Front Page Titles (by Subject) XIII: LETTER FROM CELIA SINGLE 1 - The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. I Autobiography, Letters and Misc. Writings 1725-1734
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XIII: LETTER FROM CELIA SINGLE 1 - Benjamin Franklin, The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. I Autobiography, Letters and Misc. Writings 1725-1734 
The Works of Benjamin Franklin, including the Private as well as the Official and Scientific Correspondence, together with the Unmutilated and Correct Version of the Autobiography, compiled and edited by John Bigelow (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904). The Federal Edition in 12 volumes. Vol. I (Autobiography, Letters and Misc. Writings 1725-1734).
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LETTER FROM CELIA SINGLE1
I must needs tell you that some of the things you print do more harm than good; particularly I think so of the tradesman’s letter which was in one of your late papers, which disobliged many of our sex, and has broken the peace of several families by causing difference between men and their wives. I shall give you one instance, of which I was an eye and ear witness.
Happening last Wednesday morning to be at Mrs. W.’s when her husband returned from market, among other things he showed her some balls of thread which he had bought. “My dear,” says he, “I like mightily those stockings which I yesterday saw neighbour Afterwit knitting for her husband of thread of her own spinning. I should be glad to have some such stockings myself. I understand that your maid Mary is a very good knitter, and seeing this thread in market I have bought it that the girl may make a pair or two for me.” Mrs. W. was just then at the glass dressing her head, and turning about with the pins in her mouth, “Lord, child,” says she, “are you crazy? What time has Mary to knit? Who must do the work, I wonder, if you set her to knitting?” “Perhaps, my dear,” says he, “you have a mind to knit them yourself. I remember, when I courted you, I once heard you say that you had learned to knit of your mother.” “I knit stockings for you!” says she; “not I, truly! There are poor women enough in town who can knit; if you please, you may employ them.” “Well, but my dear,” says he, “you know a penny saved is a penny got, and there is neither sin nor shame in knitting a pair of stockings; why should you have such a mighty aversion to it? And what signifies talking of poor women? You know we are not people of quality. We have no income to maintain us but arises from my labor and industry. Methinks you should not be at all displeased when you have an opportunity of getting something as well as myself.”
“I wonder,” says she, “you can propose such a thing to me. Did not you always tell me you would maintain me like a gentlewoman? If I had married the Captain, I am sure he would have scorned to mention knitting of stockings.” “Prythee,” says he, a little nettled, “what do you tell me of your Captain? If you could have had him I suppose you would, or perhaps you did not like him very well. If I did promise to maintain you as a gentlewoman, methinks it is time enough for that when you know how to behave yourself like one. How long do you think I can maintain you at your present rate of living?” “Pray,” says she, somewhat fiercely, and dashing the puff into the powder-box, “don’t use me in this manner, for I ’ll assure you I won’t bear it. This is the fruit of your poison newspapers; there shall no more come here I promise you.” “Bless us,” says he, “what an unaccountable thing is this? Must a tradesman’s daughter and the wife of a tradesman necessarily be a lady? In short, I tell you, if I am forced to work for a living and you are too good to do the like, there ’s the door, go and live upon your estate. And as I never had or could expect any thing from you, I don’t desire to be troubled with you.”
What answer she made I cannot tell; for, knowing that man and wife are apt to quarrel more violently when before strangers than when by themselves, I got up and went out hastily. But I understand from Mary, who came to me of an errand in the evening, that they dined together very peaceably and lovingly, the balls of thread which had caused the disturbance being thrown into the kitchen fire, which I was very glad to hear.
I have several times in your paper seen reflections upon us women for idleness and extravagance, but I do not remember to have once seen such animadversions upon the men. If we were disposed to be censorious we could furnish you with instances enough. I might mention Mr. Billiard, who loses more than he earns at the green table, and would have been in jail long since had it not been for his industrious wife. Mr. Hustlecap, who, every market-day at least, and often all day long, leaves his business for the rattling of half-pence in a certain alley; or Mr. Finikin, who has seven different suits of fine clothes and wears a change every day, while his wife and children sit at home half naked; Mr. Crownhim, always dreaming over the chequer-board, and who cares not how the world goes with his family so he does but get the game; Mr. Totherpot, the tavern-haunter; Mr. Bookish, the everlasting reader; Mr. Tweedledum, and several others, who are mighty diligent at any thing besides their proper business. I say, if I were disposed to be censorious I might mention all these and more, but I hate to be thought a scandalizer of my neighbours, and therefore forbear; and for your part I would advise you for the future to entertain your readers with something else besides people’s reflections upon one another; for remember that there are holes enough to be picked in your coat, as well as others, and those that are affronted by the satire that you may publish will not consider so much who wrote as who printed, and treat you accordingly. Take not this freedom amiss from
Your friend and reader,