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John Evelyn.

Diary and correspondence, To which is subjoined the private correspondence between King Charles I. and Sir Edward Nicholas, and between Sir Edward Hyde, afterwards earl of Clarendon, and Sir Richard Browne (Volume 1) online

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Online LibraryJohn EvelynDiary and correspondence, To which is subjoined the private correspondence between King Charles I. and Sir Edward Nicholas, and between Sir Edward Hyde, afterwards earl of Clarendon, and Sir Richard Browne (Volume 1) → online text (page 2 of 46)
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and urges the preference to which public employment and
an active life is entitled, it may be considered as the
playful essay of one who, for the sake of argument, would
controvert another's position, though in reality agreeing
with his own opinion ; if we think him serious in two
letters to Mr. Abraham Cowley, dated 12th March and
24th August, 1666, in the former of which he writes:
" You had reason to be astonished at the presumption, not
to name it affront, that I, who have so highly celebrated
recess, and envied it in others, should become an advocate


for the enemy, which of all others it abhors and flies from.
I conjure you to believe that I am still of the same mind,
and that there is no person alive who does more honour
and breathe after the life and repose you so happily
cultivate and advance by your example ; but, as those who
praised dirt, a flea, and the gout, so have I public employ-
ment in that trifling Essay, and that in so weak a style
compared with my antagonist's, as by that alone it will
appear I neither was nor could be serious, and I hope you
believe I speak my very soul to you.

' Sunt enim Musis sua ludicra, mista Camoenis
Otia sunt ' "

In the other, he says, " I pronounce it to you from my
heart as oft as I consider it, that I look on your fruitions
with inexpressible emulation, and should think myself
more happy than crowned heads, were I, as you, the arbiter
of mine own life, and could break from those gilded toys
to taste your well-described joys with such a wife and such
a friend, whose conversation exceeds all that the mistaken
world calls happiness." But, in truth, Mr. Evelyn's mind
was too active to admit of solitude at all times, however
desirable it might appear to him in theory.

After he had settled at Deptford, which was in the time
of Cromwell, he kept up a constant correspondence with
Sir Eichard Browne (his father-in-law), the King's Am-
bassador at Paris ; and though his connexion must have
been known, it does not appear that he met with any
interruption from the government here. Indeed, though
he remained a decided loyalist, he managed so well as
to have intimate friends even amongst those nearly con-
nected with Cromwell; and to this we may attribute his
being able to avoid taking the Covenant, which he says he
never did take. In 1659, he published " An Apology for
the Royal Party ;" and soon after printed a paper which


was of great service to the King, entitled " The late News,
or Message from Brussels Unmasked," which was an
answer to a pamphlet designed to represent the King in
the worst light.

On the Restoration, we find him very frequently at
Court ; and he became engaged in many public employ-
ments, still attending to his studies and literary pursuits.
Amongst these, is particularly to be mentioned the Royal
Society, in the establishment and conduct of which he
took a very active part. He procured Mr. Howard's
library to be given to them ; and by his influence, in 1667,
the Arundelian Marbles were obtained for the University
of Oxford.

His first appointment to a public office was in 1662, as
a Commissioner for reforming the buildings, ways, streets,
and incumbrances, and regulating hackney-coaches in
London. In the same year, he sat as a Commissioner on
an enquiry into the conduct of the Lord Mayor, &c.,
concerning Sir Thomas Gresham's charities. In 1664, he
was in a commission for regulating the Mint; in the
same year, was appointed one of the Commissioners for
the care of the Sick and Wounded in the Dutch war; and
he was continued in the same employment in the second
war with that country.

He was one of the Commissioners for the repair of
St. Paul's Cathedral, shortly before it was burnt, in 1666.
In that year, he was also in a commission for regulating
the farming and making saltpetre; and in 1671, we find
him a Commissioner of Plantations on the establishment
of the Board, to which the Council of Trade was added
in 1672.

In 1685, he was one of the Commissioners of the Privy
Seal, during the absence of the Earl of Clarendon (who
held that office), on his going Lord Lieutenant to Ireland.
On the foundation of Greenwich Hospital, in 1695, he


was one of the Commissioners; and, on 30th June, 1696,
laid the first stone of that building. He was also appointed
Treasurer, with a salary of 200 a year ; but he says that
it was a long time before he received any part of it.

When the Czar of Muscovy came to England, in 1698,
proposing to instruct himself in the art of ship-building,
he was desirous of having the use of Sayes Court, in conse-
quence of its vicinity to the King's dock-yard at Deptford.
This was conceded ; but during his stay he did so much
damage, that Mr. Evelyn had an allowance of 150 for it.
He especially regrets the mischief done to his famous
holly-hedge, which might have been thought beyond the
reach of damage. But one of Czar Peter's favourite recrea-
tions had been, to demolish the hedges by riding through
them in a wheel-barrow.

October, 1699, his elder brother, George Evelyn, dying
without male issue, aged eighty -three, he succeeded to the
paternal estate ; and, in May following, he quitted Sayes
Court, and went to Wotton, where he passed the remainder
of his life, with the exception of occasional visits to London,
where he retained a house. In the great storm of 1708,
he mentions in his last Edition of the " Sylva," above
1000 trees were blown down in sight of his residence.

He died at his house in London, 27th February, 1705-8,
in the eighty-sixth year of his age, and was buried at
Wotton. His lady survived him nearly three years, dying
9th February, 1708-9, in her seventy-fourth year, and was
buried near him at Wotton. The inscriptions on their
tombs, and on those of hte father and mother, are sub-
joined. His personal character was truly amiable. In the
relative duties of father, husband, and friend, few could
exceed him.

Of Mr. Evelyn's children, a son, who died at the age of
five, and a daughter, who died at the age of nineteen, were
almost prodigies. The particulars of their extraordinary


endowments, and the profound manner in which he was
affected at their deaths, may be seen in these volumes,
and cannot be read without exciting the most tender

One daughter was well and happily settled; another
less so ; but she did not survive her marriage more than a
few months. The only son who lived to the age of man-
hood, inherited his father's love of learning, and distin-
guished himself by several publications.

Mr. Evelyn's employment as a Commissioner for the care
of the Sick and Wounded was very laborious ; and, from
the nature of it, must have been extremely unpleasant.
Almost the whole labour was in his department, which
included all the ports between the river Thames and Ports-
mouth ; and he had to travel in all seasons and weathers,
by land and by water, in the execution of his office, to
which he gave the strictest attention. It was rendered
still more disagreeable by the great difficulty which he
found in procuring money for support of the prisoners.
In the library at Wotton, are copies of numerous letters
to the Lord Treasurer and Officers of State, representing,
in the strongest terms, the great distress of the poor men,
and of those who had furnished lodging and necessaries
for them. At one time, there were such arrears of
payment to the victuallers that, on landing additional sick
and wounded, they lay some time in the streets, the
publicans refusing to receive them, and shutting up their
houses. After all this trouble and fatigue, he found as
great difficulty in getting his accounts settled.* In

* 2nd October, 1665, be writes to the Lord Chancellor, Lord Arlington,
Sir William Coventry, and Sir Philip Warwick, complaining of want of money
for the prisoners ; praying that whilst he and his brother-Commissioners
adventure their persons and all that is dear to them, in this uncomfortable
service, they may not be exposed to ruin, and to a necessity of abandoning
their care ; and adding that they have lost their officers and servants by the
pestilence, aiid are hourly environed with the saddest objects of perishing


January, 1665-6, he formed a plan for an Infirmary at
Chatham, which he sent to Mr. Pepys, to be laid before
the Admiralty, with his reasons for recommending it ; but
it does not appear that it was carried into execution.

His employments, in connection with the repair of
St. Paul's (which, however, occupied him but a brief time),
as in the Commission of Trade and Plantations, and in the
building of Greenwich Hospital, were much better adapted
to his inclinations and pursuits.

As a Commissioner of the Privy Seal in the reign or
King James II., he had a difficult task to perform. He
was most steadily attached to the Church of England, and
the King required the Seal to be affixed to many things
incompatible with the welfare of that Church. This, on
some occasions, he refused to do, particularly to a license
to Dr. Obadiah Walker to print Popish books ;* and on
other occasions he absented himself, leaving it to his
brother-Commissioners to act as they thought fit. Such,
however, was the King's estimation of him, that no dis-
pleasure was evinced on this account.

Of Mr. Evelyn's attempt to bring Colonel Morley
(Cromwell's Lieutenant of the Tower immediately pre-
ceding the Restoration) over to the King's interest, an im-
perfect account is given in the " Biographia/' partly taken
from the additions to " Baker's Chronicle," which was pub-
lished with a continuation in 1696. The fact is, that there
was great friendship between these gentlemen, and Mr.
Evelyn did endeavour to engage the Colonel in the King's
interest. He saw him several times, and put his life into

people. " I have," says he, " fifteen places full of sick men, where they put
me to unspeakable trouble ; the magistrates and justices, who should further
us in our exigencies, hindering the people from giving us quarters, jealous of
the contagion, and causing them to shut the doors at our approach."

* Dr. Walker had been a member of the Church of England, but had re
nounced it, and turned Papist


his hands by writing to him on 12th January, 1659-60; *
he did not succeed, and Colonel Morley was too much his
friend to betray him : but so far from the Colonel having
settled matters privately with Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper,
or General Monk,t as there described, he was obliged, when
the Restoration took place, actually to apply to Mr. Evelyn
to procure his pardon; who obtained it accordingly,
though, as he states, the Colonel was obliged to pay a large
sum of money for it. This could not have happened, if there
had been any previous negotiation with General Monk.

There are some mistakes in the " Biographia " as to
Mr. Evelyn's Works.J Dr. Campbell, who wrote in the
original edition, took some pains to vindicate Mr. Evelyn's
book, entitled, "Navigation and Commerce, their Origin
and Progress/' from the charge of being an imperfect
work, unequal to the expectation excited by the title.
But the Doctor, who had not the information which this
Journal so amply affords on this subject, was not aware
that what was so printed was nothing more than an
Introduction to the History of the Dutch War; a work
undertaken by Mr. Evelyn at the express command of
King Charles II., and the materials for which were
furnished by the Officers of State. The completion of
this work, after considerable progress had been made in
it, was put a stop to by the King himself, for what reason
does not appear; but perhaps it was found that Mr.
Evelyn was inclined to tell too much of the truth con-
cerning a transaction, which it will be seen by his Journal

* A copy of this letter, with a note of Mr. Evelyn's subjoined, is given
among the illustrations.

} Colonel Morley's name is scarcely mentioned in the account of General
Monk's conduct on this occasion, written by John Price, D.D. (who was
sent to him on the king's behalf, and had continual intercourse with him),
published in 1680, and reprinted by Baron Maseres, in 1815.

J For an attempt to draw out a correct list of such as have been published,
see Illustrations in the Appendix to vol. ii. of the present Edition.


that he utterly reprobated. His copy of the History, as far
as he had proceeded, he put into the hands of his friend,
Mr. Pepys, of the Admiralty, who did not return it; but
as the books and manuscripts belonging to Mr. Pepys
passed into the possession of Magdalen College, Cambridge,
it was hoped it might be there preserved. The Editor
went to Cambridge for the purpose of seeing it ; and was
favoured with access to the library, and with the most
obliging personal attendance of the Hon. Mr. Fortescue,
one of the Fellows of the College ; but, after a diligent
search for several hours, it could not be found.

Dr. Campbell understood " The Mystery of Jesuitism "
to be a single volume ; but there were three published
in different years. The translation of the second was
undertaken by Mr. Evelyn at the express desire of Lord
Clarendon and his son, as appears by a letter of Mr.
Evelyn to Lord Cornbury, dated 9 February, 1664. The
third was translated by Dr. Tonge for Mr. Evelyn ; but a
fuller statement of this will be found in a note to one
of the entries of the Diary.*

In giving a list of his publications, the authors of the
"Biographia" say, "As several of these treatises were
printed before the author's return to England, and others
without his name, we must depend on the general opinion
of the world, and the authority of Mr. Wood for their being
his ; yet there is no great reason to suspect a mistake/' t
They add, " We know nothing of the ' Mundus Muliebris ;
or, the Ladies' Dressing Room unlocked/ except that it
has had a place in the Catalogue of our Author's Works,
from which therefore we have no right to remove it." J

There is no doubt of his being the author. Under 1685,
Mr. Evelyn, in his account of his daughter Mary, says,
she " put in many pretty symbols in the ' Mundus

Vol. i., p. 387. f Biog. Brit., vol. v., 2nd edit., p. 611, note E.

J Ibid. p. 624, note S.


Muliebris/ wherein is an enumeration of the immense
variety of the modes and ornaments belonging to the

In a letter to Lord Cornbury, dated 9th February, 1664,
he speaks of having written a Play.

The authors of the " Biographia " remark of his resi-
dence abroad, that " The account, which Mr. Boyle received
from Mr. Evelyn,* of the method used by the Italians
for preserving snow in pits, is an admirable specimen of
that care with which he registered his discoveries, as well
as the curiosity which prompted him to inquire into every
thing worthy of notice, either natural or artificial, in the
countries through which he passed. It is much to be
regretted that a work so entertaining and instructive as
a History of his Travels would have been, appeared, even
to so indefatigable a person as he was, a task too laborious
for him to undertake; for, we should then have seen, in
a clear and true light, many things in reference to Italy
which are now very indistinctly and partially represented;
and we should also have met with much new matter never
touched before, and of which we shall now probably never
hear at all." t

What is thus said of Mr. Evelyn's travels is partly
supplied in the present Diary, but not so fully as could
be wished. That he made many observations which will
not be found here, appears by the above quotation from
Mr. Boyle ; and by an account of the manner of making
bread in France, which he communicated to Mr. Hough-
ton, a Fellow of the Royal Society, who published it in
some papers which he printed in 1681, and following years.

From the numerous authors who have spoken in high
terms of Mr. Evelyn, we will select the two following
notices of him.

In the " Biographia/' Dr. Campbell says, " It is certain

* Boyle's Works, vol. ii., p. 306. f Biog. Brit., vol. v., p. 610, note D.


that very few authors who have written in our language
deserve the character of able and agreeable writers so well
as Mr. Evelyn, who, though he was acquainted with most
sciences, and wrote upon many different subjects, yet was
very far, indeed the farthest of most men of his time, from
being a superficial writer. He had genius, he had taste, he
had learning ; and he knew how to give all these a proper
place in his works, so as never to pass for a pedant, even with
such as were least in love with literature, and to be justly
esteemed a polite author by those who knew it best." *

Horace Walpole (afterwards Earl of Orford), in his
Catalogue of Engravers, gives us the following admirably
drawn character, pp. 85, 86 : " If Mr. Evelyn had not
been an artist himself, as I think I can prove he was,
I should yet have found it difficult to deny myself the
pleasure of allotting him a place among the arts he loved,
promoted, patronised; and it would be but justice to
inscribe his name with due panegyric in these records,
as I have once or twice taken the liberty to criticise
him. But they are trifling blemishes compared with
his amiable virtues and beneficence; and it may be
remarked, that tVie worst I have said of him is, that he
knew more than he always communicated. It is no
unwelcome satire to say, that a man's intelligence and
philosophy is inexhaustible. I mean not to write his life,
which may be found detailed in the new edition of his
1 Sculptura/ in ' Collins's Baronetage/ in the ' General
Dictionary/ and in the new ' Biographical Dictionary ; }
but I must observe, that his life, which was extended to
eighty-six years, was a course of inquiry, study, curiosity,
instruction, and benevolence. The works of the Creator,
and the minute labours of the creature, were all objects of
his pursuit. He unfolded the perfection of the one, and
assisted the imperfection of the other. He adored from

* Bio<r. Brit., vol. v., p. 614, note I.


examination ; was a courtier that nattered only by inform-
ing his Prince, and by pointing out what was worthy of
him to countenance ; and really was the neighbour of the
Gospel, for there was no man that might not have been
the better for him. Whoever peruses a list of his works,
will subscribe to my assertion. He was one of the first
promoters of the Royal Society ; a patron of the ingenious
and the indigent ; and peculiarly serviceable to the lettered
world ; for, besides his writings and discoveries, he obtained
the Arundelian Marbles for the University of Oxford, and
the Arundelian Library for the Royal Society. Nor is it
the least part of his praise, that he, who proposed to
Mr. Boyle the erection of a Philosophical College for
retired and speculative persons, had the honesty to write
in defence of active life against Sir George Mackenzie's
( Essay on Solitude/ He knew that retirement, in his
own hands, was industry and benefit to mankind ; but in
those of others, laziness and inutility."

His son, Mr. John Evelyn, was of Trinity College,
Oxford, and, when about fifteen years old, wrote that
elegant Greek Poem which is prefixed to the second
Edition of the " Sylva." He translated Rapin on Gardens,
in four books, written in Latin verse. His father annexed
the second book of this to the second edition of his "Sylva."
He also translated from the Greek of Plutarch the life of
Alexander the Great, printed in the fourth volume of
" Plutarch's Lives, by several Hands ; " and from the
French, the History of the Grand Viziers Mahomet and
Achmet Coprogli. There are several poems of his, of
which some are printed in " Dryden's Miscellanies," and
more in " Nicols's Collection of Poems."

In December, 1688, he was presented to the Prince of
Orange, at Abington, by Colonel Sidney and Colonel
Berkley; and was one of the volunteers in Lord Lovelace's
troop, when his lordship secured Oxford for the Prince.


In 1690, he purchased the place of chief clerk of the Trea-
sury ; but, in the next year, he was by some means removed
from it by Mr. Guy, who succeeded in that office. In
August, 1692, he was made one of the Commissioners of
the Revenue in Ireland, from whence he returned to
England in 1696, in very ill health, and died 24th March,
1698, in his father's lifetime.

He married Martha, daughter and coheir of Richard
Spencer, Esq., a Turkey merchant, by whom he had
two sons and three daughters. The eldest son, and the
eldest daughter, Martha-Mary, and youngest daughter,
Jane, died infants. The surviving daughter, Elizabeth,
married Simon Harcourt, Esq., son of the Lord Chancel-
lor Harcourt. September 18th, 1705, the son John, who
had succeeded his grandfather at Wotton, married Anne,
daughter of Edward Boscawen, Esq., of the county of
Cornwall; and, by letters patent, dated 30 July, 1713,
was created a Baronet. He inherited the virtue and the
taste for learning, as well as the patrimony, of his ances-
tors; and lived at Wotton universally loved and respected.
He built a library there, forty-five feet long, fourteen wide,
and as many high, for the reception of the large and
curious collection of books made by his grandfather, father,
and himself; and where they now remain. He was a Fellow
of the Royal Society, was long the first Commissioner of
the Customs, and died 15th July, 1763, in the eighty-
second year of his age.

By his lady, who died before him, he had several
children, and was succeeded by John the eldest, who
married Mary, daughter of Hugh Boscawen, Viscount Fal-
mouth, and died llth June, 1767, in the 61st year of his
age. He was Clerk of the Green Cloth to Frederick Prince
of Wales, father of George III., and to that King when
Prince of Wales, and after he came to the Crown. He
represented the Borough of Helston in several Parliaments,


and to the time of his death, He had only one son,
Frederick, who succeeded to the title and estate, and
three daughters. Of the daughters, two died unmarried;
the third, Augusta, married the Rev. Dr. Henry Jenkin,
Rector of Wotton and Abinger; but she died without
issue. Sir Frederick was in the army in the early part of
his life ; and was in Elliot's Light-Horse, when that
regiment so highly distinguished themselves in the famous
Battle of Minden, in Germany, in 1759. He married
Mary, daughter of William Turton, Esq. of Staffordshire,
and, dying without issue in 1812, he left his estate to his
Lady. She lived at Wotton, where she fully maintained
the honour and great respect which had so long attended
the family there. Her taste for botany was displayed in
her .garden and greenhouse, where she had a curious
collection of exotic, as well as native, shrubs and flowers.
The library shared her attention. Besides making addi-
tions to it, she had a complete Catalogue arranged by
Mr. Upcott, of the London Institution.

This lady by her will returned the estate to the family,
devising it to John Evelyn, Esq., descended from George
Evelyn, the purchaser of the estate in 1579.

The following are epitaphs to the memory of the writer
of this Diary, and part of his family, interred in the
Dormitory adjoining Wotton Church.

For his Grandfather, who settled at Wotton, on an
alabaster monument, written by Dr. Comber, Master of
Trinity College, Cambridge, and afterwards Dean of

Durham :

D. 0. M. S.

Georgio Eveline, Arm. non minus
Vitse et Morum exemplo, quam dignitate


conspicuo, quern plenum annis (inoffensse

vitse decurso itinere, quale sibi opta-

verint Magni illi, qui inanem strepitum

tranquillitati posthabendum putarunt)

Mors immatura abstulit, namq ;
rebus omnibus, Deo omnia bcne vertente,

affluens, quibus vita beata efficitur,
repetito non infelici delectu matrimo-

nio, Liberos ad filios 16 octoque
filias, pene octogenarius decessit senex :

Parent! charissimo, et bene merenti
Richardus Evelinus, filiorum natu minimus,

Monumentum cum carmine moerens

posuit, quod non tarn Patris vivo hominum

ore victuri, quam proprioe Pietatis

testimonium esset.

Obiit 30 die Mali, An. Com. 1603.

JEtatis suse 73.

On another alabaster monument, are the figures of a
man and his wife kneeling, and five children; below is
this inscription :


vere generosi, et prsenobilis Viri, D. Richardi

Evelini armigeri, in agro Surriensi, hie

subter in ternt conditi.

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