What not to do…
In 1699, satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer , poet, and cleric Jonathan Swift — author, most notably, of Gulliver’s Travels — penned this list of resolutions, titled, “When I come to be old.” At the time of writing, he was 32 years of age… and it must have worked, at least up to a point: Swift became Dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin.
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.
As we reconsider our own resolutions, we might send wry birthday greetings to Saul Bellow; he was born (Solomon Bellow) on this date in 1915. Bellow’s fiction earned him the Nobel Prize for Literature, the Pulitzer Prize, the National Medal of Arts, and the National Book Award for Fiction (he’s the only three-time winner)–and the affection of countless fans.