Poor Richard Improved (excerpt)

Benjamin Franklin

1758

Subjects: Thrift, Thrift Collection, Teaching thrift, Curricula, What is thrift?

More by: Benjamin Franklin

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, as Poor Richard says. But dost thou love Life, then do not squander Time, for that's the Stuff Life is made of, as Poor Richard says. – How much more than is necessary do we spend in Sleep! Forgetting that The sleeping Fox catches no Poultry, and that there will be sleeping enough in the Grave, as Poor Richard says. If Time be of all Things the most precious, wasting Time must be, as Poor Richard says, the greatest Prodigality, since, as he elsewhere tells us, Lost Time is never found again, and what we call Time-enough, always proves little enough: Let us then be 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, as Poor Richard says; and He that riseth late, must trot all Day, and shall scarce overtake his Business at Night. While Laziness travels so slowly, that Poverty soon overtakes him, as we read in Poor Richard, who adds, Drive thy Business, let not that drive thee; and Early to Bed, and early to rise, makes a Man healthy, wealthy and wise.

Full text available online at: http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Franklin/01-07-02-0146. Source: The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, vol. 7, October 1, 1756 through March 31, 1758, ed. Leonard W. Labaree. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1963, pp. 326–355.

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