Thursday, 7 May 2015

a penny saved is twopence dear

I learnt of a gem of non-canonical, being that it’s not part of his main body of writing—like Poor Richard’s Almanack of proverbs and other achievements, both genuine and attributed, wisdom discovered in the correspondence of statesman Benjamin Franklin, writing to a friend from his diplomatic post in Paris. In his golden years, Franklin recalled a fundamental episode from his early youth. The story Franklin tells and the aphorism it lends itself to—paying too much for one’s whistle (in reference to an impulse-buy that ended up bringing more post-shopping regret than pleasure)—is as memorable and astute as any. One can read the letter in its entirety here with Franklin’s inventory of poor souls whose vanities have cost them dearly. I do suppose, too, it is easier to recognise such folly of others rather than to confront it in ourselves.