Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

Charles Lamb

English Essayist best known for "Essays of Elia" and for his children's book "Tales from Shakespeare"

"We encourage one another in mediocrity."

"We gain nothing by being with such as ourselves: we encourage each other in mediocrity. I am always longing to be with men more excellent than myself."

"We grow gray in our spirit long before we grow gray in our hair."

"A miser is sometimes a grand personification of fear. He has a fine horror of poverty; and he is not content to keep want from the door, or at arm’s length, but he places it by heaping wealth upon wealth, at a sublime distance!"

"Is the world all grown up? Is childhood dead? Or is there not in the bosom of the wisest and the best some of the child’s heart left, to respond to its earliest enchantments?"

"No one ever regarded the first of January with indifference. It is that from which all date their time, and count upon what is left. It is the nativity of our common Adam. Of all sound of bells (bells the music highest bordering upon heaven), most solemn and touching is the peal which rings out the old year. I never heard it without a gathering-up of my mind to a concentration of all the images that have been diffused over the past twelve-month. All I have done or suffered, performed or neglected - in that regretted time. I begin to know its worth as when a person dies. It takes a personal color; nor was it a poetical flight of a contemporary, when he exclaimed: “I saw the skirts of the departing year.” It is no more than what is sober sadness, every one of us seems to be conscious of in that awful leave-taking."

"So near are the boundaries of panegyric and invective, that a worn-out sinner is sometimes found to make the best declaimer against sin. The same high-seasoned descriptions which in his unregenerate state served to inflame his appetites, in his new province of a moralist will serve him (a little turned) to expose the enormity of those appetites in other men."

"All people have their blind side - their superstitions."

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

"I love to lose myself in other men's minds. When I am not walking, I am reading; I cannot sit and think. Books think for me."

"Marriage by its best title is a monopoly."

"Not many sounds in life, and I include all urban and rural sounds, exceed in interest a knock at the door."

"Nothing puzzles me more than time and space; and yet nothing troubles me less."

"Pain is life - the sharper, the more evidence of life."

"Riches are chiefly good because they give us time."

"The good things in life are not to be had singly but come to us with a mixture."

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

"The trumpet does not more stun you by its loudness, than a whisper teases you by its provoking inaudibility."

"The world meets nobody half-way."

"The true poet dreams being awake."

"Our spirits grow gray before our hairs."

"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."