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Charles Lamb

(10 February 1775 – 27 December 1834 / London)

Quotations

  • ''Were I Diogenes, I would not move out of a kilderkin into a hogshead, though the first had had nothing but small beer in it, and the second reeked claret.''
    Charles Lamb (1775-1834), British essayist, critic. Letter, March 28, 1809, to Thomas Manning. Vol. 2, Complete Works of Charles Lamb (1882). On his horror of moving.
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  • ''The greatest pleasure I know, is to do a good action by stealth, and to have it found out by accident.''
    Charles Lamb (1775-1834), British essayist, critic. Athenaeum (London, Jan. 4, 1834), "Table Talk by the Late Elia."
  • ''Shakespeare is one of the last books one should like to give up, perhaps the one just before the Dying Service in a large Prayer book.''
    Charles Lamb (1775-1834), British essayist, critic. letter, Feb. 1, 1806, to William Wordsworth. Bibliophile (1840).
  • ''Separate from the pleasure of your company, I don't much care if I never see another mountain in my life.''
    Charles Lamb (1775-1834), British essayist, critic. letter, Jan. 30, 1801, to William Wordsworth. Complete Works, vol. 3 (1882).
  • ''He has left off reading altogether, to the great improvement of his originality.''
    Charles Lamb (1775-1834), British essayist, critic. "Detached Thoughts on Books and Reading," The Last Essays of Elia (1833).
  • ''Borrowers of books—those mutilators of collections, spoilers of the symmetry of shelves, and creators of odd volumes.''
    Charles Lamb (1775-1834), British essayist, critic. Essays of Elia, "The Two Races of Men," (1820-23).
  • ''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 (1775-1834), British essayist, critic. Essays of Elia, "The Two Races of Men," (1820-1823).
  • ''Not many sounds in life ... exceed in interest a knock at the door.''
    Charles Lamb (1775-1834), British essayist, critic. Essays of Elia, "Valentine's Day," (1820-1823).
  • ''Boys are capital fellows in their own way, among their mates; but they are unwholesome companions for grown people.''
    Charles Lamb (1775-1834), British essayist, critic. Essays of Elia, "The Old and the New Schoolmaster," (1820-1823).
  • ''"Presents," I often say, "endear absents."''
    Charles Lamb (1775-1834), British essayist, critic. Essays of Elia, "A Dissertation Upon Roast Pig," (1820-23).

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A Dramatic Fragment

'Fie upon't!
All men are false, I think. The date of love
Is out, expired, its stories all grown stale,
O'erpast, forgotten, like an antique tale
Of Hero and Leander.'


-John Woodvil

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