Not many years before his death Mozart received a visit from a young composer who wanted to know how to write a symphony.
'You're very young,' Mozart said to him. 'Shouldn't you start by composing ballads?'
'But you were composing symphonies when you were only ten.'
'I know,' said Mozart, 'but I didn't have to ask how.'
When a young member of his college made an impertinent suggestion that did not meet with his approval. Dr. W. H. Thompson put the student in his place with the remark:
'We are none of us infallible — not even the youngest among us.'
During his school career Theodore Roosevelt was set to learn a recitation and then asked to recite it in class.
'When Greece her knees in suppliance bends . . .' he began, but failed to get any further. 'When Greece her knees in suppliance bends. . .'he tried again, only to come to a halt in the same place. After a third attempt he stopped again.
'Roosevelt, grease her knees again and then perhaps she'll go,' suggested his teacher.
When, in 1939, it was announced that 37-year-old Thomas Dewey was going to stand for Republican nomination, Harold Ickes commented:
'Dewey has thrown his diaper into the ring.'
On a group of young actors rehearsing the opening fight scene in Romeo and Juliet for the first time:
'Very good gentlemen, but don't fidget.' — Sir Henry Irving
When a group of rowdy students jeered at the venerable Cambridge don, called Father Abraham because of his long white hair, the elderly fellow replied:
'I fear you have made a mistake. I am Saul, the son of Kish, looking for my father's asses; and I have found them.'
After reading A. A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh, Dorothy Parker wrote of it in her Constant Reader column in the New Yorker:
Tonstant Weader fwowed up.'
Tell me, Doctor, what would you give to be as young and sprightly as I am?' one young upstart asked Samuel Johnson after they had dined at a friend's table, at which the young man had dominated the conversation.
'Why, sir,' replied Johnson, 'I should be almost content to be as young and foolish.'
On J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan:
'Oh for an hour of Herod.' — Anthony Hope Hawkins
When one young lawyer accused John Maynard, Lord Commissioner of the Great Seal of England, of being so old that he had forgotten the law, Maynard answered:
True, sir, I have forgotten more law than you ever learned.'