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WRITINGS OF FRANKLIN
HUMOROUS, MORAL, ECONOMICAL, AND POLITICAL.
THE WAY TO WEALTH, As clearly shown in the practice of an old Pennsylvania
Almanac, entitled, “ Poor Richard Improved.”
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. 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 labour 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
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, bul 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.
“ 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 hopes will aie 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 honour, as Poor Richard says; but then the trade must be worked at, and the calling 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 workingman'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 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 tomorrows, as Poor Richard says; and farther, 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 master ? Be ashamed to catch yourself idle when there is so much to be done for yourself, your family, and your country. 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.