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Franklin's Way to Wealth and Penn's Maxims
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Franklin's Way to Wealth and Penn's Maxims

by Benjamin Franklin, William Penn

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Witty, wise, and elegant in their simplicity, the timeless adages in this inspiring volume originated with two influential figures of early American history. Franklin’s Way to Wealth began as a preface to Poor Richard’s Almanack, the popular book of advice by Benjamin Franklin, the beloved founding father. Penn’s Maxims


Witty, wise, and elegant in their simplicity, the timeless adages in this inspiring volume originated with two influential figures of early American history. Franklin’s Way to Wealth began as a preface to Poor Richard’s Almanack, the popular book of advice by Benjamin Franklin, the beloved founding father. Penn’s Maxims features hundreds of observations by the Quaker leader, William Penn,  who founded the colony of Pennsylvania. Both offer enduring counsel on how to live — both materially and spiritually.
In addition to his active role in guiding colonial America to independence, Benjamin Franklin was a shrewd businessman who amassed a substantial personal fortune. His life story offers an ideal example of the application of a successful work ethic. In his treatise, he presents his own tried-and-true attitudes toward money management, with quotable thoughts on the rewards of industry, the perils of debt, and the futility of idleness.
The democratic principles by which William Penn governed Pennsylvania — including complete freedom of religion, fair trials, and a system of elected representatives — were later adopted into the federal constitution. This collection presents hundreds of his sage reflections, ranging from thoughts on government, education, and religion, to meditations on charity, friendship, and patience.

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Franklin's Way to Wealth & Penn's Maxims


Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 2008 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-14652-2




REMEMBER that time is money. He that can earn 10s. a day by his labor, and goes abroad or sits idle one-half of that day, though he spend but 6d. during his diversion or idleness, ought not to reckon that the only expense; he has really spent, or rather thrown away, 5s. besides.

Remember that credit is money. If a man lets money lie in my hands after it is due, he gives me the interest, or so much as I can make of it during that time. This amounts to a considerable sum, if a man has a good and large credit, and makes good use of it.

Remember that money is of a prolific, generating nature. Money can beget money, and its offspring can beget more, and so on; 5s. turned, is 6s., turned again, is 7s. 3d.; and so on till it becomes 100l. The more there is of it, the more it produces every turning; so that the profits rise quicker and quicker. He that kills a breeding sow, destroys all her offspring to the thousandth generation. He that murders a crown, destroys all that it might have produced, even scores of pounds.

Remember that six pounds a year is but a groat a day. For this little sum, which may daily be wasted in time or expense, unperceived, a man of credit may, on his own security, have the constant use and possession of 100l. So much in stock, briskly turned by an industrious man, produces great advantage.

Remember this saying: that the good paymaster is lord of another man's purse. He that is known to pay punctually and exactly at the time he promises, may at any time, and on any occasion raise all the money his friends can spare. This is sometimes of great use; therefore, never keep borrowed money an hour beyond the time you promised, lest a disappointment shut up your friend's purse for ever.

The most trifling actions, that affect a man's credit, are to be regarded. The sound of your hammer at five in the morning, or nine at night, heard by a creditor, makes him easy six months longer. But if he sees you at a billiard table, or hears your voice at a tavern when you should be at work, he sends for his money the next day. Finer clothes than he or his wife wears, or greater expense in any particular than he affords himself, shocks his pride, and he duns you to humble you. Creditors are a kind of people that have the sharpest eyes and ears, as well as the best memories, of any in the world.

Good-natured creditors (and such one would always choose to deal with, if one could) feel pain when they are obliged to ask for money. Spare them that pain, and they will love you. When you receive a sum of money, divide it among them according to your debts. Do not be ashamed of paying a small sum, because you owe a greater. Money, more or less, is always welcome; and your creditor would sooner be at the trouble of receiving 10l. voluntarily brought him, though at ten different times or payments, than be obliged to go ten different times to demand it, before he can receive it in a lump. It shows that you are mindful of what you owe; it makes you appear a careful as well as an honest man, and that still increases your credit.

Beware of thinking all your own that you possess, and of living accordingly. It is a mistake that many people who have credit fall into. To prevent this, keep an exact account for some time of both your expenses and incomes. If you take the pains at first to mention particulars, it will have this good effect: you will discover how wonderfully small trifling expenses mount up to large sums, and will discern what might have been, and may for the future, be saved, without occasioning any great inconvenience.

In short, the way to wealth, if you desire it, is as plain as the way to market. It depends chiefly on two words—industry and frugality; that is, waste neither your time nor money, but make the best use of both. He that gets all he can, and saves all he gets, (necessary expenses excepted,) will certainly become rich; if that Being who governs the world, to whom all should look for a blessing on their honest endeavors, does not, in his wise providence, otherwise determine.



The following letter was received by the editor of the Leeds Mercury, from a tradesman in Huddersfield.

"Why should excuse be born, or e'er begot?"



A correspondent of yours, in the Mercury of last week, has taken some pains to instruct your readers in their Christmas religious duties; permit me to make the same experiment upon the Christmas moral duties, not of your readers only, for my philanthropy is more extensive; and, on the ground of punctuality, I wish to be the reformer of the world.

There is no talent, Sir, in the application of which some gentlemen more excel, than that of excusing; and when I tell you that I am a tradesman, obliged, from the nature of my business, to give credit, I hope you will not doubt that experience has qualified me to speak upon this subject, and to speak feelingly.

There are two kinds of debtors: those who cannot pay, and those who will not pay. The former have excuses ready made; the latter are obliged to make excuses. The former may be sometimes dishonest; the latter are never very honest. The former destroy hope at one blow; the latter protract its torments, till it expires from weakness. The former is an acute distemper, that kills in a few hours; the latter is a chronic distemper, worse than death. In a word, Sir, inability is tolerable, because they cannot cure it; unwillingness is painful, because I cannot shorten it.

In forming excuses, according to the common practice, the following rules are observed:—

1st. That the same excuse shall be as seldom repeated as possible.

2nd. That the excuses be as various and plausible as possible.

3d. By way of maxim: every kind and degree of excuse deserves to be tried, because there is much less inconvenience in postponing a debt, than in paying it; and the advantages of giving words and parting with money, are on the side of the former.

To exemplify these rules, Mr. Editor, permit me to state the case of a bill which I sent to one of my customers last new-year, (for, to be candid, the approach of that season has tempted me to trouble you on the present occasion.) Now, mark the excuses in succession.

Jan. 1. "Oh! this is Mr. L——'s bill. Call again any day next week."

Jan. 9. "Not at home."—"When will he be at home?"—"Any time to-morrow."

Jan. 10. "Has a gentleman with him."—Waits an hour.—"Oh! ah! this is the bill—ay-hem!—look in on Tuesday."

Tuesday. "Not at home—gone to the Cloth-Hall."

Thursday. "Leave the bill, and I will look it over."

20. "There seems to be a mistake in the bill: I never had this article. Take it back to your master, and tell him to examine his books."

24. "Just gone out."

29. "I am busy now: tell your master I'll call on him as I go into the town."

Feb. 16. "Bless me! I quite forgot to call. This bill is not discharged! Bring me a receipt any time to-morrow or next day."

17. "Gone to London, and won't be at home till next month."

March 12. "What! did not I pay that bill before I went out of town?—Are you going farther?"

"Yes."—"Very well; call as you come back, and I'll settle."—Calls, and he is gone to dinner at Holmfirth.

16. "Plague on this bill! I don't believe I have so much cash in the house—Can you give me change for a 100l. note?"—"No."—"Then call in as you pass to-morrow."

18. "Not at home."

25. "Appoint a day! Pray, what does your master mean? Tell him I'll call upon him, to know what he means by such a message."

April 14. "What! no discount?"—"Sir, it has been due these two years."—"There's your money, then."—"These notes won't pay."—"Then you must call again; I have no loose cash in the house."

And here ends the payment of 9l. 14s. 6d. with three doubtful notes.

But these are only a sample, after all, of the many excuses I must receive; and the most mortifying part of the business is, that such debtors are those who really can pay, but, by various delays, obtain the use of money, and, in some cases, tire out the patience of the creditor. I must say, indeed, that they are remarkably civil: they give me the prettiest words—they send their compliments and kind love "to Mrs. L——and the dear little ones;" but (plague on them!) they won't send the money.

As my fellow-tradesmen labor under the same hardships, in these respects, as myself, I hope you will not refuse this humble statement of our case; and, if it produces the payment of any one bill, which I should have to hunt after, you will merit the hearty thanks of Mr. Editor,

Your humble servant, John L****.

Huddersfield, Christmas-day.






This manual I present thee with is the fruit of solitude, a school few care to learn in, though none instruct us better. Some parts of it are the result of serious reflection; others, the flashings of lucid intervals; written for private satisfaction, and now published for a help to human conduct.

The author blesseth God for his retirement, and kisses that gentle hand that led him into it; for, though it should prove barren to the world, it can never do so to him.

He has now had some time he could call his own, a property he was never so much master of before: in which he has taken a view of himself and the world; and observed wherein he hath hit and missed the mark; what might have been done, what mended, and what avoided, in his human conduct; together with the omissions and excuses of others, as well societies and governments as private families and persons. And he verily thinks, were he to live over his life again, he could not only, with God's grace, serve him, but his neighbor and himself, better than he hath done, and have seven years of his time to spare. And yet, perhaps, he hath not been the worst or the most idle man in the world; nor is he the oldest. And this is the rather said, that it might quicken thee, reader, to lose none of the time that is yet thine.

The author does not pretend to deliver thee an exact piece; his business not being ostentation, but charity. It is miscellaneous in the matter of it, and by no means artificial in the composure. But it contains hints that may serve thee for texts to preach to thyself upon, and which comprehend much of the course of human life: since, whether thou art parent or child, prince or subject, master or servant, single or married, public or private, mean or honorable, rich or poor, prosperous or impros-perous, in peace or controversy, in business or solitude; whatever be thy inclination or aversion, practice or duty, thou wilt find something not unsuitably said for thy direction and advantage. Accept and improve what deserves thy notice; the rest excuse, and place to account of good-will to thee and the whole creation of God.


It is admirable to consider how many millions of people come into and go out of the world, ignorant of themselves, and of the world they have lived in.

If one went to see Windsor Castle or Hampton Court, it would be strange not to observe and remember the situation, the building, the gardens, fountains, &c. that make up the beauty and pleasure of such a seat. And yet few people know themselves; no, not their own bodies, the houses of their minds, the most curious structure in the world; a living, walking tabernacle; nor the world of which it was made, and out of which it is fed; which would be so much our benefit, as well as our pleasure, to know. We cannot doubt of this, when we are told that the "invisible things of God are brought to light by the things that are seen;" and, consequently, we read our duty in them, as often as we look upon them, to Him that is the great and wise author of them, if we look as we should do.

The world is certainly a great and stately volume of natural things, and may be not improperly styled the hieroglyphics of a better; but, alas! how very few leaves of it do we seriously turn over! This ought to be the subject of the education of our youth; who, at twenty, when they should be fit for business, know little or nothing of it.


We are in pain to make them scholars, but not men; to talk, rather than to know; which is true canting.

The first thing obvious to children is what is sensible; and that we make no part of their rudiments.

We press their memory too soon, and puzzle, strain, and load them with words and rules to know grammar and rhetoric, and a strange tongue or two, that it is ten to one may never be useful to them; leaving their natural genius to mechanical, and physical or natural knowledge uncultivated and neglected; which would be of exceeding use and pleasure to them through the whole course of their lives.

To be sure languages are not to be despised or neglected; but, things are still to be preferred.

Children had rather be making tools and instruments of play; shaping, drawing, framing, and building, &c., than getting some rules of propriety of speech by heart; and those also would follow with more judgment, and less trouble and time.

It were happy if we studied nature more in natural things, and acted according to nature, whose rules are few, plain, and most reasonable.

Let us begin where she begins, go her pace, and close always where she ends, and we cannot miss of being good naturalists.

The creation would not be longer a riddle to us. The heavens, earth, and waters, with their respective, various, and numerous inhabitants, their productions, natures, seasons, sympathies, and antipathies, their use, benefit, and pleasure, would be better understood by us; and an eternal wisdom, power, majesty, and goodness, very conspicuous to us, through those sensible and passing forms: the world wearing the mark of its Maker, whose stamp is every where visible, and the characters very legible to the children of wisdom.

And it would go a great way to caution and direct people in their use of the world, that they were better studied and known in the creation of it.

For how could men find their confidence to abuse it, while they should see the great Creator stare them in the face, in all and every part thereof?

Their ignorance makes them insensible; and to that insensibility may be ascribed their hard usage of several parts of this noble creation: that has the stamp and voice of a Deity every where, and in every thing, to the observing.

It is pity, therefore, that books have not been composed for youth by some curious and careful naturalists, and also mechanics, in the Latin tongue, to be used in schools, that they might learn things with words; things obvious and familiar to them, and which would make the tongue easier to be obtained by them.

Many able gardeners and husbandmen are ignorant of the reason of their calling, as most artificers are of the reason of their own rules that govern their excellent workmanship. But a naturalist and mechanic of this sort is master of the reason of both; and might be of the practice too, if his industry kept pace with his speculation; which were very commendable, and without which he cannot be said to be a complete naturalist or mechanic.

Finally, if man be the index or epitome of the world, as philosophers tell us, we have only to read ourselves well to be learned in it. But, because there is nothing we less regard than the characters of the Power that made us, which are so clearly written upon us, and the world he has given us, and can best tell us what we are and should be, we are even strangers to our own genius: the glass in which we should see that true, instructing, and agreeable variety, which is to be observed in nature, to the admiration of that wisdom, and adoration of that Power, which made us all.


Excerpted from Franklin's Way to Wealth & Penn's Maxims by BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, William Penn. Copyright © 2008 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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