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.
The distinction of sex is no after-thought, no hap-hazard accident in the formation of the individual, but commences with the very beginning of life. " Male and female created He them," says the inspired Word, and the patient investigator with microscope and scalpel fails to discover any other cause of sex than the imprint fixed by the Creator upon the individual at the moment of conception. There is nothing in the development of the human germ which decides whether it shall be male or female.
As it is the earliest, so sex is also the most potent of all elements in the individual life. From infancy to age it controls and modifies all other traits. Does any one imagine that boys and girls are at any time physically alike ? Error-, no matter how tender in years, the distinctions are numerous and marked. Even at birth itself, this is true. Physicians have carefully weighed and measured hundreds of new-born infants, and have established the following curious and interesting facts: Male children at birth weigh on an average one pound more than females, their stature is four-tenths of an inch greater, their pulse is a few beats in the minute faster.
As the boy grows, he develops unlike his sister. His mus-cular force becomes one-third greater than hers; his flesh is firmer and his bones larger; his collar-bone becomes more curved so that he can hurl a stone or swing a club better than she can; his hips are narrow, while hers are broad, and thus he can run faster and more gracefully; he grows more rapidly, and he seeks the rude exercises which she shuns. All these traits presage his destiny to wage the rougher battles of life, and fit him to meet the buffets of untoward fortune with courage and endurance.
Some figures may here be found of interest. The French statistician Quetelet, who has devoted more attention to this subject than any other writer, gives the average weight of an adult male at one hundred and thirty-seven pounds, and the average height at five feet four inches. In England, the gentleman who has charge of the University Gymnasium at Oxford reports, that of the first one hundred young men whose names were on his book, the average height was a trifle over five feet nine inches, and the average weight one hundred and thirty-three pounds.
With these foreign measurements we can compare those of the students of Harvard University and Amherst College, New England. Dr. Gould, who examined a large number of the former, reports their average height at five feet eight inches, and their weight at one hundred and thirty-nine pounds. From the statistics of all the members of Amherst College, from 1861 to 1869, Dr. Allen found the average weight to be one hundred and thirty-nine pounds, and the average height about five feet eight inches. So that Americans appear to be between the English and French in height, but heavier than either in proportion to their stature- The average height of American women is but five feet four inches, and their weight about ten pounds less in proportion.
A strange contradiction meets us here - a problem which science has not yet solved. It would naturally be supposed that with this more vigorous frame, and sturdier form, the vitality of the male would be greater than the female, his average life longer, his greatest age greater. It is not so. This law of population holds good in every country of which we have any statistics : About five per cent. more male than female children are born, but at five years of age more girls are alive than boys. Again, at every period of life, the "ex-pectation of life," as insurance agents call it, that is, the average term yet to live, is greater in women than men. And, finally, of very old persons, the large majority are women. So true is this that the last census of France shows that at the age of ninety years there were three women to two men, and at the age of one hundred the number of women was more than sixteen times the number of men!
The characteristics of infancy, such as the delicate skin, the fragile bones, the rounded outline, the abundance of fatty tissue, are preserved in the female more generally than the male sex. It is far more accurate to say the child is mother to the woman than father to the man.