When I assert that the large majority of our race receive the gift of life accidentally, and do not for this reason have their rightful heritage of being, I am well assured no one will deny the truth of the state ment. It is the right of every child to receive, as it is in the power of fairly organized parents to give, a good organization to their children. By this I do not mean that of genius, a remarkable intellectual prodigy, or a physical giant — but a steady, healthful nervous system, a good, well-built body, and a fairly balanced rational soul as its inhabitant. I regret to say that these gifts are so rare that constant observation as a physician, extended over more than the time of two generations, assures me that comparatively few are possessed of this most desirable wholeness, compared with the number of those who should be thus en dowed. I know that many of the defects so to be deplored exist because the coming of these children into life has not received the consideration now so commonly given to the raising of cattle. Among the numerous families of my acquaintance, of the large majority of children, there are few who might not have been far healthier and stronger, soul and body, had each been given all it was possible for their parents to bestow with intelligent care. Many a farmer who prepares for a harvest, choosing perfect seed and fitness of soil, who would swear terrifically, or nearly raise the roof off his barn, because a choice horse was overdriven in foal, or fine cow with calf injured, has never begun to think of his wife and children with half so much energetic foresight and consideration. The beautiful grounds sur rounding many a stately mansion are tastefully kept, no expense is spared, and no defect to be seen anywhere, and the owners would scarely brook in jury to the fine trees, shrubbery, or greensward; but how is it with the children in all these homes? has equal care been taken to make them wholly perfect and beautiful? If not, then the best work has been left undone.
I am sure it is quite time that the worthiest work had the highest place in every home. There are times and circumstances when procreation would be a great wrong, as the thoughtful consideration of the subject thus far plainly teaches.
Children well-begotten and born are more than half brought up, and better prepared for all noble living. than they ever could .be from any after-care without the first right steps. This cannot be accomplished without the fullest harmony between the parents, and both must be conscientiously intelligent and heartily unselfish, for here, as everywhere, selfish gratification always defeats its own ends. The consciousness on the part of either parent, that defects and limitations which can never be set aside are burdening their children because they have not met their obligations to them in a well-chosen parentage, cannot but be a source of never-ceasing regret.
I am aware that some who glance over these pages will set the whole subject aside with comments like these : — " Matters are well enough as they are," " I am satisfied to let things go on as they have done," — which reasoning has unlimited control over many lives, and such arguments have ever been, and ever will be, unanswerable to those who use them.
I will not attempt to refute such powerful and satisfactory logic, but would merely say that those who thus settle life's important questions should permit all others to take the same intelligent method of disposing of their obligations. If their banker proves a defaulter, their tailor or dressmaker makes a sorry misfit, their servant destroys their property or neglects duty, they should not deem them unrea sonable or at fault, if they use like argument in reply to their remonstrances.
Among the masses of people the sexual desire is looked upon as an uncontrollable impulse which, like the flood or whirlwind, bears all before it, but this is only true of its diseased. or exaggerated conditions. In men or women where this morbid condition exists, we concede that parentage is not under rational con trol, which can only be obtained by almost super human effort, or by correct ideas and pure habits relative to this function, maintained from childhood. Surely no education is more needed by our race than that which will prevent the occurrence of accidental— and therefore of almost necessarily greatly marred or blighted — parentage. Many parents will say, " My children all received the gift of life accidentally, but I cannot see why they are not as good as those of other families;" but all thoughtful physicians would tell them that among their patients they had con stantly reason for regret that most children were so deficient in native vigor and vitality.
The fact that helpless and innocent children suffer from the recklessness and wrong-doing of their pa rents is urged against the Creator as a palpable injustice and cruelty. No one denies that it is perfectly just that parents should be able to give to children the good in character, person, or estate, which they have inherited or acquired.
All approve the wise law which prevents the growth of thistles from corn, or secures the man who sows the most carefully selected wheat from reaping a crop of brambles. In all the world the grand order that "like begets like" is pronounced just and good, and its unvarying surety is the great safeguard of man's best interests. It requires but a moment's thought to understand that its repeal or occasional suspension would bring chaos and disorder every where, and would cause even far more distress and confusion than now arises from reckless abuse of it. God cannot reverse this order, though men or women impiously choose to disregard it, and bitterly blame him for the results of their own blinded course of action. The bad qualities of parents, deceit, malice, selfishness, and the like; their bad habits of stimulation and abuse of creative power, — must of necessity be given to children just in proportion as their conditions of soul and body have been controlled by them. In the order of Nature throughout the vegetable world, the seed is fixed in its inherent possibilities of fruitage; but with man, who is in possession of the highest type of physical and spiritual life, there is wide capacity for elevation and improvement in the reproduction of himself. hence imperfect or disastrous parentage becomes a fourfold wrong for which man, and not the Creator, is responsible.
Every mlan and woman fairly constituted should attain such conduct of personal life, and such honor able direction of creative power, that no child of theirs could become a defaulter or thief because selfish greed had temporary or permanent possession of the parents' hearts when they gave him being; or become a drunkard or debauchee, because drunken ness, and its ever-consequent sensuality instigated the act which thrust upon him a blighted exist ence; or receive a murderous spirit by reason of the antagonism or hate which was dominant in his pa rents at his accidental conception.