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man lives in the last half of life on the memory of things read in the Arst half of life.






Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) was born in Boston. When a small boy he assisted his father, who was a tallow chandler, by cutting wicks for the candles and pouring the moulds. He learned the printer's trade, but having difficulty with his brother for whom he worked, he went to Philadelphia, where later he became an editor. He invented the lightning-rod and the “Franklin stove." Franklin was sent to England and France to represent our government there, He was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

When I was a child of seven years old, my friends, on a holiday, filled my pocket with coppers. I went directly to a shop where they sold toys for children, and being charmed with the

sound of a whistle, that I met by the way in the hands of another 5 boy, I voluntarily offered and gave all my money for one. I

then came home, and went whistling all 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 I had given four times as much for it 10 as it was worth; put me in mind what good things I might have

bought with the rest of the money; and laughed at me so much for my folly, that I cried with vexation; and the reflection gave me more chagrin than the whistle gave me pleasure.

This, however, was afterward of use to me, the impression 15 continuing on my mind; so that often, when I was tempted to

buy some unnecessary thing, I said to myself, Don't give too much for the whistle; and I saved my money.

*From a letter addressed to a friend, 1779.

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 the whistle.

When I saw one too ambitious of court favor, sacrificing his 5 time in attendance on levees, his repose, his liberty, his virtue,

and perhaps his friends, to attain it, I have said to myself, This man gives too much for his whistle.

When I saw another fond 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 pleasure of doing good to others, all the esteem of

his fellow-citizens, and the joys of benevolent friendship, for the 15 sake of accumulating wealth, Poor man, said I, you pay too much for your whistle.

When I met with a man of pleasure, sacrificing every laudable improvement of the mind, or of his fortune, to mere corporeal

sensations, and ruining his health in their pursuit, Mistaken 20 man, said I, you are providing pain for yourself, instead of pleasure; you give too much for your whistle.

If I see one fond of appearance, or fine clothes, fine houses, fine furniture, fine equipages, all above his fortune, for which

he contracts debts, and ends his career in a prison, Alas! say I, 25 he has paid dear, very dear, for his whistle.

When I see a beautiful, sweet-tempered girl married to an ill-natured brute of a husband, What a pity, say I, that she should pay so much for a whistle!

In short, I conceive that great part of the miseries of man30 kind are brought upon them by the false estimates they have

made of the value of things, and by their giving too much for their whistles.


Notes and Questions Why did Franklin pay too much How was this incident of use to for his whistle

him afterward?

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