to have gained popularity. The address to “a son of King Alexander” has caused much speculation, with the result that dates varying between the 3rd century B.C. and the 3rd century A.D. have been assigned to Babrius. The Alexander referred to may have been Alexander Severus (A.D. 222-235), who was fond of having literary men of all kinds about his court. “The son of Alexander” has further been identified with a certain Branchus mentioned in the fables, and it is suggested that Babrius may have been his tutor; probably, however, Branchus is a purely fictitious name. There is no mention of Babrius in ancient writers before the beginning of the 3rd century A.D., and his language and style seem to show that he belonged to that period. The first critic who made Babrius more than a mere name was Richard Bentley, in his Dissertation on the Fables of Aesop. In a careful examination of these prose Aesopian fables, which had been handed down in various collections from the time of Maximus Planudes, Bentley discovered traces of versification, and was able to extract a number of verses which he assigned to Babrius. Tyrwhitt (De Babrio, 1776) followed up the researches of Bentley, and for some time the efforts of scholars were directed towards reconstructing the metrical original of the prose fables. In 1842 M. Minas, a Greek, the discoverer of the Philosophoumena of Hippolytus, came upon a MS. of Babrius in the convent of St Laura on Mount Athos, now in the British Museum. This MS. contained 123 fables out of the supposed original number, 160. They are arranged alphabetically, but break off at the letter O. The fables are written in choliambic, i.e. limping or imperfect iambic verse, having a spondee as the last foot, a metre originally appropriated to satire. The style is extremely good, the expression being terse and pointed, the versification correct and elegant, and the construction of the stories is fully equal to that in the prose versions. The genuineness of this collection of the fables was generally admitted by scholars. In 1857 Minas professed to have discovered at Mount Athos another MS. containing 94 fables and a preface. As the monks refused to sell this MS., he made a copy of it, which was sold to the British Museum, and was published in 1859 by Sir G. Cornewall Lewis. This, however, was soon proved to be a forgery. Six more fables were brought to light by P. Knöll from a Vatican MS. (edited by A. Eberhard, Analecta Babriana, 1879).
Editions.—Boissonade (1844); Lachmann (1845); Schneider (1853); Eberhard (1876); Gitlbauer (1882); Rutherford (1883); Knöll, Fabularum Babrianarum Paraphrasis Bodleiana (1877); Feuillet (1890); Desrousseaux (1890); Passerat (1892); Croiset (1892); Crusius (1897). See also Mantels, Über die Fabeln des B. (1840); Crusius, De Babrii Aetate (1879); Ficus, De Babrii Vita (1889); J. Weiner, Quaestiones Babrianae (1891); Conington, Miscellaneous Writings, ii. 460-491; Marchiano, Babrio (1899); Fusci, Babrio (1901); Christoffersson, Studia de Fabulis Babrianis (1901). There are translations in English by Davies (1860) and in French by Levèque (1890), and in many other languages.
BABU, a native Indian clerk. The word is really a term of respect attached to a proper name, like “master” or “Mr,” and Babu-ji is still used in many parts of India, meaning “sir”; but without the suffix the word itself is now generally used contemptuously as signifying a semi-literate native, with a mere veneer of modern education.
BABY-FARMING, a term meaning generally the taking in of infants to nurse for payment, but usually with an implication of improper treatment. Previous to the year 1871 the abuse of the practice of baby-farming in England had grown to an alarming extent, while the trials of Margaret Waters and Mary Hall called attention to the infamous relations between the lying-in houses and the baby-farming houses of London. The evil was, no doubt, largely connected with the question of illegitimacy, for there was a wide-spread existence of baby-farms where children were received without question on payment of a lump sum. Such children were nearly all illegitimate, and in these cases it was to the pecuniary advantage of the baby-farmer to hasten the death of the child. It had become also the practice for factory operatives and mill-hands to place out their children by the day, and since in many cases the children were looked upon as a burden and a drain on their parents' resources, too particular inquiry was not always made as to the mode in which the children were cared for. The form was gone through too of paying a ridiculously insufficient sum for the maintenance of the child. In 1871 the House of Commons found it necessary to appoint a select committee “to inquire as to the best means of preventing the destruction of the lives of infants put out to nurse for hire by their parents.” “Improper and insufficient food,” said the committee, “opiates, drugs, crowded rooms, bad air, want of cleanliness, and wilful neglect are sure to be followed in a few months by diarrhoea, convulsions and wasting away.” These unfortunate children were nearly all illegitimate, and the mere fact of their being hand-nursed, and not breast-nursed, goes some way (according to the experience of the Foundling hospital and the Magdalene home) to explain the great mortality among them. Such children, when nursed by their mothers in the workhouse, generally live. The practical result of the committee of 1871 was the act of 1872, which provided for the compulsory registration of all houses in which more than one child under the age of one year were received for a longer period than twenty-four hours. No licence was granted by the justices of the peace, unless the house was suitable for the purpose, and its owner a person of good character and able to maintain the children. Offences against the act, including wilful neglect of the children even in a suitable house, were punishable by a fine of £5 or six months' imprisonment with or without hard labour. In 1896 a select committee of the House of Lords sat and reported on the working of this act. In consequence of this report the act of 1872 was repealed and superseded by the Infant Life Protection Act 1897, which did away with the system of registration and substituted for it one of notice to a supervening authority. By the act all persons retaining or receiving for hire more than one infant under the age of five had to give written notice of the fact to the local authority. The local authorities were empowered to appoint inspectors, and required to arrange for the periodical inspection of infants so taken in, while they could also fix the number of infants which might be retained. By a special clause any person receiving an infant under the age of two years for a sum of money not exceeding twenty pounds had to give notice of the fact to the local authority. If any infants were improperly kept, the inspector might obtain an order for their removal to a work-house or place of safety until restored to their parents or guardians, or otherwise legally disposed of. The act of 1897 was repealed and amended by the Children Act 1908, which codified the law relating to children, and added many new provisions. This act is dealt with in the article Children, Law Relating to.
In the United States the law is noticeably strict in most states. In Massachusetts, a law of 1891 directs that “every person who receives for board, or for the purpose of procuring adoption, an infant under the age of three years shall use diligence to ascertain whether or not such infant is illegitimate, and if he knows or has reason to believe it to be illegitimate shall forthwith notify the State Board of Charity of the fact of such reception; and said board and its officers or agents may enter and inspect any building where they may have reason to believe that any such illegitimate infant is boarded, and remove such infant when, in their judgment, such removal is necessary by reason of neglect, abuse or other causes, in order to preserve the infant's life, and such infant so removed shall be in the custody of said Board of Charity, which shall make provision therefor according to law.” The penal code of the state of New York requires a licence for baby-farming to be issued by the board of health of the city or town where such children are boarded or kept, and “every person so licensed must keep a register wherein he shall enter the names and ages of all such children, and of all children born on such premises, and the names and residences of their parents, as far as known, the time of reception and the discharge of such children, and the reasons therefor, and also a correct register of every child under five years of age who is given out, adopted, taken away, or indentured from such place
- Baby is a diminutive or pet form of “babe,” now chiefly used in poetry or scriptural language. Babe is probably a form of the earlier baban, a reduplicated form of the infant sound ba.