Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

to reconcile itself to Lenten fare— could have preserved the heavenly while his penitence for sleeping during principle alive in such a place. Duty, a sermon, and that laudatory certifi- too, after its kind, and the supersticate of church attendance and mem- tious loyalty in which the ancient bersbip-a certificate which, with a Cavalier families were sedulously bred, little alteration of form and diction, must have come in to close those meek might satisfy the strictest kirk-session uncriticising eyes to the vileness of in Scotland-show a certain honesty the illustrious vice before them ; yet, in bis profession. There is, indeed, so witbal, it shocks our modern notions, perfect an honesty in this entire jour- to realise this mingling of the pure nal of his, that Samuel's religiousness and the impure, and to excuse this tolclaims full credit at our bands, such eration of high-seated iniquity. How as it is-yet, nevertheless, it is true chary is the good religious Evelyn in that Samuel might be a very heathen his comments, how slow to condemn for any restraint his religion puts “his Majesty," how much inclined in upon him. Compunctions afterwards loyal reverence to do what domestic it may produce; but prudence, and love does so often—and be bitter on not piety, checks Mr Secretary before the evil influences—the temptations the act, however piety may come in and the tempters who “lead away.” bebind to prick the offending con- How the king would have been a great science. Yet whatever he does, Sa- monarch, “had not bis easy nature muel never misses going to church; resigned bim to be managed by crafty and if it be to see a pretty Mistress men, and some abandoned and deSomebody, or if he chances to fall praved wretches, who corrupted his asleep before the sand in the hour- otherwise sufficient parts ;" how “he glass has measured out the heads of was a prince of many virtues, debo. the sermon, Samuel fails not to pray nair, easy of access, not bloody nor a “God forgive me," as he records his cruel;" and how "he would doubtsin. Nor is he by any means alone less have been an excellent prince had in this union of vice and devotion. he been” something exactly the reThe royal reprobate himself hears verse of what he was. After this many a sermon, and there are solemn fashion only, and with manifest pain preachings, very frequent and very and reluctance, Evelyn permits himeloquent, to the household—with what self to condemn; and it is easy to effect upon the household manners perceive with what a pang of humiliaand mode of life it is difficult to per- tion and disappointment the old highceive. Nor is this all.

We are

minded honourable Royalist must have accustomed to think of this period as owned to himself this pitiable failure the most entirely reprobate and aban- of the royal blood to produce any, doned in all our national history, yet thing worthy of the throne, which nevertheless true it is, and of perfect that “arch rebel” and “ unnatural verity, that piety also flourished in usurper" had filled after so kingly a those days; piety-genuine meek de- fashion. The testimony of two amvotion-and a divine and undefiled bassadors, who had served the Comfaith. Within the unwholesome at- monwealth first and then the king, mosphere of that court of Charles, and who complained of the lessened doing dutiful homage to the poor, respect paid to them, when sent by swart, uncomplaining Portuguese Ka- Charles; the evident diminution of therine, brushing against the very English influence everywhere ; the skirts of Portsmouth and Castlemaine, unwise and unprosperous wars, rashly living under the polluting eyes of Ro- undertaken and ill conducted—though chester and Sedley, and, still worse, always saved, by little outbursts of of their master, piety was even here. vigour and courage on the part of the The last place in the world to look for generals, from entire discomfiture and such a strange and alien visitant, yet shame; the wanton extravagance of there the angel found it possible to the court, and corresponding dishoexist; and perhaps nothing less than nesty, penuriousness, and bankruptcy the ascetic routine of perpetual devo- in public affairs, were all so many sore tion, the sad, self-absorbed, and self- assaults upon the old enthusiastic party inspecting pietism of Mrs Godolphin, of Cavaliers, whose sufferings and

46
Evelyn and Pepys.

plottings, in which neither land nor period—what was his company, and
life were spared, and whose insane what his fare; whether he made
rejoicing and triumph over the accom- merry upon venison and pullets, or
plished restoration were so utterly put had fish, because it was Good Fri-
to shame by the result. They bad day; or felicitated himself that he had
buried Oliver at Tyburn-but all the come to sufficient estate to have a
gold in England could not purchase hash of fowls for the little private
Oliver's imperial mantle to fall upon supper of himself and his wife at
the shoulders of this impotent and home. Nor are we less enlightened
careless king.

as to the extent and increase of Very much more distinct, for Pepys Samuel's wardrobe, and the finery of was not restrained either by personal his wife, which last he rather grudges, attachment or exaggerated loyalty, yet is complacent in. Steadily growis the deliverance which he gives upon ing in wealth, he grows in splendour Charles and his reign. Unmitigated withal, abounds in new-fashioned luxis the public discontent, according to uries; sets up a magnificent coach, with Mr Secretary, and the people look gilt standards and green reins, and wistfully upon the times of stout old everything handsome about it; wears Oliver, when England was great silk on working days, and procures among the nations, and pure, if some- for himself a suit ornamented with thing rigid and straitened at home; gold lace, so overpoweringly grand when the public money supplied the that he keeps it by him long in fear public necessities, and there was no and trembling, afraid lest it be too vicious and disreputable court to sap fine for public exhibition, as indeed it the national finances and credit, and afterwards proves to be. Private make the national establishment a domestic incidents there are not many Castle Rack-rent on a larger scale. to animate the record, though Samuel's “Why will not people lend their misdemeanours bring him at last into money ? " cries an afflicted my Lord a state of much uneasiness at home, Treasurer, when the Commissioners where his poor wife's suspicions and of the Navy carry their accounts and jealousies give him a troubled life of complaints to him. “Why will they it, and even put the guilty Secretary not trust the king as well as Oliver ? in bodily fear and dolour : it is, howWhy do our prizes come to nothing, ever, some satisfaction to perceive that that yielded so much heretofore ?" Samuel at last heartily sets himself to In the Council Chamber, and such an overcome this, and succeeds very honourable presence, Mr Secretary tolerably, as it seems; his wife being makes no response, but does not fail a persuasible woman, who will hear to record a very clear opinion on the reason after all. And an important subject, in the privacy of his own man in his office grows Samuel, the closet at home. The boldness of very soul of its business and diploSamuel's secret chronicle even dis- macies, its triumphant defender before closes more courageously than he him- Parliament, when, as the spokesman self does the opinions of Evelyn, of the arraigned Naval Commissioners, “ who," says Pepys, “is grieved for, he covers himself with modest glory. and speaks openly to me his thoughts Nor does Mr Pepys make less proof the times, and our ruin approach- gress in the general world, where he ing — and all by the folly of the is adopted into learned and courtly king."

circles; becomes a member of the With an incalculable amount of Royal Society, an intimate of Evepleasure-making, and that strange lyn's, known at court, and familiarly cross-fire of report and incident, which recognised by duke and king. Neither make the daily narrative, so minute the Plague nor the Fire sends him and clear in all its details, something from his post, and his account of both perplexing as a whole, we make of these events is very distinct and our circumstantial progress with Mr graphic, with that indubitable air of Secretary through several slow-paced eyewitness and sufferer which gives years, and are able to decide with ab- reality to the tale. The irrestrainable solute certainty where our hero has curiosity which makes him follow dined on almost every day of the whole funerals against his will during the

reign of the one, and his manifold tribulations under the other his shoulder of mutton without a napkin, his dirty and undressed plight, his borrowed shirt and precarious rest, the little personal inconveniences, which mark the period quite as clearly as the public calamity, are all very plainly set down; yet his own measures are those of an active and careful public servant, there is quite as little doubt of that. And Samuel escapes uninjured in home and person, in goods and family connections, from both the great national disasters of his time.

But the naïve and plain-spoken autobiographer has a period put to his disclosures. Samuel must relapse into the veiled propriety of ordinary story. Samuel must be content in future with only such a record as all the world may see-for these twinkling curious eyes of his may not avail him longer for his secret ciphering, and it is with a great pang that he yields to the necessity, which is "almost as much as to see myself go into my grave," he says, disconsolately, and so concludes a chronicle which has no equal -the clearest picture ever displayed to the world of a mind and conscience in perfect undress, with not a thought concealed.

And had darkness rested still upon the mysterious characters of Pepys' Diary, not Evelyn himself had shown a better example of respectability to aftercoming beholders. The Pepys who writes letters to those contemporary people with whom it is necessary to stand well, is a very different Pepys from him of the journal; and we are half inclined to take for irony the serious compliments and much respect with which he is saluted by the notable compeers, who know him so much less than we do. It is a curious fact this, among the many curious facts which this self-exposure reveals to us; no doubt Mr Pepys knew Mr Evelyn a great deal better than we know that well-mannered and worthy gentleman-but not a hundredth part so well informed was Mr Evelyn, not so learned was Mrs Pepys herself in the character of Samuel, as are we.

greater measure, we find that Evelyn has a much larger share of the troubles of common life. He loses several children, among them one of those learned and pious youthful ladies, of whom he numbers several among his friends; none is fairer, sweeter, more pious, or accomplished, than his own Mary, and his grief has satisfaction in recording her perfections. Of this daughter, who died at nineteen, and of the wonderful little Richard long ago dead, at six years old, the father speaks with a full heart. It is "grit," like a river, overflooded and running wide, this grief of his, in respect to these children; and it is singular to note how differently the death of his son John, in the prime of manhood, when Evelyn himself is old, affects his calmer faculties, and how he can couple with the brief obituary a notice of my Lord of Devonshire's misfortunes on the turf. But even sorrow does not turn aside his life from its full current. John Evelyn is as busy a man, after his grave fashion, as Samuel Pepys, and a very much more disinterested one, since neither fee nor compliment seems to come in his way, and his charge of the sick and wounded in these harassing naval wars, his embarrassment how to provide for hosts of prisoners, having neither houses to receive nor money to support them, give him little satisfaction in his public labours. Providing chirurgeons and medicaments, and himself overseeing these poor maimed victims of warfare, everywhere finding accommodation inadequate, and means insufficient, Evelyn travels from town to town of his district with most conscientious zeal; nor, though the employment is very far from being an agreeable one, does he fail to devote himself to it with good-will and his best endeavours. Along margin of time is left over, however, for his own personal pursuits; and all the wonders of the time are welcome to Evelyn, who dabbles in all the arts and sciences, and has a smattering of every branch of learning under the sun. It is now that, by his skilful negotiations, Harry Howard of Norfolk bestows the Arundel Marbles upon Oxford, and a library upon the Royal Society, for which first good office Evelyn has the solemn thanks of the University,

In a corresponding space of time, over which he walks with strides of a

of a statue, and seeming to flow for some miles, by being artificially continued in the painting, where it sinks down at the wall. It is a very agreeable deceit. At the end of this garden is a little theatre and the stage so ordered with figures of made to change with divers pretty scenes, men and women painted on light boards and cut out, and by a person who stands underneath made to act as if they were speaking, by guiding them, and reciting words in different tones, as the parts require."

and is with much pomp and circumstance created Doctor of Laws; and now it is that he reads his paper upon forest trees-the Sylva by which he is principally known as an author-before the Royal Society, of which he may very justly be called the founder and parent, and to which he introduces various magnates, foreign and native; among them the Duchess of Newcastle and Queen Christina of Sweden, with both of whom our stately cicerone is considerably amused in his courteous way. And now it seems that among the palace-builders of this extravagant era, no one is contented without the approval of Evelyn, and we hear of him carried by this noble lord and that illustrious earl to inspect improvements and new erections, the growth of new and sudden fortunes, or the increase and reparation of old. Terraces and lofty elevations, parks and labyrinths and curious gardens, exotic plants and rare flowers, with every practicable device of landscape-gardening, pass in brilliant review before his eyes, and Evelyn maintains his place of critic loftily, and praises with discrimination, always retaining some small matter of disapproval. In one of the earliest pages of his Diary he tells us of the place where, as an infant, he was sent to nurse, "a most sweet place towards the hills, flanked with woods and refreshed with streams, the affection to which kind of solitude I sucked in with my very milk;" and the taste remains with him all his life, since we find him permitted by his brother to make an artificial lake and hermitage at Wotton in his youth, and subsequently perceive him curious in landscape-gardening during his travels and early life abroad. In gardening, as in all other arts, this age is emphatically "curious," and as full of quips and conceits in its plantations as in its literature. Here is one strange instance seen abroad; it is at the palace of the Count de Liancourt in Paris :

"Towards his study and bed-chamber is a little garden, which, though very narrow, by the addition of a well-painted perspective, is to appearance greatly enlawed; to this there is another part,

ted by arches, in which runs a of water, rising in the aviary out

Have we not seen in the modern Royal Academy, within the range of these very few years, sundry acres of verdant canvass, which might add marvellously to a suburban garden "by the addition of a well-painted perspective"? At this present moment there rises upon our memory a gigantic oak, overwhelming in its multitudinous foliage. What an agreeable deceit" might this prove, if it were but hung to advantage upon some bit of intrusive wall, in the narrow grounds of a London mansion! and how delightful the delusion, looking through scrubby lilacs and acacias, to find the forest king in all his pride, where nothing but a smoky line of brick and mortar was wont to be!

66

But however the fashion of the art was, there can be no dispute of Evelyn's high authority in all matters of landscape-gardening, nor of the perpetual reference made to him. Of the great nobles of England many had returned from exile to find their patrimonial homes desolated by the civil war, or impaired by Roundhead occupation; there had been sieges, assaults, defences, among these houses of the great, and the age had a taste for magnificence, for costly rarities, and "curious" decorations, so that all who could, and many who in real ability could not, set about the costly work of building and improving. Mr Evelyn's journeys from one lordly seat to another are almost as frequent and as laborious as are his official pilgrimages; and Mr Evelyn is equally great on internal decoration, and on the embellishments and accessories without. The fair chambers, "pargetted with yew and divers woods," the rare tapestries of dining-hall and withdrawing-room, the Indian cabinets of my lady's elegant retirement, and the accumulation of rare and fantastic

curiosities in my lord's closet, are all matters of interested comment to our virtuoso. A cabinet of coins or a painted ceiling, an "incomparable" picture or a magnificent toilet everything comes under his inspection; but of all other matters the thing in which it seems most difficult to satisfy the taste of Evelyn is, the fundamental matter of the site. Wotton is always in his eye-Wotton, where, after his illness, he goes to be recovered by his "sweet native air," and which is clearly next to his heart at all times. He finds a great many imperfections in the position of his friends' houses; one is too far from the water-one from the wood-another lies in a hollow-another has no windows towards the prospect the disadvantages are manifold; and it is rare to find the critic entirely satisfied, let him go where he will.

Specially consulted and authoritative in this, there are few arts or ingenuities known which come amiss to Evelyn; a learned and wonderful infant prodigy-a philosophical cooking apparatus (would that Monsieur Papin had bequeathed his wonderful machine to the present generation, to the gladdening of many a housewifely heart, which mourns over bones and sinews unresolvable into the savoury jelly of the philosopher's supper!)-a wonderful conjuror-alternate in Evelyn's notice with Grindling Gibbons, his special protégé, whose "incomparable" carving he is the first to bring into repute-with that other "incomparable" genius, Dr Christopher Wren-with famous travellers and great inventors, with foreign savants and notables, each and all of whom contribute something to the constant accumulation of knowledge which Mr Evelyn notes so carefully. And he who plans benevolent infirmaries and makes "plots" for a new city, who plants a great society of philosophy, and does distinguished service to an illustrious college, has time withal to be interested even in the fashions of the time, and to present to the king a pamphlet called "Tyrannus, or the Mode," recommending a Persian costume, which is afterwards temporarily adopted, though Evelyn modestly declares that "he thinks" it cannot be in consequence

VOL. LXXVI.-NO. CCCCLXV.

of this advice of his. Added to all these, he has matrimonial negotiations, executorships, dispensings of alms from sundry quarters, and all manner of family duties and offices of friendship upon his hands. Every day, and all day long, John Evelyn lives; there is no time for vegetation in this full and energetic existence.

And now there comes an abrupt conclusion to the reign of Charles. Death comes fiercely in a paroxysm and agony upon the hapless king, and in a few hurried days all is over, and James is regnant in his brother's place. His brother's eminence in vice throws James into the shade, and makes, on the whole, rather a decent creditable private man of this narrow-sighted despot. There is great hope of his beginning, for, after all, a certain honesty of intention is in the new king, and he has served the public with honour in his day. We have no longer Pepys to refer to for the unvarnished truth of public opinion, but Evelyn records his own expectations of a respectable and prosperous reign. A brief trial, however, brings sore doubt upon this subject; Popish officers begin to swarm in public employments even that dreaded animal the Jesuit makes its appearance in open daylight at Whitehall; the Parliament is assaulted by bribes and flatteries and threatenings on every side. Toleration, a new word in the Papistical mouth, begins to be demanded with a voice gradually increasing in haughtiness, and at last and cuddenly the Prince of Orange appears on the troubled scene. Hurryings to and fro, hopeless bewilderment, desertion, panic, as in a house assaulted by unseen midnight enemies, darken the air for another brief space of time; and then the scene is changed after a confused and disordered fashion, and we perceive William, very silent, very reserved, very Dutch, and not very gracious, perhaps even a little scornful of those timeserving deserters of his predecessor, setting himself down deliberately and solemnly in the royal place.

But Mr Evelyn says not a word of William; only one mention of "the morose temper of the Prince of Orange, who showed little countenance to the noblemen and others, who expected a more gracious and cheerful reception

D

« AnteriorContinuar »