This section of the book is from "The Complete Herbalist" by Dr. O. Phelps Brown. Also available from Amazon: The Complete Herbalist: The People Their Own Physicians By The Use Of Nature's Remedies.
It is not only the duty of physicians, but of every one who has the welfare of society at heart, to put their voices against the doctrine of "free love," which has of late been promulgated and defended by certain persons who wish to make it a matter of creed or principle of society. It is to the shame of the sex that the majority of its adherents are women, in whom virtue is supposed to have its staunchest defenders and supporters. It is not ostensibly advanced in advocacy of unrestraint in cohabitation, but if thoroughly analyzed, its objective principle amounts to the same. It is a scortatory love at best, and its tendency is to give still greater laxity to the morals of society. It is veiled under the sophistical dogma that every woman, if she desires to become a mother, should be privileged to select her own male to be the father, and that every man should be licensed to choose the woman he desires to be the mother of his progeny. This, they advocate, would insure higher development of the race, and that mankind would soon be superior in intellectual, moral, and physical qualifications. The fact is undeniable that a superior offspring would be the result, if the most eligible individuals would copulatively unite, but it could never be accomplished by licensed libertinism. It can only be gained by judicious marriage, and in no other way. If the doctrine of unrestraint they promulgate is best adapted to promote higher development of offspring, it would naturally be exemplified in the issue of those who "loved not wisely, but too well," or in those of the lowest grades of society or savage races where chastity is unknown as a virtue. All the principles of free love characterize such an intercourse; but it has yet to be ascertained whether such progeny are in any respect superior; on the contrary, it is quite probable that they are in many respects inferior. This may be, however, accounted for by the mental emotions of the mother, which are naturally caused by grief, fear, shame, etc. If, even, such unfavorable mental emotions could be removed by sanction from society for such issue, the case would not be modified to a more favorable extent than is now possible by legitimization of offspring by marriage. They also prate of "affinities" and spiritual attraction; but let the candid and virtuous mind investigate the full import of these cohesions, he will find that the spirit of attraction is the cohesive power of gratification of the animal passions. The hideous form of lechery is veiled with but the thinnest gauze; and disguise it as they will, they cannot hide the fact that it is lewdness, and not virtue, which they attempt to honor. The doctrine, if philosophically reviewed, presents no advantages over marriage, but is one pregnant with defects and immoralities, and if carried into effect would unmistakably prove itself to be the death blow to morality and civilization. The barrier to promiscuity is to be made even more impregnable, and the sacred precinct of the prerogative legitimatized by marriage is not to be over-stepped by the husband or suffered to be invaded by the wife. Lechery has never been, nor can never become a standard principle of moral philosophy, and "free love" is but its synonym.
Is it a consoling picture to those with whom moral rectitude is a cardinal principle to see disloyalty to the marriage-tie openly and shamelessly displayed? Is it ennobling to man's moral nature to cut loose the shackles put upon him by a well-organized society with regard to his conduct in amorous matters? Can it be justified by the most liberal views of right and wrong? Unalterably, no; the man who comes to the abode of his wife, with his lips tainted by contact with others, and yet excited by an unlawful orgasm, commits the greatest offence against his wife, against nature, and against high heaven. The wife who receives the embraces of an unsuspecting husband, while at the same time she is guilty of illicit dealings with others, is worse than the lowest prostitute, and is entitled to no sympathy or condonement. It is only by the most scrupulous adherence to the loyalty that should be observed by man and wife, that marital happiness is to be gained or maintained; infringement is the element of its decay and destruction.
Jealousy is one of the most common visitors at the hearth of a family and is a great destroyer of its peace. Entertained to a moderate degree it is quite natural, but when it becomes a morbid feeling, it is worthy of severe denunciation. The exhibition of slight jealousy is an unerring manifestation of love, and should be accepted as such by either man or wife. We are jealous of what we love, and unconcerned only about that which we do not appreciate, therefore a certain degree of jealousy entertained by the husband or wife in respect to each other should be elevating to their pride, respectively, and not condemned as a sickly sentimentality. It is only when it becomes a ruling passion that it exerts mischief and discord. When it is so morbid that it becomes a matter of dislike and reproach for the husband to bestow but the ordinary civilities of social intercourse to the opposite sex, or for the wife to receive them, it amounts to but little more than insanity. If the wife is so jealous as to impugn all the motives of the husband, that he dare not even look askance at any other woman, that to speak with other women subject him to one of those infinitely pleasant curtain-lectures, and his personal liberty denied to him with regard to social intercourse, it is then that it becomes disruptive to marital felicity; for the husband, if erring though he be, will surely chafe under the injustice which she will be sure to commit. On the other hand, the jealous husband is just as extravagant in his folly, and instead of guarding his wife's love, takes the best means of repelling it. Confidence, not suspicion, should be the controlling motive, and its mutual entertainment should not be disregarded until the most indubitable proofs are presented to guarantee a disbelief of the partner's honor. Then, if you have bombshells, set them off; but even then, I think, it would comport more with reason and dignity, if the error could be calmly adjudicated, and if that is impossible, a quiet and dignified separation is unquestionably the best course. Reproach, recrimination, and parade of the cause of disruption before the public are by no means a philosophic action, or part of an honorable conduct. It is so with all matrimonial differences, they should not be made public property, for they will surely become disgusting scandal before the scandal-loving people, to be found in every community, are done with them. It will receive such additions, and will be so manipulated and distorted, that, which at its fountain-head was but a peccadillo, will at its terminus be magnified into the greatest crime. What was at first but a slight immorality, is sure to become at the end the grossest violation of decency. If Mr. John Smith in a playful moment is found to kiss Mrs. Sarah Jones, the critics of society will wink and blink, they will hem and haw, look wise, toss their heads superciliously, and before they have ceased their comments, there will be no doubt in their minds but that Mr. Smith and Mrs. Jones were found in flagrante delicto.