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


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 24

IF Thou be one whose heart the holy forms
Of young imagination have kept pure,
Stranger! henceforth be warned; and know that pride,
Howe’er disguised in its own majesty,
Is littleness ; that he who feels contempt
For any living thing, hath faculties
Which he has never used; that thought with him
Is in its infancy. The man whose eye
Is ever on himself doth look on one,
The least of Nature’s works, one who might move
The wise man to that scorn which wisdom holds
Unlawful, ever. O be wiser, Thou!
Instructed that true knowledge leads to love,
True dignity abides with him alone
Who, in the silent hour of inward thought,
Can still suspect, and still revere himself,
In lowliness of heart.
William Wordsworth

BE, and not seem. Let us acquiesce. Let us take our bloated nothingness out of the path of divine circuits. Let us unlearn our wisdom of the world. Let us lie low in the Lord’s power, and learn that truth alone makes rich and great.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

WOULDST thou rather be a peasant’s son that knew, were it ever so rudely, there was a God in Heaven and in Man; or a duke’s son that only knew there were two and thirty quarters on the family coach?
Thomas Carlyle

March 21

GO, speed the stars of Thought
On to their shining goals;—
The sower scatters broad his seed,
The wheat thou strew’st be souls.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

BEAUTIFUL it is to understand and know that a thought did never yet die; that as thou, the originator thereof, hast gathered it and created it from the whole Past, so thou wilt transmit it to the whole Empire. It is thus that the heroic Heart, the seeing Eye of the first times, still feels and sees in us of the latest; that the Wise Man stands ever encompassed, and spiritually embraced, by a cloud of witnesses and brothers; and there is a living, literal Communion of Saints, wide as the World itself, and as the History of the World.
Thomas Carlyle

MYSTERIES of influence fall from every earnest volition, to return to us, in gladness or in weeping, after many days. No insult can we pass upon the divine but gentle dignity of duty, no quenching of God’s spirit can we allow, that will not prepare a curse for others as well as for ourselves: nor any reverence, prompt and due, in act as in thought, can we pay to the God within, that will not yield abundant blessing.
James Martineau


March 18

SOME, O Thou Traveller unknown,
Whom still I hold, but cannot see!
My company before is gone,
And I am left alone with Thee;
With Thee all night I mean to stay,
And wrestle till the break of day,

* * *

Will Thou not yet to me reveal
Thy New, unutterable Name?
Tell me, I still beseech Thee, tell;
To know it now resolved I am;
Wrestling, I will not let Thee go,
Till I Thy Name, Thy Nature know.
Charles Wesley

I CAN NOT too earnestly insist upon the need of our holding each man for himself, by some faith which shall anchor him. It must not be taken up by chance. We must fight for it, for only so will it become our faith.
Mark Rutherford

THE thing a man does practically believe (and this is often enough without asserting it even to himself, much less to others); the thing a man does practically lay to heart, and know for certain, concerning his vital relations to this mysterious Universe, and his duty and destiny there, that is in all cases the primary thing for him, and creatively determines all the rest. That is his religion.
Thomas Carlyle

TO have religion upon authority, and not upon conviction, is like a finger-watch, to be set forwards or backwards, as he pleases that has it in keeping.
William Penn

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

February 18

DO the work that’s nearest,
Though it’s dull at whiles,
Helping, when we meet them,
Lame dogs over styles;
See in every hedgerow
Marks of angels’ feet,
Epics in each pebble
Underneath our feet.
Charles Kingsley

LET him who gropes painfully in darkness and uncertain light, and prays vehemently that dawn may ripen into day, lay this other precept well to heart, which to me was of invaluable service: “Do the duty which lies nearest thee,” which thou knowest to be a duty! Thy second duty will already have become clearer.
Thomas Carlyle

THERE are few that rove to find some ampler lot abroad, who do not first neglect the small husbandry of duty at home.
James Martineau


February 10

THAT which thy sires to thee have handed down
By thine own labour make again thine own.
Whate’er it is thou dost not use, will be
A heavy burden and a load to thee.
Only what from the present moment springs,
Created in the present, profit brings.
Johann W. Von Goethe

FEEL something of thyself in the noble Acts of thy Ancestors, and find in thine own Genius that of thy Predecessors. Rest not under the Expired merits of others, shine by those of thy own. Flame not like the central fire which enlightens no Eyes, which no Man seeth, and most men think there’s no such thing to be seen. Add one Ray unto the common lustre; add not only to the Number but the Note of thy Generation; and prove not a Cloud but an Asterisk in thy Region.
Sir Thomas Browne

THERE is no use of writing of things past unless they can be made, in fact, things present; not yesterday at all, but simply to-day and of what it holds of fulfilment and of promise is ours; the dead ought to bury their dead, ought they not?
Thomas Carlyle

February 5

In our halls is hung
Armoury of the invincible knights of old;
We must be free or die, who speak the tongue
That Shakespeare spake; the faith and morals hold
Which Milton held.
William Wordsworth

HE that dies in an earnest pursuit, is like one that is wounded in hot blood; who, for the time, scarce feels the hurt; and, therefore, a mind fixed and bent upon somewhat that is good doth avert the dolours of death.
Francis Bacon

FIGHT on, thou brave, true heart, and falter not, through dark future, and through bright. The cause thou tightest for, so far as it is true, no further, yet precisely so far, is very sure of victory. The falsehood alone of it will be conquered, will be abolished, as it ought to be; but the truth of it is part of Nature’s own laws; co-operates with the world’s eternal tendencies; and cannot be conquered.
Thomas Carlyle

January 28

IN brief, acquit thee bravely, play the man;
Look not on pleasures as they come, but go;
Defer not the least virtue; life’s poor span
Make not an ell by trifling in thy woe.
If thou do ill, the joy fades, not the pains;
If well, the pain doth fade, the joy remains.
George Herbert

THERE are three things to which man is born—labour, sorrow, and joy. Each of these three things has its baseness and its nobleness. There is base labour and noble labour. There is base sorrow and noble sorrow. There is base joy and noble joy. But you must not think to avoid the corruption of these things by doing without the things themselves. Nor can any life be right that has not all three. Labour without joy is base. Sorrow without labour is base. Joy without labour is base.
John Ruskin

A MAN shall and must be valiant; he must march forward and quit himself like a man —trusting imperturbably in the appointment and choice of the upper Powers; and, on the whole, not fear at all. Now and always, the completeness of his victory over Fear will determine how much of a man he is.
Thomas Carlyle