A young man and woman, children of the same parents, brought up in the same home, ought to be the best of friends. Their friendship is without the danger of misunderstanding. It can be free from the slight feeling of envy or jealousy that might arise between sisters. It would seem that it could be the truest comradeship possible to two young people.
A sister should be to a brother not merely some one at hand to mend his gloves or make his neckties, not simply some one to fondle and indulge, but she should be one whom he would never scold or browbeat. A brother should not be simply some one to run errands, to call on for help in emergencies, not some one to tease when the spirit of mischief prompts, or to scold when things have gone wrong.
I would have the love of these two manifest itself in all true helpfulness, but in a way that would draw out the noblest self-reliance in each. It should manifest itself in courteous words, in helpful deeds, in glances of the eye, in tones of the voice, in heartfelt sympathies that stimulate to nobler deeds, in every way that strengthens and uplifts; and if caresses are few, they will not be missed in the wealth of that truer manifestation which makes the recipient feel his nobility and worth.
A young lady once asked me if I believed in young people who were not related treating each other as brother and sister, and I replied that would depend on how the brother and sister treated each other. I have seen girls treat brothers in ways that other young men would not enjoy—finding fault, nagging, and snubbing generally. I have seen young men browbeat their sisters, tease them, and be continually unkind. I presume, if such a young man should propose to be a brother to a girl, he would not purpose to treat her in this way. Young people sometimes like to try to deceive themselves, and they fancy that the subterfuge of calling each other brother and sister will be a warrant for the parting kiss or the tender endearment that they enjoy, but which they feel proprieties will not allow. The subterfuge is too transparent. It deceives no one, and it does not make right that which, without it, would be improper.
Platonic friendships—that is, friendships between men and women without the element of physical love—are rare; rarer, indeed, than they should be. They are difficult to maintain because of the temptation to begin in the indulgences of personal familiarities, which tend to lead the friendship over into debatable ground. Men and women ought to be grand, true friends, inciting each other to the noblest achievements, but it never can be through sentimentality.
A girl may think she is sisterly when she listens to the young man's cry for sympathy in some trouble, and she holds his hand and smoothes his hair and comforts him after this tender fashion, and he may go away feeling comforted, even as a baby might be quieted by petting; but his moral fiber has not been strengthened; he has not been made to feel stronger to do and dare.
Supposing she had listened with interest to his story, and then, without laying her hands upon him, she had said, "You are a man, a prince, the son of a King. You are strong to bear, brave to do. Obstacles surmounted give broader outlooks. Burdens bravely borne bring strength. I believe in you;" and then, with a strong, firm—I had almost said manly—grasp of the hand, she had sent him away, he would go feeling stronger, braver, more self-reliant, stimulated, encouraged, not merely soothed and quieted. In this fashion a girl may treat a young man as a brother. She may tell him his faults in all kindness. She may listen to his dreams, ambitions, aspirations, and encourage with approval, incite by gentle sarcasm, or enliven by kindly sportiveness; but her person is her own, and he should be made to feel that beyond these bounds he may not pass. Such friendship may endure vicissitude, or separation, and be through life a source of truest inspiration. To be such a friend to a noble man is a worthy ambition. It would prove the possession of more qualities of womanliness than merely to win his passionate love.
When the world comes to accept the highest ideals of life and believes that all relations of men and women are not of necessity founded on physical attraction, then will such friendships be more possible, and the earth can offer no more desirable future than that in which men and women, knowing each other as immortal intelligences, shall leave the vale of unsafe sentimentality and sensuous poison to dwell on heights of noble companionship.
FRIENDSHIP BETWEEN GIRLS.
You think, perhaps, that I can find no fault with the friendship of girls with each other, that that certainly is safe and pleasant. I have said enough for you to understand that I believe in reserve even in girl friendships. Girls are apt at certain periods of their lives to be rather gushing creatures. They form most sentimental attachments for each other. They go about with their arms around each other, they loll against each other, and sit with clasped hands by the hour. They fondle and kiss until beholders are fairly nauseated, and in a few weeks, perhaps, they do not speak as they pass each other, and their caresses are lavished on others. Such friendships are not only silly, they are even dangerous. They are a weakening of moral fiber, a waste of mawkish sentimentality. They may be even worse. Such friendship may degenerate even into a species of self-abuse that is most deplorable.
When girls are so sentimentally fond of each other that they are like silly lovers when together, and weep over each other's absence in uncontrollable agony, the conditions are serious enough for the consultation of a physician. It is an abnormal state of affairs, and if probed thoroughly might be found to be a sort of perversion, a sex mania, needing immediate and perhaps severe measures.
I wish the friendships of girls were less sentimental, were more manly. Two young men who are friends do not lop on each other, and kiss and gush. They trust each other, they talk freely together, they would stand by each other in any trouble or emergency, but their expressions of endearment are not more than the cordial handgrasp and the unsentimental appellation, "Dear old chap."
I admire these friendships in young men. They seem to mean so much, and yet to exact so little. They believe in each other's love, but do not demand to be told of it every minute.
It is the highest type of friendship that can believe in the friend under all circumstances. I have a friend from whom I may not hear once a year, yet I know just where she stands in her relation to me, and I would have no fear of finding her cold or unresponsive should I at any time call on her for a friendly service. I may never see her, or even hear from her again in life, and we may live long years yet on the earth, but I would as soon think of doubting the return of to-morrow's sun as to doubt her love. There is no need of words, of caresses, even of deeds. We are both busy women. Our daily cares absorb us, yet we know that we are friends, and in the great hereafter we hope to find a place where we may pause and look into each other's faces and enjoy an interchange of thought. But now other interests than self-seeking claim us. We work on, cheered by the thought that time cannot alienate us, for true love is eternal.
The charm of a true friendship is that it does not make demands. I had a school friend who thought that because she was my friend I must tell her all my affairs. She was offended if I received a letter that I did not read to her, or if I went out to spend the evening without first informing her. Her friendship became a tax because it demanded so much. And, after all, was it true friendship? Was it not love of self, rather than of me? People sometimes imagine that, because they crave love, they are affectionate and unselfish. Is it true? It is rather natural to want to be loved, but it is selfish, and the feeling indulged in to any extent is weakening. To want to be loved means usually to want some one to be a protector, a giver of pleasure, a supplier of wants. To desire to love is nobler, for to love is to give. God so loved the world that he gave. Christ loved us and gave—gave Himself for us. To love truly, grandly, nobly, is to grow strong through giving. Not giving that which we should not give, not unwisely giving of time that belongs to our own best good, not giving of strength that should be dedicated to some better purpose, not a yielding of principle, nor purity, nor honor, but the true giving of that which enriches both giver and recipient, which ennobles, uplifts, encourages and strengthens, and leaves no sorrow in its wake. The truest giving is sometimes a refusal to yield to demands that are unworthy. Love wisely, my daughter, and you will give wisely.
As many girls are affected by spinal curvature, round shoulders, weak back or ankles, prolapsed stomach, bowels, or pelvic organs, constipation and poor general circulation, it seems well to give a few exercises that shall be corrective of these defects, premising that each exercise should be begun gradually and easily, increasing frequency and force, as strength is gained, say five times a day the first week, eight times a day the second week, and so on.
Never exercise in tight clothing or in a corset, and do not exercise to exhaustion.
To Overcome Slight Lateral Curvature.
1. If it is the right shoulder that is depressed, place the hands on hips or behind neck, and bend slowly to the left.
Reverse this movement if the left is the lower shoulder.
2. With arms raised above the head, bend the body slowly forward and try to touch the floor without bending the knees, then rise slowly to an erect position.
To Overcome Round Shoulders.
Do not fold the arms in front.
Any motion that brings hands together behind the back is good.
Draw the elbows quickly backward.
Carry a weight in each hand, holding the weight behind you and out from the body.
Hold the body in the correct attitude (see page 132), head balanced on spine, chest elevated, posterior part of body thrown out, weight on balls of feet, not on heels.
Exercises that strengthen the waist muscles will help to maintain the erect position, and so tend to overcome round shoulders.
To Strengthen Weak Back.
1. Hold a light weight in each hand. Place the weights on the floor in front of you. Stand with feet eight inches apart, and take three slow, deep breaths. Stoop over and take the weights in the hands and gradually straighten up till the hands hang easily at the sides. Bend slowly forward, and again place the weights on the floor. Repeat five times.
2. Clasp the hands back of the neck and bend slowly forward until the head is on a level with the waist. Count ten, then straighten up to erect position. Repeat.
3. Bend the body backward, forward and sidewise at the waist.
4. Put your right arm over your head till it touches your left ear. Hold the chin high. Breathe slowly and deeply while you walk around the room. Repeat with other arm. Increase the length of your walk gradually.
5. Playing tennis is good exercise for the sides of the waist.
6. Carry a weight first on one shoulder, then on the other.
7. Run on the toes.
8. Hop on one foot.
To Strengthen and Develop the Chest.
1. Maintain an erect attitude.
2. Raise and lower the arm, forward, upward, backward, without bending the elbows.
3. Lie on the floor, stretch the arms over the head till the hands touch the floor. Take a deep breath and hold it; now bring the arms over the head as high as you can reach, and do not bend the elbows. Rest and repeat three times.
4. Hold chin as high as possible. Raise the arms at the side as high as you can. Breathe deeply and hold the air in the lungs. Now, without letting any air out and without bending the elbows, bring your hands down steadily to your sides. Repeat. Keep chin well up.
To Strengthen Abdominal Muscles.
1. Stand with chin high.
2. Breathe slowly and deeply.
3. Raise the right knee till the right foot is about twelve inches from the floor.
4. Give a little spring with the left foot, raise it swiftly from the floor, and at the same time put the right toe and sole (not heel) to the floor.
5. Spring on right foot and put left down. Repeat five times.
6. Fold arms behind. Hold chin up. Breathe slowly and very deeply. Do not bend the knees. Hold your left foot far out in front of you while you count five.
7. Lower it and raise right foot in same way. Repeat four times. Keep the shoulders well back and down while doing this exercise. Point the toes down and out.
8. Lie on your back. Keep feet down and rise to a sitting position. Drop slowly back, and repeat three times.
9. Run, lifting your feet high, like a spirited horse.
10. Stand with chin high, arms akimbo. Breathe slowly and deeply. Advance left foot eight inches in front of right. Lean head slowly as far back as possible. Hold it while you count five. Straighten, and repeat five times.
11. Place the hands on the wall in front of you as high as you can reach and about two feet apart, with the elbows straight. Have chin up till you face the ceiling, and keep it so. Take a very deep breath and hold it. Now bend your elbows and let the body go slowly forward till the chest touches the wall, keeping the body and legs stiff all the time. Push back till straight again. Do not take heels off the floor, nor hands off the wall, nor eyes off the ceiling right overhead. Repeat five times.
12. Lie on the floor, stretch the arms over the head till the hands touch the floor. Clinch the fists. Take a deep breath and hold it. Now raise the arms slowly, keeping the fists clinched, and bring them down at the sides, raising the head from the floor at same time. Raise the arms and stretch them on the floor over the head at same time, letting the head sink back to the floor, and breathe out slowly.
To Facilitate the Return of Displaced Organs to Their Normal Position.
1. Lie on your back upon a smooth, hard surface. Draw the feet up as close to the body as possible. Now lift the lower part of the body until it is wholly supported by the feet and shoulders. Hold it in this position as long as possible without fatigue. Lower slowly to original position. Rest a few minutes. Repeat. Continue for twenty or thirty minutes, according to strength.
2. Lie with face downward. Raise the hips as high as possible, supporting the body on the toes and elbows.
3. Slip from the bed head first and face downwards until the head rests on the floor and the legs and feet remain upon the bed. Let the arms to the elbows rest on the floor. When weary of this attitude slip to the floor, turn on the back, and apply the bandage.
It is well to bear constantly in mind that all exercise, even walking on level ground, is objectionable in clothing that compresses the body; and as exercise is the law of the development of muscle, the only safe thing to do is so to dress that every muscle has free and unrestrained motion. Walking to be beneficial should be out of doors, with some pleasant motive, and taken with some degree of energy. The length of the walk should be proportional to the strength of the girl—short at first, and increasing as strength increases. The erect attitude should be maintained, and the walking not prolonged to exhaustion.
Walking slowly home from school, laden with books and intent on conversation with others, will not fulfill the demands of walking for exercise. It makes no demand on breathing power, does not develop depth of chest or strength of limb.
This is an admirable exercise if the dress be suitable. Long skirts are an impediment. Running on the toes develops the calf of the leg.
The swift motion causes deep breathing, which expands the chest. If violent or long-continued, it may make too urgent a demand on the heart and lungs, and so be detrimental. The counsel of a physician is safest for those whose heart and lungs are weak.
Horseback riding is a vigorous exercise, which would be especially beneficial were it not for the cramped position women are forced by custom to assume. It cannot be recommended to those who have a tendency to lateral curvature of the spine or weak back, or prolapsed internal organs. Such girls should by proper care be put into a better physical condition before attempting to ride. Harvey advises learning to ride on either side of the horse, so as to bring opposite sets of muscles into play, and counteract the curvature which physicians who have the opportunity to observe say is produced by riding. That being true, why not adopt the sensible fashion of riding on both sides of the horse at once, as men do? I saw a young lady so mounted the other day, and the sight was far more agreeable than the twisted attitude compelled by the side-saddle. Medical men also assert that riding tends to produce round shoulders, and as the greatest muscular strain comes on the back, it is not helpful to weak backs.
Skating is a fine exercise. It quickens the circulation and the respiration, aids digestion, exercises a great number of muscles, both of limbs and trunk of body, strengthens the ankles, and incidentally the nerves. Evils are to be found in wrong habits of dressing, the tendency to overdo through the fascination of the sport, the danger of taking cold by carelessly sitting down to rest when heated, or driving home after being warmed up by the severe exertion. A girl of good judgment, properly clothed, ought to be benefited by this charming out-door sport.
It should be begun very gradually at the opening of the skating season, and not undertaken if the internal organs are prolapsed.
Rowing is an exercise that develops the upper back and back of shoulders, and therefore needs to be counteracted by exercise that calls into play the muscles of the front of the chest.
The dangers of cycling arise principally from lack of judgment. The temptation to overdo is very great, and injury is done in attempts to ride longer, farther and faster than the strength will safely allow. The whole dress should be so arranged as to give perfect freedom of movement, the skirt short enough to clear the dangerous part of the mechanism, the saddle adjusted to the individual both in its make and height, and the girl be taught to sit properly and to adjust her weight so that the pressure will not be undue upon the perineum. Rectal and other local irritations are produced by the pressure of the whole weight resting on the saddle.
The position should not be absolutely erect, but leaning slightly forward, so as to allow the weight to be distributed between the handle-bars, the pedal, and the saddle. This slightly inclined attitude also maintains the proper and harmonious relation of the internal organs, so that the bowels do not crowd down on the pelvic organs.
If the girl is taught to sit on the machine properly, to distribute her weight, to sit on the large gluteal muscles, and not on the perineum, to use judgment in the amount of exercise taken at a time, there is no reason why a girl in a normal condition of health should not be benefited.
There may be particular reasons why some girls should not undertake to ride, and these can be determined by the physician.
This is a game that demands great activity, consequently there is especial need of entire freedom of movement. All constrictions of clothing are especially injurious.
It is claimed by some that, being essentially a one-sided exercise, there is a possibility, if unwisely indulged in, that it may produce injurious results, especially to the spine.
Swimming is not only a valuable exercise, but it really conduces to the safety of life in these days of constant boat travel, and there are no adequate reasons why girls should not learn. The younger they begin, the more readily will they become expert. It is not wise to indulge in this exercise while menstruating, nor immediately after eating.
There is some prejudice against this form of exercise from the fact that it can be overdone, and also from the popular idea that it is injurious to girls to jump.
If they are properly dressed, and their muscles are gradually developed, and they use good common sense as to amount, there are practically no dangers in skipping. It is admirably adapted to strengthen a great variety of muscles, as those of the legs, back, abdomen, and neck. It strengthens the knees and the arches of the feet, thereby tending to overcome flat foot. It strengthens weak backs, increases circulation and respiration and promotes digestion, and, if practised out of doors, is one of the most perfect forms of exercise. Of course the judgment dictates that when the pelvic organs are heavy with the menstrual congestion it would not be advisable.
Dancing, in itself considered, is a pleasant and beneficial exercise. It develops grace and muscular strength, increases circulation and respiration, and is cheering because of rhythm. One wishes that it could be unqualifiedly commended. But when we take into account the late hours, the heated rooms, the promiscuous company, the late unwholesome suppers, the improper dress, the dangers of taking cold, the immodest freedom of the round dance, and the not infrequent evils resulting therefrom, it would seem unwise to commend an exercise so surrounded by objectionable concomitants. It is observed that young church members who become interested in the dance soon lose all their interest in church work.
If dancing could be conducted in the daytime, out of doors, among well-known home friends and companions, in proper dress, and with no round dances, there would be much to commend, and little to condemn.
I can find little to say in favor of this form of amusement. It contains no exercise for the body. It continues the cramped attitudes to which most people are condemned during the day.
It certainly contributes nothing to the higher forms of enjoyment. It stimulates emulations, which St. Paul enumerates among things to be avoided; it is the accompaniment of gambling and low society; and, while we must admit that a pack of cards in itself is not evil, yet it can be and often is made most detrimental to the best interests of morality and righteousness.
The young woman who respects her own intellectual and moral powers will see little charm in manipulating cards in a way to gain a momentary success over another and perhaps arousing unkind feelings, it may be even passions, that may culminate in bloodshed.
It is natural that we should enjoy pictorial representation of human life with living actors and audible words; and, understanding this, many good people have had the hope that the stage might be purified and made a teacher of morals. Certainly valuable lessons of life might be most strongly presented in this concrete form, and thus appeal with wonderful power to the young and inexperienced. But that it might be so used does not insure that it will be, and observation shows us that it is not.
The modern play concerns itself principally with a delineation of those phases of life which we condemn when they become reality, and the teaching power of the stage becomes a lesson in wrongdoing which to the young and inexperienced is potent in its suggestiveness.
The costumes of actresses are often immodest, and many of these women are immoral in character. It would not be just to condemn all actors with the sweeping assertion of immorality, but all will admit that the temptations are great, and that great moral force is needed to resist the influences that lead towards wrong.
That many of our great actors will not permit their children to become actors, or, in some cases, even to enter the theatre as a witness of its performances, speaks strongly on the matter.
In the consideration of this subject the girl may safely decide that she will not be a permanent loser if she is not a frequenter of the theatre. It is safer to keep the mind pure and untainted from all pictures of sin, more especially if they are made attractive by the glamour of jewels and silken attire, of music, dancing, and lifelike portrayal.
LOVE; HEREDITY; ENGAGEMENTS.
In our study we have first learned of general and then of special physiology, so, in continuing the same study in mental and moral fields, we first learn of the general and then of our special relation to others. We cultivate body, mind and spirit because it is our duty to develop ourselves for our own interests; but it is also our duty to cultivate all our powers because of our responsibility in regard to others. This responsibility I will include in the one word, "love."
What is love? The idea of love occupies much of the thought of old and young, and in different persons it will have very different meanings. To one it means merely pleasurable sensations aroused by either the thought of a person, or by the actual presence of that person. To another it means an opportunity to sacrifice inclination and pleasure in order to promote the happiness or welfare of a certain person.
Much that passes in the world as love is principally love of self. The man loves the woman because she satisfies his sense of beauty; her presence causes thrills and ecstasies; she contributes to his happiness and comfort. That is, he loves himself through her. The woman loves the man because he protects her, he surrounds her with luxury, his presence brings thrills and ecstasies to her. She loves herself through him. Is not this but the essence of selfishness? In another case the man loves the woman so tenderly that he cannot do enough to prove his devotion. If her welfare demands his absence, he gladly foregoes the pleasure of her society. If her comfort requires his unremitting toil, he gives his days, and even his nights, to the task of labor for her. His only anxiety is to know her wants and to supply them. He effaces himself and his wishes to serve her. He would die to secure her good. He gives, and asks nothing. Or, in the same way, the woman loves the man so that her whole thought is not what she can obtain from him, but what she can give him. True love desires only to give. Self-love strives only to secure.
Emerson says, "All the world loves a lover," and conversely we may say a true lover loves all the world. The affection kindled in the heart by one worthy individual goes out in a kindlier feeling for all the world. A poet once said that the world was brighter and all humanity dearer because he loved truly one worthy woman. He was more gentle with little children; the very beggar on the street corner seemed to be a brother in distress. Because the woman he loved had given him her heart, he wanted to give something to every one he met. This is the spirit of true love, to go out in blessings towards the beloved object, and so on towards every created thing.
I was once asked if I believed in love at first sight. How can love spring up in a minute? There may be admiration of beauty, there may be appreciation of intellectual qualities, there may be a recognition of magnetic personal attraction, but none of these is love. Love, to be worthy the name, must be a superstructure built upon a firm foundation of acquaintance with each other's true qualities. Love is not a balloon, in which two young people may go sailing among the clouds, away from all regions of every-day life. Those who try it with that idea find the cloud-world cold and uncomfortable, and not at all the rosy, gold-tinted region it looked at a distance.
Love is rather like a building with foundations set into the earth—foundations solid, firmly laid and durable. How can people love when they do not know each other? Acquaintance first, then friendship, comradeship; then, if the sentiment grows, love. But how are young people to get really acquainted? They meet under unreal conditions. They see each other in society, in Sunday dress and with Sunday manners. They doubtless do not mean to deceive each other, but there is little to draw out the real self. There is nothing to disturb or irritate, nothing to prove the honesty, the neatness, the industry, the persistence, the business ability; nothing to disclose the true ideas in matters of serious import, of health, religion, duties of husbands and wives, the government of the home; and too often the intimacy of marriage discloses many personal peculiarities of temper, habits and manners that, if seen in time, would have prevented marriage.
The trouble does not originate with young people themselves, but with older people; but as the young people of to-day will be the older people of the future, it would be well for them to realize what the trouble is. The fact is, that in the present conditions of society the association of young people is unnatural. From earliest childhood boys and girls are taught to think of each other only in sentimental ways. The little boys and girls in school are playing at "lovering," and their conversation is often more about beaus and sweethearts than about the plays of childhood, which alone should occupy their thoughts. You remember that little miss of ten who asked you, when you were sixteen, who was your beau. You recall her look of surprise when you replied that you had none, and her exclamation, "Have no beau! Why, how do you get along without one?" What made such a mere child imagine a beau to be an essential agent of a girl's life? Because she had been taught by the jests and suggestions of her elders that every boy was a possible lover, and, young as she was, that thought was woven into her very life. It is pitiable to see how early the mind of the child is tainted by sentimentality, by the unwise suggestions of older friends. I remember hearing of a child of six who was talking of getting married. Some one said, "You are too little to think of getting married," and the child replied, "Why, I have thought of it since I was two years old." And doubtless she had, because it had been continually impressed on her mind by the conversation of parents and friends, and the direction they had given her thought in regard to her relation to everything masculine.
Parents are often very unwilling to teach their daughters the facts of sex, and yet quite willing to emphasize the consciousness of sex by intimating the possibility of flirtations, love affairs, etc. And this false, pernicious idea of the relation of men and women is too often called love. The central idea of romances is this passionate attraction of the sexes. The plot gathers in intensity around the lovers, and culminates in their marriage, after which life is presumed to move on without a jar, and silly girls and impulsive boys imagine that the sweet pain that accompanies the touch of hands or the glance of the eyes is love, and is a sufficient guarantee for the forming of a life partnership.
Let us face this question fairly. What is love? Of what is it made? Can you judge with any certainty of its lasting qualities? How can you know the true from the false?
Unfortunately we have but the one word, "love," to designate many phases of kindly regard. The mother loves her child, the child loves the mother, yet love differs much in these two instances. The one is protecting, anxious, self-sacrificing, unstinted care, unqualified devotion; the other is sweet dependence, unquestioning acceptance, asking all and giving little. The love of brother and sister differs from that of brother for brother, or sister for sister. The love of man for woman differs from all other emotions of love. It contains elements not found in other forms. It may have the same quality of giving or accepting, of protecting or yielding, but with all this there is an added quality that is not found in any other relation of life, a quality that rises to the intensity of a passion, and which, if thwarted or distorted, may become murderous or lead to insanity.
This overwhelming, domineering sway of feeling inheres in the fact of sex. It is the expression of the whole nature, through the physical; it is the vital creative force endeavoring to reach a tangible result. Holy in its inception, it can be degraded to the vilest uses. Forming the distinctive feature of love between the sexes, it is too often imagined to be the all, and a strong physical attraction without the basic friendship, which can only come through acquaintance, is not infrequently supposed to be worthy of the name of love, and found, alas! to be the most unsubstantial of chimeras.
Love, to be worthy of the name, must rest, not on the fact of admiration for beauty, not on the physical attraction manifested in sweet electric thrills. Love should include intellectual congeniality and spiritual sympathy, as well as physical attraction. Lacking any one of these three ingredients, the interest of two people in each other should not be called love.
In order that it may be determined whether there is the true basis of love, there should be opportunity for unsentimental acquaintance. If we could free the minds of young people from the romantic idea, and allow them to associate as intelligent beings, and so form acquaintance on the basis of comradeship, we should make things safer for them.
But if the older people do not know how to secure this desirable state of affairs, the young people themselves might secure it if they understood its desirability. You, as a young woman, can have much influence in the right directions, supposing that you drop from your mind the idea of sentimental relations with young men and meet them on the ground of a friendly comradeship.
Don't indulge in tete-a-tetes, or in lackadaisical glances of the eye. Don't permit personal familiarities, hand pressures, or caresses. Don't simper, and put on the airs which mean, though the girl may not understand it, an effort to arouse the admiration and the physical feeling of love. Refuse to be flattered, to be played with, to be treated as a female, but insist on being treated as a woman with intelligence, with a capacity to understand reasonable things. Manifest an interest in the movements of the world, of politics, literature, art, religion, athletics. Talk of the things that interest the young man as a citizen of the world, and not merely of those things which appeal to him as a male. Be frank, be lively, be witty, be wise, but do not be sentimental.
When a young man calls, don't let him get the idea that you have to be secluded in a room apart from the rest of the family. You will be better able to judge of him if you see him with your brothers, if you note his manner towards your mother, if you hear him converse with your father, if you mark his conduct towards the younger children. He will talk sense, if he can, when he meets your family, while in a tete-a-tete conversation with yourself he may be able to hide his lack of wisdom under the glamour of sweet nothings and soft nonsense.
Then be yourself when he comes. Let him see you in your home life, at your domestic duties, sewing, helping mother, reading to father, caring for the little ones. Be an honest, free-hearted, companionable girl, and put sentimentality out of mind. You can have many such friends, and by and by, out of these you will probably find one whom you admire more and more as time goes on. You hear his sentiments always expressed in favor of truth and probity. You come to know something of his business principles, you see his courtesy to old and young, you learn of his home, his family, his social position, and out of this intimate knowledge there springs the attachment, blended with deep respect, which assures you that he is worthy of your heart and hand, and indeed of your whole life.
Little by little the comradeship has grown more intimate. You have not been sentimental. You have treated each other with respect, you have maintained your self-respect, you have held a tight rein over your fancies and emotions, but now you are convinced that you may allow them to have sway. You begin to acknowledge to yourself that you love.
And he, too, begins to manifest a deeper interest in you. You see this with a certain pride in the fact that he is not self-deceived He knows you, has seen you in your daily life, has sounded the depth of your intellect, knows of your religious beliefs, and in all he has found you coming up to his ideals. His eye meets yours with a new tenderness in its glance that touches you, because you know it is not an earthly fire of passion that glows therein. It is you, the real, immortal you, that he seeks; not merely the pleasures of sense through you; and feeling the response in your own heart, your glance kindles with the same divine fire, and your true selves have spoken to each other. You have gradually grown into the knowledge of love. You have not fallen in love. And yet there have been no words, and in maiden shyness you await his speech. Your womanly reserve has won his respect, and he makes no attempts to win privileges of endearments before he confesses his love, but frankly and manfully pleads his suit and wins.
Oh, my dear child, this has been no matter for jesting; it has been serious, and we who have watched this dawning love have realized that the great drama of life, so full of tragic possibilities, is being here enacted. We do not laugh, nor jest, but with the tenderest prayers we welcome you into the possibilities of God's divinest gift of human love.
RESPONSIBILITY IN MARRIAGE.
You are beginning to feel a peculiar interest in one young man more than in any other. You think of him in his absence; you welcome his coming; his eyes seem to caress you; the clasp of his hand thrills you; you begin to think that you have passed from the domain of friendship into that of love.
Before you really make that admission, let us "reason together." Let us take a fair look at matters, and see whether it is wiser to pass the border line, or to remain only friends. Who is this young man? You tell me his name, but that means nothing. Who is he? What is he in himself? What are his talents, capacities, habits, inherited tendencies? Who is his father, his mother? What is their worth? I do not mean in money, but in themselves? What ancestral diseases or defects may he transmit to his posterity, which will be your posterity if he becomes your husband? Are the family tendencies such that you would be willing to see them repeated in your children?
There is no indelicacy in asking yourself these questions, nor in making the investigations which will enable you to answer them satisfactorily. The woman who marries, marries not only into her husband's family, she also marries his family; she is to become one of it, to live with it in closer and closer companionship as her children, bearing the family temperament, disposition and tendencies, gather one by one around her hearth.
Is the family one of the type that she will desire to associate with intimately all the days of her life? You may feel that it does not matter if you do not love your husband's mother, or admire his sisters; no matter if you do not have respect for his father, you will live so far away from them that it will not be oftener than once in several years that you will be obliged to meet them. It might even happen that you would never see them, and yet it be a very serious matter that they were not respectable or lovable people, for they constitute one-half of the ancestry of your children. Their most undesirable characteristics may, perchance, be the endowment of your sons and daughters, and your heart ache, or even break, over the habits, or, it may be, criminality, which may disgrace your home through the paternal inheritance that you chose for them. Viewed in this light, marriage becomes a most serious matter. It is unfortunate that girls generally have the idea that it is not modest to think of marriage further than the ceremony. Of the responsibilities and duties they are not only ignorant, but think it ladylike to remain uninformed until experience teaches them, and that teaching is often accompanied by heart-breaking sorrow. If you should make inquiry you would discover that a large proportion of mothers have buried their firstborn children, and should you ask them why, they would in all probability say, almost without exception, that it was because they did not know how to give them a dower of health, or how to care for their physical needs.
Again, investigation would show you that children go astray, become wild, dissipated, or even criminal, because parents have not known how to train them, how to keep their confidence, how wisely to guide them in ways of righteousness.
We all believe it very important that mothers should know how to direct and govern their children, and yet we do not train the future mothers for this important office. We teach girls how to sew or cook, how to embroider and play the piano. We do not expect them to know, without instruction, how to mingle the ingredients for a cake or pudding, but we imagine that they will know by intuition how to secure the best results in the mingling of heterogeneous compounds in the formation of the characteristics of a human being.
When we speak of the mother's privilege, we think of the actual mother, whose privilege is to care for and guide her real children. But the mother's privilege in fact begins in her own childhood, when by her habits of life and thought she is deciding her own character, and at the same time creating, in great degree, the talents and tendencies of her possible children. It is her privilege to secure a measure of physical vigor for her descendants by her care of her own health in her very girlhood. She can endow them with mental power by not frittering away her own powers of mind in foolish reading or careless methods of study. By her own self-respecting conduct she helps to give them the reverence for self which will insure their acting wisely. All this is the mother's privilege; and still one more great privilege is hers, and that is to choose one-half the ancestry of her descendants. She cannot choose their ancestry that comes to them through herself; that is a fixed fact. Her parents must of necessity be her children's grandparents. Her family characteristics are also their inheritance. The only thing she can do in regard to their inheritance through her is to modify the objectionable traits, and to cultivate the good traits herself, so that family faults may in her be weakened and the probability of transmission lessened, and the family virtues be strengthened and their probable transmission intensified. But she has the power to decide what shall be the paternal ancestry of her household; and if she is duly impressed with the responsibility of this power, she will not allow herself to fall in love and marry a man of whose family she knows nothing, or knows facts that do not promise well for posterity.
THE LAW OF HEREDITY.
I once heard of a man who on his death-bed made a singular will. He had no houses or lands to bequeath his children, but he had observed that they had inherited much from him, and so he made a formal bequest to them of that which they already possessed.
He wrote: "I bequeath to my son John my big bony frame and the slouching gait I acquired by carelessness, also my inherited tendency to consumption. To my daughter Mary I bequeath my sallow complexion and torpid liver, which are the result of my gross living; also my melancholy disposition and tendency to look on the dark side of life. To my son Samuel I give my love for alcoholic liquors and my irritable disposition; to my daughter Jane my coarseness of thought and my unwillingness to be restrained in my desires, and also my tendency to commit suicide."
"A very strange will," said everybody, and yet it was a will that was probated long before the testator's death. That it gave perfect satisfaction I will not assert, but it was never contested and paid no fees to lawyers.
Just such wills are being made daily by the lives and conduct of young people, though they are not put into writing. Some time in the future, however, they will be written into "living epistles, known and read of all men."
Other wills are being made daily that through sober, virtuous, youthful lives will bequeath to posterity dowers of health, strength, purity and power.
This being true, it seems only a part of prudent foresight to study in youth the law that governs the transmission of personal characteristics to the future "denizens of life's great city." This law is known as Heredity, and its first written record is in the first chapter of Genesis, where it is written that "Every plant and animal shall bring forth after its kind." We are so accustomed to seeing the results of this law that we give it little or no thought. We see that grass springs up each year on our lawns and meadows. We know that if we put the seeds of a certain flower in the ground, that kind of flower will always spring up, never another kind. The farmer is not anxious, after he sows wheat, for fear that the crop will be rye or barley. We expect that the young of cats will be kittens, of geese will be goslings, of men will be human children, and we are never disappointed. The law holds good under all circumstances.
We see, too, that there are certain race characteristics that maintain. The Mongolian race has peculiar high cheek-bones, sallow complexions and eyes set in bias, and we recognize the Japanese or Chinese at once, even though dressed in the garb of our country. So, too, we recognize the African or the Caucasian by certain marked characteristics. This transmission of racial traits we call race heredity.
Then each race has its own traits, physical or mental, which we recognize as national, and so speak of them. We always mention thrift as an attribute of the Teutonic nations; the Irishman we characterize as witty and pugnacious; the Frenchman as polite; the American as progressive.
Each individual has not only his human inheritance, his race inheritance and his national characteristics, but he has also an endowment of family traits.
But we are not made up of odds and ends of ancestral belongings alone. We have in ourselves something that is original, that makes us different from each other, and from all others. I have sometimes thought that we are somewhat like patchwork quilts, the parti-colored blocks being set together by some solid-colored material; or, better still, we are like "hit and miss" rag carpets, with a warp of our own individuality, filled in with a woof made of qualities and capacities of all those who have preceded us. You know, in making "hit and miss" rag carpets we take little strips and bits of various materials and all colors, and sew them together without regard to order or arrangement, and these long strips are woven back and forth in the warp until the carpet is woven, showing no set pattern, but a mingling of tints and shades that is sometimes crude and unsightly, sometimes soft and artistic.
I used, in childhood, to find great delight in seeking among the blended colors in the carpet for scraps of clothing which I recognized as having belonged to father or mother, or perhaps even to grandparents. Even now, in my maturer years, I am interested in finding in myself the physical, mental or moral characteristics of those same ancestors; and you, no doubt, can do the same, while some of your traits seem to be yours entirely, constituting individual variations upon ancestral inheritances.
Nature has been doing for centuries, unheeded, what the photographer of to-day thinks is a modern discovery, that is, making composite photographs of us all.
Through this law of inheritance have arisen the intellectual, the moral or the criminal types of humanity, and the process is continuing; the types are becoming more and more marked, or modifying influences are being brought in to change the type.
These influences are also the result of law, even though we may not be able to trace them to their cause. Knowing this, however, we begin to see that heredity is not fatality; that the power to modify the endowments of future generations is ours. To know how to employ it, we should study the law as far as we have opportunity.
This subject is a large one, and no doubt you will some day want to give it a thorough investigation. Just now, however, you will have to accept my statements. I will not make them technical, but strictly practical to you as a young woman desiring that knowledge which shall best fit you for the responsibilities of future life.
A superficial study is rather discouraging. We see with what certainty evil characteristics are transmitted, and we feel that the law is a cruel one; but if we have patience we shall find that, like all laws of God, its purpose is for the benefit of the race. Before we begin to take comfort from the law let us first learn its warnings, one of which is that all weakening of the individual, either in bodily strength, in intellectual power or moral fiber, tends to produce a like weakness in posterity. This is why I say to you that the young people of the present have in their hands the welfare of the future. Their habits to-day are moulding the possibilities of the race. Young women may feel that their individual violation of the laws of health is of no importance, but when they realize that the girls of to-day are the mothers of the future, and that the physical strength or weakness of each individual girl affects the average health of the nation, not only now, but it may be through her posterity for centuries, we can see that each girl's health is a matter of national and of racial importance.
But it is not alone in the physical organization that we can trace the law of heredity in the transmission of undesirable qualities. We find that evil traits and tendencies of mind or morals are transmissible. Galton finds that a bad temper is quite sure to be passed on from one generation to the next, and any peculiarity of disposition in either parents is quite likely to become an inheritance of the child. This fact makes our little faults seem of vastly more importance than otherwise. We can endure them in ourselves, but they strike us very unpleasantly when we are obliged to see them manifested in our children. As the poet says:
"Little faults unheeded, which I now despise; For my baby took them with her hair and eyes."
It may not strike us very unpleasantly when we speak disrespectfully to our parents, but when our own children show us lack of courtesy and cheerful obedience it cuts deeply, and all the more deeply if we see in their conduct but a repetition of our own.
Of course, if these minor faults are transmissible, we will not be surprised that graver moral defects are passed on. The grandson of a thief began to steal at three years of age, and at fourteen was an expert pickpocket. The police records show the same family names recurring year after year.
These cases are so grave as to attract attention, while we overlook the fact that the smaller immoralities are as apt to be transmitted, and perhaps with increased power. I should be afraid that slight lack of strict integrity in the father might appear as actual crime in the son.
I would not omit to mention also the law of Atavism, in this discussion of heredity. This is that expression of the law in the omission of one generation in the transmission of a quality. We sometimes see the peculiarities or defects of a man or woman not manifested in their children, but reappearing in their grandchildren.
Not long ago I was in a family where both parents and all the children had dark hair but one, and she had long, bright auburn ringlets. I asked, "Where did you get your hair?"
"From my red-headed grandmother," she answered, with a laugh, indicating that the matter had been so often discussed in her hearing that she understood it quite fully.
To cover the whole scope of the law of heredity would take more time than we have to spare. You can follow out the line of thought, and make practical application of the facts and principles here laid down.
HEREDITARY EFFECTS OF ALCOHOL, TOBACCO, ETC.
Civilized life in its progress is accompanied by certain customs and habits which are detrimental to the individual health, and therefore to national health. The dress of women is not merely an unimportant matter, to be made the subject of sneers or jests. Fashions often create deformities, and are therefore worthy of most philosophic consideration, especially when we know that the effects of these deformities may be transmitted.
The tightly-compressed waist of the girl displaces her internal organs, weakens her digestion, and deprives her children of their rightful inheritance. They are born with lessened vitality, with diminished nerve power, and are less likely to live, or, living, are more liable not only to grow up physically weak, but also lacking in mental and moral stamina. This weakness may manifest itself in immoral tendencies, or in some form of inebriety. It is now recognized that alcoholism will produce nerve degeneration, but it is not so well understood that nerve degeneration may be a factor in producing inebriates from alcohol or other poisons.
Dr. Crothers says: "Hysteria, convulsions, unreasonable anger, excitement, depression, credulity, skepticism, most unusual emotionalism and faulty reasoning, are some of the signs of nerve degeneration," and adds that this central failure of nerve and brain power is often accompanied by a resulting alcohol or drug inebriety. That is, the weak and degenerate nerves crave a stimulant, and the weak will yield to the demand, and inebriety result. If this degeneration of nerve comes from the low vitality given by the mother, because of her unhealthful habits of dress and life, is it not wise that in her early womanhood she should know of this possibility, and guard against it through her care of herself?
She ought also to understand the effect of alcohol and other poisons in producing nerve degeneration in the individual, and its probability in his posterity.
George McMichaels says: "The hereditary nature of the abnormal condition of which inebriety is the outward sign is not understood, even by physicians, as it should be. It is still, I regret to say, looked upon as a vice acquired by the individual, the outcome of voluntary wrongdoing. In some few cases this may be true, but in the majority of instances inquiry into the family history will reveal the presence of an inherited taint, such families usually showing a neurotic condition. No position in the social or intellectual world is, or ever has been, entirely free from the tendency towards alcoholism, and a study of the family history of the great men who have fallen victims to alcohol will show that the cause has been identical with the case among the most obscure of mankind, viz.: That a degenerated nerve condition has been inherited which renders the sufferer specially susceptible to this and allied neuroses, such as epilepsy, idiocy and suicide. The inheritance of an unstable nervous system makes the individual easily affected by what I must call 'alcoholic surroundings.' In other words, the provocation to drink which would have no influence upon an ordinary, stable nervous organization, is sufficient to turn the neurotic into a confirmed drunkard."
As a young woman you hold great power over the race in yourself, and through your influence over others, especially over young men. Your influence, wisely used, may save more than one from a drunkard's fate, and to use it wisely you should be instructed as to the real character of alcohol and its effects on the system. I have not time to tell you in minutiae of the effects of alcohol, but I must take time to speak of the law of heredity in this respect.
Idiocy and inebriety are on the increase among civilized peoples. This startling fact should make us ask the reason.
T.D. Crothers, M.D., who is making a life study of inebriety, states that from 1870 to 1890 inebriety increased in proportion to the population over 100 per cent., and that a large proportion is the result of inebriety in one or both parents. It is a sad fact that many women, even of good social standing, are fond of alcoholic beverages. I saw a very bright, pretty young woman not long since, at a reception, refuse to take ice-cream or cake, but drink four glasses of punch, with many jests as to her fondness for the same, apparently without any glimmering of the thought that she was drinking to excess, although her flushed face and loudness of manner were proof of this to those who were witnesses. Many people have an idea that the finer drinks, such as wine and its various disguises, do not intoxicate, but in this they are mistaken. All alcoholics are intoxicating in just the degree that they contain alcohol. The exhilaration of wine is but the first step of intoxication, and that means always an accompanying lack of judgment, a lessening of the sense of propriety.
One young woman who, under ordinary circumstances, was most modest in deportment, drank at her wedding in response to the toasts to her health, and grew very jovial, until at last she danced a jig on the platform at the railway station amid the applause of her exhilarated friends, who had accompanied the young husband and wife to the train, as they started on their wedding-journey. What a sorrowful and undignified beginning to the duties of marriage!
There is no absolute safety for either man or woman except in total abstinence. The debauche knows the effect of wine, and uses that knowledge to lead astray the young girl who, if herself, would find no charm in his blandishments, but who, after the wine supper, has no will to resist his advances.
A young husband exacted of his bride a promise that she would never take a glass of wine except in his company, and when asked the reason, replied that he knew that no woman's judgment was to be trusted after taking one glass of wine.
Another cause of inebriety in women is found in the patent medicines advertised as a panacea for all pain, which chemical analysis shows to be largely alcoholic. Many temperance women would be horrified to know that they are taking alcohol in varying quantity, from 6 to 47 per cent., in the bitters, tonics and restorative medicines they are using, many of which are especially advertised as "purely vegetable extracts, perfectly harmless, sustaining to the nervous system," etc.
The result of inebriety of parents in inflicting injury upon offspring has not been well understood in the past, but is becoming recognized. Dr. McMichael says:
"In every form of insanity the disease is more dangerous in the mother than in the father, as far as the next generation is concerned. This is a good and sufficient reason why the daughter of drunken parents, very often attractive to some men by reason of their excitable, vivacious, neurotic manner, should be carefully avoided by young men in search of wives. The man who marries the daughter of an inebriate not only endangers his own happiness, but runs the risk of entailing upon his children an inheritance of degradation and misery.
"No woman should marry a man who, even occasionally, drinks to excess. Further, the disposition of the sons of drunken parents ought to be investigated before any girl becomes engaged to one of them. This is one instance in which long engagements are not to be condemned, for, if the man has inherited the alcoholic craving, it may become known in time, and his fiancee may be saved from the most terrible fate that I can think of—becoming the wife of a drunkard.
"One word more before I leave this aspect of the subject. As the majority of inebriates are sufferers from a disease which is partly the result of hereditary predisposition, it is foolish for any woman to marry a drunkard in the belief that she can reform him. If women would realize that alcoholism is a disease and not a vice, they would understand that, while the spirit which prompts their devotion and self-sacrifice is praiseworthy, yet the probability of its success is very remote. No doubt there are women who have made this experiment and who have managed to 'reform,' as it is called, confirmed inebriates; but such cases are by no means numerous. While it might not be right to attempt to interfere with any effort to benefit any representative of suffering humanity, it must be remembered that the fate of the next generation is at stake, and that unborn children certainly have rights, although we are very apt to disregard them. Admitting, then, that anyone is at liberty to risk everything, even life itself, to benefit another, nevertheless it cannot be said that anyone has a moral right to jeopardize the future of a family to satisfy any instinct or feeling of affection, however noble it may be. If what I have written is true, no woman is justified in marrying a drunkard."
The unstable nervous organization bequeathed by intemperate parents is like a sword of Damocles over the heads of their unfortunate children, and even moderate drinkers will not give vigorous bodies and strong wills to their descendants. One man boasted that he had used a bottle of wine daily for fifty years, and it had not injured him; but of his twelve children, six died in infancy, one was imbecile, one was insane, the rest were hysterical invalids.
And alcohol is not the only substance that inebriates. Opium, morphine, chloral, cocaine, and all drugs of a similar nature, are dangerous, and each not only inflicts its injury on the individual, but transmits its results to posterity in that nerve degeneration which renders the sufferer an easy victim to all forms of intoxication, and intoxication is nothing more nor less than poisoning. Opium and morphine are often prescribed by physicians, and the patient, experiencing the sudden relief from pain, and perhaps not knowing the danger of indulgence, resorts next time to the delightful pain-quieter on his own responsibility, and almost before he knows it the habit is formed, and the weak will that made the easy victim now makes the unwilling slave, loathing his chains, yet unable to break them; and these evil habits are, in their effects, transmitted.
Dr. Robertson says: "The part that heredity plays in all functional diseases or states of the nervous system is not to be misunderstood. It is safe to assert that no idiopathic case of insanity, chorea, hysteria, megrim, dipsomania, or moral insanity, can occur except by reason of inherited predisposition."
The evils of morphinism are even greater than those of alcoholism, and their transmission no less sure. Especially is there loss of moral power. Dr. Robertson says: "No matter how honorable, upright and conscientious a man's past life may have been, let him become thoroughly addicted to morphine, and I would not believe any statement he might make, either with reference to the use of the drug or on any other subject that concerned his habit. This extends further, and clouds his moral perceptions in all relations of life."
Dr. Brush says: "Cocaine is the only drug the effects of which are more dangerous and more slavish than the inhalation of the fumes of opium."
The danger in the fast life of this age is that we try to find something that will enable us to do our excessive undertakings with less feeling of fatigue. We fail to see in this that we are exhausting our reserve force, instead of adding to our store of force.
The Popular Science News says that kola, cocoa, chocolate, coffee, tea, and similar substances make nervous work seem lighter, because they call out the reserve fund which should be most sacredly preserved, and the result is nervous bankruptcy. Understanding that nervous bankruptcy of the parent threatens the welfare of future generations through the law of heredity, we will surely hesitate to bring ourselves under the strain produced by the use of these substances.
The most dangerous habit of the present would almost seem to be the tobacco habit, because it is considered quite respectable and is therefore almost universal. Men who are prominent, not only as statesmen and business men, but also as moral leaders, smoke with no apparent recognition of the evils, and lads can often sanction their beginning of the habit by the fact that a certain pastor or Sunday-school superintendent is a smoker.
But science has not been idle in regard to the investigation of the effects of tobacco, and the discoveries made have been published, so that we are not now ignorant of the tobacco heart, or tobacco throat, or tobacco nerves, nor of the transmission of nerve degeneracy to the children of smokers.
Girls sometimes think it is a great joke to smoke cigarettes for fun, and some grow into the habit of smoking, but the injury is not lessened by the fact that the use of the cigarette was begun in jest, nor that the user is a woman.
In fact, the Medical Times is quite inclined to assert that much of the neurasthenia, including a general disturbance of the digestive organs, now so common in that portion of the female sex who have ample means and leisure to indulge in any luxury agreeable to their taste, or which, for the time being, may contribute to their enjoyment, is due to narcotics.
During the Civil War we are told that 13 per cent. of all men examined were excluded as unfit for military service. We are now told that 31 per cent. are found to be unfit. Nearly one-third of the young men found physically incompetent to be soldiers! From what cause? Certainly tobacco must bear a large share of the blame.
Some years ago Major Houston, of the Naval School at Annapolis, made the statement that one-fifth of the boys who applied for admittance were rejected on account of heart disease, and that 90 per cent. of these had produced the heart difficulty by the use of tobacco.
Dr. Pidduch asserts that "the hysteria, the hypochondriasis, the consumption, the dwarfish deformities, the suffering lives and early deaths of the children of inveterate smokers, bear ample testimony to the feebleness of constitution which they have inherited."
Girls sometimes have the idea that a little wildness in a young man is rather to be admired. On one occasion a young woman left a church where she had heard a lecture on the evils of using tobacco, saying, as she went out, "I would not marry a young man if he did not smoke. I think it looks manly, and I don't want a husband who is not a man among men."
Years after, when her three babies died, one after the other, with infantile paralysis, because their father was an inveterate smoker, the habit did not seem to her altogether so admirable, and when she herself became a confirmed invalid, because compelled to breathe night and day a nicotine-poisoned atmosphere, she gave loud voice to her denunciation of the very habit which in her ignorant girlhood she had characterized as manly.
EFFECTS OF IMMORALITY ON THE RACE.
There is another influence at work in causing race degeneracy concerning which the majority of girls are ignorant, and that is immorality. The prevalent idea that young men must "sow their wild oats" is accepted by many young women as true, and they think if the lover reforms before marriage and remains true to them thereafter, that is all they can reasonably demand. They will not make such excuses for themselves for lapses from virtue, but they imbibe the idea that men are not to be held to an absolute standard of purity, and so think it delicate to shut their eyes to the derelictions of young men. This chapter of human life is a sorrowful one to read, but to heed its warnings would save many a girl from sorrow, many a wife from heartache.
The law of God is not a double law, holding woman to the most rigid code of a "thou shalt not" and allowing men the liberty of a "thou mayest."
The penalty inflicted for the violation of moral law is one of the most severe, both in its effects upon the individual transgressor and upon his descendants. The most dreadful scourge of physical disease, as well as moral degeneracy, follows an impure life. This disease, known as syphilis, is practically incurable. It may temporarily disappear, only to reappear in some other form later in life; and even after all signs have become quiescent in the man, they may reappear in his children in some form of transmission. Even one lapse from virtue is enough to taint the young man with this dreadful poison, which may be in after years communicated to his innocent wife or transmitted to his children.
Dr. Guernsey says: "I do not overdraw the picture when I declare that millions of human beings die annually from the effects of poison contracted in this way, in some form of suffering or other; for, by insinuating its effects into and poisoning the whole man, it complicates various disorders and renders them incurable. This horrible infection sometimes becomes engrafted upon other acute diseases, when lingering disorders follow, causing years of misery, and only terminating in death. Sometimes the poison attacks the throat, causing most destructive alterations therein. Sometimes it seizes upon the nasal bones, resulting in their entire destruction and an awful disfigurement of the face. Sometimes it ultimates itself in the ulceration and destruction of other osseous tissues in different portions of the body. Living examples of these facts are too frequently witnessed in the streets of any large city. Young men marrying with the slightest taint of this poison in the blood will surely transmit the disease to their children. Thousands of abortions transpire every year from this cause alone, the poison being so destructive as to kill the child in utero, before it is matured for birth; and even if the child be born alive, it is liable to break down with most loathsome disorders of some kind and die during dentition; the few that survive this period are short-lived, and are unhealthy so long as they do live. The first unchaste connection of a man with a woman may be attended with a contamination entailing upon him a life of suffering, and even death itself. Almost imperceptible in its origin, it corrupts the whole body, makes the very air offensive to surrounding friends, and lays multitudes literally to rot in the grave. It commences in one part of the body, and usually, in more or less degree, extends to the whole system, and is said by most eminent physicians to be a morbid poison, having the power of extending itself to every part of the body into which it is infused, and to other persons with whom it in any way comes in contact, so that even its moisture, communicated by linen or otherwise, may corrupt those who unfortunately touch it."
If girls were aware of all this they would not only be careful how they marry immoral men, but they would shrink from personal contact with them as from a viper. Not one, but many girls who have held somewhat lax ideas concerning the propriety of allowing young men to be familiar have reaped the result in a contamination merely through the touch of the lips. To-day a young woman in good social standing is a sufferer from this cause. She was acquainted with a young man of respectable family, but immoral life. His gaiety had a fascination for her, and his reputed wildness only added to the charm. On one evening, as he escorted her home, and took leave of her on the doorstep, she allowed him to kiss her. It chanced that at the time she had a small sore on her lip. The poisonous touch of his lips conveyed the infection through this slight abrasion, and she became tainted with the syphilitic virus, and to-day bears the loathsome disfigurement in consequence. I do not need to multiply such cases. You can be warned by one as well as by a hundred.
A young woman of pure life married a man whose reputation was bad, but whose social position was high. To-day she is suffering from the horrible disease which he communicated to her, and her children have died or are betraying to the world in their very faces the story of their father's wrong deeds. Truly you cannot afford to be ignorant of facts so grave as these.
 For an extended presentation of the character and diseases which accompany vice, the reader is referred to the chapters which treat of this subject in "What a Young Man Ought to Know." Every young woman should be intelligent upon these important subjects. There is nothing in this book to young men which a young woman approaching maturity may not know, both with propriety and benefit, so that she may most successfully protect herself from possible companionship with well-dressed and polite but impure young men by discreetly placing the book in the hands of her father and brothers, that they may become intelligent concerning the dangers against which they can most successfully protect her. It might not be improper for her, after due acquaintance, to see that the book is placed in the hands of the one who seeks to become her husband and the father of her children, that she may at the proper time, and before it is too late, learn whether he has always lived by the standards of social purity which are there set up, and whether he is able to bring to the union the same unsullied life and character which he expects and requires of her.
THE GOSPEL OF HEREDITY.
I have often heard people say that God was unjust in making this law of heredity and compelling innocent children to bear the sins of the guilty parents, and at first thought it might so seem; but God is a God of justice and also of mercy, and our study of His laws in their ultimate outcome leads us to know that they are invariably made for our welfare. Let us see, then, if we cannot find something encouraging even in this law of heredity. Are the majority of people born straight or deformed, sick or well, honest or dishonest? You may ask, Are all of these conditions a matter of heredity? Certainly. The fact that we are human beings instead of animals, that we have our due proportion of organs and faculties, that we are not monstrosities or imbeciles, are all hereditary conditions. We see, then, that the law of heredity insures to us our full complement of organs and capabilities, as well as the more pronounced characteristics which we the more readily recognize as inheritances. The fact is that inheritance of good is so universal that we fail to think of it.
When the baby is "well-favored" and straight-limbed, no credit is given to heredity; but if he is in some way out of the ordinary, we blame the law that has fixed on him some result of parental conduct.
If he possesses a good mentality, it scarcely occurs to us that this is just as surely heredity as is the transmission of the mental weakness of some ancestor.
By the Gospel of Heredity I mean this brighter side, this "Good-tidings" of the law. In the first written Biblical record of the law, where the statement is made that the sins of the fathers are visited upon the children to the third and fourth generation, we have also the statement of the "Good-tidings" that the Lord sheweth mercy to thousands of them that love him and keep his commandments; and that means not thousands of individuals, but thousands of generations. Justice is meted to the third and fourth, but mercy to thousands of generations.
All through the Scriptures we find this brighter phase of the law enunciated. Perhaps you would like to study both the law and the Gospel from the Bible. I will give you some texts and you can find them for yourself. It would be interesting also for you to read the lives of men and women of renown, and observe the transmission of talents and capabilities.
Encouraging as this view of the subject may be, it is by no means the brightest side of the subject of heredity, for if we have inherited no special talents, and if we are handicapped by the transmitted results of the sins of our ancestors, we may say "There is no hope for us, nor for our children." To us then will come, as special "Good-tidings of great joy," the news that heredity is not fatality. We are not obliged to sit and quietly bear the fetters our ancestors have forged for us. We can break the chains, we can free ourselves. It may be difficult, but it can be done, and a great incentive to the effort is found in the fact that by success we not only improve ourselves, but we can pass on a better inheritance to our posterity.
We may cultivate our health by obedience to its laws so as to overcome inherited weaknesses to a very great extent. We are not absolutely obliged to die with consumption because one of our parents did. By simple living, and especially by deep breathing of pure air, we may so strengthen ourselves that we will have the power to resist the encroachments of the germ of tuberculosis.
We may be born with weak digestive power, but by plain, wholesome fare, by freedom from worry, by a careful attention to all healthful habits, we may grow strong and free from dyspeptic symptoms.
We can by cultivation of our minds and morals not only increase our own powers, but add to the powers of our posterity.
Then, too, the effects of mental education are transmissible; not the education itself, but an increased capacity, a new tendency. Every mental activity is accompanied by an actual modifying influence on brain structure, so that we are really building our brains by our thoughts, and this increase of our own brains is transmissible to posterity.
I know that some of our philosophers assert strongly that acquired characteristics are not transmitted, and their theories seem quite plausible; but I would rather accept facts than theories any time, and Professor Elmer Gates has demonstrated that this theory does not accord with the facts. He has trained dogs until they could recognize seven or eight shades of green or red. The brains of these dogs, so trained, show under the microscope a great increase of brain-cells in the visual area, proving that the education has created actual brain material. The progeny of these dogs, to several generations, shows at birth a much larger number of brain-cells in the visual area than is the case where the ancestry has not been so strained.
Where the dogs have been brought up in absolute darkness there is a great lack of cells in the visual area, both in these dogs and in their progeny.
This is the brief statement of a most hopeful and encouraging fact.
We look to the dark side of the law of heredity for our warning. It makes us solemnly thoughtful in view of our power over the race in the transmitted result from our own wrongdoing; and then, when we feel overwhelmed and discouraged, we turn towards the Gospel of Heredity and take hope from the fact that good is transmissible; and, more than that, we have it in our power so to modify our own characters, tendencies and habits that we can, in all probability, give our children a better dower than we received, and the earlier in life we begin this making over of ourselves the better.
I have heard people excuse themselves for all manner of faults on the plea that they were inheritances, and therefore could not be overcome. That is to declare that we are slaves, with no chance to acquire freedom, and I am not willing to admit that.
"Whereas in Adam all die, in Christ may all be made alive." That is, that while under the Law of Heredity we are fettered, under the Gospel of Heredity our chains may be broken and we become free.
There is much of encouragement in the poem of Ella Wheeler Wilcox on heredity:
"There is no trait you cannot overcome. Say not thy evil instinct is inherited, Or that some trait inborn makes thy whole life forlorn, And calls for punishment that is not merited.
"Back of thy parents and grandparents lies The great Eternal Will, that, too, is thine Inheritance—strong, beautiful, divine; Sure lever of success for one who tries.
"Pry up thy fault with this great lever—will; However deeply bedded in propensity; However firmly set, I tell thee firmer yet Is that great power that comes from truth's immensity.
"There is no noble height thou canst not climb; All triumphs may be thine in time's futurity, If, whatsoe'er thy fault, thou dost not faint or halt, But lean upon the staff of God's security.
"Earth has no claim the soul cannot contest; Know thyself part of the supernal source, And naught can stand before thy spirit's force; The soul's divine inheritance is best."
BIBLE TEXTS BEARING ON THE SUBJECT OF HEREDITY.
Law.—Gen. 1:12-24; Ex. 20:6; Num. 14:18.
Sins visited.—Job 21:17-19; Ps. 37:28; Jer. 32:18.
Blessings.—Gen. 22:17, 18; Deut. 4:40; 5:29; 30:19; Ps. 21:13; 37:18, 22, 26, 29; 103:17, 18; 112:1, 2; 128:3; Prov. 10:25; 11:19; 13:22; 17:6; 20:7; Isa. 48:18, 19; Jer. 32:18.
Isa. 43:16; Jer. 3:19; Mal. 2:10; Matt. 5:9, 45, 48; 6:4, 6, 9, 14, 15, 18, 26; John 20:17; Rom. 8:16, 17; Gal. 4:7; Eph. 4:6; 2 Peter 1:4; 1 John 3:2; 5:1.
REQUISITES OF A HUSBAND.
Having spent so much time in the study of principles and laws, we will now return to the discussion of this concrete case. What can you decide in regard to this individual young man to whom you think you have given your heart? What is he in his inheritance? What is he in himself? I do not ask that he shall have inherited wealth, for that often proves a young man's ruin, but does he come of an honest, industrious family? Have you just reason to suppose that he will make a fair success of life? Is his father shiftless, lazy, improvident? If so, it will be harder for him to be provident, business-like. Has he true ideas of the dignity of life and his own responsibility? Is he looking for an "easy job," or does he purpose to give a fair equivalent for all that he receives? Would he rather toil at honest manual labor than be supported by a rich father-in-law?
What are his ideas as to his responsibility in the founding of a home? How will he look upon his wife? As an equal, a companion, or as a plaything, a petted child, or a sort of upper servant? What value does he put upon the wife's labor in the conducting of the household? Will he consider that the money he hands over to her is a gift from him, or only a fair recognition of the value of her work, a rendering to her of her share in the family purse?
What is his estimate of woman? Is she an individual with rights, with intellect and heart, with a judgment to be consulted, opinions worthy of recognition, or only an appendage to man, created for his comfort and to be held in her "sphere" by his will?
What are his defects of temper, or his weaknesses of body? Of course, to you now he seems perfection, and yet he is a human being, fallible and imperfect. If his faults are similar to yours, you double the possibility of their inheritance by your children. If you both have a tendency to lung trouble, the probabilities are that your children will have consumption. If you both are of rheumatic proclivities, you may expect a manifestation of the same early in the life of your children. If you both are "nervous" or irritable in temper, both jealously inclined, or are morbid and melancholy, you need not be surprised at an intensifying of these qualities in your little ones.
If there are more serious family traits, such as insanity, epilepsy, alcoholism and the like, it might even be your duty never to run the risk of their transmission.
I once spoke on heredity when in the audience sat a young man by the side of his fiancee, who, I was afterwards told, had been in an insane asylum three times, and yet he purposed marrying her.
I know a clergyman who has wisely dedicated himself to a celibate life because there is marked insanity in his family.
You chafe a little under this reiteration of the duty you owe to children yet unborn, and who may possibly never exist, and perhaps you say, as I have heard girls say, "Oh, I don't mean to have any children;" and perhaps you add, "I don't see why people may not marry and be happy just by themselves without having children."
It is not strange that you should not understand all that is involved in such a statement. It is true that some married people do not have children, and are comparatively happy, and yet perhaps if we could read their hearts we should find that the one great longing of their lives is for the blessing of a child.
It is natural to desire to know the joys of parenthood. In the home, through the cares and love, the anxiety, self-sacrifice, tenderness and patience which accompany parenthood, the education of the individual is made most complete and perfect.
The girl who marries without a willingness to accept these responsibilities is willing to sacrifice that which, rightly borne, will bring her the highest development. If she purposes deliberately to avoid motherhood she puts herself in a position of moral peril, for such immunity is not often secured except at the risk of criminality. I say not often, although I believe that if husband and wife are actuated by the worthy motive of not inflicting on posterity some dower of woe, they are justified in a marriage that does not contemplate parenthood, if they are of lofty purpose enough to live solely in mental and spiritual companionship. But all attempts to secure the pleasure of a physical relation and escape its legitimate results are a menace to the health and a degradation to the moral nature. This subject, and the questions arising therefrom, will be discussed more fully in the next book of this series, "What a Young Wife Ought to Know."
But how is a girl to know all these things concerning her lover's ideas, thoughts, principles, and purposes? Many of these you think cannot be known until after marriage, and then it is too late. That is true; therefore be wise and learn all you can of each other's habits, peculiarities, opinions, and predilections now, before it is too late. Talk over business matters. Find out what your lover's ideas are as to the wife's right to a pecuniary recognition of the value of her labor in making the home. Does he think that she earns nothing, and that what he gives her of his money is a donation for which she gives no return? I know a young woman who had been self-supporting before her marriage who felt timid about asking her husband for money. So she wore her wedding garments until they were shabby, went without money when her own funds were exhausted, and kept silent for five years, and her husband—a young clergyman—never thought to ask her if she needed anything, never observed her growing shabbiness. When at last she summoned courage to tell him her needs, he was overwhelmed with regret for his own lack of thought and observation, and yet he could not understand why she should hesitate to ask for money. "Why, it is all yours, dear," he said. "You were only asking for what already belongs to you." And many young husbands are just as obtuse, therefore they should receive in advance the instruction that is needed to prevent a possibility of such neglect. Have it understood that if you are worthy to be trusted as a bearer of the name and a sharer of the fortunes of a man, you are worthy to share also the burden of the knowledge of his business experiences, and to bear the responsibility of economically guarding his interests in the expenditure of money which, by your love and care and labor, you have helped him to earn.
I think a young woman should know something of the personal habits of her future husband. Does he like fresh air, or does he want the windows hermetically sealed at night. Is he a believer in the godliness of cleanliness? I have just read of two people who married after a six week's acquaintance, knowing nothing of each other's antecedents, personal habits, caprices or principles. The man proved to be a regular hypochondriac, taking medicine constantly, at one time with five doctors prescribing for him. He counted his pulse at every odd moment, and looked at his tongue instead of at the eyes of his wife, as he had done when a lover. He had a dread of pure air, and was as averse to bathing as a cat. The woman had lived in the open air, taken a daily morning bath, and was disgusted with those who did not do likewise. The writer says, "She stormed, took her baths, and opened the windows; he cried, took no baths, shut the windows, and called the doctors." There is no need to depict the unhappiness of the home, and yet no doubt the girl would have been shocked had anyone suggested that she inquire into these facts concerning her lover. But if she had been less romantic and more practical, if she had remembered that the marriage contract would bind her for life to one who would be more closely connected with her than anyone else could be, and this union for life, by day and by night, constant, continuous, and not to be annulled by any such small matters as bad breath or unpleasant personal habits, perhaps she would have considered it no small matter to discover the possible causes of disgust before they became fixtures in her life.
And perhaps, also, she would have given her own personal habits more consideration. True love will endure much, but it sometimes dies in the presence of untidiness, of carelessness as to dress or room, or lack of sweetness of person or of breath. If you demand much of a husband, he has a right to demand just as much from you. If there are habits concerning which you would rather he as a lover should be ignorant, believe me that it is even more important that as a husband he should not know them. Therefore employ your available time before marriage to rid yourself of them. If a lover would be disenchanted to see the room from which his blooming, beauteous adored one had departed, bearing the marks of carelessness and disorder, with soiled clothing, unmade bed, shoes, hose and dresses all in tumbled heaps on chairs and floor, remember that the marriage ceremony does not make such a room more attractive to the husband, who must not only see but share its discomforts.
In addition to the knowledge of each other's personal peculiarities there should be an understanding of each other's ideas as to the duties and responsibilities of their proposed relation to each other. I lately received a letter from a young woman who asks, "How freely do you think two engaged young people may talk concerning their future life? Would it not be indelicate for them to discuss their future relations, the possibility and responsibilities of parenthood, etc.?"
I answer, that depends on the young people. If they have false ideas, if they have little or no scientific knowledge, if their thoughts are filled with wrong mental pictures, they will not know how to talk wisely and beneficially. But these two young people are intelligent, are scientifically educated, are Christians. Their hearts are pure, their standards high, their motives praiseworthy. It would seem that they might talk as freely as their inclination would prompt. In fact there seems to me more indelicacy and more danger from long evenings spent in murmuring ardent protestations of love and indulging in embraces and endearments than in a frank, serious conversation on the realities and responsibilities of marriage, an exchange of earnest thoughts, voiced in chaste, well-chosen language—a conversation which by its very solemnity is lifted out of the realm of sense-pleasure into the dignified domain of science and morality.
There now sparkles on your finger a ring that symbolizes the promise you have given to become a wife. You are engaged, and there now arises in your mind the query as to the conduct of yourselves during this period of engagement: How much of privilege shall you grant your lover? As you are promised to each other for life, are you not warranted in assuming towards each other greater personal familiarity? May you not with perfect modesty allow endearments and caresses that hitherto have not been permissible?
I take it for granted that you are not one of those unwise young women who permit themselves to become engaged for fun; who consider an engagement as of so little seriousness that it may be made and broken without regret. I have known girls who even enter into engagements just in order to feel justified in greater freedom of conduct without compunction of conscience. If such engagements do not violate the code of conventionalities they certainly infringe upon the moral code.
It is not strange that girls should fail to see all the dangers of such conduct—that they should not comprehend that thus they become sources of temptation to their lovers, and may even imperil their own safety.
But your engagement is an honest one, your love is true, based upon thorough acquaintance; you have mutual respect and entire confidence in each other. May you not now throw aside much of the restrictions that have surrounded your association and manifest your affection in reciprocal demonstrations?
We often read the advice to young people not to enter upon long engagements, and the reason given is that it exacts too much in the way of self-control, is too great a nervous strain, is too full of peril. I would like to quote just here a few words by Dr. C.W. Eaton:
"Away with the sexual argument against engagements, and let us all set about that cultivation of will and purpose which can make the weakest a tower of strength and the arbiter of his own destiny; and let us say to our appetites, Thus far shalt thou come and no farther, neither shalt thou presume to deny to thy master the best earthly companionship which may come into his life. It may be a far harder task than the ardent and poetical lover allows himself at first to think, but the hardest battles are best worth the fighting; and what manner of men should we become if we systematically evaded life's conflicts, instead of meeting them squarely and fighting them through manfully? Dr. Bourgeois says: 'The ancient custom of betrothals is the safeguard for the purity of morals and the happy association of man and wife. This institution was known to the Greeks, the Hebrews, the Romans, and during the Middle Ages. In Germany it has still preserved its poetical and moral character. The young people are sometimes affianced many years before their marriage. We see the young man, thus betrothed, with heart full of his chaste love, absent himself for a time in order to finish his education, to perform his studies of science or art, his apprenticeship to a trade, and to prepare himself for manly life. He returns to his betrothed with a soul which has remained pure, with a reason enlarged and fortified. Then both are ripe for the austere duties of marriage.