Editor Northern Indianian:
"How to be rich," is a selected essay (from the Western People's Magazine, published in Cincinnati in 1834) which I have had in my possession for a long while, and have written it out at three or four different times, by request of that many special friends, who have wished for a copy. That most men and women would choose to be rich, rather than poor, will, I think, be generally admitted, and if the way to each condition were alike easy, the road to the first would have nearly all the travel. The honest and straight road to the first state being mostly longer, and more tedious, sometimes rugged, and therefore tiresome, it may be an act of kindness to publish some hints, which, if they do not shorten, will at least make the way more certain. If you think, as I do, that this is generally true, and that the essay deserves a reprint, you may please take it for that purpose, and can thus do for your three or four thousand friends and subscribers, (such is the force of type), as great a favor as I did for the three or four friends of mine.
The way to get credit, is to be punctual; the way to preserve it, is not to use it much; settle often; have short accounts.
Trust no man's appearances-they are deceptive-perhaps assumed for the purpose of obtaining credit. Beware of gaudy exterior. Rogues usually dress well; the rich are plain men. Trust him, if any one, who carries little upon his back. Never trust him who flies into a passion on being dunned; make him pay quickly, if there be any virtue in the law. Beware of him who is an office seeker; men do not usually want office when they have anything to do. A man's affairs are rather low when he seeks office for support. Trust no stranger; your goods are better than doubtful charges. What is character worth, if you make it cheap by crediting all alike. Agree before hand with every man about to do a job, and if large, put it into writing; if any decline this, quit or be cheated. Though you want a job ever so much, make all sure at the outset; and in a case at all doubtful, make sure of a guarantee. Be not afraid to ask it, it is the best test of responsibility, for if offense be taken you have escaped a loss. If he be in fact responsible, he will like you the better, for he thus knows that he is dealing with a man who looks at the end of things, and may expect to be well served. If not, he will be provoked, and discharge you instantly. Thus you have it in your power always to protect yourself in any doubtful case, by simply insisting on security. "Once well begun is twice done."
No is a very useful word-be not afraid to use it. Many a man has pined in misery for years by not having courage to pronounce that little monosyllable. Work for a man that is punctual at less wages than for him that is not; you get the balance in certainty of payment. One dollar sure, is better than two doubtful, and will avail more upon a shift. If you cannot get full wages, take less; better so than to be idle. Shun idleness as a disease. A shilling a day is better than nothing. The very fact of being at work will procure employ by and by at a fair rate. Men avoid him who is all the time strolling about the streets-he is judged unfit for anything, and may die for want of employ.
If you can find nothing else to do, read and improve your mind, and fit yourself for better doing what you may have to do. Instruct your children; see that they have good schools; go to school with them occasionally, and take a glance at the method in which it is conducted.Do you think they will ever respect you or be worthy of having, if you neglect them in their youth, when the mind first taes its bend and inclinations! No man who has a family ever should say that he has nothing to do.
Dr. Franklin once lived well upon about fifty dollars a year, including all expenses. Stroll not about begging patronage. What is patronage? Nothing, after your ability is known. Then, if you are fit for employ, you will have it-if not, a better man should. You must stand competition; this is the life of business; get work by superior skill, punctuality and attention. Men know their interest, and will follow it in spite of friendship. Give me the skill, and you may have all the patrons. They will stick to you as long as you serve them best-no longer. If too many are in the business, let the balance clear out; and they will soon do so if the public do not falsely cherish them with fair words of patronage, which mean nothing-"But every man for himself."
Recollect the main point is employ, and not fair words. One man giving a job, is worth forty promising it. Promises are the ruin of many, and usually impart nothing but a vitality to hope. Many a man promises from mere good nature, and will wantonly promise the same thing to a hundred in a day-and disappoint ninety-nine; doubt every man who has not strictly complied with his engagement; if he has disappointed other, may he not disappoint you? In fine, never think you have money at your command until it is actually in their hand, and therefore take care how you promise it. Neglect of such prudentials hinder men from becoming rich and produces "Hard Times."
Northern Indianian March 20 1873
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