Edward Bulwer-Lytton

English novelist, poet, playwright, and politician (1803-1873)

Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton (25 May 180318 January 1873) was an English novelist, playwright, and politician.

Fate laughs at probabilities.


  • 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 most useless creature that ever yawned at a club, or counted the vermin on his rags under the suns of Calabria, has no excuse for want of intellect. What men want is not talent, it is purpose,—in other words, not the power to achieve, but the will to labour.
    • Lucretia, Part II, Chapter XII
  • 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.
  • A fresh mind keeps the body fresh. Take in the ideas of the day, drain off those of yesterday. As to the morrow, time enough to consider it when it becomes to-day.
    • Kenelm Chillingly : His Adventures and Opinions (1873), Book I, Ch. 8.
  • 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)Edit

  • 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)Edit

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.

Zanoni (1842)Edit

  • We commenced research where modern conjecture closes its faithless wings. And with us, those were the common elements of science which the sages of to-day disdain as wild chimeras, or despair of as unfathomable mysteries.
    • Quoted by H.P. Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled, Part One, Science, Ch. 1 (1877)

Caxtoniana: Hints on Mental Culture (1862)Edit

  • Truth makes on the ocean 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 classic literature is always modern.
  • The man who succeeds above his fellows is the one who, early in life, clearly discerns his object, and towards that object habitually directs his powers. Even genius itself is but fine observation strengthened by fixity of purpose. Every man who observes vigilantly and resolves steadfastly grows unconsciously into genius.
    "On the Management of Money"

The Coming Race (1870)Edit

  • 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.

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