« PreviousContinue »
Our Subscribers are requested to observe that Nos. XXXIX. and XL. will consist
ART. I.-Memoirs, illustrative of the Life and Writings of John Evelyn, Esq. F.R. S. Author of the Sylva,' &c. &c. Comprising his Diary, from the Year 1641 to 1705-6, and a Selection of his familiar Letters. To which is subjoined, the private Correspondence between King Charles I. and his Secretary of State, Sir Edward Nicholas, whilst his Majesty was in Scotland, 1641, and at other times during the Civil War; also between Sir Edward Hyde, afterwards Earl of Clarendon, and Sir Richard Browne, Ambassador to the Court of France, in the time of Charles I. and the Usurpation. The whole now first published, from the original MSS. in two vols. Edited by William Bray, Esq. Fellow and Treasurer of the Society of Antiquaries of London. London. 1818.
THE excellent person whose auto-biography is now for the first
time made public was eminently happy in this respect, that he was born in that country, place, and condition of life which best suited his moral and intellectual nature. Never had any one more cause to be thankful for all the accidents of his birth. For, omitting what the Grecian philosopher reckoned among his felicities, that he was born a man and not a woman, it was the good fortune of Evelyn to be an European, not the native of any degraded region of the earth; an Englishman, not the subject of a despotic government or a feeble state; of an ancient, honourable, and opulent house; established in a part of England where he could partake the delights of a country life which no man ever loved more dearly, and the advantages of science and society that the metropolis affords, which no man could estimate more justly or more entirely enjoy. Add to these blessings that he was trained up in the genial feelings of a generous and constitutional loyalty, and in the healthful principles of the church establishment, not jaundiced by the bitter spirit of political or puritanical discontent. He was happy also in the time in which he flourished. The age of Charles II. was as nicely adapted to Evelyn's temper and peculiar talents, as the noonday of chivalry to Edward the Black Prince, and his chronicler Froissart. Had he lived in these days he might have held a respectable rank among chemists or mineralogists; but there would not have been room for him to distinguish himself above his contemporaries, so
VOL. XIX. NO. XXXVII.
as to stand forward in after-times among the most conspicuous of his generation. Nor is there perhaps now the same delight in the pursuit of physical science as there was, when its wide regions lay, like a vast continent newly discovered, to invite and to reward research.
His diary, or Kalendarium, as he himself intitled it, begins in the year 1641, but he has prefixed to it some notices of his family and earlier life. Richard Evelyn, his father, of Wotton, in the county of Surrey, possessed an estate estimated at about 4000l. a year, 'well wooded and full of timber.' He was a man of singularly even mind, in whom his son could never call to mind the least passion or inadvertence; in his habits of life ascetic and sparing, and one that was never known to have been surprized by excess.' It is possible, though Evelyn himself intimates no such suspicion, that his ascetic habits were carried to excess, and injured his health, for his hair, which was inclining to light,' and therefore the less likely early to have become gray, grew hoary by the time he was thirty years of age, and he died at middle age of dropsy, an indisposition (says his son) the most unsuspected, being a person so exemplarily temperate,' but which, perhaps, his manner of life may have induced. John, the second of three sons, was born at Wotton, October 31, 1620. At four years old he was taught to read by the parish schoolmaster, whose school was over the church porch, and at six his picture was drawn in oil by one Chanterell, no ill painter.' If this portrait, as is not unlikely, be preserved in the family, it should have been engraved for the present work; it would have been very interesting to compare the countenance of such a person in childhood, in the flower of years, when his head was engraved by Nanteuil, and in ripe old age, when he sat to Sir Godfrey Kneller. When he was eight years old, at which time he resided with his maternal grandmother, he began to learn Latin at Lewes, and was afterwards sent to the free-school at Southover, near that town. His father, who would willingly have weaned him from the fondness of his grandmother, intended to place him at Eton, but the boy had been so terrified by the report of the severe discipline there, that he was sent back to Lewes. Poor Tusser's account of Eton, which he undoubtedly had in his mind, was quite sufficient to justify him.
*To give an instance of what store of woods and timber of prodigious size, there were growing in our little county of Surrey, (the nearest of any to London,) and plentifully furnished both for profit and pleasure,-(with sufficient grief and reluctancy I speak it) my own grandfather had standing at Wotton, and about that estate, timber that now were worth 100,000l. since of what was left my father (who was a great preserver of wood) there has been 30,000l. worth of timber fallen by the axe, and the fury *of the late hurricane and storm; now no more Wotton, stript and naked, and ashamed almost to own its name.'—Sylva, book iii. ch. 7.
From Paul's I went, to Eton sent,
For fault but small, or none at all,
No such inhumanity, we may be assured, would be perpetrated at Eton while Sir Henry Wotton was provost, and Evelyn, who says that he afterwards a thousand times regretted his perverseness, lost much in not being placed under this admirable man, by whom his disposition and talents would have been justly appreciated and cherished.
Evelyn lost his mother when he was fifteen. He describes her as of proper personage; of a brown complexion, her eyes and hair of a lovely black, of constitution inclined to a religious melancholy, or pious sadness; of a rare memory and most exemplary life; for economy and prudence esteemed one of the most conspicuous in her country.' Her death was occasioned by excessive grief for the loss of a daughter, and perhaps for the previous unhappiness of that daughter, who was married to one of the worst of In the following year he was entered at the Middle Temple, though he continued at school, and in 1637 was placed as a fellow commoner at Baliol College, Oxford. At school he had been remiss in his studies till the last very < year, so that I went to the university,' he says, ' rather out of shame of abiding longer at school, than from any fitness, as by sad experience I found, which put me to relearn all that I had neglected, or but perfunctorily gained.' Here he was placed under no less notorious a person than Bradshaw, nomen invisum,' says Evelyn, yet the son of an excellent father, beneficed in Surrey. I ever thought my tutor had parts enough, but as his ambition made him much suspected of the college, so his grudge to Dr. Lawrence, the governor of it, whom he afterwards supplanted, took up so much of his time, that he seldom or never had the opportunity to discharge his duty to his scholars.' The pupil however found a fellow collegian named James Thicknesse, who was disposed to study with him, from whose learned and friendly conversation he received great advantage,' and with whom in consequence he formed a lasting intimacy. The university was then exceedingly regular under the discipline which Laud had established as chancellor. Had Laud been born a generation earlier, or a generation later, how high and undisputed a reputation would he have raised by his munificent love of letters, and his conscientious discharge of the duties of his office! but, unlike A 2
Evelyn, he had fallen upon the most unhappy age in which his mortal lot could possibly have been cast. While at Oxford Evelyn was admitted into the dancing and vaulting school,' and began also to look on the rudiments of music,' in which, he says, he afterwards arrived to some formal knowledge, though to small perfection of hand, because he was so frequently diverted by inclinations to newer trifles.' During the last year of his residence his younger brother came to be his chamberfellow. They soon removed to the Middle Temple, and before they had been there three months their father died, 'retaining,' says Evelyn, his senses and piety to the last, which he most tenderly expressed in blessing us, whom he now left to the world and the worst of times, whilst he was taken from the evil to come. Thus we were bereft of both our parents in a period when we most of all stood in need of their counsel and assistance, especially myself, of a raw, vain, uncertain, and very unwary inclination; but so it pleased God to make trial of my conduct in a conjuncture of the greatest and most prodigious hazard that ever the youth of England saw. If I did not, amidst all this, peach my liberty, nor my virtue, with the rest who made shipwreck of both, it was more the infinite goodness and mercy of God than the least discretion of mine own, who now thought of nothing but the pursuit of vanity, and the confused imaginations of young men.' The signs of the times were then too evident to be mistaken; the palace at Lambeth had been assaulted by a rabble; and libels and invectives scattered about the streets to the reproach of government and the fermentation of our since distractions.' Evelyn had been present at Strafford's trial, where 'the lords and commons, together with the king, queen, prince, and flower of the noblesse, were spectators and auditors of the greatest malice and the greatest innocency that ever met before so illustrious an assembly,' and he had seen the fatal stroke which severed from its shoulders the wisest head in England-to such exorbitancy were things arrived:' he now therefore determined to absent himself from a state of things which gave umbrage' (fearful suspicion) to wiser than himself that the calamities of England were but yet in their
His intention was to overtake the leagure then before Gennep,' on the Waal,-a place which having been greatly strengthened by the Cardinal Infante D. Fernando, in 1635, was at this time besieged by the French and Dutch. He landed at Flushing, proceeded to Dort, and taking waggon from thence to Rotterdam was
There is a full account of the siege in the great extraordinary patience, compiled materials for the during the greater part of the seventeenth century. wounded at this siege,
work of Aitzema, a man who, with History of the United Provinces One of his brothers was mortally