Alas! how light a cause may move Dissension between hearts that love! Hearts that the world in vain had tried, And sorrow but more closely tied; That stood the storm when waves were rough, Yet in a sunny hour fall off, Like ships that have gone down at sea When heaven was all tranquillity.
When I consider how little of a rarity children are -- that every street and blind alley swarms with them -- that the poorest people commonly have them in most abundance -- that there are few marriages that are not blest with at least one of these bargains -- how often they turn out ill, and defeat the fond hopes of their parents, taking to vicious courses, which end in poverty, disgrace, the gallows, etc. -- I cannot for my life tell what cause for pride there can possibly be in having them.
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Surely it is a matter of joy, that your faith in Jesus has been preserved; the Comforter that should relieve you is not far from you. But as you are a Christian, in the name of that Saviour, who was filled with bitterness and made druken with wormwood, I conjre you to have recourse in frequent prayer to 'his God and your God,' the God of mercies, and father of all comfort. Your poor father is, I hope, almost senseless of the calamity; the unconscious instrument of Divine Providence knows it not, and your mother is in heaven.
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Antiquity! thou wondrous charm, what art thou? that being nothing art everything? When thou wert, thou wert not antiquity - then thou wert nothing, but hadst a remoter antiquity, as thou calledst it, to look back to with blind veneration; thou thyself being to thyself flat, jejune, modern! What mystery lurks in this retroversion? or what half Januses are we, that cannot look forward with the same idolatry with which we for ever revert! The mighty future is as nothing, being everything! the past is everything, being nothing!
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I remember an hypothesis argued upon by the young students, when I was at St. Omer's, and maintained with much learning and pleasantry on both sides, 'Whether supposing that the flavour of a big who obtained his death by whipping (per flagellationem extremem) superadded a pleasure upon the palate of a man more intense than any possible suffering we can conceive in the animal, is man justified in using that method of putting an animal to death?' I forget the decision.
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The young man till thirty, never feels practically that he is mortal. He knows it indeed, and, if need were, he could preach a homily on the fragility of life; but he brings it not home to himself, any more than in a hot June we can appropriate to our imagination the freezing days of December.
I grow ominously tired of official confinement. Thirty years have I served the Philistines, and my neck is not subdued to the yoke. You don't know how wearisome it is to breathe the air of four pent walls without relief day after day, all the golden hours of the day between ten and four without ease or interposition ... these pestilential clerk-faces always in one's dish. O for a few years between the grave and the desk!
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Judge not man by his outward manifestation of faith; for some there are who tremblingly reach out shaking hands to the guidance of faith; others who stoutly venture in the dark their human confidence, their leader, which they mistake for faith; some whose hope totters upon crutches; others who stalk into futurity upon stilts. The difference is chiefly constitutional with them.
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There is absolutely no such thing as reading but by a candle. We have tried the affectation of a book at noon-day in gardens, and in sultry arbours, but it was labor thrown away. Those gay motes in the beam come about you, hovering and teasing, like so many coquets, that will have you all to their self, and are jealous of your abstractions. By the midnight taper, the writers digests his meditations. By the same light we must approach to their perusal, if we would catch the flame, the odour.
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I have sat through an Italian opera, til, for sheer pain, and inexplicable anguish, I have rushed out into the noisiest places of the crowded street, to solace myself with sounds which I was not obliged to follow and get rid of the distracting torment of endless, fruitless, barren attention!
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It is rather an unpleasant fact, that the ugliest and awkwardest of brute animals have the greatest resemblance to man: the monkey and the bear. The monkey is ugly too (so we think) because he is like man--as the bear is awkward, because the cumbrous action of its huge paws seems to be a preposterous imitation of the motions of human hands. Men and apes are the only animals that have hairs on the under eye-lid. Let kings know this.
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Shut not thy purse-strings always against painted distress. Act a charity sometimes. When a poor creature (outwardly and visibly such) comes before thee, do not stay to inquire whether the "seven small children," in whose name he implores thy assistance, have a veritable existence. Rake not into the bowels of unwelcome truth, to save a halfpenny. It is good to believe him.
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I own that I am disposed to say grace upon twenty other occasions in the course of the day besides my dinner. I want a form for setting out upon a pleasant walk, for a moonlight ramble, for a friendly meeting, or a solved problem. Why have we none for books, these spiritual repasts-a grace before Milton-a grace before Shakespeare-a devotional exercise proper to be said before reading The Fairie Queene?
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What a place to be in is an old library! It seems as though all the souls of all the writers that have bequeathed their labours to these Bodleians were reposing here as in some dormitory, or middle state. I do not want to handle, to profane the leaves, their winding-sheets. I could as soon dislodge a shade. I seem to inhale learning, walking amid their foliage; and the odor of their old moth-scented coverings is fragrant as the first bloom of the sciential apples which grew amid the happy orchard.
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Returning to town in the stage-coach, which was filled with Mr. Gilman's guests, we stopped for a minute or two at Kentish Town. A woman asked the coachman, "Are you full inside?" Upon which Lamb put his head through the window and said, "I am quite full inside; that last piece of pudding at Mr. Gilman's did the business for me."
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What a dead thing is a clock, with its ponderous embowelments of lead and brass, its pert or solemn dullness of communication, compared with the simple altar-like structure and silent heart-language of the old sundials! It stood as the garden god of Christian gardens. Why is it almost everywhere vanished? If its business-use be superseded by more elaborate inventions, its moral uses, its beauty, might have pleaded for its continuance.
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How often you are irresistibly drawn to a plain, unassuming woman, whose soft silvery tones render her positively attractive! In the social circle, how pleasant it is to hear a woman talk in that low key which always characterizes the true lady. In the sanctuary of home, how such a voice soothes the fretful child and cheers the weary husband!
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I am accounted by some people as a good man. How cheap that character is acquired! Pay your debts, don't borrow money, nor twist your kitten's neck off, nor disturb a congregation, etc., your business is done. I know things of myself, which would make every friend I have fly me as a plague patient.