Wensley, and Other Stories

But, then, if people attended only to their own affairs, a stupid world we should have of it.Wensley


It is odd what satisfaction we find in this world of ours, not only in our own delusions (what should we be without them?), but also in the delusions of others about us.Wensley


"Fit yourself for the action of life, but do not set your heart upon success in it; for such are the chances and changes of this sublunary state, that the best accomplished for achieving a brilliant lot often fail in compassing the fulfilment of their ambitious hopes, unless they can woo fortune to be the handmaid of enterprise."—"An Octogenary"

Charles Frederick Briggs brought my attention to Edmund Quincy in his essay "The Old and the New", praising the novel Wensley, a droll story which was published serially in the first volume of Putnam's Monthly. It was subsequently published in book form in 1854. In 1885, after Edmund Quincy's death, his son edited two volumes of his work: Wensley, and Other Stories and The Haunted Adjutant, and Other Stories. I compared the 1885 edition of Wensley to the 1854 edition, and found that nearly all the changes were minor ones to punctuation and capitalization; otherwise the original text was left intact. Therefore, rather than produce a separate edition of the 1854 Wensley, I decided to assemble an omnibus edition of the two 1885 volumes.

Quincy's writing is immaculate: at once scholarly, piercing, gently humorous, and thoroughly entertaining, even though his son (with a wink) describes it as "quiet and unexciting." The reader may find a possible quirk in his use of the word "incontinently" in the sense of "immediately," reminiscent of H. P. Lovecraft's fondness of "Cyclopean." The repetition of certain other vignettes or catch-phrases may also stand out to the reader of this collection, such as "for in those days drawing-rooms were not," or "what Lord Castlereagh used to call 'a back front.' " Nonetheless, I agree with Briggs in his assessment of Quincy, and consider his work a prime example of nearly-forgotten treasure.

The text for Wensley, and Other Stories came primarily from this scan, backed up by this scan, while the text for The Haunted Adjutant, and Other Stories came from this scan, backed up by this scan. My reference text for the 1854 edition of Wensley came from this scan, backed up by this scan. I corrected any obvious typographical errors, while retaining the spelling where common for the time, or used consistently ("villany" being a notable example). In the very few instances where spelling differed between different stories (e.g. "doorstone" vs. "door-stone"), I usually let it stand.

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

As the narrator says in "Old Houses:" "...surely, surely for the solid, serious drinking that man came into the world to do, Madeira is the only satisfying good."

October 11, 2021

ffred's nearly-forgotten treasures