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How To Choose A Mistress
The Benjamin Franklin fan club now comes to order.
We gather on what would have been his 279th birthday on January 17 – not to honor his achievements as a stock patriot, but to enjoy his irreverent advice as a columnist .
It was inevitable that Franklin would become the free thinker of his generation. He started at the age of 12 in Boston as an apprentice to his incredible brother James who was a printer and publisher of the “New England Courant.”
Very quickly the Franklin brothers got into trouble challenging the authority. James was often imprisoned for “dishonoring” and-or “contempt” public officials. At such times, Ben filled the columns of the “Courant” with reports under the name “Silence Dogood, A Widow.”
In one article Mrs. Dogood said: “It has been a question of mine for some time whether the commonwealth suffers more from hypocritical confessors in terms of faith, or from the world who is open. the more dangerous of the two, especially if he holds a position in government.”
Ben scandalized the colony by telling of an evening visit with Mrs Dogood who wrote:
“I soon came in with a company of women who, by tossing their heads right and left at every passer-by, decided that I came out with no other design than to revive the spirit of love in disappointing bags and present themselves for sale. the first bidder.
“On the whole I conclude that our night walkers are a set of people who contribute greatly to the health and satisfaction of those who have been tired of industry and from from time to time observing their movements and instabilities.”
After five years, Ben fled his job – a crime – first to New York, then to Philadelphia and then to London. Living high in England – including good sums for women of good virtue – convinced him that he had to return to Philadelphia where there was not so much turmoil.
Ben eventually settled down with an ex-girlfriend, Deborah, who had married and been abandoned by another man. Two problems prevented Ben and Deborah from formalizing their union. Her husband could return at any time, and Ben had a baby son out of wedlock from an unidentified woman.
Family life was overwhelming Ben. He started a newspaper, “The Gazette,” which published the “Poor Richard’s Almanac” and managed a lot of printing for the colonies. He was appointed postmaster general and served on many government commissions.
Ben retired in middle age to devote his time to writing, science and public affairs. He discovered electricity, invented binoculars, introduced postage stamps, designed an efficient stove and built a “harmonica” of glazed glass bowls.
At the age of 70 he took an active part in the American Revolution. He was for many years ambassador to France and at 80 he signed the US Constitution.
In his busy later years Ben wrote silly letters – which replaced the Silence Dogood and Poor Richard columns.
In one he referred to the speech of Polly Baker in which this woman begged for mercy on her fifth trial for bastardy that the presiding judge married her, and that she had 15 children with her.
A letter to the Brussels Academy proposed a project to turn bowel gas into perfume – so they wouldn’t offend people at social gatherings.
My favorite is a letter to his nephew with advice on choosing a mistress. It was a subject that Ben was believed to be familiar with.
“In all your pleasures,” wrote Ben, “you prefer old women to young women, for the following reasons:
“1. Because they have more knowledge of the world, and their minds are better stored by observation, their conversation is better and more permanent.
” 2. For when women cease to be beautiful they learn to be good. In order to maintain their influence over men, they give up diminishing beauty by increasing utility. They learn a thousand to do small and great service, and these are the greatest. tender and useful to friends when you are sick, in this way they continue to be cheerful, you can hardly find such an old woman who is not a good woman
“3. Because there is no danger to children, who may be arbitrarily brought to attend with much inconvenience.
“4. Because through their more knowledge they are more prudent and wiser, in action, to avoid suspicion. Therefore, trading with them is safer in terms of your reputation. Wise people may be willing to apologize to old a woman who would take care of a young man, who would keep his manners with her good advice, and who would stop him from ruining his health and fortune among prostitutes.
“5. Because in all animals that walk upright the deficiency of the slopes that fill the muscles appears first in the upper part. By covering the – all above with a cage, and referring to what is below the belt only, he cannot tell an old woman from her youth. with an old woman anyway, and often more better – every lump, with practice, can improve.
“6. Because the sin is less. Let the virgin be punished, nay, destroy her, and make her unhappy for life.
” 7. Because the coercion is less. If you make a young girl miserable, you may get a bitter reflection, and none of these can serve to make an old woman happy.
“8. And finally, they are so grateful!”
January 19, 1985
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