chapter  2
28 Pages


HE A R NCR EAT E D a romantic fog around his early years in America so that it is impossible to be sure what exactly happened on his arrival in the USA. He claimed later that he had been sent without any money to make his own way and had spent two years 'roughing it' before he was taken up in Cincinnati by Henry Watkin, an English printer who cared for him until he got 'fledged'.1 The years - or months, depending on the version used - in New York were spent 'as a restaurant waiter, dishwasher, itinerant vendor, odd-job man, anything by which I could turn an honest dollar', while he 'trod the borderland of despair', with only 'hereditary desires' keeping him from 'relinquishment', presumably meaning suicide. He was then supposed to have received advice from home suggesting that he contact a family connection in Cincinnati and he went, on the basis that any change could be an improvement?