The old writers had a proverb : "Every living being originates in an egg." Without allowing this maxim the latitude it claims, it is perfectly true so far as the human race is concerned. Every one of us commenced our existence in an egg. The human egg, however, has no shell, and is not, as with fowls and many lower animals, deposited outside the body. The female matures one or several at each of her monthly periods, and they pass from the sac which has hitherto contained them on their way to the outer world. They are so minute that they are hardly visible to the naked eye, and so delicate in structure that they readily perish. They remain a longer or a shorter time in their passage from the spot where they are formed to their destination, sometimes requiring but a day or two, at others probably a week or two.

During this passage, should they come in contact with the secretion of the male, the vibratory bodies which we have described as spermatozoa surround the egg, penetrate into it perhaps, and fecundate it. At this moment conception has taken place, and a new member of the species has commenced its individual life.

Now the interest of this process to us in the present connection rests on the indisputable fact that the qualities of the male element are very largely influenced by the condition, mental and physical, of the father at the time ; and that these qualities materially change for better or worse, as the case may be, the development of the egg, and the growth, faculties, character, and destinies of the newly-formed individual.

One of the best proven and most disastrous examples of this is seen in children who have been conceived at the time the father was partially intoxicated. There is no doubt whatever that under such circumstances the child is pretty sure either to be idiotic, or to have epileptic fits, or to be of a feeble mind and irritable nervous system. What a curse does the unblessed cup here entail upon the family! How horrible the reflection, in after years, that the idiot boy or the tortured girl owes its wretchedness to the intemperate indulgence of the father!

The children of men who have exhausted themselves by excesses, or solitary vice, or insufficient food, or severe bodily and mental strain, are not what they would have been if these deteriorating elements had been removed. Very intellectual men rarely have large families, and though to some extent talent is an inheritance, the children of such are apt to be either quite below or quite above mediocrity.

The offspring of men who marry late in life usually manifest some signs of the decrepitude which marked their senile father. They are not long-lived, and are rarely healthy. Their teeth and hair fall early, and they are perhaps never conspicuous for sturdy muscles and power of endurance.

Not dissimilar are those which are conceived at a time when the father is recovering from or is threatened with a severe illness. It is characteristic of the period of convalescence from some affections, that the passions are quite ardent. A sound hygiene forbids their gratification. For not only may this result in a relapse, or a lingering debility, but it may bring into the world a child condemned to an early death, or a lingering and painful life.

The seasons of the year exercise a very manifest action on the secretion of the male element. In domestic and wild animals this is familiar to every one. To a less extent it is observable in the human race. Tennyson refers to it in "Locksley Hall:"-

"In the spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love."

Mr. Acton, possibly acting on the hint of the poet, has taken the trouble to collect the statistics on this point as found in the registration reports of Great Britain. He reaches the curious result that there are about seven per centum more conceptions in that country during the spring months than during any other quarter of the year. And Dr. Edward Smith, of London, has pursued the subject further, and ascertained that the mortality of infants conceived in the spring time is decidedly less than that of those whose existence has commenced at any other period of the year. It would thus seem that a well-defined law indicates that the male, as a rule, is more capable of perpetuating his species when the icy winter loses his hold of the land, and the warm breath of the south wind evokes, as if by magic, sweet violets and gay daffodils from the dark and cold earth.

An even temper, peace of mind, and calm desires are usually supposed, and with every probability, to conspire favorably for the destinies of the offspring. Jeremy Taylor, in the work we recently quoted, says: "Those mixtures are most innocent which are most simple, most natural, most orderly, and most safe."

It is both disgraceful and dangerous for a man to use his wife as a libertine does a prostitute. How can he expect her to retain her respect for him. who shows none for her? How can he suppose that she will remain pure, if he practises corrupt arts, and artificial excitants " Husbands should know," says the Seigneur de Brantome in one of his curious books, "that when they abuse their wives by lascivious actions and discourses, they injure them-Belves, and violate the purpose of marriage; and if their wives fail in fidelity in consequence of such corruptions, husbands have no right to demand redress, for they have brought this punishment on themselves."

Too frequently, we fear, young men regard this sacred union as merely a safe and easy means of indulging their appetites. If they carry out such an idea, they may discover too late the magnitude of their folly.

It is a vicious and a vulgar error which pretends that the unnatural ardor, the anxiety, and the sweetness of the stolen fruit, which are associated with illicit love, tend to produce a more felicitously constituted being. Illegitimate children are notorious for their mortality. The deaths among them during the first year are far greater in proportion than among the progeny of the married, as has been demonstrated by the writers of the Report of the Board of State Charities of Massachusetts (1868). Some celebrated bastards there have been, it is true, but they are the exceptions, and generally they have a taint of viciousness or of monomania running in their blood, which spoils their lives. Shakspeare, who had studied so closely all that pertains to man and his superstitions, makes Edmund in King Lear, say :-

"Why brand they us with base ? Who, in the lusty stealth of nature, take More composition and fierce quality. Than doth, within a dull, stale, tired bed, Go to the creating a whole tribe of fops, Got between sleep and wake ?"

And proves by the atrocious villainy of the youth, and his utter want of natural affection, how false was the sentiment he expresses in these lines.

True, that a certain amount of passion is eminently desirable, and in all likelihood does beneficially affect the offspring; but here again, the judicious man will always remain master of himself.