The Story of Benjamin Franklin

by James Baldwin

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Chapter XII: Franklin's Rules of Life

Here are some of the rules of life which Franklin made for himself when he was a very young man:

1. To live very frugally till he had paid all that he owed.

2. To speak the truth at all times; to be sincere in word and action.

3. To apply himself earnestly to whatever business he took in hand; and to shun all foolish projects for becoming suddenly rich. "For industry and patience," he said, "are the surest means of plenty."

4. To speak ill of no man whatever, not even in a matter of truth; but to speak all the good he knew of everybody.

When he was twenty-six years old, he published the first number of an almanac called Poor Richard's Almanac.

This almanac was full of wise and witty sayings, and everybody soon began to talk about it.

Every year, for twenty-five years, a new number of Poor Richard's Almanac was printed. It was sold in all parts of the country. People who had no other books would buy and read Poor Richard's Almanac. The library of many a farmer consisted of only the family Bible with one or more numbers of this famous almanac. Here are a few of Poor Richard's sayings:

"A word to the wise is enough."
  "God helps them that help themselves."
  "Early to bed and early to rise,
   Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise."
  "There are no gains without pains."
  "Plow deep while sluggards sleep,
   And you shall have corn to sell and to keep."
  "One to-day is worth two to-morrows."
  "Little strokes fell great oaks."
  "Keep thy shop and thy shop will keep thee."
  "The sleeping fox catches no poultry."
  "Diligence is the mother of good luck."
  "Constant dropping wears away stones."
  "A small leak will sink a great ship."
  "Who dainties love shall beggars prove."
  "Creditors have better memories than debtors."
  "Many a little makes a mickle."
  "Fools make feasts and wise men eat them."
  "Many have been ruined by buying good pennyworths."
  "Rather go to bed supperless than rise in debt."
  "For age and want save while you may;
   No morning sun lasts the whole day."

It is pleasant to know that Franklin observed the rules of life which he made. And his wife, Deborah, was as busy and as frugal as himself.

They kept no idle servants. Their furniture was of the cheapest sort. Their food was plain and simple. Franklin's breakfast, for many years, was only bread and milk; and he ate it out of a twopenny earthen bowl with a pewter spoon.

But at last, when he was called one morning to breakfast, he found his milk in a china bowl; and by the side of the bowl there was a silver spoon.

His wife had bought them for him as a surprise. She said that she thought her husband deserved a silver spoon and china bowl as well as any of his neighbors.


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