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Confessions of an English Opium Eater (1821) - Thomas De Quincey

Related: 1820s - Thomas De Quincey - opium - drugs in literature

Confessions of an English Opium Eater (1821) - Thomas De Quincey [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
The above edition is by London, Taylor and Hessey, 1823
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Confessions of an English Opium-Eater (1822) is an autobiographical novel by Thomas De Quincey first published in 1821 and revised in 1856, about his laudanum (opium and alcohol) addiction and how it affected his life. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confessions_of_an_English_Opium-Eater [Sept 2005]


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) --from the first page

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