Quotations about   youth

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My personal disillusionment with the church began when I was thrust into the leadership of the bus protest in Montgomery. I was confident that the white ministers, priests and rabbis of the South would prove strong allies in our just cause. But some became open adversaries, some cautiously shrank from the issue, and others hid behind silence. My optimism about help from the white church was shattered; and on too many occasions since, my hopes for the white church have been dashed. There are many signs that the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. Unless the early sacrificial spirit is recaptured, I am very much afraid that today’s Christian church will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and we will see the Christian church dismissed as a social club with no meaning or effectiveness for our time, as a form without substance, as salt without savor. The real tragedy, though, is not Martin Luther King’s disillusionment with the church — for I am sustained by its spiritual blessings as a minister of the gospel with a lifelong commitment: The tragedy is that in my travels, I meet young people of all races whose disenchantment with the church has soured into outright disgust.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Playboy interview (Jan 1965)
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Added on 28-Dec-18 | Last updated 28-Dec-18
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There are many signs that the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. Unless the early sacrificial spirit is recaptured, I am very much afraid that today’s Christian church will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and we will see the Christian church dismissed as a social club with no meaning or effectiveness for our time, as a form without substance, as salt without savor. The real tragedy, though, is not Martin Luther King’s disillusionment with the church — for I am sustained by its spiritual blessings as a minister of the gospel with a lifelong commitment. The tragedy is that in my travels, I meet young people of all races whose disenchantment with the church has soured into outright disgust.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Playboy interview (Jan 1965)
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Added on 6-Apr-18 | Last updated 6-Apr-18
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Back in the nineteen-hundreds it was a wonderful experience for a boy to discover H. G. Wells. There you were, in a world of pedants, clergymen and golfers, with your future employers exhorting you to “get on or get out”, your parents systematically warping your sexual life, and your dull-witted schoolmasters sniggering over their Latin tags; and here was this wonderful man who could tell you about the inhabitants of the planets and the bottom of the sea, and who knew that the future was not going to be what respectable people imagined.

George Orwell (1903-1950) English writer [pseud. of Eric Arthur Blair]
“Wells, Hitler, and the World State,” Horizon (Aug 1941)
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Added on 27-Jul-17 | Last updated 31-Jul-17
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Our ancestors used to wear decent clothes, well-adapted to the shape of their bodies; they were skilled horsemen and swift runners, ready for all seemly undertakings. But in these days the old customs have almost wholly given way to new fads. Our wanton youth is sunk in effeminacy, and courtiers, fawning, seek the favors of women with every kind of lewdness. […] They sweep the dusty ground with the unnecessary trains of their robes and mantles; their long, wide sleeves cover their hands whatever they do; impeded by these frivolities they are almost incapable of walking quickly or doing any kind of useful work.

Orderic Vitalis (1075-c. 1142) English monk, chronicler
Historia Ecclesiastica, Book 4 [tr. Chibnall (1969-80)]

Alt. trans.: "Our ancestors used to wear decent clothes, nicely fitted to the shape of their bodies and suitable for riding and running and performing every task that they should reasonably perform. But in these wicked days the practices of olden times have almost completely given way to novel fads."
Added on 6-Jul-17 | Last updated 6-Jul-17
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You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood, back home to romantic love, back home to a young man’s dreams of glory and of fame, back home to exile, to escape to Europe and some foreign land, back home to lyricism, to singing just for singing’s sake, back home to aestheticism, to one’s youthful idea of “the artist” and the all-sufficiency of “art” and “beauty” and “love”, back home to the ivory tower, back home to places in the country, to the cottage in Bermuda, away from all the strife and conflict of the world, back home to the father you have lost and have been looking for, back home to someone who can help you, save you, ease the burden for you, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time — back home to the escapes of Time and Memory.

Thomas Wolfe (1900-1938) American writer
You Can’t Go Home Again, Book 7 “A Wind Is Rising and the Rivers Flow” (1940)
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Added on 1-Jun-17 | Last updated 12-Jun-17
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As I left the building, classes were changing and the students were milling about in the halls. They seemed inconceivably young to me. Full of pretense, massively other oriented, ill formed, partial, angry, earnest, resentful, excited, frantic, depressed, hopeful, and scared.

Robert B. Parker (1932-2010) American writer
Chance (1996)
Added on 17-May-17 | Last updated 17-May-17
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When all the world is young, lad,
And all the trees are green;
And every goose a swan, lad,
And every lass a queen;
Then hey for boot and horse, lad,
And round the world away;
Young blood must have its course, lad,
And every dog his day.

Charles Kingsley (1819-1875) English clergyman, historian, essayist, novelist (pseud. "Parson Lot")
“Water Babies,” Song 2, st. 1 (1863)
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Added on 16-May-17 | Last updated 16-May-17
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It is a good morning exercise for a research scientist to discard a pet hypothesis every day before breakfast. It keeps him young.

Konrad Lorenz (1903-1989) Austrian zoologist, ethologist, ornithologist
On Aggression, ch. 2 (1966)
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Added on 9-May-17 | Last updated 9-May-17
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Am I the person who used to wake in the middle of the night and laugh with the joy of living? Who worried about the existence of God, and danced with young ladies till long after daybreak? Who sang “Auld Lang Syne” and howled with sentiment, and more than once gazed at the full moon through a blur of great, romantic tears?

Logan Pearsall Smith (1865-1946) American-English essayist, editor, anthologist
More Trivia, “Last Words” (1934)
Added on 9-Feb-17 | Last updated 9-Feb-17
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Music is no different from opium. Music affects the human mind in a way that makes people think of nothing but music and sensual matters. […] Music is a treason to the country, a treason to our youth, and we should cut out all this music and replace it with something instructive.

Ruhollah Khomeini (1902-1989) Iranian Shia Muslim religious leader, revolutionary, politician
Ramadan Speech (23 Jul 1979)
Added on 26-Jan-17 | Last updated 26-Jan-17
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The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.

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Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) German philosopher and poet
The Dawn (1881)

Alt. trans.: "The surest way of ruining a youth is to teach him to respect those who think as he does more highly than those who think differently from him." [[tr. R.J. Hollingdale (1982)]
Added on 13-Dec-16 | Last updated 15-Apr-17
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It must be added, lest we be reproached for leaving out details important to our readers’ understanding of subsequent events, that the lady seemed to have all the attributes of beauty, grace and charm that make a young man’s heart beat faster and cause his eyes to widen, lest they miss the least nuance of expression or gesture. It need hardly be added that Khaavren was just of the type to appreciate all of these qualities; that is to say, he was young and a man, and had, moreover, a vivid imagination which allowed his thoughts to penetrate, if not the mind of the lady opposite him, at least the folds and angles of her gown.

Steven Brust (b. 1955) American writer, systems programmer
The Phoenix Guards (1991)
Added on 21-Oct-16 | Last updated 21-Oct-16
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Wherever there is authority, there is a natural inclination to disobedience.

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Thomas Chandler Haliburton (1796-1865) Canadian politician, judge, humorist
Sam Slick’s Wise Saws and Modern Instances (1853)
Added on 18-Oct-16 | Last updated 18-Oct-16
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Every old man complains of the growing depravity of the world, of the petulance and insolence of the rising generation. He recounts the decency and regularity of former times, and celebrates the discipline and sobriety of the age in which his youth was passed; a happy age which is now no more to be expected, since confusion has broken in upon the world, and thrown down all the boundaries of civility and reverence.

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Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler, #50 (8 Sep 1750)
Added on 6-Oct-16 | Last updated 6-Oct-16
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Oh! To be a child again. My only treasures, bits of shell and stone and glass. To love nothing but maple sugar. To fear nothing but a big dog. To go to sleep without dreading the morrow. To wake up with a shout. Not to have seen a dead face. Not to dread a living one. To be able to believe.

Fanny Fern (1811-1872) American columnist, humorist, author [b. Sara Willis]
Ginger-Snaps (1870)
Added on 27-Sep-16 | Last updated 27-Sep-16
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She shrugged. “I don’t mind getting old.”

“I didn’t mind getting old when I was young, either,” I said. “It’s the being old now that’s getting to me.”

John Scalzi (b. 1969) American writer
Old Man’s War (2005)
Added on 30-Aug-16 | Last updated 30-Aug-16
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In the woods too, a man casts off his years, as the snake his slough, and at what period so ever of life, is always a child. In the woods is a perpetual youth. … In the woods, we return to reason and faith. There I feel that nothing can befall me in life — no disgrace, no calamity, … which nature cannot repair. Standing on the bare ground — my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space — all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eyeball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Nature” (1836)
Added on 29-Aug-16 | Last updated 29-Aug-16
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Laws for the liberal education of youth, especially of the lower class of people, are so extremely wise and useful, that, to a humane and generous mind, no expense for this purpose would be thought extravagant.

John Adams (1735-1826) American lawyer, Founding Father, statesman, US President (1797-1801)
“Thoughts on Government” (Apr 1776)
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“You know,” said Arthur, “it’s at times like this, when I’m trapped in a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelgeuse, and about to die of asphyxiation in deep space that I really wish I’d listened to what my mother told me when I was young.”

“Why, what did she tell you?”

“I don’t know, I didn’t listen.”

Douglas Adams (1952-2001) English writer
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, ch. 7 (1979)
Added on 22-Aug-16 | Last updated 22-Aug-16
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Most men make use of the first part of their life to render the last part miserable.

Jean de La Bruyère (1645-1696) French essayist, moralist
Les Caractères, “De l’Homme” (1688)
Added on 20-Jul-16 | Last updated 20-Jul-16
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In youth, the years stretch before one so long that it is hard to realize that they will ever pass, and even in middle age, with the ordinary expectation of life in these days, it is easy to find excuses for delaying what one would like to do but does not want to; but at last a time comes when death must be considered.

W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) English novelist and playwright [William Somerset Maugham]
The Summing Up, ch. 3 (1938)
Added on 22-Jun-16 | Last updated 22-Jun-16
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A truly great book should be read in youth, again in maturity, and once more in old age, as a fine building should be seen by morning light, at noon and by moonlight.

Robertson Davies (1913-1995) Canadian author, editor, publisher
“Too Much, Too Fast” Peterborough Examiner (Canada) (16 Jun 1962)
Added on 2-Jun-16 | Last updated 2-Jun-16
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A child miseducated is a child lost.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
State of the Union address (11 Jan 1962)

This quotation is usually attributed to Kennedy's 1963 State of the Union Address, but it does not show up in the formal text or the video recording.

It actually appears to be from his 1962 State of the Union address; while it does appear in the formal text or the audio recording, it does show up in a copy in Vital Speeches and Documents of the Day, Vol. 2 (1961). There are other small textual changes to the speech in that version, which makes me think that it is a press release copy which was delivered in a slightly different form (without the quotation) before Congress; this would explain why the reference became so popular, but is not found in the official version of the text.
Added on 1-Jun-16 | Last updated 1-Jun-16
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Hearts full of youth!
Hearts full of truth!
Six parts gin to
One part vermouth!

Tom Lehrer (b. 1928) American mathematician, satirist, songwriter
“Bright College Days,” An Evening (Wasted) with Tom Lehrer (1959)
Added on 26-May-16 | Last updated 26-May-16
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When young, we trust ourselves too much, and we trust others too little when old. Rashness is the error of youth, timid caution of age.

Charles Caleb "C. C." Colton (1780-1832) English cleric, writer
Lacon: or, Many Things in Few Words, #363 (1820)
Added on 24-May-16 | Last updated 24-May-16
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Bright college days, oh, carefree days that fly,
To thee we sing with our glasses raised on high.
Let’s drink a toast as each of us recalls
Ivy-covered professors in ivy-covered halls.

Turn on the spigot,
Pour the beer and swig it,
And gaudeamus igit-
-ur.

Tom Lehrer (b. 1928) American mathematician, satirist, songwriter
“Bright College Days”
Added on 21-Apr-16 | Last updated 21-Apr-16
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When you are younger you get blamed for crimes you never committed and when you’re older you begin to get credit for virtues you never possessed. It evens itself out.

Isidor Feinstein "I. F." Stone (1907-1989) American investigative journalist and author
International Herald Tribune (16 Mar 1988)
Added on 15-Mar-16 | Last updated 15-Mar-16
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Give me the young man who has brains enough to make a fool of himself.

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) Scottish essayist, novelist, poet
Virginibus Puerisque, ch. 2 “Crabbed Age and Youth” (1881)
Added on 24-Feb-16 | Last updated 24-Feb-16
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Mister Marvin Middle Class is really in a stew
Wond’rin’ what the younger generation’s coming to
And the taste of his martini doesn’t please his bitter tongue
Blame it on the Rolling Stones.
Blame it on the Stones; blame it on the Stones
You’ll feel so much better, knowing you don’t stand alone
Join the accusation; save the bleeding nation
Get it off your shoulders; blame it on the Stones.

Kris Kristofferson (b. 1936) American singer, songwriter, musician, actor
“Blame It on The Stones” (1970) [with Bucky Wilkin]
Added on 2-Feb-16 | Last updated 2-Feb-16
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Like young men from the dawn of time, I decided to choose the risk of death over certain humiliation.

Ben Aaronovitch (b. 1964) British author
Whispers Under Ground (2012)
Added on 16-Dec-15 | Last updated 16-Dec-15
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When I was younger, I thought I could change this world. Now I no longer think so but for emotional reasons I must keep on fighting a holding action.

Robert A. Heinlein (1909-1988) American writer
Friday [Dr. Baldwin] (1982)
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I know I was writing stories when I was five. I don’t know what I did before that. Just loafed, I suppose.

P. G. Wodehouse (1881-1975) Anglo-American humorist, playwright and lyricist [Pelham Grenville Wodehouse]
“The Art of Fiction #60,” interview with Gerald Clarke, The Paris Review (Winter 1975)
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Added on 1-Sep-15 | Last updated 1-Sep-15
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Children are different — mentally, physically, spiritually, quantitatively, qualitatively; and furthermore, they’re all a little bit nuts.

Jean Kerr (1922-2003) American author and playwright [b. Bridget Jean Collins]
“Children Really are Not People,” Please Don’t Eat the Daisies, The Saturday Evening Post (27 Jul 1957)
Added on 31-Aug-15 | Last updated 31-Aug-15
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Thirty-five is a very attractive age. London society is full of women of the very highest birth who have, of their own free choice, remained thirty-five for years.

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) Irish poet, wit, dramatist
The Importance of Being Earnest, Act 3 (1895)
Added on 20-Jul-15 | Last updated 20-Jul-15
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Age is never so old as youth would measure it.

Jack London (1876-1916) American novelist
“The Wit of Porpotuk” (1907)
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There’s nothing that keeps its youth,
So far as I know, but a tree and truth.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809-1894) American poet, essayist, scholar
“The Deacon’s Masterpiece” (1858)
Added on 9-Mar-15 | Last updated 9-Mar-15
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The future will be determined by the young, and there is no more essential task today, it seems to me, than to bring before them once more, in all its brightness, in all its splendor and beauty, the American dream, lest we let it fade, too concerned with the ways of earning a living or impressing our neighbors or getting ahead or finding bigger and more potent ways of destroying the world and all that is in it.

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) First Lady of the US (1933-45), politician, diplomat, activist
“What Has Happened to the American Dream?” Atlantic Monthly (Apr 1961)
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If we do not plant it [knowledge] when young, it will give us no shade when we are old.

Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) English statesman, wit [Philip Dormer Stanhope]
Letter to his son (11 Dec 1747)
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When you’re a kid, a rural, agriculturally-based colony town is a lot of fun to grow up in. It’s life on a farm, with goats and chickens and fields of wheat and sorghum, harvest celebrations and winter festivals. There’s not an eight- or nine-year-old kid who’s been invented who doesn’t find all of that unspeakably fun. But then you become a teenager and you start thinking about everything you might possibly want to do with your life, and you look at the options available to you. And then all farms, goats and chickens — and all the same people you’ve known all your life and will know all your life — begin to look a little less than optimal for a total life experience. It’s all the same, of course. That’s the point. It’s you who’s changed.

John Scalzi (b. 1969) American writer
Zoe’s Tale, ch. 1 (2008)
Added on 24-Sep-14 | Last updated 24-Sep-14
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Teenagers can be idiotic and stupid, but teenagers also model their behavior from the signals they get from adults.

John Scalzi (b. 1969) American writer
The Last Colony, ch. 4 (2007)
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I think I don’t regret a single “excess” of my responsive youth — I only regret, in my chilled age, certain occasions and possibilities I didn’t embrace.

Henry James (1843-1916) American writer
Letter to Hugh Walpole (21 Aug 1913)
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The education of our people should be a lifelong process by which we continue to feed new vigor into the lifestream of the Nation through intelligent, reasoned decisions. Let us not think of education only in terms of its costs, but rather in terms of the infinite potential of the human mind that can be realized through education. Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our Nation.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
“Proclamation 3422 – American Education Week, 1961” (25 Jul 1961)
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[F]or cheerfulness and content are great beautifiers, and are famous preservers of youthful looks, depend upon it.

Charles Dickens (1812-1870) English writer and social critic
Barnaby Rudge, ch. 82 (1841)
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Often given as "Cheerfulness and contentment are great beautifiers and are famous preservers of youthful looks."
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If you can’t read and write you can’t think. Your thoughts are dispersed if you don’t know how to read and write. You’ve got to be able to look at your thoughts on paper and discover what a fool you were.

Ray Bradbury (1920-2012) American writer, futurist, fabulist
“Ray Bradbury is on fire!”, interview with James Hibberd, Salon.com (29 Aug 2001)
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Here dead lie we because we did not choose
To live and shame the land from which we sprung.
Life, to be sure, is nothing much to lose;
But young men think it is, and we were young.

A. E. Housman (1859-1936) English scholar and poet [Alfred Edward Housman]
More Poems, #36 (1936)
Added on 12-Mar-14 | Last updated 12-Mar-14
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Do not think of knocking out another person’s brains because he differs in opinion from you. It would be as rational to knock yourself on the head because you differ from yourself ten years ago.

James Burgh (1714-1775) British politician and writer
The Dignity of Human Nature (1754)
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I wonder how many men, hiding their youngness, rise as I do, Saturday mornings, filled with the hope that Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam and Daffy Duck will be there waiting as our one true always and forever salvation?

Ray Bradbury (1920-2012) American writer, futurist, fabulist
“Why Cartoons Are Forever”, Los Angeles Times (3 Dec 1989)
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It is very natural for young men to be vehement, acrimonious and severe. For as they seldom comprehend at once all the consequences of a position, or perceive the difficulties by which cooler and more experienced reasoners are restrained from confidence, they form their conclusions with great precipitance. Seeing nothing that can darken or embarrass the question, they expect to find their own opinion universally prevalent, and are inclined to impute uncertainty and hesitation to want of honesty, rather than of knowledge.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler, #121 (14 May 1751)
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Think before you speak. Read before you think. This will give you something to think about that you didn’t make up yourself — a wise move at any age, but most especially at seventeen, when you are in the greatest danger of coming to annoying conclusions.

Fran Lebowitz (b. 1950) American journalist
“Tips for Teens,” Social Studies (1981)
Added on 11-Dec-13 | Last updated 11-Dec-13
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Remember that as a teenager you are in the last stage of your life when you will be happy to hear the phone is for you.

Fran Lebowitz (b. 1950) American journalist
“Tips for Teens,” Social Studies (1981)
Added on 4-Dec-13 | Last updated 4-Dec-13
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Towering is the confidence of twenty-one.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (9 Jan 1758)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
Added on 26-Jul-13 | Last updated 31-May-16
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There is no sadder sight than a young pessimist, except an old optimist.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Mark Twain’s Notebook, 22 Dec 1903 [ed. Paine (1935)]
Added on 5-Jan-12 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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Whenever a man’s friends begin to compliment him about looking young, he may be sure that they think he is growing old.

Washington Irving (1783-1859) American author [pseud. for Geoffrey Crayon]
Bracebridge Hall, “Bachelors” (1822)

Sometimes attributed to Mark Twain.
Added on 12-Oct-11 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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Wives are young men’s mistresses, companions for middle age, and old men’s nurses.

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher, scientist, author, statesman
“Of Marriage and Single Life,” Essays, No. 8 (1625)
Added on 19-Aug-11 | Last updated 16-May-16
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More quotes by Bacon, Francis

When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Spurious)

Not found in Twain's writing.  He was 11 when his father died.

Added on 18-Mar-10 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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