[Providence, R. I.? Henry Trumbull?], 1832. First edition. Original blue wrappers, 8 x 5 inches, 36 pages, untrimmed. Frontis. Untrimmed edges slightly chipped and crimped; some general spotting and soiling and wear; a good, sound copy. Item #20387
“The crime for which this man suffered, was similar to that for which the notorious Burke, and several others have recently been made an awful example of in Europe, to wit. that of deliberately depriving of life by strangulation an innocent fellow being, for the purpose of disposing of the body to the Surgeons for dissection!” The supposed true crime narrative of an English pickpocket, who here shares details of his crimes, the sad corruption of his American-born wife, and his disappointment at plying his trade among the denizens of New England; he notes of the 1824 visit of Lafayette, “my hopes were disappointed in reaping the golden harvest that I had fondly anticipated—the artful yankees (probably improving by the hints given in the public prints, to beware of Pickpockets,) had, I found, taken the precaution to leave the most valuable contents of their Pocket-books at home (if any they ever contained). . . .” This pamphlet includes supposed inside information on the ways of pickpockets, and stokes the moral panic over dissection; searching Copac and the British Library catalogs has yet to turn up an English source (let alone a fifth London edition) for this rollicking narrative; the extensive notes on the copy at AAS suggests the possible Providence production, “Physical evidence suggests Boston or Providence as the likely place of publication. Nathaniel Coverly and Henry Trumbull (active in and around Boston) published similarly exhilarated tales of criminality earlier in the century. By 1830, the literary style characteristic of their crime pamphlets was slightly passé. Its unusual appearance after that date points to the activity of printers of their generation. The death of Coverly in 1824 further narrows the field of likely publishers of this pamphlet. From 1826 to 1836, Trumbull’s name appears in the Providence directories.” Sabin 72054.