Here then was the termination of an immense series of labours, upon which n_an could have looked back without astonishment, or forward without _entiment bordering on despair. It was at a price which defies estimation tha_ had purchased this resting-place; whether we consider the efforts it ha_ost me to escape from the walls of my prison, or the dangers and anxieties t_hich I had been a prey, from that hour to the present.
But why do I call the point at which I was now arrived at a resting-place?
Alas, it was diametrically the reverse! It was my first and immediate busines_o review all the projects of disguise I had hitherto conceived, to deriv_very improvement I could invent from the practice to which I had bee_ubjected, and to manufacture a veil of concealment more impenetrable tha_ver. This was an effort to which I could see no end. In ordinary cases th_ue and cry after a supposed offender is a matter of temporary operation; bu_rdinary cases formed no standard for the colossal intelligence of Mr.
Falkland. For the same reason, London, which appears an inexhaustibl_eservoir of concealment to the majority of mankind, brought no suc_onsolatory sentiment to my mind. Whether life were worth accepting on suc_erms I cannot pronounce. I only know that I persisted in this exertion of m_aculties, through a sort of parental love that men are accustomed t_ntertain for their intellectual offspring; the more thought I had expended i_earing it to its present perfection, the less did I find myself disposed t_bandon it. Another motive, not less strenuously exciting me to perseverance,
was the ever-growing repugnance I felt to injustice and arbitrary power.
The first evening of my arrival in town I slept at an obscure inn in th_orough of Southwark, choosing that side of the metropolis, on account of it_ying entirely wide of the part of England from which I came. I entered th_nn in the evening in my countryman's frock; and, having paid for my lodgin_efore I went to bed, equipped myself next morning as differently as m_ardrobe would allow, and left the house before day. The frock I made up int_ small packet, and, having carried it to a distance as great as I though_ecessary, I dropped it in the corner of an alley through which I passed. M_ext care was to furnish myself with another suit of apparel, totall_ifferent from any to which I had hitherto had recourse. The exterior which _as now induced to assume was that of a Jew. One of the gang of thieves upon
—— forest, had been of that race; and by the talent of mimicry, which I hav_lready stated myself to possess, I could copy their pronunciation of th_nglish language, sufficiently to answer such occasions as were likely t_resent themselves. One of the preliminaries I adopted, was to repair to _uarter of the town in which great numbers of this people reside, and stud_heir complexion and countenance. Having made such provision as my prudenc_uggested to me, I retired for that night to an inn in the midway betwee_ile-end and Wapping. Here I accoutred myself in ray new habiliments; and,
having employed the same precautions as before, retired from my lodging at _ime least exposed to observation. It is unnecessary to describe th_articulars of my new equipage; suffice it to say, that one of my cares was t_iscolour my complexion, and give it the dun and sallow hue which is in mos_nstances characteristic of the tribe to which I assumed to belong; and tha_hen my metamorphosis was finished, I could not, upon the strictes_xamination, conceive that any one could have traced out the person of Cale_illiams in this new disguise.
Thus far advanced in the execution of my project. I deemed it advisable t_rocure a lodging, and change my late wandering life for a stationary one. I_his lodging I constantly secluded myself from the rising to the setting o_he sun; the periods I allowed for exercise and air were few, and those few b_ight. I was even cautious of so much as approaching the window of m_partment, though upon the attic story; a principle I laid down to myself was,
not wantonly and unnecessarily to expose myself to risk, however slight tha_isk might appear.
Here let me pause for a moment, to bring before the reader, in the way i_hich it was impressed upon my mind, the nature of my situation. I was bor_ree: I was born healthy, vigorous, and active, complete in all the lineament_nd members of a human body. I was not born indeed to the possession o_ereditary wealth; but I had a better inheritance, an enterprising mind, a_nquisitive spirit, a liberal ambition. In a word, I accepted my lot wit_illingness and content; I did not fear but I should make my cause good in th_ists of existence. I was satisfied to aim at small things; I was pleased t_lay at first for a slender stake; I was more willing to grow than to descen_n my individual significance.
The free spirit and the firm heart with which I commenced, one circumstanc_as sufficient to blast. I was ignorant of the power which the institutions o_ociety give to one man over others; I had fallen unwarily into the hands of _erson who held it as his fondest wish to oppress and destroy me.
I found myself subjected, undeservedly on my part, to all the disadvantage_hich mankind, if they reflected upon them, would hesitate to impose o_cknowledged guilt. In every human countenance I feared to find th_ountenance of an enemy. I shrunk from the vigilance of every human eye. _ared not open my heart to the best affections of our nature. I was shut up, _eserted, solitary wretch, in the midst of my species. I dared not look fo_he consolations of friendship; but, instead of seeking to identify mysel_ith the joys and sorrows of others, and exchanging the delicious gifts o_onfidence and sympathy, was compelled to centre my thoughts and my vigilanc_n myself. My life was all a lie. I had a counterfeit character to support. _ad counterfeit manners to assume. My gait, my gestures, my accents, were al_f them to be studied. I was not free to indulge, no not one, honest sally o_he soul. Attended with these disadvantages, I was to procure myself _ubsistence, a subsistence to be acquired with infinite precautions, and to b_onsumed without the hope of enjoyment.
This, even this, I was determined to endure; to put my shoulder to th_urthen, and support it with unshrinking firmness. Let it not however b_upposed that I endured it without repining and abhorrence. My time wa_ivided between the terrors of an animal that skulks from its pursuers, th_bstinacy of unshrinking firmness, and that elastic revulsion that from tim_o time seems to shrivel the very hearts of the miserable. If at some moment_ fiercely defied all the rigours of my fate, at others, and those of frequen_ecurrence, I sunk into helpless despondence. I looked forward without hop_hrough the series of my existence, tears of anguish rushed from my eyes, m_ourage became extinct, and I cursed the conscious life that was reproduce_ith every returning day.
"Why," upon such occasions I was accustomed to exclaim, "why am I overwhelme_ith the load of existence? Why are all these engines at work to torment me? _m no murderer; yet, if I were, what worse could I be fated to suffer? Ho_ile, squalid, and disgraceful is the state to which I am condemned! This i_ot my place in the roll of existence, the place for which either my temper o_y understanding has prepared me! To what purpose serve the restles_spirations of my soul, but to make me, like a frighted bird, beat myself i_ain against the enclosure of my cage? Nature, barbarous nature! to me tho_ast proved indeed the worst of step-mothers; endowed me with wishe_nsatiate, and sunk me in never-ending degradation!"
I might have thought myself more secure if I had been in possession of mone_pon which to subsist. The necessity of earning for myself the means o_xistence, evidently tended to thwart the plan of secrecy to which I wa_ondemned. Whatever labour I adopted, or deemed myself qualified to discharge,
it was first to be considered how I was to be provided with employment, an_here I was to find an employer or purchaser for my commodities. In the mea_ime I had no alternative. The little money with which I had escaped from th_lood-hunters was almost expended.
After the minutest consideration I was able to bestow upon this question. _etermined that literature should be the field of my first experiment. I ha_ead of money being acquired in this way, and of prices given by th_peculators in this sort of ware to its proper manufacturers. M_ualifications I esteemed at a slender valuation. I was not without _onviction that experience and practice must pave the way to excellen_roduction. But, though of these I was utterly destitute, my propensities ha_lways led me in this direction; and my early thirst of knowledge ha_onducted me to a more intimate acquaintance with books, than could perhap_ave been expected under my circumstances. If my literary pretensions wer_light, the demand I intended to make upon them was not great. All I asked wa_ subsistence; and I was persuaded few persons could subsist upon slendere_eans than myself. I also considered this as a temporary expedient, and hope_hat accident or time might hereafter place me in a less precarious situation.
The reasons that principally determined my choice were, that this employmen_alled upon me for the least preparation, and could, as I thought, b_xercised with least observation.
There was a solitary woman, of middle age, who tenanted a chamber in thi_ouse, upon the same floor with my own. I had no sooner determined upon th_estination of my industry than I cast my eye upon her as the possibl_nstrument for disposing of my productions. Excluded as I was from al_ntercourse with my species in general, I found pleasure in the occasiona_xchange of a few words with this inoffensive and good-humoured creature, wh_as already of an age to preclude scandal. She lived upon a very smal_nnuity, allowed her by a distant relation, a woman of quality, who, possesse_f thousands herself, had no other anxiety with respect to this person tha_hat she should not contaminate her alliance by the exertion of hones_ndustry. This humble creature was of a uniformly cheerful and activ_isposition, unacquainted alike with the cares of wealth and the pressure o_isfortune. Though her pretensions were small, and her information slender,
she was by no means deficient in penetration. She remarked the faults an_ollies of mankind with no contemptible discernment; but her temper was of s_ild and forgiving a cast, as would have induced most persons to believe tha_he perceived nothing of the matter. Her heart overflowed with the milk o_indness. She was sincere and ardent in her attachments, and never did sh_mit a service which she perceived herself able to render to a human being.
Had it not been for these qualifications of temper, I should probably hav_ound that my appearance, that of a deserted, solitary lad, of Jewis_xtraction, effectually precluded my demands upon her kindness. But I speedil_erceived, from her manner of receiving and returning civilities of a_ndifferent sort, that her heart was too noble to have its effusions checke_y any base and unworthy considerations. Encouraged by these preliminaries, _etermined to select her as my agent. I found her willing and alert in th_usiness I proposed to her. That I might anticipate occasions of suspicion, _rankly told her that, for reasons which I wished to be excused from relating,
but which, if related, I was sure would not deprive me of her good opinion, _ound it necessary, for the present, to keep myself private. With thi_tatement she readily acquiesced, and told me that she had no desire for an_urther information than I found it expedient to give.
My first productions were of the poetical kind. After having finished two o_hree, I directed this generous creature to take them to the office of _ewspaper; but they were rejected with contempt by the Aristarchus of tha_lace, who, having bestowed on them a superficial glance, told her that suc_atters were not in his way. I cannot help mentioning in this place, that th_ountenance of Mrs. Marney (this was the name of my ambassadress) was in al_ases a perfect indication of her success, and rendered explanation by word_holly unnecessary. She interested herself so unreservedly in what sh_ndertook, that she felt either miscarriage or good fortune much mor_xquisitely than I did. I had an unhesitating confidence in my own resources,
and, occupied as I was in meditations more interesting and more painful, _egarded these matters as altogether trivial.
I quietly took the pieces back, and laid them upon my table. Upon revisal, _ltered and transcribed one of them, and, joining it with two others,
despatched them together to the editor of a magazine. He desired they might b_eft with him till the day after to-morrow. When that day came he told m_riend they should be inserted; but, Mrs. Marney asking respecting the price,
he replied, it was their constant rule to give nothing for poetica_ompositions, the letter-box being always full of writings of that sort; bu_f the gentleman would try his hand in prose, a short essay or a tale, h_ould see what he could do for him.
With the requisition of my literary dictator I immediately complied. _ttempted a paper in the style of Addison's Spectators, which was accepted. I_ short time I was upon an established footing in this quarter. I howeve_istrusted my resources in the way of moral disquisition, and soon turned m_houghts to his other suggestion, a tale. His demands upon me were no_requent, and, to facilitate my labours, I bethought myself of the resource o_ranslation. I had scarcely any convenience with respect to the procuring o_ooks; but, as my memory was retentive, I frequently translated or modelled m_arrative upon a reading of some years before. By a fatality, for which I di_ot exactly know how to account, my thoughts frequently led me to th_istories of celebrated robbers; and I related, from time to time, incident_nd anecdotes of Cartouche, Gusman d'Alfarache, and other memorable worthies,
whose career was terminated upon the gallows or the scaffold.
In the mean time a retrospect to my own situation rendered a perseverance eve_n this industry difficult to be maintained. I often threw down my pen in a_cstasy of despair. Sometimes for whole days together I was incapable o_ction, and sunk into a sort of partial stupor, too wretched to be described.
Youth and health however enabled me, from time to time, to get the better o_y dejection, and to rouse myself to something like a gaiety, which, if it ha_een permanent, might have made this interval of my story tolerable to m_eflections.