Each point designated deserves practical illustra tion.
I. The maturity of husband and wife, as a needed fit ness to become parents, is a question long argued and variously answered in different nations and climates. I shall speak only of our own. I have never seen full vigor in the children of the very young, but have in several instances of child parents, when the father was from seventeen to twenty, and the mother was from fourteen to eighteen years of age, observed that the first children were comparatively feeble in every respect, and that the children of the same individ uals who were born at mid-life, and in a state of good health of the parents, were better developed. Such is the difference in native vitality that the children of healthful young parents may be stronger than those of mature age who are feeble and diseased, but this fact does not favor the wrong of parentage before maturity. The burden of life falls heavily upon girl wives; they are apt to be early broken in health, and often in spirit. The lover who is intelligently con siderate will seek, in the matured strength of his chosen wife, their mutual good and lasting happiness, in awaiting her highest preparation to be the mother of his children.
II. The reasonable possession of all the healthful qualities of being by both father and mother, or in full by one where there is deficiency in the other, is most important. A fundamental truth, and one which should never be forgotten, is that neither parent can give what they have not. A fair possession of each power by one is absolutely essential to its development in the child. The sum of the mental and physical pos sessions of the two should be such as to leave no defect of organization, where the best of the forces of the parents are combined. Thus two persons with narrow chests and decided tendency to pulmonary disease cannot give good lung development. Parents with tendency to insanity, undue brain activity, or nervous excitability, cannot give good brain organization. If one has habitually enfeebled digestion, the other should be a good blood-former. In biliary affections, cancerous taints, scrofulous diseases, specific disor ders, spinal or constitutional ailments, care should be taken that good conditions be found in one parent where there is lack in the other. Those who are affected by idiosyncrasies, or unbalanced family traits, should avoid intermarriage with those of like tenden cies. Persons not strong, who have some defects and diseased conditions which do not vitally affect brain or body, may marry, and do no wrong to their children, if they have not poisoned or degraded their native inheritance. Such can do much to build
happy homes, if they make rational choice of husband or wife, and then, when at their best, endow their children with the reserved spiritual and physical energies of both.
III. The effect of passing indisposition in parents upon children, through heredity, is often marked. I have repeatedly seen a bias given to one child in a family, not at all shared by others, because one or both parents, at the time of the gift of existence to that child, suffered from temporary ill-health. In natural conditions of health, hard work or debility suspends or greatly abates genesic feeling, but in some serious morbid conditions these feelings take on an almost insane activity. This excitement occurs sometimes in the beginning of fevers or eruptive dis orders, when the whole system is in a sadly vitiated condition.
It is one of the many forms of diseased nervous action, and is as distressing as it is unfortunate.
When there is a general sense of weariness or restless excitability, and the feeling of unfitness for mental or physical labor, the genetic inclination should never be indulged; its exercise was never intended as a remedy for disease, yet this erroneous idea has caused untold trouble and mischief. At such times of debility and disturbance, quiet rest of this function, and reserve of the strength for the regulation of the bodily forces, is all-essential. Ex hausting measures do not build up the body in its times of depression and weakness. Of many illus trative instances of the effect of temporary sickness or disordered conditions transmitted from parents to children, I will give but one or two. Many years ago, a young lady came under my care, who from childhood, at intervals of a few weeks or 'months, suffered from bilious attacks of an aggravated form, attended with temporary insanity. Medical skill availed little for her relief, and her malady increased in violence as she advanced in life. Careful self regulation and general hygienic management at length mitigated somewhat the severity of the seizures, but it was a sadly burdened existence at the best. When life was given, both her parents were in a greatly depressed condition, which soon developed into intermittent fever, as they lived in a malarial district.