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11/02/2007

Ben Franklin...The Way to Wealth

I was in Philadelphia this week, doing a little sight-seeing,
including Independence Hall and the National Constitution
Center. So in the gift shop I picked up Benjamin Franklin’s “The
Way to Wealth,” an essay he wrote in 1758 as a preface to his
‘Poor Richard’s Almanack.’ [sic]

Following are his thoughts about how to achieve success in
business. Franklin created Father Abraham for this purpose, who
liberally quotes from Poor Richard to a crowd waiting for an
auction to begin. It’s the basis for what became one of the most
important business books ever published.

---

[All spelling is correct]

Courteous reader,

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 merchant’s 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 ever be able to pay them? What would
you advise us to do?” – 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 helps
themselves,’ as Poor Richard says.

“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 idelness taxes many of us much more; 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 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.

“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 who 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 plough deep, while
sluggards sleep, and you shall have corn to sell and keep.’ Work
while it is called today, for you know not how much you may be
hindered tomorrow. ‘One today is worth two tomorrows,’ as
Poor Richard says; and farther, ‘Never leave that till tomorrow,
which you can do today.’ -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 oaks.’

“Methinks I hear some of you says, ‘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 are not sure of a minute, throw not away an hour.’ Leisure
is the 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.’

“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 and 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 plough 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 more damage than
want of knowledge:’ And again, ‘Not to oversee workmen is to
leave them your purse open.’ Trusting too much to other’s 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.

---

Part two next week.

Brian Trumbore



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-11/02/2007-      
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Wall Street History

11/02/2007

Ben Franklin...The Way to Wealth

I was in Philadelphia this week, doing a little sight-seeing,
including Independence Hall and the National Constitution
Center. So in the gift shop I picked up Benjamin Franklin’s “The
Way to Wealth,” an essay he wrote in 1758 as a preface to his
‘Poor Richard’s Almanack.’ [sic]

Following are his thoughts about how to achieve success in
business. Franklin created Father Abraham for this purpose, who
liberally quotes from Poor Richard to a crowd waiting for an
auction to begin. It’s the basis for what became one of the most
important business books ever published.

---

[All spelling is correct]

Courteous reader,

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 merchant’s 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 ever be able to pay them? What would
you advise us to do?” – 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 helps
themselves,’ as Poor Richard says.

“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 idelness taxes many of us much more; 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 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.

“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 who 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 plough deep, while
sluggards sleep, and you shall have corn to sell and keep.’ Work
while it is called today, for you know not how much you may be
hindered tomorrow. ‘One today is worth two tomorrows,’ as
Poor Richard says; and farther, ‘Never leave that till tomorrow,
which you can do today.’ -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 oaks.’

“Methinks I hear some of you says, ‘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 are not sure of a minute, throw not away an hour.’ Leisure
is the 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.’

“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 and 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 plough 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 more damage than
want of knowledge:’ And again, ‘Not to oversee workmen is to
leave them your purse open.’ Trusting too much to other’s 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.

---

Part two next week.

Brian Trumbore