Dickens tells the bitter moments when he had to work at 12 years old in the novel David Copperfield. This quote describes the experience of David Copperfield—the figure reflects Dickens's own experience while working on blacking House owned by Jonathan Warren Warren:
"I became, at ten years old, a little labouring hind in the service of Murdstone and Grinby. Murdstone and Grinby's warehouse was at the waterside. It was down in Blackfriars. Modern improvements have altered the place; but it was the last house at the bottom of a narrow street, curving down the hill to the river, with some stairs at the end, where people took boat.
It was a crazy old house with a wharf of its own, abutting on the water when the tide was in, and on the mud when the tide was out, and literally overrun with rats. Its panelled rooms, discoloured with the dirt and smoke of a hundred years, I dare say; its decaying floors and staircases; the squeaking and scuffling of the old grey rats down in the cellars; and the dirt and rottennes of the place; are things, not of many years ago, in my mind, but of the present instant. They are all before me, just as they were in the evil hour when I went among them for the first time, with my trembling hand in Mr. Quinions."