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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Edward Robert Bulwer-Lytton, 1st earl of Lytton 1831–91

The Dinner Hour


O HOUR of all hours, the most blest upon earth,

Blest hour of our dinners!

The land of his birth;

The face of his first love; the bills that he owes;

The twaddle of friends, and venom of foes;

The sermon he heard when to church he last went;

The money he borrow’d, the money he spent;

All of these things a man, I believe, may forget,

And not be the worse for forgetting; but yet

Never, never, oh, never! earth’s luckiest sinner

Hath unpunish’d forgotten the hour of his dinner!

Indigestion, that conscience of every bad stomach,

Shall relentlessly gnaw and pursue him with some ache

Or some pain; and trouble, remorseless, his best ease,

As the Furies once troubled the sleep of Orestes.

We may live without poetry, music, and art;

We may live without conscience, and live without heart;

We may live without friends; we may live without books;

But civilized man cannot live without cooks.

He may live without books,—what is knowledge but grieving?

He may live without hope,—what is hope but deceiving?

He may live without love,—what is passion but pining?

But where is the man that can live without dining?