Original Document
Original Document
George Lippard, Preface and Introduction, The Quaker City; Or, The Monks of Monks Hall, 1845.

MY Publishers ask me to write a Preface for this new Edition of the Quaker City. What shall I say?  Shall I at this time enter into a full explanation of the motives which induced me to write this Work? Shall I tell how it has been praised how abused how it has on the one hand been cited as a Work of great merit, and on the other, how it has been denounced as the most immoral work of the age?
The reader will spare me the task. The Quaker City has passed through many Editions in America, as well as in London. It has also been translated and numerous editions of it have been published in Germany, and a beautiful edition in four volumes, is now before me, bearing the imprint of Otto Wigand, Leipsic, as Publisher, and the name of Frederick Gerstaker, as the Author.
Taking all these facts into consideration, it seems but just that I should say a word for myself on this occasion.
The motive which impelled me to write this Work may be stated in a few words.
I was the only Protector of an Orphan Sister. I was fearful that I might be taken away by death, leaving her alone in the world. I knew too well that law of society which makes a virtue of the dishonor of a poor girl, while it justly holds the seduction of a rich man s child as an infamous crime. These thoughts impressed me deeply. I determined to write a book, founded upon the following idea:
That the seduction of a poor and innocent girl, is a deed altogether as criminal as deliberate murder.  It is worse than the murder of the body, for it is the assassination of the soul.  If the murderer deserves death by the gallows, then the assassin of chastity and maidenhood is worthy of death by the hands of any man, and in any place.
This was the first idea of the Work. It embodies a sophism, but it is a sophism that errs on the right side. But as I progressed in my task, other ideas were added to the original thought. Secluded in my room, having no familiarity with the vices of a large city, save from my studentship in the office of an Attorney-General the Confessional of our Protestant communities I determined to write a book which should describe all the phases of a corrupt social system, as manifested in the city of Philadelphia. The results of my labors was this book, which has been more attacked, and more read, than any work of American fiction ever published.
And now, I can say with truth, that whatever faults may be discovered in this Work, that my motive in its composition was honest, was pure, was as Destitute of any idea of sensualism, as certain of the persons who have attacked it without reading a single page, are of candor, of a moral life, or a heart capable of generous emotions.
To the young man and young woman who may read this book when I am dead, I have a word to say:
Would to God that the evils recorded in these pages, were not based upon facts. Would to God that the experience of my life had not impressed me so vividly with the colossal vices and the terrible deformities, presented in the social system of this Large City, in the Nineteenth Century. You will read this work when the hand which pens this line is dust. If you discover one word in its pages, that has a tendency to develop one impure thought, I beseech you reject that word. If you discover a chapter, a page, or a line, that conflicts with the great idea of Human Brotherhood, promulgated by the Redeemer, I ask you with all my soul, reject that chapter, that passage, that line. At the same time remember the idea which impelled me to produce the book. Remember that my life from the age of sixteen up to twenty-five was one perpetual battle with hardship and difficulty, such as do not often fall to the lot of a young man such as rarely is recorded in the experience of childhood or manhood. Take the book with all its faults and all its virtues. Judge it as you yourself would wish to be judged. Do not wrest a line from these pages, for the Encouragement of a bad thought or a bad deed.
The origin and object of this Book.
ONE winter night I was called to the bedside of a dying friend. I found him sitting up in his death-couch, pale and trembling yet unawed by the gathering shadows of the tomb. His white hairs fell over his clammy brow, his dark grey eye, glared with the unnatural light, which, heralds the approach of death. Old K had been a singular man. He had been a profound lawyer, without fame or judgeship. In quiet he pursued his dreamy way, deriving sufficient from his profession, to support him in decency and honor.  In a city, where no man has a friend, that has not money to back him the good old lawyer had been my friend. He was one of those old-fashioned lawyers who delight to bury themselves among their books, who love the law for its theory, and not for its trick and craft and despicable chicanery. Old K___ had been my friend, and now I sat by his bedside in his last hour.
"Death is coming," he said with a calm smile, " but I dread him not. My accounts with God are settled; my face is clammy with the death-sweat, but I have no fear. When I am gone, you will find in yonder desk a large pacquet, inscribed with your name. This pacquet, contains the records of my experience as a private councillor and a lawyer, for the last thirty years. You are young and friendless, but you have a pen; which will prove your best friend. I bequeath these Papers to you; they may be made serviceable to yourself and to the world .
In a faint voice, I asked the good old lawyer, concerning the nature of these records.
"They contiain a full and terrible development of the Secret Life of Philadelphia. In that pacquet, you will find, records of crimes, that never came to trial, murders that have never been divulged; there you will discover the results of secret examinations, held by official personages, in relation to atrocities almost too horrible for belief___”
"Then," said I, "Philadelphia is not so pure as it looks."
" Alas, alas, that I should have to say it," said the old man with an expression of deep sorrow, " But whenever I behold its regular streets and formal look, I think of The Whited Sepulchre, without all purity, within, all rottenness and dead men’s bones. Have you courage, to write a book from those papers?”
" Aye, courage, for the day has come, when a man dare not speak a plain truth, without all the pitiful things of this world, rising up against him, with adder s tongues and treacherous hands. Write a book, with all your heart bent on some good object, and for every word you write, you will find a low-bred calumniator, eager to befoul you with his slanders. Have you courage, to write a book from the materials, which I leave you, which shall be devoted to these objects. To defend the sanctity of female honor; to show how miserable and corrupt is that Pseudo-Christianity which tramples on every principle ever preached or practised by the Saviour Jesus; to lay bare vice in high places, and strip gilded crimes of their tinsel. Have you courage for this?"
I could only take the old man s hand, within my own, and murmur faintly, "I ll try!"
"Have you courage, to lift the cover from the Whited Sepulchre, and while the world is crying honor to its outward purity, to show the festering corruption that rankles in its depths? Then those records are yours !"
I sat beside the deathbed of the old man all night long. His last hours were  past in calm converse, full of hope and trust in God. Near the break of day, he died. God bless him ! He was my friend, when I had nothing but an orphan’s gratitude, to tender in return for his friendship. He was a lawyer, and honest;  a Christian and yet no bigot; a philosopher and yet no sceptic.
After his funeral, I received the pacquet of papers, inscribed with my name, and endorsed, REVELATIONS OF THE SECRET LIFE OF PHILADELPHIA, being the records of thirty years practice as a councillor,  by * * * K____ .
The present book is founded upon those portions of the Revelations, more intimately connected with the present day.
With the same sincerity; with which I have written this Book of the Quaker City, I now give it to my countrymen, as an illustration of the life, mystery and crime of Philadelphia.

Credit: George Lippard, The Quaker City; Or, The Monks of Monks Hall, Philadelphia: Leary, Stuart & Company, 1876.
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