« AnteriorContinuar »
whom they formerly despised, but who, through industry and frugality, have maintained their standing; in which case it appears plainly that 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 ; but Always taking out of the mealtub, and never putting in, soon comes to the bottom, as Poor Richard says; and then, 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, as Poor Richard says; and indeed so does he that lends to such people, when he goes to get it again. Poor Dick further advises
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 appearance 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 for the frog to swell in order to equal the ox.
Vessels large may venture more,
It is, however, a folly soon punished; for, as Poor Richard says, Pride that dines on vanity sups on contempt. 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, nor ease pain ; it makes no increase of merit in the person; it creates envy; it hastens misfortune.
“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 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 excuses, and by degrees come to lose your veracity, and sink into base, downright lying; for, The second vice is lying, the first is running into debt, as Poor Richard says; 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. It is hard for an empty bag to stand upright.
“What would you think of that prince or of that 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 gaol till you shall be able to pay him. When you have got your bargain you may perhaps think little of payment; but, as Poor Richard says, Creditors have better memories than debtors ; 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 his shoulders. Those have a short Lent who owe money to be paid at Easter. 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 save while you may ;
No morning sun lasts a whole day. 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.
Get what you can, and what you get hold;
And, when you have got the Philosopher's stone, sure you will no longer complain of bad times or the difficulty of paying taxes.
“IV. 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 all 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, as Poor Richard says, and scarce in that, for it is true We may give advice, but we cannot give conduct. However, remember this, They that won't be counselled, cannot be helped ; and further, that If you will not hear reason, she will surely rap your knuckles, as Poor Richard says.”
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. 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 any 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, and though I had at first determined to buy stuff for a new coat, I went away resolved to wear my old one a little longer. Reader, if thou wilt do the same, thy profit will be as great as mine. I am, as ever, thine to serve thee,
[Commonly known as The Way to Wealth, from the last of Franklin's series of almanacs: Poor Richard Improved, being an Almanac ... for the year of our Lord 1758. The text followed, with the permission of the publishers, G. P. Putnam's Sons, is that of Bigelow's Works, vol. i, pp. 441-452.]
TO MR. STRAHAN
PHILADELPHIA, 5 July, 1775. MR. STRAHAN :- - You are a member of Parliament, and one of that majority which has doomed my country to destruction. You have begun to burn our towns, and murder our people. Look upon your hands; they are stained with the blood of your relations ! You and I were long friends; you are now my enemy, and I am,
B. FRANKLIN [ Works, vol. v, p. 534.]
TO JOSEPH PRIESTLEY
PHILADELPHIA, 3 October, 1775. DEAR SIR:- I am to set out to-morrow for the camp, and, having just heard of this opportunity, can only write a line to say that I am well and hearty. Tell our dear good friend, Dr. Price, who sometimes has his doubts and despondencies about our firmness, that America is determined and unanimous; a very few Tories and placemen excepted, who will probably soon export themselves. Britain, at the expense of three millions, has killed one hundred and fifty Yankees this campaign, which is twenty thousand pounds a head; and at Bunker's Hill she gained a mile of ground, half of which she lost again by our taking post on Ploughed Hill.
During the same time sixty thousand children have been born in America. From this data his mathematical head will easily calculate the time and expense necessary to kill us all, and conquer our whole territory. My sincere respects to and to the club of honest Whigs at Adieu. I am ever your most affectionately,
B. FRANKLIN [Works, vol. v, pp. 539-540.]
A DIALOGUE BETWEEN BRITAIN, FRANCE, SPAIN,
HOLLAND, SAXONY, AND AMERICA
Brituin. Sister of Spain, I have a favor to ask of you. My subjects in America are disobedient, and I am about to chastise them; I beg you will not furnish them with any arms or ammunition.
Spain. — Have you forgotten, then, that when my subjects in the Low Countries rebelled against me, you not only furnished them with military stores, but joined them with an army and a fleet? I wonder how you can have the impudence to ask such a favor of me, or the folly to expect it !
Britain. — You, my dear sister France, will surely not refuse me this favor.
France. — Did you not assist my rebel Huguenots with a fleet and an army at Rochelle? And have you not lately aided privately and sneakingly my rebel subjects in Corsica ? And do you not at this instant keep their chief pensioned, and ready to head a fresh revolt there, whenever you can find or make an opportunity? Dear sister, you must be a little silly !
Britain. — Honest Holland ! You see it is remembered I was once your friend; you will therefore be mine on this occasion. I know, indeed, you are accustomed to smuggle with these rebels of mine. I will wink at that; sell them as much tea as you please, to enervate the rascals, since they will not take it of me; but for God's sake don't supply them with any arms !
Holland. — 'Tis true you assisted me against Philip, my tyrant of Spain, but have I not assisted you against one of your tyrants ; and enabled you to expel him ? Surely that account, as we merchants say, is balanced, and I am nothing in your debt. I have indeed some complaints against you, for endeavoring to starve me by your Navigation Acts; but, being peaceably disposed, I do not quarrel with you for that. I shall only go on quietly with my own business. Trade is my profession; ʼtis all I have to subsist on. And, let me tell you, I shall make no scruple (on the prospect of a good market for that commodity) even to send my ships to Hell and supply the Devil with brimstone. For you must know, I can insure in London against the burning of my sails.