CHARLES LAMB QUOTES

English essayist and critic (1775-1834)

Charles Lamb quote

Credulity is the man's weakness, but the child's strength.

CHARLES LAMB, "Witches and Other Night Fears", Essays of Elia

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A laugh is worth a hundred groans in any market.

CHARLES LAMB, Bon-Mots

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Tags: laughter


Take my word for this, reader, and say a fool told it you, if you please, that he who hath not a dram of folly in his mixture, hath pounds of much worse matter in his composition.

CHARLES LAMB, "All Fools' Day", Elia

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A man can never have too much Time to himself, nor too little to do. Had I a little son, I would christen him Nothing-To-Do; he should do nothing. Man, I verily believe, is out of his element as long as he is operative. I am altogether for the life contemplative.

CHARLES LAMB, "The Superannuated Man", Last Essays of Elia

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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!

CHARLES LAMB, "Oxford in the Vacation", Elia and the Last Essays of Elia

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He is no lawyer who cannot take two sides.

CHARLES LAMB, letter to Mr. Rogers, Dec. 1833

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Tags: lawyers


What a place to be is an old library! It seems as though all the souls of all the writers, that have bequeathed their labours ... were reposing here, as in some dormitory, or middle state. I do not want to handle, to profane the leaves, their winding-sheets.

CHARLES LAMB, Elia and the Last Essays of Elia

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Tags: libraries


The human species, according to the best theory I can form of it, is composed of two distinct races, the men who borrow, and the men who lend.

CHARLES LAMB, "The Two Races of Men", Essays of Elia

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Tags: borrowing, lending


Tis the privilege of friendship to talk nonsense, and to have her nonsense respected.

CHARLES LAMB, letter to Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Feb. 13, 1797

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Tags: friendship


It is with some violation of the imagination that we conceive of an actor belonging to the relations of private life, so closely do we identify these persons in our mind with the characters which they assume upon the stage.

CHARLES LAMB, attributed, Day's Collacon

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Tags: actors


The man must have a rare recipe for melancholy, who can be dull in Fleet Street.

CHARLES LAMB, letter to Thomas Manning, Feb. 15, 1802

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We are ashamed at the sight of a monkey--somehow as we are shy of poor relations.

CHARLES LAMB, "Table-Talk and Fragments of Criticism", The Life and Works of Charles Lamb

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Tags: evolution


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!

CHARLES LAMB, letter to William Wordsworth, Mar. 20, 1822

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Time partially reconciles us to anything. I gradually became content--doggedly contented, as wild animals in cages.

CHARLES LAMB, "The Superannuated Man", Elia and The last essays of Elia

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Tags: time


Rags, which are the reproach of poverty, are the beggar's robes, and graceful insignia of his profession, his tenure, his full dress, the suit of which he is expected to show himself in public.

CHARLES LAMB, Essays of Elia

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Tags: poverty


A number of moralists condemn lotteries and refuse to see anything noble in the passion of the ordinary gambler. They judge gambling as some atheists judge religion, by its excesses.

CHARLES LAMB, Essays of Elia

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Tags: gambling


Cultivate simplicity ... or rather should I say banish elaborateness, for simplicity springs spontaneous from the heart, and carries into daylight with it its own modest buds, and genuine, sweet, and clear flowers of expression.

CHARLES LAMB, letter to Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Nov. 8, 1796

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Tags: simplicity


The greatest pleasure I know is to do a good action by stealth, and to have it found out by accident.

CHARLES LAMB, "Table-Talk and Fragments of Criticism", The Life and Works of Charles Lamb

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Our appetites, of one or another kind, are excellent spurs to our reason, which might otherwise but feebly set about the great ends of preserving and continuing the species.

CHARLES LAMB, "Grace Before Meat", Elia

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The going away of friends does not make the remainder more precious. It takes so much from them as there was a common link. A. B. and C. make a party. A. dies. B. not only loses A. but all A.'s part in C. C. loses A.'s part in B., and so the alphabet sickens by subtraction of interchangeables.

CHARLES LAMB, letter to William Wordsworth, Mar. 20, 1822

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Tags: friends