Jump to content


Your Stories Await Telling

North and South | 7th April 11am

Recommended Posts

7 April 1678 - 11am

You could fill a book with the differences between the North and the South of England. Some wise-crack probably already had done. In fact, there were probably several sitting on booksellers' shelves somewhere or other. Ever since leaving Turnock Abbey in the rugged, windswept moors of Yorkshire, Robert had been keeping his own mental log of the differences, in the very manner that any proper Northerner would do when forced to go south of the Trent and venture into the heartlands of the soft, pleasure-loving, fleshy "Southrons."

Before you get the wrong impression, Robert (the seventh Viscount Lowther) was not a hayseed hick, to whom Harrogate or York constituted the "biggest place on Earth." He had done his fare share of travelling across France, the Low Countries and Germany. He had been into the deliciously different fat lands of southern England plenty of times. Indeed, he had been an unwelcome houseguest of his late elder brother, the sixth Viscount, when the latter had lived in London for years, vainly striving for some sort of Court preferment until he was untimely carried off by the miasmas and inclement airs of the fetid metropolis.

In all honesty, there was little point comparing the two places properly, because they were ultimately chalk and cheese. In his homeland, Robert could enjoy the huge, unspoilt vacant vistas of rugged heathland, thick forest and rolling hills. A patchwork rural idly that looked like it had burst off the canvas of a cheap landscape artist. Plenty of rosy, buxom village lasses, beer drinking ruddy yeomen and wizened, pipe smoking old greybeards. Good hunting. Wild weather. Hardy folk in a hardy land. Not rich in possessions but rich in spirit, tradition and soul. But, let's face it, if you wanted more than a pleasant view or a good chase then there was little more for you there. The family lands did not produce enough to have them live in great style, for that they needed preferment. Further, as the Viscount was in want of a wife, it was a common knowledge that the capital had plenty of eligible young women with handsome...assets.

So, having done his best since the untimely death of his elder brother to steady the ship in the North, Robert had made the decision to follow in his footsteps and take residence (in the Season, at least) in the metropolis in the dual hunt for preferment and matrimony. Although he was plenty familiar with London it still always took him some getting used to. From miles away you could see it: a thick smudge of sooty black clouds on the horizon. Closer still you could hear it: a gentle buzz which soon became a Babel roar of conflicting noises from human, animal and material. Finally, you could smell it: hitting your nose like a football on an icy day.

Travelling with a not inconsiderable chest of clothes and materials, he had travelled the entire way from the Abbey to London via a relay of coaches. Crushed between a prattling minister and a rotund coal merchant, he had been jolted, jogged and shaken the several hundred miles, putting up with scurvy inns, weak beer and bad company for over a week. By the time the coach finally ground to a halt on Piccadilly he positively bounded out of the enclosed space, ignoring the invitation of the minister to attend his next sermon and unceremoniously treading on the toes of the fleshy, deeply sleeping merchant in the process.

Making himself known to the innkeeper of the Red Lion where, for now, he had decided to take lodgings, he waited on the street outside as servants lugged the oak chest up to the room. Offered wine by the innkeeper, he had instead elected for the sort of beer workmen drank in bucketloads. There was plenty of time to come for him to put on the airs and graces of the well-to-do in the capital. As he stood in front of the inn, leaning against the wall, he watched the fast flowing river of people passing by with dizzying speed. The first thing which struck him was how well dressed (and to his mind, dandified) most of the men of quality seemed to be. He, on the other hand, adopted the no-nonsense functional garb of the rural gentleman and former soldier. A sturdy dark blue coat, a relic of his days with the Dutch army, with buff breeches and thick leather riding boots (despite the fact he had travelled by coach). A black belt slung over his shoulder held up his sword and behind the buckle he had stuffed his gloves for easy carrying.

He ran a finger and thumb along his moustache and spiked beard. He was not sure where to begin. He had goals, sure enough, but putting them into practice was a different matter. For now, a drink and a people-watch seemed like a good start. If, as they say, London was the city of opportunity then it was not beyond the realm of possibility that all he needed to do was give himself up to it and perhaps the city would smile on the good Viscount Lowther? 

Edited by Robert Greaves
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mr Golightly saw Lowther to his rooms personally, not one to miss an opportunity he detailed the fine dining room run by none other than his own wife. "Lords and Ladies travel from all over London to dine of her stuffs." or so the innkeeper claimed.  Opening the door to the Pegasus room, he gave it  final look aver as he saw his newest guest in... "if there is anything you want for send a note down."    Some minutes later it was his pair of sons, a lanky lads, who lugged the Viscounts trunk up to his room. 


... some time later, downstairs in the popular common room   

A staccato of swift steps rattled down the stairwell, and there appeared another of the Lions guests.  Sandy blond wavy hair recently brushed, he cut a presentable figure in his tweed suit, though upon closer inspection one might note that his jackets buttons were fastened out of sequence.  Looking around the fellow searched for a face, and apparently not seeing it he relaxed shoulders (perhaps he was not late after all!)  

"Have you the time Mr Golightly?" he asked towards the currently empty front desk... 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Retreating from his vigil in front of the inn, Lowther had returned inside, clutching his now empty pot of beer and preparing to go take a proper scout out of his new lodgings. His initial thoughts had left him a tad morose - well, namely, the enormity of quite where to start a new life, career and everything else in an only quasi-familiar city. The innkeeper had seemed pleasant enough a fellow. It was too early to assess whether he was honest to boot but Lowther assumed so for otherwise the establishment would not be as well renowned by word of mouth as it currently was. Ordinarily he was a no nonsense type of fellow and, used to getting by on comparatively little, was often one to do things himself. However, he had been musing on the offer of sending down for anything he might need more just to make use of the service rather than because of anything he might actually immediately require. Yes, for now this place would do very well.

As he came inside past the vacant counter he noticed a gentleman absently asking after the time, presumably either in a hurry or a lack of details for he had not yet realized he was addressing thin air.

Inside the pocket of his waistcoat he carried a small and by-now-heavily-chipped silver pocket watch. This functional trinket he had picked up in Amsterdam, several years ago, during the early days of his stay in the Low Countries as an itinerant "gentleman volunteer" for all causes militant and protestant. The timepiece had been carried around by him since then, through tedious campaigns of march and counter march; been borne through several countries in his travels; and been unwitting, passive witness to adventures great and small throughout. With the only passing care he habitually gave to his own possessions it was actually a miracle that the watch still told the time, it had taken that much of a battering. Falls from horses. Knocked off tables. Stepped on. Yet the piece seemed hardy and practically indestructible. Lowther liked to imagine it was a reflection of himself...

He reached into his pocket, pulled it out and clicked open the chipped silver lid. Its once intricate etching of spiraled leaves had now been worn down through time and use.

"Just after 11, if that's any help?" he said in his Yorkshire burr, clicking the lid shut again. "Not much help if you're already late but good news if you're early."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

With eyes belatedly turning to the counter, he realised Golightly was not even there to reply.  But some other helpful fellow just entering the Inn produced a time piece... and replied with a thick Yorkshire drawl. It was not immediately obvious if the gentleman man in riding boots was a guest of the Inn or not, that he carried an empty mug (recognised as one of the Red Lions) showed a the least he was a patron of.   

"Why thank you Goodman." spoke the guest, "though the answer to your question depends on whether it is Tuesday or Wednesday." he gave a laugh, then frowned in case the man thought he was only joking, "but seriously. Do you know which day of the week this is? I've been so occupied in my room I've lost all track."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"You'll be full out of luck if you require it to be one of them," Lowther replied, setting his mug down on a vacant flat surface. "Thursday, instead, my friend."

His interest was piqued. The place, from what he had seen thus far, seemed pleasant enough but hadn't - on his first impression - been the sort of place one might engross oneself so deeply that you would forget your sense of time. It was not, for example, the harem of Great Turk. What had he been getting up to? London was full of strange sorts of fellows into all manner of strange practices, sciences and arts beyond which Lowther could scarcely ken.

"Your room must be better than mine if it is enough to occupy you for days on end?" he asked; half joking, half prying.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Strewth!" the fellow cussed, then quickly apologised, "forgive my blasphemy, but yes indeed I required it to be Wednesday!" turning back to the counter he located the bell and rapped his hand upon it with (belated) urgency. 

ding ding ding. 

"Mr Golightly, Mr Golightly!" he hailed the absent Innkeeper.

"It was not so much my room sir, but my studies conducted within it." he replied.  Still no Innkeeper appeared.  "Oh but you are a guest also, have you any idea of where Mr Golightly is? Ack but where are my manners; Sir Isaac Newton at your service." 


Link to comment
Share on other sites

The news seemed to make the interesting, quirky fellow even more animated and he set about belabouring the counter bell with gusto. Lowther raised an eyebrow in interest and stood back to watch.

"A pleasure, Sir Isaac. Viscount Lowther, well met," he said, inclining his head in greeting, although he wondered whether the other man noticed as he was perfectly busy seeking to summon the innkeeper with the force of his dinging and strained looks. Now, what had he been getting up to in there, he wondered. How to raise the question?

The gentleman was - however frenetic - being far too civil, in Lowther's opinion, to summon a publican. In his experience, these types of fellows (however nice they may be) were used to trying to avoid guests who clearly wanted something. Ideally for as long as possible. If you wanted to avoid settling a bill you wouldn't be able to turn around without finding an innkeeper in your shadow. However, if you wanted to complain about a bed, or the food, or ask for a delivery, you'd be hard pressed to find them anywhere. It was though they had some sort of sixth sense for such things.

Lowther approached the desk and smiled at Sir Isaac. "Allow me to inject some rustic northern ways to solving your problem."

He banged his hand down on the counter with such force that the bell bounced and tinkled of its own accord. "Golightly, man, show yourself! Or I will come back there and find you myself!" 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

While it was not the way of a well bred gentlemen, but it was certainly effective!  A concerned head poked out from the nearby door to Kitchens, the rest of body following it just as swiftly.  "My apologies Gentlemen!" Mr Golightly was the picture of an apology - pulling off a flour-dusted pinny and stuffing it under the counter, "I hope you haven’t been waiting too long, Oh dear, you have been waiting for just ages haven’t you?!"

Isaac turned from his own surprise (mixed with a measure of gratitude for the effective, it unexpected, measures Lowther capable of, and replied. "Not at all Mr Golightly, we we've only just arrived." a blatant lie that he'd later beg The Lords forgiveness for, "but my friend here Lord Lowther requires a refill, and I.. well you have not taken any messages for me have you?"  The later question was said with an intensity of gaze.

Mr Golightly was skilled enough in his profession to not give voice to his thoughts at that moment; ie, 'is that all'.  But instead snatched a envelope from cubby to delay to Isaac, before moving down the bar to pour a pint, "I am very sorry about that gentlemen.  That message should have been taken up to your room last night Sir Isaac, and here, gentlemen it's on the house. Terribly sorry, I’ve really no excuse for it."  A voice was now calling for him back to the kitchens.  "Is that all Gentlemen?"  


Link to comment
Share on other sites

The refill was a pleasant perk and Lowther took it as a kind, unspoken "thank you" from the gentleman and as a suitable chastisement to the innkeeper. Listening to the pair of them talking he felt like an ape at the court of King Louis - how very civil and polite they were and how very successful in saying completely the opposite of what they were clearly thinking! Sir Isaac had not just got here and he was perfectly certain that Golightly had likely known that full well. This, of course, is what the refined Southerners referred to as the art of "dissimulation" - polishing it up as a courtly piece of social etiquette. Lowther felt like sighing. He had been away too long and his rough mannerism, more aptly at home in the officers' mess, would not be welcome in the more genteel company he wished to now move in. If this had been his local tavern close by his family's estates he would have dragged the innkeeper out and the fellow would have given as good as he got. No wonder the people down here thought that everyone north of the River Trent were savages.

He accepted the refill and gave his best, apologetic smile.

"My thanks, Mr Golightly, and no trouble at all. You will excuse me, I am sure you could not hear me over the din back there."

This was a bit of dissimulation of his own. Yes, he could play the game too, as well as they. He knew fine rightly that the innkeeper was likely seething and mentally saying he had got Lowther's number, as it were.

The innkeeper handed over a package to Sir Isaac which the latter seemed quite relieved, or excited, to finally have hold of.

"And this," he said, indicating the package, "is the cause of your trouble, Sir Isaac? Whatever it is it must be of great importance to have you lose track of the days?"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Scientist was not usually a loiterer in bars, even though he lived upstairs of this one - he'd usually have returned directly to his room (and studies), but chance now had him here with both company and a full glass.

"Ah, yes important work indeed..." he considered finding an excuse, but then, this fellow seemed a good sort and a break from his work wouldn’t really hurt. Besides, the man did not seem to recognise him, and in recent times that was a novelty in itself. These days people sought Isaac out for their own personal gain, but here, this fresh-from-the-country Viscount was (seemingly) without guile. 

"Shall we claim a chair, were you sat outside?" was the din of the street less than that of indoors?

"...I've a project underway - but this here,” motioning to the envelope, he then take it into pocket, “this is quite another thing. Man does not live on bread alone. Ah, but those greater purposes that drive a man no doubt touches your life too - what has brought you to London city Lord Lowther?" 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Oh no, inside is perfectly fine, please," he said, indicating to a vacant table hard by. Besides, Sir Isaac was taking in such a hermetic way about whatever it was that he had that he doubted he would be comfortable discussing such secrets in the open air.

Having both taken a seat, he decided it was only fair to divulge some of his story in consideration for being let into the perhaps secret project of the gentleman. "Never was a truer word spoken," he nodded sagely at the biblical quote. "Although I dare say what you mean is far loftier, it is why I am here. Put bluntly, I am in need of occupation to help...grease the wheels, I suppose. Yorkshire is a fine place - few finer on God's earth - but there is little there that will put enough coin in the coffers to mend the lead of the roof or do up the west wing, things like that. So, like a moth to the flame or like Whittington's cat in the child's tale, here I am, come to worship before Mammon, as it were."

He took a deep draught of his cup. "But I might as well look at the loftier aspects of things whilst I am forced to root around in the grubbier aspects of life. That you shouldn't cast pearl before swine is only true up to a point!" He chuckled.

"This item," he said, indicating it, "it somehow touches on matters like that?"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And so they claimed a table in the common room, and this in the hour approaching lunch, those tables would all be soon filled.  Isaac took a sip of his brew as Robert made some accounting of his hopes for London, and with biblical references that were akin to the scientist’s own devout ethos.  (Had the young Lord intuited that angle effective from his own reference earlier?) 

"Unfortunately matters practical often demand first attention; debtors squawk like newly hatched chicks in the nest demanding their worm." Empathised Isaac, "I wish you every success with your goal. A position at the palace perhaps? Though as a port city if your interests are in trade then, well this must be the pace to be" 

"While this." the envelope had not been tucked away quickly enough, no doubt it was the other mans natural curiosity that continued his interest in it. While Issac appreciated an inquiring mind, he was very very secretive when it came to certain matters.  But also, he was no liar.  "Is not regarding funding no, I am blessed to have a number of sponsors for my work." a pause, a decision, "my field is natural philosophy* , Lord Lowther, and am a Fellow of the Royal Society. You may have heard of them?"


* our era's term for scientists!  



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Talk about what he planned to do always made him nervous for the very good reason that he had no plans, at present, whatsoever. In his mind, the first step had been "go to London." As to the next step, he imagined that would become clear thereafter. The City was a place of great opportunity if you had the inclination and ability to track it out.

He may be no natural philosopher himself but he did keep abreast of current affairs. Since its establishment early in the current King's reign, the Royal Society was perhaps the most select club (for wont of a better word) of the nation's finest minds and most generous financial patrons. Their remit seemed to cover the whole realm of human experience. The newssheets he read every now and again made mention to this or that new experiment, the purposes for which the Viscount could often not define (such as placing cats in sealed jars and removing the air). However, what he was certainly aware of was the prestige and aura of the group. Thinking on it now, he begun to wonder whether the name of the gentleman before him was not perhaps familiar? Or maybe he was just making that connection falsely?

"Well, Sir Isaac, I can assure you that neither the moors nor the forests of the north are sufficient barriers to stop the fame of the Society from reaching us!"

I sat back in his chair, his lower back still aching from the last leg of the journey to the capital he had undertaken that morning.

"I'm honoured then to be in the company of a member of such a distinguished community. This then is something done for the Society?"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Lowther’s continued inquiry upon the note was making Isaac uncomfortable (He who had recently hired two men to follow him when he went out, to check that he was not being followed by someone else!)  Isaac was somewhat paranoid, though justifiably so given recent news from across the channel! 

"Hm... no Id not say that." he answered vaguely, "there are those pursuits one works upon professionally, and those others that are a more of a personal fascination. That is what I meant by man does not live on bread alone." 

He took another sip from his glass. "You have chosen the right Inn to begin your London career in, it being a rebounding board into courtly success for many a chap." a pause, then query to confirm, "so your interests are not so much in trade then?"  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Lowther was an open man. It was, in many ways, a fault of his. There were times when such honesty was admirable. A fine, Christian virtue. However, there were other times when it was not. This extended to his assessments of his own abilities.

"I would like the idea of it, Sir Isaac, but honestly I would not know where to start. Ship, customers, market, capital. I know the words but don't have the means to put any of them into practical use. I do recognize, though, that that would be the finest and smartest way of reaping in coin."

There were the big merchant trading houses, the various Companies whose investors clubbed together to make lucrative voyages around the world, bringing back cargoes of luxury goods, or dragging slaves off to the colonies. These, however, were relative select clubs and required the appropriate means of entry. What ready money Lowther had he was planning on using to keep himself afloat in London until some from of paid opportunity crossed his path. The estates in the north did, of course, bring in an annual income but very little of it made its way into his pockets, after the running expenses of the lands and his family members were taken into account.

"If there is any trade I do know it is soldiering. Several years I marched under the colours of the United Provinces as a gentleman volunteer. In this world when wars and rumours of wars are all you hear, soldiering is one of those trades that doesn't go out of fashion. Perhaps I can try my luck here? If there is to be conflict - as I gather - then there are always need of men with broad shoulders and a willingness to slum it under canvass."

"In all honesty, though, in so far as I have a plan, Sir Isaac, I suppose it would be to see what gilded, caged and paid ornamented role I could find at Court. I have spent long enough under the wind and rain, trudging up and down the muddy roads of Flanders and Germany. Some chamber music instead of the beating of a drum might be a nice change."

"So, if you know where a man can start, that is some information I would be most happy to hear!"

Link to comment
Share on other sites


Isaac chuckled at that, shoulders relaxing.  “Surely your elevation places your days of ‘slumming it under a canvas’ far behind you.   But how many days have you been in London so far? I dare say you need first look about and get the lay of the land. Opportunities shall no doubt appear for the man who is looking for it.”

Their gracious host Mr Golightly, appeared about then and placed a basket of salted deep fried chips between the men.  The scent was wonderful, and timing exquisite, Isaac thanked the man before he disappeared and was no slouch in diving in straight away. 

“There are various groups, clubs you might even say, where you might fine men of like interests. I should wonder if perhaps, given your previous career, that you might do well to spend some time at Knightsbridge practise range.”

It was one idea any case. 

"Different aims require different approaches, and I am not sure that my experiances shall prove very helpful to you.  In my field gaining a patron makes the largest difference. Yet with a patron also comes obligation, and even politics can then come into it." 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The aroma of the food made Lowther's stomach growl and lurch, only now making him aware of quite how hungry he actually was from his morning's travelling. He resisted the urge (borne of barrack's living) to dive straight in but try and affect an air of indifference. If he had made himself seem rustic enough thus far, it would not help to underline the point by falling on the food like a ravenous horse.

"I am getting ahead of myself, Sir Isaac, for I am only arrived today, although I have been in the capital plenty over the years when my late brother lived here."

He smiled amiably, and not just because Mr Golightly was in the vicinity. "Oh yes, here is a fine improvement on many of the billets I have had to stay in over the years." He indicated the food and drink. "Proper fare here, done properly. Good English beer and hearty food. The Dutch, for all their many virtues, just cannot come close." He lifted his cup to the retreating figure of the innkeeper in a salute of thanks.

"Yes, I suppose patronage is that invisible oil that keeps the wheels turning, isn't it. I hate to think of myself as a dog searching for a collar especially because, as you rightly say, it is a quid pro quo, isn't it? I wouldn't know who is in and who is out at present. Well, not from beyond what I have read in those trashy newssheets that are run off ten a penny. Knowing my fine luck I would manage to find a patron just on the day before he tumbles from grace."

The information about Knightsbridge was, however, particular useful and Lowther nodded his head in thought. "Thank you, Sir Isaac, I think I shall give it a visit. A leopard, I suppose, cannot change its spots. If nothing else, I am sure I can find people there to bore with stories of soldiering. Being honest, none are that interesting because most of it is sitting around, but that doesn't make for good plays or poems, I suppose." 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Well I will warn you then that Danby is definitely out." Isaac returned with an amused huff, "though aside from that I am not one to keep up with much of the gossip.  That said, I know Duke Buckingham a great supporter for those in the arts. There was a chap who used to stay here at the Red Lion, a Composer, who found much success after he'd placed himself Neath that wing."

Though Lowther was not the artsy sort, so perhaps gaining Buckingham’s patronage would be a harder thing. 

"But you are right to start with caution.  Gaining the company of like minded fellows, men who share your history if not your future, cant be a bad start." He supposed, helping himself to a few more chips.  "I would claim that being the second son ascended from the military places you in a better position that to have been the third ascended from the clergy."  Though those were not the words of personal experience, rather, were drawn from the popular claim that life at court was a battle field! 

"Ah so you are recent from the Seven Provinces? Do tell me if you were there during the marriage of 'Our Mary' to the Prince of Orange*."



*ooc: pc’s that were in that country at the time are allowed to claim they attended periphery celebrations, but not the royal marriage itself (if they wish!)

Link to comment
Share on other sites


  • Create New...