Excerpt from Page 52Published April 17, 2017
The lack of promise in his career as a machinist contributed to his depression in these years. It was only too clear that the future held nothing beyond an endless continuation of the dreary labor he was doing now. He could not be happy without the hope of some dramatic change for the better. When as a farmer’s apprentice he had seen how little a farmer could aspire to, he had escaped. Later on, he had moved to Lowell because life in an industrial town seemed to offer broader possibilities. Yet here he was, years later, in just the sort of trap he had always feared, working long hours doing pointless and exhausting chores, making scarcely enough to support his family. He was not a good machinist, it was true; yet even the best of them had to work the same long hours, and remained relatively poor. Whether he worked hard or not, he would never find wealth and ease by being a machinist. Without the inspiration of a dream, as he found in those depressing years in the early 1840s, he could barely persuade himself to do anything. Some great stroke of good fortune, some dramatic and extraordinary action was needed to turn his dreary life into the golden existence he yearned for.