Poor Richard's Almanack

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William Hazlitt
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Trust thy self, and another shall not betray thee.

Poor Richard's Almanack (sometimes Almanac) was a yearly almanack published by Benjamin Franklin, who adopted the pseudonym of "Poor Richard" or "Richard Saunders" for this purpose. The publication appeared continuously from 1732 to 1758. It was a best seller for a pamphlet published in the American colonies; print runs reached 10,000 per year.


  • Would you live with ease? Do what you ought, not what you please.
  • Better slip with foot than tongue.
  • You cannot pluck roses without fear of thorns, Nor enjoy fair wife without danger of horns.
  • Without justice, courage is weak.
  • Blame-all and Praise-all are two blockheads.
  • No man e'er was glorious, who was not laborious.
  • Whate'ers begun in anger ends in shame.
  • What one relishes, nourishes.
  • Fools multiply folly.
  • Beauty & Folly are old companions.
  • Hope of gain, lessens pain.
  • All things are easy to Industry, All things difficult to Sloth.
  • If you ride a horse, sit close and tight, if you ride a man, sit easy and light.
  • Don't think to hunt two hares with one dog.
  • Who pleasure gives, Shall joy receive.
  • Where there is Marriage without Love, there will be Love without Marriage.
  • Be neither silly, nor cunning, but wise.
  • Neither a Fortress nor a Maidenhead will hold out long after they begin to parly.
  • Jack Little sow'd little, & little he'll reap.
  • All things are cheap to the saving, dear to the wasteful.
  • Would you persuade, speak of Interest, not of Reason.
  • Happy's the Woing, that's not long a doing.
  • Don't value a man for the Quality he is of, but for the Qualities he possesses.
  • Be good to thy Friend to keep him, to thy enemy to gain him.
  • A good Man is seldom uneasy, an ill one never easie.
  • Teach your child to hold his tongue, he'll learn fast enough to speak.
  • He that cannot obey, cannot command.
  • An innocent Plowman is more worthy than a vicious Prince.
  • As Charms are nonsense, Nonsence is a Charm.
  • An Egg to day is better than a Hen to-morrow.
  • Drink Water, Put the Money in your Pocket, and leave the Dry-bellyach in the Punchbowl.
  • He that is rich need not live sparingly, and he that can live sparingly need not be rich.
  • If you wou'd be reveng'd of your enemy, govern your self.
  • A wicked Hero will turn his back to an innocent coward.
  • Laws like to Cobwebs catch small Flies, Great one break thro' before your eyes.
  • Strange, that he who lives by Shifts, can seldom shift himself.
  • As sore places meet most rubs, proud folks meet most affronts.
  • He does not possess Wealth, it possesses him.
  • Necessity has no Law; I know some Attorneys of the name.
  • Onions can make ev'n heirs and Widows weep.
  • Avarice and Happiness never saw each other, how then shou'd they become acquainted.
  • The thrifty maxim of the wary Dutch, is to save all the Money they can touch.
  • He that waits upon Fortune, is never sure of a Dinner.
  • A learned blockhead is a greater blockhead than an ignorant one.
  • Marry your Son when you will, but your Daughter when you can.
  • If you woul'd have Guests merry with your cheer, be so your self, or so at least appear.


  • Look before, or you'll find yourself behind.
  • Bad Commentators spoil the best of books,
    So God sends meat (they say) the devil Cooks.
    • Compare: "God sends meat, and the Devil sends cooks", John Taylor, Works, vol. ii. p. 85 (1630); "Are these the choice dishes the Doctor has sent us? Is this the great poet whose works so content us? This Goldsmith’s fine feast, who has written fine books? Heaven sends us good meat, but the Devil sends cooks?", David Garrick, Epigram on Goldsmith’s Retaliation. Vol. ii. p. 157.; "God sendeth and giveth both mouth and the meat", Thomas Tusser, A Hundred Points of Good Husbandry (1557).
  • Approve not of him who commends all you say.
  • By diligence and patience, the mouse bit in two the cable.
  • Full of courtesie, full of craft.
  • A little House well fill'd, a little Field well till'd, and a little Wife well will'd, are great Riches.
  • Some are weatherwise, some are otherwise.
  • The poor man must walk to get meat for his stomach, the rich man to get a stomach to his meat.
  • Eyes and Priests bear no Jests.
  • The family of Fools is ancient.
  • Necessity never made a good bargain.
  • If Pride leads the Van, Beggary brings up the Rear.
  • There's many witty men whose brains can't fill their bellies.
  • Weighty Questions ask for deliberate Answers.
  • Be slow in chusing a Friend, slower in changing.
    • Modern spelling: Be slow in choosing a Friend, slower in changing.
  • Pain wastes the Body, Pleasures the Understanding.
  • The cunning man steals a horse, the wise man lets him alone.
  • Nothing but Money, is Sweeter than Honey.
  • Keep thy shop, & thy shop will keep thee.
  • Humility makes great men twice honourable.
  • What's given shines,
    What's receiv'd is rusty.
  • Sloth and Silence are a Fool's Virtues.
  • Of learned Fools I have seen ten times ten,
    Of unlearned wise men I have seen a hundred.
  • Three may keep a Secret, if two of them are dead.
  • Poverty wants some things, Luxury many things, Avarice all things.
  • A lie stands on 1 leg, the Truth on 2.
  • There's small Revenge in Words, but Words may be greatly revenged.
  • A man is never so ridiculous by those Qualities that are his own as by those that he affects to have.
  • Deny Self for Self's sake.
  • Ever since Follies have pleas'd, Fools have been able to divert.
  • It is better to take many Injuries than to give one.
  • Opportunity is the great Bawd.
  • Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.
  • An old young man, will be a young old man.
  • To be humble to Superiors is Duty, to Equals Courtesy, to Inferiors Nobleness.
  • If what most men admire, they would despise,
    'Twould look as if mankind were growing wise.
  • The Sun never repents of the good he does, nor does he ever demand a recompence.
  • Are you angry that others disappoint you? remember you cannot depend upon yourself.
  • One Mend-fault is worth two Findfaults, but one Findfault is better than two Makefaults.
  • Here comes the Orator! with his Flood of Words, and his Drop of Reason.


  • He is no clown that drives the plow, but he that doth clownish things.
  • If you know how to spend less than you get, you have the Philosophers-Stone.
  • The good Paymaster is Lord of another man's Purse.
  • Fish & Visitors stink in 3 days.
  • Diligence is the mother of Good-Luck.
  • He that lives upon Hope, dies fasting.
  • Do not do what you would not have known.
  • Never praise your Cyder, Horse, or Bedfellow.
  • Wealth is not his that has it, but his that enjoys it.
  • Tis easy to see, hard to foresee.
  • In a discreet man's mouth, a publick thing is private.
  • Let thy maidservant be faithful, strong, and homely.
  • Keep flax from fire, and youth from gaming.
  • Bargaining has neither friends nor relations.
  • Admiration is the Daughter of Ignorance.
  • There are more old Drunkards than old Doctors.
  • She that paints her face, thinks of her Tail.
  • He that takes a wife, takes care.
  • He that can have Patience, can have what he will.
  • God helps them that help themselves.
  • None preaches better than the ant, and she says nothing.
  • The absent are never without fault, nor the present without excuse.
  • Gifts burst rocks.
  • If wind blows on you thro' a hole, make your will and take care of your soul.
  • The rotton Apple spoils his Companions.
  • He that sells upon trust, loses many friends, and always wants money.
  • Don't throw stones at your neighbours, if your own windows are glass.
  • The excellency of hogs is fatness, of men virtue.
  • Good wives and good plantations are made by good husbands.
  • Pox take you, is no curse to some people.
  • Force shites upon Reason's Back.
  • Lovers, Travellers, and Poets, will give money to be heard.
  • He that speaks much, is much mistaken.
  • Creditors have better memories than debtors.
  • Forwarn'd, forearm'd, unless in the case of Cuckolds, who are often forearm's before warn'd.
  • Three things are men most liable to be cheated in, a Horse, a Wig, and a Wife.
  • He that lives well, is learned enough.
  • Poverty, Poetry and new Titles of Honour, make Men ridiculous.
  • He that scatters Thorns, let him not go barefoot.
  • There's none deceived but he that trusts.
  • God heals, and the Doctor takes the Fees.
  • If you desire many things, many things will seem but a few.
  • Mary's mouth costs her nothing, for she never opens it but at others expense.
  • Receive before you write, but write before you pay.
  • I saw few die of Hunger, of Eating 100000.
  • He that would live in peace & at ease, Must not speak all he knows, nor judge all he sees.


  • The greatest monarch on the proudest throne, is oblig'd to sit upon his own arse. (Perhaps a prosaic translation of Michel de Montaigne's earlier aphorism: au plus élevé trône du monde, si ne sommes assis que sur notre cul.)
  • The Master-piece of Man, is to live to the purpose.
  • He that steals an old man's support, do's him no wrong.
  • A countryman between 2 Lawyers, is like a fish between two cats.
  • He that can take rest is greater than he that can take cities.
  • The misers cheese is the wholesomest.
  • Love and lordship hate companions.
  • The nearest way to come at glory, is to do that for conscience which we do for glory.
  • There is much money given to be laught at, though the purchases don't know it; witness A's fine horse, & B's fine house.
  • He that can compose himself, is wiser than he that composes books.
  • Poor Dick, eats like a well man, and drinks like a sick.
  • After crosses and losses men grow humbler and wiser.
  • Love, Cough, & a Smoke, can't be well hid.
  • Well done is better than well said.
  • He that can travel well afoot, keeps a good horse.
  • There are no ugly Loves, nor handsome Prisons.
  • No better relation than a prudent & faithful Friend.
  • A Traveller should have a hog's nose, deer's legs, and an ass's back.
  • At the working man's house hunger looks in but dares not enter.
  • A good Lawyer is a bad Neighbour.
  • Certainlie these things agree, the Priest, the Lawyer, & Death all three: Death takes both the weak and the strong. The lawyer takes from both right and wrong, and the priest from the living and the dead has his Fee.
  • The worst wheel of the cart makes the most noise.
  • Don't misinform your Docter nor your Lawyer.
  • I never saw an oft-transplanted tree, nor yet an oft-removed family, that throve so well as those that settled be.
  • Three good meals a day is a bad living.
  • To whom thy secret thou dost tell, to him thy freedom thou dost sell.
  • If you'd have a Servant that you like, serve your self.
  • He that pursues two Hares at once, does not catch one and lets t'other go.
  • If you have time don't wait for time.
  • Tell a miser he's rich, and a woman she's old, you'll get no money of one, nor kindness of t'other.
  • Don't go to the doctor with every distemper, nor to the lawyer with every quarrel, nor to the pot for every thirst.
  • The creditors are a superstitious sect, great observers of set days and times.
  • The noblest question in the world is What Good may I do in it?
  • Nothing is so popular as GOODNESS.


  • There are three faithful friends, an old wife, an old dog, and ready money.
  • Who has deceiv'd thee so oft as thy self?
  • Write with the learned, pronounce with the vulgar.
  • Hast thou virtue? acquire also the graces & beauties of virtue.
  • Buy what thou hast no need of; and e'er long thou shalt sell thy necessaries.
  • If thou hast wit & learning, add to it Wisdom and Modesty.
  • If you wou'd not be forgotten
    As soon as you are dead and rotten,
    Either write things worth reading,
    Or do things worth the writing
  • Sell not virtue to purchase wealth, nor Liberty to purchase power.
  • Let thy vices die before thee.
  • Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterwards.
  • The ancients tell us what is best; but we must learn of the moderns what is fittest.
  • Since I cannot govern my own tongue, tho' within my own teeth, how can I hope to govern the tongues of others?
  • 'Tis less discredit to abridge petty charges, than to stoop to petty Gettings.
  • Since thou art not sure of a minute, throw not away an hour.
  • If you do what you should not, you must hear what you would not.
  • Wish not so much to live long as to live well.
  • As we must account for every idle word, so we must for every idle silence.
  • I have never seen the Philosopher's Stone that turns lead into Gold, but I have known the pursuit of it turn a Man's Gold into Lead.
  • Time is an herb that cures all Diseases.
  • Reading makes a full Man, Meditation a profound Man, discourse a clear Man.
  • If any man flatters me, I'll flatter him again; tho' he were my best Friend.
  • Wish a miser long life, and you wish him no good.
  • None but the well-bred man knows how to confess a fault, or acknowledge himself in an error.
  • Drive thy business; let not that drive thee.
  • There is much difference between imitating a good man, and counterfeiting him.
  • Wink at small faults; remember thou hast great ones.
  • Eat to please thyself, but dress to please others.
  • Search others for their virtues, thy self for thy vices.
  • Each year one vicious habit rooted out,
    In time might make the worst Man good throughout.


  • If thou wouldst live long, live well; for Folly and Wickedness shorten Life.
  • Trust thy self, and another shall not betray thee.
  • Historians relate, not so much what is done, as what they would have believed.
  • Thou canst not joke an Enemy into a Friend; but thou may'st a Friend into an Enemy.
  • He that falls in love with himself, will have no Rivals.
  • Let thy Discontents be Secrets.
  • No Resolution of Repenting hereafter, can be sincere.
  • Honour thy Father and Mother, i. e. Live so as to be an Honour to them tho' they are dead.
  • If thou injurest Conscience, it will have its Revenge on thee.
  • Hear no ill of a Friend, nor speak any of an Enemy.
  • Be not niggardly of what costs thee nothing, as courtesy, counsel, & countenance.
  • Beware of him that is slow to anger: He is angry for something, and will not be pleased for nothing.
  • Proclaim not all thou knowest, all thou owest, all thou hast, nor all thou canst.
  • Let our Fathers and Grandfathers be valued for their Goodness, ourselves for our own.
  • Industry need not wish.
  • Sin is not hurtful because it is forbidden but it is forbidden because it's hurtful. Nor is a Duty beneficial because it is commanded, but it is commanded, because it's beneficial.
  • Love, and be lov'd.
  • Great Beauty, great strength, & great Riches, are really & truly of no great Use; a right Heart exceeds all.
  • Food is essential to life, therefore make it good.


  • An empty bag will not stand upright.


  • Lying rides upon Debt's back.


  • When Knaves fall out, honest Men get their goods: When Priests dispute, we come at the Truth.
  • Strange! that a Man who has wit enough to write a Satyr; should have folly enough to publish it.
    • A comment on the dangers of writing of a satire.
  • Speak and speed: the close mouth catches no flies.
  • Ben beats his Pate, and fancys wit will come;
    But he may knock, there's no body at home.
  • Ill Customs & bad Advice are seldom forgotten.
  • He that sows thorns, should not go barefoot.
  • Death takes no bribes.
  • One good Husband is worth two good Wives; for the scarcer things are the more they're valued.
  • He that riseth late, must trot all day, and shall scarce overtake his business at night.
  • He that speaks ill of the Mare, will buy her.
  • You will be careful, if you are wise;
    How you touch Men's Religion, or Credit, or Eyes.
  • They who have nothing to trouble them, will be troubled at nothing.
  • Against Diseases here, the strongest Fence,
    Is the defensive Virtue, Abstinence.
  • If thou dost ill, the joy fades, not the pains;
    If well, the pain doth fade, the joy remains.
  • To err is human, to repent divine, to persist devilish.
  • Industry pays Debts, Despair encreases them.
  • The Difficulty lies, in finding out an exact Measure; but eat for Necessity, not Pleasure, for Lust knows not where Necessity ends.
  • If thou art dull and heavy after Meat, it's a sign thou hast exceeded the due Measure; for Meat and Drink ought to refresh the Body, and make it chearful, and not to dull and oppress it.


  • If your head is wax, don’t walk in the sun.


  • There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one's self.
  • Genius without education is like silver in the mine.
  • Hide not your Talents, they for Use were made / What's a Sun-Dial in the Shade!


  • Tis against some Mens Principle to pay Interest, and seems against others Interest to pay the Principal.
  • Setting too good an Example is a Kind of Slander seldom forgiven; 'tis Scandalum Magnatum.
  • A great Talker may be no Fool, but he is one that relies on him.
  • If you would reap Praise you must sow the Seeds,
    Gentle Words and useful Deeds.
  • Ignorance leads Men into a Party, and Shame keeps them from getting out again.
  • Haste makes Waste.
  • Many have quarrel'd about Religion, that never practis'd it.
  • Sudden Power is apt to be insolent, Sudden Liberty saucy; that behaves best which has grown gradually.
  • Anger is never without a Reason, but seldom with a good One.
  • He that is of Opinion Money will do every Thing, may well be suspected of doing every Thing for Money.
  • Serving God is Doing Good to Man, but Praying is thought an easier Service, and therefore more generally chosen.
  • Nothing humbler than Ambition, when it is about to climb.
  • Gifts much expected, are paid, not given.
  • It has pleased God in his Goodness to Mankind, at length to discover to them the Means of securing their Habitations and other Buildings from Mischief by Thunder and Lightning. The Method is this: Provide a small Iron Rod (it may be made of the Rod-iron used by the Nailers) but of such a Length, that one End being three or four Feet in the moist Ground, the other may be six or eight Feet above the highest Part of the Building. To the upper End of the Rod fasten about a Foot of Brass Wire, the Size of a common Knitting-needle, sharpened to a fine Point; the Rod may be secured to the House by a few small Staples. If the House or Barn be long, there may be a Rod and Point at each End, and a middling Wire along the Ridge from one to the other. A House thus furnished will not be damaged by Lightning, it being attracted by the Points, and passing thro the Metal into the Ground without hurting any Thing. Vessels also, having a sharp pointed Rod fix'd on the Top of their Masts, with a Wire from the Foot of the Rod reaching down, round one of the Shrouds, to the Water, will not be hurt by Lightning.
  • When an Indian Child has been brought up among us, taught our language and habituated to our Customs, yet if he goes to see his relations and makes one Indian Ramble with them, there is no perswading him ever to return. [But] when white persons of either sex have been taken prisoners young by the Indians, and lived a while among them, tho’ ransomed by their Friends, and treated with all imaginable tenderness to prevail with them to stay among the English, yet in Short time they become disgusted with our manner of life…and take the first good Opportunity of escaping again into the Woods, when there is no reclaiming them.


  • One today is worth two tomorrows.
  • The way to be safe is never to be secure.
  • Never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today.
    • Aphorism quoted by Lord Chesterfield in 1749


Many quotations from the preamble of this edition are repeats of statements in previous editions, a sort of "Collected Wisdom" of Poor Richard.

  • The Way to see by Faith, is to shut the Eye of Reason: The Morning Daylight appears plainer when you put out your Candle.
  • In my Rambles, where I am not personally known, I have frequently heard one or other of my Adages repeated, with, as Poor Richard says, at the End on't; this gave me some Satisfaction, as it showed not only that my Instructions were regarded, but discovered likewise some Respect for my Authority; and I own, that to encourage the Practice of remembering and repeating those wise Sentences, I have sometimes quoted myself with great Gravity.
  • Father Abraham stood up, and reply'd, If you'd have my Advice, I'll give it you in short, for a Word to the Wise is enough, and many Words won't fill a Bushel, as Poor Richard says. They join'd in desiring him to speak his Mind, and gathering round him, he proceeded as follows;
    "Friends, says he, and Neighbours, 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. We are taxed twice as much by our Idleness, three times as much by our Pride, and four times as much by our Folly, and from these Taxes the Commissioners cannot ease or deliver us by allowing an Abatement. However let us hearken to good Advice, and something may be done for us; God helps them that help themselves, as Poor Richard says, in his Almanack of 1733.
    It would be thought a hard Government that should tax its People one tenth Part of their Time, to be employed in its Service. But Idleness taxes many of us much more, if we reckon all that is spent in absolute Sloth, or doing of nothing, with that which is spent in idle Employments or Amusements, that amount to nothing. Sloth, by bringing on Diseases, absolutely shortens Life.
  • Sloth, like Rust, consumes faster than Labour wears, while the used Key is always bright.
  • Dost thou love Life, then do not squander Time, for that's the Stuff Life is made of.
  • There will be sleeping enough in the Grave.
  • Lost Time is never found again; and what we call Time-enough, always proves little enough: Let us then up and be doing, and doing to the Purpose; so by Diligence shall we do more with less Perplexity. Sloth makes all Things difficult, but Industry all easy
  • Want of Care does us more Damage than Want of Knowledge.
  • For want of a Nail the Shoe was lost; for want of a Shoe the Horse was lost; and for want of a Horse the Rider was lost, being overtaken and slain by the Enemy, all for want of Care about a Horse-shoe Nail.
    • Earlier proverb, compare "For want of a nail the shoe is lost, for want of a shoe the horse is lost, for want of a horse the rider is lost." George Herbert, Jacula Prudentum (1651) No. 499
  • Pride that dines on Vanity sups on Contempt.
  • When you have got the Philosopher's Stone, sure you will no longer complain of bad Times, or the Difficulty of paying Taxes.
  • Experience keeps a dear School, but Fools will learn in no other, and scarce in that.
  • They that won't be counselled, can't be helped.
  • 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 Vendue opened, and they began to buy extravagantly, notwithstanding all his Cautions, and their own Fear of Taxes. — I found the good Man had thoroughly studied my Almanacks, and digested all I had dropt on those Topicks during the Course of Five-and-twenty 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 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 first 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.
  • When you're an Anvil, hold you still;
    When you're a Hammer, strike your Fill.
  • When Knaves betray each other, one can scarce be blamed, or the other pitied.
  • Fools need Advice most, but wise Men only are the better for it.
  • Silence is not always a Sign of Wisdom, but Babbling is ever a Mark of Folly.
  • Great Modesty often hides great Merit.
  • You may delay, but Time will not.
  • Virtue may not always make a Face handsome, but Vice will certainly make it ugly.
  • Content is the Philosopher's Stone, that turns all it touches into Gold.
    • Statement on the value of contentment.
  • He that's content, hath enough; He that complains, has too much.
  • Half the Truth is often a great Lie.
  • Good-Will, like the Wind, floweth where it listeth.
  • In a corrupt Age, the putting the World in order would breed Confusion; then e'en mind your own Business.
  • To serve the Publick faithfully, and at the same time please it entirely, is impracticable.
  • Rob not God, nor the Poor, lest thou ruin thyself; the Eagle snatcht a Coal from the Altar, but it fired her Nest.
  • Plough deep, while sluggards sleep, and you shall have corn to sell and keep.
  • Away then, with your expensive follies, and you will not have then so much reason to complain of hard times, heavy taxes, and chargeable families.
  • With bounteous Cheer,
    Conclude the Year.
  • He that lives on hope will die fasting.

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