And this is no overdrawn picture, as the body of the work will only too sorrowfully prove. Well does Flourens exclaim—"man does not die—he kills himself 1" The soil of youth, unplanted with the seeds of knowledge, begets the flower of precocity, whose bloom is speedily destroyed by the worm of lust. Boys, instead of the healthful exercise essential to the season of physiological development, enter at once into the erotic sexual indulgences designed for later years; into masturbation, tobacco using, beer and spirit drinking, the cigarette habit, and other forms of physical debauchery, fearfully intensified by the impetuosity of youth, and rendered doubly damaging through immature tissues and scarcely established metabolic processes. These rapidly pave the way for that premature exhaustion of both mind and body which, notwithstanding what colleges and athletic clubs are doubtless doing by physical culture to counteract the baneful tendency, the watchful observer need scarcely be told, constitutes one of the most obtrusive and deplorable phenomena of the times.
It might be less sad if there were any adequate quid pro quo in early sexual intemperance, by which a lifetime of pleasure might be condensed and crowded into the few years of adolescence; but such is not the case. The sexual passion, too early fructified, is correspondingly short lived; as I Bhall attempt to show in the section on artificial erotism; and, along with being shom of the full pleasure of the act, in perfect health and vigor, it becomes morbid, flickering, feeble, demanding constant stimulation of those psychic influences which only the more completely divorce it from all natural means and avenues of gratification.