Old Fires and Profitable Ghosts , by Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch


The stories in this book are of revenants: persons who either in spirit or in body revisit old scenes, return upon old selves or old emotions, or relate a message from a world beyond perception. “Which?” was suggested by a passage in Hawthorne’s Note-books, where he proposes a story or sketch the scene of which is “to be laid within the light of a street lantern; the time, when the lamp is near going out; and the catastrophe to be simultaneous with the last flickering gleam.” “The Lady of the Ship” is very nearly historical. “Prisoners of War” rests on the actual adventures of two St. Ives men, Thomas Williams and John Short, in the years 1804–1814. “Frozen Margit” and “The Seventh Man” have — if not their originals — at least their suggestions in fact.

One of the tales, “Once Aboard the Lugger,” is itself a revenant. After writing it in the form here presented, I took advice and gave it another, under the title of “Ia.” Yet some whose opinion I value prefer the original, and to satisfy them (though I think them wrong) it is reprinted; not with intent to pad out the volume. But my readers are too generous to need the assurance.



Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:59