Abbildungen der Seite

not be produced without right opinion, it behoves us, above all things in this world, to take care that our own opinions of things be according to the nature of things. The foundation of all virtue and happiness is thinking rightly. He who sees an action is right, — that is, naturally tending to good, - and does it because of that tendency, he only is a moral man; and he alone is capable of that constant, durable and invariable good, which has been the subject of this conversation. Hor. How, my dear philosophical guide, shall I be able to know, and determine certainly, what is right and wrong in life? Phil. As easily as you distinguish a circle from a square, or light from darkness. Look, Horatio, into the sacred book of nature; read your own nature, and view the relation which other men stand in to you and you to them, and you will immediately see what constitutes human happiness, and consequently what is right. Hor. We are just coming into town, and can say no more at present. You are my good genius, Philocles: you have showed me what is good; you have redeemed me from the slavery and misery of folly and vice, and made me a free and happy being. Phil. Then am I the happiest man in the world. Be you steady, Horatio; never depart from reason and virtue. Hor. Sooner will I lose my existence. Good-night, Philocles. Phil. Adieu, dear Horatio.



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 merchant's 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 2. How shall we ever be able to pay them? What would you advise us to do?” Father Abraham stood up, and replied, “If you would have my advice, I will give it to 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,” says 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 oor Richard says. “1. 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.

* Dr. Franklin for many years published the Pennsylvania Almanac, purporting to be the work of Richard Saunders, and furnished it with various sentences and proverbs, having relation chiefly to “industry, attention to one’s own business, and frugality.” These sentences and proverbs he collected and digested in the above preface.

“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 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. “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 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 increaseth them.” What though you have found no treasure, nor has any rich relation left you 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, further, “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 masters? 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, every one bids me good-morrow.’

“2. 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,

[ocr errors]

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 Himself must either hold or drive.”

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, ‘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, and 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. “3. 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 estates are spent in the getting,
Since women for tea forsook spinning and knitting,
And men for punch forsook hewing and splitting.”

“‘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.’

“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 further, ‘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 E.” and, moreover, ‘fools make feasts, and wise men eat them.”

“Here you are all got together to this sale of fineries and knick-knacks. 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 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 and 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 extravagances, 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 “it is day, and it 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 again. Poor Dick further advises, and says,

« ZurückWeiter »