artistic 
mechanic and manufacturer of stereopticons or magic-lanterns. 
He was formerly in business in Chatam Square, and is now 
on the corner of Division and Catherine streets, New York. 
His shop is filled with lathes and other implements and 
machinery with which, with one or two assistants, he manu- 
factured the instruments that so hjglily interest and instruct 
thousands of people. 

In the spring of 1877 he was induced by Mr, Daniel Wal- 
ford, an active member of two temperance organizations, to 



1046 THE CHAMPIONS OF THE CHURCH. 

attend their social society meeting and edify tli em witli the 
exhibition of one of his stereopticons. It was not his custom 
to exhibit his instruments in this way ; in fact, this was the 
first instance of the kind. He was simply a manufacturer: 
but in this instance, to amuse a social party of temperance 
people, he consented to spend an evening with them and 
minister to their pleasure ; and this he did without fee or 
compensation. The pictures used were chaste and moi-al, a 
portion of which were of statuary and ancient paintings, 
embracing, of course, some nude figures; none were from life. 
Many gentlemen and their wives v/ere present, and everybody 
was pleased, and none were in the least shocked by the exhi- 
bition. There was, however, one, person present whose 
impure mind caught at the idea that as nude figures from 
statuary, and so forth, had been represented, it would be a 
good chance for Comstock to work up a case. He reported 
the affair to Britton, the accomplice and confidential assistant 
of Comstock, who at an early moment communicated the 
intelligence to his master, and he was instructed to give his 
attention to the case and to work it up. Britton visited Mr. 
Prosch and said, with words of lying hj^pocrisy in his mouth, 
*'I understand, Mr. Prosch, that a few evenings ago you gave 
before a temperance society a very interesting exhibition of 
pictures and engravings with one of your instruments. Now, 
I called to see you about giving a similar exhibition before 
a political club to which I belong. We are going to have a 
special meeting soon, and I wish to engage you to be with us 
with your stereopticon and pictures." To which Mr. Prosch 
replied, " It is not my business to exhibit my instruments ; 
I manufacture them. I went the other evening to please and 
amuse some friends, and it is the only instance where I have 
done so." " Well," said Britton, "I hope you will not refuse 
also to come for us. We will pay you liberally for your time 
and trouble, and you will afford us much amusement." 

Mr. Prosch thus importuned, and thinking perhaps he 
could make a few dollars for the evening's labor, consented to 
go, whereupon Britton plied the unsuspecting man on thia 



ANTHOinr coMSTocK. 1047 

tack : " Now, you see our club is composed mostly of young 
men, and we are fond of something rich and a little gay. 
Those pictures you have exhibited are well enough, but can't 
you get something for us a little ' stronger ' or more fancy ?" 
" No," said Mr. Prosch, " I don't know that I can. Those arc 
all the pictures I have." "But, my friend," said the detective 
"we are willing to pay you liberally if you will get sometliirif: 
to please us. Can you not make an effort to find something 
of the style we want?" " Well, yes ; maybe so," answered 
the old man, weakening, perhaps, at the thought of making 
an extra dollar or two. "I will try and see what I can do 
for you." The Christian detective said he would call again. 

In a short time the detective called again, in fact, he called 
several times on this business, and was very importunate and 
looked over the addition the manufacturer had made to his 
stock, with which he pronounced himself well pleased. He 
then renewed the engagement for their exhibition before bis 
club, to take place on a certain night. 

Then the vigilant detective reported to his chief, the veri- 
table Comstock, how successfully he had roped in the old 
man, and how he had induced him to procure pictures that 
might be called obscene. Comstock soon put in an appear- 
ance at the old man's shop and asked to see the pictures, say- 
ing he was one of the club before which he was to exhibit 
When this agent of the Christian Association had piously 
inspected the pictures which the old man had, which his 
hypocritical tool had persuaded the good man to procure, and 
which he never would have purchased save for such persua- 
sion, he, like a fiend, turned upon the innocent, harmless old 
man, and said : " Now I have you. You are my prisoner. 
Accompany me at once." 

Ml*. Prosch was working at his lathe, in his shirt-sleeves 
and slippers, with his apron on. Said he, " If I must go with 
you, let me put on ni}^ coat and boots, and not be compelled 
lo go through the streets in this way." "No," replied Com- 
stock, imperiously ; " come along at once, or I will prefer the 
additional charge against you of resisting an officer of the 



1048 THE CHAMPIONS OP THE CHURCH. 

Government" And thus that inoffensive old man of sixty- 
four years was, on a cold day in April, compelled by Corn- 
stock to march along the streets of this city without his coat ; 
and, when one of his employees followed with it, Comstock 
would not allow the old man to stop and put it on ; and not 
until he reached the police station and was placed in the 
charge of a policeman was a kind word spoken to him or was 
he allowed to put on his coat to keep out the cold. 

The arrest was made late in the afternoon, and when he 
had been examined before the proper authorities it was too 
late to procure bail, and Mr. Prosch was compelled to pass 
the night in the Oak street station house. There was nothing 
in his cell to sleep upon save a hard plank, and in his per- 
turbed state of mind at the sudden change in his fortunes, he 
trod his narrow cell all night, without a moment's sleep 
coming to his eyelids. This was purposely planned by the 
agent of the Young Men's Christian Association ; and, as it 
turned out, the unhappy old man had to pass the second 
night in that dismal cell before acceptable bail could be pro- 
cured. In the meantime Mr. Prosch 's invalid wife was 
rendered extremely wretched by the absence of her husband, 
and that he was detained upon such a disgraceful charge. 
She could not bear to have her nearest friends know what 
the charge was, and the grief she felt nearly crushed her into 
the grave. She has, with tears, described to the writer the 
extreme grief the event caused her, and she did not believe 
she could live to pass through another such trial. 

The case duly went before the grand jury, and a bill was 
found against Mr. Prosch. But the affair is still unsettled, 
after having cost the old man a great amount of anxiety, 
damaging his reputation, nearly breaking up his business, and 
costing him fully a thousand dollars in money he was illy 
able to spare. It is still held in terror over his head, and 
nearly destroys his happiness and that of his sick wife, who, 
if her husband is convicted upon so disgraceful a charge, will 
be hurried to her grave. Wheii Mr. Walford, his wife, and 
other promincDt membcn of the temperance organization. 



ANTHONY COMSTOCK. 1049 

went to Mr. Comstock with the endeavor to soften his severity 
towards the poor, unfortunate man, and said that they per- 
suaded him to exhibit his pictures before their society, that 
he had charged nothing, and that there was not the slightest 
impropriety in the exhibition, and that both gentlemen and 
ladies were highly pleased with it, they found this pro- 
tector of American decency and morality implacable and 
unyielding, and he seemed determined to pursue the harmless 
old man to the very death for committing what he (Comstock) 
was pleased to consider a crime, and which the old man would 
never have thought of committing had he not been persuaded 
into it by Comstock's own directions and by one of his own 
lackeys. 

Friends of Mr. Prosch also called upon Mr. Samuel Col- 
gate, president of the Society for the Suppression of Vice, and 
laid before him the outrageous manner in which Comstock 
had managed this case. Mr. Colgate was evidently appalled 
at the deception and unfeeling cruelty that had been practiced 
upon the old man, and through his efforts the case was 
pigeon-holed and has never been called up. 

This affair is a disgrace to American liberty and Christian 
morality; and few of the cases of persecution in the past 
centuries, considering the time and place, were more criminal, 
cruel, and relentless. 

19. Case of Charles R Blandin. — This gentleman is a 
lawyer, and, in 1877, moved from Boston to New York, with 
the intention of following his profession in the metropolis; 
but finding business dull, he temporarily engaged at canvass- 
ing for a stationary and printing house. While thus 
employed he unfortunately called at the office of Anthony 
Comstock. Here he found the accomplice, Britton, who was 
exceedingly affable and talkative, and, ere the interview was 
closed, he made known his desire to procure some fancy 
pictures, and handed Blandin a card, which read thus, 
*' Joseph B. Andrews, buyer of rare, rich, and racy books and 
photographs, &c., Philadelphia," representing himself to be 
Andrews, and a dealer in that kind of goods, Blandin 



1050 THE CH^AlPIONS OP THE CHURCH. 

replied that he dealt in nothing of the kind and knew nothing 
about such goods. Britton repeatedly urged him to try and 
find something of the kind, and extracted a promise from him 
that if he (Blandin) succeeded in finding anything ol the 
kind he would let Britton know. 

Some two months after this Blandin made a visit to Boston 
and upon meeting an old friend was casually shown soUle six 
or eight fancy photographs. They were the first he bad ever 
seen. The promise he had made to Britton come to his mind 
and he begged his friend to lend him one of the pictures to 
show to Britton on his return to New York. When he did 
return he called at 150 Nassau street, but finding Britton out 
he left a note, saying he had called to fulfill his promise. 
Soon after this Britton called at Blandin's ofiice and left a 
note requesting Blandin to call again, at an hour named, at 
150 Nassau street Unfortunately, Blandin called. Com- 
stock and Britton were both in. They were much pleased 
with the picture, and wanted a thousand. Blandin informed 
them he had but the one, which he had borrowed to show 
Andrews, as he had promised, and that, h^e must return that 
to its owner, and that was all he would have, saying it was not 
for sale, and that he knew not where they could be obtained. 
He replaced the picture in his pocket and started to leave, 
but was called back and further plied with questions. Britton 
took possession of the picture, and, upon Blandin's reaching 
out his hand to regain possession of it, Britton, instead of 
returning the picture, put thirty cents in Blandin's hand, saying 
*'I want to keep this picture. You can obtain all of .theni you 
want ; here are tliirty cents to pay you for the trouble of bring- 
ing this in." Blandin refused to accept the money, and 
demanded his picture, offering the money back. At this 
juncture Comstock stepped from his private room or office 
and interrupted the dispute. He brandished a club and 
exhibited his badge of office, and, placing his hand in a ruf- 
fianly manner upon Blandin's shoulder, said : " You are my 
prisoner ; my name is Comstock. Now tell me where you 
obtained that picture." Although Blandin might have 



ANTHONY COMSTOCZ. 1061 

thereby obtained his liberty he refused to divulge his friend's 
name. The unsuspecting victim was immediately marched 
to the tombs without being permitted to visit his office and 
leave word of his arrest He was a stranger in the city and 
could not give bail. He lay in prison thirteen weeks awaiting 
trial, when, upon the unsupported testimony of Comstock and 
Britton, he was convicted. The jury, deeming him guiltless 
of intentional wrong, recommended him to the mercy of the 
court His sentence was made the lowest prescribed by the 
law, to wit, three months' imprisonment and $100 fine. He 
was sent to the penitentiary, where his companions were the 
vilest characters known. His situation was deplorable. His 
attorlipy, B. F. Kussell, who had known him ten years and 
that he was a person of good moral character, and had defended 
him without fee, visited Albany, and laid the case before the 
governor, who, feeling that a wrong had been done an inno 
cent person, and that this was more a case of cruel persecution 
than of legal prosecution, sent his son down from Albany 
to investigate the case. The judge, the foreman of the grand 
jury, and the jury signed the petition for pardon, but Comstock 
did all in his power to prevent it, and brought out the volumi- 
nous credentials from his Society for the Suppression of Vice. 
But all his efforts were in vain. The governor upon learning 
all the facts in the case, and becoming convinced of the 
wrong that had been perpetrated, had the good sense and 
mercy to grant a full and unconditional pardon. Too much 
cannot be said in praise of the governor who took so noble a 
stand in defense of an injured individual, an oppressed citizen 
who was made to seemingly have committed a crime by a 
designing, unscrupulous, and relentless prosecutor. Blandin 
had not intended and did not intend to violate any law of 
virtue, honor, or morality. 

Thus was Comstock rebuked. And, notwithstanding the 
stigma which has been thrown for life upon Blandin by being 
arrested for selling an obscene picture, we deem him a far bet- 
ter man than Comstock, and far less deserving of imprisoa- 
ment 



1052 THE CHAMPIONS OP THE CHURCH. 

The New York " World " for March 11, 1878, besides giv- 
ing the details of Blandin's trial and conviction as above 
had these comments on the case. 

" It is not a pretty story which appears in our columns to- 
day of an arrest just made by Mr. Comstock, with the help of 
an assistant who clearly seems to have seduced the offender 
into committing the offense for which he was arrested. 
There can be no baser or more mischievous crime in its way 
against society than this, and if the respectable members of 
the association by which Mr. Comstock is understood to be 
employed desire to preserve their own good name and the 
reputation of the work in which they are engaged, they will 
lose no time in clearing themselves of the very serious scan- 
dal brought upon both by such proceedings as those which 
were Saturday testified to before Judge Sutherland. 

20. Case of Louis Wengenrath. — This man for several 
years kept a confectionery in the eastern part of Brooklyn, 
and was regarded as an honorable man, and entitled to the 
respect of all who knew him. His connections were good, 
and he moved in good society. Joseph A. Britton, the 
accomplice and tool of Anthony Comstock, for a long time 
had been in the habit of calling upon the confectioner, and 
making slight purchases of him. In February, 1878, this 
unprincipled man said to the confectioner that their mutual 
political friends. Gale and Ely, wished, for a certain purpose 
to get some fancy devices made in sugar, and Wengenrath 
was requested to furnish them. The reply was he had noth- 
ing of the kind on hand, and never had sold anything in that 
line. Britton importuned him from time to time to procure 
the fancy goods for him. At length as the names of his 
political friends had been given, the simple-hearted man 
bought the articles Britton was so anxious to procure, and 
handed him the same on one of his visits. He would not 
have taken the trouble to have procured the goods had not 
the names of Gale, etc., been given. The result was Wengen- 
rath was soon arrested for violating what are known as the 
Comstock laws. He was tried in Brooklyn, and though the 



ANTHONY COMSTOCK. 1()53 

accused proved an excellent character, and his friends did all 
they could for him, the laws are so severe that Judge Moore 
could not do less than impose the lowest prescribed penalty — 
three months' imprisonment and $160 fine. 

Here is another instance of the despicable means which are 
employed by Comstock and his pliant tool to dscoy and 
induce a gocd-hearted, unsuspecting person to commit an 
offense against a vile law he knows nothing about, and then 
to cause his arrest, trial, and imprisonment for an act he would 
never have thought of doing had he not been over-persuaded 
and urged to it by the most villainous intrigue and deception. 
The unfortunate victim of duplicity, intrigue, and villainy, 
who was honestly pursuing his honorable, legitimate business, 
is, at the present writing, in prison serving out the sentence 
imposed upon him, and Comstock enumerates this case among 
the desperate cases of obscenity and immorality that he has 
caused to be brought to justice. Let the reader decide 
whether Comstock or his victim is the most deserving of 
imprisonment 

21. Case of Edgab W. Jones. — For several years Mr. 
Jones has been doing a very active business in Ashland, 
Mass., supplying thousands of customers by mail with various 
publications, novelties, and curiosities, embracing prize-pack- 
ages, "Handbook of Good Manners," "Bashfulness Cured," 
" How to Make Love," "Parlor Magic," "Tricks with Cards," 
" Dancing without a Master," " Letter- Writing Made Easy," 
" Handbook of Business," " Fortune-Teller and Dream Book," 
"Best Methods of Fishing," "The Art of Ventriloquism," 
"The Painter's Guide," "The Gem Microscope," etc., with 
several preparations for the hair, whiskers, etc. In this line 
of business Mr. Jones built up a trade almost marvelous for 
the times, filling from 75,000 to 100,000 orders per year. At 
the time of his arrest, in December, 1877, he had 1,100 reams 
of paper in his establishment — a four-story building — for his 
catalogues, circulars, etc., etc., and he gave employment to 
some sixteen persons in the place, whose duties consisted in 
folding aud stitching cataltigues, wrapping goods, filling 



ir)54 THE CHAMPIONS OP THE CHURCH. 

envelopes, etc., eta He increased the post-office business of 
the town immensely. In the year 1877 he paid over $17,000 
for postage stamps alone. 

Four years ago he proposed to add to his line of goods 
Clark's *' Marriage Guide," a work upon physiology, etc., and 
principally compiled from "Dunglisons Physiology." Wish- 
ing to proceed carefully, he took a copy to the district 
attorney of the U. S. District Court in Boston, for his inspec- 
tion and opinion as to its being mailable. The official looked 
it over, and said he could not see why it was not perfectly 
proper to send through the mails, and looked upon it as the 
same as other medical works. " There is," said he, " but one 
person in the United States who will make you any trouble, 
and that is Anthony Comstock of New York. You had 
better send a copy of the work to him, and get his opinion 
upon the subject" Mr. Jones acted upon this advice, and 
sent a copy to Comstock, and wrote him asking for his views 
upon the subject ; but he received no reply ; he wrote again, 
but no reply was received, when he still wrote again with the 
same result Then, acting upon the principle that " silence 
gives consent," he commenced selling the book, and for four 
years sold large numbers of them. 

But it seems that Comstock had his evil eyes upon him all 
that time, and resolved, when the right time came, to pounce 
down upon him as a hawk would alight upon a chicken. At 
the time Comstock caused Jones' arrest, he pronounced his 
business fraudulent, and Clarke's work obscene. The matters 
complained of were laid before the grand jury, and, upon 
looking all his publications over, they could find nothing to 
condemn, save it might be a few features in Clarke's " Mar- 1 
riage Guide," which, to their minds, might possibly smack of 
obscenity. Upon this frail tenure they found a bill against 
Mr. Jones. 

When he found he was indicted, Mr. Jones, of course, was 
obliged to procure bail and to look up counsel, lie applied 
to Mr. Somerby, who is probably one of the finest lawyers in 
Boston, who said : " These obscenity cases are disagreeable 



ANTHONY COMSTOCK. 1055 

pues, especially in the United States courts. Were the case 
to be tried in our State courts there would be no trouble in 
the matter, but in the U. S. courts it is quite a different 
thing. You can hardly find a first-class lawyer who will 
defend a case of obscenity in the U. S. courts for a thousand 
dollars. The best way for you to settle the whole matter up 
easily is to plead guilty and ask for a light sentence. In that 
way your fine will be less, and you will get through with the 
unjust prosecution easier than any other way. It is an out- 
rage on your rights, but the wisest way is to get out of the 
clutches of the man who has attacked you the best way you 
can." 

Mr. Jones decided to act upon this advice, and when the 
time of trial came on, he entered a plea of "guilty." The 
judge, in a short address, used the following language : 

" I think there is room to doubt whether this work, Dr. 
Clarke's * Marriage Guide,' comes within the statute at all, 
unless every book on that subject is within the statute ; but 
after the defendant's plea of guilty, perhaps it must be taken 
to be a book within the statute. It appears to have been sent 
to parties having a prurient curiosity, and perhaps his notions 
in doing this were not very elevated, but the book itself is 
not immoral or indecent at all, except that it treats of certain 
subjects supposed to be unknown, or not supposed to be 
known, and which, I think, ought to be taught in school. I 
don't see anything at all indecent in the book. I think the 
allegation in the indictment that the book contained passages 
which were too indecent to be spread upon the record was 
made to save the pleader, who wrote the indictment, some 
trouble, and not for the purpose of not shocking the morals of. 
the court If it was supposed to be offensive to the court, I am 
very much obliged to the pleader, but it was not so. I think, 
however, as the plea admits that it is an indecent book, it 
comes within the statute, but the book treats generally of 
medical subjects. Upon what examination I have been able 
to make, I couldn't see that it contains anything indecent 
The Government does not claim that it contains anything 



1056 THE CHAMPIONS OP THE CHimCH. 

lascivious, but the book treats of certain things and diseases 
which are disagreeable, and which, perhaps, young persons 
should not know, or, as many may think, ought not to know. 
The defendant, I think, was engaged in a business not very 
elevating, although he said these books he intended never 
should be sent to young ladies' schools, yet, as the old or 
middle-aged people might have a desire to read them, he 
wished to run as near the line as he could, and, before issuing 
the book he communicated with the district attorney and 
Anthony Comstock. As he received no answer from Mr. 
Comstock, he took silence for assent, and sold the book. 
However, as he has pleaded that this is an indecent book, I 
shall sentence him to pay a fine of $150, without costs." 

During the proceedings, Mr. Comstock was called to the 
stand, whereupon he condemned Mr. Jones' business in 
emphatic terms. Mr. Jones asked him to point out what 
there was in his business that was vile or immoral In addi- 
tion to Clarke's " Marriage Guide," Comstock thought the 
little book called " Widow's Traps " was a very indecent 
work and unfit for circulation. Mr. Jones' attorney turned 
to Mr. Jones and asked him if he had a copy with him. Mr. 
Jones answered that he had not At this, Mr. Comstock was 
still more denunciatory and said the work was suppressed, 
and that he had seized the plates in New York, and that not 
a copy of the work was to be had. Jones, knowing that this 
was wholly untrue, whispered to one of his attendants to go 
to one of the book-stores in the city and procure a copy. In 
a few minutes the young man returned with a copy. At 
this Comstock was evidently taken aback and began to qualify 
his statements. 

Mr. Somerby said: "Mr. Comstock, will you please take 
that little book and point out such parts as you deem 
obscene?" Comstock, in a stammering kind of way, said 
perhaps he was mistaken in the pamphlet, and that possibly 
there was nothing in it improper. "Did you not say, Mr. 
Comstock, that you had seized the plates of this book, and 
that no copies were to be had ?" " I think I must have been 



ANTHONY COMSTOCK. IO57 

wrong; it must have been another work I had in my mind." 
"Do you now say, Mr. Comstock, since you see that a copy 
of the work has been easily procured, that it is obscene and 
unfit for circulation? and, if so, will you point out such parts 
and places?'' " I do not now think the work is immoral or 
obscene." " Mr. Comstock, I consider that you have perjured 
yourself right here before the court" The court was evi- 
dently of the same opinion ; and when Comstock intimated 
that the rulings of Judge Benedict of New York would be 
materially different from Judge Lowell's, and produced a 
long array of written or printed opinions of Benedict, Judge 
Lowell told him that he — Judge Lowell — waa not governed 
by the rulings and decisions of Judge Benedict ; that he acted 
upon the right of coming to his own decisions, the same as 
Judge Benedict undoubtedly did. Comstock was chagrined 
at his want of success in the Jones case, and the manner in 
which he was looked upon and treated was evidently a matter 
of intense disgust to him, and he could not help thinking that 
could he have brought the case before Judge Benedict, it 
would have terminated differently. 

When Mr. Jones was arrested, Comstock went to the post- 
office in the village, and stopped all his registered letters and 
forbade the cashing of his money orders. He was receiving 
from fifty to seventy-five registered letters per day, and when 
the trial was over, eleven hundred had accumulated. These 
of course he wished to have the benefit of, as any penniless 
man would. He had to pay the fine imposed upon him. His 
business had been condemned by the court before which he 
was brought, and he, very naturally, wished to resume his 
regular avocation. To remove the embargo that had been 
placed upon his mail, he visited Washington, and had inter- 
views with Postmaster-General D. M. Key, and A. A. Bissell, 
assistant attorney-general for the Postal Department, but he 
was chagrined to find that his visits there could do no good. 

He was coolly informed there that Anthony Comstock had 
told them that he— ^ones — was doing a fraudulent business, 
as well as sending out obscene matter, and they ct>uld not go 



1058 THE CHAMPIONS OF THE CHURCH. 

behind Mr. Comstock's information or instructions. Mr. 
Jones called attention to the fact that the grand jury found 
nothing wrong in anything he was doing except in Clarke's 
" Marriage Guide," and that Judge Lowell had decided that 
that was not improper, but ought to be in every family. 
"No matter," said Gen. Key, "Mr. Comstock tells us that 
you are doing an improper business, and we are bound to 
accept Ills statement" " But, General Key, is there no proof 
I can bring you that will convince you of Comstock's injus-" 
tice to me ? The selectmen of my town, every clergyman, 
every merchant, and nearly every citizen in the town and 
county who knows me, is willing to sign a certificate that I 
am doing a legitimate, honest business, and that I am a bene- 
fit to the town in which I reside. I have supplied some 
250,000 persons with goods, and not one of them has com- 
plained of being defrauded, or that they have not in every 
case received the value of their money. What more must I 
do to cause you to decide that my mail ought to be delivered 
tome?" "All that is of no avail," said Gen. Key; "Mr. 
Comstock gives us his word that your business ought to be 
suppressed, and we believe his statement He is an active 
agent in whom we have great confidence. True, he over- 
reaches himself sometimes, but his mistakes are in favor of 
the department, and we must stand by him. He is a good 
Christian man, too, and we are bound to take his word in 
preference to anybody's else or to all others' combined," or: 
words to that effect 

Gen. Bissell showed Mr. Jones about two yards of state-, 
ment from Comstock in reference to Jones' business, but^ 
when the latter asked to read it, he was denied the privilege. 
When he desired that it miglit be read to him, he was again 
positively refused When he asked to know what statements 
and charges it contained, that he might be able to rebut them, 
even this request was denied him, and Mr. Jones was strongly 
reminded of the old Spanish Inquisition, where a poor victim 
was arraigned without knowing who was his accuser or with 
what offense he was charged. There certainly is a similarity. 



ANTHONY COMSTOCK. 1059 

Mr. Jones returned to this city with a heavy heart, and, 
upon arriving in New York, proceeded to the office of the 
mighty Anthony Comstock, who not only rules the entire coun- 
try, the U. S. Court the K Y. Postmaster and officials, publish- 
ers, druggists, but even the postmaster-general himself and 
his attornej''. 

He thus addressed himself to Mr. Comstock : " Mr. Com- 
stock, you have injured me to the extent of at least $16,000. 
You have broken up my business. You have stopped my 
mail. You have taken away my goods and damaged me to a 
much greater extent than you can ever repair. You have 
very unnecessarily and very unjustly caused me not only a 
very heavy loss of property but a great amount of trouble I 
Now are you not satisfied? The Judge of the court before 
whom I was arraigned has pronounced my business legitimate, 
everybody who knows me will give me a good name, the hun- 
dreds of thousands of persons I have supplied with goods are 
satisfied with what they obtained of me, nobody has any com- 
plaint to make of me but yourself. Can you not let up your 
heavy hand and let me have my mail matter again and go on 
with my business, saying to the postmaster-general that you 
were mistaken as to the character of my business?" " No," 
said this modern Torquemada, " I have pronounced you a 
fraud, and I shall stick to it You sell a class of goods that 
are of no benefit to those who purchase them, and you are a 
swindler. You shall not resume your business again, and if 
you attempt it I will come down upon you again." In refer- 
ence to Judge Lowell, Comstock spoke contemptuously and 
averred that he, Comstock, had not had a fair show in Boston, 
and that if he had had the case before Judge Benedict in this 
city, he, Jones, would not have got off in the way he did. 

Thus, the man who represents all the morality, all the vir- 
tue, all the decency, all the religion in the country, was as 
obdurate and as unimpressible as a stone. He had set out to 
crush Mr. Jones, and he was still determined to do it Mr. 
Jones was compelled to return to his home and ruined busi- 
ness and to meditate upon the terrible rule of the one-mao 



1060 THE CHAMPIONS OF THE CHURCH. 

power with which the country is cursed. The eleven hun- 
dred registered letters were returned to the writers, and all he 
"could do was to regret that such a man as Comstock is able 
to sway such despotic rule in this boasted land of freedom. 

Perhaps against no class of victims has Comstock shown 
more vindictive hatred than against Freethought and Reform 
publishei-s. 

22. Case of E. n. Heywood. — This gentleman is the 
publisher of a paper called "The Word," at Princeton, Mass. 
He also publishes a few pamphlets, some upon finance, some 
upon interest, some upon social philosophy. He is a highly 
moral man, a gentleman of education and culture, a graduate 
of Brown University, and one who is highly esteemed by his 
numeious friends. His views upon marriage, divorce, and 
kindred subjects differ in many respects from those generally 
held, but he is entirely honest in his views, and he has the 
honesty to publish his advanced ideas fearlessly to the world, 
lie has written a pamphlet upon the social question, called 
"Cupid's Yokes," of which he has sold twenty thousand 
copies. It is written ably and in unexceptionable language, 
but as it deals with subjects that are tabooed by orthodoxy, 
Mr. Comstock made up his mind that Mr. Ileywood must be 
crushed out and sent to prison. He sent a decoy letter from 
Squan Village, N. J., under the assumed name of E. Edge- 
well, for a co})y each of " Cupid's Yokes " and Trails " Sex- 
ual Physiology," upon tlic receipt of which he coarsely 
arrested ^[r. Ileywood, while in attendance and presiding at a 
convention at Boston, and hurried him off without allowing 
him to communicate with his wife or brother who were in the 
same building. 

A[i-. Ileywood succeeded in giving bail, and his trial before 
Judge Clark of the United States District Court came off 
January 17 and 18, 1878. The judge showed a great 
amount of i)rcjudicc against Mr. Ileywood, and his rulings 
partook largely of the intolerance of a Christian bigot. He 
would not allow Mr. Ileywood's witnesses to testify, and his 
charge was conspicuous for itfi uofairoess and partiality, and 



ANTHONY COMSTOCK. IQQI 

was considered by the first lawyers of Boston as a flagrant 
departure from judicial precedents and from the plainest 
principles of justice. The case was given to the jury on 
Friday, the 18th. They were out twenty hours, when the 
judge, wishing to return to his home in New Ilampsliiie, dis- 
missed the jury till Tuesday, the 22d. The verdict, when 
rendered, was guilty^ but altogether a most singular one. The 
jury said they found him guilty on sending out " Cupid's 
Yokes," though they did not find the book obscene, within 
the meaning of the law. It is not strange that such a verdict 
should excite the risibilities of lawyers and others present. 
If the book was not obscene, it excited wonder on the part of 
many how a verdict of guilty could be found. 

A motion was at once made by Mr. Hey wood's attorney, 
Mr. Pickering, for a new hearing before two judges with a view 
of ultimately taking the case before the U. S. Supreme Court 
at Washington, that the constitutionality of the law may be 
tested. As, however, that court has recently decided 
adversely on a lottery case carried up from New York, hold- 
ing the law to be constitutional, it seems hardly advisable to 
attempt to get the verdict relative to Mr. Heywood reversed. 
As these pages are being written, Mr. Heywood is expecting 
his sentence to be rendered at any time. It is to be hoped 
that justice and toleration may actuate the judge, and that 
American liberty may not be outraged by sending Mr. Hey- 
wood to prison for uttering his honest convictions and for 
committing no offense against the laws of morality, truth, or 
justice. If he is sent to prison for exercising the right of an 
American citizen it will only be another proof that we still 
have an Inquisition in this country which denies equal 
rights and privileges to believers and unbelievers in theologi- 
cal superstitions. 

23. Case of D. M. Bennett. — On November 12, 1877, 
Anthony Comstock, attended by deputy U. S. marshall, 
Fritz Bernard, visited the office of " The Truth Seeker," and 
arrested the writer of these pages. In the next issue of his 
paper, November 17th, appeared the following : 



1062 THB CHAMPIONS OF THE CfHURCH. 

IT HAS COME AT LAST. 

One week ago was announced in these columns the arrest 
in Boston, by Anthony Comstock, of E. H. Ileywood, of 
Princeton, Mass. I was not then aware that the time of my 
arrest was so near at hand ; but at that very moment a war- 
rant had been issued against me, and was only awaiting the 
pleasure of Mr. Comstock to serve it 

On Monday last, a little after the hour of twelve, while 
busily engaged in my office, preparing matter for this issue of 
the paper, that noted champion of Christianity, with a deputy 
United States marshal at his elbow, visited me with the infor- 
mation that he had a warrant for my arrest. I inquired by 
what authority and upon what charge ? He replied by the 
authority of the United States and upon the charge of send- 
ing obscene and immoral matter through the mails. In 
reply to my inquiry as to what the objectionable matter was, he 
exhibited two ti-acts, one entitled "An Open Letter to Jesus 
Christ," and the other, "How do Marsupials Propagate their 
Kind ?" He then demanded the amount of those tracts that 
were on hand, which were delivered to him. He showed a 
package of tracts, and so forth, which had been put up at 
this office and sent by mail to S. Bender, Squan Village, N. J., 
and a registered letter receipt for the money accompanying an 
order for " The Truth Seeker," tracts, and so forth, which was 
signed in this office. I asked him whether the party to whom 
the tracts were addressed was a real party, and lie had opened 
his package, or a doyus party, and the letter ordering the 
tracts a mere decoy letter, such as he had uSed~on other occa- 
sions. He acknowledged it was the latter, that he had 
written the oixler in an assumed name. 

Being satisfied that Mr. Comstock was a special agent, em- 
powered by the government of the United States to do the 
kind ojf work he is doing, I deemed any show of resistance 
useless, and passively accompanied him and the deputy mar- 
shal to the room of U. S. Commissioner Shields, in the U. S. 
Court-rooms in the new Post-Office building, who fixed my 



ANTHONY COMSTOCK. lO^g 

bail at $1,600, and set Wednesday, the twenty-first, as tlie day 
for the preliminary examination. The matter of procuring 
bail was the next thing in order. Several persons were 
ready to obh'gate themselves for my appearance on the day 
set, but some one owning real estate in the city was required. 
This was soon procured and I was allowed to go about my 
business. 

Thus I, hard upon sixty years of age, and who for nearly a 
half-century have been a supporter of our government, am 
now arrayed by it as an offender against it for sending 
indecent and blasphemous matter through the mails. The 
two tracts complained of were published two years ago. The 
*' Open Letter " I wrote, and the other was written by 
Ex- Rev. A. B. Bradford, as pure and honorable a man as this 
country can produce, and it is of a purely scientific charac- 
ter, being originally written for the " Popular Science 
Monthly." Though the " Open Letter " may be thought 
pretty radical and outspoken, it is not obscene any more than 
the notion of a god begetting an offspring upon the person of 
a young Jewish maiden is obscene ; and I consider that I had 
a perfectly legitimate right to ask the questions which I did 
upon the subject The charge is ostensibly "obscenity," but 
the real offense is that I presume to utter sentiments and opin- 
ions in opposition to the views entertained by the Christian 
Church. Had I been a supporter of the Church and its 
dogmas, I should not have been disturbed by Comstock 
though I had sent matter through the mails twice as plain or 
" indecent "; and so I said to Comstock while on our way to 
the commissioner's. I asked him why it was, if he was 
so anxious to prohibit the circulation of obscene literature, 
that he did not indict the Bible Society. I told him that that 
book contained more obscenity than any other publication I 
knew of, and inquired of him where he could find more inde- 
cent narratives than the account of Abraham and his concu- 
bine, Lot and his daughters, Jacob and his wives and concu- 
bines, Judah and Tamar, David and Bathsheba and his other 
wives, the rape of Amnon upon his sister Tamar, the adultery 



1064 THE CHAMPIONS OP THE CHURCH. 

of Absolom and his father's concubine, of the extensive oper« 
ations of Solomon with his seven hundred wives and three 
hundred concubines, and his amorous, lovesick song. He 
evaded these inquiries by remarking that some ladies near 
us might hear our remarks, thus virtually confessing that the 
persons and subjects named were indecent 

I have striven to be a law-abiding, upright citizen, doing 
injury to none who came within my reach ; but I am now in 
the meshes of the law, held as a criminal, because I have 
vindicated the freedom of the press and have had the temerity 
to express my honest convictions. What the result of the 
trial will be is a question to be decided. Judging by the 
precedents, it will be likely to go hard with me. I am a 
prominent advocate of heterodox opinions, and have made 
myself obnoxious to the theological powers that be, and am 
considered a belligerent enemy to the system of Christianity. 
It is desired to remove me as far as possible from the field 
of action. John A. Lant, prosecuted at the instigation of 
Comstock, was fined $500 and sentenced to imprisonment at 
hard labor for eighteen months, and his offense was perhaps 
no greater than mine. Dr. E. B. Foote, another of Anthony's 
victims, for simply publishing useful scientific information, 
was fined $3,500, with costs amounting to $1,500 more. 
What, then, is there to be expected forD. M. Bennett? 

This system of persecution may well be denominated the 
American Inquisition, and it will be truly lamentable if this 
great, free government, which was founded upon a non-Chris- 
tian and anti-theological basis, is to become the head and 
front of a fearful tyranny. Anthony Comstock, the great 
informer in these mail cases, is an ardent Christian, and is 
backed by the Young Men's Christian Association and the 
Godin-the-Constitulion party. He wields an immense power, 
arresting whom he pleases, and at his beck the United States 
marshals are prepared to run. The judge presiding over the 
United States District Court is a firm Christian, and no mat- 
ter liow objcctiopiible or j)rejudicod he may be thouglit to be, 
there is no change of venue; and however severe the ver- 



ANTHONY COMSTOCK. IO55 

diet or sentence may be, there is no court of appeals to take 
the case to — no redress. Thus the reader can see at a glance 
how much like the Spanish Inquisition — before which unfor- 
tunate wretches, but two or three centuries ago, were arraigned 
for opinion's sake — our present system is. The Christian 
Comstock takes the place of the grand informer, the Chris- 
tian judge becomes, possibly, the inquisitor-general, Christian 
jurors become aiders and abettors, and Christian fines and 
imprisonment take the place of the Christian rack, wheel, and 
thumbscrew, beheading-block, and stake. Much progress has 
been made in the last three hundred years, but much more 
has yet to be made before a man can express his candid con- 
victions without being in danger of summary arrest and of 
being deprived of his property and his liberty. 

I protest that I have committed no crime. I trust I have 
wronged no person who walks upon the earth, and if there 
be supernal beings who float in the ether above the earth, I 
do not believe that I have wronged them. I have not 
intended to wrong the smallest child nor the greatest man 
thai lives, and in a court of equal justice I do not fear to 
meet the consequences of my conduct 

I have not been fighting a personal warfare. I have bat- 
tled for human rights, for mental liberty and the freedom of 
the press, and I trust the friends of liberty and equality will 
not forsake me in my hour of trial. At best, it costs a great 
deal of money to defend a case in the United States District 
Court The best lawyers ask $1,000 to defend a case of 
"obscenity" before that court, and other expenses are 
correspondingly heavy. Justice is a very dear article, and 
then one is liable to be imposed upon in the quality. If a 
fine is imposed it has to be paid at once or imprisonment 
follows. 

I rest my case with my friends and make no special appeal. 
T embarked in the Liberal publishing enterprise without 
capital, and I liave held my own. I have no money with 
which to fee lawyers, to pixy fines, nor to meet other heavy 
expenses. I am willing to spend my last breath in defense 



1066 THE CHAMPIONS OP THE CHURCH. • 

of what I believe to be truth, justice, and righteousness, but 
I have not gold with which to back my feeble efforts to 
preserve my personal liberty, or to save my life. 

I am the Liberal public's most obedient servant, D. M. B. 

When the day arrived for the examination of the editor of 
" The Truth Seeker," Mr. Comstock seemed to be not quite 
ready to engage in the examination, and it was deferred for 
two weeks ; and when that time had expired it was put off 
again. In the meantime "The Truth Seeker" teemed with 
ardent and sympathetic letters to the persecuted Infidel, and 
donations to a defense fund came in freely. The examination 
never came off. An influence was felt from Washington 
which is believed to have had some effect in this case. 
Colonel Kobert G. Ingersoll wrote the postmaster-general 
David M. Key, and enclosed the two tracts upon which Mr. 
Bennett was arrested, and inquired of him if it was the purpose 
of the Government to prohibit such matter from being sent 
through the mail. He remarked, if they intended to prosecute 
cases of that kind that he should defend Bennett, not only in 
the U. S. Courts, but before the country as well. This letter, 
or something else, caused the authorities in Washington and 
in New York to not prosecute the case ; and although the 
grand jury had found a bill against D. M. Bennett, his case 
was, on the fifth of January, 1878, fully dismissed. Thus, 
although Comstock had determined that the " old Infidel " 
should go to prison for the right he had exercised to think for 
himself and to express his honest convictions, the persecutor 
was completely foiled ; but he still swore, with bated breath, 
that he would "get the old Infidel into prison," or words to 
that effect. His will was doubtless good enough, or rather 
had enough, but for once, at least, his power proved deficient 
24. Case OF Frank Rivers. — This gentleman is a book 
seller and publisher in Boston. Not far from January 1, 
1878, Comstock an-cstcd him for selling, or sending through 
the mails, " The Fruits of Philosophy," written more than 
forty years ago by Dr. Charles Knowlton, and revised by 



ANTHONY COMSTOCK. I()g7 

Charles Bradlaugh. and Mrs. Annie Besant It is the same 
work which the London Society for the Suppression of Vice, 
through its agent, Mr. Green, so bitterly prosecuted the 
latter two persons for selling, causing a sentence of fine and 
imprisonment to be rend6red against them. Mr. Riveis' 
trial has not been held as these pages are being written, but 
it cannot well be doubted that Mr. Comstock will do all he 
can to cause Mr. Rivers to be fined and imprisoned, 

Mr. Comstock has displayed an extra amount of zeal in the 
persecution and prosecution of a class of persons known as 
prevenlionisis and abortionists^ and has distinguished himself in 
that particular line. A few of his exploits in this direction 
will be given : 

25. Case of Edward W. Baxter. — Mr. Baxter has been 
a resident of New York about eighteen years, and has been 
extensively engaged in the furniture trade, but, like many 
others, became embarassed and failed. Recently he engaged 
in putting up a remedy for leucorrhoea and other female weak- 
nesses. It was a simple preparation of zinc, and is said to 
possess excellent qualities. It was advertised in the usual 
way by means of circulars, etc., and in them a caution is said 
to be inserted that special care should be taken not to use the 
remedy after certain exposure has taken place, as its use 
would almost certainly prevent conception. It is only pro]3er 
to state in this connection that before embarking in the prep- 
aration and sale of the remedy, Mr. Baxter took able legal 
advice, and the business was pronounced legitimate and law- 
ful ; but here was food for Comstock. He ranks prevention 
of conception as among the greatest crimes in the calendar, 
and he enjoys no greater pleasure than sending persons to 
prison and pocketing the fines drawn from them for that 
crime of immense magnitude. 

Comstock sent a decoy letter, obtained one of the circulars, 
ordered by registered letter some of the remedy, Baxter 
signed the registered letter receipt, and then he was in the 
power of the terrible informer, who arrested him at his resi- 
dence, 998 Sixth avenue, on the evening of Monday, January 



1068 THE CHAMPIONS OP THE CHUUCH. 

7, 1878. He was taken from his family and thrown into 
Ludlow Street Jail. On the following day he gave bail in 
the sum of $2,500 to await the action of the Grand Jury. 
His former partner, Luther P. Tucker, 684 Broadway, was 
also arrested and placed in the Tombs prison. Comstock got 
out a search warrant and went through his establishment and 
found, on an upper floor, goods, circulars, etc., belonging to 
Barker & Co., of which firm Baxter is the Co. A bill was 
found against Tucker by the Grand Jury. 

In connection with this case an important subject is involved 
— the sinfulness of preventing conception. The procuring of 
abortions cannot be justified by any moral, right-minded 
person, but the too rapid increase of population and the 
expediency of preventing it by safe and legitimate means is a 
question which will denaand the serious attention -of future 
philosophers, physicians, and legislators. There are thou- 
sands of children brought into the world that it would be 
better for themselves and for the world if they never entered 
it If conception, in these cases, had been prevented, no 
wrong would have been committed. 

Mr. Baxter had his trial in the U. S. Circuit Court in May, 
1878. His lawyer discovered a flaw in the indictment, and 
he deemed it best for Baxter to plead guilty and then take 
chances for the case to be thrown out of court He acted 
accordingly, and Baxter pleaded guilty, and in a few days 
Judge Benedict showed an unusual degree of leniency and 
consideration by discharging the prisoner. His joy upon 
finding himself a free man once more may be appreciated 
when the fact is stated that when Baxter left the court house 
and stepped into the street he was fairly delirious, and knew 
not at first which way to go , but soon getting his bearings, 
he started off on a bee-line for his home, shouting out his 
thanks to Judge Benedict and for that flaw in the indictment 

It is indeed a joyful thing to escape the toils of Comstock, 
and it in not strange that such a piece of good fortune should 
make poor Baxter delirious with joy. " 

26. Case of Madam Restelu — Ann Lehman, usually 



ANTHONY COMSTOCK. 1Q^9 

known as Madam Restell, who doubtless liad for many years 
been a professional abortionist, was arrested by Comstock in 
February, 1878. He used in her case the same system of sub- 
terfuge, falsehood, and decoying arts that he uses with nearly 
all his victims. He called upon the Madam at her Fifth ave- 
nue mansion, and pretended that his wife or some other 
female feared she was in an interesting condition, and he 
wished to procure some medicine that would remove the difH- 
culty. She sold him medicine of some kind calculated to 
remove obstructions. He visited her the second time to make 
some additional purchases, on which occasion he arrested her 
and took her to the Tombs, where she was placed under 
$5,000 bail, and not finding it easy to obtain, she was detained 
a prisoner. 

It is believed that a^ prominent object which Comstock had 
in view in arresting this woman was to obtain some of the 
wealth which she possessed in abundance. The treasury of 
his " Society for the Suppression of Yice " had become 
exhausted. The donations of the previous year had not been 
as generous as in other years, and it began to be a matter 
of some solicitude with him as to where the money was to 
come from to admit of his drawing his annual salary of four 
thousand dollars. It was believed that if two or three 
indictments could be obtained against that wealthy woman, 
who had obtained her money in so questionable a manner, 
large sums could be drawn from her in the name of 
decency, morality, and religion. 

The Madam was past sixty years of age ; she had lived a 
quiet and unobtrusive life for more than thirty years, and the 
annoyances and anxieties of being prosecuted by Anthony 
Comstock upon the charge of aiding in procuring abortion 
preyed upon her mind excessively. As before remarked, no 
person who has not experienced the anxiety of mind and the 
feeling of disgrace attendant upon an arrest by Comstock, 
upon such charges as he prefers, can realize the utter wretch- 
edness which such an arrest produces. There is nothing in 
the world like it for making one feel forsaken and booked for 



1070 THE CHAMPIONS OF THE CHURCH. 

a term of prison life. Madam Restell experienced this feeL 
iDg to the full She knew that, although her services had 
saved from disgrace many wealthy aristocratic families belong- 
ing to the most fashionable churches, public sentiment 
■was aroused against her, and that the medical fraternity 
wished her removal from the lucmtive position she occupied, 
and it was doubtless to subserve their interests in part that 
Comstock commenced his persecuting operations against her. 
She experienced much difficulty in obtaining acceptable bail. 
Many persons of wealth would have readily signed her bail 
bond could they have done so without the publicity that would 
necessarily attend it and the odium attached to being security 
for a person arrested upon such a charge. Her bail cost her 
not a little money, and one or more of the bondsmen pro- 
cured at considerable expense surrendered her, and she was 
forced to look up other bail. 

The anxieties and troubles connected with the situation, 
■with the probable conviction, imprisonment, and heavy fine 
that would attend the approaching trial, preyed upon the 
unhappy woman's mind until she was driven nearly to insan- 
ity. On the first of April she was to appear before Judge 
Donahue, when an examination of her case would take place. 
She dreaded the day with a dread almost inconceivable, and 
early on the morning of that day, and while it was yet night, 
supposed to be about two o'clock A. M., she left her bed and 
repaired to her bath-room, when with a large carving-knife 
from the kitchen, and while reclining in the bath, she cut her 
throat from ear to ear, and there cold and dead she w^as found 
by her domestics in the morning. It was a shocking affair, 
but she had placed herself beyond Comstock's reach and ren- 
dered it impossible for him to clutch any of her money. It 
was doubtless a heavy disappointment to that Christian 
official. 

According to the statement v/hich Comstock himself made 
to a mutual friend, this was the fifteenth case whore he had 
driven his victims to suicide, and to this number a larger list 
could probably be added of those who by his persecutions 



ANTHONY COMSTOCK. 1071 

and p*K)secutions, with the imprisonments and attendant dis- 
grace and wretchedness, have been driven to an untimely 
grave, as effectually and with far greater mental suffering than 
if he had assassinated them with knife or pistol. What a 
reflection must it be to a man, with human feelings in liis 
breast, that he has caused the death of more than thirty per 
sons and the despoiling of his unfortunate victims of hun 
dreds upon hundreds of thousands of dollars! But such i^ 
the power of Christian persecution — of the American Inquisi- 
tion — at the present day. 

After the sad taking off of Madam Kestell the papei-s of the 
city and country were somewhat severe in their comments in 
reference to Comstock and his system of inveigling and 
decoying persons into his power to crush and destioy them 
"The Daily Graphic" contained the following : 

" Is it right to do evil that good may come ? Is it a good 
thing for the community at large in putting down one form 
of vice to permit and encourage the development of another ? 
Is not there danger in any method of ridding the world of one 
class of social parasites which develops another? 

"ITot only is "the suppressor gratiiied by finding his vice," 
but he carefully cultivates its growth. In order that he may 
get the credit which follows energy and success, he selects 
some person that he thinks has committed the crime which it 
is his duty to detect, a duty on which his bread and butter 
depends, and he goes to the person, and by all the induce- 
ments which human ingenuity can suggest he urges and 
beseeches him to commit the crime so that he can get the 
reward 

" The man becomes the detective and informer, and ceases 
to be the public-spirited citizen. 

" In the present case, if Mr. Comstock has been correctly 
reported, he did not originally take up the Kestell matter 
because he thouglit it a public duty to do so. No one had 
complained of the v/oman for prosecuting her nefarious busi- 
ness, and it is current rumor that the pills and powders which 
she sold were a harmless sham, and that she herself was sim- 



1072 THE CHAMPIONS OF THE CHURCH. 

j/]y a fraud, whatever might have been the intention of her- 
self or her patrons. Mr. Comstock was badgered into entrap- 
ping Restell. Men said to him : ' Yes, you are afraid of big 
game. You arrest the poor, but you permit one of the rich 
women of New York to prosecute her trade openly in this 
city.' With the woman or her trade no one can have any 
sympathy, and very few will regret her end. Mme. Kestell is 
nothing, but the good of society is of the highest importance. 
The development of a class of spies and detectives whose for- 
tune and fame would depend upon their success in entrapping 
the members of society into the commission of crime would 
threaten the very existence of society. The detective has a 
tremendous advantage over any private individual. He has 
the sympathies of society on his side, nis methods are con- 
doned so long as his motives are right, and his motives are 
taken for granted in nine cases out of ten. If, on the other 
hand, we look at the history of the detective service in this city 
we see how little deserving detectives have been of any 
credit The whole detective service has been rotten, and 
there is hardly a question that if the truth were known detec- 
tive and thief were synonymous in most cases. 

"Let us not forget then that there are great dangers lurking 
in our present methods of suppressing immorality. We may 
produce a class of professional liars, informers, and decoys. 
And if we do, it will be pretty certain that we will not sup- 
press vice, but suppress those who do not * come down ' to 
the informer. As yet we are safe, but the present system 
needs careful watching lest it should become the nursing 
mother of a class of rotten detectivea" 

After a full account of thg Madam's funeral, the " Tele- 
gram " gave the following report of a conversation that took 
place at the Madam's house : Mr. Farrell, a son-in-law of the 
Madam, stated that she had at one time intended to flee to 
Canada ; but she gave up this })lan at the persuasion of her 
friends, lie then went on to say : " Comstock's attempt to 
make her appear the vile person he re])rcsented her was an 
outrage, and his coming here with six officers expecting to 



ANTHONY COMSTOCK. 107S 

find a house full of patients must have been a great disap- 
pointment to him, as it only ended in the arrest of one old 
woman. There never has been a patient taken in this house, 
and all attempts to prove it would have failed." 

The " Herald," in a report of a sermon by the Rev. Charles 
McCarthy, contained the following: "In my opinion, in the 
manner in which she was entrapped, she was more sinned 
against than sinning. The fraud and falsehood by which she 
was made amenable to a law that is universally violated by 
the medical profession of this city cannot be too strongly 
condemned. When, in the Great Assize, the question is 
asked. By what means was this misguided woman driven in 
her old age to self-slaughter ? and the answer is given. She 
was hunted down by miserable subterfuge, by cunning and 
heartless fabrications, by open and mean lying, and by 
specious arguments which were craftily devised to work upon 
her better nature, what will the judge of all the earth say to 
this pretended suppression of vice and crime by means in 
themselves the most appropriate to promote vice and crime ? 
This strange tragedy is calculated to call attention not only 
to the degrading methods by which crime is detected, but also 
to that condition of social degradation which fosters the crime, 
while in a few isolated cases it seeks to punish the criminal." 

As great as the crimes of Madam Eestell were, they were 
not to be compared to those against human rights and per- 
sonal liberty committed by Anthony Comstock. 

27. Case of Dr. Sara B. Chase.— "The Truth Seeker" 
for May 18, 1878, contained the following account of the 
arrest of that lady : 

''More Comstockism. — On the ninth inst, Anthony Com- 
stock, attended by his accomplice and partner, Jose})h A. 
Britton, and officer James G. Ilowe, visited the house of Dr. 
Sara B. Chase, No. 66 West Thirty-third street, and arrested 
that lady and took her before Judge Morgan at the Tombs, 
where she was held in $1,500 bail upon the enormous charge 
of having sold two female syringes, gotten up expressly for 
cleansing and healthful purposes. 



1074 THE CH^^PIONS OF THE CHURCH. 

"Dr. Sa^a B. Chase has resided in this city nearly four 
years, and nas become well known as a lecturer on physio- 
logical subjects before separate classes of ladies and gentle- 
men, and also as a successful practitioner in homeopathic 
medicine. She has recently started ' The Physiologist,' an 
excellent reform and health monthly, of which she is editor 
and publisher. 

" She has given several courses of lectures in Brooklyn, 
and that is the home of Anthony Comstock. It seems tkat 
not long since he opened a correspondence with the lady, 
upon the subject of procuring a syringe from her. He did 
not write in his own name, but followed, mther, the course 
for which he has become notorious, of writing over a fictitious 
name. He this time personated a Mrs. Farnsworth, who had 
attended Mra Chase's lectures and had received valuable 
information thereby, and wished to procure a syringe from her, 
but on account of illness was unable to be present on the 
occasion of the doctor's last lecture in Brooklyn, and she 
would send her husband to the doctor's residence for one of 
the instruments. In fact, Comstock himself took this letter 
to the lady, and passed himself off as the veritable Mr. Farns 
worth whose wife wanted a syringe. He received the instru- 
ment, with full directions as to how it should be used. He 
was so well pleased with it that, on the following day, he took 
his bosom friend, Joseph A. Britton, to see the doctor and 
procure one of those valuable instruments for his wife. 

"Dr. Chase being, of course, willing to sell these valuable 
syringes to every married lady who wished them, cheerfully 
sold one to the honorable Mr. Britton ; and then it was that 
the pure and spotless Mr. Anthony Comstock made himself 
known, telling the lady that he was himself no less tJian 
Anthony Comstock, and that she must accompany him to the 
Tombs. Before leaving the premises, however, he caused the 
house to be searched and overhauled in a most shameless 
manner. He caused the ladies of the family to be shut up in 
a room, and then every room, closet, drawer, and every con- 
ceivable place was examined, even to bundles of letters and 



ANTHONY COMSTOCK. IO75 

correspondenca He continued the search until, in the pocket 
of one of the lady's dresses, hanging in a closet, he found the 
decoy letter he had written in the name of Mrs. Farnsworth, 
which he carefully took with him, that the proofs of his lying 
and villainy might not easily be produced against him. 

" As an instance of Comstock's meanness, it may be stated 
that among the lady's private papers he found an article on 
'Foeticide,' which was decidedly against the practice of it; 
but, in order to present her case as unfavorably as possible, 
in the statement which he furnished ' The Tribune,' he men- 
tioned finding the article, but changed the title to 'Foeticide 
— When it should be done.^ There were no grounds for his 
making that change ; and a man who would do such a deed 
would probably commit forgery or theft 

"In the same 'Tribune' article, Comstock exhibited more 
of the ignoble traits of his character by attempting to pre- 
judge the case in the public mind by placing the lady at a 
disadvantage by styling her a rival of Madam Kestell, and 
making ungentlemanly and uncalled-for remarks about her 
mouth. On the way to the Tombs, Comstock spoke to the 
lady about her paper, ' The Physiologist,' and said he 
regarded it as an immoral paper and one that ought not to be 
allowed circulation. She found no trouble in giving bail, and 
thus the Christian Comstock was cheated out of the pleasure 
of causing her to be kept in the Tombs over night 

" The crime which the agent of the Society for the Suppres- 
sion of Vice charges against Mrs. Chase, is that b}^ the syr- 
inges which she recommends and sells, slie places it in the 
power of wives to prevent conception. This he holds to be 
very criminal in any one whom he chooses to make his vic- 
tim, but when the president of his society, Mr. Samuel Col- 
gate, wishes to engage in the business of selling an article 
which he recommends as a preventive of conception, he does 
not interfere in the enterprise and does not try to bring his 
friend Colgate to justice, and in this laudable clemency he is 
seconded by the amiable United States district-attorney, Mr 
Stewart L. Woodford, who knows how Mr. Colgate has vio- 



1076 THE CHAMPIONS OF THE CHURCH. 

lated the law, but, himself being an honored member of the 
Society for the Suppression of Vice, refuses to prosecute its 
honored but intolerant president It is of course very crimi- 
nal in Dr. Chase to take any means to provide persons with 
the means for preventing conception, but Mr. Colgate may sell 
tons of vaseline, which, blended with salicylic acid, he recom- 
mends as being potent in preventing conception or removing 
the effects of it, and he shall not be disturbed. He is a pious 
man, he supports the Church, he loves Jesus and hates Free- 
thinkers — and he is at liberty to sell all the vaseline he 
wishes. No laws nor courts nor Comstocks shall be sufiicient 
to interfere with him in his lucrative career. Being a " truly 
good man," he is to be allowed uninterruptedly the privileges 
which belong only to the faithful He may do as he pleases 
Bitting under his own vine and fig-tree, and none shall make 
him afraid. 

" This question of preventing conception is one which is 
bound to be discussed and passed upon by the American pub- 
lic as it has been by the people of Great Britain. It will be 
canvassed in all its aspects, and it will be examined into with 
a view to decide whether it is criminal or not To all intents 
and purposes this is an open question, and must remain so for 
some time to come. Anthony Comstock, seconded by the 
members of Congress and of our State Legislature, has 
attempted to close it, and to pronounce prevention as crim- 
inal, but it is very doubtful if his dictum will stand through 
all coming time. It is at all events our privilege and our 
pleasure to examine the subject carefully. 

" There are cases where the prevention of conception is not 
only harmless but entirely proper. Suppose a mother has 
ten children already, with one at the breast, is it absolutely sin- 
ful to take harmless measures that the number be not 
increased ? Suppose a pair in great poverty with a house full 
of children half-clad and half-fed, the anxious parents driven 
to tlio greatest straits to be able to supply even this half- 
allowance, ought they to be sent to the penitentiary for using 
prudential means to stop the increase of their half- fed and; 



ANTHONY COMSTOCK. IO77 

half-clothed offspring ? If one or both parents have the seeds 
of consumption in them, if three of their children have 
already fallen victims to pulmonary diseases, and two others 
are hastening on in the same road, is it wrong for them to use 
laudable means to prevent still others being added to this 
woeful number? If the father is eaten up with syphilis, or 
is semi-rotten with scrofula, is it sinful for the mother by a 
cleansing process to use such a simple preventive as will 
not increase the number of children to be miserable heirs to 
disease and wretchedness ? If the father has by a long course 
of dissipation brought upon himself imbecility or semi-idiocy, 
shall the mother not be allowed to prevent an unsound men- 
tal and physical offspring to be born to such a father ? If 
the tendency to insanity is strong in the husband's family, if 
his father and grandfather became hopelessly insane, and in a 
fit of madness butchered their wives and children, is it posi- 
tively criminal for the mother to use an ablution of water 
applied by the use of a female syringe to prevent the misera- 
ble, dangerous stock from being perpetuated ? If a mother by 
toil and child-bearing is broken dowm in health and strength 
until she is hardly able to drag herself around, and if in her 
last confinement she suffered to the extent that her life was 
despaired of, and her nearest friends believed she could not 
survive, and could not possibly pass through another such 
ordeal, would she be committing a crime against God or man 
by using a simple means of prevention? Are there not 
thousands upon thousands of similar cases where prevention 
is not in the slightest sense wrong, but in the highest degree 
commendable and proper? and shall Anthony Comstock and 
his le^l abettors send people to prison for aiding this thing? 
In fact, is it not right for any wife or mother to decide for her- 
self whether she wishes to bear more children or not? Take 
China, for instance, where parts of that country are excess- 
ively overcrowded, where hundreds of thousands are starving 
to death for the want of food, and where dead children are 
offered in the market as food, is it criminal to prevent by 
sensible means th© birth of more children under such circum- 



1078 THE CHAMPIONS OF THE CHURCH. 

stances? Is it not better, far better, tljat conception be 
prevented than that children be born into the world to die of 
starvation or to be eaten up by the vilest diseases? 

" In any case of prevention that may be used, even admitting 
that it is a crime, it is most difficult to know whether the 
crime has absolutely been committed, for it is impossible to 
be told whether conception would have taken place or not. 
The proportion of conceptions to the possibilities is ex- 
tremely small. It is probable the proportion is much the 
same as with the seeds of trees of the forest, the herbs of the 
field, or the ova of the fishes of the sea — perhaps not one 
in a thousand produces its like. We have seen no estimate 
by physiologists as to what the proportion is, but probably it 
is not more than one to fifty or to one hundred; hence it 
must be seen that if the most effectual preventive is employed 
that can be devised, it must be highly improbable that a 
crime has been committed. The most effectual preventive 
known in the world (and we hope Comstock will not cause 
our arrest for making it known) is for the sexes to strictly 
remain apart ; and of course, then, this is the most criminal 
of all the modes, and persons guilty of it should be sent to 
prison for not less than ninety-nine years. 

*' This question has attracted the earnest attention of some of 
the best men and the deepest thinkers in England, and the 
subject is bound to arouse attention in our own country. There 
are some persons depraved enough to think it would be bet- 
ter to place some check upon the too great evils of over-pop- 
ulation, rather than too see the distress repeated here that 
exists in China, in India, and in some of the over-crowded 
cities of Europe. Those persons do not regard ijrith favor 
the introduction of miserable children into this world, whose 
parents are only fitted to bring a helpless or diseased offspring 
into existence, and, with Darwin, they think that in the prop- 
agation of no domestic animals are men so careless as with 
their own race. In discussing this important subject Darwin 
says : " Excepting in the case of man himself hardly any 
one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to. breed" 



ANTHONY COMSTOCK. 1()79 

The class of intelligent persons referred to do not regard 
the sexual part of the human organization as being wholly 
vile, all knowledge of which is positively criminal and must 
needs be suppressed. On the other hand, they hold that the 
organs which constitute us men and women are as honorable, 
and should be as well understood, as any other parts of our 
bodies, and that it is not criminal to understand their uses 
and proper needs. It is only Anthony Comstock and such 
prurient minds as his that see so much that is vile and crimi- 
nal in the distinguishing features that make us men and 
w^omen. It is such as he who think that people ought to be 
sent to prison for even looking at the picture of a nude 
human being ; and it remains to be tested whether Comstock 
shall be the permanent law-maker and dictator in our mis- 
called free country. 

" The subject, as observed, of population and over-popula- 
tion is of vital importance to the human race, present and 
future ; it cannot be ignored, and should not ba This sub- 
ject must come to the front ; it must be examined ; it must 
for some time in the future remain an open question ; and we 
decidedly hold that neither Anthony Comstock nor his pet 
members of Congress and of the Legislature have any right 
to close it 

" The most villainous of Comstock's tricks in this business is 
the effort to represent Mrs. Chase as an abortionist, when 
nothing is further from the truth. No person feels more 
against that crime or has spoken more strongly against it than 
has the lady herself. Comstock will not be able to prove 
anything of that kind against her, and it is only by his despica- 
ble course in putting false headings to his ' Tribune ' articles 
that he can accomplish his vile purposes. It is not enough 
to bring odium upon the lady by causing her arrest, but he 
ueems determined to prejudice her case all he can in the pub- 
lic mind before it comes to trial. If such a man can be a 
good man, where, pray, are the evil ones to be found? 

" Is it, indeed, so great a crime to sell a female syringe -that 
people must have their business broken up, their. reputation 



1080 THE CHAMPIONS OP THE CHUBOH. 

blasted for it for life ? If it is a crime for Dr. Chase to sell a 
syringe of this kind, every druggist in the country ought to 
be sent to prison for life. There is probably not a druggist 
in the United States who has not sold female syringes. We 
were in the drug business a quarter of a century, and we sold 
many scores of them, and did not dream that we were com- 
mitting a crime by doing so. From what we know of the 
importance of cleanliness in maintaining the health of both 
sexes, we are fully convinced that these syringes should be 
used much more than they are. We are decidedly of the 
opinion that no lady's toilet is complete who has not one of 
them. Those who lack them are not in possession of a nec- 
essary aid to cleanliness and health. A person who supplies 
ladies with them is really doing a good deed to his fellow- 
beings. In preventing their diffusion and making it a 
crime, Anthony Comstock is again proving himself an enemy 
to his race." 

It is a cause of pleasure that when Comstock presented the 
case of Dr. Chase before the grand jury, they failed to 
see that the lady had committed any offense for which she 
ought to be punished or that she had violated any law of the 
land. One of the grand jury asked Comstock if it was his 
intention to drive Dr. Chase to suicide as he had driven 
Madam RestelL The agent for the Y. M. C. A. and for the 
Society for the Suppression of Vice evidently felt chagrined 
at his want of success in this case, and the congratulations 
extended towards Dr. Chase were hearty and numerous. Many 
of the papers condemned Conistock's course. An indignation 
meeting was held in Science Hall, Saturday evening. May 
25th, in which Dr. Chase gave the opening address, and was 
followed by G. L. Henderson and J. D. McClelland, attorney. 
Tlie latter, being thoroughly acquainted with Comstock's man- 
ner of doing business, was able to speak to the point He gave 
several facts within his own knowledge connected with the 
Comstock cases he had defended. One case in particular is 
worthy of attention. It was of a man whom Comstock had 
arrestiBd for seJhding— in ansfweir to a decoy letter from Com- 



ANTHONT COMSTOCK. 1081 

Stock — a syringe through the mail. The unfortunate man 
was thrown into prison, and his wife and children left to sufier. 
On the trial, despite the hard swearing of Comstock, and the 
sev^ere rulings of Judge Benedict, he succeeded in causing the 
jury to stand six and six. He proved, by several eminent 
physicians of the city, that the syringe was a valuable one and 
innocent of any harm. This amounted to nothing with Judge 
Benedict The speaker pronounced the rulings of Judge 
Benedict — ^from whose court there was then no appeal — as 
being of a very severe character. He expressed his joy that 
the law was now changed, so that there is a chance for a case 
to be opened and appealed ; and, if justice demands it, a new 
hearing can be hacL 

After the jury had thus disagreed, a new trial was obtained, 
and the second time he succeeded in dividing the jury six to 
six. Even for the third time this result was produced ; but 
on the fourth trial the rulings of the judge were so severe 
upon the prisoner that a verdict was secured, and the unfor- 
tunate prisoner was declared guilty, and he was sentenced 
to two years' imprisonment for the trivial offense of sending 
a syringe through the mail ;^' ' ^ -^^ ^ ' ' 

When the husband had thus been; seiit tb prisdn, the youiig 
wife saw very hard times. She could get work but a portion 
of the time, and to keep herself and children from starvation 
she was compelled ta pawn one article of jewelry after 
another, and one keepsake after another, and by this course 
alone was she able to keep herself and children alive; but at 
length everything of any value that could be pawned was put 
in pledge, and there was nothing but utter want to stare her 
in the face; A few months after this the attorney one morn- 
ing saw this woman arraigned as a lawless prostitute before 
the- police court He sought an opportunity to speak to the 
wretehed woman, and hc^sked her how iii the world she had 
come down ta occupy that position. With tears in her eyes 
ehe told him she had struggled to obtain bread for her chil- 
di'ea a« long aa she potosibly could, and when everything was 
g5ie, and she was upon the point cf starvation, she had 



1082 THE CHAMPIONS OF THE CHURCH. 

yielded to the importunities of Iier landlord, and had prosti- 
tuted her body to save the lives of her children, and that she ■■, 
had since gone down step by step till she was where she was. • 
"Ah I" said the attorney, "if there is a God, if there is a 
future world of retributive justice, if there is a 2)lace of 
torment, that man, Anthony Corastock, will there have to 
answer for the human wreck and sufifering he has produced!'* 

He furtlier stated that the cases of conviction that Corn- 
stock proudly boasted of had cost the hottest tears of anguish ; 
and the keenest pangs of sorrow known to the human heart, 
and that the same had been accomplished by the vilest arts of 
the informer, the basest falsehood, the most despicable tricks 
of the decoyer, as well as by treachery of the blackest kind 
" More than that," he asserted, " Comstock and his accom- 
plice have been guilty of perjury in prosecuting the hapless 
victims whom they have thrust into prison." He believed 
Anthony Comstock to be one of the worst men he ever knew 
—one who was utterly lost to every feeling of pity and com- 
passion. The manner in which he pictured the heartless 
villain stood out in bold relief before the vision of the audi- 
ence present. 

As these pages are being written, Dr. Chase is about com- 
mencing a suit for damages against Comstock for false 
imprisonment and for injuries she has sustained in her 
busmess. At the time of her arrest her house was full of 
paying tenants, her lectures were well attended, and she had 
a remunerative practice, but the odium connected with an ; 
arrest by Comstock, and upon such a charge is sufficient to drive .: 
away large numbers of timid people who are afraid to have 
the least connection with a suspected person. Her business ; 
has suffered excessively, and it is to be hoped she may be • 
able to recover suitable damages. And it would seem but ; 
simple justice that the society which employs him and pays . 
him $1,000 per year for the contemptible services he renders 
should be made to pay for the needless wretchedness, misery, 
and loss of property they cause. If a man or a company . 
keep a vicious dpg which attacks and tears people to pieces, 



ANTHONY COMSTOCK. 108S 

they ought" to be responsible for his conduct. It is to be 
hoped Dr. Chase may be successful in her suit 

Too much space is perhaps being occupied with this char- 
acter, far more than is due him, but it is desirable to make a 
fair exhibit of the kind of work he is doing in the name of 
decency, morality, and the Christian religion. As the recog- 
nized agent and executor of the very Christian Society for 
the Suppression of Vice and the Y. M. C. A., and as a strik- 
ing tj'pe of the latest form of Christian persecutions, it is but 
proper that a due amount of space in this work be accorded 
him. Less than tliirty of hia cases have liere been given, being 
not one-tenth of the whole number of which he boasts. Had 
the nearly three hundred arrests he has made been given in 
detail, with all the anxiety, trouble, personal inconvenience 
and wretchedness they have caused, they would doubtless fill 
a volume as large as this. Probably enough has been given 
to enable the reader to obtain a pretty clear view of the char- 
acter of the man. But lest all his Christian qualities may not 
be appreciated, one or two additional instances of his devotion 
to decency and high orthodox morals are given. 

In the issue of the " Waverly Magazine " for November 
10, 1877, appeared an advertisement reading like this : " To 
Sports.— An elegant book for you will be sent on receipt 6t 
fifty cents. Address J. G. Phillips, Box 49, Squan Village, 
N. J." This was pointed out to the writer as being the work 
of Conistock, and that it was he who was doing that adver- 
tising. It was known at once that it was one of his post- 
offices, that he had a home in that vicinity, and that he had 
sent to the writer at least two letters from that point under 
the name of S. Bender (probably the father of Miss Ella), 
ordering " The Truth Seeker," the " Open Letter to Jesus 
Christ," the " Marsupial " tract, and several others, as well as 
a copy of Dr. Trail's " Sexual Physiology." It was from 
Squan Village, under the same name, that he ordered goods 
from E. W. Jones, and it was from Squan Village that he 
wrote to E. H. Hey wood for "Cupid's Yokes" and another 
copy of Trail's "Physiology." It was from Squan Village 



1084 ▼HB OHAMKONS Off THE CHtTRCH. 

that the interesting letters cam© forth to the impressible Dr. 
Morrison. ■■'■< , 

It was easy to reach the conclusion that J. Q. Phillips, S. 
Bender, Miss Ella Bender, and Anthon3^ Comstock were one 
and the same person. A friend ordered a copy of Anthony's 
"Book for Sports," inclosing fifty cents in a letter which he 
had registered. In due time the receipt came back signed 
" J. G. Phillips," and after a few days came a copy of a cheap 
London edition of the New Testament, which in England 
retails at twopence, and of which hundreds of thousands are 
given away. In quantities they probably cost two cents. On 
a corner of the wrapper was a small gum labels reading, 
" From the American Tract Society, 150 Nassau street. New 
York," which place, by the by, is where Comstock has his 
headquarters. Here the connection between J. G. Phillips of 
Squan Village and Anthony Comstock of 150 Nassau street 
was thoroughly established. But it was thought his profits 
were too large. For the fifty cents a book had been received 
which cost at the most three cents, postage two<jenta Fifty 
cents for what cost fire is a thousand per cent, which in hai\i 
times is a very lar^^e profit In a few days, however, came 
back the fifty cents in a registered letter, with a pious homily 
which bore no signature j but it could have been from none 
else than the Squan Village firm. 

At this stage of the business the party ordering thought he 
was a Testament ahead. He had received a copy of that 
esteemed book, a pious letter, and his money back again— a 
very good investment It could not easily be seen where 
Comstock could make much by doing business in that way, 
for he had used seventeen cents in postage stamps besides the 
stationery. His game was better understood a few days later 
when there came from the same source in a sealed envelope 
with six cents in stamps upon it, some fifteen or twenty 
pages' from a most villainously, obscene book entitled, " Pleas- 
ing Memoirs," with an indecent, obscene picture of the most 
objectionable character. The envelope was directed in a dis- 
guised hand. 



ANTHONY COMSTOCK. 1085 

That all this was the work of the Christian Comstock there 
cannot be the slightest doubt An intelligent person went to 
Squan Village to interview the postmaster and others, and he 
learned that J. G. Phillips, S. Bender, and Anthony Com- 
stock are the same person, and that the postmaster there was 
privy to the artful games Comstock had been playing. The 
name and address given by the person who ordered the 
*' Book for Sports " to J. O. Phillips were never given to any 
other person, so all that came to that address must have come 
from the party who had the name and address. It could not 
have been otherwise. It was Comstock and nobody else that 
mailed that vile stuff. He was the only one who had the 
address referred to, and he was the only one who had that 
kind of literature, having monopolized all there is in the 
country. In the whole transaction it is easy to trace his low 
cunning and his diabolic desire to catch some unsuspecting, 
unsophisticated person in his snares. Let others decide 
whether such a man is fit to control the morals of the coun- 
try, and to be entrusted with unlimited power to persecute, to 
imprison, and to take the property and life of those far better 
than himself. 

The latest instance of Comstock's Christian morality and 
purity is as follows : On the night of June 14, 1878, AntLony 
Comstock, attended by five other men, supposed to be brother 
members of the Society for the Suppression of Vice, went to 
a house of prostitution, 224 Greene street, and those six godly 
men induced three frail women, who make their bread by the 
prostitution of their bodies, for the consideration of fourteen 
dollars, to lay off all their wearing apparel, and, in a closed 
room, to expose their persons, like so many original Eves, to 
the six men aforesaid. After these young Christian Associates 
had feasted their eyes to the full, and even Comstock had 
become satis5ed, he then assumed his dignity of t)ffice and 
said they were his prisoners, and that he was Anthony Corn- 
stock. He drew a revolver, and pointing it at the woman 
who kept -the house, declared, in the most imperious manner," 
that if shf i^tirr^d hf would blow i^er braixis put H^ grdered 



1086 THE CHAMPIONS OF TH& CHURCH. 

them to wrap blankets around them and to march off to 
prison just as they were, but he finally relented enough to let 
them put their garments on,, and they, with the landlady, were 
marched to the fourteenth ward station and kept in prison 
Beveral days, when they succeeded, at an expense of thiee 
hundred dollars each, in obtaining bail. In the excitement of 
the occasion the landlady lost a seventy-five-dollar diamond 
ring from her finger, but she was hurried out of the room 
before she could have time to find it It is thought that one 
of the six good men were enriched by finding that valuable 
piece of jewelry, as the landlady has not seen it since. Is it 
to be supposed that the Young Men's Christian Association 
and the Society for the Suppression of Vice will be proud of 
this last moral act of their agent and representative ? Was 
ever a baser, lower, and more contemptible act ever com- 
mitted by a man? Can any state of things justify such a 
dirty, indecent piece of business? Were not the poor unfor- 
tunates, who are reduced to such pitiful expedients to earn 
their daily bread, quite as honorable as Comstock ? 

Comstock has frequently asserted, in the public press and in 
private conversation, that he makes no arrests and enters 
upon no case until he has received authority to do so from 
his society, or the committee of the society, having such busi- 
ness in charge. If that is so, his Society for the Suppression 
of Vice must be held responsible for this filthy piece of busi- 
ness in that house of prostitution. That Christian society is 
either particeps criminis in the disgusting affair or their secre- 
tary and agent has lied. At all events, they cannot evade 
the official acts of their agent and representative. 

Almost every man in the world, whether good or bad, may 
be said to have had in the past his archetype, prototype, or 
precursor, from whom he has patterned or from whom he has 
seemed to take qualities and characteristics to govern his own 
conduct In looking for such an antitype for Anthony Com- 
stock among the violent and cruel persecutors which the 
Christian Church has raised up, the mind almost intui- 
tively reverts to Torquemada, the demoniac inquisitor-gen* 



ANTHONY COMSTOCK. 1087 



eral of Spain, for a sketch of whose career the reader is 
referred to page 608. It may well be conceded that Corn- 
stock would have made a very vigilant inquisitor-general, 
and that he would have delighted in arresting, torturing, 
and burning heretics and every person who presumed to 
differ from the standard of thought and opinion to which he 
pays allegiance. Though Torquemada caused the death of 
one hundred thousand innocent persons, and subjected a greater 
number to cruel torture and imprisonment, he was too pure a 
man, too honest and sincere, to stand as a fit type for Anthony 
Comstock, for he did not follow his infernal system of per 
secution for the purpose of making money by the sufferings 
of his victims as Comstock has done. A farther search must 
be made for a prototype. O, here is one, it is Matthew Hop- 
kins, the notorious witchfinder of the seventeenth century, 
some account of whom may be found on page 796. There are 
some striking points of resemblance between the two men. 
Hopkins was a witchfinder-general in the seventeenth century 
as Comstock is obscenity-finder-general in the nineteenth cen- 
tury. Hopkins was clothed with a species of legal authority 
to prowl over several of the shires of England, seizing his vic- 
tims wherever he could find them, and Comstock has been 
clothed with a similar sort of legal authority to prowl 
over some of these American States, hunting down his 
unfortunate victims in the same kind of way. It was the 
pleasure of Hopkins to seize upon those he or others declared 
to be witches and to put them through the most fiendish 
tests and to bring them to torture and death. Comstock 
eagerly siezes upon his victims, whom he accuses of obscen- 
ity or immorality or heterodoxy with equal v^nom, hate, 
and cruelty, considering the age of the world in which he 
lives, and from this view he has probably caused an equal 
number of deaths. It has been observed that Comstock has 
boasted of causing fifteen persons to commit suicide, and it 
is probable that others who have been forced to an involun- 
tary death by means of his heartless persecutions are not 
fewer in number ; and those whose hearts he has torn with 



1088 THE CHAMPIONS OP THE CHURCH. 

anguish and deep grief, as with hooks of steel, are to be num 
bered by scores and hundreds. Matthew Hopkins never 
gloated over his victims more with the hate of a demon than 
Comstock has gloated over his. Both prosecuted their dia- 
bolical business in the name of decency and morality, and 
both were arrant hypocrites. 

It will be remembered that Hopkins pursued his operations 
in this manner : When an unfortunate woman was complained 
of to him as a witch, or of whom it was even suspected tliat 
she was a witch, he at once shut her in a room, stripped her 
naked, and placed her in a very painful position, which, if 
she did not retain, he bound her with strong cords, and kept 
her thus without food, drink, or sleep for twenty-four hours. 
When exhausted nature yielded to the demand for sleep he 
roused her and made her walk till her feet were blistered ; 
and when, by this Christian treatment, he had reduced his 
victim to a state of insanity or imbecility, he made her confess 
to having had intercourse with the devil, and with having 
given birth to imps in the forms of lizards, toads, snakes, and 
goats, whose father was the devil; and then, upon that 
enforced confession, he caused her to be tortured and to be 
put to death in the most shocking manner. 

Comstock has exhibited similar traits of character. He is 
equally merciless and equally callous to every sentiment of 
human kindnesa The victims of Hopkins were largely 
females, while those of Comstock are divided between the 
sexes, and those he has succeeded in making sufficiently 
wretched for any purpose. Every man whose arrest he has 
caused had a wife, a mother, or a sister to be rendered heart- 
broken by the deep disgrace cast upon them and the great 
wrong thus inflicted. 

A favorite way, it will be remembered, that Hopkins had 
for testing his unfortunate victims was by " the swimming 
process." The miserable wretch was tied up in a sheet and 
thrown upon the surface of a pond or river. If she sunk and 
was drowned she was supposed to be innocent,' but sh6 was 
di'owned, nevertheless ; but if she floated, as al^out nine in ten 



ANTHONY COMSTOOK. 1089 

did, then she was declared a witch, and was either dragged 
through ponds and ditches until life was extinct, or she was 
hanged or burned, as the decision might be. 

But finally the people became so incensed at Hopkins' 
cruelty that they concluded to try his own test upon him. 
They tied him in a sheet and threw him upon the water, and 
he floated ; hence he was declared a witch or wizard, and he 
was accordingly executed upon the spot If the analogy is 
carried out in Comstock's case, there are many who, having 
a most bitter recollection in connection with him, will not 
be sorry. It is believed by many that his days of useful- 
ness are over, and that he ought to be allowed to depart in 
peaca 

In one respect Hopkins was far superior to Comstock; 
Hopkins was not guilty of the meanness of decoying and 
entrapping his victims by duplicity, intrigue, and lies, that he 
/might have the pleasure of torturing them. He waited for 
'.others to enter a complaint, and did not sneak around as a 
spy, and lie in wait for those whom he wished to subject to 
his power. It would be well were Anthony Comstock as 
honorable a man as was Matthew Hopkins. 

A few additional quotations from the press, bearing upon 
[Comstock's manner of conducting his business, may not be 
inappropriate here. The Philadelphia "Kecord" spoke as 
follows: 

" Mr. Comstock has been trying to trap unwary sinners by 
forging letters and buying forbidden wares. It strikes us as 
bad policy to use as instruments for reforming offenders men 
who are meaner than the offenders themselves. People 
judge a cause by the character of its advocates, and principles 
by their exponents ; and the cause of morality must suffer 
seriously when such men as Comstock publicly espouse it and 
become known as its ministers. He is meaner by a few 
degrees than the agents of our Society for the Prevention of 
Cruelty to Animals, and this is saying much against Com- 
stock, but we have his own confession in proof of our asser- 
tion. He is a self -convicted sneak and hypocrite, without 



1090 THE CHAMPIONS OF THL CHURC^. 

moral honor, and must naturally do the cause of morality fa 
more harm than good," 

Bonner's "New York Ledger" in connection with th, 
arrest of Dr. Sara B. Chase, said : j 

"is Deception Jusiijiahle? — Our sympathies are with Anthoni 
Comstock, or any one else, in every proper effort whicl 
can be made to punish the parties who deal in prohibited arti 
cles; but if the following extract from a report in tbv 
* Tribune ' be true, we think Mr. Comstock acted in, 1^ 
say the least, a very questionable manner in the instance 
Hiferred to: 

"The 'Tribune' states that on Tuesday Mr. Comstock 
went to the house of Mrs. Chase, ostensibly to buy an article 
she was forbidden by law to sell — having previously bought 
one of the same kind. He told her he luanted to make the pur-, 
chdse for a friend. * Her face,' continues the report, 'lighted 
up at once, and she turned about promptly and led the way 
to her office ' — where she was arrested. 

" Is there any necessity for practicing such deceit, in order, 
to arrest a person engaged in a nefarious business? We 
think not At any rate, we should think an honorable, high- 
toned man would find it difficult to reconcile with his owr.^ 
feelings of self-respect the resorting to such measures, even or. 
account of their supposed necessity in the abatement of a great 
evil." 

Oliver Johnson's " Orange Journal " (N. J.) contained thej 
following: i 

" Mr. Anthony Comstock is entitled to the thanks of every 
lover of social purity for his efforts to suppress the traffic in 
obscene literature and to expose the murderers of unborn 
children. In this work the more skillful his devices, the 
heavier his hand, the better. But he should have a care lest 
his persecutions of the guilty degenerate into persecutions of 
the innocent There are honest differences of opinion among 
men upon some very important and delicate physiological 
questions, and it is not for Mr. Comstock to make himself a 
docirmaire, to suppress by violence the right of speech and of 

• I 



ANTrrpmr COMSTOCK. 1091 

jrinting upoij!,* suck subjects. He must remember that it is 
Dossible for very good people to hold opinions contrary to 
lis own, and contrary even to those generally held in the 
community, upon physiological subjects; and if he would 
•etain the good will of the community he should learn how to 
liscriminate between the agents and abettors of impurity, and 
veil-meaning people, however mistaken, who are laboring, 
iccording to their best light, to promote the public welfare." 

Colonel Kobert G. IngersoU expressed his opinion of Com- 
;tock in these words, " I regard Comstock as infamous beyond 
expression. I have very little respect for those men who 
mdeavor to put down vice by lying; and very little respect 
'or a society that would keep in its employ such a leprous 
igent" 

It is greatly to be regretted that in the last quarter of the 
lineteenth century such a base specimen of humanity as 
Anthony Comstock has been selected to be the protector of 
)ublic morals, to be a champion of the Church, and a censor 
)f the mails, of medical and physiological literature, and of 
iladical and Freethought publications. If free America is to 
lave a censor of the press and of her mails, it would certainly 
)e desired that a man might be selected to discharge the 
luties of the ofl&ce who possessed some qualifications for the 
)osition, and who exhibited, at least, an average amount of 
aorality, decency, honesty, and truthfulness. Can members 
f the Christian society which for years has employed this 
lan and made him their active ogent and representative, 
xpect to add to their own credit or to that of the Christian 
eligion by employing and sustaining such a despicable 
haracter as Anthony Comstock — the Matthew Hopkins of 
le nineteenth centurj? 



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