[No Comment ]L’Espirit de l’escalier | Harper's Magazine

Sign in to access Harper’s Magazine

Need to create a login? Want to change your email address or password? Forgot your password?

  1. Sign in to Customer Care using your account number or postal address.
  2. Select Email/Password Information.
  3. Enter your new information and click on Save My Changes.

Locked out of your account? Get help here.

Subscribers can find additional help here.

Not a subscriber? Subscribe today!

Get Access to Print and Digital for $23.99.
Subscribe for Full Access
Get Access to Print and Digital for $23.99.
[No Comment]

L’Espirit de l’escalier


Having just posted on the curious ransacking of the office of Siegelman’s attorney, I just want to make clear that I am in no way suggesting that the forces involved with the Siegelman prosecution had anything to do with this or any of the other curious goings-on in Alabama. After all, we know that Karl Rove was in Hershey, Pennsylvania through the weekend.

But it is worth considering – would people who committed the sorts of crimes that went on in court all the way through the Siegelman prosecution hesitate for even a second about a petty burglary? On this point, Thomas de Quincey put it very well in his little essay Murder Considered as one of the Fine Arts (1827):

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.

And the next thing you know, he’ll be putting his commas outside the quotation marks. And with that, all human civilization will collapse.

More from