But there was ill-luck about the little establishment.
Several times, as we have seen, it changed proprietors, but none of them could make it prosper; and, at length, in the month of June, 1830, the second month of the apprentice's fifth year, the Northern Spectator
was discontinued; the printing-office was broken up, and the apprentice, released from his engagement, became his own master, free to wander whithersoever he could pay his passage, and to work for whomsoever would employ him.
His possessions at this crisis were—a knowledge of the art of printing, an extensive and very miscellaneous library in his memory, a wardrobe that could be stuffed into a pocket, twenty dollars in cash, and—a sore leg. The article last named played too serious a part in the history of its proprietor, not to be mentioned in the inventory of his property.
He had injured his leg a year before in stepping from a box, and it troubled him, more or less, for three years, swelling occasionally to four times its natural size, and obliging him to stand at his work, with the leg propped up in a most horizontal and uncomfortable position.
It was a tantalizing feature of the case that he could walk without much difficulty, but standing was torture.
As a printer, he had no particular occasion to walk; and by standing he was to gain his subsistence.
was no longer a Boy. His figure and the expression of his countenance were still singularly youthful; but he was at the beginning of his twentieth year, and he was henceforth to confront the world as a man. So far, his life had been, upon the whole, peaceful, happy and fortunate, and he had advanced towards his object without interruption, and with sufficient rapidity.
His constitution, originally weak, Labor and Temperance had rendered capable of great endurance.
His mind, originally apt and active, incessant reading had stored with much that is most valuable among the discoveries, the thoughts, and the fancies of past generations.
In the conflicts of the Debating Society
, the printing-office, and the tavern, he had exercised his powers, and tried the correctness of his opinions.
If his knowledge was incomplete, if there were wide domains of knowledge, of which he had little more than heard, yet what he did know he knew well; he had learned it, not as a task, but because he wanted to know it
; it partook of the vitality of his own mind; it was his own, and he could use it.