The Quaker City

"...probably the most extravagant compound of Gothic terror, intense melodrama, and social invective ever written on this continent." —Alexander Cowie


It was a small unpretending room, oblong in form, with rows of shelves along its longest walls, facing each other, supplied with books of all classes, and of every description, from the ponderous history to the trashy novel.


Gathering her form in his left arm, secure of his victim, he raised her from his breast, and fixing his gaze upon her blue eyes, humid with moisture, he slowly flung back the night robe from her shoulders. Her bosom, in all its richness of outline, heaving and throbbing with that long pulsation, which urged it upward like a billow, lay open to his gaze.

Speaking of trashy novels, if anyone has earned the title "The Christian August Vulpius of America" surely it is George Lippard. His Gothic "dreadfuls" and historical romances were incredibly popular, and in his short lifetime (1822-1854) he became one of the highest-paid authors in the United States. The Quaker City—a lurid tale of crime, corruption, and heaving bosoms—was the best-selling novel in America before Uncle Tom's Cabin. Praised by some, reviled by many, nonetheless, I love it: like Rinaldo Rinaldini, like the proverbial cult movie, it's so bad it's good.

And yet, despite the novel's infamy, I found that a quality e-text had yet to be produced. Of course I took up the challenge, and for a variety of reasons found the project to take longer than I had expected. But finally I completed it.

I took my initial scanned text from the posthumous 1876 edition, because it is in better condition, and recast it to match the 1845 edition. This work was originally self-published in pamphlet form, and is so rife with inconsistencies and typographical errors, that it makes The Wherefore Investigating Company look polished by comparison. I corrected any obvious errors, and some inconsistencies, in spelling; nonetheless, where spelling is consistent in the text or normal for the time, I left it alone. In some cases, notably street names, I standardized the spelling and/or capitalization in favor of the majority, or where later usage clearly supercedes the earlier. Two interesting quirks in the text—namely "epipletic fit" and "in vivid constraint"—I chose to leave in place.

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

As "the Personage" says, "Minds that have endured the shocks of fate, without a murmur, have gone out forever, with the indulgence of an appetite! Still that 'rye' is excellent!"

March 16, 2022

ffred's nearly-forgotten treasures