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In the early days of our country almanacs were a popular form of literature. Almost every farmer had an almanac hanging near the fireplace. These almanacs usually contained a monthly calendar, movements of the heavenly bodies, and a variety of information and useful literature. Franklin began the publication of such an almanac in 1732 and continued it for twenty-five years, claiming it was written by one Richard Saunders. In his almanac Franklin began his proverbs with the pbrase Poor Richard says, as if he were quoting from Richard Saunders, and thus the almanac came to be called Poor Richard's Almanac.
“These proverbs,” says Franklin, “ which contain 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 continent and reprinted in Britain on a broadside, to be stuck up in houses; two translations were made of it in French 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.”
The pages which follow were prefixed to the almanac of 1757.
POOR RICHARD'S ALMANAC.
COURTEOUS READER: 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 for 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 of it. 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 repeating those sentences, I have sometimes quoted myself with great gravity.
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