Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton, fully Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, Lord Lytton

English Novelist, Politician, Poet, and Playwright, Secretary of State for the Colonies

"A fresh mind keeps the body fresh. Take in the ideas of the day, drain off those of yesterday. As to the morrow time enough to consider it when it becomes today."

"A mind once cultivated will not lie fallow for half an hour."

"A life of pleasure makes even the strongest mind frivolous at last."

"All the knowledge that we mortals can acquire is not knowledge positive, but knowledge comparative, and subject to the errors and passions of humanity."

"A reform is a correction of abuses; a revolution is a transfer of power."

"Art and science have their meeting point in method."

"Art does not imitate nature, but founds itself on the study of nature - takes from nature the selections which best accord with its own intention, and then bestows on them that which nature does not possess, vis.: the mind and soul of man."

"Better than fame is still the wish for fame, the constant training for glorious strife."

"Books are but waste paper unless we spend in action the wisdom we get from thought."

"Business dispatched is business well done, but business hurried is business ill done."

"Character is money; and according as the man earns or spends the money, money in turn becomes character. As money is the most evident power in the world’s uses, so the use that he makes of money is often all that the world knows about a man."

"Diseases are the penalties we pay for overindulgence, or for our neglect of the means of health... We live longer than our forefathers; but we suffer more, from a thousand artificial anxieties and cares. They fatigued only the muscles; we exhaust the finer strength of the nerves."

"Anger ventilated often hurries toward forgiveness; and concealed often hardens into revenge."

"Art is the effort of man to express the ideas which nature suggests to him of a power above nature, whether that power be within the recesses of his own being, or in the Great First Cause of which nature, like himself, is but the effect."

"Art itself is essentially ethical; because every true work of art must have a beauty and grandeur cannot be comprehended by the beholder except through the moral sentiment. The eye is only a witness; it is not a judge. The mind judges what the eye reports to it; therefore, whatever elevates the moral sentiment to the contemplation of beauty and grandeur is in itself ethical."

"Beneath the rule of men entirely great, the pen is mightier than the sword."

"Dream manfully and nobly, and thy dreams shall be prophets."

"Ere yet we yearn for what is out of our reach, we are still in the cradle. When wearied out with our yearnings, desire again falls asleep, we are on the death-bed."

"Evening is 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."

"False rumours often beget truths."

"Fate is not the rules, but the servant of Providence."

"Fate laughs at probabilities."

"Genius in the poet, like the nomad of Arabia, ever a wanderer, still ever makes a home where the well or the palm-tree invites it to pitch the tent. Perpetually passing out of himself and his own positive circumstantial condition of being into other hearts and into other conditions, the poet obtains his knowledge of human life by transporting his own life into the lives of others."

"Happiness and virtue rest upon each other; the best are not only the happiest, but the happiest are usually the best."

"Common sense is only a modification of talent. Genius is an exaltation of it. The difference is, therefore, in degree, not nature."

"He that fancies himself very enlightened, because he sees the deficiencies of others, may be very ignorant, because he has not studied his own."

"He who esteems trifles for themselves is a trifler; he who esteems them for the conclusions to be drawn from them, or the advantage to which they can be put, is a philosopher."

"He who sees his heir in his own child, carries his eye over hopes and possessions lying far beyond his gravestone, viewing his life, even here, as a period but closed with a comma. He who sees his heir in another man’s child sees the full stop at the end of the sentence."

"Hope nothing from luck, and probability is that you will be so prepared, forewarned, and forearmed, that all shallow observers will call you lucky."

"Hope warps judgment in council, but quickens energy in action."

"How little praise warms out of a man the good that is in him, as the sneer of contempt which he feels is unjust chill the ardor to excel."

"How many of us have been attracted to reason; first learned to think, to draw conclusions, to extract a moral from the follies of life, by some dazzling aphorism!"

"Ideals travel upward, manners downward."

"In beginning the world, if you don't wish to get chafed at every turn, fold up your pride carefully, and put it under lock and key, and only let it out to air on grand occasions. It is a garment all stiff brocade outside, and all grating sackcloth on the side next to the skin. Even kings do not wear the dalmaticum except at a coronation."

"Give, and you may keep your friend if you lose your money; lend, and the chances are that you lose your friend if ever you get back your money."

"In belief lies the secret of all valuable exertion."

"In life, as in whist, hope nothing from the way cards may be dealt to you. Play the cards, whatever they be, to the best of your skill."

"In science, read, by preference, the newest works; in literature, the oldest. The classic literature is always modern. New books revive and redecorate old ideas; old books suggest and invigorate new ideas."

"In these days half our diseases come from neglect of the body, and the over work of the brain. In this railway age the wear and tear of labor and intellect go on without pause or self-pity. We live longer than our forefathers; but we suffer more, from a thousand artificial anxieties and cares. They fatigued only the muscles; we exhaust the finer strength of the nerves."

""It is destiny" - Phrase of the weak human heart! "It is destiny" - dark apology for every error! The strong and virtuous admit no destiny."

"It is not by gray of the hair that one knows the age of the heart."

"It is not wisdom but ignorance that teaches men presumption. Genius may sometimes be arrogant, but nothing is so diffident as knowledge."

""Know thyself," said the old philosopher, "improve thyself," saith the new. Our great object in time is not to waste our passions and gifts on the things external that we must leave behind, but that we cultivate within us all that we can carry into the eternal progress beyond."

"Life consists in the alternate process of learning and unlearning, but it is often wiser to unlearn than to learn."

"Love is the business of the idle, but the idleness of the busy."

"Money never can be well managed if sought solely through the greed of money for its own sake. In all meanness there is a defect of intellect as well as of heart. And event he cleverness of avarice is but the cunning of imbecility."

"Music, once admitted to the soul, becomes a sort of spirit, and never dies. It wanders perturbedly through the halls and galleries of the memory, and is often heard again, distinct and living as when it first displaced the wavelets of the air."

"No reproach is like that we clothe in a smile, and present with a bow."

"Nothing ages like laziness."

"Life, that ever needs forgiveness, has, for its first duty, to forgive. "