Charles Irving

References to Dr. Charles Irving

taken from The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa,The African.  Written by Himself, 9th Edition, 1794


"In  February  1768, I hired myself to Dr. Charles Irving, in Pall-mall, so celebrated for his  successful  experiments  in  malung  sea-water  fresh;  and  here I had plenty of hair-dressing to improve my  hand. This gentleman was  an  excellent  master;  he  was  exceedingly  hnd  and  good-tempered; and allowed me in the evenings to attend my  schools, which  I  esteemed a  great  blessing; therefore  I  thank448 God and him for it, and used all diligence to improve the opportunity. This diligence and attention recommended me to the notice and care of my  three preceptors, who, on their parts, bestowed a great deal of pains in my  instruction, and besides were  all very lund to me."


" On my return  to  London,  I  waited  on  my  old  and  good  master,  Dr. Irving,  who  made  me  an  offer  of  his  service  again.  Being now tired  of  the  sea,  I  gladly  accepted it.  I  was  very  happy  in  living with this gentleman once more; during which time we were daily employed in reducing old Neptune’s dominions by the briny  element, and  making it  fresh.468 Thus  I  went  on  till  May 1773, when  I  was  roused  by  the  sound  of  fame  to  seek  new adventures, ..."


"On  the 20th of June we  began  to use  Dr.  Irving’s apparatus for making salt water fresh;  I  used  to  attend  the  distillery;  I  frequently purified  from twenty-six to forty gallons a  day. The water  thus distilled was perfectly  pure,  well  tasted,  and  free  from  salt;  and  was  used  on various occasions  on board  the ship."


"OUR voyage to the North Pole being ended, I returned to London with  Dr.  Irving,  with  whom  I  continued  for  some time, ... In process  of time I  left my  master, Doctor Irving, the purifierof waters."


"I  was  happy  once more  amongst my  friends and brethren  till  November,  when my  old  fiiend, the  celebrated
Dr.  Irving,  bought  a  remarkable  fine  sloop, about  150 tons.  He had  a  mind  for  a  new  adventure,  in  cultivating  a  plantation  at Jamaica  and  the  Musquito  Shore; he  asked me  to  go with  him, and  said  that  he would  trust  me  with  his  estate  in preference  to any  one.  By  the  advice,  therefore,  of  my  friends,  I  accepted  of the offer, ..."



He was  very unwilling at first to grant me my  request;583 but  I  gave  him so many reasons for it,
that at last  he consented to my  going, and &we  me the following certificate of my  behaviour:

The bearer,  Gustavus Vassa, has  served me several years with strict
honesty, sobriety,  and fidelity.  I  can, therefore, with justice  rec-
ommend him for these qualifications; and indeed in every respect
I  consider him as  an excellent servant. I  do hereby certify that he
always behaved well,  and that  he  is  perfectly  trust-worthy.

Musquito shore, June  15,  1776 Though I was much attached to the Doctor, I was happy when he  consented to my  going ... the Doctor and I  parted,  not  without  shedding tears  on  both  sides."


Irving Manuscript1.38 MB