Like most other children, who should be my godfather is decided by Mammon—So precocious as to make some noise in the world and be hung a few days after I was born—Cut down in time and produce a scene of bloodshed—My early propensities fully developed by the choice of my profession
Those who may be pleased to honour these pages with a perusal, will not be detained with a long introductory history of my birth, parentage, and education. The very title implies that, at this period of my memoirs, I was ignorant of the two first; and it will be necessary for the due development of my narrative, that I allow them to remain in the same state of bliss; for in the perusal of a tale, as well as in the pilgrimage of life, ignorance of the future may truly be considered as the greatest source of happiness. The little that was known of me at this time I will however narrate as concisely, and as correctly, as I am able. It was on the—I really forget the date, and must rise from my chair, look for a key, open a closet, and then open an iron safe to hunt over a pile of papers—it will detain you too long—it will be sufficient to say that it was on a night—but whether the night was dark or moonlit, or rainy or foggy, or cloudy or fine, or starlight, I really cannot tell; but it is of no very great consequence. Well, it was on a night about the hour—there again I’m puzzled, it might have been ten, or eleven, or twelve, or between any of these hours; nay it might have been past midnight, and far advancing to the morning, for what I know to the contrary. The reader must excuse an infant of—there again I am at a nonplus; but we will assume of some days old—if, when wrapped up in flannel and in a covered basket, and, moreover, fast asleep at the time, he does not exactly observe the state of the weather, and the time by the church clock. I never before was aware of the great importance of dates in telling a story; but it is now too late to recover these facts, which have been swept away into oblivion by the broad wing of Time. I must therefore just tell the little I do know, trusting to the reader’s good nature, and to blanks. It is as follows:—that, at the hour—of the night—the state of the weather being also—I, an infant of a certain age—was suspended by somebody or somebodies—at the knocker of the Foundling Hospital. Having made me fast, the said somebody or somebodies rang a peal upon the bell which made the old porter start up in so great a hurry, that, with the back of his hand he hit his better half a blow on the nose, occasioning a great suffusion of blood from that organ, and a still greater pouring forth of invectives from the organ immediately below it.
All this having been effected by the said peal on the bell, the said somebody or somebodies did incontinently take to their heels, and disappear long before the old porter could pull his legs through his nether garments and obey the rude summons. At last the old man swung open the gate, and the basket swung across his nose; he went in again for a knife and cut me down, for it was cruel to hang a baby of a few days old; carried me into the lodge, lighted a candle, and opened the basket. Thus did I metaphorically first come to light.