On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts – Thomas De Quincey

Posted on March 17, 2017. Filed under: Blue Murder |

A good many years ago, the reader may remember that I came forward in the character of a dilettante in murder. Perhaps dilettante is too strong a word. Connoisseur is better suited to the scruples and infirmity of public taste. I suppose there is no harm in that, at least. A man is not bound to put his eyes, ears, and understanding into his breeches pocket when he meets with a murder. If he is not in a downright comatose state, I suppose he must see that one murder is better or worse than another, in point of good taste. Murders have their little differences and shades of merit, as well as statues, pictures, oratorios, cameos, intaglios, or what not. You may be angry with the man for talking too much, or too publicly (as to the too much, that I deny – a man can never cultivate his taste too highly); but you must allow him to think, at any rate. Well, would you believe it? all my neighbors came to hear of that little aesthetic essay which I had published; and, unfortunately, hearing at the very same time of a club that I was connected with, and a dinner at which I presided – both tending to the same little object as the essay, viz., the diffusion of a just taste among Her Majesty’s subjects – they got up the most barbarous calumnies against me. In particular, they said that I, or that the club (which comes to the same thing), had offered bounties on well-conducted homicides – with a scale of drawbacks, in case of any one defect or flaw, according to a table issued to private friends. Now, let me tell the whole truth about the dinner and the club, and it will be seen how malicious the world is. But, first, confidentially, allow me to say what my real principles are upon the matter in question…

Thomas De Quincey – On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts (1827)

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