Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Concerning the former of these publications Jeremy Taylor wrote to him from Ireland ;—“Sir, the Apology you were pleased to send me I both read privately, and heard it read publicly with no little pleasure and satisfaction. The materials are worthy, the dress is clean, orderly, and beauteous; and I wish that all men in the nation were obliged to read it twice; it is impossible but it must do good to those guilty persons, to whom it is not impossible to repent."

Evelyn further promoted the cause which he had at heart, by private communications with several influential persons; he watched with joy the progress of affairs towards the accomplishment of his wishes; it was illness alone which prevented him from accompanying lord Berkeley with the parliamentary address which invited the king to return; and with unspeakable delight he hailed the entry of king Charles the second into London, and witnessed the tokens of universal gladness. “I stood in the Strand,” he says, “ and beheld it and blessed God.”

315

CHAPTER III.

66 SYLVA” AND OTHER WORKS.-PUBLIC EMPLOYMENTS.

ACCOUNT OF THE GREAT FIRE OF LONDON.

He that delights to plant and set,

Makes after ages in his debt.
When I behold the havoc and the spoil

Which (ev'n within the compass of my days)
Is made thro' every quarter of this isle,

In woods and groves, which were this kingdom's praise ;
And when I mind with how much greediness

We seek the present gain in everything ;
Not caring (so our lust we may possess)

What damage to posterity we bring, -
They do, methinks, as if they did foresee

That some of those whom they bave cause to hate
Should come in future times their heirs to be ;

Or else, why should they such things perpetrate ?
For if they think their children shall succeed,

Or can believe that they begot their heirs,
They could not, surely, do so frail a deed

As to deface the land that should be theirs.
What our forefathers planted, we destroy:

Nay, all men’s labours, living heretofore,
And all our own we lavishly employ

To serve our present lusts, and for no more.
But let these careless wasters learn to know

That, as vain spoil is open injury,
So planting is a debt they truly owe,

And ought to pay, to their posterity.
Self-love for none but for itself doth care,

And only for the present taketh pain;
But charity for others doth prepare,
And joys in that which future time shall gain.

If after ages may my labours bless,
I care not much how little I possess.

WITHERS's Emblems, Anno 1635. AFTER the restoration, Mr. Evelyn was occasionally drawn out of his privacy, and his studious habits were interrupted by public employments. Going to court to

testify his joy and loyalty, a few days after the king's return, he was very graciously received,” and Charles was “ pleased to own him more particularly, calling him his old acquaintance.”

Soon after that event, he was offered to be made a Knight of the Bath. This honour, however, he declined; but in 1662 he accepted an appointment to be one of the commissioners for reforming the buildings, ways, streets, and incumbrances, and regulating hackney-coaches in London. This was an occupation by no means unsuitable to his taste and genius. In the same year he was chosen, with some other gentlemen, to inquire into the conduct of the lord mayor and the Mercers' Company, with regard to the management of sir Thomas Gresham's charities.

He still, however, loved the retirement of Sayes Court, and the pursuits which he had been accustomed to follow there; and now, on the restoration of the monarchy, he thought it a favourable time for awakening in the nation a taste for the fine arts and polite literature, which had been of late years sadly neglected. Already he had presented to the public the fruits of his observation and experience in planting and gardening, in the hope of repairing the devastations of the preceding times; and now he proceeded to finish his treatises on architecture, painting, engraving, libraries, and medals, hoping that a love for the arts of peace might succeed the disquietude of civil dissension. “I confess," he says, in a letter written many years after, “ I am foolishly fond of these and other rustications, which had been my sweet diversions during the days of destruction and devastation both of woods and buildings which lasted so long in this nation.”

In 1661 he published his Instructions concerning the erecting of a Library; also a pamphlet entitled Fumifugium, in which he proposes that a certain composition

should be used for fuel, as a means of purifying London from smoke. In the same year he sent out a satire on the fashions, called Tyrannus, or the Mode, in which he “ took occasion to describe the comeliness and usefulness of the Persian clothing."

Next year appeared his Sculptura, a treatise on the art of engraving, containing also “ an ample enumeration of the most renowned masters and their works,” and (by permission of prince Rupert the inventor) an account of “ the new way of graving called mezzo tinto,” which had recently been discovered, and was first made public by this work. Accident was the parent of this, as well as of many other useful and elegant inventions. " A German soldier,” says Evelyn, “ espying some scrape on the barrel of his musket, and being of an ingenious spirit, refined upon it, till it produced the effects you have seen.” This book he wrote at the very earnest request of his illustrious friend, the honourable Robert Boyle. In the preface he highly commends the zeal of that excellent person in “ cultivating the sciences and advancing useful knowledge," and deplores the "trifling and illiberal rewards" extended to artists and men of erudition. quarter of that which is thrown away,” he says, upon base and vitious gallantries and impertinent follies, were employed in the encouragement of arts, and promotion of science, how illustrious and magnificent would this age be, how glorious and infinitely happy! We complain of the times present,—'tis we that make them bad; we admire the former,—'tis the effect of our ignorance only ; which is yet more criminal, in that we have had their examples to instruct, and have made them to reproach us. Pardon this indignation of ours, O ye that love virtue and cultivate the sciences !”

In 1664 he published his famous work, Sylva, or a

66 If a

Discourse of Forest Trees, and the Propagation of Timber in his Majesty's Dominions. In a letter written in the latter part of his life, he gives the following account of the origin of this treatise. “ When many years ago I came from rambling abroad, observed a little there, and since I came home a great deal more than gave me much satisfaction, and (as events have proved) scarce worth one's pursuit, I cast about how I should employ the time which hangs on most young men's hands, to the best advantage ; and when books and severer studies grew tedious, and other impertinence would be pressing, by what innocent diversions I might sometimes relieve myself without compliance to recreations I took no felicity in, because they did not contribute to any improvement of the mind. This set me upon planting trees, and brought forth my Sylva."

He introduces the subject to his readers as one which had interested some of the greatest men of ancient times, who “ did not disdain to cultivate these rusticities, even with their own hands.” Such a spirit he wished to diffuse amongst the land-owners of his country, in order that they might enrich and adorn their estates with timber, which had been so much neglected and laid waste during the late troubles ; he wished “ that such woods as do yet remain entire might be carefully preserved, and such as are destroyed, sedulously repaired.” He thought that “ there was nothing which seemed more fatally to threaten a weakening, if not a dissolution, of the strength of this famous and flourishing nation, than the sensible and notorious decay of her wooden walls, when either through time, negligence or other accident, the present navy should be worn out and impaired.” He therefore rejoiced that the Commissioners of the Navy had suggested to the Royal Society, to enquire into the best

« AnteriorContinuar »