| American History Stories, Volume II|
|by Mara L. Pratt|
|Tales of Revolutionary times, including the causes of the American Revolution, the daring exploits of those defending liberty, the early battles, the struggles of the army, and the heroes who led the colonists to victory. Ages 8-12 |
POOR RICHARD'S ALMANAC.
YOU should know about "Poor Richard's Almanac," children, for the same
reason you should know about "George Washington's Hatchet."
A hundred years ago, this was perhaps the foremost
book in American literature. It was the work of
our lightning hero, Benjamin Franklin. It was an almanac,
not unlike the "Old Farmer's Almanac" of to-day. In
among the matter that is always to be found in almanacs,
Franklin scattered all sorts of "wise sayings" or proverbs.
To these, he gave the name "Poor Richard's Sayings,"
many of them you have heard over and over until very
likely you are tired of them. Some of them, I know from
the experience of long ago, are very aggravating to children.
For example, isn't it enough to mnke any boy wish
Franklin had stuck by his printing press, and his kite, and
let literature alone, to have mamma say, just as he is in
 the midst of the most exciting chapter, "Come, Johnnie,
it's time to go to bed.
Early to bed and early to rise
Makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise?' "
FRANKLIN AT HIS PRINTING PRESS
"Poor Richard's Almanac" for 1734 says, in speaking
of the eclipse for the year: "There will be but two; the
 first, April 22, the second, October 15 — both of the sun,
and both, like old neighbor Scrape-all's generosity, invisible."
Franklin often put into his calendar "weather predictions;"
but they were quite as likely to come out wrongly
as do "Old Prob's" predictions now.
When he was criticised for the inaccuracy of his predictions,
he said good-naturedly:
"However, no one but will allow that we always hit the day
of the month. As for weather, I consider it will be of no
service to anybody to know what weather is to be one
thousand miles off; therefore, I always set down exactly
the weather my reader will have wheresoever he may be at
the time. We only ask an allowance of a few days
and if there still be a mistake, set it down to the printer."
The almanac of 1738 has a scolding preface, which
appears to be the work of Mistress Saunders. She says
her husband had set out to visit an old star-gazer of his
acquaintance on the Potomac, and left her the almanac,
sealed, to send to the printer. She suspects some jests
directed against her, bursts the seal, and
plays havoc generally with the almanac. She says:
"Looking over the months, I find he has put in abundance
of foul weather this year; and therefore I have scattered
here and there where I could find room, 'fair,'
'pleasant,' etc., for the poor women to dry their clothes in."
Franklin grew to be a highly educated man, and a very
 gentlemanly man, too, for all he was so awkward and
ungainly on his first morning in Philadelphia. Years later,
when he went to England and to France in behalf of his
country, his wit and his knowledge and his fine manners were
the delight of the Court. And this was a very fortunate
thing for America you may be sure and for this reason, these
old European countries with all their elegance, and wealth,
and "blue blood," and Court society, had formed an idea
that Americans were all awkward clod-hoppers;
"horny-handed tillers of the soil," they were used to calling them, and
they had the idea, I suppose, that the country
had not a single cultured, educated person upon its face. And so it was,
that when Franklin appeared before them, he carried
everybody by surprise; and many an Englishman and many a
Frenchman, who had supposed we knew nothing in America
except to dig in the earth, turned about and began to think
that perhaps we were "somebodies" over here after all.
Franklin was never dizzied by the flattering attention he
received in these countries. He never forgot that he was
there to plead for America; and plead he did, wisely and
well, many a time rendering her a service that she could
In every position of honor, in every trying time when
wisdom and caution were needed, Franklin was sure to be
called upon by his countrymen. And never did he fail them.
When at last he died, at the age of eighty-two, not only
 did twenty thousand of his own countrymen meet to do him
honor in America, but in the English and French courts as
well, was every possible tribute paid to the memory of this
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN'S TOMB
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