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(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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  • ''When I consider how little of a rarity children are—that every street and blind alley swarms with them—that the poorest people commonly have them in most abundance—that there are few marriages that are not blest with at least one of these bargains—how often they turn out ill, and defeat the fond hopes of their parents, taking to vicious courses, which end in poverty, disgrace, the gallows, etc.—I cannot for my life tell what cause for pride there can possibly be in having them.''
    Charles Lamb (1775-1834), British essayist, critic. "A Bachelor's Complaint of the Behavior of Married People," Essays of Elia (1820-1823).
  • ''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).
  • ''I have passed all my days in London, until I have formed as many and intense local attachments as any of you mountaineers can have done with dead nature. The lighted shops of the Strand and Fleet Street, the innumerable trades, tradesmen, and customers, coaches, waggons, playhouses, all the bustle and wickedness round about Covent Garden, the very women of the town, the watchmen, drunken scenes, rattles,—life awake, if you awake, at all hours of the night, the impossibility of being dull in Fleet Street, the crowds, the very dirt and mud, the sun shining upon houses and pavements, the print shops, the old book stalls, parsons cheap'ning books, coffee houses, steam of soups from kitchens, pantomimes, London itself a pantomime and a masquerade,—all these things work themselves into my mind and feed me, without a power of satiating me. The wonder of these sights impells me into night-walks about her crowded streets, I often shed tears in the Strand from fullness of joy at so much life.''
    Charles Lamb (1775-1834), British essayist, critic. Letter, January 30, 1801, to William Wordsworth. Complete Works, vol. 3 (1882).
  • ''For God's sake (I never was more serious) don't make me ridiculous any more by terming me gentle-hearted in print ... substitute drunken dog, ragged head, seld-shaven, odd- eyed, stuttering, or any other epithet which truly and properly belongs to the gentleman in question.''
    Charles Lamb (1775-1834), British essayist, critic. letter, Aug. 1800, to Samuel Talyor Coleridge. Complete Works, vol. 3. Referring to lines Coleridge had inserted in his poem This Lime Tree Bower My Prison: For thee, my gentle-hearted Charles, to whom No sound is dissonant which tells of life.
  • ''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).

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Hester

WHEN maidens such as Hester die
Their place ye may not well supply,
Though ye among a thousand try
   With vain endeavour.

A month or more hath she been dead,
Yet cannot I by force be led
To think upon the wormy bed
   And her together.

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