The Complete Works in Philosophy, Politics and Morals of the late Dr. Benjamin Franklin, Vol. 3 [of 3]

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 323

by early marriage, youth is
sooner formed to regular and useful life; and possibly some of those
accidents or connections, that might have injured the constitution,
or reputation, or both, are thereby happily prevented. Particular
circumstances of particular persons may possibly sometimes make it
prudent to delay entering into that state; but in general, when
nature has rendered our bodies fit for it, the presumption is in
nature's favour, that she has not judged amiss in making us desire
it. Late marriages are often attended, too, with this further
inconvenience, that there is not the same chance that the parents
shall live to see their offspring educated. "Late children," says
the Spanish proverb, "are early orphans." A melancholy reflection
to those whose case it may be! With us in America, marriages are
generally in the morning of life; our children are therefore educated
and settled in the world by noon; and thus, our business being done,
we have an afternoon and evening of cheerful leisure to ourselves,
such as our friend at present enjoys. By these early marriages we
are blessed with more children; and from the mode among us, founded
by nature, of every mother suckling and nursing her own child, more
of them are raised. Thence the swift progress of population among
us, unparalleled in Europe. In fine, I am glad you are married, and
congratulate you most cordially upon it. You are now in the way of
becoming a useful citizen; and you have escaped the unnatural state
of celibacy for life--the fate of many here, who never intended it,
but who, having too long postponed the change of their condition,
find, at length, that it is too late to think of it, and so live all
their lives in a situation, that greatly lessens a man's value. An
odd volume of a set of books bears not the value of its proportion
to the set: what think you of the odd half of a pair of scissars? it
cannot well cut any thing; it may possibly serve to scrape a trencher.

Pray make my compliments and best wishes acceptable to your bride.
I am old and heavy, or I should ere this have presented them in
person. I shall make but small use of the old man's privilege, that
of giving advice to younger friends. Treat your wife always with
respect; it will procure respect to you, not only from her, but from
all that observe it. Never use a slighting expression to her, even
in jest; for slights in jest, after frequent bandyings, are apt to
end in angry earnest. Be studious

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