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had been his nurse.” Hence Romulus and Remus were said to have been nursed by a wolf; Telephus the son of Hercules by a hind ; Pelias the son of Neptune by a mare; and Ægisthus by a goat; not that they had actually sucked such creatures, as some simpletons have imagined, but that their nurses had been of such a nature and temper, and infused such into them..
Many instances may be produced from good authorities and daily experience, that children actually suck in the several passions and depraved inclinations of their nurses, as anger, malice, fear, melancholy, sadness, desire, and aversion. This Diodorus, lib. 2. witnesses, when he speaks, saying, that Nero the emperor'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 Biberius 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 blood-thirsty and cruel all his lifetime after, that he not only committed 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 disorder to the child, and few nurses 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 shock if duly 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, her food will be accordingly, or else very coarse at best; whence proceeds an ill-concocted and coarse food for the child; for as the blood, so is the milk; and hence I am very well assured proceeds the scurvy, 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 utmost vehemence, to let the children suck their own mothers, both for the benefit of mother and child. For the general argument, that a mother is weakened by giving suck to her 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 afterward. It grieves me to observe and consider how many poor children are daily ruined by careless nurses ; and yet how tender ought they to be to a poor infant, since the least hurt or blow, especially upon the head, may make it senseless, stupid, or otherwise miserable for ever!
• But I cannot well leave this subject as yet; for it seems to me very unnatural, that 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 when 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? How can she be called a mother 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 chosen ; but there are so very few, that I am sure in a thousand there is hardly one real instance; for if a woman does but know that her husband can spare about three or six shillings a week extraordinary (although this is but seldom considered), she certainly, with the assistance of her gossips, will soon persuade the good man to send the child to nurse, and easily impose upon him by pretending indisposition. This cruelty is supported by fashion, and nature gives place to custom.
Sir, your humble servant.' T.
N° 247. THURSDAY, DECEMBER 13, 1711.
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Hesiod. Their untir'd lips a wordy torrent pour. We are told by some ancient authors, that Socrates was instructed in eloquence by a woman, whose name, if I am not mistaken, was Aspasia. I have indeed very often looked upon that art as the most proper for the female sex, and I think the universities would do well to consider whether they should not fill the rhetoric chairs with she-professors.
It has been said in the praise of some men, that they could talk whole hours together upon any thing ; but it must be owned to the honour of the other sex, that there are many among them who can talk whole hours together upon nothing. I have known a woman branch out into a long extempore dissertation upon the edging of a petticoat, and chide her servant for breaking a china cup, in all the figures of rhetoric.
Were women permitted to plead in courts of judicature I am persuaded they would carry the eloquence of the bar to greater heights than it has yet arrived at. If any one doubt this, let him but be present at those debates which frequently arise among the ladies of the British fishery.
The first kind therefore of female orators which I shall take notice of, are those who are employed in stirring up the passions; a part of rhetoric in which Socrates his wife had perhaps made a greater proficiency than his above-mentioned teacher.
The second kind of female orators are those who deal in invectives, and who are commonly known by the name of the censorious. The imagination and elocution of this set of rhetoricians is wonderful. With what a fluency of invention, and copiousness of expression, will they enlarge upon every little slip in the behaviour of another? With how many different circumstances, and with what variety of phrases, will they tell over the same story? I have known an old lady make an unhappy marriage the subject of a month's conversation. She blamed the bride in one place; pitied her in another; laughed at her in a third; wondered at her in a fourth; was angry with her in a fifth ; and, in short, wore out a pair of coach horses in expressing her concern for her. At length, after having quite exhausted the subject on this side, she made a visit to the newmarried pair, praised the wife for the prudent choice she had made, told her the unreasonable reflections which some malicious people had cast upon her, and desired that they might be better acquainted. The censure and approbation of this kind of women are therefore only to be considered as helps to discourse.
A third kind of female orators may be comprehended under the word gossips. Mrs. Fiddle-Faddle is perfectly accomplished in this sort of eloquence; she launches out into descriptions of christenings, runs divisions upon a head-dress, knows every dish of meat that is served up in our neighbourhood, and entertains her company a whole afternoon together with the wit of her little boy, before he is able to speak.
The coquette may be looked upon as a fourth kind of female orator. To give herself the larger field for discourse, she hates and loves in the same breath, talks to her lap-dog or parrot, is uneasy in all kinds of weather, and in every part of the room.