Ben Franklin Essays

Ben Franklin Essays-84
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. Lawrence, Studies in Classic American Literature (New York: Seltzer, 1923). Man is dominated by the making of money, by acquisition as the ultimate purpose of his life.

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" say I, "he has paid dear, very dear, for his whistle." 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 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.

No man has shed such copious good influence on America; none added so much new truth to the popular knowledge; none has so skillfully organized its ideas into institutions; none has so powerfully and wisely directed the nation's conduct, and advanced its welfare in so many respects.

We do all like to get things inside a barbed-wire corral. We love to round them up inside the barbed-wire enclosure of FREEDOM, and make 'em work.

In fact, the summum bonum of [Franklin's] ethic, the earning of more and more money. Economic acquisition is no longer subordinated to man as the means for the satisfaction of his material needs.

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. Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, (New York: Chas. Every sort of natural phenomenon enlisted [Franklin's] interest and called forth some ingenious idea. Hence the theory that only when he confronted nature as a scientist was he wholly committed. When I saw one too ambitious of court favor, 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 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 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! Woodrow Wilson, Introduction to the Autobiography (New York: Century, 1901 ). addressing itself to the task, which in this country is every man's, of setting free the processes of growth, giving them facility and speed and efficacy. The earning of money within the modern economic order is . the result and the expression of virtue and proficiency in a calling; and this virtue and proficiency are . Removing #book# from your Reading List will also remove any bookmarked pages associated with this title. Fineman, Introduction to the Autobiography (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1964).

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