Page images


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, ing rides upon Debt's back :” whereas a free American 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.

66 It is hard for an empty bag to stand upright.” What would you think of that nation, 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 edit 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 consining you in gaol for life, or by felling you for a fervant, 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 lefsens, appear extremely short: Time will seem to have added wings to his heels as well as his shoulders. 66 Those

have a short Lent, who owe money to be paid at Easter.”

At present, perhaps, you may think yourselves in thriv. ing circumstances, and that you can bear a little extravagance without injury; but

“ For age and want fave while you may,

No morning-sun lasts a whole day.

temporary and uncertain, but ever, while you live, expence is constant and uncertain; 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. “ 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 philofopher's stone, sure you will no longer complain of bad times, or the difficulty of paying taxes.

IV. “ This doctrine, my friends, is reason and wisdom: but, after all, do not depend too much upon your own


[ocr errors]

industry and frugality, and prudence, though excellent things; for they may all be blasted, without the blessing of Heaven; and therefore, ask that bleffing 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 counselled 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


practised 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 Almanacks, and digested all I had dropt on those topics during the course of twenty-five 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 firft 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.


M 2

« PreviousContinue »