able improvement of the mind or of his fortune to mere corporal sensations, and ruining his health in their pursuit, mistaken 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, 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 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.
Yet I ought to have charity for these unhappy people when I consider that with all this wisdom of which I am boasting there are certain things in the world so tempting, for example, the apples of King John, which happily are not to be bought; for if they were put up to sale by auction, I might very easily be led to ruin myself in the purchase, and find that I had once more given too much for the whistle.
MIDNIGHT, October 22d, 1780.
Franklin. Eh ! oh ! eh ! What have I done to merit these cruel sufferings ?
Gout. Many things : you have ate and drunk too freely and too much indulged those legs of yours in their indolence.
Franklin. Who is it that accuses me ?