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.
"We believe no modern civilized state has revived the ancient law prohibiting bachelorhood. It has been left, and wisely, to the discretion of the individual himself. For there are very good reasons why some men should avoid the nuptial tie. As a law, both moral and physical, the first indeed which man ever received, and which his inner promptings still enforce with singular vehemence, crescite et multi-plicamini, "increase and multiply," is universally binding. But exceptional cases arise in which it may well be relaxed. We have referred to some such on the highest of all authorities, the words of Scripture.
Then, too, there is sometimes a duty to support parents, and younger brothers and sisters, which justly excuses a man from contracting any new responsibilities. Some few men are so constituted that they never experience any real deep affection for the other 6ex. Such do wisely to refrain altogether. An instance was the philosopher Emanuel Kant; he even went so far as to dislike female society, and avoided it altogether. The essayist Montaigne, though married, avers that he never felt any wish to assume those bonds.
A far more serious question is that which arises in connection with hereditary diseases, or those constitutional complaints contracted during life, which taint the blood, and are transmissible to offspring. These inquiries we shall defer to a later page, premising that under some circumstances, not only do they permit,' but most forcibly en-join at least temporary celibacy.
Physical incapacity has always been allowed to be a just cause for abstaining, and, indeed, in all the States of our Union we believe the divorce laws sanction an immediate divorce when such incapacity is established, and is proven to have been in existence at the time of marriage. Disappointed affection, whether in consequence of the proverbial inconstancy of woman, or by some casualty of nature, has ever been extolled by persons of sentiment and poetical minds as a praiseworthy argument for renouncing all future alliances. Thus the modern poet of the passions sings in Lockley Hall:-
" Am I mad that I should cherish that which hears hut hitter fruit ? I will pluck it from my bosom though my heart be at its root. Never, though my mortal summers to such length of years shall come, As the many wintered crow that leads the clanging rookery home."
And, from a different motive, in the sweet ballad of Edward Gray:-
"Lore may come and love may go,
And fly like a bird from tree to tree ; But I will love no more, no more,
Till Ellen Adair come back to me. Bitterly wept I over the stone :
Bitterly weeping I turned away : There lies the body of Ellen Adair !
And there the heart of Edward Gray !"
It is a touching constancy which thus cherishes the reminiscence of departed attachment, and maintains the image of one love inviolate in the heart. The history of many men of deep sentiment who have never married is probably this. Washington Irving is said to have ever been faithful to the memory of a lady to whom he was engaged when young, and who was suddenly snatched from his side by death.
The devotion to some high purpose, whether it be connected with the love of neighbor, the love of God, or the pursuit of science, is the highest reason for renouncing the pleasures and escaping the annoyances of family life. Examples of this kind compel our admiration, and usually the self-inflicted deprivation ennobles the character, as cheerful renunciation is ever sure to do. A devoted and eminent clergyman, remarkable for the geniality of his disposition, once replied to a friend of ours, who bantered him on his celibacy, that he was already married, that his bride was the church. He who can thus feel all his yearnings satisfied by the duties of his calling does well to abide content therewith. But let no one entertain for a moment the inexcusable doctrine that there is any other code of morals for genius, or for unusual ability, than that laid down in the Bible. There have not been wanting specious writers, who, on this plea, justify, or at least palliate, the immoralities of such men as Goethe, Byron, and Rousseau. When celibacy means anything but chastity, no matter in whom, or what the reason it is assumed, then it is a violation of physical and moral law, than which not one is more blameworthy or fraught with heavier penalties.