S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.
He hazardeth much who depends for his learning on experience. An unhappy master he that is only made wise by many shipwrecks; a miserable merchant that is neither rich nor wise till he has been bankrupt, by experience we find out a short way by a long wandering.
Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other, and scarcely in that; for it is true we may give advice, but we cannot give conduct. Remember this: they that will not be counselled cannot be helped. If you do not hear reason, she will rap your knuckles.
It is a melancholy fact, verified by every days observation, that the experience of the past is totally lost both upon individuals and nations. A few persons, indeed, who have attended to the history of former errors, are aware of the consequences to which they invariably lead, and lament the progress of national violence in the same way as they do the career of individual intemperance. But upon the great mass of mankindthe young, the active, and the ambitioussuch examples are wholly thrown away. Each successive generation plunges into the abyss of passion, without the slightest regard to the fatal effects which such conduct has produced upon their predecessors; and lament, when too late, the rashness with which they slighted the advice of experience and stilled the voice of reason.
Several different men, who have all had equal, or even the very same, experience, that is, have been witnesses or agents in the same transactions, will often be found to resemble so many different men looking at the same book: one, perhaps, though he distinctly sees black marks on white paper, has never learned his letters; another can read, but is a stranger to the language in which the book is written; another has an acquaintance with the language, but understands it imperfectly; another is familiar with the language, but is a stranger to the subject of the book, and wants power or previous instruction to enable him to fully take in the authors drift; while another, again, perfectly comprehends the whole.
There is a mixed kind of evidence relating both to the senses and understanding, depending upon our own observation and repeated trials of the issues and events of actions or things, called experience.