Chapter 36: Settlement and Progress
This brings me down to 1868, which reminds me that I have made an unwarrantable Skip for a Man professing to write his History. So for very Shame I must try to fill up the Gap from 1856 to 1868 as well as I can remember. I should say that this is perhaps as Important a part of my History as any other, if I can only make it as plain and succinct as I wish. This part, then, I denominate as Settlement and Progress, good and evil alternating. Burst of Prosperity and then Harking back, most often through not Economising what Money I had made. For, keeping in Mind the Prayer I had made to God when first coming to the Knowledge of the Truth as it is in Jesus - that he would not suffer me to set my Affection on Money, to which I had a Natural tendency. So it was that the more Money I made the less I thought about it, and so was open to be plundered as much as the Lord saw fit. Nevertheless, I had a Keen Eye to make Money when I could, and the Lord was not slack in giving me these Opportunities. For once I was brought down so low - I must say through my own Improvidence in parting with Money that I had to Borrow a hundred Pounds at Five per cent on a Bill of three Month and renewed for twelve months. But this hundred pounds, by the goodness of God, made me seven hundred Pounds from a Bargain I bought at Greenock from a paper fire(?) at a Sugar Warehouse, which straightened me up and relieved me from all my difficulties.
And so it was in many other things. I would be brought low and then the Lord helped me out and delivered me for his own Name's Sake. For, although my Way and Method seemed to have no regularity in it, yet my Prayer went up continually to God for his Guidance and Blessing, so that I felt that I was never Alone in my Business. I felt continually that I had God at my Back. Who could fail with such a Partner! Although I did fail, as I have already said, yet those who were my Creditors got their Money back, save one who went to America of whom I lost all trace. Yet the Man whose Money he lost I had afterwards dealings with, and he got straightened up with a transaction of Syrup I had with him. There was also another Man named Johnson, who failed directly after me of whom I lost sight, to whom I would gladly have paid the Trifle it was, for it was about five Pounds. But it may be that my son may pay him if he comes across him.
There is one transaction I must mention, which came from buying mere Sugar Scrapings and brought me out of the general Rut of things I was then in. There was a French Ship come into the Salthouse Dock which had encountered Bad Weather. It had a Cargo of French Loaves on Board and the Cargo of Loaves had been Saturated with Sea water. I bought the Straw, in which the Loaves were packed, for a mere Trifle. It turned out after washing to be Rich in Sugar, of which I made a Beautiful Syrup with my Vaccuum Pan which I had lately set up: and I got a good Price for it. This gave me the Idea of going into making Syrup for the general Market, which was a fine ... to the Introduction for Sugar Refining. Now I made more Money than I was accustomed to, and I found I could lay my Hand on Eighteen hundred pounds ready Cash. This, in the hands of an Experienced Man of Business, knowing how to handle Money, would have kept me from the disaster which afterwards followed. But I was not a man of Experience or of Business Abilities, but a Rule of thumb Man, only actuated by the Wisdom that was in me, and that was not much. For, in the first place, I did not know the Value of Money: and, in the next place, I did not Know how to Use it. This I was taught afterwards, when I had not got it to Use. Surely no Man blundered so much as I did; and no Man was more Favoured of God than I was. He made my blundering and Stupidity turn out at last to good Account.
But I think I ought to say something in my Favour. However Stupid and unbusinesslike I was: yet I was Upright before God, and could not do a Wrong or mean thing if I knew it; but was enabled, day by day, to commit my Way to the Lord. He assuredly guided me in the Way I should go, notwithstanding my want of Shrewdness in the way of Business. For he knew I desired to honour him in whatever I had to do. If it was trading with customers or anything else, that would be the first thing come up - to behave like a Christian. So, in selling Bags, or anything else, I thought it was very unbecoming of me as a Christian, that had such Hopes, to contend for a few Pence, or a Shilling or two. So in like manner, in Parting with my Money, I always considered I ought to hold with a loose Hand, for the Reason already Stated. I was Afraid of Covetousness, which I considered was my besetting Sin. Thus far I have gone on in giving my motives and Way of Life, so as to give a true Picture to my Children that come after me. So it still holds good, as stated in the Word of God, that the Race is not to the Swift, nor the Battle to the Strong - or, as it speaks in the New Testament "It is not of him that Willeth, or of him that Knoweth, but of God that sheweth mercy". By this we may see the Inestimable Value of having God on our Side, for "Who can harm us if God be for us?" On the other hand, what a Poor miserable creature is Man without God. Hence the poor Miserable Suicides we read of in the Newspapers and the Miserable End of other poor Creatures. Oh, what should I have done if I had not a God to go to in my Troubles? Certainly I should not be sitting here in Peace and Comfort in my Eightieth Year of my Age, waiting for my Summons, full of Hope in the Eternal Life which I have in Jesus Christ my Lord. Blessed be God for Jesus Christ. I don't know what has brought me into this Train of Writing; but I hope it will be Useful when I am gone.
Now I must go on and describe my Story as well as I can. For I have no date to go on, but I must Rub up my Memory to bring forth what it can! There will no doubt be Repetition, but that cannot be helped. You must take the Will for the Deed. Well, I think I left off at Straw Washing, which, I said, produced a Beautiful Syrup which inducted me into making more Syrup. Now I began to buy Syrup from the Sugar Houses to improve it. So I had a good Trade in Syrup, which suited my Capital, and launched me into Sugar Refining. But the want of Skill and Businesslike Abilities, and leaving my Broker, Mr Francis Read, and taking up a Young Man, through Sentimentality, that was no more Experienced than myself, meant that I soon got into Difficulties, and got so entangled with Bills that I had to come before my Creditors to give an Account of my Stewardship. This, as I have already said came to a composition of ten shillings in the Pound through a Kind Friend, Mr Leitch, guaranteeing the Payments by three instalments, which was happily effected when I was at Liberty to start again if I could.
This I could do no other way than by taking in two Partners, Mr Monk and Mr Marsh. We started in 1868, and continued thus for Four Years, when we had a Fire, which burned down a considerable Part of the Premises. This I thought to be a good time to dissolve the Partnership. So I made them a Proposition which they accepted, that is, to pay them each £4500 pounds, which the Books made out as their Due. But Mr Monk demurred at that and would have £500 more, which I gave him to get rid of the Business and took my Son in as Partner. We got Wilkinson and Evans to Assist us, who were Customers of ours, and went on making Money. I was enabled during this time to Pay the remaining ten shillings my Creditors, which I thought I should be able to do from the first, having confidence in God that he would not Allow me to Die in Debt. Mr Rishton, our Landlord, having died, his Executors wished us to buy the whole Block of Ground and Cottages thereon, which we did for £6000. Now we built a Warehouse and added a great deal more Machinery, and extended our Work to a considerable Extent, coming up to two or three hundred Tons a Week.