If once a man indulges himself in murder, very soon he comes to think little of robbing; and from robbing he comes next to drinking and Sabbath-breaking, and from that to incivility and procrastination.
Once begun upon this downward path, you never know where you are to stop. Many a man has dated his ruin from some murder or other that perhaps he thought little of at the time.
- Thomas de Quincey, in "Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts"
A grim conservative moralist quoted these words in perfect seriousness. What little I know of Mr. de Quincey leads me to suspect that his tongue and his cheek were close friends.
But I, Ex Cathedra, have proceeded directly to the final degrading vice, my worst, procrastination, without ever having once taken anyone's life. (If we discount Jesus' doctrine of wishing it makes it so.) If you discount the occasional unreturned book, no robber I. As for drinking and Sabbath-breaking, I must plead guilty. But incivility? Never.
Another good excerpt from Mr de Q's letter to a friend:
I was also to tell you that (Papa) agreed with you too in your detestation of ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin,’ but I told him you had not said you detested it, but that it was painful to read, upon which he withdrew his message but cherishes a hope that, if ever you do read it, you will detest it…