English Enlightened Author, Nature Writer, Essayist and Novelist
"I believe all manner of asceticism to be the vilest blasphemy - blasphemy towards the whole of the human race. I believe in the flesh and the body, which is worthy of worship."
"How can I adequately express my contempt for the assertion that all things occur for the best, for a wise and beneficent end, and are ordered by a human intelligence! It is the most utter falsehood and a crime against the human race."
"It is eternity now. I am in the midst of it. It is about me in the sunshine; I am in it, as the butterfly floats in the light-laden air. Nothing has to come, it is now. Now is the eternity; now is the immortal life. Here this moment, by this tumulus, on earth, now; I exist in it."
"When I consider that I dwell this moment in the eternal Now that has ever been and will be, that I am in the midst of immortal things this moment, that there probably are souls as infinitely superior to mine as mine to a piece of timber – what, then, is a “miracle.”?"
"There is an immense ocean over which the mind can sail, upon which the vessel of thought has not yet been launched."
"Ever since the world began it has been the belief of mankind that desolate places are the special haunt of supernatural beings... In the olden times in our own fair England, and not so long ago either, there was not a wild and unfrequented place which had not got its special spirit."
"By night the stars shine, and there is no fathoming the dark spaces between these brilliant points, nor the thoughts that come as it were between the fixed stars and landmarks of the mind."
"Alone in the green-roofed cave, alone with the sunlight and the pure water, there was a sense of something more than these. The water was more to me than water, and the sun than sun. The gleaming rays on the water in my palm held me for a moment, the touch of the water gave me something from itself. A moment, and the gleam was gone, the water flowing away, but I had had them. Beside the physical water and physical light I had received from them their beauty; they had communicated to me this silent mystery. The pure and beautiful water, the pure, clear, and beautiful light, each had given me some"
"Above the elms, all the stars in turn, shining in the night. The shadow of Venus, mighty Orion and brilliant Sirius, the bright constellations, the great and lesser dog, Orion's belt and Orion's hound; Arcturus, brilliant star in Bootes, and Capella, so bright in summer, as each in their turn they shone over the elms. They shone in my mind, they became part of my life. The beauty of the night sky is not to be written, but it was felt. Above the elms, all the stars in their turn, beneath the mild airs of summers, in the cold crisp frosts of winter, I watched them above the elms, shining in the sky. They brought to me the thought of greatness of soul. Alone with my thought beneath the stars I prayed in the night. The hours illuminated by the stars were full of beauty and of deep soul prayer."
"At each step the yoke of artificial life lightens on the shoulder; and at the summit falls away. The heart beats faster, being free; and the mind opens to the opening horizon. So intimately are the body and the mind bound together that, as the one climbs, the other aspires; and on the ridge, we walk on a level above our old selves left beneath us."
"Give me life strong and full as the brimming ocean; give me thoughts wide as its plain; give me a soul beyond these. Sweet is the bitter sea by the shore where the faint blue pebbles are lapped by the green-grey wave, where the wind-quiver"
"Here a beautiful star shines clearly; here a constellation is hidden by a branch; a universe by a leaf. Some mental instrument or organon is required to enable us to distinguish between the leaf which may be removed and a real void: when to cease to look in one direction, and to work in another."
"I cannot leave it; I must stay under the old tree in the midst of the long grass, the luxury of the leaves, and the song in the very air. I seem as if I could feel all the glowing life the sunshine gives and the south wind calls to being. The endless grass, the endless leaves, the immense strength of the oak expanding, the unalloyed joy of finch and blackbird; from them all I receive a little. Each gives me something of the pure joy they gather for themselves... The exceeding beauty of the earth, in her splendor of life, yields a new thought with every petal. The hours when the mind is absorbed by beauty are the only hours when we really live... These are the only hours that are not wasted -- these hours that absorb the soul and fill it with beauty. This is real life, and all else is illusion, or mere endurance. Does this reverie of flowers and waterfall and song form an ideal, a human ideal, in the mind? It does; much the same ideal that Phidias sculptured of man and woman filled with a godlike sense of the violet fields of Greece, beautiful beyond thought, calm as my turtle-dove before the lurid lightning of the unknown. To be beautiful and to be calm, without mental fear, is the ideal of nature. If I cannot achieve it, at least I can think it."
"I feel so outside the general feeling. I have nothing in common with them, nor have they anything in sympathy with me."
"Let us get of these indoor narrow modern days, whose twelve hours somehow have become shortened, into the sunlight and the pure wind. A something that the ancients thought divine can be found and felt there still."
"I pray that I may have a deeper, broader, wider life. Do not let me be drawn down and destroyed in the despicable cares and ambitions of daily work. Like the weeds in the water that twist around the limbs of a swimmer, they are forever entangling the mind, dragging it down into the mire. . . I cannot take an interest in daily life, in household things, in the goings on of the city; nor even the accumulation of money; no, not even in fame. They are all a weariness of spirit to me, utterly little, and lifeless."
"Lose not a moment's chance of contemplating beauty; each of these seconds while the day changes into night is precious; in this is life. I go out into the fields and hills, in the sunshine and the air, and I become full of certain thoughts and feelings: I return towards the houses and find every one of those aspirations and ideas jarred upon."
"More deeply still with living human beauty; the perfection of form, the simple fact of forms, ravished and always will ravish me away. In this lies the outcome and end of all the loveliness of sunshine and green leaf, of flowers, pure water and sweet air. This is embodiment and highest expression; the scattered, uncertain, and designless loveliness of tree and sunshine brought to shape. Through this beauty I prayed deepest and longest, and down to this hour. The shape the divine idea of that shape the swelling muscle or the dreamy limb, strong sinew or curve of bust, Aphrodite or Hercules, it is the same. That I may have the soul-life, the soul-nature, let the divine beauty bring to me divine soul."
"Let anyone who possesses a vivid imagination and a highly-wrought nervous system, even now, in this century, with all the advantages of learning and science, go and sit among the rocks, or in the depths of the wood, and think of immortality, and all that that word really means, and by-and-by a mysterious awe will creep into the mind, and it will half believe in the possibility of seeing or meeting something -- something -- it knows not exactly what."
"Let us always be out of doors among trees and grass, and rain and wind and sun. There the breeze comes and strikes the cheek and sets it aglow: the gale increases and the trees creak and roar, but it is only a ruder music. A calm follows, the sun shines in the sky, and it is the time to sit under an oak, leaning against the bark, while the birds sing and the air is soft and sweet."
"Near the farmhouse, the laborer is full of his horse and cart, thinking of nothing, without one spark of high thought, the farmer is the same. At the town the butcher and baker and tradesmen are the same"
"Let us get out of these narrow modern days whose twelve hours somehow have been shortened, into the sunlight and pure wind, with the sea, and hills and mighty trees. Face to face with these realities."
"My soul cannot reach to its full desire of prayer. I need no earth, or sea, or sun to think my thought. If my thought-part"
"Never, never rest contented with any circle of ideas, but always be certain that a wider one is still possible. Not only in grass fields with green leaf and running brook did this constant desire find renewal."
"No-one else seems to have seen the sparkle on the brook, or heard the music at the hatch, or to have felt back through the centuries; and when I try to describe these things to them they look at me with stolid incredulity. No-one seems to understand how I get food from the clouds, nor what there was in the night, nor why it is not so good to look at it out of a window."
"Or it is morning on the hills, when Hope is as wide as the world; or it is the evening on the shore"
"Stars seen through the white railings filled the heavens with pure light. All the stars from Arcturus to Capella in turn above the elms as seasons passed, and the moon which waxed and waned month by month. Lying on the grass I watched them in the night. Sometimes beneath the trees in the orchard, lying on my back, when the nights were warm I gazed at the sky through the branches of trees which were silvered by the light of the stars, and the sky cut, as it were, into bright pieces by the intervening leaves."
"Seldom do we realize that the world is practically no thicker to us than the print of our footsteps on the path. Upon that surface we walk and act our comedy of life, and what is beneath is nothing to us. But it is out from that under-world, from the dead and the unknown, from the cold moist ground, that these green blades have sprung."
"So wedded and so confirmed is the world in its narrow grove of self, so stolid and so complacent under the immense weight of misery, so callous to its own possibilities, and so grown to its chains, that I almost despair to see it awakened."
"The joy of the wind, the sense of living a life that is so much larger and deeper than that within doors or towns"
"There is a hill to which I used to resort... The labour of walking three miles to it, all the while gradually ascending, seemed to clear my blood of the heaviness accumulated at home. On a warm summer day the slow continued rise required continual effort, which carried away the sense of oppression. The familiar everyday scene was soon out of sight; I came to other trees, meadows, and fields; I began to breathe a new air and to have a fresher aspiration... Moving up the sweet short turf, at every step my heart seemed to obtain a wider horizon of feeling; with every inhalation of rich pure air, a deeper desire. The very light of the sun was whiter and more brilliant here. By the time I had reached the summit I had entirely forgotten the petty circumstances and the annoyances of existence. I felt myself, myself."
"The soul throbs like the sea for a larger life. No thought which I have ever had has satisfied my soul."
"There is something beyond the philosophies in the light, in the grass-blades, the leaf, the grasshopper, the sparrow on the wall. Someday the great and beautiful thought which hovers on the confines of the mind will at last alight. In that is hope, the whole sky is full of abounding hope. Something beyond the books, that is consolation."