Hoyt & Roberts, comps. Hoyt’s New Cyclopedia of Practical Quotations. 1922.


It is always in season for old men to learn.

Weak withering age no rigid law forbids,
With frugal nectar, smooth and slow with balm,
The sapless habit daily to bedew,
And give the hesitating wheels of life
Gliblier to play.
John Armstrong—Art of Preserving Health. Bk. II. L. 484.

What is it to grow old?
Is it to lose the glory of the form,
The lustre of the eye?
Is it for Beauty to forego her wreath?
Yes; but not this alone.
Matthew Arnold—Growing Old.

On one occasion some one put a very little wine into a wine cooler, and said that it was sixteen years old. “It is very small for its age,” said Gnathæna.
Athenæus—Deipnosophists. XIII. 46.

Men of age object too much, consult too long, adventure too little, repent too soon, and seldom drive business home to the full period, but content themselves with a mediocrity of success.
Bacon—Essay XLII. Of Youth and Age.

Old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.
Quoted by Bacon—Apothegm 97.

Old age comes on apace to ravage all the clime.
Beattie—The Minstrel. Bk. I. St. 25.

An old man in a house is a good sign in a house.
Ascribed to Ben Syra. (From the Hebrew.)

Old age doth in sharp pains abound;
We are belabored by the gout,
Our blindness is a dark profound,
Our deafness each one laughs about.
Then reason’s light with falling ray
Doth but a trembling flicker cast.
Honor to age, ye children pay!
Alas! my fifty years are past!
Beranger—Cinquante Ans. C. L. Betts’ trans.

By candle-light nobody would have taken you for above five-and-twenty.
Bickerstaff—Maid of the Mill. Act I. II.

Age shakes Athena’s tower, but spares gray Marathon.
Byron—Childe Harold. Canto II. St. 88.

What is the worst of woes that wait on age?
What stamps the wrinkle deeper on the brow?
To view each loved one blotted from life’s page,
And be alone on earth as I am now.
Byron—Childe Harold. Canto II. St. 98.

He has grown aged in this world of woe,
In deeds, not years, piercing the depths of life.
So that no wonder waits him.
Byron—Childe Harold. Canto III. St. 5.

***Years steal
Fire from the mind, as vigor from the limb;
And life’s enchanted cup but sparkles near the brim.
Byron—Childe Harold. Canto III. St. 8.

Oh, for one hour of blind old Dandolo,
Th’ octogenarian chief, Byzantium’s conquering foe!
Byron—Childe Harold. Canto IV. St. 12.

Just as old age is creeping on apace,
And clouds come o’er the sunset of our day,
They kindly leave us, though not quite alone,
But in good company—the gout or stone.
Byron—Don Juan. Canto III. St. 59.

My days are in the yellow leaf;
The flowers and fruits of love are gone;
The worm, the canker, and the grief
Are mine alone!
Bryon—On this day I complete my Thirty-sixth Year.

For oute of olde feldys, as men sey,
Comyth al this newe corn from yere to yere;
And out of olde bokis, in good fey,
Comyth al this newe science that men lere.
Chaucer—The Parlement of Fowles. L. 21.

I think every man is a fool or a physician at thirty years of age.
Dr. Cheyne.

Mature fieri senem, si diu velis esse senex.
You must become an old man in good time if you wish to be an old man long.
Cicero—De Senectute, 10. (Quoted as an “honoured proverb.”)

The spring, like youth, fresh blossoms doth produce,
But autumn makes them ripe and fit for use:
So Age a mature mellowness doth set
On the green promises of youthful heat.
Sir John Denham—Cato Major. Pt. IV. L. 47.

His eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.
Deuteronomy. XXXIV. 7.

Youth is a blunder; Manhood a struggle; Old Age a regret.
Benj. Disraeli—Coningsby. Bk. III. Ch. I.

The Disappointment of Manhood succeeds to the delusion of Youth; let us hope that the heritage of Old Age is not Despair.
Benj. Disraeli—Vivian Grey. Bk. VIII. Ch. IV.

No Spring nor Summer Beauty hath such grace
As I have seen in one Autumnal face.
Donne—Ninth Elegy. To Lady Magdalen Herbert.

Fate seem’d to wind him up for fourscore years;
Yet freshly ran he on ten winters more;
Till like a clock worn put with eating time,
The wheels of weary life at last stood still.
Dryden—Œdipus. Act IV. Sc. 1.

His hair just grizzled
As in a green old age.
Dryden—Œdipus. Act III. Sc. 1.

Forsake not an old friend; for the new is not comparable to him: a new friend is as new wine; when it is old, thou shalt drink it with pleasure.
Ecclesiasticus. IX. 10.

Nature abhors the old.
Emerson—Essays. Circles.

We do not count a man’s years, until he has nothing else to count.
Emerson—Society and Solitude. Old Age.

Remote from cities liv’d a Swain,
Unvex’d with all the cares of gain;
His head was silver’d o’er with age,
And long experience made him sage.
Gay—Fables. Part I. The Shepherd and the Philosopher.

In a good old age.
Genesis. XV. 15.

Old and well stricken in age.
Genesis. XVIII. 11.

She may very well pass for forty-three,
In the dusk with a light behind her.
W. S. Gilbert—Trial by Jury.

Das Alter macht nicht kindisch, wie man spricht,
Es findet uns nur noch als wahre Kinder.
Age childish makes, they say, but ’tis not true;
We’re only genuine children still in Age’s season.
Goethe—Faust. Vorspiel auf dem Theater. L. 180.

Old age is courteous—no one more:
For time after time he knocks at the door,
But nobody says, “Walk in, sir, pray!”
Yet turns he not from the door away,
But lifts the latch, and enters with speed,
And then they cry, “A cool one, indeed.”
Goethe—Old Age.

O blest retirement! friend to life’s decline—
Retreats from care, that never must be mine
How blest is he who crowns, in shades like these,
A youth of labour with an age of ease!
Goldsmith—Deserted Village. L. 97.

I love everything that’s old: old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wine.
Goldsmith—She Stoops to Conquer. Act I. Sc. 1.

They say women and music should never be dated.
Goldsmith—She Stoops to Conquer. Act III.

Alike all ages: dames of ancient days
Have led their children thro’ the mirthful maze,
And the gay grandsire, skill’d in gestic lore,
Has frisk’d beneath the burthen of threescore.
Goldsmith—The Traveller. L. 251.

Slow-consuming age.
Gray—Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College. St. 9.

Struggle and turmoil, revel and brawl—
Youth is the sign of them, one and all.
A smoldering hearth and a silent stage—
These are a type of the world of Age.
W. E. Henley—Of Youth and Age. Envoy.

To be seventy years young is sometimes far more cheerful and hopeful than to be forty years old.
O. W. Holmes—On the seventieth birthday of Julia Ward Howe, May 27, 1889.

You hear that boy laughing? You think he’s all fun;
But the angels laugh, too, at the good he has done.
The children laugh loud as they troop to his call.
And the poor man that knows him laughs loudest of all!
O. W. Holmes—The Boys. St. 9.

A green old age, unconscious of decays,
That proves the hero born in better days.
Homer—Iliad. Bk. XXIII. L. 925. Pope’s trans.

When he’s forsaken,
Wither’d and shaken,
What can an old man do but die?

Tempus abire tibi est, ne…
Rideat et pulset lasciva decentius ætas.
It is time for thee to be gone, lest the age more decent in its wantonness should laugh at thee and drive thee off the stage.
Horace—Epistles. Bk. II. 2. 215.

Boys must not have th’ ambitious care of men,
Nor men the weak anxieties of age.
Horace—Of the Art of Poetry. Wentworth Dillon’s trans. L. 212.

Seu me tranquilla senectus
Exspectat, seu mors atris circumvolat alis.
Either a peaceful old age awaits me, or death flies round me with black wings.
Horace—Satires. Bk. II. 1. 57.

Ladies, stock and tend your hive,
Trifle not at thirty-five;
For, howe’er we boast and strive,
Life declines from thirty-five;
He that ever hopes to thrive
Must begin by thirty-five.
Samuel Johnson—To Mrs. Thrale, when Thirty-five. L. 11.

Superfluous lags the veteran on the stage,
Till pitying Nature signs the last release,
And bids afflicted worth retire to peace.
Samuel Johnson—Vanity of Human Wishes. L. 308.

L’on craint la vieillesse, que l’on n’est pas sûr de pouvoir atteindre.
We dread old age, which we are not sure of being able to attain.
La Bruyère—Les Caractères. XI.

L’on espère de vieillir, et l’on craint la vieillesse; c’est-à-dire, l’on aime la vie et l’on fuit la mort.
We hope to grow old and we dread old age; that is to say, we love life and we flee from death.
La Bruyère—Les Caractères. XI.

Peu de gens savent être vieux.
Few persons know how to be old.
La Rochefoucauld—Maximes. 448.

La vieillesse est un tyran qui défend, sur peine de la vie, tous les plaisirs de la jeunesse.
Old age is a tyrant who forbids, upon pain of death, all the pleasures of youth.
La Rochefoucauld—Maximes. 461.

The sunshine fails, the shadows grow more dreary,
And I am near to fall, infirm and weary.

How far the gulf-stream of our youth may flow
Into the arctic regions of our lives,
Where little else than life itself survives.
Longfellow—Morituri Solutamus. L. 250.

Whatever poet, orator, or sage
May say of it, old age is still old age.
Longfellow—Morituri Solutamus. L. 264.

For age is opportunity no less
Than youth itself, though in another dress,
And as the evening twilight fades away
The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.
Longfellow—Morituri Solutamus. L. 281.

And the bright faces of my young companions
Are wrinkled like my own, or are no more.
Longfellow—Spanish Student. Act III. Sc. 3.

The course of my long life hath reached at last,
In fragile bark o’er a tempestuous sea,
The common harbor, where must rendered be,
Account of all the actions of the past.
Longfellow—Old Age.

Age is not all decay; it is the ripening, the swelling, of the fresh life within, that withers and bursts the husk.
George MacDonald—The Marquis of Lossie. Ch. XL.

What find you better or more honorable than age?***Take the preeminence of it in everything;—in an old friend, in old wine, in an old pedigree.
Shakerley-Marmion—Antiquary. Act II. Sc. 1.

When you try to conceal your wrinkles, Polla, with paste made from beans, you deceive yourself, not me. Let a defect, which is possibly but small, appear undisguised. A fault concealed is presumed to be great.
Martial—Epigrams. Bk. III. Ep. 42.

Set is the sun of my years;
And over a few poor ashes,
I sit in my darkness and tears.
Gerald Massey—A Wail.

Old wood to burn! Old wine to drink! Old friends to trust! Old authors to read!—Alonso of Aragon was wont to say in commendation of age, that age appeared to be best in these four things.
Melchior—Floresta Española de Apothegmas o Sentencias, etc. II. 1. 20.

The ages roll
Forward; and forward with them, draw my soul
Into time’s infinite sea.
And to be glad, or sad, I care no more;
But to have done, and to have been, before I cease to do and be.
Owen Meredith (Lord Lytton)—The Wanderer. Bk. IV. A Confession and Apology. St. 9.

So may’st thou live, till like ripe fruit thou drop
Into thy mother’s lap, or be with ease
Gather’d, not harshly pluck’d, for death mature.
Milton—Paradise Lost. Bk. XI. L. 535.

So Life’s year begins and closes;
Days, though short’ning, still can shine;
What though youth gave love and roses,
Age still leaves us friends and wine.
Moore—Spring and Autumn.

We age inevitably:
The old joys fade and are gone:
And at last comes equanimity and the flame burning clear.
James Oppenheim—New Year’s Eve.

Thyself no more deceive, thy youth hath fled.
Petrarch—To Laura in Death. Sonnet LXXXII.

Senex cum extemplo est, jam nec sentit, nec sapit;
Ajunt solere eum rursum repuerascere.
When a man reaches the last stage of life,—without senses or mentality—they say that he has grown a child again.
Plautus—Mercator. II. 2. 24.

Why will you break the Sabbath of my days?
Now sick alike of Envy and of Praise.
Pope—First Book of Horace. Ep. I. L. 3.

Learn to live well, or fairly make your will;
You’ve played, and loved, and ate, and drank your fill.
Walk sober off, before a sprightlier age
Comes tittering on, and shoves you from the stage.
Pope—Imitations of Horace. Bk. II. Ep. 2. L. 322.

Me let the tender office long engage
To rock the cradle of reposing age;
With lenient arts extend a mother’s breath,
Make languor smile, and smooth the bed of death;
Explore the thought, explain the asking eye!
And keep awhile one parent from the sky.
Pope—Prologue to the Satires. L. 408.

His leaf also shall not wither.
Psalms I. 3.

The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
Psalms XC. 10.

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.
Psalms XC. 12.

Das Alter ist nicht trübe weil darin unsere Freuden, sondern weil unsere Hoffnungen aufhören.
What makes old age so sad is, not that our joys but that our hopes cease.
Jean Paul Richter—Titan. Zykel 34.

Age has now
Stamped with its signet that ingenuous brow.
Rogers—Human Life. (1819).

O, roses for the flush of youth,
And laurel for the perfect prime;
But pluck an ivy branch for me,
Grown old before my time.
Christina G. Rossetti—Song. St. 1.

I’m growing fonder of my staff;
I’m growing dimmer in the eyes;
I’m growing fainter in my laugh;
I’m growing deeper in my sighs;
I’m growing careless of my dress;
I’m growing frugal of my gold;
I’m growing wise; I’m growing,—yes,—
I’m growing old.
Saxe—I’m Growing Old.

On his bold visage middle age
Had slightly press’d its signet sage.
Scott—Lady of the Lake. Canto I. Pt. XXI. (1810).

Thus pleasures fade away;
Youth, talents, beauty, thus decay,
And leave us dark, forlorn, and gray.
Scott—Marmion. Introduction to Canto II. St. 7.

Thus aged men, full loth and slow,
The vanities of life forego,
And count their youthful follies o’er,
Till Memory lends her light no more.
Scott—Rokeby. Canto V. St. 1.

Old friends are best. King James us’d to call for his Old Shoes, they were easiest for his Feet.
Selden—Table Talk. Friends.

Nihil turpius est, quam grandis natu senex, qui nullum aliud habet argumentum, quo se probet diu vixisse, præter ætatem.
Nothing is more dishonourable than an old man, heavy with years, who has no other evidence of his having lived long except his age.
Seneca—De Tranquillitate. 3. 7.

Turpis et ridicula res est elementarius senex: juveni parandum, seni utendum est.
An old man in his rudiments is a disgraceful object. It is for youth to acquire, and for age to apply.
Seneca—Epistolæ Ad Lucilium. XXXVI. 4.

Senectus insanabilis morbus est.
Old age is an incurable disease.
Seneca—Epistolæ Ad Lucilium. CVIII. 29.

For we are old, and on our quick’st decrees
The inaudible and noiseless foot of Time
Steals ere we can effect them.
All’s Well that Ends Well. Act V. Sc. 3. L. 40.

Though I look old, yet I am strong and lusty;
For in my youth I never did apply
Hot and rebellious liquors in my blood;
Nor did not with unbashful forehead woo
The means of weakness and debility;
Therefore my age is as a lusty winter,
Frosty, but kindly.
As You Like It. Act II. Sc. 3. L. 47.

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans every thing.
As You Like It. Act II. Sc. 7. L. 139. Same idea in Jean de Courcy—Le Chemin de Vaillance. Copy in British Museum, King’s MSS. No. 14. E. II. See also Horace—Ars Poetica. 158. (Ages given as four.) In the Mishna, the ages are given as 14, by Jehuda, son of Thema. In Plato’s (spurious) Dialog. Axiochus, Socrates sums up human life.

There is an old poor man
Oppressed with two weak evils, age and hunger.
As You Like It. Act II. Sc. 8. L. 129.

Though now this grained face of mine be hid
In sap-consuming winter’s drizzled snow,
And all the conduits of my blood froze up,
Yet hath my night of life some memory.
Comedy of Errors. Act V. Sc. 1. L. 311.

What should we speak of
When we are old as you? When we shall hear
The rain and wind beat dark December.
Cymbeline. Act III. Sc. 3. L. 36.

An old man is twice a child.
Hamlet. Act II. Sc. 2. L. 404.

At your age,
The hey-day in the blood is tame, it’s humble,
And waits upon the judgment.
Hamlet. Act III. Sc. 4. L. 68.

Begin to patch up thine old body for heaven.
Henry IV. Pt. II. Act II. Sc. 4. L. 193.

Some smack of age in you, some relish of the saltness of time.
Henry IV. Pt. II. Act I. Sc. 2. L. 91.

You are old;
As you are old and reverend, you should be wise.
King Lear. Act I. Sc. 4. L. 261.

Nature in you stands on the very verge
Of her confine.
King Lear. Act II. Sc. 4. L. 148.

Pray, do not mock me:
I am a very foolish fond old man,
Fourscore and upward; not an hour more nor less,
And, to deal plainly,
I fear I am not in my perfect mind.
King Lear. Act IV. Sc. 7. L. 59.

My way of life
Is fallen into the sear, the yellow leaf,
And that which should accompany old age,
As honor, love, obedience, troops of friends,
I must not look to have; but, in their stead,
Curses not loud, but deep, mouth-honor breath,
Which the poor heart would fain deny, and dare not.
Macbeth. Act V. Sc. 3. L. 22.

Superfluity comes sooner by white hairs, but competency lives longer.
Merchant of Venice. Act I. Sc. 2. L. 8.

Nor age so eat up my invention.
Much Ado About Nothing. Act IV. Sc. 1. L. 192.

Give me a staff of honor for mine age,
But not a sceptre to control the world.
Titus Andronicus. Act I. Sc. 1. L. 198.

“You are old, Father William,” the young man cried,
“The few locks which are left you are gray;
You are hale, Father William,—a hearty old man:
Now tell me the reason, I pray.”
Southey—The Old Man’s Comforts, and how he Gained Them.

When an old gentleman waggles his head and says: “Ah, so I thought when I was your age,” it is not thought an answer at all, if the young man retorts: “My venerable sir, so I shall most probably think when I am yours.” And yet the one is as good as the other.
R. L. Stevenson—Crabbed Age and Youth.

Every man desires to live long; but no man would be old.
Swift—Thoughts on Various Subjects, Moral and Diverting.

I swear she’s no chicken; she’s on the wrong side of thirty, if she be a day.
Swift—Polite Conversation. I.

Vetera extollimus recentium incuriosi.
We extol ancient things, regardless of our own times.
Tacitus—Annales. II. 88.

Vetera semper in laude, præsentia in fastidio.
Old things are always in good repute, present things in disfavour.
Tacitus—Dialogue de Oratoribus. 18.

An old man is twice a child.
John Taylor—The Old, Old, very Old Man. (Thos. Parr.)

O good gray head which all men knew.
Tennyson—On the Death of the Duke of Wellington. St. 4.

Age too shines out: and, garrulous, recounts the feats of youth.
Thomson—The Seasons. Autumn. L. 1231.

Annus enim octogesimus admonet me, ut sarcinas colligam, antequam proficiscare vita.
For my eightieth year warns me to pack up my baggage before I leave life.
Varro—De Re Rustica. I. 1.

For Age with stealing steps
Hath clawed me with his crutch.
Thos. Vaux—The Aged Lover renounceth Love. (Quoted in Hamlet, Act V. Sc. 1. Not in quartos.)

Omnia fert ætas, animum quoque.
Age carries all things away, even the mind.
Vergil—Eclogues. IX. 51.

Venerable men! you have come down to us from a former generation. Heaven has bounteously lengthened out your lives, that you might behold this joyous day.
Daniel Webster—Address at Laying the Corner-Stone of the Bunker Hill Monument, June 17, 1825.

Is not old wine wholesomest, old pippins toothsomest, old wood burn brightest, old linen wash whitest? Old soldiers, sweetheart, are surest, and old lovers are soundest.
John Webster—Westward Ho. Act II. Sc. 1.

Thus fares it still in our decay,
And yet the wiser mind
Mourns less for what age takes away
Than what it leaves behind.
Wordsworth—The Fountain. St. 9.

But an old age serene and bright,
And lovely as a Lapland night,
Shall lead thee to thy grave.
Wordsworth—To a Young Lady.

The monumental pomp of age
Was with this goodly Personage;
A stature undepressed in size,
Unbent, which rather seemed to rise
In open victory o’er the weight
Of seventy years, to loftier height.
Wordsworth—White Doe of Rylstone. Canto III.