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Memorials and Other Papers   By: (1785-1859)

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Anne Soulard, Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.

MEMORIALS, AND OTHER PAPERS, VOL. I.

BY THOMAS DE QUINCEY

FROM THE AUTHOR, TO THE AMERICAN EDITOR OF HIS WORKS.

These papers I am anxious to put into the hands of your house, and, so far as regards the U.S., of your house exclusively; not with any view to further emolument, but as an acknowledgment of the services which you have already rendered me; namely, first, in having brought together so widely scattered a collection a difficulty which in my own hands by too painful an experience I had found from nervous depression to be absolutely insurmountable; secondly, in having made me a participator in the pecuniary profits of the American edition, without solicitation or the shadow of any expectation on my part, without any legal claim that I could plead, or equitable warrant in established usage, solely and merely upon your own spontaneous motion. Some of these new papers, I hope, will not be without their value in the eyes of those who have taken an interest in the original series. But at all events, good or bad, they are now tendered to the appropriation of your individual house, the Messrs. TICKNOR & FIELDS, according to the amplest extent of any power to make such a transfer that I may be found to possess by law or custom in America.

I wish this transfer were likely to be of more value. But the veriest trifle, interpreted by the spirit in which I offer it, may express my sense of the liberality manifested throughout this transaction by your honorable house.

Ever believe me, my dear sir,

Your faithful and obliged,

THOMAS DE QUINCEY.

CONTENTS OF VOLUME I.

EXPLANATORY NOTICES THE ORPHAN HEIRESS. VISIT TO LAXTON THE PRIORY OXFORD THE PAGAN ORACLES THE REVOLUTION OF GREECE

EXPLANATORY NOTICES.

Many of the papers in my collected works were originally written under one set of disadvantages, and are now revised under another. They were written generally under great pressure as to time, in order to catch the critical periods of monthly journals; written oftentimes at a distance from the press (so as to have no opportunity for correction); and always written at a distance from libraries, so that very many statements, references, and citations, were made on the authority of my unassisted memory. Under such circumstances were most of the papers composed; and they are now reissued in a corrected form, sometimes even partially recast, under the distraction of a nervous misery which embarrasses my efforts in a mode and in a degree inexpressible by words. Such, indeed, is the distress produced by this malady, that, if the present act of republication had in any respect worn the character of an experiment, I should have shrunk from it in despondency. But the experiment, so far as there was any, had been already tried for me vicariously amongst the Americans; a people so nearly repeating our own in style of intellect, and in the composition of their reading class, that a success amongst them counts for a success amongst ourselves. For some few of the separate papers in these volumes I make pretensions of a higher cast. These pretensions I will explain hereafter. All the rest I resign to the reader's unbiased judgment, adding here, with respect to four of them, a few prefatory words not of propitiation or deprecation, but simply in explanation as to points that would otherwise be open to misconstruction.

1. The paper on "Murder as one of the Fine Arts" [Footnote: Published in the "Miscellaneous Essays."] seemed to exact from me some account of Williams, the dreadful London murderer of the last generation; not only because the amateurs had so much insisted on his merit as the supreme of artists for grandeur of design and breadth of style; and because, apart from this momentary connection with my paper, the man himself merited a record for his matchless audacity, combined with so much of snaky subtlety, and even insinuating amiableness, in his demeanor; but also because, apart from the man himself, the works of the man (those two of them especially which so profoundly impressed the nation in 1812) were in themselves, for dramatic effect, the most impressive on record... Continue reading book >>




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