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TO THE EDITOR OF THE CHRISTIAN
MADAM, There is a subject which I have sometimes wished that you should touch on in your Lady's Magazine, which you will perhaps allow me to mention to you. I am aware that it is one of delicacy, and for that very reason, I think it may be most properly introduced in your pages. I shall best explain my meaning, by throwing what I have to say into a narrative form. A few years ago, it was necessary for me to entrust one of my children, then a very few weeks old, to the case of a wet-nurse. I had a little difficulty in procuring one with whom I could be satisfied. In a few days, however, my inquiries were successful, and a respectable woman took up her abode in my household ; she was young, and looked younger.
As visitors dropped in, and the baby and its nurse were introduced, I was somewhat puzzled by the occasional scrutinizing glance at the latter, and the low whisper from more than one individual, not married, I presume,' or ' not married, I fear?? "Most certainly she is.' “You will have much trouble.' And I by degrees learned that, in some, I will not be so uncharitable as to say many, families, an unmarried nurse was preferred for this important office. One plea for this practice is that of convenience
and this, I apprehend, the principal. Another, however, is ready-that the imprudent, unfortunate young woman, who has felt the misery of the first transgression, may be thus saved from flying into the depths of sin; and that therefore it is an act of charity. I confess I never was convinced by this reasoning, though I have often thought deeply on it, and much wish that you would in your publication, which is read by many mothers, give us your opinion on the subject I have thus referred to. I really think you ought, as opportunity may offer, to treat of the duties of a Christian female, under all the circumstances in which she may be placed,
I am, Madam, yours,
We must honestly confess, that our first feeling, on receiving the foregoing communication, was that of astonishment, almost amounting to incredulity; but a little enquiry has convinced us that a practice, the existence of which we never suspected, does prevail to an extent sufficiently great to render us, and we hope our readers also, grateful to the writer who has brought it forward. We wish that the views of “A Parent' had been more fully stated; but since the task devolves upon us, we must seek, under the divine blessing, to fulfil it faithfully.
It has always been our opinion, that nothing but the most imperative necessity can justify a departure from a beneficent law, prevailing through the whole of that class, whose formation indicates that God has supplied the female with nutriment, which he wills her to impart to her young. How many touching instances cross our daily path, of the ready obedience rendered by irrational creatures to this gracious law! And shall woman alone, whose obligation to do the same shines most clearly, most sweetly, throughout the word of God-shall she alone contemn it? Surely the penalties of pain, and danger, and multiplied inconveniences, attached to the needless separation of the babe from its mother's bosom, confirm the fact, that it opposes the will of Him, whose laws are not to be violated with impunity.
But we will take it for granted, that real necessity compels a mother to seek a substitute in that most endearing of maternal offices: the question ensuesTo what class shall she turn for assistance?
The Christian lady surely replies, “To the humbler class of respectable young married women: to a wife whose husband consents that she should undertake the office; and in whose sobriety, fidelity, and healthful state of body, a pledge may be found of due attention to all the interests of her precious little charge.'
• No,' it is alleged, you must avoid a married woman: the husband may become troublesome to your family; he may take her home, before you can well dispense with her services; and therefore'-we do most reluctantly commit it to paper-therefore, prefer an unmarried female, as being more completely a free agent.'
Such counsel is actually given, and, alas! such counsel is extensively followed, by women professing that godliness which should suffer, knowingly, no evil in its dwelling. Most earnestly do we implore our Christian mothers to consider, in the spirit of prayer, a few of the circumstances involved in this fearful choice.
An unmarried wet-nurse, inevitably implies a person of blighted reputation, one with whom the faithful follower of Christ is enjoined, no, not to eat." How, then, can you justify the introduction of such a character among your domestics, to say nothing of the very strong relationship in which she will stand to your own child? When a woman has surrendered her chastity, what possible guarantee have you for the existence of any one right principle within her? Do you not shudder at the dreadful responsibility incurred, by bringing pollution into your dwelling? Is it the part of a Christian mother, to lay her tender infant to the callous bosom of one, who can only regard it as a means of gratifying her mercenary desires ? You may rest as confidently as you will, on the assurance that actual disease does not lurk in her veins, to poison the constitution of your babe: but where is your proof that a temper, secretly soured by the conscious loss of reputation -a mind hardened by the indulgence of guilty passion_will not inflict upon it more than your maternal love could bear to contemplate? Many a scream, that is readily attributed to the derangement of your child's digestive functions, would be traced, if the little sufferer could tell its own story, to the neglect, or even cruelty, of your ill-chosen deputy. Oh, Christian sister! can you so forget your sucking child? Can you so fail to have compassion on the son of your womb ?
A virtuous, modest, healthful young matron comes, with a husband's sanction, and unexceptionably recommended, willing to take up her abode with you for a while, and to nourish your child. You decline, on the ground of her being married, and send her
away, to reconcile the disappointment with promises given in God's word to those who obey his laws; which promises we are all bound, instrumentally, to fulfil to the utmost of our power. Another applies, acknowledging herself to be a mother under circumstances of open guilt; and this recommendation is irresistible.
We are told by “A Parent' that one excuse offered is that of wishing to rescue an erring fellow-creature from more hopeless infamy: and we would gladly believe that such excess of charitable feeling is what prevails over the tender jealousy of maternal solicitude, inducing hereven to throw her own babe across the path of a sinner hastening to destruction : but, admitting this, there are claims not to be slighted with impunity, which must all be cast out of her sight. Are there no female domestics in your house? Do you strengthen them against temptation, when you single out an unchaste woman, and introduce her to their daily notice, as an example of lucrative crime? They see her temporal situation improved, they behold her appointed to a post of honourable, yea sacred trust, and this, unquestionably, because of her former transgression. With such a companion at hand, with a watchful enemy always near, always active to seize every occasion of making one sinner instrumental to the final ruin of others, can you find any justification beyond the miserable, selfish, and unsound plea of false expediency? You, perhaps, seeking the Lord in prayer, persuade yourselves that you can trust his overruling providence to preserve your household from the infection of a plague-spot needlessly introduced ; yet can you not trust him, that if you put honour upon the state which he pro