Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Stay Positive: Maxims from Poor Richard's Almanack

As I've written about before, I've always been fond of maxims. In fact, back in grad school, I wrote a paper about Aristotle's discussion of maxims in his Rhetoric and explored the maxims people use when they comment on students' papers. 

Because I'm drawn to these concise bits of wisdom, I picked up a Dover Thrift Edition of Wit and Wisdom from Poor Richard's Almanack

What follows are my favorite maxims offered by none other than Ben Franklin:

  • Youth is pert and positive. Age modest and doubting: so Ears of Corn when young and light, stand bold upright, but hang their Heads when weighty, full, and ripe.
  • If Passion drives, let Reason hold the Reins.
  • Anger warms the Invention, but overheats the Oven.
  • Anger is never without a Reason, but seldom with a good One.
  • Craft must be at charge for clothes, but Truth can go naked. 
  • He that's content, hath enough; He that complains, hath too much. 
  • Discontented Minds, and Fevers of the Body are not to be cured by changing Beds or Businesses. 
  • In the Affairs of this World Men are saved, not by Faith, but by Want of it. 
  • The sleeping Fox catches no poultry. 
  • Diligence overcomes Difficulties, Sloth makes them. 
  • God helps them that help themselves. 
  • Diligence is the mother of good luck. 
  • When the Wine enters, out goes the Truth.
  • Eat to live; live not to eat.  
  • To lengthen they Life, lessen they Meals. 
  • What one relishes, nourishes. 
  • A learned Blockhead is a greater Blockhead than an ignorant one. 
  • The learned Fool write his Nonsense in better Language than the unlearned; but still 'tis Nonsense. 
  • The first Degree of Folly, is to conceit one's self wise; the second to profess it; the third to despise Counsel. 
  • Silence is not always a Sign of Wisdom, but Babbling is ever a Folly. 
  • There are three faithful friends--an old wife, an old dog, and ready money. 
  • Avoid dishonest Gain: No price can recompense the Pangs of Vice. 
  • Where there's Marriage without Love, there will be Love without Marriage. 
  • Pride dines upon Vanity, sups on Contempt.
  • As Pride increases, Fortune declines. 
  • Beware of the young doctor and the old barber. 
  • He's the best physician that knows the worthlessness of the most medicines. 
  • No gains without pains. 
  • Make haste slowly.
  • Three make keep a secret, if two of them are dead. 
  • Take counsel in wine, but resolve afterwards in water. 
  • Haste makes waste.
  • Don't throw Stones at your Neighbours', if your own Windows are Glass. 
  • 'Tis easier to prevent bad habits than to break them. 
  • Blessed is he that expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed. 
  • To serve the Publick faithfully, and at the same time please it entirely, is impracticable. 
  • Wink at small faults--remember thou has great ones. 
  • Be at War with your Vices, at Peace with your Neighbours, and let every New-Year find you a better Man. 
  • An open foe may prove a curse; but a pretended friend is worse.
  • Fish and visitors stink after three days. 
  • Men and melons are hard to know. 
  • He that won't be counsell'd, can't be help'd.
  • There is no little enemy. 
  • He that speaks much, is much mistaken.
  • Half Wits talk much but say little. 
  • Lost Time is never found again. 
  • People who are wrapped up in themselves make small packages. 
  • A good Example is the best Sermon. 
  • Bad Commentators spoil the best of books. 
  • To err is human, to repent divine, to persist devilish. 
  • Old Boys have their Playthings as well as young ones; the difference is only in the Price. 
  • When the Well's dry, we know the Worth of Water. 

No comments: