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Words of wisdom. May 9, 2013

Posted by ourfriendben in Ben Franklin, wit and wisdom.
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Apparently, our hero and blog mentor, the great Benjamin Franklin, had a 19th-century imitator. But this man, a British Baptist minister, didn’t simply crib Ben’s sayings, as our friend Ben discovered this morning while reading a piece from The Week called “15 less-than-inspirational quotes from a book of moral advice” (read them all on TheWeek.com).

I was intrigued by the title of the article and assumed it would be poking fun at some outdated moralist’s misguided ideas. Instead, the Rev. Charles H. Spurgeon had a wealth of commonsense wisdom of his own to impart, in Dr. Franklin’s famous homespun style. Here are my favorites:

“Eggs are aggs, but some are rotten; and so hopes are hopes, but many of them are delusions.”

“Expect to get half of what you earn, a quarter of what is your due, and none of what you have lent, and you will be near the mark.”

“Make as few changes as you can; trees often transplanted bear little fruit.”

“It is far better to work with an old-fashioned spade that suits your hand than with a new-fangled invention that you don’t understand.” [Yeah! Go, Luddites, go!!!]

“It is true you must bake with the flour you have, but if the sack is empty it might be just as well not to set up for a baker.”

“Every minnow wants to be a whale, but it is prudent to be a little fish while you have but little water.”

Wow. I think Ben Franklin would agree.

Crazy mixed-up quotes. April 16, 2008

Posted by ourfriendben in Ben Franklin, Uncategorized, wit and wisdom.
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It’s me, Richard Saunders of Poor Richard’s Almanac fame, back today to get your brain cells working with a little quotation quiz. Below, I’ve listed ten memorable quotes. Do you know who said them? I’ve also listed the speakers’ names. But guess what, they’re all mixed up! (And to make things a little harder, I’ve added two “extra” speakers to the mix, but haven’t provided quotes from them.) See how many speakers you can match to their quotes. (And yes, of course I give you the answers. But no cheating, now!) Let’s get started:

1. If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to.

2. We have nothing to fear but fear itself.*

3. Though an old man, I am but a young gardener.

4. When you can do the common things of life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.

5. We are not amused.

6. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

7. A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything but the value of nothing.

8. Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.

9. We have guided missiles and misguided men.

10. Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.

a. George Washington Carver

b. George Washington

c. Albert Einstein

d. Queen Victoria

e. Confucius

f. Benjamin Franklin

g. Martin Luther King, Jr.

h. Mahatma Gandhi

i. Thomas Jefferson

j. Dorothy Parker

k. Oscar Wilde

l. Franklin Delano Roosevelt

* This is actually a misquote, though it’s the one we all know. The real quote is “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

And now, the answers: 1-j, 2-l, 3-i, 4-a, 5-d, 6-f, 7-k, 8-e, 9-g, 10-h.

The “bonus quotees” were Albert Einstein and George Washington.  

Ben’s Top Ten February 28, 2008

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It’s me, Richard Saunders of Poor Richard’s Almanac fame. It’s a bitterly cold morning here in Pennsylvania–perfect weather for warming up with a steaming mug of coffee and some homespun wit and wisdom. As you may know, my mentor, Benjamin Franklin, wanted to make my almanac a witty and valuable read, since besides the Bible it was pretty much the only book many Colonial-era Americans owned. So he’d make up clever, punchy little sayings and sprinkle them throughout the pages of each year’s edition. You’re sure to have heard some of them yourself: “A penny saved is a penny earned,” “God helps those who help themselves,” and “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”*

So today I thought I’d give you a rundown of Ben Franklin’s best. They’re still worth bearing in mind as we go through our own days. See how many you know! And just to keep things interesting, I’ve thrown in two sayings that weren’t written by Dr. Franklin. Can you guess which ones they are? No cheating, now!

Ben’s Top Ten (Plus Two)

1. A  man wrapped up in himself makes a very small bundle.

2. A place for everything, everything in its place.

3. An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.

4. When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

5. Absence sharpens love, presence strengthens it.

6. Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man. 

7. All mankind is divided into three classes: those that are immovable, those that are movable, and those that move.

8. There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.

9. Anger is never without a reason, but seldom with a good one.  

10. By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

11. Certainty? In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.

12. Half a truth is often a great lie.    

Did you guess the two quotes that weren’t by Dr. Franklin? They’re # 4 and #8. “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” is by Joseph P. Kennedy, the father of President John F. Kennedy and Senators Robert and Ted Kennedy, and “There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it” is by the great Irish wit, Oscar Wilde.

* Ever wonder why going “early to bed” would make a man healthy, wealthy and wise? It might seem like burning the midnight oil would be a better path to success, but Ben Franklin had very practical reasons behind his famous saying. In his day, people lit their homes with candles, and boy, were they expensive, especially the better ones that didn’t smoke and reek of sheep fat. (See for yourself: Turn on a lamp with a 100-watt bulb and see how many candles you have to light to make an equivalent amount of light. And that’s just one bulb!) If you went to bed early, you’d save money on candles. But that wasn’t the only good reason for retiring early. The popular evening pastimes in Colonial times were drinking and gambling. After supper, people would head to a tavern or gaming house or over to a friend’s home and bet money on card games like vingt-et-un, silver loo, and faro. You could lose everything in a night, especially if you were drinking the whole time, which pretty much everyone was. Alcohol consumption in Colonial times was astoundingly high because sanitation had become a lost art, and people rightly believed that it was safer to drink alcoholic beverages than the bacteria-laden water near populated areas. So that’s what they drank from morning ’til night: beer, hard cider, wine, and hard liquor. If you went to bed early, not only would you avoid the national pastime of gambling (it wasn’t just us–it was also all the rage in England and the rest of Europe at the time, and had been imported by the colonists), you’d also avoid one hell of a hangover the next morning. Staggering out of bed and lurching through the day in a fog wasn’t a great way to earn an income, as Ben knew.  

Welcome to Poor Richard’s Almanac! February 5, 2008

Posted by ourfriendben in Ben Franklin, homesteading, wit and wisdom.
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Greetings to all who visit here! Like the original (and incomparable) Dr. Franklin, I hope to amuse and enlighten with messages from my cohorts, Silence Dogood, Richard Saunders (the original Poor Richard), and, of course, the occasional observation by myself, our friend Ben. I look forward to your comments as well, and warn you, you’re in for a wild topical ride, from chickens and homestead aspirations to Ron Paul and Hillary Clinton. It’s time to put the wit and wisdom back in everyday life!