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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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


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


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


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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Who first invented work and bound the free
And holiday-rejoicing spirit down
To the unremitting importunity
Of business, in the green fields, and the town;
To plough, loom, anvil, spade--and oh! most sad!
To this dry drudgery of the desk's dead wood?
Who but the Being unblest, alien from good,
SABBATHLESS SATAN!

CHARLES LAMB, "Sonnet", The Examiner, Jun. 20, 1819

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Tags: work


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


How sickness enlarges the dimensions of a man's self to himself.

CHARLES LAMB, "The Convalescent", Last Essays of Elia

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Tags: illness


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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There is a pleasure in affecting affectation.

CHARLES LAMB, "Table Talk", Works: Essays and Sketches

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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