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“the shade of some dead accountant”

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Charles Lamb on the South Sea House:

Situated as thou art, in the very heart of stirring and living commerce, — amid the fret and fever of speculation — with the Bank, and the `Change, and the India-house about thee, in the hey-day of present prosperity, with their important faces, as it were, insulting thee, their poor neighbour out of business — to the idle and merely contemplative,to such as me, old house! there is a charm in thy quiet — a cessation — a coolness from business — an indolence almost cloistral — which is delightful! With what reverence have I paced thy great bare rooms and courts at eventide! They spoke of the past — the shade of some dead accountant, with visionary pen in ear, would flit by me, stiff as in life. Living accounts and accountants puzzle me. I have no skill in figuring. But thy great dead tomes, which scarce three degenerate clerks of the present day could lift from their enshrining shelves with their old fantastic flourishes, and decorative rubric interlacing their sums in triple columniations, set down with formal superfluity of cyphers with pious sentences at the beginning, without which our religious ancestors never ventured to open a book of business, or bill of lading — the costly vellum covers of some of them almost persuading us that we are got into some better library, are very agreeable and edifying spectacles. I can look upon these defunct dragons with complacency. Thy heavy odd-shaped ivory-handled penknives (our ancestors had every thing on a larger scale than we have hearts for) are as good as any thing from Herculaneum. The pounce-boxes of our days have gone retrograde.

I’m having trouble keeping up, I must admit. It will be easier to finger up the dust when it’s all finally done and dead. More to come…

Written by adswithoutproducts

October 24, 2008 at 12:41 pm

Posted in crisis, markets

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