• For when I trace back the years I have liv'd, gathering them up in my Memory, I see what a chequer'd Work Of Nature my life has been. If I were now to inscribe my own History with its unparalleled Sufferings and surprizing Adventures (as the Booksellers might indite it), I know that the great Part of the World would not believe the Passages there related, by reason of the Strangeness of them, but I cannot help their Unbelief; and if the Reader considers them to be but dark Conceits, then let him bethink himself that Humane life is quite out of the Light and that we are all Creatures of Darknesse

    Peter Ackroyd
  • Destruction is like a snow-ball rolled down a Hill, for its Bulk encreases by its own swiftness and thus Disorder spreads

    Peter Ackroyd
  • To be insular is to be independent. But it is also to be alone

    Peter Ackroyd
  • So now I lye by Day and toss or rave by Night, since the ratling and perpetual Hum of the Town deny me rest: just as Madness and Phrensy are the vapours which rise from the lower Faculties, so the Chaos of the Streets reaches up even to the very Closet here and I am whirl'd about by cries of Knives to Grind and Here are your Mouse-Traps. I was last night about to enter the Shaddowe of Rest when a Watch-man, half-drunken, thumps at the Door with his Past Three-a-clock and his Rainy Wet Morning. And when at length I slipp'd into Sleep I had no sooner forgot my present Distemper than I was plunged into a worse: I dreamd my self to be lying in a small place under ground, like unto a Grave, and my Body was all broken while others sung. And there was a Face that did so terrifie me that I had like to have expired in my Dream. Well, I will say no more

    Peter Ackroyd
  • This mundus tenebrosus, this shaddowy world of Mankind, is sunk into Night; there is not a Field without its Spirits, nor a City without its Daemons, and the Lunaticks speak Prophesies while the Wise men fall into the Pitte. We are all in the Dark, one with another. And, as the Inke stains the Paper on which it is spilt and slowly spreads to Blot out the Characters, so the Contagion of darkness and malefaction grows apace until all becomes unrecognizable. Thus it was with the Witches who were tryed by Swimming not long before, since once the Prosecution had commenced no Stop could be put to the raving Women who came forward: the number of Afflicted and Accused began to encrease and, upon Examination, more confess'd themselves guilty of Crimes than were suspected of. And so it went, till the Evil revealed was so great that it threatened to bring all into Confusion.And yet in the way of that Philosophie much cryed up in London and elsewhere, there are those like Sir Chris. who speak only of what is Rational and what is Demonstrated, of Propriety and Plainness. Religion Not Mysterious is their Motto, but if they would wish the Godhead to be Reasonable why was it that when Adam heard that Voice in the Garden he was afraid unto Death? The Mysteries must become easy and familiar, it is said, and it has now reached such a Pitch that there are those who wish to bring their mathematicall Calculations into Morality, viz. the Quantity of Publick Good produced by any Agent is a compound Ratio of his Benevolence and Abilities, and such like Excrement. They build Edifices which they call Systems by laying their Foundacions in the Air and, when they think they are come to sollid Ground, the Building disappears and the Architects tumble down from the Clowds. Men that are fixed upon matter, experiment, secondary causes and the like have forgot there is such a thing in the World which they cannot see nor touch nor measure: it is the Praecipice into which they will surely fall

    Peter Ackroyd
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