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He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune

A man with a wife and family cannot be so adventurous, or take so many chances, as an unmarried man. A hostage is a person given to another as a pledge or security. ‘Hostages to fortune’ are persons or things that one may lose.

The proverb comes from Francis Bacon’s essay, Of Marriage and Single Life: ‘He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune; for thay are impediments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mischief.’

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