_Poor Richard Improved_


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 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 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 wise 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 stopt my Horse lately where a great Number of People were collected at a Vendue of Merchant Goods. The Hour of Sale not being come, they were conversing on the Badness of the Times, and one of the Company call'd to a plain clean old Man, with white Locks, _Pray, Father_ Abraham, _what think you of the Times? Won't 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 reply'd, If you'd have my Advice, I'll give it you in short, for a _Word to the Wise is enough_, and _many Words won't fill a Bushel_, as _Poor Richard says._ They join'd in desiring him to speak his Mind, and gathering round him, he proceeded as follows;

Friends, says he, and Neighbours, 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, in his Almanack of 1733.

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, if we reckon all that is spent in absolute _Sloth_, or doing of nothing, with that which is spent in idle Employments or Amusements, that amount to nothing. _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's 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_, as _Poor Richard_ says; 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 over-takes 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 need not wish_, as _Poor Richard_ says, 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. 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 are 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 Despair encreaseth them_, says _Poor Richard. -- _ What though 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 shall 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 farther, _Have you somewhat 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 Mittens; remember that _the Cat in Gloves catches no Mice_, as _Poor Richard_ says. 'Tis 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_, as _Poor Richard_ says in his Almanack, the Year I cannot just now remember.

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; so that, as _Poor Richard_ says, a _Life of Leisure and a Life of Laziness are two Things._ Do you imagine that Sloth will afford you more Comfort than Labour? No, for as _Poor Richard_ says, _Trouble springs from Idleness, and grievous Toil from needless Ease. 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'll follow you. The diligent Spinner has a large Shift_; and _now I have a Sheep and a Cow, every Body bids me Good morrow_; all which is well said by _Poor Richard._

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 is 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 Plough would thrive, Himself must either hold or drive._

And again, _The Eye of a 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._ Trusting too much to others Care is the Ruin of many; for, as the _Almanack_ says, _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, saith _Poor Dick_, _Learning is to the Studious_, and _Riches to the Careful_, as well as _Power to the Bold_, and _Heaven to the Virtuous._ And farther, _If you would have a faithful Servant, and one that you like, serve yourself._ And again, he adviseth to Circumspection and Care, even in the smallest Matters, because sometimes _a little Neglect may breed great Mischief_; adding, _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 Care about a Horse-shoe Nail.

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_, as _Poor Richard_ says; 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,_ says he, in another Almanack, _think of Saving as well as of Getting: The_ Indies _have not made_ Spain _rich, because her_ Outgoes _are greater than her_ Incomes. Away then with your expensive Follies, and you will not have so much Cause to complain of hard Times, heavy Taxes, and chargeable Families; for, as _Poor Dick_ says,

_Women and Wine, Game and Deceit, Make the Wealth small, and the Wants 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 what _Poor Richard_ says, _Many_ a Little _makes a Mickle_; and farther, _Beware of_ little _Expences_; _a small Leak will sink a great Ship_; and again, _Who Dainties love, shall Beggars prove_; and moreover, _Fools make Feasts, and wise Men eat them._

Here you are all got together at this Vendue of _Fineries_ and _Knicknacks._ 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 straitning 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, _Poor Richard_ says, _'Tis foolish to lay out Money in a Purchase of Repentance_; and yet this Folly is practised every Day at Vendues, for want of minding the Almanack. _Wise Men_, as _Poor Dick_ says, _learn by others Harms, Fools scarcely by their own_; but, _Felix quem faciunt aliena Pericula cautum._ Many a one, for the Sake of Finery on the Back, have gone with a hungry Belly, and half starved their Families; _Silks and Sattins, Scarlet and Velvets,_ as _Poor Richard_ says, _put out the Kitchen Fire._ These are not the _Necessaries_ of Life; they can scarcely be called the _Conveniencies_, and yet only because they look pretty, how many _want_ to _have_ them. The _artificial_ Wants of Mankind thus become more numerous than the _natural_; and, as _Poor Dick_ says, _For one_ poor _Person, there are an hundred_ indigent. 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 _'tis Day, and will never be Night_; that a little to be spent out of _so much_, is not worth minding; _(a Child and a Fool,_ as _Poor Richard_ says, _imagine_ Twenty Shillings _and Twenty Years can never be spent)_ but, _always taking out of the Meal-tub, and never putting in, soon comes to the Bottom_; then, as _Poor Dick_ says, _When the Well's 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_; 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; E'er_ 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, _'Tis easier to_ suppress _the first Desire, than to_ satisfy _all that follow it._ And 'tis as truly Folly for the Poor to ape the Rich, as for the Frog to swell, in order to equal the Ox.

_Great Estates may venture more, But little Boats should keep near Shore._

'Tis however a Folly soon punished; for _Pride that dines on Vanity sups on Contempt_, as _Poor Richard_ says. And in another Place, _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, or ease Pain; it makes no Increase of Merit in the Person, it creates Envy, it hastens Misfortune.

_What is a Butterfly? At best He's but a Caterpillar drest. The gaudy Fop's his Picture just,_

as _Poor Richard_ says.

But what Madness must it be to _run in Debt_ for these Superfluities! We are offered, by the Terms of this Vendue, _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, as _Poor Richard_ says, _The second Vice is Lying, the first is running in Debt._ And again, to the same Purpose, _Lying rides upon Debt's Back._ Whereas a freeborn _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: _'Tis hard for an empty Bag to stand upright_, as _Poor Richard_ truly says. What would you think of that Prince, or that Government, who should issue an Edict forbidding you to dress like a Gentleman or a 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 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 Goal for Life, or to sell 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 _Creditors, Poor Richard_ tells us, _have better Memories than Debtors_; and in another Place says, _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 extreamly short. _Time_ will seem to have added Wings to his Heels as well as Shoulders. _Those have a short Lent,_ saith _Poor Richard, _who owe Money to be paid at Easter._ Then since, as he says, _The Borrower is a Slave to the Lender, and the Debtor to the Creditor_, disdain the Chain, preserve your Freedom; and maintain your Independency: Be _industrious_ and _free_; be _frugal_ and _free._ At present, perhaps, you may think yourself 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,_

as _Poor Richard_ says. -- Gain may be temporary and uncertain, but ever while you live, Expence is constant and certain; and _'tis easier to build two Chimnies 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; Tis the Stone that will turn all your Lead into Gold,_

as _Poor Richard_ says. And when you have got the Philosopher's Stone, sure you will no longer complain of bad Times, or the Difficulty of paying Taxes.

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, and scarce in that_; for it is true, _we may give Advice, but we cannot give Conduct_, as _Poor Richard_ says: However, remember this, _They that won't be counselled, can't be helped_, as _Poor Richard_ says: And farther, That _if you will not hear Reason, she'll surely rap your Knuckles._"

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 Vendue opened, and they began to buy extravagantly, notwithstanding all his Cautions, and their own Fear of Taxes. -- I found the good Man had thoroughly studied my Almanacks, and digested all I had dropt on those Topicks during the Course of Five-and-twenty 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_ 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,_ _July_ 7, 1757. RICHARD SAUNDERS. ______

One _Nestor_ is worth two _Ajaxes._

When you're an Anvil, hold you still; When you're a Hammer, strike your Fill.

When Knaves betray each other, one can scarce be blamed, or the other pitied.

He that carries a small Crime easily, will carry it on when it comes to be an Ox.

Happy _Tom Crump_, ne'er sees his own Hump.

Fools need Advice most, but wise Men only are the better for it.

Silence is not always a Sign of Wisdom, but Babbling is ever a Mark of Folly.

Great Modesty often hides great Merit.

You may delay, but _Time_ will not.

_Virtue_ may not always make a Face handsome, but _Vice_ will certainly make it ugly.

Prodigality of _Time_, produces Poverty of Mind as well as of Estate.

Content is the Philosopher's Stone, that turns all it touches into Gold.

He that's content, hath enough; He that complains, has too much.

_Pride_ gets into the Coach, and _Shame_ mounts behind.

The first Mistake in publick Business, is the going into it.

Half the Truth is often a great Lie.

The Way to see by _Faith_, is to shut the Eye of _Reason_: The Morning Daylight appears plainer when you put out your Candle.

A full Belly makes a dull Brain: The Muses starve in a Cook's Shop.

_Spare and have_ is better than _spend and crave_.

_Good-Will_, like the Wind, floweth where it listeth.

The Honey is sweet, but the Bee has a Sting.

In a corrupt Age, the putting the World in order would breed Confusion; then e'en mind your own Business.

To serve the Publick faithfully, and at the same time please it entirely, is impracticable.

Proud Modern Learning despises the antient: _School-men_ are now laught at by _School-boys._

Men often _mistake_ themselves, seldom _forget_ themselves.

The idle Man is the Devil's Hireling; whose Livery is Rags, whose Diet and Wages are Famine and Diseases.

Rob not God, nor the Poor, lest thou ruin thyself; the Eagle snatcht a Coal from the Altar, but it fired her Nest.

With bounteous Cheer, Conclude the Year.