Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

to change the fashion of our dress, and introduce a costume formed upon the Persian mode. Evelyn bad lately written an essay* upon the subject, recommending that we should adopt a national dress and adhere to it. Let it be considered,' he said, that those who seldom change the mode of their country have as seldom altered their affections to the prince.' A copy of this he presented to the king, and some of the alterations which he had recommended were adopted in this new costume. The whole court adopted this vest and surcoat or tunic as 'twas called,' and Evelyn also appeared in it. It was a comely and manly habit, he says, too good to hold, it being impossible for us in good earnest to leave the Monsieurs' vanities long. Charles resolved never to alter it, and to leave the French mode • which had hitherto obtained to our great expence and reproach.' But his inconstancy was so well known that divers courtiers and gentlemen gave him gold by way of wages, that he would not persist in his resolution.'

The ensuing year was remarkable for the bold attack which the Dutch made upon our fleet at Chatham; had they pursued their fortune they might have advanced to London' with ease, and have fired all the vessels in the river. Evelyn sent away his best goods and plate from Sayes Court to a safer place. The alarm, he says, was so great that it put both country and city into a panic fear, and consternation, such as I hope I shall never see more; every body was flying, none knew why or whither. And when he describes how triumphantly their whole fleet lay within the very mouth of the Thames, all from the North Fore-land, Margate, even to the buoy of the Nore! he exclaims, ' a dislionour never lo be wiped off! Those who advised bis Majesty to prepare no fleet this spring deserved -I know what--but- The Thames being thus blockaded, London was exceedingly distressed for want of fuel, and Evelyn was sent to search about the environs whether any peat or turf could be found fit for use. The report was that there might be found a great deal. Experiments were also made of the houllies, which he had mentioned in one of his publications as being made at Maestricht with a mixture of charcoal dust and loam, and fires of this composition were made by order of council at Gresham College, which was then used as an Exchange, ' for every body to see.' But Evelyn was mistaken respecting the houille, which is a species of pit-coal, so highly impregnated with bitumen and with sulphur, that it cannot be used for domestic

In the preface to this pamphlet, Evelyn uses a contenuptuous appellation for the French, which never having been obsolete in Spain, was used in that country with great effect during the late tremendous war. 'I will not reproach the French for their fruit. foi invention, or any thing that is commendable, but tis well knowu who those Gavaches are who would impose upon all the world beside.'

purposes purposes unless it be tempered with clay; no charcoal is used in the composition.

Evelyn, who felt the injustice of our quarrel with the Dutch, and was deeply sensible of the dishonour which we endured in the contest, beheld also with bitter sorrow the vices of the court and the growing profligacy of the age. Gambling he abhorred as a wicked folly, and grieved that such a wretched custom should be countewanced in a court which ought to be an example of yirtue to the rest of the kingdom.' The butcherly sports of the Bear Garden he regarded with human and Christian indignation, and when a fine spirited horse was exposed as a public exbibition to be baited to death, under the false pretence that it had killed a man, he regretted that the wretches who contrived this abominable means of getting money could not be punished as they deserved. He went very seldom to the theatre : the old plays, such as · Hamlet, Prince of Denmark,' began to disgust this refined age, since his Majesty's being so long abroad; and it afflicted him to see how the stage was degenerated and polluted by the licentious times:' the theatres, he says, were abused to an atheistical liberty, and foul and indecent women now (and never till now) permitted to appear and act, who inflaming several young noblemen and gallants, became their misses, and to some their wives : witness the Earl of Oxford, Sir R. Howard, P. Rupert, the Earl of Dorset, and another greater person than any of them, who fell into their snares, to the reproach of their noble families, and ruin of both body and soul.? The conduct of Charles is frequently alluded to in this Diary with grief. But in the midst of these contagious immoralities, Evelyn's life was a beautiful example of all public and private virtues. While he enjoyed the intimacy and esteem of those who were highest in power, the only advantage which he solicited for hiunself and his family, was the fair settlement of his father-inlaw's accounts with the king; and those persons who derived benefit from his councils when they were in authority, found him in their adversity a constant and affectionate friend. Thus he was the frequent visitor of Clarendon, when that admirable man was abandoned by the swarm of summer followers. Clifford too in bis disgrace felt the sincerity of Evelyn's friendship, and wrung him by the hand, when (as it afterwards appeared) he had resolved upon suicide, with an earnestness that showed there was something in the world from which he could not part without a painful effort, and a feeling that unmanned him. So also when Arlington's fortuues were on the wane, Evelyn dwells in his journal with delight upon the better parts of his character. Sandwich imparted his griefs to Evelyn when he embarked with a determination of seeking death in battle, and thereby compelling those to do justice to his character who had aspersed it; and it was into Evelyn's ear that Ossory breathed the last overflowings of a wounded spirit and a broken heart.

character dispense

Charles II. treated him always with affability and kindness, knowing and respecting his worth and his unsullied virtue. Evelyn was much affected by his death. Writing on the day when James was proclaimed, he says, “I can never forget the inexpressible luxury and profaneness, gaming and all dissoluteness, and as it were total forgetfulness of God (it being Sunday evening) which this day se'nnight I was witness of, the king sitting and toying with bis concubines, Portsmouth, Cleaveland, and Mazarine, &c. a French boy singing love-songs in that glorious gallery, whilst about twenty of the great courtiers and other dissolute persons were at basset round a large table; a bank of at least £2000 in gold before them, upon which two gentlemen who were with me made reflexions with astonishment. Six days after, all was in the dust!' He deplored his loss, he said, with all his soul, for many respects as well as duty. A fear of the political consequences undoubtedly was one; for Evelyn well knew that the welfare of this kingdom depends vitally upon the preservation of that church, the subversion of which was necessarily considered as a duty by a Catholic king. He looked upon the defeat of Monmouth's enterprize as a signal deliverance, believing that if it had not been early checked it would have proceeded to the ruin of the church and government. Such an inundation of fanatics, he says, and men of impious principles must needs have caused universal disorder, cruelty, injustice, rapine, sacrilege, and confusion, an unavoidable civil war, and misery without end. But when the times became more trying, Evelyn decidedly opposed those measures which, had they been successful, would have certainly destroyed the civil and religious liberties of Great Britain. When Lord Clarendon was sent to Ireland, he was nominated one of the Commissioners for executing the office of Privy Seal during his lieutenancy there. He was not displeased when the creation of Mrs. Sedley, Countess of Dorchester, passed the Privy Seal at a time when he was absent, and when the appointment of the Secretary to the Ambassador at Rome was sealed, he observes that through Providence he was not present. But when a docket was to be sealed, importing a lease of twenty-one years to the king's printer for printing Missals and other books which, by act of parliament, were expressly forbidden to be printed or sold, Evelyn seeing that the law was clear in this case refused to put the seal to it; and on a similar occasion he persisted in his refusal when Archbishop Sancroft, whom he consulted, gave him no other encouragement than that of advising him to follow his own conscience; and the Lord Treasurer told him that if, in conscience, he could dispense with it, there was no other hazard. And when James, beginning to perceive his danger, released the bishops, Evelyn, who had good information of the plans of the court, gave Sancroft good intelligence and bold anvice; he pointed out the crafty designs of the Jesuits by which the unfortunate king was directed; observed that in all the declarations which had been published in pretended favour of the Church of England as by law established, room was carefully left for a subdolous construction of the words—as if the Church of Rome were the only lawful one; advised him, therefore, that in all extraordinary offices the words Reformed and Protestant should be added to that of the Church of England by law established, 'aud whosoever, said he, threatens to invade or come against us to the prejudice of that church, in God's name, be they Dutch or Irish, let us heartily pray and fight against them.'

Yet Mr. Evelyn rather submitted to the consequences of the Revolution than acquiesced in them: the necessity of resisting the plaus of James he fully acknowledged, but he seems to have thought that the rights of the son should have been respected, even if it were justifiable that the father should be set aside. He had a personal regard for James, and had augured much happiness to the nation, as to its political government, ` from bis infinite industry, sedulity, gravity and great understanding and experience of affairs,' nothing as he thought being wanting to accomplislı our prosperity, but that he should be of the national religion. Evelyn's character would have been less amiable if he could at once have cast off all attachment to a family which he had served in evil and in prosperous fortunes. He noticed the unbecoming levity with which Queen Mary took possession of her apartments at Whitehall; and at first he did not render justice to the abilities of William, whom he thought of a 'slothful sickly temper,' a man as inferior in all outward graces to the two last kings, as he was superior to them in sterling wisdom and solid worth. Evelyn feared the republican spirit which was at work, manifestly, as he thought, undermining all future succession of the crown and prosperity of the Church of England;' and he saw that the general imposition of an oath, which might properly be required from all who came into office into the new government, would occasion great injustice and evil. That oath was 'thought to have been driven on by the Presbyterians.' God in mercy send us help, says Evelyn, and direct his counsels to his glory, and the good of his church! The non-jurors were for many years the butt of contempt and obloquy, but notwithstanding their political error history will do justice to the consistent integrity of their conduct. After the Revolution, as before it, they bravely persisted in what they believed to be their duty, regardless of the consequences to themselves.

Evelyn was now sixty-nine years old; the recurrence of his birthday is always entered in his Journal with a prayer. He had lately been visited by severe afflictions ;-bis daughter Mary, at the age of nineteen, had been cut off by the small-pox, a beautiful creature in mind as well in form and features, highly accomplished, of a fine understanding, studious and yet unaffectedly humble, pious, cheerful, affectionate, in disposition like an angel. She was a little miracle, says her father, while she lived, and so she died,—the joy of my life, and ornament of her sex and of my poor family. Few persons, we believe, will peruse without tears the pages in which he records ber death, and his own resignation under this great affliction. Within two months he lost another daughter, soon after her marriage, by the same frightful disease, which in those days was only less destructive* than the plague. And it was his painful lot to follow to the grave his only remaining son in the forty-fourth year of his age, a man of much ability and reputation, worthy to have supported the honour of his name. Notwithstanding these repeated sorrows and the weight of nearly fourscore years, Evelyn still enjoyed uninterrupted health and unimpaired faculties; he enjoyed also the friendship of the wise and the good, and the general esteem beyond any other individual of his age. Torn as that age was by civil and religious factions Mr. Evelyn had no enemy; as a lover and liberal benefactor of science and learning he held that place in public opinion which in our days has so long and so deser. vedly been held by Sir Joseph Bankes; a more enviable distinction can hardly be imagined. Among the honourable events of his latter life it should not be omitted that as the first treasurer of Greenwich Hospital, he laid one of the foundation stones. When he was at Amsterdam, in his youth, he admired nothing so much in that interesting city as the hospital for the lame and decrepid soldiers,' it being, for state, order and accommodation, one of the worthiest things that the world can show of that nature.' He had now the satisfaction of founding in his own country the inost splendid of all such establishments.

In the year 1694 he left Sayes Court, after having resided there more than forty years, to pass the remainder of his days at Wotton, where he was born, in his brother's house; bis brother having also lost his sons, had settled the family-estate upon him. The fate of Sayes Court, which he had beautified according to his own taste with so much cost and care, is worthy of notice; first it was let to no less remarkable a personage than Admiral Benbow, then only a captain, and Evelyn had, he says, the mortification of seeing every day much of his former labours and expense there impairing for want

* 1695. 13 Jan. The deaths by small-pox increased to 500 more than in the precoding week.'

of

« AnteriorContinuar »