Monday, June 14, 2004


A Blessing and a Curse

Charles Lamb, letter to Matilda Bentham (undated, probably early October 1815):
Oh, darling laziness! heaven of Epicurus! Saint's Everlasting Rest! that I could drink vast potations of thee thro' unmeasured Eternity -- Otium cum vel sine dignitate. Scandalous, dishonourable, any kind of repose. I stand not on the dignified sort. Accursed, damned desks, trade, commerce, business. Inventions of that old original busybody, Satan -- Sabbathless, restless Satan. A curse relieves; do you ever try it?
Lamb was chained to a desk at the East India House. In this letter he plays a variation on the Latin expression 'otium cum dignitate' (Cicero, De Oratore 1.1, leisure with dignity), saying that any kind of leisure, 'cum vel sine dignitate' (with or without dignity), would be a blessing.

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