Thursday 14 April 2016

Falling into Nastiness

Jonathan Swift's Resolutions When I Come to be Old  are 'reproduced by photostat from the manuscript at South Kensington' as the Oxford University Press edition of his Satires and Personal Writings admits with appealing modesty). There are 17 Resolutions, and I reckon I've already failed to live up to ten of them. But it's not too late to reform, and Swift is the best of mentors. Who, after al, wants to fall into 'Nastiness'? Here they are, in full:

   Not to marry a young Woman. 

   Not to keep young Company unless they really 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 be fond of Children, or let them come near me hardly. 

   Not tell the same Story over and over to the same People. 

   Not to be covetous. 

   Not to neglect decency, or cleanliness, for fear of falling into Nastiness. 

   Not to be over severe with young People, but give Allowances for their youthfull follies, and 

   Not to be influenced by, or give ear to knavish tattling Servants, or others. 

   Not to be too free of advise nor trouble any but those that desire it. 

   Not to desire some good Friends to inform me which of these Resolutions I break, or neglect, &    
   wherein; and reform accordingly. 

   Not to talk much, nor of my self. 

   Not to boast of my former beauty, or strength, or favour with Ladies, etc. 

   Not to hearken to Flatteries, nor conceive I can be beloved by a young woman. et eos qui hereditatem 
   captant odisse ac vitare. 

   Not to be positive or opinionated. 

   Sett up for observing all these Rules, for fear I should observe none.

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