Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

father and the gravest" of her relations in the same manner ; that she would sit giggling and langhing with her companions from one end of a tragedy to the other; nay, that she would sometimes burst out in the middle of a sermon, and set the whole congregation a staring at her. The mother was going on, when the young lady came out of the cave to us with a composed countenance, and a low curtsy. She was a girl of such exuberant mirth, that her visit to Trophonius only reduced her to a more than ordinary decency of behaviour, and made a very pretty prade of her. After having performed innumerable cnres, I looked about me with great satisfaction, and saw all my patients walking by themselves in a very pensive and musing posture, so that the whole place seemed cover. ed with philosophers. I was at length resolved to go into the cave myself, and see what it was that produced such wonderful effects upon the company; bot as I was stooping at the entrance, the door being soinething low, I gave such a nod in my chair, that I awak. ed. After having recovered myself from the first startle, I was very well pleased at the accident which had befallen me, as not knowing but a little stay in the place might have spoiled my Spectators.

THE

MOTHER SHOULD BE THE NURSE*.

Ουκ αρα σοι γε πατηρ ην ισσοτα Πηλεύς, Ουδε Θετις μητης γλαυκη δε σ'ετικ7ε θαλασσα, , Πετραι τ' ηλιβατοι, οτι τοι νοος εστιν ασηνης.

HOM, Iliad. xvi. v. 33. No amorous hero ever gave thee birth, Nor ever tender goddess brought thee forth: Some rugged rock's hard entrails gave thee form, And raging seas produced thee in a storm: A soul well suiting thy tempestuous kind, So rough thy manners, so untam'd thy mind.

POPE.

of a nurse.

OF
F all the abuses that moralists should endeavour to

reform, certainly not one wants so much their assistance as the abuse in nursing children. It is un

* The following anecdote recorded of Blanche of Castile, shows strong maternal feelings, and has a tendency to recommend the duty enforced in this essay: Blanche of Castile performed for Lewis, her son, in his infancy, with peculiar attention the duties

A lady of the court who, in imitation of her royal mistress, nursed her own child, took upon her, during a severe indisposition of the queen, to relieve the wants of the prince, who languished for his accustomed nourishment. Blanche, on reviving, haying called for her son, put him to the breast, when the child, already satisfied, refused the feverish milk. The queen suspecting what had passed, affected a de. sire to see and thank the person who had performed for the young Lewis this maternal office. The lady, Summoned to the chamber of her mistress, confessed the fact, alleging, that she had been moved by the cries of the infant prince. Blanche, without speaking, darted a scornful glance towards the officious proxy, and compelled the child to throw back the milk he had swallowed, declaring,

« that no other woman should dare to dispute with her the title of mother to

hier son.

IL MOTE

poor babe,

a raich

[ocr errors]

198 THE MOTHER SHOULD BE THE NU RSE. merciful to see, that a woman endowed with all the past, perfections and blessings of nature, can, as soon as she was purse is delivered, turn off her innocent, tender, and helpless which infant, and give it up to a womau that is, ten thousand to one, neither in health nor good condition, neitber sound in mind nor body, that has neither bonoar nor reputation, neither love nor pity for the but more regard for the money than for the child, and never will take further care of it than what by all the encouragement of money and presents she is forced to; like Æsop's earth, which would not ourse the plant of another ground, although never so inach im. proved, by reas that plant wa

not of its own production. And since another's child is no more uatural to a nurse than a plant to a strange and different ground, how can it be snpposed that the child should thrive! and if it thrives, must it not imbibe the gross humours and qualities of the nurse, like a plant in a different ground, or like a graft upon a different stock! Do not we observe, that a lamb sucking a goat changes very much its nature, nay even its skin and wool into the goat kind? The power of a nurse over a child by infusing into it, with her milk, ber qualities and disposition, is sufficiently and daily observed: bence came that old saying concerning an ill-natured and malicious fellow, that he had imbibed his malice with his nurse's milk, or that some brate or other had been his nurse. Hence Romulus and Remus were said to have been nursed by a wolf, Telephas the son of Hercules by a hind, Pelias the son of Neptune by a mare, and Ægisthus by a goat; not that they hard actü. ally sucked such creatures, as some simpletons bave imagined, but that their nurses had been of such a B2ture and temper, and infused such into them.

Many instances may be produced from good aniko rities and daily experience, that children actually sack in the several passions and depraved inclinations of their nurses, as anger, malice, fear, melaucholy, such uéss, desire, and aversion. This Diodorus, lib. 9;

Ni whe

[ocr errors]

witnesses, when he speaks, saying, 'That Nero the Em. peror's nurse had been very much addicted to drinking; which habit Nero received from his nurse, and was so very particular in this, that the people took so much notice of it, as instead of Tiberius Nero, they called him Biberins Mero. The same Diodorus also relates of Caligula, predecessor to Nero, that his nurse used to moisten the nipples of her breast frequently with blood, to make Caligula take the better hold of them; which, says Diodorus, was the cause that made him so bloud-thirsty and crnel all bis life-time after, that he not only committent frequent murder by his own hand, but likewise wished that all human kind wore but one neck, that he might have the pleasure to cut it off. Such like degeneracies astonish the parents, who not knowing after whom the child can take, see one incline to stealing, another to drinking, cruelty, stupidity; yet all these are not minded. Nay, it is easy to demonstrate, that a child, although it be born from the best of parents, may be corrupted by an ill. tempered nurse. How many children do we see daily brought into fits, consumptions, rickets, &c. merely by sucking their nurses when in a passion or fury? But indeed almost any disorder of the nurse is a disorcier to the child, and few purses can be found in this town but what labour under some distemper or other. The first question that is generally asked a young woman that wants to be a nurse, Why she should be a nurse to other people's children; is answered by her having an ill husband, and that she must make shift to live. I think now this very answer is enough to give any body a sbock, if daly considered; for an ill husband may, or ten to one if he does not, bring home to his wife an ill distemper, or at least vexation and disturbance. Besides, as she takes the child out of mere necessity, het food will be accordingly, or else very coarse at best; whence proceeds an ill-concocted and coarse food for the child; for as the bloud, so is the milk VOL. I.

K

200 THE MOTHER SHOULD BE THE NURSE. and hence I am very well assured procee is the schrvy, * the evil, and many other distempers. I beg of you, for the sake of the many poor infants that may and will be saved by weighing this case seriously, to exhort the people with the atmost vehemence to let the children suck their own mothers, both for the benefit of mother and child. For the general argoment, that a mother is weakened by giving snck to ber children, is vain and simple; I will maintain that the mother grows stronger by it, and will have her health better than she would have otherwise : she will find it the greatest cure and preservative for the vapours and future miscarriages, much beyond any other remedy whatsoever. Her children will be like giants, whereas otherwise they are but living shadows, and like unripe fruit; and certainly if a woman is strong enough to bring forth a child, she is beyond all doubt strong enough to nurse it afterwards. It grieves me to ob serve and consider how many poor children are daily ruined by careless nurses; and yet how tender onght they to be of a poor infant, since the least hurt or blow, especially upon the bead, may make it senseless, stapid, or otherwise miserable for ever!

But I cannot well leave this subject as yet; for it seems to me very unnataral, thąt a woman that has fed a child as part of herself for nine months, should have no desire to nurse it farther, when brought to light and before her eyes, and wben by its cry it implores her assistance and the office of a mother. Do not the very cruellest of brutes tend their young ones with all the care and delight imaginable? For how can she be called a mnother that will not nurse her young ones? The earth is called the mother of all things, not because she produces, but, because she maintains and nurses what she produces. The generation of the infant is the effect of desire, but the care of it argues virtue and choice. I am not ignorant but that there are some cases of necessity where a mother cannot give suck, and then out of two evils the least must be

1

[ocr errors]
« FöregåendeFortsätt »