THE BASIS OF INDIVIDUAL, HOME, AND NATIONAL ELEVATION. A seriesof painful observations, made long before majority, while studying medicine with my father, made a deep impression upon me.
The question which then arose in my mind has been one of constantly increasing interest. Are the unfortunate results of heredity a necessity? Must so much of blessing be lost, and so much of evil entailed in its stead, from causes that are irremediable? Careful observation, extending over more than a third of a century of constant professional labor and experience, has convinced me that much of the igno rance and recklessness which brings blight and sorrow into our homes can be prevented.
I am deeply impressed with the truth that all parents hold in their keeping a power of blessing to themselves and to their children of greater worth than can be computed by any known standard of valuation.
Among our best people few parents give to their children the wealth and vigor of mental and physical being which it is in their power to bestow.
What are the reasons of the wide differences of mental and physical constitution often seen in the children of the same parents? Why are not all the members of the same family equal in general endow ments to the most vigorous brother or sister of the same household? Why are not all the children of the same father and mother as fully organized as either parent? More recently I And among many of my intelligent and thoughtful patients a similar train of reasoning and inquiry. I am sure that many lamentable in stances of unfortunate mental and physical defor mity, of imperfect gift of health and vigor to soul and body, and of many individuals with less of power than either parent, may be generally assigned to definite and controllable causes. So far as these harmful influences may be known and avoided, so far it becomes the interest of every parent and citizen to understand them.
The priceless, beautiful gift of a fair and well-bal anced organization is not merely for time, but for all eternity; and how sad the thought that it is the in heritance of so few.
In my round of daily duty I am constantly re minded that a hapless ignorance, or a more or less culpable selfishness, has left, through depressing hereditary influence, its ineffaceable impress upon the character and well-being of my patients and their families. If the best parents fail to give to their children the fulness and wealth of spiritual and physical life which they ought to bestow, how much do those need help and elevation whose life and cul ture has been such that it is almost, or quite, impos sible for them, without Divine help, to control or direct the highest trust our good Father has given to His intelligent children.
There are many parents whose little ones receive, with the precious gift of life and immortality, predis positions and tendencies which must burden them all their lives here, and it is well if they do not carry the sad blight through eternity. There is help and re demption out of many of these errors, and their con sequences, to a far greater extent than has been gene rally known and taught.
If I may bring parents to a higher recognition of their priceless privileges and trusts, and help them to learn how they may give the best of their redeemed and preserved powers, where they shall reap the rich est return in unalloyed happiness, I shall be most grateful.
Attention earnestly devoted to this important sub ject, extending to two and three generations, the confidences freely accorded me by both parents in the same household, and familiarity with homes and their secret moulding influences, have afforded me opportunities of accurate and extended observation, given to no one as to the physician.
Many of my patients have repeatedly requested me to give them, in tangible form, for reference, the advice I have from time to time urged upon them.
The necessity of repeating, in answer to constantly recurring questions, the substance of what I have here conscientiously written, and the earnest desire to aid in securing a clearer intelligence among our people in regard to the truest interests of our great human family, are my reasons for adding one more to the millions of books now before the public.
Limited time renders it necessary that the results of my observation be given as briefly as possible, while making the lessons I have gathered from the great storehouse of human experience clearly under stood. I have copied nothing from the writings of physicians of eminence and erudition in our own and other lands, who have spoken earnestly and truthfully in regard to some disputed, yet unalterable princi ples, the denial and perversion of which is to-day bringing into our homes untold sorrow and sure family decadence. In the following pages I use the words adultery and adulterous wholly in the just and comprehensive sense indicated by our Saviour in these words, "I say unto you, that whosoever look eth on a woman to lust after her, has committed adultery with her already in his heart," and the words continent and continence in the sense of volun tary abstinence from sexual excitation or indulgence of any kind.
My earnest prayer is, that the sad mistakes I have detailed, and their unfortunate consequences, which have been as painful and destructive as their begin ning was needless, may not be repeated by any one who reads these pages.