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He that would pass the latter part of his life with honour and decency, must, when he is young, consider that he shall one day be old, and remember when he is old, that he has once been young.
Rambler, vol. 1, p. 304.
Age seldom fails to change the conduct of youth. We grow negligent of time in proportion as we have less remaining, and suffer the last part of life to steal from us in languid preparations for future undertakings, or slow approaches to remote advantages, in weak hopes of some fortuitous occurrence, or drowsy equilibrations of undetermined counsel. Whether it be that the aged, having tasted the pleasures of man's condition, and found them delusive, become less anxious for their attainment, or that frequent miscarriages have depressed them to despair, and frozen them to inactivity; or that death shocks them more as it advances upon them, and they are afraid to remind themselves of their decay, or discover to their own hearts that the time of trifling is past.
Ibid. vol. 3, p. 32.
The truth of many maxims of age gives too little pleasure to be allowed till it is felt, and the miseries of life would be increased beyond all human power of endurance, if we were to enter the world with the same opinions we carry from it. Ibid. vol. 4, p. 195.
It is one of the melancholy pleasures of an old man to recollect the kindness of friends, whose kindness he shall experience no more.
Treatise on the Longitude, p. 14.
An old age unsupported with matter for discourse and ineditation, is much to be dreaded. No state can be more destitute than that of him, who, when the delights of sense forsake him, has no pleasures of the mind.
Notes upon Shakspeare, vol. 9. p. 249.
There is sometimes a dotage encroaching upon wisdom, that produces contradictions. Such a man is positive and confident, because he knows that his mind was once strong, and knows not that it is become weak. Such a man fails not in general principles, but fails in the particular application. He is knowing in retrospect, and ignorant in foresight. While he depends upon his memory, and can draw from his repositories of knowledge, he utters weighty sentences, and gives useful counsel; but as the mind gets enfeebled, he loses the order of his ideas, and entangles himself in his own thoughts, till he recovers the leading principle and falls again into its former train.
Ibid. vol. 10, p. 241.
THE VANITY OF WISHING FOR OLD AGE.
Enlarge my life with multitude of days,
Approach, ye minstrels, try the soothing strain,
Unnumber'd maladies his joints invade,
But grant the virtues of a tempʼrate prime
Yet e'en on this her load misfortune flings,
Year chases year, decay pursues decay,
Vanity of Human Wishes.
AGE AND YOUTH.
The notions of the old and young are like liquors of different gravity and texture, which never can unite.
Rambler, vol. 2. p. 89.
In youth it is common to measure right and wrong by the opinion of the world, and in age to act without any measure but interest, and to lose shame without substituting virtue.
Ibid. vol. 4, p. 198.
Such is the condition of life that something is always wanting to happiness. In youth we have warm hopes, which are soon blasted by rashness and negligence, and great designs, which are defeated by inexperience. In age we have knowledge and prudence, without spirit to exert, or motives to prompt them: we are able to plan schemes and regulate measures, but have not time remaining to bring them to completion.
An art cannot be taught but by its proper terms; but it is not always necessary to teach the art.
Idler, vol. 2, p. 99%
Every art is improved by the emulation of competitors. Those who make no advances towards excellence, may stand as warnings against faults.
Preliminary Difcourse to the London Chronicle, p. 156.
Men of a passionate temper are sometimes not without understanding or virtue, and are therefore not always treated with the severity which their neglect of the ease of all about them might justly provoke. They have obtained a kind of prescription for their folly, and are considered by their companions as under a predominant influence that leaves them not master of their conduct or language, as acting without consciousness, and rushing into mischief with a mist before their eyes. They are therefore pitied rather than censured; and their sallies are passed over as the involuntary 'blows of a man agitated by the spasms of a convulsion.
It is surely not to be observed without indignation, that men may be found of minds mean enough to be satisfied with this treatment; wretches who are proud to obtain the privilege of madmen, and can without shame, and without regret, consider themselves as receiving hourly pardons from their companions, and giving then continual opportunities of exercising their patience and boasting their clemency.
Rambler, vol. 1, p. 62.
It is told by Prior, in a panegyric on the Duke of Dorset, that his servants used to put themselves in his way when he was angry, because he was to recompense them for any indignities. which he made them suffer. This is the round of a passionate