哨子

美·富兰克林

I am charmed with your description of Paradise, and with your plan of living there; and I approve much of your conclusion, that, in the mean time, we should draw all the good we can from this world. In my opinion, we might all draw more good from it than we do, and suffer less evil, if we would take care not to give too much for 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 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 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 afterward 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 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 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! 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 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.

我七岁的时候,有一次过节,大人们给我的衣袋里塞满了铜币。我立刻向一家卖儿童玩具的店铺跑去。半路上,我却被一个男孩吹哨子的声音吸引住了,于是我用所有的铜币换了他这个哨子。回到家里,我非常得意,吹着哨子满屋子转,却打扰了全家人。我的哥哥、姐姐和表姐们知道我这个交易后,便告诉我,我为这个哨子付出了比它原价高四倍的钱。他们还告诉我,用那些多付的钱,我不知道可以买到多少好东西。大伙儿都取笑我傻,竟使我懊恼得哭了。回想起来,那只哨子给我带来的悔恨远远超过了给我的快乐。不过,这件事情后来却对我很有用处,它一直保留在我的记忆中。因此,当我打算买一些不必的东西时,我便常常对自己说,不要为哨子花费太多,于是便节省了钱。

我长大了走进社会,观察人们的作为,感到我遇到的很多很多的人,他们都为了一个哨子付出了过高的代价。

当我看见一个人过分热衷于猎取恩宠荣禄,把自己的光阴牺牲在侍候权贵、谋求接见之中,为了得到这种机会,他不惜牺牲自己的自由、品德甚至于自己的朋友,我便对自己说,这个人为他的哨子付出了太高的代价。

当我看见另一个人醉心于名望,无休止地投身于政界的纷扰之中,却忽视了自己的事,我说,他的确也为了他的哨子付出了过高的代价。

如果我听说有个守财奴为了积累财产,宁愿放弃各种舒适的生活、为别人做好事的一切乐趣、同乡们对他的尊重,以及慷慨无私的友谊的快乐,我说,可怜的人啊,为了你的哨子,你付出了过高的代价。

当我遇到一个寻欢作乐的人,他不愿使自己在精神或命运方面得到一切可赞美的改善,而仅仅为了达到肉体上的享受,为了这种需求,损坏了自己的身体,我就说,误入歧途的人啊,你真是有福不享自找苦吃;为了你的哨子,你付出了太高的代价啊。

当我看到一个人沉迷于外表,或者是漂亮的装束、讲究的住宅、上等的家具、精致的设备,这一切都远远超出了他的收入的水平,为了得到这一切,他借债,最后以被投进监狱而告终,我说,天啊!为了他的哨子,他付出了太高太高的代价。

当我看到一个漂亮温顺的姑娘相信对方的甜言蜜语而嫁给一个生性恶劣、人面兽心的丈夫,我说,多么遗憾呀,她为了一个哨子付出了太高的代价。

总之,我认为,他们所遭受的人类极大的悲苦都是由于他们对事物的价值做出了错误的估价而造成的,都是为了他们的哨子付出了太高的代价。