Experience of the World Teaches Us to Appreciate rather than to Depreciate
As he advances every day in his practical knowledge of life, a man loses some of that severity which makes it difficult for young people, always looking for perfection, and expecting to find it, and judging everyhting by that idea of it which they have in their minds, to pardon defects and concede that there is some value in virtues which are poor and inadequate, and in good qualities that are unimportant, when they happen to find them in people. Then, seeing how everything is imperfect, and being convinced that there is nothing better in the world than that small good which they despise, and that practically nothing or no one is truly estimable, little by little, altering their standards, and comparing what they come actoss, not with perfection any more, but with reality, they grow accustomed to pardoning freely, and valuing every mediocre virtue, every shadow of worth, every least ability which they find. So much that ultimately many things and many people seem to them praiseworthy that at first would have seemed to them scarcely endurable. This goes so far that, whereas initially they hardly had the ability to feel esteem, in the course of time they become almost unable to despise. And this to a greater extent the more intelligent they are. Because in fact to be very contemptuous and discontented, once our first youth is past, is not a good sign, and those who are such cannot, either because of the poverty of their intellects or because they have little experience, have been much acquainted with the world. Or else they are among those fools who despise others because of the great esteem in which they hold themselves. In short, it seems hardly probable, but it is true, and it indicates the extreme baseness of human affairs to say it, that experience of the world teaches us to appreciate rather than to depreciate.
Giacomo Leopardi, in 'Thoughts'