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 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 £4000 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 Nauteuil, 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.
From Paul's I went, to Eton sent,
To learn straightways the Latin phrase,
Where fifty-three stripes given to me
At once I had;
For fault but small, or none at all,
It came to pass thus beat I was;
See Udall, see, the mercy of thee
To me, poor lad!
No such inhumanity, we may be assured, would be perpetrated at Eton while Sir Henry Wotton was provost, and Evelyn, who says that lie 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 men. 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 very remiss in his studies till the last 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 be 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 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 chamber-fellow. 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 infancy."
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 "hurried there in less than an hour, though it be ten miles distant, so furiously, did these foremen drive." The Dutch are not so celebrated for the celerity of their motions in these days. On the way to the Hague he observed "divers leprous poor creatures dwelling in solitary huts on the brink of the water, and permitted to ask the charity of passengers, which is conveyed to them in a floating box that they cast out." Perhaps this is the latest notice of lepers in Europe being thus thrust apart from the rest of mankind, and Holland is likely to be the country in which the disease would continue longest. At the Hague he visited the Queen of Bohemia, a woman who, more than any other princess of her age, seems to have won and deserved the admiration of all who knew her. Her presence chamber was then hung with black, and she was keeping a fast-day for her husband's death with as little to console her in any earthly prospect of the future as in looking back upon the past.
Evelyn did not reach Gennep till four or five days after it had capitulated; he was, however, complimented by being received a volunteer in Captain Apsley's corps, and took his turn in "watching on a horn work, and trailing a pike," till the fortifications were repaired. He found himself on "hot service for a young drinker," and after a week's stay he took his leave, being pretty well satisfied with the confusion of battles and sieges, "if such," he says, "that of the United Provinces may be called, where their quarters and encampments are so admirably regular, and orders so exactly observed, as few cities exceed it for all convenience." He remained about three months in the Netherlands and then returned to England. Among the remarkable things which he had noticed in his journal during this journey, is the case of a woman who had been married five and twenty times, and was then prohibited from marrying again, "yet it could not be proved that she had ever made any of her husbands away, though the suspicion had brought her divers times to trouble." He was particularly pleased with Antwerp, and with nothing more than "those delicious shades and walls of stately trees which render the fortified works of the town one of the sweetest places in Europe." Long will it be before any traveller can again speak of the delicious shades and stately trees of Antwerp! Carnot, in preparing to defend the place, laid what were then its beautiful environs as bare as a desert. The remark which he makes upon the view from the tower of the cathedral is curious. "The sun," he says, "shone exceeding hot, and darted its rays without any intermission, affording so bright a reflection to us who were above, and had a full prospect of both land and water about it, that I was much confirmed in my opinion of the moon's being of some such substance as the earthly globe consists of; perceiving all the adjacent country, at so small a horizontal distance, to represent such a light as I could hardly look against, save when the river and other large waters within our view appeared of a more dark and uniform colour, resembling those spots in the moon supposed to be seas there, according to our new philosophy, and viewed by optical glasses."
On his return to England he studied a little, but "danced and fooled more." But this was no age for vanities. The civil war broke out, and Evelyn went with his horse and arms to join the king at Brentford, but he was not permitted to remain there, (this is the phrase he uses,) because the retreat of the royal army, which immediately took place, would have left him and his brothers exposed to ruin without any advantage to his Majesty. He retired to his brother's house at Wotton, and began to improve the gardens; when the Covenant was pressed he absented himself, but finding it "impossible to evade the doing very unhandsome things," he obtained the king's licence to travel, and set out for a longer journey, accompanied by his old fellow collegian Thicknesse. Twice at the very outset had this journey well nigh proved fatal: mistaking the tide as they came before Calais, in weather which was "snowy and untoward enough," they struck on the sands with no little danger; and crossing an overflown stream on the way to Boulogne, in darkness, and in a storm of rain, hail, and snow, his horse slipt and had almost been the occasion of his perishing.
The churches upon the continent hold the first place among those raree-shows by which the curiosity of a young English traveller is invited. Evelyn was much amused with the treasures at St. Denis, which contained at that time some of the most remarkable relics, true and false, any where in existence: among the latter were a likeness of the Queen of Sheba, Solomon's drinking cup, Judas's brass lanthorn, and Virgil's stone mirror; among the former Charlemagne's set of chess men, "full of Arabic characters." There were also "the effigies of the late French kings in wax, like ours in Westminster, covered with their robes, with a world of other rarities." Paris appeared to him, for the materials the houses are built with, and its many noble and magnificent piles, one of the most gallant cities in the world: he describes it "large in circuit, of a round form, very populous, but situated in a bottom environed with gentle declivities, rendering some places very dirty, and making it smell as if sulphur were mingled with the mud." This odour, for which certainly the nature of the, ground was not in fault, provoked the spleen of Peter Heylyn, who had visited France some years before Evelyn, at a time of life when "both his wits and fancies (if ever he was master of ally) were in their predominancy." "This I am confident of," he says, "that the nastiest lane in London is frankincense and juniper to the sweetest street in this city. The ancient by-word was (and there is good reason for it) "Il destaint comme la fange de Paris": had I the power of making proverbs I would only change it "destaint" into "il puit", and make the by-word ten times more orthodox. The fortifications of this town are but trifles, — the only venom of the streets is a strength unto it more powerful than the ditches or the bulwark of St. Martins. It was therefore not unjudiciously said of an English gentleman, that he thought Paris was the strongest town in Christendom, for he took strong in that sense as we do in England when we say such a man hath a strong breath. These things considered it could not but be an infinite happiness granted by nature to our Henry V. that he never stopt his nose at any stink, as our chronicles report of him; otherwise, in my conscience, he had never been able to keep his court there. But that which most amazed me is, that in such a perpetuated constancy of stinks, there should yet be found so large and admirable a variety — a variety so special and distinct, that any chemical nose, (I dare lay my life on it,) after two or three perambulations, would hunt out blindfold each several street by the smell, as perfectly as another by his eye." Paris is now less obnoxious to this reproach than many other places; and the three stinking cities of Europe are Lisbon, Edinburgh, and Geneva.
The garden of the Tuileries Evelyn describes as rarely contrived for privacy, shade, or company. It had then some "curiosities" so much in French taste that it is wonderful they should not have been preserved, a labyrinth of cyprus, and an artificial echo redoubling the words distinctly, and never, he says, without some fair nymph singing to it. "Standing at one of the focusses which is under a tree or little cabinet of hedges, the voice seems to descend from the clouds; at another as if it was under ground." During the reign of the sovereign people, the commune ploughed up the turf in these gardens to plant potatoes there, and they planted potatoes also in the parterres! The taste of Evelyn's age, which continues to be the taste of the French, and having rooted itself in their habits and literature is likely, notwithstanding all their versatility, to continue indelible, was exemplified wherever he went. The Archbishop of Paris in his garden at St. Cloud had a Mount Parnassus, not indeed so costly a plaything as the elaborate toy of Titon du Tillet, but a grotto "or shell-house" on the top of the hill, with a fair cupola, the walls painted with the muses, many statues placed about it, some of which were antique and good, and within "divers water-works and contrivances to wet the spectators." At Cardinal Richelieu's villa, the arch of Constantine was painted on a wall in oil, as large as the real one at Rome, so well done that even a man skilled in painting may mistake it for stone and sculpture. The sky and hills which seem to be between the arches are so natural that swallows and other birds, thinking to fly through, have dashed themselves against the wall." With all his feelings for nature Evelyn had not advanced beyond his contemporaries in taste, and he was heartily pleased with the "agreeable deceit," as he calls it, of a painted river which eked out the apparent limits of a Parisian garden. The Luxembourg gardens he speaks of as a paradise, and says that he had taken extraordinary delight in its sweet retirements. The Duke of Orleans at that time inhabited the palace, and kept tortoises in great numbers. The Duke would not permit the wolves to be destroyed upon his domains, in consequence of which they became so numerous in the forest of Orleans as often to come and take children out of the very streets of Blois! In our own days Stolberg noticed a similar effect of this preposterous passion for the chase, — cats were prohibited in the island of Ischia lest they should destroy the game, and when these useful animals had been extirpated the rats became so numerous that infants were not safe from them in the cradle.
Proceeding from France into Italy Evelyn notices with proper English feeling the disgusting sight of the gally-slaves at Marseilles, who, it seems, were made a show for the gratification of strangers!
"We went to visite the Gallys being about 25; the Captaine of the Gally Royal gave us most courteous entertainement in his cabine, the slaves in the interim playing both loud and soft musiq very rarely. Then he shew'd us how he commanded their motions with a nod and his whistle, making them row out. The spectacle was to me new and strange, to see so many hundreds of miserably naked persons, having their heads shaven close and having onely high red bonnets, a payre of coarse canvass drawers, their whole backs and leggs naked, doubly chayn'd about their middle and leggs, in couples, and made fast to their seates, and all commanded in a trise by an imperious and cruell seaman. One Turke he much favor'd, who waited on him in his cabin but with no other dress than the rest, and a chayne lock'd about his leg but not coupled. This gally was richly carv'd and gilded, and most of the rest were very beautifull. After bestowing something on the slaves, the captain sent a band of them to give us musiq at dinner where we lodged. I was amaz'd to contemplate how these miserable catyfs lie in their gally crowded together, yet there was hardly one but had some occupation by which, as leisure and calmes permitted, they gat some little monye, insomuch as some of them have, after many years of cruel servitude, been able to purchase their liberty. Their rising forward and falling back at their oare is a miserable spectacle, and the noyse of their chaines with the roaring of the beaten waters has something of strange and fearfull to one unaccustom'd to it. They are rul'd and chastiz'd by strokes on their backs and soles of theire feete on the least disorder, and without the least humanity; yet are they chereful and full of knavery." — pp. 70, 71.
Here he and his companions "bought umbrellas against the heats," a precaution so novel for an Englishman at that time as to be noticed among the memorabilia of their journey. It is little more than half a century since they have been in general use "against the rain" in this country, and persons are yet living who remember the indignant ridicule which their first appearance excited in the populace. They embarked at Canes for Genoa, narrowly escaped shipwreck in doubling the point of Savona, and enjoyed a foretaste of Italy in the land-breeze which carried with it "the perfumes of orange, citron, and jasmine flowers for divers leagues seaward," a circumstance which affected Evelyn with so much delight that he recurs to it more than once. "If ever," says Lassels, "I saw a town with its holiday clothes always on, it was Genoa." Evelyn saw it in its beauty, before its bombardment by the French, and never, he says, was any artificial scene more beautiful to the eye, nor any place for its size, so full of well-designed and stately palaces. But "the sudden and devilish passion" of a sailor here gave him a fearful sample of the Italian temper; the fellow was plying them for a fare, when another boatman interposed and took them in, — enraged at this, the tears gushed out of his eyes, he bit his finger almost off by the joint, and held it up to the other as an assurance to him of some bloody revenge if ever he came near that part of the harbour again. The man perhaps felt himself wronged as well as supplanted; but Evelyn observes that though it was "made a gally-matter" to carry a pointed knife, Genoa was nevertheless more stained with horrid acts of revenge and murder than any one place in Europe, or haply in the world. It was, perhaps, this temper of the Genoese which made Louis XI. when he was asked what he would do with Genoa if it were at his disposal, reply, that he would give it to the Devil. Labat, who is always lively and always malicious, says, that the inhabitants call their city Gena instead of Genoa, "telle est leur oeconomie: ils rognent tout jusqu'aux paroles" — and he ascribes the invention of wafers to Genoese oeconomy. "On pesa les lettres, le poids en regle le prix. Les Genois ont trouve le secret d'ecrire beaucoup, et de payer peu pour le port. Ils se servent d'un papier aussi fin que notre papier a la serpente, ecrivent menu, serre et laconiquement; ne font ni complimens, ni enveloppes; et comme les cachets quelques qu'ils soient ne laissent pas de peser, ils se servent d'une certaine pate rouge et dure, on l' humecte avec un peu de satire, et on en touche legerement l'endroit du papier, on l'on applique sur le champ le cachet, et la lettre se trouve fermee, comme si on y avoit mis un peu de colie. J'ai apporte de cette pate, rien n'est meilleure, et ne pese moins." From this curious passage it would appear that wafers were not known in France when he published his Voyages d'Espagne et Italie in 1731. But they were certainly no new discovery when he saw them at Genoa in 1706. We have in our possession letters with the wafers still adhering which went from Lisbon to Rome twenty years before that time, and Stolberg observes that there are wafers and wafer-seals in the museum at Portici.
Evelyn noticed in the Genoese a very different character from that parsimony for which Labat swears at them; he speaks of the magnificent expenditure of the merchants, who, as there was little or no land in which they could invest their property, expended it in marble palaces and costly furniture. He admired their floors of red plaster, which became so hard and received so high a polish, that it might have been mistaken for porphyry, and he wondered that it was not used in England for cabinets and rooms of state. It is indeed surprising that notwithstanding the appalling frequency of fires we should continue to floor our houses with wood, as if to render them as combustible as possible. The aviary in the gardens of Prince Doria's palace pleased him as realizing Bacon's desire, who said he liked not such places, "unless they were of that largeness that they might be turffed, and have living plants and bushes set in them that the birds might have more scope and natural nestling, and no foulness appear on the floor." Trees of more than two feet in diameter were growing in this prodigious cage, "besides cypress, myrtles, lentiles, and other rare shrubs, which serve to nestle and perch all sorts of birds, who have air and place enough under their airy canopy, supported with huge iron work stupendous for its fabric and its charge." Lassels says, that "to make the poor birds believe they are rather in a wood than in a prison, the very cage hath put even the wood itself in prison." It is about an hundred paces long, "and fetcheth in a world of laurel and other trees." This was indeed a splendid aviary, and yet but a splendid folly, effecting that by constraint which might have been accomplished so much more easily by better means. Any garden may be made an aviary without caging it in, by affording to the birds food and protection; for it is surprizing how soon the shyest birds may be taught to come to the hand that feeds them. We have seen wild-ducks come in flocks to a lady's call, and the water-hen hurry to the same voice with as much alacrity as the barn-door fowl.
In his progress through Italy Evelyn's attention, according to the fashion of his age, was chiefly attracted by palaces and pictures, gardens and museums. Picturesque beauty was then so little regarded that Missou advises a traveller not to go on purpose to the Borromean islands unless he had a great deal of leisure: for he says, "there is nothing very rare or extraordinary in them. A man who never saw but very ordinary things of that nature would doubtless admire these islands if he were suddenly transported thither, but they would never produce the same effect upon one that has seen a little of the world." Thus he spoke of them, thinking of the islands alone, without the slightest reference to the glorious scenery by which they are surrounded; nor were they in his estimation more interesting for standing in the Lago Maggiore than they would have been in Whittlesea mere! But Evelyn, notwithstanding his taste for grottoes, parterres, and vistas, had a true feeling for better things; and when he got out of the trammels of art was fully capable of enjoying the world of nature. The following description will be read with pleasure, though it should remind the reader of a sublimer picture in Burnet's "Telluris Theoria Sacra."
"Next morning we rod by Monte Pientio, or, as vulgarly called, Monte Mantumiato, which is of an excessive height ever and anon peeping above any clowds with its snowy head, till we had climbed to the inn at Radicofany built by Ferd. the greate Duke for the necessary refreshment of travellers in so inhospitable a place. As we ascended we entered a very thick, solid, and dark body of clowds, which look'd like rocks at a little distance, which lasted neare a mile in going up; they were dry misty vapours, hanging undissolved for a vast thicknesse, and obscuring both the sun and earth so that we seemed to be in the sea rather than in the cloudes, till, having pierced through it we came into a most serene heaven, as if we bad been above all human conversation, the mountaine appearing more like a greate island than joyn'd to any other hills, for we could perceive nothing but a sea of thick clouds rowling under our feete like huge waves, ever now and then suffering thee top of some other mountaine to peepe through, which we could discover many miles off; and betweene some breaches of the clouds we could see landskips and villages of the subjacent country. This was one of the most pleasant, newe, and altogether surprizing objects that I had ever behold.
"On the sum'it of this horrid rock (for so it is) is built a very strong Fort, garrison'd, and somewhat beneath it is a small towne; the provisions are drawne up with ropes and engines, the precipice being otherwise inaccessable. At one end of the towne lie heapes of rocks so strangely broaken off from the ragged mountaine as would affright one with their horror and menacing postures. Just opposite to the inn gushed out a plentifull and most useful fountaine which falls into a great trough of stone, bearing the Duke of Tuscany's armes. Here we din'd, and I with my black lead pen tooke the prospect." — vol. i. p. 88.
At Rome he was what he calls very pragmatical, by which he means very busy in going over the regular course of sight-seeing. He engraved his name "amongst other travellers" in the globe of St. Peter's cupola, and had the honour, by the special desire of a Dominican friar, of standing godfather to a Turk and a Jew, — a remarkable instance of liberality in the friar, unless he doubted the sincerity of his neophytes, and thought a heretic sponsor good enough for them. Naples he resolved to make "the non ultra" of his travels; sufficiently sated, he says, "with rolling up and down, and resolving within myself to be no longer an individuum vagum, if ever I got home again, since from the report of divers experienced and curious persons I had been assured there was little more to be seen in the rest of the civil world after Italy, France, Flanders, and the Low Country." The persons who pronounced this opinion must have had little curiosity with their experience, or little experience with their curiosity. The satiety which Evelyn confesses is one which every traveller must sometimes have experienced, in an hour of exhaustion, when he feels the want of that comfort and that perfect rest, one of which can only be enjoyed in his own country, and the other in his own house. But the appetite soon returns for that living knowledge which travelling imparts, and so was it with Evelyn. Finding at Venice an English ship bound for the Holy Land, he determined to visit Syria, Egypt, and Turkey, engaged for his passage, and laid in his sea-stock; but to his great mortification the vessel was pressed for the service of the state to carry provisions to Candia, then newly attacked by the Turks.
Journals and books of travels are among those works which acquire by time more value than they lose they are the subsidiaries of history, and preserve the memory of many things which history disdains to notice, as trifling while they are trivial, but which become objects of curiosity when they are obsolete and ancient. Among the preposterous fashions of the Venetian women Evelyn remarks that they wore very long crisped hair of several streaks and colours, which they made so by a wash, dishevelling it on the brims of a broad hat that had no crown, but in its place a hole through which they put their heads, and they were seen at the window's drying their party-coloured tresses in the sun. This seems to have been peculiar to Venice. Lassels, speaking of the Italians in general, says the women wash their heads "weekly in a wash made for the nonce, and dry them again in the sun to make their hair yellow, a colour much in vogue there among the ladies." It was the age of coloured beards in England. The princesses and beauties of chivalrous romances have usually golden or flaxen hair, and for this reason, that when those romances were written all highborn persons were of unmixed Teutonic blood. The predilection which the southern poets of the seventeenth century show for the same colours must be explained by this fashion of staining the hair.
Here Evelyn suffered for the indiscreet use of the hot-bath after the oriental fashion: going out immediately into the city after he had been rubbed down and all his pores were open, it cost him one of the greatest colds he ever had in his life. He speaks of the striking silence of Venice, a city in which there was no rattling of coaches nor trampling of horses, and where nothing disturbed the singing of the nightingales which were kept in every shop: shutting your eyes, he says, you would imagine yourself in the country. A man had lately come to his death there by a most uncommon accident; he was doing something to the famous clock in the square of St. Mark, "celebrated next to that of Strasburg for its many movements;" and while thus employed he stooped his head just in such a place and in such a point of time, that the quarter-boy struck it with his hammer, and knocked him over the battlements. Here and at Naples criminals were executed by a machine like the guillotine. At Padua he was elected "Syndicus Artistarum," the greatest honour which could be conferred on a stranger in that University, from which, however, he excused himself because it was "chargeable," and would also have interfered with his intended progress. There he learnt to play on the theorbo; bought for winter provision three thousand weight of grapes and pressed his own wine, "which proved excellent;" and in consequence, as he supposed, of drinking it according to the custom cooled with snow and ice, was seized with an angina and sore throat, which had nearly proved fatal; but "old Salvatico (that famous physician) made him be cupped and scarified in the back in four places, which began to give him breath and consequent life, for he was in the utmost danger." There too he attended the famous Anatomy Lecture which was "celebrated with extraordinary apparatus, lasting almost a whole month." During this "famous course" three bodies were dissected; those of a man, a woman, and a child. "The one," he says, "was performed by Cavalier Vestlingius and Dr. Jo. Athelsteinus Leonaenas, of whom I purchased those rare tables of veins and nerves, and caused him to prepare a third of the lungs, liver, and nervi sexti par with the gastric veins, which I sent into England, the first of that kind which had been sent there, and, for aught I know, in the world. When the Anatomy Lectures, which were in the mornings, were ended, I went to see cures done in the hospitals; and certainly, as there are the greatest helps and the most skilful physicians, so there are the most miserable and deplorable objects to exercise upon; nor is there any, I should think, so powerful an argument against the vice reigning in this licentious country, as to be spectator of the misery these poor creatures undergo."
Having now been two years in Italy he prepared for his return, in company with Mr. Abdy, "a modest and learned man" — Waller the poet, then "newly gotten out of England, after the parliament had extremely worried him, for attempting to put in execution the commission of array" — and one Captain Wray, "son of Sir Christopher," whose father had been in arms against his Majesty, and therefore, says Evelyn, by no means welcome to us. He calls him, however, elsewhere, a good drinking gentleman. They crossed the Simplon by a track which, according to the report of the natives, went above the line of perpetual snow, but which, like the present road, brought them down upon Brigue. Evelyn was indisposed when they arrived at the end of a day's journey at a place called Neveretta, by the head of the lake of Geneva. "Being extremely weary," he says, "and complaining of my head, and finding little accommodation in the house, I caused one of our hostesses daughters to be removed out of her bed, and went immediately into it whilst it was yet warm, being so heavy with pain and drowsiness, that I would not stay to have the sheets changed; but I shortly after paid dearly for my impatience, falling sick of the smallpox as soon as I came to Geneva, — for by the smell of frankincense, and the tale the good woman told me of her daughter having had an ague, I afterwards concluded she had been newly recovered of the small pox." He seems, however, to have erred in supposing that this was his punishment for consenting to sleep in unclean sheets; for it appears that, he was at the time sickening with the disease, and the day after he reached Geneva, he was constrained to keep his chamber, with such pains in the head as if his very eyes would have dropped out, and a stinging over the whole body; he had the disorder favourably, notwithstanding bad treatment before it was understood, and worse after it had declared itself.
Evelyn repeats the so often repeated assertion, that the Rhone passes through the lake of Geneva with such velocity as not to mingle with its waters. Of all the fables which credulity delights to believe and propagate, this should appear the most impossible to obtain credit, for the Rhone, when it enters the lake, is both of the colour and consistency of pease-soup, and it issues out of it perfectly clear, and of so deep a blue that no traveller can ever have beheld it without astonishment. Evelyn had seen it in both places, and yet repeats the common story, which had it been fact instead of fable, would have been less remarkable than the actual and as yet unexplained phenomenon of its colour at Geneva. Adultery was then punished with death in that city. Among other military exercises he saw "huge balistae or cross-bows shot in, being such as they formerly used in wars before great guns were known: they were placed in frames, and had great screws to bend them, doing execution at an incredible distance." Having reached Paris, rejoiced that he was gotten so near home, and meaning to rest there before he went farther, he past the only time in his "whole life that was spent most idly," but soon recovered his better resolutions and learnt the German and Spanish tongues, now and then, he says, "refreshing my dancing and such exercises as I had long omitted, and which are not in much reputation amongst the sober Italians." He frequented a course of chemistry, and M. Mercure began to teach him on the lute, "though to small perfection;" and having become intimate in the family of Sir Richard Browne, the British resident at the court of France, and set his affection on a daughter of the family, he married her in the fourteenth year of her age, he being seven and twenty. — She lived with him, happy in his love and friendship, fifty-eight years and nine months, and was then left a widow; and when in her will she desired to be buried by his side, she speaks thus of her excellent husband: "his care of my education was such as might become a father, a lover, a friend and husband for instruction, tenderness, affection and fidelity to the last moment of his life, which obligation I mention with a gratitude to his memory ever dear to me; and I must not omit to own the sense I have of my parents care and goodness in placing me in such worthy hands."
About three months after his marriage he was called into England to settle his affairs, leaving his wife with her parents. This was in the autumn of 1647, and on his arrival he saw the king at Hampton Court, and gave him an account of several things which he had in charge. Charles was then in the hands of his enemies. Evelyn remained in England till the conclusion of that tragedy, and after unkingship, as he calls it, had been proclaimed, he obtained a passport from Bradshaw for France. Having occasion to visit England again in 1650, he made the same passport serve for his return, as he could no longer procure one without taking the oath to Cromwell's government, which he had determined never to do. — Rather indeed than submit to it, he once counterfeited a pass, and luckily he found at Dover that "money to the searchers and officers was as authentic as the hand and seal of Bradshaw himself." Evelyn never mentioned the name of Bradshaw without coupling with it some opprobrious epithet; he abhorred his political conduct, and evidently did not like his personal character. But Bradshaw perhaps had some feeling of goodwill towards him, as one to whose family he was obliged, and whose worth he knew; and apprehending no danger from him would not willingly molest him for his loyalty. Without some such protection he would hardly have escaped without molestation, connected as he was so directly with the royal party. He seems to have waited in France for the result of the last great effort of the Royalists; for a few weeks after the battle of Worcester he resolved to leave that country finally and return to England. For this resolution there were both private and and political motives. The estate of his father-in-law at Deptford was suffering much for want of some person to secure it from the usurpers, so that to preserve this property, and take some care of his other concerns, he was advised to reside on it, and compound with the government. Charles authorized him to do so, and charged him also with the perilous commission of corresponding with him and his ministers, a commission peculiarly dangerous, because his close connection with Sir Richard Browne exposed him so naturally to suspicion. Fortunately for him and for the nation, while Cromwell lived there was so little hope of overthrowing him, that no bold designs were undertaken; and after his death none were required to accelerate the destruction of a government which was manifestly falling to pieces of itself.
After he had been a few months in England and put his affairs in order, he sent for his wife. Colonel Morley, then one of the council of state, who had been his school-fellow, gave him a pass for her, wrote to the magistrates and searchers at Rye to shew her all civility at her landing, and did him many other civilities which he notices as a great matter in those days. The vessel in which she embarked passed through the Dutch fleet, and was mistaken for a fishing vessel, — thus she escaped capture. Evelyn himself was less fortunate, when having left his wife with her mother, Lady Browne, at Tunbridge, because the small-pox was rife in and about London, he went on to prepare for their reception. Near Bromley, at a place called the "Procession Oak," two fellows struck him from his horse, took away his sword, and dragged him into a thicket a quarter of a mile from the highway, where they robbed him, tied his feet, bound his hands behind him, and then set him upright against an oak and left him, swearing that if he made any outcry, they would return and cut his throat, an operation which one of them would have performed upon the spot, had it not been for his companion. After two hours painful exertion, he succeeded in turning his hands palm to palm, and was then enabled to loose himself. They robbed him of some valuable jewels, which he recovered, and one of the fellows was shortly taken. As Evelyn did not wish to hang him, he would not appear against him, especially when it was understood that his father was an honest old farmer in Kent. He was charged with other crimes and condemned, but was reprieved to a more miserable end; for refusing afterwards to plead upon some fresh charges, he underwent the "peine forte et dure." Lady Browne died in the ensuing month, and Evelyn obtained permission to have the burial service performed at her funeral, after it had been seven years disused at Deptford church. Perhaps this was one of those acts of kindness for which he was beholden to Morley, for these were the high days of fanaticism when no church was permitted to be open on Christmas day.
Sir Richard Browne being so decidedly what in the gentle language of the Puritans was called a malignant, his interest in the estate at Deptford, great part of which was held in lease from the crown, had been sequestered, and sold. Evelyn now purchased it, as Charles had authorized him to do, with a promise that if ever it should please God to bring about his restoration, he would secure the property to him in fee-farm. It cost him £3500, and a few days after the purchase was completed, the following entry appears in his journal: "This day I paid all my debts to a farthing. O blessed day!" And now he commenced that undisturbed and even course of life which might almost be considered as realizing the fairest ideal of human felicity, so happy was it for himself and his family, so useful to his generation, and so honourable in the eyes of just posterity.
The estate at Sayes Court, when it became his property, was wholly unadorned, consisting of one entire field of an hundred acres in pasture, with a rude orchard and a holly hedge. He began immediately to set out an oval garden. — "This was the beginning of all the succeeding gardens, walks, groves, enclosures, and plantations there;" and he planted an orchard, "new moon, wind west." The house was out of repair; he made large additions to it, "to my great costs," he says, "and better I had done to have pulled all down at first, but it was done at several times." Dr. Hammond used to speak of a certain man who, when he was upon his death-bed, enjoined his son to spend his time in composing verses, and cultivating a garden, because he thought that no temptation could creep into either of these employments. The good man seems not to have considered that it is very easy to compose such verses as shall be very mischievous; or perhaps be depended upon the virtuous principles of the son whom he thus advised; but he was right in recommending gardening as a wholesome and delightful occupation for spare time. It may be too much to say of it, as has been said, that it is the purest of human pleasures; but it was in a garden that man was placed when he came pure from the hand of his Creator, and it is in gardens that they who are blest with means and opportunity may create an image of Eden for themselves, as far as earth is now capable of the resemblance. An Eden of Evelyn's invention, indeed, would have differed widely from Milton's; his scheme of a Royal Garden comprehended knots, traylework, parterres, compartements, borders, banks and embossments, labyrinths, dedals, cabinets, cradles, close-walks galleries, pavilions, porticos, lanterns and other relievos of topiary and hortulan architecture; fountains, jettos, cascades, piscines, rocks, grotts, cryptae, mounts, precipices and ventiducts; gazon-theatre, artificial echos, automate and hydraulic music. No wonder he should think that "it would still require the revolution of many ages, with deep and long experience, for any man to emerge a perfect and accomplished artist gardener!" It is probably to himself that he alludes in saying a person of his acquaintance spent almost forty years, "in gathering and amassing materials for an hortulan design to so enormous an heap as to till some thousand pages, and yet be comprehended within two or three acres of ground; nay, within the square of less than one, (skilfully planned and cultivated,) sufficient to entertain his time and thoughts all his life long, with a most innocent, agreeable and useful employment."
Ornamental gardening had never flourished in England. While the castles of the great were strong-holds, there was no room for it; and much of what had been done during fourscore years of prosperity, was either destroyed during the civil wars, or in consequence of them had fallen to decay. The gardens of Theobalds seem to have been the finest in this country at that time, before this princely seat was pulled to pieces by the Levellers. Evelyn remembered to have seen cypresses there cultivated with the greatest care, and probably the first which were reared in Great Britain. Exotic animals as well as trees were introduced there, a camel stable, sixty-three feet in length, is mentioned in the description of the buildings; — in that age attempts were made to naturalize the camel in Europe, — there were no less than eighty at Aranjuez, but even in that climate the experiment failed. There still exists, though in decay, the moss walk which formerly made part of the gardens of Theobalds, — a singular and beautiful scene, where Elizabeth held counsel with Burleigh, — where James revolved his plans for preserving the peace of Europe, and Charles played with his children, or lent too easy an ear to the counsels of his queen. About thirty years ago, and before the storm had made a breach through the old elms by which it was overshaded, we remember this singular walk, in its beauty; — the only remains of all which rendered Theobalds the favourite palace of two succeeding sovereigns. It is surprizing that the elms escaped when the palace was destroyed by parliament in spite even of the commissioners' report, that it was "an excellent building; in very good repair, by no means fit to be demolished." But these commissioners were unfortunately bound to add that its materials were worth £8275 1s.; and therefore demolished it was, that the money might be divided among the army. All the royal palaces were marked for the same fate, and many of the woods were cut down; the few trees at Greenwich were felled, those in St. James's Park narrowly escaped, and in Hyde Park, Evelyn notices in his diary, that every coach was made to pay a shilling, and every horse sixpence, by the sordid fellow who had purchased it of the state. — So much did the people gain by its transfer from the crown into the hands of an individual!
Poor as our art of gardening was before the troubles began, it was necessarily neglected during their continuance, and when Evelyn began his horticultural pursuits there were no models for imitation in his own country, and other countries afforded him none but what were bad in themselves, or inappropriate to the English climate. He speaks with great delight of a large walk in some gardens of the Grand Duke of Florence, "at the sides whereof several slender streams of water gush out of pipes concealed underneath, that interchangeably fall into each other's channels, making a lofty and perfect arch, so that a man on horseback may ride under it and not receive one drop of wet." This he thought one of the most surprising magnificences he had ever seen. Sir Henry Wotton has also noticed this "continual bower and hemisphere of water as an invention for refreshment, surely far excelling all the Alexandrian delicacies, and pneumatics of Hiero." Nothing could be more delightful under an Italian sun, — there it is a splendid luxury, suitable to a glorious climate, — but for the English garden it might be convenient as a dry walk when it rained, far more frequently than any gratification could be derived from its coolness and its shade. In thirsty countries, therefore, the fountain is the most appropriate of all embellishments, and its sound, whether gurgling from a spout, or falling in showers from a jet, the most grateful of all symphonies. Rapin allots one book of the four of which his poem consists, to fountains and waterworks.
Imprimis medio fons constituendus in horto,
Qui salientis aquae, tubulo prorumpat ab arcto,
Plurimus, et vacuas jactu se libret in auras,
Quasque accepit aquas, coelo, ventisque remittat.
Even the wretched taste with which fountains are commonly designed is forgiven for the sake of the refreshment which they impart. But dolphins with icicles pendant from their open mouths, Tritons with frozen conchs, and naked naiads in the midst of an icy basin, are too obviously incongruous, and have nothing to compensate for their absurdity. Our climate is as little suitable for statues and sculptured vases, the beauty of their surface is soon corroded and defaced with weather stains: but how poor is the French style of gardening if it be deprived of its water-works and its marbles!
In that age however the French genius was lord of the ascendant. "De rerum nostrarum elegantia," says the French Jesuit Rapin, "longe potiori jure praedicare possumus quam poeta Venusinus
Venimus ad summum fortunae;
in iis praesertim quae spectant hortorum elegantiam, rurisque amoenitatem." And he writes a chapter to prove not only that France was of all countries the fittest for gardening, but that the French fashion of gardening was of all others the most perfect. Sir William Temple had heard of the Chinese taste, and thought favourably of it, "but," he says, "I should hardly advise any of these attempts in the figure of gardens among us; they are adventures of too hard achievement for any common heads; and though there may be more honour if they succeed well, yet there is more dishonour if they fail, and 'tis twenty to one they will; whereas in regular figures 'tis hard to make any great and remarkable faults." Accordingly he decided that among us the beauty of planting consisted in "certain proportions, symmetries, or uniformities, our walks and our trees ranged so as to answer one another, and at exact distances." It seems that the first use to which the principle of the kaleidoscope was applied was that of assisting invention, by producing new combinations of symmetrical forms for parterres and gravel walks. But however fantastic may be the arrangement of the parterres, and into whatever shapes the hedges and unhappy evergreens may be clipt, the flower-garden has still its fragrance and its gaiety, and affords a pleasure of its own which is certainly not diminished by a consciousness of the presence of art.
But if Evelyn was misled in ornamental gardening by the taste of his age, there was nothing to mislead him in that useful branch of the art which supplies the table with its purest luxuries, and which in his time received considerable improvement. Some curious facts in the history of horticulture are found in his "Acetaria." It was scarcely an hundred years, he tells us, since cabbages were introduced from Holland into this country, one of the Sir Anthony Ashleys, of Wiburg St. Giles, in Dorsetshire, being the first person who planted them in England, — the family then has deserved well of its country, notwithstanding it produced so great a as Shaftsbury. It had not been very long since artichokes were cultivated in Italy, after which they were for some time so rare in England as to be sold for crowns a-piece. We have not learnt from the French to eat this noble thistle, as Evelyn calls it, as a sallad; nor from the Italians to stew it till its tough leaves become edible. The cucumber within his memory had been accounted "little better than poison;" the melon was hardly known till Sir George Gardiner, coming from Spain, brought it into estimation; when its ordinary price was five or six shillings. Much has been added to the catalogue of esculents since Evelyn's time, but some things on the other hand have fallen into disuse. The bud of the sunflower before it expands was then drest like an artichoke and eaten as a dainty; the root of the minor pimpinella, or small Burnet saxifrage, dried and pulverized, was preferred by some persons to any kind of pepper, and the pounded seeds of the nasturtium were thought preferable to mustard. Evelyn praises the milky or dappled thistle, either as a sallad, or boiled, or baked in pies like the artichoke; it was then sold in our herb-markets, but probably for a supposed virtue in consequence of its name Carduus Mariae, or our Lady's milky thistle, which made it be esteemed a proper diet for nurses. The bur also be calls delicate and wholesome, when young. The young leaves of the ash were a favourite pickle, — but of all his dainties that which a reader of the present age would be least willing to partake would be "the small young acorns which we find in the stock-dove's craws," and which are "a delicious fare, as well as those incomparable sallads of young herbs taken out of the maws of partridges at a certain season of the year, which gives them a preparation far exceeding all the art of cookery." They were certainly valiant eaters in those days, and one who admired such sallads might have sat down with Hearne to a Northern Indian's feast. He had a wicked taste in wines also: "who almost would believe," he says, "that the austere Rhenish, abounding on the fertile banks of the Rhine, should produce so soft and charming a liquor as does the same vine, planted among the rocks and pumices of the remote and mountainous Canaries?" and in another place he observes that the grape of the Rhine has produced in the Canaries a far more delicious juice than in its own country. We have no reason to believe that the Rhenish wines have improved or the Canarian ones degenerated during the last century, and the inhabitants of the Rhingau might then as now boast with truth in the words of their favourite song, over the glass,
In ganz Europa, ihr herren zecher
Ist solch ein wein nicht mehr.
But if Evelyn's taste in wine was bad, the use be made of it was worse; witness the receipt in his Sylva for making a cheap ink, — "galls four ounces, copperas two ounces, gum-arabic one ounce: beat the galls grosly and put them into a quart of claret." The reader will remember Major-General Lord Blayney's advice always to boil hams in hock.
O fortunatos nimium bona si sua norint
Evelyn exclaims in the joy of his enthusiasm for horticulture; and quoting from Milton the lines which describe "the first empress of the world regaling her celestial guest," he observes exultingly, "thus the hortulan provision of the golden age fitted all places, times, and persons; and when man is restored to that state again, it will he as it was in the beginning." Yet, he adds, "let none imagine that whilst we justify our subject through all the topics of panegyric, we would in favour of the sallet, dressed with all its pomp and advantage, turn mankind to grass again, which were ungratefully to neglect the bounty of heaven, as well as his health and comfort." It is, he says, a transporting consideration to think that "the infinitely wise and glorious Author of nature has given to plants such astonishing properties; such fiery heat in some to warm and cherish, such coolness in others to temper and refresh, such pinguid juice in others to nourish and feed the body, such quickening acids to compel the appetite, and grateful vehicles to court the obedience of the palate, such vigour to renew and support our natural strength, such ravishing flavour and perfumes to recreate and delight us; in short such spirituous and active force to animate and revive every faculty and part, to all the kinds of human, and I had almost said, heavenly capacity too. What shall we add more? Our gardens present us with them all; and whilst the shambles are covered with gore and stench, our sallets escape the insults of the summer fly, and purify and warm the blood against winter." If Evelyn's mind had not been well regulated, and his feelings always under the controul of a cool and steady judgement, his predilections would have led him to a vegetable diet, and he would have been the Maecenas of his contemporary Thomas Tryon. The great modern example of this diet is the well-known Sir Pythagoras Phillips, knight, ex-sheriff, and mayor in posse, editor of the Monthly Magazine, author of a Confutation of the Newtonian Theory, and of a Walk to Kew. The physical effects have been largely exemplified in this worthy personage. The moral effects upon the temper, however, have not been so favourable; for though the humane knight is the founder of a society for abolishing the punishment of death, he has, declared in his magazine, that brewers who put unlawful ingredients in their beer, ought to be boiled in their own coppers. In justice, however, to the vegetable diet, which might otherwise be brought into discredit by this unfortunate case, it ought not to be concealed, that though Sir Pythagoras abstains, like a Brahmin, from meat, we have been credibly informed that he eats gravy with his potatoes.
Fanaticism was triumphant in this poor country when Evelyn took possession of his delightful retreat: insanity and roguery are, natural allies, and in the game which was then played in political life, knaves were the best cards in the pack. Fortunately for the family at Sayes Court they were not troubled by a fanatical minister. "The present incumbent," says Evelyn, "was somewhat of the Independent, yet he ordinarily preached sound doctrine, and was a peaceable man, which was an extraordinary felicity in this age." Now and then too an orthodox man got into the pulpit. Upon occasions on which the minister durst not officiate according to the form and usage of the Church of England, such as christenings and churchings, Mr. Evelyn had the ceremony performed in his own house by one of the silenced clergy; and when in the progress of fanatical intolerance all forms were prohibited, and most of the preachers were usurpers, "I seldom," he says, "went to church on solemn feasts, but rather went to London, where some of the orthodox sequestered divines did privately use the Common Prayer, administer Sacraments, &c., or else I procured one to officiate in my own house." It is remarkable that the Directory, of which so many thousands must have been printed, should be at this time so uncommon a book that few persons, perhaps even among those who spend their life with books, have ever seen it. "On Sunday afternoon he frequently stayed at home to catechize and instruct his family, those exercises universally ceasing in the parish churches, so as people had no principles, and grew very ignorant of even the common points of Christianity, all devotion being now placed in hearing sermons and discourses of speculative and notional things." The following extracts show strikingly the spirit of those unhappy times.
"4 Dec. Going this day to our Church I was surpriz'd to see a tradesman, a mechanic, step up; I was resolv'd yet to stay and see what he would make of it. His text was from 2 Sam. 'And Benaiah went downe also and slew a lion in the midst of a pit in ye time of snowe;' the purport was, that no danger was to be thought difficult when God call'd for the shedding of blood, inferring that now the Saints were call'd to destroy temporal governments, with such stuff; so dangerous a crisis were things come to."
"7. This day came forth the Protectors Edict or Proclamation, prohibiting all ministers of the Church of England from preaching or teaching any scholes, in which he imitated the Apostate Julian; with the decimation of all the royal parties revenues thro England."
"Now were the Jews admitted."
"25. There was no more notice taken of Christmas day in churches."
"I went to London where Dr. Wild preach'd the funeral sermon of Preaching, this being the last day, after which Cromwell's proclamation was to take place, that none of the Church of England should dare either to preach or administer Sacraments, teach schoole, &c. on paine of imprisonment or exile. This was ye mournfullest day that in my life I had seene, or the Church of England herselfe since ye Reformation; to the greate rejoicing of Papists and Presbyterians. So pathetic was his discourse that it drew many tears from the auditory. Myself, wife, and some of our family receiv'd the Communion; God make me thankfull who hath hitherto provided for us the food of our soules as well as bodies! The Lord Jesus pity our distress'd Church, and bring back the captivity of Sion!"
"I went to London to receive the B. Sacrament, the first time the Church of England was reduced to a chamber and conventicle, so sharpe was the persecution. The Parish Churches were fill'd with Sectaries of all sorts, blasphemous and ignorant mechanics usurping the pulpets every where. Dr. Wild preach'd in a private house in Fleet Street, where we had a greate meeting of zealous Christians, who were generaly much more devout and religious than in our greatest prosperity."
"2 Nov. There was now nothing practical preached or that pressed reformation of life, but high and speculative points and straines that few understood, which left people very ignorant and of no steady principles, the source of all our sects and divisions, for there was very much envy and uncharity in the world! God of his mercy amend it! Now indeed that I went at all to church whilst these usurpers possess'd the pulpets, was that I might not be suspected for a Papist, and that tho' the Minister was Presbyterianly affected, he yet was as I understood duly ordain'd and preach'd sound doctrine after their way, and besides was an humble, harmlesse and peaceable man."
"6 Aug. Our Vicar declaim'd against ye folly of a sort of enthusiasts and desperate zealots, call'd the Fifth Monarchy Men, pretending to set up the kingdome of Christ with the sword. To this passe was this age arriv'd when we had no King in Israel."
"25 Dec. I went to London with my wife, to celebrate Christmas Day, Mr. Gunning preaching in Exeter Chapell. Sermon ended, as he was giving us the holy sacrament the chapell was surrounded with souldiers, and all the communicants and assembly were surpriz'd and kept prisoners by them, some in the house, others carried away. It fell to my share to be confin'd to a roome in the house, where yet I was permitted to dine with the master of it, the Countesse of Dorset, Lady Hatton, and some others of quality who invited me. In the afternoone came Col. Whaly, Goffe and others from Whitehall to examine us one by one; some they committed to the Marshall, some to prison. When I came before them they tooke my name and abode, examin'd me why, contrarie to an ordinance made that none should any longer observe the superstitious time of the Nativity (so esteem'd by them), I durst offend, and particularly be at Common Prayers, which they told me was but the masse in English, and particularly pray for Charles Steuart, for which we had no Scripture; I told them we did not pray for Cha. Steuart, but for all Christian Kings, Princes, and Governors. They replied, in so doing we praied for the K. of Spaine too, who was their enemie and a papist, with other frivolous and insnaring questions and much threatning, and finding no colour to detaine me, they dismiss'd me with much pitty of my ignorance. These were men of high flight and above ordinances, and spake spiteful things of our Lord's Nativity. As we went up to receive the sacrament the miscreants held their muskets against us as if they would have shot us at the altar, but yet suffering us to finish the office, perhaps not having instructions what to do in case they found us in that action."
How Evelyn felt during what he calls "the sad catalysis and declension of piety," to which the nation was reduced, is beautifully expressed in a letter to Jeremy Taylor, whom he used at that time as his ghostly father, saying, "I beseech Almighty God to snake me ever mindful of and thankful for his heavenly assistances!"
"For my part, I have learned from your excellent assistances, to humble myselfe, and to adore the inscrutable pathes of the most high: God and his Truth are still the same though the foundations of the world be shaken. Julianus Redivivus can shut the Schooles indede & the Temples; but he cannot hinder our private intercourses and devotions, where the Breast is the Chappell and our Heart is the Altar. Obedience founded in the understanding will he the onely cure and retraite. God will accept what remaines, & supply what is necessary. He is not obliged to externals, the purest ages passed under the cruelest persecutions: it is sometymes necessary, & this and the fulfilling of prophecy, are all instruments of greate advantage (even whilst they presse, and are incumbent) to those who can make a sanctified use of them. But as the thoughts of many hearts will be discovered, and multitudes scandaliz'd; so are there divers well disposed persons who will not know how to guide themselves, unlesse some such good men as you discover the secret, and instruct them how they may secure their greatest interest, & steere their course in this darke and uncomfortable weather. Some such discourse would be highly seasonable now that the daily sacrifice is ceasing, and that all the exercise of your Functions is made criminal, that the light of Israel is quenched. Where shall we now receive the Viaticum with safety? How shall we be baptiz'd? For to this passe it is come Sir. The comfort is, the captivity had no Temple, no Altar, no King. But did they not observe the Passover, nor circumcise? had they no Priests & Prophets amongst them? Many are weake in the Faith, and know not how to answer nor whither to fly and if upon the Apotheosis of that excellent person under a malicious representation of his Martyrdome, engraven in Copper, & sent me by a friend from Bruxelles, the Jesuite could so bitterly sarcasme upon the embleme — 'Projicis inventum caput, Anglia Ecclesia! Caesum | Si caput est, salvum corpus an esse potest?' How thinke you will they now insult, ravage, and breake in upon the Flock; for the Shepheards are smitten, and the Sheepe must of necessity be scattered, unlesse the greate Shepheard of Soules oppose, or some of his delegates reduce and direct us. Deare Sir, we are now preparing to take our last farewell (as they threaten) of God's service in this Citty, or any where else in publique. I must confesse it is a sad consideration; but it is what God sees best, & to what we must submitt. The comfort is Deus providebit." — pp. 150, 151.
It appears from these papers that while Jeremy Taylor was in prison and in embarrassed circumstances, Evelyn exerted himself zealously in his behalf, and made him an animal allowance as "a tributary" to his worth. What opinion the spiritual teacher formed of his friend may be seen in the following extract from a letter written to him after his first visit to Sayes Court.
"Sir, I did beleive my selfe so very much bound to you for your so kind, so freindly reception of mee in your Tusculanum, that I had some little wonder upon mee when I saw you making excuses that it was no better. Sir I came to see you and your lady, and am highly pleased that I did so, & found all your circumstances to be an heape & union of blessings. But I have not either so, great a fancy & opinion of the prettinesse of your aboad, or so low an opinion of your prudence & piety, as to thinke you can be any wayes transported with them. I know the pleasure of them is gone off from their height before one moneths possession; & that strangers & seldome seers feele the beauty of them more than you who dwell with them. I am pleased indeed at the order & the cleanenesse of all your outward things; and look upon you not onely as a person by way of thankfulnesse to God for his mercies & goodnesse to you, specially obliged to a greater measure of piety, but also as one who being freed in great degrees from secular cares & impediments can without excuse & allay, wholly intend what you so passionately desire, the service of God. But now I am considering yours, & enumerating my owne pleasures, I cannot but adde that though 1 could not choose but be delighted by seeing all about you, yet my delices were really in seeing you severe & unconcerned in these things, and now in finding your affections wholly a stranger to them, & to communicate with them no portions of your passion but such as is necessary to him that uses them or receives their ministeries." — pp. 164, 165.
Jeremy Taylor did not judge lightly when be pronounced Evelyn's circumstances to be an union of blessings. The language in which Cowley addressed him did not overstep the strict bounds of truth.
Happy art thou whom God does bless
With the full choice of thine own happiness;
And happier yet because thou'rt blest
With prudence how to choose the best.
In books and gardens thou hast placed aright
Thy noble innocent delight;
And in thy virtuous wife, where thou again dost meet
Both pleasures more refined and sweet;
The fairest garden in her looks,
And in her mind the wisest books.
One who knew Mrs. Evelyn well describes her as "the best daughter and wife, the most tender mother, a desirable neighbour and friend, in all parts of her life." Her portrait is prefixed to the second volume of these Memoirs, from a pencil-drawing by Nanteuil, taken shortly after her marriage, at the age of fifteen; the countenance is rather handsome than beautiful; but it has an expression of intellect and good nature which is always more attractive than mere beauty, and which retains its charm when beauty has passed away. Early maturity was not in her case followed by early decay: she lived with her husband in a state of happiness no otherwise disturbed than by those afflictions which, coming immediately from the hand of the All-wise and All-merciful disposer of all things, loosen our affections from earth when they are perhaps in danger of striking root there too deeply. From her youth and docility, Evelyn, while in the flower of manhood himself, was enabled to mould her mind to the image of his own; and she became, as Mr. D'Israeli says, (who was struck by the beauty of Evelyn's character and the singular felicity of his life before these Memoirs brought them more fully before the public,) "excellent in the arts her husband loved: she designed the frontispiece to his Lucretius, and was the cultivator of their celebrated garden which served as 'an example' of his great work on Forest Trees." It is certain that she painted well, or Evelyn, who was himself a patron and judge of art, would not have presented to Charles II. a Madonna which she copied in miniature from P. Oliver's painting after Raphael. He says it was wrought with extraordinary pains and judgment: "the king was infinitely pleased with it, and caused it to be placed in his cabinet among his best paintings." Yet with these accomplishments and with her advantages of person, fortune and situation in life, she was not above "the care of cakes, and stilling; and sweetmeats, and such useful things." "Women," she says in one of her letters, "were not born to read authors and censure the learned, to compare lives and judge of virtues, to give rules of morality, and sacrifice to the muses. We are willing to acknowledge all, time borrowed from family duties is misspent. The care of children's education, observing a husband's commands, assisting the sick, relieving the poor, and being serviceable to our friends, are of sufficient weight to employ the most improved capacities among us." And again she says, "Though I have lived under the roof of the learned and in the neighbourhood of science, it has had no other effect on such a temper as mine but that of admiration, and that too but when it is reduced to practice. I confess I am infinitely delighted to meet with in books the achievements of the heroes, with the calmness of philosophers, and with the eloquence of orators: but what charms me irresistibly is to see perfect resignation in the minds of men let whatever happen adverse to them in their fortune: that is being knowing and truly wise; it confirms my belief of antiquity, and engages my persuasion of future perfection, without which it were vain to live."
Mrs. Evelyn had learnt early to form this just estimate of true greatness. The first persons whom she had been taught to respect and honour were her countrymen who bled in the field and on the scaffold in the defence of their king, or who endured exile and poverty rather than forsake his cause, even when it appeared most hopeless. It was well for her that she had been trained in such a school. For, though happily exempted from the miseries which revolution brings in its train, all her fortitude was needed for her domestic trials. The first and heaviest affliction was the loss of a child-one of those rare and beautiful creatures who seem almost always to be marked for early death, as if they were fitter for heaven than earth, and therefore are removed before the world can sully them. The father thus records his death.
"1658. 27 Jan. After six fits of an ague died my son Richard, 5 years and 3 days old onely, but at that tender age a prodigy for witt and understanding; for beauty of body a very angel; for endowment of mind of incredible and rare hopes. To give onely a little taste of some of them, and thereby glory to God: at 2 years and halfe old be could perfectly reade any of ye English, Latin, French, or Gottic letters, pronouncing the 3 first languages exactly. He had before the 5th yeare, or in that yeare, not onely skill to reade most written hands, but to decline all the nouns, conjugate the verbs regular, and most of the irregular; learn'd out Puerilis, got by heart almost ye entire vocabularie of Latine and French primitives and words, could make congruous syntax, turne English into Latin, and vice versa, construe and prove what he read, and did the government and use of relatives, verbs, substances, elipses, and many figures and tropes, and made a considerable progress in Comenius's Janua; began himselfe to write legibly, and had a strong passion for Greeke. The number of verses he could recite was prodigious, and what he remember'd of the parts of playes, which he would also act; and when seeing a Plautus in one's hand, he ask'd what booke it was, and being told it was comedy, and too difficult for him, he wept for sorrow. Strange was his apt and ingenious application of fables and morals, for he had read Aesop; he had a wonderful disposition to mathematics, having by heart divers propositions of Euclid that were read to him in play, and he would make lines and demonstrate them. As to his piety, astonishing were his applications of Scripture upon occasion, and his sense of God: he had learn'd all his Catechisme early, and understood the historical part of the Bible and New Testament to a wonder, how Christ came to redeeme mankind, and how, comprehending these necessarys himselfe, his godfathers were discharg'd of their promise. These and the like illuminations far exceeding his age and experience, considering the prettinesse of his addresse and behaviour, cannot but leave impressions in me at the memory of him. When one told him how many dayes a Quaker had fasted, he, replied that was no wonder, for Christ had said man should not live by bread alone, but by the Word of God. He would of himselfe select the most pathetic psalms, and chapters out of Job, to reade to his mayde during his sicknesse, telling her when she pitied him that all God's children, must suffer affliction. He declaim'd against the vanities of the world before he had seene any. Often he would desire those who came to see him to pray by him, and a yeare before he fell sick, to kneel and pray with him alone in some corner. How thankfully would he receive admonition! how soone be reconcil'd! how indifferent, yet continually cherefull! He would give grave advice to his brother John, beare with his impertinencies, and say he was but a child. If he heard of or saw any new thing he was unquiet till he was told how it was made; he brought to us all such difficulties as he found in books to be expounded. He had learn'd by heart divers sentences in Latin and Greeke, which on occasion he would produce even to wonder. He was all life, all prettinesse, far from morose, sullen, or childish in any thing he said or did. The last time he had ben at church (which was at Greenwich), I ask'd him, according to costome, what he remembered of the sermon; two good things, father, said he, 'bonum gratiae' and 'bonum gloriae,' with a just account of what the preacher said. The day before he died he cal'd to me, and in a more serious manner than usual told me that for all I loved him so dearly I should give my house, land, and all my fine things, to his brother Jack, he should have none of them; and next morning, when he found himself ill, and that I persuaded him to keepe his hands in bed, he demanded whether he might pray to God with his hands un-joyn'd: and a little after, whilst in greate agonie, whether he should not offend God by using his holy name so often calling for case. What shall I say of his frequent pathetical ejaculations utter'd of himselfe; Sweete Jesus save me, deliver me, pardon my sinns, let thine angels receive me! So early knowledge, so much piety and perfection! But thus God having dress'd up a Saint fit for himselfe, would not longer permit him with us, unworthy of ye future fruites of this incomparable hopefull blossome. Such a child I never saw! for such a child I blesse God in whose bosome he is! May I and mine become as this little child which now follows the child Jesus that Lamb of God in a white robe whithersoever He goes; Even so, Lord Jesus, 'fiat voluntas tua!' Thou gavest him to us, Thou hast taken him from us, blessed be the name of the Lord! that I had any thing acceptable to Thee was from thy grace alone, since from me he had nothing but sin, but that Thou hast pardon'd! blessed be my God for ever, amen!" — vol. i. pp. 299-301.
The letter in which Mr. Evelyn communicated this event to his father-in-law is not less affecting.
"To Sir Richard Browne.
By the reverse of this Medall, you will perceive how much reason I had to be affraid of my Felicity, and how greately it did import me to do, all that I could to prevent what I have apprehended, what I deserved, and what now I feele. God has taken from us that deare Childe, your Grandson, your Godson, and with him all the joy and satisfaction that could be derived from the greatest hopes. A losse, so much the more to be deplored, as our contentments were extraordinary and the indications of his future perfections as faire & legible as, yet, I ever saw, or read off in one so very young: You have, Sir, heard so much of this, that I may say it with the lesse crime & suspicion. And indeede his whole life was from the beginning so greate a miracle, that it were hard to exceede in the description of it, and which I should here yet attempt, by sum'ing up all the prodigies of it, and what a child at 5 yeares old (for he was little more) is capable off, had I not given you so many minute and particular accounts of it, by several expresses, when I then mentioned those things with the greatest joy, which now I write with as much sorrow and amasement. But so it is, that it has pleased God to dispose of him, and that Blossome (Fruit, rather I may say) is fallen; a six days Quotidian having deprived us of him; an accident that has made so greate a breach in all my contentments, as I do never hope to see repaired: because we are not in this life to be fed with wonders: and that I know you will hardly be able m support the affliction & the losse, who beare so greate a part in every thing that concernes me. But thus we must be reduced when God sees good, and I submitt; since I had, therefore, this blessing for a punishment, & that I might feele the effects of my great unworthynesse. But I have begged of God that I might pay the fine heare, and if to such belonged the kingdome of heaven, I have one depositum there. 'Dominus dedit, Dominus abstulit': blessed be his name: since without that consideration it were impossible to support it: for the stroke is so severe, that I find nothing in all Philosophy capable to allay the impression of it, beyond that of cutting the channell and dividing with our friends, who really sigh on our behalfe, and mingle with our greater sorrows in accents of piety and compassion, which is all that can yet any ways alleviate the sadnesse of Deare Sir, Your &c.
Says-court, 14 Feb: 1657-8." vol. ii. p. 175,
The next entry in his journal, and at no longer an interval than nineteen days, records the death of another and younger son, "the afflicting hand of God being upon us." It was fortunate for Evelyn that public affairs were at this time in a critical state, and must in some measure have abstracted him from the sense of his afflictions. Cromwell was then paying the penalty of his usurpation. The fanatical flatterers by whom he was surrounded perhaps prevented him from feeling any remorse for the evil which he had done, but they could not take from him the stinging consciousness that he had done none of the good which it had once been his intention and desire to do, — that, contrary to his principles and wishes, a severer ecclesiastical tyranny had been established than Laud had ever attempted to enforce, and that the republicans who, while they conferred upon him more than kingly power, would not suffer him to take the title of king, would by their follies, extravagancies, and Inevitable dissensions, bring about the restoration of the royal family, before he should have mouldered in the grave to which grief and constant anxiety, and the sense of perpetual insecurity were hurrying him. "A dangerous treacherous time," says Evelyn. "I went to visit my Lady Peterborough, whose son, Lord Mordant, prisoner in the Tower, was now on his trial, and acquitted but by one voice: but that holy martyr Dr. Hewet was condemned to die, without law, jury, or justice, by a mock Council of State as they call it!" Great intercession was made for Hewet's life; Cromwell's favourite daughter, Mrs. Claypole, was earnest in intreating him that his blood might not be shed; but Cromwell was inexorable. Her anxiety while it was yet possible to prevent the execution, her grief for Hewet's widow, who was left in a state of pregnancy, and her horror at this last crime of a father of whose crimes, dearly as she loved him, she was deeply sensible, brought on fever and madness, and she expired, crying out against him in her last ravings for Hewet's blood. It is believed that this circumstance hurried Cromwell to the grave, as it certainly embittered his last miserable days. He survived her little more than three weeks, and died within three months after Hewet's execution. Evelyn saw his superb funeral: his waxen effigy, lying in royal robes upon a velvet bed of state, with a crown, sceptre and globe, like a king, was placed upon a hearse, and a pall of velvet and fine linen borne over it by his own lords. ''The pendants and guidons were carried by the officers of the army; the imperial banners, achiefments, &c. by the heralds in their coats; a rich caparisoned horse, embroidered all over with gold; a knight of honour armed cap-a-pie; and after all, his guards, soldiers, and innumerable mourners." In the Mercurius Politicus of the day it is said, "at the west gate of the abbey church, the hearse with the effigies thereon was taken oft the carriage, and with the canopy borne over it, in this magnificent manner they carried it up to the east end of the abbey, and placed it in that noble structure which was raised thus on purpose to receive it, where it is to remain for some time, exposed to public view. This is the last ceremony of honour; and less could not be performed to the memory of him, to whom posterity will pay (when envy is laid asleep by time) more honour than we are able to express." In less than two years this very effigy with a rope round its neck was hung from the bars of a window at Whitehall!
There were indeed indications enough of change in the state, and in the feelings of the people. Evelyn observes that the funeral was the joyfullest he ever saw, "for there were none that cried but dogs, which the soldiers hooted away with a barbarous noise, drinking and taking tobacco in the streets as they went." Soon afterwards he writes, "April. A wonderful and sudden change in the face of the public; the new Protector Richard slighted; several pretenders and parties strive for the government; all anarchy and confusion; Lord have mercy upon us!" "29 May. The nation was now in extreme confusion and unsettled, between the armies and the sectaries, the poor Church of England breathing as it were her last; so sad a face of things had overspread us." "11 Oct. The army now turned out the parliament. We had now no government in the nation; all in confusion; no magistrates either owned or pretended but the soldiers, and they not agreed. God Almighty have mercy on and settle us! 21. A private fast was kept by the Church of England Protestants in town, to beg of God the removal of his judgements with devout prayers for his mercy to our calamitous church." The observance of this fast is afterwards frequently recorded. Hitherto Mr. Evelyn had taken no apparent concern in political events; perhaps he was the more desirous of attracting attention towards his improvements, that the secret correspondence which he carried on with his father-in-law might be the less suspected, and in this he seems to have succeeded, for his garden and plantations were so much talked of that Laurence, the president of Oliver's council, and some other of his court lords, went to see them. The books which he published served also in the same manner to avert suspicion: they were a translation of the first book of Lucretius, St. Chrysostom's Golden Book for the Education of Children, (which he dedicated to both his brothers, "to comfort them on the loss of their children, touching at the same time on his own severest loss,)" and the French Gardener and English Vineyard, "the first and best of that kind," he says, "that introduced the use of the olitory garden to any purpose." But now, when all men began to look to a restoration of the royal family as the only means for putting an end to their miserable state of anarchy, Evelyn came forward, and in November 1659 published an apology for the royal party, and for the king, "in that time of danger, when it was capital to speak or write in favour of him. It was twice printed, so universally it took." He soon engaged in a far more serious transaction. Colonel Morley was the governor of the Tower. They had been school-fellows, and divided as they were by political opinions, knew and esteemed each other. Evelyn, as we have seen, had received personal civilities from him when his wife came from France, and had sold an estate to him since that time; — he now proposed to him to deliver up the Tower to Charles; Monk was in Scotland, and the game was in Morley's hands; — he was a better man than Monk, but wanted that courage which has been said to have been Monk's only virtue; he hesitated till it was too late, and then he who might have deserved and claim ed a dukedom for his reward, was reduced to sue for pardon through means. "Oh," says Evelyn, "the sottish omission of this gentleman! What did I not undergo of danger in this negociation to have brought him over to his Majesty's interest when it was entirely in his hands!"
"29 May, 1660. This day his Majesty Charles the Second came to London after a sad and long exile and calamitous suffering both of the King and Church, being 17 yeares. This was also his birth-day, and with a triumph of 20,000 horse and foote, brandishing their swords and shouting with inexpressible joy; the wayes strew'd with flowers, the bells ringing, the streetes hung with tapistry, fountaines running with wine; the Maior, Aldermen, and all the Companies in their liveries, chaines of gold, and banners; Lords and Nobles clad in cloth of silver, gold, and velvet; the windowes and balconies all set with ladies; trumpets, music, myriads of people flocking, even so far as from Rochester, so as they were seven houres in passing the Citty, even from 2 in the afternoone till 9 at night.
"I stood in the Strand and beheld it, and bless'd God. All this was don without one drop of bloud shed, and by that very army which rebell'd against him; but it was the Lord's doing, for such a Restauration was never mention'd in any history ancient or modern, since the returne of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity; nor so joyfull a day and so bright ever seene in this Nation, this hapning when to expect or effect it was past all human policy." — vol. i. p. 109, 110.
The Restoration, in which Evelyn thus piously rejoiced as a political blessing, affected him also in the happiness of his private life. It brought home his father-in-law Sir Richard Browne, "after a nineteen years exile, during all which time he kept up in his chapel the liturgy and offices of the Church of England, to his no small honour; and in a time when it as so low, and as many thought utterly lost, that in various controversies both with papists and sectaries, our divines used to argue for the visibility of the church, from his chapel and congregation." Charles, during his exile, gave particular and repeated orders to have the church service regularly performed in his ambassador's house: whether he had during any part of his life a true sense of religion, may justly be questioned; but he was perfectly well aware how closely his own interests were connected with those of the Church of England, and therefore he obtained from his mother a promise that she would not practise upon the Duke of Gloucester to make him a papist, which was the secret wish of her heart. Henrietta was a thorough bigot, and her counsels would have been as fatal to her children as they were to her husband. Notwithstanding this promise, she used every endeavour for what she supposed was the only means of securing the boy's salvation! Upon this occasion, Charles wrote to his brother:
"If," he says, "you do hearken to her or any body Body els in that matter you must never think to see England or mee againe, & whatsover mischiefe shall fall on mee or my affaires from this time I must lay all upon you as being ye onely cause of it. Therefore consider well what it is to bee not only the cause of ruining a Brother that loves you so well, but also of your King & Country. Do not lett them persuade you either by force or faire promises; for the first they neither dare, nor will use, and for the second, as soone as they have perverted you they will have their End, and then they will care no more for you. I am also informed that there is a purpose to putt you into the Jesuits' Colledge, which I command you upon the same grounds never to consent unto. And when soever any body shall goe to dispute with you in Religion doo not answere them at all. For though you have the reason on yore side, yett they being prepared will have ye advantage of any body that is not upon ye same Security that they are. If you do not consider what I say unto you, Remember the last words of yore dead Father, which were to bee constant to your Religion & never to bee shaken in it. Well if you doe not observe this shall bee the last time you will heare from
your most affectione brother
CHARLES R." — vol. ii. part ii. p. 142.
Happy had it been for Charles if he had demeaned himself as well in his prosperous as in his adverse fortune! The facts which appear in these volumes are highly honourable to him and the companions of his exile, while Cromwell, as the Queen of Bohemia said, was like the Beast in the Revelations that all kings and nations worshipped. His horses, and some of them too were favourites, were sold at Brussels, because he could not pay for their keep, and during the two years that he resided at Cologne he never kept a coach. So straitened were the exiles for money, that even the postage of letters between Sir Richard Browne and Hyde was no easy burthen, and there was a mutiny in the ambassador's kitchen, because the maid "might not be trusted with the government, and the buying the meat, in which she was thought too lavish." Hyde writes that he had not been master of a crown for many months; that he was cold for want of clothes and fire, and for all the meat which he had eaten for three months he was in debt to a poor woman who was no longer able to trust. Our necessities, he says, would be more insupportable, if we did not see the king reduced to greater distress than you can believe or imagine. And when Sir Richard Browne had promised him a supply, he says, "for your condition so plentiful to refuse it, for I must tell you that I have not had a Lewes of my own these three months; therefore when you send the bill, let me know whether you lend me so much out of your own little stock, or whether it be the king's money, for in that case his Majesty shall be the disposer, since my office hath never yet, nor shall intitle me to take his money without his direction."
Evelyn was received at court with that affability by which Charles was so happily gifted, that it was more difficult for him to lose the affections of his subjects, than it has been for other princes to gain them. The king called him his old acquaintance, and nominated him one of the council of the Royal Society, of which he had been just elected a fellow. He would have given him the Order of the Bath, but Evelyn declined it, and he promised to make his wife lady of the jewels to the future queen, "a very honourable charge," it is observed in the Diary, "but which he never performed." It was not long before he was chosen one of the commissioners for reforming the buildings, ways, streets and incumbrances, and regulating the hackney coaches in the city of London. And in 1664, when war was declared against the Dutch, he was appointed one of the commissioners for taking care of the sick and wounded, and the prisoners. There were four commissioners with a salary of £1200 a year among them, besides extraordinaries for their care and attention when upon duty; they had power to constitute officers, physicians, surgeons and provost-marshals, and to dispose of half of the hospitals through England. Mr. Evelyn's district comprized the counties of Kent and Sussex. The duty which fell upon him proved to be as perilous as it was painful. The Dutch, then at the height of their power, carried on the war with that spirit which became a great and brave people, who were unjustly attacked, and the prisoners and wounded men were brought in faster than the commissioners could provide for them; — miserable objects, says Evelyn, God knows! money and means of every kind were wanting, "when a moderate expense would have saved thousands." "My wife," he says in a letter to Lord Cornbery, "is within a fortnight of bringing me my seventh son, and it is time, my lord, he were born, for they keep us so short of monies at court, that his majesty's commissioners had need of one to do wonders, and heal the sick and wounded by miracle, till we can maintain our chirurgeons." In the midst of this distress the plague broke out, and soon raged with such violence that four and five thousand persons died weekly in London, where Evelyn had just obtained the Savoy for the sick and wounded. As the contagion was spreading around Deptford, he sent away his wife and family to Wotton, and staid himself to look after his charge, "trusting in the Providence and goodness of God." It was some time before this courageous woman, as he calls her, would be persuaded to take the alarm "my conscience," he says, "or something which I would have have taken for my duty, obliges me to this sad station, till his Majesty take pity on me, and send me a considerable refreshment for the comfort of these poor creatures, the sick and wounded seamen under mine inspection through all the ports of my district." His letters strongly express his feelings at this dreadful time, and shew also how much more he felt for others than for himself. "One fortnight," he says, "has made me feel the utmost of miseries that can befall a person in my station and with my affections. To have 25,000 prisoners and 1500 sick and wounded men to take care of, without one penny "of money, and above £2000 indebted." And in another letter, "it were to betray his Majesty's gracious intentions, and even his honour, to extenuate here. Sir Wm. D'Oily and myself have near 10,000 upon our care, while there seems to be no care of us, who having lost all our servants, officers and most necessary assistants, have nothing more left us to expose but our persons, which are every moment at the mercy of a raging pestilence (by our daily conversation) and an unreasonable multitude, if such they may be called, who having adventured their lives for the public, perish for their reward, and die like dogs in the street unregarded." "Our prisoners beg at us as a mercy to knock them on the head, for we have no bread to relieve the dying creatures. — I beseech your honour, let us not be reputed barbarians, or if at last we must be so, let me not be the executor of so much inhumanity when the price of one good subject's life is rightly considered of more value than the wealth of the Indies." — The mortality had now increased, and nearly 10,000 died weekly; yet his duty frequently obliged him to go through the whole city, "a dismal passage," he says, "and dangerous to see so many coffins exposed in the streets, the streets thin of people, the shops shut up, and all in mournful silence, as not knowing whose turn might be next."
When the pestilence was abated and he went to wait upon the king, Charles in a most gracious manner gave him his hand to kiss, with many thanks for his care and faithfulness in a time of such great danger, when every body fled their employments; "he told me," says Evelyn, "he was much obliged to me, and said he was several times concerned for me and the peril I underwent, and did receive my service most acceptably, though in truth I did but my duty." He now exerted himself to have an Infirmary founded for the sick and wounded, having seen the great inconvenience of distributing them in private houses, "where many more chirurgeons and attendants were necessary, and the people tempted to debauchery."
The fire of London, which occurred at this time, has never been so finely described as in Mr. Evelyn's journal. — The account of so tremendous an event, written at the time and upon the spot, will be read with great interest.
"1666. 2 Sept. This fatal night about ten began that deplorable fire near Fish Streete in London.
"3. The fire continuing, after dinner I took coach with my wife and sonn and went to the Bank side in Southwark, where we beheld that dismal spectacle, the whole Citty in dreadful flames near the water side; all the houses from the Bridge, all Thames Street, and upwards towards Cheapeside downe to the Three Cranes were now consum'd.
"The fire having continu'd all this night (if I may call that night which was light as day for 10 miles round about, alter a dreadful manner) when conspiring with a fierce Eastern wind in a very drie season I went on foote to the same place, and saw the whole South part of the Citty burning from Cheapeside to the Thames, and all along Cornehill (for it kindl'd back against ye wind as well as forward) Tower Streete, Fenchurch Streete, Gracious Streete, and so along to Bainard's Castle, and was now taking hold of St. Paule's Church, to which the scaffolds contributed exceedingly. The conflagration was so universal, and the people so astonish'd, that from the beginning, I know not by what despondency or fate, the they hardly stirr'd to quench it, so that there was nothing heard or seene but crying out and lamentation, running about like distracted creatures, without at all attempting to save even their goods, such a strange consternation there was upon them, so as it burned both in breadth and length, the Churches, Publiq Halls, Exchange, Hospitals, Monuments, and ornaments, leaping after a prodigious manner from house to house and streete to streete, at greate distances one from ye other, for the heate with a long set of faire and warme weather had even ignited the air and prepar'd the materials to conceive the fire, which devour'd after an incredible manner, houses, furniture, and every thing. Here we saw the Thames cover'd with goods floating, all the barges and boates laden with what some had the and courage to save, as, on the other, ye carts, &c. carrying out to the fields, which for many miles were strew'd with moveables of all sorts, and tents erecting to shelter both people and what goods they could get away. Oh the miserable and calamitous spectacle! such as haply the world had not seene the like since the foundation of it, nor be outdone till the universal conflagration. All the skie was of a fiery aspect, like the top of a burning oven, the light seene above 40 miles round about for many nights. God grant my eyes may never behold the like, now seeing above 10,000 houses all in one flame: the noise and cracking and thunder of the impetuous flames, the shreiking of women and children, the hurry of people, the fall of Towers, Houses and Churches was like an hideous storme, and the aire all about so hot and inflam'd that at last one was not able to approach it, so that they were forc'd to stand still and let the flames burn on, which they did for neere two miles in length and one in bredth. The clouds of smoke were dismall and reach'd upon computation neer 50 miles in length. Thus I left it this afternoone burning, a resemblance of Sodom, or the last day. London was, but is no more!
"4. The burning still rages, and it was now gotten as far as the Inner Temple, all Fleete Streete, the Old Bailey, Ludgate Hill, Warwick Lane, Newgate, Paul's Chain, Watling Streete, now flaming, and most of it reduc'd to ashes; the stones of Paules flew like granados, the mealting lead running downe the streetes in a streame, and the very pavements glowing with fiery rednesse, so as no horse nor man was able to tread on them, and the demolition had stopp'd all the passages, so that no help could be applied. The Eastern wind still more impetuously drove the flames forward. Nothing but the Almighty power of God was able to stop them, for vaine was ye help of man.
"5. It crossed towards Whitehall; Oh the confusion there was then at that Court! It pleased his Majesty to command me among the rest to looke after the quenching of Fetter Lane end, to preserve if possible that part of Holborn, whilst the rest of the gentlemen tooke their several posts (for now they began to bestir, themselves, and not till now, who hitherto had stood as men intoxicated, with their hands acrosse) and began to consider that nothing was likely to put a stop but the blowing up of so many houses as might make a wider gap than any had yet ben made by the ordinary method of pulling them down with engines; this some stout seamen propos'd early enough to have sav'd near the whole Citty, but this some tenacious and avaritious men, aldermen, &c. would not permit, because their houses must have ben of the first. It was therefore now commanded to be practic'd, and my concern being particularly for the Hospital of St. Bartholomew neere Smithfield, where I had many wounded and sick men, made me the more diligent to promote it, nor was my care for the Savoy lesse. It now pleas'd God by abating the wind, and by the industrie of the people, infusing a new spirit into them, that the fury of it began sensibly to abate about noone, so as it came no farther than the Temple Westward, nor than ye entrance of Smithfield North. But continu'd all this day and night so impetuous towards Cripplegate and the Tower as made us all despaire; it also broke out againe in the Temple, but the courage of the multitude persisting, and many houses being blown up, such gaps and desolations were soone made, as with the former three days consumption, the back fire did not so vehemently urge upon the rest as formerly. There was yet no standing neere the burning and glowing ruines by neere a furlongs space.
"The coale and wood wharfes and magazines of oyle, rosin, &c. did infinite mischeife, so as the invective which a little before I had dedicated to his Majesty and publish'd, giving warning what might probably be the issue of suffering those shops to be in the Citty, was, look'd on as a prophecy.
"The poore inhabitants were dispers'd about St. George's Fields, and Moorefields, as far as Highgate, and severall miles in circle, some under tents, some under miserable butts and hovells, many without a rag or any necessary utensills, bed or board, who from delicatenesse, riches, and easy accomodations in stately and well furnish'd houses, were now reduc'd to extreamest misery and poverty.
"In this calamitous condition I return'd with a sad heart to my house, blessing and adoring the mercy of God to me and mine, who in the midst of all this ruine was like Lot, in my little Zoar, safe and sound."
"7. I went this morning on foote from Whitehall as far as London Bridge, thro' the late Fleete Street, Ludgate Hill, by St. Paules, Cheapeside, Exchange, Bishopgate, Aldersgate, and out to Moorefields, thence thro' Cornehill, &c. with extraordinary difficulty, clambering over heaps of yet smoking rubbish, and frequently mistaking where I was. The ground under my feete was so hot, that it even burnt the soles of my shoes. In the mean time his Majesty got to the Tower by water, to demolish the houses about the graff, which being built intirely about it, had they taken fire and attack'd the White Tower where the magazine of powder lay, would undoubtedly not only have beaten downe and destroy'd all the bridge, but sunke and torne the vessells in ye river, and render'd the demolition beyond all expression for several miles about the countrey.
"At my return I was infinitely concern'd to find that goodly Church St. Paules now a sad ruine, and that beautifull portico (for structure comparable to any in Europe, as not long before repair'd by the King) now rent in pieces, flakes of vast stone split asunder, and nothing remaining intire but the inscription in the architrave, shewing by whom it was built, which had not one letter of it defac'd. It was astonishing to see what immense stones the heat had in a manner calcin'd, so that all ye ornaments, columns, freezes, and projectures of massie Portland stone flew off, even to ye very roofe, where a sheet of lead covering, a great space was totally mealted; the ruines of the vaulted roofe falling broke into St. Faith's, which being filled with the magazines of bookes belonging to the stationers, and carried thither for safety, they were all consum'd, burning for a weeke following. It is also observable that the lead over the altar at the East end was untouch'd, and among the divers monuments, the body of one Bishop remain'd intire. Thus lay in ashes that most venerable Church, one of the most antient pieces of early piety in the Christian world, besides neere 100 more. The lead, yron worke, bells, plate, &c. mealted; the exquisitely wrought Mercers Chapell, the sumptuous Exchange, ye august fabriq of Christ Church, all the rest of the Companies Halls, sumptuous buildings, arches, all in dust; the fountaines dried up and ruin'd whilst the very waters remain'd boiling; the vorago's of subterranean cellars, wells, and dungeons, formerly warehouses, still burning in stench and dark clouds of smoke, so that in 5 or 6 miles traversing about I did not see one load of timber unconsum'd, nor many stones but what were calcin'd white as snow. The people who now walk'd about the ruines appear'd like men in a dismal desart, or rather in some greate Citty laid waste by a cruel enemy; to which was added the stench that came from some poore creatures bodies, beds, &c. Sir Tho. Gressham's statute, tho' fallen from its nich in the Royal Exchange, remain'd intire, when all those of ye Kings since the Conquest were broken to pieces, also the standard in Cornehill, and Q. Elizabeth's effigies, with some armes on Ludgate, continued with but little detriment, whilst the vast yron chaines of the Cittie streetes, hinges, barrs and gates of prisons were many of them mealted and reduced to cinders by the vehement heate. I was not able to passe through any of the narrow streetes, but kept the widest, the ground and air, smoake and fiery vapour continu'd so intense that my haire was almost sing'd, and my feete unsufferably surheated. The bie lanes and narrower streetes were quite fill'd up with rubbish, nor could one have knowne where he was, but by the ruines of some Church or Hall, that had some remarkable tower or pinnacle remaining. I then went towards Islington and Highgate, where one might have seene 200,000 people of all ranks and degrees dispers'd and lying along by their heapes of what they could save from the fire, deploring their losse, and tho' ready to perish for hunger and destitution, yet not asking one penny for relief, which to me appear'd a stranger sight than any I had yet beheld. His Majesty and Council indeede tooke all imaginable care for their reliefe by proclamation for the country to come in and refresh them with provisions. In the midst of all this calamity and confusion, there was, I know not how, an alarme begun that the French and Dutch, with whom we were now in hostility, were not onely landed, but even entering the Citty. There was in truth some days before greate suspicion of those 2 nations joining; and now, that they had ben the occasion of firing the towne. This report did so terrifie, that on a suddaine there was such an uproare and tumult that they ran from their goods, and taking what weapons they could come at, they could not be stopp'd from falling on some of those nations whom they casualy met, without sense or reason. The clamour and peril grew so excessive that it made the whole Court amas'd, and they did with infinite paines and greate difficulty reduce and appease the people, sending troops of soldiers and guards to cause them to retire into ye fields againe, where they were watch'd all this night. I left them pretty quiet, and came home sufficiently weary and broken. Their spirits thus a little calmed, and the affright abated, they now began to repaire into ye suburbs about the Citty, where such as had friends or opportunity got shelter for the present, to which his Majesty Proclamation also invited them." — vol. i. pp. 371-377.
This calamity was bravely borne. Evelyn says, he never observed a more universal resignation, nor less repining among sufferers; and he mentions, which is indeed a curious fact, that the merchants complied with their foreign correspondence as punctually as if no disaster had happened, and not one failure was heard of. Within two days after the conflagration, he presented to the king a plan for a new city. Dr. Wren (afterwards Sir Christopher) was already beforehand with him. Their plans coincided in many points. Evelyn had been introduced to Wren when the latter was a student at Oxford, and calls him "that miracle of a youth, — that prodigious young scholar." The levity of the people after this tremendous event was as remarkable as their exertions at the time. In the suburbs, and the little part of the city which had escaped, there was the same noise, the same bustle, and the same vanity; and almost before the ruins had ceased to smoke, Charles made an attempt, strangely timed, but not less worthy of success, to change the fashion of our dress, and introduce a costume formed upon the Persian mode. Evelyn had lately written an essay upon the subject, recommending that we should adopt a national dress and adhere to it. "Let it be considered," he said, "that those who seldom change the mode of their country have as seldom altered their affections to the prince." A copy of this he presented to the king, and some of the alterations which he had recommended were adopted in this new costume. The whole court adopted this "vest and surcoat or tunic as 'twas called," and Evelyn also appeared in it. It was a comely and manly habit, he says, too good to hold, it being impossible for us in good earnest to leave the Monsieurs' vanities long. Charles resolved never to alter it, and to leave the French mode "which had hitherto obtained to our great expence and reproach." But his inconstancy was so well known that "divers courtiers and gentlemen gave him gold by way of wages, that he would not persist in his resolution."
The ensuing year was remarkable for the bold attack which they Dutch made upon our fleet at Chatham; had they pursued their fortune they might have advanced to London "with ease, and have fired al the vessels in the river." Evelyn sent away his best goods and plate from Sayes Court to a safer place. The alarm, he says, was so great that "it put both country and city into a panic fear, and consternation, such as I hope I shall never see more; every body was flying, none knew why or whither." And when he describes "how triumphantly their whole fleet lay within the very mouth of the Thames, all from the North Fore-land, Margate, even to the buoy of the Nore!" he exclaims, "a dishonour never to be wiped off! Those who advised his Majesty to prepare no fleet this spring deserved — I know what — but—" The Thames being thus blockaded, London was exceedingly distressed for want of fuel, and Evelyn was sent to search about the environs whether any peat or turf could be found fit for use. The report was that there might be found a great deal. Experiments were also made of the "houllies," which he had mentioned in one of his publications as being made at Maestricht with a mixture of charcoal dust and loam, and fires of this composition were made by order of council at Gresham College, which was then used as an Exchange, for every body to see." But Evelyn was mistaken respecting the "houille," which is a species of pitcoal, so highly impregnated with bitumen and with sulphur, that it cannot be used for domestic purposes unless it be tempered with clay; no charcoal is used in the composition.
Evelyn, who felt the injustice of our quarrel with the Dutch, and was deeply sensible of the dishonour which we endured in the contest, beheld also with bitter sorrow the vices of the court and the growing profligacy of the age. Gambling he abhorred as a wicked folly, and grieved that such "a wretched custom should be countenanced in a court which ought to be an example of virtue to the rest of the kingdom." The butcherly sports of the Bear Garden he regarded with human and Christian indignation, and when a fine spirited horse was exposed as a public exhibition to be baited to death, under the false pretence that it had killed a man, he regretted that the wretches who contrived this abominable means of getting money could not be punished as they deserved. He went very seldom to the theatre: the old plays, such as "Hamlet, Prince of Denmark," began to disgust this refined age, since his Majesty's being so long abroad; and it afflicted him "to see how the stage was degenerated and polluted by the licentious times: "the theatres," he says, were "abused to an atheistical liberty, and foul and indecent women now (and never till now) permitted to appear and act, who inflaming several young noblemen and gallants, became their misses, and to some their wives: witness the Earl of Oxford, Sir R. Howard, P. Rupert, the Earl of Dorset, and another greater person than any of them, who fell into their snares, to the reproach of their noble families, and ruin of both body and soul." The conduct of Charles is frequently alluded to in this Diary with grief. But in the midst of these contagious immoralities, Evelyn's life was a beautiful example of all public and private virtues. While he enjoyed the intimacy and esteem of those who were highest in power, the only advantage which he solicited for himself and his family, was the fair settlement of his father-in-law's accounts with the king; and those persons who derived benefit from his councils when they were in authority, found him in their adversity a constant and affectionate friend. Thus he was the frequent visitor of Clarendon, when that admirable man was abandoned by the swarm of summer followers. Clifford too in his disgrace felt the sincerity of Evelyn's friendship, and wrung him by the hand, when (as it afterwards appeared) he had resolved upon suicide, with an earnestness that showed there was something in the world from which he could not part without a painful effort, and a feeling that unmanned him. So also when Arlington's fortunes were on the wane, Evelyn dwells in his journal with delight upon the better parts of his character. Sandwich imparted his griefs to Evelyn when he embarked with a determination of seeking death in battle, and thereby compelling those to do justice to his character who had aspersed it; and it was into Evelyn's ear that Ossory breathed the last overflowings of a wounded spirit and a broken heart.
Charles II. treated him always with affability and kindness, knowing and respecting his worth and his unsullied virtue. Evelyn was much affected by his death. Writing on the day when James was proclaimed, he says, "I can never forget the inexpressible luxury and profaneness, gaming and all dissoluteness, and as it were total forgetfulness of God (it being Sunday evening) which this day se'nnight I was witness of, the king sitting and toying with his concubines, Portsmouth, Cleaveland, and Mazarine, &c. a French boy singing love-songs in that glorious gallery, whilst about twenty of the great courtiers and other dissolute persona were at basset round a large table; a bank of at least £2000 in gold before them, upon which two gentlemen who were with me made reflexions with astonishment. Six days after, all was in the dust!" He deplored his loss, he said, with all his soul, for many respects as well as duty. A fear of the political consequences undoubtedly was one; for Evelyn well knew that the welfare of this kingdom depends vitally upon the preservation of that church, the subversion of which was necessarily considered as a duty by a Catholic king. He looked upon the defeat of Monmouth's enterprize as a signal deliverance, believing that if it had not been early checked it would have proceeded to the ruin of the church and government. Such an inundation of fanatics, he says, and men of impious principles must needs have caused universal disorder, cruelty, injustice, rapine, sacrilege, and confusion, an unavoidable civil war, and misery without end. But when the times became more trying, Evelyn decidedly opposed those measures which, had they been successful, would have certainly destroyed the civil and religious liberties of Great Britain. When Lord Clarendon was sent to Ireland, he was nominated one of the Commissioners for executing the office of Privy Seal during his lieutenancy there. He "was not displeased" when the creation of Mrs. Sedley, Countess of Dorchester, passed the Privy Seal at a time when he was absent, and when the appointment of the Secretary to the Ambassador at Rome was sealed, he observes that through Providence he was not present. But when a docket was to be sealed, importing a lease of twenty-one years to the king's printer for printing Missals and other books which, by act of parliament, were expressly forbidden to be printed or sold, Evelyn seeing that the law was clear in this case refused to put the seal to it; and on a similar occasion he persisted in his refusal when Archbishop Sancroft, whom he consulted, gave him no other encouragement than that of advising him to follow his own conscience; and the Lord Treasurer told him that if, in conscience, he could dispense with it, there was no other hazard. And when James, beginning to perceive his danger, released the bishops, Evelyn, who had good information of the plans of the court, gave Sancroft good intelligence and bold advice; he pointed out the crafty designs of the Jesuits by which the unfortunate king was directed; observed that in all the declarations which had been published in pretended favour of the Church of England as by law established, room was carefully left for a subdolous construction of the words — as if the Church of Rome were the only lawful one; advised him, therefore, that in all extraordinary offices the words Reformed and Protestant should be added to that of the Church of England by law established, "and whosoever, said he, threatens to invade or come against us to the prejudice of that church, in God's name, be they Dutch or Irish, let us heartily pray and fight against them."
Yet Mr. Evelyn rather submitted to the consequences of the Revolution than acquiesced in them: the necessity of resisting the plans of James he fully acknowledged, but he seems to have thought that the rights of the son should have been respected, even if it were justifiable that the father should be set aside. He had a personal regard for James, and had augured much happiness to the nation, as to its political government, "from his infinite industry, sedulity, gravity and great understanding and experience of affairs," nothing as he thought being wanting to accomplish our prosperity, but that he should be of the national religion. Evelyn's character would have been less amiable if he could at once have cast off all attachment to a family which he had served in evil and in prosperous fortunes. He noticed the unbecoming levity with which Queen Mary took possession of her apartments at Whitehall; and at first he did not render justice to the abilities of William, whom he thought of a "slothful sickly temper," a man as inferior in all outward graces to the two last kings, as he was superior to them in sterling wisdom and solid worth. Evelyn feared the republican spirit which was at work, manifestly, as he thought, "undermining all future succession of the crown and prosperity of the Church of England;" and he saw that the general imposition of an oath, which might properly be required from all who came into office into the new government, would occasion great injustice and evil. That oath was "thought to have been driven on by the Presbyterians." God in mercy send us help, says Evelyn, and direct his counsels to his glory, and the good of his church! The non-jurors were for many, years the butt of contempt and obloquy, but notwithstanding their political error history will do justice to the consistent integrity of their conduct. After the Revolution, as before it, they bravely persisted in what they believed to be their duty, regardless of the consequences to themselves.
Evelyn was now sixty-nine years old; the recurrence of his birthday is always entered in his Journal with a prayer. He had lately been visited by severe afflictions; — his daughter Mary, at the age of nineteen, had been cut off by the small-pox, a beautiful creature in mind as well in form and features, highly accomplished, of a fine understanding, studious and yet unaffectedly humble, pious, cheerful, affectionate, in disposition like an angel. She was a little miracle, says her father, while she lived, and so she died, — the joy of my life, and ornament of her sex and of my poor family. Few persons, we believe, will peruse without tears the pages in which he records her death, and his own resignation under this great affliction. Within two months he lost another daughter, soon after her marriage, by the same frightful disease, which in those days was only less destructive than the plague. And it was his painful lot to follow to the grave his only remaining son in the forty-fourth year of his age, a man of much ability and reputation, worthy to have supported the honour of his name. Notwithstanding these repeated sorrows and the weight of nearly fourscore years, Evelyn still enjoyed uninterrupted health and unimpaired faculties; he enjoyed also the friendship of the wise and the good, and the general esteem beyond any other individual of his age. Torn as that age was by civil and religious factions Mr. Evelyn had no enemy; as a lover and liberal benefactor of science and learning he held that place in public opinion which in our days has so long and so deservedly been held by Sir Joseph Bankes; a more enviable distinction can hardly be imagined. Among the honourable events of his latter life it should not be omitted that as the first treasurer of Greenwich Hospital, he laid one of the foundation stones. When he was at Amsterdam, in his youth, he admired nothing so much in that interesting city as the hospital for the lame and decrepid soldiers, "it being, for state, order and accommodation, one of the worthiest things that the world can show of that nature." He had now the satisfaction of founding in his own country the most splendid of all such establishments.
In the year 1694 he left Sayes Court, after having resided there more than forty years, to pass the remainder of his days at Wotton, where he was born, in his brother's house; his brother having also lost his sons, had settled the family-estate upon him. The fate of Sayes Court, which be had beautified according to his own taste with so much cost and care, is worthy of notice; first it was let to no less remarkable a personage than Admiral Benbow, then only a captain, and Evelyn had, he says, the mortification of seeing every day much of his former labours and expense there impairing for want of a more polite tenant. The next inhabitant was a much greater personage and a worse tenant, it was the Czar Peter; while in his occupation the house is described, by a servant of Mr. Evelyn, as full of people, and right filthy. It was hired for him and furnished by the King; but the damage which he and his retinue did to the house itself and the gardens, during a residence of only three weeks, was estimated by the King's surveyor and his gardener at £150. The gardens indeed were ruined. It is said that one of Peter's favourite recreations was to demolish the hedges by riding through them in a wheelbarrow. When he had resided about five years at Wotton his brother died, in the eighty-third year of his age, of perfect memory and understanding. Mr. Evelyn had a grandson, the only male of his family now remaining, a fine hopeful youth, and he was seized with the small-pox at Oxford; the alarm which this intelligence occasioned may well be conceived, fatal as the disease bad proved to their blood, but happily the youth recovered, and Evelyn's few remaining years were not embittered by any fresh affliction.
"1702. 31 Oct. Arriv'd now to the 82d year of my age, having read over all that pass'd since this day twelvemonth in these notes, I render solemn thanks to the Lord, imploring the pardon of my past sins, and the assistance of His grace; making new resolutions, and imploring that He will continue His assistance, and prepare me for my blessed Saviour's coming, that I may obtain a comfortable departure, after so long a term as has ben hitherto indulg'd me. I find by many infirmities this yeare (especially nephritic pains) that I much decline; and yet of His infinite mercy retain my intellects and senses in greate measure above most of my age. I have this yeare repair'd much of the mansion-house and severall tenants' houses, and paid some of my debts and ingagements. My wife, children and family in health, for all which I most sincerely beseech Almighty God to accept of these lay acknowledgment, and that if it be his holy will to continue me yet longer, it may be to the praise of His infinite grace, and salvation of my soul. Amen." — vol. ii. pp. 77, 78.
On his next birth-day he acknowledges the great mercies of God in preserving him, and in some measure making his infirmities tolerable. Soon after, when service was performed in his own house on a Sunday, because the cold and wet weather had prevented him from attending church in the morning, the minister preached upon the uncertainty of life "with pertinent inferences to prepare us for death and a future state. I gave him thanks, says Mr. Evelyn, and told him I took it kindly as my funeral sermon." He lived, however, to see two birth-days more, and then, in the eighty-sixth year of his age, fell asleep in the Lord.
The portrait of Evelyn prefixed to these volumes is from a picture painted for Mr. Pepys by Kneller, and represents him holding his "Sylva" in his right hand. It was by this book that the author was chiefly known till the publication of this Diary; his other writings had past away, but the Sylva remained a beautiful and enduring memorial of his amusements, his occupations and his studies, his private happiness and his public virtues. It was the first book printed by order of the Royal Society, and was composed upon occasion of certain queries sent to that Society by the Commissioners of the Navy. The government had been seriously alarmed by the want of timber, which it was certain must soon be felt; owing in part to the wasteful consumption of glass-houses and furnaces, at that time greatly multiplied, and burning wood instead of coal, and, in part, to the "prodigious havoc made by such as lately professing themselves against root and branch, either to be reimbursed their holy purchases, or for some other sordid respect, were tempted not only to fell and cut down, but utterly to extirpate, demolish, and raze as it were all those many goodly woods and forests, which our more prudent ancestors left standing for the service of their country." To no person so well as Evelyn could the office have been assigned of remedying this evil and averting the fatal consequence which must inevitably have ensued to our naval power, and thereby to the strength, the welfare, the independence, and the life of England. He effected this great object by awakening the land-holders to a sense of their own and their country's interests. He produced a volume upon the subject; Charles II., who loved the navy, and like his brother would have made a better admiral than a king, twice thanked him personally for the work; he had the yet more gratifying reward of living to know that many millions of timber-trees had been propagated and planted at the instigation and by the sole direction of that book, — one of the few books in the world which completely effected what it was designed to do. "While Britain," says Mr. D'Israeli, "retains her aweful situation among the nations of Europe, the Sylva of Evelyn will endure with her triumphant oaks. It was an author in his studious retreat, who, casting a prophetic eye on the age we live in, secured the late victories of our naval sovereignty. Inquire at the Admiralty how the fleets of Nelson have been constructed, and they can tell you that it was with the oaks which the genius of Evelyn planted." If Charles II. had instituted, as he once intended, and as he ought to have done, an order of the "Royal Oak," Evelyn, though he repeatedly declined the honour of knighthood, would probably have accepted it for the sake of his double claim.
The Sylva has no beauties of style to recommend it, and none of those felicities of expression by which the writer stamps upon your memory his meaning in all its force. Without such charms "A Discourse of Forest Trees and the Propagation of Timber in his Majesty's Dominions' might appear to promise dry entertainment, but he who opens the volume is led on insensibly from page to page, and catches something of the delight which made the author enter with his whole heart and all his faculties into the subject. Mr. Shandy might have instanced the author in his chapter of names, — Avelan, he tells us, it was written in old deeds, and Avelan (Avellana) was then the name of the hasel. Dendrology was to him an object of unwearied curiosity and interest; he was continually adding to his store of facts and observations in this his favourite pursuit; and thinking with Erasmus, that "ut homines, ita libros, indies seipsis meliores fieri oportet," he laboured till the end of his long life in perfecting his great work. He speaks of his "too great affection and application to it," when he was in the eighty-fourth year of his age. But by this constant care he made it perfect, according to the knowledge of that age. It is a great repository of all that was then known concerning the forest trees of Great Britain, their growth and culture, and their uses and qualities real or imaginary; and he has enlivened it with all the pertinent facts and anecdotes which occurred to him in his reading.
In the work there are necessarily some errors of both kinds, scientific as well as popular; there are likewise many curious things, and some useful ones which have ceased to be generally known. The planter may still remember with profit the woodman's proverb respecting the hardiest trees, "Set them at All-hallowtide and command them to prosper: set them at Candlemas and intreat them to grow." In opposition to Bacon, who recommends ship timber grown in moist ground, as the toughest and least subject to rift, Evelyn adheres to the more probable opinion of Pliny, (an opinion as old as the age of Homer), that though the low lands produce the stateliest trees, the strongest timber is grown in drier and more exposed situations. He observes that pollard oaks bear their leaves green through the winter more frequently than such as have not been mutilated, — a fact analogous to the increased bulk and muscular strength of those persons who have lost both their legs. Cups were formerly made from the roots of the oak; the roots of all trees for their beautiful veining being peculiarly fitted for the cabinet-maker and the turner's use. Cup and bowl are words which carry with them their own history. The bowl was a tree-cup, the oldest of the family in countries where there were neither gourds nor cocoa nuts; the cup was a more savage invention, (cup, kopf, caput, [Greek characters,]) with which our Scandinavian ancestors anticipated one of the enjoyments of Valhalla, drinking mend and ale out of the skulls of their enemies, while they listened to the music of a shin bone (tibia), the original pipe. — Evelyn was willing to believe any thing which did honour to to the oak. Its twigs, he says, twisted together, dipt in wort, well dried, and then kept in barley straw, by being steeped in wort at any future time will cause it to ferment and procure yeast:but the properties of the oak have nothing to do with this, and the bundle, whatever it is, (a furze bush is commonly used in those countries where the practice is known) must be dipt in the fermenting and yesty liquor: — it is a mode of preserving yest dry. The leaves of oaks, he says, "abundantly congested on snow preserves it as well as a deep pit or the most artificial refrigeratory." In its acorns, its leaves, its mosses, its agaric, its may-dew, he finds sovereign virtues for many diseases, "to say nothing of the viscus's, polypods and other excrescences of which innumerable remedies are composed, noble antidotes, syrups, &c." — "Nay, 'tis reported, that the very shade of this tree is so wholesome, that the sleeping, or lying under it becomes a present remedy to paralytics."
Though the oak, as being the king of the English forest, is his favourite tree, he finds utility as well as beauty in trees of every kind. The loppings and leaves of the elm, he says, dried in the sun, prove a great relief to cattle when fodder is dear, and will be preferred to oats by the cattle: the Herefordshire people in his time gathered them in sacks for this purpose, and for their swine. Beech leaves "gathered about the fall, and somewhat before they are much frostbitten, afford the best and easiest mattresses in the world to lay under our quilts instead of straw." This be learnt in Dauphiny and Switzerland, where he had slept on them to his great refreshment; but in another place he tells us that the French call these leafy beds "for the crackling noise they make when one turns upon them, 'licts de parliament.'" The keys of the ash when young and tender make a delicate pickle; its bark is the best for tanning nets; its wood for drying herrings, and for burning in a lady's chamber, being one of those which yield no smoke. The chesnut was very generally used in old houses, London was chiefly built with it; if there be any European tree finer than the oak it is this. Caesar is said to have introduced it from Sardis into Italy, and in so doing made for his country an acquisition more durable than all his conquests. But it is more certain that they came from Asia Minor than that Caesar brought them: boiled chesnuts would not have been the food of Virgil's shepherds, if the tree had so recently been imported. The horse chesnut is also from the Levarit. — Evelyn gives the origin of its name, "so called for the cure of horses broken-winded, and other cattle of coughs." From the walnut tree he recommends a wine made from its sap, its green husk dried, or "the first peeping red buds and leaves reduced to powder," as a condiment instead of pepper; and the fungous substances which separate the lobes of the kernel to be pulverized and taken in wine as a remedy for dysentery: our army in Ireland, he says, were healed by this remedy, when no other would avail. It is strange that a tree which is at once so beautiful and so valuable, both for its fruit and its wood, should not be much more common than it is in England. Evelyn says it is thought useful in corn fields by keeping the grounds warm, and that its roots do not impede the plough. That trees are not so prejudicial to the field in which or around which they grow, as is supposed in England, is proved by the practices of those countries where the people are much better and more economical agriculturists. It appears that in his age maple sugar had been constantly sent for many years from Canada to Rouen to be refined; this must have been before the Dutch from Pernambuco taught the French how to manage the cane in their sugar-islands. The sap of the sycamore makes a wine like the birch, and may also be used in brewing with such advantage that one bushel of malt makes as good ale with sycamore sap, as four bushels with water.
In praising the lime as better than all other trees for the carver's use, he observes that it was used in all the work of "our Lysippus, Mr. Gibbons," and adds "having had the honour, for so I account it, to be the first who recommended this great artist to his Majesty, Charles II., I mention it on this occasion, with much satisfaction." His meeting with this admirable artist is thus noticed in the Diary.
"This day I first acquainted his Majesty with that incomparable young man, Gibbon, whom I had lately met with in an obscure place by meer accident as I was walking neere a poore solitary thatched house, in a field in our parish, nere Says Court. I found him shut in, but looking in at the window I perceiv'd him carving that large cartoon or crucifix of Tintoret, a copy of which I had myselfe brought from Venice, where the original painting remaines. I asked if I might enter; he open'd the door civilly to me, and I saw him about such a work as for the curiosity of handling, drawing, and studious exactnesse, I never had before scene in all my travells. I questioned him why he worked in such an obscure and lonesome place; he told me it was that he might apply himselfe to his profession without interruption, and wondred not a little how I had found him out. I asked if he was unwilling to be made knowne to some greate man, for that I believed it might turn to his profit; he answer'd he was yet but a beginner, but would not be sorry to sell off that peice; on demanding the price, he said £100. In good earnest the very frame was worth the money, there being nothing in nature so tender and delicate as the flowers and festoons about it, and yet the worke was very strong; in the piece were more than 100 figures of men, &c. I found be was likewise musical, and very civil, sober, and discreete in his discourse. There was onely an old woman in the house. So desiring leave to visite him sometimes I went away.
"Of this young artist, and the manner of finding him out, I acquainted the King, and begg'd that he would give me leave to bring him and his work, to Whitehall, for that I would adventure my reputation with his Majesty that he had never seene any thing approch it, and that he would be exceedingly pleased, and employ him. The King said he would himselfe go see him. This was the first notice he had of Mr. Gibbon." — vol. i. p. 410.
Gibbons should have made a pulpit for St. Pauls, his genius would then have had full scope for displaying itself, and we should have had something which might have vied with the magnificent works of this kind in the Low Countries. He was a very illiterate man, as appears by one of his notes inserted in these volumes, in the worst possible spelling.
The poplar "burns untowardly, and rather moulders away than maintains any solid heat." Should it not then be preferred for the floors of dwelling houses, so long as we persist in the preposterous custom of constructing houses which may serve for funeral piles? The Lombardy poplar we have heard commended for farm houses, and especially for cheese-rooms, because neither mice nor mites will attack it. The aspin, says Mr. Evelyn, differs from other poplars in this — "that he takes it ill to have his head cut off." Ale brewed with the ripe berries of the mountain ash is praised as 'an incomparable drink familiar in Wales." "Of the shortest part of the old wood, found commonly in doating birches, is made the grounds of our effeminate farined gallants sweet powder; and of the quite consumed and rotten, (such as we find reduced to a kind of reddish earth, in superannuated hollow trees,) is gotten the best mould for the raising of divers seedlings of the rarest plants and flowers." He recommends a more curious use for the down of the willow, saying, he is of opinion, "if it were dried with care that it might be fit for cushions and pillows of chastity, — for such of old was the reputation of the shade of those trees." Their shade was thought so wholesome, that physicians, in his time, prescribed it to feverish persons, "permitting the boughs to be placed even about their beds, as a safe and comfortable refrigeration." The ivy, he says, may with small industry be made a beautiful standard, — a beautiful one indeed! Some of the American creepers which have become so, remain erect after the tree which they have clipt and killed has mouldered within their convolutions. Bacon, he thinks, introduced the plane; Archbishop Grindal the tamaric: Evelyn himself obtained seeds of the cedars from Lebanon, and "had the honour to be the first who brought the alaternus into use and reputation in this kingdom, for the most beautiful of hedges and verdure in the world, (the swiftness of the growth considered,) and propagated it from Cornwall even to Cumberland." But he names the yew for hedges, as preferable for beauty and a stiff defence to any other plant; and says, "without vanity," he was the first which brought it into fashion, as well for defence as for a succedaneum to cypress, whether in hedges or pyramids, conic-spires, bowls or what other shapes, adorning the parks or larger avenues with their lofty tops, thirty foot high, and braving all the efforts of the most rigid winter, which cypress cannot weather.
That fashion has passed away. It is to be wished that Evelyn had been equally successful in filling the country with fruit trees, according to his wise and benevolent desire. "I do only wish," he says, "upon the prospect and meditation of the universal benefit, that every person whatsoever, with ten pounds per annum, within her Majesty's dominions, were by some indispensable statute obliged to plant his hedge-rows with the best and most useful kinds of them." Old Gerrard had exprest a wish to the same effect before him, and he quotes the old man's honest and not ineloquent exhortation — "forward in the name of God, graft, set, plant and nourish up trees in every corner of your ground; the labour is small, the cost is nothing, the commodity is great; yourselves shall have plenty, the poor shall have somewhat in time of want to relieve their necessity, and God shall reward your good minds and diligence." Surely the time will come when the walnut, the pear and the cherry will take place of those trees, which are of less utility and beauty while they stand, and not of greater value when they are cut down. If that spirit of wanton mischief or more malignant havoc be apprehended, which is now but too prevalent among the populace in many parts of England, it should be remembered that this spirit was once as prevalent in France, and that there is now no country in the world where so little of it is displayed. When the sides of the highways were first planted, under Sully's administration, Evelyn tells us, "the rude and mischievous peasants did so hack, steal and destroy what they had begun, that they were forced to desist from the thorough prosecution of the design; so as there is nothing more exposed, wild and less pleasant than the common roads of France, for want of shade, and the decent limits which these sweet and divertissant plantations would have afforded." The peasant is now as sensible of the comfort which these road-side trees afford him by their shade in summer, and the security which they give him when the ground is covered with snow, as the foreigner is of their stateliness and beauty. Evelyn, whose love for trees and groves was only less than that which he felt for his fellow-creatures, more than once expresses his bitter indignation at the havoc made among them, owing to the barbarous manner in which Louis XIV. wasted the countries in which he made war, — mischiefs, he says, not to be repaired in many ages; the truculent and savage marks (among others) of a most Christian King; "nomine, non re!" "Dirae and curses," he exclaims, "on those inhuman and ambitious tyrants, who, not contented with their own dominions, invade their peaceful neighbours, and send their legions, without distinction, to destroy and level to the ground such venerable and goodly plantations, and noble avenues, irreparable marks of their barbarity." No man, in modern times, had made war with so barbarous a spirit as Louis XIV., — till Buonaparte, — the perfect Emperor of the British "liberales," and the most remorseless and destructive tyrant that ever trampled upon the rights and feelings of humanity.
The greater part of the woods, which were raised in consequence of Evelyn's writings, have been cut down: the oaks have borne the British flag to seas and countries which were undiscovered when they were planted, and generation after generation has been coffined in the elms. The trees of his age, which may yet be standing, are verging fast toward their decay and dissolution: but his name is fresh in the land, and his reputation, like the trees of an Indian Paradise, exists and will continue to exist in full strength and beauty, uninjured by the course of time.
Thrones fall and dynasties are changed:
Empires decay and sink
Beneath their own unwieldy weight;
Dominion passeth like a cloud away.
The imperishable mind
Survives all meaner things.
No change of fashion, no alteration of taste, no revolutions of science have impaired or can impair his celebrity. Satire, from which nothing is sacred, scarcely attempted to touch him while living; and the acrimony of political and religious hatred, though it spares not even the dead, has never assailed his memory. How then has he attained this enviable inheritance of fame? Not by surpassing genius; not by pre-eminent powers of mind; not by any great action, nor by any splendid accident of fortune, but by his virtue and his wisdom; by the proper use of his talents, and of the means which God had entrusted into his hands; by his principles and his practice. The Abbe Boileau, in that far-fetched strain of flattery for which the French are remarkable, proposed once to the Academy that the word "bonheur" should be proscribed from all panegyrics upon Louis XIV., "parce que son bonheur etoit son propre ouvrage, son application an travail, son genie, qui prevoit tout, qui pourvoit a tout" &c.: it was disparaging a prince, he said, whose success was owing to himself, to speak of his good fortune. More truly might this be said of Evelyn. The circumstances in which he was placed were all fortunate; but how many men in every generation are placed in circumstances equally propitious and with equal talents, who yet for want of the same prudence and the same principles have gone through the world without being either useful to others or happy in themselves, with no other respectability than mere wealth, and talents unemployed or misemployed could command; and sometimes perverting both, so as to be the pests, the firebrands, and the disgrace of their country! And this has happened even to men who have set out in life with generous feelings and good intentions; for evil principles end in corrupting both, and like diseased and putrid humours carry with them the curse of assimilating to their own nature the subject into which they are introduced.
The youth who looks forward to an inheritance which he is under no temptation to increase, will do well to bear the example of Evelyn in his mind, as containing nothing but what is imitable and nothing but what is good. All persons, indeed, may find in his character something for imitation; but for an English gentleman he is the perfect model. Neither to solicit public offices, nor to shun them, but when they are conferred to execute their duties diligently, conscientiously and fearlessly; to have no amusements but such as being laudable as well as innocent, are healthful alike for the mind and for the body, and in which, while the passing hour is beguiled, a store of delightful recollection is laid up; to be the liberal encourager of literature and the arts; to seek for true and permanent enjoyment by the practice of the household virtues — the only course by which it can be found; to enlarge the sphere of existence backward by means of learning through all time, and forward by means of faith through all eternity, — behold the fair ideal of human happiness! And this was realized in the life of Evelyn.