Roger North.

The lives of the Right Hon. Francis North, Baron Guilford ; The Hon. Sir Dudley North ; and the Hon. and Rev. Dr. John North (Volume 2) online

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/ T"" N HE Honourable Sir Dudley North, knight, was the
third surviving son of the second Dudley Lord North
Baron of Kirtling. The whole family relation was declared
in a preface to the account of his best brother the lord
keeper ; wherefore it is here omitted. He was born 16th
of May 1641 ; and the Christian name of Dudley, as I have
heard, came into this family by the means of Dudley Earl
of Leicester, who was a godfather at the christening of the
first Dudley Lord North, his grandfather. Why or how it
happened that this name fell to the share of a younger
brother, and not of the eldest son whose name was Charles,
may be imagined easier than discovered. It is likely that
in the reign of King Charles I., when the eldest was born,
Charles was thought more honourable. But accident or
commonly the parents' or godfathers' fancy determines
names ; and it may be thought fit that the latter should
have something for their money.

2. He was a very forward, lively, and beautiful child,
and thereby entitled to be, as he really was, his mother's
favourite : for good women are most pleased when their
children, being females, are like themselves or as they
fancy they were when young ; and the males, as the father
was in his tender age according to the ideas they form to
themselves. The unfortunate attendance upon the parlia-
ment engaged this gentleman's father to reside in London,
till the more fortunate exclusion sent him and his family



to their better residence in the country. The London house
was in King's-street, Westminster, and, though a sorry one,
remarkable for being the first and only brick house in that
street for many years. The chief airing this child had was
with his attendant at the door where, by his forward familia-
rities, he had made himself known to most people that had to
do thereabouts ; and nothing so common as his being at his
post with an audience in the street to share his conversation.

3. But this over-fowardness had like to have cost him
dear ; for once in a bustle at the door about taking coach,
when a child is apt to press too forward, a beggar-woman
passing by swept him away ; and after the coach was gone,
the child was wanted. The servants ran out several ways
to look for him, and one by chance found him in an alley
leading towards Channel-row, in the hands of the beggar
who was taking off his clothes ; so the child was recovered
but the woman ran away and escaped punishment.

4. It fell out in the great plague that his father's house
was shut up ; for he and a little sister, named Mary, had
the plague together. His father removed because of his
promiscuous converse ; but his excellent mother stayed, and
with her own hands nursed her two tender children. I
have heard her say, that once, feeling a swelling upon the
little boy's head, the plague sore (as it proved to be) broke
in her hand. This incomparable piety and courage in her
was providentially rewarded, first by the recovery of both
her children and next by her own and her family's wonder-
ful escape ; for neither she nor any one else in her house
had the plague. I well know by ocular inspection, that the
gross scar of this sore was very manifest to be seen upon
this gentleman's head all the days of his life.

5. But now to bring the young man to a grammar-
school : he was placed at Bury, under Dr. Stevens ; but
made an indifferent scholar. He had too much spirit,
which would not be suppressed by conning his book but
must be rather employed in perpetual action. With all
that, his parts were so quick that a little application went
a great way with him ; and in the end he came out a
moderate school-scholar. But no thanks to his master;
for had he been treated with discretion, the goodness of
his nature was such that he might have been brought


down to such an assiduity as would have made him an in-
comparable scholar. But, though from what stars it pro-
ceeded I know not, it is certain that the master took a great
aversion to him and most brutally abused him ; correcting
him at all turns with or without a fault, till he was driven
within an ace of despair and (as I have often heard him de-
clare) making away with himself. Among other instances
of his barbarity, one was that the youth had been more than
once whipt for faulty verses that he had stole out of printed
books. This ill usage made an impression upon his spirits
that did not wear out in all his life, but to his dying day
he resented it. And he often spake of it in a kind of passion,
and declared that he wanted only the satisfaction of talking
to this man and showing where he used him ill, and had
denied him common justice. Such a pleasure have folks
desperately offended in venting their resentments.

6. This gentleman was designed by his parents to bea mer-
chant ; but how early I know not, and rather think they had
no positive determination but according as natural tendency
and reasonable opportunity invited. And this backwardness
at school and a sorry account that the master gave of his
scholarship, might turn the scales towards an employment
that needed less learning. But the young man himself had a
strange bent to traffic and, while he was at school, drove a
subtle trade among the boys by buying and selling. In short,
it was considered that he had learning enough for a mer-
chant but not phlegm enough for any sedentary profession.
Which judgment of him was made good by the event.

7. According to this scheme, the next step was the being
placed in London at a writing- school, to learn good hands
and accounts. Where, being once settled in that way, he
ran a great risk of being utterly ruined for ever. And if
together with his restless spirit he had not had conjoined a
manly reflection reserved within himself, and also a resolu-
tion of sometimes checking his own extravagances (which,
not only in his youth but also in many important emer-
gencies in his life, he executed by making short and sudden
turns) he had been lost. The writing-school was a place of
entire liberty : he might come and go as he would : he might
learn if he pleased ; and as freely let it alone. But he minded
his business at times well enough, and acquired amply what


he came there for, which was fair writing and accounts. He
had his times also for making large excursions, and got into
acquaintance as airy as himself, though not so well born or
dressed : but he made small ceremony of that, provided they
led him to sport. There was no bustling, busy diversion
that he was not more or less engaged in ; yet in all his frolics
and rambles about the town, he and his company steered
clear of the vices of whoring and drinking, and followed
such entertainments only as were very active, but otherwise
(beyond the archness and waggeries of youth) not wicked
nor indicative of a nature depraved. And it were well if
the flights of youth, in this age, had no worse character.

8. One of his capital entertainments was cock-fighting.
If possible, he procured a place in the pit ; and there was a
rare splutter and noise, cut out as it were for folks half
mad. I have heard him say that, when he had in the
world but three shillings, he hath given half a crown for
an entrance, reserving but sixpence to bet with. I presume
it was with him as with others that love gaming : avarice
was the grand inducement, and that inspired the adven-
ture ; and the female, or rather lottery, childish argument
prevailed, viz. others have won, and why not I ?

9. Another of his darling sports was swimming in the
Thames. He used that so much that he became quite a
master of it. He could live in the water an afternoon with
as much ease as others walk upon land. He shot the bridge
divers times at low water which showed him not only active
but intrepid ; for courage is required to bear the very sight
of that tremendous cascade which few can endure to pass in
a boat. He told me that his method was to glide along while
the current was smooth, which was like the motion of an
arrow and extremely delicious ; and when he was through,
and plunged in the disorders of the waters there, he used
his swimming powers, that is striking with legs and arms,
applying all the force he had to prevent turning round,
which in those eddies was hard to be done ; and all this
under water, till he got into some calm where he might
govern himself again. His greatest danger was flooks of
anchors, broken piles, great stones, and such enemies as
lay concealed under water, and, in the speed he went, could
not be touched without destruction.


10. He and his comrades usually hired a known porter to
keep their clothes ; and, when they were all naked, as I have
often heard him say, he was not at all ashamed of his com-
pany ; but when their clothes were on, he cared not to be
seen with them. He hath told me that, having lodged his
clothes not far from the bridge at early ebb, he hath run
naked upon the ooze up almost as high as Chelsea, for the
pleasure of swimming down to his clothes before tide of
flood. By these bold diversions, one may guess what the
Roman youth were able to do, who made it their ordinary
exercise to bear the extremes of heat and cold and all sorts
of fatigues ; affecting to despise and slight all hazards and
pain, till sufferings became habitual. But to wave reflec-
tions, though my subject proffers fair, and to dismiss this
swimming entertainment, I must here, though a little too
early, remember that when he resided at Constantinople it
had very nearly cost him his life ; for, being grown corpu-
lent and fat, he was not qualified for such frolics but yet
would needs go and swim in the Hellespont ; and there the
water came down from the Black Sea so rigidly cold that it
almost congealed the fat of his belly. He found himself not
well and came into his boat, where he perceived his belly look
like tallow, and could scarce feel any touch upon it. The
rowers presently understood the case, and forthwith laid him
down and fell all to rubbing and chafing his belly till they
found it come red and warm ; and so they left him out of
danger : but he was not free from pains in that part for divers
months ; and after this he never went into the water more.

11. But to return : it may be easily imagined that, living
thus at the writing- school, his extravagance must keep him
in constant want of money. He had little or no allowance
for his pocket, and could value himself only upon what his
wealthy relations at times gave him : therefore all the wits
he had were at work to supply the expense of his rambles.
And this pinching necessity drew him into practices very
unjustifiable and (except among unexperienced boys) alto-
gether inexcusable. When a fresh youth came to the school,
lie and his companions looked out sharp to discover how well
his pockets were lined ; and some of them would insinuate
into his acquaintance and, becoming dear friends, one after
another, borrow what he had ; and all, got that way, was


gain to the common stock ; for, if he was importunate
about having his money again, they combined and led him
a wearisome life and, rather than fail, basted him till he
was reduced to a better temper ; and so they secured their
own peace and to the lad so much wit bought and paid for.
And other like ways they had of providing for the current
expenses of their community.

12. But all those contrivances joined to his lawful stock
would not stop all gaps, so that he was forced to borrow, or
obtain to be trusted, till he had got in debt about three
pounds, which upon his own strength he could not easily
raise. But he had some dormant sparks of honour that
galled him cruelly, upon account of his being so desperately
in debt ; for his creditors were such as would be paid or go>
to his friends ; and that he dreaded mortally. He had rela-
tions that, upon application, would have extricated him by
advancing such a sum, and particularly his best brother
residing at the Temple : but then he must give some reason-
able account how he had spent so much money ; and either
he must lie, which he could not do solemnly to them, or he
must lose his credit as to his discretion, the thought of
which he could not bear. He determined to avoid all these
shelves and, by his wits, as well as he could, get up the
money and set himself clear. His chief expedient was
making counterfeit bills of expenses ; and he took care they
should be such as were partly expected, only enlarging a
little and inserting some choice items ; and those he sent to
his parents, who did not much examine into the reality or
fictitiousness of the particulars biit thought all was well and
sent him up the money. In fine, he paid his debt to a farthing
and, from that time, resolved never to be in debt beyond
his power at any time to discharge whatever became of him.

13. This was one and the first of his short turns ; and
from hence I date the crisis of his well-doing : for, if he
had not had a singular good sense and sparks of honour at
the bottom, however kept under by a prevailing ardour of
his youth and spirits, he might here have swayed the wrong
as well as the right way and have left the evil to increase
upon him ; the end of which had been ruin. There is a
good moral that lies behind these petty circumstances of a,
youth's condition, for which reason they are brought forward


to be viewed ; and that is, that it is expedient youth should
have an early liberty to manage for itself ; for, with small
losses, they obtain great and important experiences which
at full age are seldom acquired without the loss of all at
once. This is commonly observed of such gentlemen as are
kept under till estates fall to them ; for they commonly err
in choice of friends and methods ; which mistakes often
prove the ruin of their whole fortunes. Whereas timely ex-
perience of men's ordinary self-interestedness and treachery
and of their own folly and oversights, to be had in small
dealing as well as in great, would have been precaution
sufficient to have prevented such fatal oversights.

14. The next step our youth made towards an advance-
ment of his fortunes, was into a serious and steady course
of employment, by being bound to a Turkey merchant
upon the ordinary terms to be sent abroad. His master
was one Davis, a single man. He had <350 with him and
no more. They boarded with one Mr. Andrews, a packer
in Threadneedle-street, a vez-y substantial and just man.
This merchant's business was not enough to keep a man
employed; and, having left off rambling, much of his
time lay upon his hands. He could not endure to be out
of action or idle ; therefore, to fill up his intervals, he fell
to work at the packing-press and other business of that
trade ; by which he made himself a complete master of the
mystery of that trade. This was not any loss of time ; for
that is one of the chief trades which the Levant merchants
are concerned with for the skilful packing their cloths sent
into Turkey. The young gentleman took also a fancy to
the binding of books ; and, having procured a stitching-
board, press, and cutter, fell to work and bound up books
of account for himself and divers for his friends in a very
decent manner. He had a distinguishing genius towards
all sorts of mechanic exercises ; as I shall have occasion to
observe afterwards.

15. I do not remember any thing farther remarkable of
this young gentleman during his serving as a merchant's
man in London, until his master thought fit to send him
out; and that he did upon a voyage, than which there
could not have been contrived one more desperate and
discouraging -. it was first as supercargo with an adventure


to Archangel, and there to negotiate the cargo and to ship
another ; and then to sail with that by the back of Shet-
land and Ireland, round about through the Straits and
so to Italy and Smyrna, where he was to reside as factor
in the Turkey trade. It was a hard case for a raw youth
to embark in such a voyage, without company or so much
as a face in the ship that he ever saw before, and bound
almost as far northward as Zembla, and to reside amongst
and traffic with barbarous people, and then to return
through all the bad weather the skies can afford. But he
went not only willingly but ambitiously, and formalized
upon nothing that led towards the end he most earnestly
desired, which was to be settled as a factor in Turkey.
His resolution was inexpugnable ; and not only in this
but in many other instances of his life, he considered
well what was best for him to do ; and after that point
once determined he had no thought of difficulties ; he was
not master of his fortunes and resolved, at all adven-
tures, to advance them ; and therein to use the utmost
of his industry and understanding, leaving the rest to

16. As for the particulars of his sufferings in the voyage
outwards, with the delights of Archangel (which must
needs be exquisite so near the North Pole), what was the
way of transacting with that polite people, the incompre-
hensible fatigues of the voyage back and the various
incidents before he came to Smyrna ; I think they will all
appear most sensibly in the accounts he himself gave in
letters wrote to his best brother. He took a pleasure in
writing, especially to him ; and, out of that correspondence,
the following extracts are taken which may be affirmed to
be in all points strictly true.

Extracted from the Letters of Mr. Dudley North.

17. " WE are now, (and by reason of a cross wind, which
would not suffer us to keep our course direct have been
longer than we liked,) in sight of many high, barbarous,
and rocky isles, upon the coast of Norway ; where also we
have sight of those huge living mountains, whales, enter-


taining themselves with spouting up water in great
abundance and to an incredible height. It is not long
since we met the offals of one which had the evil fortune
to fall into the hands of the Hollanders, who, taking all
that is useful, turned the guts and garbage adrift ; and it
looked like a field of fallow ground : thus the monster lay
a prey to his fellow-creatures, a legion of which doubtless
he intended at his next meal to have devoured, had not
Hansmundungus caught him by the back. We saw store
of small fish such as sharks, bottlenoses, and sunfishes,
playing above the water. They are about the size of a
man or somewhat less. When we were upon the coast of
Shetland, which lies to the northward of Scotland and the
Isles of Orkney, with our hooks and lines we found our-
selves fresh victuals, taking mackerel to our hearts content,
being very well grown and far better than such as you
have at London ; but at that time I had neither stomach
to eat them taken nor to be at the taking them ; for, after
I was a week upon the water, the continual motion so dis-
ordered my body, that half a biscuit served me for more
than a whole day's provision. Our store-fish was salt and
strong, beef of such temper and saltness it was not meat
for me. We had in the ship beans and peas, and fresh
mutton every other night ; but all was chip to me ; my
greatest comfort was the beer whilst it lasted good which
I took well warmed ; but at last that proved worse than
all the rest, for it stank most abominably. I loathed
strong waters more than any thing and could not come at
the sweetmeats provided for me by my friends. All my relief
was a little burnt claret, which now and then I took well
warmed, but had not skill enough to keep it. For aught
I see, what pleaseth or is loathsome is all alike, for neither
will stay above a quarter an hour at most. In this taking
I was more than a fortnight (now a little and but a little
better) I could not stand much less walk ; my easiest
posture was lying a-bed which, I affirm, was more tedious
to me than any jail could have been ; my head so dizzy
that I was incapable of reading, or doing aught else that
might wear away some of my tedious time. At first I
had some diversion sitting upon the deck and seeing the
mariners follow their work, but that sport lasted not long ;


for when the N. E. wind began to blow I found cold com-
fort there, and was forced to retire to my cabin.

18. " Now we are in sight of the North Cape, which, as
most of the islands hereabouts, is tipped with snow and
the wind comes extraordinary cold from them. I am of
their opinion that say, a mile's travel at land is spent with
more pleasure than ten at sea ; for there we have expecta-
tion of somewhat novel every night, besides the entertain-
ment of the day ; but here we are at a loss to entertain
ourselves at all ; as hath been my case hitherto, fit for
nothing but lolling a-bed and that with no ease or delight ;
but he must needs lie that is not able to go or stand. Do
but imagine what a condition it is and how miserable,
neither to eat, drink, sleep, nor do any thing else, but
with an absolute nausea and reluctance ; not to have so
much entertainment as the vicissitudes of night and day
might afford ; not one person to speak to that I ever saw
before. This is now my condition ; I begin to practise
what I despised in others who count their time by meals
and evacuations ; for even so are all my estimates. 1 think
I ought to be well, however otherwise I find myself, and
charge the grumbling of my guts and qualms that come
over my stomach and dizziness of my head, upon being
out of my element ; then lay me down with as much
patience and little ease as if I were tied neck and heels
without ability to rise ; so I continue till I think it meet to
eat or drink which (as most conducing to ease) I do very
sparingly ; for the tenth part of a meal at land is excess here.

19. " I think the seaman's life fit for none but such dull
souls as think themselves happy in keeping a place warm,
as wide, though seldom so long, as a coffin ; and this for
one four hours, which, they call a watch ; and when that
task is over, are as happy in the enjoying a walk a little
larger than the aforesaid lodgings ; where their turnings are
so quick that it would puzzle one to imagine what they are
doing. No time is so pleasant to me as when the wind
blows fresh, and I see twenty-four or twenty-five men
stand cursing themselves and damning others, just as if
the devil himself and his comrades were come to show
tricks. Then I get me to a corner where I am sure to be
out of the way, and sit me down pleased with observing,


till a new and contrary motion of the vessel raiseth a
tempest in my guts and then, to lighten the vessel, I heave
overboard all I ate last and have enough to do to keep back
entrails, heart and all ; and then I lay me down again.

20. " I envy the condition of those that have store of
employment, and are so far from devising ways to pass
time that the days are not sufficient for the business : but
as soon as I get me ashore I hope to have my wish in
that; for I do not fear want of employment and have
taken up a resolution not to be idle as long as I can find
any thing in the world to do. I had thought to employ
myself aboard by keeping an account of the ship's way,
but am disappointed ; for the master and mates, on whom
that charge lies, are a sort of people who do all by
mechanic rule and understand nothing, or very little, of
the nature and reason of the instruments they, use. And
where that little happens they are very shy of it ; and if
at any time one speaks to them, they think they have a
blockhead to deal with who understands nothing ; and

Online LibraryRoger NorthThe lives of the Right Hon. Francis North, Baron Guilford ; The Hon. Sir Dudley North ; and the Hon. and Rev. Dr. John North (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 35)