« НазадПродовжити »
From this abode, upon the beauties of which he loved to expatiate, he was sent when five years old, to reside with his grandfather Standsfield, at the Cliff near Lewes. In his eighth year he began to learn writing and Latin, at Lewes; and two years after was removed to the free school at Southover, near that town. His grandfather had then recently died, and his father fearing that the boy would be spoiled by " the fondness of his too-indulgent grandmother," proposed to send him to Eton. This was in the year 1632; but that good-natured relative dreading the thought of the rough usage to which her young charge would be exposed in a public school, so worked upon the boy's fears, and tamed his spirit, that his father was induced to abandon his intention. "I was so terrified at the report of the severe discipline there, that I was sent back to Lewes, which perverseness of mine I have since a thousand times deplored;" and there he remained till he was sent to the university.
At the age of fifteen he lost his excellent mother; and the circumstances of the closing scene of her life were such as might have left a deep impression, even upon a mind less susceptible than his. "When near her death, she summoned all her children then living, (I shall never forget it,) and expressed herself in a manner so heavenly, with instructions so pious and christian, as made us strangely sensible of the extraordinary loss then imminent; after which, embracing every one of us, she gave to each a ring, with her blessing. Then taking my father by the hand, she recommended us to his care; and having importuned him, that what he designed to bestow upon her funeral he would rather dispose among the poor, she laboured to compose herself for the blessed change, which she now expected. There was not a servant in the house whom she did not expressly send for, advise, and infinitely affect with her counsel. . . . She was many days impairing, and endured the sharpest conflicts of her sickness with admirable patience and most christian resignation, retaining her intellects and ardent desires for her dissolution, to the very article of her departure. When near her dissolution she laid her hand on everyone of her children, and taking solemn leave of my father, with elevated heart and eyes, she quietly expired, and resigned her soul to God."
John Evelyn had been, by his own account, "extremely remiss in his studies," at school, and when he went to the university in May 1637, it was "rather out of shame of abiding longer at school, than for any fitness." He was admitted a fellow-commoner of Balliol college, Oxford, where he speaks very humbly of his progress in learning. From Oxford he was removed to the Middle Temple for the purpose of studying the law. Not long after, he received intelligence of the serious illness of his father, which in the course of a few months took a very alarming turn, and eventually terminated fatally. His "disorder appeared to be a dropsy, an indisposition the most unsuspected, being a person so exemplarily temperate. On the 24th of December (1640) he died, retaining his senses and piety to the last, which he most tenderly expressed in blessing us, whom he now left to the world and the worst of times, whilst he was taken from the evil to come."
"1641. 2 January. We at night followed the mourning hearse to the church at Wotton, when, after a sermon and funeral oration, my father was interred near his formerly erected monument, and mingled with the ashes of our mother, his dear wife. Thus we were bereft of both our parents, in a period when we most of all stood in need of their assistance, especially myself, of a raw, vain, uncertain, and very unwary inclination: but so it pleased God to make trial of my conduct in a conjuncture of the greatest and most prodigious hazard that ever the youth of England saw. If I did not amidst all this, impeach my liberty nor my virtue, with the rest who made shipwreck of both, it was more the infinite goodness and mercy of God than the least discretion of mine own, who now thought of nothing but the pursuit of vanity, and the confused imaginations of young men." The riots in London, the general diffusion of seditious libels, and the execution of the earl of Strafford, "whose crime," he says, "came under the cognizance of no human law," inclined him "to absent himself from this ill face of things at home;" particularly as he feared that the calamities of his country were "but yet in their infancy." He accordingly resolved to make a tour in Holland, and he proposed to himself, as an object of some interest, to witness the siege of Gennep, a strong castle on the river Waal, which was then attacked by the French and Dutch armies. In company with a gentleman named Caryll, and their servants, he embarked at Gravesend on the 21st of July 1641; and landing at Flushing on the next day about noon, proceeded by way of Dort, Rotterdam, and Delft, to the Hague, where he attended the court of the estimable queen of Bohemia. Although they stayed a very short time in the towns through which they passed, they found on their arrival at Gennep that the castle had been taken a few days before, and so, he says, "we had only a sight of the demolitions." He was, however, complimented by being received a volunteer in Captain Apsley's company, and took his turn in "watching on a horn-work, and trailing a pike," till the fortifications were repaired. His military services, however, were of short duration, for in about a week he took his leave, and continued his tour
through Holland and Flanders, during which he availed himself of every opportunity of gratifying his taste for pictures, gardens, and works of art. After an absence of about three months, he landed at Dover on the 12th of October, and returned to his chambers in the Middle Temple.
For more than a year, he appears to have been unsettled as to his residence; and when in London, lie describes himself as "studying a little, but dancing and fooling more." Occasionally he visited his relatives in the country; sometimes he went to observe the progress of the armies; and on one occasion we find him going out with the intention of joining the king's army at Brentford. Arriving, however, too late for the battle, he gave up all further thoughts of a military life, considering that his brother's, as well as his own estates, were so near London as to be fully in the power of the Parliament.
In the summer of 1643 he retired to his brother's house at Wotton. "Resolving," he says, "to possess myself in some quiet if it might be, in a time of so great jealousy, I built by my brother's permission a study, made a fish-pond and island, and some other solitudes and retirements, which gave the first occasion of improving them to those waterworks and gardens which afterwards succeeded them." But even there he was not suffered to reside in peace. He was frequently obliged to absent himself from home, in order to escape being pressed to take the solemn league and covenant; and at length, "finding it impossible to evade the doing very unhandsome things," he obtained from the king a licence to travel, and set out for a longer journey than the last, accompanied by Mr. Thicknesse, his fellow collegian, and "very dear friend."
In those days, as well as the present, many of the young nobility and gentry travelled on the continent for the professed purpose of completing their education. Too often, however, those tours were productive of evil effects, being spent in vicious indulgence, and only sending the youthful travellers home insolent, ignorant, and debauched. "The ordinary commerce and import of their wild pererrations," as Evelyn expresses it, was " the vanity of talk, feather, and ribbon." "But it is not enough," he says, " that a person of quality be taught to dance and to ride, to speak languages, and wear his clothes with a good grace, (which are the very shells of travel,) but besides all these, that he know men, customs, courts, and disciplines, and whatsoever superior excellences the places afford, befitting a person of birth and noble impressions. This is the fruit of travel; thus our incomparable Sydney was bred; and this sets the crown upon his perfections, when a gallant man shall return with religion and courage, knowledge and modesty, without pedantry, without affectation, material and serious, to the contentment of his relations, the glory of his family, the star and ornament of his age. This is truly to give a citizen to his country." Mr. Evelyn's journal evinces that his pursuits abroad were of such a character as he in later life recommended for the young lord Percy, in the letter which furnishes the foregoing extract.
He employed about three years in his tours through France, Italy, and Switzerland, but we must confine ourselves to a very brief notice of his journey and residence abroad. In the month of November 1643, he landed at Calais, with his friend, and arrived in Paris not many days after. That metropolis was his principal place of residence till the following spring, when he made an excursion into Normandy. Leaving Paris again in April 1644, he travelled as far as Tours, where he remained about four