Lorenzo de’ Medici

Letter to his son Giovanni,

 1484

You are not only the youngest cardinal in the college, but the youngest person that ever was raised to that rank. You will soon get a sufficient insight into the manners of your brethren. With those of less respectable character, converse not with too much intimacy—not merely on account of the circumstance in itself but for the sake of public opinion. Converse on general topics with all. On public occasions let your equipage and dress be rather below than above mediocrity. A handsome house and a well-ordered family will be preferable to a great retinue and a splendid residence. Your taste will be better shown in the acquisition of a few elegant remains of antiquity, or in the collecting of handsome books, and by your attendants being learned and well-bred rather than numerous. Invite others to your house oftener than you receive invitations. Practice neither too frequently. There is one rule which I would recommend to your attention in preference to all others: rise early in the morning. This will not only contribute to your health, but will enable you to arrange and expedite the business of the day. Another very necessary precaution, particularly on your entrance into public life, is to deliberate every evening on what you may have to perform the following day, that you may not be unprepared for whatever may happen. You will probably be desired to intercede for the favors of the pope on particular occasions. Be cautious, however, that you trouble him not too often, and if you should be obliged to request some kindness from him, let it be done with that modesty and humility which are so pleasing to his disposition. Farewell.

William Shakespeare

Hamlet,

 1600

Yet here, Laertes! Aboard, aboard, for shame! 
The wind sits in the shoulder of your sail, 
And you are stayed for. There; my blessing with
    thee!
And these few precepts in thy memory
See thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue,
Nor any unproportioned thought his act.
Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar. 
Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel; 
But do not dull thy palm with entertainment 
Of each new-hatched, unfledged comrade.
    Beware
Of entrance to a quarrel, but, being in, 
Bear’t that the opposed may beware of thee. 
Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice; 
Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy
    judgment.
Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy, 
But not express’d in fancy; rich, not gaudy; 
For the apparel oft proclaims the man, 
And they in France of the best rank and station
Are most select and generous, chief in that. 
Neither a borrower, nor a lender be; 
For loan oft loses both itself and friend, 
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry. 
This above all: to thine own self be true, 
And it must follow, as the night the day, 
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell; my blessing season this in thee!

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