If it were not that every child of earth must learn wisdom for himself in the school of pain and labour, and if experience were orally communicable, as old people are prone to fancy, and if youth were less conceited and selfish, comparatively few foolish things would be done, and this life would lose, in a large measure, its efficacy as a place of discipline.

Thus, in the rough, the coarse old comedy is true; a great gulf separates age and youth. The youngsters will, to the end of time, prefer new lamps to old: they will trust their own senses, not yours. Buzz in the ears of your brood that flame burns and cobwebs catch. Their senses tell them that candlelight and warmth are pleasant, and liberty to fly high or low as one pleases; and, therefore, your love may as well be silent on those subjects. Otherwise you become, in their eyes, but a venerable muff and a bore. Nature has ordained that their nerves shall quiver, as yours have done, and their hearts thumb with fear; and when their turn comes they will scorch their wings, as you have, and make acquaintance with the spider.

Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, The Rose and the Key

As debauchery often causes weakness and sterility in the body, so the intemperance of the tongue makes conversation empty and insipid.

Plutarch, Parallel Lives – Lycurgus

We come from night, we go into night. Why live in night?

John Fowles, The Magus

Beauty is a form of genius — is higher, indeed, than genius, as it needs no explanation.

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

And here is the more violent type of progression. A girl quits going to school and Sunday school, begins going to dives. She gets coarse and vulgar, while her parents stand by and do nothing, and when a policeman attempts to reason with her, she throws a brick at him. She is sent to a training school, then released. Within a few weeks she is back in the hands of the law again, for picking up men and blackjacking them.

J. Edgar Hoover, Youth… Running Wild

Is that all I am ever to do in life — dress myself carefully, put leaves in my hair, and think about the effect?

Maria Bashkirtseva, Journals

Better our work unfinished than all bad.

John Ruskin, The Seven Lamps of Architecture

There is no law, no principle, based on past practice, which may not be overthrown in a moment, by the arising of a new condition, or the invention of a new material; and the most rational, if not the only, mode of averting the danger of an utter dissolution of all that is systematic and consistent in our practice, or of ancient authority in our judgment, is to cease, for a little while, our endeavours to deal with the multiplying host of particular abuses, restraints, or requirements; and endeavour to determine, as the guides of every effort, some constant, general, and irrefragable laws of right — laws, which based upon man’s nature, not upon his knowledge, may possess so far the unchangeableness of the one, as that neither the increase nor imperfection of the other may be able to assault or invalidate them.

John Ruskin, The Seven Lamps of Architecture

God made the earth, but the earth had no base and so under the earth he made an angel. But the angel had no base and so under the angel’s feet he made a crag of ruby. But the crag had no base and so under the crag he made a bull endowed with four thousand eyes, ears, nostrils, mouths, tongues, and feet. But the bull had no base and so under the bull he made a fish named Bahamut, and under the fish he put water, and under the water he put darkness, and beyond this men’s knowledge does not reach.

Jorge Luis Borges, The Book of Imaginary Beings (Bahamut)

Few words have more than one literal and serviceable meaning, however many metaphorical, derivative, related, or even unrelated, meanings lexicographers may think it worth while to gather from all sorts and conditions of men, with which to bloat their absurd and misleading dictionaries. This actual and serviceable meaning–not always determined by derivation, and seldom by popular usage–is the one affirmed, according to his light, by the author of this little manual of solecisms. Narrow etymons of the mere scholar and loose locutions of the ignorant are alike denied a standing.

Ambrose Bierce, Write It Right