Imágenes de páginas

adjusting the claims of each proprietor, that so they may dispose things for the building after the noblest model. Everybody brings in his idea, amongst the rest I presented to his majesty my own conceptions, with a discourse annexed. It was the second that was seen, within two days after the conflagration; but Dr. Wren [afterwards sir Christopher] had got the start of me.

Both of us did coincide so frequently, that his majesty was not displeased with it, and it caused divers alterations; and truly there was never a more glorious phænix upon earth, if it do at last emerge out of these cinders, and as the design is laid, with the present fervour of the undertakers. But these things are as yet immature; and I pray God we may enjoy peace to encourage those fair dispositions. The miracle is, I have never in my life observed a more universal resignation, or less repining amongst sufferers, which makes me hope that God has yet thoughts of mercy towards us. Judgments do not always end where they begin, and therefore let none exult over our calamities; we know not whose turn it may be next. But, Sir, I forbear to entertain you longer on these sad reflections.”





Truth is not local ; God alike pervades
And fills the world of traffic and the shades ;
And may be fear'd amidst the busiest scenes,
Or scorn'd where business never intervenes.

[ocr errors]

The principal incidents in Mr. Evelyn's life between the fire of London and the death of Charles the second may be related within a moderate compass.

The time which he could spare from his public avocations, was divided between his garden at Sayes Court, his literary friends, and his library. Constantly interrupted as he was by the morning visits of those whom his gardens or conversation attracted, he found it necessary to steal hours from his night's rest, in order to prosecute his studies. He says in a letter, written in 1668;—“I have treated mine eyes very ill, near these twenty years; during all which time I have rarely put them together, or composed them to sleep, before one at night, and sometimes much later; that I may in some sort redeem my losses by day, in which I am continually importuned with visits from my neighbours and acquaintance, or taken up by other impertinencies of my life in this place [Sayes Court]. I am plainly ashamed to tell you this, considering how little I have improved myself by it."

Of those whom he accounted his friends, it may be sufficient to say generally with one of his biographers, that they were “the greatest and most judicious men of


those times.” Being a frequent attendant at the meetings of the Royal Society, he had opportunities of cultivating the acquaintance of those whose tastes and genius agreed with his own. He gave, and was in turn invited to, literary entertainments; and we frequently find him setting out with lord Brounker, sir Robert Murray, bishop Wilkins, Mr. Boyle, sir Christopher Wren, and other “excellent persons and philosophers,” to witness new inventions, and improvements in the several branches of science.

Piety and virtue were strong recommendations to his esteem; and to his great honour, his friendship was as warm in adversity as in prosperity. Lords Clarendon, Clifford, and Arlington, felt the constancy of his regard when their fortunes were on the wane ; and it is pleasing to observe the satisfaction with which he dwells


the better parts of their characters.

His conversation appears to have been seasoned with cheerfulness and pleasantry. Mr. Pepys relates that on one occasion he enjoyed an evening, “the most merry he ever spent in his life,” in the company of Evelyn, who recited some humorous lines on the various uses of may and can, which made the whole party

66 die almost with laughing.”

Through his influence with the honourable Henry Howard (afterwards sixth duke of Norfolk), that noble person was induced to present his

valuable library to the Royal Society, and to send his celebrated collection of ancient inscriptions to the university of Oxford, where they are known as the Arundelian marbles. Mr. Howard had “little inclination to books,” and exposed them “to everybody to carry away and dispose of what they pleased;" and the precious monuments which his magnificent grandfather, the illustrious earl of Arundel


had gathered with so much cost and industry from Greece" were “miserably neglected, and scattered up and down about the garden," where they were suffering great damage from the weather. Mr. Evelyn received the cordial thanks of each of the learned bodies to whose benefit he had thus contributed; the University sent a deputation to express their gratitude, and in 1669 conferred upon him the honorary degree of Doctor of Civil Law.

In the year 1668 Evelyn published a translation, entitled An Idea of the Perfection of Painting, with a new preface, containing some of his own reflections. This work is now scarce, and has been greatly admired by the lovers of that beautiful art. He subsequently published A History of Three late famous Impostors; an account of the Origin and Progress of Navigation and Commerce, which he undertook by the command of King Charles ;Terra, a philosophical Discourse on Earth and Vegetation ;-—Numismata, a Discourse on Medals; and several works on Gardening ;—besides which, he revised and enlarged several of his former works, for new editions.

It is not surprising that his family should have imbibed the tastes which he was labouring to spread throughout the nation. His wife has been already described as busied with him in his study, skilled in the arts which her husband loved, and cultivating the garden which established his fame. A son also has been mentioned, whose dawning genius awakened hopes, which were only disappointed by his early death ; and the only surviving son gave fair promise to his father's ardent wishes. At an early age he was a “ pleasant and most ingenious child, conquering difficulties with incredible industry, and capable beyond his years." He was educated at home, under his father's eye, and received the first rudiments of his education from Mr. Edward Philips, the nephew of Milton. After



wards, he was for some years under the care of Mr. Bohun, who attended him in due time to Oxford, still superintending his studies. At the age of fifteen young Evelyn wrote a short Greek poem of some merit, which was prefixed to the second edition of the Sylva; and at eighteen he translated and published Rapin's Gardens, a portion of which also was usually printed in the subsequent editions of Sylva. He lived to distinguish himself by several other publications.

Mr. Bohun became an attached and esteemed friend of the family. He was learned person and excellent preacher," and Mr. Evelyn gladly availed himself of the first opportunity of appointing him to the living of Wotton. Mr. Bohun corresponded with Mrs. Evelyn, and left a sketch of her character, which has happily been preserved, and from which many of the particulars contained in this memoir have been taken.

In 1671 Evelyn had the merit of rescuing from poverty and obscurity “ that incomparable young man,” Grinling Gibbons, the earliest British sculptor of eminence. He found him by accident in a “ lonesome place" at Deptford; and struck with his genius and manners, became his earliest friend and patron. He introduced him to the notice of the king, and recommended him to sir Christopher Wren, who employed him to make the splendid carvings which adorn the interior of St. George's chapel at Windsor, and the choir of St. Paul's cathedral, as well as in decorating many other churches, and several of the mansions of the nobility and gentry. As a token that he remembered with gratitude the acts of kindness of which he was the object, he presented to Evelyn his own bust in wood; but unhappily this work has perished.

Early in the same year Evelyn was made a Commisioner of Plantations, on the establishment of the board;

« AnteriorContinuar »