Thursday, May 26, 2016

“Benjamin Franklin, an American Life”



By Ed Wood, staff writer

Sometimes the rigors of daily life just get too overwhelming, causing me to turn to other less stressful items of interest.  So I am now reading, “Benjamin Franklin -- An American Life,” by famed biographer, Walter Isaacson.

It is already an amazing story about an amazing man, and I am not half way through its 586 pages --- small type, no pictures!

Benjamin Franklin: author, inventor, scientist, politician, raconteur.  But he considered himself, first and foremost, to be a printer.  And would generally sign his name, “Benjamin Franklin, printer.”

For in that Colonial period, a printer was a person of great esteem and influence. There were no newspapers, as such, so the local printer controlled most what the people read and therefore much of what they thought.  It was through many of his printing ventures that he became highly regarded as an authority on most everything.

Though probably the best known, “Poor Richard’s Almanac” was only one of Franklin’s many publications.   He had a habit of writing an article, then, under an assumed name, writing a response to his own article and on occasion, using a third name to write a rebuttal to his previous comment.  Such was Franklin’s way of exposing many sides to a given topic or question.

So I suppose it only natural that eventually he turned his thoughts to what was then termed “the fairer sex.”  One such article, suppressed by his grandson and others throughout much of the nineteenth century as being too indecent to print, was entitled, “Advice to a Young Man on the Choice of a Mistress.”  In it he advised that “in all your amours you should prefer old women to young ones,” and then proceeded to provide eight reasons to back up his reasoning:

1.       They have more knowledge.
2.       They make better conversation.
3.       As they lose their looks, they learn a thousand useful services to “maintain their influence over men.”
4.       There is no hazard of children.
5.       They are more discreet.
6.       They age from the head down, so even after their face grows wrinkled, their lower bodies stay firm, “so that covering all above with a blanket, and regarding only that which is below the girdle, it is impossible of two women, to know an old one from a young one.”
7.       It is less sinful to debauch an older woman than a virgin; there is less guilt, because the older woman will be made happy, whereas the younger one will be made miserable.
8.       Lastly, they are so grateful!

Please understand I take no credit for, nor do I offer any comment on, the above.  They are the words of a man far wiser than I! 

Ed Wood, the author of this and many other fine pieces for the Coach is Right website, recently passed away after leading a long and full life. All who knew him are richer for the privilege. The Coach's Team will re-post portions of Ed's work throughout the course of the year.

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