The Legacy of Cain

COLLINS, Wilkie. The Legacy of Cain.

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“Are you quite sure, my young friend, that you won’t go back to Helena?” “Go back to her? I would cut my throat if I thought myself capable of doing it!”

COLLINS, Wilkie. The Legacy of Cain. London: Chatto & Windus, 1889.

3 vols; 8vo; original blue cloth, blocked in black with red diagonal stripe across the upper covers, white and grey floral endpapers; vol I. pp. viii, 290, vol II. pp. vi, 264; vol III. pp. vi, 282, (32, advertisements dated 1888); some light wear, with the usual rubbing to corners and head of spine and cloth faded to blue-grey, an internally clean and sturdy copy.
First Edition of Collins' penultimate novel, exploring the idea of hereditary evil. The novel is one of Collins' more violent, though by today's standards it veers quickly towards the pastiche, with the murderous Helena running down potential victims in what can only be described as a Victorian Benny Hill chase sequence across three novels. Collins dedicated this novel to his unofficial 'godchild' Mrs Henry Powell Bartley (Carrie Graves) for her help as an amanuensis during his long years of sickness. Rather unfortunately for Caroline (and ironically, given Collins' love of financial crime as a plot device), her husband would proceed to steal and gamble away all she inherited from Collins, leaving her destitute.
"Good and Evil walk the ways of this unintelligible world, on the same free conditions. If we cling, as many of us do, to the comforting belief that departed spirits can minister to earthly creatures for good—can be felt moving in us, in a train of thought, and seen as visible manifestations, in a dream—with what pretense of reason can we deny that the same freedom of supernatural influence which is conceded to the departed spirit, working for good, is also permitted to the departed spirit, working for evil?"

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