« PreviousContinue »
ful; 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.'
15 "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 plenty of clothes; and now I have a sheep and a cow, every body bids me goodmorrow."
16 "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,
That throve so well as those that settled be.'
17 "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 plow would thrive,
18 "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, 'If you would have a faithful servant, and one that you like, serve yourself.'
19 "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.
Frugality: calamities of pride, extravagance and debts. 1 "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." 2A fat kitchen makes a lean will;' and
• Many estates are spent in the getting,
Since women for tea forsook spinning and knitting,
'If you would be wealthy, think of saving, as well as of getting. The Indies have not made Spain rich, because her outgoes are greater than her incomes.
3 "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; and farther, 'what maintains one vice, would bring up two children.'
4 "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.'
5 "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 to this sale of fineries and nick-nacks. You call them goods; but if you do not take care, they will prove evils to some of you.
6" 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 awhile 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.
7 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, has gone with a hungry belly, and half starved their families; 'Silks and satins, scarlet and velvets, put out the kitchen fire,' as Poor Richard says.
8These 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! 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 plowman on his legs is higher than a gentleman on his knees,' as Poor Richard says.
9"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.'
10 "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 again. Poor Dick farther advises, and says,
Fond pride of dress is sure a very curse;
Ere fancy you consult, consult your purse.'
11 "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.'
12 "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.
13"But what madness must it 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.
14 "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 free
American ought not to be ashamed, nor afraid to speak to any man living.
15 "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 nation, or of that government, who should issue an edict, compelling 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?
16" And yet you are about to put yourself under that tyranny when you run in debt for such a dress! Your creditor has authority to deprive you of your liberty, by confining you in jail, 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 set days and times.'
17 "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 extremely short: Time will seem to have added wings to his heels as well as his shoulders. At present, perhaps, you may think yourselves in thriving circumstances, and that you can bear a little extravagance without injury; but,
'For age and want save while you may,
18 "Gain may be temporary and uncertain, but ever, while you live, expense is constant and certain; and, It is easier to build two chimneys, than to keep one in fuel,' as Poor Richard says: So,
'Get what you can, and what you get hold,
'Tis the stone that will turn all your lead into gold.' And when you have got the philosopher's stone, sure you will no longer complain of bad times, or the difficulty of paying taxes.
19 "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.
20 "And now to conclude, Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other,' as Poor Richard says, and scarce in that; for, it is true, 'We may give advice, but we cannot give conduct:' However, remember this,They that will not be counselled cannot be helped;' and farther, that 'If you will not hear Reason, she will surely rap your knuckles,' as Poor Richard says."
21 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 auction opened, and they began to buy extravagantly. I found the good man had thoroughly studied my Almanacs, and digested all I had dropped on those topics during the course of twenty-five years.
22 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 that 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 at first I had 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.
Advice to a young tradesman.
To my friend A. B.
As you have desired it of me, I write the following hints, which have been of service to me, and may, if observed, be so to you.
1 Remember that time is money. He that can earn ten shillings a day by his labor, and goes abroad, or sits idle one half of that day, though he spends but sixpence during his diversion or idleness, ought not to reckon that the only expense; he has really spent, or rather thrown away, five shillings besides.
2 Remember that credit is money. If a man lets his money lie in my hands after it is due, he gives me the interest, or so much as I can make of it during that time. This amounts to a considerable sum when a man has good and large credit, and makes good use of it.
3 Remember that money is of a prolific generating nature,