Poor Richard 1740
Courteous Reader, OCTOBER 7. 1739.
You may remember that in my first Almanack, published for the Year 1733, I predicted the Death of my dear Friend Titan Leeds, Philomat. to happen that Year on the 17th Day of October, 3 h. 29 m. P.M. The good Man, it seems, died accordingly: But W.B. and A.B. have continued to publish Almanacks in his Name ever since; asserting for some Years that he was still living; At length when the Truth could no longer be conceal'd from the World, they confess his Death in their Almanack for 1739, but pretend that he died not till last Year, and that before his Departure he had furnished them with Calculations for 7 Years to come. Ah, My Friends, these are poor Shifts and thin Disguises; of which indeed I should have taken little or no Notice, if you had not at the same time accus'd me as a false Predictor; an Aspersion that the more affects me, as my whole Livelyhood depends on a contrary Character.
But to put this Matter beyond Dispute, I shall acquaint the World with a Fact, as strange and surprizing as it is true; being as follows, viz.
On the 4th Instant, towards midnight, as I sat in my little Study writing this Preface, I fell fast asleep; and continued in that Condition for some time, without dreaming any thing, to my Knowledge. On awaking, I found lying before me the following Letter, viz.
Dear Friend SAUNDERS,
My Respect for you continues even in this separate State, and I am griev'd to see the Aspersions thrown on you by the Malevolence of avaricious Publishers of Almanacks, who envy your Success. They say your Prediction of my Death in 1733 was false, and they pretend that I remained alive many Years after. But I do hereby certify, that I did actually die at that time, precisely at the Hour you mention'd, with a Variation only of 5 min. 53 sec. which must be allow'd to be no great matter in such Cases. And I do farther declare that I furnish'd them with no Calculations of the Planets Motions, &c. seven Years after my Death, as they are pleased to give out: so that the Stuff they publish as an Almanack in my Name is no more mine than 'tis yours.
You will wonder perhaps, how this Paper comes written on your Table. You must know that no separate Spirits are under any Confinement till after the final Settlement of all Accounts. In the mean time we wander where we please, visit our old Friends, observe their Actions, enter sometimes into their Imaginations, and give them Hints waking or sleeping that may be of Advantage to them. Finding you asleep, I entred your left Nostril, ascended into your Brain, found out where the Ends of those Nerves were fastned that move your right Hand and Fingers, by the Help of which I am now writing unknown to you; but when you open your Eyes, you will see that the Hand written is mine, tho' wrote with yours.
The People of this Infidel Age, perhaps, will hardly believe this Story. But you may give them these three Signs by which they shall be convinc'd of the Truth of it. About the middle of June next, J. J ------ n, Philomat, shall be openly reconciled to the Church of Rome, and give all his Goods and Chattles to the Chappel, being perverted by a certain Country School-master. On the 7th of September following my old Friend W. B ------ t shall be sober 9 Hours, to the Astonishment of all his Neighbours: And about the same time W.B. and A.B. will publish another Almanack in my Name, in spight of Truth and Common-Sense.
As I can see much clearer into Futurity, since I got free from the dark Prison of Flesh, in which I was continually molested and almost blinded with Fogs arising from Tiff, and the Smoke of burnt Drams; I shall in kindness to you, frequently give you Informations of things to come, for the Improvement of your Almanack: Being Dear Dick,
Your affectionate Friend, T. Leeds.
For my own part I am convinc'd that the above Letter is genuine. If the Reader doubts of it, let him carefully observe the three Signs; and if they do not actually come to pass, believe as he pleases.
I am his humble Friend,
To bear other Peoples Afflictions, every one has Courage enough, and to spare.
No wonder Tom grows fat, th' unwieldy Sinner,
Makes his whole Life but one continual Dinner.
An empty Bag cannot stand upright.
Happy that nation, fortunate that age, whose history is not diverting.
What is a butterfly? At best
He's but a caterpiller drest.
The gaudy Fop's his picture just.
None are deceived but they that confide.
An open Foe may prove a curse;
But a pretended friend is worse.
A wolf eats sheep but now and then,
Ten Thousands are devour'd by Men.
Man's tongue is soft, and bone doth lack;
Yet a stroke therewith may break a man's back.
Many a Meal is lost for want of meat.
To all apparent Beauties blind
Each Blemish strikes an envious Mind.
The Poor have little, Beggars none;
the Rich too much, enough not one.
There are lazy Minds as well as lazy Bodies.
Tricks and Treachery are the Practice of Fools, that have not Wit enough to be honest.
Who says Jack is not generous? he is always fond of giving, and cares not for receiving. - What? Why; Advice.
The Man who with undaunted toils,
sails unknown seas to unknown soils,
With various wonders feasts his Sight:
What stranger wonders does he write?
Fear not Death; for the sooner we die, the longer shall we be immortal.
Those who in quarrels interpose,
Must often wipe a bloody nose.
Promises may get thee Friends, but Nonperformance will turn them into Enemies.
In other men we faults can spy,
And blame the mote that dims their eye;
Each little speck and blemish find;
To our own stronger errors blind.
When you speak to a man, look on his eyes; when he speaks to thee, look on his mouth.
Jane, why those tears? why droops your head?
Is then your other husband dead?
Or doth a worse disgrace betide?
Hath no one since his death apply'd?
Observe all men; thy self most.
Thou hadst better eat salt with the Philosophers of Greece, than sugar with the Courtiers of Italy.
Seek Virtue, and, of that possest,
To Providence, resign the rest.
Marry above thy match, and thou'lt get a Master.
Fear to do ill, and you need fear nought else.
He makes a Foe who makes a jest.
Can grave and formal pass for wise,
When Men the solemn Owl despise?
Some are justly laught at for keeping their Money foolishly, others for spending it idly: He is the greatest fool that lays it out in a purchase of repentance.
Who knows a fool, must know his brother;
For one will recommend another.
Avoid dishonest Gain: No price;
Can recompence the Pangs of Vice.
When befriended, remember it:
When you befriend, forget it.
Great souls with gen'rous pity melt;
Which coward tyrants never felt.
Employ thy time well, if thou meanest to gain leisure.
A Flatterer never seems absurd:
The Flatter'd always take his Word.
Lend Money to an Enemy, and thou'lt gain him, to a Friend and thou'lt lose him.
Neither praise nor dispraise, till seven Christmasses be over.