Manchester, N.H. J.H. Cate, Printer, 1843. 310pp. Original brown cloth. Spine label lacking, but paper remnant remains; spine slightly sunned; corners and spine ends worn. Bookplate on front pastedown, previous owner's ink notes on rear pastedown (alluding to the possible suppression of this work). Two leaves with spotting, occasional pencil marginalia, else quite clean internally. Very good. Item #WRCAM55043
The thoroughgoing bad nature of the author is well described in the title and he admits that his life of crime began with shoplifting (at which he was quite adept) while barely into his teens. Most of his career was passed in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine, where even among a population renowned for its sharpness, he was able to find many a sucker. Wyman also recounts his sexual conquests, though the publisher admits that some of the salacious details have been excised. Born in 1784, Wyman died just before the publication of this work, in prison. How much moralizing has been added by the publisher it is impossible to tell, but he admits in the preface that he has published Wyman's recollections in order that readers "may see the heinousness and misery of crime, and thereby strengthen and render impregnable the noble purposes to resist temptation." But he also insists that the work is Wyman's alone, and the result is an entertaining and enlightening memoir of the life of a bad man. "Wyman was an audacious and incorrigible thief and swindler, but his prominence was more literary than criminal" - DNB. The ANB calls his memoir "a fascinating look at the social mores of the criminal element in early nineteenth-century American society." An uncommon book, one of the few pre-Civil War personal accounts of gambling and other bad behavior. HOWES W724. AMERICAN IMPRINTS 43-5413. DNB XX, p.586. ANB 24, pp.89-90.