March 30

HERE, while the tide of conquest rolls
Against the distant golden shore,
The starved and stunted human souls
Are with us more and more.

Vain is your science, vain your art,
Your triumphs and your glories vain
To feed the hunger of their heart
And famine of their brain.

Your savage deserts howling near,
Your wastes of ignorance, vice, and shame,
Is there no room for victories here,
No field for meeds of fame?
William Watson

IF you think that it is a more grand, a more beneficial, or a more wise policy, to invent subtle expedients for increasing the revenue, to multiply our naval and military force, to rival in craft the Ambassadors of foreign States, to form skilful treaties and alliances, than to administer unpolluted justice to the people, to redress the injured, and to succour the distressed, and speedily restore to every one his own, you are involved in a cloud of error; and too late will you perceive, when the illusion of those mighty benefits has vanished, that in neglecting these, which you now think inferior considerations, you have only been precipitating your own ruin and despair.
John Milton

THAT which is not for the interest of the whole swarm is not for the interest of a single bee.
Marcus Aurelius


March 9

GREAT is the facile conqueror;
Yet haply he, who, wounded sore,
Breathless, unhorsed, all covered o’er
With blood and sweat,
Sinks foiled, but fighting evermore,
Is greater yet.
William Watson

EVERY chain is a ray of light, and every prison is a palace, and every loss is the purchase of a kingdom, and every affront in the cause of God is an eternal honour, and every day of sorrow is a thousand years of comfort, multiplied with a never-ceasing numeration; days without night, joys without sorrow, sanctity without sin, charity without stain, possession without fear, society without envying, communication of joys without lessening; and they shall dwell in a blessed country, where an enemy never entered, and from whence a friend never went away.
Jeremy Taylor

THE martyr cannot be dishonoured. Every lash inflicted is a tongue of fame; every prison, a more illustrious abode; every burned book or house enlightens the world; every suppressed or expunged word reverberates through the earth from side to side. Hours of sanity and consideration are always arriving to communities, as to individals, when the truth is seen, and the martyrs are justified.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

November 10

GIVE, for Thou canst, benignant years,
Like mercy breathed in famished ears;
And calm that comes of noble tears:
Strength that in perfect sweetness grows;
And labour crowned with fruitful close;
And the lost secret of repose.
William Watson

“THESE things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.” What is fulness of joy but peace? Joy is tumultuous only when it is not full; but peace is the privilege of those who are “filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee.” It is peace, springing from trust and innocence, and then overflowing in love towards all around him.
John H. Newman

WAIT patiently, trust humbly, depend only upon, seek solely to a God of Light and Love, of Mercy and Goodness, of Glory and Majesty, ever dwelling in the inmost depth and spirit of your soul. There you have all the secret, hidden, invisible Upholder of all the creation, whose blessed operation will always be found by a humble, faithful, loving, calm, patient introversion of your heart to Him, who has His hidden heaven within you, and which will open itself to you, as soon as your heart is left wholly to His eternal, ever-speaking word, and ever-sanctifying spirit within you.
William Law

October 27

WE are children of splendour and flame,
Of shuddering also and tears; Magnificent out of the dust we came,
And abject from the spheres.
William Watson

MAN is an intellectual animal, therefore an everlasting contradiction to himself. His senses centre in himself, his ideas reach to the ends of the universe; so that he is torn in pieces between the two without the possibility of its ever being otherwise. A mere physical being or a pure spirit can alone be satisfied with itself.
William Hazlitt

THE voice of our whole nature indeed, properly interpreted, is a cry after higher existence. The restless activity of life is but a pressing forward towards a fulness of good not to be found on earth, and indicates our destination for a state more brightly beautiful than we can now conceive.
William E. Channing

THE mind is the man. If that be kept pure, a man signifies somewhat; if not, I would very fain see what difference there is betwixt him and a beast. He hath only some activity to do some more mischief.
Oliver Cromwell

September 3

NOT ours to gauge the more or less,
The will’s defect, the blood’s excess,
The earthly humours that oppress
The radiant mind.
His greatness, not his littleness,
Concerns mankind.
William Watson

OH! it is a dangerous and beguiling thing to sit thus in conjectural judgment on what we have felt to be above us; to exchange the bowed head and hidden face of reverence for the bold front and petulant glance of the critic and the objector; to repent of our purest admirations, and suspect our noblest love. There is no hour, even of our weakest and our falsest, when we have not understanding enough for this poor spoiling work; as the common labourer may pull down the church which only genius and skill can raise. But it is not every day, ’tis only the rarest seasons of our life, that can deliver a new and holy image to our souls, to give us silent counsel in temptation, and flit as a light before us in the darkness of our sorrows.
James Martineau

LET us take notice, too, of what lies side by side quietly in our own souls. God help us if all that is good in us is to be invalidated by the presence of the most contradictory evil.
Mark Rutherford