Project Canterbury The Compleat Mother.
Or An Earnest Perswasive to all Mothers (especially those of Rank and Quality) to Nurse their own Children.
By Henry Newcome, A.M. and Rector of Tatten-hall in the County Palatine of Chester.
London: Printed for J. Wyat at the Rose in St. PaulÕs Church-yard, 1695.
Wherein a Pathetick Address is made to all, both Fathers and Mothers, that they will admit the preceding Particulars into their Serious and Impartial Consideration.
¤ 1. IT only remains, that I wind up this Discourse with a Serious Admonition to all those whom God hath honoured with the Title of Parents, that they will allow it an Impartial Consideration.
¤ 2. And first I shall speak to all Mothers, because they are Primarily and Principally concernÕd. And methinks the very name might supercede the Repetition of all other Arguments. For what is the Import of a Mother? Why is the Earth stiled the common Mother of all things, but that it Nourishes all that it produceth? And do not all other Beings the same, whether Animate or Inanimate? Do not Grapes hang on the Vine, and Fruits on the Trees that produce them, taking their Increase from the Sap of the Wood, to which they owe their Original? And among Animals, Doth not the Lamb know its own Dam, and run to her Dug among a Thousand in the same Flock? Nay even Savage :Lions and Bears stand tamely to be Sucked by their young Cubs. The Philosopher Favorinus was then in the right, when he stiled her but half a Mother, who Nourishes in her Womb what she knows not, and consequently doth not yet love, but casts it off as soon as she knows it, and first begins to love it. Nay she is not to be reputed so much as half a Mother, since the Nurse doth longer communicate Constituent Nourishment to her Child from her Body in Twelve Months, than the Mother in Nine. And how, Ladies, would you resent it, if your Child should refuse to call you Mother, or own any other Woman to be more its Mother than you? If this would grieve or vex you, methinks you should be ashamÕd, that any other should have done more of the Office of a Mother for it than your self.
¤ 3. Next to your relation to your Child, let me remind you of your Religion, which recommends the greatest Charity to Strangers and Enemies. And how can it be consistent with your Profession of Christianity, which obliges you to love your Enemies, to be defective in your Love to your nearest Relations? Look then, unkind Mothers, look on your poor Infant newly thrust out of your Womb, how Helpless and Forlorn it is. Hear the Lamentations wherewith it begins the World. What are those cries, but the best ways it hath to implore your Pity, solicite your further Care, and to beg of you, now that it is excluded from the Womb, to entertain it in your Bosom? Look on your own Breasts, which soon after the Birth spring full of Milk. Did Nature intend no more in this, but to put you to the trouble of drying them? Or did it design you should supply your Babe from that Store which she hath provided? It had been much more wisely contrived, for you to have been without Breasts and Receptacles for Milk, if now you have them replenished, it will be the best to deprive your selves of them. It is not then a bold Reflection on the Divine Wisdom, to act as if you could have contrived the parts of your Bodies better than he hath done? If then you cannot be so far forsaken of Reason, as to imagine that the Author of your Being intended your Breasts only for needless Excressences, much less Snares and Temptations to your selves and others; as oft as you look on them remember their proper use; and resolve not to suffer your Child to want what Nature hath enabled you to supply it with. It is now removed out of your Womb into your Arms, and the Meat which Nourished it there, follows it to your Breasts, that it may be preserved by the Principles of its Constitution. Let not those parts then serve only to minister to Pride and Wantonness, which are so apparently intended by God for your Infants Sustentation.
¤ 4. I acknowledge there are but very few Persons of Quality that stoop to this Employment; but this ought not to discourage you from it, but rather confirm your Resolution to undertake it, as it gives you an opportunity to shew your selves Singularly good Mothers. Piety is then truly Heroick, when it dare own a neglected Duty, and rather be laughÕd at, then deserve to be reproved. And if Custom were a conclusive Argument in all cases, there are very few Vices but might plead it as well as this. And your Husbands have as good a Plea for the Vices you most dislike (such as Drunkenness, keeping Misses, &c.) as you have for hiring other Women to Nurse your Children. Those Vices may plead Custom among the Men, as this among the Women of Quality. Oppose then this evil Custom among Women by your Example, and make the Experiment, whether you can hereby teach the Men, as well as your own Sex, to be ashamed of wicked Fashions. For who knows how much your Illustrious Example may contribute to the overthrowing of Vile Customs, and the restoring of Credit to neglected Duties.
¤ 5. In a word, Let me beseech you to consider, how ye can answer to God, your Families, or your Country, the Omission of this Duty: If your slighting of Natures Dictates occasion any of the forementioned Mischiefs to the best Families and greatest Hopes of the Nation; for such we may reckon the Children of our Nobility and Gentry to be.
¤ 6. Especially, Let me intreat you once more to consider, How many Children this Custom Murders every Year, and what an Hue and Cry of Innocents Blood there is against it, which may well overtake the Abetters of it with Divine Vengeance,. Murder is an Horrid Crime, but Parricide is worse. We detest the Wickedness and Cruelty of a poor Wretch, who to hide her Shame strangles her Bastard. And how much better are those Mothers, who without so great a Temptation (only to gratifie their Luxury or Ease) resign up their Children, the hopes of their Family and the Nation, to the Slaughter? If there were as much Natural Affection among our Nicer Dames, as once there was in the Mothers of Bethlehem, there would be as many Rachels among them Weeping for the Slaughter of their Innocent Babes. Especially since not a Cruel Herod is the Tyrant and Assassinate, but themselves. Nor is this any Vain, much less Uncharitable Supposition, since it is obvious to common Observation, that though those Mothers who do not Nurse, generally bring forth more Children, yet fewer of them arrive to Maturity and survive them; which cannot be imputed so much to the Frequency of Production (since they are usually brought forth as strong and lively as others) as to the ill Nursing of them by Strangers. And if we justly detest their Inhumane Idolatry, who offered up their Children in the Fiery Embraces of Moloch (since it is no more excusable to make such Sacrifices to Luxury than to Superstition) methinks it should be a very Melancholly Consideration to all Mothers, that the Lives of many Thousand poor Innocents, even in this one Nation, are Sacrificed every Year for the Support of this Luxurious and Unnatural Custom.
¤ 7. But I must confess there is one Case very necessary to be considered, which hath not yet been mentioned, viz. That very oft the Father is unwilling that his Wife should undertake this Office. And if he will not consent to her Nursing, how can she do the Duty of a Wife, unless she wave this Office of a Mother? In answer to this I have this only to return, That all I have hitherto aimed at in this Discourse, is to persuade Mothers to be willing to Nurse their Children: If this be effected, all I have to add is, That if any Husband be Obstinate in refusing to permit it, the Wifes Duty is, to be obedient to him, and leave him to answer for the Neglect, which she cannot help. But that this may not hereafter be anyones Case, I shall put an end to this Tract,
¤ 8. Secondly, By an earnest Address to all Fathers, that they do not put their Wives upon such an Unhappy Strait by their Perverse Obstinacy, but rather (as becomes their Duty) encourage them to undertake and assist them all they can in performing this Office. You have, Sirs, an equal Concern with your Wives in all the precedent Arguments. If the Word of God and the Law of Nature oblige them to Nurse, it obliges you to teach them their Duty, or at least to encourage them to practise it, and not hinder them from it. And whatever Mischiefs redound to your Family, or your Child, by drawing the Breast of a Stranger, they equally concern you as her, and (unless you have put off Reason, together with Humanity and Natural Affection) must produce in you a very Sensible Resentment. So that you are as much obliged to prevent them as she, and all the Guilt is justly to be laid at your door, if it happen through your means that she doth not. Most of the Pains and Toil of Nursing is hers, and if your Rest be sometimes broken, you are very Soft and Luxurious indeed, if you grudge to endure much more than that for your Childs good. Nay you are very Churlish and Unkind to her, if you contribute not all you can to make her Duty as easie as may be to her. AbrahamÕs Joy at the Weaning of his Son, is an Evidence he was well pleased that Sarah had Nursed him. And Elkanah, who before obliged his Wives constantly to accompany him to the Tabernacle, readily consents to Hannahs stay at home for the Nursing of her Son. No sooner doth she move it, but he answers, Do as seemeth thee good. And if all Husbands were in this like Abraham and Elkanah, the most Wives would be like Sarah and Hannah, as ready, I mean, to Nurse as they. It is very rare that any Wife refuses this Office, when her Husband is desirous she would undertake it; much more when he peruades and encourages her, by the Provision of all convenient Helps and Assistance for her.
¤ 9. In a word, A Custom so inveterate as this is, will not be so effectually broke, as by a Mutual Concurrence of both the Father and the Mother. If the Mother be desirous to Nurse, few Fathers will be so Morose and Unnatural as to refuse their Consent: Or if the Father be Solicitous that the Mother her self should do this Office for his Son, there are not many Women so in love with their own Ease, or forgetful of their Childrens Advantage, as to decline it. But where both desire it, they will be Meet-helps indeed, and afford such mutual Encouragement, as will make all the Fatigues of it Easie and Delightful. And Delightful, I dare undertake, it will be to both, if there be in them the least Spark of Good Nature. There is such a Fascination in the Innocent Postures, and Gradual Appearances of Reason, the pretty Smile and confused Jargon, the calm Endearments and unfeigned Love of these little Innocents, that the Wisest Men have found a Satisfactory Diversion in their Company. And if any one questions this, let him forbear to Censure, till he have made trial of this Pleasure of a Father: As Agesilaus once answered one, who laughed at him for condescending to Play with his Son. For I have know some Fathers at first very Averse to their Wives Nursing, who after some Experience of those Pleasing Diversions, that are to be found in the constant Company of a little Babe, would not on any Terms lose the Repetition of that Pleasure, by turning the next abroad to a Strange Nurse.
¤ 10. Thus I have finished my Undertaking, and doubt not but I have said enough to demonstrate my Sincere Compassion for the Exposed Infants of Great and Honourable Parents; enough to vindicate those few Mothers, who by performing this Office themselves, have provoked the Scoffs of the rest; and enough to discharge mine own Duty in reminding them of theirs, according to my slender Ability; which were all the ends I could propose to my self, with any Assurance of Success. But if the Divine Blessing make these Papers more Successful, it is to direct these few small Stones, taken out of a Shepherds Scrip, as to Foil a Gigantick Inveterate Custom, and prevail on any, though never so few Ladies, to become Nurses, I shall hope for a compleat Victory from their Example, which I cannot from my Discourse. Let but a few more truly Generous ad Noble Matrons, come in and joyn with those few that have already begun to set this Age a good Example; and such a bright Constellation cannot but be took notice of, and have a vigorous Influence to render it as Fashionable for the future, for Ladies to Discharge this their Duty, as it is at present to Neglect it.