"It is with good reason that we are accustomed to put a high estimate upon experience; to give heed to those who have it; and expect from them counsels rich in wisdom. But experience, in any high and comprehensive sense, is the rarest, as it is the choicest of human qualities. More must go to make it than we are apt to suppose; not habit and opportunity alone, which can only give a narrow dexterity of hand or mind; but some breadth of faculty to seize relations, and depth of conscience to read life truly, and quickness of affection to sympathize with it largely; and a cultivated reverence of mind to know its own ignorance and find the way to other's wisdom.
The materials and occasions of experience may often abound; and yet may remain without moral result, for want of the living mind and molding love to elaborate and shape them. Some there are whom no lapse of time seems to soften or expand; from whom whole floods of experience will flow off and leave them dry; who pass through events, and remember them, and like to call back their outward image again, but are just the same as if the events had been different; who reproduce in age the very sentiments and prejudices they had looked up in youth, and gather nothing from the past but a mood un-genial to the present. To such natures, case-hardened against the elements, time and the seasons come in vain: winter and summer, not a crevice opens in the rock where a green thing can push its root.
To some minds knowledge itself seems to come, not as a nutriment, but as an incrustation. James Martineau.