[Frontispiece: Yours truly, J. H. Kellogg]
PLAIN FACTS FOR OLD AND YOUNG.
J. H. KELLOGG, M.D.,
MEMBER AMERICAN PUBLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATION, AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF SCIENCE, AMERICAN SOCIETY OF MICROSCOPY, MEMBER MICH. STATE BOARD OF HEALTH, MEDICAL SUPERINTENDENT OF THE BATTLE CREEK SANITARIUM, AUTHOR OF NUMEROUS WORKS ON HEALTH, ETC.
PUBLISHED BY SEGNER & CONDIT, BURLINGTON, IOWA. 1881.
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1879, by J. H. KELLOGG, M.D., In the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington, D.C.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
The publishers of this work offer no apology for presenting it to the reading public, since the wide prevalence of the evils which it exposes is sufficient warrant for its publication. The subjects with which it deals are of vital consequence to the human race; and it is of the utmost importance that every effort should be made to dispel the gross ignorance which almost universally prevails, by the wide diffusion, in a proper manner, of information of the character contained in this volume.
This book has been written not for the young only, nor for any single class of persons, but for all who are old enough to be capable of understanding and appreciating it. The prime object of its preparation has been to call attention to the great prevalence of sexual excesses of all kinds, and the heinous crimes resulting from some forms of sexual transgression, and to point out the terrible results which inevitably follow the violation of sexual law.
In order to make more clear and comprehensible the teachings of nature respecting the laws regulating the sexual function, and the evils resulting from their violation, it has seemed necessary to preface the practical part of the subject by a concise description of the anatomy of reproduction. In this portion of the work especial pains has been taken to avoid anything like indelicacy of expression, yet it has not been deemed advisable to sacrifice perspicuity of ideas to any prudish notions of modesty. It is hoped that the reader will bear in mind that the language of science is always chaste in itself, and that it is only through a corrupt imagination that it becomes invested with impurity. The author has constantly endeavored to impart information in the most straightforward, simple, and concise manner.
The work should be judiciously circulated, and to secure this the publishers will take care to place it in the hands of agents competent to introduce it with discretion; yet it may be read without injury by any one who is sufficiently mature to understand it. Great care has been taken to exclude from its pages those accounts of the habits of vicious persons, and descriptions of the mechanical accessories of vice, with which many works upon sexual subjects abound.
The first editions of the work were issued with no little anxiety on the part of both author and publishers as to how it would be received by the reading public. It was anticipated that no little adverse criticism, and perhaps severe condemnation, would be pronounced by many whose education and general mode of thought had been such as to unfit them to appreciate it; but it was hoped that persons of more thoughtful and unbiased minds would receive the work kindly, and would readily co-operate with the publishers in its circulation. This anticipation has been more than realized. Wherever the book has been introduced, it has met with a warm reception; and of the several thousand persons into whose hands the work has been placed, hundreds have gratefully acknowledged the benefit which they have received from its perusal, and it is hoped that a large proportion have been greatly benefited.
The cordial reception which the work has met from the press everywhere has undoubtedly contributed in great measure to its popularity. The demand for the work has exhausted several editions in rapid succession, and has seemed to require its preparation in the greatly enlarged and in every way improved form in which it now appears. The addition of two whole chapters for the purpose of bringing the subject directly before the minds of boys and girls in a proper manner, adds greatly to the interest and value of the work, as there seemed to be a slight deficiency in this particular in the former editions.
J. H. K. BATTLE CREEK, MICH., October, 1879.
PAGE. INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
SEX IN LIVING FORMS.
Living beings—Animals and vegetables—Life force—Reproduction— Spontaneous generation—Simplest form of generation—Hermaphrodism— Sex in plants—Sex in animals—Other sexual differences—Men and women differ in form—Modern mania for female pedestrianism—3,000 quarter miles in 3,000 quarter hours—A female walking-match—The male and female brain—Vital organs of man and woman—Woman less muscular, more enduring—A pathological difference—Why a woman does not breathe like a man—The reproductive elements—Sexual organs of plants— Polygamous flowers—The female organ of flowers—Sexual organs of animals—The spermatozoon—The ovum—Fecundation—Fecundation in flowers—Union of the ovum and zoosperm—Curious modes of reproduction—Human beings are developed buds—Fecundation in hermaphrodites—Development—Unprotected development—Partial protection of the ovum—Development in the higher animals and in man— The uterus—Uterine gestation—The primitive trace—Curious relations to lower animals—Simplicity of early structures—The stages of growth— Duration of gestation—Uterine life—How the unborn infant breathes— Parturition—Changes in the child at birth—Nursing—Anatomy of the reproductive organs—Male organs—The prostate gland—Female organs— Puberty—Influence of diet on puberty—Brunettes naturally precocious— Remarkable precocity—Premature development occasions early decay— Early puberty a cause for anxiety—Changes which occur at puberty— Menstruation—Nature of menstruation—A critical period—Important hints—Menorrhagia—Dysmenorrhoea—Amenorrhoea and chlorosis— Hysteria—Prevention better than cure—Extra-uterine pregnancy—Twins— Monsters—Hybrids—Law of sex—Heredity—Ante-natal influences—Law universal—A source of crime—Circumcision—Castration . . . . . . . 25
THE SEXUAL RELATIONS.
Sexual precocity—Astonishing ignorance—Inherited passion—Various causes of sexual precocity—Senile sexuality—Marriage—Time to marry—Application of the law of heredity—Early marriage—Mutual adaptation—Disparity of age—Courtship—Long Courtships— Flirtation—Youthful flirtations—Polygamy—Polyandry—Divorce— Who may not marry—Do not be in a hurry. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 116
Mental unchastity—Amativeness—Unchaste conversation—Causes of unchastity—Early causes—Diet vs. chastity—Clerical lapses—Tobacco and vice—Bad books—Idleness—Dress and sensuality—How young women fall—Fashion and vice—Reform in dress needed—Round dances—Physical causes of unchastity—Constipation—Intestinal worms—Local uncleanness—Irritation of the bladder—Modern modes of life . . . . 174
Continence not injurious—Does not produce impotence—Difficulty of continence—Helps to continence—The will—Diet—Exercise—Bathing— Religion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 205
Object of the reproductive functions—Results of excesses—Effects upon husbands—Testimony of a French physician—Continence of trainers—A cause of throat disease—A cause of consumption—Effects on wives—The greatest cause of uterine disease—Legalized murder— Indulgence during menstruation—Effects upon offspring—Indulgence during pregnancy—Effect upon the character—A selfish objection— Brutes and savages more considerate—What may be done—Early moderation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 216
PREVENTION OF CONCEPTION: ITS EVILS AND DANGERS.
Conjugal onanism—"Male continence"—Shaker views—Moral bearings of the question—Unconsidered murders—The charge disputed—Difficulties— Woman's rights—What to do—A compromise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 250
INFANTICIDE AND ABORTION.
Not a modern crime—Causes of the crime—The nature of the crime— Instruments of crime—Results of this unnatural crime—An unwelcome child—The remedy—Murder by proxy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 271
THE SOCIAL EVIL.
Unchastity of the ancients—Causes of the "social evil"—Libidinous blood—Gluttony—Precocious sexuality—Man's lewdness—Fashion—Lack of early training—Sentimental literature—Poverty—Ignorance—Disease— Results of licentiousness—Thousands of victims—Effects of vice ineradicable—The only hope—Hereditary effects of venereal disease— Man the only transgressor—Origin of the foul disease—Cure of the "social evil"—Prevention the only cure—Early training—Teach self-control—Mental culture—Early associations . . . . . . . . . . 284
Alarming prevalence of the vice—Testimony of eminent authors—Not a modern vice—Victims of all ages—Unsuspected rottenness—Causes of the habit—Evil associations—Corruption in schools—Wicked nurses—Not an uncommon case—The instructor in vice—Local disease—An illustrative case—Other physical causes—Influence of stimulants— Signs of self-abuse—Suspicious signs—General debility—Early symptoms of consumption—Premature and defective development—Sudden change in disposition—Lassitude—Sleeplessness—Failure of mental capacity— Fickleness—Untrustworthiness—Love of solitude—Bashfulness—Unnatural boldness—Mock piety—Confusion of ideas—Round shoulders—Weak backs— Pains in the limbs—Stiffness of the joints—Paralysis—Gait—Bad positions—Lack of development of the breasts—Capricious appetite— Eating clay—The use of tobacco—Unnatural paleness—Acne—Biting the finger nails—Palpitation of the heart—Hysteria—Chlorosis—Epileptic fits—Wetting the bed—Unchastity of speech—Positive signs—Results of secret vice—Effects in males—Local effects—Urethral irritation— Stricture—Enlarged prostate—Urinary diseases—Priapism—Piles— Prolapsus of rectum—Extension of irritation—Atrophy—Varicocele— Nocturnal emissions—Exciting causes—Are occasional emissions necessary or harmless?—Emissions not necessary to health—Eminent testimony—Diurnal emissions—Cause of diurnal emissions—Internal emissions—An important caution—Impotence—General effects—General debility—Consumption—Dyspepsia—Heart-disease—Throat affections— Nervous diseases—Epilepsy—Failure of special senses—Spinal irritation—Insanity—A victim's mental condition pictured—Effects in females—Local effects—Leucorrhoea—Uterine disease—Cancer of the womb—Sterility—Atrophy of mammae—Pruritis—General effects—A common cause of hysteria—Effects upon offspring—Treatment of self-abuse and its effects—Prevention of secret vice—Cultivate chastity—Timely warning—Curative treatment of the effects of self-abuse—Cure of the habit—How may a person help himself?—Hopeful courage—General regimen and treatment—Mental and moral treatment— Exercise—Never overeat—Eat but twice a day—Discard all stimulating food—Stimulating drinks—Sleeping—Dreams—Can dreams be controlled?— Bathing—Improvement of general health—Prostitution as a remedy— Marriage—Local treatment—Cool sitz bath—Ascending douche—Abdominal bandage—Wet compress—Hot and cold applications to the spine—Local fomentations—Local cold bathing—Enemata—Electricity—Internal applications—Use of electricity—Circumcision—Impotence—Varicocele— Drugs—Rings—Quacks—Closing advice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 315
A CHAPTER FOR BOYS.
Who are boys?—What are boys for?—Boys the hope of the world—Man the masterpiece—How a noble character is ruined—The marvelous human machine—The two objects of human existence—The nutritive apparatus— The moving apparatus—The thinking and feeling apparatus—The purifying apparatus—The reproductive apparatus—How a noble character and a sound body must be formed—The downhill road—Self-abuse—A dreadful sin— Self-murderers—What makes boys dwarfs—Scrawny and hollow-eyed boys— Old boys—What makes idiots—Young dyspeptics—The race ruined by boys— Cases illustrating the effects of self-abuse—Two young wrecks—A prodigal youth—Barely escaped—A lost soul—The results of one transgression—A hospital case—An old offender—The sad end of a young victim—From bad to worse—An indignant father—Disgusted with life—Bad company—Bad language—Bad books—Vile pictures—Evil thoughts— Influence of other bad habits—Closing advice to boys and young men. 419
A CHAPTER FOR GIRLS.
Girlhood—How to develop beauty and loveliness—The human form divine—A wonderful process—Human buds—How beauty is marred—A beauty-destroying vice—Terrible effects of secret vice—Remote effects—Causes which lead girls astray—Vicious companions—Whom to avoid—Sentimental books— Various causes—Modesty woman's safeguard—A few sad cases—A pitiful case—A mind dethroned—A penitent victim—A ruined girl—The danger of boarding-schools—A desperate case—A last word—A few words to boys and girls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 470
Books almost without number have been written upon the subject treated in this work. Unfortunately, most of these works are utterly unreliable, being filled with gross misrepresentations and exaggerations, and being designed as advertising mediums for ignorant and unscrupulous charlatans, or worse than worthless patent nostrums. To add to their power for evil, many of them abound with pictorial illustrations which are in no way conducive to virtue or morality, but rather stimulate the animal propensities and excite lewd imaginations. Books of this character are usually widely circulated; and their pernicious influence is fully as great as that of works of a more grossly obscene character. In most of the few instances in which the evident motive of the author is not of an unworthy character, the manner of presenting the subject is unfortunately such that it more frequently than otherwise has a strong tendency in a direction exactly the opposite of that intended and desired. The writer of this work has endeavored to avoid the latter evil by adopting a style of presentation quite different from that generally pursued. Instead of restricting the reader's attention rigidly to the sexual function in man, his mind is diverted by frequent references to corresponding functions in lower animals and in the vegetable kingdom. By this means, not only is an additional fund of information imparted, but the sexual function in man is divested of its sensuality. It is viewed as a fact of natural history, and is associated with the innocence of animal life and the chaste loveliness of flowers. Thus the subject comes to be regarded from a purely physiological standpoint, and is liberated from the gross animal instinct which is the active cause of sensuality.
There are so many well-meaning individuals who object to the agitation of this subject in any manner whatever, that it may be profitable to consider in this connection some of the principal objections which are urged against imparting information on sexual subjects, especially against giving knowledge to the young.
I. Sexual matters improper to be spoken of to the young.
This objection is often raised, it being urged that these matters are too delicate to be even suggested to children; that they ought to be kept in total ignorance of all sexual matters and relations until nature indicates that they are fit to receive them. It is doubtless true that children raised in a perfectly natural way would have no sexual thoughts until puberty, at least, and it would be better if it might be so; but from facts pointed out in succeeding portions of this work, it is certain that at the present time children nearly always do have some vague ideas of sexual relations long before puberty, and often at a very early age. It is thus apparent that by speaking to children of sexual matters in a proper manner, a new subject is not introduced to them, but it is merely presenting to them in a true light a subject of which they already have vague ideas; and thus, by satisfying a natural curiosity, they are saved from supplying by their imaginations distorted images and exaggerated conceptions, and from seeking to obtain the desired information from evil sources whence they would derive untold injury.
What reason is there that the subject of the sexual functions should be treated with such maudlin secrecy? Why should the function of generation be regarded as something low and beastly, unfit to be spoken of by decent people on decent occasions? We can conceive of no answer except the worse than beastly use to which the function has been so generally put by man. There is nothing about the sexual organism which makes it less pure than the lungs or the stomach. "Unto the pure all things are pure," may have been written especially for our times, when there is such a vast amount of mock modesty; when so much pretense of virtue covers such a world of iniquity and vice. The young lady who goes into a spasm of virtuous hysterics upon hearing the word "leg," is perhaps just the one who at home riots her imagination in voluptuous French novels, if she commits no grosser breach of chastity. The parents who are the most opposed to imparting information to the young are often those who have themselves indulged in sexual excesses. In the minds of such persons the sexual organs and functions, and everything even remotely connected with them, are associated only with ideas of lust and gross sensuality. No wonder that they wish to keep such topics in the dark. With such thoughts they cannot well bear the scrutiny of virtue.
Sexual subjects are not, of course, proper subjects for conversation at all times, or at any time in a spirit of levity and flippancy.
II. Knowledge is dangerous.
Very true, knowledge is dangerous, but ignorance is more dangerous still; or, rather, partial knowledge is more dangerous than a more complete understanding of facts. Children, young people, will not grow up in innocent ignorance. If, in obedience to custom, they are not encouraged to inquire of their parents about the mysteries of life, they will seek to satisfy their curiosity by appealing to older or better informed companions. They will eagerly read any book which promises any hint on the mysterious subject, and will embrace every opportunity, proper or improper—and most likely to be the latter—of obtaining the coveted information. Knowledge obtained in this uncertain and irregular way must of necessity be very unreliable. Many times—generally, in fact—it is of a most corrupting character, and the clandestine manner in which it is obtained is itself corrupting and demoralizing. A child ought to be taught to expect all such information from its parents, and it ought not to be disappointed.
Again, while it is true that knowledge is dangerous, it is equally true that this dangerous knowledge will be gained sometime, at any rate; and as it must come, better let it be imparted by the parent, who can administer proper warnings and cautions along with it, than by any other individual. Thus may the child be shielded from injury to which he would otherwise be certainly exposed.
III. Young people should be left to find out these things for themselves.
If human beings received much of their knowledge through instinct, as animals do, this might be a proper course; but man gets his knowledge largely by instruction. Young people will get their first knowledge of sexual matters mostly by instruction from some source. How much better, then, as we have already shown, to let them obtain this knowledge from the most natural and most reliable source!
The following paragraph from Dr. Ware is to the point:—
"But putting aside the question whether we ought to hide this subject wholly from the young if we could, the truth, it is to be feared, is that we cannot if we would. Admitting it to be desirable, every man of experience in life will pronounce it to be impracticable. If, then, we cannot prevent the minds of children from being engaged in some way on this subject, may it not be better to forestall evil impressions by implanting good ones, or at least to mingle such good ones with the evil as the nature of the case admits? Let us be at least as wise as the crafty enemy of man, and cast in a little wheat with his tares; and among the most effectual methods of doing this is to impart to the young just and religious views of the nature and purposes of the relation which the Creator has established between the two sexes."
When Shall Information Be Given?—It is a matter of some difficulty to decide the exact age at which information on sexual subjects should be given to the young. It may be adopted as a safe rule, however, that a certain amount of knowledge should be imparted as soon as there is manifested a curiosity in this direction. If there is reason to believe that the mind of the child is exercised in this direction, even though he may have made no particular inquiries, information should not be withheld.
How to Impart Proper Knowledge.—No little skill may be displayed in introducing these subjects to the mind of the young person in such a way as to avoid arousing his passions and creating sexual excitement. Perhaps the general plan followed in the first portion of this work will be found a very pleasant and successful method if studied thoroughly and well executed.
All information should not be given at once. First obtain the child's confidence, and assure him by candor and unreserve that you will give him all needed information; then, as he encounters difficulties, he will resort for explanation where he knows he will receive satisfaction. When the little one questions, answer truthfully and carefully.
The following paragraph by Dr. Wilkinson is suggestive:—
"When we are little boys and girls, our first inquiries about our whence are answered by the authoritative dogma of the 'silver spade;' we were dug up with that implement. By degrees the fact comes forth. The public, however, remains for ages in the silver-spade condition of mind with regard to the science of the fact; and the doctors foster it by telling us that the whole subject is a medical property.... There is nothing wrong in the knowing; and, though the passions might be stimulated in the first moments by such information, yet in the second instance they will be calmed by it; and, ceasing to be inflamed by the additional goad of curiosity and imagination, they will cool down under the hydropathic influences of science. Well-stated knowledge did never yet contribute to human inflammation; and we much question whether the whole theory of the silver spade be not a mistake; and whether children should not be told the truth from the first; that before desire and imagination are born, the young mind may receive, in its cool innocency, a knowledge of the future objects of powers and faculties which are to be subject afterward to such strong excitements."
The experience of hundreds in the circulation of this work has proven beyond all chance for question the truth of the foregoing remarks, and often in a most striking manner. Scores of persons have written us, "I would give all I possess in this world could I have had a copy of 'Plain Facts' placed in my hands when I was a lad," or, "Words cannot express the gratitude I would now feel had some kind friend imparted to me the invaluable information which this book contains; it would have saved me a life of wretchedness."
We have had the satisfaction of knowing in numerous instances that the virtue and happiness of whole families have been secured by the timely warnings of danger which parents have obtained from this work. We are glad to be able to feel that it is now thoroughly demonstrated that intelligent persons who have given this subject thought universally approve of the objects of the work and the manner of presenting the subject adopted in it. Those who at first question the propriety of discussing the subject so freely and thoroughly as is here done, lose their prejudice entirely upon giving the work a careful perusal. In numerous instances it has occurred that those who were most decided in their denunciations have become the most zealous and efficient agents in its circulation after becoming more fully acquainted with it.
SEX IN LIVING FORMS.
Life, in its great diversity of forms, has ever been a subject of the deepest interest to rational beings. Poets have sung of its joys and sorrows, its brilliant phantasies and harsh realities. Philosophers have spent their lives in vain attempts to solve its mysteries; and some have held and thought that life was nothing more than a stupendous farce, a delusion of the senses. Moralists have sought to impress mankind with the truth that "life is real," and teeming with grave responsibilities. Physiologists have busied themselves in observing the phenomena of life, and learning, therefrom, its laws. The subject is certainly an interesting one, and none could be more worthy of the most careful attention.
Living Beings.—Man possesses life in common with other beings almost infinite in number and variety. The hugest beast that roams the forest or plows the main is no more a living creature than the smallest insect or microscopic animalculum. The "big tree" of California and the tiny blade of grass which waves at its foot are alike imbued with life. All nature teems with life. The practiced eye detects multitudes of living forms at every glance.
The universe of life presents the most marvelous manifestations of the infinite power and wisdom of the Creator to be found in all his works. The student of biology sees life in myriad forms which are unnoticed by the casual observer. The microscope reveals whole worlds of life that were unknown before the discovery of this wonderful aid to human vision,—whole tribes of living organisms, each of which, though insignificant in size, possesses organs as perfect and as useful to it in its sphere as do animals of greater magnitude. Under a powerful magnifying glass, a drop of water from a stagnant pool is found to be peopled with curious animated forms; slime from a damp rock, or a speck of green scum from the surface of a pond, presents a museum of living wonders. Through this instrument the student of nature learns that life in its lowest form is represented by a mere atom of living matter, an insignificant speck of trembling jelly, transparent and structureless, having no organs of locomotion, yet able to move in any direction; no nerves or organs of sense, yet possessing a high degree of sensibility; no mouth, teeth, nor organs of digestion, yet capable of taking food, growing, developing, producing other individuals like itself, becoming aged, infirm, and dying,—such is the life history of a living creature at the lower extreme of the scale of animated being. As we rise higher in the scale, we find similar little atoms of life associated together in a single individual, each doing its proper share of the work necessary to maintain the life of the individual as a whole, yet retaining at the same time its own individual life.
As we ascend to still higher forms, we find this association of minute living creatures resulting in the production of forms of increasing complicity. As the structure of the individual becomes more complex and its functions more varied, the greater is the number of separate, yet associated, organisms to do the work.
In man, at the very summit of the scale of animate existence, we find the most delicate and wonderfully intricate living mechanism of all. In him, as in lower, intermediate forms of life, the life of the individual is but a summary of the lives of all numberless minute organisms of which his body is composed. The individual life is but the aggregate life of all the millions of distinct individuals which are associated together in the human organism.
Animals and Vegetables.—The first classification of living creatures separates them into two great kingdoms, animals and vegetables. Although it is very easy to define the general characteristics of each of these classes, it is impossible to fix upon any single peculiarity which will be applicable in every case. Most vegetable organisms remain stationary, while some possess organs of locomotion, and swim about in the water in a manner much resembling the movements of certain animals. Most vegetables obtain their nutriment from the earth and the air, while animals subsist on living matter. A few plants seem to take organic matter for food, some even catching and killing small insects.
It is found impossible to draw the precise line between animals and vegetables, for the reason just mentioned. The two kingdoms blend so intimately that in some cases it is impossible to tell whether a certain microscopic speck of life is an animal or a vegetable. But since these doubtful creatures are usually so minute that several millions of them can exist in a single drop of water, it is usually of no practical importance whether they are animal or vegetable, or sometimes one and sometimes the other, as they have been supposed to be by some biologists.
All living creatures are organized beings. Most possess a structure and an organism more or less complicated; but some of the lowest forms are merely little masses of a transparent, homogeneous jelly, known as protoplasm. Some of the smallest of these are so minute that one hundred millions of them could occupy the space of a cube one-thousandth of an inch on each side; yet each one runs its course of life as regularly as man himself, performing its proper functions even more perfectly, perhaps.
Life Force.—To every thinking mind the question often recurs, What makes the fragrant flower so different from the dead soil from which it grows? the trilling bird, so vastly superior to the inert atmosphere in which it flies? What subtle power paints the rose, and tunes the merry songster's voice? To explain this mystery, philosophers of olden time supposed the existence of a certain peculiar force which is called life, or vital force, or vitality. This supposition does nothing more than furnish a name for a thing unknown, and the very existence of which may fairly be doubted. In fact, any attempt to find a place for such a force, to understand its origin, or harmonize its existence with that of other well-known forces, is unsuccessful; and the theory of a peculiar vital force, a presiding entity present in every living thing, vanishes into thin air to give place to the more rational view of the most advanced modern scientists, that vital force, so-called, is only a manifestation of the ordinary forces of nature acting through a peculiar arrangement of matter. In other words, life depends, not upon a peculiar force, but upon a peculiar arrangement of matter, or organization. It is simply a peculiar manifestation of the force possessed by atoms exhibited through a peculiar arrangement of atoms and molecules. This arrangement is what is known as organization; and bodies which possess it are known as organized or living bodies. The term life may be understood as referring to the phenomena which result from organization.
That life results from organization, not organization from life, is more consonant with the accepted and established facts of science than the contrary view. We might adduce numerous facts and arguments in support of this view of the nature of life, but will not do so here, as we have considered the subject at some length elsewhere.
[Footnote 1: See "Science and the Bible," pp. 36-46.]
Nutrition and reproduction are the two great functions of life, being common not only to all animals, but to both animals and plants, to all classes of living creatures. The object of the first, is the development and maintenance of the individual existence; the second has for its end the production of new individuals, or the preservation of the race. Nutrition is a purely selfish process; reproduction is purely unselfish in its object; though the human species—unlike the lower animals, which, while less intelligent, are far more true to nature—too often pervert its functions to the most grossly selfish ends.
The subject of nutrition is an important one, and well worthy the attention of every person who values life. The general disregard of this subject is undoubtedly the cause of a very large share of the ills to which human flesh is heir; but our limited space forbids its consideration here, and we shall confine our attention to reproduction.
As before remarked, reproduction is a function common to all animals and to all plants. Every organized being has the power to reproduce itself, or to produce, or aid in producing, other individuals like itself. It is by means of this function that plants and animals increase or multiply.
When we consider the great diversity of characters illustrated in animal and vegetable life, and the infinite variety of conditions and circumstances under which organized creatures exist, it is not surprising that modes of reproduction should also present great diversity both in general character and in detail. We shall find it both interesting and instructive to consider some of the many different modes of reproduction, or generation, observed in different classes of living beings, previous to entering upon the specific study of reproduction in man. Before doing thus, however, let us give brief attention to a theoretical form of generation, which cannot be called reproduction, known as
Spontaneous Generation.—By this term is meant the supposed formation of living creatures directly from dead matter without the intervention of other living organisms. The theory is, in substance, an old one. The ancients supposed that the frogs and other small reptiles so abundant in the vicinity of slimy pools and stagnant marshes, were generated spontaneously from the mud and slime in which they lived. This theory was, of course, abandoned when the natural history of reptiles became known.
For several thousand years the belief was still held that maggots found in decaying meat were produced spontaneously; but it was discovered, centuries ago, that maggots are not formed if the flesh is protected from flies, since they are the larvae, or young, of a species of this insect. A relic of the ancient belief in spontaneous generation is still found in the supposition that horse-hair snakes, so-called, are really formed from the hairs of horses. This belief is quite common, but science long ago exposed its falsity.
When the microscope was discovered it revealed a whole new world of infinitesimal beings which were at first supposed to be of spontaneous origin; but careful scientific investigation has shown that even these mere specks of life are not independent of parentage. M. Pasteur and, more recently, Prof. Tyndall, with many other distinguished scientists, have demonstrated this fact beyond all reasonable chance for question.
It is, then, an established law that every living organism originates with some previously existing living being or beings.
It may be queried, If it be true that life is but a manifestation of the ordinary forces of matter,—which are common to both dead and living matter,—being dependent upon arrangement, then why may it not be that dead matter may, through the action of molecular laws, and without the intervention of any living existence, assume those peculiar forms of arrangement necessary to constitute life, as supposed by the advocates of the theory in question? It is true that some who recognize the fact that life is the result of organization maintain the doctrine of spontaneous generation; that is, the production of life without any agency other than the recognized forces of nature being brought about simply by a fortuitous combination of atoms. Although this doctrine cannot be said to be inconsistent with the theory of life presented, yet it is by no means a legitimate or necessary result of it; and observation proves its falsity.
The testimony of all nature, as almost universally admitted by scientific men, is that life originated through a creative act by the first Great Cause, who gave to certain bodies the requisite arrangement or organization to enable them to perform certain functions, and delegated to them the power to transmit the same to other matter, and thus to perpetuate life. The Creator alone has the power to originate life. Man, with all his wisdom and attainments, cannot discover the secret of organization. He may become familiar with its phenomena, but he cannot unravel, further, the mystery of life. The power of organizing is possessed only by the lower class of living or organized bodies, those known as vegetable organisms or plants. A grain of wheat, a kernel of corn, a potato, when placed under favorable conditions, takes the inert, lifeless particles of matter which lie about it in the earth and air, and organizes them into living substances like itself.
To man and animals the Creator delegated the power to form their own peculiar structures from the vitalized tissues of plants. Thus, both animal and vegetable life is preserved without the necessity of continued acts of creative power, each plant and each animal possessing the power not only to preserve its own life, but also to aid, at least, in the perpetuation of the species. The record of creation in Genesis harmonizes perfectly with this view, it being represented that God formed (organized or arranged) man, animals, and vegetable productions from the earth.
Simplest Form of Generation.—Deep down beneath the waters of the ocean, covering its bottom in certain localities, is found a curious slime, which, under the microscope, is seen to be composed of minute rounded masses of gelatinous matter, or protoplasm. By watching these little bodies intently for a few minutes, the observer will discover that each is a living creature capable of moving, growing, and assuming a variety of shapes. Continued observation will reveal the fact that these little creatures multiply; and a more careful scrutiny will enable him to see how they increase. Each divides into two equal parts so nearly alike that they cannot be distinguished apart. In this case the process of generation is simply the production of two similar individuals from one.
A small quantity of slime taken from the surface of a stone near the bottom of an old well, or on the seaside, when placed under the microscope, will sometimes be found to contain large numbers of small, round, living bodies. Careful watching will show that they also multiply by division; but before the division occurs, two cells unite to form one by a process called conjugation. Then, by the division of this cell, instead of only two cells, a large number of small cells are formed, each of which may be considered as a bud formed upon the body of the parent cell and then separated from it to become by growth an individual like its parent, and, like it, to produce its kind. In this case, we have new individuals formed by the union of two individuals which are to all appearance entirely similar in every particular.
Sex.—Rising higher in the scale of being, we find that, with rare exceptions, reproduction is the result of the union of two dissimilar elements. These elements do not, in higher organisms, as in lower forms of life, constitute the individuals, but are produced by them; and being unlike, they are produced by special organs, each adapted to the formation of one kind of elements. The two classes of organs usually exist in separate individuals, thus giving rise to distinctions of sex; an individual possessing organs which form one kind of elements being called a male, and one possessing organs for the formation of the other kind of elements, a female. The sexual differences between individuals of the same species are not, however, confined to the sexual organs. In most classes of plants and animals, other sexual differences are very great. In some of the lower orders of animals, and in many species of plants, the male and female individuals are so much unlike that for a long time after they were well known, no sexual relation was discovered.
Hermaphrodism.—An individual possessing both male and female organs of reproduction is called an hermaphrodite. Such a combination is very rare among higher animals; but it is by no means uncommon among plants and the lower forms of animal life. The snail, the oyster, the earth-worm, and the common tape-worm, are examples of true hermaphrodites. So-called human hermaphrodites are usually individuals in whom the sexual organs are abnormally developed so that they resemble those of the opposite sex, though they really have but one sex, which can usually be determined with certainty. Only a very few cases have been observed in which both male and female organs were present.
There is now living in Germany an individual who bears the name of a woman; but learned physicians have decided that the person is as much man as woman, having the organs of both sexes. What is still more curious, this person has the feelings of both sexes, having loved at first a man, and afterward a woman. There have been observed, also, a very few instances of individuals in whom the sexual organs of neither sex were present. It thus appears that a person may be of both sexes or of no sex at all.
Sex in Plants.—To one unacquainted with the mysteries of plant life and growth, the idea of attaching sexuality to plants seems very extraordinary; but the botanist recognizes the fact that the distinctions of sex are as clearly maintained in the vegetable as in the animal kingdom. The sexual organs of the higher orders of plants are flowers. That part of the flower which produces seeds answers to the female; another part, which is incapable of forming seeds, answers to the male. The fertile and sterile flowers are sometimes produced on separate plants. Very frequently, they are produced upon separate parts of the same plant, as in the oak, walnut, and many other forest trees, and Indian corn. In the latter plant, so familiar to every one, the "tassel" contains the male flowers, and the part known as the "silk," with the portion to which it is attached—which becomes the ear—the female or fertile flowers. In a large number of species, the male and female organs are combined in a single flower, making a true hermaphrodite.
Sex in Animals.—As previously remarked, individuals of opposite sex usually differ much more than in the character of their sexual organs only. Among higher animals, the male is usually larger, stronger, and of coarser structure than the female. The same contrast is observed in their mental characters. With lower animals, especially insects, the opposite is often observed. The female spider is many times larger than the male. The male ant is small in size when compared with the female. Nevertheless, in all classes of animals the difference in the structure and the functions of the sexual organs is the chief distinguishing character. These differences are not so great, however, as they might at first appear. The male and female organs of reproduction in man and other animals, which seem so dissimilar, when studied in the light shed upon this subject by the science of embryology, are found to be wonderfully alike in structure, differing far more in appearance than in reality, and being little more than modifications of one general plan. Every organ to be found in the one sex has an analogue in the other which is complete in every particular, corresponding in function, in structure, and usually in position.
Other Sexual Differences.—In this country there is between five and six inches difference in height and about twenty pounds difference in weight between the average man and the average woman, the average man being about five feet, eight inches in height, and weighing one hundred and forty-five pounds; while the average woman is five feet, two or two and one-half inches in height, and weighs one hundred and twenty-five pounds. The relation of the sexes in height and weight varies in degree in different countries, but is never changed. The average height and weight of American men and women is considerably above that of the average human being.
Men and Women Differ in Form.—The differences in form are so marked that it is possible for the skilled anatomist to determine the sex of a human being who has been dead for ages, by an examination of the skeleton alone. In man, the shoulders are broad, the hips narrow, and the limbs nearly straight with the body. In woman, the shoulders are narrow and usually rounded, and set farther back, the collar-bone being longer and less curved, giving the chest greater prominence; while the hips are broad.
The consequence of these differences is that woman is generally less graceful and naturally less skillful in the use of the extremities than man, and hence less fitted for athletic sports and feats requiring great dexterity. A girl throws a stone awkwardly, less from want of practice than from a natural peculiarity of physical structure. A woman walks less gracefully than a man, owing to the greater relative breadth of her hips, requiring a motion of the body together with that of the limbs. In consequence of this peculiarity, a woman is less fitted for walking long distances.
Modern Mania for Female Pedestrianism.—Nothing could be much more inhuman than the exhibitions made in satisfying the mania for female pedestrianism which has recently arisen. Not long since, in walking down one of the principal streets of Boston, we passed, in going a distance of thirty rods, three illuminated placards announcing to the public that in as many different public halls four female pedestrians were exhibiting their walking talents for the gratification of the crowds of bawdy loafers and jockeys who congregated to criticize their several "points," and bet on their walking capacity, as though they were horses on a race-course or hounds on a fox hunt.
3,000 Quarter Miles in 3,000 Quarter Hours.—We visited the halls and ascertained that two of these misguided women were attempting the feat of walking respectively 2,700 and 3,000 quarter miles in an equal number of successive quarter hours. This would require almost incessant exertion for nearly twenty-eight days in one case, and for more than thirty-one days in the other, without at any time a period of unbroken rest longer than ten minutes. Such a procedure, in the light of physiology, is a greater inhumanity than the most merciless Boston teamster would inflict upon his dumb brutes. Why does not Mr. Bergh exercise his function in such cases? We did not wonder that the poor women looked pale and suffering, and trudged along with a limping gait.
A Female Walking Match.—At another hall we found two women engaged in a "walking match." The hall was so crowded with spectators—with very few exceptions of the male sex—that it was with difficulty the narrow track could be kept clear.
The sixty hours for which the walk was to be continued had nearly expired, and the excitement grew more intense each moment. One of the walkers, who was a few miles in advance, strode on at a pace almost marvelous, constantly stimulated to greater efforts by the coarse shouts of the masculine audience, who evidently took the same sort of interest in the proceeding that they would in a dog race or a cock fight. The other was pale and spiritless, and it seemed with difficulty that she dragged herself along to keep upon the track until the last. At times she seemed to be almost fainting, as the result of the long-continued excitement and fatigue; but she managed to keep going until nine minutes before the slow moving clock had measured off the sixty hours, when she became too ill to be longer able to stand, and was carried off the track.
The cheers for the winner were as vigorous as though a rebel fort had been captured, a million people emancipated from slavery, or some great and noble deed of honor or daring had been done; but no one thought of the injury which had been done the contestant. We turned away in disgust.
The ancient Greeks and Romans amused themselves with witnessing the gladiatorial contests of their male slaves; but it was left for civilized America to introduce woman into the "ring" and make her show her paces on the race-course. An ungraceful figure she cuts, and a repulsive spectacle she presents; and worst of all is the havoc which she makes with her health. At the very time that these four female pedestrians were making their disgraceful exhibit in Boston, in another part of the same city lay a helpless invalid who was once as noted a "female walkist" as any of them, made hopelessly ill by the same disregard of the plainest laws of nature.
The Male and the Female Brain.—But there are other important physical differences to which we must call attention. Man possesses a larger brain than woman, but she makes up the deficiency in size by superior fineness in quality. The female brain differs from the masculine organ of mentality in other particulars so marked that one who has given the subject attention can determine with perfect ease the probable sex of the owner of almost any skull which might be presented to him. This difference in the conformation of the skull is undoubtedly due to a difference in mental character, which, in turn, depends upon a difference in cerebral development. Faculties which are generally largely developed in one are usually smaller in the other, and the reverse.
Vital Organs of Man and Woman.—The anatomist also observes an interesting difference in the size of the various vital organs. For example, while a woman has a heart proportionally smaller than the same organ in man, she has a larger liver. Thus, while less well fitted for severe physical exertion by less circulatory power, she has superior excretory powers.
Woman Less Muscular, More Enduring.—This peculiarity of structure is perfectly harmonious with the fact which experience has established so often as to make the matter no longer a question, that woman is less fitted for severe muscular exertion than man, but possesses in a superior degree the quality known as endurance. With a less robust frame, a more delicately organized constitution, she will endure for months what would kill a robust man in as many weeks. More perfect elimination of the wastes of the body secures a higher grade of vitality. On no other hypothesis could we account for the marvelous endurance of the feminine part of the civilized portion of the human race, ground down under the heel of fashion for ages, "stayed," "corseted," "laced," and thereby distorted and deformed in a manner that would be fatal to almost any member of the masculine sex.
A Pathological Difference.—Most physiologists mention another particular in which woman differs materially from man; viz, in naturally employing, in respiration, chiefly the upper part of the lungs, while man breathes chiefly with the lower part of the lungs. For several years we have carefully studied this question, and we have been unable to find any physiological or anatomical reason sufficient to account for this fact, if it be such.
Why a Woman Does not Breathe Like a Man.—It is undoubtedly true that most women do breathe almost exclusively with the upper part of the chest; but whether this is a natural peculiarity, or an acquired, unnatural, and depraved one, is a question which we are decidedly inclined to answer in harmony with the latter supposition, basing our conclusion on the following undeniable facts:—
1. In childhood, and until about the age of puberty, respiration in the boy and the girl is exactly the same.
2. Although there is a change in the mode of respiration in most females, usually soon after the period of puberty, marked by increased intercostal respiration and diminished abdominal or deep respiration, this change can be accounted for on other than physiological grounds.
3. We believe the cause of this modification of respiration is the change in dress which is usually made about that time. The young girl is now becoming a woman, and must acquire the art of lacing, wearing a corset, "stays," and sundry other contrivances by means of which to produce a "fine form" by distorting and destroying all natural grace and beauty in the "form divine."
4. We have met a number of ladies whose good fortune and good sense had delivered them from the distorting influence of corset-wearing and tight-lacing, and we have invariably observed that they are as capable of deep respiration as men, and practice it as naturally.
We are thoroughly convinced that this so-called physiological difference between man and woman is really a pathological rather than a natural difference, and is due to the evils of fashionable dress, which we have exposed at some length in another work exclusively devoted to that subject. In short, we believe that the only reason why women do not, under ordinary circumstances, breathe as do men, is simply because they can not breathe naturally.
[Footnote 2: "Evils of Fashionable Dress, and How to Dress Healthfully."]
The Reproductive Elements.—As has been previously observed, in all except the very lowest forms of life, two elements are necessary to the production of a new individual, or a reproduction of the species—a male element and a female element. The special organs by means of which these elements are produced, brought together, and developed into the new individual in a more or less perfect state, are termed sexual organs, as we have already seen. As an introduction to the specific study of the sexual organs in the human species, let us briefly consider the
Sexual Organs of Plants.—As already remarked, flowers are the sexual organs of plants. Nothing is more interesting in the natural world than the wonderful beauty, diversity, and perfect adaptability to various conditions and functions, which we see in the sexual parts of plants. An exceedingly interesting line of study, which has occupied the attention of many naturalists, is the wonderful perfection displayed in the adaptability of the male and female parts of plants to each other. Without burdening the reader with unnecessary technicalities of detail, we will briefly notice the principal parts of vegetable sexual organs as illustrated in flowers.
Complete flowers are made up of four parts, two of which, the stamen and pistil, are essential, while the other two, the calyx and corolla, are accessory.
The calyx is that part which surrounds the flower at its outer and lower part. It varies greatly in form and color, but is most frequently of a green or greenish color.
Just within the calyx is the corolla, which usually forms the most attractive, showy, and beautiful part of the flower. The beautifully colored petals of the rose, geranium, dahlia, and other similar flowers, form their corollas.
Vegetable Husbands.—Within the cup formed by the calyx and corolla are placed the stamens and pistils of the flower, the first being the male organs proper, and the second the female organs of the flower.
The stamen is composed of a stem or filament, at the summit of which are placed two little sacks called the anther, which contain a fine, microscopic dust, the pollen, which contains the male reproductive element of the flower. This part of the plant corresponds to the male organ of reproduction in animals. A stamen has been called, not inaptly, a vegetable husband. Some flowers have many stamens, or vegetable husbands, which reminds us of the custom in Thibet and some other Eastern countries which allows a woman to have several husbands.
Polygamous Flowers.—The great naturalist, Linnaeus, whose name was immortalized by his careful study and classification of organized life, made the number of stamens possessed by various flowers the basis of a systematic classification.
For example, a flower having but one stamen was classed as monandria, which means, literally, one husband; one having two stamens was classified as diandria; flowers having a large number of male organs were termed polyandria, or many husbands.
The Female Organ of Flowers.—The pistil occupies the very center of the flower. It produces and contains in a cell, the female element, termed the ovule. It is surmounted by the style and the stigma.
A series of plants in which the sexual organs are not visible to the eye are termed cryptogamia, which means literally, hidden marriages.
As we proceed to study the anatomy of the human sexual apparatus we shall be constantly struck with the remarkable correspondence between animals and vegetables in the structure and functions of the sexual apparatus.
Sexual Organs of Animals.—The male reproductive element is called a spermatozoon or zoosperm. The female element is called an ovum, literally, an egg.
The Spermatozoon.—The male reproductive element of animals is formed by an organ called the testis, or testicle, of which each male possesses two. They are elastic, glandular bodies, and are formed within the cavity of the abdomen, near the kidneys, but usually pass out of the abdominal cavity and descend to their permanent position before birth. The opening in the abdominal wall is usually completely closed in a short time; but occasionally it remains open, giving rise to congenital hernia, an accident in which a loop of intestine follows the testicle down into the scrotum, either completely or partially. In a few animals, as in the porcupine, the opening is never fully closed, and the testis remains in the cavity of the body most of the time, passing out only at certain periods. We also occasionally meet cases of human beings in which the testes have never descended from their place in the abdominal cavity, giving the individuals the appearance of eunuchs. This condition, however, though an abnormal one, does not in any way interfere with the function of the organs, as those who happen to possess it often imagine. We have also met with cases in which the organs were movable, and could readily be pressed up into the abdominal cavity, through the unclosed inguinal cavity, which afforded them a passage downward in the process of development.
As before remarked, these peculiarities do not affect the functions of the organs in any appreciable degree, although they not infrequently give rise to some apprehension on the part of those subject to them. The left testicle is sometimes a little smaller than the right, another fact which is seized upon by quacks as a means of exciting the fears of young men who have been addicted to bad habits, although the peculiarity is generally without important significance.
The testicles are connected with the urinary passage by means of two ducts which terminate near the base of the bladder, at which point they connect with the urethra. We need not dwell at further length upon the structure of the testicles, as this subject receives fuller attention elsewhere.
Human spermatozoa are about 1/600 of an inch in length. Those of reptiles are very much larger. One of the remarkable features of these minute elements is their peculiar movements. While alive, the filamentous tail is in constant action in a manner strongly resembling the movements of the caudal appendage of a tadpole. This wonderful property led the earlier observers to believe that they were true animalcula. But they are not to be regarded as such, though one can scarcely make himself believe otherwise while watching their lively evolutions, and apparent volitionary movement from one point to another.
Spermatozoa originate in the testis as cells, which are filled with granules. After a time, each granule acquires a long appendage, and then the cell has become converted into a bundle of small zoosperms. Development still continues, until finally the thin pellicle on the outside of the bundle is ruptured, thus liberating the young spermatozoa, which speedily complete their full development. The spermatozoon is pure protoplasm, which is the basis of all life, and its power of spontaneous motion is due to this fact.
In man, the formation of spermatozoa continues with greater or less rapidity from puberty to old age, though at the two extremes of existence they are imperfectly developed. When not discharged from the body, they are said to be absorbed. Some physiologists claim that they are composed of a substance identical with nerve tissue, and that by absorption they play a very important part in the development and maintenance of the nervous system.
It is asserted by good authorities that the reproductive element in man is not so well developed as to be really fit for the reproduction of the species before the age of twenty-four or twenty-five. After the age of forty-five or fifty, the reproductive elements deteriorate in quality, and become again unfitted for vigorous procreation.
The fully developed zoosperms are suspended in a transparent, gelatinous fluid, which, mingled with the secretion of the prostate gland and other fluids which it meets during its expulsion from the body, constitutes the semen.
The Ovum.—The female element of generation, the ovum, is produced by an organ called the ovary, of which there are two in each individual. In size and form, the ovary closely resembles the testicle. Like the latter organ, also, it is formed within the body early in the process of development; but instead of passing outward and downward, as does the testicle, it remains within the abdominal cavity, suspended in place by ligaments. It is connected with a duct which receives the ovum as it is discharged, and conveys it to the uterus.
The human ovum varies in size from 1/240 to 1/120 of an inch in diameter, and consists of a single cell. Ova are not formed in such large numbers as zoosperms. As a general rule, in the human female, a single ovum is developed and discharged once in about four weeks, during the period of sexual activity.
Fecundation.—It is often asked, and the question has elicited some discussion, Which is the principal reproductive element; the zoosperm, or the ovum? The ancients supposed the male element to be the essential element, being simply nourished and developed by the female; but modern research in biological science does not sustain this view. Probably neither one enjoys especial preeminence; for neither can undergo complete development without the other. In very rare cases, the ovum has been observed to undergo a certain amount of development of itself; but a perfect individual can be produced only by the union of the two kinds of elements, which process is known as fecundation. The instant this union occurs, the life of a new individual begins. All the changes which result between that moment and the birth of the individual are those of development only. Indeed, the same existence continues from the instant of the union of the two elements, not only until birth, but through growth, the attainment of maturity, the decline of life, and even until death.
It is interesting to observe the different methods by which fecundation is effected, both in plants and animals, for this is a process common to both.
Fecundation in Flowers.—The great naturalist, Linnaeus, was the first to explain the reproductive process in plants. He tells us that "the flower forms the theater of their amours; the calyx is to be considered as the nuptial bed; the corolla constitutes the curtains; the anthers are the testes; the pollen, the fecundating fluid; the stigma of the pistil, the external genital aperture; the style, the vagina, or the conductor of the prolific seed; the ovary of the plant, the womb; the reciprocal action of the stamens on the pistil, the accessory process of fecundation."
Thus marvelous is the analogy between the reproductive organs and their functions in plants and animals. Through this one vital process we may trace a close relation between all the forms of life, from the humblest plant, or even the mere specks of life which form the green scum upon a stagnant pool, to man, the masterpiece of creation, the highest of all animated creatures. In all the realm of Nature there can be found no more remarkable evidences of the infinite skill and wisdom of the Creator of all things.
In many instances the action of plants seems almost to be prompted by intelligence. At the proper moment, the corolla contracts in such a way as to bring the stamens nearer to the stigma, or in contact with it, so as to insure fecundation. In some aquatic plants the flowers elevate themselves above the surface of water while the process of fecundation is effected; submerging themselves again immediately afterward.
Other very curious changes occur in flowers of different species during the reproductive act. The stigma is observed to become moistened, and even to become distinctly odorous. Often, too, it becomes intensely congested with the juices of the plant, and sometimes even acquires an uncommon and most remarkable degree of contractility. This is the case with the stigma of the tulip and one variety of sensitive plant, and is in these plants observed to occur not only after the application of the pollen to the stigma, but when excited by any other means of stimulation. The flowers of some plants, during and after fecundation, also show an increase of heat, in some cases so marked as to be readily detected with the thermometer. This is said to be the case with the arum of Italy.
In some plants in which the pistil is longer than the stamens, thus elevating the stigma above the anthers, the female organ is often observed to bend over and depress itself so as to come within reach of the anthers.
In most instances the fecundation of flowers is chiefly effected through a purely mechanical process, though in these cases also we see a wonderful adaptation of parts to conditions.
When the male and female parts of flowers are situated on different plants, as is the case in the willow, the poplar, the melon vine, and many other species, the pollen of the male flower is wafted by the wind or gentle breeze to the stigma of the female flower, which will usually be found at no very great distance, although fertilization may take place in this way at very considerable distances. Bees, moths, and many other species of insects, serve a very important purpose in this work, transporting the fertilizing dust upon their wings, antennae, sucking-tubes, and feet. Small birds, and even the humble snail, which would scarcely be credited with any useful function, are also very serviceable in the same direction. The part performed by insects in the reproductive process of many plants is so great that they have been very poetically termed "the marriage priests of flowers."
Nature provides for thorough fecundation in these cases by placing the plants which bear the male and the female flowers near each other. This fact accounts for the unproductiveness of certain varieties of strawberries unless mixed with plants of some other variety, it being well known to nursery-men that some varieties produce only the female parts of flowers.
Modes of Fecundation in Animals.—The modes by which fecundation is effected in animals are still more various and wonderful than in plants. In some of the lower animals, as in most fish and reptiles, both elements are discharged from the bodies of the parents before coming in contact, there being no contact of the two individuals. In this class of animals the process is almost wholly analogous to fecundation in those plants in which the male and female flowers are on different plants or different parts of the same plant. In the female fish, a large number of ova are developed at a certain season of the year known as the spawning season. Sometimes the number reaches many thousands. At the same time, the testicles of the male fish, which are contained within the abdominal cavity, become distended with developed zoosperms. When the female seeks a place to deposit her eggs, the male closely follows; and as she drops them upon the gravelly bottom, he discharges upon them the zoosperms by which they are fecundated. The process is analogous to some species of frogs. When the female is about to deposit her eggs, the male mounts upon her back and rides about until the eggs are all deposited, discharging upon them the fertilizing spermatozoa as they are laid by the female.
In higher orders of animals, fecundation takes place within the generative organs of the female by contact between the male and the female organs. To effect this, there are necessitated certain accessory organs, the penis in the male and the vagina in the female.
Nothing in all the range of nature is more remarkable than the adaptation of the two varieties of sexual organs in each species. This necessary provision is both a powerful means of securing the perpetuation of the species, and an almost impassable barrier against amalgamation.
The act of union, or sexual congress, is called coitus or copulation. It is accompanied by a peculiar nervous spasm due to excitement of special nerves principally located in the penis in the male, and in an extremely sensitive organ, the clitoris, in the female. The nervous action referred to is more exhausting to the system than any other to which it is subject.
Union of the Ovum and Zoosperm.—The zoosperms not only come in contact with the ovum, but penetrate the thin membrane which incloses its contents, and enter its interior, where they disappear, becoming united with its substance. In the ova of certain fishes, small openings have been observed through which the spermatozoa find entrance. Whether such openings exist in human ova is an undecided question; but it is probable that they do.
Curious Modes of Reproduction.—A peculiar kind of reproduction is observed in a variety of polyp, a curious animal which very much resembles a shrub in appearance. It attaches itself to some solid object, and then, as it grows, sends out little protuberances resembling buds. Some of these separate and fall off, swimming about as separate animals. These never become like the parent polyp; but they lay eggs, which hatch, and become stationary polyps like their grandparent, and in their turn throw off buds to form swimming polyps. In this case we have two kinds of generation combined, alternating with each other.
Plant-lice afford a curious illustration of a similar generation. Males and females unite and produce eggs. The creatures produced by the hatching of eggs are neither males nor perfect females. They are imperfect females. They are all alike, so that no sexual union occurs. Instead of laying eggs, they produce live young like themselves, which appear to be developed from internal buds similar to the external buds of the polyp. After this method of reproduction has continued for eight or ten generations, a few perfect individuals appear, and the first process is repeated.
The common honey-bee affords another illustration like the last. A virgin queen sometimes lays eggs, which always produce males, or drones. After union with a male, she lays eggs in the royal cells which become perfect females like herself. She also seems to have the power to lay, at will, unfecundated eggs, from which drones are produced.
Human Beings Are Developed Buds.—It has been very aptly suggested by an eminent physiologist that the ovum and zoosperm may be correctly considered as internal buds. Thus it would appear that generation is universally a process of budding. A child is but a compound bud, an offshoot from its parents. This idea is not a mere fancy, but has a scientific basis. As all the exquisite details of the most beautiful flower are in essence contained within the tiny bud which first makes its appearance, so is the developed human being, the full-grown man or woman, virtually contained within the tiny cell called the ovum after it has been impregnated or fecundated by the zoosperms. In short, men and women are blossoms in a strictly scientific sense.
Fecundation in Hermaphrodites.—The process of fecundation in hermaphrodite animals is very peculiar. In some cases, as in the snail, the union of two individuals is usually necessary, though each possesses both kinds of organs. In other cases, as in the tape-worm, the oyster, and numerous other mollusks, a single individual has the power to fertilize its own ova, thus being wholly independent. Human hermaphrodites are usually so deformed that fecundation is not effected, which is a fortunate safeguard against the multiplication of such monstrosities.
Development.—After the union of the two elements, known as fecundation or conception, if the conditions are favorable, development occurs, and the little germ is in due process of time developed into an individual which is an exact counterpart of its parents. During this developmental process, the embryonic being is variously treated by different classes of animals.
Unprotected Development.—Most fishes and reptiles discharge their ova before fecundation, or soon after, and pay no further attention to them. The fish deposits its eggs in a little hollow scooped out in the gravelly bed of a stream, or sows them broadcast upon the waters. The turtle buries its eggs in the sand, and leaves them to be hatched by the sun. The ostrich disposes of her eggs in the same way. Many other species of animals pay no regard to the protection of the germs which are destined, if placed under favorable conditions, to become individuals like themselves.
Partial Protection of the Ovum.—There are some exceptions, however, to this general rule among fishes and reptiles. Even fishes manifest a degree of parental solicitude in certain cases. The male of a species of South American fish gathers up the eggs after fecundation has taken place, and carries them in his mouth until they are hatched. Another male fish carries the eggs of his mate in a little pouch upon the lower and posterior part of his body.
Certain species of frogs carry their eggs wound about their legs; others suspend them from the abdomen. Another variety carries its young upon its back. Prof. Wyman describes a "swamp toad" which patiently takes the eggs of his mate, one by one, and fastens them upon her back, observing great regularity in arrangement. These several devices are evidently for the purpose of protecting, in some degree, the young individual during the helpless stage of its existence.
Development in the Higher Animals and Man.—Higher animals are less prolific, and their development is a more complicated process; hence, their young need greater protection, and, for this reason, the ova, instead of being discharged from the body of the female after fecundation, are retained. As we have seen that a suitable receptacle is sometimes provided outside of the body, so now a receptacle is needed, and is provided in the interior of the body of the female. This receptacle is called
[Footnote 3: Curious examples of internal development sometimes occur in animals which usually deposit eggs. Snakes have been known to produce both eggs and living young at the same time. At the annual meeting of the American Society for the Advancement of Science, at Detroit, Mich., in August, 1875, we had the pleasure of examining a specimen, exhibited by Prof. Wilder, of a chick which had undergone a considerable degree of development within the ovary of the hen. It had a head, a rudimentary brain, and internal viscera, but no feathers nor limbs. It was, in fact, an egg hatched before it had been laid. The anomaly excited much interest at that time and since among biologists.]
The Uterus.—This is a hollow, pear-shaped organ, located in the median line, just behind the bladder, between it and the rectum. It is supported in place by various ligaments and by the juxtaposition of other organs. Its larger end is directed upward, and communicates upon each side with a very narrow tube which is prolonged outward on either side until it nearly touches the ovary of the same side. Its lower and smaller end fills the internal extremity of the passage previously described as the vagina. When an ovum is matured, it escapes from the ovary into the narrow tube referred to, called the Fallopian tube, and passes down into the cavity of the uterus. If fecundation does not occur, it is expelled or absorbed after six to twelve or fourteen days. If copulation occurs, however, zoosperms are brought into the cavity of the uterus, and, coming in contact with the ovum, fecundate it. This is conception. When the natural process is allowed to proceed, development occurs.
Uterine Gestation.—This is the term applied to the process last referred to. We shall not attempt to describe in detail this most wonderful and intricate of all living processes; but will sketch only the chief points, leaving the reader who would obtain a more complete knowledge of the subject to consult any one of the numerous physiological and obstetrical works which deal with it in a very exhaustive manner.
As soon as the ovum is impregnated by the male element, it begins a process of symmetrical division. The first division produces two cells out of the single one which first existed. By the next division, four segments are produced; then eight, sixteen, etc. While this process is going on, the ovum becomes adherent to the internal wall of the uterus, and is soon enveloped by its mucous membrane, which grows up about and incloses it.
The Primitive Trace.—When the process of segmentation has advanced to a certain point, the cells are aggregated together in a compact layer at the surface. Soon a straight line appears upon this layer, which is called the primitive trace. This delicate line becomes the basis for the spinal column; and upon and about it the whole individual is developed by an intricate process of folding, dividing, and reduplication of the layer of cells. One end of the line becomes the head, and the other becomes the tail. Even man has a caudal appendage at an early stage of his existence. After a further lapse of time, little excrescences, buds, or "pads," appear in the proper positions to represent the arms and legs. After further development the ends split up into fingers and toes, and by the continued development of the parts, perfect arms and legs are formed.
Curious Relation to Lower Animals.—It is a very remarkable fact that in the lower animals we have numerous examples in which the permanent condition of the individual is the same as some one of the stages through which man passes in the process of development. The same author previously quoted makes the following interesting statements:—
"The webbed feet of the seal and ornithorhynchus typify the period when the hands and feet of the human embryo are as yet only partly subdivided into fingers and toes. Indeed, it is not uncommon for the 'web' to persist to some extent between the toes of adults; and occasionally children are born with two or more fingers or toes united to their tips.
"With the seal and the walrus, the limbs are protruded but little beyond the wrist and ankle. With the ordinary quadrupeds, the knee and elbow are visible. The cats, the lemurs, and the monkeys form a series in which the limbs are successively freed from the trunk, and in the highest apes they are capable of nearly the same movements as the human arm and leg, which, in their development, passed through all these stages."
Simplicity of Early Structures.—The first structures formed are exceedingly simple in form. It is only by slow degrees that the great complicity which characterizes many organs is finally attained. For example, the heart is at first only a straight tube. By enlargement and the formation of longitudinal and transverse partitions, the fully developed organ is finally produced. The stomach and intestines are also at first but a simple straight tube. The stomach and large intestine are formed by dilatation; and by a growth of the tube in length while the ends are confined, the small intestines are formed. The other internal organs are successively developed by similar processes.
The Stages of Growth.—At first insignificant in size—a simple cell, the embryonic human being steadily increases in size, gradually approximating more and more closely to the human form, until, at the end of about nine calendar months or ten lunar months, the new individual is prepared to enter the world and begin a more independent course of life. The following condensation of a summary quoted by Dr. Austin Flint, Jr., will give an idea of the size of the developing being at different periods, and the rate of progress:—
At the end of the third week, the embryon is a little less than one-fourth of an inch in length.
At the end of the seventh week, it is three-fourths of an inch long. The liver, lungs, and other internal organs are partially formed.
At the eighth week, it is about one inch in length. It begins to look some like a human being, but it is impossible to determine the sex.
At the third month, the embryon has attained the length of two to two and one-half inches. Its weight is about one ounce.
At the end of the fourth month, the embryon is called a fetus. It is from four to five inches long, and weighs five ounces.
At the fifth month, the fetus is nearly a foot long, and weighs about half a pound.
At the sixth month, the average length of the fetus is about thirteen inches, and its weight one and a half to two pounds. If born, life could continue a few minutes.
At the seventh month, the fetus is from fourteen to fifteen inches long, and weighs two to three pounds. It is now viable (may live if born).
At the eighth month, the length of the fetus is from fifteen to sixteen inches, and its weight from three to four pounds.
At the ninth month, the fetus is about seventeen inches long, and weighs from five to six pounds.
At birth, the infant weighs a little more than seven pounds, the usual range being from four to ten pounds, though these limits are sometimes exceeded.
Duration of Gestation.—The length of time required for the development of a human being is usually reckoned as about forty weeks. A more precise statement places it at about two hundred and seventy-eight days. This limit is often varied from. Cases have occurred in which a much longer time has been required, and numberless cases have occurred in which human beings have been born several weeks before the expiration of the usual time, as stated. There is some uncertainty respecting the exact length of the period of gestation, which grows out of the difficulty of determining, in many cases, the exact time when conception takes place.
Uterine Life.—The uterine life of the new individual begins with the impregnation of the ovum, which occurs the instant it is brought in contact with the zoosperms of the male. While in the uterus, the young life is supported wholly by the mother. She is obliged to provide not only for her own sustenance, but for the maintenance of her child. And she must not only eat for it, but breathe for it as well, since it requires a constant and adequate supply of oxygen before birth as much as afterward.