He chooses the part of wisdom, which cannot be impugned, who attentively studies the laws of nature and obediently submits his life to her dictates. We have defined the only natural object of marriage to be to have and to rear a family of children. The question, How many children is it our duty to have ? is one often asked by the married. The father feels his abilities to educate and provide for them limited ; the mother, who travails in sorrow, and on whom the immediate care of them devolves, looks often with more dread than pleasure to another addition to her flock. Her health may be giving away and her spirits flagging.

If here, as elsewhere, we seek by observation to derive some reply to this inquiry from nature, we find that she has made certain provisions for the definite limitation of offspring; and unmistakably warns us of the danger of too rapid child-bearing, not only by debilitating the mother, but by yielding imperfect, feeble, and deformed children.

This limit she sets may indeed be a distant one. The fecundity of some women is matter of astonishment. Italian history says that the noble lady Dianora Frescobaldi was the mother of fifty-two children. Brand, in his History of Newcastle, mentions as a well-attested fact, that a weaver in Scotland had, by one wife, sixty-two children, all of whom lived to be baptized: and in Aberconway Church may still be seen a monument to the memory of Nicholas Hooker, who was himself a forty-first child, and the father of twenty-seven children by one wife.

Such examples are, We need not add, so rare that they belong to the curiosities of medical literature. We rarely meet a woman now-a-days who is the mother of more than ten living children. Even in such a family the youngest ones will usually be found puny, or rickety, or idiotic, or deformed. Dr. Matthews Duncan, a careful obstetric statistician, considers that that number, therefore, is too great.

The safeguard which nature has thrown out against overproduction is by constituting certain periods of woman's life seasons of sterility. Before the age of nubility, during pregnancy, and after the change of life, they are always barren. During nursing most women are so, but not all. Some even continue their monthly change at this time. There is no absolute certainty that a woman will not conceive then, though the probability is against it.

A so-called agenetic or sterile period exists between each monthly change, during the continuance of which it is not possible for the female to conceive. This branch of our subject has attracted much attention of late years from its practical character, but the conclusions reached have so far not been as satisfactory as we could wish. The present views of the most expert physiologists are thus summed up by Dr. Dalton, of New York, in the last edition of his treatise on Human Physiology: "Intercourse is more liable to be followed by pregnancy when it occurs about the menstrual epoch than at other times. This fact was long since established as a matter of practical observation by practical obstetricians. The exact length of time, however, preceding and following the menses during which impregnation is still possible, has not been ascertained. The spermatic fluid, on the one hand, retains its vitality for an unknown period after coition, and the egg for an unknown period after its discharge. The precise extent of the limit of these occurrences is still uncertain, and is probably more or less variable in different individuals."

Those therefore who would take advantage of this natural law can do no better than confining themselves to a few days intervening about midway between the monthly epochs.

We are most decidedly of opinion that it is proper and right under some circumstances for married people to avail themselves of these provisions of our economy, and in this opinion we are supported by a large number of divines, philosophers, and physicians. For example, when the wife is distinctly suffering from over-much child bearing; when the children are coming so rapidly that they interfere with each other's nutrition ; when a destructive hereditary disease has broken out after marriage; and when the wife cannot bear children without serious danger to her life.

Those who coincide with us here may urge the objection, and it is a partially valid one, that the observation of these natural periods of sterility does not answer the end in view; that they are uncertain and inadequate. They are so to some degree, but we believe them to be much more reliable than they are generally supposed.

The next refuge is to renounce entirely the conjugal privilege. This is a perfectly allowable and proper course, if it be with mutual consent. St. John Chrysostom, the eminent father of the Greek Church, called Chrysostomos or the Golden Mouth for his eloquence, expressly states that the early Christians did not consider it amiss. The objection now-a-days urged against it is that it is too severe a prescription, and consequently valueless. This ought not to be. A man who loves his wife should, in order to save that wife overwork, and misery, and danger of death, and wretchedly constituted children, be able and willing to undergo as much self-denial as every one of his continent bachelor acquaintances does, not out of high devotion, but for motives of economy, or indifference, or love of liberty. The man who cannot do this, or does not care to do it, does not certainly deserve a very high position.

But while all this is granted, the question is still constantly put: Is this all ? Is there no means by which we can limit our families without either injuring the health, or undergoing a self-martyrdom which not one man in a thousand will submit to ?

There are dozens and scores of means if one might believe the indecent advertisements which are inserted by unscrupulous knaves in country newspapers. We warn against them as fraudulent and deceptive. Most of the artificial means proposed for this purpose, and we have reason to believe extensively vended, can none of them be used constantly without either failing to accomplish their purpose, or sowing the seeds of disease. Many of them are in the highest degree injurious and reprehensible, and are certain to destroy health.