1780 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Evelyn the Younger

John Nichols, in Select Collection of Poems with Notes Biographical and Historical (1780-82) 2:127-29.



Son of the great natural philosopher, and born at Sayes-Court near Deptford, upon the 14th of January 1654, and was there educated with great care. He was sent to Oxford in the year 1666, where he remained in the house of Dr. Bathurst, then president of Trinity College, before he was admitted a gentleman-commoner, which was in Easter-term, 1688. It is not clear what time he left Oxford; but Mr Wood seems to be positive that he took no degree there, but returned to his father's house, and prosecuted his studies under his directions. It is supposed, however, that, during his residence in Trinity College, he wrote that elegant Greek poem, which is prefixed to the second edition of the Sylva; and is a noble proof of the strength of his genius and wonderful progress in learning in the early part of his life. He discovered his proficiency soon afterwards, both in the ancient and modern languages both in the ancient and modern languages, by his elegant translations; as well as his intimate acquaintance with the Muses, in some original poems, which were much admired. His works will be mentioned presently. He married Martha, daughter and co-heiress of Richard Spencer, esq; and, having a head as well turned for business as study, became one of the commissioners of the revenue in Ireland. He would probably have been advanced to higher employment, if he had lived; but he died at his house in London, upon the 24th of March 1698, in the 45th year of his age. He was father of the late sir John Evelyn, who was born at Sayes-Court upon the 2d of March 1681, and created a baronet by letters patent, bearing date July 30th, 1713. This gentleman's productions in the literary way were, 1. "Of Gardens, four books, first written in Latin verse by Renatus Rapinus, and now made English by John Evelyn, esq;" 1673, 8vo. Considering how much he must have been obliged to hear of gardens and plantations, we need not wonder that he should employ himself upon this subject. His father annexed the second book of this translation to his Sylva. 2. "The life of Alexander the Great, translated from the Greek of Plutarch." This was printed in the fourth volume of Plutarch's Lives by several hands. 3. "The history of the grand visiers, Mahomet and Achmet Coprogli; of the three last grand seigniors, their sultanas, and chief favourites; with the most secret intrigues of the seraglio," 1677, 8vo. This was a translation from the French, and has been esteemed an entertaining and instructive history. He was also author of several occasional poems, the best of which are here preserved.