Chaper X – Continence. Dr. Howe begins this chapter with quite a “duh” statement: every organ, nay, every atom of one’s body has a purpose assigned to it. “There is no exception to this law.” Ooh, I have one – the appendix! Beat that!
When an organ fails to do its required function, the good doctor tells us, it becomes impaired or even destroyed. He gives as an example the joints; when one is splinted or otherwise has its natural movements curtailed by surgical implements, the joint becomes impaired, and if kept this way for too long, will be permanently disabled. If one does not use his eyes, they will become blind, as those fish who live in caves so dark that they have become blinded.
This transitions into the genitals, OF COURSE. The law stated above also applies to them. A man may go without having sex for years, then marry and have no issues in the bedroom, but Dr. Howe believes this to be an exceptional case. The genitals are for propagating the species, and this is to be done by adults, and obviously, very healthily in married life. So he believes that all healthy men should marry by the age of 24.
The debilitation of the genitals occurs in men aged 35 and older (my presumption is because people lived shorter lives back then, so everything declined more quickly than it would in the present day). However, even though Howe said men should be married by 24, a marriage contract shouldn’t be drawn up before then unless the man has some special disorder of the genitals that would have this course of action be beneficial to his penis. Doc anticipates my question of why one would impose such an age limit. His theory is, while during puberty the sexual organs are quite possibly “up to snuff” for intercourse and the like, he also posits that it could harm the genitals, thereby making a (completely illogical) case for abstinence. In the course of marriage at the appropriate time, the nervous excitement from orgasms will not do any harm, unless they are too often and accompanied by nocturnal emissions!
Remember, holding off on sex until the appropriate time makes you a perfect man.
Here comes Acton again (schoolboys are immoral, married couples have too much sex in their first weeks together for it to result in pregnancy, you know him by now): many opinions on this subject, some even saying that young boys have no sexual desire. His very own, special opinion is that, if a young man has been properly looked after, with his mind free of vile and debase thoughts and practices, it is very easy to be continent. Every year completed this way is another year easier.
And then Lallemand (the guy with the case of the French soldier who broke his pelvis and then couldn’t ejaculate except in his sleep) says: puberty is a time of distress, heralded with impatient, melancholy dispositions, apathy, and restlessness. Yup, sounds like puberty, all right.
Lallemand then gives some examples of remarkable men, who have never had relations with women. But have they had relations with other men? Lallemand is unclear. Their temptations are very slight, which is odd, considering the power of the genitals, and L says, the rest of us would be remiss if we adopted this men’s practices without examination of ourselves. In which way do you mean that?
And with that, even though there are quite a few pages to go, I shall end this here. I cannot go on, it’s too difficult to ford! I leave you with one more message from this book that I spied as I followed it to the conclusion:
Cannabis was used as a treatment for impotence when the sexual organs were also cold.