Ben Franklin

Poor Richard’s Almanack

Year 1733:

  • Ne’er take a wife till thou has a house (& a fire) to put her in (February)
  • Great Talkers, little Doers (April)
  • Eat to live, and not live to eat (May)
  • Distrust & caution are the parents of security (July)
  • The heart of a fool is in his mouth, but the mouth of a wise man is in his heart

Year 1734:

  • No man e’er was glorious, who was not laborious (March)
  • Beauty & folly are old companions (April)
  • Would you persuade, speak on Interest, not of Reason (June)
  • There have been as great Souls unknown to fame as any of the most famous (July)
  • Do good to thy Friend to keep him, to thy enemy to gain him (July)
  • Don’t value a man for the Quality he is of, but for the Qualities he possesses (Jul)
  • He that cannot obey, cannot command (August)
  • He that waits upon Fortune, is never sure of a Dinner (November)
  • Avarice and Happiness never saw each other, how then shou’d they become acquainted (November)
  • He that knows nothing of it, may by chance be a Prophet; while the wisest that is may happen to miss (December)

Year 1735:

  • Approve not of him who commends all you say (January)
  • Look before, or you’ll find yourself behind (January)
  • Be slow in chusing a Friend, slower in changing (May)
  • Early to bet and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise
  • To be humble to Superiors is Duty, to Equals Courtesy, to Inferiors Nobleness

Year 1736:

  • Diligence is the Mother of Good-Luck (February)
  • Wealth is not his that has it, but his that enjoys it (March)
  • Admiration is the daughter of Ignorance (April)
  • He that can have Patience, can have what he will (June)
  • He that sells upon trust, loses many friends, and always wants money (August)
  • He that speaks much, is much mistaken (September)
  • Creditors have better memories than debtors (September)
  • If you desire many things, many things will seem but a few (November)
  • Mary’s mouth costs her nothing, for she never opens it but at others expence

Year 1737:

  • He that can take rest is greater than he that can take cities (February)
  • The nearest way to come at glory, is to do that for conscience which we do for glory (March)
  • After crosses and losses men grow humbler & wiser (April)
  • Well done is better than well said (May)
  • He that pursues two Hares at once, does not catch the one and lets t’other go
  • Don’t go to the doctor with every distemper, nor to the lawyer with every quarrel, nor to the pot for every thirst (November)
  • The noblest question in the world is, What Good may I do in it? (December)

Year 1738:

  • Who has deceiv’d thee so oft as thy self? (January)
  • Nothing brings more pain than too much pleasure; nothing more bondage than too much liberty (January)
  • Read much, but not many Books (February)
  • Write with the learned, pronounce with the vulgar (March)
  • If thou hast wit & learning, add it to Wisdom and Modesty (April)
  • Sell not virtue to purchase wealth, nor Liberty to purchase power (May)
  • Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterwards (June)
  • The ancients tell us what is best; but we must learn of the moderns what is fittest (June)
  • Wish not so much to live long as to live well (August)
  • Time is a herb that cures all Diseases (September)
  • Reading makes a full Man, Meditation a profound Man, discourse a clear man
  • None but the well bred man knows how to confess a fault, or acknowledge himself in an error (Nov)
  • Drive thy business; let not that drive thee (November)
  • Each year one vicious habit rooted out, In time might make the worst Man good throughout (Nov)
  • Wink at small faults; remember thou has great ones (December)
  • Search other for their virtues, thyself for thy vices (December)

Year 1739:

  • He that pays for Work before it’s done, has but a pennyworth for twopence
  • Let thy Child’s first lesson be Obedience, and the second will be what thou wilt
  • Blessed is he that expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed (May)
  • Let they Discontents be Secrets (June)
  • If thou injurest Conscience, it will have its Revenge on thee (August)
  • Hear no ill of a Friend, nor speak any of an Enemy (August)
  • Pay what you owe, and you’ll know what’s your own (August)
  • Proclaim not all though knowest, all thou owest, all thou hast, nor all thou canst

Year 1740:

  • None are deceived but they that confide (February)
  • An open Foe may prove a curse; But a pretend friend is worse (March)
  • Tricks and Trechery are the Practice of Fools, that have not Wit enough to be honest (April)
  • Those who in quarrels interpose, Most often wipe a bloody nose (July)
  • When you speak to a man, look on his eyes; when he speaks to thee, look on his mouth (August)
  • Observe all men; thy self most (August)
  • A Flatterer never seems absurd, The Flatter’d always take his Word (December)
  • Lend Money to an Enemy, and thou’lt gain him, to a Friend and thou’lt lose him

Year 1741:

  • Learn of the skilful: He that teaches himself, hath a fool for his master (January)
  • If even come not, then our fears are vain: And if they do, Fear but augments the pain (August)
  • There are no fools as troublesome as those that have wit (November)

Year 1742:

  • Have you somewhat to do to-morrow; do it to-day (January)
  • Money and good Manners make the Gentleman (March)
  • Ill Customs & bad Advice are seldom forgotten (May)
  • One good Husband is worth two good Wives; for the scarcer things are the more they’re valued (July)

Year 1743:

  • How few there are who have courage enough to own their Faults, or resolution enough to mend them (January)
  • Content and Riches seldom meet together, Riches take thou, contentment I had rather (May)
  • Let all Men know thee, but no man know thee thoroughly: Men freely ford that see the shallows (July)
  • ‘Tis easy to frame a good bold resolution; But hard is the Task that concerns the execution (July)
  • If you’d be wealthy, think of saving, more than of getting: The Indies have not made Spain rich, because her Outgoes equal her incomes (October)

Year 1744:

  • Who is strong? He that can conquer his bad Habits (January)
  • Who is rich? He that rejoices in his Portion (January)
  • Industry, Perserverance & Frugality, make Fortune Yield (April)
  • Hear Reason, or she’ll make you feel her (June)
  • Sloth (like Rust) consumes faster than Labour wears: the used Key is always bright
  • As Pride increases, Fortune declines (August)
  • Drive thy Business, or it will drive thee (September)
  • He who multiplies Riches multiplies Cares (September)
  • Those who are fear’d, are hated (October)
  • The Things which hurt, instruct (October)
  • The Eye of a Master, will do more Work than his Hand (October)
  • A true Friend is the best Possession (November)

Year 1745:

  • Beware of little Expences, a small Leak will sink a great Ship (January)
  • It’s common for Men to give pretended Reasons instead of one real one (February)
  • Vanity backbites more than Malice (March)
  • He’s a Fool that cannot conceal his Wisdom (March)
  • Great spenders are bad lenders (March)
  • You may talk too much on the best of subjects (April)
  • No gains without pains (April)
  • He who buys had need have 100 Eyes, but one’s enough for him that sells the Stuff (July)
  • Many complain of their Memory, few of their Judgment (August)
  • Fools make feasts and wise men eat them (September)
  • Tis easier to prevent bad habits than to break them (October)
  • Every Man has Assurance enough to boast of his honesty, few of their Understanding (November)

Year 1746:

  • When the Well’s dry, we know the Worth of Water (January)
  • A good Wife & Health, is a Man’s best Wealth (February)
  • It’s the easiest Thing in the World for a man to deceive himself (April)
  • Virtue and Happiness are Mother and Daughter (May)
  • The generous Mind least regards money, and yet most feels the Want of it (May)
  • Dost thou love Life? Then do not squander Time; for that’s the Stuff Life is made of (June)
  • Good Sense is a Thing all need, few have, and none think they want (June)
  • The Sting of a Reproach, is the Truth of it (August)

Year 1747:

  • Pride and Gout, are seldom cur’d throughout (June)
  • We are not so sensible of the greatest Health as of the least Sickness (June)
  • A good Example is the best sermon (June)
  • He that won’t be counsell’ed, can’t be help’d (August)
  • What signifies your Patience, if you can’t find it when you want it (October)
  • Time enough, always proves little enough (November)

Year 1748:

  • Lost Time is never found again (January)
  • Liberality is not giving much but giving wisely (May)
  • Most Fools think they are only ignorant (October)
  • He that’s secure is not safe (August)
  • The second Vice is Lying; the first is Running in Debt (August)
  • When you’re good to others, you are best to yourself (September)
  • Pardoning the Bad, is injuring the Good (November)
  • He is not well-bred, that cannot bear Ill-Breeding in others (November)

Year 1749:

  • Wealth and Content are not always Bed-fellows (January)
  • Wise Men learn by others harms; Fools by their own (January)
  • Content makes poor men rich; Discontent makes rich Men poor (April)
  • If Passion drives, let Reason hold the Reins (May)
  • Having been poor is no shame, but being ashamed of it, is (July)
  • The wise man draws more Advantage from his Enemies, than the Foold from his Friends (August)
  • Doing an Injury puts you below your Enemy; Revenging on makes you but even with him; Forgiving it sets you above him (October)
  • Most of the Learning in use, is of no great use (November)
  • Great Good –nature, without Prudence, is a great Misfortune (November)

Year 1750:

  • There are three Things extreamly hard, Steel, a Diamond and to know one’s self
  • Pay what you owe, and what you’re worth you’ll know (March)
  • Many a Man thinks he is buying Pleasure, when he is really selling himself a Slave to it (April)
  • Clean your finer, before you point at my spots (June)
  • Genius without Education is like Silver in the Mine (August)
  • You may be too cunning for One, but not for All (September)
  • Tho’ Modesty is a Virtue, Bashfulness is a Vice (September)
  • You can bear your own Fault, and why not a Fault in your Wife (October)
  • What signifies knowing the Names, if you know not the Natures of Things (November)
  • Glass, China and Reputation, are easily crack’d, and never well mended (December

Year 1751:

  • Prosperity discovers Vice, Adversity Virtue (January)
  • We may give Advice, but we cannot give Conduct (February)
  • He that is conscious of a Stink in his Breeches, is jealous of every Wrinkle in another’s Nose (March)
  • ‘Tis easier to suppress the first Desire, than to satisfy all that follow it (June)
  • Don’t judge of Mens Wealth or Piety, by their Sunday Appearances (June)
  • Friendship increases by visiting Friends, but by visiting seldom (June)
  • To-day is Yesterday’s Pupil (August)
  • ‘Tis great Confidence in a Friend to tell him your Faults, greater to tell him his
  • The Wise and Brave dares own that he was wrong (October)
  • The Proud hate Pride – in others (December)
  • Drunkenness, that worst of Evils, makes some Men Fools, some Beasts, some Devils (December)

Year 1752:

  • Generous Minds are all of kin (April)
  • ‘Tis more noble to forgive, and more manly to despise, than to revenge an Injury
  • A Brother may not be a Friend, but a Friend will always be a Brother (May)
  • Meanness is the Parent of Insolence (May)
  • A Temper to bear much, will have much to bear (July)
  • Pride dines upon Vanity, sups on Contempt (July)
  • Old Boys have their Playthings as well as young Ones; the Difference is only in the Price (August)
  • The Brave and the Wise can both pity and excuse; when Cowards and Fools shew no Mercy (October)
  • If Man could have Half his Wishes, he would double his Troubles (October)
  • Success has ruin’d many a Man (December)

Year 1753:

  • A great Talk may be no Fool, but he is one that relies upon him (February)
  • When Reason preaches, if you won’t hear her she’ll box your Ears (March)
  • It is not Leisure that is not used (March)
  • Ignorance leads Men into a Party, and shame keeps them from getting out again
  • Haste makes Waste (June)
  • Anger is never without a Reason, but seldom a good One (July)
  • He that is of Opinion Money will do every Thing, may well be suspected of doing every Thing for Money (July)
  • God, Parents, and Instructors, can never be requited (August)
  • He that builds before he counts the Cost, acts foolishly; and he that counts before he builds, finds he did not count wisely (September)
  • Patience in Market, is worth Pounds in a Year (September)

Year 1754:

  • The first Degree of Folly, is to conceit one’ self wise; the second to profess it; the third to despise Counsel (January)
  • Praise little, dispraise less (June)
  • The learned Fool writes his Nonsense in better Language that the unlearned; but still ‘tis Nonsense (July)
  • You may give a Man an Office, but you cannot give him Discretion (August)
  • You may sometimes be much in the wrong, in owning your being in the right
  • Where Sense is wanting, every thing is wanting (October)
  • He that hath no ill Fortune will be troubled with good (November)
  • Learning to the Studious; Riches to the Careful; Power to the Bold; Heaven to the Virtuous (December)

Year 1755:

  • A man with out a Wife, is but half a Man (January)
  • Speak little, do much (January)
  • When the Wine enters, out goes the Truth (February)
  • Two dry Sticks will burn a green One (April)
  • Think of three Things, whence you came, where you are going, and to whom you must account (May)
  • The Wolf sheds his Coat once a Year, his Disposition never (June)
  • Who is wise? He that learns from every One. Who is powerful? He that govern his Passions. Who is rich? He that is content. Who is that? Nobody. (July)
  • The Doors of Wisdom are never shut (August)
  • The Master’s Eye will do more Work than both his Hands (September)
  • Being ignorant is not so much a Shame, as being unwilling to learn (October)
  • Diligence overcomes Difficulties, Sloth makes them (November)
  • Neglect mending a small Fault, and ‘twill soon be a great one (November)
  • Bad Gains are truly Losses (November)
  • A long Life may not be good enough, but a good Life is long enough (December)
  • Be at War with your Vices, at Peace with Neighbours, and let every New-Year find you a better Man (December)
  • Virtue may not always make a Face handsome, but Vice will certainly make it ugly (December)

Year 1756:

  • Laws too gentle are seldom obeyed; too sever, seldom executed (May)
  • Love, and be loved (May)
  • A wise Man will desire no more, than what he may get justly, use soberly, distribute cheerfully, and leave contentedly (June)
  • Laziness travels so slowly, that Poverty soon overtakes him (September)
  • Get what you can, and what you get, hold; ‘Tis the Stone that will turn all your lead into Gold (November)
  • Saying and Doing, have quarrel’d and parted (December)
  • Tell me my Faults, and mend your own (December)

Year 1757:

  • Many a Man’s own Tongue gives Evidence against his Understanding (January)
  • Nothing dries sooner than a tear (January)
  • It is Ill-Manners to silence a Fool, and Cruelty to let him go on (March)
  • Men take more pains to mask than mend (April)
  • One To-day is worth two To-morrows (April)
  • The way to be safe, is neve to be secure (May)

Year 1758:

  • Fools need Advice the most, but wise Men only are the better for it (March)
  • Silence is not always a Sign of Wisdom, but Babbling is ever a Mark of Folly (April)
  • Great Modesty often hides great Merit (April)
  • You may delay, but Time will not (April)
  • He that’s content, hath enough; He that complains, has too much (June)
  • Half the Truth is often a great Lie (July)
  • Spare and have is better than spend and crave (August)

How to get RICHES

  • The Art of getting Richest consists very much in THRIFT. All Men are not equally qualified for getting Money, but it is in the Power of everyone alike to practise this Virtue. He that would be beforehand in the World, must be beforehand with his Business: It is not only ill Management, but discovers a slothful disposition, to do that in the Afternoon, which should have been done in the Morning. Useful Attainments in your Minority will procure Riches in Maturity, of which Writing and Accounts are not the meanest. Learning, whether Speculative or Practical is, in Popular or Mixt Governments, the Natural source of Wealth and Honour.
  • In Things of moment, on thy self depend,
  • Nor trust too far thy Servant or thy Friend:
  • With private Views, thy Friend may promise fair,
  • And Servants very seldom prove sincere.
  • What can be done, with Care perform to day,
  • Dangers unthought-of will attend Delay;
  • Your distant Prospects all precarious are,
  • And Fortune is as fickle as she’s fair.
  • Nor trivial Loss, nor trivial Gain despise;
  • Molehills, if often heap’d, to Mountains rise:
  • Weigh every small Expence, and nothing waste,
  • Farthings long sav’d amount to Pounds at last.

Advice to a Young Tradesman

TO MY FRIEND, A.B.:   As you have desired it of me, I write the following hints, which have been of service to me, and may, if observed, be so to you.

Remember, that time is money. He that can earn ten shillings a day by his labor, and goes abroad, or sits idle, one half of that day, though he spends but six pence during his diversion or idleness, ought not to reckon that the only expense; he has really spent, or rather thrown away, five shillings besides.

Remember, that credit is money. If a man lets his money lie in my hands after it is due, he gives me the interest, or as much I can make of it during that time. This amounts to a considerable sum where a man has good and large credit, and makes good use of it.

Remember, that money is of the prolific, generating nature. Money can beget money, and its offspring can beget more, and so on. Five shillings turned is six, turned again it is seven and three-pence, and so on till it become an hundred pounds. The more there is of it, the more it produces every turning, so that the profits rise quicker and quicker, he that kills a breeding sow, destroy all her offspring to the thousandth generation. He that murders a crown, destroys all that it might have produced, even scores of pounds.

Remember, that six pounds a year is but a groat a day. For this little sum (which may be daily wasted either in time or expense unperceived) a man of credit may, on his own security, have the constant possession and use of an hundred pounds. So much in stock, briskly turned by an industrious man, produces great advantage.

Remember this saying, The good paymaster is lord of another man’s purse. He that is know to pay punctually and exactly to the time he promises, may at any time, and on any occasion, raise all the money his friends can spare. This is sometimes of great use. After industry and frugality, nothing contributes more to the raising of a young man in the world than punctuality and justice in all his dealings; therefore, never keep borrowed money an hour beyond the time you promised, lest a disappointment shut up your friends purse forever.

The most trifling actions that affect a man’s credit are to be regarded. The sound of your hammer at five in the morning, or nine at night, heard by a creditor, makes him easy six months longer; but, if he sees you at a billiard table, or hears your voice at at tavern, when you should be at work, he sends for his money the next day, demands it, before he can receive it, in a lump.

It shows, besides, that you are mindful of what you owe; it makes you appear a careful as well as an honest man, and that still increases your credit.

Beware of thinking all your own that you possess, and of living accordingly. It is a mistake that many people who have credit fall into. To prevent this, keep an exact account for some time, both of your expenses and your income. If you take the pains at first to mention particulars, it will have this good effect: you will discover how wonderfully small, trifling expenses mount up to large sums, and will discern what might have been, and may for the future be saved, without occasioning any great convenience.

In short, the way to wealth, if you desire it, is plain as the way to market. It depends chiefly on two words, industry and frugality; that is, waste neither time nor money, but make the best use of both. Without industry and frugality nothing will do, and with them everything. He that gets all he can honestly, and saves all the gets (necessary expense expected), will certainly become rich, if that Being who governs the world, to whom all should look for a blessing on their honest endeavors, doth not, in His wise providence, otherwise determine.

An Old Tradesman.

Benjamin Franklin’s List of Virtues

  1. Temperance: Eat not to dullness and drink not to elevation.
  2. Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself. Avoid trifling conversation
  3. Order: Let all your things have their places. Let each part of your business have its time.
  4. Resolution: Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve.
  5. Frugality: Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself: i.e. Waste nothing.
  6. Industry: Lose no time. Be always employed in something useful. Cut off all unnecessary actions.
  7. Sincerity: Use no hurtful deceit. Think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
  8. Justice: Wrong none, by doing injuries or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
  9. Moderation: Avoid extremes. Forebear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
  10. Cleanliness: Tolerate no uncleanness in body, clothes or habitation.
  11. Chastity: Rarely use venery but for health or offspring; Never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
  12. Tranquility: Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
  13. Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates

Miscellaneous:

  • A penny saved is a penny earned
  • Be civil to all; sociable to many; familiar with few; friend to one; enemy to none.
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