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discouragement of future grants; and the selfishness of the proprietors in soliciting such a general catastrophe, merely from a groundless fear of their estate being taxed too highly, was insisted on in the strongest terms.
On this, Lord Mansfield, one of the counsel, rose, and beckoning me, took me into the clerk’s chamber, while the lawyers were pleading, and asked me if I was really of opinion that no injury would be done the proprietary estate in the execution of the act. I said, “Certainly.” “Then,” says he, "you can have little objection to enter into an engagement to assure that point.” I answered, “None at all.” He then called in Paris, and after some discourse, his lordship’s proposition was accepted on both sides ; a paper to the purpose was drawn up by the clerk of the Council, which I signed with Mr. Charles, who was also an agent of the province for their ordinary affairs, when Lord Mansfield returned to the council chamber, where finally the law was allowed to pass. Some changes were, however, recommended, and we also engaged they should be made by a subsequent law, but the Assembly did not think them necessary; for one year's tax having been levied by the act before the order of Council arrived, they appointed a committee to examine the proceedings of the assessors, and on this committee they put several particular friends of the proprietaries. After a full inquiry, they unanimously signed a report that they found the tax had been assessed with perfect equity.
The Assembly looked upon my entering into the first part of the engagement as an essential service to the province, since it secured the credit of the paper money then spread over all the country. They gave me their thanks in form when I returned. But the proprietaries were enraged at Governor Denny for having passed the act, and turned him out with threats of suing him for breach of instructions which he had given bond to observe. He, however, having done it at the instance of the general, and for his Majesty's service, and having some powerful interest at court, despised the threats, and they were never put in execution. LETTERS REFERRED TO ON PAGE 89.
FROM MR. ABEL JAMES (RECEIVED IN PARIS).
"MY DEAR AND HONORED FRIEND: I have often been desirous of writing to thee, but could not be reconciled to the thought that the letter might fall into the hands of the British, lest some printer or busybody should publish some part of the contents, and give our friend pain, and myself censure.
“Some time since there fell into my hands, to my great joy, about twenty-three sheets in thy own handwriting, containing an account of the parentage and life of thyself, directed to thy son, ending in the year 1730; with which there were notes, likewise in thy writing; a copy of which I inclose, in hopes it may be a means, if thou continued it up to a later period, that the first and latter part may be put together; and if it is not yet continued, I hope thee will not delay it. Life is uncertain, as the preacher tells us; and what will the world say if kind, humane, and benevolent Ben. Franklin should leave his friends and the world deprived of so pleasing and profitable a work; a work which would be useful and entertaining not only to a few, but to millions ? The inflụence writings under that class have on the minds of youth is very great, and has nowhere appeared to me so plain as in our public friend's journals. It almost insensibly leads the youth into the resolution of endeavoring to become as good and eminent as the journalist. Should thine, for instance, when published (and I think it could not fail of it), lead the youth to equal the industry and temperance of thy early youth, what a blessing with that class would such a work be! I know of no character living, nor many of them put together, who has so much in his power as thyself to promote a greater spirit of industry and early attention to business, frugality, and temperance with the American youth. Not that I think the work would have no other merit and use in the world-far from it; but the first is of such vast importance that I know nothing that can equal it.”
The other letter, from Mr. Benjamin Vaughan, gave similar advice, THE WAY TO WEALTH,
AS CLEARLY SHOWN IN THE PREFACE OF AN OLD PENNSYLVANIA
ALMANAC ENTITLED “POOR RICHARD IMPROVED."
COURTEOUS READER: I have heard that nothing gives an author so great pleasure as to find his works respectfully quoted by other learned authors. This pleasure I have seldom enjoyed; for, though I have been, if I may say it without vanity, an eminent author (of almanacs) annually, now a full quarter of a century, my brother authors in the same way, for what reason I know not, have ever been very sparing in their applauses and no other author has taken the least notice of me; so that, did not my writings produce me some solid pudding, the great deficiency of praise would have quite discouraged me.
I concluded at length that the people were the best judges of my merit, for they buy my works; and, besides, 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 of it. 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 reading those wise sentences, I have sometimes quoted myself with great gravity.
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 round 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 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.
I. “It would be thought a hard government that should tax its people one tenth part of their time, to be employed in its service; bui 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. But dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is 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; 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. Drive thy business, 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 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; or, if I have, they are smartly taxed. He that hath a trade hath an estate; and he that hath a calling, hath an office of profit and honor, as Poor Richard says; but then the trade must be worked at and the calling followed, or neither the estate nor the office will enable us to pay our taxes. If we are industrious, we shall never starve; for, At the workingman's house hunger looks in, but dares not enter. Nor will the bailiff or the constable enter; for Industry pays debts, while Despair increaseth them. What though you have found no treasure, nor has any rich relation left you a legacy; Diligence is the mother of good luck, and God gives all things to Industry. Then plow deep while sluggards sleep, and you shall have corn to sell and to keep. Work while it is called to-day, for you know not how much you may be hindered tomorrow. 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 good 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, your country, your kin. Handle your tools without mittens; remember that The cat in gloves catches no mice, as Poor Richard says. 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, By diligence and patience the mouse ate in two the cable; and, Little strokes fell great oaks.
“Methinks I hear some of you say, Must a man afford himself no leisure? I will tell thee, my friend, what Poor Richard says: Employ thy time well, if thou meanest to gain leisure; and since thou art not sure of a minute, throw not away an hour. Leisure is time for doing something useful; this leisure the diligent man will obtain, but the lazy man never; for, A life of leisure and a life of laziness are two things. Many, without labor, would live by their wits only, but they break for want of stock; whereas industry gives comfort and plenty and respect. Fly pleasures and they will follow you. The diligent spinner has a large shift; and now I have a sheep and a cow, every one bids me good morrow.
II. “But with our industry we must likewise be steady and careful, and oversee our own affairs with our own eyes, and not trust too much to others; for, as Poor Richard says:
I never saw an oft-removed tree,
And again, 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:
He that by the plow would thrive,