Melville enrolled at Lansingburgh Academy in 1838 and, with ambitions of helping to construct the Erie Canal, studied engineering and surveying. He graduated the next year and worked briefly as a bank clerk and salesman, as a laborer on his Uncle Thomas' farm, clerk in his brother's fur and hat store, and as an elementary school teacher. During this period, he also dabbled in writing and contributed articles to the local newspaper. Life at Sea In Melville's late teens, his mother's worsening financial position and his own inability to find suitable work forced him to leave home. In 1839, he signed on as cabin boy of the packet St. Lawrence. His four-month voyage to Liverpool established his kinship with the sea. It also introduced him to the shabbier side of England as well as of humanity, for the captain bilked him of his wages. A deep reader of Shakespeare, French and American classics, and the Bible, he returned to New
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