May 31

REJOICE that man is hurled
From change to change unceasingly,
His soul’s wings never furled!
Robert Browning

POOR soul, here for so little, cast among so many hardships, filled with desires so incommensurate and so inconsistent, savagely surrounded, savagely descended, irremediably condemned to prey upon his fellow lives: who should have blamed him had he been of a piece with his destiny and a being merely barbarous? And we look and behold him instead, often admirably valiant, often touchingly kind; sitting down amidst his momentary life, to debate of right and wrong and the attributes of the Deity; rising up to do battle for an egg or die for an idea; singling out his friends and his mate with cordial affection; bringing forth in pain, rearing, with long-suffering solicitude, his young. To touch the heart of his mystery, we find in him one thought, strange to the point of lunacy: the thought of duty, the thought of something owing to himself, to his neighbour, to his God: an ideal of decency, to which he would rise if it were possible; a limit of shame, below which, if possible, he will not stoop.
Robert Louis Stevenson

BUT man is a noble animal, splendid in ashes, and pompous in the grave, solemnizing nativities and deaths with equal lustre, nor omitting ceremonies of bravery in the infamy of his nature.
Sir Thomas Browne 


May 30

WE all have known
Good critics who have stamped out poet’s hope,
Good statesmen who pulled ruin on the state,
Good patriots who for a theory risked a cause,
Good kings who disembowelled for a tax,
Good popes who brought all good to jeopardy,
Good Christians who sat still in easy-chairs
And damned the general world for standing up.—
Now may the good God pardon all good men!
Elizabeth B. Browning

IF for every rebuke that we utter of men’s vices, we put forth a claim upon their hearts; if for every assertion of God’s demands from them, we could substitute a display of His kindness to them; if side by side with every warning of death, we could exhibit proofs and promises of immortality; if, in fine, instead of assuming the being of an awful Deity, which men, though they cannot and dare not deny, are always unwilling, sometimes unable to conceive, we were to show them a near, visible, inevitable, but all beneficent Deity, whose presence makes the earth itself a heaven, I think there would be fewer deaf children sitting in the market-place.
John Ruskin

LET us be silent as to each other’s weakness, helpful, tolerant, nay, tender towards each other! Or, if we cannot feel tenderness, may we at least feel pity ! May we put away from us the satire which scourges and the anger which brands: the oil and wine of the good Samaritan are of more avail. We may make the ideal a reason for contempt; but it is more beautiful to make it a reason for tenderness.
Henri F. Amiel

May 29

SWEET is the smile of home; the mutual look
When hearts are of each other sure;
Sweet all the joys that crowd the household nook,
The haunts of all affections pure.
John Keble

BUT where, in the presiding genius of a home, taste and sympathy unite (and in their genuine forms they cannot be separated)—the intelligent feeling for moral beauty and the deep heart of domestic love,—with what ease, what mastery, what graceful disposition, do the seeming trivialities of existence fall into order, and drop a blessing as they take their place! how do the hours steal away, unnoticed but by the precious fruits they leave! and by the self-renunciations of affection, there comes a spontaneous adjustment of various wills; and not an innocent pleasure is lost, nor a pure taste offended, nor a peculiar temper unconsidered; and every day has its silent achievements of wisdom, and every night its retrospect of piety and love; and the tranquil thoughts that, in the evening meditation, come down with the starlight, seem like the serenade of angels, bringing in melody the peace of God.
James Martineau

TO be happy at home is the ultimate result of all ambition, the end to which every enterprise and labour tend, and of which every desire prompts the prosecution.
Samuel Johnson

May 28

IN vain through every changeful year,
Did Nature lead him as before;
A primrose by the river’s brim
A yellow primrose was to him,
And it was nothing more.
William Wordsworth

TO see in all mountains nothing but similar heaps of earth, in all rocks nothing but similar concretions of solid matter, in all trees nothing but similar accumulations of leaves, is no sign of high feeling or extended thought.
John Ruskin

THOSE to whom the earth is not consecrated, will find their heaven profane.
James Martineau

THERE is to me a beauty and mystery and sanctity about flowers, and when I see them come and go, no one knows whence and whither, I ask what more miracles do we want?
Max Müller

May 27

SO take and use Thy work,
Amend what flaws may lurk,
What strain o’ the stuff, what warpings past the aim!
My times be in Thy hand!
Perfect the cup as planned!
Let age approve of youth, and death complete the same!
Robert Browning

APPROXIMATE thy latter times by present apprehensions of them; be like a neighbour unto the grave, and think there is but little to come. And since there is something in us that will still live on, join both lives together, and live in one but for the other.
Sir Thomas Browne

NOTHING that is worthy of a living man can be unworthy of a dying one: and whatever is shocking in the last moment would be disgraceful in every other.
James Martineau

FOR Death is no more than a turning of us over from Time to Eternity.
William Penn

May 26

HOW near to good is what is fair!
Which we no sooner see,
But with the lines and outward air
Our senses taken be.
Ben Jonson

AS soon as beauty is sought, not from religion and love, but for pleasure, it degrades the seeker. High beauty is no longer attainable by him in canvas or in stone, in sound, or in lyrical construction; an effeminate, prudent, sickly beauty, which is not beauty, is all that can be formed; for the hand can never execute anything higher than the character can inspire.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

FOR there is not any virtue the exercise of which, even momentarily, will not impress a new fairness upon the features.
John Ruskin

May 25

MY heart leaps up when I behold
A Rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a Man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is Father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.
William Wordsworth

WHEREVER snow falls, or water flows, or birds fly, wherever day and night meet in twilight, wherever the blue heaven is hung by clouds, or sown with stars, wherever are forms with transparent boundaries, wherever are outlets into celestial space, wherever is danger, and awe, and love, there is Beauty, plenteous as rain, shed for thee, and though thou shouldst walk the world over, thou shalt not be able to find a condition inopportune or ignoble.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

TWO things fill the mind with ever-increasing awe and admiration: the star-lit heavens above, and the Moral Law within.
Immanuel Kant

May 24

BE useful where thou livest, that they may
Both want and wish thy pleasing presence still.
Kindness, good parts, great places, are the way
To compass this.           Find out men’s wants and will,
And meet them there.                 All worldly joys go less
To the one joy of doing kindnesses.
George Herbert

TO make any one happy, then, is strictly to augment his store of being, to double the intensity of his life, to reveal him to himself, to ennoble him and transfigure him. Happiness does away with ugliness, and even makes the beauty of beauty. The man who doubts it, can never have watched the first gleams of tenderness dawning in the clear eyes of one who loves;—sunrise itself is a lesser marvel.
Henri F. Amiel

I WONDER why it is that we are not all kinder than we are? How much the world needs it. How easily it is done. How instantaneously it acts. How infallibly it is remembered. How super-abundantly it pays itself back—for there is no debtor in the world so honourable, so superbly honourable, as love.
Henry Drummond

IT is the history of our own kindnesses that alone makes this world tolerable.
Robert Louis Stevenson

May 23

PITCH thy behaviour low, thy projects high;
So shalt thou humble and magnanimous be;
Sink not in spirit; who aimeth at the sky
Shoots higher much than he that means a tree.
A grain of glory mixed with humbleness
Cures both a fever and lethargicness.
George Herbert

SINCE Virtuous Actions have their own Trumpets, and without any noise from thyself will have their resound abroad, busy not thy best Member in the Encomium of thyself. Praise is a debt we owe unto the Virtues of others, and due unto our own from all, whom Malice hath not made Mutes, and Envy struck Dumb.
Sir Thomas Browne

WE pass for what we are. Character teaches above our wills. Men imagine that they communicate their virtue or their vice only by overt actions, and do not see that virtue or vice emits a breath every moment.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

May 22

I, LOVING freedom, and untried;
No sport of every random gust,
Yet being to myself a guide,
Too blindly have reposed my trust;
And oft, when in my heart was heard
Thy timely mandate, I deferred
The task, in smoother walks to stray;
But thee I now would serve more strictly, if I may.
William Wordsworth

YET by all that we morally admire, we are  practically bound. Human duties are not a mere picture gallery, in which we may loiter with our critic’s glass; or a histrionic stage whose representations may delight us while we sit still; but great and solemn realities, presented on a scene where every spectator practises, beneath the eye of heaven, the divine art which he beholds; where to discern an excellence is to receive a trust; and ideal admirations are the source of actual necessities.
James Martineau

A DUTY is no sooner divined than from that very moment it becomes binding upon us.
Henri F. Amiel