Reference > Quotations > S.A. Bent, comp. > Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men
S.A. Bent, comp.  Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men.  1887.
Charles Lamb
        [An English essayist; born in London, February, 1775; entered the service of the East-India Company, 1792; retired, 1825; published “Essays of Elia,” 1830; died 1834.]
It is better, at any rate, than always aiming at dulness.
          When some one said to him, “You are always aiming at wit.”
  On Crabb Robinson’s telling him, soon after being called to the bar, that he had a case in the King’s Bench, Lamb replied, “I suppose you addressed Milton’s line to it: ‘Thou first best cause, least understood.’” The story is probably incorrectly told, as the line is from Pope’s “Universal Prayer:”—
        “Thou Great First Cause, least understood.”
  An old lady complained that Lamb did not seem to be hearing what she was saying. “I cannot say that I am,” was his answer: “but perhaps the lady on the other side of me is; for it goes in at one ear, and out of the other.”
If dirt were trumps, what a hand you would hold!
          To a slovenly whist-player.
  When told that eight persons had dined together on the top of the spire of Salisbury Cathedral, he remarked, “They must have been very sharp set!”
  When reminded by a superior at India House that he came very late to the office, Lamb replied with the most innocent manner in the world, “Yes, sir; but you must remember that I go away early.”
  A gentleman looked into a crowded coach with the question, “All full inside?” to which Lamb replied, “I don’t know how it may be with the other passengers, but that last piece of oyster-pie did the business for me!”
The first water-cure was the flood, and it killed more than it cured.
          He said of mixing brandy and water, “It spoils two good things.”
  When Wordsworth said, if he had a mind, he could write like Shakespeare, Lamb suggested, “It is only the mind which is wanting.”
  “Charles Lamb’s sayings,” said Hazlitt, “are generally like women’s letters,—all the pith is in the postscript.”

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