Poor Richard's Almanack

1748

Kind Reader,

The favourable Reception my annual Labours have met with from the Publick these 15 Years past, has engaged me in Gratitude to endeavour some Improvement of my Almanack. And since my Friend Taylor is no more, whose Ephemerides so long and so agreeably serv’d and entertain’d these Provinces, I have taken the Liberty to imitate his well-known Method, and give two Pages for each Month; which affords me Room for several valuable Additions, as will best appear on Inspection and Comparison with former Almanacks. Yet I have not so far follow’d his Method, as not to continue my own where I thought it preferable; and thus my Book is increas’d to a Size beyond his, and contains much more Matter.

Hail Night serene! thro’ Thee where’er we turn
Our wond’ring Eyes, Heav’n’s Lamps profusely burn;
And Stars unnumber’d all the Sky adorn.
But lo!  what’s that I see appear?
It seems far off a pointed flame;
From Earthwards too the shining Meteor came:
How swift it climbs th’ etherial Space!
And now it traverses each Sphere,
And seems some knowing Mind, familiar to the Place.
Dame, hand my Glass, the longest, strait prepare;  
'Tis He  'tis TAYLOR's Soul, that travels there.
O stay! thou happy Spirit, stay,
And lead me on thro’ all th’ unbeaten Wilds of Day;
Where Planets in pure Streams of Ether driven,
Swim thro’ the blue Expanse of Heav’n.
There let me, thy Companion, stray
From Orb to Orb, and now behold
Unnumber’d Suns, all Seas of molten Gold,
And trace each Comet’s wandring Way.

Souse down into Prose again, my Muse; for Poetry’s no more thy Element, than Air is that of the Flying-Fish; whose Flights, like thine, are therefore always short and heavy.

We complain sometimes of hard Winters in this Country; but our Winters will appear as Summers, when compar’d with those that some of our Countrymen undergo in the most Northern British Colony on this Continent, which is that upon Churchill River, in Hudson’s Bay, Lat. 58d. 56m. Long. from London 94d. 50m. West. Captain Middleton, a Member of the Royal Society, who had made many Voyages thither, and winter’d there 1741-2, when he was in Search of the North-West Passage to the South-Sea, gives an Account of it to that Society, from which I have extracted these Particulars, viz.

The Hares, Rabbits, Foxes, and Partridges, in September and the Beginning of October, change their Colour to a snowy White, and continue white till the following Spring.

The Lakes and standing Waters, which are not above 10 or 12 Feet deep, are frozen to the Ground in Winter, and the Fishes therein all perish. Yet in Rivers near the Sea, and Lakes of a greater Depth than 10 or 12 Feet, Fishes are caught all the Winter, by cutting Holes thro’ the Ice, and therein putting Lines and Hooks. As soon as the Fish are brought into the open Air, they instantly freeze stiff.

Beef, Pork, Mutton, and Venison, kill’d in the Beginning of the Winter, are preserved by the Frost for 6 or 7 Months, entirely free from Putrefaction. Likewise Geese, Partridges, and other Fowls, kill’d at the same Time, and kept with their Feathers on and Guts in, are preserv’d by the Frost, and prove good Eating. All Kinds of Fish are preserv’d in the same Manner.

In large Lakes and Rivers, the Ice is sometimes broken by imprison’d Vapours; and the Rocks, Trees, Joists, and Rafters of our Buildings, are burst with a Noise not less terrible than the firing of many Guns together. The Rocks which are split by the Frost, are heaved up in great Heaps, leaving large Cavities behind. If Beer or Water be left even in Copper Pots by the Bed-side, the Pots will be split before Morning. Bottles of strong Beer, Brandy, strong Brine, Spirits of Wine, set out in the open Air for 3 or 4 Hours, freeze to solid Ice. The Frost is never out of the Ground, how deep is not certain; but on digging 10 or 12 Feet down in the two Summer Months, it has been found hard frozen.

All the Water they use for Cooking, Brewing, &c. is melted Snow and Ice; no Spring is yet found free from freezing, tho’ dug ever so deep down.  All Waters inland, are frozen fast by the Beginning of October, and continue so to the Middle of May.

The Walls of the Houses are of Stone, two Feet thick; the Windows very small, with thick wooden Shutters, which are close shut 18 Hours every Day in Winter. In the Cellars they put their Wines, Brandies, &c. Four large Fires are made every Day, in great Stoves to warm the Rooms: As soon as the Wood is burnt down to a Coal, the Tops of the Chimnies are close stopped, with an Iron Cover; this keeps the Heat in, but almost stifles the People. And notwithstanding this, in 4 or 5 Hours after the Fire is out, the Inside of the Walls and Bed-places will be 2 or 3 Inches thick with Ice, which is every Morning cut away with a Hatchet. Three or four Times a Day, Iron Shot, of 24 Pounds Weight, are made red hot, and hung up in the Windows of their Apartments, to moderate the Air that comes in at Crevices; yet this, with a Fire kept burning the greatest Part of 24 Hours, will not prevent Beer, Wine, Ink, &c. from Freezing.

For their Winter Dress, a Man makes use of three Pair of Socks, of coarse Blanketting, or Duffeld, for the Feet, with a Pair of Deerskin Shoes over them; two Pair of thick English Stockings, and a Pair of Cloth Stockings upon them; Breeches lined with Flannel; two or three English Jackets, and a Fur, or Leather Gown over them; a large Beaver Cap, double, to come over the Face and Shoulders, and a Cloth of Blanketting under the Chin; with Yarn Gloves, and a large Pair of Beaver Mittins, hanging down from the Shoulders before, to put the Hands in, reaching up as high as the Elbows. Yet notwithstanding this warm Clothing, those that stir Abroad when any Wind blows from the Northward, are sometimes dreadfully frozen; some have their Hands, Arms, and Face blistered and froze in a terrible Manner, the Skin coming off soon after they enter a warm House, and some lose their Toes. And keeping House, or lying-in for the Cure of these Disorders, brings on the Scurvy, which many die of, and few are free from; nothing preventing it but Exercise and stirring Abroad.

The Fogs and Mists, brought by northerly Winds in Winter, appear visible to the naked Eye to be Icicles innumerable, as small as fine Hairs, and pointed as sharp as Needles. These Icicles lodge in their Clothes, and if their Faces and Hands are uncover’d, presently raise Blisters as white as a Linnen Cloth, and as hard as Horn. Yet if they immediately turn their Back to the Weather, and can bear a Hand out of the Mitten, and with it rub the blister’d Part for a small Time, they sometimes bring the Skin to its former State; if not, they make the best of their Way to a Fire, bathe the Part in hot Water, and thereby dissipate the Humours raised by the frozen Air; otherwise the Skin wou’d be off in a short Time, with much hot, serous, watry Matter, coming from under along with the Skin; and this happens to some almost every Time they go Abroad, for 5 or 6 Months in the Winter, so extreme cold is the Air, when the Wind blows any Thing strong.  Thus far Captain Middleton. And now, my tender Reader, thou that shudderest when the Wind blows a little at N-West, and criest, ‘Tis extrrrrrream cohohold! ‘Tis terrrrrrible cohold! what dost thou think of removing to that delightful Country? Or dost thou not rather chuse to stay in Pennsylvania, thanking God that He has caused thy Lines to fall in pleasant Places.

I am,

Thy Friend to serve thee,

R. SAUNDERS.

Robbers must exalted be,
Small ones on the Gallow-Tree,
While greater ones ascend to Thrones,
But what is that to thee or me?
Lost Time is never found again.

On the 19th of this Month, Anno 1493, was born the famous Astronomer Copernicus, to whom we owe the Invention, or rather the Revival (it being taught by Pythagoras near 2000 Years before) of that now generally receiv’d System of the World which bears his Name, and supposes the Sun in the Center, this Earth a Planet revolving round it in 365 Days, 6 Hours, &c. and that Day and Night are caused by the Turning of the Earth on its own Axis once round in 24 h. &c. The Ptolomean System, which prevail’d before Copernicus, suppos’d the Earth to be fix’d, and that the Sun went round it daily. Mr. Whiston, a modern Astronomer, says, the Sun is 230,000 times bigger than the Earth, and 81 Millions of Miles distant from it: That vast Body must then have mov’d more than 480 Millions of Miles in 24 h. A prodigious Journey round this little Spot! How much more natural is Copernicus’s Scheme!  Ptolomy is compar’d to a whimsical Cook, who, instead of Turning his Meat in Roasting, should fix That, and contrive to have his whole Fire, Kitchen and all, whirling continually round it.

To lead a virtuous Life, my Friends, and get to Heaven in Season,
You’ve just so much more Need of Faith, as you have less of Reason.

To avoid Pleurisies, &c. in cool Weather; Fevers, Fluxes, &c. in hot; beware of Over-Eating and Over-Heating.

The Heathens when they dy’d, went to Bed without a Candle.

Knaves & Nettles are akin;
stroak ‘em kindly, yet they’ll sting.

On the 20th of this month, 1727, died the prince of astronomers and philosophers, sir Isaac Newton, aged 85 years: Who, as Thomson expresses it, Trac’d the boundless works of God, from laws sublimely simple.

What were his raptures then! how pure! how strong!
And what the triumphs of old Greece and Rome,
By his diminish’d, but the pride of boys
In some small fray victorious! when instead
Of shatter’d parcels of this earth usurp’d
By violence unmanly, and sore deeds
Of cruelty and blood; Nature herself
Stood all-subdu’d by him, and open laid
Her every latent glory to his view.

Mr. Pope’s epitaph on sir Isaac Newton, is justly admired for its conciseness, strength, boldness, and sublimity:

Nature and nature’s laws lay hid in night;
God said, Let NEWTON be, and all was light.

Life with Fools consists in Drinking;
With the wise Man Living’s Thinking.

Eilen thut selten gut.

On the 25th of this month, Anno 1599, was OLIVER CROMWELL born, the son of a private gentleman, but became the conqueror and protector (some say the tyrant) of three great kingdoms. His son Richard succeeded him, but being of an easy peaceable disposition, he soon descended from that lofty station, and became a private man, living, unmolested, to a good old age; for he died not till about the latter end of queen Anne’s reign, at his lodgings in Lombard-street, where he had lived many years unknown, and seen great changes in government, and violent struggles for that, which, by experience, he knew could afford no solid happiness.

Oliver was once about to remove to New-England, his goods being on shipboard; but somewhat alter’d his mind. There he would doubtless have risen to be a Select Man, perhaps a Governor; and then might have had 100 bushels of Indian corn per Annum, the salary of a governor of that then small colony in those days.

Sell-cheap kept Shop on Goodwin Sands, and yet had Store of Custom.

Liberality is not giving much but giving wisely.

Finikin Dick, curs’d with nice Taste,
Ne’er meets with good dinner, half starv’d at a feast.

Alas! that Heroes ever were made!
The Plague, and the Hero, are both of a Trade!
Yet the Plague spares our Goods which the Heroe does not;
So a Plague take such Heroes and let their Fames rot.

Q. P. D.

The 19th of this month, 1719, died the celebrated Joseph Addison, Esq; aged 47, whose writings have contributed more to the improvement of the minds of the British nation, and polishing their manners, than those of any other English pen whatever.

To Friend, Lawyer, Doctor, tell plain your whole Case;
Nor think on bad Matters to put a good Face:
How can they advise, if they see but a Part?
'Tis very ill driving black Hogs in the dark.

Suspicion may be no Fault, but shewing it may be a great one.

He that’s secure is not safe.

The second Vice is Lying; the first is Running in Debt.

The Muses love the Morning.

Muschitoes, or Musketoes, a little venomous fly, so light, that perhaps 50 of them, before they’ve fill’d their bellies, scarce weigh a grain, yet each has all the parts necessary to life, motion, digestion, generation, &c. as veins, arteries, muscles, &c. each has in his little body room for the five senses of seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, tasting: How inconceivably small must their organs be! How inexpressibly fine the workmanship! And yet there are little animals discovered by the microscope, to whom a Musketo is an Elephant!  In a scarce summer any citizen may provide Musketoes sufficient for his own family, by leaving tubs of rain-water uncover’d in his yard; for in such water they lay their eggs, which when hatch’d, become first little fish, afterwards put forth legs and wings, leave the water, and fly into your windows. Probatum est.

Two Faults of one a Fool will make;
He half repairs, that owns & does forsake.

Harry Smatter,
has a Mouth for every Matter.

When you’re good to others, you are best to yourself.

Half Wits talk much but say little.

If Jack’s in love, he’s no judge of Jill’s Beauty.

Most Fools think they are only ignorant.

On the 14th of this month, Anno 1644, was born WILLIAM PENN, the great founder of this Province; who prudently and benevolently sought success to himself by no other means, than securing the liberty, and endeavouring the happiness of his people. Let no envious mind grudge his posterity those advantages which arise to them from the wisdom and goodness of their ancestor; and to which their own merit, as well as the laws, give them an additional title.

On the 28th, Anno 1704, died the famous John Locke, Esq; the Newton of the Microcosm: For, as Thomson says,

He made the whole internal world his own.

His book on the Human Understanding, shows it. Microcosm, honest reader, is a hard word, and, they say, signifies the little world, man being so called, as containing within himself the four elements of the greater, &c. &c. I here explain Greek to thee by English, which, I think, is rather a more intelligible way, than explaining English by Greek, as a certain writer does, who gravely tells us, Man is rightly called a little world, because he is a Microcosm.

On the 29th, Anno 1618, was the famous sir Walter Rawleigh beheaded; to the eternal shame of the attorney-general, who first prosecuted him, and of the king, who ratify’d the sentence.

How happy is he, who can satisfy his hunger with any food, quench his thirst with any drink, please his ear with any musick, delight his eye with any painting, any sculpture, any architecture, and divert his mind with any book or any company! How many mortifications must he suffer, that cannot bear any thing but beauty, order, elegance & perfection! Your man of taste, is nothing but a man of distaste.

Pardoning the Bad, is injuring the Good.

He is not well-bred, that cannot bear Ill-Breeding in others.

In Christmas feasting pray take care;
Let not your table be a Snare;
but with the Poor God’s Bounty share.


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