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[36]

Chapter 3: Apprenticeship.—1818-1825.

Mastering the mechanical art, he soon writes anonymously for the Herald, and receives encouragement, especially from Caleb Cushing, who discovers his secret. His mother dies in Baltimore, where he makes a last visit to her.


The boy had not been many days in the printing-office before he was convinced that he had at last found his right place; but his first feeling was one of discouragement as he watched the rapidity with which the compositors set and distributed the types. ‘My little1 heart sank like lead within me,’ he afterwards said. ‘It seemed to me that I never should be able to do anything of the kind. However, I was put to learn the different boxes and to ascertain where the capitals and small capitals were placed, and, in the lower case, how the types were diversified, and very soon learned the whole.’ From that time on throughout his life it was a delight, and, as he used to express it, ‘a positive recreation,’ to him to manipulate the types; and the last time that he ever handled the composing-stick was in that same Herald office, just sixty years from the day on which he had first entered it as an apprentice. He was so short at first, that when he undertook to work off proofs he had to stand on a fifty-six-pound weight in order to reach the table. He quickly grew expert and accurate as a compositor, and was much liked and trusted by his master, of whose family he now became a member, according to the custom with apprentices in those days. As Mr. Allen's house was close by Deacon Bartlett's, on Summer Street, the boy was still near his old friend and protector, and he became very happy in

1 Speech at Dinner given by Franklin Club, Boston, Oct. 14, 1878.

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