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A Victorian Scrapbook

A Scrapbook of Newspaper Articles Compiled by George Burgess (1829-1905)

Victorian Culture and Life

Frugality

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) a Founding Father of the United States of America.

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Transcript from original newspaper article: -

FrugalityThe great philosopher, Dr. Franklin, inspired the mouth-piece of his own eloquence, “Poor Richard,” with “many a gem of purest ray serene,” encased in the homely garb of proverbial truisms. On the subject of Frugality we cannot do better than take the worthy Mentor for our text, and from it address our remarks. A man may, if he knows not how to save as he gets, “keep his nose all his life to the grindstone, and die not worth a groat at last.” “A fat kitchen makes a loan will,” and –

“Many estates are spent in getting,
Since women for tea forsook spinning and knitting,
And men for punch forsook hewing and splitting.”

“If you would be wealthy, think of saving as well as of getting. The Ladies have not made Spain rich, because her out-goes are greater than her in-comes.” Away then with your expensive follies, and you will not then have so much cause to complain of hard times, heavy taxes, and chargeable families. “What maintains one vice would bring up two children.” You may think, perhaps, that a little tea, or superfluities now and then, diet a little more costly, clothes a little finer, and a little entertainment now and then, can be no great matter; but remember, “Many a little makes a mickle.” Beware of little expenses; “A small leak will sink a great ship,” as Poor Richard says; and again, “Who dainties love, shall beggars prove;” and moreover, “Fools make feast and wise men eat them.” Here you are all got together to this sale of fineries and nick-nacks. You call them goods; but if you do not take care, they will be sold cheap, and, perhaps, they may for less then they coast; but if you have no occasion for them, they must be dear to you. Remember what Poor Richard says, “Buy what thou hast no need of, and ere long then shalt sell thy necessaries.” And again, “At a great pennyworth, pause a while.” He means, perhaps, that the cheapness is apparent only, and not real; or the bargain, by straitening rich in thy business, may do thee more harm than good. For in another place he says, “Many have been ruined by buying good pennyworths.” Again, “It is foolish to by out money in the purchase of repentance;” and yet this folly is practised every day as auctions, for want of minding the Almanack. Many, for the sake of finery on the back, have gone with a hungry stomach, and half-starved, their families. “Silks and satins, scarlets and velvets, put out the kitchen fire,” as Poor Richard says, There are not the necessaries of life; they can scarcely be called the conveniences; and yet, only because they look pretty, how many want to have them! By these and other extravagances the genteel are reduced to poverty, and forced to borrow of those whom they formerly despised, but who, through industry and frugality, have maintained their standing; in which case it appears plainly, that “a ploughman on his legs is “higher than a gentleman on his knees,” as Poor Richard says. Perhaps they had a small estate left them, which they knew not the getting of; they think “it is day, and will never be night;” that a little spent out of so much is not worth minding; but “always taking out of the meal-tub, and never putting in, soon comes to the bottom,” as Poor Richard says; and then, “when the well is dry, they know the worth of water.” But this they might have known before, it they had taken his advice: “If you would know the value of money, go and try to borrow some; for he that goes a borrowing, goes a sorrowing,” as Poor Richard says; and, indeed, so does he that lends to such people, when he goes to get it in again. Poor Dick further advises and says –

“Fond pride of dress is sure a very curse;
Ere fancy you consult, consult your purse.”

And again, “Pride is as loud a beggar as want, and a great deal more saucy.”


Related Links

Selected proverbs and quotes by Benjamin Franklin. The Way to Wealth: Industry plus Frugality
Benjamin Franklin, The Way to Wealth (1758)