Edward Bulwer-Lytton

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Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton (May 25, 1803–January 18, 1873) was an English novelist, playwright, and politician.


  • A good heart is better than all the heads in the world.
    • The Disowned (1828), Chapter xxxiii.
  • The easiest person to deceive is one’s own self.
    • The Disowned (1828), Chapter xlii.
  • The magic of the tongue is the most dangerous of all spells.
    • Eugene Aram (1832), Book i., Chapter vii.
  • Fate laughs at probabilities.
    • Eugene Aram (1832), Book i., Chapter x.
  • Rank is a great beautifier.
    • The Lady of Lyons (1838), Act ii, Scene i.
  • Curse away!
    And let me tell thee, Beauseant, a wise proverb
    The Arabs have,—"Curses are like young chickens,
    And still come home to roost."
    • The Lady of Lyons (1838), Act v, Scene ii.
  • The man who smokes, thinks like a sage and acts like a Samaritan.
    • Night and Morning (1841), Chapter vi.
  • Happy is the man who hath never known what it is to taste of fame—to have it is a purgatory, to want it is a hell.
    • Last of the Barons (1843), Book v., Chapter i.
  • The brilliant chief, irregularly great,
    Frank, haughty, rash,— the Rupert of debate!
    • The New Timon (1846), Part i. In April, 1844, Benjamin Disraeli thus alluded to Lord Stanley: “The noble lord is the Rupert of debate.”
  • Alone!— that worn-out word,
    So idly spoken, and so coldly heard;
    Yet all that poets sing and grief hath known
    Of hopes laid waste, knells in that word ALONE!
    • The New Timon, (1846). Part ii.
  • There are times when the mirth of others only saddens us, especially the mirth of children with high spirits, that jar on our own quiet mood.
    • Kenelm Chillingly; His Adventures and Opinions (1873).

Paul Clifford (1830)

  • It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents - except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.

Richelieu (1839)

A play, first performed in 1839.

  • You speak
    As one who fed on poetry.
    • Act i, Scene vi.
  • Beneath the rule of men entirely great,
    The pen is mightier than the sword.
    • Act ii, Scene ii. This is the origin of the much quoted phrase "the pen is mightier than the sword". Compare: "Hinc quam sic calamus sævior ense, patet. The pen worse than the sword", Robert Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy, Part i. Sect. 2, Memb. 4, Subsect. 4.
  • Ambition has no risk.
    • Act iii, Scene i.
  • Take away the sword;
    States can be saved without it.
    • Act iii, Scene i.
  • In the lexicon of youth, which fate reserves
    For a bright manhood, there is no such word
    As "fail".
    • Act iii, Scene i.
  • Our glories float between the earth and heaven
    Like clouds which seem pavilions of the sun.
    • Act v, Scene iii.

Caxtoniana: Hints on Mental Culture (1862)

Essays on strange conjunctions of the terrible and the beautiful.

  • Truth makes on the surface of nature no one track of light - every eye looking on finds its own.
  • In science, read, by preference the newest works; in literature, the oldest. The classics are always modern.

The Coming Race (1870)

  • My father died shortly after I was twenty-one; and being left well off, and having a taste for travel and adventure, I resigned, for a time, all pursuit of the almighty dollar, and became a desultory wanderer over the face of the earth.
    • Chapter 1. This is the origin of the phrase "pursuit of the almighty dollar". Washington Irving coined the expression almighty dollar itself.


  • Two lives that once part are as ships that divide
    When, moment on moment, there rushes between
    The one and the other a sea;—
    Ah, never can fall from the days that have been
    A gleam on the years that shall be!
    • A Lament. Compare: "Ships that pass in the night", Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Tales of a Wayside Inn, Part iii. "The Theologian’s Tale: Elizabeth" iv.
  • Memory, no less than hope, owes its charm to “the far away.”
    • A Lament.
  • When stars are in the quiet skies,
    Then most I pine for thee;

    Bend on me then thy tender eyes,
    As stars look on the sea.
    • When Stars are in the quiet Skies.
  • Buy my flowers,—oh buy, I pray!
    The blind girl comes from afar.
    • Buy my Flowers.
  • Every man has his price,
    I will bribe left and right.
    • Walpole (1785).
  • No weapon that slays
    Its victim so surely (if well aimed) as praise.
    • Lucile (1860).

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