What is the message in "Of Youth and Age"?

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Francis Bacon's essay "Of Youth and Age," like many of his other essays, explores two sides of the same coin, that is, the benefits and detriments of youth as opposed to those of "age," by which he means those who are past the "meridian" of their age. In the sixteenth century in England, the average life expectancy was about 35, with men living longer than women because so many women died in childbirth. So, when Bacon refers to men of "age," he is most likely thinking of men in their 40s and early 50s, and "youth" applies to men under 25.

Bacon argues that men under the "meridian" of their age (perhaps 25-28), especially those who are subject to "violent desires and perturbations," are completely unfit to take significant actions, and he alludes to a comment on the Roman Emperor Septimus Severus to the effect that he spent his youth in folly and madness. Bacon extends his criticism to all young men, however, when he says that they

... embrace more than they can hold; stir more than they...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 1212 words.)

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