« ZurückWeiter »
and die not worth a groat at last.” “A fat kitohen makes a lean will," as Poor Richard says; and
“Many estates are spent in the getting,
Since women for tea * forsook spinning and knitting,
If you would be wealthy, says he in another almanao, “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 have so much cause to complain of hard times, heavy taxes, and chargeable families; for, as poor Diok says
"Women and wine, game and deceit,
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, a diet a little more costly, clothes a little finer, and a little more entertainment now and then, can be no great matter; but remember what Poor Richard says, “many a little makes a mickle;" and further, “ beware of little expenses ; a small leak will sink a great ship;" and again
" Who dainties love shall beggars prove;"
and moreover, “ fools make feasts and wise men eat them.”
Here are you all got together at this vendue 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 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 barm than good. For in another place he says, “ many have been ruined by buying good pennyworths."
* Tea at this time was expensive and regarded a luxury.
Again, Poor Richard says, “'tis foolish to lay out money in a purchase of repentance ;" and yet this folly is practiced every day at vendues for want of minding the almanac.
“Wise men,” as Poor Richard says, “learn by others' harms ; fools scarcely by their own;" but Felix quem faciunt aliena pericula cautum.* 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, scarlets and velvets," as Poor Richard says, “put out the kitchen fire.” 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! The artificial wants of mankind thus become more numerous than the natural; and as Poor Dick says, “ for 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 that "a plowman 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, “'tis 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 taking out of the meal-tub, and never putting in, soon comes to the bottom." Then, as Poor Dick says, “when the well's 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 “be that goes a-borrowing goes &sorrowing," and indeed so does he that lends to such people, when he goes to get it in again.
* He's a lucky fellow who is made prudent by other men's perils.
Poor Dick further 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, “'tis easier to suppress the first desire than to satisfy all that follow it.” And 'tis as truly folly for the poor to ape the rich as for the frog to swell in order to equal
“Great estates 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
He's but a caterpillar drest,
The gaudy fop's his picture just," as Poor Richard says.
But what madness must it be to run into debt for these superfluities! We are offered by the terms of this vendue 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. 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 exeuses, 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 into debt;" and again, to the same purpose, “lying rides upon debt's back;" whereas a free-born Englishman ought not to be ashamed or afraid to see or speak to any man living. But poverty often deprives a man of all spirit and virtue. “'Tis hard for an empty bag to stand upright!" as Poor Richard truly says. What would you think of that prince or the government who should issue an edict forbidding you to dress like a gentleman or gentlewoman, on pain of imprisonment or servitude? Would you not say that you are 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 such tyranny when you run in debt for such dress! Your creditor has authority, at his pleasure, to deprive you of your liberty by confining you in jail for life or to sell 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 says, “ creditors are a superstitious set, 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 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 yourself in thriving circumstances, and that you can bear a little extravagance without injury; but