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Happy 305th birthday, Ben! January 17, 2011

Posted by ourfriendben in Ben Franklin, wit and wisdom.
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“He snatched the lightning from heaven and the sceptre from tyrants.”

Today is the birthday of our hero and blog mentor here at Poor Richard’s Almanac, the great Benjamin Franklin (born January 17, 1706). We wish old Ben were still here to guide and advise us, but certainly his spirit lives on, which few others can claim after 305 years!

To celebrate, we’ve rounded up a few of Ben’s best-known and best-loved sayings. We hope you enjoy them, and take a moment to raise a glass to Ben Franklin, America’s greatest Founding Father! (After all, he was the guy who said “Beer [or “Wine,” depending on your version] is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” Cheers!)

“A penny saved is a penny earned.”

“On education all our lives depend/And few to that, too few, with care attend.”

“There are no gains without pains.” [Leading to today’s “No pain, no gain” mantra, but in Ben’s day, “pains” in this case referred to effort, as in “painstaking,” not actual pain.]

“Don’t throw stones at your neighbors, if your own windows are glass.”

“We are spirits. That bodies should be lent us, while they can afford us pleasure, assist us in acquiring knowledge, or doing good to our fellow creatures, is a kind and benevolent act of God.”

“Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

“Would you live with ease, do what you ought, not what you please.”

“Anger is never without a reason but seldom with a good one.”

“Wish not so much to live long as to live well.”

“Without freedom of thought, there can be no such thing as wisdom; and no such thing as public liberty, without freedom of speech.”

“A true friend is the best possession.”

“To lengthen thy life lessen thy meals.”

“Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”

“Without justice, courage is weak.”

“When men are employed they are best contented.”

“Where liberty dwells, there is my country.”

“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve niether liberty nor safety.”

“He that falls in love with himself will have no rivals.”

“None but the well-bred man knows how to confess a fault or acknowledge himself in error.”

“Tart words make no friends. A spoonful of honey will catch more flies than a gallon of vinegar.”

“A good example is the best sermon.”

“If you would know the value of money, go and try to borrow some.” [Modern version: “If you don’t think anyone cares if you’re alive or dead, try missing a payment.”]

“Necessity never made a good bargain.”

“Success has ruined many a man.” 

“Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.”

“God helps them that help themselves.”

“Remember that time is money.”

“Half the truth is often a great lie.”

“When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.”

“There never was a good war or a bad peace.”

“How many observe Christ’s birthday! How few, his precepts! O! ’tis easier to keep holidays than commandments.”

There’s a pocketful of thought-provoking observations from Dr. Franklin to start your day (and your year) off right. Please join us in wishing Ben a happy birthday!

              —Our friend Ben, Silence Dogood, and Richard Saunders

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