A wise man will never rust out. As long as he can move or breathe he will be doing for himself, his neighbor, or for posterity. Almost to the last hour of his life Washington was at work; so was Newton. The vigor of their lives never decayed. No rust marred their spirits. It is a foolish idea to suppose that we must lie down and die because we are old. Who is old? Not the man of energy, not the laborer in science, art, or benevolence; but he only who suffers his energies to waste away and the springs of life to become motionless, on whose hands the hours draw heavily, and to whom all things wear the garb of gloom. Is he old? should not be asked, but is he active? Can he breathe freely and move with agility? There are scores of gray headed men whom we should prefer in any important enterprise to those young men who fear and tremble at approaching shadows, and turn pale at a lion in their path, or a harsh word or a frown.
If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.
It is not likely that posterity will fall in love with us, but not impossible that it may respect or sympathize; so a man would rather leave behind him the portrait of his spirit than a portrait of his face.
What cities, as great as this, have . . . promised themselves immortality! Posterity can hardly trace the situation of some. The sorrowful traveller wanders over the awful ruins of others. . . . Here stood their citadel, but now grown over with weeds; there their senate-house, but now the haunt of every noxious reptile; temples and theatres stood here, now only an undistinguished heap of ruins.