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11/09/2007

Ben Franklin...The Way to Wealth, Part II

**Next WSH, Wednesday, 11/21, p.m.**

Following is part II of Benjamin Franklin’s 1758 essay, “The
Way to Wealth,” a business treatise written as a preface to his
“Poor Richard’s Almanack.”

For this work, Franklin created Father Abraham, who liberally
quotes from Poor Richard to a crowd waiting for an auction to
begin. It becomes the basis for what many call one of the most
important business books ever published.

---

[All spelling is correct, including ‘groat’ and ‘gaol.’]

“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
maketh a lean will;’ and ‘If you would be wealthy, 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
then so much reason 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 expenses; ‘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 at this sale of fineries, and
knickknacks. 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 be bought for less than they
cost; but, if you have no occasion for them, they must be dear to
you. Remember what Poor Richard says, ‘But what thou hast no
need of, and ere long thou shalt sell thy necessaries.’ And
again, ‘At a great penny worth pause a while:’ He means, that
perhaps the cheapest is apparent only, and not real; or the
bargain, by straightening thee in thy business, may do thee more
harm than good. For in another place he says, ‘Many have been
ruined by buying good penny worths.’ Again, ‘It is foolish to lay
out money in a purchase of repentance;’ and yet this folly is
practiced 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, scarlets 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 never will 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 this 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 farther advises, and says,

‘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,
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 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 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 into debt; you give to another power over your liberty. If
you cannot pay on 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 you were free, have a right to
dress as you please, and that such an edict would be a breach to
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
a 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
able 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
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 you 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.

“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, as the
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
counseled, 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 practiced 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 Almanack, and digested all I had
dropt on these topicks during the course of 25 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

---

Goodness gracious, I’ll certainly watch my pennies more closely
from here on. Will you? Of course if we all adopted Poor
Richard’s principles, today, our consumer driven economy would
tank, but our personal balance sheets would be much healthier.

Wall Street History will return Nov. 23.

Brian Trumbore



AddThis Feed Button

 

-11/09/2007-      
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Wall Street History

11/09/2007

Ben Franklin...The Way to Wealth, Part II

**Next WSH, Wednesday, 11/21, p.m.**

Following is part II of Benjamin Franklin’s 1758 essay, “The
Way to Wealth,” a business treatise written as a preface to his
“Poor Richard’s Almanack.”

For this work, Franklin created Father Abraham, who liberally
quotes from Poor Richard to a crowd waiting for an auction to
begin. It becomes the basis for what many call one of the most
important business books ever published.

---

[All spelling is correct, including ‘groat’ and ‘gaol.’]

“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
maketh a lean will;’ and ‘If you would be wealthy, 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
then so much reason 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 expenses; ‘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 at this sale of fineries, and
knickknacks. 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 be bought for less than they
cost; but, if you have no occasion for them, they must be dear to
you. Remember what Poor Richard says, ‘But what thou hast no
need of, and ere long thou shalt sell thy necessaries.’ And
again, ‘At a great penny worth pause a while:’ He means, that
perhaps the cheapest is apparent only, and not real; or the
bargain, by straightening thee in thy business, may do thee more
harm than good. For in another place he says, ‘Many have been
ruined by buying good penny worths.’ Again, ‘It is foolish to lay
out money in a purchase of repentance;’ and yet this folly is
practiced 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, scarlets 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 never will 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 this 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 farther advises, and says,

‘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,
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 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 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 into debt; you give to another power over your liberty. If
you cannot pay on 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 you were free, have a right to
dress as you please, and that such an edict would be a breach to
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
a 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
able 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
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 you 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.

“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, as the
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
counseled, 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 practiced 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 Almanack, and digested all I had
dropt on these topicks during the course of 25 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

---

Goodness gracious, I’ll certainly watch my pennies more closely
from here on. Will you? Of course if we all adopted Poor
Richard’s principles, today, our consumer driven economy would
tank, but our personal balance sheets would be much healthier.

Wall Street History will return Nov. 23.

Brian Trumbore