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THE WELL ORDERING OF LIFE.
MONEY-ITS ACQUISITION AND MANAGEMENT.
There is no one subject on which the young-of either sex, and in all conditions and professions, and especially those who aim at high scholarship and culture, and desire to live with character, independence, and power-need to form clear conceptions and practical aims, than on money-its acquisition, utilities, and management. In this country, the art of acquisition is pretty well understood; for which we are indebted, mainly, to the necessities of a poor but intelligent ancestry, and the possession of rich but undeveloped material and facilities, but in no small degree to the maxims of POOR RICHARD, which, by household and school-book repetition, have become inwrought into the texture of every American mind. But with increased prosperity, we have enough of prodigal spending, as well as munificent giving; but there is a sad sacrifice of health, intellect, and conscience in the pursuit of wealth, and still larger waste of happiness, utilities, and power in its management and final disposition. On all of these points, our English literature is rich with APPLES OF GOLD-the words of the wise.
DR. FRANKLIN AS POOR RICHARD.
THE WAY TO WEALTH.
The sayings in the following paper were first published by Benjamin Franklin (born at Boston, in 1706, and died at Philadelphia, in 1790) in successive issues of an almanac entitled "Poor Richard,” and subsequently printed under the name of The Way to Wealth: COURTEOUS READER,
I have heard that nothing gives an author so great pleasure as to find his works respectfully quoted by others. Judge, then, how much I must have been gratified by an incident I am going to relate to you. I stopped my horse lately, where a great number of people were collected at an auction of merchants' goods. The hour of the sale not being come, they were conversing on the badness of the times; and one of the company called to a plain, clean old man, with white locks, "Pray, father Abraham, what think you of the times? Will not 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 replied, "If you would have my advice, I will give it you in short; 'for a word to the wise is enough,' as poor Richard says." They joined in desiring him to speak his mind, and, gathering round him, he proceeded as follows:
Friends," said he, "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.
"I. 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: sloth, by bringing on diseases, absolutely shortens life. Sloth, like rust, consumes faster than labor wears; while the used key is always bright,' as Poor Richard says. But dost thou love life, then do not squander time, for that is 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;' 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 overtakes him. Drive thy business, let not that drive thee;' and 'early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise,' as Poor Richard says.
So what signifies wishing and hoping for better times? We may make these times better, if we bestir ourselves. 'Industry need not wish, and he that lives upon hopes 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. 'He that hath a trade, hath an estate; and he that hath a calling, hath an office of profit and honor,' as Poor Richard says; 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 at the workingman's house hunger looks in, but dares not enter.' Nor will the bailiff or the constable enter, for 'industry pays debts, while despair increaseth them.' What though you have found no treasure, nor has any rich relation left a legacy, 'Diligence is the mother of good luck, and God gives all things to industry.' 'Then plough deep, while sluggards sleep, and you shall have corn to sell and to keep.' Work while it is called to-day, for you know not
how much you may be hindered to-morrow. One to-day is worth two to-morrows,' as Poor Richard says; and farther, 'Never leave that till to-morrow, which you can do 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, when there is so much to be done for yourself, your family, your country, and your king. Handle your tools without mittens; remember, that 'The cat in gloves catches no mice,' as Poor Richard says. It is 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.'
"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; for 'A life of leisure and a life of laziness are two things. Many, without labor, 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 will follow you.' 'The diligent spinner has a large shift: and now I have a sheep and a cow, everybody bids me good morrow.'
"II. 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 au 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,
'He that by the plough would thrive,
And again, The eye of the 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 perse open.' Trusting too much to others' care is the ruin of many; for 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, 'If you would have a faithful servant, and one that you like, serve yourself.' 'A little neglect may breed great mischief;' '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 a little care about a horse-shoe nail.
"III. 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;' and,
'Many estares are spent in the getting,
Since women for tea forsook › pinning and kuitting,
'If you would be wealthy, think of saving, as well as of getting.' 'The Indies have not made Spain rich, because her out-goes are greater than her in-comes.'
"Away then with your expensive follies, and you will not then have so much cause to complain of hard times, heavy taxes, and chargeable families; for
'Women and wine, game and deceit,
Make the wealth small, and the want great.'
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, Many a little makes a mickle.' Beware of little expenses; 'A small leak will sink a great ship,' as Poor Richard says; and again, 'Who dainties love, shall beggars prove;' and moreover, Fools make feasts, and wise men eat them.' Here you are all got together at this sale of fineries and nicknacks. 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 the 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 straitening 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, 'It is foolish to lay out money in a purchase of repentance;' and yet this folly is practised every day at auctions, for want of minding the Almanac. Many a one, for the sake of finery on the back, have gone with a hungry belly, and half starved their families; 'Silks, satins, scarlet, and velvets, put out the kitchen fire,' as Poor Richard says. These are not the necessaries of life; they can scarcely be called the conveniences; and yet, only because they look pretty, how many want to have them? By these and other extravagan ces, the greatest 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 'It is day, and will never be night;' that a little to be spent out of so much is not worth minding; but 'always taking out of the meal-tub, and never putting in, soon comes to the bottom,' as Poor Richard says; and then, 'When the well is 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,' as Poor Richard says; 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;
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, 'It is easier to suppress the first desire, than to satisfy all that follow it.' And it is as truly folly for the poor to ape the rich, as for the frog to swell, in order to equal the ox.
'Vessels large may venture more,
But little boats should keep near shore.'
It is, however, a folly soon punished; for, as Poor Richard says, 'Pride that dines on vanity, sups on contempt; 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 nor ease pain; it makes no increase of merit in the person, it creates envy, it hastens misfortune.
"But what madness it must be to run in debt for these superfluities! We are offered by the terms of this sale, 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 'The second vice is lying, the first is running in debt,' as Poor Richard says; and again, to the same purpose, 'Lying rides upon debt's back;' whereas a freeborn Englishman ought not to be ashamed nor afraid to see or speak to any man living. But poverty often deprives a man of all spirit and virtue. It is hard for an empty bag to stand upright.' What would you think of that prince, or of that government, who should issue an edict forbidding you to dress like a gentleman or gentlewoman, on pain of imprisonment or servitude? Would you not say that you were 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 jail for life, or by selling 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, as Poor Richard says, 'Creditors have better memories than debtors; creditors are a superstitious sect, great observers of days and times.' The day comes round before you are aware, and the demand is made before you are prepared