Advice to a Friend on Choosing a Mistress (1745)
June 25, 1745
My dear Friend,
I know of no Medicine fit to diminish the violent natural Inclinations you mention; and if I did, I think I
should not communicate it to you. Marriage is the proper Remedy. It is the most natural State of Man,
and therefore the State in which you are most likely to find solid Happiness. Your Reasons against entring
into it at present, appear to me not well-founded. The circumstantial Advantages you have in View by
postponing it, are not only uncertain, but they are small in comparison with that of the Thing itself, the
being married and settled. It is the Man and Woman united that make the compleat human Being.
Separate, she wants his Force of Body and Strength of Reason; he, her Softness, Sensibility and acute
Discernment. Together they are more likely to succeed in the World. A single Man has not nearly the
Value he would have in that State of Union. He is an incomplete Animal. He resembles the odd Half
of a Pair of Scissars. If you get a prudent healthy Wife, your Industry in your Profession, with her good conomy,
will be a Fortune sufficient.
But if you will not take this Counsel, and persist in thinking a Commerce with the Sex inevitable, then I
repeat my former Advice, that in all your Amours you should prefer old Women to young ones. You call
this a Paradox, and demand my Reasons. They are these:
8[thly and Lastly] They are so grateful!!
- Because as they have more Knowledge of the World and their Minds are better stord with Observations,
their Conversation is more improving and more lastingly agreable.
- Because when Women cease to be handsome, they study to be good. To maintain their Influence over
Men, they supply the Diminution of Beauty by an Augmentation of Utility. They learn to do a 1000 Services
small and great, and are the most tender and useful of all Friends when you are sick. Thus they continue
amiable. And hence there is hardly such a thing to be found as an old Woman who is not a good Woman.
- Because there is no hazard of Children, which irregularly producd may be attended with much Inconvenience.
- Because thro more Experience, they are more prudent and discreet in conducting an Intrigue to prevent
Suspicion. The Commerce with them is therefore safer with regard to your Reputation. And with regard
to theirs, if the Affair should happen to be known, considerate People might be rather inclind to excuse
an old Woman who would kindly take care of a young Man, form his Manners by her good Counsels,
and prevent his ruining his Health and Fortune among mercenary Prostitutes.
- Because in every Animal that walks upright, the Deficiency of the Fluids that fill the Muscles appears
first in the highest Part: The Face first grows lank and wrinkled; then the Neck; then the Breast and Arms; the
lower Parts continuing to the last as plump as ever: So that covering all above with a Basket, and regarding
only what is below the Girdle, it is impossible of two Women to know an old from a young one. And as
in the dark all Cats are grey, the Pleasure of corporal Enjoyment with an old Woman is at least equal,
and frequently superior, every Knack being by Practice capable of Improvement.
- Because the Sin is less. The debauching a Virgin may be her Ruin, and make her for Life unhappy.
- Because the Compunction is less. The having made a young Girl miserable may give you frequent
bitter Reflections; none of which can attend the making an old Woman happy.
Thus much for my Paradox. But still I advise you to marry directly; being sincerely Your affectionate