>It just feels wrong
If society had always felt that way, I think adult-child attraction would've been more socially censured, and the expression
prohibited by penal codes far earlier than the just the fever of the last century..a pinhead on the scale of history.
And not for lack of perpetrators. Bear with me here:
>research carried out by Herman-Giddens, and published by the AAP found... that in 1860, the average age of the onset of puberty in girls was 16.6 years.
It refers to menarch (period). Budding and earliest signs of puberty can start a few yrs earlier.
>Menarche typically occurs within 2 to 3 years after [breast budding], at Tanner stage IV
So even allowing that, it seems plausible a typical 12 y/o in the Victorian era may have been pre-pubescent, or at least mostly so.
Jackson, Louise A., Child Sexual Abuse in Victorian England
. Routledge, 2000. London and NY (p. 20)
> An extremely accurate profile of the Middlesex Quarter Sessions cases was compiled as a result of both good survival of court records and substantial press coverage (see figure 1.3). This profile shows that an overwhelming majority of cases of sexual assault – some 67 per cent – definitely involved child victims.
It defines a child as 12 or younger,
and the opening case in Ch. 2 (p.28) describes a 9 year old. (Again, the avg. onset age of puberty then was 16.)
I grew up with 19th century books, and remember sev. adult-child romances in them, always portrayed naturally and beautifully. I never felt the difference you imply, growing up, to make the comparison with child romance "feel wrong." I think that's somewhat a culturally ingrained view.
To cite one- in Martha Finley's (1828-1909) popular pre-Civil War children's novel, the best friend of Elsie's father, Mr. Travilla, is romantically attracted to her—and flirtatious—since she was a pre-pubescent child.
>Several times during her childhood, he remarks that he wishes she were older; when she is only eight, he flirts with her and tries to coax her to sit on his lap, kiss him on the mouth, and lavish him with affection.
Unlike another story, they didn't marry til she was of age, but even then had DDLG tones-
(Context is Elsie discovering her own feelings while thinking he was engaged to her aunt.)
> “No, my dear child, it was you I wished to see.”
> “Me, Mr. Travilla?” and she cast down her eyes, while her cheek crimsoned; for he was looking straight into them with his, so wistful and tender, so fall of earnest, questioning, sorrowful entreaty, that she knew not how to meet their gaze.
> “Yes, you, my little friend, for I can no longer endure this torturing anxiety. Will you not tell me, dear child, what I have done to hurt or grieve you so?”
> “I—I’m not hurt or gri—you have always been most kind,” she stammered, “most—But why should you think I—I was—”
> The rest of the sentence was lost in a burst of tears, and covering her burning cheeks with her hands, she sank down upon the seat from which she had risen to greet him.
> “My dear child, I did not mean to pain you so; do not weep, it breaks my heart to see it. I was far from intending to blame you, or complain of your treatment,” he said in an agitated tone, and bending over her in tender concern. “I only wanted to understand my error in order that I might retrieve it, and be no longer deprived of your dear society.
> Oh, little Elsie, if you only knew how I love you; how I have loved you, and only you, all these years—as child and as woman—how I have waited and longed, hoping even against hope, that some day I might be able to win the priceless treasure of your young heart.”