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under the direction of a Mr. Dickenson, one of his brother Commissioners of the Customs. As his quaint biographer expresses it, “When they had leisure, they too were busy at plus and minus, convolution and evolution ; and Sir Dudley was tremely pleased with this new kind of Arithmetic, which he had never heard of before."
He had committed his thoughts to writing at considerable length upon different subjects, both during his residence in Turkey and since his return to England; but it was in 1691 that he first appeared before the world as an author, by the publication of a work entitled Discourses upon Trade, principally directed to the cases of Interest, Coinage, Clipping, and encrease of Money.' These discourses have been considered as placing Sir Dudley North at the head of the economical writers of the seventeenth century. They contain, according to Mr. Macculloch, a much more able statement of the true principles of commerce than any that had then appeared, and maintain all the great principles of commercial freedom with an intelligence and consistency that have not been surpassed in any work of succeeding times. “Unluckily,” Mr. Macculloch adds, “this admirable tract never obtained any considerable circulation. There is good reason, indeed, for supposing that it was designedly suppressed. At all events, it speedily became excessively scarce; and I am not aware that it has ever been referred to by any subsequent writer on commerce.”
This eminent person lost both his seat in parliament and his place under the crown, at the Revolution; “ in consequence of which,” says his brother, “ hating idleness, he fell again to buying of cloth, which he had discontinued while he held his high employments. After a short time, however, he once more retired from business; but continued to em
6. He was
ploy himself in another way as actively as ever. He had always, we are told, “delighted much in natural observations, and what tended to explain mechanic powers; and particularly that wherein his own concern lay, beams and scales the place of the centres, the form of the centre-pins, what share the fulcrum, and what the force, or the weight, bore with respect to each other; and that he might not be deceived, had made proofs by himself of all the forms of scales that he could imagine could be put in practice for deceiving."
so great a lover of building, too,” it is afterwards stated, “that St. Paul's then well advanced, was his ordinary walk; there was scarce a course of stones laid, while we lived together, over which we did not walk. And he would always climb to the uppermost heights. Much time have we spent there in talking of the engines, tackle, &c. He shewed me the power of friction in engines; for, when a capstan was at work, he did but gripe the ropes between the weight and the fulcrum in his hand, and all was fast; and double the number of men at the capstan could not have prevailed against that impediment to have raised the stone till he let go. We usually went there on Saturdays, which were Sir Christopher Wren's days, who was the surveyor; and we commonly got a snatch of discourse with him; who, like a true philosopher, was always obliging and communicative, and in every matter we inquired about, gave short but satisfactory answers.” To this subject, indeed, Sir Dudley seems to have applied himself for some time with a zeal that hardly allowed him to think of any thing else. “ We had conversed so much with new houses, says Roger, on concluding a long detail of his brother's architectural investigations, “ that we almost turned rope-dancers, and walked as familiarly upon joists in garrets, having a view through all the
floors down to the cellar, as if it had been plain ground.” When in the country, they,in like manner, used to occupy themselves in trigonometrical surveys, on which we are told that the country people thought them conjurors, “pretending to survey a ground by views at two stations, without measuring a side or any part, but from one station to another.
All this while, although he had retired from commercial life, he still retained the punctual habits of a man of business, and even gave a considerable part of his time to occupations connected with his former calling. He had several laborious trusts, in particular, to superintend as executor, in the management of which he was as scrupulously exact and pains-taking as ever he had been in keeping his own mercantile books. For these purposes he had one apartment in his house fitted up as a counting room, where he reckoned with his tradesmen, paid and received money, and kept a servant, or clerk, who was constantly employed, chiefly 'in copying, while he used another above it, as his brother expresses it, “to wilder in his accounts; and his wife used to wonder how it could be that he had so much to do there.” At one time, we were told, when the Customhouse books having got into disorder were brought there for him to arrange,
"he wallowed so much in them, and with so much application, that his wife was afraid he would have run mad.'
" There also," adds his gossipping but lively and graphic biographer, “he read such books as pleased him; and (though he was a kind of a dunce at school) in his manhood he recovered so much Latin as to make him take pleasure in the best classics; especially in Tulley's Philosophics, which I recommended to him.”
We cannot afford, however, to accompany this active merchant through the long catalogue of his employments and amusements; his vinegar
making, and his other “ operations and natural experiments;" his travelling through the country on a "grave pad” of his brother's, with his predilection for the “very sure and easy, but slow” pace of that
sage animal;" his “ hewing and framing of woodworks;” his ingenious construction of a pair of bellows, for a smithy, out of a leather skin and a few pieces of elder; and his toils at the anvil, which he "followed so constantly and close,” that when his wife came to call him to dinner, she found him as black as a tinker,” and “he,”
his brother, "coming out sometimes with a red short waistcoat, red cap, and black face, the country people began to talk as if we used some unlawful trades there, clipping at least; and, it might be coining of money—upon which we were forced to call in the blacksmith and some of the neighbours, that it might be known there was neither damage nor danger to the state by our operations.”? For a full account of all these matters, as well as of the “turning and planning,” which formed the more refined afternoon's employment of the two brothers, and for which they « sequestered a low closet,” and a description of the way-wiser,” or road-measurer, which Roger invented, we must refer the reader to the latter's own faithful and amusing pages.
We must find room, however, for the concluding sentences of the narrative, conveying as they do a forcible lesson to vulgar ambition, and an illustration of how easily happiness may be found even in the narrowest sphere, and at the humblest employment, if it be but sought for in a right spirit. " In our laboratories,” Roger remarks, “ it was not a little strange to see with what earnestness and pains we worked, sweating most immoderately, and scarce allowing ourselves time to eat. At the lighter works in the afternoon, he had sat, perhaps, scraping a stick, or turning a piece of wood, and this for many afternoons together, all the while singing like a cobler, incomparably better pleased than he had been in all the stages of his life before. And it is a mortifying speculation, that of the different characters of this man's enjoyments, separated one from the other, and exposed to an indifferent choice, there is scarce any one but this I have here described, really worth taking up.
And yet the slavery of our nature is such, that this must be despised, and all the rest, with the attendant evils of vexation, disappointments, dangers, loss of health, disgraces, envy, and what not of torment, be admired. It was well said of the philosopher to Pyrrhus : What follows after all your victories ? To sit down and make merry. And cannot you do so now?” This is a little rhetorically, perhaps, and somewhat too strongly spoken to be taken literally; and certainly to spend life in nothing but trivial employments, would not be to spend it either happily or worthily; but if it be understood as merely expressing and inculcating the real superiority of an active and healthy exercise of mind and body in individual or domestic industry, the pursuit of knowledge, and such simple and generally accessible enjoyments as we have been contemplating, over the hot and exhausting chase after wealth or power, in which it is usual for men to waste their strength, it will not be far from a correct appreciation of the constituents of human happiness.
We have dwelt the longer on the life and character of Sir Dudley North, both because he affords us one of the very best examples to which we can refer, of the successful pursuit of business and of philosophy by the same individual, and because, fortunately, his history and habits have been transmitted to us with unusual fidelity and fulness. To his name might be added those of many others of his countrymen, emi