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´╗┐Title: Franklin's Way to Wealth - or, 'Poor Richard Improved'
Author: Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: 'If you would have my advice, I will give it you in
short; "for a word to the wise is enough."

Published by W. Darton, Junr. Octr. 1, 1805.]



"Poor Richard Improved."

[Illustration: Published by W. Darton, Junr. Octr. 1, 1805.]


    No. 58, Holborn-Hill.



_Just Published_,

A GRAMMATICAL CATECHISM for the use of Schools, upon the plan of
Lindley Murray.

"This manual is particularly adapted to the purposes of examination and
catechetical instruction, and will be found of the utmost service in
weekly grammatical enquiries."

_This Day is Published, Price 5s. 12mo. bound_,

THE PAGAN MYTHOLOGY of ancient Greece and Rome versified, accompanied
with Philosophical Elucidations of the probable latent meaning of some
of the Fables of the Ancients, on a theory entirely new. By R. ATKINS.
Illustrated by twenty-two Cuts on Wood.

"This little work is intended as an easy Introduction to the Mythology
of ancient Greece and Rome, and is particularly adapted to the use
of Schools, being divested of the obscene allegories introduced
by the ancients in their usual figurative style. It is certainly
better calculated to convey a general idea of the subject, than any
attempt of the kind which has yet fallen under our observation. The
Poetical Illustrations are simple, and well calculated to the purpose
of becoming a vehicle of instruction to juvenile minds, and the
elucidations of the fables are plausible and ingenious."

                                          _Repository, June, 1809._

    Sold by W. and T. Darton,
    58, Holborn Hill.


_Dr. Franklin, wishing to collect into one piece all the sayings
upon the following subjects, which he had dropped in the course of
publishing the Almanacks called "Poor Richard," introduces Father
Abraham for this purpose. Hence it is, that Poor Richard is so often
quoted, and that, in the present title, he is said to be improved.
Notwithstanding the stroke of humour in the concluding paragraph of
this address, Poor Richard (Saunders) and Father Abraham have proved,
in America, that they are no common preachers. And shall we, brother
Englishmen, refuse good sense and saving knowledge, because it comes
from the other side of the water?_

_The following may be had of the Proprietors,

W. & T. DARTON_,

And of most Booksellers in the United Kingdom.

    Virtue and Innocence, a Poem                1  0

    The Economy of Human Life                   1  0

    Old Friends in a New Dress, or Selections
      from Esop's Fables, in Verse,
      2 parts, plates                           2  0

    Little Jack Horner, in Verse, plain 1s.
      coloured                                  1  6

    Portraits of Curious Characters in London,
      &c. with Biographical and Interesting
      Anecdotes                                 1  6

    Watt's Catechism and Prayers, in 1 vol.
      half bound                                1  0

    Wonders of the Horse, recorded in Anecdotes,
      Prose and Verse, by Joseph
      Taylor                                    2  6

    Tales of the Robin & other Small Birds,
      in Verse, by Joseph Taylor                2  6

    Instructive Conversation Cards, consisting
      of 32 Biographical Sketches of
      Eminent British Characters                1  6

    Ditto, containing a Description of the
      most distinguished Places in England      1  6

    *** Just published, The Mice & their
      Pic Nic; a good Moral Tale, price
      with neat coloured plates                 1  0




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 those 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 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,' says 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. 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.

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.

[Illustration: Published by W. Darton, Junr. Octr. 1, 1805.]

"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 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 up and be doing,
and doing to the purpose: so by diligence shall we do more with less
perplexity. "Sloth makes all things difficult, but 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.

[Illustration: The Sun shone yesterday, and I would not work, to-day it
rains and I cannot work.]

'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 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. "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
well 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 working man'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 good luck, and God gives all things to industry. Then plow 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 to-morrows," 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, your country, and your king. 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


'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." Leisure is time for doing
something useful; this leisure the diligent man will obtain, but the
lazy man never; for "A life of leisure and a life of laziness are two
things. Many, without labour, would live by their wits only, but they
break for want of stock;" whereas industry gives comfort, and plenty,
and respect. "Fly pleasures and they will follow you. The diligent
spinner has a large shift; and now I have a sheep and a cow, every body
bids me good-morrow."

II. 'But with our industry we must likewise be steady, settled, and
careful, and oversee our own affairs with our own eyes, and not trust
too much to others: for, as Poor Richard says,

    "I never saw an oft-removed tree,
     Nor yet an oft-removed family,
     That throve so well as those that settled be."

And again, "Three removes are as bad as a fire," and again, "Keep thy
shop, and thy shop will keep thee:" and again, "If you would have your
business done, go; if not, send." And again,

    "He that by the plow would thrive,
     Himself must either hold or drive."

'And again, "The eye of the master will do more work than both his
hands:" and again, "Want of care does us more damage than want of
knowledge;" and again, "Not to oversee workmen, is to leave them your
purse open."

[Illustration: Published by W. Darton, Junr. Octr. 1, 1805.]

[Illustration: Published by W. Darton, Junr. Octr. 1, 1805.]

'Trusting too much to others' care is the ruin of many; for, "In the
affairs of this world, men are saved, not by faith, but by the want
of it:" but a man's own care is profitable; for, "If you would have a
faithful servant, and one that you like,--serve yourself. A little
neglect may breed great mischief; for want of a nail the shoe was lost;
for want of a shoe the horse was lost; and for want of a horse the
rider was lost;" being overtaken and slain by the enemy; all for want
of a little care about a horse-shoe nail.

III. 'So much for industry, my friends, and attention to one's own
business; but to these we must add frugality, if we would make our
industry more certainly successful. A man may if he knows not how to
save as he gets, "keep his nose all his life to the grindstone, and die
not worth a groat at last. A fat kitchen makes a lean will;" and,

    "Many estates are spent in the getting,
     Since women for tea forsook spinning and knitting,
     And men for punch forsook hewing and splitting."

"If you would be wealthy, think of saving, as well as of getting. The
Indies have not made Spain rich, because her out-goes are greater than
her incomes."

[Illustration: Published by W. Darton, Junr. Octr. 1, 1805.]


       *       *       *       *       *

'Away, then, with your expensive follies, and you will not then have
so much cause to complain of hard times, heavy taxes, and chargeable
families; for,

    "Women and wine, game and deceit,
     Make the wealth small, and the want great."

And farther, "What maintains one vice, would bring up two children."
You may think perhaps, that a little tea, or a little punch now and
then, diet a little more costly, clothes a little finer, and a little
entertainment now and then, can be no great matter; but remember, "Many
a little makes a mickle." Beware of little expences; "A small leak
will sink a great ship," as Poor Richard says; and again, "Who dainties
love shall beggars prove;" and moreover, "Fools make feasts, and wise
men eat them." Here you are all got together to this sale of fineries
and nick-nacks. 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 a while:"
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
harm than good. For, in another place, he says, "Many have been ruined
by buying good pennyworths." Again, "It is foolish to lay out money
in a purchase of repentance;" and yet this folly is practised every
day at auctions, for want of minding the Almanack. Many a one, for the
sake of finery on the back, have gone with a hungry belly, and half
starved their families; "Silks and satins, scarlet and velvets, put out
the kitchen fire," as Poor Richard says. 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?--By these, and
other extravagancies, 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 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 meal-tub, 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 in again.
Poor Dick farther advises, and says,

    "Fond pride of dress is sure a very curse,
     Ere fancy you consult, consult your purse."

[Illustration: Published by W. Darton, Junr. Octr. 1, 1805.]

'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,
     But little boats should keep near shore."

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

'But what madness it must 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 in 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 nor 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 were 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 that 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 for life, or by selling 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, 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
supper-less, than rise in debt,"

    Get what you can, and what you get hold,
    'Tis the stone that will turn all your lead into gold.

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 will not be counselled cannot be helped;"
and farther, 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
Almanacks, and digested all I had dropt on those 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,

                                                  RICHARD SAUNDERS.

[Illustration: FINIS.]

    W. and T. Darton, Printers, Holborn-Hill, London.

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes:

Only the most obvious and clear punctuation errors repaired. The
opening single quotes end pages later.

Page 9, "grevious" changed to "grievous" (much more grievous)

Page 11, "waisting" changed to "wasting" (wasting time must be)

Page 12, "mak" changed to "make" (We may make)

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