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

. (page 9 of 46)
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 9 of 46)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

gold. In the cabinet joining to it are only the smaller
volumes, with six cabinets of medals, and an excellent
collection of shells and agates, whereof some are pro-
digiously rich. This Duke being very learned in medals
and plants, nothing of that kind escapes him. There are
other spacious, noble, and princely furnished rooms, which
look towards the gardens, which are nothing inferior to
the rest.

The court below is formed into a square by a corridor,
having over the chief entrance a stately cupola, covered
with stone ; the rest is cloistered and arched on pilasters
of rustic work. The terrace ascending before the front,
paved with white and black marble, is balustered with
white marble, exquisitely polished.

Only the hall below is low, and the staircase somewhat
of a heavy design, but the faccia towards the parterre,
which is also arched and vaulted with stone, is of
admirable beauty, and full of sculpture.
,, The gardens are near an English mile in compass,
enclosed with a stately wall, and in a good air. The
parterre is indeed of box, but so rarely designed and
accurately kept cut, that the embroidery makes a won-
derful effect to the lodgings which front it. 'Tis divided
into four squares, and as many circular knots, having in
the centre a noble basin of marble near thirty feet
diameter (as I remember), in which a Triton of brass
holds a dolphin, that casts a girandola of water near thirty
feet high, playing perpetually, the water being conveyed
from Arceuil by an. aqueduct of stone, built after the old
Roman magnificence. About this ample parterre, the
spacious walks and all included, runs a border of freestone,
adorned with pedestals for pots and statues, and part of it
near the steps of the terrace, with a rail and baluster of
pure white marble.

The walks are exactly fair, long, and variously descend-
ing, and so justly planted with limes, elms, and other
trees, that nothing can be more delicious, especially that


of the horn-beam hedge, which being high and stately,
buts full on the fountain.

Towards the farther end, is an excavation intended for
a vast fish-pool, but never finished, and near it is an
inclosure for a garden of simples, well-kept ; and here the
Duke keeps tortoises in great number, who use the pool
of water on one side of the garden. Here is also a con-
servatory for snow. At the upper part, towards the palace,
is a grove of tall elms cut into a star, every ray being a
walk, whose centre is a large fountain.

The rest of the ground is made into several inclosures
(all hedge-work or rows of trees) of whole fields, meadows,
bocages, some of them containing divers -t>cres.

Next the street side, and more contiguous to the house,
are knots in trail, or grass work, where likewise runs a
fountain. Towards the grotto and stables, within a wall, is
a garden of choice flowers, in which the Duke spends many
thousand pistoles. In sum, nothing is wanting to render
this palace and gardens perfectly beautiful and magni-
ficent; nor is it one of the least diversions to see the
number of persons of quality, citizens and strangers, who
frequent it, and to whom all access is freely permitted,
so that you shall see some walks and retirements full of
gallants and ladies ; in others, melancholy friars ; in others,
studious scholars ; in others, jolly citizens, some sitting or
lying on the grass, others running and jumping; some
playing at bowls and ball, others dancing and singing;
and all this without the least disturbance, by reason of the
largeness of the place.

What is most admirable, you see no gardeners, or men
at work, and yet all is kept in such exquisite order, as if
they did nothing else but work ; it is so early in the
morning, that all is dispatched and done without the least

I have been the larger in the description of this para-
dise, for the extraordinary delight I have taken in those
sweet retirements. The Cabinet and Chapel nearer the
garden-front have some choice pictures. All the houses
near this are also very noble palaces, especially Petite
Luxemburg. The ascent of the street is handsome from
its breadth, situation, and buildings.

I went next to view Paris from the top of St. Jacques'

1644.] JOHN EVELYN. 65

steeple, esteemed the highest in the town, from whence I
had a full view of the whole city and suburbs, both which,
as I judge, are not so large as London : though the dis-
similitude of their several forms and situations, this being
round, London long, renders it difficult to determine;
but there is no comparison between the buildings, palaces,
and materials, this being entirely of stone and more
^sumptuous, though I esteem our piazzas to exceed theirs.

Hence I took a turn in St. Innocent's churchyard,
where the story of the devouring quality of the ground
(consuming bodies in twenty -four hours), the vast charnels
of bones, tombs, pyramids, and sepulchres, took up much
of my time, together with the hieroglyphical characters of
Nicholas Flamel's philosophical work, who had founded
this church, and divers other charitable establishments, as
he testifies in his book.

Here divers clerks get their livelihood by inditing letters
for poor maids and other ignorant people who come to
them for advice, and to write for them into the country,
both to their sweethearts, parents, and friends; every
large grave-stone serving for a table. Joining to this
church is a common fountain, with good relievos upon it.

The next day, I was carried to see a French gentleman's
curious collection, which abounded in fair and rich jewels
of all sorts of precious stones, most of them of great sizes
and value; agates and onyxes, some of them admirably
coloured and antique; nor inferior were his landscapes
from the best hands, most of which he had caused to
be copied in miniature ; one of which, rarely painted on
stone, was broken by one of our company, by the mis-
chance of setting it up : but such was the temper and
civility of the gentleman, that it altered nothing of his
free and noble humour.

The next morning, I was had by a friend to the garden
of Monsieur Morine, who, from being an ordinary gardener,
is become one of the most skilful and curious persons
in France for his rare collection of shells, flowers, and

His garden is of an exact oval figure, planted with
cypress, cut flat and set as even as a wall : the tulips,
anemones, ranunculuses, crocuses, &c., are held to be of
the rarest, and draw all the admirers of that kind to his



house during the season. He lived in a kind of hermitage
at one side of his garden, where his collection of porcelain
and coral, whereof one is carved into a large crucifix, is
much esteemed. He has also books of prints, by Albert
[Durer], Van Leyden, Callot, &c. His collection of all
sorts of insects, especially of butterflies, is most curious;
these he spreads and so medicates, that no corruption
invading them, he keeps them in drawers, so placed as to
represent a beautiful piece of tapestry.

He shewed me the remarks he had made on their pro-
pagation, which he promised to publish. Some of these,,
as also of his best flowers, he had caused to be painted in
miniature by rare hands, and some in oil.

6th April. I sent my sister my own picture in water-
colours, which she requested of me, and went to see divers
of the fairest palaces of the town, as that of Vendome, very
large and stately ; Longueville ; Guise ; Conde ; Chevereuse;
Nevers, esteemed one of the best in Paris towards the river.

I often went to the Palais Cardinal, bequeathed by
Richelieu to the King, on condition that it should be
called by his name ; at this time, the King resided in it,
because of the building of the Louvre. It is a very noble
house, though somewhat low; the galleries, paintings of
the most illustrious persons of both sexes, the Queen's
baths, presence-chamber with its rich carved and gilded
roof, theatre, and large garden, in which is an ample
fountain, grove, and mall, worthy of remark. Here I also
frequently went to see them ride and exercise the great
horse, especially at the Academy of Monsieur du Plessis,
and de Veau, whose schools of that art are frequented by
the nobility ; and here also young gentlemen are taught to/
fence, dance, play on music, and something in fortification
and the mathematics. The design is admirable, some
keeping near a hundred brave horses, all managed to the
great saddle.

12th. I took coach, to see a general muster of all the
gens d'armes about the City, in the Bois de Boulogne,
before their Majesties, and all the Grandees. They were
reputed to be near 20,000, besides the spectators, who
much exceeded them in number. Here they performed
all their motions; and, being drawn up, horse and foot,
into several figures, represented a battle.


The summer now drawing near, I determined to spend
the rest of it in some more remote town on the river
Loire ; and, on 19th April, I took leave of Paris, and, by
the way of the messenger, agreed for my passage to

The way from Paris to this city, as indeed most of the
roads in France, is paved with a small square freestone, so
that the country does not much molest the traveller with
dirt and ill way, as in England, only 'tis somewhat hard
to the poor horses' feet, which causes them to ride more
temperately, seldom going out of the trot, or grandpas,
as they call it. We passed divers walled towns, or villages;
amongst others of note, Chartres and Etampes, where we
lay the first night. This has a fair church. The next
day, we had an excellent road ; but had like to come short
home ; for, no sooner were we entered two or three leagues
into the Forest of Orleans (which extends itself many
miles), but the company behind us were set on by rogues,
who, shooting from the hedges and frequent covert, slew
four upon the spot. Amongst the slain, was a captain of
Swiss, of the regiment of Picardy, a person much lamented.
This disaster made such an alarm in Orleans at our
arrival, that the Prevot Marshal, with his assistants, going
in pursuit, brought in two whom they had shot, and
exposed them in the great market-place, to see if any
would take cognizance of them. I had great cause to
give God thanks for this escape ; when coming to Orleans
and lying at the White Cross, I found Mr. John Nicholas,
eldest son to Mr. Secretary.

21st. I went about to view the city, which is well
built of stone, on the side of the Loire. About the middle
of the river is an island, full of walks and fair trees, with
some houses. This is contiguous to the town by a stately
stone-bridge, reaching to the opposite suburbs, built like-
wise on the edge of a hill, from whence is a beautiful
prospect. At one of the extremes of the bridge are strong
towers, and about the middle, on one side, is the statue of
the Virgin Mary, or Pieta, with the dead Christ in her lap,
as big as the life. At one side of the cross, kneels Charles
VII. armed, and at the other Joan d'Arc, armed also like a
cavalier, with boots and spurs, her hair dishevelled, as the
deliveress of the town from our countrymen, when they


besieged it. The figures are all cast in copper, with a
pedestal full of inscriptions, as well as a fair column joining
it, which is all adorned with fleurs-de-lis and a crucifix, with
two saints proceeding (as it were) from two branches out
of its capital. The inscriptions on the cross are in Latin :
" Mors Christi in cruce nos a contagione labis et seternorum
morborum sanavit." On the pedestal : " Rex in hoc signo
hostes profligavit, et Johanna Virgo Aureliam obsidio
liberavit. Non diu ab impiis diruta, restituta sunt hoc
anno D'ni 1578. Jean Buret, m. f." " Octannoque
Oalliam senitute Britannica liberavit. A Domino factum
est illud, et est mirabile in oculis nostris ; in quorum
memoria hsec nostrae fidei Insignia." To this is made
an annual procession on 12th May, mass being sung
before it, attended with great ceremony and concourse of
people. The wine of this place is so strong, that the King's
cup-bearers are, as I was assured, sworn never to give the
King any of it ; but it is a very noble liquor, and much of
it transported into other countries. The town is much
frequented by strangers, especially Germans, for the
great purity of the language here spoken, as well as for
divers other privileges, and the University, which causes
the English to make no long sojourn here, except such as
can drink and debauch. The city stands in the county of
Bealse ; * was once styled a Kingdom, afterwards a Duchy,
as at present, belonging to the second son of France.
Many Councils have been held here, and some Kings
crowned. The University is very ancient, divided now by
the students into that of four nations, French, High Dutch,
Normans, and Picardines, who have each their respective
protectors, several officers, treasurers, consuls, seals, &c.
'There are in it two reasonable fair public libraries,
whence one may borrow a book to one's chamber, giving
but a note under hand, which is an extraordinary custom,
and a confidence that has cost many libraries dear. The
-first church I went to visit was St. Croix ; it has been a
stately fabric, but now much ruined by the late civil wars.
They report the tower of it to have been the highest in
France. There is the beginning of a fair reparation.
About this cathedral is a very spacious cemetery. The
town-house is also very nobly built, with a high tower to

* Blaisois.

1644.] JOHN EVELYN. (59

it. The market-place and streets, some whereof are deli-
ciously planted with limes, are ample and straight, so well
paved with a kind of pebble, that I have not seen a neater
town in France. In fine, this city was by Francis I,
esteemed the most agreeable of his vast dominions.

28th. Taking boat on the Loire, I went towards
Blois, the passage and river being both very pleasant.
Passing Mehun, we dined at Baugenci, and slept at a
little town, called St. Dieu. Quitting our bark, we hired
horses to Blois, by the way of Chambord, a famous house
of the King's, built by Francis I. in the middle of a
solitary park, full of deer, enclosed with a wall. I was
particularly desirous of seeing this palace, from the ex-
travagance of the design, especially the stair-case, men-
tioned by Palladio. It is said that 1800 workmen were
constantly employed in this fabric for twelve years ; if so,
it is wonderful that it was not finished, it being no greater
than divers gentlemens' houses in England, both for room
and circuit. The carvings are indeed very rich and full.
The stair-case is devised with four entries, or ascents,
which cross one another, so that though four persons
meet, they never come in sight, but by small loop-holes,
till they land. It consists of 274 steps (as I remember),
and is an extraordinary work, but of far greater expense
than use or beauty. The chimneys of the house appear
like so many towers. About the whole is a large deep
moat. The country about is full of corn, and wine, with,
many fair noblemen's houses.

We arrived at Blois, in the evening. The town is hilly,
uneven, and rugged, standing on the side of the Loire,
having suburbs joined by a stately stone bridge, on which
is a pyramid with an inscription. At the entrance of the
castle is a stone statue of Louis XII. on horseback, as
large as life, under a Gothic state ; and a little below are
these words :

Hie ubi natus erat dextro Ludovicus Olympo,

Sumpsit honorata regia sceptra maim ;
Felix quae tanti fulsit Lux nuncia Regis !

Gallica non alio principe digna fuit.

Under this is a very wide pair of gates, nailed full of
wolves and wild-boars' heads. Behind the castle the


present Duke Gaston had begun a fair building, through
which we walked into a large garden, esteemed for its
furniture one of the fairest, especially for simples and exotic
plants, in which he takes extraordinary delight. On the
right hand, is a long gallery full of ancient statues and
inscriptions, both of marble and brass; the length, 300
paces, divides the garden into higher and lower ground,
having a very noble fountain. There is the portrait of a
hart, taken in the forest by Louis XII., which has twenty-
four antlers on its head. In the Collegiate Church of
St. Saviour, we saw many sepulchres of the Earls of Blois.

On Sunday, being May-day, we walked up into Pall
Mall, very long, and so noble shaded with tall trees
(being in the midst of a great wood), that unless that of
Tours, I had not seen a statelier.

From hence, we proceeded with a friend of mine through
the adjoining forest, to see if we could meet any wolves,
which are here in such numbers that they often come and
take children out of the very streets; yet will not the
Duke, who is sovereign here, permit them to be destroyed.
We walked five or six miles outright; but met with none;
yet a gentleman, who was resting himself under a tree,
with his horse grazing by him, told us that, half an hour
before, two wolves had set upon his horse, and had in
probability devoured him, but for a dog which lay by
him. At a little village at the end of this wood, we eat
excellent cream, and visited a castle builded on a very
steep cliff.

Blois is a town where the language is exactly spoken ;
the inhabitants very courteous ; the ah* so good, that it is
the ordinary nursery of the King's children. The people
are so ingenious, that, for goldsmiths' work and watches,
no place in France affords the like. The pastures by the
river are very rich and pleasant.

2nd May. We took boat again, passing by Channont, a
proud castle on the left hand ; before it is a sweet island,
deliciously shaded with tall trees. A little distance from
hence, we went on shore at Amboise, a very agreeable
village, built of stone, and the houses covered with blue
slate, as the towns on the Loire generally are; but the
castle chiefly invited us, the thickness of whose towers,
from the river to the top, was admirable. We entered by

1644.] JOHN EVELYN. 71

the drawbridge, which has an invention to let one fall, if
not premonished. It is full of halls and spacious cham-
bers, and one stair-case is large enough, and sufficiently
commodious, to receive a coach, and land it on the very
tower, as they told us had been done. There is some
artillery in it : but that which is most observable is in the
ancient chapel, viz. a stag's head, or branches, hung up by
chains, consisting of twenty brow-antlers, the beam bigger
than a man's middle, and of an incredible length. Indeed,
it is monstrous, and yet I cannot conceive how it should
be artificial : they show also the ribs and vertebrae of the
same beast ; but these might be made of whalebone.

Leaving the castle, we passed Mont Louis, a village
having no houses above ground, but such only as are hewn
out of the main rocks of excellent freestone. Here and
there the funnel of a chimney appears on the surface
amongst the vineyards which are over them, and in this
manner they inhabit the caves, as it were sea-cliffs, on one
side of the river for many miles.

We now came within sight of Tours, where we were
designed for the rest of the time I had resolved to stay in
France, the sojournment being so agreeable. Tours is
situate on the easy side of a hill on the river Loire, having
a fair bridge of stone, called St. Edme; the streets are
very long, straight, spacious, well-built, and exceeding
clean ; the suburbs large and pleasant, joined to the city
by another bridge. Both the church and monastery of
St. Martin are large, of Gothic building, having four
square towers, fair organs, and a stately altar, where they
shew the bones and ashes of St. Martin, with other relics.
The Mall without comparison is the noblest in Europe
for length and shade, having seven rows of the tallest
and goodliest elms I had ever beheld, the innermost of
which do so embrace each other, and at such a height,
that nothing can be more solemn and majestical. Here
we played a party, or party or two, and then walked about
the town-walls, built of square stone, filled with earth, and
having a moat. No city in France exceeds it in beauty,
or delight,

6th. We went to St. Gatian, reported to have been
built by our countrymen; the dial and clock-work are
much esteemed. The church has two handsome towers


and spires of stone, and the whole fabric is very noble and
venerable. To this joins the Palace of the Archbishop,
consisting both of old and new building, with many fair
rooms, and a fair garden. Here I grew acquainted with
one Monsieur Merey, a very good musician. The Arch-
bishop treated me very courteously. We visited divers
other churches, chapels, and monasteries, for the most
part neatly built, and full of pretty paintings, especially
the Convent of the Capuchins, which has a prospect over
the whole city, and many fair walks.

8th. I went to see their manufactures in silk (for in
this town they drive a very considerable trade with silk-
worms), their pressing and watering the grograms and
camlets, with weights of an extraordinary poise, put into
a rolling-engine. Here I took a master of the language,
and studied the tongue very diligently, recreating myself
sometimes at the mall, and sometimes about the town.
The house opposite my lodging had been formerly a
King's palace; the outside was totally covered with fleur-
de-lis, embossed out of the stone. Here Mary de Medicis
held her Court, when she was compelled to retire from,
Paris by the persecution of the great Cardinal.

25th. Was the Fete Dieu, and a goodly procession of all
the religious orders, the whole streets hung with their
best tapestries, and their most precious moveables ex-
posed; silks, damasks, velvets, plate, and pictures in
abundance; the streets strewed with flowers, and full of
pageantry, banners, and bravery.

6th June. I went by water to visit that goodly and vener-
able Abbey of Marmoutiers, being one of the greatest in
the kingdom : to it is a very ample church of stone, with
a very high pyramid. Amongst other relics, the Monks
shewed us is the Holy Ampoulle, the same with that
which sacres their Kings at Rheims, this being the one
that anointed Henry IV. Ascending many steps, we
went into the Abbot's Palace, where we were shewed a
vast tun, (as big as that at Heidelberg), which they report
St. Martin (as I remember) filled from one cluster of
grapes growing there.

7th. We walked about two miles from the city to an
agreeable solitude, called Du Plessis, a house belonging to
the King. It has many pretty gardens, full of nightin-

1644.] JOHN EVELYN. 7$

gales : and, in the chapel, lies buried the famous poet,

Returning, we stepped into a Convent of Franciscans,
called St. Cosmo, where the cloister is painted with the
miracles of their St. Francis a Paula, whose ashes lie in
their chapel, with this inscription : " Corpus Sancti Fran,
a Paula 1507. 13 Aprilis. concrematur vero ab Haereticis
anno 1562, cujus quidem ossa et cineres hie jacent." The
tomb has four small pyramids of marble at each corner.

9th. I was invited to a vineyard, which was so arti-
ficially planted and supported with arched poles, that
stooping down one might see from end to end, a very
great length, under the vines, the bunches hanging down
in abundance.

20th. We took horse to see certain natural caves, called
Gouttiere, near Colombiere, where there is a spring within
the bowels of the earth, very deep and so excessive cold,
that the drops meeting with some lapidescent matter, it
converts them into a hard stone, which hangs about it
like icicles, having many others in the form of comfitures
and sugar plums, as we call them.

Near this, we went under the ground almost two fur-
longs, lighted with candles, to see the source and spring
which serves the whole city, by a passage cut through the
main rock of freestone.

28th. I went to see the palace and gardens of Chevereux,
a sweet place.

30th. I walked through the vineyards as far as Roche
Corbe, to the ruins of an old and very strong castle said
to have been built by the English, of great height, on the
precipice of a dreadful cliff, from whence the country and
river yield a most incomparable prospect.

27th July. I heard excellent music at the Jesuits, who
have here a school and convent, but a mean chapel. We
had now store of those admirable melons, so much cele-
brated in France for the best in the kingdom.

1st August. My valet, one Garro, a Spaniard, born in

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 9 of 46)