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his key, open his huge desk, and secure the prize by way of a parenthesis while getting my task.
Well, considering the nature of my education, I say, I cut a very pretty figure in a retail shop; a quaker, and but some twelve years of age, or thereabouts, with white hair, à glib tongue, and a faculty, which, had I lived here, would have brought me to the gallows, I dare say, long and long ago. My aptitude was wonderful; I say it now with perfect seriousness, wonderful considering my age. I was very soon able to cheat, lie, and steal, with the best of our trade. I was even able to cheat my master, who cheated every body else, and I lost no opportunity of doing so. He taught me to pass counterfeit money, to put off counterfeit money I should say, for he was much too honourable a man, too good a man by half, to deal in counterfeit money, or to pass off a dollar more than he received in the way of trade. He taught me to pull back my thumb when I measured for people who were mean enough to insist upon extra measure, and to slip the yardstick, a few, when I was waiting on the liberal, who scorn to regard such matters. He taught me never to lose my temper, to put up with any thing and every thing from a customer, who, if he did not purchase one day might another, and could be punished accordingly for whatever he might have said or done before; such was the retaliation of a true shopkeeper he would say, such the revenge of a noble heart in the retail trade. “If you are insulted," quoth my master, “ if you are insulted, never insult again, (he was not a quaker, by the way:) what do you gain by it? If you lose your temper, of what avail is that? said he. “ Are you ready to choke with rage? down with it; smother it, swallow it, swallow your bitterness, and make the rascal pay
for it." I did so for a long while, did so for many years, did so till I grew tired of the plan. Yet more, he taught me never to let a customer escape without buying, if any profit could be got by him, either in price or measure, weight or change; to sell things of which every body knew the value, as needles, pins, pocket-handkerchiefs, &c. at any price, and make it up in matters of which the value was not so well known, as cloth, silks, linen, &c.; it gave character to the store, made every thing cheap, you know, to the fair, who always judge by the lump. In other words, he taught me to sell bait very chear, at prime cost indeed, or at half price, where nothing better was to be done, to sell cheap to A. and dear to B.; cheap to the wise, dear to the ignorant; cheap to the child, or the woman, or the stranger; dear to the rest of the world; cheap to the troublesome, dirty, stingy, higgling purchaser; dear, very dear, as dear as I could, by any sort of contrivance, to the liberal purchaser, the off-hand free purchaser. He taught me that a yard stick has five qnarters; that a shawl, one yard and a half square, or one yard and a half the longest way, is an eight-fourth shawl; blankets in proportion ; to keep the counter full and the shop crowded, for women will go where they see other women go, be that where it may, and every woman, whether she purchase or not, is a capital decoy at the counter of a retail shop; to sell one sort of cloth and roll up another; to cheat in the price where I could, in the reckoning where I could, in the measure where I could, little or much, according to my discretion, which, to say the truth, was regulated by the opportunity, always observing that cverybody is liable to mistake, and that if the change were not enough by just one dollar, or the measure too short by just one yard, there would be little or no risk if it were discovered, while if the change fell short a few odd pence, or the cloth a few odd thumbs, it would look suspicious, and would be, or might be, hard to explain. He taught me, moreover, to keep chattering,“ chatter, chatter, chatter," as Wordsworth has it in a shopkeeping ballad of his, to give a customer no time to calculate, or think, or see, or hear; to darken the shop, or store, as we call it there; (for in our part of the world a stone is a rock, a shop a store, and a stick a pole ;) to darken the windows with every sort of shining trash, ditto the doors, to tumble new goods of different qualities together, and swear that they were bought by the heap at auction; to wet other new goods with dirty water, and pile them up outside of the door on the broad platform; to do this whenever a ship had been wrecked within forty leagues of the store, knowing that they would pass for great bargains, that a variety of shop stuffs look finer while they are wet than at any other time, and that the ladies, God help them, are so fond of what is cheap, that they will buy any thing, any thing under the sky, whether it be of any use or not, if it appears to be cheap, or if they are so crowded and jostled together that they cannot see whether it is cheap or not. In a word, he taught me a multitude of things, of a piece with what I have related, in much less time, I dare say, than would be thought possible to the uninitiated. But I will do myself the justice to say that I was not entirely satisfied with my master; nor with my small share of the profit which my tricks brought into the till. I was paid, or properly speaking, my mother was paid about 48.6d. a week for my board out of the shop, and I was clothed as the Irish beggars are, after a fashionthat is, about a year or so after a fashion was over. Wherefore, it began to be a trouble to me that I was doing such ungodly work for such poor pay; and after thinking over the matter, I concluded that as my sins, if they were sins at all, were great in proportion as my reward or profit, or temptation thereto was little, it would be expedient for me to increase the temptation, or in other words to increase the pay; I did so, and every night before I laid my head upon the pillow, I took very good care to settle the matter with my conscience, by drawing on the till of the shop.
But why trouble the reader with what occurred to me at this early age, when I was a cheat, and a thief, and a liar by trade; when I was applauded for doing what, if I were to see another do it now, I should think worthy of transportation, or the tread-mill, or the whipping-post? Why say more of that period when I was a poor boy, beset on every side, in every possible way, with every possible temptation ?-I will not. I will pass on to the day of my power, the day of my pride, when, after having been successively a shop-boy, a writing-master, a clerk in a store, a drawing-master, a retail merchant," a wholesale merchant, with large property, and almost unbounded credit; a lawyer, a student of law I should say, without friends and without money, obliged to write while other men were asleep, to avoid 'starvation; a writer for a journal, which paid nothing to its contributors; a novel-writer; a co-editor of a periodical, which appeared by fits and starts, now monthly, now quarterly; a poet -; a politician; a newspaper editor; a critic; a dramatist; a literary drudge, for I compiled an index, in the heat of my poetical fervour, to a work which has no parallel on God's earth, I hope; a sort of historian, for I made my share of a history, which purports to be the history of the American Revolution, by Paul Allen, who never wrote a word of it, and my share was about one-third part of the whole ; a thorough-paced novel-writer, having made up somewhere about a score of good-sized volumes, of which a word or two more in a future paragraph; I came to be a counsellor at law in the Supreme Court of the United States of North America.
Having now come to the period when, weary of the sluggish life that I was leading at Baltimore, Maryland, where my practice had become a genteel support for me, and where, over and above my trade as a lawyer, which kept me occupied, now as an attorney and now as a barrister, now as a proctor, now as a solicitor, and now as a conveyancer—one day in the county court, another in the criminal court, a third, perhaps, in the chancery court,* a fourth in the district court of the United States, a fifth in the orphan's court of Baltimore, a sixth in the high court of appeals for the State of Maryland, a seventh in the circuit court of the United States, an eighth in the Lord knows where, I was in the habit of producing well nigh three duodecimo volumes a month, of matter which had nothing to do with law, and very little, I fear, with any thing else. Having now come to that period when, with all the above-enumerated occupations to keep me busy night and day, I felt as if I were leading a sluggish life, and made up my mind all at once, while I was leaning my head on the mantel-piece one day after dinner, to throw aside my law books, give up my profession for a while, jump on board a ship, and be off to Europe with the first wind; having now come to that period, I say, it behoves me to be a little more particular.
A word or two more of myself, therefore, in a very particular shape. I am so constituted that I cannot be happy for a day—no, not for an hour, a single hour, unless my faculties are on the stretch. Occupied I must be, either to a good or an evil purpose, wherever I am, or I get weary and sick-I neither eat nor sleep. I cannot bear to be stationary, and I would a little rather die than go back-back for ever from a spot in which I had once fairly set my foot, or give up any thing which I had once heartily and seriously undertaken before it was altogether accomplished. I never did yet, and I never will—right or wrong, I was ready to say; for I never undertake a matter now without looking steadfastly to the consequences, however terrible they may appear, nor without leaving to myself some latitude of choice for the future.
My character is not of the north—for the northern people of America are much more phlegmatic, and much more cautious than I ever was or ever hope to be; nor is it of the south, for the southern people of America—those of the extreme south are a nation of mad caps, with not half so much method as I have, and I, to the reproach of New England be it recorded, have been thought here by those who were
Chancery courts and chancellors of one sort or another abound in America. The common law courts have equity jurisdiction pretty generally there; and in the State of Maryland, a State with a population about one-third as large as that of London, besides the chancellor, they have somewhere about sixteen or eighteen judges, who have each the same power; in all, therefore, about nineteen chancellors for one State of the twenty-four.
so, and it
pretty well acquainted with our character, to be a little touched or so. But if I may be allowed to speak for myself, or to judge by what I hear in a matter of this kind, I should say that my character is a compound of the native Yankee, and the native southern. People say may be so.
Born at the north and educated at the north educated, so far as I had any education at all, that is, before I withdrew from society, locked myself up in my room, and pursued a course of solitary study, such as few men ever had the courage or health io pursue, for a period of nearly eight years-a bitter apprenticeship indeed, for one who had never been quiet for a day in all his life before, should be naturally imbued with much of the northern character; yet living as I have in the south for a good number of years, the best part of my life, at any rate, be the time little or much, I should wear a somewhat of the southern character; and after a while might offer, vyhat I am said now to offer, a compound of contradictory properties which have neutralized each other already, and appear to be in a fair way of destroying each other. It may be so--but, whether it be or pot, I shall abide the issue. Oil and water have been mixed heretofore; and why may not fire and water be mixed-or snow and fire, poetry and mathematics, literature and law, truth and falsehood, great wisdom with great folly?
I had occasion to say, two or three pages ago (pages of letter-paper I mean) that I was a novel-writer, on a large scale—no, a thoroughpaced novel-writer and a dramatist; a dramatist, however, only so far as writing a play, one play which was never acted, although it was published, and two other plays which have neither been acted nor published, nor heard of, except by myself, would go to make me a dramatist.
· Among the multitude of books which I had written, two novels, one in four volumes, the other in three, had been re-published in this country, within a short period of each other; and I was quite prepared, I confess, to hear that two others which followed in America would be republished here, as soon as they appeared. But no—I was not so well acquainted then, as a writer for the British publie should be, nor as I am now, with the true nature of magazine puffs, and newspaper puffs, nor with the mighty difference which may be made in the value of a work, by putting the name of A. B. publisher, in the titlepage, instead of the name of C.D. I was weary of the law-weary as death, although I had no wish to give up the profession; weary of it, because, at every step, and at every turn, I met with subterfuge, wickedness, and absurdity. For many years I had been at war, open war, with the whole tribe of lawyers in America, from the highest to the lowest-I saw evil, and mischief, and bad power, rising up on every side of our Federal institutions, because of the law in America-judicial prerogative, lawyer craft, and judge-made law, to borrow Bentham's phraseology, coming in like the sea, on every side of our political asseciation. I saw this—and I would have sacrificed myself to avert the issue; but I knew of no way of averting it: where should I go for council-where should we look for a Joshua to guide us ? where for one qualified to reform the mighty abuse—to check the army of lawyers, even while they were crowding up to all the high places, and all the seats of power in America? Alas! I had no hope; and therefore, much as I hated the tricks of the law, and much as I desired the overthrow of its million of nightmares, I should have continued the practice of the law, and perhaps have gone to my grave a lawyer, but for the accidental republication here of the two paltry books above mentioned; aye, aye--lived and died a lawyer-in spite of my detestation of lawyers and law-subterfuge, and in spite of a gnawing desire which I had to see this country, I hardly knew why, as I have said before, but for the republication of two crazy novels, and a pair of newspaper puffs, written by a pair of exquisite blockheads, about one or both of the said novels. But here, to prove that I speak the truth, and to make it probable that my story is altogether true, I shall add a few names, titles, and facts, whereby it will be seen whether I am serious or not. Wherever I speak of myself or of what I have said or done, I speak with the proof before me, and where I speak of what others have said or done, I speak with a belief that whatever I say is true, and I hold myself answerable for it, once for all, now and hereafter. I dwell upon these facts the more in the early part of my story, because I shall have occasion to allude to them, perhaps, in every chapter, when I come to relate my adventures here in the trade of authorship; and I shall relate them before I have done precisely as they have occurred. They will be a treasure to the uninitiated; for I am not of a temper to qualify what I have to say_where I have undertaken to say the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, as I have in the following letters.
Early in the year 1822, LOGAN, a story which has been attributed to five or six persons, the greater part of whom were crazy, or thought to be so, but a story of which I am the true anthor, was published in America. Not long after, it was re-published here by Newman-or the Newmans, who live somewhere in the neighbourhood of Ludgate-hill, or Leadenhall-street, or some other characteristic place— people who manufacture a certain species of literary ware by slip-loads. Well, it was very soon told abroad in America; for, in the pride of my heart, I could not keep the good news a secret, nor could any of my friends, nor any of the patriots of America, that another American novel was in the way of re-publication here if not actually re-published here. I was rather shy, I remember at first, fearing that there might be some mistake, when my publisher, who had not sold copies enough to pay for the paper, I dare say, told me I was to re-appear in the shop of a London publisher. A London publisher !--think of that. I knew nothing of London publishers. They were all one to me--all of a piece. Even Mr. Murray, for aught that I knew, was but one of a multitude, who, if genius fell in their way, would be ready to snap at it; and if it did not come in their way, to break their necks after it.---Alas! but I know better now: and I know very well now, that if I had known thrce years ago, what I know while I am writing this paragaph, I should not have been quite so much gratified, I rather guess, on hearing that a body of London publishers, Messrs. A. K. Newman and Co. had re-published a book of mine.
Well, soon after this, appeared another novel by me, called Seventy-six, from the Preface to which (as the Preface I find was omitted in the re-publication here) I now beg leave to extract a