Posts Tagged ‘life-long interest’

Petrarch in his ‘Epistle to Posterity’ after lifetime of literary creativity, in his ninetieth year could say thus, “My works are many, and I am old; yet I can still fatigue and tire myself with writing more.” David Hume, the philosopher found in his old age that only death could interrupt the pleasure he was receiving from Lucian. He summed up his feeling of old age thus, “ Happily on retiring from the world I found my taste for reading return, even with greater avidity.” For Edward Gibbons writing the History( The Fall and Decline of the Roman Empire) was even more reason to change his tack and immerse himself in the writings of Homer, Aristophanes and Plato. Adam Smith who made his fame secure with Wealth of Nations also found great pleasure, with same ardor of a student, in the tragic poets of Greece.
Is it possible to rekindle the same passion for literature as in youth? Petrarch who not long before his death had written to a friend “I read, I write, I think; such is my life, and my pleasures as they were in my youth. Death came finally while he was busy with making notes on a book he wanted to take up next. His servants found him slumped over his books as before and they didn’t think it amiss. It was long before they discovered he was no more.
The life of Sir. Robert Walpole (1676-1745), the first Prime Minister of England offers us another insight into ‘the hoary age that cracks the weak- / Life holds for them no meaning yet/ What is left for them but seek/
Death that is slow in coming?’
When the first minister of the crown was, in a cloud of scandal, dismissed from his position he returned to his library at Houghton. Looking at his collection, which was his pride he pulled out one book and he pored over the page, then another. He put it back in its place and took out another. After handling them in this fashion he turned away and burst into tears. “I have led a life of business so long, cried he, that I have lost my taste for reading and now,- what shall I do?”
How sad it is to see lives of some of the brightest and fertile minds joining the crowd that want to make a success and leave what is their real bent. They make a killing at the stocks or play up to the power so they may also display their symbols of success like every one else and dispense favors to seekers of power and status. Yes they succeed and then they realize the road less traveled could have added to their lives the very key that was to the true riches. It is easier to trivialize life than adorn it with the true greatness of character. It is what you may find in your youth and invested wisely so it has power to move those who are around you and also open others to alternatives to letting life lead you where it will.
The irony of life is wisdom of old age come from certain intimations of youth that is a hunch proved right.


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