You have come here to mourn the loss of your fellow citizen James Sinclair. Well, the truth is that my name is Jack Dawkins, and how I would love to be with now to see the bewildered looks on your faces. Yes, it's true; the man you've known for decades as James Sinclair, honorary citizen of this great town, is really called Jack Dawkins. And there's more, for if Jack Dawkins is my real name, then it's not the one I am most known by. I don't mean by you all, but by the world in general. Yes, you see, your husband, father, neighbour, colleague and friend is not who you really think he is.
I've always told you, I'm from London and that I left to make my fortune. Well, that is only part of the truth. In reality, I was ordered out of London by a magistrate's court as a young boy and sentenced to deportation to the colonies for thieving. Had I known what I know now, I might have accepted this punishment as a way of furthering myself. For, in the colonies, many of society's leading figures are former deportees with not a hint of scandal attached to that fact. Here in New England, however, it was necessary for me to invent a past; one that would mark me down as a hero against adversity, one that would bring tears to people's eyes, one that bore no relation whatsoever to reality. But with the money to back up my story, it was easy to dazzle you all with my new truth.
Yes, money. The pickpocket industry paid well in those heady days. Most of the money went to the gang, of course, but some was reserved for a private little retirement plan. It proved enough to bribe my keepers into letting me abscond and to find safe passage, not to the colonies but here, to the so called New World. But this New World didn't prove to be as new in manners as the old one. I'd first settled close to New York but was soon hounded out despite my money, when my true identity was found out. So I left New York, took on my new identity as James Sinclair and obtained employment as a personal tutor right here in your town. My carefully cultivated home accent gave me an air of respectability and I was taken on in the best of families. Which is how I obtained employment in the home of my beloved Lavinia. The rest is history. What you don't know is that it was all a lie. Only my darling Livinia is aware of something of my past, although even to her I dared not reveal the full truth.
There was, however, one moment in my life among you when I freely and openly responded to the name by which the whole world knew and possibly still does know me. Several years ago, our local amateur theatricals put on a performance by that most admirable of English writers, Charles Dickens. Some of you were surprised by my refusal to act out the role of Fagin in the show and by my insistance on being given the role of The Artful Dodger. Yet, my performance was a big success. The Plymouth Daily Chronicle talked of "a truly authentic performance worthy of the celebrated bandit himself." I was not surprised, for you see, I am Jack Dawkins, the Artful Dodger.
Labels: Sunday Scribblings