AT twelve years old, Henry Arthur began to earn his living. At the end of his life it was his proud boast that he had never borrowed a farthing from any man.
His father had often talked of sending Henry to Oxford, as he showed so much ability in his school work; but, instead, "when I was twelve and a quarter, he packed me off to his brother, the deacon of a Baptist chapel, who kept a shop at Ramsgate. I never had a day's schooling afterwards, and I consider this to have been a great advantage. I was able to educate myself in my own way and at my own expense, by keeping up a constant and loving acquaintance with the English classics, and with some of the French and German masterpieces; by a close study of social and political economy; and by extensive foragings among the sciences."
When he first left home. his father said that if he liked to be a teetotaler for three years, he'd give him five pounds at the end of that time. H. A. J., in recounting this, added, "That was a good thing for me. He was a fine man in spite of his faults."
His uncle kept a draper's shop in Harbour Street, Ramsgate. Henry Arthur loathed and hated the work, and loathed and hated his uncle. I do not think he minded very much working fourteen hours a day, seventeen on Saturdays, for a salary of £20 a year, but he could not bear the drab monotony of his life. He longed to get away from it. It was while he was at Ramsgate that he started writing odd snatches of poems and stories in the very few leisure hours he had to himself--I imagine mostly on Sunday afternoons.