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PRELIMINARY ADDRESS to the Pennsylvania Almanack, intitled “Poor Richard's Almanack, for
the year 1758."
I have heard, that nothing gives an author sp much pleasure as to find his works respectfully quoted by other learned authors. This pleasure I have seldom enjoyed; for tho’ I have been, if I may say it without vanity, an eminent author (of almanacks) 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 shewed 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 repeating those wise sentences, I have soinetimes quoted myself with great gravity.
Judge then how much I 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 sale not being come, they were conversing on the bad
ness 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 be ever able to pay them? What would you advise us to ? Father Abraham stood up, and replied, - If you 'd have my advice, I'll give it to you in short: for “a word to the wise is enough : and many words would not fill a bushel,” as poor Richard says. They joined in desiring him to speak his mind: and, gathering round him, he proceeded as follows:
Friends,' said he, and neighbours, the taxes are indeed very heavy; and if those Jaid 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 grevious 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 in his almanack. It would be thought a hard government that should tax it's people one-tenth part of their time, to be employed in it's service; but idleness taxes many of us much more, if we reckon all that is spent in absolute sloth or doing of nothing, with that which is spent in idle employments, or amusements which amount to nothing. Sloth, by bringing on diseases, absolutely shortens life. “Sloth, like rost, consuines faster than labour wears, while the hey used 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 be up and doing, and doing to the purpose; so by diligence we shall do more with less perplexity. “Sloth makes all things difficult, but industry all easy," as poor Richard says; and, “he who riseth late, must trot all day, and will scarcely overtake his business at night ; while laziness travels so slowly that poverty soon overtakes him," as we read in poor Richard ; who adds, “ Drive thy business ; let not that drive thee," and, "early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” So what signifies wishing and hoping for better times? we may make these times better if we bestir ourselves. “ Industry needs not wish,” as poor Richard says; and,' “ he who lives on 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;" and (as poor Richard likewise observes,) “He that hath a trade hath an estate ; and he that hath a calling hath an office of profit and honour ;» 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 be industrious, we shall never starve'; for, as poor Richard says,
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 des pair encreaseth them," says poor Richard. What tho' you have found no treasure, nor has any rich relation left you a legacy, “ Diligence is the mother of good-luck," as poor Richard says; and,“ God gives all things to industry; then plough deep while sluggards sleep, and you will have corn, to sell and to keep,” says poor Dick. Work while it is called to-day; for you know not how much you may be hindered to-morrow; which makes poor Richard say, “One to-day is worth two to-morrows;" and further, “ Have you something to do to-morrow, do it 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 master be ashamed to catch yourself idle," as poor Dick says. When there is so much to be done for yourself, your family, your country, and your gracious king, be up by peep of day; “let not the sun look down, and say inglorious here he lies !” handle your tools without mit. tens; 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 banded; 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 ca. ble; and, light strokes fell great oaks," as poor Richard says in his Almanack, the year I cannot just now remember.