THE LOVE OF MANHOOD - ITS HEALTHFUL CONDI TIONS AND INFLUENCES.
Manhood, in all its distinctive features, its native mental and physical strength, is simply the insignia of man's power and dignity as creator. All that he has or claims of precedence, in hardiness or strength, in mental or bodily organization, is due to the necessary fitting for this, God's highest trust to him.
At intervals, from opening manhood to virile decadence, the might of his whole being reaches out with more or less imperative claim towards the fulfilment of that grandest privilege of his life, the creative office. Worthy only the purest respect, this activity of sexual life is so divine in its health, that the low estimate of it, so com mon to many, degrades the man or woman who holds it.
From infancy until the age of thirteen or fourteen in a temperate climate, or a year or two earlier in a more enervating one, the healthful lad should have no disturbing sense of sexual sensibility. Where there is good bodily condition, we are glad to see slow development at this period, for it is a sign of more enduring vigor.
Healthful mental conditions have quite as impor tant a share in the happy inception and growth of the procreative functions as a previous good heredity, and fair physical health. The essential point in the preservation of mental health during the period of youth is clear presentation and honest acceptance of the truth regarding his sexual life. Long before the time of puberty —that birth of in fantile virility — the child-Juan should be carefully taught that the physical seal of manhood is the evi dence of a precious trust in his keeping; that no thought in regard to it is just or honorable except that it is the most sacred and noble organ of his body, to be kept carefully from needless handling, irri tation, meanness, degradation, from thought or act. There are lads to-day whose hearts would reject any lower thought of themselves and of their manhood as they would turn from theft, blasphemy, or open personal dishonor. A high sense of the nobility and honor of manhood's prerogatives can never be too early or too earnestly inculcated. Our highest estimate of it must fall far below the truth.
If no vicious influence has left its sickly impression upon the soul at this epoch, there will be quickening and growth of all the faculties, and more rapid evo lution of strength in all the ranges of activity and will. Ambition is awakened — the wide field of the material world seems inviting to great conquests and achievements — new feelings of independence, of championship, of interest in more exciting and manly pursuits and recreations, now manifest them selves. If previous good habits of obedience, indus try, and self-restraint have been wanting, now comes a time of danger.
The push and force of a fresh stimulation of the physical and spiritual energies seeks outlet in new and extended avenues. Now active employment, in use ful and improving ways, becomes a binding necessity, and general physical exercise must be a set portion of the work in each day, that the body may claim its due share of the vital energies for its vigorous devel opment. When school duties at this developing age
seem most pressing, they must be sufficiently abated to make room for several hours of out-door sports or labor each day. If not wisely guided, the irrepressi ble forces seeking their channels of activity, first in one direction and then in another, will surely be mis directed. The youth feels a new measure of pride or annoyance in his mother and sisters, false or just, as his developing conscience and intelligence has been rightly educated. If they be wise and true, he will be even more permanently influenced by them than by the sterner parental restraints. A leaning of mother and sisters upon youths, awakening mo tives to effort and self-restraint, and the conviction that they may bring happiness and do good to the loved ones at home, is ever an advantage to them.
I have been recently, more than ever before, led to notice how many of our best men, who have arisen to high positions of trust, have been the sons of poor and widowed mothers.
There is at this period a kindly and growing inter est in all girls, often in those much older, and a desire of favor and approval. They are held in re spect, and their opinion of conduct, if in accordance with the consciousness of right in the lad's mind, has much weight. If the influence of his girl com panions be frivolous and wrong, it gives strong bias toward evil. There is new and undefined pleasure in their society, an appreciative estimate of their known and imagined good qualities and pleasant ways, and the instinctive preference of one as pos sessing most that is lovely and desirable.
The thoughts turn at times from the paternal home to one which shall be a most desirable individual pos session, where will be gathered all the treasures the young aspirant to manhood deems desirable, and he is prompted to excel and prepare for life's sterner duties by this thought.
The central figure in this picture is one to whom he will be a loving and beloved friend, who is to preside there, mistress of all the honors he can place at her feet. The heart of the youth, in manhood's purest health, is moved far more by the incentives to preparation for a happy realization of his cherished hopes than the desire of any especial sexual gratifi cation.
The magnetic thrill, the movement of the nervous currents, is pleasantly recognized, but is not too fre quent. There is no more painful consciousness of the nascent function than of the action of a healthy heart or brain. At long intervals the redundant se cretions are readily thrown off through their natural channels, and weeks, months, years may pass without painful struggle, or more than a victorious and grate ful realization of the possession of manly power.