The old maxim, that “Knowledge is power,” is a true one, but there is still a greater truth: “KNOWLEDGE IS SAFETY.” Safety amid physical ills that beset mankind, and safety amid the moral pitfalls that surround so many young people, is the great crying demand of the age.
The researches of science in the past few years have thrown light on many facts relating to the physiology of man and woman, and the diseases to which they are subject, and consequently many reformations have taken place in the treatment and prevention of diseases peculiar to the sexes.
It is a melancholy fact in human experience, that the noblest gifts which men possess are constantly prostituted to other purposes than those for which they are designed. The most valuable and useful organs of the body are those which are capable of the greatest dishonor, abuse, and corruption.
The time has arrived for a full and frank discussion of those things which affect the personal purity. Thousands are suffering to-day from various weaknesses, the causes of which they have never learned. Manly vigor is not increasing with that rapidity which a Christian age demands. Means of dissipation are on the increase. It is high time, therefore, that every lover of the race should call a halt, and inquire into the condition of things.
Let the reader of this work study it carefully and be able to give safe counsel and advice to others, and remember that purity of purpose and purity of character are the brightest jewels in the crown of immortality.
Physical and Moral Degeneracy
1. Moral Principle: “Edgar Allen Poe, Lord Byron, and Robert Burns,” says Dr. Geo. F. Hall, “were men of marvelous strength intellectually. But measured by the true rule of high moral principle, they were very weak. Superior endowment in a single direction—physical, mental, or spiritual—is not of itself sufficient to make one strong in all that that heroic word means.
2. Insane Asylum: Many a good man spiritually has gone to an untimely grave because of impaired physical powers. Many a good man spiritually has gone to the insane asylum because of bodily and mental weaknesses. Many a good man spiritually has fallen from virtue in an evil moment because of a weakened will, or a too demanding fleshly passion, or, worse than either, too lax views on the subject of personal chastity.”
3. Boys Learning Vices: Some ignorant and timid people argue that boys and young men in reading a work of this character will learn vices concerning which they had never so much as dreamed of before. This is, however, certain, that vices cannot be condemned unless they are mentioned; and if the condemnation is strong enough it surely will be a source of strength and of security. If light and education, on these important subjects, does injury, then all knowledge likewise must do more wrong than good. Knowledge is power, and the only hope of the race is enlightenment on all subjects pertaining to their being.
4. Moral Manhood: It is clearly visible that the American manhood is rotting down—decaying at the center. The present generation shows many men of a small body and weak principles, and men and women of this kind are becoming more and more prevalent. Dissipation and indiscretions of all kind are working ruin. Purity of life and temperate habits are being too generally disregarded.
5. Young Women: The vast majority of graduates from the schools and colleges of our land to-day, and two-thirds of the membership of our churches, and three-fourths of the charitable workers, are females. Everywhere girls are carrying off most of the prizes in competitive examinations, because women, as a sex, naturally maintain a better character, take better care of their bodies, and are less addicted to bad and injurious habits. While all this is true in reference to females, you will find that the male sex furnishes almost the entire number of criminals. The saloons, gambling dens, the brothels, and bad literature are drawing down all that the public schools can build up. Seventy per cent. of the young men of this land do not darken the church door. They are not interested in moral improvement or moral education. Eighty-five per cent. leave school under 15 years of age; prefer the loafer’s honors to the benefit of school.
6. Promotion: The world is full of good places for good young men, and all the positions of trust now occupied by the present generation will soon be filled by the competent young men of the coming generation; and he that keeps his record clean, lives a pure life, and avoids excesses or dissipations of all kinds, and fortifies his life with good habits, is the young man who will be heard from, and a thousand places will be open for his services.
7. Personal Purity: Dr. George F. Hall says: “Why not pay careful attention to man in all his elements of strength, physical, mental, and moral? Why not make personal purity a fixed principle in the manhood of the present and coming generation, and thus insure the best men the world has ever seen? It can be done. Let every reader of these lines resolve that he will be one to help do it.”
Immorality, Disease and Death
1. The Policy of Silence: There is no greater delusion than to suppose that vast number of boys know nothing about practices of sin. Some parents are afraid that unclean thoughts may be suggested by these very defences. The danger is slight. Such cases are barely possible, but when the untold thousands are thought of on the other side, who have been demoralized from childhood through ignorance, and who are to-day suffering the result of these vicious practices, the policy of silence stands condemned, and intelligent knowledge abundantly justified. The emphatic words of Scripture are true in this respect also, “The people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”
2. Living Illustration: Without fear of truthful contradiction, we affirm that the homes, public assemblies, and streets of all our large cities abound to-day with living illustrations and proofs of the widespread existence of this physical and moral scourge. An enervated and stunted manhood, a badly developed physique, a marked absence of manly and womanly strength and beauty, are painfully common everywhere. Boys and girls, young men and women, exist by thousands, of whom it may be said, they were badly born and ill-developed. Many of them are, to some extent, bearing the penalty of the sins [Transcriber’s note: the text appears to read “sins” but it is unclear] and excesses of their parents, especially their fathers, whilst the great majority are reaping the fruits of their own immorality in a dwarfed and ill-formed body, and effeminate appearance, weak and enervated mind.
3. Effeminate and Sickly Young Men: The purposeless and aimless life of any number of effeminate and sickly young men, is to be distinctly attributed to these sins. The large class of mentally impotent “ne’er-do-wells” are being constantly recruited and added to by those who practice what the celebrated Erichson calls “that hideous sin engendered by vice, and practiced in solitude”—the sin, be it observed, which is the common cause of physical and mental weakness, and of the fearfully impoverishing night-emissions, or as they are commonly called, “wet-dreams.”
4. Weakness, Disease, Deformity, and Death: Through self-pollution and fornication the land is being corrupted with weakness, disease, deformity, and death. We regret to say that we cannot speak with confidence concerning the moral character of the Jew; but we have people amongst us who have deservedly a high character for the tone of their moral life—we refer to the members of the Society of Friends. The average of life amongst these reaches no less than fifty-six years; and, whilst some allowance must be made for the fact that amongst the Friends the poor have not a large representation, these figures show conclusively the soundness of this position.
5. Sowing Their Wild Oats: It is monstrous to suppose that healthy children should die just as they are coming to manhood. The fact that thousands of young people do reach the age of sixteen or eighteen, and then decline and die, should arouse parents to ask the question: Why? Certainly it would not be difficult to tell the reason in thousands of instances, and yet the habit and practice of the deadly sin of self-pollution is actually ignored; it is even spoken of as a boyish folly not to be mentioned, and young men literally burning up with lust are mildly spoken of as “sowing their wild oats.” Thus the cemetery is being filled with masses of the youth of America who, as in Egypt of old, fill up the graves of uncleanness and lust. Some time since a prominent Christian man was taking exception to my addressing men on this subject; observe this! one of his own sons was at that very time near the lunatic asylum through these disgusting sins. What folly and madness this is!
6. Death to True Manhood: The question for each one is, “In what way are you going to divert the courses of the streams of energy which pertain to youthful vigor and manhood?” To be destitute of that which may be described as raw material in the human frame, means that no really vigorous manhood can have place; to burn up the juices of the system in the fires of lust is madness and wanton folly, but it can be done. To divert the currents of life and energy from blood and brain, from memory and muscle, in order to secrete it for the shambles of prostitution, is death to true manhood; but remember, it can be done! The generous liquid life may inspire the brain and blood with noble impulse and vital force, or it may be sinned away and drained out of the system until the jaded brain, the faded cheek, the enervated young manhood, the gray hair, narrow chest, weak voice, and the enfeebled mind show another victim in the long catalogue of the degraded through lust.
7. The Sisterhood of Shame and Death: Whenever we pass the sisterhood of death, and hear the undertone of song, which is one of the harlot’s methods of advertising, let us recall the words, that these represent the “pestilence which walketh in darkness, the destruction that wasteth at noonday.” The allusion, of course, is to the fact that the great majority of these harlots are full of loathsome physical and moral disease; with the face and form of an angel, these women “bite like a serpent and sting like an adder;” their traffic is not for life, but inevitably for shame, disease, and death. Betrayed and seduced themselves, they in their turn betray and curse others.
8. Warning Others: Have you never been struck with the argument of the Apostle, who, warning others from the corrupt example of the fleshy Esau, said, “Lest there be any fornicator or profane person as Esau, who for one mess of meat sold his own birthright. For ye know that even afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.” Terrible and striking words are these. His birthright sold for a mess of meat. The fearful costs of sin—yes, that is the thought, particularly the sin of fornication! Engrave that word upon your memories and hearts—”One mess of meat.”
9. The Harlot’s Mess of Meat: Remember it, young men, when you are tempted to this sin. For a few minutes’ sensual pleasure, for a mess of harlot’s meat, young men are paying out the love of the son and brother; they are deceiving, lying, and cheating for a mess of meat; for a mess, not seldom of putrid flesh, men have paid down purity and prayer, manliness and godliness; for a mess of meat some perhaps have donned their best attire, and assumed the manners of the gentleman, and then, like an infernal hypocrite flogged the steps of maiden or harlot to satisfy their degrading lust; for a mess of meat young men have deceived father and mother, and shrunk from the embrace of love of the pure-minded sister. For the harlot’s mess of meat some listening to me have spent scores of hours of invaluable time. They have wearied the body, diseased and demoralized the mind. The pocket has been emptied, theft committed, lies unnumbered told, to play the part of the harlot’s mate—perchance a six-foot fool, dragged into the filth and mire of the harlot’s house. You called her your friend, when, but for her mess of meat, you would have passed her like dirt in the street.
10. Seeing Life: You consorted with her for your mutual shame and death, and then called it “seeing life.” Had your mother met you, you would have shrunk away like a craven cur. Had your sister interviewed you, she had blushed to bear your name; or had she been seen by you in company with some other whoremaster, for similar commerce, you would have wished that she had been dead. Now what think you of this “seeing life?” And it is for this that tens of thousands of strong men in our large cities are selling their birthright.
11. The Devil’s Decoys.—Some may be ready to affirm that physical and moral penalties do not appear to overtake all men; that many men known to be given to intemperance and sensuality are strong, well, and live to a good age. Let us not make any mistake concerning these; they are exceptions to the rule; the appearance of health in them is but the grossness of sensuality. You have only carefully to look into the faces of these men to see that their countenances, eyes, and speech betray them. They are simply the devil’s decoys.
12. Grossness of Sensuality: The poor degraded harlot draws in the victims like a heavily charged lodestone; these men are found in large numbers throughout the entire community; they would make fine men were they not weighted with the grossness of sensuality; as it is, they frequent the race-course, the card-table, the drinking-saloon, the music-hall, and the low theaters, which abound in our cities and towns; the great majority of these are men of means and leisure. Idleness is their curse, their opportunity for sin; you may know them as the loungers over refreshment-bars, as the retailers of the latest filthy joke, or as the vendors of some disgusting scandal; indeed, it is appalling the number of these lepers found both in our business and social circles.
Adapted from Searchlights on Health: Science of Eugenics, by B. G. Jefferis and J. L. Nichols. Photographs courtesy of Frédéric Poirot, #300091984, rm 245d567, and Tom Simpson. Published under a Creative Commons license.