Confessions of an English Opium-Eater by Thomas De Quincey


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The Project Gutenberg eBook, Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, by
Thomas De Quincey


This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net





Title: Confessions of an English Opium-Eater


Author: Thomas De Quincey

Release Date: April 20, 2005 [eBook #2040]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-646-US (US-ASCII)


***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK CONFESSIONS OF AN ENGLISH OPIUM-EATER***






Transcribed from the 1886 George Routledge and Sons edition--first
edition (London Magazine) text, by David Price, email
ccx074@coventry.ac.uk





CONFESSIONS OF AN ENGLISH OPIUM-EATER:
BEING AN EXTRACT FROM THE
LIFE OF A SCHOLAR.


_From the "London Magazine" for September_ 1821.




TO THE READER


I here present you, courteous reader, with the record of a remarkable
period in my life: according to my application of it, I trust that it
will prove not merely an interesting record, but in a considerable degree
useful and instructive. In _that_ hope it is that I have drawn it up;
and _that_ must be my apology for breaking through that delicate and
honourable reserve which, for the most part, restrains us from the public
exposure of our own errors and infirmities. Nothing, indeed, is more
revolting to English feelings than the spectacle of a human being
obtruding on our notice his moral ulcers or scars, and tearing away that
"decent drapery" which time or indulgence to human frailty may have drawn
over them; accordingly, the greater part of _our_ confessions (that is,
spontaneous and extra-judicial confessions) proceed from demireps,
adventurers, or swindlers: and for any such acts of gratuitous
self-humiliation from those who can be supposed in sympathy with the
decent and self-respecting part of society, we must look to French
literature, or to that part of the German which is tainted with the
spurious and defective sensibility of the French. All this I feel so
forcibly, and so nervously am I alive to reproach of this tendency, that
I have for many months hesitated about the propriety of allowing this or
any part of my narrative to come before the public eye until after my
death (when, for many reasons, the whole will be published); and it is
not without an anxious review of the reasons for and against this step
that I have at last concluded on taking it.

Guilt and misery shrink, by a natural instinct, from public notice: they
court privacy and solitude: and even in their choice of a grave will
sometimes sequester themselves from the general population of the
churchyard, as if declining to claim fellowship with the great family of
man, and wishing (in the affecting language of Mr. Wordsworth)

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