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collected at a vendue of merchant's goods. The hour of 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? Won't 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,' and 'many words won't fill a bushel,' as Poor Richard says." They all joined, desiring him to speak his mind, and gathering round him he proceeded as follows:
Friends and neighbors, the taxes are indeed very heavy, and if those laid on by the government were the only ones we had to pay, we might the 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 in his almanac of 1733.
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, if we reckon all that is spent in absolute sloth or doing of nothing, with that which is spent in idle employments or amusements that amount to nothing. 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's 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 of 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 things easy," as Poor Richard says; 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,” as we read in Poor Richard; who adds, “ drive thy business! let not that drive thee !” and
“Early to bed and early to rise
Makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”
So what signifies wishing and hoping for better times? We may make these times better if we bestir ourselves. “ Industry need not wish," as Poor Richard says, and “ he that lives on hope will die fasting.” 6. There are no gains without pains; then help, hands! for I have no lands;" or, if I have, they are smartly taxed. And as Poor Richard likewise observes," he that hath a trade hath an estate, and he that hath a calling hath an office of profit and honor;" 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, as Poor Richard says," 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," as Poor Richard says, and “God gives all things to industry.”
“Then plow deep while sluggards sloep,
And you shall have corn to sell and to keep,"
says Poor Dick. Work while it is called to-day, for you know not how much you may be hindered tomorrow; which makes Poor Richard say, "one today is worth two to-morrows;" and further, “have you somewhat to do to-morrow? Do it to-day!”
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," as Poor Dick says. When there is so much to be done for yourself, your family, your country, and your gracious king, be up by peep of day! “Let not the sun look down and say, 'Inglorious here he lies !” Handle your tools without mittens ! remember that “ the cat in gloves catches no mice!” as Poor Richard says.
'Tis 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 ;" as Poor Richard says in his almanac, the year I cannot just now remember.
Methinks I hear some of you say, “ 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 art not sure of a minute, throw not away an hour 1" Leisure is time for doing something useful; this leisure the diligent man will obtain, but the lazy man never; so that, as Poor Richard says, “a life of leisure and a life of laziness are two things.” Do you imagine that sloth will afford you more comfort than labor No! for, as Poor Richard says, “trouble springs from idleness and grievous toil from needless ease.” “Many, without labor, would live by their wits only, but they'll break for want of stock” (means]; whereas industry gives comfort, and plenty, and respect. “Fly pleasures and they'll follow you;" “the diligent spinner has a large shift;" and
“Now I have a sheep and a cow,
Everybody bids me good-morrow.” All which is well said by Poor Richard. 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
That throve so well as those that settled be.”
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 plow 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 us more damage than want of knowledge;" and again, “not to oversee workmen is to leave them your purse open."
Trusting too much to others care is the ruin of many; for, as the almanac says, “ 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, saith Poor Dick,“ learning is to the studious and riches to the careful;" as well as “power to the bold” and “heaven to the virtuous.” And further, “ if you would have a faithful servant and one that you like, sérve yourself.”
And again, he adviseth to circumspection and care, even in the smallest matters; because sometimes “ a little neglect may breed great mischief;" adding, “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 horseshoe nail !
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