The Terrific Register

This is not quite a book recommendation. I do not, generally, find much interest in real-life horrors, and The Terrific Register (1825) is an encyclopedic catalog of allegedly true "accounts of barbarities inflicted by savage hordes; cruel punishments with which crime has been visited; barbarous murders; atrocious assassinations and diabolical cruelties; bloody duels and sanguinary conflicts; daring villanies (sic), frauds, plots, conspiracies, and rebellions; remarkable robberies, piracies, executions, and persecutions for conscience sake" (as well as "well-authenticated stories of apparitions and strange and fearful superstitions; disastrous accidents, perilous enterprises, and miraculous escapes by sea and land; awful visitations and singular interpositions; accounts of plague, famine, fire, earthquake, and other special chastisements of Providence"). Harrowing stuff, by the look of it, though to be honest I haven't actually read more than the Preface.

But no, the thing which caught my eye immediately, and my reason for mentioning it at all, was the astounding title page illustration:

(click image for larger view)

Isn't it wonderful? I love the chunkiness of the old engraving, and the overload of macabre detail, epitomized by the legend, "GOD'S REVENGE AGAINST MURDER" (the central moral conceit of the book). The draped corpse and the silhouetted figures remind me a bit of Edward Gorey's animated introduction to the PBS series, Mystery.

The reader who wishes to "scrutinize his (sic) fellow in his worst estate" can find both volumes of this ghastly collection at Google Books:

The Terrific Register, or, Record of Crimes, Judgements, Providences, and Calamities, Volume I & Volume II

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