George Lippard

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Lippard, c. 1850

George Lippard (April 10, 1822February 9, 1854) was a 19th-century American novelist, journalist, playwright, social activist, and labor organizer. Nearly forgotten today, he was one of the most widely read authors in antebellum America. A friend of Edgar Allan Poe, Lippard advocated a socialist political philosophy and sought justice for the working class in his writings. He founded a secret benevolent society, Brotherhood of the Union, investing in it all the trappings of a religion; the society, a precursor to labor organizations, survived until 1994. He authored two principal kinds of stories: Gothic tales about the immorality, horror, vice, and debauchery of large cities and historical fiction of a type called romances.


  • The numerous chimneys with their fantastic shapes rose grimly in the moonlight, like a strange band of goblin sentinels, perched of the roof to watch the mansion. The general effect was that of an ancient structure falling to decay, deserted by all inhabitants save the rats that gnawed the wainscot along the thick old walls. The door-plate that glittered on the faded door, half covered as it was with rust and verdigris, with its saintly name afforded the only signs of the actual occupation of Monk-hall by human beings: in all other respects it looked so desolate, so time-worn, so like a mausoleum for old furniture, and crumbling tapestry, for high-backed mahogany chairs, gigantic bedsteads, and strange looking mirrors, veiled in the thick folds of the spider's web.
    • The Quaker City; or, the Monks of Monk Hall, part 1, chapter 7 "The Monks of Monk-Hall" (1844)
  • The maiden---pure and without stain--lay sleeping on the small couch that occupied one corner of the closet. Her fair limbs were enshrouded in the light folds of a night-robe, and she lay in an attitude of perfect repose, one glowing cheek resting upon her uncovered arm, while over the other, waved the loosened curls of her glossy hair. The parting lips disclosed her teeth, white as ivory, while her youthful bosom came heaving up from the folds of her night-robe, like a billow that trembles for a moment in the moonlight, and then is suddenly lost to view. She lay there in all the ripening beauty of maidenhood, the light falling gently over her young limbs, their outlines marked by the easy folds of her robe, resembling in their roundness and richness of proportion, the swelling fulness of the rose-bud that needs but another beam of light, to open it into its perfect bloom.
    • The Quaker City; or, the Monks of Monk Hall, part 1, chapter 9 "The Bride" (1844)
  • I would make the profession of every man, the rule by which to fashion his crest or coat of arms!... To the petifogger (sic), three links of a convict's chain, with the Penitentiary in the distance! To the Bank Director a Widow's Coffin, with a weeping Orphan on either side by way of heraldic supporters! Pah! There is no single word of contempt in the whole language, too bitter, to express my opinion of this magnificent Pretension - the Aristocracy of the Quaker City!
    • ** The Quaker City; or, the Monks of Monk Hall, part 2, chapter 4 "Dora Livingstone at Home" (1844)
  • The Kingdom of God is plainly that state of temporal affairs which, by a proper distribution of labor, enables the entire human family to cultivate their best faculties. The Kingdom of God commences in this world, will progress in the next, and in all other worlds.
    • from The Quaker City weekly (March 30, 1850)
  • You have prayed to these priests -- they have answered you with death. You have shed your tears at the feet of these kings -- they have fed upon your flesh. You have clutched the garments of these rich men -- they have quenched their thirst with your blood … NOW THE DAY OF PRAYERS AND TEARS HAS PASSED. THE DAY OF JUDGEMENT HAS COME.
    • Adonai, the pilgrim of eternity, 86 (1851)
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