Victorian London - Crime - Pornography - Society for the Suppression of Vice

    Society for the Suppression of Vice. -- This society, instituted in 1802, has laboured unremittingly to check the spread of open vice and immorality, and more especially to preserve the minds of the young from contamination by exposure to the corrupting influence of impure and licentious books, prints, and other publications, its difficulties have been greatly increased by the application of photography, multiplying, at an insignificant cost, filthy representations from living models, and the improvement in the postal service has further introduced facilities for secret trading which were previously unknown. There is but too greet reason to know that in spite of all efforts these polluting productions are still circulated throughout the country, principally through the post- office, penetrating into the schools of both sexes. To put the law in force, seize the stock, and punish the offenders, it is necessary to engage trusty and intelligent paid agents, who have to make the purchases-- evidence of dealing ; and there are no funds at the disposal of Government and the police applicable to such purposes, and the country does not in these prosecutions allow any part of the expenses. No private individual will undertake the responsible and thankless duty of a public prosecutor. Hence the absolute necessity for such a society, and, but for its existence, the trade in licentious publications would be carried on with impunity. By a sustained course of action, conducted with great prudence and discretion, this society has so put the laws in force that not only for the last thirty years has there not been one single failure in its prosecutions, but in all its undertakings the committee have not encountered any public censure for overstepping the bounds of discretion in the selection of their objects for repression or prosecution. This society has been the means of suppressing the circulation of several low and vicious periodicals. Within the last two years it has also been the means of bringing to punishment, by imprisonment, hard labour, and fines, upwards of forty of the most notorious dealers, and within a few years has seized and destroyed the following enormous mass of corrupting matters :-- 140,213 obscene prints, pictures, and photographs; 21,772 books and pamphlets; five tons of letterpress in sheets, besides large quantities of infidel and blasphemous publications; 17,060 sheets of obscene songs, catalogues, circulars, and handbills ; 5,712 cards, snuff-boxes, and vile articles; 844 engraved copper and steel plates ; 480 lithographic stones ; 146 wood blocks ; 11 printing presses, with type and apparatus; 81 cwt. of type, including the stereotype of several works of the vilest description. To grapple with this gigantic evil the committee cannot count on more than ninety annual subscribers, producing on an average £100, and between £300 and £400 has been raised by casual donations. The salary of secretary and working staff, and rent of chambers, are limited to £160 per annum the rest of the contributions are devoted to the direct objects of the society. The committee earnestly appeal to the public for funds to aid them in their labours to suppress this abominable traffic. The president of the society is Lord Teignmouth, the secretary Mr. C. H. Collette, 28, Lincoln's Inn Fields ; and the bankers, Messrs. Hoare and Co. The testimony of many magistrates, teachers, and parents has shown the baneful effects of criminal literature, and we hope that this appeal for aid to this society in its useful labours for the suppression of vice will be liberally responded to.

source: Leisure Hour, 13th January 1872