Best Quotes from Benjamin Franklin’s Essay of The Way to Wealth and the Philosopher’s Stone

BenFranklinOver 250 years ago Benjamin Franklin printed a small essay sharing his wisdom about the way to wealth and why some people may never find it.

In 1757 Benjamin Franklin compiled many of his proverbs he had previously published in the Poor Richard’s Almanac and used them in a short essay entitled Father Abraham’s Sermon. Also known as The Way to Wealth this inspiring piece of work shares some of Franklin’s thoughts on time, money, action, delayed gratification and ultimately a way of life and path to treasure.

The Way to Wealth quotes Poor Richard many times. Most people know Poor Richard or Richard Saunders was a pseudonym for Benjamin Franklin. By using the character of Father Abraham, who quotes Poor Richard in the essay, Franklin offers his own wisdom through a narrative framework.

The first quote appears after Father Abraham is asked for advice by a gathering of people. They were complaining about current life, financial and political conditions of the time. Father Abraham begins his speech by saying, “I’ll give it you in short, for a word to the wise is enough, and many words won’t fill a bushel, as Poor Richard says.” Franklin knew people had short attention spans and so tried to offer as much wisdom as possible in the least amount of words.

As Father Abraham continues to quote Poor Richard throughout the essay some of the most recognizable quotes of today may be seen; like “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise,” or “Lost time is never found again.” These well known quotes were used in a way to counsel the people concerned about bad times and high taxes.

And although Father Abraham agreed the taxes may be large, he felt the heaviest taxes were the ones the people placed on themselves. He says, “We are taxed twice as much by our idleness, three times as much by our pride, and four times as much by our folly.” Brilliantly, Franklin provided hope for the nature of man by writing, “God helps them that help themselves, as Poor Richard says.”

The structure of the essay allows powerful points to be made and understood by the reader without the reader feeling like he is the one being preached upon. The sermon continues with the same effective approach while providing valuable information regarding money.

“There are no gains, without pains” and “Little strokes fell great oaks, as Poor Richard says” are used in the essay to convey a message needed for success. Working hard and persistence are not evils. They are necessary actions which will benefit the person who embraces them.

As Poor Richards says, “At the working man’s house hunger looks in but dares not enter.” Father Abraham is quick to clarify that a person must not only earn money, he must also spend wisely. He warns the people, “Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship” and reminds them, “tis easier to suppress the first desire than to satisfy all that follow it.”

The listeners of Father Abraham’s speech realized and agreed with all the wisdom which was shared to them. However, the reader is informed they did not act upon the advice which was asked for and freely given. The first quote of “A word to the wise is enough” then makes a reader question the passing wisdom of words. Is it enough? This contradiction causes the reader to engage himself.

The reader may consider Father Abraham’s last quotes of “We may give advice but we cannot give conduct”, or as Poor Richard furthers says, “If you will not hear reason she’ll surely rap your knuckles.” The reader is gently reminded the way to wealth, or treasure, is a choice each person has to make.

Franklin uses a quote near the end of the essay to summarize the way to wealth. “Get what you can, and what you get hold; tis the stone that will turn all your lead into gold.” The wealth which is referenced here is not only monetary, it is also a peace found within. Franklin adds, “And when you have the philosopher’s stone, surely you will no longer complain of bad times, or the difficulty of paying taxes.”

The essay ends with action being applied by a person who witnessed the entire incident of Father Abraham speaking to the people. As the teller of the whole story, Poor Richard, gracious by being quoted by Father Abraham, decided to follow his advice and not buy what he had originally came to town for. He went on his way to wealth. He had the Philosopher’s Stone.  Contentment.

 

Sources:

Franklin, Benjamin, The Way to Wealth

You may also like...

16 Responses

  1. Mark J says:

    Benjamin Franklin is one of my favorite historical persons. He lived a very interesting life and did things that no ever thought of doing. Such as creating msg the first chart of the Gulf Stream current.

  2. Twingem says:

    Once again, Jenny, you’ve done it once again. Thank you for these great entries. I found this one particularly resonate. Enjoy your weekend!

  3. Strawshadow says:

    Thanks Jenny,
    You never disappoint, I truly trust and enjoy your posts. Financial success is most dependent on trusting relationships.

    • JL says:

      Agreed, and Ephesians 4:26-27 don’t let the sun go down on your anger, or something like that. Kinda like they tell you when you get married to never go to bed angry.

      • Stawshadow says:

        JL, wise words indeed, I doubt they will ever apply to me in that regard. A final “Thank You Lord” at the end of the day usually places a smile on my face though. After that beautiful sunset last night, followed by the shooting stars, I knew that I had been thanked for noticing.

      • Strawshadow says:

        I have even thanked him for the sadness at times, the emotional spectrum is also a blessing.

        • JL says:

          Trust in the Lord, he will provide all that we need. It is a constant evolution in faith you can remain stagnate or you can seek. Not all are on the same level at the same time.

          • JC1117 says:

            Hello, JL. Those are some Great observations. He will provide…

            Matthew 6:26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

            Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My Voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.

            (Note: I added a few capital letters in that Revelations verse out of reverence and respect.)

            Matthew 7:7-8 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

            8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

            Thank You for another great post, Jenny.

            The road to wisdom is a long and winding one.

            • JL says:

              JC1117,
              You seem to have a good handle on the scriptures. I read the new and old twice before I started to see. It is right there for all to seek, in our busy world now days not many take the time to look. It is not how fast you read it I have learned but how much thought you put into it.
              jl

              • JC1117 says:

                Hello, JL.

                I have a very basic understanding of the scriptures. I remember simple concepts and phrases…and Google locates it for me. lol. 🙂

                The scriptures are multi-layered…as you’ve noticed…so everything from simple to very complex can be found in a single verse.

                There are, In Deed, riches to be unveiled therein.

                Matthew 6:19-21

                19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

                20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

                21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

                For God so LOVES the world…

                (You’re welcome, Twingem. I don’t have much…but what I have I am willing to share.)

            • Twingem says:

              And it is a journey of faith. Thanks for sharing JC1117 and JL!

            • 42 says:

              JC1117 & JL – I enjoy winding through the new and Old Testament “wisdom from Above”, as James aptly calls it. The Matthew verses you’ve highlighted are especially good to keep in mind. How do you reconcile time spent searching for Fenn’s treasure with The teaching in Matthew?

              • JC1117 says:

                Hello, 42.

                The scriptures are a Treasure Trove. There are thousands of years of history recorded there…as seen through the eyes of prophets…written for us…if we will only care to learn.

                Personally, I don’t spend enough time reading them. I have a hundred excuses…and probably ADD. 🙂

                Everybody has their own reasons for looking for Fenn’s Treasure. The lure of a big box of gold is certainly appealing. It has a great value. It’s what individuals would choose to do with that treasure that, perhaps, makes them different from one another.

                We can’t…and shouldn’t…judge a book by its cover.

                Here’s a beautiful clunk of Wisdom from the Old Testament.

                1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.

                I’d imagine, for some good-hearted folks, that time spent searching for Fenn’s Treasure is following EXACTLY the teachings of Matthew.

                Forrest said that he felt a piece of his soul go into that treasure chest when he closed the lid. I believe that a person’s heart and soul are inseparable. Therefore…the chest contains Forrest’s heart.

                “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

                • Strawshadow says:

                  JC,
                  I think you hit the nail on the head. To find peace you must be in a peaceful place, inside and out as well. It feels so right to be at the beginning each and every day. Thanks for the smile JC, and that’s from my heart:)

                • JL says:

                  Humble men are very fortunate for the kingdom of heaven is given to them. Matthew 5-3. How can you not find peace if you know that your treasure awaits in heaven? It cannot be bought or earned it is graciously given.
                  Matthew was a tax collector before becoming a disciple.

  4. 42 says:

    Nice post Jenny. Ben Franklin’s wit and wisdom are favorites of mine. I believe Forrest Fenn’s poem refers to Ben Franklin in two ways: directly “if you’ve been wise (Ben’s wisdom) and indirectly as poor Richard or an old “Rich”

    As Always, thanks for hosting such an excellent forum for exchanging ideas. – 42

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *