As good today as it was 400 years ago…
A father’s advice to his son how to conduct himself in the world: Don’t tell all you think, or put into action thoughts out of harmony or proportion with the occasion. Be friendly, but not common; don’t dull your palm by effusively shaking hands with every chance newcomer. Avoid quarrels if you can, but if they are forced on you, give a good account of yourself. Hear every man’s censure (opinion), but express your own ideas to few. Dress well, but not ostentatiously. Neither borrow nor lend. And guarantee yourself against being false to others by setting up the high moral principle of being true to yourself.
Give thy thoughts no tongue,
Nor any unproportion’d thought his act.
Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar;
The 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-hatch’d, unfledg’d comrade. Beware
Of entrance to a quarrel, but, being in,
Bear ‘t that th’ opposed may beware of thee.
Give every man thine 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.
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.