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Thomas escaped into a fantasy world: it was the only bearable place to be. He became cynical and sad about the real world. His father did have books, after all, he was a schoolteacher by trade. These books became Thomasí outlet of escape.

Child Labor

The real-world still made its demands on Tom. All children in those days had to become apprentices. Weaving silk, working coal mines, or even working in the new steam factories in town were not for Tom. He was interested in philosophy. The closest thing he could find was medicine. So he became an apprentice to John Cooke, a "medical doctor" who was a boyfriend of Tomís sister. Cooke overwhelmed Tom with the realities of human medicine. At the age of 13, Tom dissected naked human cadavers. It was emotionally shattering. He could not stand it. His family sent him to a friendís farm that took him back to innocence and recovery.

Religious controversy surrounded Coventry. Tom pondered the question of how Godís love could square with all the poverty and misery of so many around him. He also realized the corruption in the Anglican Church, which had become embroiled in the politics of ruling the government of the whole country. 

The small-mindedness of Coventry drove Tom to follow his two brothers-in-law to London, at the age of 15. Brother-in-law Cooke apprenticed Tom to a low-life doctor, named Thomas Chandler, in the East End. 

Self-improvement, The Path to Power

Medical education in those days was corrupt. Access to education and privilege were given on the basis of social status, not on talent. Many medical doctors were little more than what we would call "quacks." But reform was brewing. Indeed, reform was brewing on all fronts in English society. People wanted benefits from the new industrial age, not misery. Social injustice had become so bad that it could no longer be ignored. Tom became inspired by such realization and he dedicated himself to learning, so that he too could participate in this renewal of England. Night after night, after all day of making medical rounds in the slums, Thomas would study books on his own. He read history, philosophy, Latin, Greek, chemistry, physiology, physics. He pushed himself, harder and harder. He regarded self improvement as the path to power.


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