North, John

, fourth son of Dudley lord North, and brother to the preceding lord Guilford, was born in London, Sept. 4, 1645. In his youth he was of a delicate constitution, and serious turn of mind, circumstances which are said to have determined his parents in the choice of the church as a profession. He received the first principles of education at Bury school, and afterwards, while at home, his father initiated him in logic and metaphysics. In 1661 he was admitted a fellow-commoner of Jesus college, Cambridge, but on the barony descending to his father, he appeared in the academic garb of a nobleman, although without varying from his plan of study, or the punctual obedience he gave to every part of college discipline. He is said to have been particularly attentive to the public exercises and lectures, but was one of the first who conceived that the latter mode of instruction was less useful since students had more easy access to books. The collection of these was one of his earliest passions, and we learn from his brother that he had the usual predilections of a collector for the best editions, fine printing, and elegant bindings, and bought many editions of the same author, and many copies of the same edition, and in this way soon became master of a very valuable library, particularly rich in Greek authors, that and the Hebrew being his favourite studies while at college. After taking his degree of B. A. he was admitted fellow of Jesus, Sept. 28, ie66, by the king’s mandate. He afterwards took his master’s degree, and was incorporated in the same at Oxford, June 15, 1669. In 1671 he was admitted to holy orders, and preached his first, or one of “his first sermons, before Charles II. at Newmarket, which was published the same year. About the same time he assisted Dr. Gale with the” Pythagorica Fragmenta,“published in that learned author’s” Opuscula," who handsomely acknowledges the favour in his preface.

In November 1672 he was elected Greek professor at Cambridge. Tr.e first church preferment he had was the sine-cure of Llandiuon -in Wales, given him by archbishop Sheldon; on this he quitted his fellowship, and procured himself to be admitted of Trinity college, for the sake of being more nearly connected with the master, Dr. Isaac Barrow, for whom he had the greatest esteem. About this time he was appointed clerk of the closet to Charles II. who also bestowed on him a prebend in Westminster in | Jan. 1673 and on his majesty’s visit to Cambridge he was created D. D. out of respect to the duke of Lauderdale, whose chaplain he then was, and whose character his brother has very weakly endeavoured to defend Among his official duties, it is recorded that in 1676, Dr. North baptised Isabella, second daughter of James duke of York and Mary D'Este.

On the death of Dr. Barrow in May 1677, he was appointed in his room, master of Trinity college, and fancied he had now attained a place of honour, ease, and usefulness; but his solicitude for maintaining good order and strict regularity in the society, and the opposition he met with from the senior fellows, soon convinced him of his mistake. His conscientious integrity in college elections exposed him to many affronts and disagreeable importunities. But by pre-elections he found means to obviate and break the custom of court-mandates; which he suspected some of his fellows were instrumental in obtaining, and which were very common at his first coming, to the great prejudice of real merit. While he continued master of the college he finished the fine library begun by his predecessor. As his constitution was naturally weak, his health was soon impaired by too close and eager application to his studies, without proper remissions and due exercise. He had a stroke of an apoplexy; and a dumb palsy following, deprived him in a great measure of the use of his understanding; in which deplorable condition he lived between four and five years. His miseries being increased by epileptic fits, one of them put an end to his life in April 1683. He was buried in the anti-chapel of Trinity college, with no other memorial than a small stone on which the initials J. N. are inscribed.

Dr. North appears to have been a man of great probity and learning, but, upon the whole, to have been better qualified for private than public life. Although his conver­, sation was fluent, and he possessed much of the wit that is so observable in his descendants, he had an uncommon timidity of temper; and there is much reason to think that the ungovernable state in which he found Trinity college, and the vexatious insolence of some of the fellows, had a tendency to produce that imbecility which rendered his last years useless. His only publication, except the sermon above-mentioned, was an edition of some pieces of Plato, whose philosophy he preferred to that of Aristotle, as more | consonant to Christian morality. These were printed at Cambridge in 1673, 8vo, under the title “Platonis de rebus divinis Dialog! selecti, Gr. et Lat. Socratis Apologia, Crito, Phasdo, e libb. legum decimus, Alcibiades secundus.1


North’s Lives of the Norths. Biog. Brit.