I think we’ve all observed old people’s habits, some irritating, and we’ve resolved to comport ourselves with more dignity when we become the elder generation.  For example, I’ve always been mildly annoyed when every conversation started with a declaration of age, as if that was their singular accomplishment in life:  “I’m 83 years old . . .”

Now that I am entering “young” old age, it’s time to remember my earlier resolutions about aging gracefully.  I was tickled to come across this similar 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.”  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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