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government, Edmund Burke delivered, in the House of Commons, his famous speech on the Conciliation of the Colonies, March 22, 1775. This extract is taken from the closing paragraphs of this celebrated speech.
THE WAY TO WIEALTH
CourTEoUs READER: I have heard that nothing gives an author so great pleasure as to find his works respectfully quoted by others. Judge, then, how much I must have been gratified by an incident I am going to relate to you. I stopped my horse, lately, where a great number of people were collected at an auction of merchants’ goods. The hour of the sale not being come, they were conversing on the badness of the times; and one of the company called to a plain, clean old man, with white locks: “Pray, Father Abraham, what think you of the times? Will not these heavy taxes quite ruin the country? How shall we ever be able to pay them? What would you advise us to do? Father Abraham stood up and replied: “If you would have my advice, I will give it to you in short; for ‘a word to the wise is enough, as Poor Richard says.” They joined in desiring him to speak his mind, and, gathering around him, he proceeded as follows: “Friends,” said he, “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 of these taxes the commissioners can not ease or deliver us by allowing an abatement. However, let us hearken to good advice, and something may be done for us. “Heaven helps them that help themselves, as Poor Richard says,
“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; sloth, by bringing on diseases, absolutely shortens life. “Sloth, like rust, consumes faster than labor wears; while the used key is always bright,’ 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. “‘Lost time is never found again; and what we call time enough, always proves little enough.” Let us, then, be up and doing, and doing to the purpose; so by diligence shall we do more with less perplexity. “Drive thy business, and let not that drive thee'; and early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise,’ as Poor Richard says. “So, what signifies wishing and hoping for better times? We may make these times better if we bestir ourselves. ‘Industry need not wish, and he that lives upon hopes will die fasting.’ “There are no gains without pains; then help hands, for I have no lands.” “He that hath a trade, hath an estate; and he that hath a calling, hath an office of profit and honor”; but then the trade must be worked at, and the calling well followed, or neither the estate nor the office will enable us to pay our taxes. Work while it is called to-day, for you know not how much you may be hindered to-morrow. ‘One to-day is worth two to-morrows,’ as Poor Richard says; and further, ‘Never leave that till to-morrow which you can do to-day.” “If you were a servant, would you not be ashamed that a good master should catch you idle? Are you, then, your own master? Be ashamed to catch yourself idle, when there is so much to be done for yourself, your family, and your country. It is true, there is much to be done, and perhaps you are weak-handed; but stick to it steadily, and you will see great effects; for ‘constant dropping wears away stones,’ and ‘little strokes fell great oaks.’ “But with our industry we must likewise be steady, settled, and careful, and oversee our own affairs with our own eyes, and
not trust too much to others; for, as Poor Richard says, “Three removes are as bad as a fire’; and again, “Keep thy shop, and thy shop will keep thee'; and again, “If you would have your business done, go; if not, send’; and again, “The eye of the master will do more work than both his hands'; and again, ‘Want of care does us more damage than want of knowledge.’ “So much for industry, my friends, and attention to one's own business; but to these we must add frugality, if we would make our industry more certainly successful. A man may, if he knows not how to save as he gets, keep his nose to the grindstone all his life, and die not worth a groat at last. ‘If you would be wealthy, think of saving as well as of getting.’ “Away with your expensive follies, and you will not then have so much cause to complain of hard times, heavy taxes, and chargeable families; for ‘what maintains one vice would bring up two children.” Beware of little expenses. ‘Many a little makes a mickle’; ‘A small leak will sink a great ship.” Here you are all got together at this sale of fineries and knickknacks. You call them goods, but, if you do not take care, they will prove evils to some of you. “You expect they will be sold cheap, and perhaps they may be, for less than cost; 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 thou shalt sell thy necessaries.’ “Silks, satins, scarlet, and velvets put out the kitchen fire.’ These 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 greatest are reduced to poverty, and forced to borrow of those whom they formerly despised, but who, through industry and frugality, have maintained their standing. ‘If you would know the value of money, go and try to borrow some; for he that goes a-borrowing goes a-sorrowing'; and, indeed, so does he that lends to such people, when he goes to get it again.
“It is as truly folly for the poor to ape the rich, as for the frog to swell in order to equal the ox. After all, this pride of appearance can not promote health, nor ease pain; it makes no 1oo increase of merit in the person; it creates envy; it hastens misfortunes. “But what madness it must be to run in debt for superfluities! Think what you do when you run in debt: you give to another power over your liberty. If you can not pay at the time, you will 105 be ashamed to see your creditor; you will be in fear when you speak to him; you will make poor, pitiful, sneaking excuses, and by degrees come to lose your veracity, and sink into base, downright lying; for ‘the second vice is lying, the first is running in debt, as Poor Richard says; and again, “Lying rides upon debt’s 110 back.’ “This doctrine, my friends, is reason and wisdom; but industry, and frugality, and prudence may all be blasted without the blessing of Heaven. Therefore ask that blessing humbly, and be not uncharitable to those that at present seem to want it, but comfort 115 and help them.” The old gentleman ended his harangue. The people heard it, and approved the doctrine, and immediately practiced the contrary, just as if it had been a common sermon; for the auction opened, and they began to buy extravagantly. I found the good 120 man had thoroughly studied my almanac, and digested all I had dropped on these topics during the course of twenty-five 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 125 which he ascribed to me, but rather the gleanings that I had made of the sense of all ages and nations. However, I resolved to be the better for the echo of it; and, although 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, 130 if thou wilt do the same, thy profit will be as great as mine.— I am, as ever, thine to serve, thee.
Biographical and Historical: These are paragraphs selected from Benjamin Franklin’s “Way to Wealth,’’ about which he has the following to say in his Autobiography: “In 1732, I first published my Almanac, under the name of “Richard Saunders’; it was continued by me about twenty-five years, and commonly called “Poor Richard's Almanac.” I filled all the little spaces that occurred between the remarkable days in the calendar with proverbial sentences, chiefly such as inculcated industry and frugality as the means of procuring wealth, and thereby securing virtue. These proverbs, which contained the wisdom of many ages and nations, I assembled and formed into a connected discourse, prefixed to the Almanac of 1757 as the harangue of a wise old man to the people attending an auction. The bringing all these scattered counsels thus into a focus enabled them to make greater impression.”
SPEECH ON A RESOLUTION TO PUT VIRGINIA INTO A STATE OF DEFENCE
BY PATRICK HENRY
MR. PRESIDENT, No man thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as abilities, of the very worthy gentlemen who have just addressed the House. But different men often see the same subject in different lights; and, therefore, I hope it will not be thought disrespectfol to those gentlemen, if, entertaining, as I do, opinions of a character very opposite to theirs, I shall speak forth my sentiments freely and without reserve. This is no time for ceremony. The question before the House is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfil the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offence, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty towards the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.