In an age remarkable for good reasoning and bad conduct, for sound rules and corrupt manners, when virtue fills our heads, but vice our hearts; when those who would fain persuade us that they are quite sure of heaven, appear in no greater hurry to go there than other folks, but put on the livery of the best master only to serve the worst; in an age when modesty herself is more ashamed of detection than delinquency; when independence of principle consists in having no principle on which to depend; and free thinking, not in thinking freely, but in being free from thinking; in an age when patriots will hold anything except their tongues; keep anything except their word; and lose nothing patiently except their character; to improve such an age must be difficult; to instruct it dangerous; and he stands no chance of amending it who cannot at the same time amuse it.
How small a portion of our life it is that we really enjoy! In youth we are looking forward to things that are to come; in old age we are looking backward to things that are gone past; in manhood, although we appear indeed to be more occupied in things that are present, yet even that is too often absorbed in vague determinations to be vastly happy on some future day when we have time.
In the age of acorns, a single barleycorn had been of more value to mankind than all the diamonds in the mines of India.
The seeds of repentance are sown in youth by pleasure, but the harvest is reaped in age by pain.
Memory in youth is active and easily impressible; in old age it is comparatively callous to new impressions, but still retains vividly those of earlier years.
To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level with those who have not yet reached the age of reason.
What is more natural in a democratic age than that we should begin to measure the stature of a work of art - especially of a painting - by how widely and how well it is reproduced?
Unselfish and noble acts are the most radiant epochs in the biography of souls. When wrought in earliest youth, they lie in the memory of age like the coral islands, green and sunny, amidst the melancholy waste of ocean.
Old age consoles itself by giving good precepts for being unable to give bad examples.
Never expect to find perfection in men, in my commerce with my contemporaries I have found much human virtue. I have seen not a little public spirit; a real subordination of interest to duty; and a decent and regulated sensibility to honest fame and reputation. The age unquestionably produces daring profligates and insidious hypocrites. What then? Am I not to avail myself of whatever good is to be found in the world because of the mixture of evil that will always be in it? The smallness of the quantity in currency only heightens the value. They who raise suspicions on the good, on account of the behavior of ill men, are of the party of the latter.
To complain of the age we live in, to murmur at the present possessors of power, to lament the past, to conceive extravagant hopes of the future, are the common dispositions of the greatest part of mankind.
It is a paradox of the post-industrial age that, despite its technical omnipotence, it is as dominated by words and magic as any primitive tribe. A haze of empty words, coming from the word factories of the universities, is corrupting the air of our ailing cities. The young lurch not so much from one illusion to another as from one cliché to another.
Language was invented to ask questions. Answers may be given by grunts and gestures, but questions must be spoken. Humanness came of age when man asked the first question. Social stagnation results not from the lack of answers but from the absence of the impulse to ask questions.
To grow old is to grow common. Old age equalizes - we are aware that what is happening to us has happened to untold numbers from the beginning of time. When we are young we act as if we were the first young people in the world.
It is the malady of our age that the young are so busy teaching us that they have no time left to learn.
Age generally makes men more tolerant; youth is always discontented. The tolerance of age is the result of the ripeness of a judgment which, not merely as the result of indifference, is satisfied even with what is inferior, but, more deeply taught by the grave experience of life, has been led to perceive the substantial, sold worth of the object in question. The insight then to which - in contradistinction fro those ideals - philosophy is to lead us, is, that the real world is as it ought to be, that the truly good, the universal divine reason, is not a mere abstraction, but a vital principle capable of realizing itself.
In our age there is no such thing as “keeping out of politics.” All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.
Nothing is inherently and invincibly young except spirit. And spirit can enter a human being perhaps better in the quiet of old age and dwell there more undisturbed than in the turmoil of adventure.
Old age takes away from us what we have inherited and gives us what we have earned.
It is the spirit of the age to believe that any fact, no matter how suspect, is superior to any imaginative exercise, no matter how true.