Poor Richard Improved
I have heard that nothing gives an Author so great Pleasure, as to find his Works respectfully quoted by other learned Authors. This Pleasure I have seldom enjoyed; for tho' I have been, if I may say it without Vanity, an "eminent Author" of Almanacks annually now a full Quarter of a Century, my Brother Authors in the same Way, for what Reason I know not, have ever been very sparing in their Applauses; and no other Author has taken the least Notice of me, so that did not my Writings produce me some solid "Pudding", the great Deficiency of "Praise" would have quite discouraged me.
I concluded at length, that the People were the best Judges of my Merit; for they buy my Works; and besides, in my Rambles, where I am not personally known, I have frequently heard one or other of my Adages repeated, with, "as Poor Richard says", at the End on't; this gave me some Satisfaction, as it showed not only that my Instructions were regarded, but discovered likewise some Respect for my Authority; and I own, that to encourage the Practice of remembering and repeating those wise Sentences, I have sometimes "quoted myself" with great Gravity.
Judge then how much I must have been gratified by an Incident I am going to relate to you. I stopt my Horse lately where a great Number of People were collected at a Vendue of Merchant Goods. The Hour of Sale not being come, they were conversing on the Badness of the Times, and one of the Company call'd to a plain clean old Man, with white Locks, "Pray, Father" Abraham, "what think you of the Times? Won't these heavy Taxes quite ruin the Country? How shall we be ever able to pay them? What would you advise us to? -- " Father "Abraham" stood up, and reply'd, If you'd have my Advice, I'll give it you in short, for a "Word to the Wise is enough", and "many Words won't fill a Bushel", as "Poor Richard says." They join'd in desiring him to speak his Mind, and gathering round him, he proceeded as follows;
Friends, says he, and Neighbours, the Taxes are indeed very heavy, and if those laid on by the Government were the only Ones we had to pay, we might more easily discharge them; but we have many others, and much more grievous to some of us. We are taxed twice as much by our "Idleness", three times as much by our "Pride", and four times as much by our "Folly", and from these Taxes the Commissioners cannot ease or deliver us by allowing an Abatement. However let us hearken to good Advice, and something may be done for us; "God helps them that help themselves", as "Poor Richard" says, in his Almanack of 1733.
It would be thought a hard Government that should tax its People one tenth Part of their "Time", to be employed in its Service. But "Idleness" taxes many of us much more, if we reckon all that is spent in absolute "Sloth", or doing of nothing, with that which is spent in idle Employments or Amusements, that amount to nothing. "Sloth", by bringing on Diseases, absolutely shortens Life. "Sloth, like Rust, consumes faster than Labour wears, while the used Key is always bright", as "Poor Richard" says. But "dost thou love Life, then do not squander Time, for that's the Stuff Life is made of", as "Poor Richard" says. -- How much more than is necessary do we spend in Sleep! forgetting that "The sleeping Fox catches no Poultry", and that "there will be sleeping enough in the Grave", as "Poor Richard" says. If Time be of all Things the most precious, "wasting Time" must be, as "Poor Richard" says, "the greatest Prodigality", since, as he elsewhere tells us, "Lost Time is never found again"; and what we call "Time-enough, always proves little enough": Let us then up and be doing, and doing to the Purpose; so by Diligence shall we do more with less Perplexity. "Sloth makes all Things difficult, but Industry all easy", as "Poor Richard" says; and "He that riseth late, must trot all Day, and shall scarce overtake his Business at Night." While "Laziness travels so slowly, that Poverty soon over-takes him", as we read in "Poor Richard", who adds, "Drive thy Business, let not that drive thee"; and "Early to Bed, and early to rise, makes a Man healthy, wealthy and wise."
So what signifies "wishing" and "hoping" for better Times. We may make these Times better if we bestir ourselves. "Industry need not wish", as "Poor Richard" says, and "He that lives upon Hope will die fasting. There are no Gains, without Pains"; then "Help Hands, for I have no Lands", or if I have, they are smartly taxed. And, as "Poor Richard" likewise observes, "He that hath a Trade hath an Estate", and "He that hath a Calling hath an Office of Profit and Honour"; but then the "Trade" must be worked at, and the "Calling" well followed, or neither the "Estate", nor the "Office", will enable us to pay our Taxes. -- If we are industrious we shall never starve; for, as "Poor Richard" says, "At the working Man's House" Hunger "looks in, but dares not enter." Nor will the Bailiff or the Constable enter, for "Industry pays Debts, while Despair encreaseth them", says "Poor Richard. -- " What though you have found no Treasure, nor has any rich Relation left you a Legacy, "Diligence is the Mother of Good-luck," as "Poor Richard" says, and "God gives all Things to Industry." Then "plough deep, while Sluggards sleep, and you shall have Corn to sell and to keep," says "Poor Dick." Work while it is called To-day, for you know not how much you may be hindered To-morrow, which makes "Poor Richard" say, "One To-day is worth two To-morrows"; and farther, "Have you somewhat to do To-morrow, do it To-day." If you were a Servant, would you not be ashamed that a good Master should catch you idle? Are you then your own Master, "be ashamed to catch yourself idle", as "Poor Dick" says. When there is so much to be done for yourself, your Family, your Country, and your gracious King, be up by Peep of Day; "Let not the Sun look down and say, Inglorious here he lies." Handle your Tools without Mittens; remember that "the Cat in Gloves catches no Mice", as "Poor Richard" says. 'Tis true there is much to be done, and perhaps you are weak handed, but stick to it steadily, and you will see great Effects, for "constant Dropping wears away Stones", and by "Diligence and Patience the Mouse ate in two the Cable"; and "little Strokes fell great Oaks", as "Poor Richard" says in his Almanack, the Year I cannot just now remember.
Methinks I hear some of you say, "Must a Man afford himself no Leisure? -- " I will tell thee, my Friend, what "Poor Richard" says, "Employ thy Time well if thou meanest to gain Leisure"; and, "since thou art not sure of a Minute, throw not away an Hour." Leisure, is Time for doing something useful; this Leisure the diligent Man will obtain, but the lazy Man never; so that, as "Poor Richard" says, a "Life of Leisure and a Life of Laziness are two Things." Do you imagine that Sloth will afford you more Comfort than Labour? No, for as "Poor Richard" says, "Trouble springs from Idleness, and grievous Toil from needless Ease. Many without Labour, would live by their" WITS "only, but they break for want of Stock." Whereas Industry gives Comfort, and Plenty, and Respect: "Fly Pleasures, and they'll follow you. The diligent Spinner has a large Shift"; and "now I have a Sheep and a Cow, every Body bids me Good morrow"; all which is well said by "Poor Richard."
But with our Industry, we must likewise be "steady", "settled"
and "careful", and oversee our own Affairs "with our own Eyes", and
not trust too much to others; for, as "Poor Richard" says,
"I never saw an oft removed Tree, Nor yet an oft removed Family, That throve so well as those that settled be."
And again, "Three Removes is as bad as a Fire"; and again,
"Keep thy Shop, and thy Shop will keep thee"; and again, "If you
would have your Business done, go; If not, send." And again,
And again, "The Eye of a Master will do more Work than both his Hands"; and again, "Want of Care does us more Damage than Want of Knowledge"; and again, "Not to oversee Workmen, is to leave them your Purse open." Trusting too much to others Care is the Ruin of many; for, as the "Almanack" says, "In the Affairs of this World, Men are saved, not by Faith, but by the Want of it"; but a Man's own Care is profitable; for, saith "Poor Dick", "Learning is to the Studious", and "Riches to the Careful", as well as "Power to the Bold", and "Heaven to the Virtuous." And farther, "If you would have a faithful Servant, and one that you like, serve yourself." And again, he adviseth to Circumspection and Care, even in the smallest Matters, because sometimes "a little Neglect may breed great Mischief"; adding, "For want of a Nail the Shoe was lost; for want of a Shoe the Horse was lost; and for want of a Horse the Rider was lost", being overtaken and slain by the Enemy, all for want of Care about a Horse-shoe Nail."He that by the Plough would thrive, Himself must either hold or drive."
So much for Industry, my Friends, and Attention to one's own
Business; but to these we must add "Frugality", if we would make our
"Industry" more certainly successful. A Man may, if he knows not how
to save as he gets, "keep his Nose all his Life to the Grindstone",
and die not worth a "Groat" at last. "A fat Kitchen makes a lean
Will", as "Poor Richard" says; and,
"Many Estates are spent in the Getting, Since Women for Tea forsook Spinning and Knitting, And Men for Punch forsook Hewing and Splitting.
And farther, "What maintains one Vice, would bring up two Children." You may think perhaps, That a "little" Tea, or a "little" Punch now and then, Diet a "little" more costly, Clothes a "little" finer, and a "little" Entertainment now and then, can be no "great" Matter; but remember what "Poor Richard" says, "Many" a Little "makes a Mickle"; and farther, "Beware of" little "Expences"; "a small Leak will sink a great Ship"; and again, "Who Dainties love, shall Beggars prove"; and moreover, "Fools make Feasts, and wise Men eat them.""Women and Wine, Game and Deceit, Make the Wealth small, and the Wants great."
Here you are all got together at this Vendue of "Fineries" and
"Knicknacks." You call them "Goods", but if you do not take Care,
they will prove "Evils" to some of you. You expect they will be sold
"cheap", and perhaps they may for less than they cost; but if you
have no Occasion for them, they must be "dear" to you. Remember what
"Poor Richard" says, "Buy what thou hast no Need of, and ere long
thou shalt sell thy Necessaries." And again, "At a great Pennyworth
pause a while": He means, that perhaps the Cheapness is "apparent"
only, and not "real"; or the Bargain, by straitning thee in thy
Business, may do thee more Harm than Good. For in another Place he
says, "Many have been ruined by buying good Pennyworths." Again,
"Poor Richard" says, "'Tis foolish to lay out Money in a Purchase of
Repentance"; and yet this Folly is practised every Day at Vendues,
for want of minding the Almanack. "Wise Men", as "Poor Dick" says,
"learn by others Harms, Fools scarcely by their own"; but, "Felix
quem faciunt aliena Pericula cautum." Many a one, for the Sake of
Finery on the Back, have gone with a hungry Belly, and half starved
their Families; "Silks and Sattins, Scarlet and Velvets," as "Poor
Richard" says, "put out the Kitchen Fire." These are not the
"Necessaries" of Life; they can scarcely be called the
"Conveniencies", and yet only because they look pretty, how many
"want" to "have" them. The "artificial" Wants of Mankind thus become
more numerous than the "natural"; and, as "Poor Dick" says, "For one"
poor "Person, there are an hundred" indigent. By these, and other
Extravagancies, the Genteel are reduced to Poverty, and forced to
borrow of those whom they formerly despised, but who through
"Industry" and "Frugality" have maintained their Standing; in which
Case it appears plainly, that a "Ploughman on his Legs is higher than
a Gentleman on his Knees", as "Poor Richard" says. Perhaps they have
had a small Estate left them, which they knew not the Getting of;
they think "'tis Day, and will never be Night"; that a little to be
spent out of "so much", is not worth minding; "(a Child and a Fool,"
as "Poor Richard" says, "imagine" Twenty Shillings "and Twenty Years
can never be spent)" but, "always taking out of the Meal-tub, and
never putting in, soon comes to the Bottom"; then, as "Poor Dick"
says, "When the Well's dry, they know the Worth of Water." But this
they might have known before, if they had taken his Advice; "If you
would know the Value of Money, go and try to borrow some"; for, "he
that goes a borrowing goes a sorrowing"; and indeed so does he that
lends to such People, when he goes "to get it in again." -- "Poor
Dick" farther advises, and says,
"Fond" Pride of Dress, "is sure a very Curse; E'er" Fancy "you consult, consult your Purse."
And again, "Pride is as loud a Beggar as Want, and a great deal
more saucy." When you have bought one fine Thing you must buy ten
more, that your Appearance may be all of a Piece; but "Poor Dick"
says, "'Tis easier to" suppress "the first Desire, than to" satisfy
"all that follow it." And 'tis as truly Folly for the Poor to ape the
Rich, as for the Frog to swell, in order to equal the Ox.
"Great Estates may venture more, But little Boats should keep near Shore."
'Tis however a Folly soon punished; for "Pride that dines on
Vanity sups on Contempt", as "Poor Richard" says. And in another
Place, "Pride breakfasted with Plenty, dined with Poverty, and supped
with Infamy." And after all, of what Use is this "Pride of
Appearance", for which so much is risked, so much is suffered? It
cannot promote Health, or ease Pain; it makes no Increase of Merit in
the Person, it creates Envy, it hastens Misfortune.
"What is a Butterfly? At best He's but a Caterpillar drest. The gaudy Fop's his Picture just," as "Poor Richard" says.
But what Madness must it be to "run in Debt" for these
Superfluities! We are offered, by the Terms of this Vendue, "Six
Months Credit"; and that perhaps has induced some of us to attend it,
because we cannot spare the ready Money, and hope now to be fine
without it. But, ah, think what you do when you run in Debt; "You
give to another Power over your Liberty." If you cannot pay at the
Time, you will be ashamed to see your Creditor; you will be in Fear
when you speak to him; you will make poor pitiful sneaking Excuses,
and by Degrees come to lose your Veracity, and sink into base
downright lying; for, as "Poor Richard" says, "The second Vice is
Lying, the first is running in Debt." And again, to the same Purpose,
"Lying rides upon Debt's Back." Whereas a freeborn "Englishman" ought
not to be ashamed or afraid to see or speak to any Man living. But
Poverty often deprives a Man of all Spirit and Virtue: "'Tis hard for
an empty Bag to stand upright", as "Poor Richard" truly says. What
would you think of that Prince, or that Government, who should issue
an Edict forbidding you to dress like a Gentleman or a Gentlewoman,
on Pain of Imprisonment or Servitude? Would you not say, that you
are free, have a Right to dress as you please, and that such an Edict
would be a Breach of your Privileges, and such a Government
tyrannical? And yet you are about to put yourself under that Tyranny
when you run in Debt for such Dress! Your Creditor has Authority at
his Pleasure to deprive you of your Liberty, by confining you in Goal
for Life, or to sell you for a Servant, if you should not be able to
pay him! When you have got your Bargain, you may, perhaps, think
little of Payment; but "Creditors, Poor Richard" tells us, "have
better Memories than Debtors"; and in another Place says, "Creditors
are a superstitious Sect, great Observers of set Days and Times." The
Day comes round before you are aware, and the Demand is made before
you are prepared to satisfy it. Or if you bear your Debt in Mind,
the Term which at first seemed so long, will, as it lessens, appear
extreamly short. "Time" will seem to have added Wings to his Heels
as well as Shoulders. "Those have a short Lent," saith "Poor
Richard, "who owe Money to be paid at Easter." Then since, as he
says, "The Borrower is a Slave to the Lender, and the Debtor to the
Creditor", disdain the Chain, preserve your Freedom; and maintain
your Independency: Be "industrious" and "free"; be "frugal" and
"free." At present, perhaps, you may think yourself in thriving
Circumstances, and that you can bear a little Extravagance without
"For Age and Want, save while you may; No Morning Sun lasts a whole Day,"
as "Poor Richard" says. -- Gain may be temporary and uncertain,
but ever while you live, Expence is constant and certain; and "'tis
easier to build two Chimnies than to keep one in Fuel", as "Poor
Richard" says. So "rather go to Bed supperless than rise in Debt.
"Get what you can, and what you get hold; Tis the Stone that will turn all your Lead into Gold,"
as "Poor Richard" says. And when you have got the
Philosopher's Stone, sure you will no longer complain of bad Times,
or the Difficulty of paying Taxes.
This Doctrine, my Friends, is "Reason" and "Wisdom"; but after
all, do not depend too much upon your own "Industry", and
"Frugality", and "Prudence", though excellent Things, for they may
all be blasted without the Blessing of Heaven; and therefore ask that
Blessing humbly, and be not uncharitable to those that at present
seem to want it, but comfort and help them. Remember "Job" suffered,
and was afterwards prosperous.
And now to conclude, "Experience keeps a dear School, but Fools
will learn in no other, and scarce in that"; for it is true, "we may
give Advice, but we cannot give Conduct", as "Poor Richard" says:
However, remember this, "They that won't be counselled, can't be
helped", as "Poor Richard" says: And farther, That "if you will not
hear Reason, she'll surely rap your Knuckles.""
Thus the old Gentleman ended his Harangue. The People heard
it, and approved the Doctrine, and immediately practised the
contrary, just as if it had been a common Sermon; for the Vendue
opened, and they began to buy extravagantly, notwithstanding all his
Cautions, and their own Fear of Taxes. -- I found the good Man had
thoroughly studied my Almanacks, and digested all I had dropt on
those Topicks during the Course of Five-and-twenty Years. The
frequent Mention he made of me must have tired any one else, but my
Vanity was wonderfully delighted with it, though I was conscious that
not a tenth Part of the Wisdom was my own which he ascribed to me,
but rather the "Gleanings" I had made of the Sense of all Ages and
Nations. However, I resolved to be the better for the Echo of it;
and though I had at first determined to buy Stuff for a new Coat, I
went away resolved to wear my old One a little longer. "Reader", if
thou wilt do the same, thy Profit will be as great as mine.
"I am, as ever,
Thine to serve thee,""July" 7, 1757. RICHARD SAUNDERS.
One "Nestor" is worth two "Ajaxes."
When you're an Anvil, hold you still;
When you're a Hammer, strike your Fill.
When Knaves betray each other, one can scarce be blamed, or the other pitied.
He that carries a small Crime easily, will carry it on when it comes to be an Ox.
Happy "Tom Crump", ne'er sees his own Hump.
Fools need Advice most, but wise Men only are the better for it.
Silence is not always a Sign of Wisdom, but Babbling is ever a Mark of Folly.
Great Modesty often hides great Merit.
You may delay, but "Time" will not.
"Virtue" may not always make a Face handsome, but "Vice" will certainly make it ugly.
Prodigality of "Time", produces Poverty of Mind as well as of Estate.
Content is the Philosopher's Stone, that turns all it touches into Gold.
He that's content, hath enough; He that complains, has too much.
"Pride" gets into the Coach, and "Shame" mounts behind.
The first Mistake in publick Business, is the going into it.
Half the Truth is often a great Lie.
The Way to see by "Faith", is to shut the Eye of "Reason": The Morning Daylight appears plainer when you put out your Candle.
A full Belly makes a dull Brain: The Muses starve in a Cook's Shop.
"Spare and have" is better than "spend and crave".
"Good-Will", like the Wind, floweth where it listeth.
The Honey is sweet, but the Bee has a Sting.
In a corrupt Age, the putting the World in order would breed Confusion; then e'en mind your own Business.
To serve the Publick faithfully, and at the same time please it entirely, is impracticable.
Proud Modern Learning despises the antient: "School-men" are now laught at by "School-boys."
Men often "mistake" themselves, seldom "forget" themselves.
The idle Man is the Devil's Hireling; whose Livery is Rags, whose Diet and Wages are Famine and Diseases.
Rob not God, nor the Poor, lest thou ruin thyself; the Eagle snatcht a Coal from the Altar, but it fired her Nest.
With bounteous Cheer,
Conclude the Year.