Problem, of life.—The problem of life is the one great question, that has puzzled all students since time immemorial. And not only students. There is no one to whom the question has not arisen, "What is life and why are we here?" The philosopher, the theologian, the practical man of business and the pleasure-seeker all give different answers. But whether a man believes life here to be but a preparation for another and better world, or whether he believes that the object of life is happiness, one thing must be recognized.

Life Duties.—We are here on earth a race of human beings, with certain passions and certain feelings, and with bodies that must grow, develop and be propagated. As family beings we come in contact with our own flesh and blood, and with this relationship come certain duties. We are part of those that went before, we were cared for by them until we were in a condition to care for ourselves. It is now our duty to leave behind us those who will inhabit the earth when we are gone. Upon us falls the responsibility if the succeeding generation be not healthy and moral. An understanding of man, how he is constituted and how he is reproduced and developed is essential for grappling the problem of life.

Duties in Reproduction.—The duties concerned in reproduction must be thoroughly realized and appreciated if the strength and vigor of the race and nation is to be maintained.

Consequences of Neglect.—Neglect of the first duty of man has caused the downfall of nations and the dwarfing and weakening of a once strong people.

Thoughtlessness in youth is responsible for untold misery.

Ignorance in young maidenhood has led to lives of unspeakable suffering.

Recklessness in selection is the cause of much of the unhappiness in the world.

Carelessness at important events claims more victims than all the wars.

Inexperience where experience is essential is responsible for many ruined constitutions and wrecked lives.

A medical work which does not give that knowledge that will prevent disease and rear a healthy generation is not fulfilling its purpose.

The Great law of Sex.—Everything that has life, whether the smallest animal or the most modest flower, recognizes the distinction of sex. Not only in the animal kingdom, but even in the vegetable kingdom, is the law of gender obeyed.

Plant Sexuality.—The flower we see in the field has its pistil with its ovary and its stamens with their pollen. And not until the male element, the pollen, falls upon the female element, the pistil, can the seeds form in the ovary and burst forth to mature into another generation of plants. How eagerly does the pollen await the coming of the butterfly and bee to the flower on which it grows! And how tightly does it cling to its wing or foot until it is brushed off on the pistil of the next flower the insect visits! And even the tall, stately trees, whom no one would suspect of sexual desires, put threads or sails on their male blossom so that the wind will carry it to the female element of the nearest branch. The farmer would wait in vain for his corn ear if the dust from the waving tassels did not drop on the flowing silk below.

Animal Sexuality.—In the animal kingdom how varied are the methods the male adopts to attract the female! The gay butterfly paints his wings in the brightest colors so he may attract a mate and so furnish future butterflies to beautify the fields. The cricket hidden among the tall grass can chirp and let his friends know where it can be found. The bird trills its sweetest notes to delight the female when hunting for a nest-mate in spring. And so throughout the whole animal and vegetable world, even down to man. Adam would have been the only man in the world had Eve not been created. With man and woman in the world it was no longer necessary to rob either of a rib in order that the world might be populated.

Heredity Throughout Nature.—How exact a copy of the parents is the offspring! The gardener never wonders, when he plants the seeds, what kind of flowers will spring up. The bulb he puts in the earth came from a lily and will bring forth a similar flower when it is grown. When the maple seed falls to the ground nothing but a maple tree will spring up. The farmer is never in doubt when he puts duck eggs or those of game under a white leghorn as to what will come out of the shell. The frog spawn will develop tadpoles, the shad eggs will turn into shad fish, and the offspring of the squirrel will resemble its parents. The calf of the Holstein will be like its kind, and may even have the white star of its mother on its nose.

Heredity in Man.—And so with man. The Indian squaw will have a papoose, while the negress will present her husband with a pickaninny. The hot blood of the Spaniard will be seen in the Spanish babe, and the little Yankee baby will grow up cool and calculating.

Inheritable Traits and Diseases.—Unfortunately, however, we can go much farther. The insane mother will bring to the world a feeble-minded child. An innocent babe will die of a horrible disease inherited from its father. The burglar will rear a youthful pickpocket. On the other hand, we may see a learned father enrich the world with a studious son. A robust woman often brings up a healthy babe. Truly it is a "visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children until the third and fourth generations." There is no object in knowing about heredity unless we make proper application of our knowledge. The responsibility of bringing into the world a healthy, wise and moral generation rests on the fathers and mothers of the land. A proper appreciation of this would prevent much of the disease and misery that exists in the world.


When we glance about Nature's garden we see it inhabited by numerous creatures, each with certain gifts, and each knowing how to use them.

Bird Instinct.—As Chadbourne says: Has the bird a gland for the secretion of oil? She knows instinctively how to press the oil from the gland and apply it to the feather.

Snake Instinct.—Has the rattlesnake the grooved tooth and gland of poison? He knows without instruction how to make both structure and function most effective against his enemies.

Silk-Worm.—Has the silk-worm the function of secreting the fluid silk? At the proper time she winds the cocoon such as she has never seen, as thousands before have done; and thus, without instruction, pattern or experience, forms a safe abode for herself in the period of transformation.

Hawk.—Has the hawk talons? She knows by instinct how to wield them effectively against the helpless young.

Wonders of Instinct.—Most wonderful of all, however, is the way in which every animal seems to know the method best adapted for its reproduction. The question is often asked, Why do the dumb animals do all these things? Is it because they have some prophetic inkling of what will be the result of their action, or do they only do so because to them it seems the natural thing to do?

Instinct of the Hen.—Does the hen, for example, sit for three long weeks on such an uninteresting object as a nestful of eggs because she knows that at the end of that time a brood of chicks will step from the eggs? Or is it because to her a nestful of eggs is the most fascinating and precious object in the world?

Do bees follow their queen, and protect her, and care for her, because they are aware that without her the hive would become extinct? Or is it because the odor or the aspect of their queen is manifestly agreeable to the bees, that they love her so?

James, the great psychologist, is of the opinion that to the animal which obeys it, every impulse and every step of every instinct shines with its own sufficient light, and seems at the moment the only eternally right and proper thing to do. It is done for its own sake exclusively.

The Fly.—"What voluptuous thrill may not shake a fly when she at last discovers the one particular leaf, or carrion, or bit of dung, that out of all the world can stimulate her ovipositor to its discharge? Does not the discharge, then, seem to her the fitting thing? And need she care or know anything about the future maggot and its food?" It certainly is a curious fact that an insect should always lay her eggs in a spot just fitted for the nourishment of her young. But it is no more marvelous than the fact that every animal pairs with a mate capable of bearing posterity, or feeds on material capable of affording him nourishment.

When the burying beetle perceives carrion she is not only impelled to approach it and lodge her eggs in it, but also to go through the movements requisite for burying it. In the same way a bird who sees his hen bird is impelled to caress her, to strut around her, dance before her, or in some other way to woo her.

The Bee.—The tailor-bee, when the eggs are ripe within her, cuts out pieces of rose-leaf, bends them and carries them into a caterpillar- or mouse-hole in trees or in the earth. She then covers their seams again with other pieces, and so makes a thimble-shaped case. This she fills with honey and lays an egg in it.


It is curious how a normal instinct can be changed by a habit an animal may acquire.

Tame Animals Become Wild.—The farmers in the Adirondack wilderness say that it is a very serious matter if a cow wanders off and calves in the woods and is not found for a week or more. The calf, by that time, is as wild and almost as fleet as a deer, and hard to capture without violence. But calves born in the stable rarely show any particular wildness to the men who have been in contact with them during the first days of their life.

How Habits Affect Chickens.—Chickens may also show opposite instincts, depending on their early habits. If a chick is born in the absence of a hen it will follow any moving object, and when guided by sight alone they seem to have no more disposition to follow a hen than to follow a duck or a human being. When they have been brought up with a hen from the first, however, they will run away from a human being and follow only the hen.

Change of a Mother's Instinct.—The instincts of a mother may be changed by her first experiences. Mr. Romanes speaks of hens who had hatched ducks for three years. At last they hatched broods of chicks. Not understanding their new progeny they strove to coax or to compel them to enter the water, and seemed much perplexed at their unwillingness.


Reproduction.—Birds and beasts mate for a longer or shorter period, mainly for the rearing of their young and the continuance of their kind. Human beings, however, live so long, propagate so slowly and require for their children for so many years such great parental care that permanent marriages become very important.

Division of Labor.—Man is given the duty of providing the means of support, of defense against enemies, of leaving home in wars to defend his tribe or country. To women is left the duty of caring for the household and the family, and such lighter labors as are suitable to her strength.

The Founding of a Home.—As civilization has advanced and wealth increased man desires comfort, culture, peace and happiness. A home must, therefore, be founded, free from the intrusions of the world, where men and women may share together the fruits of their industry, and gain strength for the struggle for existence.

Companionship.—Companionship with those who have the same sympathies, hopes and aspirations is another object of marriage.

It is not a pleasant thing to go through the world without sympathy, and to meet only those who have no interest in us except to make us contributors to their welfare and their selfish ends.

The Gratification of love.—Love is the highest sentiment of the human heart. Its gratification is the most essential object of marriage. All human hearts have somewhere and sometime a desire to love and be loved. A loveless life is a stained life. The love between a man and woman in a perfect marriage is divine.

The Perpetuity of the State.—The state has its root in marriage. If we would have the state prosper, most of its sound and healthy members must he married.


Real love.—The basis of all true marriage is love. Love must not, however, be mistaken for sentiment, for admiration, for an idle fancy. It is more than all these. It goes to the very core of the being; while the others are superficial, transparent, fleeting.

Adaptation.—In order that there may be love there must be adaptation.

The parties must have similar tastes, aspirations, hopes and desires.

One must not be a devotee and the other an infidel.

One must not love tobacco and another hate it.

One must not be an advocate of temperance and the other of drinking.

One must not be highly educated and the other an ignoramus, with no love for knowledge and wisdom.

Extremes of belief do not go well together.

It is not necessary that the wedded pair be alike in all things.

One may love art and the other care nothing for it.

One may be a musician, the other a microscopist, and yet perfect harmony exist, if each respects the tastes of the other as much as his or her own.

Indeed it is far better that differences like these should exist, otherwise there might be too much monotony in their lives, too much sameness find devotion to one special line of thought and work.

These differences give a zest to love, and make it broader and grander.

The dissimilarities should be such as will increase love rather than diminish it.


Definition.—By "temperament" we mean a state of the body with respect to the predominance of any single quality.

Nervous Temperament.—If in a person the brain and nervous system predominate, we speak of his having the nervous temperament.

Motive Temperament.—If the bony and muscular structures predominate, we speak of his having the motive temperament.

Vital Temperament.—If the vital organs predominate, we say that he has a vital temperament.

Blended Temperaments.—These three temperaments are always combined in every individual, but in varying proportions. Sometimes they are harmoniously blended, and then we speak of the harmonious balance of temperaments. Sometimes one temperament is excessively developed and the others deficiently. Sometimes two predominate and one is deficient. Sometimes none is well developed and then we have stupidity and feebleness.

Character.—According as one or the other temperament is developed so is the character. If the brain is in excess it will influence the life and mould the nature. The person then will be fond of brain work, and less fond of muscular labor. If the muscles are in excess, he will be fond of motion, of something that requires physical exertion. If all of the temperaments are developed, he will like variety to call all his powers into exercise.


Knowledge of Temperaments.—The value of a knowledge of the temperaments in deciding the question of marriage is very great. Not only the happiness of the parties involved, but also the symmetry, mental balance and well-being of offspring.

Balancing Temperaments.—The point to be aimed at is a proper balance in all the temperamental elements. What is lacking in the one should be made up in the other, the one being a complement or counterpoise of the other, so that an even development, as nearly as possible, may be transmitted to offspring.

Marriage of Blood Relatives.—Dr. Jacques thinks it probable that the occasional disastrous effects upon the offspring of the marriage of blood relatives are mainly, if not wholly, referable to the similarity of constitution inherited by each from the common stock.

The Vital Temperament Essential.—The vital system is the life-giving and life-sustaining element in the human constitution, and must be considered as the physical basis of marriage and parentage.

This temperament should, therefore, be strongly indicated in one, at least, of the parties to a union. If strikingly deficient in one it should predominate in the other, to insure a proper balance of offspring.

A man with an excess of the mental temperament and deficient in vital stamina should either remain single or marry a woman with an immense fund of vitality, but sufficiently intellectual to appreciate him, share, in a degree, his aspirations, and sympathize with him in his tastes.

If he were to marry a woman of the mental temperament and of low vitality, the children, if any, would probably be few and puny, and die young.


Dr. T. L. Nichols says on this subject: "Men, like animals, or, if Darwinians prefer, like other animals, can be improved in health, in intelligence and morality by judicious breeding."

In the human race there is a process of natural selection favorable to the improvement of the race, but it is interfered with by other influences—money, caste and other social considerations. Choice is in this way restricted.

Things Which Resist Proper Choice.—A rich husband is preferred to a handsome, or healthy, or clever one.

A large dowry may induce a man to put up with a scrofulous wife.

A consumptive young lady may have a good connection.

An exhausted, broken-down roue may have a title or an estate.

We know what people mean by "a good match." It never means health, or beauty, or intellect. It may not mean good morals or disposition. And yet the form of a nose may descend through twenty generations—and if so, the form of the brain, and all the qualities of man or woman.

It is said that the sins of parents are visited upon their children to the third or fourth generation.

We know that form and color last much longer.

Seriousness of Marriage.—Seriously, people who think of getting married ought to think a little more about it. There are persons who ought not to marry. There are persons who would be criminal if they handed down to posterity the physical, mental or moral results of a bad organization or of their vicious demoralization. Our most careful scientists tell us that drunkenness is hereditary; that many crimes are hereditary; that madness, murder and suicide are hereditary.

Marriage for Posterity.—Our criminal population is composed of the children of criminals. The prisons are filled with a criminal race as the workhouses are filled with a race of paupers.

Change of conditions, no doubt, may redeem such a race, but it would be safer to discourage its perpetuation. Men and women marry for themselves when they should marry for their posterity. The greatest gratitude a man can owe to his grandfather is for giving him a good, wise, healthy grandmother, and vice versa.


Marriage should be consummated only between healthy persons. Perfect health, of course, is rarely found.

The standard, however, must be held as high as is consistent with reason, trusting that future generations will raise it higher still, so that eventually the day will come when public sentiment will not permit any to marry who are not in good health.

Invalids Should not Marry.—Invalids should not marry. Not having the strength to make their own way in the world, their lives will be lives of privation and suffering. If they rear children, these will be likely to inherit their diseases and become burdens on the public.

Avoiding Tendencies.—Two persons with even a slight tendency to the same diseases, either inherited or acquired, should not intermarry, even if both are in good health at the time. If they do, they may entail a curse on their offspring, who will be quite sure to inherit their diseased tendencies. If two persons, both descended from parents with insanity in their blood, marry, they do a wrong, which is unpardonable.

How Sickly Children May Come.—Healthy persons physiologically married often rear sickly children. In many cases the reason is that their own habits are not physiological. They go to excess in labor, in food and drink, in passional indulgence. They waste life's forces instead of husbanding them. They are on the retrograde, instead of maintaining their physical integrity. They throw away their advantages, and are surpassed by the physically inferior but more wise and prudent.

Effects of Intemperance..—Intemperance is evidently a frequent cause of disease in offspring. Dr. Elam states that on the removal of the duty on spirits in Norway, the increased consumption of liquor added 50 per cent. to the insanity of the country, and 150 per cent. to the congenital idiocy.

Dr. Lannurien, at the head of an institution for mental diseases, attributes a large majority of the cases of idiocy which have come under his observation to intoxication and intemperance on the part of parents.


It is a curious fact that the largest number of imbecile children are born of very young or very old parents; that is, of those whose bodies and minds are not yet matured, or of those who are worn out and exhausted in their physiological capacity. It is also equally true that the most capable children are born of parents in the prime of life, when the physical and intellectual powers are at their best.


Children are a direct means of the highest happiness to parents.

They are also a means of improvement.

Making provision for the future of children is a powerful means of restraining the parents from extravagance and recklessness in the conduct of life.

Many a man and woman is prevented from evil courses by the thought of how their children will be injured by it.

But because children are a desirable and a positive addition to the happiness of their parents, it does not follow that all children are desirable without the slightest regard to quality.

Good children are a good and not an evil, but bad children are an evil and not a good.

What is wanted is more good children and fewer bad ones.

A Good Child.—By a good child is not meant one which will become good and learned, and make a name and fame in the world. Rather is meant one that is healthy and happy, and will shed light and sunshine on its path, and however humble, fulfill in a satisfactory way the plain, homely duties of life, as well as the higher ones.

Rights of Children.—A child is entitled to a birth with as few defects of character and constitution as it is possible to give to it. Parents are bound by honor and by their own self-interest, if they bring children into the world, to do it under such circumstances and conditions that their offspring may live healthy, happy, useful lives. To bring children into the world which will be incapable, criminal or so diseased that their whole lives can be only miserable is wrong, if not a crime. We want to increase the amount of happiness in the world and decrease the amount of misery.

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Last Modified: Monday, 13-May-2013 15:31:47 EDT