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It seems to be a generally prevalent opinion that the marriage ceremony
removes all restraint from the exercise of the sexual functions. Few
seem to even suspect that the seventh commandment has any bearing upon
sexual conduct within the pale of matrimony. Yet if we may believe the
confessions and statements of men and women, legalized prostitution
is a more common crime than illicit commerce of the sexes. So common
is the popular error upon this subject, and so strongly fortified by
prejudice is it, that it is absolutely dangerous for a writer or speaker
to express the truth, if he knows it and has a disposition to do so.
Any attempt to call attention to true principles is mocked at, decried,
stigmatized, and, if possible, extinguished. The author is vilified,
and his work is denounced, and relegated to the ragman. Extremist,
fanatic, ascetic, are the mildest terms employed concerning him, and
he escapes with rare good fortune if his chastity or virility is not
We are not going to run any such risks, and so shall not attempt to
enunciate or maintain any theory. We shall content ourselves with
plainly stating established physiological facts by quotations from
standard medical authors, leaving each reader to draw conclusions and
construct a practical formula for himself.
Object of the Reproductive Functions.--Man, in whatever condition we
find him, is more or less depraved. This is true as well of the most
cultivated and refined ladies and gentlemen of the great centers of
civilization, as of the misshapen denizens of African jungles, or the
scarcely human natives of Australia and Terra del Fuego. His appetites,
his tastes, his habits, even his bodily functions are perverted. Of
course, there are degrees of depravity, and varieties of perversion.
In some respects, savages approach more nearly to the natural state
than civilized man, and in other particulars, the latter more nearly
represents man's natural condition; but in neither barbarism nor
civilization do we find man in his primitive state.
In consequence of this universal departure from his original normal
condition,--the causes of which we need not here trace, since they are
immaterial in the consideration of this question,--when we wish to
ascertain with certainty the functions of certain organs of the human
body, we are obliged to compare them with the corresponding organs of
lower animals, and study the functions of the latter. It is by this
method of investigation that most of the important truths of physiology
have been developed; and the plan is universally acknowledged to be
a proper and logical one.
Then if we wish to ascertain, with certainty, the true function of the
reproductive organs in man, we must pursue the course above indicated;
in other words, study the function of reproduction in lower animals.
We say _lower animals_, because man is really an animal, a member of
the great animal kingdom, though not a beast--at least he should not
be a beast, though some animals in human form approach very closely
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