Dost though not see my baby at my breast,
That sucks the nurse asleep?
—Shakespeare. Anthony and Cleopatra. Act V, Scene 2
one would think his mother's milk were scarce out of him.
—Shakespeare. Twelfth Night. Act I, Scene 5, 1, 165
Dear nurse of arts, plenties and joyful births
—Shakespeare. Henry V. Act V, Scene 2, 1, 34
On Lammas-eve at night shall she be fourteen;
That shall she, marry: I remember it well.
'T is since the earthquake now eleven years;
And she was wean'd, I never shall forget it,
Of all the days of the year, upon that day;
—Shakespeare. Romeo and Juliet. Act I, Scene 3
(Juliet was 3 years old when she was weaned)
For I had then laid wormwood to my dug,
Sitting in the sun under the dove-house wall;
My lord and you were then at Mantua;—
Nay, I do bear a brain;—but, as I said,
When it did taste the wormwood on the nipple
Of my dug and felt it bitter, pretty fool,
To see it tetchy and fall out with the dug!
—Shakespeare. Romeo and Juliet. Act I, Scene 3
An honour! were not I thine only nurse,
I would say thou hadst suck'd wisdom from thy teat
—Shakespeare. Romeo and Juliet. Act I, Scene 3
I have given suck, and know
How tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me:
I would, while it was smiling in my face,
Have pluck'd my nipple from his boneless gums,
And dash'd the brains out, had I so sworn as you
Have done this.
—Shakespeare. Macbeth. Act II, Scene I
Come to my woman's breasts,
And take my milk for gall, you murdering ministers.
—Shakespeare. Macbeth. Act I, Scene 5
Give me the boy; I am glad you did not nurse him;
Though he does bear some signs of me, yet you
Have too much blood in him.
—Shakespeare. The Winter’s Tale. Act II, Scene 1
Such advice (re: breastfeeding and HIV positivity) reflects the Western
prejudice that artificial milks are innocent until proven guilty,
whereas breastmilk is guilty until proven innocent.
—Short RV. Breastfeeding, birth spacing and their effects on child survival. Nature. 1988;335:679-82 (page 682)
A working woman who looked like a Kirghiz, her
head bent, was feeding Karl-Yankel. He was a chubby little fellow of
five months old, in knitted bootees and with a white tuft on his
head... "The fuss he's making!" said the Kirghiz woman. "Not everyone
would be willing to give him suck"...The Kirghiz woman,pulling gently,
drew her nipple from Karl-Yankel's mouth. The child started growling
and in despair jerked back his head with its white tuft. The woman
uncovered her other breast and presented it to the little boy. He
looked at the nipple with dull little eyes, and something gleamed in
—Isaac Babel. Karl-Yankel (short story)
"Here's a child lying and yelling its little
guts out enough to make you weep, and you, you great fat thing, sit
like a boulder in a forest and can't ease him with the breast."
ease him with the breast," retorted Pesya-Mindl, not raising her eyes
from the book, "provided he'll take it from you, you old twister—the
breast, I mean. For see, he's a big boy now, as big as a Rooski-boy,
and all he wants is his mother's milk..."
—Isaac Babel. Lyubka the Cossack (short story)
The baby started fussing on the sofa, and
without any pause in the conversation, Sophie opened her blouse and
nursed him, first on one breast and then on the other.
—Paul Auster. The Locked Room. (Volume 3 of the New York Trilogy)
Hourly feeding is exhausting for the mother,
painful if you are breastfeeding, unnecessary for the baby, and
interferes with his developing more normal and healthy sleep-wake and
If your baby has been feeding every hour, begin to increase the time
between feedings by an amount you feel comfortable with—perhaps 15
minutes per day—until he is being fed every two hours, then every two
and a half or three hours.
—Ferber. Solve your child's sleep problems. page 42
And she (Sarah) said, Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck?
—Genesis XXI, 7
But Hannah did not go up; for she said unto
her husband, So soon as the child shall be weaned, then I will bring
him, that he may appear before the Lord, and abide there for ever. And
Elkanah her husband said unto her, Do what seemeth good in thy eyes;
tarry until though has weaned him; only may the Lord fulfill his word.
So the woman remained behind, and gave her son suck until she weaned
—Samuel I, I, :22-23
From the God of thy father, who will help
thee; and from the Almighty, who will bless thee, with blessings of
heaven above, with blessings of the breasts, and of the womb;
—Genesis. XLIX, 25-26
Like a shepherd will he feed his flock: with
his arm will he gather the lambs, and in his bosom will he carry them,
will he lead gently those that suckle their young.
—Isaiah XL, 11-12
Yet Zion said, The Eternal hath forsaken me, and the Lord hath
forgotten me. Can a woman forget her sucking child, not to have mercy
on the son of her body? yea, should these even forget, yet would I not
—Isaiah LI, 14-16
Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be delighted over her, all ye that love
her; be highly glad with her, all ye that mourn for her. In order that
ye may suck, and be satisfied with the breast of her consolations; in
order that ye may sip and find pleasure from the abundance of her
glory. For thus hath said the Lord, Behold, I will extend to her peace
like a river, and like a rapid stream the glory of nations, that ye may
suck; upon the arm shall ye be borne, and upon knees shall ye be
—Isaiah LXVI, 10-13
Instead that thou wast forsaken and hated,
without one to pass through (thee), will I render thee an excellency of
everlasting, a joy of all generations. And though shalt suck the milk
of nations, and the breast of kings shalt thou suck:
—Isaiah LX, 15-16
Now when she had weaned Lo-ruchamah, she conceived, and bore a son.
—Hosea I, 8
Give them, O Lord, what thou wilt give! give them a miscarrying womb and dried-up breasts.
—Hosea IX, 14-15
Yea, thou art he that took me from the womb; thou hast been my trust when I hung on my mother’s breasts.
—Psalm XXII, 10-11
Surely I have pacified and stilled my soul, like the suckling on its mother’s breast; like a suckling is in me my soul.
—Psalm CXXXI, 2-3
Oh that some one would make thee as my brother that hath sucked my mother’s breasts!
—The Song of Solomon VIII, 1
Shall women, then, eat their own fruit, the babes they have tenderly nursed?
—Lamentations II, 20
Even wild beasts offer the breast, they give
suck to their young ones; the daughter of my people is become cruel,
like the ostriches in the wilderness. The tongue of the suckling
cleaveth to its palate by reason of thirst: babes ask for bread, there
is not one to break it for them.
—Lamentations IV, 3
And Na’omi took the child, and laid it in her lap, and she became a nurse unto it.
—Ruth IV, 16
And it happened, as He spoke these things,
that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to him,
“Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts which nursed you!”
—Luke XI, 27
Gentlemen, we are all cruel, we are all monsters, we all make people weep, mothers and nursing babies...
—Dostoevsky. The Brothers Karamazov. Mitya is taken away. 3.9.9
...and in her arms a baby is crying, and her
breasts must be all dried up, not a drop of milk in them. And the baby
is crying, crying, reaching out its bare little arms, its little fists
somehow all blue from the cold.
—Dostoevsky. The Brothers Karamazov. The Evidence of Witnesses 3.9.8. Dimitri's dream
Grigory took the infant, brought him into the
house, sat his wife down, and put him in her lap near her breast:
"God's orphan child is everyone's kin, all the more so for you and me.
Our little dead one sent us this one, who was born of the devil's son
and a righteous woman. Nurse him and weep no more."
—Dostoevsky. The Brothers Karamazov
All being drinks the mother-dew
Of joy from Nature's holy bosom;
—Schiller. Ode to Joy (1785)
"...And I must run to Mitya. As ill-luck would have it, I
haven't fed him since tea. He's awake now, and sure to be screaming."
And feeling a rush of milk, she hurried to the nursery. This was not a
mere guess; her connection with the child was still so close, that she
could gauge by the flow of her milk his need of food, and knew for
certain he was hungry.
"Why didn't you let me nurse her, when I begged to?"I begged to nurse her, I wasn't allowed to and now I'm blamed for it."
"...They gave the baby medicine and it turned out that the baby
was simply hungry: the nurse had no milk, sir."
...The baby was lying with its head thrown back, stiffening itself in
the nurse's arms, and would not take the breast offered it;
...The smartly dressed and healthy-looking nurse, frightened at
the idea of losing her place, muttered something to herself, and
covering her bosom, smiled contemptuously at the idea of doubts being
cast on her abundance of milk.
"Yes, but a man can't nurse a baby," said Pestsov, "while a woman..."
"No, there was an Englishman who did suckle his baby on board ship," said the old prince...
"And have you any children?"
"I've had four; I've two living—a boy and a girl. I weaned her last carnival."
"How old is she?"
"Why, two years old."
"Why did you nurse her so long?"
"It's our custom; for three fasts..."
care of her large family was a constant worry to her: first, the
nursing of her young baby did not go well, then the nurse had gone
away, now one of the children had fallen ill.
—Tolstoy. Anna Karenina
She pictured a child, her own—like the baby
she had seen the day before in the arms of her old nurse’s daughter—at
her own breast, with her husband standing by and gazing fondly at her
and the child.
—Tolstoy. War and Peace. Book I, part 3, chapter 3.
Thus in the anxious time, which Pierre would
never forget, after the birth of their first child, when they tried
three different wetnurses for the delicate baby and Natasha fell ill
with worry, Pierre one day told her of Rousseau’s views (with which he
was in complete agreement) of how unnatural and deleterious it was to
have wetnurses at all. When the next baby was born, in spite of
vigorous opposition from her mother, the doctors and even from her
husband himself—who were all against her nursing the baby, which to
them was something unheard of and pernicious—she insisted on having her
own way, and after that nursed all her children herself.
—Tolstoy. War and Peace. Epilogue. Part I. Chapter 10
No one could give her such soothing and
sensible consolation as this little three-month-old creature when he
lay at her breast and she felt the movement of his lips and the
snuffling of his tiny nose.
During those two weeks of restlessness Natasha resorted to the
infant for comfort so often, and fussed over him so much, that she
overfed him and he fell ill.
—Tolstoy. War and Peace. Epilogue. Part I. Chapter 11
Regularity of nursing is most important. The
infant should always be fed exactly at the stated hour and never at
irregular intervals, as this upsets the baby's routine and soon leads
to stomach trouble. If the infant wakes up and cries before the feeding
hour he should be examined to see if he is wet, and if so, changed and
then offered some plain boiled water. If the infant is asleep at the
feeding hour he should be awakened. It is remarkable how these infants
learn to wake up at or shortly before the appointed time. After a few
days' training they behave like little machines.
—Frederick Tisdall. The Home Care of the Infant & Child. JM Dent & Sons Ltd. Lon & Tor 1931
This disease (rickets) is confined almost
exclusively to infants who are artificially fed. ...Just what exists in
breast milk that prevents, and what is absent or present in cows' milk
which permits or causes the symptoms of rickets to appear, has not been
The responsibility for the failure to conserve the maternal
milk-supply, while dual, rests with greater weight upon the physician,
who, while realizing the value of natural and the dangers and
uncertainties of artificial feeding, has failed to become fired with
that enthusiasm which the subject demands.
—Lowenberg H. A Practical Treatise on Infant
Feeding and Allied Topics for Physicians and Students. FA Davis Co.
We therefore speak of a kidney infarct and a
urine infarct; by the latter are indicated the masses of urate passed
in the urine which are frequently visible as a brick-red powder, and
which appear under the microscope partly as an amorphous and partly as
a crystalline precipitate. The phenomenon of the so-called "infarct
urine" must be looked upon always as a physiological process, even
though it may be absent in some cases.
Most infants sleep during the first hours of life and show no
signs of hunger. Should they be awakened they usually fall asleep at
once. In the majority of cases this condition lasts the whole of the
first day. The rule that a child should not be fed during the first 24
hours may therefore be laid down with confidence.
During the first and often also during the second day of life
urine is usually only passed at rare intervals: one to two, or three to
four times in twenty-four hours. It also happens not infrequently
during the first day that a child does not pass any urine at all; this
occurs in actually 34 per cent of all cases, according to
Kotscharowski, but is not clinically to be regarded as an alarming
—Diseases of the Newborn. August Ritter von Reuss.William Wood & Co. NY. 1921
...bread boyled so long in thin ale, with
clarified honey, if not, with sugar, until they shall come together in
the likeness of a mucilage, or glew, or jelly: then as much thin ale is
mingled with and washed on this jelly, as is sufficient for it to serve
instead of drink.
—Van Helmont JB. Oriatrike or Physick refined. trans. Cartwright J. (ed.) London 1662
They who on meare curiositie (where no urgent
necessitie requireth) try whether their children may not as birds be
nourished without sucking, offend contrary to this dutie of breast
feeding and reflect that meanes which God hath ordained as best; and so
oppose their shallow wits to his unsearchable wisdom.
—William Gouge, Of domestical duties, 1622
Here the earth covers Hippostrate’s good nurse;
And Hippostrate still misses you. “I loved you
While you were alive, nurse, I love you still
Now even below the earth, and now I shall
Honour you as long as I live. I know that
For you below the earth also, if there is
Reward for the good, honours will come
First to you in the realm of Persephone and Pluto.
—epitaph on grave stele (Athens, 4th century BC)
In the very act of lactation there is, by
nature, generated such an endearment of the suckled child to the nurse,
as that she began it perhaps only for hire, finds herself engaged by a
growing affection to supply in some measure the place of the mother to
the orphan or deserted babe.
—Nihell E. A treatise on the art of midwifery, London 1760
Where, boundless nature, can I hold you fast?
And where you breasts? Wells that sustain
All life--the heaven and the earth are nursed.
Wo fass ich dich, unendliche Natur? 455
Euch Brüste, wo? Ihr Quellen alles Lebens,
An denen Himmel und Erde hängt
The child, offered the mother's breast,
Will not in the beginning grab it;
But soon it clings to it with zest.
And thus at wisdom's copious breasts
You'll drink each day with greater zest.
So nimmt ein Kind der Mutter Brust
Nicht gleich im Anfang willig an,
Doch bald ernährt es sich mit Lust.
So wird's Euch an der Weisheit Brüsten
Mit jedem Tage mehr gelüsten.
—Goethe. Faust. Mephistopheles speaking to the student
No mineral water--very hard on mothers who need it for biberons. They can always boil the tap water, of course.
—Mavis Gallant. The Events in May. A Paris Notebook I
...the idea of bottle feeding just to "involve the father" is one more
instance of preserving the status quo at a price to the baby. p78
—Marni Jackson. The Mother Zone. Macfarlane Walter and Ross, Toronto, 1992
It (bottle feeding) also made a fetish out of
cleanliness, and maybe all the washing and scrubbing has further
reduced the pleasure we take in our body and in life.
Certainly, before bottle feeding, mothers had no choice but to
let the infant suck pleasurably from her body, and in the absence of
'baby foods', this tended to go on for a considerable time. ...A great
deal of modern drug and sex behaviour has its roots in the desperate
effort to set things aright--to give the pleasure principle a belated
chance to assert itself, after denying it too early.
—Bruno Bettelheim. The Children of the Dream. Paladin. 1971
No one who has seen a baby sinking back
satiated from the breast and falling asleep with flushed cheeks and a
blissful smile can escape the reflection that this picture persists as
a prototype of the expression of sexual satisfaction in later life.
—Freud. Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1905) (London: Imago, 1949) p. 60
Adieu beloved child, you whom I have nourished
with my milk and whom I would like to penetrate with all my sentiments.
A time will come when you will be able to judge the efforts that I make
at this time not to weaken [at the thought of’] your sweet face. I
press you to my breast.
—Manon Roland, awaiting execution on the guillotine, in a letter to her daughter Eudora
moment it is born, the cord is cut or clamped, the child is exhibited
to its mother, and then it is taken away by a nurse to a babyroom
called the nursery, so called presumably because the one thing that is
not done in it is the nursing of the baby.
We live in the logical denouement of the Machine Age, when not
only are things increasingly produced by machine but also human beings
are turned out to be as machine-like as we can make them, and who
therefore see little wrong in dealing with others in a similarly
mechanical manner; an age in which it is considered a mark of progress
when whatever was formerly done by human beings is taken out of their
hands and done by machine. It is reckoned an advance when a bottle of
formula can be made to substitute for the contents of the human breast
and the experience of the human infant at it...
The benefits to the mother of immediate breastfeeding are
innumerable, not the least of which after the weariness of labor and
birth is the emotional gratification, the feeling of strength, the
composure, and the sense of fulfillment that comes with the handling
and suckling of the baby.
—Ashley Montague. Touching. Harper & Row 1978
You may feel some resistance to the idea of
such intimacy with an infant who, at first, seems like a stranger. To
some mothers it seems better to keep the baby at arm's length, so to
speak, by feeding plans which are not so close.
—Infant Care. US Children's Bureau, HEW. 1963
And hence at our maturer years, when any
object of vision is presented to us, which by its waving or spiral
lines bears any similitude to the form of the female bosom, whether it
is found in a landscape with soft gradations of rising and descending
surface, or in the forms of some antique vases, or in other works of
the pencil or chisel, we feel a general glow of delight, which seems to
influence all our senses;
—Erasmus Darwin. Zoonomia, or the Laws of Organic Life. 1794
The moment she had laid the child to the breast both became perfectly calm.
...Lispeth had got two children beside the baby which she had left in
order to give her warm bosom and heart to the little Prince...
—Isak Dinesen. Ehrengard
The New World's Sons, from England's breasts we drew
Such milk as bids remember whence we came;
—JR Lowell, Inscription, On the Raleigh window in St. Margaret's, Westminister
Come then, Sorrow! Sweetest Sorrow,
Like an own babe I nurse thee on my breast.
—Keats. Endymion, Bk IV, 1, 279
For we were nursed upon the self-same hill
—Milton, Lycidas, 1, 23
He saw a girl working about the stove, saw
that she carried a baby on her crooked arm, and that the baby was
nursing, its head up under the girl’s shirtwaist. And the girl moved
about, poking the fire, shifting the rusty stove lids to make a better
draft, opening the oven door; and all the time the baby sucked, and the
mother shifted it deftly from arm to arm. The baby didn’t interfere
with her work or with the quick gracefulness of her movements.
—John Steinbeck. The Grapes of Wrath. Chapter 21
...a baby nursing at a mother's breast...is an undeniable affirmation of our rootedness in nature.
—David Suzuki, Toronto Star, April 18, 1992
ought to bring up and nurse their own children; for they bring them up
with greater affection and with greater anxiety, as loving them from
the heart, and so to speak, every inch of them.
—Plutarch. De Lib. Educ., Cap V
The mothers shall give suck to their offsprings, for two complete years.
—Quran Surah II (Baqarah) Verse 233
The La Leche League succeeded by
reconstructing the neighbourly networks which medicine had tried to
discredit. League members began to trust and rely on one another. Their
confidence in their intuitive connection with their children grew; and
for both of these reasons, they found it less necessary to rely on
doctors, except in emergencies.
—David Cayley. CBC radio Ideas. April 1985
...nobody wants to think about breastfeeding, not the professor and
certainly not the girls. Over coffee they shiver: they themselves are
fastidious, they will bottle feed, which is anyway more sanitary.
—Margaret Atwood. Cat's Eye
In modern consumer society, the attack on
mother-child eroticism took its total form; breastfeeding was
proscribed and the breasts reserved for the husband's fetishistic
delectation. At the same time, babies were segregated, put into cold
beds alone and not picked up if they cried.
—Germaine Greer. Sex and Destiny. Harper and Row New York. 1984
In the late 19th century, as the chemical
composition of milks was determined, animal milk was modified to
approach human milk more closely in gross composition. Milk first was
diluted with water, so that protein and electrolyte concentrations were
reduced. Babies fed this diluted formula failed to grow. Experiments
revealed that caloric density of human and cow's milk were similar.
Subsequently, sugar was added to the mixture. Some infants fed these
formulas lived. Manipulating the composition of formulas heralded the
advent of Pediatrics as a specialty.
—Lewis Barness. Remarks to AAP, March 19, 1991 San Diego, California. In Pediatrics 1991;88:1055
In the near future, it appears prudent to
continue recommending full breastfeeding for the term infant.
Eventually, formulas may equal breast milk and studies should continue
to improve formulas and to make more elegant measurements of outcome.
—Lewis Barness. Remarks to the AAP. March 19, 1991. San Diego California. In Pediatrics 1991;88:1056
With her weak blood and wheysour milk she had fed him and hid from sight of others his swaddlingbands.
—James Joyce. Ulysses, chapter 2, line 176
As part of Ross Laboratories' ongoing research
to ensure our infant formula products provide the very best nutrition,
we have increased the level of linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid,
in our powdered infant formula products.
If mothers do comment on this colour variation, please assure them that
it is a modification brought about by an improvement to the product in
our continuing effort to provide the very best infant nutrition for
—Letter to health professionals from Ross Laboratories, October 1991
...the inessential houses seemed to melt away
until I was aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch
sailors' eyes--a fresh green breast of the new world.
—F. Scott Fitzgerald (quoted in The Hermit of 69th Street by Jerzy Kosinski)
The erotically excited kiss as well as the
inward feeling of physical well-being, which is so difficult to
describe, of a mother nursing her child at her breast, feeds on fare
that is both coarse and infinitely fine and becoming finer; but all
this in the sense of the primeval evolutionary fact that in the
beginning the whole skin was the seat of sensual pleasure.
—Wilhelm Bölsche (quoted in the Hermit of 69th Street by Jerzy Kosinski)
A little child born yesterday
A thing on mother's milk and kisses fed
—Homer. Hymn to Hermes, 1:406
A babe is fed with milk and praise
—Charles and Mary Lamb. The First Tooth
Gin was mother's milk to her
—GB Shaw. Pygmalion, Act III
seldom was a whimper heard from one of the four children, all of whom,
from the six-month-old infant to the six-year-old Amanda, were fed from
Never again, never in the future that dawned later on, were we
so sated. We were suckled and suckled. Always superabundance was
flowing into us. Never any question of enough is enough or let's not
overdo it. Never were we given a pacifier and told to be reasonable. It
was always suckling time.
There must be reasons why we men are so hipped on breasts as if we'd all been weaned too soon.
—Günter Grass. The Flounder
When she first felt her son's groping mouth
attach itself to her breast, a wave of sweet vibration thrilled deep
inside and radiated to all parts of her body; it was similar to love,
but it went beyond a lover's caress, it brought a great calm happiness,
a great happy calm.
—Milan Kundera. Life is Elsewhere
Ah, the joy of suckling! She lovingly watched
the fishlike motions of the toothless mouth and she imagined that with
her milk there flowed into her little son her deepest thoughts,
concepts, and dreams.
—Milan Kundera, Life is Elsewhere
...to seek the breast of darkness
And be suckled by the night.
—Simon and Garfunkle. A Poem on the Underground Wall
Lady Madonna baby at your breast
Wonders how you manage to feed the rest
—The Beatles. Lady Madonna
Impassioned lover wrestle as one
Lonely man cries for love and finds none
New mother picks up and suckles her son
Senior citizens wish they were young
—Moody Blues. Nights in White Satin
The days are cold, the nights are long,
The North wind sings a doleful song;
Then hush again upon my breast;
All merry things are now at rest,
Save thee, my pretty love!
—Dorothy Wordsworth. The Cottager to her Infant
They were difficult to keep clean, and infants
surely must have found them uncomfortable, but for almost 2000 years,
pottery nursers (complete with pottery nipples) were used for feeding
babies. Mothers had no choice—glass was unknown at first, then later
only a curiosity.
—Anonymous. Feeding baby through the ages. Today’s Health (US magazine for general readership). April 1964
And since Giovanni knew how important it is to
rear infants, not with the milk of nurses, but with that of their own
mothers, no sooner was Raphael born, to whom with happy augury he gave
that name at baptism, than he insisted that this his only child—and he
had no more afterwards—should be suckled by his own mother... (page
Michelangelo was put out to nurse by Lodovico in that village
with the wife of a stonecutter: wherefore the same Michelangelo,
discoursing once with Vasari, said to him jestingly, “Giorgio, if I
have anything of the good in my brain, it has come from my being born
in the pure air of your country of Arezzo, even as I also sucked in
with my nurse’s milk the chisels and hammer with which I make my
figures.” (page 308)
—Giorgio Vasari. Lives of the most eminent
painters, sculptors and architects. Random House 1959. (Original
Italian version first published in 1550)
SOLNESS: The fright had shaken Aline so
dreadfully. The alarm—getting out of the house—the hurry and rush—and
the freezing night air into the bargain—. For they had to be carried
out just as they were. Both she and the children.
HILDE: Couldn’t they stand it?
SOLNESS: O yes, they stood it all right. But it turned to a
fever with Aline. And that affected her milk. She insisted on feeding
them herself. Because it was her duty, she said. And both our little
boys, they—[Clenching his hands.] they—ah!
—Ibsen. The Master Builder. Act 2.
There is comfort in a mother’s breast, but
there has to be a weaning. The attainment of independence, the severing
of ties, is, at best, a bleak process for both sides; but it is
necessary, even though each may grudge it and hold it against the
—John Wyndham. The Chrysalids
O, thou beautiful damsel, may the four oceans
Of the earth contribute the secretion of milk
In thy breasts for the purpose for improving
The bodily strength of the child
O, thou with the beautiful face, may the child
Reared on your milk, attain a long life, like
The gods made immortal with drinks of nectar
—Susruta Samhita (4th-2nd centuries BC) An English translation of the Susruta Samhita, trans. Bishagratna, KKL (1911)
“You exist, and you alone!” I cried in my
innermost self. “O Earth! I am your last-born, I am sucking at your
breast and will not let go. You do not let me live for more than one
minute, but that minute turns into a breast and I suck.”
—Nikos Kazantzakis. Zorba the Greek. Chapter 15
Tired at last, I came out of the water, let
the night wind dry me, and set out again with long easy strides,
feeling I had escaped a great danger and that I had a still tighter
grip on the Great Mother’s breast.
—Nikos Kazantzakis. Zorba the Greek. Chapter 15
When she went by, perfumed and heavily
plastered with paint, wearing loud and garish clothes, in the streets
of Alexandria, Beirut, Constantinople, and saw women giving the breast
to their babies, her own breasts tingled and swelled, her nipples stood
out, asking for a tiny childlike mouth as well.
—Nikos Kazantzakis. Zorba the Greek. Chapter 19
Greasy-faced children popped-the-whip through the crowd, and babies lunched at their mothers’ breasts.
—Harper Lee. To Kill a Mockingbird. Chapter 16
Judge Taylor was the only person in the
courtroom who laughed. Even the babies were still, and I suddenly
wondered if they had been smothered at their mothers’ breasts.
—Harper Lee. To Kill a Mockingbird. Chapter 18
It is true, a child just dropped from its dam, may be supported by her milk for a solar year, with little other nourishment;
—Jonathan Swift. A Modest Proposal
I think that I shall never see,
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is pressed
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast.
—Joyce Kilmer. Trees
A pair of substantial mammary glands has the
advantage over the two hemispheres of the most learned professor's
brain, in the art of compounding a nutritious fluid for infants.
—Oliver Wendall Holmes
A woman’s life isn’t worth a plateful of cabbage if she hasn’t felt
life stir under her heart. Taking a little one to nurse, watching him
grow to manhood, that’s what love is.
—Carol Shields. The Stone Diaries
Toward women he feels both a profound
reverence and a floating impatience, and from his random reading on the
subject, he understands that this impatience stems from a resentment
toward a punishing, withholding,enfeebling mother, the mother who gives
and then withdraws the breast.
—Carol Shields. The Stone Diaries
WOMAN THREE: I got it pumped into me too, but
I mean like literally. My mother?—she used to take me with her when she
played. It was hard to get baby-sitters in the daytime then and I was
just a baby. She just stuck me in a corner in my little basket
thingamajig, and if I got hungry and made a fuss, she’d whip out a boob
right there at the table. Never missed a hand. A month old, two months
old, and there I was, sucking up all those hearts and diamond tricks
along with my mother’s milk, God, I wonder what it tastes like.
WOMAN ONE: (reflecting) Vanilla ice cream—that’s what I’ve heard, only melted.
—Carol Shields. Thirteen Hands, act 1
Bread is for us a kind of successor to the
motherly breast, and it has been over the centuries responsible for
billions of sighs of satisfaction.
—Margaret Visser. The Rituals of Dinner. Chapter 1. Behaving.
Then, in a further act of generosity—or was it
a mortification of the flesh, a self-inflicted punishment for her
instinctual revulsion?—Aurora gave me an even greater gift. ‘Miss
Jaya’s bottle was okay for the girls,’ she announced. ‘But as for my
son, I will feed-o him myself.’ I wasn’t arguing; and clamped myself
firmly to her breast.
—Salman Rushdie. The Moor’s Last Sigh. Chapter 10.
I was the only child she suckled at her
breast. It made a difference: for although I received my share of the
sharp end of her tongue,there was something in her attitude towards me
that was less destructive than her treatment of my sisters.
She suckled me, and the first ‘Moor’ pictures were done while
I nestled at her breast: charcoal sketches, watercolours, pastels and
finally a large work in oils. Aurora and I posed, somewhat
blasphemously, as a godless madonna and child.
—Salman Rushdie. The Moor’s Last Sigh. Chapter 13.
He watched Shams al-Din, ecstatically suckling from his mother’s breast and smiling, oblivious to events around him.
Shams al-Din began to cry. She changed him and thrust her full breast gently into his open mouth...
Shams al-Din at least was content. He crawled around on the
sand, sat and played with pebbles, was never bored, and grew in the
wind and sun, feeding abundantly on his mother’s milk.
He noticed Ulfat engrossed in the child at her breast,...
Zahira was feeding Galal when Muhammad Anwar suddenly rushed
into the room. She thrust her breasts inside her dress, and pulled the
veil more tightly around her head and face, full of embarrassment.
—Naguib Mahfouz. The Harafish
From: Mary McCarthy, The Group (most of Chapter 10)
Priss Hartshorn Crockett was nursing her baby. That was the
big news. ‘I never expected a breast-fed grandson,’ said Priss’s
mother, laughing and accepting a martini from her son-in-law, Dr. Sloan
Crockett, the budding pediatrician.
He was in the nursery now, behind the plate-glass window at
the end of the corridor—roaring his head off; his feeding time was six
o’clock. Priss was drinking an eggnog, to help her lactate; liquids
were very important, but she had lost her taste for milk during
pregnancy, doing nothing and having to force herself to drink that
quart a day that the doctors insisted on if she were not to lose her
teeth building the baby’s bones. Now, to tempt her, the nurses
flavoured her milk with egg and sugar and vanilla and gave her fruit
juices on the hour and ginger ale and Coke—every kind of liquid but
alcohol, for if she drank a martini, Stephen would have gin for his
‘No politics today,’ said Mrs. Hartshorn firmly. ‘We’ve declared a moratorium. Priss has to think of her milk.’
Lakey, she went on to Polly, had sent the most exquisite
christening robe from Paris, fit for a dauphin—a great surprise,
because she had not written for ages; she was doing her doctorate at
the Sorbonne. And Pokey Prothero Beauchamp, who had had twins herself
the year before, had sent a baby scales, a most thoughtful gift.
Everyone had been frightfully kind. Dottie Renfrew Latham had arranged,
from way out in Arizona, for Bloomingdale’s to deliver a sterilizer,
all complete with bottles and racks, instead of the conventional baby
cup or porriger. That would come in handy later on, when Priss’s milk
Mrs. Harshorn glanced at her daughter and lowered her voice.
‘Just fancy little Priss being the first of your set to do it, Polly.
She’s so flat there she’s never had to wear a brassière. But Sloan says
it’s not the size that counts. I do hope he’s right. The miracle of the
loaves and fishes, I call it. All the other babies in the nursery are
on bottles. The nurses prefer it that way. I’m inclined to agree with
them. Doctors are all theory. Nurses see the facts.’ She swallowed her
martini in a single draft, like medicine; this was the style among
advanced society women of her age. She wiped her lips and refused a
‘dividend’ from the silver shaker. ‘Which way progress, Polly?’ she
demanded, in a slightly louder voice, shaking her white bobbed locks.
‘The bottle was the war-cry of my generation. Linda was bottle-fed. And
you can’t imagine the difference. For us, the bottle spelled the end of
colic, and the frantic you husband walking the baby all night. We swore
by the bottle, we of the avant-grade. My mother-in-law was
horripilated. And now, I confess, Polly, I’m horripilated myself.’
‘Medicine seems to be all cycles,’ continued Mrs. Hartshorn.
‘That’s the bone I pick with Sloan. Like what’s-his-name’s new theory
of history. First we nursed our babies; then science told us not to.
Now it tells us we were right in the first place. Or were we wrong then
but would be right now? Reminds me of relativity, if I understand Mr.
Sloan ignored this excursion. ‘By nursing Stephen,’ he said
patiently, ‘Priss can give him her immunities for at least the first
year. He won’t be liable to chicken pox or measles or whooping cough.
And he will have a certain protection from colds. Of course, in some
cases the mother’s milk disagrees with the child. You get a rash or
stomach upsets. Then you have to weigh the advantages of breast-feeding
against the negative side-effects.’
‘And psychologically,’ appended Polly, ‘isn’t the breast-fed
baby supposed to have a warmer relation with his mother than the
bottle-fed baby?’ Sloan frowned. ‘Psychology is still a long way from
being a science,’ he declared. ‘Let’s stick to measurable facts.
Demonstrable facts. We can demonstrate that the breast-fed infant gets
his mother’s immunities. And we know from the scales that Stephen is
gaining. An ounce a day, Cousin Louisa.’ This was his name for Mrs.
Hartshorn. ‘You can’t argue with the scales.’
The sound of a baby’s crying made itself heard in the silence
that followed this speech. ‘That’s Stephen again,’ said Mrs. Hartshorn.
‘I recognize his voice. He yells louder than any other baby in the
nursery.’ ‘Shows he’s a healthy young fellow,’ replied Sloan. Time to
worry if he didn’t cry for his dinner. Eh, Priss?’ Priss smiled wanly.
‘Sloan says it’s good for his lungs,’ she said, grimacing. ‘Develops
them,’ agreed Sloan. ‘Like a bellows.’ He drew air into his chest and
Mrs. Hartshorn looked at her watch. ‘Can’t the nurse bring him
in now?’ she wondered. ‘It’s quarter of six.’ ‘The schedule, mother!’
cried Priss. ‘The reason babies in your time had colic wasn’t because
they were breast-fed, but because they were picked up at all sorts of
irregular times and fed whenever they cried. The point is to have a
schedule and stick to it absolutely!’
In the middle of the general laugh, a nurse tapped at the
door. ‘Excuse us, ladies and gentlemen. Feeding time.’ When the room
was cleared of guests, she closed the window Mrs. Hartshorn had opened
and then brought the baby in on her shoulder. He was wearing a long
white nightgown and his face was red and swollen; she placed him next
to Priss in the bed. It was exactly six o’clock. ‘Which one is it
tonight, dear?’ she demanded. Priss, who had managed to lower one
shoulder of her nightgown, indicated her right breast. The nurse
swabbed it with cotton and alcohol and laid the baby to suck; as usual,
he made a face at the alcohol and pushed the nipple away. The nurse
settled it firmly in his mouth again; then she went about the room
emptying ashtrays and collecting glasses to take back to the diet
kitchen. ‘You had quite a party tonight.’
To Priss, this sounded like a criticism, and she did not
reply. Instead, she gritted her teeth. The baby’s mouth always hurt her
nipple at the beginning, like a bite. Her breasts were very sensitive,
and she hated to have Sloan touch them in love-making; she had hoped
that nursing the baby would get her over that. People said that nursing
was very satisfying, sensually, to the mother, and she had thought that
if she got in the habit with the baby, she would not mind so much with
a grown man. Though she had not told Sloan, this was one of her
principal reasons for agreeing to breastfeed Stephen: so that she could
give Sloan, who was entitled to it, more fun in bed. But so far
nursing, like most of sex, was an ordeal she had to steel herself for
each time it happened by using all her will-power and thinking about
love and self-sacrifice. The nurse was watching her now, to make sure
that the baby was drawing at the nipple properly. ‘Relax, Mrs.
Crockett,’ she said kindly. ‘Baby can sense it if you’re tense.’ Priss
sighed and tried to let go. But naturally the more she concentrated on
relaxing, the more tense she got. ‘Bless braces, damn relaxes,’ she
joked feebly. ‘You’re tired this evening,’ said the nurse. Priss
nodded, feeling grateful that someone knew and disloyal, at the same
time, to Sloan, who did not know that it wore her out to have company,
especially mixed company that sat there discussing her milk.
But as the baby (she wished the nurse would call him ‘Stephen’
not ‘Baby’) commenced to suck rhythmically, making a little noise like
a snore, Priss grew somewhat easier. She did not enjoy the sucking, but
she liked his fresh, milky smell, which made her think of churns and
dairies, and his pale fuzz of hair and his warmth. Soon she was unaware
of his sucking, except as a hypnotic rhythm; the nurse put the bell in
her hand and tiptoed out. Priss was almost asleep when she came to,
with a start; Stephen was asleep himself. His little mouth had ceased
to tug, and the noise he was making was a light snore. She joggled him
a little, as she had been taught to do, but her nipple slipped out of
his mouth. He turned his round soft head away and lay sleeping with his
cheek flat on her chest. Priss was terrified; she tried to turn his
head and thrust her breast into his mouth. He resisted; his little
hands rose and beat feebly at her breast to push it away. She shifted
her position and looked at her watch. He had only been nursing seven
minutes, and he was supposed to nurse fifteen to get the milk he needed
to carry him through till the next feeding, which would be at ten
o’clock. She had been cautioned before not to let him fall asleep. She
rang the bell, and turned the light on outside her door.
No one came; she listened; there was complete silence in the
corridor. Not even the sound of a baby crying came from the far end at
the nursery. They were all being fed, obviously—all but poor
Stephen—and the nurses were all busy, giving them their bottles. She
was always fearful of being left alone with Stephen and usually she
contrived to keep a nurse with her, making conversation. ...
Still no one came; another three minutes had passed. She
thought of Sloan, who would be in the Visitors’ Lounge with her mother
and Bill Edris, talking and enjoying himself; it was against the
hospital rules for the husband to watch the mother nurse, and this was
one rule that Sloan did not care to break. Perhaps a passing interne
would notic her light. She raised her arm t look at her watch again;
two more minutes gone. She felt as though she and Stephen were marooned
together in eternity or tied together like prisoners in some gruesome
form of punishment. It was useless to remind herself that this
frightening bundle was her own child and Sloan’s. Rather, she felt, to
her shame, that he was a piece of hospital property that had been
dumped on her and abandoned—they would never come to take him away.
‘Is he all right? I’m afraid I lost my head.’ ‘Stephen’s just
plain mad, isn’t he?’ the girl said, addressing the baby. ‘Does he want
to go back to bed?’ She picked up his blanket and wrapped him in it;
she patted his back to ‘bubble him’. ‘No, no!’ cried Priss. ‘Give him
back, please. He hasn’t finished nursing. I let him go to sleep in the
‘Oh, my!’ said the girl. ‘You must have been scared, all
right. I’ll stay with you this time till he finishes.’ The baby belched
and the girl unwrapped him and laid him, under the covers, on Priss’s
breast. ‘Somebody should have come in to bubble him,’ she said. ‘He
swallowed a lot of air.’ She gently slid the nipple into his mouth. The
baby pushed it away and began to cry again. He was evidently angry. The
two girls—Priss was the older—gazed at each other sadly. ‘Does that
hapen often?’ said Priss. ‘I don’t know,’ said the girl. ‘Most of our
babies are bottle babies. But they do that sometimes with the bottle if
the holes in the nipple aren’t big enough; they get mad and push the
bottle away.’ ‘Because the milk doesn’t come fast enough,’ said Priss.
‘That’s my trouble. But I wouldn’t mind if he pushed a b-bottle away.’
Her thin little face looked rueful. ‘He’s tired,’ said the student
nurse. ‘Did you hear him this afternoon?’ Priss nodded, looking down at
the baby. ‘It’s a vicious circle,’ she said gloomily. ‘He wears himself
out crying because he’s famished and then he’s too exhausted to nurse.’
The door opened again. ‘You left Mrs. Crockett’s light on,’
the older nurse chided the student. ‘You should remember to snap it off
when you come in. What was the trouble here, anyway?’ ‘He won’t nurse,’
said Priss. The three women looked at each other and sighed jointly.
‘Let’s see if you have any milk left,’ siad the older nurse finally, in
a practical tone. She moved the baby’s head slightly to one side and
squeezed Priss’s breast; a drop of watery liquid appeared. ‘You can try
it,’ she conceded. ‘But he’ll have to learn to work for his supper. The
harder he works, of course, the more milk you produce. The breast
should be well drained.’ She squeezed Priss’s breast again, then
clapped ‘Baby’s’ head to the most nipple. While both nurses watched, he
sucked for another minute, for two minutes, and stopped. ‘Shall we
prime the pump again?’ said Priss with a feeble smile. The older nurse
bent down. ‘The breast is empty. No sense in wearing him out for
nothing. I’ll take him now and weigh him.’
In a moment the student nurse was back, breathless. ‘Two
ounces!’ She reported. ‘Shall I tell your company they can come back?’
Priss was overjoyed; her supper tray appeared while she was waiting for
her family to return, and she felt almost hungry. ‘We’ve heard your
vital statistic,’ announced Mrs. Hartshorn. ‘Is two ounces a lot?’
asked Allen dubiously. An excellent average feeding, declared Sloan:
Priss’s milk was highly concentrated though the volume was not large;
that was why the baby was gaining steadily, despite the little fuss he
made before meals. ...
Priss picked up the last number of Consumer Reports; she was
hoping they would have an article on bottled baby foods. She know she
was letting herself slip, mentally, in the hospital. She lived on the
bulletins the nurses brought her of how many ounces Stephen had
taken—they weighed him before and after each feeding. If the nurse
forgot to come and tell her, she nearly died, imagining the worst and
not having the gumption to ring and ask. The other important event was
the regular morning weighing, before his bath, which showed his
over-all gain for the day. Nothing but these figures and her own fluid
intake interested Priss now; she was always having to ring for the
bedpan because of the gallons of water she imbibed. The nurses were
awfully co-operative, though they disapproved, she knew (except the
student), of her breast-feeding Stephen. They thought Sloan and her
obstetrician, Dr. Turner, were barmy. But they too were impressed,
nolens volens, by the evidence of the scales. The child was growing.
If it had not been for the bulletins, Priss would certainly
have lost faith. Sloan and Dr. Turner did not have to hear Stephen
crying. The nurses and Priss had to hear it. At eight o’clock that
night right on the dot, down in the nursery Stephen started to cry.
Sheknew his voice—the whole floor knew it. Sometimes he would whimper
and then go back to sleep for a while, but when he began noisily, as he
was doing now, he might cry for two solid hours—a scandal. It was
against the rules for the nurses to pick him up; they were allowed to
change him and give him a drink of water, and that was all. The babies
were not supposed to be ‘handled’. And if they gave him a second drink
of water, he might not nurse properly when feeding time finally came.
Sometimes merely changing him would quiet him for the time being. Often
the drink of water would quiet him. But not always. A lot depended,
Priss had discovered, on when he got the water; if they gave it to him
too soon, he would sleep briefly and wake up again, howling. If he woke
up midway between between feedings, the nurse usually let him cry,
after changing him, for an hour, and then gave him the water, so that,
tired from crying and with a deceptively full stomach, he would often
sleep through until the next feeding. That was the best for then he was
fresh when he was brought in to nurse and would draw with might and
main from the nipple. But if he woke up shortly after a feeding, it was
horrible: after an hour’s cry, he would get his water, sleep, wake up
and cry again without stopping—his record, so far, was two hours and
The idea that her child disturbed the other infants greatly
troubled Priss, though the nurses tried to reassure her: newborn
babies, they said, quickly got accustomed to a familiar noise. Still,
Priss could not refrain from framing an apologetic sentence t the maid.
‘Oh, dear, Catherine,’ she said (she had made a point of learning the
maids’ names), ‘do you hear him? He’ll wake up the whole hospital.’
‘Hear him?’ replied Catherine, who was Irish. ‘He’ll wake the dead.
When are they going to let him have a bottle for God’s sake?’ ‘I don’t
know,’ said Priss, closing her eyes in pain. ‘Ah, don’t take it so
hard,’ the maid said jauntily, straightening Priss’s covers. ‘He’s
exercising his lungs.’ Priss wished everyone would not say that. ‘It’s
not my place to ask,’ said Catherine, moving closer to plump Priss’s
pillows, ‘but I’ve been wondering. What put it into your head to
nurse?’ Priss felt her neck redden. ‘Im-m-munities,’ she stammered. The
maid looked at her curiously. ‘You know,’ said Priss. ‘Like
vaccination. He can’t get any diseases I’ve had, like mumps or chicken
pox or measles.’ ‘Always something new,’ said Catherine, shaking her
head. She poured Priss fresh water. ‘They’re always inventing
something, aren’t they?’ Priss nodded. ‘Would you like your radio on,
now? A little music? You won’t hear him, over the music.’ ‘No, thank
you Catherine,’ said Priss. ‘Can I crank you up a bit, Mrs. Crockett?’
‘No, thank you, ‘ Priss repeated. The maid hesitated. ‘Good night,
then, and cheer up. Look on the bright side. They used to say it
developed the bust.’
Priss could not help treasuring this last remark; she saved it
to tell her mother tomorrow, in the brogue, if she could without
stuttering. At the same time she had to admit that she had been
secretly hoping that Stephen would be a bust-developer and she had made
Dr. Turner laugh when she asked him anxiously whether she wouldn’t need
a nursing brassière. Her mood lightened; outside, silence
reigned—Stephen must have had his drink of water while she and the made
This calm was broken by the head floor nurse, Miss Swenson, who was
going off duty. She came in and closed the door. ‘I want to tell you,
Mrs. Crockett, that I’m going to speak to Dr. Turner in the morning. To
recommend that Stephen be given a supplementary bottle.’ The nurse’s
casual tone did not fool Priss. A supplementary bottle—the phrase
sounded horrid, as if Miss Swenson had said, ‘I’m going to recommend a
dose of strychnine.’ The very word bottle made Priss bristle, no matter
what adjectives were attached. She braced herself against her pillows
and prepared to give battle. Miss Swenson went on smoothly, as if she
had not noticed the effect of her announcement on Priss. ‘I know this
will be a great relief to you, Mrs. Crockett. We all undersatnd what
you’ve been going through. You’ve been a wonderful patient, a
remarkable patient.’ Even in her shock, Priss recognized that Miss
Swenson, whom she had always liked, was speaking with real earnestness.
‘But why?’ she brought out finally. ‘The scales...’
Miss Swenson, who was in her thirties with blond hair in a
bun, came to the bedside and took her hand. ‘I know how you feel, my
dear. Torn. Most nursing mothers cry when I have to tell them that I
recommend a supplementary bottle. Even when the child is failing to
gain weight. They want to keep trying. You’re exceptionally brave not
to break down.’ ‘You mean this happens often?’ asked Priss. ‘Not very
often. But we have one or two younger doctors who like to have the
mothers nurse as long as they’re able. Not all the mothers agree, of
course. There’s still a prejudice against breast-feeding,
especially—and this will surprise you—among ward patients. They feel
that a bottle baby is socially superior.’ ‘How interesting!’ Priss
exclaimed. ‘And we see that same attitude with our Jewish private
patients. Even when they have plenty of milk, and the doctor encourages
it, they don’t want to nurse; they have the idea it’s lower East Side.’
‘How interesting,’ Priss repeated thoughtfully. ‘Oh, being a nurse one
sees a great deal. And the class differences are quite extraordinary.
‘Do higher-income women have a lower milk supply?’ She did not
like to use the words upper class. Miss Swenson avoided answering this
blunt question; probably she was afraid of depressing Priss with the
thought that her case was statistically pretty hopeless. She looked at
her watch. ‘I want to explain the supplementary bottle to you, Mrs.
Crockett.’ To Priss’s surprise, she found that this phrase no longer
sounded like a death knell. ‘But if he’s gaining the right amount...?’
she protested, nevertheless. He’s an unusually hungry baby,’ said Miss
Swenson. ‘Your milk is quite adequate from a nutritional point of view,
but it doesn’t give him enough volume. What I suggest, Mrs. Crockett,
is this. After his six o’clock evening feeding, starting tomorrow,
we’ll give him a small amount of formula in a bottle. Your milk supply
is at its lowest then, I’ve noticed. At ten he gets enough volume from
you to hold him. On a full stomach he’ll sleep through till two; so
will you, poor girl. In fact, with the supplementary bottle we mayeven
be able to train him, before you leave the hospital, to sleep right
through till six in the morning, so that you’ll have an unbroken night.
We like to do that anyway for our mothers, before they go home; once
the baby has the habit of the two o’clock feeding, it’s hard for the
mother to break it herself. A baby works like a little clock, and we
like to have it set right before the mother takes over.’
Priss nodded. How wonderful, she thought, of the hospital to
plan ahead for the mothers. None of this would have been possible a few
years before. ‘If he’s still fretful, even with one supplementary
bottle,’ Miss Swenson went on, ‘we may have to give him more. Some
babies take a supplementary bottle after each time at the breast. But
in Stephen’s case I don’t think this will be necessary. You may even
find that your flow of milk increases, once Stephen is more
From: Mary McCarthy, The Group (most of Chapter 14)
‘Have you got a watch?’ Norine asked, yawning. Priss told
her the time. ‘Are you nursing?’ she asked, stealing an envious look at
Norine’s massive breasts. ‘My milk ran out,’ said Norine. ‘So did
mine!’ cried Priss. ‘As soon as I left the hospital. How long did you
nurse?’ ‘Four weeks. Then Freddy slept with the girl we had looking
after Ichabod, and my milk went on strike.’ Priss gulped; the story she
had been about to relate, of how her mil had run out as soon as they
gave Stephen a supplementary bottle was hastily vetoed on her lips.
James arrives home in the middle of that day to find Mrs. Luvovitz in the kitchen feeding his baby with a dropper.
James plunked his wife onto the chair and put the screeching baby into
her arms. “Now feed her.”
But the mother just blubbered and babbled.
“Speak English, for Christ’s sake.”
“Ma bi’der. Biwajeaal.”
He slapped her. “If she doesn’t eat, you don’t eat. Understood?”
Materia nodded. He unbuttoned her blouse.
James allowed Mrs. Luvovitz over that evening when Materia hadn’t
produced a drop and the baby was fit to be tied. The women went
upstairs. The howling the mother put up, as Mrs. Luvovitz did the
In a few days the pump was primed and the baby was sucking. But the
mother cried through every feeding. One evening in the fourth week of
Kathleen’s life, James snatched his child from the breast in horror.
“You’ve hurt her, Jesus Christ, you’ve cut her lip!”—for the baby’s
smile was bright with blood.
Materia just sat there, mute as usual, her dress open, her nipples
cracked and bleeding, oozing milk.
James took one look and realized that the child would have to be weaned
before it was poisoned.
—Anne-Marie MacDonald. Fall Down on you Knees. Chapter “1900”
Frances looks a litle starveling and she’s
bald as a post. Materia figures it’s because she conceived too soon
after Mercedes, the goodness in her womb hadn’t yet been replenished.
And her milk isn’t as bountiful. All the more reason to love this one
The two little ones seem fine, Mercedes breastfeeding a dolly and
cooing to Frances.
—Anne-Marie MacDonald. Fall Down on your Knees. Chapter “The First
“She was a good woman. Her name was Mahmoud. Many years ago, when your
jitdy was a baby, the Turks came to his village in the Old Country.
They were looking for Christian babies to kill. The Mahmoud woman took
your jitdy and put him among her own children. When the Turks came to
the door and said, ‘Are there any Christian babies here?’ she said ‘No!
All these children are my own.’ And to convince them, she put your
jitdy to her own breast and suckled him.
—Anne-Marie MacDonald. Fall Down on your Knees. Chapter “Over Here”
...The corners of Lily’s mouth run with clear saliva, she is
incapable of closing her mouth or of taking the next breath. Frances
touches Lily’s fist, unlocking her throat. The air pours scraping in,
and corrosive sobs begin.
“Come here, Lily.”
Frances opens her nightgown and guides Lily’s mouth to drink.
—Anne-Marie MacDonald. Fall Down on your Knees. Chapter “Blue Dress”
‘Wvery,’ replied his parent, wilth a sigh.
‘She’s got hold o’ some inwention for grown-up people being born again,
Sammy; the new birth, I thinks they calls it. I should wery much like
to see that system in haction, Sammy. I should wery much like to see
your mother-in-law born again. Wouldn’t I put her out to nurse!’
—Charles Dickens. The Pickwick Papers. Chapter XXII
A day came—of almost terrified delight and
wonder—when the poor widowed girl pressed a child upon her breast...
How she laughed and wept over it—how love, and hope, and prayer woke
again in her bosom as the baby nestled there.
How his mother nursed him, and dressed him and lived upon him... It was her life which the baby drank in from her bosom.
—W. P. Thackery. Vanity Fair. Chapter XXXV
The parting between Rebecca and the little
Rawdon did not cause either party much pain. She had not, to say the
truth, seen much of the young gentleman since his birth. After the
amiable fashion of French mothers, she had placed him out to nurse in a
village in the neighbourhood of Paris...
He preferred his nurse’s caresses to his mamma’s and when
finally he quitted that jolly nurse and almost parent, he cried loudly
It is a fact that even the poor gardener’s wife, who had
nursed madame’s child, was never paid after the first six months for
that supply of the milk of human kindness.
—W. P. Thackery. Vanity Fair. Chapter XXXVI
...her grief at weaning the child was a sight that would have unmanned a Herod.
—W. P. Thackery. Vanity Fair. Chapter XXXVIII
It is most distressing, for instance, for a
man sitting on his beach-front verandah with his family to have a woman
with a large family appear, sit calmly upon the edge of the boardwalk
and expose her person to feed her baby.
—Toronto Evening Telegram, 10 August 1933, page 9. Comment attributed to representative of homeowners of the eastern beaches.
...When she nurses her baby she often reads a
book, sometimes smokes a cigarette, so as not to slink into the sludge
of animal function. And she’s aware of the nursing shrinking her uterus
and flattening her stomach, not just providing the baby—Noelle—with
precious maternal antibodies.
“Good thing you weren’t going to drink that yourself,” the
girl from the library said to Kath. “It’s a no-no if you’re nursing.”
“I guzzled beer all the time when I was nursing,” the woman on the
stool said. “I think it was recommended. You piss most of it away
—Alice Munro. Jakarta (short story published in Saturday Night, February 1998)
O would my young, ye saw my breast,
And knew what thoughts there sadly rest,
Great was my pain when I you bred,
Great was my care when I you fed,
Long did I keep you soft and warm,
—Anne Bradstreet. In Reference to Her Children, 23 June 1659.
Sleep and rest, sleep and rest,
Father will come to thee soon;
Rest, rest, on mother’s breast,
Father will come t thee soon;
—Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Lullaby, from The Princess
Who fed me from her gentle breast
And hushed me in her arms to rest,
And on my cheek sweet kisses prest?
—Anne Taylor. My Mother
Untaught, yet wise! mid all thy brief alarms
Thou closely clingest to thy Mother’s arms,
Nestling thy little face in that fond breast,
Whose anxious Heavings lull thee to thy rest!
—Samuel Taylor Coleridge. To an Infant
Struggling in thy fathers hands:
Striving against my swadling bands:
Bound and weary I thought best
To sulk upon my mother’s breast.
—William Blake. Infant Sorrow
Verily, my wife grew round and gave birth,
and her breasts, those lovely baubles, became
mammary glands, lactate factories, unfirmed
unto womanliness and not a bit less lovely.
I was put out not so much
by four years of near monopoly
one child, then another, wrought
upon her chest—she was generous
as she could bear to be—but by the bond
between her and those babies.
Bottle-fed myself, I felt a formal bow
accruing in the vicinity of my mohter’s buttons.
Always between us some membrane
of man-made cloth, my most powerful muscle,
the jaw, and the blood-deep mammalian impulse
to suck satisfied on a bland protuberance
of mass produced rubber.
And I have tasted (I told you
she was generous) my wife’s first oozings
of colostrum and known in my heart
I was the interloper there, stranger
if not to the child just then too sleepy
to nurse, then to the breast itself,
its ambrosial sap. My sad delectable pain.
No one loves the skin of which I speak more than I.
The arduous weanings are long past,
I have gathered all my playthings unto me
repeatedly and made my fealty known:
I am possessed, inhabited. I am happily lost.
And I do not blame my mother. We were twins
then, my sister and I, in that postwar, techno-euphoria
responsible today for dead rivers
and nuclear havoc all across America.
I lived my first year on something
ominously and frankly called—even today—“formula.”
But O children, all children, I miss it,
I miss it so: my youngest son used to rise
red-faced, eyes rolled back in his head,
and murmur, “Other side,” then fall again,
to what I know I never knew.
—Robert Wrigley, Reign of Snakes
Like one recumbent, so he stands; all
sustained by his great will.
Far withdrawn like mothers, when they suckle,
and bound into himself like a wreath.
—Rainer Maria Rilke, Saint Sebastian. New Poems I (approx. 1907)
Are you yourself not sorry so to lay waste
your beloved valley? See my weakness:
I have nothing but brooks of milk and tears,
and you were always in excess.
—Rainer Maria Rilke, "The Life of the Virgin Mary" (Before the Passion) (approx. 1911-1912)
Then she slowly unbuttons her shirt. “Come,
Smilla,” she says quietly. She never kisses me, and she seldom touches
me. But at moments of great intimacy, she lets me drink from the milk
that is always there, beneath her skin just as her blood is. ...In this
aroma of burned coal and bearksin, I go to her breast, whichis
brilliantly white, with a big delicate rose aureole. There I drink
immuk, my mother’s milk.
—Peter Hoeg. Smilla’s Sense of Snow. Chapter 6.
Her happiness flowed in the milk of her breasts and her baby grew quickly.
—EL Doctorow. Ragtime. Chapter 25
...seated on a little armchair of yellow-god
plush..., a woman with an infant nursing at her breast... From the
half-closed eyelids of the me of that time I see again her breast,
bared and white, with its little blue veings and, around the nipple, a
little halo of orange-pink colour. The breast is round, not big but
swollen; and often my little pawing hands seek it as I suck on it,
encountering her hand, which holds it out, revealing and covering it at
the same time... Her milk has a sweetish taste, tepid, like that of the
tropical coconut just plucked from the palm. Every now and then, my
enamoured eyes are raised to thank her face, which bends, enamoured,
toward me, among the black uneven bunches of curls that touch her
...I feel my pupils cloud over, in the adoring sleepy delight that fills the infant at its mother’s breast.
...she even took care, in nursing me, ot to bare her breasts
(the dearest object of our intimacy, which often, even after weaning, I
sought eagerly, groing beneath the cloth of her very long nightgowns).
—Elsa Morante. Aracoeli.
also took our leave of T. Charbono, his Snake Indian wife and their Son
Child who had accompanied us on our rout to the pacific Ocean in the
Capacity of interpreter and interpretes... I offered to take their
little Son a butifull promising Child who is 19 months old to which
they both himself & wife wer willing provided the Child had been
—William Clark. The Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition
“The variation,” Sabbath offered,
“accommodates a wide variety of desires, perhaps. But then,” he added,
thinking again, “breasts, as you call them, are not there primarily to
entice men—they’re there to feed children.”
“But I don’t think size has to do with milk production,” said
Madeline. “No, that doesn’t solve the problem of what this enormous
variation is for.”
—Philip Roth. Sabbath’s Theater
“I had milk,” she said. “I was pregnant with Denver but I had milk
for my baby girl. I hadn’t stopped nursing her when I sent her on ahead
with Howard and Buglar.”
No she rolled the dough out with a wooden pin. “Anybody could
smell me long before he saw me. And when he saw me he’d see the drops
of it on the front of my dress. Nothing I could do about that. All I
knew was I had to get my milk to my baby girl. Nobody was going to
nurse her like me. Nobody was going to get it to her fast enough, or
take it away when she had enough and didn’t know it. Nobody knew that
she couldn’t pass her air if you held her up on your shoulder, only if
she was lying on my knees. Nobody knew that but me and nobody had her
milk but me. I told that to the women in the wagon. Told them to put
sugar water in cloth to suck from so when I got there in a few days she
wouldn’t have forgotten me. The milk would be there and I would be
there with it.”
“Men don’t know nothing much,” said Paul D, tucking his pouch back
into his vest pocket, “but they doknow a suckling can’t be away from
it’s mother for long.”
“Then they know what it’s like to send your children off when your breasts are full.”
“We was talking ‘bout a tree, Sethe.”
I left you, those boys came in there and took my milk. That’s what they
came in there for. Held me down and took it. I told Mrs. Garner on em.
She had that lump and couldn’t speak but her eyes rolled out tears.
Them boys found out I told on em. Schoolteacher made one open up my
back, and when it closed it made a tree. It grows there still.”
“They used cowhide on you?”
“And they took my milk.”
“They beat you and you was pregnant?”
“And they took my milk!”
—Toni Morrison. Beloved (chapter 1)
I feel my mother’s breast pressing on my skull. I can smell her milk. I can taste it. Its bubbles are on my lips.
My mother’s breasts hummed to me. My lips searched for her.
—Roddy Doyle. A star called Henry.
Many children died young, and so the bonds of
affection between parents and children were of necessity looser than
those of the modern West, where most children can be relied on to
survive into adulthood. The consequent culture of detachment manifested
itself from the very beginning of infancy, for every woman who could
afford it sent her infant children to wet nurses to be breast-fed
(sic), thereby depriving them, and herself, of one of the most intimate
bonding experiences between mother and child.
—Eamon Duffy. The Cradle will rock (review). New York Review of Books; XLIX (20); December 19, 2002; page 61
My mother fed George King’s new baby the same breast had given suck to me 20 yr. Before
—Peter Carey. True Story of the Kelly Gang. Parcel 7.
Baba hired the same nursing woman who had fed
me to nurse Hassan. Ali told us she was a blue-eyed Hazara woman from
Bamiyan, the city of the giant Buddha statues. “What a sweet singing
voice she had,” he used to say to us.
What she did sing, Hassan and I always asked, though we
already knew—Ali had told us countless times. We just wanted to hear
Ali sing. He’d clear his throat and begin:
On a high mountain I stood,Then
he would remind us that there was a brotherhood between people who had
fed from the same breast, a kinship that not even time could break
And cried the name of Ali, Lion of God.
O Ali, Lion of God, King of Men,
Bring joy to our sorrowful hearts.
—Khaled Hosseini. The Kite Runner. Chapter 2
Did you know Hassan and you fed from the same breast? Did you
know that, Amir agha? Sakina, her name was. She was a fair, blue-eyed
Hazara woman from Baimyan and she sang you old wedding songs. They say
there is a brotherhood between people who’ve fed from the same breast.
Did you know that?
—Khaled Hosseini. The Kite Runner. Chapter 7
According to the mildewed myth handed down by
les blanchisseuses d’antan, it is an established verity that the
lactating moglie cannot get pregnant.
—Julian Barnes. Talking it over. Chapter 17.
All four of these boys I had seen on the
breast, and here they were now, like half a football team…The
incredulity my children excite in me never diminishes. I contemplate a
child of mine, and I can’t believe that a creation in which I shared
has gone on to gain such contour and quiddity and mass. Watch the way
they fill up a car, a room. In the bath – look at all the water they
—Maring Amis. Experience: a memoir. Part 2, 3. The Magics
The Elders went from house to house to see
that no cooking was in progress on a Sunday and at times their harsh
hands were employed in severely squeezing the breasts of any woman
suspected of having borne an illegitimate child, so that a drop of milk
might betray her.
—Alice Munro. The View from Castle Rock. No Advantages.
"I need salt for my milk" says Agnes, who is
not going to let them put her in her place with their reproches and
Edinburgh speech. The are idiots anyway. She has to tell them how ou
must put a little salt in the baby's first milk, just place a few
grains on your finger and squeeze a drop or two of milk onto it and let
the child swallow that before you put it to the breast. Without this
precaution there is a good chance that it will grow up half-witted.
Agnes snorts with impatience. The baby has been waked up early
by all the hubbub and celebration, and she is miserable, wanting to be
on the breast all the time, wailing whenever Agnes tries to take her
off. Young James, observing all this closely, makes an attempt to get
on the other breast and Agnes bats him off so hard he staggers.
“Suckie-laddie,” Agnes calls him. He yelps a bit , then crawls around behind her and pinches the baby’s toes.
—Alice Munro. The View from Castle Rock. The story by the same name.
I had to stand in a teller’s line for about
fifteen minutes, while Dill tried to lift my shirt and get his mouth on
my breast. After that tweak, he needed some soothing. Lish had told me
that feeding your child was nothing to be ashamed of and if peple
didn’t like it they shouldn’t look, so I stool there while Dill slurped
away to his heart’s content. I knew the receptionist was staring, and
sure enough, after a few minutes, she clomped over to me and said she
was sorry, but breastfeeding wasn’t allow in the building. There had
been complaints. I felt like ripping off my shirt and shaking my milky
tits in her face. Just then Terrapin came around the corner and waved.
I motioned to her to come over and then asked her to chase Dill around
because if he couldn’t eat, he wasn’t going to stand there in the
line-up with me and I didn’t want to lose my spot. I had heard a woman
behind me say, “That’s disgusting,” after the wet thwop sound that
happened every time I took my nipple out of Dill’s mouth before he was
ready to let go.
—Miriam Toews. Summer of my amazing luck.
Desdemona had done everything she could to
fulfill her promise of never having another child. She nursed Milton
until he was three.
Jeffrey Eugnides. Middlesex.
At birth the baby should sleep almost 23 hours out of 24.
He should sleep at least 18 hours a day until 6 months old.
At least 16 hours until 1 year old.
At least 14 hours until 4 years old, part of which should be in the afternoon at a regular hour.
The baby should sleep alone in a room or at least have a crib or a bed to himself.
rock a baby to sleep. Never put a baby to sleep in your arms; it is a
bad habit, tiresome for yourself and unwholesome for the baby.
—Canada's Baby Book. 17th edition. Rice, Montreal. 1928
If I hadn't had my children, I wouldn't have written more and better, I would have written less and worse.
—Margaret Laurence. Quoted by Jay Scott in Chatelaine, October 1989
It is well that a growing infant should cry a
little every day. ...The baby should be made to cry every day by
slapping him on the buttocks.
—The Normal Child by Alan Brown. Frederick D. Goodchild. Toronto. 1923 p. 42
The selection of the nurse-maid is a matter of considerable importance.
...Women who are of about middle age, at which time the attractive
qualities of policemen and grocery-boys have faded into a dim
recollection..very often make capable attendants.
—The Normal Child by Alan Brown. Frederick D. Goodchild. Toronto. 1923 p. 6-7
When the baby is just born, and during the first few days of life, it is very little more intelligent than a vegetable.
—The Normal Child by Alan Brown. Frederick D. Goodchild. Toronto. 1923 p. 52-3
If these parts are not kept thoroughly clean, secretions may form to
such an extent as to act as foreign bodies, drawing the child's
attention to the parts and in this way frequently lead to masturbation.
—The Normal Child by Alan Brown. Frederick D. Goodchild. Toronto. 1923 p. 29
Badly managed and spoiled infants often cry vigorously when left alone,
and when attention is given to them and they are taken up or talked to,
the crying ceases.
—The Normal Child by Alan Brown. Frederick D. Goodchild. Toronto. 1923 p. 43
Community traditions of midwifery and mutual aid were discredited as
women were urged to trust their doctors rather than their neighbours or
themselves. Medically prescribed childbirth became an alienating
surgical procedure and child rearing a rigid clockwork routine devoid
of sensual pleasure. ...People came to accept the idea that relevant
knowledge about children and childbirth was vested in professional
experts who stood outside the network of family and community
By becoming merely the agents of the latest theory, mothers
gave up the last vestige of their traditional authority and
—David Cayley. Ideas. Doctoring the Family. CBC radio. April 85
A young baby is sufficient unto himself. He
derives all necessary stimulation from his own activities and his own
immediate surroundings. Playing with a young baby is never necessary
and it is often harmful...A little play in the middle of the afternoon,
say for 10 or 15 minutes, with a baby of four months or over may be
permitted...The best practice is to have a physician trained in the
care of children to look after the baby from birth, to whom all matters
of this sort may be referred.
—Alton Goldbloom. The Care of the Child. Longmans Green. Toronto 1928
When the baby is crying, whether it is during
the day or night, rocking, walking the floor, shaking or otherwise
agitating the baby must be rigorously avoided. Few people realize the
importance of vigorous, lusty crying in a healthy infant. It is as
essential to the infant as exercise is to the adult. It is, in fact,
the infant's daily exercise. All young babies should have a crying
period during each day...The infant who cries regularly between 5 and
6, or 8 and 10 o'clock in the evening is doing what is called "reflex
crying". It is not to be assumed under such conditions that he is
suffering either discomfort or pain, but it is to be taken for granted
that such crying is good for the baby and is as important as food.
—Alton Goldbloom 1928
The environment of the child must be guided by the physician. He must
give advice concerning the details of early training in obedience,
habit formation, temper tantrums etc. How often do we see the young
infant stop crying at two weeks of age when it is picked up by either
parent. Herein lies the potential juvenile court case. Unless the
parents are guided by the physician, even at this early stage, the
infant soon learns to put one over on its parents.
One night she drops off and the child gets
loose, but most fortunately stumbles against his father’s body in his
bid for escape. Henceforth Andrew insists that he be tied down every
night. He howls of course, and Andrew shakes him and cuffs him and then
he sobs himself to sleep. Mary lies by him softly explaining how this
is necessary so that he should not fall off the ship into the ocean,
but he regards her at these times as his enemy and if sh puts a hand to
stroke his face he tries to bite it with his baby teeth. Every night he
goes to sleep in a rage, but in the morning when she unties him, still
half-asleep and full of his infant sweetness, he clings to her drowsily
and she is suffused with love.
—Alice Munro. The View from Castle Rock. In the story by the same name.
The first issue of 20/20 was unquestionably one of the
worst turkeys ever seen on American network, and yet it was curiously
prophetic, and critics like Tom Shales who saw in it an omen of the
future of the TV news-magazine program were not wrong. There was the
voyeuristic interest in the confession of sins. There was the fixation
on celebrity. There was the almost total absence of any serious news...
There was the phony sentimentality, the mock humanism. Above all, there
was the belief that reality must always take a back seat to
entertainment, so that the audience must not be overtaxed, so that they
will come back for more of the same Twinkie.
—Robert Hughes. Why Watch It, Anyway. The New York Review of Books. 42;3;p40 Feb 16, 1995
...the American imagination demands the real thing and, to attain it, must fabricate the absolute fake;
—Umberto Eco. Travels in Hyperreality
Obviously advertising works.
—Leslie Chester, business director for the confectionery division Nestlé Canada. Globe and Mail, November 9, 1993
impact of the Great Flood of '93 will be tremendous and long-lasting,
say scientists, and will illustrate how a century of levee-building and
dam-constructing has taken a natural river system and turned it into
something artificial, and perhaps even more dangerous.
—William Booth, The Washington Post. Reprinted in Guardian Weekly, July 25, 1993
The recognition of oneself as part of nature,
and reliance on natural things, are disappearing for hundreds of
millions of people who do not know that anything is being lost.
—Robertson Davies, The Rebel Angels. (Clement Hollier to Mamusia Laoutaro)
The hidden intention is to go to the limit, to
see how far can we ride the tiger. The more we know about the
responsiveness of nature, the more somehow you can test the limits.
—Wolfgang Sachs. Ideas (CBC Radio), June 1990
As a man who had seen something of life, and neither a fool nor an invalid, he had no faith in medicine...
—Tolstoy. Anna Karenina
"There speaks a Protestant," Mr Visconti said.
"Any Catholic knows that a legend which is believed has the same value and effect as the truth. Look at the cult of the saints."
"But the Americans may be Protestants".
"Then we produce medical evidence. That is the modern form of the legend..."
—Graham Greene. Travels with My Aunt
...his students...wouldn't believe their grandmothers had wrinkles if they couldn't measure them with a micrometer
—Robertson Davies, The Rebel Angels. (Clement Hollier to Maria Theotoky)
His mother took him to her breast with the exhausted will that makes heroes of most mothers.
Those millions of mothers and their million gallons of mothers’
milk, millions of instances of small-talk and baby-talk, beatings and
kisses, ganseys and shoes, piled up in history in great ruined heaps,
with a loud and broken music, human stories told for nothing, for ashes
for death’s amusement, flung on the mighty scrapheap of souls, all
those million boys in all their humours to be milled by the mill-stones
of a coming war.
—Sebastian Barry, A Long Long Way.
And thou shalt take no bribe; for a bribe blindeth the clear-sighted and perverteth the words of the righteous.
—Exodus, XXXIII, 8
...there is no nonsense so gross that society
will not, at some time, make a doctrine of it and defend it with every
weapon of communal stupidity.
—Robertson Davies. A Cunning Man, part 4, chapter 6
she was interested in everything that did not concern her, (she) had a
habit of never listening to what interested her;
—Tolstoy. Anna Karenina
It is fortunate for the future of the human
race that young women are transferring their allegiance from crochet
and embroidery-needles to golf...
—The Normal Child by Alan Brown. Frederick D. Goodchild. Toronto. 1923 p. 43
Look sweet, speak fair, become disloyalty;
Apparel vice like virtue's harbinger;
Bear a fair presence, though your heart be tainted;
Teach sin the carriage of a holy saint;
—Shakespeare. The Comedy of Errors. Act III Scene 2
When power is scarce, a little of it is tempting.
—Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale. (Professor James Darcy Pieixoto,
Keynote speaker "Historical notes on The Handmaid's Tale")
It (William Randolph Hearst's castle) is like
making love in a confessional with a prostitute dressed in a prelate's
liturgical robes reciting Beaudelaire while ten electronic organs
reproduce the Well Tempered Clavier played by Scriabin.
—Umberto Eco. Travels in Hyperreality
Stick to your desk
And never go to sea
And you'll all be rulers of the queen's navy
—Gilbert and Sullivan. HMS Pinafore
Would the world ever have been made if its maker had been afraid of making trouble? Making life means making trouble.
—GB Shaw. Pygmalion. Act V. (Henry Higgins to Eliza Doolittle)
His face wore that everlastingly peevish and
woebegone look which has been so sourly imprinted on all the faces of
the Jewish race without exception.
—Dostoyevsky. Crime and Punishment (even smart people can be anti-semites)
There is nothing harder in the whole world
than frankness, and there is nothing easier than flattery. If there is
only one hundredth part of a note of falsehood in your frankness, at
once a discord is created, followed immediately by a row. If, on the
other hand, everything to the last note is false in flattery, it is
still pleasant, and is listened to not without satisfaction; with a
coarse sort of satisfaction, maybe, but with satisfaction still. And
however coarse the flattery may be, half of it at least always seems to
—Dostoyevsky. Crime and Punishment
...so many different sorts of business men
have recently become enthusiastic adherents of the common cause, and so
dreadfully have they distorted in their own interests everything they
touched that they've absolutely discredited the whole thing.
—Dostoyevsky. Crime and Punishment (Razumikhin)
Well, don't you think that one little crime
could be expiated and wiped out by thousands of good deeds? For one
life you will save thousands of lives from corruption and decay. One
death in exchange for a hundred lives-why, its a simple sum in
—Dostoyevsky. Crime and Punishment
If you can measure that of which you speak,
and can express it by a number, you know something of your subject; but
if you cannot measure it, your knowledge is meagre and unsatisfactory.
He was...one of those men who select their opinions like their clothes, according to the prevailing fashion.
“You see”, said Berg to his comrade, whom he called his friend only because he knew that everyone has friends.
“...In these days”, pursued Vera—speaking of “these days” as
people of limited intelligence are fond of doing, imagining that they
have discovered and appraised the peculiarities of “these days” and
that human nature changes with the times—...
—Tolstoy. War and Peace
Do not expect that you will make any lasting
or very strong impression on the world through intellectual power
without the use of an equal amount of conscience and heart.
—William Jewett Tucker (Principal of Dartmouth University, beginning century)
The great enemy of the truth is very often not
the lie—deliberate, contrived and dishonest—but the myth, persistent,
persuasive and unrealistic.
—John F Kennedy
People who value their priveleges above their principles soon lose both.
—Dwight D Eisenhower
Some people reach the top of the ladder only to find it was leaning against the wrong wall.
We must be the changes we wish to see in the world.
...we may be pretty certain that persons whom
all the world treats ill, deserve entirely the treatment they get. The
world is a looking-glass, and gives back to every man the reflection of
his own face.
—Thackery. Vanity Fair. Chapter 2.
Always to be right, always to trample forward,
and never to doubt, are not these the great qualities with which
dullness takes the lead in the world?
—Thackery. Vanity Fair. Chapter 35.
We have to stop leaving all the decisions to
the so-called decision-makers, but take matters into our own hands;
realise that each one of us makes a difference, and that if everyone
who cares, acts in a way that is ethical…..then the world would be
changed very fast.
Compiled by Dr. Jack Newman
Revised August 2007