March 28

AND so I live, you see,
Go through the world, try, prove, reject,
Prefer, still struggling to effect
My welfare; happy that I can
Be crossed and thwarted as a man,
Not left in God’s contempt apart,
With ghastly smooth life, dead at heart,
Tame in earth’s paddock as her prize.
Robert Browning


THE Situation that has not its Duty, its Ideal, was never yet occupied by Man. Yes here, in this poor, miserable, hampered, despicable Actual, wherein thou even now standest, here or nowhere is thy Ideal: work it out therefrom; and working, believe, live, be free. Fool! the Ideal is in thyself, the Impediment too is in thyself thy Condition is but the stuff thou art to shape that same ideal out of: what matters whether such stuff be of this sort or that, so the Form thou give it be heroic, be poetic?
Thomas Carlyle


OF nothing may we be more sure than this; that, if we cannot sanctify our present lot, we could sanctify no other. Our heaven and our Almighty Father are there or nowhere. The obstructions of that lot are given for us to heave away by the concurrent touch of a holy spirit, and labour of strenuous will; its gloom, for us to tint with some celestial light; its mysteries are for our worship; its sorrows for our trust; its perils for our courage; its temptations for our faith.
James Martineau

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March 27

I HAVE gone the whole round of creation: I saw and I spoke:
I, a work of God’s hand for that purpose, received in my brain
And pronounced on the rest of His hand work— returned Him again
His creation’s approval or censure: I spoke as I saw:
I report, as a man may of God’s work—all’s love, yet all’s law.
Robert Browning


THE wise and good man, having investigated all these things, will submit his own mind to Him that governeth the whole, even as good citizens to the laws of their State.
Epictetus


LET not Fortune, which hath no name in Scripture, have any in thy Divinity. Let Providence, not Chance, have the honour of thy acknowledgments, and be thy Oedipus in Contingencies.
Sir Thomas Browne

March 25

Be sure that God
Ne’er dooms to waste the strength he deigns impart!
Be sure they sleep not whom God needs!
Nor fear
Their holding light His charge, when every hour
That finds that charge delayed, is a new death.
Robert Browning


I TOO could say myself: Be no longer a Chaos, but a World, or even worldkin. Produce! Produce! Were it but the pitifulest infinitesimal fraction of a Product, produce it in God’s name! ‘Tis the utmost thou hast in thee; out with it then. Up, up! Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy whole might. Work while it is called To-day, for the Night cometh wherein no man can work.
Thomas Carlyle


CHRISTIAN life is action: not a speculating— not a debating: but a doing. One thing, and only one, in this world has eternity stamped upon it. Feelings pass: resolves and thoughts pass: opinions change. What you have done lasts —lasts in you. Through ages; through eternity, what you have done for Christ; that and only that you are.
Frederick W. Robertson

March 22

THEN life is—to wake not sleep,
Rise and not rest, but press
From earth’s level where blindly creep
Things perfected more or less,
To the heaven’s height, far and steep.
Robert Browning


AN aspiration is a joy for ever, a possession as solid as a landed estate, a fortune which we can never exhaust and which gives us year by year a revenue of pleasurable activity. To have many of these is to be spiritually rich.
Robert Louis Stevenson


GET knowledge all you can; and the more you get, the more you breathe upon its nearer heights their invigorating air and enjoy the widening prospect, the more you will know, and feel how small is the elevation you have reached in comparison with the immeasurable altitudes that yet remain unsealed. Be thorough in all you do, and remember that, though ignorance often may be innocent, pretension is always despicable. Quit you like men, be strong, and the exercise of your strength to-day will give you more strength tomorrow. Work onwards, and work upwards; and may the blessing of the Most High soothe your cares, clear your vision, and crown your labours with reward.
William E. Gladstone

March 15

Aspire, break bounds! I say
Endeavour to be good, and better still,
And best! Success is nought, endeavour’s all.
Robert Browning


AS we dwell, we living things, in our isle of terror and under the imminent hand of death, God forbid it should be man the erected, the reasoner, the wise in his own eyes—God forbid it should be man that wearies in well-doing, that despairs of unrewarded efforts, or utters the language of complaint. Let it be enough for faith, that the whole creation groans in mortal frailty, strives with unconquerable constancy: surely not all in vain.
Robert Louis Stevenson


IS not a man’s walking in truth always this: “a succession of falls”? Man can do no other. In this wild element of a life, he has to struggle onwards; and ever, with tears, repentance, with bleeding heart, he has to rise again, struggle again still onwards. That his struggle be a faithful, unconquerable one: that is the question of questions.
Thomas Carlyle

March 13

INTO the truth of things—
Out of their falseness rise, and reach thou, and remain!
Robert Browning


FOR myself, I found that I was fitted for nothing so well as for the study of Truth; … as being gifted by nature with desire to seek, patience to doubt, fondness to meditate, slowness to assert, readiness to consider, carefulness to dispose and set in order; and as being a man that neither affects what is new nor admires what is old, and that hates every kind of imposture. So I thought my nature had a kind of familiarity and relationship with Truth.
Francis Bacon


IT is wondrous how the truer we become, the more unerringly we know the ring of truth, discern whether a man be true or not, and can fasten at once upon the rising lie in word and look and dissembling act.
Frederick W. Robertson


WHERESOEVER the search after truth begins, there life begins. Wheresoever that search ceases, there life ceases.
John Ruskin

March 5

IT’S wiser being good than bad;
It’s safer being meek than fierce:
It’s fitter being sane than mad.
My own hope is, a sun will pierce
The thickest cloud earth ever stretched;
That, after Last, returns the First,
Though a wide compass round be fetched;
That what began best can’t end worst,
Nor what God blessed once, prove accurst.
Robert Browning


IN the darkest hour through which a human soul can pass, whatever else is doubtful, this at least is certain. If there be no God and no future state, yet, even then, it is better to be generous than selfish, better to be chaste than licentious, better to be true than false, better to be brave than to be a coward.
Frederick W. Robertson


’TIS better to think that there are Guardian Spirits, than that there are no spirits to guard us; that vicious Persons are Slaves, than that there is any servitude in virtue; that times past have been better than times present, than that times are always bad, and that to be Men it suffiseth to be no better than Men in all Ages, and so promiscuously to swim down the turbid stream, and make up the grand confusion.
Sir Thomas Browne

February 29

WHAT I aspired to be
And was not, comforts me.
Robert Browning


THE problem of education is twofold: first to know, and then to utter. Every one who lives any semblance of an inner life thinks more nobly and profoundly than he speaks; and the best teachers can impart only broken images of the truth which they perceive.
Robert Louis Stevenson


THAT man, I think, has had a liberal education who has been so trained in youth that his body is the ready servant of his will, and does with ease and pleasure all the work that as a mechanism it is capable of; whose intellect is a clear, cold logic engine, with all its parts of equal strength and in smooth working order; ready, like a steam engine, to be turned to any kind of work, and spin the gossamers as well as forge the anchors of the mind; whose mind is stored with a knowledge of the great and fundamental truths of nature and of the laws of her operations; one who, no stunted ascetic, is full of life and fire, but whose passions are trained to come to heel by a vigorous will, the servant of a tender conscience; who has learned to love all beauty, whether of nature or of art, to hate all vileness, and to respect others as himself.
Thomas H. Huxley

February 28

GOOD, to forgive;
Best, to forget!
Living, we fret;
Dying, we live.
Fretless and free,
Soul, clap thy pinion!
Earth have dominion,
Body, o’er thee!
Robert Browning


DRAW the curtain of night upon injuries, shut them up in the tower of oblivion, and let them be as though they had not been. To forgive our enemies, yet hope that evil will punish them, is not to forgive them enough.
Sir Thomas Browne


IT is only by removing ourselves from charity that we withdraw ourselves from God.
Blaise Pascal


IN taking revenge a man is but even with his enemy; but in passing it over he is superior, for it is a Prince’s part to pardon.
Francis Bacon


IF I am even with my enemy, the Debt is paid; but if I forgive it, I oblige him for ever.
William Penn

February 26

AH, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what’s a heaven for?
Robert Browning


WE treat God with irreverence by banishing Him from our thoughts, not by referring to His will on slight occasions. His is not the finite authority or intelligence which cannot be troubled with small things. There is nothing so small but that we may honour God by asking His guidance of it, or insult Him by taking it into our own hands; and what is true of the Deity is equally true of His revelation.
John Ruskin


TAKE away the sublime symbolism from our material existence, and let it stand only for what it can make good on its own account, and what is there to redeem it from selfishness and insignificance? The home sinks into a house, the meal into a mess, the grave into a pit; honour and veracity are appreciated chiefly as instruments of trade; purity and temperance, as necessities of health; justice, as the condition of social equilibrium; mercy, as the price of a quiet time.
James Martineau