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The following is Dr. Franklin's admirable letter to Sir Joseph Banks, dated July, 1783 :
ON THE RETURN OF PEACE.
DEAR SIR I join with you most cordially in rejoicing at the return of Peace. I hope it will be lasting, and that mankind will at length, as they call themselves reasonable creatures, have reason and sense enough to settle their differences without cutting throats; for, in my opinion, there never was a good war, or a bad peace.
What vast additions to the conveniences and comforts of living might mankind have acquired, if the money spent in wars had been employed in works of public utility! What an extension of agriculture, even to the tops of our mountains; what rivers rendered navigable, or joined by canals; what bridges, aqueducts, new roads, and other public works, edifices, and improvements, rendering England a complete paradise, might have been obtained by spending those millions in doing good, which in the last war have been spent in doing mischief; in bringing misery into thousands of families, and destroying the lives of so many thousands of working people, who might have performed the useful labor!
THE WAY TO WEALTH.
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 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 these heavy taxes quite ruin the country? How shall we ever be 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,” said 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.
“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. Sloth, like rust, consumes faster than labor 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.
“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, Thrie 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.
“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.
“ 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.
“And further, 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 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 awhile. 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 Almanac. 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.
“But what madness must it 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 Eng. lishman 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 such 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 jail till you shall 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 thrivi
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 supperless, than rise in debt.
“ 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.”
Thus the old gentleman ended his harangue. I resolved to be the better for 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,
When I was a child, at seven years old, my friends, on a holiday, filled my little pocket with coppers. I went directly to a shop, where they sold toys for children; and, being charmed with the sound of a whistle, that I met by the way in the hands of another boy, I voluntarily offered him all my money for one. I then came home, and went whistling all over the house, much pleased with my whistle, but disturbing all the family. My brothers, and sisters, and cousins, understanding the bargain I had made, told me I had given four times as much for it as it was worth. This put me in mind what good things I might have bought with the rest of my money; and they laughed at me so much for my folly, that I cried with vexation : and the reflection gave me more chagrin than the whistle gave me pleasure.
This, however, was afterwards of use to me, the impression continuing on my mind; so that often, when I was tempted to buy some unnecessary thing, I said to myself, don't give too much for the whistle ; and so I saved my money.
As I grew up, came into the world, and observed the actions of men, I thought I met with many, very many, who gave too much for the whistle.
When I saw any one too ambitious of court favor,—sacrificing his time in attendance at levees, his repose, his liberty, his virtue, and perhaps his friends, to attain it,- I have said to myself, this man gives too much for his whistle.
When I saw another fond of popularity, constantly employing himself in political bustles, neglecting his own affairs, and ruining them by that neglect, he pays, indeed, says I, too much for his whistle.
If I knew a miser who gave up every kind of comfortable living, -all the pleasure of doing good to others, all the esteem of his fellow-citizens,—and the joys of benevolent friendship, for the sake of accumulating wealth; poor man, says I, you do, indeed, pay too much for your whistle.
When I meet a man of pleasure, sacrificing every laudable improvement of the mind or of his fortune to mere corporeal sensations,--Mistaken man, says I, you are providing pain for yourself instead of pleasure,-you give too much for your whistle.
If I see one fond of fine clothes, fine furniture, fine equipages, all above his fortune, for which he contracts debts, and ends his career in prison,-Alas, says I, he has paid dear, very dear, for his whistle.
When I see a beautiful, sweet-tempered girl, married to an illnatured brute of a husband, - What a pity it is, says I, that she has paid so much for a whistle.
In short, I conceived that a great part of the miseries of mankind were brought upon them by the false estimates they had made of the value of things, and by their giving too much for their whistles.
A PARABLE AGAINST PERSECUTION." 1. And it came to pass after these things, that Abraham sat in the door of his tent about the going down of the sun. 2. And behold, a man, bowed with age, came from the way
of the wilderness, leaning on a staff.
3. And Abraham arose and met him, and said unto him, “Turn in, I pray thee, and wash thy feet, and tarry all night, and thou shalt arise early on the morrow,
and go on thy way.” 4. But the man said, “ Nay, for I will abide under this tree.”
5. And Abraham pressed him greatly; so he turned, and they went into the tent, and Abraham baked unleavened bread, and they did eat.
| The substance of this beautiful Parable was not original with Franklin, for Jeremy Taylor gives it as taken from the “Jew's Book ;" and it is traced back centuries further. The true author is not known; but it never attracted general attention until in the hands of Franklin it assumed the scriptural style. Franklin was in the habit of amusing himself by reading it to divines and others well versed in the Scriptures, and obtaining their opinions upon it, which were sometimes very diverting.