Benjamin Franklin’s The Way to Wealth began life as prefatory material for his more famous Poor Richard's Almanac in 1758. Franklin then decided to transform some of his more pointed sayings and epigrams about financial affairs, economics, industry, and frugal management into a stronger self-contained narrative officially known as The Way to Wealth, but popularly referred to as “Poor Richard Improved.”
In almost something of a postmodern rendering taking place two centuries before such a thing technically existed, The Way To Wealth is structured so that the narrative is assumed through two different guises, both which are simply personae for Franklin himself: Poor Richard and Father Abraham. Father Abraham speaks like an evangelical minister preaching the gospel of meek living to people at “a Vendue of Merchant Goods,” who are simply waiting for the selling to start. However, Abraham is basically giving voice to things Poor Richard has already said. The people at the Vendue listen closely and approve, but utterly ignore his stern advice. Thus, in a way, The Way to Wealth is a lesson in ironic humor in how to sell the idea of saving money.
Of course, the greatest irony associated with The Way to Wealth is that over time the ironic intent of the always humorous Franklin got misinterpreted as sincerity; he earned a reputation for moralizing with humorless evangelizing by those who mistook Father Abraham the persona for Benjamin Franklin the man. That transformation began during the Gilded Age of the late 19th century. Only recently has Franklin gotten back around to becoming the far earthier, far less quaint, and even far less moral-mongering writer he used to be.