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Jonathan Swift’s Resolutions for Old Age

I love this entry from Lists of Note. It’s a list that Jonathan Swift wrote in 1699 (when he was 32, over a decade before he wrote Gulliver’s Travels) of resolutions for his future, titled “When I Come To Be Old”.

The items shows a lot of wisdom and insight, as well as humor – particularly when you get down to the end of the list.

It reads:

When I come to be old. 1699.

-Not to marry a young Woman.
-Not to keep young Company unless they reely desire it.
-Not to be peevish or morose, or suspicious.
-Not to scorn present Ways, or Wits, or Fashions, or Men, or War, &c.
-Not to be fond of Children, or let them come near me hardly.
-Not to tell the same story over and over to the same People.
-Not to be covetous.
-Not to neglect decency, or cleenlyness, for fear of falling into Nastyness.
-Not to be over severe with young People, but give Allowances for their youthfull follyes and weaknesses.
-Not to be influenced by, or give ear to knavish tatling servants, or others.
-Not to be too free of advise, nor trouble any but those that desire it.
-To desire some good Friends to inform me wch of these Resolutions I break, or neglect, and wherein; and reform accordingly.
-Not to talk much, nor of my self.
-Not to boast of my former beauty, or strength, or favor with Ladyes, &c.
-Not to hearken to Flatteryes, nor conceive I can be beloved by a young woman, et eos qui hereditatem captant, odisse ac vitare.
-Not to be positive or opiniative.
-Not to sett up for observing all these Rules; for fear I should observe none.

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About Beth Carswell

I've been reading, selling, researching, loving and writing about books with AbeBooks since 2000.

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