‚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;” 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, think of saving, as well as of getting. The Indies have not made Spain rich, because her out-goes are greater than her incomes.”
‚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; 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 expences; „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 to this sale of fineries and nick-nacks. 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 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 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, scarlet 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 will never 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 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,” as Poor Richard says; 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,
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 risked, 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 chimneys, than to keep one in fuel,” as Poor Richard says: so, „Rather go to bed supper-less, than rise in debt,”
Get what you can, and what you get hold,
‚Tis the stone that will turn all your 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.