In 1879, Mark Twain, unafraid of scandal, said the following;
Homer in the second book of the Iliad says, with fine enthusiasm is worth, “Give me masturbation or give me death!” Caesar, in his commentaries, says, “To the lonely it is company; to the forsaken it is a friend; to the aged and to the impotent it is a benefactor; they that are penniless are yet rich, in that they still have this majestic diversion.” In another place this experienced observer has said, “There are time when I prefer it to sodomy.” Robinson Crusoe says, “I cannot describe what I owe to this gentle art.” Queen Elizabeth said, “It is the bulwark of Virginity.” Cetewayo, the Zulu hero, remarked, “A jerk in the hand is worth two in the bush.” The immortal Franklin has said, “Masturbation is the mother of invention.” He also said, “Masturbation is the best policy.” Michelangelo and all the other old masters–Old Masters, I will remark, is an abbreviation, a contraction–have used similar language. Michelangelo said to Pope Julius II, self-negation is noble, self-culture is beneficial, self-possession is manly, but to the truly grand and inspiring soul they are poor and tame compared to self-abuse.”
Twain’s humor is not ill-placed. Masturbation has been proven to be a healthy behavior.
So, if you’re going to celebrate his birthday …
Note; I obtained this quote from the very first Sexology book I read, several years ago. Sexual Interactions by Elizabeth and Albert Allgeier.