« AnteriorContinuar »
such a light as I could hardly look against, save when the river and other large waters within our view appeared of a more dark and uniform colour, resembling those spots in the moon supposed to be seas there, according to our new philosophy, and viewed by optical glasses.'
On his return to England he studied a little, but danced and fooled more.' But this was no age for vanities. The civil war broke out, and Evelyn went with his horse and arms to join the king at Brentford, but he was not permitted to remain there, (this is the phrase he uses,) because the retreat of the royal army, which immediately took place, would have left him and his brothers exposed to ruin without any advantage to his Majesty. He retired to his brother's house at Wolton, and began to improve the gardens; when the Covenant was pressed he absented himself, but finding it
impossible to evade the doing very unhandsome things,' he ob tained the king's licence to travel, and set out for a longer journey, accompanied by his old fellow collegian Thicknesse. Twice at the very outset had this journey well nigh proved fatal: mistaking the tide as they came before Calais, in weather which was snowy and untoward enough,' they struck on the sands with no little danger; and crossing an overflown stream on the way to Boulogne, in darkness, and in a storm of rain, hail, and snow, his horse slipt and bad almost been the occasion of his perishing.
The churches upon the continent hold the first place among those rareeshows by which the curiosity of a young English traveller is invited. Evelyn was much amused with the treasures at St. Denis, which contained at that time some of the most remarkable relics, true and false, any where in existence: among the latter were a likeness of the Queen of Sheba, Solomon's drinking cup, Judas's brass lanthorn, and Virgil's stoue mirror; among the former Charlemagne's set of chess men, “full of Arabic characters. There were also the effigies of the late French kings in wax, like ours in Westminster, covered with their robes, with a world of other rarities.' Paris appeared to him, for the materials the houses are built with, and its many noble and magnificent piles, one of the most gallant cities in the world: he describes it large in circuit, of a round form, very populous, but situated in a bottom environed with gentle declivities, rendering some places very dirty, and making it smell as if sulphur were mingled with the mud.' This odour, for which certainly the nature of the ground was not in fault, provoked the spleen of Peter Heylyn, who had visited France some years before Evelyn, at a time of life when “both his wits and fancies (if ever be was master of any) were in their predominancy. This I am confident of,' he says, that the nastiest lane in London is frankincense and juniper to the sweetest street in this city. The ancient by-word
was (and there is good reason for it) Il destaint comme la fange de Paris: had I the power of making proverbs I would only change il destaint into il puit, and make the by-word ten times more orthodox. The fortifications of this town are but trifles,-the only venom of the streets is a strength unto it more powerful than the ditches or the bulwark of St. Martins. It was therefore not unjudiciously said of an English gentleman, that he thought Paris was the strongest town in Christendom, for he took strong in that sense as we do in England when we say such a man bath a strong breath. These things considered it could not but be an infinite happiness granted by nature to our Henry V. that he never stopt his nose at any stink, as our chronicles report of him; otherwise, in my conscience, he had never been able to keep his court there. But that which most amazed me is, that in such a perpetuated constancy of stinks, there should yet be found so large and admirable a variety a variety so special and distinct, that any chemical nose, (I dare lay my life on it,) after two or three perambulations, would hunt out blindfold each several street by the smell, as perfectly as another by bis eye. Paris is now less obnoxious to this reproach than many other places ; and the three stinking cities of Europe are Lisbon, Edinburgh, and Geneva.
The garden of the Tuileries Evelyn describes as rarely contrived for privacy, shade, or company. It had then some curiosities' so much in French taste that it is wonderful they should not have been preserved, a labyrinth of cyprus, and an artificial echo redoubling the words distinctly, and never, he says, without some fair nymph singing to it. Standing at one of the focusses which is under a tree or little cabinet of hedges, the voice seems to descend from the clouds ; at another as if it was under ground.' During the reign of the sorereign people, the commune ploughed up the turf in these gardens to plant potatoes there, and they planted potatoes also in the parterres ! The taste of Evelyn's age, wbich continues to be the taste of the French, and having rooted itself in their habits and literature is likely, notwithstanding all their versatility, to continue indelible, was exemplified wherever he went. The Archbishop of Paris in his garden at St. Cloud had a Mount Parnassus, not indeed so costly a plaything as the elaborate toy of Titon du Tillet, but a grotto - or shell-house on the top of the hill, with a fair cupola, the walls painted with the muses, many statues placed about it, some of which were antique and good, and within divers water-works and contrivances to wet the spectators.' At Cardinal Richelieu's villa, the arch of Constantine was painted on a wall in oil, as large as the real one at Rome, so well done that even a man skilled in painting may mistake it for stone and sculpture. The sky and bills which seem to be between the
arches are so natural that swallows and other birds, thinking to fly through, have dashed themselves against the wall. With all his feelings for nature Evelyn had not advanced beyond bis contemporaries in taste, and he was heartily pleased with the agreeable deceit,' as he calls it, of a painted river which eked out the apparent limits of a Parisian garden. The Luxembourg gardens he speaks of as a paradise, and says that he had taken extraordinary delight in its sweet retirements. The Duke of Orleans at that time inbabited the palace, and kept tortoises in great numbers. The Duke would not permit the wolves to be destroyed upon his domains, in consequence of which they became so numerous in the forest of Orleans as often to come and take children out of the very streets of Blois ! In our own days Stolberg noticed a similar effect of this preposterous passion for the chase,-cats were prohibited in the island of Ischia lest they should destroy the game, and when these useful animals bad been extirpated the rats became so numerous that infants were not safe from them in the cradle.
Proceeding from France into Italy Evelyn notices with proper English feeling the disgusting sight of the gally-slaves at Marseilles, who, it seems, were made a show for the gratification of strangers !
• We went to visite the Gallys being about 25; the Captaine of the Gally Royal gave us most courteous entertainement in his cabine, the slaves in the interim playing both loud and soft musiq very rarely: Then he shew'd us how he commanded their motions with a nod and his whistle, making them row out. The spectacle was to me new and strange, to see so many hundreds of miserably naked persons, having their heads shaven close and having onely high red bonnets, a payre of coarse canvass drawers, their whole backs and leggs naked, doubly chayn'd about their middle and leggs, in couples, and made fast to their seates, and all commanded in a trise by an imperious and cruell seaman. One Turke he much favor’d, who waited on bim in bis cabin but with no other dress than the rest, and a chayne lock'd about his leg but not coupled. This gally was richly carv'd and gilded, and most of the rest were very beautifull. After bestowing something on the slaves, the captain sent a band of them to give us musiq at dinner where we lodged. I was amaz'd to contemplate how these miserable catyfs lie in their gally crowded together, yet there was hardly one but had some occupation by which, as leisure and calmes permitted, they gat some little monye, insomuch as some of them have, after many years of cruel servitude, been able to purchase their liberty. Their rising forward and falling back at their oare is a miserable spectacle, and the noyse of their chaines with the roaring of the beaten waters has something of strange and fearfull to one unaccustom’d to it. They are ruld and chastiz’d by strokes on their backs and soles of theire fcete on the least disorder, and without the least humanity; yet are they chereful and full of knavery.'--pp. 70, 71, Here he and his companions' bought umbrellas against the heats,' a precaution so novel for an Englishman at that time as to be noticed among the memorabilia of their journey. It is little more than half a century since they have been in general use against the rain' in this country, and persons are yet living who remember the indignant ridicule which their first appearance excited in the populace. They embarked at Canes for Genoa, narrowly escaped shipwreck in doubling the point of Savona, and enjoyed a foretaste of Italy in the land-breeze which carried with it the perfumes of orange, citron, and jasmine flowers for divers leagues seaward,' a circumstance which affected Evelyn with so much delight that he recurs to it more than once. If ever,' says Lassels, I saw a town with its holiday clothes always on, it was Genoa. Evelyn saw it in its beauty, before its bombardment by the French, and never, he says, was any artificial scene more beautiful to the eye, nor any place for its size, so full of well-designed and stately palaces. But the sudden and devilish passion' of a sailor here gave him a fearful sample of the Italian temper; the fellow was plying them for a fare, when another boatman interposed and took them in,-enraged at this, the tears gushed out of his eyes, he bit his finger almost off by the joint, and held it up to the other as an assurance to him of some bloody revenge if ever he came near that part of the harbour again. The man perhaps felt himself wronged as well as supplanted; but Evelyn observes that though it was 'made a gally-matter' to carry a pointed knife, Genoa was nevertheless more stained with horrid acts of revenge and murder than any one place in Europe, or haply in the world. It was, perhaps, this temper of the Genoese which made Louis XI. when he was asked what he would do with Genoa if it were at his disposal, reply, that he would give it to the Devil. Labat, who is always lively and always malicious, says, that the inhabitants call their city Gena instead of Genoa, telle est leur æconomie : ils rogwent tout jusqu'aur paroles--and he ascribes the invention of wafers to Genoese economy. On pesa les lettres, le poids en règle le prix. Les Genois ont trouvé le secret d'écrire beaucoup, et de payer peu pour le port. Ils se servent d'un papier aussi fin que notre papier à la serpente, écrivent menu, serré et laconiquement; ne font ni complimens, ni enveloppes; et comme les cachets quelques qu'ils soient ne laissent
ils se servent d'une certaine pâte rouge et dure, on l'humecte avec un peu de salive, et on en touche légèrement l'endroit du papier, ou l'on applique sur le champ le cachet, et la lettre se trouve fermée, comme si on y avoit mis un peu de colie. J'ai apporté de cette pâte, rien n'est meilleure
, et ne pese moins. From this curious passage it would appear that wafers were not known in France when he published his Voyages d'Espagne et
Italie in 1731. But they were certainly no new discovery when he saw them at Genoa in 1706. We have in our possession letters with the wafers still adhering which went from Lisbon to Rome twenty years before that time, and Stolberg observes that there are wafers and wafer-seals in the museum at Portici.
Evelyn noticed in the Genoese a very different character from that parsimony for which Labat swears at them; he speaks of the magnificent expenditure of the merchants, who, as there was little or no land in which they could invest their property, expended it in marble palaces and costly furniture. He admired their floors of red plaster, which became so bard and received so high a polish, that it might have been mistaken for porphyry, and he wondered that it was not used in England for cabinets and rooms of state. It is indeed surprising that notwithstanding the appalling frequency of tires we should continue to floor our houses with wood, as if to render them as combustible as possible. The aviary in the gardens of Prince Doria's palace pleased him as realizing Bacon's desire, who said he liked not such places,' unless they were of that largeness that they might be turffed, and have living plants and bushes set in them that the birds might have more scope and natural nestling, and no foulness appear on the floor.' Trees of more than two feet in diameter were growing in this prodigious cage, besides cypress, myrtles, lentiles, and other rare shrubs, which serve to nestle and perch all sorts of birds, who have air and place enough under their airy canopy, supported with huge iron work stupendous for its fabric and its charge. Lassels says, that to make the poor birds believe they are rather in a wood than in a prison, the very cage hath put even the wood itself in prison. It is about an hundred paces long,' and fetcheth in a world of laurel and other trees.' This was indeed a splendid aviary, and yet but a splendid folly, effecting that by constraint which might have been accomplished so much more easily by better means. Any garden may be made an aviary without caging it in, by affording to the birds food and protection ; for it is surprizing how soon the shyest birds may be taught to come to the hand that feeds them. We have seen wild-ducks come in flocks to a lady's call, and the water-hen hurry to the same voice with as much alacrity as the barn-door fowl.
In his progress through Italy Evelyn's attention, according to the fashion of his age, was chiefly attracted by palaces and pictures, gardens and museums. Picturesque beauty was then so little regarded that Misson advises a traveller not to go on purpose to the Borromean islands unless he had a great deal of leisure: for he says, there is nothing very rare or extraordinary in them. A man