The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
Wealth Quotes Page 2
How we cite our quotes:
All our Cash was now expended in the Variety of Particulars we had been obliged to procure, and this Countryman's Five Shillings, being our First Fruits and coming so seasonably, gave me more Pleasure than any Crown I have since earn'd; and from the Gratitude I felt towards House, has made me often more ready than perhaps I should otherwise have been to assist young Beginners. (1.90)
Money isn't just valuable because of the meaning society agrees to assign it. Here Franklin only makes five shillings. Compare that with what he makes on Poor Richard's Almanac – this is nothing. Yet this money is worth more to him emotionally than other salaries he gets later in life because it's the first thing he earns under his own steam is his own business. This money has emotional value – "industry" – attached to it.
We gave Bail, but saw that if the Money could not be rais'd in time, the Suit must come to a Judgment and Execution, and our hopeful Prospects must with us be ruined, as the Press and Letters must be sold for Payment, perhaps at half-Price. (1.99)
Because Franklin's partner can't come through with the goods, their whole business almost goes belly-up. It seems that while Franklin stuck to his half of the bargain, bringing his experience, his friend couldn't stick to his, contributing the money. You know the writing strategy of putting the most important thing at the end of a sentence? As Franklin lists the bad things that will happen, their impact seems worse and worse: first bail, then a suit, then a ruined dream. What we're left with at the end is just that the very instruments of his trade must be sold and that – horrors! – they might have to be marked down as half off. Franklin will later talk about money as something that breeds itself, but in this case it seems that debts do too.
I told them I could not propose a Separation while any Prospect remain'd of the Merediths fulfilling their Part of our Agreement. […] But if they finally fail'd in their Performance, and our Partnership must be dissolv'd, I should then think myself at Liberty to accept the Assistance of my Friends. (1.100)
Here wealth is connected to virtue and loyalty. Faithfulness to friends and keeping promises is more important than jumping ship when new money comes along, even if it's money you desperately need. Franklin feels obligated to give his friend Meredith the chance to keep up his end of the agreement, even when he's worried about how they're hovering over debts. This shows, too, though, that Franklin is confident his other friends are good for giving him money, and he's not too worried about letting this opportunity slip by.