Too Dear for the Whistle
When I was a child of seven years old, my friends, on a holiday, filled my pocket with coppers. I went at once to a shop where they sold toys for children. Being charmed with the sound of a whistle that I had seen by the way, in the hands of another boy, I handed over 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, when I told of the bargain I had made, said I had given four times as much as the whistle was worth. They put me in mind of 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. Thinking about the matter gave me more chagrin than the whistle gave me pleasure.
This, however, was afterwards of use to me, for the impression continued on my mind, so that often, when I was tempted to buy something I did not need, 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 some men too eager for a court favour, wasting his time at court gatherings, giving up his rest, his liberty, his virtue, and perhaps his friends, for royal favour, I said to myself - "This man gives too much for the whistle." When I saw another fond of popularity, constantly taking part in political affairs, neglecting his own business, and ruining it by neglect, "He pays, indeed," said I, "too dear 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 friendship, for the sake of gathering and keeping wealth - "Poor man," said I, "you pay too dear for your whistle." When I met a man of pleasure, who did not try to improve his mind or his fortune but merely devoted himself to having a good time,perhaps neglecting his health, "Mistaken man," said I, "you are providing pain for yourself, instead of pleasure; you are paying too dear for your whistle." If I saw someone fond of appearance who had fine clothes, fine houses, fine furniture, fine earrings, all above his fortune, and for which he had run into debt, and ends his career in a prison."Alas," said I, "he has paid dear, very dear, for his whistle." In short the miseries of mankind are largely due to their putting a false value on things - to giving "too much for their whistles".
如果我听说有个守财奴，他为了积累财产而宁愿放弃各种舒适的生活，一切为别人做好事的乐趣，所有的同乡们对他的尊重，以及慷慨无私的友谊的欢乐。"可怜的人啊”，我说，"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， 他不愿使自己精神上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，为了这种追求损害了自己的身体。 "误入歧途的人啊'我就说，“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”。如果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，精致的耳环，这一切都远远超出了他收入的水平。为了得到这一切，他举借外债，最后以被投进监狱而告终。"天哪！”我说，“为了他的哨子，他付出了太高太高的代价。”总之，我认为，他们所遭受的人类很大一部分的悲苦都是由于他们对事物的价值所做出错误估价而造成的，都是“为他们的哨子付出了太高的代价"。