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.
It is time that science, renouncing a reticence which long experience has proved pernicious, should explain and apply to the public good the hygienic laws which pertain to that instinct which, beyond all others, controls the destinies of men for good or for evil; we mean the instinct of procreation, the faculty of the transmission of life. The physiological importance of this function alone would justify this. The unborn generations to all time are in great part moulded by ourselves, and receive from us, their progenitors, the imprints which consign them to happiness or misery, health or disease. Add to this consideration the fact that the purest joys of life, those which centre around the family circle, and also the most flagrant stains on our civilization, those which parade our streets in shameless attire, and those which poison the purity of youth with vicious narrative, alike spring from the same impulse; and there is reason enough to convince the most incredulous that this is no subject to be timorously shunned. Even yet, the half is hardly told. More vital more immediately concerning each man, are the consequences to the individual of the intelligent observation or the igno-rant violation of the laws of this instinct.
No one whose avocation does not lead him within the most secret chambers of the human heart can conceive one tithe of the anguish which arises from a want of knowledge on this subject. For with this want of knowledge is associated want of power to resist the evil and to cleave to the good.
Regarding it in its multiplied and intimate relations to the life of man here and hereafter, we do not hesitate to say that no branch of sanitary science surpasses this in importance, and we may also add no branch has been so much neglected and so much misunderstood.
The matter is of course difficult to treat; it has rarely been ventured upon except by those who batten on the wretchedness of their fellow-men, and therefore we well know there may be a prejudice against one who undertakes the task of discussing it with candor. Only after considerable hesitation have we concluded to encounter this prejudice, trusting that the manner in which we shall accomplish our labor, the value of the counsels we have to communicate, and the solid information we hope to convey, will not leave any doubt either as to our motives, or as to the propriety of our course.
We could adduce abundance of testimony from the writings of those most interested in the amelioration of the race, and its progress in moral and social directions, to show the necessity long felt of a work of this nature. But we believe no person of intelligence can harbor a doubt upon this point, and it only remains for us to submit to them the present trea-tise, and ask for it an unprejudiced examination.