Letitia Elizabeth Landon

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Letitia Elizabeth Landon

Letitia Elizabeth Landon (August 14, 1802 – October 15, 1838) was an English poet and novelist, better known by her initials L. E. L.. She was one of the richest sources of epigrams in the early nineteenth century and one reviewer compared her to Rochefoucauld. Sometimes she adopts an adversarial role, giving contradictory viewpoints. Some of her thoughts recur, either developed or refined but over time, she also threw out differing opinions on some subjects; changeability, she argues, is one of our principal traits and, as she has one character remark, truth is like the philosopher's stone, a thing not to be discovered.

See also
Romance and Reality
Francesca Carrara
Ethel Churchill (or The Two Brides)
Lady Anne Granard (or Keeping up Appearances)


The Fate of Adelaide (1821)[edit]

  • Romantic Switzerland! thy scenes are traced
    With characters of strange wild loveliness,
    Beauty and desolation, side by side;
    Here lofty rocks uprise, where nature seems
    To dwell alone in silent majesty;
    Rob'd by the snow, her stately palace fram'd
    Of the white hills; towering in all their pride,
    The frost's gigantic mounds are lost in clouds,
    Like to vast castles rear'd in middle air.
    The ice has sculptur'd too strange imagery—
    Obelisks, columns, spires, fantastic piles;
    Some like the polish'd marble, others clear
    As the rock crystal, others sparkling with
    The hues that melt along the sunborn bow.
    • Canto I, I opening lines
  • And o'er them lowers destruction, high in air,
    Upon those jutting crags, whose rugged sides,
    Riven in fragments, and like ruins pil'd,
    Seem as that giants of those ancient days
    When earthborn creatures braved th' Olympic Gods,
    Those of whom fable tells, had torn away
    Rocks from their solid base, and with strong arm,
    Parted the mountains: there the avalanche hangs,
    Mighty, but tremulous; just a light breath
    Will loosen it from off its airy throne;
    Then down it hurls in wrath, like to the sound
    Of thunder amid storms, or as the voice
    Of rushing waters—death in its career.
    • Canto I, I

The Improvisatrice (1824)[edit]

  • I am a daughter of that land,
    Where the poet’s lip and the painter’s hand
    Are most divine, —where the earth and sky,
    Are picture both and poetry—
    I am of Florence.
    • Title Poem
  • Statues but known from shapes of the earth,
    By being too lovely for mortal birth;
    Paintings whose colours of life were caught
    From the fairy tints in the rainbow wrought;
    Music whose sighs had a spell like those
    That float on the sea at the evening’s close
    Language so silvery, that every word
    Was like the lute’s awakening chord;
    • Title Poem
  • My power was but a woman’s power;
    Yet, in that great and glorious dower
    Which Genius gives, I had my part:
    I poured my full and burning heart
    • Title Poem
  • But Love’s bright fount is never pure;
    And all his pilgrims must endure
    All passion’s mighty suffering
    Ere they may reach the blessed spring.
    • Title Poem
  • It was my evil star above,
    Not my sweet lute, that wrought me wrong;
    It was not song that taught me love,
    But it was love that taught me song.
    • Title Poem
  • There are a thousand fanciful things
    Linked round the young heart's imaginings.
    In its first love-dream, a leaf or a flower
    Is gifted then with a spell and a power:
    A shade is an omen, a dream is a sign,
    From which the maiden can well divine
    Passion's whole history.
    • Title Poem
  • It is most sad to watch the fall
    Of autumn leaves!--but worst of all
    It is to watch the flower of spring
    Faded in its fresh blossoming!
    • Title Poem
  • I loved him as young Genius loves,
    When its own wild and radiant heaven
    Of starry thought burns with the light,
    The love, the life, by passion given.
    I loved him, too, as woman loves--
    Reckless of sorrow, sin, or scorn:
    Life had no evil destiny
    That, with him, I could not have borne!
    • Title Poem
  • It is a night of summer,—and the sea
    Sleeps, like a child, in mute tranquillity.
    Soft o'er the deep-blue wave the moonlight breaks;
    Gleaming, from out the white clouds of its zone,
    • Rosalie.
  • Then they were silent:—words are little aid
    To Love, whose deepest vows are ever made
    By the heart's beat alone. Oh, silence is
    Love's own peculiar eloquence of bliss!
    • Rosalie.
  • How very desolate that breast must be,
    Whose only joyance is in memory!
    And what must woman suffer, thus betrayed?—
    Her heart's most warm and precious feelings made
    But things wherewith to wound: that heart—so weak,
    So soft—laid open to the vulture's beak!
    • Rosalie.
  • It must be worth a life of toil and care,—
    Worth those dark chains the wearied one must bear
    Who toils up fortune's steep,—all that can wring
    The worn-out bosom with lone-suffering,—
    Worth restlessness, oppression, goading fears,
    And long-deferred hopes of many years,—
    To reach again that little quiet spot,
    So well loved once, and never quite forgot;—
    To trace again the steps of infancy,
    And catch their freshness from their memory!
    • Rosalie.
  • There was a grave just closed. Not one seemed near,
    To pay the tribute of one long—last tear!
    How very desolate must that one be,
    Whose more than grave has not a memory!
    • Rosalie.
  • I do love violets:
    They tell the history of woman's love;
    They open with the earliest breath of spring;
    Lead a sweet life of perfume, dew, and light;
    And, if they perish, perish with a sigh
    Delicious as that life.
    • Roland's Tower
  • Love is like the glass,
    That throws its own rich colour over all,
    And makes all beautiful.
    • Roland's Tower
  • Delicious tears! the heart's own dew. 

    • The Guerilla Chief
  • 'Tis something, if in absence we can see
    The footsteps of the past:—it soothes the heart
    To breathe the air scented in other years
    By lips beloved; to wander through the groves
    Where once we were not lonely,—
    • The Guerilla Chief
  • And the hall is lone, and the hall is drear,
    For the smiling of woman shineth not here.
  • The loorie brought to his cinnamon nest.
    The bee from the midst of its honey quest,
    And open the leaves of the lotus lay
    To welcome the noon of the summer day.
  • Yet gazed MANDALLA on the square
    As she he sought still glided there,—
    Oh that fond look, whose eyeballs’ strain,
    And will not know its look is vain!
    At length he turned,—his silent mood
    Sought that impassioned solitude,
    The Eden of young hearts, when first
    Love in its loneliness is nurst.
  • An Alma girl! oh shame, deep shame,
    To Brahma's race and Brahma's name!
    Unmarked, unpitied, she turned aside,
    For a moment her bursting tears to hide.
    None thought of the Bayadere, till the fire
    Blazed redly and fiercely the funeral pyre,
    Then like a thought she darted by,
    And sprang on the burning pile to die!
    • The Bayadere from The London Literary Gazette (30th August, 6th and 13th September 1823)
  • Death’s a fearful thing when we must count its steps!
  • How many glorious structures we had raised
    Upon Hope's sandy basis!
    • St. George’s Hospital, Hyde Park Corner from London Literary Gazette (25th May 1822) Poetic Sketches. Second Series - Sketch the Fourth
  • It is a sweet, albeit most painful, feeling
    To know we are regretted.
  • His cheek was pale as marble, and as cold;
    But his lip trembled not, and his dark eyes
    Glanced proudly round. But when they bared his breast
    For the death-shot, and took a portrait thence,
    He clenched his hands, and gasped, and one deep sob
    Of agony burst from him; and he hid
    His face awhile—his mother's look was there.
    He could not steel his soul when he recalled
    The bitterness of her despair. It passed—
    That moment of wild anguish; he knelt down;
    That sunbeam shed its glory over one,
    Young, proud, and brave, nerved in deep energy;
    The next fell over cold and bloody clay. . . .
    • The Deserter from The London Literary Gazette (8th June 1822) Poetic Sketches. Second Series - Sketch the Sixth
  • How I pity those whose childhood has been unhappy! to them one of the sweetest springs of feeling has been utterly denied, the most green and beautiful part of life laid waste.
  • Thrice hallowed shrine
    Of the heart's intercourse, our own fireside!
    • Gladesmuir from The London Literary Gazette (14th September 1822) Poetical Sketches. Third series - Sketch the Second
  • Oh, all
    Know love is woman's happiness.
  • Hope is love's happiness, but not its life;—
    How many hearts have nourished a vain flame
    In silence and in secret, though they knew
    They fed the scorching fire that would consume them!
  • — a poet's love
    Is immortality!
    • The Minstrel of Portugal from The London Literary Gazette (21st September 1822)
  • All, lingering, stayed to gaze
    Upon this Eden of the painter's art,
    And looking on its loveliness, forgot
    The crowded world around them!—
  • Ah! love is even more fragile than its gifts!
    A tress of raven hair:--oh, only those
    Whose souls have felt this one idolatry
    Can tell how precious is the slightest thing
    Affection gives and hallows.
  • Love, thou hast hopes like summers, short and bright,
    Moments of ecstasy, and maddening dreams,
    Intense delicious throbs!
    • The Basque girl and Henri Quatre from The London Literary Gazette (12th October 1822)
  • AND the muffled drum rolled on the air,
    Warriors with stately step were there;
    On every arm was the black crape bound,
    Every carbine was turned to the ground:
    Solemn the sound of their measured tread,
    As silent and slow they followed the dead.
    The riderless horse was led in the rear,
    There were white plumes waving over the bier:
    Helmet and sword were laid on the pall,
    For it was a soldier's funeral.
  • He knelt him down on the new-raised mound,
    His face was bowed on the cold damp ground,
    He raised his head, his tears were done,
    The father had prayed o'er his only son!
    • The Soldier's Funeral from The London Literary Gazette (16th November 1822)
  • I left my home, and I was left
    A stranger in his land, bereft
    Of even hope; there was not one
    Familiar face to look upon.—
    Their speech was strange.
  • I would not even have him weep
    O'er his Italian love's last sleep.
    Oh, tears are a most worthless token,
    When hearts they would have soothed are broken.
    • The Painter's Love from The London Literary Gazette (14th December 1822)
  • The lines were fill'd with many a tender thing,
    All the impassion'd heart's fond communing.
    • Written under a Picture of a Girl Burning a Love Letter from The London Literary Gazette (16th November 1822) Fragments in Rhyme II - Lines Written under a Picture of a Girl Burning a Love Letter
  • What is the light of a poet's name,
    If it is not his country that hallows his fame?
    Where may he look for guerdon so fair
    As the honour and praise that await him there?
    His name will be lost and his grave forgot,
    If the tears of his country preserve them not! . . .
  • He sung,—the notes at first were low,
    Like the whispers of love, or the breathings of woe:
    The waters were hushed, and the winds were stay'd,
    As he sang his farewell to his Lesbian maid!
    • Arion from The London Literary Gazette (23rd November 1822) Fragments in Rhyme IV
  • Pillowed on a lotus flower,
    Gathered in a summer hour,
    Rides he o'er the mountain wave
    Which would be a tall ship's grave!
    At his back his bow is slung,
    Sugar-cane, with wild bees strung,—
  • Yet one arrow has a power
    Lasting till life's latest hour--
    Weary day and sleepless night,
    Lightning gleams of fierce delight,
    Fragrant and yet poisoned sighs,
    Agonies and ecstasies;
    Hopes, like fires amid the gloom,
    Lighting only to consume!
  • Well may storm be on the sky,
    And the waters roll on high,
    When MANMADIN passes by.
    Earth below and heaven above
    Well may bend to thee, oh Love!
    • Manmadin, The Indian Cupid. Floating down the Ganges from The London Literary Gazette (14th December 1822) Fragments in Rhyme VII
  • Love is a pearl of purest hue,
    But stormy waves are round it;
    And dearly may a woman rue,
    The hour that she found it.
  • —for earth were too like heaven,
    If length of life to love were given.
  • Oh, fame is as the moon above,
    Whose sun of light and life is love.
    There is more in the smile of one gentle eye
    Then the thousand pages of history;
    Than the loudest plaudits the crowd can raise.
    Take the gems in glory's coronal,
    And one smile of beauty is worth them all.—
    • Inez from The London Literary Gazette (24th May 1823)
  • Violets! — deep-blue violets!
    April's loveliest coronets!
    There are no flowers grow in the vale,
    Kiss'd by the dew, wooed by the gale, —
    None by the dew of the twilight wet,
    So sweet as the deep-blue violet!
    • The Violet
  • But this is as a dream, — the plough has pass'd
    Where the stag bounded, and the day has looked
    On the green twilight of the forest-trees.
    This Oak has no companion ! - - - -
    • The Oak from The London Literary Gazette (19th April 1823) Fragments
  • They met with cold words, and yet colder looks:
    Each was changed in himself, and yet each thought
    The other only changed, himself the same.
    • Change from The London Literary Gazette (23rd August 1823)
  • He had a power; in his eye
    There was a quenchless energy,
    A spirit that could dare
    The deadliest form that Death could take,
    And dare it for the daring's sake.
    • Crescentius from The London Literary Gazette (19th July 1823) Execution of Crescentius
  • It is a gem which hath the power to show
    If plighted lovers keep their faith or no :
    If faithful, it is like the leaves of spring ;
    If faithless, like those leaves when withering.
    • The Emerald Ring — a Superstition from The London Literary Gazette (28th December 1822) Fragments in Rhyme XI
  • And this is Love! Oh! why should woman love;
    Wasting her dearest feelings, till health, hope,
    Happiness, are but things of which henceforth
    She'll only know the name?
    • Love
  • Love may be increased with fears,
    May be fanned with sighs,
    Nurst by fancies, fed by doubts
    But without Hope it dies!
    • Love, Hope and Beauty
  • The day is past, and the moonbeams weep
    O'er the many that rest in their last cold sleep;
    Near to the gashed and the nerveless hand
    Is the pointless spear and the broken brand;
    The archer lies like an arrow spent,
    His shafts all loose and his bow unbent;
    Many a white plume torn and red,
    Bright curls rent from the graceful head,
    Helmet and breast-plate scattered around,
    Lie a fearful show on the well-fought ground;
    While the crow and the raven flock overhead
    To feed on the hearts of the helpless dead,
    Save when scared by the glaring eye
    Of some wretch in his last death agony.
    • The Warrior from The London Literary Gazette (25th October 1823) Sketch
  • Oh, softest is the cheek's love-ray
    When seen by moonlight hours
    Other roses seek the day,
    But blushes are night flowers.
    • When Should Lover’s Breathe Their Vows from The London Literary Gazette (24th November 1821)

The Troubadour (1825)[edit]

  • For his was now the loveliest part
    Of the young poet's life, when first,
    In solitude and silence nurst,
    His genius rises like a spring
    Unnoticed in its wandering;
    Ere winter cloud or summer ray
    Have chill'd, or wasted it away,
    • Canto I
  • Alas! for him whose youthful fire
    Is vowed and wasted on the lyre,—
    Alas! for him who shall essay,
    The laurel's long and dreary way!
    Mocking will greet, neglect will chill
    His spirit's gush, his bosom's thrill;
    And, worst of all, that heartless praise
    Echoed from what another says.
    • Canto I
  • 'Tis not for Spring to think on all
    The sear and waste of Autumn's fall: —
    • Canto I
  • Oh, where is there the heart but knows
    Love's first steps are upon the rose!
    • Canto I
  • Alas! that every lovely thing
    Lives only but for withering,—
    That spring rainbows and summer shine
    End but in autumn's pale decline.
    • Canto I
  • The cold north wind which bows to earth
    The lightness of the willow's birth
    Bends not the mountain cedar trees;
    Folding their branches from the breeze,
    They stand as if they could defy
    The utmost rage of storm and sky.
    • Canto I
  • Oh, she had yet the task to learn
    How often woman's heart must turn
    To feed upon its own excess
    Of deep yet passionate tenderness!
    How much of grief the heart must prove
    That yields a sanctuary to love!
    • Canto I
  • The first, the very first; oh! none
    Can feel again as they have done;
    In love, in war, in pride, in all
    The planets of life's coronal,
    However beautiful or bright,—
    What can be like their first sweet light?
    • Canto II
  • Autumn was falling, but the pine
    Seem'd as it mock'd all change; no sign
    Of season on its leaf was seen,
    The same dark gloom of changeless green.
    But like the gorgeous Persian bands
    'Mid the stern race of northern lands,
    The chesnut boughs were bright with all
    That gilds and mocks the autumn's fall.
    • Canto II
  • Oh, love is timid in its birth!
    Watching her lightest look or stir,
    As he but look'd and breathed with her.
    Gay words were passing, but he leant
    In silence; yet, one quick glance sent,—
    His secret is no more his own,
    When has woman her power not known?
    • Canto II
  • Awakening hope has named the name
    Of love, or blown its spark to flame.
    Restlessness, but as the winds range
    From leaf to leaf, from flower to flower;
    Changefulness, but as rainbows change,
    From colour'd sky to sunlit hour.
    Ay, well indeed may minstrel sing,—
    What have the heart and year like spring?
    • Canto II
  • Where is the heart that has not bow'd
    A slave, eternal Love, to thee:
    Look on the cold, the gay, the proud,
    And is there one among them free?
    • Canto II
  • Pure as the snow the summer sun
    Never at noon hath look'd upon, —
    Deep, as is the diamond wave,
    Hidden in the desart cave, —
    Changeless, as the greenest leaves
    Of the wreath the cypress weaves, —
    Hopeless, often, when most fond,
    Without hope or fear beyond
    Its own pale fidelity, —
    And this woman's love can be!
    • Canto II
  • The scar of fire, the dint of steel,
    Are easier than Love's wounds to heal.
    • Canto II
  • I LOVED her! ay, I would have given
    A death-bed certainty of heaven
    If I had thought it could confer
    The least of happiness on her!
    • Canto III
  • I kiss'd her lips: oh, God, the chill!
    My heart is frozen with it still:—
    It was as suddenly on me
    Open'd my depths of misery.
    I flung me on the ground, and raved,
    And of the wind that past me craved
    One breath of poison, till my blood
    From lip and brow gush'd in one flood.
    I watch'd the warm stream of my veins
    Mix with the death wounds clotted stains;
    Oh! how I pray'd that I might pour
    My heart's tide, and her life restore!
    • Canto III
  • I was borne on an eagle's wing,
    Till with the noon-sun perishing;
    Then I stood in a world alone,
    From which all other life was gone,
    Whence warmth, and breath, and light were fled,
    A world o'er which a curse was said:
    The trees stood leafless all, and bare,
    The sky spread, but no sun was there:
    Night came, no stars were on her way,
    Morn came without a look of day,—
    As night and day shared one pale shroud,
    Without a colour or a cloud.
    And there were rivers, but they stood
    Without a murmur on the flood,
    Waveless and dark, their task was o'er,—
    The sea lay silent on the shore,
    Without a sign upon its breast
    Save of interminable rest:
    And there were palaces and halls,
    But silence reign'd amid their walls,
    Though crowds yet fill'd them; for no sound
    Rose from the thousands gather'd round;
    All wore the same white, bloodless hue,
    All the same eyes of glassy blue,
    Meaningless, cold, corpse-like as those
    No gentle hand was near to close.
    And all seem'd, as they look'd on me,
    In wonder that I yet could be
    A moving shape of warmth and breath
    Alone amid a world of death.
    • Canto III
  • There is an indolence in grief
    Which will not even seek relief.
    What is the toil, or care, or pain,
    The human heart cannot sustain?
    Enough if struggling can create
    A change or colour in our fate;
    But where's the spirit that can cope
    With listless suffering, when hope,
    The last of misery's allies,
    Sickens of its sweet self, and dies.
    • Canto III
  • Oh! what is memory but a gift
    Within a ruin'd temple left,
    Recalling what its beauties were,
    And then presenting what they are.
    • Canto III
  • 'Tis strange with how much power and pride
    The softness is of love allied;
    How much of power to force the breast
    To be in outward show at rest,—
    How much of pride that never eye
    May look upon its agony!
    Ah! little will the lip reveal
    Of all the burning heart can feel.
    • Canto IV
  • Oh! why should woman ever love,
    Trusting to one false star above;
    And fling her little chance away
    Of sunshine for its treacherous ray.
    • Canto IV
  • 'Tis strange how the heart can create
    Or colour from itself its fate;
    We make ourselves our own distress,
    We are ourselves our happiness.
    • Canto IV
  • "There is a steep and lofty wall,
    Where my warders trembling stand,
    He who at speed shall ride round its height,
    For him shall be my hand."
    • Canto IV
  • —music's power
    Is little felt in sunlit hour;
    But hear its voice when hopes depart,
    Like swallows, flying from the heart
    On which the summer's late decline
    Has set a sadness and a sign;. . . . . .
    How deeply will the spirit feel
    The lute, the song's sweet-voiced appeal;
    And how the heart drink in their sighs
    As echoes they from Paradise.
    • Canto IV
  • There is a flower, a snow-white flower,
    Fragile as if a morning shower
    Would end its being, and the earth
    Forget to what it gave a birth;
    And it looks innocent and pale,
    Slight as the least force could avail
    To pluck it from its bed, and yet
    Its root in depth and strength is set.
    The July sun, the autumn rain,
    Beat on its slender stalk in vain;—
    Around it spreads, despite of care,
    Till the whole garden is its share;
    And other plants must fade and fall
    Beneath its deep and deadly thrall.
    This is love's emblem; it is nurst
    In all unconciousness at first,
    Too slight, too fair, to wake distrust;
    No sign how that an after hour
    Will rue and weep its fatal power.
    • Canto IV
  • Never, dear father, love can be,
    Like the dear love I had for thee!
    • Canto IV
  • Alas, tears are the poet's heritage!
    • Juliet after the Masquerade. By Thompson
  • It was no fancy, he had named the name
    Of love, and at that thought her cheek grew flame:
    • Juliet after the Masquerade. By Thompson
  • ... oh! love will last
    When all that made it happiness is past,—
    When all its hopes are as the glittering toys
    Time present offers, time to come destroys,—
    • Juliet after the Masquerade. By Thompson
  • The dying chief sprang to his knee,
    And the staunch'd wounds well'd fearfully;
    But his gash'd arm, what is it now?
    Livid his lip, and black his brow,
    While over him the slayer stood,
    As if he almost scorn'd the blood
    That cost so little to be won,—
    He strikes,—the work of death is done!
    • The Combat. By Etty
  • During slumber's magic reign
    Other times shall live again;
    • The Fairy Queen Sleeping. By Stothart
  • Beautiful language! Love's peculiar, own,
    But only to the spring and summer known.
    • The Oriental Nosegay. By Pickersgill
  • AY, screen thy favourite dove, fair child,
    Ay, screen it if you may,—
    Yet I misdoubt thy trembling hand
    Will scare the hawk away.
    • A Child Screening a Dove from a Hawk. By Stewartson
  • It matters not its history; love has wings
    Like lightning , swift and fatal, and it springs
    Like a wild flower where it is least expected,
    Existing whether cherish'd or rejected;
    • A Girl at her Devotions. By Newton
  • He fell as other thousands do,
    Trampled down where they fall,
    While on a single name is heap'd
    The glory gain'd by all.
    Yet even he whose common grave
    Lies in the open fields,
    Died not without a thought of all
    The joy that glory yields.
    • The Record

The Golden Violet (1827)[edit]

  • Thou know'st how fearless is my trust in thee.
    • The Golden Violet - The Child of the Sea
  • So much to win, so much to lose,
    No marvel that I fear to choose.
    • The Golden Violet - title poem
  • Music moves us, and we know not why;
    We feel the tears, but cannot trace their source.
    Is it the language of some other state,
    Born of its memory ? For what can wake
    The soul's strong instinct of another world,
    Like music?
    • Erinna

The Venetian Bracelet (1829)[edit]

  • Deceit is this world's passport: who would dare,
    However pure the breast, to lay it bare?
    • Title poem
  • Why should I love? flinging down pearl and gem
    To those who scorn, at least care not for them:
    Why should I hate? as blades in scabbards melt,
    I have no power to make my hatred felt;
    • Title poem
  • How much we give to other hearts our tone,
    And judge of others' feelings by our own!
    • Title poem, section IV.
  • Her rival—hers—language has not a word
    By woman's ear so utterly abhorr'd.
    No marvel, for it robs her only part
    Of sweet dominion—empire o'er the heart.
    • Title poem, section IV.
  • She sleeps!—so sleeps the wretch beside the stake:
    She sleeps!—how dreadful from such sleep to wake!
    • Title poem, section V.
  • Who has not loathed that worst, that waking hour,
    When grief and consciousness assert their power;
    When misery has morn's freshness, yet we fain
    Would hold it as a dream, and sleep again;
    • Title poem, section VI.
  • There are remembrances that will not vanish,—
    Thoughts of the past we would but cannot banish:
    As if to show how impotent mere will,
    We loathe the pang, and yet must suffer still:
    For who is there can say they will forget?
    —It is a power no science teaches yet.
    • Title poem, section VII.
  • Alas! alas! how plague-spot like will sin
    Spread over the wrung heart it enters in!
    • Title poem, section VIII.
  • The sudden start, the rapid step once more,—
    As if it would annihilate the time:—
    But who may paint the solitude of crime?
    • Title poem, section IX.
  • -- social life is fill’d
    With doubts and vain aspirings; solitude,
    When the imagination is dethroned,
    Is turned to weariness.
    • A History of the Lyre
  • Alas! we make
    A ladder of our thoughts, where angels step,
    But sleep ourselves at the foot: our high resolves
    Look down upon our slumbering acts.
    • A History of the Lyre
  • Another year, another year,—
    Alas! and must it be
    That Time's most dark and weary wheel
    Must turn again for me?
    • New Year's Eve
  • I would give worlds, could I believe
    One-half that is profess'd me;
    Affection! could I think it Thee,
    When Flattery has caress'd me.
    • Song - I pray thee let me weep to-night
  • My tears are buried in my heart, like cave-locked fountains sleeping.
    • Song - I pray thee let me weep to-night

Heath's book of Beauty, 1833 (1832)[edit]

  • For a discussion of some of the contents of this significant cultural volume, see Adriana Craciun, ‘Fatal Women of Romanticism’, Cambridge University Press, 2004, page 204. The section ‘The Enchantress’ here begins by describing that first story as a ‘self-consciously Byronic text’ that ‘develops a Promethean, distinctly Luciferian model of poetic identity and self-creation’.

The Enchantress

  • Water—the mighty, the pure, the beautiful, the unfathomable—where is thy element so glorious as it is in thine own domain, the deep seas ? What an infinity of power is in the far Atlantic, the boundary of two separate worlds, apart like those of memory and of hope ! or in the bright Pacific, whose tides are turned to gold by a southern sun, and in whose bosom sleep a thousand isles, each covered with the verdure, the flowers, and the fruit of Eden ! But, amid all thy hereditary kingdoms, to which hast thou given beauty, as a birthright, lavishly as thou hast to thy favourite Mediterranean ? The silence of a summer night is now sleeping on its bosom, where the bright stars are mirrored, as if in its depths they had another home and another heaven. A spirit, cleaving air midway between the two, might have paused to ask which was sea, and which was sky. The shadows of earth and earthly things, resting omen-like upon the waters, alone shewed which was the home and which the mirror of the celestial host.
  • We step not over the threshold of childhood till led by Love
  • Strange, that ignorance should be our best happiness in this life, and yet be the one we are ever striving to destroy !
  • The weakness of our nature—how soon any strong emotion masters it !
  • I had lost of humanity but its illusions, and they alone are what render it supportable.
  • Truly, night was made for sleep; since to its wakeful hours belongs an oppression unknown to the very dreariest hours of day. The stillness is so deep, the solitude so unbroken, the fever brought on by want of rest so weakens the nerves, that the imagination exercises despotic and unwholesome power, till, if the heart have a fear or a sorrow, up it arises in all the force and terror of gigantic exaggeration.
  • For when do friends not delight in the sorrow of the prosperous?
  • He who seeks pleasure with reference to himself, not others, will ever find that pleasure is only another name for discontent.
  • In sad truth, half our forebodings of our neighbours are but our own wishes, which we are ashamed to utter in any other form.
  • How often will the lip frame some indifferent question, when the heart is full of the most important!

The Talisman

  • How strong is the love of the country in all indwellers of towns !
  • Curious it is that every hour of our day is repeated from myriad chimes; and yet how rarely do we attend to the clock striking ! Alas ! how emblematic is this of the way in which we neglect the many signs of time ! How terrible, when we think of what time may achieve, is the manner in which we waste it! At the end of every man's life, at least three-quarters of the mighty element of which that life was composed will be found void—lost—nay, utterly forgotten ! And yet that time, laboured and husbanded, might have built palaces, gathered wealth, and, still greater, made an imperishable name.
  • Poverty is a terrible thing when it bows to the very ground the pride of the strong man—a terrible thing when it leaves old age destitute : till, the strong man may yet redeem his fortunes, and that old age may have had enjoyment while it was capable of enjoying. But a child, with the step slow from weakness, which from its age should be so buoyant ; a cheek thin and white from hunger, at a period which especially cares for food (for all children are greedy) ; a form shrivelled with cold ; a growth stopped by work too laborious for such tender years ; a spirit broken by toil, want, and harshness ;—is not such a child poverty's most miserable spectacle ? It is, however, a common one.
  • {of Theatres} There, while weeping for sorrows which are not, laughing at the light jest or the ludicrous misadventure, how little is remembered of the want which makes fear the only bond that binds the living to life !
  • Good and evil ! good and evil ! ye are mingled inextricably in the web of our being ; and who may unthread the darker yarn ?
  • There must be some deep-rooted anti-social principle in every man's nature, so dearly does he love aught that separates him from his kind ; or is it but one of the many shapes taken by that mental kaleidoscope, vanity, the varying and the glittering, the desire of distinction, sinking into that of notice?
  • The peasant boy, who followed the coloured track of the rainbow, hoping to find the blue and charmed flower which springs where the arch touches earth, is wiser far than one who gives youth, genius, and time to literature.
  • What a mistake rage is ! anger should never go beyond a sneer, if it really desires revenge.
  • Distinction is purchased at the expense of sympathy
  • We again repeat, that there is no temper so communicative as an imaginative one.
  • … who has not experienced, at some time or other, that words had all the relief of tears?
  • Not that we would detract one iota from the benevolence which does exist in humanity ; there is both more gratitude and more cause for gratitude than it is the fashion now-a-days to admit: but this we do say, that the obligation is never from those on whom we have a claim. Kindness is always unexpected; and “overcomes us like a summer cloud," exciting our "special wonder" as well as thankfulness.
  • What a falsehood it is to say that genius and industry are incompatible ! Does one work of genius exist that has not also been a work of labour ?
  • —to enjoy yourself is the easy method to give enjoyment to others; …

  • A despotic power makes slaves.
  • I rather disdained than coveted the luxuries I saw : alas ! we desire riches more for others than ourselves.
  • —vanity, like all social vices, craves for novelty ;
  • —true love is like religion, it hath its silence and its sanctity.
  • They say gravity is the centre of attraction ; I rather think that noise is. Nothing so soon assembles the inhabitants of a house as a loud and sudden noise : …
  • … when was a woman ever witty without being bitter?
  • To use the established phrase, three months of uninterrupted happiness glided away—a phrase, though in frequent use, whose accuracy I greatly doubt ; there being no such thing as uninterrupted happiness any how or any where.

The Knife

  • The discharge of a duty from affection is the best solace for sorrow.
  • The gallantry of an English peasant rarely expands into words.
  • —what an odd thing it is, that the indications of terror are usually ludicrous !
  • There is no denying the fact, that in all sudden emergencies a woman has ten times the presence of mind, or, to use the common expression, her wits more about her than a man.
  • Death never excites such sympathy as it does when it assumes the shape of murder.
  • Human nature is accused of much more selfishness than it really has ; a thousand kindly emotions break in upon and redeem our daily and interested life.
  • There is a deep impression of awe produced by such a vast but silent crowd ; we are at once conscious that the cause is terrible which can induce the unusual stillness. The issue of a trial on which hangs life or death, is indeed an appalling thing. We know that men are about to take away that which they cannot give—that a few words of human breath will deprive of breath one of the number for ever ; and though we acknowledge that in this evil world punishment is the only security against crime, and that blood for blood has been a necessity from the beginning of time ; still, we feel that the necessity is a dreadful one.
  • How incomprehensible is woman's love ! —it is not kindness that wins it, nor return that insures it; we daily see the most devoted attachment lavished on those who seem to us singularly unworthy. The Spectator shewed his usual knowledge of human nature, when, in speaking on this subject, he relates, that in a town besieged by the enemy, on the women being allowed to depart with whatever they held most precious, only one among them carried off her husband,—a man notorious for his tyrannical temper, and who had, moreover, a bad—or, as it turned out, a good—habit of beating his wife every morning. Well, all governments are maintained by fear—fear being our great principle of action ; and fear, we are tempted to believe, heightens and strengthens the love of woman.
  • The fearless make their own way.
  • Born with them—born with them : all alike ! No pleasure equal to the pleasure of tormenting, to a woman.


  • If we did but know how we rush into one evil while seeking to avoid another, we should have no resolution to shun any thing.
  • Youth's first acquaintance with sorrow is a terrible thing—before time has taught, what it will surely teach, that grief is our natural portion, at once transitory and eternal. But the first lesson is the severest—we have not then looked among our fellows, and seen that suffering is general ; and we feel as if marked out by fate for misery that has no parallel.
  • But as our explanation will be more brief than one broken in upon by words of wonder, regret, and affection, we will proceed to it ; holding that explanation, like advice, should be of all convenient shortness.


  • How beautiful, how buoyant, and glad is morning! The first sunshine on the leaves: the first wind, laden with the first breath of the flowers-that deep sigh with which they seem to waken from sleep; the first dew, untouched even by the light foot of the early hare; the first chirping of the rousing birds, as if eager to begin song and flight; all is redolent of the strength given by rest, and the joy of conscious life.
  • Sound peculiarly appeals to memory.
  • It is a humbling thing to human pride to observe that strength of mind does not preserve its possessor from indulging any favourite delusion; but that this very strength gives its own force to the belief.
  • It is the mistake of a coxcomb, whose experience of affection is all to come—if it ever comes—to say that women are won by mere good looks. Though it does not owe its birth to them. Gratitude and Vanity are the nurses that rock the cradle of Love.
  • What a visionary thing is the independence of youth ! how full of projects, which take the shape of certainties ! How much of rugged and stern experience it requires to convince the young and the eager, that the efforts of an individual unaided by connexion or circumstance, are the true reading of the allegory of the Danaides : —industry and skill, alas, how often are they but water drawn with labour into a bucket full of holes !
  • [From Reginald Clinton]: I do not believe that the heart is turned from the Creator by enjoying his works. Of what avail is the sweet breath of the rose, the morning song of the lark ? The pleasure they impart is not matter of necessity, and yet we delight in both. The soul of the poet is as much His gift as the fragrance of the flower, or the lay of the bird ; and the page where inspired words record heroic deed, touching sorrow, or natural loveliness, is one of those pleasures for which we should be thankful. I, for my part, believe most devoutly in the Almighty mercy, when I see how much that is beautiful and gladdening has been scattered over our pilgrimage here.
  • I do firmly believe that the Londoner is as contented with his city home as the dweller in the fairest valley among the Appennines ; and that habit brings its usual indifference as to place.
  • Out upon the folly which, in estimating human misery, allows aught to bear comparison with the agony of the poor ! I use the word poor relatively; I call not those poor to whom honesty brings self-respect, whose habits and whose means have gone together, and whose industry is its own support. But those are the poor whose exertion supplies not their wants—to whom cold, hunger, and weariness, are common feelings ; who have known better days—to whom the past furnishes contrast, and the future fear.
  • [From Lee, a dramatist]: Ah! the poet hath no true hope, who doth not place it in the many, and in the feeling of the common multitude.
  • [From Lee]: I believe that the mind may make its own immortality : thought is the spiritual part of existence ; and so long as my mind influences others, so long as my thoughts remain behind, so long shall my spirit be conscious and immortal. The body may perish—not so the essence which survives in the living and lasting page.
  • I am persuaded there is no triumph equal to one achieved on the stage—it comes so immediate and so home : you have before you the mass of human beings whose sympathies are at your will; you witness the emotions which you raise, you see the tears which you command : the poet has erected the statue, but it is for you to give it life—the words must find their music on your lips—the generous sentiment, the exalted hope, the touches of deep feeling, ask their expression from you : surely such influence is among the triumphs of the mind, ay and a great and noble triumph.
  • But in this world every thing has its evil ; the dust is on the wheels of the conqueror's chariot—the silken-wrought tapestry covers the mouldering wall;
  • I have ever remarked, that when Fate has any great misfortune in store, it is always preceded by a brief period of calm and sunshine—as if to add bitterness of contrast to all other misery. It is for the happy to tremble—it is over their heads that the thunderbolt is about to burst.
  • … ; but conscience, like a child, is soon lulled to sleep ; and habit is our idea of eternity.
  • Who does not know the restlessness of an anticipated arrival ?

Experiments; or The Lover from Ennui

  • Cecil Forrester was heir to many misfortunes, being handsome, rich, high-born, and clever.
  • To make our story shorter than the miniature groom's, he learnt that his own property in himself was in danger; and that, if the patriot’s definition of liberty be true —"it is like the air we breathe, without it we die"—his life was near its termination. A writ was issued against him; and, thanks to a douceur to his valet, two professional gentlemen, as he left his toilet, would deprive his friends at the Clarendon of his company.
  • On one side, lemons are selling for a shilling a dozen ; on the other, oranges for sixpence. One man blows a horn in your ear, and offers you the Standard ; another exerts his lungs, and shews you the Courier. Pencils are to be had for a penny ; and penknives, with from three to six blades each, for eighteen pence a-dozen. A fellow with a trunk turns its corner on your temples; another deposits a box, with the grocery of a family —sugar, soap, candles, and all—on your toes. A gigantic gentleman nearly knocks you down in his hurry ; and an elderly Jew slips past you so neatly, that you tumble over him before you are aware. Every body is always too late, and therefore every body is in a bustle. Two policemen keep the peace; and half-a-dozen individuals, whose notions on the law of property are at variance with established principles or prejudices, attend for the purpose of breaking it. Add to these some females with shawls and sharp elbows ; and pattens, whose iron rings are for the benefit of foot-passengers. Such is the White Horse Cellar, and the pavement from Dover Street to Albemarle Street.
  • [From Cecil Forrester]: Nothing like love-letters for filling up a rainy morning. A mistress gives a man such an interest in himself! You cannot run your fingers through your hair, without a vision of the locket wherein one of your curls reposes on the fairest neck in the world. An east-wind only conjures up a host of "sweet anxieties ;" and if the worst comes to the worst, you can sit down and write sonnets to your inamorata's eyebrow.
  • English people ... never speak, excepting in cases of fire or murder, unless they are introduced. 

  • Now, a fancy ball is bad enough in London, where milliners are many, and where theatres have costumes that may be borrowed or copied ; but in the country, where people are left to their own devices—truly to them may be applied the old poet's account of murderers, "their fancies are all frightful.”
  • We talk of unsophisticated nature—I should like to know where it is to be found.
  • Ill-timed admiration is enough to enrage a saint.

  • What is the reason that we find it so satisfactory to make excuses to ourselves—the only persons in the world to whom they must be altogether needless ?

An Evening at Lucy Ashton’s

  • —the unpunished crime is never regretted. We weep over the consequence, not over the fault.

The Vow of the Peacock (1835)[edit]

  • She leant upon her harp, and thousands looked
    On her in love and wonder—thousands knelt
    And worshipp'd in her presence—burning tears,
    And words that died in utterance, and a pause
    Of breathless, agitated eagerness,
    First gave the full heart's homage: then came forth
    A shout that rose to heaven; and the hills,
    The distant valleys, all rang with the name
    Of the Æolian Sappho—every heart
    Found in itself some echo to her song.
    • Sappho from The London Literary Gazette (4th May 1822) Poetic Sketches. 2nd Series - Sketch the First
  • [Alvine] Oh, that sweet ring of graceful figures ! one
    Flings her white arms on high, and gaily strikes
    Her golden cymbals — I can almost deem
    I hear their beatings; one with glancing feet
    Follows her music, while her crimson cheek
    Is flushed with exercise, till the red grape
    'Mid the dark tresses of a sister nymph
    Is scarcely brighter ; there another stands,
    A darker spirit yet, with joyous brow,
    And holding a rich goblet ;
  • [Alvine] ’Tis one of those bright fictions that have made
    The name of Greece only another word
    For love and poetry ; with a green earth—
    Groves of the graceful myrtle — summer skies,
    Whose stars are mirror'd in ten thousand streams—
    Winds that move but in perfume and in music,
    And, more than all, the gift of woman's beauty.
    What marvel that the earth, the sky, the sea,
    Were filled with all those fine imaginings
    That love creates, and that the lyre preserves !
    • Bacchus and Ariadne from The London Literary Gazette (2nd November 1822) Dramatic Scene - II.
  • One of the loveliest daughters of that land,
    Divinest Greece ! that taught the painter's hand
    To give eternity to loveliness ;
    One of those dark-eyed maids, to whom belong
    The glory and the beauty of each Song
    Thy poets breathed, for it was theirs to bless
    With life the pencil and the lyre's dreams,
    Giving reality to visioned gleams
    Of bright divinities.
    • Leander and Hero from The London Literary Gazette (22nd February 1823)
  • It was his last, his only field:
    They brought him back upon his shield,
    But victory was won.
    I cannot weep when I recall
    Thy land has cause to bless thy fall.
    • An Old Man Over the Body of his Son from The London Literary Gazette (1st March 1823)
  • I deeply swore
    No lip should sigh where mine before
    Had sealed its vow, no heart should rest
    Upon the bosom mine had prest.
    Life had no ill I would not brave
    To claim him, even in the grave!
  • And this is woman's fate:
    All her affections are called into life
    By winning flatteries, and then thrown back
    Upon themselves to perish; and her heart,
    Her trusting heart, filled with weak tenderness,
    Is left to bleed or break!
    • The Castilian Nuptuals from The London Literary Gazette (28th September 1822) Poetical Sketches. 3rd series - Sketch the Fourth
  • To love, to be beloved again, and know
    A gulf between us:--aye, 'tis misery!
    This agony of passion, this wild faith,
    Whose constancy is fruitless, yet is kept
    Inviolate:—to feel that all life's hope,
    And light, and treasure, clings to one from whom
    Our wayward doom divides us. Better far
    To weep o'er treachery or broken vows,—
    For time may teach their worthlessness:—or pine
    With unrequited love;—there is a pride
    In the fond sacrifice—the cheek may lose
    Its summer crimson; but at least the rose
    Has withered secretly—at least, the heart
    That has been victim to its tenderness,
    Has sighed unechoed by some one as true,
    As wretched as itself.
    • The Lover’s Rock from The London Literary Gazette (5th October 1822) Poetical Sketches. 3rd series - Sketch the Fifth
  • Of all the months that fill the year
    Give April's month to me,
    For earth and sky are then so filled
    With sweet variety !
  • The apple blossoms' shower of pearl,
    The pear tree’s rosier hue,
    As beautiful as woman's blush,
    As evanescent too.
  • It is like love ; oh love should be
    An ever-changing thing, —
    The love that I could worship must
    Be ever on the wing.
    • April from The London Literary Gazette (5th April 1823)
  • [Before]
    Just two or three sweet chords, that seemed
    An echo of thy tone,--
    The cushat's song was on the wind
    And mingled with thine own.
  • [After]
    Burnt to the dust, an ashy heap
    Was every cottage round;--
    I listened, but I could not hear
    One single human sound:
    • Glencoe from The London Literary Gazette (12th July 1823)
  • Each look'd upon his comrade's face,
    Pale as funereal stone ;
    Yet none could touch the other's hand,
    For none could feel his own.
    Like statues fixed, that gallant band
    Stood on the dread deck to die ;
    The sleet was their shroud, the wind their dirge,
    And their churchyard the sea and sky.
  • He said it was fearful to see them stand,
    Nor the living nor yet the dead,
    And the light glared strange in the glassy eyes
    Whose human look was fled.
    For frost had done one half life's part,
    And kept them from decay ;
    Those they loved had mouldered, but these
    Look'd the dead of yesterday.
    • The Frozen Ship, from The London Literary Gazette, (16th September 1826) - Metrical Fragment No. V. - The Frozen Ship, under the pen name 'Iole'

Traits and Trials of Early Life (1837)[edit]

  • This volume was written for children. Miss Landon set out its purpose in the preface.


  • Sympathy is the surest destruction of selfishness. Children, like the grown person, grow the better for participation in the sufferings where their own only share is pity.

The Twin Sisters

  • ... happiness is not for this world — a conviction that cannot be too soon acquired : it will destroy a thousand vain expectations, dissipate the most perplexing of our illusions — the early knowledge that life is but a trial, whose triumph is hereafter, and this earth a place appointed for that sorrow and patient endurance which is gradually fitting us for a better and a happier state.
  • There are always an ample sufficiency of compassionate neighbours ready to console one who, by common consent, is styled "the disconsolate widower.”
  • Selfishness is hypocritical by nature, and seizes on the first decent excuse as a cloak ;
  • … any one who has noticed may have observed that the weeping of grown up persons produces a sensation of awe on the mind of a child. Accustomed to associate the idea of superiority with that of their elders, they cannot understand their giving way to the same emotions as themselves.
  • What a duty it is to cultivate a pleasant manner ! how many a meeting does it make cheerful which would otherwise have been stupid and formal! We do not mean by this the mere routine of polite observance, but we mean that general cheerfulness which, like the sunshine lights up whatever it touches, that attention to others which discovers what subject is most likely to interest them, and that information which, ready for use, is easily laid under contribution by the habit of turning all resources to immediate employ. In short, a really pleasant manner grows out of benevolence, which can be as much shown in a small courtesy as in a great service.
  • Nothing discourages a child so much as the impossibility of pleasing.
  • I believe the love of flowers to be as inherent in the disposition as any other inclination.
  • How many children, discontented with the exercise of needful authority, might learn submission and thankfulness from the lot of others ; such a temper as that we have been describing is very uncommon ; the treatment of children oftener errs on the side of over-indulgence than aught else. How many might be taught better to appreciate the blessings which surround them by considering what some, less fortunate than themselves, are called upon to endure !

The History of Mable Dacre’s First Lessons

  • Now, bitter, but useful, mortification is the steppingstone to knowledge, even in a child.
  • Expectation makes a long delay.
  • All beginnings are very troublesome things. 

  • … we all know mysteries are very fascinating things.

The Indian Island

Frances Beaumont

  • November's night is dark and drear,
    The dullest month of all the year.
  • Children are too often unkind to one another, and deny the allowance they so much need in their own case.
  • In moments of great anxiety there is a sort of natural superstition about the heart, which the reason rejects in cooler moments.

The History of a Child

  • To know yourself less beloved than you love, is a dreadful feeling
  • It was an epoch in my life, it is an epoch in every child's life, the first reading of Robinson Crusoe.
  • We read of the gales that bear from the shores of Ceylon the breathings of the cinnamon groves.
  • The poor child, as Charles Lamb so touchingly expresses it, is not brought, but "dragged out," and if the wits are sharpened, so, too, is the soft, round cheek. The crippled limb and broken constitution attest the effects of the over-early struggle with penury; but the child of rich parents suffers, though in another way; there is the heart that is crippled, by the selfishness of indulgence and the habit of relying upon others. It takes years of harsh contact with the realities of life to undo the enervating work of a spoilt and over aided childhood. We cannot too soon learn the strong and useful lessons of exertion and self-dependance.

The London Literary Gazette[edit]

  • How sweet on the breeze of the evening swells
    The vesper call of those soothing bells,
    Borne softly and dying in echoes away,
    Like a requiem sung to the parting day.
    • (22nd September 1821) Bells
  • He must be rich whom I could love,
    His fortune clear must be,
    Whether in land or in the funds,
    'Tis all the same to me.
    • (10th November 1821) Six Songs of Love, Constancy, Romance, Inconstancy, Truth, and Marriage - 'Matrimonial Creed'
    • (24th November 1821) Stanzas see The Improvisatrice (1824) as When Should Lovers Breathe Their Vows?
  • You may find many a brighter one
    Than your own rose, but there are none
    So true to thee, Love.
    • (5th January 1822) Song ("Are other eyes beguiling, Love?")
  • These are thy bridal flowers
    I am now wreathing;
    This is thy marriage hymn
    I am now breathing.
    • (12th January 1822) Sketch the first ("There are dark yew-trees gathered round, beneath")
  • But ignorance is happiness,
    When young Hope is to show the way;
    • (12th January 1822) Ten Years Ago.
  • A blossom full of promise is life's joy,
    That never comes to fruit; hope, for a time,
    Suns the young floweret in its gladsome light,
    And it looks flourishing—a little while,
    Tis past, we know not whither, but 'tis gone—
    • (19th January 1822) Poetic Sketches, No.2
  • Oh, blessedness !
    To see the fair creations of the thought
    Assume a visible form ; sweet Poesy !
    How witching is thy power upon the heart ;
    Enchantment that does bind our senses up
    In one unutterable influence ;
    A charmed spell set over every thought,
    Till life's whole hope is cast upon the lyre.
    • (26th January 1822) Poetic Sketches, No.3
  • One rich light
    Broke thro' the shadow of the tempest's wing,
    While the black clouds, with gold and purple edged,
    Caught every moment warmer hues, until
    'Twas all one sparkling arch, and, like a king
    In triumph o'er his foes, the Sun god sought
    The blue depths of the sea ; — the waters yet
    Were ruffled with the storm, and the white foam
    Yet floated on the billows, while the wind
    Murmured at times like to an angry child,
    Who sobs even in his slumber.
    • (2nd February 1822) Poetic Sketches, No.4
  • Down swept the gathered waters over rocks
    Which broke at times the column's foaming line ;
    Darkening amid the snow-white froth, it swept
    Like an all conquering army, and an arch
    Of sparkling hues that in the sunbeams played
    Seemed to unite it with the sky which hung
    Above all calmness and repose :
    • (16th February 1822) Poetic Sketches, No.6
  • Ah, deeply the Minstrel has felt all he sings,
    Every passion he paints his own bosom has known ;
    No note of wild music is swept from the strings,
    But first his own feelings have echoed the tone.
    • (27th April 1822) The Poet
    • (4th May 1822) Sappho see The Vow of the Peacock (1835)
  • We met in secret : mystery is to love
    Like perfume to the flower ; the maiden's blush
    Looks loveliest when her cheek is pale with fear.
    • (18th May 1822) Poetic Sketches. Second Series - Sketch the Third. Rosalie
    • (25th May 1822) St. George’s Hospital, Hyde Park Corner see The Improvisatrice (1824)
  • It was a beautiful embodied thought,
    A dream of the fine painter, one of those
    That pass by moonlight o'er the soul, and flit
    'Mid the dim shades of twilight, when the eye
    Grows tearful with its ecstasy.
    • (1st June 1822) Poetic Sketches. Second Series - Sketch the Fifth. Mr. Martin’s Picture of Clytie
    • (8th June 1822) The Deserter see The Improvisatrice (1824)
  • Look upon that hour-marked round,
    Listen to that fateful sound ;
    There my silent hand is stealing.
    My more silent course revealing ;
    Wild, devoted Pleasure, hear, —
    Stay thee on thy mad career !
    • (27th July 1822) Sketches from Drawings by Mr. Dagley. Sketch the First. Time arresting the Career of Pleasure.
  • Thrice venomed is the wound when 'tis Love's hand
    Inflicts the blow.
    • (3rd August 1822) Sketches from Drawings by Mr. Dagley. Sketch the Second. Love touching the Horns of a Snail, which is shrinking from his hand.
  • The Painter's skill has seized a moment where
    Her hand is wreathing mid his raven hair;
    And he is bent in worship, as that touch,
    That soft light touch, were ecstasy too much.
    He is just turned from that bewildering face
    To the fair arm that holds the magic vase —
    The purple liquor is just sparkling up —
    The youth has pledged his heart's truth on that cup!
    • (10th August 1822) Sketches from Drawings by Mr. Dagley. Sketch the Third. The Cup of Circe
  • A light compliment was never yet breathed by love.
  • A man above thirty cannot enter into the wild visions of an enthusiastic girl.
  • Love has no power to look forward — the delicious consciousness of the present, a faint but delightful shadow of the past, form its eternity.
    • (18th August 1822) These from a prose sketch - Isadore
  • Alas, the strange varieties or life !
    We live 'mid perils and pleasures, like
    Characters 'graven on the sand, or hues
    Colouring the rainbow. Wild as a sick fancy
    And changeful as a maiden, is this dream,
    This brief dream on earth - - - -
    • (7th September 1822) Poetical Sketches. Third series - Sketch the First. The Mine
    • (14th September 1822) Poetical Sketches. Third series - Sketch the Second. Gladesmuir see The Improvisatrice (1824)
    • (21st September 1822) Poetical Sketches. Third series - Sketch the Third. The Minstrel of Portugal see The Improvisatrice (1824)
    • (28th September 1822) Poetical Sketches. Third series - Sketch the Fourth. The Castilian Nuptuals see The Vow of the Peacock (1835)
    • (5th October 1822) Poetical Sketches. Third series - Sketch the Fifth. The Lover's Rock see The Vow of the Peacock (1835)
    • (12th October 1822) Poetical Sketches. Third series - Sketch the Sixth. The Basque girl and Henri Quatre see The Improvisatrice (1824)
  • My heart is with thee, Iove ! though now
    Thou'rt far away from me :
    I envy even my own thoughts,
    For they may fly to thee.
    • (19th October 1822) Songs of Absence
  • [Julian - disguised]
    The hunter turns not
    Despairing from the chase because the deer
    Flies from his pursuit : every obstacle
    Becomes a pleasure.
  • [Julian - disguised]
    Oh, jealousy is but
    A shadow cast from vanity, which lain
    Would take the shape of love to hide its own
    Selfish deformity !
  • [Julian]
    Why did I try a faith I should have known
    Spotless as the white dove. I cannot feel
    The beating of her heart. I'll kiss the colour
    Back to her cheek. Oh, God ! her lip is ice —
    There is no breath upon it ! —
    AGNES, thy JULIAN is thy murderer !
    • (26th October 1822) Dramatic Scene I
    • (2nd November 1822) Dramatic Scene II see The Vow of the Peacock (1835) Bacchus and Ariadne
    • (16th November 1822) Fragments in Rhyme I: The Soldier's Funeral see The Improvisatrice (1824)
    • (16th November 1822) Fragments in Rhyme II: Lines Written under a Picture of a Girl Burning a Love Letter see The Improvisatrice (1824)
    • (23rd November 1822) Fragments in Rhyme IV: Arion see The Improvisatrice (1824)
    • (23rd November 1822) Fragments in Rhyme VII: Manmadin, The Indian Cupid. Floating down the Ganges see The Improvisatrice (1824)
    • (14th December 1822) The Painter's Love see The Improvisatrice (1824)
    • (28th December 1822) Fragments in Rhyme XI: The Emerald Ring — a Superstition see The Improvisatrice (1824)
    • (22nd February 1823) Leander and Hero see The Vow of the Peacock (1835)
    • (1st March 1823) An Old Man over the Body of his Son see The Vow of the Peacock (1835)
  • What was our parting ?—one wild kiss,
    How wild I may not say,
    One long and breathless clasp, and then
    As life were past away.
    • (29th March 1823) Song - What was our parting ?—one wild kiss,
    • (5th April 1823) April see The Vow of the Peacock (1835)
    • (19th April 1823) Fragments see The Improvisatrice (1824) The Oak
  • Do any thing but love ; or if thou lovest
    And art a Woman, hide thy love from him
    Who thou dost worship ; never let him know
    How dear he is ; flit like a bird before him, —
    Lead him from tree to tree, from flower to flower ;
    But be not won, or thou wilt, like that bird,
    When caught and caged, be left to pine neglected,
    And perish in forgetfulness.
    • (26th April 1823) Fragment - Do any thing but love ; or if thou lovest
  • Beautiful and radiant May,
    Is not this thy festal day ?
    Is not this spring revelry
    Held in honour, Queen, of thee ?
    • (3rd May 1823) Poetical Catalogue of Paintings - On May-day, by Leslie
  • Wouldst thou know what life should be?
    Were it mine but to decree
    What its path should be for Thee ?
    Look upon those sister powers,
    Chained, but only chained with flowers, —
    That bright group of rose-winged Hours
    • (3rd May 1823) Poetical Catalogue of Paintings - The Hours, by Howard.
  • On a bough,
    The only one chained by the honeysuckle,
    Sat two white Doves, upon each neck a tint
    Like the rose-stain within the delicate shell
    Of the sea-pearl, as Love breathed on their plumes.
    And each was mirror'd in the other's eyes,
    Floating and dark, a paradise of passion.
    • (10th May 1823) [Poetical Catalogue of Paintings] - Two Doves in a Grove. Mr. Glover's Exhibition.
    • (24th May 1823) Inez see The Improvisatrice (1824)
  • There is no tie
    Like that last holiest link of love, which binds
    The lonely child to its more lonely parent.
    • (5th July 1823) A Tale Founded on Fact
    • (12th July 1823) Glencoe see The Vow of the Peacock (1835)
    • (19th July 1823) Execution of Crescentius see The Improvisatrice (1824) Crescentius
    • (23rd August 1823) Change see The Improvisatrice (1824)
    • (30th August, 6th and 13th September 1823) The Bayadere see The Improvisatrice (1824)
  • I will look on the stars and look on thee,
    and read the page of thy destiny.
    • (11th October 1823) The Gipsy's Prophecy.
    • (25th October 1823) Sketch see The Improvisatrice (1824) The Warrior
  • There's feasting spread in gorgeous halls,
    The lamps flash round the city walls,
    And many a flood of lustre falls
    O'er many an honoured name.
    Turn thou from this, and enter where
    Some mother weeps o'er her despair,
    Some desolate bride rends her rich hair,
    Some orphan joins the cry !
    Then back again to the death plain,
    Where lie those whom they weep in vain,
    And ask, in gazing on the slain,
    What art thou, Victory ?
    • (21st January 1826) Io triumphe (under the pen name Iole)

The Monthly Magazine[edit]

Living Literary Characters, No. V. - Edward Lytton Bulwer (1831-1) Volume 31 page 437

  • It is a fact not to be disputed, that the aristocracy have not "progressed " in proportion to the other classes. A young nobleman of the present day has not a better education than his ancestor in the time of Elizabeth.
  • Literary taste is often confounded with literary talent by others, quite as much as by ourselves.
  • Ridicule is the re-action of enthusiasm. Sentiment was considered confined to schools ; and, so far from affecting too much feeling, people were beginning to be ashamed of having any.
  • Life has little breathing time ; and, even when we do for a moment reflect, it is rather on our present than our past : the pains and pleasures of memory are put aside as quickly as the poem which celebrates them.
  • But wit cuts its bright way through the glass-door of public favour;
  • But preference, and its consequence, neglect, is the child's most cruel wrong. The bitter feeling of comparing our own lot with another's, will come quite soon enough without its being taught in infancy.

On the Ancient and Modern Influence of Poetry (1832-2) Volume 35 page 466

  • It is curious to observe how little one period resembles another. Centuries are the children of one mighty family, but here is no family-likeness between them.
  • The imagination, which is the source of poetry, has in every country been the beginning as well as the ornament of civilization. It civilizes because it refines.
  • We deny that poetry is fiction; its merit and its power lie alike in its truth:

The Story of Hester Malpas (1833-3) Volume 39 Page 463

  • There is a favourite in every family; and, generally speaking, that favourite is the most troublesome member in it.
  • He had married for love, under the frequent delusion of supposing that love will last under every circumstance most calculated to destroy it ; and, secondly, that it can supply the place of everything else.
  • Other sorrows soften the heart, — poverty hardens it. Nothing like poverty for chilling the affections and repressing the spirits. Its annoyances are all of the small and mean order ; its regrets all of a selfish kind ; its presence is perpetual ; and the scant meal, and the grudged fire, are repeated day by day, yet who can become accustomed to them ?
  • A woman always exaggerates her beauty and its influence when they are past ; and it was a perpetual grief to think what her pretty face might have done for her.
  • Everybody has some particular point on which they pique themselves ; generally something which ill deserves the pride bestowed upon it.
  • She had always thought she would be like her father, and fancied a tall, dark, and handsome face.

A Calendar of the London Seasons (1834-1) Volume 40 page 425

  • Philosophers are moral, and poets are picturesque about the country.
  • It is an unpleasant thing to differ in opinion with the rest of one's species — it is making a sort of North Pole of one's own, and then setting out in search of it.
  • I like to be candid in my admissions — it is so very disarming ; you forestall the objection which you admit — at least your adversary has scarcely the heart to push to its utmost the advantage which you so meekly confess.
  • Ah ! I appeal to all who have any sensibility — for themselves — how delightful it is to be called in the morning, yet not to obey that call. It combines two of the greatest enjoyments of which our nature is susceptible— obstinacy and indolence.
  • A London day requires to be well aired before it is ventured into.
  • If, even at three years old, we turn to the pleasures of memory, the less that is asserted about the felicity of childhood, the less there will be to dispute.
  • We enjoy no pleasure so much as we do tormenting ourselves.
  • Pattern love-letter — "I — I — I — you — you — you ; you — you — you — I — I — I," garnished with loves and doves ad libitum.
  • ... who cares for a general compliment more than a general lover.
  • ... we English people delight in a moral — not a moral to be deduced or inferred, but a nice, rounded, little moral, in all the starch of set sentences, and placed just at the end,
  • Perhaps it is a benevolent provision of Nature that we remember more what touches than what pains us.

On the Character of Mrs. Hemans’s Writings (1835-2) Volume 44 page 425

  • There cannot be a greater error than to suppose that the poet does not feel what he writes. What an extraordinary, I might say, impossible view, is this to take of an art more connected with emotion than any of its sister sciences. What — the depths of the heart are to be sounded, its mysteries unveiled, and its beatings numbered by those whose own heart is made by this strange doctrine — a mere machine wound up by the clock-work of rhythm ! No ; poetry is even more a passion than a power, and nothing is so strongly impressed on composition as the character of the writer. I should almost define poetry to be the necessity of feeling strongly in the first instance, and the as strong necessity of confiding in the second.
  • Praise — actual personal praise— oftener frets and embarrasses than it encourages. It is too small when too near.
  • There is a well of melancholy poetry in every human bosom. We have all mourned over the destroyed illusion and the betrayed hope. We have quarrelled in some embittered moment with an early friend, and when too late lamented the estrangement.
  • In childhood, the impetus of conversation is curiosity. The child talks to ask questions. But one of its first lessons, as it advances, is that a question is an intrusion, and an answer a deceit.
  • Ridicule parts social life like an invisible paling ; and we are all of us afraid of the other. To this may be in great measure attributed the difference that exists between an author's writings and his conversation. The one is often sad and thoughtful, while the other is lively and careless. The fact is, that the real character is shown in the first instance, and the assumed in the second.
  • In this consists the difference between painting and poetry : the painter reproduces others, — the poet reproduces himself.
  • Did we not know this world to be but a place of trial — our bitter probation for another and for a better — how strange in its severity would seem the lot of genius in a woman. The keen feeling — the generous enthusiasm — the lofty aspiration — and the delicate perception — are given but to make the possessor unfitted for her actual position.
  • I always wish, in reading my favourite poets, to know what first suggested my favourite poems. Few things would be more interesting than to know under what circumstances they were composed, — how much of individual sentiment there was in each, or how, on some incident seemingly even opposed, they had contrived to ingraft their own associations. What a history of the heart would such annals reveal ! Every poem is in itself an impulse.
  • Fame to a woman is indeed but a royal mourning in purple for happiness.

The Love Charm (1835-3) Volume 45 page 156

  • Expectation is in itself a very pretty sort of reality.
  • They say suppers are very unwholesome, our grandfathers and grandmothers never discovered it …
  • … unshared mirth only damps the spirits of a small circle …
  • The huge dome of St. Paul's arose bathed in the moonlight, that giant fane of a giant city, a hundred spires were shining silvery in the soft gleam, and all meaner objects were touched with a picturesque obscurity: all around was silence and rest. The myriad voices of London were still, and nothing vexed the lulled ear of midnight.
  • She was tall beyond the ordinary height of woman, but stately in her grace as the ideal of a queen and the reality of a swan. Her arms and feet were bare, but for the gems which encircled them. A white robe swept around her in folds gathered at the waist by a golden girdle inscribed with signs and characters. Her hair was singularly thick, and of that purple blackness seen on the grape and the neck of the raven — black, with a sort of azure bloom upon it. It was fastened in large folds, which went several times round the head, and these were adorned with jewels and precious stones, like a midnight lighted with stars. Her complexion was a pale pure olive, perfectly colourless, but delicate as that of a child. Her mouth was the only spot where the rose held dominion, and lips of richer crimson never opened to the morning.
  • The very sound of his own steps disturbed him ; and he flung himself on a couch, to enjoy without interruption the exquisite melody. The intense perfume of the flowers intoxicated him like wine. He felt as if lulled in a delicious trance, in which one image became more and more distinct — the pale but lovely face of his hostess. His heart was filling with love for those radiant eyes. A softer fragrance breathed around him — it was her breath. He looked, and she was again bending over him ; he saw himself mirrored in the moonlight of her eyes.

Mildred Pemberton (1836-1) Volume 46 page 309

  • On this subject any general rule is impossible ; love, like the chamelion, is coloured by the air in which it lives — and the finer the air the richer the colour. Some young ladies have a happy facility of falling in and out of love; their heart, like a raspberry tart, is covered with crosses.
  • He was wrong, as all are who rouse the passive resistance of a woman's nature. The indignity and violence with which she was treated only made her turn more fondly to the shelter of the loving heart she believed was so truly her own. Kindness might have brought her to her father's feet, ready to give up her dearest hopes for his sake; but his harsh anger only made her tremble at the hopeless future.
  • A woman whose lover resigns her, and as if for her own sake, though without consulting her, is placed in a most awkward situation. What can she do ? Take him at his word ? That is easy to say, but hard to do, when all the hopes and affections are garnered in his love.
  • Always accustomed to wealth, she did not understand its value ; we must want money to really know its worth, and money seemed to her the vilest consideration that could have influence.

An Old Lady of the Last Century (1836-1) Volume 46 page 421

  • In endeavouring to recall a few memorials of Mrs. Lawrence Burgoyne, I do it on the same principle that scientific men collect the bones of a mammoth — the whole exists no longer ; but there are sufficient remains to show that it did exist.
  • Mrs. Burgoyne passed the last twenty years of her life in a large, solemn-looking house at Kensington ; it is now a mad-house. How curiously do these changes in dwelling places, once cheerful and familiar, bring the mutability of our existence home ! It would be an eventful chronicle, the history of even a few of the old-fashioned houses in the vicinity of London. You ascended a flight of steps, with a balustrade and two indescribable birds on either side, and a large hall, which, strange to say, was more cheerful in winter than in summer. In summer the narrow windows, the black wood with which it was panelled, seemed heavy and dull ; but in winter the huge fire gave its own gladness, and had besides the association with old English hospitality which a blazing grate always brings. You passed next through two long drawing-rooms, whose white wainscoting was almost covered with family portraits. There cannot be much said for the taste of Queen Anne's time downwards — bagged, wigged, and hooped ; there was not a picture of which the African's question might not have been asked, "Pray tell me, white woman, if this is all you?”
  • Indeed it is a doubtful fact whether clever people are ever very agreeable ; they are too much absorbed by one particular pursuit, to bound lightly enough over those generalities which are the stepping-stones of conversation ; they feel as if they ought to say something worth remembering.

A Friend in Need is a Friend Indeed (1836-2) Volume 47 page 41

  • Charles went towards the table, but he had no lady-like powers of filling four sheets with nothing, and the letter was soon sealed.
  • Again he was thrown upon his resources; which have always appeared to me the very worst things on which an unfortunate individual can be thrown in the way of amusement.
  • A will of his own in a young man without a shilling is a superfluity,
  • Three hackney-coaches, and two women in patterns passed by; also a man with an umbrella dripping, which he held rather over a brown paper parcel than himself: at last, a bright spot appeared just above the palace, the rain seemed to melt into luminous streaks on the sky, and the rain-drops that had sprinkled all over the panes of glass began to gather into two or three large drops, and to descend slowly along the surface. They would have done to bet upon, but there was no one to bet with.
  • Now I hold that necessity merits more amiable adjectives;--what a great deal of trouble is saved thereby. To an undecided person like myself, the inevitable is invaluable.
  • Charles coloured, from “a complication of disorders.” First he was quite shy enough to be annoyed at its being supposed that he cared whether there were any young ladies in the world or not; and, secondly, he was quite romantic enough to be shocked at the idea of money supplying the want of a pretty face.
  • Fanshawe began to talk of the weather; and his auditor was fairly astonished to find how much he had to say about it. He had all but counted the rain-drops; and he was quite aware of every gleam of sunshine that they had had since the morning.
  • …that worst bump developed that can adorn the head of a bore--viz., long-story-tellativeness.

The Bride of Lindorf (1836-2) Volume 47 page 449

  • Midnight is a wonderful thing in a vast city—and midnight was upon Vienna. The shops were closed, the windows darkened, and the streets deserted—strange that where so much of life was gathered together there could be such deep repose; yet nothing equals the stillness of a great town at night. Perhaps it is the contrast afforded by memory that makes this appear yet more profound. In the lone valley, and in the green forest, there is quiet even at noon—quiet, at least, broken by sounds belonging alike to day and night. The singing of the bee and the bird, or the voice of the herdsman carolling some old song of the hills—these may be hushed; but there is still the rustle of the leaves, the wind murmuring in the long grass, and the low perpetual whisper of the pine. But in the town—the brick and mortar have no voices of their own. Nature is silent—her soft, sweet harmonies are hushed in the great human tumult—man, and man only, is heard. Through many hours of the twenty-four, the ocean of existence rolls on with a sound like thunder—a thousand voices speak at once. The wheels pass and re-pass over the stones—music, laughter, anger, the words of courtesy and of business, mingle together—the history of a day is the history of all time. The annals of life but repeat themselves.
  • The generality labour under the delusion, that when they have lighted and filled their rooms, they have done their all. They never were more in error. Lighting is much—crowding is much also—but there lacks “something more exquisite still.” This something the countess possessed in its perfection. Any can assemble a crowd, but few can make it mingle.
  • [From Ernest von Hermanstadt]; Action—action in the sunshine—passion—but little feeling, and less thought: such was meant to be our existence. But we refine—we sadden and we subdue—we call up the hidden and evil spirits of the inner world—we wake from their dark repose those who will madden us. The heart is like the wood on yonder flickering hearth: green and fresh, haunted by a thousand sweet odours, bathed in the warm air, and gladdened by the summer sunshine—so grew it at first upon its native soil. But nature submitteth to art, and man has appointed for it another destiny: it is gathered, and cast into the fire. It seems, then, as if its life had but just begun. A new spirit has crept into the kindled veins—a brilliant light dances around it—it is bright—it is beautiful—and it is consumed! What remains?—A warmth on the atmosphere soon passing away, and a heap of blackened ashes! What more will remain of the heart?
  • The influence of a woman's first love is felt on her whole after-existence: never can she dream such dream again. For a woman there is no second-love—youth, hope, belief, are all given to her first attachment; if unrequited, the heart becomes its own Prometheus, creative, ideal, but with the vulture preying upon it for ever.—If deceived, the whole poetry of life is gone; the very essence of poetry is belief, and how can she, whose sweet eager credulity has once learnt the bitter truth—that its reliance was in vain, how can she ever believe again?
  • Huge bodies of vapour—a storm in each—were hurrying over a sky, dashed alike with the hues of the tempest and the morning; some of the vapours were of inky blackness, others spread like a scroll of royal purple; some undulated with the light struggling through, others were of transparent whiteness; but those upon the east were of a deep crimson—and the round, red sun had just mounted above an enormous old cedar. Red hues were cast upon everything; even the lilies blushed, and the waters of the little fountain were like melted rubies…
  • But the words of lovers are a language apart; their melody is a fairy song departing with the one haunted hour; to repeat it is to make it commonplace—cold, yet we can all remember it.
  • [From Minna after stabbing Pauline von Lindorf to death]: Yes, I have killed her at last. They thought I did not know her, but I did. She took away my father's heart from me, and would have taken away my husband’s; but I have killed her at last.

The Criticism of Chateaubriand (1836-3) Volume 48 page 62

  • Take the actions of our nearest friends, and how little do we know of the hopes that instigated, or of the fears that prevailed ! We sometimes cannot avoid owning that we ourselves have committed a fault, but how we gloss it over—how we take temperament and temptation into account, till at length it appears to be a thing inevitable redeemed by the regret it has occasioned, and the lesson it has given. Not so do we reason for others—then we look to the isolated fact, not to the causes: the error shuts out the excuse. The truth is, we know nothing of each other excepting by the aid of philosophy and of poetry; philosophy, that analyzes our thoughts, and poetry that expresses our feelings.
  • Time is the great leveller, but he is also the sanctifier and the beautifier.
  • Communication is in itself civilization; we wear away our own prejudices only by contact with those of others. We are forced into making allowances, by seeing how much we need that they should be made for ourselves.
  • Now a nation’s character is in its literature.
  • He was an enthusiast—enthusiasm is needed for action; calculation never acts—it is a passive principle.
  • Why, the very element of poetry is faith—faith in the beautiful, the divine, and the true.
  • No one can deny—no one would think of denying—the vast benefit which literature has conferred on mankind; and with what ingratitude has it ever been received!
  • Fame is but a beautiful classic delusion. The inspiration of the poet is like the inspiration of the Delphic oracles: what was once held divine is now confessed the promptings of an evil spirit mocking the votaries of whom it made victims. We firmly believe that the time is fast approaching when no more books will be written. The once writers: will say—“Why should we sacrifice our whole existence to obtain a vain praise, which, after all, never comes sufficiently home to us to be enjoyed? Why should we devote, to this most barren pursuit, industry and talent, which, in any other line, would be certain of that worldly success, which, as we live in the world, is the only success to be de sired?” Even poets must at last learn wisdom. The bitterness and the hollowness of praise will be perceived; and then who will be at the trouble of writing a book? Again we repeat, the time is fast approaching when no more books will be written.

First Love; or, Constancy in the Nineteenth Century (1836-3) Volume 48 page 326

  • The assertion that “What is everybody’s business is nobody’s,” is true enough; but the assertion that “What is nobody’s business is everybody’s,” is still truer. Now, a love affair, for example, is, of all others, a thing apart--an enchanted dream, where “common griefs and cares come not.” It is like a matrimonial quarrel--never to be benefited by the interference of others: it is a sweet and subtle language, “that none understand but the speakers;” and yet this fine and delicate spirit is most especially the object of public curiosity. It is often supposed before it exists: it is taken for granted, commented upon, continued and ended, without the consent of the parties themselves; though a casual observer might suppose that they were the most interested in the business.
  • I own that I have known greater misfortunes in life than that a young gentleman and lady of twenty should have to wait a twelve-month before they were married; but every person considers their own the worst that ever happened…
  • ... but a man has a natural antipathy to shopping, and even the attraction of a blush, and a blush especially of that attractive sort, one on your own account--even that was lost in the formidable array of ribands, silks, and bargains—
  • It is amazing how much our admiration takes its tone from the admiration of others; and when to that is added an obvious admiration of ourselves, the charm is irresistible.

Female Portrait Gallery - No. I. — Flora M'Ivor and Rose Bradwardine. (1837-1) Volume 52 page 35

  • Sir Walter Scott was the Luther of literature. He reformed and he regenerated. To say that he founded a new school is not saying the whole truth ; for there is something narrow in the idea of a school, and his influence has been universal. Indeed, there is no such thing as a school in literature ; each great writer is his own original, and "none but himself can be his parallel." We hear of the school of Dryden and of Pope, but where and what are their imitators ? Parnassus is the very reverse of Mont Blanc. There the summit is gained by treading closely in the steps of the guides ; but in the first, the height is only to be reached by a pathway of our own. The influence of a genius like Scott's is shown by the fresh and new spirit he pours into literature.
  • I own it gave my picturesque fancies at first a shock, to hear of a steam-boat on Loch Katrine ; but I was wrong. Nothing could be a more decisive proof of the increased communication between England and Scotland — and communication is the regal road to improvement of every kind.
  • But the dwellers in the country have little understanding of, and therefore little sympathy with, the longing for green fields which haunts the dweller in towns. The secret dream of almost every inhabitant in those dusky streets where even a fresh thought would scarcely seem to enter, is to realise an independence, and go and live in the country. Where is every holiday spent but in the country ! What do the smoky geraniums, so carefully tended in many a narrow street and blind alley attest, but the inherent love of the country ! To whom do the blooming and sheltered villas, which are a national feature in English landscape, belong, but to men who pass the greater part of their lives in small dim counting-houses ! This love of nature is divinely given to keep alive, even in the most toiling and world-worn existence, something of the imaginative and the apart. It is a positive good quality ; and one good quality has some direct, or indirect tendency to produce another.
  • There is no attachment stronger, more unselfish, than the love between brother and sister, thrown on the world orphans at an early age, with none to love them save each other. They feel how much they stand alone, and this draws them more together. Constant intercourse has given that perfect understanding which only familiarity can do ; hopes, interests, sorrows, are alike in common. Each is to either a source of pride ; it is the tenderness of love without its fears, and the confidence of marriage, without its graver and more anxious character. The fresh impulses of youth are all warm about the heart.
  • It is a fearful responsibility, the exercise of influence : let our own conduct bring its own consequences — we may well meet the worst; not so when we have led another to pursue any given line of action : if they suffer, how tenfold is that suffering visited on ourselves !

Female Portrait Gallery - No. II. — Constance. (1837-1) Volume 52 page 183

  • It is a curious thing, after years have elapsed, to go back upon the pages of a favourite author. Nothing shows us more forcibly the change that has taken place in ourselves. The book is a mental mirror — the mind starts from its own face, so much freshness, and so much fire has passed away. The colours and the light of youth have gone together. The judgment of the man rarely confirms that of the boy. What was once sweet has become mawkish, and the once exquisite simile appears little more than an ingenious conceit. The sentiment which the heart once beat to applaud has now no answering key-note within, and the real is perpetually militating against the imagined. It is a great triumph to the poet when we return to the volume, and find that our early creed was, after all, the true religion.
  • Not to have your house burned over your head for a twelvemonth seems an unwonted piece of domestic quiet.
  • Byron idealised and expressed that bitter spirit of discontent which has at the present moment taken a more material and tangible form. He is the incarnation of November. From time immemorial it has been an Englishman's privilege to grumble, and Byron gave picturesque language to the universal feeling.
  • It is the strangest problem of humanity — one too, for which the closest investigation can never quite account — to trace the progress by which innocence becomes guilt, and how those who formerly trembled to think of crime, are led on to commit that at which they once shuddered.
  • It is a cruel proof of the want of generosity in human nature, that an affection too utterly self-sacrificing always meets with an evil return.
  • But the passion of jealousy cannot exist without the passion of love, and is like its parent, creative, impetuous, and credulous.
  • The sweetest and best qualities of our nature may be turned to evil, by the strong force of circumstance and of temptation.

Female Portrait Gallery - No. III. — Alice Lee. (1837-1) Volume 52 page 480

  • By-the-by, this doctrine of perpetual transmigration would be a curious plea to urge for the non-fulfilment of former engagements ; seven years is I believe the term allotted for the entire change. Now, might not a man encumbered with debt plead at the expiration of the period in the Courts of Westminster, that he was not the person who actually contracted those debts ? Or might not an inconstant couple sue for a divorce, on the plea that neither were the individuals who originally married ?
  • The history of most fictions would be far stranger than the fictions themselves ; but it would be a dark and sad chronicle.
  • Literature soon becomes a power, not what it once was, a passion; but literary success, like all others, is only to be obtained, and retained, by labour — and labour and inclination do not always go together. Take all our most eminent writers, and the quantity of work, hard work, they have got through, will be found enormous and perpetual. Literature, as a profession, allows little leisure, and less indulgence.


  • Hope is a timid thing,
    Fearful, and weak, and born in suffering;
    At least, such Hope as human life can bring.
    • (1834-1, page 303) The Future. Re-used in 'Ethel Churchill' Vol. I, Chapter 31

Fisher's Drawing Room Scrap Books[edit]


  • Few save the poor feel for the poor,
    The rich know not how hard
    It is to be of needful food
    And needful rest debarred.
    • The Widow's Mite. Re-used in Ethel Churchill (1837), Vol III Chapter 5


The Forget-Me-Not, 1824 - The Indian Orphan

  • No one can say farewell with indifference.
  • The voyage appeared short, for I had nothing to anticipate.
  • There is truth and certainty in our first impressions. First impressions are natural monitors, and nature is a true guide.
  • It may seem fanciful, but to me the violet is the very emblem of woman's love; it springs up in secret; it hides its perfume even when gathered ; how timidly its deep blue leaves bend on their slight stem ! The resemblance may be carried yet further — woman's love is but beautiful in its purity ; let the hot breath of passion once sully it, and its beauty is departed — thus as the summer advances, the violet loses its fragrance ; June comes, but its odours are fled — the heart too has its June ; the flower may remain, but its fragrance is gone for ever.
  • Faintly coloured like a dream of bliss, a half formed rainbow hung on the departing storm, as fearful of yet giving promise of peace.
  • It is strange, though true, that the happiest part of our life is the shortest in detail. We dwell on the tempest that wrecked, the flood that overwhelmed — but we pass over in silence the numerous days we have spent in summer and sunshine.
  • They say women are more constant than men : it is the constancy of circumstance ; the enterprise, the exertion required of men continually force them out of themselves, and that which was at first necessity soon becomes habit — whereas the constant round of employments in which a woman is engaged requires no fatigue of mind or body; the needle is, generally speaking, both her occupation and amusement, and this kind of work leaves the ideas full play ; hence the imagination is left at liberty to dwell upon one subject, and hence habit, which is an advantage on the one side, becomes to her an additional rivet.
  • A letter then, breathing of home and affection, is a treasure ; it is like a memento from the dead, for absence is as death in all but that its resurrection is in this life.

The Forget-Me-Not, 1833 - Giulietta

  • But youth is as a flowing stream, on whose current the shadow may rest but not remain.

The Keepsake, 1833 - One Peep was Enough; or The Post-Office

  • … what could have brought him to Dalton. There were no chalybeate-springs, warranted to cure every disease under the sun; no ruins in the neighbourhood, left expressly for antiquarians and pic-nic parties; no fine prospects, which, like music, people make it matter of conscience to admire; no celebrated person had ever been born or buried in its environs; there were no races, no assizes—in short, there was “no nothing."

The Keepsake, 1834 - The Head

    • Part 1
  • Time past on as lightly as he always steps over flowers, Brussels carpets, marble terraces, green turfs, or whatever simile may best express a path without an impediment.
  • There is nothing in nature so impracticable as the obstinacy of your true husband; it is the insurmountable obstacle—the Alps no female vinegar can melt.
  • But the knowledge of the library is not that of the world; a youth of solitude is bad preparation for a manhood of action; from the earliest age we need to mingle with our kind; the child corrects and instructs the child more than their masters; our equals are the tools wherewith experience works out its lessons; and the play-ground, with its rival interests, its injustices, its necessity for the ready wit and the curbed temper is both miniature and prophesy of the world, which will but bring back the old struggles only with a sterner aspect, and the same successes, but with more than half their enjoyment departed.
  • Youth suffers but for a season; the bowed but unbroken spirit resumes its elasticity; the future, unknown and beautiful, wins the present to itself, and the past waits for that dark and overwhelming influence which sooner or later will darken our whole horizon.
  • But the tyranny of custom, like all other tyrannies, when grown quite unbearable—for it is wonderful what people will endure-;had already sown the seeds of its own dissolution. Out of the hardship had grown the repining, and to repine at the exercise of an alleged right is soon to question its authority, and the first question asked shakes the whole ancient and time-honoured fabric of privilege.
  • Perfect equality, and perfect despotism, are theories equally unreducible to practice; but there are many fine sentiments belonging to the first, and there is singular fascination in a fine sentiment—we pay ourselves a compliment by uttering it.
  • There is one conviction at which, though forced upon us by daily experience, we never arrive, namely, the conviction that Nobody in reality cares for Anybody; but this truth is so cold that we fence it out by all sorts of cloaks and coverings, delusions and devices.
    • Part 2
  • The evil spirit of love left his soul for a moment, but returned, though with a strange and lurid aspect, bringing with him other and worse spirits than himself—hate, revenge, blood-thirstiness—all merged in and coloured by the excited and fanatic temper of the time.

The Cabinet of Modern Art, and Literary Souvenir, 1837 - Two Scenes in the Life of Anna Boleyn

  • The city and the crowd unidealise love; and love, in the young warm heart of a girl, should be a dream apart from all commoner emotions — as sweet and as ethereal as the blush with which it is born and dies. Beauty gives its own gracefulness to love — there must be romance blended with the passion inspired by the very lovely face which the mirror reflected.
  • Hope deferred is sickness to the heart — and she was now suffering that sickness, at its worst.

Heath’s Book of Beauty, 1837 - A Scene in the Life of Nourmahal

  • The startled terror of remorse that dares not think of what it fears, is as inconsistent as all other human feelings.
  • Can loveliness lose its power ? Ah, yes ! when love can lose its truth. Weak and impetuous, yielding to temptation, but trembling to enjoy the reward of the committed crime ; such is the man of whom my heart made its divinity, — for whose sake I would have toiled as a slave; ay, and do ; but with far other aim now. Let us but once meet again, Jehanghire, and thou art mine ! but I — I can never be thine again. Life, throne, fortunes, we will yet share together ; but my heart, never, never more !
  • None but an ear, quickened as the mind can quicken the faculties of the body, could have heard a step that hesitated on the threshold.
  • I have won him, and shall keep him ; for to his weak temper habit will be as fetters of iron. I have won him — but how? He remembered not the earnest and devoted love of the young heart, which was his, and his only. Even my beauty failed to influence his selfish carelessness : but he is mine by a more potent spell. Love may be given in vain,— beauty may be powerless ; but I have mastered by the deeper magic of flattery.


  • I wrote my name upon the sand;
    I thought I wrote it on thine heart.
    I had no touch of fear, that words,
    Such words, so graven, could depart.
    • Friendship's Offering, 1827 (1826) Song
  • The same, yet not the same — her face
    Has still that Grecian line ;
    The sculptured perfectness whose grace
    Has long been held divine.
    • The Amulet, 1831 (1830), The Legacy

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