The Complete Works in Philosophy, Politics and Morals of the late Dr. Benjamin Franklin, Vol. 3 [of 3]

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 257

in discharging them.

Secondly, His industry.

Thirdly, His frugality.

Fourthly, The amount and the certainty of his income, and the freedom
of his estate from the incumbrances of prior debts.

Fifthly, His well founded prospects of greater future ability, by the
improvement of his estate in value, and by aids from others.

Sixthly, His known prudence in managing his general affairs, and the
advantage they will probably receive from the loan which he desires.

Seventhly, His known probity and honest character, manifested by
his voluntary discharge of debts, which he could not have been
legally compelled to pay. The circumstances which give credit to an
_individual_ ought to have, and will have, their weight upon the
lenders of money to _public bodies_ or nations. If then we consider
and compare Britain and America, in these several particulars, upon
the question, "To which is it safest to lend money?" We shall find,

1. Respecting _former loans_, that America, which borrowed ten
millions during the last war for the maintenance of her army of
25,000 men and other charges, had faithfully discharged and paid
that debt, and all her other debts, in 1772. Whereas Britain, during
those ten years of peace and profitable commerce, had made little or
no reduction of her debt; but on the contrary, from time to time,
diminished the hopes of her creditors, by a wanton diversion and
misapplication of the sinking fund destined for discharging it.

2. Respecting _industry_; every man [in America] is employed, the
greater part in cultivating their own lands, the rest in handicrafts,
navigation, and commerce. An idle man there is a rarity, idleness
and inutility are disgraceful. In England, the number of that
character is immense, fashion has spread it far and wide; hence
the embarrassments of private fortunes, and the daily bankruptcies
arising from an universal fondness for appearance and expensive
pleasures; and hence, in some degree, the mismanagement of public
business; for habits of business, and ability in it, are acquired
only by practice; and where universal dissipation, and the perpetual
pursuit of amusement are the mode, the youth, educated in it,
can rarely afterwards acquire that patient attention and close
application to affairs, which are so necessary to a statesman charged
with the care of national welfare. _Hence_ their frequent errors in
policy, and hence the weariness at public councils, and backwardness
in going to them, the constant unwillingness to engage in any measure
that requires thought and consideration, and the readiness for
postponing every new proposition; which postponing is therefore the
only part of business that they come to be expert in, an expertness
produced necessarily by so much daily practice.

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Text Comparison with Franklin's Way to Wealth; or, "Poor Richard Improved"

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Darton, 58, Holborn Hill.
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half bound 1 0 Wonders of the Horse, recorded in Anecdotes, Prose and Verse, by Joseph Taylor 2 6 Tales of the Robin & other Small Birds, in Verse, by Joseph Taylor 2 6 Instructive Conversation Cards, consisting .
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' They joined in desiring him to speak his mind, and, gathering round him, he proceeded as follows: 'Friends,' says 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.
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"Diligence is the mother of good luck, and God gives all things to industry.
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" [Illustration: Published by W.
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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.
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" 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.
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" 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.
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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.