Books: Rosebuds & Blasted Bet

THE PRODIGAL RAKE—MEMOIRS OF WILLIAM HICKEY (452 pp.)—edited by Peter Quennell—Dutton ($6.50).

This merry memoir by a hard-shirking 18th century wrongdoer proves that the wicked and slothful do not always suffer for their sins. William Hickey, the son of a prosperous London attorney, gathered rosebuds by the armload for the greater part of his life, suffered no ill effects except those that could be cured by doses of mercury, and showed no inclination either to repent or boast when cooling blood gave him the leisure to write it all down.

Hickey's blood heated early. A naughty servant, Nanny Harris, played bed games...

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