Archives for Ben Franklin



Ole Mr. Micawber: “Result, Misery”

I’m back to inviting readers to submit quotations whose origins they want me to try to trace, using my book, The Yale Book of Quotations, and my more recent researches.

Groatman asked:

“What is the saying that says something like ‘balance your accounts and if you’re groat over, happiness, and if you’re a groat under, misery’ and who said it and when and where? I believe Ben Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanac had a later similar version of this aphorism, but, if I remember correctly, he substituted a ‘penny’ and didn’t use the word ‘groat.’ What was it he said exactly?”

I’m not aware of Franklin saying something like this. The well-known version is by Charles Dickens, given by the Yale Book of Quotations as follows:

“‘My other piece of advice, Copperfield,’ said Mr. Micawber, ‘you know. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds nought and six, result misery.”
David Copperfield (1850)

Do any readers have any other phrases or quotations whose origins they would like me to attempt to trace?



The Often Misquoted

I’m back to inviting readers to submit quotations whose origins they want me to try to trace, using my book, The Yale Book of Quotations, and my more recent researches.

Aaron asked:

I’ve heard that Ben Franklin was misquoted when he said ‘Jack of all Trades, Master of None,’ and that he actually said ‘Jack of all Trades, Master of Some.’ Is there any truth to this?

I believe neither of these sayings appears in Benjamin Franklin‘s writings. Read More »