When Jonathan Swift was 32 years old, he jotted down a list of resolutions that he entitled "When I come to be old." I copied these resolutions from a book when I was young, typed them out and have kept them above my desk ever since:

When I come to be old, I swear. . .

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 fea
r 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, &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.

When I was a serious 19-year old scholar at Trinity College in Dublin, I spent hours trudging through the cavernous archives of the old library, searching through the ancient tomes and blowing dust off manuscripts by the light of a candle held aloft, quaffing mightily from a flagon of port and wiping its essence from my lips with my shirtsleeves. While in such nocturnal study, I once stumbled upon a small collection of books that were originally from the personal library of Dean Swift, and while thumbing through a leather-bound copy of the Elegiae of Propertius, out fell the handwritten draft of Swift's earlier resolutions, herebefore unknown, written in 1686 when he was just 19 years old. I now present them to you, dear readers:

When I come to be twenty-nine, I swear. . .

Never trust
a Fop in a powdered Wig or a Dandy with a tightly-cropped Head. I swear I shall manage these locks in the style of Henry Purcell for as long as I shall live.

Not to enter some field of Employment that I do not enjoy, purely fo
r the sake of half a Guinea in my Pocket.

Not to be driven too slowley in my equipage, nor own any but the sporteyest

Not fail to attend the Balls and Revelryes on Saturday Eve, nor miss any meeting of the Royal Stag Society, by reason of falling asleep at an early hour.

Not to forget that it is better for a Belly to burst than good Liquor be lost.

Not to retire to my own lodging from the exotick entertainements of the chocolate cofee-gaminghouses, the drawing-rooms, ale-houses, operas, levees, or the balum rancum &c.

Not to complain of the young lads at Oxford and Cambridge, or say they do nothing but drink ale and smoke tobacco.

Not to marry at all, but instead be a Batchelor all my Life and enjoy a diversity of Bunters and Doxies without the yoke of marital Bondage.

Not to dock in any Harlot without protecting my Thomas with a Cundum for fear of the curse of Venus or worse: a chit.

Not to get any short-heeled wench pregnant, for fear of a malingering chit howling for a wet-nurse and disrupting my study and pleasure with his babbling and paw paw tricks and his mouth full of pap.

But if I do sire a babe, not to hire a French tutor or any other wretched Pedagogue to teach him Latin or Greek, nor refuse to allow him to play with other boys, nor be wet in his feet, nor daub his clothes, nor allow him to spend too long poring on his Book, because he is subject to sore eyes, and of a weakley Constitution.

If I do end up with a suckling before I am thirty, I vow never, never, never to make him the subject of my writing,
or bore others with tales of his soiled pantaloons as if he were the omphalos of the Galaxey.


Tomorrow is my twenty-ninth birthday. At least I've still got my hair.