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tering upon puberty might have explained to him some of the mysteries of life, probably it would not be incompatible with his age to explain to him that the life of the animal and vegetable kingdoms is continued and increased through the power of reproduction, with which the Creator endowed the whole produce of the earth. It is the nature of every herb, that it ‘yieldeth seed,' and of the fruit tree yielding fruit, that its (seed is in itself' (Gen. i. 12). It is the nature of every living creature “to be fruitful and multiply' (Gen. i. 28). This power of reproduction or of generation constitutes the very essence of life. To enable this vital function to be fulfilled, every plant, and every animal is furnished with organs of reproduction. As it has organs of respiration for breathing the air, organs of motion, organs of digestion for assimilating its food, so it has organs of reproduction, for handing on the life it has received, and reproducing itself in its offspring. This is the most important function of the whole vital economy of every living form.
“We might further explain to him that our life is bound up with the reproductive organs of the body. Now what every young man, and boy also, ought to know about himself is this. The two appendages of the body, of which we are too modest to speak, but which Holy Scripture calls the stones,' and medical men the "testes' or “testicles' form the laboratory of the buman body, where by a process of which we are quite unconscious, the blessing given to man at the Creation is being fulfilled, and out of the system a vital fluid, which is the very · Essence of Life,' the source of Being (a life and being, remember, derived from God) is being constantly produced from the time of puberty, to be employed when he reaches maturity, not in the gratification of the lusts of the flesh, but in the procreation of children.
“The boy might be taught the immense importance to the human constitution of this vital substance, the seed of man which is elaborated by the organs of reproduction, and it should be made clear to him how terrible the consequences must be if the life be continually flowing away from his body."
Parise, on speaking on this subject very eloquently, observes, “One grand purpose prevades the creation—to live and to impart life. This last function
“ The opportunity might be taken of informing the youth that many whose lives are outwardly pure have fallen into “secret sins' (Ps. xix. 12), and wasted their substance in solitary indulgence. And the consequence of such indulgence is not confined to the act itself; but the violated body becomes unable to contain its treasure, and as fast as it is elaborated the seed is poured away on the slightest provocation in sleep, and in the performance of the acts of nature.
“He might be further informed that many of the sicknesses to which we are subject may be traced to this cause, and that many of those complaints set down as nervous debility, much languor and loss of spirit, much feebleness of mind, much dimness of sight, much loss of manly bearing, to which we must add many cases of the loss of reason and an imbecile and drivelling old age, are the inevitable result of the expenditure of the vital forces in sinful gratification.
“I would further instruct a youth that this degrading practice obtains such a hold upon any one indulging in it, that he seems unable to free himself from its grasp. Again and again he yields to its importunity, and life ebbs away from him, mind and body becoming undermined.
It is a sad and melancholy truth, that many whose childhood has been most pure and spotless, have fallen most deeply, when their passions have been awakened, through absence of all warn
ought to be considered the most important. If men will conform to the laws of nature-laws which, moreover, are immutable and eternal—they must submit themselves to conditions of existence and of organization, and learn how to limit their desires within the spheres of their real wants. If they will do so, wisdom and health will bloom of themselves, and abide without effort; but all this is too often forgotten when the functions of generation are in question. This sublime gift of transmitting life-fatal prerogative, which man continually forfeits—at once the mainstay of morality, by means of family ties, and the powerful cause of depravity-the energetic spring of life and health-the ceaseless source of disease and infirmity—this faculty involves almost all that man can attain of earthly happiness, or misfortune, of earthly pleasure or of pain ; and the tree of knowledge of good and evil is the symbol of it, as true as it is expressive. Thus even love by its excesses hastens and abets the inevitable doom for which, in the first instance, by the aid of passion, it had provided the victims."
ing on the subject, and in ignorance of the self-destruction they were committing.” 1
CURATIVE TREATMENT.—If the practice of masturbation be ascertained to exist, steps must be at once taken to check it. In young infants the habit may be corrected by the ordinary mode of muffling the hands, or applying a sort of strait-waistcoat. But in attempting to prevent an older child polluting himself the most careful watching will often fail: especially is this so when emissions have produced those changes in the urethra and its appendages, which keep up the complaint and react on the brain, or which, having at first excited the boy's imagination, react again through the brain on the genito-urinary system.
In the growing boy it is of the most vital importance that the mind be directed into a different channel, and that every means be taken to check the secretion of semen. Experience has proved that to effect this, there is nothing so good as gymnastic exercises regularly employed, and carried to an extent just short of fatigue. A taste should be encouraged for cricket, rowing, walking, swim ming, and other athletic amusements. Under such training, if unfortunately self-abuse has been indulged in, the tendency to do it will diminish even though involuntary nocturnal emissions may not cease at once. No doubt can exist that when the blood is diverted to the muscles as it is by taking violent exercise, semen is secreted slowly, if at all. 2
If irritation or inflammation of the vesiculæ seminales exist, the appropriate remedies, to be hereafter spoken of, must be
1 Some such advice as this will, I am sure, be gratefully acknowledged by many parents, and I have introduced it here in the language of the author ; at the same time I have taken the liberty of altering its phraseology a little, to adapt it to my book; but in the views which it inculcates I quite coincide, and am pleased to acknowledge in the author one of my most able coadjutors.
2 Lallemand says—“The urgent necessity of recruiting each day the great waste occasioned by varied and progressive gymnastic exercise diminishes in an equal proportion the secretion of the semen; for the economy only occupies itself with the reproduction of the species when it has provided for the conservation of the individual, as I stated when speaking of the influence of nutrition on generation” (Vol. iii, p. 466).
combined with gymnastic exercises. If we have reason to suspect any of the other local causes of irritation, such as worms, stricture, hæmorrhoids, or fissure of the anus, these complaints must at once be attended to. An account of the proper treatment of these diseases, however, would be out of place here.
Where the fatal habit is actually in existence, there can be no doubt that those interested in a youth should in the mildest, but still in a firm way, point out the consequences to which such indulgences lead; and he should be taught to look tion as a cowardly, selfish, debasing habit, and one which makes those who practice it unfit to associate with boys of a proper spirit. If this feeling can be so far established as to overcome the tendency, the surgeon can soon remedy the mischief that has been done by previous excesses. It is, I am convinced, from a want of attention—in parents, and those who direct the studies of youth—to the commencement of this evil habit, and of a little seasonable advice and judgment, that many a career begun under the most favorable auspices, has been thwarted, and many a boy's mental and bodily powers and growth checked.
Among what may be called the prophylactic remedies for selfabuse, the sponge-bath stands pre-eminent. Its constant use cannot be taught too early, for it not only conduces more than any thing to the general health of children, but is within the reach of almost every one. In the nursery, indeed, and at home, it is now very generally employed. I see no sufficient reason why it should be left off when a boy goes to school. Its benefit is quite as great there as at college or during after life, when, with modern habits, it is pretty certain to be resumed. In all public schools, then, its use should, I submit, be enjoined, and I believe might be carried out with little trouble.
A few words on the method of taking a sponging-bath, so as to secure the greatest benefit, may be useful. The apparatus I recommend is a shallow painted zinc bath, such as can be purchased for about eleven shillings. A larger size would be proper for adults. It should be round, and not of the high-backed description termed the “hip-bath.” With this, a water-can of a gallon and a half or two gallons capacity, and a honeycomb sponge (which holds water best) as large as the two fists, the outfit is complete.
Patients who have not been accustomed to sponge bathing should use lukewarm water at first, and lower its temperature by degrees. The bather should sit down in the centre of the bath, with his feet on the floor, and then, having drawn back the foreskin, for one or two minutes briskly squeeze the water over his back, chest, abdomen, and thighs, taking care to lead as much as possible towards the genitals. He may then stand up in the bath, rapidly sponge the feet and legs, and on leaving the bath rub himself thoroughly dry, using roughish towels. Showerbaths should never I think be used by an invalid or weakly person. They are a luxury for the strong only, and I am disposed to think the sponge-bath, as a general rule, far preferable.
Sea or river bathing is a good thing, no doubt, but is never likely to be of the same value as the sponge-bath, as, from circumstances of climate, weather, wind, rain or trouble, danger of catching cold, &c., it is but a few times that a boy bathes in a
Still, as all influences of this kind are likely to be useful, every boy ought to learn to swim, though a dip in the sea or river should not be permitted to take the place of the spongebath. It must not, however, be forgotten, that the habit of remaining too long in the water may be a source of evil. Boys should not be left to themselves in this indulgence. Indeed, their time for remaining in the water should be carefully regulated, as after the first shock and swim the system derives no benefit from being in the water, but, on the contrary, the exercise is succeeded by debility. In the public baths at Paris I have known boys from southern climates pass the whole of the morning in and out of the water, even taking their meals and smoking their cigars there, and looking as debilitated afterwards as possible, instead of presenting that ruddy glow of health which the rapid application of cold water to the surface ought to produce. I would also strongly recommend decency, even among boys. Every youth should wear a pair of bathing-drawers, with a view to avoiding exposure, and cultivating a feeling which cannot fail to be useful in after life.