The Nazarene and Adonai

His face was as blank as the Thanksgiving Proclamation of a Pennsylvania Governor.—The Nazarene.


"It is right to govern much, when a war is to be made or a people to be plundered. It is right to govern much, when the people's labor is to be distributed among hordes of dishonest idlers—right to govern much, when government wishes to destroy and kill. Then indeed, the world cannot be governed too much! But speak of government doing one noble deed, in behalf of that Humanity which bleeds at its foot-stool—speak of government healing instead of cursing, saving instead of destroying, preventing instead of punishing, and lo! 'The world is governed too much!' "—Adonai

After publishing my edition of George Lippard's Washington and his Generals, I started on The Nazarene, under the mistaken impression that it was his final work. Soon, however, I found myself drawn instead to François Fénelon and his Adventures of Telemachus, and successfully completed that project. Subsequently I began work on Fénelon's Fables, but after producing an initial draft decided to take a break from it. At that point I returned to Lippard.

While doing research online, I came across this excellent 1969 Ph.D. dissertation by Emilio De Grazia. To me it is the work of a kindred spirit, acknowledging a fascination with Lippard and his amazing combination of commercial success, earnest desire for social reform, and utter lack of literary talent. De Grazia's dissertation fleshed out the history of Lippard's life and works, and convinced me to add Adonai to this volume as the culmination of the work which he began (and left unfinished) in The Nazarene.

In September 1846, George Lippard boldly advertised The Nazarene as the upcoming sequel to The Quaker City. The themes he intended to address in this ambitious romance were [to quote De Grazia]:

  1. The Riots of Philadelphia, which in 1844 planted upon the soil of William Penn the barbarous Religious Wars of Europe.
  2. The Girard College... [and] that organized band of plunderers, who for thirteen years, have rioted upon the money of Stephen Girard.
  3. The wrongs of the Indian Race, as developed in certain records at Washington, where Personages High in Place are implicated in the grossest frauds upon the children of the red men.
  4. The Banking System, a corrupt organization of Capitalists, whose object is—1st, To use the Property of the many for the benefit of the Few; 2nd, To convert the Money of Government (derived from The People) into an instrument of panic, oppression, speculation and bribery.

As with Washington and his Generals (assembled at roughly the same time, mostly from earlier material), Lippard attempted to create a fusion of history, religion, and fantasy as a mythical framework embracing his world vision. Despite attestations from various enthusiasts that The Nazarene was his greatest work, by and large what emerged proved to be more of the same hilariously bad, heaving-bosomed, histrionic, sensationalist melodrama that had to date fueled his immense popularity. After releasing five installments, however, Lippard abruptly abandoned the project. Never completed, the novel was ultimately published in book form in 1854, the year of his death.

In December 1848, Lippard began a weekly journal entitled The Quaker City. During the subsequent year, he published within its pages The Entranced, a novella meant to present his vision of religion and social reform in the United States. Revised and republished in 1851 as Adonai, it was the centerpiece of The White Banner Vol. I, which formally laid out his intent for the Brotherhood of the Union. While it is again an eye-roller, it is notable as a predecessor of Lois Waisbrooker's Nothing Like It and The Wherefore Investigating Company.

The text for The Nazarene is from this scan, which originated from this somewhat clearer version [pages 178 and 179 are missing, and scans of those pages were obtained through the Huntington Library]. The text for Adonai is from this scan, backed up by this scan. Obvious typographical errors were corrected, and inconsistent spelling or punctuation standardized as best as possible, though some slips may have passed through.

So here it is: the master HTML version, the home-brew Kindle version, and the actual Amazon publication.

As Count Wilkenflimsey says, "Show me a Mississippi of brandy and water and here's (pointing to his mouth,) here's the Gulf of Mexico that will suck it in!"

June 6, 2023

ffred's nearly-forgotten treasures