Monday, January 31, 2011

Miscellaneous Musings, January 31, 2011 - The South Sea Company Accountant

Charles Lamb (1775-1834), an English essayist ...Image via Wikipedia
I may have noted a few times that I’m an accountant by trade. I’ve often said, as an accountant, that it takes a specific personality, a character with certain traits, to be a successful one. I guess I inherited this idea from several old CPAs that I worked with early in my career; the sentiment was much more pronounced then within the profession than it is today. I recently had confirmation of my theory when I picked up a volume of essays by Charles Lamb (Elia). Apparently, even some 200 years ago, that accountants are a breed apart, as seen in this description of one of the accountants of the infamous South Sea Company. This essay was written in the early 19th century, some 200 years ago and tells of an accountant who lived and worked nearly 250 years ago.


Of quite another stamp was the then accountant, John Tipp. He neither pretended to high blood, nor in good truth cared one fig about the matter. He "thought an accountant the greatest character in the world, and himself the greatest accountant in it." Yet John was not without his hobby. The fiddle relieved his vacant hours. He sang, certainly, with other notes than to the Orphean lyre. He did, indeed, scream and scrape most abominably. His fine suite of official rooms in Threadneedle-street, which, without any thing very substantial appended to them, were enough to enlarge a man's notions of himself that lived in them, (I know not who is the occupier of them now) resounded fortnightly to the notes of a concert of "sweet breasts," as our ancestors would have called them, culled from club-rooms and orchestras--chorus singers--first and second violoncellos--double basses--and clarionets--who ate his cold mutton, and drank his punch, and praised his ear. He sate like Lord Midas among them. But at the desk Tipp was quite another sort of creature. Thence all ideas, that were purely ornamental, were banished. You could not speak of anything romantic without rebuke. Politics were excluded. A newspaper was thought too refined and abstracted. The whole duty of man consisted in writing off dividend warrants. The striking of the annual balance in the company's books (which, perhaps, differed from the balance of last year in the sum of 25l._ 1s._ 6d. occupied his days and nights for a month previous. Not that Tipp was blind to the deadness of things (as they call them in the city) in his beloved house, or did not sigh for a return of the old stirring days when South Sea hopes were young--(he was indeed equal to the wielding of any the most intricate accounts of the most flourishing company in these or those days):--but to a genuine accountant the difference of proceeds is as nothing. The fractional farthing is as dear to his heart as the thousands which stand before it. He is the true actor, who, whether his part be a prince or a peasant, must act it with like intensity. With Tipp form was every thing. His life was formal. His actions seemed ruled with a ruler. His pen was not less erring than his heart. He made the best executor in the world: he was plagued with incessant executorships accordingly, which excited his spleen and soothed his vanity in equal ratios. He would swear (for Tipp swore) at the little orphans, whose rights he would guard with a tenacity like the grasp of the dying hand, that commended their interests to his protection. With all this there was about him a sort of timidity--(his few enemies used to give it a worse name)--a something which, in reverence to the dead, we will place, if you please, a little on this side of the heroic. Nature certainly had been pleased to endow John Tipp with a sufficient measure of the principle of self-preservation. There is a cowardice which we do not despise, because it has nothing base or treacherous in its elements; it betrays itself, not you: it is mere temperament; the absence of the romantic and the enterprising; it sees a lion in the way, and will not, with Fortinbras, "greatly find quarrel in a straw," when some supposed honour is at stake. Tipp never mounted the box of a stage-coach in his life; or leaned against the rails of a balcony; or walked upon the ridge of a parapet; or looked down a precipice; or let off a gun; or went upon a water-party; or would willingly let you go if he could have helped it: neither was it recorded of him, that for lucre, or for intimidation, he ever forsook friend or principle.

Except that I’ve never played the fiddle in my life, I’ll have to say, if someone wrote a similar eulogy to me, I would feel very honored. There are worse things that can be said of any of us mortal humans that that “not for lucre, or for intimidation, he ever forsook friend or principle.”
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Sunday, January 30, 2011

From the Desert Fathers, Sunday, January 30, 2011

He, therefore, who sets himself to act evilly and yet wishes others to be silent, is a witness against himself, for he wishes himself to be loved more than the truth, which he does not wish to be defended against himself. There is, of course, no man who so lives as not sometimes to sin, but he wishes truth to be loved more than himself, who wills to be spared by no one against the truth. Wherefore, Peter willingly accepted the rebuke of Paul; David willingly hearkened to the reproof of a subject. For good rulers who pay no regard to self-love, , take as a homage to their humility the free and sincere words of subjects. But in this regard the office of ruling must be tempered with such great art of moderation, that the minds of subjects, when demonstrating themselves capable of taking right views in some matters, are given freedom of expression, but freedom that does not issue into pride, otherwise, when liberty of speech is granted too generously, the humility of their own lives will be lost.
St. Gregory The Great, Pastoral Care

Friday, January 28, 2011

Founders Friday, January 28, 2011

As on the one hand, the necessity for borrowing in particular emergencies cannot be doubted, so on the other, it is equally evident that to be able to borrow upon good terms, it is essential that the credit of a nation should be well established.
Alexander Hamilton, Report on Public Credit, January 9, 1790

Friday, January 21, 2011

Founders Friday, January 21, 2011

In planning, forming, and arranging laws, deliberation is always becoming, and always useful.

James Wilson, Lectures on Law, 1791

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Jackie Mason on Doctors

It's Wednesday, we've made it half way through the week, so it's time to lighten up a little.  Here's a short routine from Jackie Mason.  Enjoy! 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Miscellaneous Musings, January 18, 2011

From No Man is An Island, Thomas Merton

This discovery of Christ is never genuine if it is nothing but a flight from ourselves. On the contrary, it cannot be an escape. It must be a fulfillment. I cannot discover God in myself and myself in Him unless I have the courage to face myself exactly as I am, with all my limitations, and to accept others as they are, with all their limitations. The religious answer is not religious if it is not fully real. Evasion is the answer of superstition.

I've known a number of people in my life, non-believers, who insist that religion is a crutch.  Unfortunately, at the time I knew most of them, I didn't know how to answer such an assertion.  Merton gives us some idea in the above quote.  Having faith, believing what God says and taking Him at His word, requires the strength to walk without crutches.  It takes the most difficult thing of all, the courage to admit to ourselves who and what we are, sinners, fallen, weak human beings.  Then it takes accepting that truth.  I'm learning that only then can one begin to grow in faith.  It ain't easy.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

From the Desert Fathers, Sunday, January 16, 2010


Repentance is the renewal of baptism. Repentance is a contract with God for a second life. A penitent is a buyer of humility. Repentance is constant distrust of bodily comfort. Repentance is self-condemning reflection, and carefree self-care. Repentance is the daughter of hope and the renunciation of despair. A penitent is an undisgraced convict. Repentance is reconciliation with the Lord by the practice of good deeds contrary to the sins. Repentance is purification of conscience. Repentance is the voluntary endurance of all afflictions. A penitent is the inflicter of his own punishments. Repentance is a mighty persecution of the stomach, and a striking of the soul into vigorous awareness. 
St. John Climacus 

Monday, January 10, 2011

Miscellaneous Musings, January 10, 2011

Detroit Pride
I’ve been watching the new TV series, Detroit 1-8-7. I’ve had special interest in this show since I’m a native of Detroit, even though I haven’t lived there in many, many years. One thing that comes through on the show, something that I think common to many Detroiters, is a certain defensive pride in the city, even now. While I was growing up there in the 1950’s and ‘60’s it was a good place to live. Jobs were plentiful, the economy good and the schools were good, we had a World Series baseball team and, yes it’s hard to believe, a decent football team; things were pretty good. But even though Detroit was a good place to live back then, Detroiters were defensive about it. It was only the 5th largest city in the country at that time and couldn’t compete with places like New York or Chicago for cultural cachet and all that goes with it. People would defend the town on it’s merits but, I think, often felt a little inadequate. I never was sure why.

All this changed, of course, with the riots that took place in 1968. That’s when many people began to think about leaving and the city has never recovered. I hope all this is turning around and Detroit can, once again, attract people with the beauty of the surroundings and all the attractions the city still offers. We’ll see.

Which brings me to my next topic and a bit of a rant, for which I apologize in advance.

The Arizona Shootings
The tragic events of this past weekend remind us that there are crazy people out there. The shooter in the Tucson violence was a deeply troubled individual who needed help and never received it. The really sad thing is that many on the left are, in an equally nutty move, trying to pin this guy’s insanity on the Tea Party. Not only is this move nutty, it’s a rather despicable and desperate attempt to make political gains out of a completely tragic and unnecessary event. It disgusts me. It makes me even more upset when I think of the violence that destroyed my home town.

Anyone who is familiar with the violence that took place in Detroit in the summer of ’68 knows that violence was spurred on by the left. In fact, most of the political violence in this country over the last 150 years has be of leftist origination. Just think of the Haymarket Riots in Chicago which left 8 policemen dead, the result of socialist labor agitation. In our own time, the assassin who shot JFK was a Russian/Cuban sympathizer. Anyone familiar with the history of this country would know about these things and see through the ruse the left is trying to foist off on the country. The only reason they can be even partly successful is because they have succeeded so well in destroying the educational systems in the US.

It’s a shame those on the left, beginning with the NY Times feel the need to use a tragedy the way they have, but the rest of us don’t have to listen to it.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

From the Desert Fathers, Sunday, January 9, 2011


O strange and inconceivable thing! We did not really die, we were
not really buried, we were not really crucified and raised again,
but our imitation was but a figure, while our salvation is in
reality. Christ was actually crucified, and actually buried, and
truly rose again; and all these things have been vouchsafed to us,
that we, by imitation communicating in His sufferings, might gain
salvation in reality. O surpassing loving-kindness! Christ
received the nails in His undefiled hands and feet, and endured
anguish; while to me without suffering or toil, by the fellowship
of His pain He vouchsafed salvation.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, On the Christian Sacraments.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Founders Friday, January 7, 2011

A fondness for power is implanted, in most men, and it is natural to abuse it, when acquired.



Alexander Hamilton, The Farmer Refuted, February 23, 1775

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Wacky Wednesday, January 5, 2011 -- Dean Martin & George Gobel

It's Wednesday, we've made it half-way through another week, so it's time to kick back and enjoy a brief laugh.  Enjoy!