« ZurückWeiter »
one poor person there are a hundred Indigent." 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,“ 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: “ A child and a fool (as poor Richard says) imagine twenty shillings and twenty years can never be spent, but always be taking out of the meal-tub, and never putting soon comes to the bottom;" then, as poor Dick says, “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; 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." 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 appear. ance 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 the frog to swell, in order to equal the ox.
“ Vessels lạrge may venture more,
But little boats should keep near shore.” "Tis, however, a folly soon punished; for, “ Pride that dines on vanity, sups on contempt,' as poor Richard says. And, in another place, “ 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, or ease pain ; it makes no increase of merit in the person: it creates envy; it hastens misfortune.
" What is a butterfly? at best,
The gaudy fop's his picture just," as poor Richard says.
“ 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 an other 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, as poor Richard says, “ The second vice is lying ; the first is running in debt.” And again, to the same purpose, “ Lying rides upon debt's back" whereas a freeborn Englishman ought not to be ashamed nor afraid to 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," as poor Richard truly says. What would you think of that prince, or that government, who would 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 confiniug you in gaol, for life, or hy 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 “ Creditors (poor Richard tells us) have better memories than debtors ;" and in another place he says, " Creditors are a superstitious sect, great observers of set days and times." 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 at his shoulders. " Those have a short Lent (saith poor Richard) who owe money to be paid at Easter.” Then since, as he says, “ The borrower is a slave to the lender, and the debtor to the creditor ;” disdain the chain, preserve your freedom, and maintain your independency: be industrious and free ; be frugal and free. 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 saye while you may,
as poor Richard says. 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 « Rather go to bed supperless than rise in debt.” 6 Get what you can, and what you get hold, 'Tis the stone that will turn all your lead into gold," as poor Richard slys. And when you have got the philosopher's stone, sure you will no longer complain of bad times, or the difficulty of paying taxes.
.6. 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 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.
And now, to conclude, “ Experience keeps a dear school; but fools will learn in no other, and scarce in that ; for it is true, we may give advice, but we cannot give conduct," as poor Richard says. However, renember this, " They that will not be counselled, cannot be helped," as poor Richard says; and, further, that“ If you will not hear Reason, she will surely rap your knuckles.”
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, notwithstanding all his cautions, and their own fear of taxes. I found the good man had thoroughly studied my Almanacs, and digested all' I had dropped on these topics, during the course of twenty-five years. The frequent mention he made of me must have tired every 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; though I had first determined to buy stuff for a new coat, I went away, resolved to wear my old one a little
to be attended with the happiest effects. But hitherto that seems to have been scarcely adverted to. Time will be necessary to eradicate common notions of very old standing, before this can be effectually done.
Mr. W. Brodie, shipmaster in Leith, has lately adopted a contrivance for this purpose, that seems to be at the same time very simple and extremely efficacious. Necessity in this case, as in many others, was the mother of invention. He had a small, flat, ill built boat, which was so ill constructed as scarcely to admit of carrying a bit of sail on any occasion, and which was at the same time so heavy to be rowed, that he found great difficulty in using it for his ordinary occasions : In reflecting on the means that might be adopted for giving this useless cable such a hold of the water as to admit of his employing a sail when he found it necessary, it readily occurred that a greater depth of keel would have this tendency. But a greater depth of keel, though it would have been useful for this purpose, he easily foresaw, would make his boat be extremely inconvenient on many other occasions. To effect both purposes, he thought of adopting a moveable keel, which would admit of being let down or taken up at pleasure. This idea he immediately carried into effect, by fixing a bar of iron of the depth he wanted, along each side of the keel, moving upon hinges that admitted of being moved in one direction, but which could not be bent back in the opposite direction. Thus, by means of a small chain fixed to each end, these moveable keels could be easily lifted up at pleasure ; so that when he was entering into a harbour, or shoal water, he had only to lift up his keels, and the boat was as capable of being managed there, as if he had wanted them entirely ; and when he went out to sea, where there was depth enough, by letting them down, the lee keel took a firm hold of the water, (while the other floated loose,) and gave such a steadiness to all its movements, as can scarcely be conceived by those who have not experienced it.
This gentleman one day carried me out with him in his boat to try it. We made two experiments. At first, with a moderate breeze, when the moveable keels were kept up, the boat, when laid as near the wind as it could go, made an angle with the wake of about thirty degrees ; but when the keels were let down, the same angle did not exceed five or six degrees, being nearly parallel with the course.
At another time, the wind was right a head, a brisk breeze. When we began to beat up against it, a trading sloop was very near us, steering the same course