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Benjamin Franklin on tin whistles

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Magpie 18 Oct 99 - 01:22 PM
DonMeixner 18 Oct 99 - 04:37 PM
_gargoyle 18 Oct 99 - 07:24 PM
arkie 19 Oct 99 - 06:03 PM
Margo 19 Oct 99 - 08:42 PM
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Subject: Benjamin Franklin on tin whistles
From: Magpie
Date: 18 Oct 99 - 01:22 PM

I can't help myself, I just have to share this with you:

From a letter by the eminent statesman, inventor and author, Benjamin Franklin, dated November 10, 1779:

...In my opinion, we might draw more good from [the world] than we do, and suffer less evil, if we would take care not to give too much for tin whistles. For to me it seems, that most of the unhappy people we meet with, are become so by neglect of that caution.

You ask what I mean? You love stories, and will excuse my telling one of myself.

When I was a child of seven years old, my friends, on a holiday, filled my pockets 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 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 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 afterwards of use to me, the impression 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.

As I grew up, came into the world, and observed the actions of men, I tought I met with many, very many who GAVE TOO MUCH FOR THE WHISTLE.

When I saw one too ambitious of court favour, sacrificing his 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.(...)

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-citizen, and the joys of benevolent friendship, for the sake of accumulating wealth, POOR MAN, said I; YOU PAY TOO MUCH FOR YOUR 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 mankind 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.

Old Ben had a way of saying things, didn't he?


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Subject: RE: Benjamin Franklin on tin whistles
From: DonMeixner
Date: 18 Oct 99 - 04:37 PM

On the otherhand:

"My bid was not too bad,

Two bits was all I had,

And the more you, the more its' worth."

Don McLean

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Subject: RE: Benjamin Franklin on tin whistles
From: _gargoyle
Date: 18 Oct 99 - 07:24 PM

Beautiful..... never encountered this story of Ben's...before.

Its along the lines of: There are two ways to be rich.....make more.........desire less.

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Subject: RE: Benjamin Franklin on tin whistles
From: arkie
Date: 19 Oct 99 - 06:03 PM

Anyone have Ben's essay on saving candle wax by going to bed an hour earlier and rising an hour earlier when the days get shorter. I'm surprised that no one took him seriously.

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Subject: RE: Benjamin Franklin on tin whistles
From: Margo
Date: 19 Oct 99 - 08:42 PM

I'm a big Franklin fan myself. The story about the whistle is in his autobiography, but but not the following thoughts. For more complete stories, you have to go into the complete works. Ben was full of such analogies, and had a particular felicity of expression which he used carefully, for his purposes. Some old adages, known before Ben's time, were given a new twist when he wrote them in his own style: Fish and guests stink after three days.......

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