Abbildungen der Seite

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 Auxes, 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.




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."

In more recent times the piece has hardly been less popular. It is suited, indeed, to every country, and to all states of society. There have been, at least, three translations made of it into French. The first is contained in M. Dubourg's CEuvres de Franklin, published in two volumes, quarto, at Paris, in 1773. It is there entitled Le Moyen de s'enrichir; and the translator calls the Almanac-maker Le Pauvre Henri d son aise, to avoid, as Mr. Waughan suggests, the jeu de mots, which would have occurred if he had written, Le Pauvre Richard. However this may be, M. Dubourg has rendered the sense of his author with much fidelity. The next version was by Quétant, a second edition of which appeared in 1778; and an improved edition in 1794, to which M. Ginguené prefixed an abridged life of the author. The title given in this version is La Science du Bonhomme Richard; Ou Moyen Facile depayer les Impôts. A beautiful edition of the same, in connexion with the English, was printed at Dijon in 1795. This translation is diffuse, and less faithful than that of Dubourg. Not satisfied with either of them, Castéra made a new one, entitled Le Chemin de la Fortune; Ou La Science du Bonhomme Richard, which is among the other writings of Franklin, translated by him, and published in two volumes, at Paris, in 1798. This is a closer version than that of Quétant, and perhaps more elegant than Dubourg's; which, however, conforms more nearly to the meaning and spirit of the original, than either of the others. A translation of “Poor Richard in modern Greek was printed at Didot's press, in Paris, in the year 1823, entitled ‘H 'Ettorium toū Kalot, “Pizágöov, ovyts&siga ind row B. apgayzhivov. A brief account of the author's life in the same language is prefixed. Some copies of THE WAY to WEAlth begin in the following Inanner. “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, though I have been, if I may say it without vanity, an eminent author (of Almanacs) 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 reading those wise sentences, I have sometimes quoted myself with great gravity. Judge, then, &c."

This paragraph is now seldom inserted. Indeed it was omitted in Mr. Vaughan's edition, which was printed with the knowledge and approbation of the author. Nor is it contained in Dubourg's translation, which appeared earlier; but it is found in the version by Quétant, and is retained in the beautiful Dijon edition. It has passed thence into the modern Greek. – EDITOR.

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 ever be 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 for 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.

« ZurückWeiter »