Marginalia, no.272

Human Felicity is produc’d not so much by great Pieces of good Fortune that seldom happen, as by little Advantages that occur every Day. Thus if you teach a poor Man to shave himself and keep his Razor in order, you may contribute more to the Happiness of his Life than in giving him 1000 Guineas. The Money may be soon spent, the Regret only remaining of having foolishly consum’d it. But in the other Case he escapes the frequent Vexation of waiting for Barbers, & of their sometimes dirty Fingers, offensive Breaths and dull Razors.

~ Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography

A friend of mine recently visited a newfangled, old-fashioned barbershop in the city of San Francisco where he was seated in a barber’s chair, a hot towel was wrapped around his face, and he was shaved with a straight-edge razor, like Elmer Fudd in a Warner Brothers cartoon. “It’s a sort of man-spa,” he said. Nowadays, you see, we hand over our thousand guineas to subject ourselves to the dirty fingers and offensive breaths of the barber, and consider it luxury. This is perhaps necessary, however, and contributes to the general felicity of our fellow citizens, because spending money on things we could have done for ourselves, or done without, is almost the sole basis of our economy.


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