Of domesticall duties eight treatises. I. An exposition of that part of Scripture out of which domesticall duties are raised. ... VIII. Duties of masters. By William Gouge.
Gouge, William, 1578-1653.

Obiect. They haue the blessing of breasts that haue other women to nurse their children.

Answ. By the same reason it may be said, they haue the blessing Page  509 of the wombe who haue strange women to beare them chil∣dren. But the ioyning of these two branches of blessing toge∣ther, sheweth that both must be taken in the same kinde: so that as the blessing of the wombe is to haue children of a mans wife, so the blessing of the breasts is to haue them nursed of his wife. If it be a blessing for the woman which beareth the childe to giue it sucke, then mothers are bound to performe this dutie.

2. It is denounced as a curse, that women shall haue a barren*wombe and drie breasts. If it be a curse for women to haue drie breasts, then may not women wittingly make them drie: which all mothers doe, that giue not sucke to their children.

3. Manoahs wife being promised to beare a sonne, had this charge giuen her, Drinke no wine, nor strong drinke. &c. those things were especially hurtfull for her milke. It is therefore implied thereby, that she should so order her diet, as she might well nurse her childe, and haue good milke for him.

4. God by his good prouidence brought it to passe, that the mother of Moses (though she were forced to cast out her * childe) should nurse her owne childe. Yea the mother her selfe was desirous to doe it, and therefore appointed her daughter o watch who should take it vp. These two circumstances mplie that it appertaineth to a mother to nurse her children.

5. The Apostle layeth this downe as a note of a good wo∣man, * who in her place hath beene carefull to doe her dutie, nd thereupon fit to doe seruice in Gods Church (If she haue*ourished her children, or word for word, If she haue fed her children.) Now the proper food for young babes is breast-milk, which, by the Apostles rule, the mother must giue.

6. The same Apostle commandeth mothers to loue their*children. How can a mother better expresse her loue to her oung babe, then by letting it sucke of her owne breasts? As his is a testimony of loue, so it is a meanes of preseruing and increasing loue: for daily experience sheweth that mothers ue those children best to whom they themselues giue sucke.

Summe these seuerall consequences together, and we all finde the dutie in question to be very strongly inforced hereby.

  • Page  510 1. As a blessing it is promised, that mothers shall giue sucke to the children that they beare.
  • 2. As a curse it is threatned, that women shall not be able to giue sucke.
  • 3. An Angell gaue direction to a mother so to carrie her selfe as she might haue store of good milke for the childe which she should beare.
  • 4. God by his speciall prouidence manifested that the pro∣per mother was the best nurse for a childe.
  • 5. It is the note of a good woman to performe this part of her particular calling, namely to nurse her owne childe.
  • 6. Women ought to doe all the best duties of loue that they can to their children.

Therefore mothers ought to nurse their owne children.

II. Some of the most worthy patternes, in whose example this dutie is commended to mothers, are these.

1. Sarah gaue sucke to Isaak. This example is to be noted * especially of the greater sort: as rich mens wiues, honourable mens wiues, and the like. For Sarah was an honourable wo∣man, a princesse, a rich mans wife, a beautifull woman, aged and well growne in yeeres, and a mistresse of a family.

Are not these excuses pretended by many mothers for not nursing children themselues?

2. The virgin Mary gaue sucke to Iesus. This example is to be noted especially of the meaner sort, for the virgin Man was young, poore, persecuted, forced to remoue and flie with her childe from countrie to countrie. Are not these excuses pretended by other mothers?

These two patternes doe not only commend the duty, but also strippe all mothers that are negligent therein, of all excuse.

To these may be added the examples of mAnnah, of nDa∣uids mother, and of many others. What if also I adde the exam∣ple of that true, naturall, affectionate mother who stood before Salomons throne to plead for her childe? she thus saith of her selfe, oI arose to giue my sonne sucke, &c. If this had not beene a good motherly dutie, she would not then and there haue pleaded it.

Page  511 III. The places of Scripture which take this dutie for a matter granted, and for a ruled case, are such as these.

1. Where Sarah saith, Who would haue said to Abram that*Sarah should haue giuen children sucke? In this phrase she set∣teth forth Gods blessing in giuing Abram a sonne by her. Now in that she expresseth the blessing vnder this phrase of giuing sucke, she taketh it for grant, that the mother which beareth children must giue them sucke.

2. Where Dauid saith, thou diddest make me hope vpon my*mothers breasts, he doth not onely imply that his mother gaue him sucke, but by the phrase maketh it a ruled case that the childe which suckes must hang vpon the mothers breast.

3. Where Salomon saith, O that thou wert as my brother that*sucked the breasts of my mother, he taketh if also for grant, that brothers and sisters, as they come out of the same wombe, so they should sucke the same breasts, euen the breasts of her out of whose wombe they came, their owne mothers breasts.

4. Where the woman said to Christ, Blessed is the wombe that*bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked, she taketh it for grant (as it was an vsuall practise in those daies) that the aps of that woman, whose wombe beare him, gaue him *ucke.

These arguments we haue from the light of Gods word: other we may haue from Gods workes and the light of nature, as

1. God hath giuen to women two breasts fit to containe nd hold milke: and nipples vnto them fit to haue milke drawne from them. Why are these thus giuen? to lay them rth for ostentation? There is no warrant for that in all Gods ord. They are directly giuen for the childs food that com∣meth out of the wombe; for till the childe be borne, there is o milke in the breasts: anon after it is borne, milke ordinari∣•• floweth into the breasts: yea a great part of the meat which ••ey eat turneth into milke. They make this admirable worke f Gods prouidence to be in vaine, that drie vp this spring, ••d suffer not their children to partake of the benefit of it.

2. That nourishment whereon the childe fed in the mo∣••ers wombe, and whereby it was there sustained, turneth into Page  512 milke, and commeth into the breasts when the childe com∣meth out of the wombe. Whence we may gather, that of all womens milke, that womans milke is fittest for the childe, out of whose wombe the childe came.

3. Together with the milke passeth some smacke of the * affection and disposition of the mother: which maketh mo∣thers to loue such children best as they haue giuen sucke vnto: yea and oft times such children as haue sucked their mothers breasts, loue their mothers best: yea we may obserue many who haue sucked others milke, to loue those nurses all the daies of their life.

4. Other things are nourished by the same that they are bred. The earth out of which plants grow, ministreth nourish∣ment to the said plants: trees that bring forth fruit yeeld sap to that fruit, whereby it groweth to ripenesse: vnreasonable crea∣tures, and among them the most sauage wilde beasts, as Tigers and Dragons, yea sea-monsters giue sucke to their young ones; whereupon the Prophet saith of women that giue not sucke * to their Children, that they are more cruell then those sea∣monsters, Like the Ostriches in the wildernesse: for the cruell Ostrich, and the hatefull Cucco are the two kinde of creatures which are noted to leaue their young ones for others to nou∣rish; the Ostrich leaueth her eggs in the dust: the Cucco lea∣ueth hers in other birds nests. Other creatures (if nature afford them not milke and dugges, as to birds it doth not) feed their young ones other waies, yet by themselues.

5. Shall I adde another argument which daily experience confirmeth, namely Gods blessing vpon this motherly dutie: * commonly such children as are nursed by their mothers, pro∣sper best. Mothers are most tender ouer them, and cannot in∣dure to let them lie crying out, without taking them vp. and stilling them; as nurses will let them crie and crie againe, if they be about any businesse of their owne. For who are com∣monly chosen to be nurses? euen poore countrie women which haue much worke to doe, and little helpe; and so are forced to let the childe lie and crie, many times till it burst againe. Children nursed by their mothers are for the most part more cleanly, and neatly brought vp, freer from diseases; Page  513 not so many die; I am sure not so many through negligence cast away. The number of nurse children that die euery yeere is very great. It hath beene obserued in many countrie villa∣ges, that the most part, that from time to time die there, are nurse children. Are not mothers that might haue nursed their owne children if they would, accessary to the death of those that are cast away by the nurses negligence?

On these and other like reasons heathen women, and very * sauages, haue in all ages beene moued to nurse their owne chil∣dren: and some heathen Philosophers haue vrged and pressed the necessitie of this dutie. Neuer was it more neglected, then among those that beare the name of Christians.

Let mothers know of what ranke or degree so euer they be, that (out of the case of necessitie) they haue no warrant to put forth their children to others to nurse. We read not in all the Scripture of any holy women that euer did it.