Francis Bacon Of Youth and Age Summary
In the essay, “Of Youth and Age“, Francis Bacon finds out the difference between the nature and characteristics of the youth and aged person. A man who is young in age may have a mature mind if he devotes all his time of acquire knowledge and experience. But such case is seldom seen. Naturally, young men are not so ‘prudent and sagacious like the old men, but they have a more inventive and more active mind which aged persons fail to have. Imaginations flow better into the minds of youths.
Some illogical and unbridled natures of youth age prevent the young men to do properly. So, a young man becomes suitable for action when he reaches at the middle age. Julius Caesar was this type of man whose great achievements in life were done in mature age. The same happened to Septimius Severus, the Roman Emperor, who spent a youth full of errors. But when he grew older, he became the ablest emperor.
Young men of calm and quiet nature however, may do much well even in their early age. Examples of such kind of man may be made of Augustus Caesar, the first Roman Emperor, Cosmus, governor of Florence, and Gaston de Fois, one of Charlemagne’s Knights. All of them became famous in their youth. If an old man has energy and liveliness in his disposition, he can achieve the summit of success in business because warm spirit and vivacity act excellently for business
Young men are more fickle minded than the old men. Young men are, therefore, more competent to invent than to judge, more fit for action than for consultation and more suitable to establish new projects than to deal with old business which has been already set up. But, in comparison with them, old men are not suitable to take up new projects because the experiences of an old man assist him to carry on his old business but misguide him in new project of which he has no experience. The errors done by young men bring ultimate ruin in business, but the errors done by aged persons make delay in progress because old men can, somehow, manage their mistakes.
The men of young age do everything thoughtlessly and illogically driven by emotion. They hold more projects than they can actually achieve. They rush to attain the end without finishing the intermediary steps and various considerable stages. They depend whole heartedly on some few principles which they have gained by-chance. Young men are not careful to invent something new which will give him troubles. They use so many methods without taking a trial of them at first. Moreover, they neither acknowledge their mistakes, nor restrain the errors.
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The old men have some different sides of their nature. They complain and object too much on a proposed project. They consult for long and hesitate to take any risk. Yet they have no patience to continue their business till the end because they become satisfied with little profit. But it will be the best if the project or business consists of both old and young employees. In such case, the virtues of both will help to check the defects of both. Not only that, for the time being, the young men will learn a good deal from the experience of the old. The combined business will achieve the great success for another reason : authority will come from the old man, and favour and popularity from the young.
In one respect young men are superior to the old people. Young people can observe visions, while old men dream so much. Therefore, as the young men are capable of discerning visions, they reach nearer to God than the old men. It is because visions are sublime, infinite and celestial, but the dreams are terrestrial, limited within the brief span. The more a man gathers experience of this world, the more he will be worldly and wise in his outlook. Thus, the aged people have more the power of understanding than the power of will and affections which young people retain.
There are some persons who gain maturity before reaching at their mature age, but they soon decline to be dull headed, just like the metal of good edge that becomes soon blunt. Such was the ancient rhetorician, Hermogenes who in his early life wrote subtle books, but he, in his later age lost the power of creation and became stupid. Then, there are some people whose natural dispositions have better grace in youth than in old age. Hortensius belonged to this class of men. He did not change, but a change would have become him. The people belonging to the third category are those who undertake a very elevated attitude at first, but they cannot maintain it till the last. Such type of man was Scipio Alliricanus, the Roman general, whose end was inferior to the beginning.