Chapter 14: Return to Liverpool
In April 11th 1832, I think it was, I started out of Chelsea Workhouse for my last Journey from there, having fourteen Shillings in my Pocket. I went first to London, and called on my Aunt who lived in Spitalfields. When I was talking with her she said "You have been to Liverpool?" I said "yes". "Well", she said,"if ever you should get there again, I should like you to call upon an Old Friend I have there, a Mr King, No 46 Elden Place, and give Him my best respects" I took down his Address and said I would bear it in mind.
I took my Bag and carried it across my Shoulder on a Stick, and so wended my way down to the Riverside and took the Gravesend boat, intending for Chatham. However, before landing I found a doubt arriving in my mind whether I was on the right track. I considered that if I went to Chatham I should get into the Old Rut again. For now I was clean and decent and might call on any Country Shop and ask for a Job. I remembered what old Tomkins said to me when I left the Workhouse and was bidding me goodbye. "Now, George, if you come back again, you will be always a Workhouse Bird". Now I was in a fix, as we say, "Shall I go to Chatham or go back and go on the North Road?" Now it was suggested to me "Pray to God about it!" So I said:-
"O Lord God, I don't know where I am going, nor where to go". Jacob, fleeing from his brother Esau came into my mind, so I made this Vow:- "O Lord God, if thou wilt be with me in the way that I go, and give Food to eat and Raiment to put on, then thou shalt be my God. Amen"
As soon as the Steamer was alongside of the Wharf my mind was made up. I soon came to a town seven miles from Gravesend and fifteen miles to London. I think it was Dartford. I stopped there for the Night. Next Morning I heard them crying "Hot Cross Buns" for it was Good Friday. Passing through London, I sold my Bag, over which I had so much trouble, along with all the odds and ends in it, to a Jew in Houndsditch, for I found it too troublesome to carry on the long road. The one Shirt and one pair of Stockings I put in a handkerchief under my Arm, and so was light for the road.
After leaving London, the first town I stopped at was St Albans. I must say, I felt of some importance when I dipped into my Pockets and found several Shillings there after paying for my Lodging. "Ah" says I, "this is different to what it was when you travelled this road before!" "Then I was a Vagabond, now I am a Gentleman compared with then!" I travelled on the North Road, looking out for Tailors' Shops. But I got no engagement until I got to a Village called Holmes Chapel. There I saw a Sign written up "Salmon, Tailor". I called in and asked for Work and was engaged. Next morning I went with the Master on the Road, me carrying the SleeveBoard, and went into a Farm House and set down to work, where we did sundry mending of Men's Clothes and making new ones (This was called 'Whipping the Cat"). While I was there, one of the Farmer's sons kept urging me to come out and be a Religious man. To this I replied it was time enough yet. When I got to be twenty one I would think about it! This state of mind, I think, is general through the Country until a Mandate comes from Heaven "Prepare to meet thy God!"
At the week's end, having finished all the Work there was for me to do, I got discharged. My wages, I think, came to four shillings. My work, I think, was satisfactory to the Master. So this encouraged me to look for further employment. Holmes Chapel is 54 miles to Liverpool on the North Road. I continued on that Road until I came to Liverpool, where I sat down on some stone Steps, and considered a bit what Money I had to face the Town with. I found that I had just one shilling left. I strolled away into the Town and found myself in Marylebone and from thence into Addison Street where I found Lodging. The Landlady I found to be a decent looking Irish woman. After paying for my bed and Supper I was cleaned out. Next morning I started off to seek for No 46 Elden Palace, the address my Aunt had given me, to find her Friend.