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Omitted Passages And Variations
by [?]

And though shot and bullets were forbidden fruit, yet something might be done with hard wadding. A good deal of classical literature disappeared in this way, which by one who valued no classics very highly might be called the way of all flesh. The best of authors, he contended, had better perish by this warlike consummation than by the inglorious enmity of bookworms and moths–honeycombed, as most of the books had been which had gone out to India with our two uncles. Even wadding, however, was declared to be inadmissible as too dangerous, after wounds had been inflicted more than once.


De Quincey, in his autobiographic sketch headed ‘Laxton,’ tells of the fortune of Miss Watson, who afterwards became Lady Carbery, and also of the legacy left to her in the form of a lawsuit by her father against the East India Company; and among his papers we find the following passage either overlooked or omitted, for some undiscoverable reason, from that paper, though it has a value in its own way as expressing some of De Quincey’s views on law and equity; and it is sufficiently characteristic to be included here:

In consequence of her long minority, Miss Watson must have succeeded at once to six thousand a year on completing her twenty-first year; and she also inherited a Chancery-suit, which sort of property is now (1853) rather at a discount in public estimation; but let the reader assure himself that even the Court of Chancery is not quite so black as it is painted; that the true ground for the delays and ruinous expenses in ninety-nine out of one hundred instances is not legal chicanery, still less the wilful circuitousness and wordiness of law processes, but the great eternal fact that, what through lapse of time, decays of memory, and loss of documents, and what through interested suppressions of truth, and the dispersions of witnesses, and causes by the score beside, the ultimate truth and equity of human disputes is a matter of prodigious perplexity; neither is there any possibility that the mass of litigations as to property ever can be made cheap except in proportion as it is made dismally imperfect.

No power that ever yet was lodged in senates or in councils could avail, ever has availed, ever will avail, to intercept the immeasurable expansion of that law which grows out of social expansion. Fast as the relations of man multiply, and the modifications of property extend, must the corresponding adaptations of the law run alongside. The pretended arrests applied to this heaving volcanic system of forces by codifications, like those of Justinian or Napoleon, had not lasted for a year before all had broke loose from its moorings, and was again going ahead with redoubling impetus. Equally delusive are the prospects held out that the new system of cheap provincial justice will be a change unconditionally for the better. Already the complaints against it are such in bitterness and extent as to show that in very many cases it must be regarded as a failure; and, where it is not, that it must be regarded as a compromise: once you had 8 degrees of the advantage X, 4 of Y; now you have 7 of X, 5 of Y.


The following was evidently intended to appear in the article on War:

‘Most of what has been written on this subject (the cruelty of war), in connection with the apparently fierce ethics of the Old Testament, is (with submission to sentimentalists) false and profoundly unphilosophic. It is of the same feeble character as the flashy modern moralizations upon War. The true justifications of war lie far below the depths of any soundings taken upon the charts of effeminate earth-born ethics. And ethics of God, the Scriptural ethics, search into depths that are older and less measurable, contemplate interests that are more mysterious and entangled with perils more awful than merely human philosophy has resources for appreciating. It is not at all impossible that a crisis has sometimes arisen for the human race, in which its capital interest may be said to have ridden at single anchor. Upon the issue of a single struggle between the powers of light and darkness–upon a motion, a bias, an impulse given this way or that–all may have been staked. Out of Judaism came Christianity, and the mere possibility of Christianity. From elder stages of the Hebrew race, hidden in thick darkness to us, descended the only pure glimpse allowed to man of God’s nature. Traditionally, but through many generations, and fighting at every stage with storms or with perils more than ever were revealed to us, this idea of God, this holy seed of truth, like some secret jewel passing onwards through armies of robbers, made its way downward to an age in which it became the matrix of Christianity. The solitary acorn had reached in safety the particular soil in which it was first capable of expanding into a forest. The narrow, but at the same time austere, truth of Judaism, furnished the basis which by magic, as it were, burst suddenly and expanded into a vast superstructure, no longer fitted for the apprehension of one single unamiable race, but offering shelter and repose to the whole family of man. These things are most remarkable about this memorable trans-migration of one faith into another, of an imperfect into a perfect religion, viz., that the early stage had but a slight resemblance to the latter, nor could have prefigured it to a human sagacity more than a larva could prefigure a chrysalis; and, secondly, that whereas the product, viz., Christianity, never has been nor will be in any danger of ruin, the germ, viz., the Judaic idea of God, the great radiation through which the Deity kept open His communication with man, apparently must more than once have approached an awful struggle for life. This solitary taper of truth, struggling across a howling wilderness of darkness, had it been ever totally extinguished, could probably never have been reillumined. It may seem an easy thing for a mere human philosophy to recover, and steadily to maintain a pure Hebrew conception of God; but so far is this from being true, that we believe it possible to expose in the closest Pagan approximation to this Hebrew type some adulterous elements such as would have ensured its relapse into idolatrous impurity.’