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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 257 pages of information about The Best Letters of Charles Lamb.
why are we to live on after all the strength and beauty of existence are gone, when all the life of life is fled, as poor Burns expresses it?  Tell Lloyd I have had thoughts of turning Quaker, and have been reading, or am rather just beginning to read, a most capital book, good thoughts in good language, William Penn’s “No Cross, no Crown;” I like it immensely.  Unluckily I went to one of his meetings, tell hire, in St. John Street, yesterday, and saw a man under all the agitations and workings of a fanatic, who believed himself under the influence of some “inevitable presence.”  This cured me of Quakerism:  I love it in the books of Penn and Woolman, but I detest the vanity of a man thinking he speaks by the Spirit, when what he says an ordinary man might say without all that quaking and trembling.  In the midst of his inspiration,—­and the effects of it were most noisy,—­was handed into the midst of the meeting a most terrible blackguard Wapping sailor; the poor man, I believe, had rather have been in the hottest part of an engagement, for the congregation of broad-brims, together with the ravings of the prophet, were too much for his gravity, though I saw even he had delicacy enough not to laugh out.  And the inspired gentleman, though his manner was so supernatural, yet neither talked, nor professed to talk anything more than good sober sense, common morality, with, now and then a declaration of not speaking from himself.  Among other things, looking back to this childhood and early youth, he told the meeting what a graceless young dog he had been, that in his youth he had a good share of wit.  Reader, if thou hadst seen the gentleman, thou wouldst have sworn that it must indeed have been many years ago, for his rueful physiognomy would have scared away the playful goddess from the meeting, where he presided, forever, A wit! a wit! what could he mean?  Lloyd, it minded me of Falkland in the “Rivals,” “Am I full of wit and humor?  No, indeed, you are not.  Am I the life and soul of every company I come into?  No, it cannot be said you are.”  That hard-faced gentleman a wit!  Why, Nature wrote on his fanatic forehead fifty years ago, “Wit never comes, that comes to all.”  I should be as scandalized at a bon-mot issuing from his oracle-looking mouth as to see Cato go down a country-dance.  God love you all!  You are very good to submit to be pleased with reading my nothings.  ’T is the privilege of friendship to talk nonsense and to have her nonsense respected.  Yours ever,

C. LAMB.

[1] See Letter VIII.

XIV.

TO COLERIDGE.

January 28, 1798.

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