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thirty years may elapse after active symptoms disappear, yet the
disease may break out again in a new and still more serious and
complicated form. It may even lie entirely dormant or latent in the
system of the parent during his lifetime, but break out in all its
terrible destructiveness in his children. A man or woman who has once
suffered with this fell disease is contaminated for life; and it is
a crime for such an one to entail upon innocent, unoffending human
beings such a terrible legacy. Such a person has no right to marry;
or if married, has no right to perpetuate the results of his sins in
offspring. It is _never safe_ to say to a man who has once been infected
that he is cured. If a cure ever takes place, it is exceedingly rare.
(2) It is a crime against the race. One of the primary objects of
marriage is reproduction. As members of the human race, it is the duty
of parents to produce a high type of human beings, at least to do all
in their power to produce healthy offspring. If they cannot do this,
and are aware of the fact, they are guilty of abuse of the reproductive
function in bringing sickly offspring into the world to suffer.
(3) It is injurious to the contracting parties themselves. If a person
has a communicable disease, as syphilis, leprosy, and some bad forms
of skin disease, the disease will certainly be communicated to the wife
or husband, and so a double amount of suffering will be entailed. The
dread disease, consumption, rightly called the scourge of civilization,
is now well known to be communicable. A few years ago we were consulted
by an old gentleman, a native of Canada, who was suffering with
pulmonary disease. We inquired respecting the history of the malady.
Said he, "Doctor, it may seem strange, but I believe I _inherited_
consumption from my wife, who died of consumption a few years ago."
Excepting the wrong use of the term inherit, we were not prepared to
dispute the old gentleman's ideas respecting the origin of his disease.
Living in close association for years with his wife, who was slowly
dying with disease of the lungs, it was quite possible for him to have
received the disease from her. So many cases of this kind have been
reported that it is now generally believed by medical men that
consumption is communicable from one person to another by the reception
into the system of the well person of the exhalations from the lungs
of the person affected.
Another point worthy of mention here is the well-known fact that the
intimate association of married people modifies even the physical form
of both. Almost every one has noticed how much alike in appearance
married people who have lived many years together come to be. This
physical change undoubtedly extends further than to the features only.
The whole constitution is modified.
A remarkable illustration of this fact is found in the frequent
observation that the children of a woman by a second husband often
resemble in appearance the first husband much more than their own father.
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