I know not why we should delay our tokens of respect to those who deserve them until the heart that our sympathy could have gladdened has ceased to beat. As men cannot read the epitaphs inscribed upon the marble that covers them, so the tombs that we erect to virtue often only prove our repentance that we neglected it when with us.
They passed then from the high-road into a long succession of green pastures, through which a straight public path conducted them into one of those charming lanes never seen out of this bowery England,a lane deep sunk amidst high banks, with overhanging oaks, and quivering ash, gnarled with elm, vivid holly, and shaggy branches, with wild convolvulus and creeping woodbine forcing sweet life through all. Sometimes the banks opened abruptly, leaving patches of greensward, and peeps through still sequestered gates, or over moss-grown pales, into the park or paddock of some rural thane; new villas or old manor-houses on lawny uplands, knitting, as it were, together Englands feudal memories with Englands free-born hopes,the old land with its young people: for England is so old, and the English are so young!
Nothing is so contagious as enthusiasm; it is the real allegory of the lute of Orpheus: it moves stones, it charms brutes. Enthusiasm is the genius of sincerity, and truth accomplishes no victories without it.
There are two periods in the life of man in which the evening hour is peculiarly interesting,in youth and in old age. In youth, we love it for its mellow moonlight, its million of stars, its thin, rich, and shooting shades, its still serenity; amid those who can commune with our loves, or twine the wreaths of friendship, while there is none to bear us witness but the heavens and the spirits that hold their endless Sabbath there,or look into the deep bosom of creation, spread abroad like a canopy above us, and look and listen till we can almost see and hear the waving wings and melting songs of other worlds. To youth, evening is delightful: it accords with the flow of his light spirits, the fervour of his fancy, and the softness of his heart. Evening is also the delight of virtuous age: it seems an emblem of the tranquil close of busy life,serene, placid, and mild, with the impress of its great Creator stamped upon it: it spreads its quiet wings over the grave, and seems to promise that all shall be peace beyond it.
No man can judge of the happiness of another. As the new moon plays upon the waves, and seems to our eyes to favour with a peculiar beam one long track amidst the waters, leaving the rest in comparative obscurity, yet all the while she is no niggard in her lustrefor though the rays that meet not our eyes seem to us as though they were not, yet, with an equal and unfavouring loveliness, she mirrors herself on every waveeven so, perhaps, happiness falls with the same brightness and power over the whole expanse of life, though, to our limited eyes, she seems only to rest on those billows from which the ray is reflected back upon our sight.
In these days half our diseases come from the neglect of the body in the overwork of the brain. In this railway age the wear and tear of labour and intellect go on without pause or self-pity. We live longer than our forefathers; but we suffer more from a thousand anxieties and cares. They fatigued only the muscles; we exhaust the finer strength of the nerves.
Of all the agonies of life, that which is most poignant and harrowingthat which for the time annihilates reason, and leaves our whole organization one lacerated, mangled heartis the conviction that we have been deceived where we placed all the trust of love.
In order to love mankind, expect but little from them; in order to view their faults without bitterness, we must accustom ourselves to pardon them, and to perceive that indulgence is a justice which frail humanity has a right to demand from wisdom. Now, nothing tends more to dispose us to indulgence, to close our hearts against hatred, to open them to the principles of a humane and soft morality, than a profound knowledge of the human heart. Accordingly, the wisest men have always been the most indulgent.
Strive, while improving your one talent, to enrich your whole capital as a man. It is in this way that you escape from the wretched narrow-mindedness which is the characteristic of every one who cultivates his speciality alone.
No man who is thoroughly aware of what Prose Fiction has now become, of its dignityof its influenceof the manner in which it has gradually absorbed all similar departments of literatureof its power in teaching as well as amusingcan so far forget its connection with Historywith Philosophywith Politicsits utter harmony with Poetry, and obedience to Truth, as to debase its nature to the level of scholastic frivolities: he raises scholarship to the creative, and does not bow the creative to the scholastic.
Lord Edward Bulwer-Lytton: Last Days of Pompeii, Preface.
He had been reared from his cradle in simple love and reverence for the Divine Father, and the tender Saviour, whose life beyond all records of human goodness, whose death beyond all epics of mortal heroism, no being whose infancy has been taught to supplicate the Merciful and adore the Holy, yea, even though his later life may be entangled amidst the thorns of some desolate Pyrrhonism, can ever hear reviled and scoffed without a shock to the conscience and a revolt of the heart.
Lord Edward Bulwer-Lytton: My Novel, Book IV., ch. vii.
In fact, I have a plan for a library that, instead of heading its compartments Philology, Natural Science, Poetry, etc., one shall head them according to the diseases for which they are severally good, bodily and mental,up from a dire calamity, or the pangs of the gout, down to a fit of the spleen, or a slight catarrh; for which last your light reading comes in with a whey posset and barley water.
For observe that poets of the grander and more comprehensive kind of genius have in them two separate men, quite distinct from each other,the imaginative man, and the practical, circumstantial man; and it is the happy mixture of these that suits diseases of the mind, half imaginative and half practical.
I say, then, that books, taken indiscriminately, are no cure to the diseases and afflictions of the mind. There is a world of science necessary in the taking of them. I have known some people in great sorrow fly to a novel, or the last light book in fashion. One might as well take a rose-draught for the plague! Light reading does not do when the heart is really heavy. I am told that Goethe, when he lost his son, took to study a science that was new to him. Ah! Goethe was a physician who knew what he was about. In a great grief like that, you cannot tickle and divert the mind: you must wrench it away, abstract, absorbbury it in an abyss, hurry it into a labyrinth. Therefore, for the irremediable sorrows of middle life and old age, I recommend a strict chronic course of science and hard reasoningcounter-irritation. Bring the brain to act upon the heart! If science is too much against the grain (for we have not all got mathematical heads), something in the reach of the humblest understanding, but sufficiently searching to the highesta new languageGreek, Arabic, Scandinavian, Chinese, or Welsh!
When some one sorrow, that is yet reparable, gets hold of your mind like a monomaniawhen you think, because heaven has denied you this or that, on which you had set your heart, that all your life must be a blankoh, then diet yourself well on biographythe biography of good and great men. See how little a space one sorrow really makes in life. See scarce a page, perhaps, given to some grief similar to your own; and how triumphantly the life sails on beyond it. You thought the wing was broken! Tuttuttwas but a bruised feather! See what life leaves behind it, when all is done!a summary of positive facts far out of the region of sorrow and suffering, linking themselves with the being of the world. Yes! biography is the medicine here!
Then for hypochondria and satiety what is better than a brisk alterative course of [reading] travelsespecially early, out of the way, marvellous legendary travels! How they freshen up the spirits! How they take you out of the humdrum yawning state you are in! See, with Herodotus, young Greece spring up into life; or note with him how already the wondrous old Orient world is crumbling into giant decay; or go with Carpini and Rubruquis to Tartary, meet the cars of Zagathia laden with houses, and think that a great city is travelling toward you. Gaze on that vast wild empire of the Tartar, where the descendants of Jenghis multiply and disperse over the immense waste desert which is as boundless as the ocean. Sail with the early northern discoverers, and penetrate to the heart of winter, among sea-serpents and bears, and tusked morses, with the faces of men. Then, what think you of Columbus, and the stern soul of Cortes, and the kingdom of Mexico, and the strange gold city of the Peruvians, with that audacious brute Pizarro? and the Polynesians, just for all the world like the ancient Britons? and the American Indians, and the South Sea Islanders? how petulant, and young, and adventurous, and frisky your hypochondriac must get upon a regimen like that!
In early youth, if we find it difficult to control our feelings, so we find it difficult to vent them in the presence of others. On the spring side of twenty, if anything affects us, we rush to lock ourselves up in our room, or get away into the streets or the fields: in our earlier years we are still the savages of nature, and we do as the poor brute doesthe wounded stag leaves the herd, and if there is anything on a dogs faithful heart, he slinks away into a corner.
Lord Edward Bulwer-Lytton: The Caxtons, ch. xxxvii.
Less terrible is it to find the body wasted, the features sharp with the great life-struggle, than to look on the face from which the mind is gonethe eyes in which there is no recognition. Such a sight is a startling shock to that unconscious habitual materialism with which we are apt familiarly to regard those we love: for, in thus missing the mind, the heart, the affection that sprung to ours, we are suddenly made aware that it was the something within the form, and not the form itself, that was so dear to us. The form itself is still, perhaps, little altered; but that lip which smiles no welcome, that eye which wanders over us as strangers, that ear which distinguishes no more our voicesthe friend we sought is not there! Even our own love is chilled backgrows a kind of vague superstitious terror. Yes! it was not the matter, still present to us, which had conciliated all those subtle nameless sentiments which are classed and fused in the word affection,it was the airy, intangible, electric somethingthe absence of which now appalls us.
Like most other friends, the Imagination is capricious, and forsakes us often at the moment in which we most need its aid. As we grow older we begin to learn that, of the two, our more faithful and steadfast comforter isCustom. But I should apologize for this sudden and unseasonable indulgence of a momentary weaknessit is but for a moment. With returning health returns also that energy without which the soul were given us in vain, and which enables us calmly to face the evils of our being, and resolutely to fulfil its objects. There is but one philosophy (though there are a thousand schools), and its name is Fortitude:
To Bear Is To Conquer Our Fate!
Lord Edward Bulwer-Lytton: The Last Days of Pompeii, last Note.
With this consolatory creed came, of necessity, the devils grand luxury, Revenge. Say to yourself, For what I suffer I condemn another man, or I accuse the Arch-Invisible, be it a Destiny, be it a Maker! and the logical sequence is to add evil to evil, folly to folly,to retort on the man who so wrongs, or on the Arch-Invisible who so afflicts you. Of all our passions is not Revenge the one into which enters with the most zest a devil? For what is a devil?A being whose sole work on earth is some revenge on God!
Lord Edward Bulwer-Lytton: What Will He Do With It? book x. ch. i.
It is rarely that man continues to lay blame on himself; and Jasper hastened to do as many a better person does without a blush for his folly,viz., shift upon the innocent shoulders of fellow-men, or on the hazy outlines of that clouded form which ancient schools and modern plagiarists call sometimes Circumstance, sometimes Chance, sometimes Fate, all the guilt due to his own wilful abuse of irrevocable hours.
Lord Edward Bulwer-Lytton: What Will He Do With It? book x., ch. i.
Few of our errors, national or individual, come from the design to be unjustmost of them from sloth, or incapacity to grapple with the difficulties of being just. Sins of commission may not, perhaps, shock the retrospect of conscience. Large and obtrusive to view, we have confessed, mourned, repented, possibly atoned them. Sins of omission, so veiled amidst our hourly emotionsblent, confused, unseen, in the conventional routine of existenceAlas! could these suddenly emerge from their shadow, group together in serried mass and accusing orderalas, alas! would not the best of us then start in dismay, and would not the proudest humble himself at the Throne of Mercy!
Lord Edward Bulwer-Lytton: What Will He Do With It? ch. xviii.