Death and Taxes (and Old Women)

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I’m exhausted. I just got our taxes done, right under the wire (okay, I had one whole day left) and I feel depleted. (So does our bank account.) One reason why I haven’t written much this past week is because I was desperately trying to find ways to cut our taxes. I wasn’t successful. But it could be worse.

I could be dead.

Benjamin Franklin is the one who said “…in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Apparently, he was thinking about government when he wrote that (the whole quote is “Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” )

That’s a pretty negative way to look at life, though, isn’t it? Franklin had a way with words and could make almost anything he said or wrote sound quotable. Like this one: “There never was a good war or a bad peace.”

But nothing compares, in my book, to Franklin’s “Advice to a Young Man on the Choice of a Mistress” (1745), which you can read here. Having reached the advanced age of 58, I found much in it to appreciate, particularly when he advises his friend to choose an old woman over a young one. I may not agree with all his reasons (he lists eight), but I got a kick out of his humor. (At least, I think he was trying to be funny. Maybe not. Hm.)

My brain is going around in circles (can you tell?) so I think I’ll call it a night and hope for more clarity in the morning.

On a more serious note: For more information about Benjamin Franklin’s attitudes about and relationships with women as well as historical views of women of his time, check out Benjamin Franklin and Women, edited by Larry E. Tise.  (Read reviews.)

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Ellen Keim

Ellen is a freelance writer, essayist and copy editor, living with three cats and a husband in Columbus, OH.

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