Images de page
PDF
ePub

ESSAY 87.

THE WHISTLE.

(B. Franklin.)

When I was a child at 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 boy, I voluntarily offered him 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. This put me in mind what good things I could have bought with the rest of the money; and they laughed at me so much for my folly, that I cried with vexation; and the reflection

[blocks in formation]

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 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 the whistle.

When I saw any one too ambitious of court favours, 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.

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 sake of accumulating wealth, Poor man, said I, you do, indeed, pay too much for your whistle. .

When I meet a man of pleasure sacrificing every laudable improvement of the mind, or of his fortune, to mere corporal sensations; Mistaken man, say I, you are providing pain for yourself instead of pleasure; you give too much for your whistle.

If I see one fond of five clothes, fine furniture, fine equipages, all above his fortune, for which he contracts debts, and ends his career in prison, Alas, say I, 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 has paid so much for a whistle.

In short, I conceived that great part of the miseries of mankind were brought upon them by the false estimates they had made of the value of things, and by their giving too much for their whistles.

ESSAY 88.

THE GENTLEMAN AND THE BASKET

MAKER.

(London Magazine.)

It was an admirable answer, which the old philosopher bestowed upon the pertness of a very gentleman, in Sir Courtly Nice's sense of the word, who would needs be told what difference there was between a fool and a man of understanding? “ Send thein naked among stran“gers," replied the philosopher, “ and they will “shew it you by their success.”. For the sake of at least three thousand pretty fellows about town, whose eyes are too full of themselves, to discover the force of this remark, I will lend them the light of a strange Peruvian manuscript, without supposing it necessary to inform them, by what particular accident it fell into my possession.

In the midst of that vast ocean commonly

called the South Sea, lie the Isles of Solomon, In the center of these is one, not only distant from the rest, but also considerably larger. An ancestor of the prince, who now reigns absolutely in this central island, has through a long descent of ages, entailed the name of Solomon's Isles upon the whole, by the effect of that wisdom with which he polished the manners of his people.

A descendant of one of the great men of this happy island becoming a gentleman to so improved a degree, as to despise the good qualities which had originally ennobled his family, thought of nothing, but how to support and distinguish his diguity, by the pride of an ignorant mind, and a disposition abandoned to pleasure. He had a house on the sea side, where he spent great part of his time in hunting and fishing, but found himself at a loss, in pursuit of these important diversions, by means of a long slip of marshy land, overgrown with high reeds, that lay between his house and the sea. Resolving at length, that it became not a man of his quality to submit to any restraints in his pleasures, for the ease or conveniency of an obstipate mechanic; and having often endeavoured in vain to buy out the owner, who was an honest poor basket maker, and whose livelihood depended on working up the flags of those reeds in a manner

« PrécédentContinuer »