Professor Robert Allison
1 February 2016
Silence Dogood Essay XI
The eleventh Silence Dogood essay was written for the August 13th issue of the New-England Courant in 1722, and involves the request of an older virgin woman, who refers to herself as Margaret Aftercast, asking for relief for women who have remained virgins and are unmarried over the age of thirty. The “petitioner” says she was once a younger woman who would immediately spurn the advances of any suitors simply because she was young, attractive, and could. Now in her advanced years the woman has remained a virgin and has no suitors, due to her dismissal of many for no legitimate reason, and now regrets this. She requests some relief program be set up to care for aging women who cannot find a suitor and are still virgins by the age of thirty.
Franklin, as Silence, proposes a society of older virgins lacking any suitors to receive 500 pounds sterling. Franklin also made three rules for the society; members cannot be admitted if after the age of 25 they continued to discard “humble servants without sufficient reason” unless she writes her regret and remorse. The second rule that a member could not refuse credible offers from suitors and still receive the 500 pounds. The third rule was that the woman could not hold and praise company over her husband for more than an hour, so essentially she had to treat her husband well. Franklin clearly outlined the rules and functions of this society, unambiguously so that anyone reading this could have made it without any further questions.
I am not sure of Franklin is being sarcastic here, though it really does not seem to be the case, but if he is not then I strongly disagree with him. I think these women that treated their suitors like objects and got rid of them as soon as they grew tired of them were cruel and this is poetic justice. No one owes them anything, especially not any money; I researched how much 500 pounds sterling would be worth today, and the closest estimate inflated the price of 500 pounds from 1774 to today and that alone was over $70,000 American! For being cruel to suitors and by your own fault being alone, that is all it takes to get 70 grand? If anything I think Franklin should have said it was awful that this woman’s actions affected her life, and expressed how sorry he was that she was a terrible person.