My task is finished. If I have laid bare the hidden penetralia of human depravity, revealing depths of vice and infamy of which, happily, the great bulk of mankind have never even dreamed, it was not done through any desire to exploit debauchery and lust, nor to revel in the filth of literature; but that the thought-germs of a better seed might possibly be sown, and a little added, if only a little, to that coming harvest of good for which the world anxiously waits.
No intelligent physician will dare to suggest a remedy until he thoroughly understands the disease; and, indeed, a correct diagnosis once made, common sense may generally be relied on, as I purpose relying upon it here, to prescribe the cure.
Having pointed out the misery, horror and suffering of drunkenness, it would be supererogatory to enter into a long philosophical argument to prove that drunkenness is an evil. The fact is self-evident. So with those forms of sexual vice with which we have been concerned; and, although it was my first purpose to devote some space to a physiological examination of the nature of the mischiefs wrought by them, a fuller consideration has convinced me that these are set forth sufficiently clearly, in the history of the vices themselves, to render unnecessary any further elaboration or argument.
We have seen that the penalties attaching to every outrage of natural law are ineluctable and autogenetic; that the abused sexual life, along with being more speedily and prematurely exhausted, and requiring, day by day, fresh and even unnatural agencies of stimulation, not only yields a scantier harvest of pleasure, but brings in the train of its excesses an innumerable host of both physical and psychological ills, "buying the merry madness of an hour with the long penitence of later years;" that there are men whose temptations to vice, as Lecky well says,1 either from circumstances or inborn character, seem so ovemhelming that, though we may punish and even blame, we can scarcely look on them as more responsible than mid beasts; that, unlike Goethe's hero, they possess but one soul— that of Satan;2 and, while it is not the purpose of this book to either preach or moralize, it is its distinct purpose to present psychopathic processes and results; and, in doing so, if a warning be conveyed to the victims of sexual sensuality—those whom "we can love at a distance, but never close at hand;" 8 that the instinct which the Creator implanted in the human heart for the purpose of peopling earth, and reproducing the race, can onlv be outraged and perverted at the peril, and milk the penalties, attending every other infringement of natural lam; what 19 missed in didactic medicine may be very well gained in decenter morals.
What the original purpose of the Diety was in making sexuality paramount in the complex group of impulses which constitute life, and in diffusing sentient being through the remotest parts of His universe, is not our present concern; but, until the prediction of Comte come to pass, and women be fecundated without the help of men,1 with the laws which so accurately regulate the relative numbers of the sexes, their support, mutual relations, and the immutable conditions which govern, or ought to govern, their sexual commerce, we have very much concern.
Man is the only animal ever found violating Nature's laws. The only one who, as a witty Frenchman observes,1 "drinks when he is not thirsty, and makes love at all seasons/' InsectB, birds and the higher animals have a stated and fixed period for the sexual congress, as well as the other phenomena attending the function of procreation; but man, with "the knowledge of good and evil" ever before him, is constantly playing the role of the first Adam; constantly committing in his sexual enormities a fourfold crime against himself, his victim, society and God.
While I do not presume to disparage the claims of heredity, within certain well-defined limits, I do hold that illicit and excessive indulgence, joined with a constant demand for novelty, is the strongest factor in producing those monstrous practices of sexual diabolism with which we have recently been confronted; also the neuropathic conditions which engage so large a share of the practitioner's attention; and certainly, the vast host of venereal and nervous diseases which are not only destroying health, home and happiness, but gravely imperiling the very foundations of society.
Nor can there be instituted, as some have fondly imagined, and advocated, any cordon sanitaire for vice. The demons of passion, unlike those of the Gadarenes, cannot be tied down with the shackles of law. Sexual vice impregnates the very air of every large city; and I consciously violate no canon of professional ethics, nor assume the character of a fanatical moralist, when I say that Theodore Roosevelt had less than half a truth in his mind when he uttered his now famous aphorism on "race suicide." Sexual license, far more than any other one cause, at this close of the nineteenth century —more than drunkenness, celibacy, or the much-abused "woman's movement"—threatens the perpetuity of marriage, and of our American manhood.
Books of this character do good, whether the Church believe so or not. Make a thing secret and mysterious, and it attracts the youth of both sexes as honey does flies. Make it public, and they immediately lose interest. Ignorance is the foster-mother of vice. The greatest enemy of man is man; ready to do evil not only to others, but himself; homo homini lupus, homo komini dcovion; as Ovid truthfully says.
More men have ruined themselves than have ever been destroyed by others.1 As Judas Maccabeus killed Appollonius with the letter's own weapons,* so we arm our own passions against ourselves. Make men see how they are ruined, and you lessen the danger. Do not, through a false modesty, or still falser morality, preserve the fatal secret until the inevitable first act is committed, and the young Ufe launched on the road to ruin.
As there is no subject in which the youth of both sexes are so profoundly interested, there is equally none of which they are so profoundly ignorant; and no department of human knowledge and education presses, today, with half the force and urgency of the sexual.
We are not responsible for the faults of our fathers. What is past cannot be undone. "Clotho cannot weave again, nor Átropos recall."" But for the future, Medicine and Religion—twin curators of body and soul—and by no secret methods—must assume the task of instruction. That task is yet far from complete, God knows. Sin reigns; Epidemics rage; Pain racks; Death is victorious; the Desire of the World cometh not. The Rape of the Sabines still goes on. Womanhood is abused, led astray, seduced by lust, and false ideals of happiness; manhood is degraded; society is a glittering sham; the home is desecrated. But the principle of a better knowledge, I think, is beginning to diffuse its light through the dense sodden mass of humanity. The leaven is slowly leavening the lump. Man has made the momentous discovery that he holds his destiny in his own grasp; and a divine optimism is turning him again to virtue, as the only source of happiness.
Yes, the beautiful dream of the Hindu legend will come true. Ormuzd will vanquish Ahriman. Satan shall be cast from the battlements of our bodily heaven, even as he was of old from the spiritual; and the New Earth —its temples glorified by the hands of a diviner priesthood—shall arise from the ashes of the old; in which, as one beautifully says,* that youngest terrestrial Trinity—Father, Mother and Child—shall blossom into the glory of the Elder, and the romantic dream of the Greek—the perfectibility of man—be realized.
Shall you and I live to see it? Perhaps; who knows? But if we do, we shall live to see Knowledge, and True Religion, seated upon the throne of Ignorance and Superstition; we shall see man, as man, and master of his fate;1 wishing to be, and being;9' not the mere automaton and plaything of a Superior Power, which that Superior Power never intended him to be; but an autonomous entity, a Titan, a God himself, " breasting the blows of circumstance," and steering his bark bravely across the great ocean of Time, by the unwavering pole-star of Eternal Truth.
We shall see men and women breaking the shackles of their hell-forged lust; and going back, repentant prodigals, to the primitive delights of Eden; finding in right living the true solution of human happiness; and wiser than all else in the universe, in that they have at last learned the true meaning of both Life and Death.
As faith makes God, and love makes woman,' we shall see in conjugal love the true life of the home; hi brotherly love the true bond of society; in chastity the purest sexual pleasure; in charity the fairest religion; and in the kindly offices of our common humanity—raising the fallen, aiding the weak, purifying the unclean, shielding the innocent—we shall find a perfume richer, rarer, purer, than ever breathed from the altars of Olympus or the Pantheon.
1 Tennyson, the Wheel-Song in "Enid."
' Jean Paul Richter: " What you wish to be that you are; for such is the force of our will, joined to the Supreme, that whatever we wish to be, seriously and with a true intent, that we become."
* Theophile Oautier, " Arria Marcella," p. 207.