Saturday, September 15, 2007

Etidorhpa — Prologue

My name was Johannes Llewellyn Llongollyn Drury. I was names Llewellyn at my mother’s desire, out of respect to her father, Dr. Evan Llewellyn, the scientist and speculative philosopher, well known to curious students as the author of various rare works on occult subjects. The other given names were ancestral also, but when I reached the age of appreciation, they naturally became distasteful; so it is that in early youth I dropped the first and third of these cumbersome words, and retained only the second Christian name. While perhaps the reader of these lines may regard this cognomen with less favor than either of the others, still I liked it, as it was the favorite of my mother, who always used the name in full; the world, however, contracted Llewellyn to Lew, much to the distress of my dear mother, who felt aggrieved at the liberty. After her death I decided to move to a western city, and also determined, out of respect to her memory, to select from and rearrange the letters of my several names, and construct therefrom three short, terse words, which would convey to myself only, the resemblance of my former name. hence it is that the Cincinnati Directory does not record my self-selected name, which I have no reason to bring before the public. To the reader my name is Llewellyn Drury. I might add that my ancestors were among the early settlers of what is now New York City, and were direct descendants of the early Welsh kings; but these matters do not concern the reader, and it is not of them that I now choose to write. My object in putting down these preliminary paragraphs is simply to assure the reader of such facts, and such only, as may give him confidence in my personal sincerity and responsibility, in order that he may with a right understanding read the remarkable statements that occur in the succeeding chapters.

The story I am about to relate is very direct, and some parts of it are very strange, not to say marvelous; but not on account of its strangeness alone do I ask for the narrative a reading;—that were mere trifling. What is here set down happened as recorded, but I shall not attempt to explain things which even to myself are enigmatical. Let the candid reader read the story as I have told it, and make out o fit what he can, or let him pass the page by unread—I shall not insist on claiming his further attention. Only, if he does read, I beg him to read with an open mind, without prejudice and without predilection.

Who or what I am as a participant in this work is of small importance. I mention my history only for the sake of frankness and fairness. I have nothing to gain by issuing the volume. Neither do I court praise nor shun censure. My purpose is to tell the truth.

Early in the fifties I took up my residence in the Queen City, and though a very young man, found the employment ready that a friend had obtained for me with a manufacturing firm engaged in a large and complicated business. My duties were varied and peculiar, of such a nature as to tax body and mind to the utmost, and for several years I served in the most exacting of business details. Besides the labor which my vocation entailed, with its manifold and multiform perplexities, I voluntarily imposed upon myself other tasks, which I pursued in the privacy of my own bachelor apartments. An inherited love for books on abstruse and occult subjects, probably in part the result of my blood connection with Dr. Evan Llewellyn, caused me to collect a unique library, largely on mystical subjects, in which I took the keenest delight. My business and my professional duties by day, and my studies at night, made my life a busy one.

In the midst of my work and reading I encountered the character whose strange story forms the essential part of the following narrative I may anticipate by saying that the manuscript to follow only incidentally concerns myself, and that If possible I would relinquish all connection therewith. It recites the physical, mental, and moral adventures of one whose life history was abruptly thrust upon my attention, and as abruptly interrupted. The vicissitudes of his body and soul, circumstances seemed to compel me to learn and to make public.

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