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and digested all I had dropt on these topic during the course of five-and-twenty years The frequent mention he made of me must have tried any one else, but my vanity was wonderfully delighted with it, though I was conscious that not a tenth part of the wisdom was my own which he ascribed to me, but rather the gleaning I had made of the sense of all ages and nations.
However I resolved to be the better for the echo of it; and though I had at first determined to buy stuff for a new coat, I went away, resolving to wear my old one a little longer. Reader, if thou wilt do the same, thy profit will be as great as mine.
I am, as ever,
WHEN I was a child about seren years of age, my friends, on a holiday, filled my pocket with halfpence. I went directly towards a shop where toys were sold for children; and being charmed with the sound of a whistle, that I met by the way in the hands of another boy, I voluntarily offered him all my money for it; I then came home, and went whistling over the house, much pleased with my whistle, but disturbing all the family. My brothers and sisters, and cousins, understanding the bargain I had made, told me 1 had given four times as much for it as it was worth. This put me in mind what good things I might have bought with the rest of the money; and they laughed at me so much for my folly, that I cried with vexation. My reflections on the
subject gave me more chagrin than the whistle gave me pleasure. This little event, however, was afterwards of use to me, the impressions continuing on my mind : so that often, when I was tempted to buy some unnecessary thing, I said to myself, do not give too much for the whistle ; and so I saved my money:
As I grew up, came into the world, and observed the actions of men, I thought I met with many, very many, who gave too much for their whistles.
When I saw any one too ambitious of courtfavour, sacrificing his time in attendance on levees, his repose, his liberty, his virtue, and perhaps his friends, to attain it, I said to myself, this man gives too much for his whistle.
When I saw another food of popularity, constantly employing himself in political bustles, neglecting his own affairs, and ruining them by that neglect; he pays indeed, said I, too much for his whistle. If I knew a miser, who gave up every
kind of comfortable living, all the pleasures of doing good to others, all the esteem of his fellow citizens, and the joys of benevolent friendship for the sake of accumulating wealth: Poor man, said I, you indeed pay too much for your whistle.
When I met a man of pleasure, sacrificing every laudable improvement of mind, or of fortune, to mere sensual gratifications; Mistaken man ! said I, you are providing pain for yourself, instead of pleasure; you give too much for your whistle.
If I saw one fond of fine clothes, fine furniture, fine equipages, all above his fortune, for which he contracted debts, and ended his ca.
reer in prison, alas ! said I, he has paid deat, very dear, for his whistle,
In short, I conceived, that a great part of the miseries of mankind are brought upon them by the false estimate they make of the value of things, and by their giving too much for their whistles.
Thus far Franklin, I will just add, as a caution to the pious youths who may read this; whenever tempted to barter the privilege of * suffering affliction with the people of God," for the "enjoyment of the pleasures of sin for a season,” remember that by so doing, you will pay much, infinitely too much, for your whistle.