Chapter 15: Early Work in Liverpool
I knocked at the door and a fine looking woman opened the Door. It was Mrs King. I told her that, before I left london I had called on my Aunt, who told me that she had a Friend in Liverpool, and that, if I called that way I was to give her best respects. Mrs Goodson, her Sister, had come from Essex and was staying there for a while. She, coming in that instant. said:-
"La, Sister", after the Essex dialect, "I saw that young man about four years ago, when I called at Mrs Wanking when he had just come from Germany."
He had a Blue Cap with a red Band & I thought Mrs Wanking was rather cross with him. Now they asked me in and said would I have some Breakfast? I said "no, thank you. I have had my Breakfast." I did not want to appear as if I was hard up. Nevertheless, I was sorely displeased with myself for telling such a deliberate lie. Now they asked me what I was doing and what were my intentions. I told them I could do a little tailoring. I had been working for Mr Salmon at Holmes Chapel for a short time but Work failing I got discharged. I was now open for any work I could get, and, as I was but a poor Tailor I would go to Sea if I could get a ship. They said it was a silly idea that I should go to sea. They thought there were other ways of making a living besides. They asked me if I could mend Clothes. I said I could do anything in the rough Tailoring line. "Well then," said they, "we have plenty of mending for you to do for a time." So they set me down to work at once. I worked on for a while, and then was asked to have Dinner, which was a very agreeable sound to my ears. For, having had no Breakfast I was very hungry. There was a most sumptuous meal served up. It consisted of a boiled Ham and Suet Pudding; and I was in a condition to do ample justice to it. I shall never forget that dinner.
After having done all the Mending, Mrs King said: "Can you make New Clothes, for I want a Suit making for my little Boy". "Yes", I said, "if they were cut out." "Well", she said, "Mr Holt, our Tailor would do that." So she asked Mr Holt to come and cut them out. It was a little boy's first suit of Corduroy, the trousers made to button on the jacket all around. So I was finished with work for the present, me getting my meals with the Family, and such meals as I was never used to, for they kept a Plentiful table.
When I had nearly worked all up, Mr King came in and asked me if I could do any Hard Work. I said I could if I had the Chance. "Well, then," said he, "Come along with me. I have a Job for you." He had a small Sugar house, and worked the Scum, or Refuse, from another Sugar House (Brankers). My work was to be in the Scum House pressing Scum. Although I had never done a Hard Day's work before, I determined to stick with this, come what might. I found it hard enough, my Hands being soft and not having the Tact which is only found by working; but I found I gave satisfaction, doing my Share the same as another man. So now I was fairly installed as one of their Workmen, at eighteen shillings a Week.
Now the Cholera broke out in Liverpool. My Landlady was one of the first Victims who was seized and carried off like many others in a short Time. My employers were alarmed and got me another Lodging, with a Mr Gee in Bevington Bush. I stayed there until I went to live with Mr King in his New House which was then building on a Piece of New ground adjoining the Sugar house.
I had now an Accident, being scalded, which happened on this wise. My work, with others, was to carry Hot Scum in an Iron Vessel into Boxes, for to be pressed. There were two rows of these, of which the off Row was first filled. We were filling the off Row. In doing this we had to step into the first and so poured the stuff into the off Row. While doing this, my foot got entangled while in the act of pouring the Stuff. My Body was jerked back and brought the hot stuff into my face, covering all round the eyes and mouth and Nostrils. But for the wonderful Provision God had made for the Eyes I should have been blinded, but, as it was my whole face was one dense Plaster. But I kept to work all the same, and at night was sent to watch the New house that was Building to keep the Boys off. One of these, that was more mischievous than the rest I gave a Cut with my stick. His Father came and hit me in my sore face, which caused me much Pain.
Before my Watching was over, one night I felt Chilly, and went to the Steam Boiler that had just been cleaned, and huddled over it, the Manhole door being off, to get warm. But, instead of doing me any good, it brought to me a Bowel complaint. Whole families about then were taken off with the Cholera; but the Lord pardoned my indiscretion and I was spared. When the House was finished, I was invited by the Kings to leave my Lodgings and live with them. This added greatly to my comfort, for I was now like one of the Family, only paying ten shillings a week for Board and Lodging, washing included.