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To Mr. Bohun.
If it be true that we are generally inclined to covet what we admire, I can assure you my ambition aspires not to the fame of Balzac, and therefore must not thank you for entitling me to that great name. I do not admire his style, nor emulate the spirit of discontent which runs through all his letters. There is a lucky hit in reputation, which some obtain by the defect in their judges, rather than from the greatness of their merit: the contrary may be instanced in Doctor Donne, who, had he not been really a learned man, a libertine in wit and a courtier, might have been allowed to write well; but I confess in my opinion, with these qualifications he falls short in his letters of the praises some give him.
Voiture seems to excel both in quickness of fancy, easiness of expression, and in a facile way of insinuating that he was not ignorant of letters, an advantage the Court air gives persons who converse with the world as books.
I wonder at nothing more than at the ambition of printing letters: since, if the design be to produce wit and learning, there is too little scope for the one; and the other may be reduced to a less compass than a sheet of gilt paper, unless truth were more communicative. Business, love, accidents, secret displeasure, family intrigues, generally make up the body of letters; and can signify very little to any besides the persons they are addressed to, and therefore must lose infinitely by being exposed to the unconcerned. Without this declaration, I hope I am sufficiently secure never to run the hazard of being censured that way; since I cannot suspect my friends of so much unkindness, nor myself of the vanity to wish fame on so doubtful a foundation as the caprice of mankind. Do not impute my silence to neglect. Had you seen me these ten days continually entertaining persons of different humour, age, and sense, not only at meals, or afternoon, or the time of a civil visit, but from morning till night, you will be assured it was impossible for me to finish these few lines sooner; so often have I set pen to paper and been taken off again, that I almost despaired to let you know my satisfaction that Jack' complies so well with your desires, and that I am your friend and servant,
To Sir Samuel Tuke. SIR,
I think myself obliged, since this is the day designed for your happiness, to express the part I take in your joy, and join my wishes for the continuance of it. The favour you intend me on Monday I receive with much satisfaction, but fear you will not afford it us long, when you find the many inconveniences of a little house, a disordered family, and the difference in judgments; all which may be dispensed with, whilst health, the discretion of servants, and other accidents, permit; but should there be a miscarriage in any of these, the end of our joining families ceases, and I, who am sensible of my own defects and tender of my friends’ contentment, cannot entertain the hopes you will be sufferers many days. Let not this surprise you, since it proceeds from a cautiousness in my nature, which will not suffer me to engage, where I have any part to act, with that assurance some are more happy in ; therefore prepare your lady with the nicety of my temper, and the truth of this, that I may not pass in either opinions for a person that promises more than can be performed by, Sir, your humble servant,
To Mr. Bohun. SIR, July 17, 1668.
By honest John and my last to Jack, you have learnt Sir Samuel is entered into the state of matrimony. I do assure you, if marriage were the happy establishment in his opinion, he has made choice of a wife every way worthy of him, for person, quality, wit, good mien, and sewere virtue; her piety cannot be questioned after living seven years a canoness, which includes all the strictness of a nun, the vow only excepted. They are both here at pre
* Her son, then at College under Mr. Bohun's care.
sent, and will remain some time till they can fit themselves for housekeeping; I am generally well pleased with such favours from my friends, and I am extremely satisfied with the conversation of this fair lady. I am apt, I confess, to enlarge the characters of them I esteem, but to be just to the merit of this person I ought to say much more. I will suppose your college affairs take up much of your time, and that your diversions in Oxford are very charming; yet neither should make you so absolutely forget Deptford and those in it, as not to impart some of your pleasant thoughts, at spare moments especially, knowing how well we receive your letters, and how naturally our sex loves novelty, that I cannot but accuse you of unkindness; however, I am, Your friend and servant, M. E.
To my brother Glanville' in France. SIR,
I have received your kind letter, and am not astonished Mr. Fuller finds so great a difference between a French pension and Woodcott table. Let him know eating is the least design of travellers; that particular waived, I still persevere in the defence of France; and will believe, when you have overcome the difficulties of the language, and gained some acquaintance amongst the better sort, visited the Court, seen the noble buildings and pleasant seats in and about Paris, you will render to what has been related to you, that it is an excellent country, wherein indeed riches are partially distributed, yet employed to great use and ornament. The people are little various in their tempers, for which blame the several nations from which they are descended; but all agreeing in the desire to enlarge their bounds, and augment the glory of the prince under whom the most of them do but breathe. I am sorry it was not my good fortune to stay till you came, or your lot to come when I was there, that I might have been assisting to your conversation. An ambassador is daily * See Diary, vol. ii. p. 380, for a character of Mr. Glanville, who had married Evelyn's sister. The letter is undated, but the mention of Lord
Arlington's influence seems to fix the year as that immediately following Clarendon's disgrace, and the triumph of the Cabal; namely, 1668-9.
threatened to be sent from hence, but it is not yet decided which of the two able statesmen shall carry it—the Lord Buchan, or Mr. R. Montagu ; since it does not depend on their abilities for the employment, but their being disposed to marry my Lord Arlington's wife's sister, as the necessary article to arrive to that dignity. When either is declared, you shall not fail of the address you desire. In the meantime any English gentleman must be well received by my Lord of St. Alban's. Though your eye be continually over my cousin your son, and your care as great as a tender and knowing parent's can be, yet I am persuaded you will find the breeding in an academy the likeliest way to answer all ends except that of expense, which must be greater there than elsewhere; but not to be valued, considering the advantages of good conversation, the emulation which young persons of good birth raise in one another, the learning all manly exercises in community, and the gaining a good air and assurance best acquired by example, which works most with such ingenious and observing tempers as my cousin seems to be. The orders are generally good, the discipline strict, and, I am informed, the chief master in our time has left a nephew, that not only equals but excels him; and is also of the religion." If you are inclined to take this course with my nephew this winter, you will find him out in the Faubourg St. Germain, so pleasant a part of the town I admire you can live out of it. When you walk to the Charity, if you inquire for the Rue Farrene you may see how pleasantly our house was situated. I fear you will judge I mention Paris with that affection persons in age remember the satisfaction of their youth, to which happiness was the nearest, at least in their opinion, and so past that there is no hopes of a return. Such, I confess, in part are my thoughts of that place, but must not flatter myself you will confirm me in them, who arrive there in a more discerning age, and carry with you a little prejudice against the people; yet something is to be expected from the justice of your nature in their behalf, and from the goodness of your nature in mine. Excuse the liberty of, Your affectionate site;
* A Protestant, Mrs. Evelyn means.
To Mr. Terryll in Ireland."
Feb. 10, 1668-9. SIR, I have received yours with the enclosed to Mr. Bohun, which shall be conveyed to him with care. I am not to doubt of your good reception where your merit is well understood; I am rather to wish you may not meet with engagements to keep you long out of this country, which, if so unhappy as to impart vices to its neighbours, cannot boast of many virtues to spare. This may truly be esteemed an admiring age, if distance from what is worthy define it well; and what leads me to this opinion is the strange veneration paid to the ruins of ancient structures, greater than the entire edifices ever could pretend to; a sort of justice virtue challenges in our time, and leaves the practice to the choice of the succeeding age. To inform you of what passes here cannot be acceptable, since I suppose you are, not without the curiosity of travellers, desirous to collect foreign novelties; which, should you be exempt from, little is worth communicating to you from hence. The censure of our plays comes to me at the second hand. There has not been any new lately revived and reformed, as Catiline, well set out with clothes and scenes; Horace, with a farce and dances between every act, composed by Lacy and played by him and Nell, which takes;” one of my Lord of Newcastle's, for which printed apologies are scattered in the assembly by Briden's order, either for himself who had some hand in it, or for the author most ; I think both had right to them.” State affairs I am not likely to give you an account of, if Mr. B.'s character be
1 Mr. Terryll was the son of Sir Timothy (variously called by Evelyn, Tirrill, Tyrell, and Tyrill), as to whom see vol. i. pp. 287 and 406; vol. ii. p. 105; and vol. iii. p. 308.
* See Pepys' Diary, Bohn's edition, vol. iv. p. 84. “Horace” was a poor translation of Corneille's tragedy by Mrs. Philips. See Evelyn's Diary, vol. ii. p. 35, where Evelyn contrasts the virtue of the authoress with that of the ladies (Castlemaine and others) before whom he saw it performed.
* An entry in the Diary of Pepys (vol. iv. pp. 93, 94), will probably explain this allusion.