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as for instance the deeper hollows over the eye, and by the sunken eye itself. So well are these facts known to horsedealers, they they refuse to purchase young horses presenting these appearances, being convinced that they will not stand work, or turn out well. As far as my experience goes, no doubt can exist that old men may and do retain the power of connection under the influence of certain stimuli. Even intercourse may be, in some healthy old men, frequently repeated. Such men may have children, but experience teaches us that these infants are difficult to rear, they are not the best specimens of the English race. Too many are of a nervous irritable frame, their intellectual qualities are not equal to those of the father, and they suffer late in life from affections of the brain and nervous system. It is an undoubted fact, and is now become generally admitted, that from the moment of conception of the individual the duration of existence is, to a certain extent, predetermined, in accordance with the organization which he has received. I think all will agree, then, that a human being born with a rich stock of force and vitality will take a greater number of years to arrive at the culmination and the term of his existence, than another born under opposite conditions (even though more favorable as far as worldly externals are cerned). We are, therefore, forced to the conclusion that the children of old men have an inferior chance of life; and facts daily observed confirm our deductions. Look but at the progeny of such marriages, what is its value? As far as I have seen, it is the worst kind—spoilt childhood, feeble and precocious youth, extravagant manhood, early and premature death.
DISORDERS IN ADVANCED LIFE.
From the above remarks we gather that the functions of the generative organs should be husbanded, not abused, in advanced life. Extreme moderation should be inculcated, and the greater
age, the greater the moderation. Entire continence-the rule of youth—is hardly less the rule of age. The transgression of this rule, indeed, in age, is more fatal than in youth. There is no superabundant stock of vitality to repair its destructive waste of error or extravagance.
The greater part of mankind, however, show excessive feebleness in withstanding the abuse of the generative functions; and what surprises us most is, that those advanced in life are not always the least exposed to this reproach. It is certain that in old age, at a time when the passions have given away to reason, there are still many individuals who allow themselves to stray imprudently at the very precipitous edge of these dangerous enjoyments. They applaud themselves for postponing moderation till it is rather forced? than voluntary; till they stop from sheer want of vigor. What heroic wisdom! Nature, pitiless as she is, will most certainly cause them to pay dearly for the transgression of her laws; and the steady accumulation of diseases soon gives demonstrative proof of it. This result is the more certain and prompt, inasmuch as in these cases excesses are almost always of very old standing. The libertine in years has usually been dissolute in youth and manhood, so that we may trace the progress and calculate the extent of his organic deterioration.
“ If we possess ever so little reflective or physiological knowledge of mankind, how can we fail to inculcate rigorously the precepts of continence, more especially as we find them calculated to maintain both the duration and happiness of our life? It is well established that, of all the powers of the economy, no one is lavished upon us by Nature with greater profusion or, at the same time, within more clearly defined limits than this one of generation.”
For the purposes of description, I shall, in the following pages, divide the functional diseases in elderly persons in the following manner, premising that it is principally from excesses that those advanced in life suffer. All I have to say may be, I think, included under the following heads, which will enable me to arrange some curious facts which have not hitherto met with that consideration from the profession which their importance de
1 See observations bearing on this question, at p. 33.
2 Some English writer has said, “We do not forsake our vices till our vices forsake us."
1. Functional disorders in persons who do not know the conse
quences of repeated acts of sexual intercourse, and commit
excesses from ignorance. 2. In persons who know the consequences of sexual excesses, but
cannot control their passions. 3. In débauchés who, hoping to supply the loss of power conse
quent on their previous excesses, prefer to stimulate the reproductive organs for the purpose of gratifying their animal passions.
FUNCTIONAL DISORDERS IN PERSONS WHO DO NOT KNOW THE
CONSEQUENCES OF REPEATED ACTS OF SEXUAL INTERCOURSE,
It is sometimes curious to notice the naïveté exhibited by elderly gentlemen. Patients from sixty to eighty come to me, complaining that they are not sexually so energetic as they were; that the sexual act is no longer attended with the same degree of pleasure as formerly. They grumble because desire does not come on so frequently, or because, when they attempt the act, they no longer experience perfect erection.
These are among the most difficult patients we have to deal with, and their treatment requires considerable tact and discrimination. I, however, meet them on their own ground; I inquire at what age they began to indulge the sexual instinct—whether in their official capacities they have not resided in warm or trying climates—and, with proper respect for proprieties, inform myself as to their antecedents. Thus armed; I ask them if they have considered the consequences which they wish me to bring about. I appeal to their common sense, and gently remind them that their symptoms may be slight warnings of the approach of the enemy; that, as old soldiers, they should begin to exercise a little caution. I recall to their recollection that man has other duties which require his attention than those of reproduction. I ask them if they have no pleasure in the luxuries of the table, or if they wish so to derange their health that their appetites shall fail. I remind them of the saying of Bichât, “ that the organ of taste is the last thread on which hangs the pleasure of living.” I repeat a few of the hints I have already detailed; and beg them to look around, and consider if their old friends who marry young wives have improved in health, or if they cannot call to mind some very notable instances of the reverse. It occurs to them, and they do not deny, that this may be even so; and as life, and, above all, life with good health, is fully appreciated by this class of men, they become better satisfied with their position, and often appreciate my motive in thus warning them. When I further remind them that, if nature has interdicted great sexual indulgence, it still has reserved for them many compensating pleasures; and when I hint a little later that there are other and higher enjoyments and duties which their position in society warrants and demands, we usually part pretty good friends. I trust I have in this way been the means of rescuing 'many a man, who has been damaging his health in ignorance, from the dangers which beset his path, and have preserved his powers for a more prolonged discharge of his higher duties than could, under other circumstances, have been hoped for. Lord Bacon's dictum, “Age doth profit rather in the powers of understanding than in the virtues of the affections," is not only the observation of a fact, but the inculcation of a pregnant moral.
It cannot be concealed that there are persons moving in good society (although fortunately they are few) who come to the surgeon ostensibly for other reasons, but virtually under the belief that he will prescribe something that will excite their flagging powers. I have already alluded at length to these cases, and fully described the language which the profession does and should hold towards them.
In all such cases, the man advanced in life should be at once told that, although his powers are somewhat enfeebled, no immediate mischief has yet occurred (if the surgeon can conscientiously say so)--nature only wants rest, and all will be well. It is of great importance that the sexual fears of the elderly person should be quieted. We have seen in previous pages, the influence of the imagination on the sexual ideas. As
As age advances, this effect grows still stronger—it is of primary importance that the morale of a man should be strengthened; and I at once tell these patients most positively, that I can relieve their present sufferings; but if I attempt to renovate their sexual powers, I must exact a promise that after their convalescence they shall use them with extreme moderation. On no other terms will I undertake the case; for I tell them it is a better guarantee for their life and happiness to remain invalids as they are, than to have their organs strengthened and then to kill themselves by inches through fresh fits of excitement. I need hardly say that every upright practitioner refuses to be an accomplice in any way whatever to mere excitement. Libertinage, men should be told, is bad enough at any age; in the elderly man it is a crime, and one that no surgeon will lend himself to abet. This language held to elderly men is good in more ways than one. to them that their weakened condition depends upon themselves and not upon a dreamy life alone; it“ pulls them up” at a moment when they may be disposed to go astray. The assurance that their case is curable if they will only observe the ordinary rules of moderation, encourages them to leave the vicious course they may may have drifted into, and regain that peace of mind the loss of which preys greatly on the bodily health of such men. No “man of the world” can pretend to be shocked by advice of this kind; many take it in good part, common sense telling them that it is reasonable, and that they must follow it if they would preserve their health.
Experience has taught me how vastly different is the situation of the class of moderate men, who, having married early, have regularly indulged their passions at longer and longer intervals as age has crept upon them, from that of widowers of some years'