Poor Richard's Almanack

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Poor Richard's Almanack
Trust thy self, and another shall not betray thee.

Poor Richard's Almanack (sometimes Almanac) was published by Benjamin Franklin, who adopted the pseudonym of "Poor Richard" or "Richard Saunders" for this purpose. Franklin began publishing Poor Richard's Almanack on December 19, 1732; annual versions were published for each year from 1733 to 1758. It was a best seller for a pamphlet published in the American colonies; print runs reached 10,000 per year.


  • Light purse, heavy heart.
  • He's a Fool that makes his Doctor his Heir.
  • He's gone, and forgot nothing but to say Farewel–
to his creditors.
  • Hunger never saw bad bread.
  • Great Talkers, little Doers.
  • Fools make feasts and wise men eat 'em.
  • The poor have little, beggars none, the rich too much,
enough not one.
  • Eat to live, and not live to eat.
    • See Molière (1668) : Il faut manger pour vivre, et non pas vivre pour manger. (One must eat to live, and not live to eat.)
    • from Socrates, as quoted by Plutarch, Bad men live to eat and drink, and good men eat and drink to live.
  • After three days men grow weary, of a wench, a guest, and weather rainy.[1]
  • The proof of gold is fire, the proof of woman, gold;
the proof of man, a woman.
  • He that lies down with Dogs, shall rise up with fleas.
  • Distrust & caution are the parents of security.
  • He is ill cloth'd, who is bare of Virtue.
  • Nothing more like a Fool, than a drunken Man.
  • Innocence is its own Defence.


  • You cannot pluck roses without fear of thorns,
    Nor enjoy fair wife without danger of horns.
  • Without justice, courage is weak.
  • Would you live with ease,
    Do what you ought, not what you please.
  • Blame-all and Praise-all are two blockheads.
  • Take this remark from Richard poor and lame,
    Whate'er's begun in anger ends in shame.
  • What one relishes, nourishes.
  • No man e'er was glorious, who was not laborious.
  • 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.
  • Fools multiply folly.
  • Beauty & Folly are old companions.
  • Better slip with foot than tongue.
  • Hope of gain,
    lessens pain.
  • Wedlock, as old Men note, hath likened been,
    Unto a publick Crowd or common Rout;
    Where those that are without would fain get in,
    And those that are within would fain get out.
    Grief often treads upon the Heels of Pleasure,
    Marry’d in Haste, we oft repent at Leisure;
    Some by Experience find these Words misplac’d,
    Marry’d at Leisure, they repent in Haste.
  • Where there's 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.
  • Who pleasure gives,
    Shall joy receive.
  • All things are cheap to the saving, dear to the wasteful.
  • Would you persuade, speak of Interest, not of Reason.
  • Happy's the Wooing that's not long a doing.
  • Jack Little sow'd little, & little he'll reap.
  • Do 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.
  • Don't value a man for the Quality he is of,
but for the Qualities he possesses.
  • As Charms are nonsense, Nonsense is a Charm.
  • He that cannot obey, cannot command.
  • An innocent Plowman is more worthy than a vicious Prince.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • When 'tis fair be sure to take your Great coat with you.
  • 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.
  • Strange, that he who lives by Shifts,
can seldom shift himself.
  • As sore places meet most rubs, proud folks
meet most affronts.
  • 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.
  • Avarice and Happiness never saw each other,
how then shou'd they become acquainted.
  • If you woul'd have Guests merry with your cheer,
    Be so your self, or so at least appear.
  • Reader, farewel, all Happiness attend thee:
    May each New Year better and richer find thee.


  • Bad Commentators spoil the best of books,
    So God sends meat (they say) the devil Cooks.
    • Compare this quote to: "God sends meat, and the Devil sends cooks" by the "Water Poet" John Taylor, Works, vol. ii. p. 85 (1630);
      "God sendeth and giveth both mouth and the meat", Thomas Tusser, A Hundred Points of Good Husbandry (1557); and
      "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.
  • 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.
  • Look before, or you'll find yourself behind.
  • A little House well fill'd, a little Field well till'd,
and a little Wife well will'd, are great Riches.
  • 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.
  • Keep thy shop, & thy shop will keep thee.
  • The King's cheese is half wasted in parings;
but no matter, 'tis made of the peoples milk.
    • Compare: "The king's cheese goes half away in parings." (James Howell, 1659)
  • Nothing but Money,
    Is Sweeter than Honey.
  • Humility makes great men twice honourable.
  • 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.
  • What's given shines,
    What's receiv'd is rusty.
  • Sloth and Silence are a Fool's Virtues.
  • 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.
  • To be humble to Superiors is Duty, to Equals Courtesy, to Inferiors Nobleness.
  • Here comes the Orator! with his Flood of Words, and his Drop of Reason.
  • 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.
  • An old young man, will be a young old man.
  • Some are weatherwise,some are otherwise.
  • 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.


  • 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's 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.
    • Earlier used by Algernon Sydney in 1689; slight variations are even earlier.
  • Why does the blind man's wife paint herself?
  • None preaches better than the ant, and she says nothing.
  • The absent are never without fault,
    nor the present without excuse.
  • If wind blows on you thro' a hole,
    Make your will and take care of your soul.
  • The rotten Apple spoils his Companion.
  • 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.
  • He that sells upon trust, loses many friends, and always wants money.
  • Gifts burst rocks.
  • 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'd 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.



Note: The following section is difficult for the modern reader to comprehend, due to its use of terms and abbreviations (for monetary units) that have long fallen out of use (especially in the United States). Briefly, the basic unit of currency in Colonial times, in England and in the Colonies, was the pound sterling ( designated by the abbreviation l. ). Twenty Shillings ( designated by the abbreviation s. ) made up a pound; each shilling was worth twelve pennies ( designated by the abbreviation p. ) or pence; thus, there were 240 pence in one pound. A Groat was a silver coin worth four pence. Mickle is a term meaning, “a great amount.” “Many a little makes a mickle (Many small amounts accumulate to make a large amount)” was once a familiar proverbial phrase. Finally, pin, as in the phrase “pin money”, probably designates a tiny but non-specific amount. The phrase “pin money” referred to an allowance granted by husbands to enable their wives to purchase pins, which were originally a pricey but essential item used by housewives in the making of clothing.

HINTS for those that would be Rich.
The use of Money is all the Advantage there is in having Money.
For 6l. a year, you may have Use of 100l. a year, if you are a Man of known Prudence and Honesty.
He that spends a Groat a day idly, spends idly above 6l. a year, which is the Price of using 100l.
He that wastes idly a Groat’s worth of his Time per Day, one day with another, wastes the Privilege of using 100l. each Day.
He that idly loses 5s. worth of time, loses 5s. and might as prudently throw 5s. in the River.
He that loses 5s. not only loses that Sum, but all the Advantage that might be made by turning it in Dealing, which by the time that a young Man becomes old, amounts to a comfortable Bag of Mony.
Again, He that sells upon Credit, asks a Price for what he sells, equivalent to the Principal and Interest of his Money for the Time he is like to be kept out of it: therefore
He that buys upon Credit, pays Interest for what he buys.
And He that pays ready Money, might let that Money out to use: so that
He that possesses any Thing he has bought, pays Interest for the Use of it.
Consider then, when you are tempted to buy any unnecessary Householdstuff, or any superfluous thing, whether you will be willing to pay Interest, and Interest upon Interest for it as long as you live; and more if it grows worse by using.
Yet, in buying Goods, 'tis best to pay ready Money, because,
He that sells upon Credit, expects to lose 5 per Cent, by bad Debts; therefore he charges, on all he sells upon Credit, an Advance that shall make up that Deficiency.
Those who pay for what they buy upon Credit, pay their share of this Advance.
He that pays ready Money,escapes or may escape that Charge.
A Penny sav'd is Twopence clear, A pin a day is a Groat
a Year. Save & have. Every little makes a mickle.
  • 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 the old man's supper, 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 miser's cheese is the wholesomest.
  • Love & 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 bad living.
  • To whom thy secret thou dost tell,
    to him thy freedom thou dost sell.
    • Compare to Thomas Fuller (physician), Gnomologia (1732), #5184 : To him, that you tell your Secret, you resign your Liberty, and to George Herbert, Jacula Prudentum (1651), #508 : He that tells a secret is another's servant, but also see James Howell, Lexicon Tetraglotton (1660) : 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 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?
  • Read much, but not many books.
  • 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.
  • You may be more happy than Princes,
if you will be more virtuous.
  • 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. [3]
  • 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.
  • '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.
  • Since I cannot govern my own tongue, tho' within my own
teeth, how can I hope to govern the tongues of others?
  • 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,
nor 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.
  • Each year one vicious habit rooted out,
    In time might make the worst Man good throughout.
  • 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.


  • If thou wouldst live long, live well;
for Folly and Wickedness shorten Life.
  • Trust thy self, and another shall not betray thee.
  • He that pays for Work before it’s done,
has but a pennyworth for twopence.
  • 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 Child's first Lesson be Obedience,
and the second may be what thou wilt.
  • Blessed is he that expects nothing,
for he shall never be disappointed.
  • Let thy Discontents be Secrets.
  • A Man of Knowledge like a rich Soil, feeds
    If not a world of Corn, a world of Weeds.
  • 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.
  • Pay what you owe, and you’ll know what's your own.
  • Be not niggardly of what costs thee nothing,
as courtesy, counsel, & countenance.
  • Beware of him that is slow to anger: He is angry
for some thing, 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.
  • Great Beauty, great strength, & great Riches, are
really & truly of no great Use; a right Heart exceeds all.


  • To hear other Peoples Afflictions, every one
    has Courage enough, and to spare.
    • Compare this quote to “Nous avons tous assez de force pour supporter les maux d'autrui.” ( We all have strength enough to endure the misfortunes of others), François de la Rochefoucauld, Reflections: or Sentences and Moral Maxims (1665-1668), Maxim 19.
  • An empty bag will not stand upright.
  • Happy that nation, fortunate that age,
whose history is not diverting.
  • An open Foe may prove a curse;
    But a pretended friend is worse.
  • A wolf eats sheep but now and then,
    Ten Thousands are devour'd by men.
  • Man's tongue is soft, and bone doth lack;
    Yet a stroke therewith may break a man's back.
  • The poor have little, Beggars none;
    the Rich too much, enough not one.
  • Tricks and trechery are the Practice of Fools,
that have not Wit enough to be honest.
  • There are lazy Minds as well as lazy Bodies.
  • Who says Jack is not generous? he is always fond of giving,
and cares not for receiving.–What? Why; Advice.
  • Fear not Death; for the sooner we die,
the longer shall we be immortal.
  • Those who in quarrels interpose,
    Must often wipe a bloody nose.
  • Promises may get thee friends, but Nonperformance
will turn them into enemies.
  • In other men we faults can spy,
    And blame the mote that dims their eye;
    Each little speck and blemish find;
    To our own stronger errors blind.
  • Observe all men; thy self most.
  • Thou hadst better eat salt with the Philosophers of Greece,
than sugar with the Courtiers of Italy.
  • Seek Virtue, and, of that possest,
    To Providence, resign the rest.
  • Marry above thy match, and thou'lt get a Master.
  • Fear to do ill, and you need fear naught else.
  • He makes a Foe who makes a jest.
  • Avoid dishonest Gain: No price
    Can recompence the Pangs of Vice.
  • When befriended, remember it:
    When you befriend, forget it.
  • Employ thy time well, if thou meanest to gain leisure.
  • A Flatterer never seems absurd:
    The Flatter'd always take his Word.
  • Lend Money to an Enemy, and thou'lt gain him,
to a Friend and thou'lt lose him.


  • Learn of the skilful: He that teaches himself,
hath a fool for his master.
  • Best is the Tongue that feels the rein:–
    He that talks much, must talk in vain;
    We from the wordy torrent fly:
    Who listens to the chattering Pye?
  • Anger and Folly walk cheek by jole;
Repentance treads on both their Heels.
  • Be always asham'd to catch thy self idle.
  • Lying rides upon Debt’s back.
  • They who have nothing to be troubled at,
will be troubled at nothing.
  • If evils come not, then our fears are vain:
    And if they do, Fear but augments the pain.
  • If you would keep your Secret from an enemy,
    tell it not to a friend
  • Up, Sluggard, and waste not life;
    in the grave will be sleeping enough.
  • There are no fools so troublesome as those that have wit.
  • Quarrels never could last long,
If on one side only lay the wrong.
  • Let no Pleasure tempt thee, no Profit allure thee, no Ambition corrupt thee,
    no Example sway thee, no Persuasion move thee, to do any thing which thou knowest to be Evil;
    So shalt thou always jollily: for a good Conscience is a continual Christmas. Adieu.


  • Strange! that a Man who has wit enough to write a Satyr;
    should have folly enough to publish it.
  • He that hath a Trade, hath an Estate.
  • Have you somewhat to do tomorrow; do it today.
  • Speak and speed: the close mouth catches no flies.
  • Late Children, early Orphans.
  • 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.
  • When Knaves fall out, honest Men get their goods:
    When Priests dispute, we come at the Truth.
  • 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.
  • With the old Almanack and the old Year,
    Leave thy Vices. tho' never so dear.
  • 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.


Let all Men know thee, but no man know thee thoroughly: Men freely ford that see the shallows.
Poor Richard's Almanack (1743)
  • How few there are who have courage enough to own their Faults, or resolution enough to mend them!
  • Men differ daily, about things which are subject to Sense, is it likely then they should agree about things invisible?
  • Mark with what insolence and pride,
    Blown Bufo takes his haughty stride;
    As if no toad was toad beside.
  • In prosperous fortunes be modest and wise,
    The greatest may fall, and the lowest may rise:
    But insolent People that fall in disgrace,
    Are wretched and no-body pities their Case.
  • The World is full of fools and faint hearts; and yet every one has courage enough to bear the misfortunes, and wisdom enough to manage the Affairs of his neighbor.
  • Beware, beware! he'll cheat 'ithout scruple, who can without fear.
  • Content and Riches seldom meet together,
    Riches take thou, contentment I had rather.
  • Speak with contempt of none, from slave to king,
    The meanest Bee hath, and will use, a sting.
  • The church the state, and the poor, are 3 daughters which we should maintain, but not portion off.
  • A little well-gotten will do us more good,
    Than lordships and scepters by Rapine and Blood.
  • Let all Men know thee, but no man know thee thoroughly: Men freely ford that see the shallows.
  • Tis easy to frame a good bold resolution;
    but hard is the Task that concerns execution.
  • Cold & cunning come from the north:
    But cunning sans wisdom is nothing worth.
  • Ah, simple Man! when a boy two precious jewels were given thee,
    Time, and good Advice; one thou hast lost, and the other thrown away.
  • The sleeping Fox catches no poultry. Up! up!
  • If you'd be wealthy, think of saving, more than of getting:
    The Indies have not made Spain rich, because her Outgoes equal her Incomes.
  • Experience keeps a dear school, yet Fools will learn in no other.
  • How many observe Christ's Birth-day! How few, his Precepts! O! 'tis easier to keep Holidays than Commandments.


  • He that drinks his Cyder alone,
    Let him catch his Horse alone.
  • Who is strong? He that can conquer his bad Habits.
  • Who is rich? He that rejoices in his Portion.
  • He that has not got a Wife, is not yet a compleat Man.
  • What you would seem to be, be really.
  • If you'd lose a troublesome Visitor, lend him Money.
  • Tart Words make no Friends: a spoonful of honey
    will catch more flies than a Gallon of Vinegar.
  • Make haste slowly.
  • Hear Reason, or she'll make you feel her.
  • Give me yesterday's Bread, this Day's Flesh,
    and last Year's Cyder.
  • God heals, and the Doctor takes the Fees.
  • Sloth (like Rust) consumes faster than Labour wears:
the used Key is always bright.
  • Keep thou from the Opportunity,
and God will keep thee from the Sin.
  • Where there's no Law, there's no Bread.
  • As Pride increases, Fortune declines.
  • The same man cannot be both Friend and Flatterer.
  • He who multiplies Riches multiplies Cares.
  • Those who are fear'd, are hated.
  • The Things which hurt, instruct.
  • A soft Tongue may strike hard.
  • A true Friend is the best Possession.
  • Epitaph on a Scolding Wife by her Husband.
    Here my poor Bridget's Corps doth lie, she is at rest,
    –and so am I.


  • Beware of little Expences,
    a small Leak will sink a great Ship.
  • A light purse is a heavy Curse.
  • Help, Hands; for I have no Lands.
  • It's common for Men to give pretended Reasons
instead of one real one.
  • Vanity backbites more than Malice.
  • He's a Fool that cannot conceals Wisdom.
  • Great spenders are bad lenders.
  • You may talk too much on the best of subjects.
  • No gains without pains.
  • There are no fools so troublesome as those that have wit.
  • Many complain of their Memory, few of their Judgment.
    • Compare this quote to Tout le monde se plaint de sa mémoire, et personne ne se plaint de son jugement. (Everyone blames his memory; no one blames his judgment.) From Reflections; or Sentences and Moral Maxims (1665-1678), François de la Rochefoucauld, Maxim 89.
  • Fools make feasts and wise men eat them.
  • Light heel'd mothers make leaden-heel'd daughters.
  • 'Tis easier to prevent bad habits than to break them.
  • Every Man has Assurance enough to boast of his honesty,
few of their Understanding.
  • An ounce of wit that is bought,
    Is worth a pound that is taught.
  • He that resolves to mend hereafter,
resolves not to mend now.


  • When the Well's dry, we know the Worth of Water.
  • A good Wife and Health, is a Man's best Wealth.
  • A quarrelsome Man has no good Neighbors.
  • Vice knows she's ugly, so puts on her Mask.
  • Women & Wine, Game & Deceit,
    Make the Wealth small and the Wants great.
  • It's the easiest Thing in the World for a Man to deceive himself.
  • Virtue and Happiness are Mother and Daughter.
  • Dost thou love Life? then do not squander Time;
for that's the Stuff Life is made of.
  • Good Sense is a Thing all need, few have,
and none think they want.
  • Want of Care does us more Damage than
Want of Knowledge.
  • The Sting of a Reproach, is the Truth of it.
  • The most exquisite Folly is made of Wisdom spun too fine.


  • There's a time to wink as well as to see.
  • There is no Man so bad, but he secretly respects the Good.
  • Courage would fight, but Discretion won't let him.
  • We are not so sensible of the greatest Health
as of the least Sickness.
  • A good Example is the best sermon.
  • A Father's a Treasure; a Brother's a Comfort;
a Friend is both.
  • He that won't be counsell'd, can't be help'd.
  • Write Injuries in Dust, Benefits in Marble.
  • What maintains one Vice would bring up two Children.
  • Better is a little with content than much with contention.
  • A slip of the foot you may soon recover;
    But a slip of the Tongue you may never get over.
  • What signifies your Patience, if you can't find it
when you want it.
  • Time enough, always proves little enough.
  • It is wise not to seek a Secret, and Honest not to reveal it.
  • A Mob's a Monster; Heads enough, but no Brains.
  • The Devil sweetens Poison with Honey.
  • He that cannot bear with other People's Passions,
cannot govern his own.


  • Lost Time is never found again.
  • Life with Fools consists in Drinking;
    With the wise Man, Living's Thinking.
  • Liberality is not giving much but giving wisely.
  • The second Vice is Lying; the first is Running in Debt.
  • When you're good to others, you are best to yourself.
  • Half Wits talk much but say little.
  • If Jack's in love, he's no judge of Jill's Beauty.
  • Most Fools think they are only ignorant.
  • Pardoning the Bad, is injuring the Good.
  • He is not well-bred, that cannot bear Ill-Breeding in others.


  • Wise Men learn by other's harms; Fools by their own.
  • The end of Passion is the beginning of Repentance.
  • Words may shew a man's Wit, but Actions his Meaning.
  • 'Tis a well spent penny that saves a groat.
  • Many Foxes grow grey, but few grow good.
  • Content makes poor men rich; Discontent
makes rich men poor.
  • Drink does not drown Care, but waters it,
and makes it grow faster.
  • If your head is wax, don’t walk in the sun.
  • Having been poor is no shame, but being ashamed of it, is.
  • The wise Man draws more Advantage from his Enemies,
than the Fool from his Friends.
  • All would live long, but none would be old.
  • Declaiming against Pride, is not always a Sign of Humility.
  • Doing an Injury puts you below your Enemy; Revenging one
makes you but even with him; Forgiving it sets you above him.
  • Most of the Learning in use, is of no great Use.
  • A Man in a Passion rides a mad Horse.
  • Reader farewel, all Happiness attend thee;
    May each New-Year, better and richer find thee.


  • There are three things extreamly hard,Steel,
a Diamond and to know one's self.
  • Hunger is the best Pickle.
  • He is Governor that governs his Passions,
and he a Servant that serves them.
  • Wouldst thou confound thine Enemy, be good thy self.
  • Pride is as loud a Beggar as Want, and a great deal more saucy.
  • Pay what you owe, and what you're worth you'll know.
  • Many a Man thinks he is buying Pleasure,
when he is really selling himself a Slave to it.
  • He that can bear a Reproof, and mend by it,
if he is not wise, is in a fair way of being so.
  • Clean your Finger, before you point at my Spots.
  • He that spills the Rum, loses that only; He that drinks it,
often loses both that and himself.
  • Genius without education is like silver in the mine.
  • Little Strokes,
    Fell great Oaks.
  • Many would live by their Wits, but break for want of Stock.
  • Hide not your Talents, they for Use were made.
    What's a Sun-Dial in the Shade!
  • What signifies knowing the Names,
if you know not the Natures of Things.
  • Glass, China, and Reputation, are easily crack'd,
and never well mended.


  • Pray don't burn my House to roast your Eggs.
  • Many a Man would have been worse,
if his Estate had been better.
  • We may give Advice, but we cannot give Conduct.
  • He that is concious of a Stink in his Breeches,
is jealous of every Wrinkle in another's nose.
  • Most People return small Favors, acknowledge middling
ones, and repay great ones with Ingratitude.
  • 'Tis easier to suppress the first Desire,
than to satisfy all that follow it.
  • If your Riches are yours, why don't you take them
with you to t'other World?
  • What more valuable than Gold? Diamonds.
    Than Diamonds? Virtue.
  • If worldly Goods cannot save me from Death,
they ought not to hinder me of eternal Life.
  • Today is Yesterday's Pupil.
  • 'Tis great Confidence in a Friend to tell him your Faults,
greater to tell him his.
  • Ambition often spends foolishly what Avarice
had wickedly collected.
  • Great Estates may venture more;
    Little Boats must keep near Shore.
  • Nice Eaters seldom meet with a good Dinner.
  • Not to oversee Workmen, is to leave them your Purse open.
  • The Wise and Brave dares own that he was wrong.
  • Cunning proceeds from Want of Capacity.
  • The Proud hate Pride – in others.
  • Who judges best of a Man, his Enemies or himself?
  • Drunkenness, that worst of Evils, makes some men Fools,
some Beasts, some Devils.
  • 'Tis not a Holiday that's not kept holy.


  • Kings have long Arms, but Misfortune longer:
Let none think themselves out of her Reach.
  • 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.
  • The busy Man has few idle Visitors;
to the boiling Pot the Flies come not.
  • 'Tis more noble to forgive, and more manly to despise,
than to revenge an Injury.
  • A Brother may not be a Friend,
but a Friend will always be a Brother.
  • Meanness is the Parent of Insolence.
  • A Temper to bear much, will have much to bear.
  • Great Merit is coy, as well as great Pride.
  • An undutiful Daughter, will prove an unmanageable Wife.
  • Old Boys have their Playthings as well as young Ones;
the Difference is only in the Price.

The too obliging Temper is evermore disobliging itself.

  • Hold your Council before Dinner;
the full Belly hates Thinking as well as Acting.
  • The Brave and the Wise can both pity and excuse;
when Cowards and Fools shew no Mercy.
  • Ceremony is not Civility; nor Civility Ceremony.
  • If Man could have Half his Wishes,
he would double his Troubles.
  • Children and Princes will quarrel for Trifles.
  • Success has ruin'd many a Man.


  • '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.
  • It is not Leisure that is not used.
  • Paintings and Fightings are best seen at a distance.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • He that best understands the World, least likes it.
  • Haste makes Waste.
  • 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.
    • Compare this quote to “They who are of opinion that Money will do every thing, may very well be suspected to do every thing for Money.”, George Savile, Moral Thoughts and Reflections (1750).
  • An ill Wound, but not an ill Name, may be healed.
  • When out of Favour, none know thee;
when in, thou dost not know thyself.
  • God, Parents, and Instructors, can never be requited.
  • If you have no Honey in your Pot, have some in your Mouth.
  • 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.


  • The first Degree of Folly, is to conceit one’s self wise;
the second to profess it; the third to despise Counsel.
  • Take heed of the Vinegar of sweet Wine,
and the Anger of Good-nature.
  • Cut the Wings of your Hens and Hopes,
lest they lead you a weary Dance after them.
  • The Cat in Gloves catches no Mice.
  • In Rivers and bad Governments, the lightest Things
swim at top.
  • If you'd know the Value of Money, go and borrow some.
  • The horse thinks one thing, and he that saddles him another.
  • Love thy Neighbor; yet don't pull down your Hedge.
  • In the Affairs of this World Men are saved, not by Faith,
but by the Want of it.
  • Friendship cannot live with Ceremony, nor without Civility.
  • The learned Fool writes his Nonsense in better Language
than the unlearned; but still 'tis Nonsense.
  • A Child thinks 20 Shillings and 20 Years
can scarce ever be spent.
  • You may give a Man an Office,
but you cannot give him Discretion.
  • He that doth what he should not,
shall feel what he would not.
  • Little Rogues easily become great Ones.
  • You may sometimes be much in the wrong,
in owning your being in the right.
  • Friends are the true Sceptres of Princes.
  • Where Sense is wanting, every thing is wanting.
  • For Age and Want save while you may,
    No Morning Sun lasts a whole Day.
  • Many Princes sin with David, but few repent with him.
  • He that hath no ill Fortune will be troubled with good.


  • A Man without a Wife, is but half a Man.
  • Speak little, do much.
  • When the Wine enters, out goes the Truth.
  • If you would be loved, love and be lovable.
  • The honest Man takes Pains, and then enjoys Pleasures;
the Knave takes Pleasure, and then suffers Pains.
  • Think of three Things, whence you came, where you are
going, and to whom you must account.
  • There was never a good Knife made of bad Steel.
  • The Wolf sheds his Coat once a Year, his Disposition never.
  • Who is wise? He that learns from every One.
    Who is powerful? He that governs his Passions.
    Who is rich? He that is content.
    Who is that? Nobody.
  • The Day is short, the Work great, the Workmen lazy, the
Wages high, the Master urgeth; Up, then, and be doing.
  • The Doors of Wisdom are never shut.
  • Much Virtue in Herbs, little in Men.
  • When you taste Honey, remember Gall.
  • Being ignorant is not so much a Shame,
as being unwilling to learn.
  • God gives all Things to Industry.
  • Diligence overcomes Difficulties, Sloth makes them.
  • Neglect mending a small Fault, and 'twill soon be a great one.
  • A long Life may not be good enough,
but a good Life is long enough.
  • Be at War with your Vices, at Peace with your Neighbours,
and let every New Year find you a better Man.


  • Love your Enemies, for they tell you your Faults.
  • Vain-Glory flowereth, but beareth no Fruit.
  • Laws too gentle are seldom obeyed;
too severe, seldom executed.
  • Love, and be loved.
  • A wise Man will desire no more, than what he may get justly,
use soberly, distribute cheerfully, and leave contentedly.
  • A false Friend and a Shadow,
attend only while the sun shines.
  • To-morrow, every fault is to be amended;
but that To-morrow never comes.
  • Plough deep, while Sluggards sleep;
    And you shall have Corn, to sell and to keep.
  • He that sows Thorns, should never go barefoot.
  • Laziness travels so slowly, that Poverty soon overtakes him.
  • Sampson with his strong Body, had a weak Head,
or he would not have laid it in a Harlot's Lap.
  • To be proud of Knowledge, is to be blind with Light; to be
proud of Virtue, is to poison yourself with the Antidote.
  • Get what you can, and what you get, hold;
    'Tis the Stone that will turn all your Lead into Gold.
  • An honest Man will receive neither Money nor Praise,
that is not his Due.
  • Saying and Doing, have quarrel'd and parted.
  • Tell me my Faults, and mend your own.


  • Many a Man's own Tongue gives Evidence
    against his Understanding.
    • Compare this quote to “Most men make little other use of their Speech than to give evidence against their own Understanding.”, George Savile, Moral Thoughts and Reflections (1750).
  • Anger warms the Invention, but overheats the Oven.
  • It is Ill-Manners to silence a Fool, and Cruelty
    to let him go on.
    • Compare this quote to “It is Ill-manners to silence a Fool, and Cruelty to let him go on.”, George Savile, Moral Thoughts and Reflections (1750).
  • Men take more pains to mask than mend.
    • Compare this quote to “Men take more pains to hide than to mend themselves.”, George Savile, Miscellaneous Thoughts and Reflections (1750).
  • One To-day is worth two To-morrows.
  • The way to be safe is never to be secure.
  • Dally not with other Folks Women or Money.
  • Work as if you were to live 100 years,
    Pray as if you were to die To-morrow.
  • Pride breakfasted with Plenty, dined with Poverty,
supped with Infamy.
  • Act uprightly, and despise Calumny; Dirt may stick to
a Mud Wall, but not to polish'd Marble.
  • The Tongue offends, and the Ears get the Cuffing.

Maxims prefixed to Poor Richard's Almanac, 1757

Reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • God helps them that help themselves.
  • Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.
  • Early to bed and early to rise,
    Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.
  • Plough deep while sluggards sleep.
  • Never leave that till to-morrow which you can do to-day.
  • Three removes are as bad as a fire.
  • Little strokes fell great oaks.
  • A little neglect may breed mischief: 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.
  • He that goes a borrowing goes a sorrowing.
  • A man may, if he knows not how to save as he gets, keep his nose to the grindstone.
  • Vessels large may venture more,
    But little boats should keep near shore.
  • It is hard for an empty bag to stand upright.
  • Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other.



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

  • 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
  • Early to Bed, and early to Rise, makes a Man healthy, wealthy, and wise.
  • He that lives upon Hope will die fasting.
  • Plough deep, while Sluggards sleep, and you shall have Corn to sell and keep.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • Compare this quote to “Half the Truth is often as arrant a Lye, as can be made.”, George Savile, Miscellaneous Thoughts and Reflections (1750).
  • The first Mistake in publick Business, is the going into it.
  • The Way to see by Faith, is to shut the Eye of Reason:
    The Morning Daylight appears plainer when you put out your Candle.
    • The first portion of this sentence is often quoted without the context provided by the complete statement.
  • 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.
  • With bounteous Cheer,
    Conclude the Year.

Poor Richard's Almanack as found on founders.archives.gov.

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