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You spend yearly at least two hundred thousand pounds, it is said, in European, East-Indian, and WestIndian commodities. Supposing one half of this expense to be in things absolutely necessary, the other half may be called superfluities, or, at best, conveniences, which, however, you might live without for one little year, and not suffer exceedingly. Now, to save this half, observe these few directions.
1. When you incline to have new clothes, look first well over the old ones, and see if you cannot shift with them another year, either by scouring, mending, or even patching if necessary. Remember, a patch on your coat, and money in your pocket, is better and more creditable, than a writ on your back, and no money to take it off.
2. When you incline to buy China ware, chintzes, India silks, or any other of their flimsy, slight manufactures, I would not be so hard with you, as to insist on your absolutely resolving against it; all I advise is, to put it off (as you do your repentance) till another year; and this, in some respects, may prevent an occasion of repentance.
3. If you are now a drinker of punch, wine, or tea, twice a day, for the ensuing year drink them but once a day. If you now drink them but once a day, do it but every other day. If you do it now but once a week, reduce the practice to once a fortnight. And, if you do not exceed in quantity as you lessen the times, half your expense in these articles will be saved.
4. When you incline to drink rum, fill the glass half with water.
Thus at the year's end, there will be a hundred thousand pounds more money in your country.
If paper money in ever so great a quantity could be made, no man could get any of it without giving some
thing for it. But all he saves in this way, will be his own for nothing, and his country actually so much richer. Then the merchants' old and doubtful debts may be honestly paid off, and trading become surer thereafter, if not so extensive.*
* The humor and quaintness of Poor Richard sometimes appeared in the advertisements, setting forth the contents of his Almanacs. The following is from The Pennsylvania Gazette, November 6th, 1755.
"Next week will be published, and sold by the printers hereof, Poor Richard's Almanac for 1756, containing, besides the usual astronomical calculations, a variety of useful and entertaining observations; viz. How Pennsylvania may save three millions two hundred and eighty thousand pounds in seven years, of which every farmer may, if he pleases, have his share; the praises of astronomy; the praises of religion; conversation, rules to be agreeable in it; how New Jersey may clear one hundred thousand pounds in the year 1756; the advantage of temperance in promoting men to high stations; the distinguishing honors conferred by God on men industrious in their calling; rule to prevent malignant fevers or fluxes; Newton's eulogy; noble character of a general; difference between a person of honor, and a man of honor; settlement of a man's moral accounts; how to feed sixty thousand men at 2s. 8d. a day; proper victualling for long marches in the woods; excellent remedies for the cure of fluxes, dry gripes, and fevers, &c. &c. &c."
It will be recollected, that the parts relating to the feeding and marching of armies were applicable to the times. The French and Indian war was then raging on the frontiers of all the colonies. The hint respecting the "settlement of a man's moral accounts" is found at the beginning of the month of December.
"Well, my friend, thou art now just entering the last month of another year. If thou art a man of business, and of prudent care, belike thou wilt settle thy accounts, to satisfy thyself whether thou hast gained or lost in the year past, and how much of either, the better to regulate thy future industry or thy common expenses. This is commendable. But it is not all. Wilt thou not examine also thy moral accounts, and see what improvements thou hast made in the conduct of life, what vice subdued, what virtue acquired; how much better, and how much wiser, as well as how much richer, thou art grown ?' What shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?' Without some care in this matter, though thou mayest come to count thy thousands, thou wilt possibly still appear poor in the eyes of the discerning, even here, and be really so for ever hereafter" — Editor.
THE WAY TO WEALTH,
AS CLEARLY SHOWN IN THE PREFACE OF AN OLD PENNSYLVANIA ALMANAC, ENTITLED, "POOR RICHARD IMPROVED."
Few compositions in any language have been so widely read, as this summary of the maxims and proverbs of Poor Richard. The following account is given of it by Dr. Franklin, in his Memoirs.
"In 1732 I first published my Almanac under the name of Richard Saunders; it was continued by me about twenty-five years, and commonly called Poor Richard's Almanac. I endeavoured to make it both entertaining and useful, and it accordingly came to be in such demand, that I reaped considerable profit from it, vending annually near ten thousand. And observing that it was generally read, (scarce any neighbourhood in the province being without it,) I considered it as a proper vehicle for conveying instruction among the common people, who bought scarcely any other books. I therefore filled all the little spaces, that occurred between the remarkable days in the Calendar, with proverbial sentences, chiefly such as inculcated industry and frugality, as the means of procuring wealth, and thereby securing virtue; it being more difficult for a man in want to act always honestly, as (to use here one of those proverbs) 'It is hard for an empty sack to stand upright.' These proverbs, which contained the wisdom of many ages and nations, I assembled and formed into a connected discourse, prefixed to the Almanac of 1757, as the harangue of a wise old man to the people attending an auction. The bringing all these scattered counsels thus into a focus, enabled them to make greater impression. The piece, being universally approved, was copied in all the newspapers of the American Continent, reprinted in Britain on a large sheet of paper to be stuck up in houses; two translations were made of it in France, and great numbers bought by the clergy and gentry, to distribute gratis among their poor parishioners and tenants. In Pennsylvania, as it discouraged useless expense in foreign superfluities, some thought it had its share of influence in producing that growing plenty of money, which was observable for several years after its publication."