A Cruel Stab

A month after the Knoedler raid, on December 12, 1888, Comstock addressed a Baptist Ministers’ Conference, speaking on “Art and Morals,” hoping for an endorsement of his recent actions from the throng of ministers present.

Of Knoedler & Co., Comstock said, “We don’t want to degrade these men, but we want to prevent them from degrading our youth with their products. History shows that wherever the ‘nude in art’ existed, society was degraded. It has cursed every land it has flourished in. History records that.”

The New York Herald reported, “Then a discussion followed, which was as much in the nature of a circus as an excited crowd of ninety Baptist preachers could assume.”

The Rev. Mr. Simons called Comstock a brave man, whose face bore “the marks of the Lord Jesus.” In response, the Rev. Dr. A. Steward Walsh, said, “Let the other side be heard before we endorse anybody.” The Rev. Mr. Barnes thought a resolution was undesirable given the case pending in court.

At that point, the Herald reported, “Comstock then jumped to his feet, and, with tears in his eyes and a Henry Irving tremor in his voice, denied that he was attempting to forestall the action of the Court. Then the Rev. Dr. O.C. Pope, of the Baptist Missionary Society, moved to strike out the words ‘we believe in Anthony Comstock’ and substitute ‘we believe the Society for the Suppression of Vice is doing a great service,’ etc. The resolution thus amended was adopted, and it was then that Comstock blurted out, ‘This is a cruel stab.’”

The Herald concluded, “Comstock walked sadly out, and he was last seen straying disconsolately through the City Hall Park.”

City Hall Park

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