Imágenes de página

|-! ± ----- ---------+---+-====== ---- - - --~~~~------~~----||

[merged small][graphic]
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

I was born (at Wotton, in the County of Surrey,) about twenty minutes past two in the morning, being on Tuesday the 31st and last of October, 1620, after my father had been married about seven years, * and that my mother had borne him three children; viz. two daughters and one son, about the 33rd year of his age, and the 23rd. of my mother's.

My father, named Richard, was of a sanguiñe complexion, mixed with a dash of choler: his hair inclining to light, which, though exceeding thick, became hoary by that time he had attained to thirty years of age; it was somewhat curled towards the extremities; his beard, which he wore a little peaked, as the mode was, of a brownish colour, and so continued to the last, save that it was somewhat mingled with grey hairs about his cheeks; which, with his countenance, were clear and fresh-coloured, his eyes extraordinary quick and piercing; an ample forehead, in sum, a very well composed visage and manly aspect: for the rest, he was but low of stature, yet very strong. He was, for his life, so exact and

* He was married at St. Thomas's, Southwark, 27th January, 1613. My sister, Eliza was born at nine at night, 28th November, 1614; Jane, at four in the morning, 16th February, 1616; my brother George at nine at night, Wednesday, 16th June, 1617; and my brother Richard, 9th November, 1622.



temperate, that I have heard he had never been surprised
by excess, being ascetic and sparing. His wisdom was
great, and his judgment most acute; of solid discourse,
affable, humble, and in nothing affected; of a thriving,
meat, silent, and methodical genius; discreetly severe, yet
liberal upon all just occasions, both to his children, to
strangers, and servants; a lover of hospitality, and, in
brief, of a singular and Christian moderation in all his
actions; not illiterate, nor obscure, as having continued
Justice of the Peace and of the Quorum, he served his
country as High Sheriff, being, as I take it, the last
dignified with that office for Sussex and Surrey together,
the same year, before their separation.* He was yet a
studious decliner of honours and titles; being already
in that esteem with his country, that they could have
added little to him besides their burthen. He was a
person of that rare conversation that, upon frequent
recollection, and calling to mind passages of his life
and discourse, I could never charge him with the least
passion, or inadvertency. His estate was esteemed about
£4000 per annum, well wooded, and full of timber.
My mother's name was Eleanor,t sole daughter and
heiress of John Standsfield, Esq., of an ancient and
honourable family (though now extinct) in Shropshire,
by his wife Eleanor Comber, of a good and well-known
house in Sussex. She was of proper personage, of a
brown complexion; her eyes and hair of a lovely black;
of constitution more 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: which rendered her loss

much deplored both by those who knew, and such as

only heard of her.
Thus much, in brief, touching my parents; nor was it
reasonable I should speak less of them to whom I owe
so much.
The place of my birth was Wotton, in the parish of
Wotton, or Blackheath, in the county of Surrey, the then

* Formerly the two counties had, in general, only one sheriff, though sometimes distinct ones. In 1637, each county had its sheriff, and so it has continued ever since.

+ She was born 17th November, 1598, in Sussex, near to Lewes.

[ocr errors]

mansion-house of my father, left him by my grandfather, afterwards and now my eldest brother's. It is situated in the most southern part of the shire; and, though in a valley, yet really upon part of Leith Hill, one of the most eminent in England for the prodigious prospect to be seen from its summit,” though by few observed; from it may be discerned twelve or thirteen counties, with part of the sea on the coast of Sussex, in a serene day. The house is large and ancient, suitable to those hospitable times, and so sweetly environed with those delicious streams and venerable woods, as in the judgment of strangers as well as Englishmen, it may be compared to one of the most tempting and pleasant seats in the nation, and most tempting for a great person and a wanton purse, to render it conspicuous. It has rising grounds, meadows, woods, and water, in abundance.

The distance from London little more than twenty miles,t and yet so securely placed, as if it were one hundred; three miles from Dorking, which serves it abundantly with provisions as well of land as sea; six from Guildford, twelve from Kingston.f I will say nothing of the air, because the pre-eminence is universally given to Surrey, the soil being dry and sandy; but I should speak much of the gardens, fountains, and groves that adorn it, were they not as generally known to be amongst the most natural, and (till this later and universal luxury of the whole nation, since abounding in such expenses) the most magnificent that England afforded, and which indeed gave one of the first examples to that elegancy, since so much in vogue and followed, for the managing of their waters, and other elegancies of that nature. Let me add, the contiguity of five or six manors, Š the patronage of the livings about it, and what Themistocles pronounced for none of the least advantages—the good neighbourhood: all which conspire here to render it an honourable and handsome royalty, fit for the present possessor, my worthy brother, and his noble lady, whose constant liberality gives them title both to the place and the affections of all that know them. Thus, with the poet:

* 993 feet. ' + Computed miles; it is a little more than twenty-six measured miles. it. Eight, and fourteen. § Seven manors, two advowsons, and a chapel of ease. | Lady Cotton, widow.

Nescio quâ natale solum dulcedine cunctos
Ducit, et immemores non sinet esse sui.

I had given me the name of my grandfather, my mother's father, who, together with a sister of Sir Thomas Evelyn of Long Ditton, and Mr. Comber, a near relation of my mother, were my susceptors. The solemnity (yet upon what accident I know not, unless some indisposition in me) was performed in the dining-room by Parson Higham, the present incumbent of the parish, according to the forms prescribed by the then glorious Church of England.* I was now (in regard to my mother's weakness, or rather custom of persons of quality) put to nurse to one Peter, a neighbour's wife and tenant, of a good, comely, brown, wholesome complexion, and in a most sweet place towards the hills, flanked with wood and refreshed with streams; the affection to which kind of solitude I sucked in with my very milk. It appears, by a note of my father's, that I sucked till 17th January, 1622; or at least I came not home before. The very first thing that I can call to memory, and from which time forward I began to observe, was this year (1623) my youngest brother being in his nurse's arms, who being then two years and nine days younger than myself, was the last child of my dear parents. 1624. I was not initiated into any rudiments till near four years of age, and then one Frier taught us at the church-porch of Wotton; and I do perfectly remember the great talk and stir about Il Conde Gundamar, now Ambassador from Spain (for near about this time was the match of our Prince with the Infanta proposed), and the effects of that comet, 1618, still working in the prodigious revolutions now beginning in Europe, especially in Germany, whose sad commotions sprang from the Bohemians’ defection from the Emperor Matthias; upon which quarrel the Swedes broke in, giving umbrage to

. I had given me two handsome pieces of very curiously wrought and gilt plate.

« AnteriorContinuar »