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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. I, 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.


Enlarge my life with multitude of days,
In health and sickness, thus the suppliant prays;
Hides from himself his state, and shuns to know
That life protracted is protracted woe.
Time hovers o'er, impatient to destroy,
And shuts up all the passages of joy:
In vain the gifts their bounteous seasons pour,
The fruit autumnal and the vernal flower;
With listless eyes the dotard views the store,
He views and wonders that they please no more.
Now pall the tasteless meats and joyless wines,
And luxury with sighs her slave resigns.



Approach, ye minstrels, try the soothing strain,
And yield the tuneful lenitives of pain.
No sound, alas! would touch th' impervious ear,
Tho' dancing mountains witness Orpheus neat.
No lute nor lyre his feeble power attend,
Nor sweeter music of a virtuous friend;
But everlasting dictates crowd his tongue,
Perversely grave or positively wrong.
The still returning tale, and ling'ring jest,
Perplex the fawning niece and pamper'd guest;
While growing hopes scarce awe the gath'ring sucer,
And scarce a legacy can bribe to hear;
The watchful guests still hint the last offence,
The daughter's petulance- the son's expence;
Improve his heady rage with treach'rous skill,
And mould his passions till they make his will,
Unnumber'd maladies his joints invade,
Lay siege to life, and press the dire blockade;
But unextinguish'd av'rice still remains,
And dreaded losses aggravate his pains;
He turns, with anxious heart and crippled hands,
His bonds of debts and mortgages of lands;
Or views his coffers with suspicious eyes,
Unlocks his gold, and counts it till he dies.

But grant the virtues of a temp'rate prime
Bless with an age exempt from scorn or crime,
An age that melts in unperceiv'd decay,
And glides in modest innocence away;
Whose peaceful day benevolence endears,
Whose night congratulating conscience cheers,
The gen'ral fav'rite as the gen'ral friend;
Such age there is, and who would wish its end?

Yet c'en on this her load misfortune flings,
To press the weary minutes' flagging wings;
New sorrow rises as the day returns,
A sister sickens, or daughter mourns,
Now kindred merit fills the sable bier,
Now lacerated friendship claims a tear;


Year chases year, decay pursues decay,
Still drops some joy from with'ring life away;
New forms arise, and diff'rent views engage,
Superfluous lags the vet'ran on the stage,
Till pitying Nature signs the last release,
And bids afflicted worth retire to peace.

Vanity of Human Wishes.


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 them 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 sure to recompense them for any indignities which he made them suffer. This is the round of a passionate


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