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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 distinguished genius towards all sorts of mechanic exercises.
After some time, he was sent out by his master as supercargo, with an adventure to Archangel, where he was to ship another cargo for Smyrna, and then to take
up his residence in the latter place as factor. “ It was a hard case,” says his biographer, 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 adventures, to advance them; and therein to use the utmost of his industry and understanding, leaving the rest to Providence.
These extracts shew us the character of the young adventurer; and we find the same determination, activity, and alacrity to seize and make use of every opportunity of improvement, in all his subsequent proceedings. Even in the course of this trading voyage, he has an eye for every thing worth observing that comes in his way; and keeps a regular journal of all that he saw and that befell him, which he transmits to London, in the form of letters, to his elder brother, Francis, afterwards the Lord Keeper
Guildford. He even attempted, it would appear from what he states in one of these letters, to acquire some acquaintance, while in the ship, with practical seamanship. “I had thought,” he writes, “ 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 they will hear no objection to their dictates. As for reasons and causes, they lie beyond their capacity; all that is not set down at large in their books, they account no better than damnable doctrine and heresy; their quotations are irrefragable, and not to be disputed.” What he principally complains of, indeed, throughout the voyage, is the idleness in which he was obliged to pass his time. Having, on his return from Archangel, been detained for some time at Leghorn, he determined to visit Florence, about fifty-five miles off; upon which occasion he remarks, “ Perhaps my friends may think this visiting of places no sign of good husbandry; but let it be considered that an idle person is subject to expense, wherever he lieth; and the well-employment of time, and experience to be gained this way, may countervail some increase of charge.' The long and minute detail he gives us of what he saw on this visit is highly curious, and shews satisfactorily enough, that his “increase of charge” was not thrown away.
He made use, too, he tells us, of the time he spent here and at Leghorn to acquire some knowledge of Italian. “The language,” he remarks, “is not difficult; and I find the little
Latin I have to be an extraordinary help in attain
He began business at Smyrna with a capital of not quite four hundred pounds, on the profits of which he lived thriftily, and, “passed his time," says his brother, “ for divers years, with a meagre income, and not promising much increase.” Having afterwards, however, transferred his residence to Constantinople, he succeeded at last in reaping the fruits of his industry and perseverance, and found himself gradually becoming a wealthy man. Here he shewed, on every occasion, the same inquisitiveness and love of knowledge, the same activity and capacity of overcoming difficulties, which had characterized him from his boyhood. He not only made himself completely master of the political constitution and statistics of the country, but even acquired such a skill in the Turkish law, that, in common cases, he could both“ advise himself,” we are told, " and assist his friends." " I have heard our merchant
," writes his biographer, “ that he had tried, in the Turkish courts, above five hundred causes; and, for the most part, used no dragomen, or interpreters, as foreigners commonly do, but, in the language of the country, spoke for himself.” “ For these,” he continues, " and other purposes of his negotiation, he had laboured to gain, and had thereby acquired, a ready use of the Turkish language, and could speak it fluently. I have heard say,
that for scolding and railing it was more apt than any other language; and he had used it so much in that way, that, afterwards, when he was in England, and much provoked, his tongue would run into Turkish of itself : as if to such purposes it were his mother speech. He told us, he once composed a Turkish Dictionary, and shewed the ordinary idioms and analogies of that
language. He not only spoke, but wrote, Turkish very well.” The Italian language, too, we are told, in another place, “the merchant had acquired to a perfection, and expressed himself as naturally and fluently in it, as if it had been his mother tongue; and it hath been observed, that no Frank ever spoke the vulgar Italian idiom so correct and perfect as he did.” We have a proof, indeed, of his familiarity with this language, in a long and amusing letter, written by him to an Italian friend, which his brother has printed.
A passage, which occurs afterwards, presents us with another evidence of the zeal with which every opportunity of obtaining useful information was "taken advantage of by this intelligent and enterprising person
" Our merchant had then residing with him a virtuoso, who was a good mathematician and draughtsman; and they together concerted a design of making an exact plan of the city of Constantinople, and carried it on till it came very near being completed. They took the liberty of measuring in the street a distance between two stations, which were two of their mosque towers, from which their priests cry to prayers; and with a theodolite they took certain angles at the corners of streets. And in order to find the position and distances of all the towers and remarkable places, they went up the two towers which they had chose, and made their stations; and there, with the same instrument, marked the angles of each view by the bearings of every one of those places, and set off the same, upon the large paper, by lines; and then the proper intersections gave the true position of them all, in just proportion, according as the practice of such method is commonly directed. And then they fell to mapping the streets, partly by the guidance of those views, and partly by other observations."
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So much (although more might be added) for what he contrived to learn while in Turkey, by means of what his brother calls his “ furious curiosity, not without some penetration and aptitude, to discern and apply what fell in his way, losing nothing that might be instructive to him.” In returning to England, the vessel in which he sailed having touched at Alicant, on the east coast of Spain, he and some of his friends resolved to travel over land to Cadiz, rather than sail round by Gibraltar. chant,” says his biographer, “was not ill qualified to travel in this country, and to converse in the great trading towns; for he spoke Giffoot very fluently, which is a corrupt Spanish. But, because the Jews write it in Hebrew characters (which he also could do), it is called Giffoot, or the language which the Jews speak; so, having this dialect at command, he was his own interpreter.' During the remainder of the
voyage, with his characteristic activity, he amused himself by letting down bottles tightly corked into the sea, to try at what depth the cork would be driven in, or the bottle broken, by the increased pressure of the water.
Shortly after coming home he settled as a merchant in London, and was, in course of time, appointed, first a Commissioner of the Customs, and then a Lord of the Treasury. Having become also a member of Parliament, although he was bred," says his brother, “in business abroad, and had little experience in the affairs of England, and in parliament none at all, yet he took the place of manager for the crown, in all matters of revenue stirring in the House of Commons; and what he undertook he carried through, against all opposition, with as much assurance and dexterity as if he had been an old battered parliament-man. Before this, are told, he had set about learning Algebra,