7 and 7 Is

April 7, 2016

Good to read this passage from Thomas Love Peacock’s 1818 novel, Nightmare Abbey, on the even of book publication (though really I’ve been surprisingly relaxed). The character is patterned after Shelley:

To get a clear view of his own ideas, and to feel the pulse of the wisdom and genus of his age, he wrote and published a treatise, in which his meanings were carefully wrapt up in the monk’s hood of transcendental technology, but filled with hints of matter deep and dangerous, which he thought would set the whole nation in a ferment; and he awaited the result in awful expectation, as a miner who has fired a train awaits the explosion of a rock. However, he listened and heard nothing; for the explosion, if any ensued, was not sufficiently loud to shake a single leaf of the ivy on the towers of Nightmare Abbey; and some months afterwards he received a letter from his bookseller, informing him that only seven copies had been sold, and concluding with a polite request for the balance.

Scythrop did not despair. ‘Seven copies,’ he thought, ‘have been sold. Seven is a mystical number, and the omen is good. Let me find the seven purchasers of my seven copies, and they shall be the seven golden candle-sticks with which I will illuminate the world.’

Powell's Books
Indie Bound
Barnes & Nobile