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THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF AN ENGLISH OPIUM-EATER.
THOMAS DE QUINCEY.
M DCCC LI.
LIFE AND MANNERS.
I was born in a situation the most favorable to happiness of any, perhaps, which can exist; of parents neither too high nor too low; not very rich, which is too likely to be a snare; not poor, which is oftentimes a greater. I might spend many pages, like the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, in telling over the bead-roll of all the advantages which belonged to my situation, or in making my separate acknowledgment to the several persons from whom I drew the means of improving these advantages, so far as I did improve them. And, in some instances, it would cost me a dissertation to prove that the accidents of my position in life, which I regard as advantages, really were such in a philosophic sense. Let the reader feel no alarm. Such a dissertation, and such a rehearsal, would be more painful to myself than they could be wearisome to him. For these things change their aspects according to the station from which they happen to be surveyed; in prospect they are simply great blessings to be enjoyed; in retrospect, great pledges to be redeemed.