This section is from the book "The Transmission Of Life. Counsels On The Nature And Hygiene Of The Masculine Function", by George H. Napheys. Also available from Amazon: The Transmission of Life.
Our belief in the necessity for a work similar to the one we have written has been abundantly justified, not only by the testimonials and warm recommendations which it has received from many eminent men and friends of education (as the reader will see at the close of the volume), but also by the sale in a singularly short space of time of three editions, and by the personal thanks of not a few who have read it and found profit and consolation in it.
While among those who have thus aided and countenanced our efforts in imparting instruction on an important and peculiarly difficult branch of hygiene, we are gratified to number not a few of our own profession who have achieved a deserved reputation by their studies in State Medicine, we have*received from some others, whose opinions we value, expressed doubts as to the need for a work like this.
Desirous as we are to exonerate ourselves from the charge of having taken up weapons to conquer imaginary foes, or to have inaugurated a Quixotic crusade against sanitary windmills, it has occurred to us that we could, with propriety, at this stage of our labors, examine the objections to which we have referred. As far as they have been brought to our notice, they are curiously diverse, and may be summed up separately as follows: -
1. There are no, or almost no evils to health which result from abuses of the masculine function. The terrors which accompany such abuses are purely imaginary, and works like this might increase them.
2. These evils are so real, so manifest, and so well known to the public already, that any further information upon them is superfluous.
3. Whether real or imaginary, such evils are so rare in moral communities like ours that the public mind ought not to be excited and alarmed by a description of them.
4. It is granted that these evils are both real and frightfully prevalent, but it is not wise to address the public concerning them, because it is best that the public be kept in ignorance of whatever concerns its physical being. In the words of a professor of obstetrics in a Massachusetts college, in a letter to us, "The reading of works on physiology makes men and women know just enough to be complete fools. It would be a lucky day for them should they forget that they have tongues, stomachs, and livers."
Nothing but our veneration for a number of those members of our profession who oppose popular information on physiology and hygiene, has prevented us from feeling some degree of amusement in comparing these various objections to the project which we have endeavored to carry out. It might not be becoming in us to meet them with opinions and arguments of our own, and, becoming or not, they would not have the same weight as those advanced by professional men of unquestioned superiority in medical science, of vast experience, and of world-wide reputation.
We add, therefore, some quotations from recent medical writers who have, with unbiased minds and with painstaking fidelity, studied this subject, and thought about the pro-priety of rendering it more familiar to the general public as an important department of hygiene.
Abbotts Smith, M.D., M.R.C.P. Lond., M.R.C.S., Phy-Bician to the Finsbury Dispensary; late Physician to the North London Consumption Hospital; Physician to the Metropolitan Free Hospital, and to the City Dispensary, etc, says, in The Medical Press and Circular, of London, for December 21,1870 :-
" For many years past, I have had extensive opportunities for observing, at the various institutions with which I have been connected, as well as in private practice, the frequency of cases of spermatorrhoea, and I have been especially struck by two facts, namely, 1. The remarkably helpless and dejected state of patients suffering from this affection; and 2. The relative facility of cure, as compared with numerous other disorders of the genito-urinary organs, if the patients remained under treatment for a reasonable period, and if they, at the same time, relinquished the bad habit which, in a certain proportion of the cases, had brought on or tended to perpetuate the ailment.
" A third feature presented itself with almost uniform regularity, and this was that in most of the cases (at any rate, in something like two-thirds of the whole number under observation) the patients had, before applying for hospital advice, foolishly placed themselves in the hands of ignorant, unscrupulous quacks, who, acting on the principle of the old highwayman's maxim, 'your money or your life,' had rapaciously extorted as much as they could of the former, while their victims ran no small risk of also losing the latter. To a certain extent, some of the sufferers could scarcely bo blamed for their apparent want of discrimination in going to such men, as they had in the first instance resorted to medical practitioners, who had told them, either that their disorder was imaginary, or, rushing into the opposite extreme, that it was incurable, or only to be removed by the progress of time.
" It is not a little singular that the medical profession should have assumed such an apathetic or indifferent position as regards this disorder. There can be no doubt of the existence of spermatorrhoea in a large number of patients, and, in fact, it would be found to be much more common than it even appears to be, if it were more generally recognized as a distinct affection. Many of the cases which now fall into the hands of empirical pretenders, would then come within the range of observation of qualified practitioners. And this must, sooner or later, be the case when the false delicacy which is at present allowed to surround the subject of spermatorrhoea is removed. It is the conscientious duty of medical men, standing as they do in the position of guardians of the public health, to grapple resolutely with this, as with every other phase of disease, instead of leaving unfortunate sufferers exposed to any charlatans who may happen to seize upon it as a fertile field for de-ception and extortion. I write thus earnestly, because many instances have been published in the medical journals of patients - often of superior education, intelligence, and social position - who have suffered severely at the hands of quacks, partly through their complaint having been treated too lightly by medical practitioners, to whom they had previously applied for advice, partly through the mauvaise honte which induced them, misled by the specious promises held out, to fall into the traps set by quacks. 'Omne ig-notum pro magnifico' is an old and true axiom concerning the credulity of sick people, who, like drowning men, readily snatch at any proffered assistance, without waiting to form an opinion as to whether it is worthless or sound. With regard to the almost culpable distaste for dealing fully with the subject, I am of the same opinion with that which was recently expressed to me by the editor of a medical journal. that there can be no more real reason for ignoring the functional disorders of the male, than those of the female sex, upon which so much has been written and said of late years.