Each week Albany Herald researcher Mary Braswell looks for interesting events, places and people from the past. You can contact her at (229) 888-9371 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Poor Richard’s Almanack” was first published this month in 1732 by Benjamin Franklin, who adopted the pseudonym of Richard Saunders. The publication appeared continually for 25 years and contained weather, household hints, puzzles, poetry, a calendar, astrological information and more. Among the most popular of its entries was a wide variety of wisdoms. Here is look back of a sampling of the wordplay.
• Better slip with foot than tongue.
• Blame-all and Praise-all are two blockheads.
• Take this remark from Richard poor and lame, whate’er starts in anger ends in shame.
• You cannot pluck roses without fear of thorns, not enjoy a fair wife without danger of horns.
• Look before, or you’ll find yourself behind.
• The poor man must walk to get meat for his stomach, the rich man to get a stomach to his meat.
• Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead.
• One Mend-fault is worth two Find-faults, but one Find-fault is better than two Make-faults.
• He that can have patience, can have what he will.
• Why does the blind man’s wife paint herself?
• If wind blows on you thro’ a hole, make your will and take care of your soul.
• Good wives and good plantations are made by good husbands.
• Creditors have better memories than debtors.
• He that scatters thorns, let him not go barefoot.
• A countryman between two layers is like a fish between two cats.
• He that pursues two hares at once, does not catch one and lets the other go.
• Don’t misinform your doctor or your lawyer.
• I never saw an oft-transplanted tree, nor yet an oft- removed family, that throve as well as those that settled be.
• If you want a neat wife, chuse (choose) her on a Saturday.
• Great talkers should be cropt, for they’ve no need of ears.
• Buy what thou hast no need of and e’er long thou shalt sell thy necessaries.
• Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterwards.
• if you do what you should not, you must hear what you would not.
• Wish a miser long life, and you wish him no good.
• Time is an herb that cures all diseases.
• Trust thyself and another will not betray thee.
• Thou canst 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 our fathers and grandfathers be valued for their goodness, ourselves for our own.
• Rather go to bed supperless than run in debt for a breakfast.
• No resolution of repenting hereafter can be sincere.
• An empty bag cannot stand upright.
• An open foe may prove a curse but a pretended friend is worse.
• Neither praise nor dispraise, till seven Christmases be over.
• Who knows a fool must know his brother; For one will recommend the other.
• Fear to do ill and you will need naught else.
• Learn of the skillful. He that teaches himself hath a fool for a master.
• Don’t overload gratitude; if you do, she’ll kick.
• At 20 years, the will reigns; at 30, the wit; at 40, the judgment.
• If you would keep your secret from an enemy, tell it not to a friend.
• Enjoy the present hour; be mindful of the past; And neither fear nor wish the approaches of the last.
• You must be careful, if you are wise, how you touch men’s religion or deceit or eyes.
• Ill customs and bad advice are seldom forgotten.
• One good husband is worth two good wives; for the scarcer things are, the more they are valued.
• Late children, early orphans
• They that study much ought not to eat as much as those that work hard, their digestion being not so good.
• He that hath a trade, hath an estate.
• Men differ daily, about things that are subject to sense, it is likely then they should agree about things invisible.
• The church, the state and the poor are three daughters which we should maintain, but not portion off.
• If you’d have it done, go; if not, send.
• How many observe Christ’s birthday? How few, his precepts! O!’tis easier to keep holidays than commandments.
• He that drinks his cyder alone, let him catch his horse alone.
• What you would seem to be, be really.
• If you’d lose a troublesome visitor, lend him money.
• God heals and the doctor takes the fee.
• Keep thou from the opportunity and God will keep thee from the sin.
• Hear reason or she will make you feel her.
• It’s common for men to give six pretended reasons instead of one real one.
• He who buys had need have 100 eyes but one’s enough for him that sells the stuff.
• Light-heel’d mothers make leaden-heel’d daughters.
• One man may be more cunning than another but not more cunning than everybody else.
• ‘Tis easier to prevent bad habits than to break them.
• Fools make feasts and wise men eat them.
• When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.
• A plowman on his legs is higher than a gentleman on his knees.
• Changing countries or beds cures neither a bad manager or a fever.
• The tongue is ever turning to the aching tooth.
• For every poor man there are 100 indigent.
• ‘Tis a strange forest that has no rotten wood in’t.
• Courage would fight but Discretion won’t let him.
• Write injuries in dust, benefits in marble.
• What signifies your patience if you can’t find it when you want it?
• Despair ruins some, presumption many.
Did you know?
•Napoleon Bonaparte considered the Almanack significant enough to translate it into Italian, along with the Pennsylvania State Constitution (which Franklin helped draft), when he established the Cisalpine Republic in 1797.
•The Almanack was also twice translated into French.
• So popular was the pamphlet that it was reprinted in Great Britain in broadside for ease of posting, and distributed to poor parishioners by members of the clergy.