London: Printed for J. Wyat at the Rose in St. Paul's Church-yard, 1695.
Wherein are shewed the Mischiefs which may be propagated from Mercenary Nurses to the Minds of Children.
§1. HAving in the former Chapter shewed what Harm a Child may receive in its Body by an Hired Nurse, I come in this to represent the Ill Influences such an one may have on the Mind of her Nursery. And this (Ladies) will deserve your more Serious Consideration, by how much the Soul of your Child is better than its Body; especially since by the Improvements or Mis-improvements of the Mind, Persons of Quality become extraordinary Useful or Pernicious. Remember it's not a Plow-man, but a Nobleman or a Gentleman, that may be spoiled, and that two ways, Either by the Diminution of the Childs Parts, or the Depravation of his Disposition or his Manners.
§2. First, The Nourishment received from the Breasts of a Mercenary Nurse, may debase the Spirit, and diminish the Parts of a Child. The Faculties of the Humane Soul in their Operations, depend very much upon the Disposition of the Body in its united State. If then the Temper of the Body may be altered by Diet, the Operations of the Mind may thereby be improved or impaired. Be the Hand never so Skillful, the Musick will not be equally Melodious, when it strikes on a bad, as on a good Instrument. David himself, saith one, cold not have charmed Saul's Melancholy Spirit with the Strings of his Bow, or the Wood of his Spear, as he did with his Harp. If the Soul of a Nightingal were in the Body of an Owl, its Harmonious Warbling would be changed into hideous Screaking: Or if the Humane Soule should, according to the Fancy of Apuleius, be lodged in the Body of an Ass, it would not be able to speak or argue rationally, as it doth in the Body of a Philosopher, being condemned to an Instrument not tuned for such a noble Harmony. Now whatever Temperament of Body a Child hath received from the Mother, if it be depraved by the Nurse, that Alteration may deprave its Parts, and hugely impair the Operations of its Mind. And when a Suckling Child draws its Nourishment longer from the Body of a stupid Nurse, than it did, whilst an Embrio, from the Substance of an ingenious Mother, there is great reason to fear, least that have a greater Influence in forming its Constitution than this; especially happening whilst it is Young and Tender, and very susceptible of new Impressions.
§3. Causin tells us, That in the History of Germany there is a Story of a Child taken in a Forrest, and presented to the Landtgrave of Hesse, which having been bred among Wolves, learn'd to go on four feet, to Hunt, divide the Prey, and sleep with them, and was in every thing, but his shape, become a perfect Wolf. And may not Ferity and Stupidity be derived from the Breasts of Brutish Women, as well as from Wolves, which if any look upon the preceding Relation as a Fable rather than an History, may pass for the Moral of it.
§4. I acknowledge the great Parts and brave Souls of many young Gentlemen, who have run an Hazard in drawing their first Nourishment from strange Nurses. But it may be these fell into the hands of some, whose Parts and Spirits were above their Fortune: Or perhaps though their Parts be great, yet they might have been more Considerable, had they enjoyed the same Advantages at the Breast as in the Womb. And any Diminution of their Parts, as well as the total loss of them, is to be deplored; and whatever hath any probable Tendency thereto avoided. Besides these are some Instances of Children in great Families falling infinitely short of their Parents Ingenuity, and every Mother may reasonably fear, least hers prove another of them, if she venture on this Method for their Education, which in frequent Instances prove Pernicious. It is reported of Alcibiades, whose Parts were advanced so far above the ordinary pitch of his Countrymen, that he drew his first Nourishment from the Breasts of a Spartan Woman. And the brave Spirits of those Dames made other Grecians ambitious to purchase Nurses from Sparta for the Improvement of their Childrens Spirit. I leave it therefore, Ladies, to your Consideration, whether it be safe to suffer your children to Suck the Breasts of any Woman less Ingenious than your selves, much less such stupid Women, as in respect of Parts and Spirits you would be very loath to have them resemble, least your generous Plants set in a barren and cankered Soil, degenerate and become Unfruitful.
§5. But Secondly, It ought further to be considered, Whether the Suck of a Mercenary Nurse may not corrupt the Dispositions of the Infants Soul, and deprave its Manners. For whosoever impartially considers it, will find great reason to fear, least the Child imbibe the Nurses ill Conditions, together with her Milk. Though Vertue is a Supernatural Perfection, added to our Nature in this State of Depravation by the Influences of Divine Grace, yet some Inclinations to it may be owing to the Temper of the Body, and propagated by a Communication of Spirits in the Nourishment. Much more may Vicious Dispositions, which are Natural, and depend more upon the Temper of the Blood and Spirits. The Peevishness, the Lust, the Pride, the Stubbornness or Baseness of a Nurse, receive great Encouragement from the Constitution of her Body, which being in some measure propagated to her Nursery, gives it also a great and Unhappy Propensity to the same Vices. This so far prevailed with the Mother of St. Bernard, that she would not let her Son draw any Breasts but her own, least he should draw form them some Contagion or Vice. And the common Proverb, which expresses an Inveterate Habit of Vice, By drinking it in with the Mothers Milk, being grounded in universal Consent, gives great Authority to this Notion.
§6. And Dion Cassius gives this account of the Prodigious Cruelty of Caligula, who was the Son of the Famous Germanicus and Agrippina the Daughter of M. Agrippa, two as Vertuous and Generous Persons as Heathen Rome could boast of. That to the end he might be of a Martial Disposition, they committed him to a Masculine Nurse, one that was Hairy on the Face like a Man, drew the long Bow, run at the Ring, managed the great Horse, and was in all things most Cruelly and Mischievously inclined. And from such a Nurse he became so in love with Blood, that he not only delighted to be present at the Execution of Criminals, but would like the very Blood of the Weapons wherewith they were executed. And Tiberius, who was such a Monster for Leachery, is said to have been Nursed by one no less famous for Unchastity than the other for Cruelty. And I knew a Gentleman, who had been very Scandalous in Life for Whoredom, and confessed in my presence, that his first Debauch was at Fourteen, with and through the Enticements of his Lustful Nurse. Who would not think his Parents to blame, for turning him off to such a Monster? Since from his Mother perhaps he might have Sucked a more Happy Constitution, she being a very Chast and Vertuous Woman.
§7. Consider then, ladies, what Assurance you have, that the Mercenary Nurse is not of a Vicious Disposition, and conclude it your Duty, not to put off your Child to any other, unless one from whom it may imbibe better Qualities than from your selves. And since few of those Nicer Dames, who decline this Office, think better of others than of themselves, I hope they will not be so unkind, as to venture their Children abroad, where they may be likely drawn in a Disposition to those Vices which they most abhor. I am much inclined to subscribe to the Opinion of Wise Cato, That for the most part Noble Matrons are endued with more Vertuous Inclinations than the meaner sort. And methinks for that reason they ought not to place out their Children with any Women of baser Allay, and less Vertuous Dispositions.
§8. And thus I have given you an account of the probably Mischievous Consequences of Nursing Children abroad, which are sufficient to persuade all that truly love their Family, or their Children, to forego that unjustifiable Custom. Unjustifiable I say, for I am sure none can justifie themselves either in point of Prudence or Duty, if they still adhere to it. And this leads me to the last part of my undertaking, which shall be the subject of the next Chapter, The Insufficiency of the common Excuses alledged by those that decline the Nursing of their own Children.