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I HAVE in the following pages treated of the Functions and Disorders, as distinguished from the Anatomy and Pathology, of the reproductive organs.
On the latter topics there are many excellent and exhaustive works, but the former still need much elucidation. Until lately, indeed, many standard surgical writers on the generative system have practically ignored the functional aspect of their subject; dealing with the whole of the wonderful and complex machinery of which they treat, as if the offices it fulfills, the thousand feelings it affects, the countless social, moral, and scientific interests with which it is so intimately connected, were of little or no moment.
A different, and, I trust, healthier feeling has arisen since the first edition of this book was published ; and I think I need not here repeat the apology or defence with which the earlier editions were prefaced.
I have laid under contribution the domains of Natural History and Comparative Anatomy, with the illustrative treasures of the College of Surgeons' Museum, the Veterinary College, and the Zoological Gardens, and have, moreover, availed myself of the experience of practical breeders of stock.
1 In the following pages the words "generative," "sexual,”
," " reproductive,” will be used synonymously; there are some instances in which distinctions may be made between them, but these are so slight, I need not further allude to them.
I have again followed in this edition the natural division of the subject, and have considered it under the four main periods of-CHILDHOOD-YOUTH-ADULT AGE, and ADVANCED LIFE. Taking each period separately, I have first discussed the normal Functions or Conditions of the reproductive organs incidental to it. Having fully explained these by the help of the most recent physiological investigations, I have examined the Disorders to which each period is most subject. I venture to hope that scarcely a single ailment to which the generative functions are liable has escaped notice. To each it will be found that I have at least indicated the appropriate treatment.
THE FUNCTIONS AND DISORDERS OF THE REPRODUC
TIVE ORGANS IN CHILDHOOD.
NORMAL FUNCTIONS IN CHILDHOOD.
In a state of health sexual impressions should never affect a child's mind or body. All its vital energy should be employed in constructing the growing frame, in storing up external impressions, and in educating the brain to receive them. During a well-regulated childhood, and in the case of ordinary temperaments, there is no temptation to infringe this primary law of nature. The sexes, it is true, in most English homes, are allowed unrestricted companionship. Experience shows, however, that this intimacy is in the main unattended with evil results. In the immense majority of instances, indeed, it is of great benefit. At a very early age the pastimes of the girl and boy diverge. The boy takes to more boisterous amusements, and affects the society of boys older than himself, simply because they make rougher, or, in his opinion, manlier playfellows. The quieter games of girls are despised, and their society is to a considerable extent, deserted. This apparent rudeness, often lamented over by anxious parents, may almost be regarded as a provision of nature against possible danger. At any rate, in healthy subjects, and especially in children brought up in the pure air, and amid the simple amusements of the country, perfect freedom from, and, indeed, total ignorance of
any sexual affection is, as it should always be, the rule. The first and only feeling exhibited between the sexes in the young should be that pure fraternal and sisterly affection, which it is the glory and blessing of our simple English homelife to create and foster with all its softening influences on the after life.
Education, of course, still further separates children, as they grow into boys and girls; and the instinctive and powerful check of natural modesty is an additional safeguard. Thus it happens that with most healthy and well brought up children no sexual notion or feeling has ever entered their heads, even in the way of speculation. I believe that such children's curiosity is seldom excited on these subjects except as the result of suggestion by persons older than themselves.
This purity and ignorant innocence in children are not in any way unnatural. It is true that a different rule prevails among many of the lower animals. For instance, no one can have seen young lambs gambolling together without noticing at what an early age the young rams evince the most definite sexual propensities. Precocity in them is evidently intuitive, as it cannot depend on the force of example. This contrast between children and young animals may be explained by the fact that the animal's life is much shorter than that of man, its growth is more rapid, its office in the world is lower and more material, its maturity is sooner reached, and sexual propensities are therefore naturally exhibited at a much earlier age. In still lower forms of life the sexual period commences yet earlier. In many species of moths no sooner is the perfect insect produced than it proceeds at once to the exercise of the function of procreation, which completed, its own existence
Very different should be the case with the human being, who needs all the strength, and all the nutrition he can command for the gradual development and consolidation of his more slowly maturing body and mind. The completion of the physical frame should precede procreation. This applies to both sexes alike.