Lectures Delivered in America in 1874
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Reverence for age, at least so it has long seemed to me, reverence for age, I say, is a fair test of the vigour of youth; and, conversely, insolence toward the old and the past, whether in individuals or in nations, is a sign rather of weakness than of strength. And the cause, I think, is this. The rich and strong young natures, which feel themselves capable of original thought and work, have a corresponding respect for those who, in the generations gone by, have thought and worked as they hope to do hereafter. And this temper, understand me, so far from being servile, or even merely conservative, usually accompanies true independence of spirit. The young athlete, like the young race horse, does not despise, but emulate, his sire; even though the old victor be long past his prime. The young soldier admires the old general; the young midshipman the old admiral, just in proportion as he himself is likely to be a daring and able officer hereafter. The son, when grown to man’s estate, may say to his father, I look on you still with all respect and admiration.