Ben Franklin was a Twitter master a quarter-millennium before the medium, as I wrote in the Foreword to Mark Major’s excellent new book Poor Richard, ANOTHER Almanac for Architects and Planners, but Franklin was also more skilled at describing true Original Green sustainability than anyone alive today. What follows are some of my favorite nuggets of Poor Richard wisdom. Read them, then ask yourself “does this help keep things going in a healthy way, long into an uncertain future?” More often than not, the answer is a resounding “yes.”
Here’s another question to ask yourself as you read these: “is this bit of Franklin wisdom more about consuming things or sustaining things?” Or, “is this more about using stuff up or handing stuff down?” And one more: “how many of these have been sticky enough to come down in some form to our day? Here’s Ben, in chronological order:
Hunger never saw bad bread.
The poor have little, beggars none, the rich too much, enough not one.
He that lies down with Dogs, shall rise up with fleas.
Without justice, courage is weak.
All things are easy to Industry; all things difficult to Sloth.
Fools multiply folly.
Hope of gain, lessens pain.
Necessity never made a good bargain.
Humility makes great men twice honorable.
Three may keep a Secret, if two of them are dead.
What's given shines, what's received is rusty.
Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.
To be humble to Superiors is Duty, to Equals Courtesy, to Inferiors Nobleness.
God helps them that help themselves.
Don't throw stones at your neighbors, if your own windows are glass.
Creditors have better memories than debtors.
I saw few die of Hunger, of Eating 100,000.
He that would live in peace & at ease, must not speak all he knows, nor judge all he sees.
He that can compose himself, is wiser than he that composes books.
Well done is better than well said.
The worst wheel of the cart makes the most noise.
The noblest question in the world is: What Good may I do in it?
Write with the learned, pronounce with the vulgar.
Sell not virtue to purchase wealth, nor Liberty to purchase power.
The ancients tell us what is best, but we must learn of the moderns what is fittest.
As we must account for every idle word, so we must for every idle silence.
Time is an herb that cures all Diseases.
Wish a miser long life, and you wish him no good.
Drive thy business; let not that drive thee.
Search others for their virtues, thy self for thy vices.
He that falls in love with himself, will have no Rivals.
Let thy Discontents be Secrets.
Promises may get thee friends, but Nonperformance will turn them into enemies.
When befriended, remember it: when you befriend, forget it.
Be always ashamed to catch yourself idle.
If you would keep your Secret from an enemy, tell it not to a friend.
There are no fools so troublesome as those that have wit.
He that sows thorns, should not go barefoot.
Death takes no bribes.
If you'd lose a troublesome Visitor, lend him Money.
A spoonful of honey will catch more flies than a Gallon of Vinegar.
Give me yesterday's Bread, this Day's Flesh, and last Year's Cider.
God heals, and the Doctor takes the Fees.
Keep thou from the Opportunity, and God will keep thee from the Sin.
He who multiplies Riches multiplies Cares.
A true Friend is the best Possession.
Beware of little Expenses; a small Leak will sink a great Ship.
He's a Fool that cannot conceal his Wisdom.
No gains without pains.
'Tis easier to prevent bad habits than to break them.
An ounce of wit that is bought, is worth a pound that is taught.
A quarrelsome Man has no good Neighbors.
It's the easiest Thing in the World for a Man to deceive himself.
Virtue and Happiness are Mother and Daughter.
Dost thou love Life? then do not squander Time; for that's the Stuff Life is made of.
A good Example is the best sermon.
He that won't be counseled, can't be helped.
Write Injuries in Dust, Benefits in Marble.
A slip of the foot you may soon recover; but a slip of the Tongue you may never get over.
Lost Time is never found again.
Liberality is not giving much but giving wisely.
He is not well-bred, that cannot bear Ill-Breeding in others.
Wise Men learn by other's harms; Fools by their own.
Content makes poor men rich; Discontent makes rich men poor.
Drink does not drown Care, but waters it, and makes it grow faster.
The wise Man draws more Advantage from his Enemies, than the Fool from his Friends.
All would live long, but none would be old.
He is Governor that governs his Passions, and he a Servant that serves them.
Genius without education is like silver in the mine.
Little Strokes, Fell great Oaks.
What signifies knowing the Names, if you know not the Natures of Things.
'Tis easier to suppress the first Desire, than to satisfy all that follow it.
Not to oversee Workmen, is to leave them your Purse open.
Cunning proceeds from Want of Capacity.
The Proud hate Pride – in others.
For want of a Nail the Shoe is lost; for want of a Shoe, the Horse is lost; for want of a Horse the Rider is lost.
Hold your Council before Dinner; the full Belly hates Thinking as well as Acting.
Ceremony is not Civility; nor Civility Ceremony.
If Man could have Half his Wishes, he would double his Troubles.
Success has ruined many a Man.
Many have quarreled about Religion, that never practiced it.
Haste makes Waste.
Anger is never without a Reason, but seldom with a good One.
When out of Favor, none know thee; when in, thou dost not know thyself.
You may give a Man an Office, but you cannot give him Discretion.
Speak little, do much.
Think of three Things: whence you came, where you are going, and to whom you must account.
There was never a good Knife made of bad Steel.
Love your Enemies, for they tell you your Faults.
Love, and be loved.
One To-day is worth two To-morrows.
Work as if you were to live 100 years, Pray as if you were to die To-morrow.
Plough deep while sluggards sleep.
Never leave that till to-morrow which you can do to-day.
It is hard for an empty bag to stand upright.
There will be sleeping enough in the Grave.
Silence is not always a Sign of Wisdom, but Babbling is ever a Mark of Folly.
Contentment is the Philosopher's Stone, that turns all it touches into Gold.
He that's content, hath enough; He that complains, has too much.
Hope you enjoyed these!