The Professor HTML version

Chapter 4
No man likes to acknowledge that he has made a mistake in the choice of his
profession, and every man, worthy of the name, will row long against wind and
tide before he allows himself to cry out, "I am baffled!" and submits to be floated
passively back to land. From the first week of my residence in X---- I felt my
occupation irksome. The thing itself--the work of copying and translating
business-letters--was a dry and tedious task enough, but had that been all, I
should long have borne with the nuisance; I am not of an impatient nature, and
influenced by the double desire of getting my living and justifying to myself and
others the resolution I had taken to become a tradesman, I should have endured
in silence the rust and cramp of my best faculties; I should not have whispered,
even inwardly, that I longed for liberty; I should have pent in every sigh by which
my heart might have ventured to intimate its distress under the closeness,
smoke, monotony and joyless tumult of Bigben Close, and its panting desire for
freer and fresher scenes; I should have set up the image of Duty, the fetish of
Perseverance, in my small bedroom at Mrs. King's lodgings, and they two should
have been my household gods, from which my darling, my cherished-in-secret,
Imagination, the tender and the mighty, should never, either by softness or
strength, have severed me. But this was not all; the antipathy which had sprung
up between myself and my employer striking deeper root and spreading denser
shade daily, excluded me from every glimpse of the sunshine of life; and I began
to feel like a plant growing in humid darkness out of the slimy walls of a well.
Antipathy is the only word which can express the feeling Edward Crimsworth had
for me--a feeling, in a great measure, involuntary, and which was liable to be
excited by every, the most trifling movement, look, or word of mine. My southern
accent annoyed him; the degree of education evinced in my language irritated
him; my punctuality, industry, and accuracy, fixed his dislike, and gave it the high
flavour and poignant relish of envy; he feared that I too should one day make a
successful tradesman. Had I been in anything inferior to him, he would not have
hated me so thoroughly, but I knew all that he knew, and, what was worse, he
suspected that I kept the padlock of silence on mental wealth in which he was no
sharer. If he could have once placed me in a ridiculous or mortifying position, he
would have forgiven me much, but I was guarded by three faculties--Caution,
Tact, Observation; and prowling and prying as was Edward's malignity, it could
never baffle the lynx-eyes of these, my natural sentinels. Day by day did his
malice watch my tact, hoping it would sleep, and prepared to steal snake-like on
its slumber; but tact, if it be genuine, never sleeps.
I had received my first quarter's wages, and was returning to my lodgings,
possessed heart and soul with the pleasant feeling that the master who had paid
me grudged every penny of that hard-earned pittance--(I had long ceased to
regard Mr. Crimsworth as my brother--he was a hard, grinding master; he wished