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“ But what madness must it be to run in debt for these superfluities : we are offered by the terms of this sale six months credit, and that perhaps has induced some of us to attend it, because we cannot spare the ready money, and hope now to be fine without it. But ah! think what you do when you run in debt. You give to an other power over your liberty. If you cannot pay at the time, you will 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 véracity, and sink into base downright lying; for, as poor Richard says, “ The second vice is lying ; the first is running in debt.” And again, to the same purpose, " Lying rides upon debt's back;" whereas a freeborn Englishman ought not to be ashamed nor afraid to speak to any man living. But poverty often deprives a man of all spirit and virtue : * It is hard for an empty bag to stand upright,” as poor Richard truly says. What would you think of that prince, or that government, who would issue an edict, forbidding you to dress like a gentleman or gentiewo man, on pain of imprisonment or servitude? would you not say, that you were free, have a right to dress as you please, and that such an edict would be a breach of your privileges, and such a government tyrannical ? And yet you are about to put yourself under that tyranny when you run in debt for such dress! Your creditor has authority, at his pleasure, to deprive you of your liberty, by confiniug you in gaol, for life, or by selling you for a servant, if you should not be able to pay him. When you have got your bargain, you may, perhaps, think little of payment; but“ Creditors (poor Richard tells us) have better memories than debtors ;" and in another place he says, “Creditors are a superstitious sect, great observers of set days and times.” The day comes round before you are aware, and the demand is made before you are prepared to satisfy it. Or if you bear your debt" in mind, the term which at first seemed so long, will, as it lessens, appear extremely short. Time will seem to have added wings to his heels as well as at his shoulders. " Those have a short Lent (saith poor Richard) who owe money to be paid at Easter.” Then since, as he says, “ The borrower is a slave to the lender, and the debtor to the creditor ;" disdain the chain, preserve your freedom, and maintain your independency: be industrious and free ; be frugal and free. At present, perhaps, you may think yourselves in thriving circumstances, and that you can bear a little extravagance without injury ; but
" For age and want save while you may,
No morning sun lasts a whole day," as poor Richard says. Gain may be temporary and uncertain ; but ever, while you live, expense is constant and certain ; and it is easier to build two chimneys, than to keep one in fuel," as poor Richard says. So “ Rather go to bed supperless than rise in debt.” “Get what you can, and what you get hold, 'Tis the stone that will turn all your lead into gold,"
as poor Richard says. And when you have got the philosopher's stone, sure you will no longer complain of bad times, or the difficulty of paying taxes.
“ This doctrine, my friends, is reason and wisdom: but, after all, do not depend too much upon your own industry and frugality, and prudence, though excellent. things; for they may be blasted without the blessing of Heaven: and therefore ask that blessing humbly, and be not uncharitable to those that at present seem to want it, but comfort and help them. Remember Job suffered, and was afterwards prosperous.
And now, to conclude, “Experience keeps a dear school ; but fools will learn in no other, and scarce in that ; for it is true, we may give advice, but we cannot give conduct," as poor Richard says. However, remember this, " They that will not be counselled, cannot be helped,” as poor Richard says; and, further, that“ If you will not hear Reason, she will surely rap your knuckles.”
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 auction 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 Almanacs, 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 every 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 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 though 1 had 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. I am, as ever, thine to serve thee.
THE INTERNAL STATE OF AMERICA.
BEING A TRUE DESCRIPTION OF THE INTEREST AND POLI
CY OF THAT VAST CONTINENT.
There is a tradition, that, in the planting of New Enlgand, the first settlers met with many difficulties and hardships : as is generally the case when a civilized people attempt establishing themselves in a wilderness country. Being piously disposed, they sought relief from Heaven, by laying their wants and distresses before the Lord, in frequent set days of fasting and prayer. Constant meditation and discourse on these subjects kept their minds gloomy and discontented ; and, like the children of Israel, there were many disposed to return to that Egypt which persecution had induced them to abandon. At length, when it was proposed in the Assembly to proclaim another fast, a farmer of plain sense rose and remarked, that the inconveniences they suffered, and concerning which they had go often wearied Heaven with their complaints, were not so great as they might have expected, and were diminishing every day as the colony strengthened ; that the earth began to reward their labour, and to furnish liberally for their subsistence ; that the seas and rivers were found full of fish, the air sweet, the climate healthy; and, above all, that they were there in the full enjoyment of liberty, civil and religious : he therefore thought, that reflecting and conversing on these subjects would be more comfortable, as tending more to make them contented with their situation ; and that it would be more becoming the gratitude they owed to the Divine Being, if, instead of a fast, they should proclaim a thanksgiving. His advice was taken; and from that day to this, they have, in every year, observed circumstances of public felicity sufficient to furnish employment for a thanksgiving day, which is there fore constantly ordered and religiously observed.
I see in the public newspapers of different States frequent complaints of hard times, deadness of trade, sourcity of money, &c. &c. It is not my intention to assert or maintain that these complaints are entirely without foundation There can be no country or Re
tion existing, in which there will not be some people so circumstanced as to find it hard to gain a livelihood; people, who are not in the way of any profitable trade, with whom money is scarce, because they have nothing to give in exchange for it, and it is always in the power of a small number to make a great clamour. But left us take a cool view of the general state of our affairs, and perhaps the prospect will appear less gloomy than has been imagined.
The great business of the continent is agriculture. For one artisan, or merebant, I suppose, we have at least one hundred farmers, by far the greatest part cultivators of their own fertile lands, from whence many of them draw not only food necessary for their subsistence, but the mat of their clothing, so as to need very few foreign supplies; while they have a surplus of productions to dispose of, whereby wealth is gradually accumulated. Such has been the goodness, of Divine Providence to these regions, and so favourable the climate, that, since the three or four years of hardship in the first settlement of our fathers here, a famine or scarcity has never been heard of amongst us ; on the contrary, though some years may have boen more, and others less plentiful, there has always been provision enough for ourselves, and a quantity to spare for exportation. And although the crops of last year were generally good, never was the farmer better paid for the part he can spare commerce, as the published price currents abundantly testify. The lands he pogsesses are also continually rising in value with the increase of population ; and, on the whole, he is enabled to give such good wages to those who work for him, that all who are acquainted with the old world must agree, that in no part of it are the labouring poor so generally well fed, well clothed, well lodged, and well paid, as in the United States of America.
If we enter the cities, we find that since the Revolution, the owners of houses and lots of ground have had their interest vastly augmented in value ; rents have risen to an astonishing height, and thence encouragement to increase building, which gives employment to an abundance of workmen, as does also the increased luxury and splendour of living of the inhabitants thus inade richer. These workmen all demand and obtain much higher wages than any other part of the world could afford them, and are paid in ready money. This rank of people therefore do not, or ought not, to complain of hard times; and they make a very considerablo part of the city inhabitants.
At the distaice I live from our American fisheries,
I cannot speak of them with any degree of certainty ; but I have not heard of the labour of the valuable race of men employed in them is worse paid, or that they meet with less success, than before the Revolution The whalemen indeed have been deprived of one market for their oil, but another, I hear, is opening for them, which it is hoped may be equally advantageous; and the demand is constantly increasing for their spermaceti candles, which therefore bear a much higher price than formerly.
There remain the merchants and shopkeepers. Of these, though they make but a small part of the whole nation, the number is considerable, too great indeed for the business they are employed in ; for the consumption of goods in every country has its limits; the faculties of the people, that is, their ability to buy and pay, are equal to a certain quantity of merchandize. If merchants calculate amiss on this proportion, and import too much, they will of course find the sale dull for the overplus, and some of them will say that trade languishes. They should, and doubtless will, grow wiser by experience, and import less.
If too many artificers in town, and farmers from the country, flattering themselves with the idea of leading easier lives, turn shopkeepers, the whole natural quantity of that business divided among them all may afford too small a share for each, and occasion complaints that trading is dead; these may also suppose ihat it is owing to a scarcity of money, while, in fact, it is not so much from the fewness of buyers, as from the excessive numbers of sellers, that the mischief arises ; and, if every shopkeeping farmer and mechanic would return to the use of his plough and working tools, there would remain of widows, and other women, shopkeepers sufficient for the business, which might then afford them a comfortable maintenance.
Whoever has travelled through the various parts of Europe, and observed how small is the proportion of people in affluence or easy circumstances there, compared with those in poverty and misery; the few rich and haughty landlords, the multitude of poor, abject, rack-rented, tithe-paying tenants, and half-paid and half-starved, ragged labourers ; and views here the happy mediocrity that so generally prevails throughout these States, where the cultivator works for himself, and supports his family in decent plenty, will, methinks, see abundant reason to bless Divine Providence for the evident and great difference in our favour, and be convinced that no nation known to us enjoys a greater share of human felicity.