|There are those who imagine that the unlucky
accidents of life - life's "experiences" - are in some way useful
to us. I wish I could find out how. I never knew one of them to happen twice.
They always change off and swap around and catch you on your inexperienced
side. If personal experience can be worth anything as an education, it wouldn't
seem likely that you could trip Methuselah; and yet if that old person could
come back here it is more than likely that one of the first things he would
do would be to take hold of one of these electric wires and tie himself
all up in a knot. Now the surer thing and the wiser thing would be for him
to ask somebody whether it was a good thing to take hold of. But that would
not suit him; he would be one of the self-taught kind that go by experience;
he would want to examine for himself. And he would find, for his instruction,
that the coiled patriarch shuns the electric wire; and it would be useful
to him, too, and would leave his education in quite a complete and rounded-out
condition, till he should come again, some day, and go to bouncing a dynamite-can
around to find out what was in it.
- "Taming the Bicycle"
Poor old Methuselah, how did he manage to stand it so long?
- Letter to William Dean Howells, February 9, 1879
Better this decade than the 900 years of Methuselah. There is more done in
one year now than Methuselah ever saw in all his life. He was probably asleep
all those 900 years.
- speech July 3, 1886 in Keokuk, Iowa
I am sorry I am not able to be at the meeting of honorary members this evening.
My doctor said that if I were a young man, instead of the Methuselah of American
literature, I might come to no harm by attending. If that was a compliment I
shall find it in the bill. There ought to be a law against such graft as that.
- letter quoted in The New York Times, March 23, 1906
You know Methuselah lived for 999 years. Scripture does not record that he
lived a better life than the rest of mortals.
- interviewin Boston Daily Globe, June 11, 1909, p. 9
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