On Growing Older

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In his final years, Swift suffered from deafness, failing eyesight, and memory loss.

When I Come to Be Old

by Jonathan Swift

Not to marry a young Woman.

Not to keep young Company unless they realy desire it.

Not to be peevish, or morose, or suspicious.

Not to scorn present Ways, or Wits, or Fashions, or Men, or War, etc.

Not to be fond of Children, or let them come near me hardly.1

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 which 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, etc.

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 opinionatre.2

Not to sett up for observing all these Rules; for fear I should observe none.


1 According to one of Swift’s editors, the words in italics “were erased by another hand.”

2 In the 17th century, positive meant “overconfident, dogmatic”; the French word opinionatre meant “stubborn” or “opinionated.”


About donnainthesouth

I'm a transplant, born up north but raised in the middle, now I'm down here where you don't see too many snowflakes; I'll probably post just about as often (here at least)
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2 Responses to On Growing Older

  1. Thank you for sharing. Swift provides some fodder for a good discussion. If you don’t mind I will post some of his declarations. Thanks again. Bernice

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