when I come to be old

When the great satirist Jonathan Swift was twenty-two, in 1699, he made a set of resolutions under the heading “when I come to be old” — that is, things he wanted to remember to do, or not to do, in his fading years. I don’t know what Swift would have considered “old,” but as someone who just turned fifty, I am feeling rather archaic, so I am trying to take Swift’s resolutions to heart:

- 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.