HE THAT hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune; for they are impediments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mischief. Certainly the best works, and of greatest merit for the public, have proceeded from the unmarried or childless men; which both in affection and means, have married and endowed the public. Yet it were great reason that those that have children, should have greatest care of future times; unto which they know they must transmit their dearest pledges.Some there are, who though they lead a single life, yet their thoughts do end with themselves, and account future times impertinences. Nay, there are some other, that account wife and children, but as bills of charges. Nay more, there are some foolish rich covetous men, that take a pride, in having no children, because they may be thought so much the richer. For perhaps they have heard some talk, Such an one is a great rich man, and another except to it, Yea, but he hath a great charge of children; as if it were an abatement to his riches. But the most ordinary cause of a single life, is liberty, especially in certain self-pleasing and humorous minds, which are so sensible of every restraint, as they will go near to think their girdles and garters, to be bonds and shackles. Unmarried men are best friends, best masters, best servants; but not always best subjects; for they are light to run away; and almost all fugitives, are of that condition. A single life doth well with churchmen; for charity will hardly water the ground, where it must first fill a pool. It is indifferent for judges and magistrates; for if they be facile and corrupt, you shall have a servant, five times worse than a wife. For soldiers, I find the generals commonly in their hortatives, put men in mind of their wives and children; and I think the despising of marriage amongst the Turks, maketh the vulgar soldier more base. Certainly wife and children are a kind of discipline of humanity; and single men, though they may be many times more charitable, because their means are less exhaust, yet, on the other side, they are more cruel and hardhearted (good to make severe inquisitors), because their tenderness is not so oft called upon. Grave natures, led by custom, and therefore constant, are commonly loving husbands, as was said of Ulysses, vetulam suam praetulit immortalitati. Chaste women are often proud and froward, as presuming upon the merit of their chastity. It is one of the best bonds, both of chastity and obedience, in the wife, if she think her husband wise; which she will never do, if she find him jealous. Wives are young men`s mistresses; companions for middle age; and old men`s nurses. So as a man may have a quarrel to marry, when he will. But yet he was reputed one of the wise men, that made answer to the question, when a man should marry, - A young man not yet, an elder man not at all. It is often seen that bad husbands, have very good wives; whether it be, that it raiseth the price of their husband`s kindness, when it comes; or that the wives take a pride in their patience. But this never fails, if the bad husbands were of their own choosing, against their friends consent; for then they will be sure to make good their own folly.
成了家的人，可以说对命运之神付出了抵押品。因为家庭难免拖累事业，而无论这种事业的性质如何。所以是能为公众献身人，应当是不被家室所累的人。因为只有这种人，才能够把他的全部爱情和财产，都奉献给唯一的情人——公众。而那种有家室的人，恐怕宁愿把最好的东西留给自己的后代。有的人在结婚后仍然愿意过独身生活。因为他们不喜欢家庭，把妻子儿女看作经济上的累赘。还有一些富人甚至以无子嗣为自豪。也许他们是担心，一旦有了子女就瓜分现有的财产吧。有一种人过独身生活是为了保持自由，以避免受约束于对家庭承担的义务和责任。但这种人，可能会认为腰带和鞋带，也难免是一种束缚呢！ 实际上，独身者也许可以成为最好的朋友，最好的主人，最好的仆人，但很难成为最好的公民。因为他们随时可以迁逃，所以差不多一切流窜犯都是无家者。 作为献身宗教的 ，是有理由保持独身的。否则他们的慈悲就先布施于家人而不是供奉于上帝了。作为法官与 师，是否独身关系并不大。因为只要他们身边有一个坏的幕僚，其进谗言的能力就足以抵上五个妻子。作为军人，有家室则是好事，这正可以在战场上激发他 们的责任感和勇气。这一点可以从土耳其的事例中得到反证——那里的风俗不重视婚姻和家庭，结果他们士兵的斗志很差。 对家庭的责任心不仅是人类的一种约束，也是一种训练。那种独身的人，虽然在用起来似很慷慨，但实际上往往是心肠很硬的，因为他们不懂得对他人的爱。 一种好的风俗，能教化出情感坚贞的男子汉，例如像优里西斯（Ulysses)那样，他曾抵制美丽女神的诱惑，而保持了对妻子的忠贞。 一个独身的女人常常是骄横的。因为她需要显示，她的贞节似乎是自愿保持的。 如果一个女人为丈夫的聪明优秀而自豪，那么这就是使她忠贞不渝的最好保证。但如果一个女人发现她的丈夫是妒忌多疑的，那么她将绝不会认为他是聪明的。 在人生中，妻子是青年时代的情人，中年时代的伴 ，暮年时代的守护。所以在人的一生中，只要有合适的对象，任何时候 结婚都是有道理的。但也有一位古代哲人，对于人应当在何时结婚这个问题是这样说的：年纪少时还不应当，年纪大时已不必要。美满的婚姻是难得一遇的。常可见到许多不出色的丈夫却有一位美丽的妻子。这莫非是因为这种丈夫由于具有不多的优点而更值得被珍视吗？也许因为伴随这种丈夫，将可以考验一个妇人的忍耐精神吧？如果这种婚姻出自一个女人的自愿选择，甚至是不顾亲友的劝告而选择的，那么就让她自己去品尝这枚果实的滋味吧 赞 (散文编辑：江南风)