Skip to main content

Maxims from Poor Richard's Almanack (1733, by Benjamin Franklin)

MAXIMS FROM POOR RICHARD'S ALMANACK (1733, by Benjamin Franklin)


A compilation of stories, adages, and folksy wisdom published annually by Benjamin Franklin from 1732 to 1757, Poor Richard's Almanack was an important contribution to the development of a unique American idiom based on independence, practicality, temperance, and plain-spoken honesty. The son of a Boston soap maker, Franklin (1706–1790) would go on to become a major figure in American and international politics as delegate to the Continental Congress, Postmaster General, and appointee to the committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence. His standing in England was high, even during the troubled days leading up to the American Revolution, and following the war, the French came to regard him as an important philosopher and a significant influence on revolutionary thought. The Almanack, sold in 1757, continued publication under a different title until 1796 and is still available in many modern editions.

Laura M.Miller,
Vanderbilt University

See also Almanacs ; Poor Richard's Almanack .

The Good And Virtuous Life

A long life may not be good enough, but a good life is long enough.
A lie stands on one leg, truth on two.

Blessed is he that expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.
Eat to live, and not live to eat.

There are three things extremely hard, steel, a diamond, and to know one's self.

Industry, Frugality, And Thrift

Little strokes fell great oaks.
Early to bed and early to rise,
Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.

Follies And Faults; Vanities And Vices

E'er you remark another's sin,
Bid your conscience look within.

Success has ruined many a man.
Glass, china, and reputation are easily cracked, and never well mended.

He is a governor that governs his passions, and he a servant that serves them.
Fools need advice most, but wise men only are the better for it.

He that lieth down with dogs shall rise up with fleas.
Love your enemies, for they tell you your faults.

When reason preaches, if you don't hear her she'll box your ears.

Women And Marriage

Love, cough, and a smoke can't well be hid.
Where there's marriage without love, there will be love without marriage.

People

To err is human, to repent divine; to persist devilish.
A mob's a monster; heads enough but no brains.

War brings scars.
Fish and visitors smell in three days.

Men and melons are hard to know.

Wit And Wisdom

Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.
Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time; for that's the stuff life is made of.

Great talkers, little doers.
God helps them that help themselves.

In the affairs of this world, men are saved not by faith but by the want of it.

SOURCE: Franklin, Benjamin (as Richard Saunders). Poor Richard, 1734: An Almanack and following years. Philadelphia: B. Franklin, 1733 ff.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Maxims from Poor Richard's Almanack (1733, by Benjamin Franklin)." Dictionary of American History. . Encyclopedia.com. 4 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Maxims from Poor Richard's Almanack (1733, by Benjamin Franklin)." Dictionary of American History. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 4, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/maxims-poor-richards-almanack-1733-benjamin-franklin

"Maxims from Poor Richard's Almanack (1733, by Benjamin Franklin)." Dictionary of American History. . Retrieved November 04, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/maxims-poor-richards-almanack-1733-benjamin-franklin

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.