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A few days after his arrival he attended the king at Hampton court, and gave him an account of several things which he had in charge, doubtless from sir Richard Browne.
He was warmly attached to the cause of monarchy, but he conducted himself with prudence and discretion as to political matters. In two cases, however, he now ran a risk of incurring the displeasure of the ruling powers; the one was by keeping up a political correspondence with sir Richard Browne ; the other, by publishing a translation of a little work entitled Liberty and Servitude, "for the preface of which," he says, " I was severely threatened." About a week after the appearance of this publication the king was beheaded, and of that event he takes the following notice in his Diary: — " The villainy of the rebels proceeding now so far as to try, condemn, and murder our excellent king, on the 30th of this month [January 1649], struck me with such horror, that I kept the day of his martyrdom a fast, and would not be present at that execrable wickedness, receiving the sad account of it from my brother George and Mr. Owen, who came to visit me this afternoon, and recounted all the circumstances."
Having been detained in England for more than a year and a half, Mr. Evelyn returned to Paris in the summer of 1649, and there he was received with favour by king Charles the second, and appears to have enjoyed the acquaintance and esteem of all the most eminent royalists who had taken refuge in that city. In the following summer, he was again called home by private business, which however only detained him a very few days. On his return he narrowly escaped much inconvenience at Canterbury, owing to the want of a proper passport. He had determined never to take the oaths to Cromwell's government, and without doing so, he could not now obtain one of those necessary documents; but on this occasion he presented an old passport, by which means he was suffered to proceed on his journey. "At Dover," he says, "money to the searchers and officers was as authentic as the hand and seal of Bradshaw himself, where I had not so much as my trunk opened."
Towards the close of the year 1651 he resolved to remove his family to England; preparatory to which, on the last day of the year, being Sunday, he received the holy communion, at the same time returning thanks, as his manner was, to Almighty God, for the gracious protection which he had experienced during the past year. In February he crossed from Calais to Dover, and on the 9th of March we find the following memorandum:—"I went to Deptford, where I made preparation for my settlement, no more intending to go out of England, but endeavour a settled life, either in this or some other place, there being now so little appearance of any change for the better, all being entirely in the rebels' hands, and this particular habitation [Sayes Court], and the estate contiguous to it, (belonging to my father-in-law, actually in his majesty's service,) very much suffering for want of some friend to rescue it out of the power of the usurpers: so that to preserve our interest, and take some care of my other concerns, by the advice and endeavours of my friends I was advised to reside in it, and compound with the soldiers. This I was besides authorized by his majesty to do, and encouraged with a promise that what was in lease from the crown, if ever it pleased God to restore him, he would secure to us in fee-farm. I had also addresses and cyphers to correspond with his majesty and ministers abroad; upon all which inducements I was persuaded to settle henceforth in England, having now run about the world, most part out of my own country, near ten years. I therefore now likewise meditated sending over for my wife, whom as yet I had left at Paris."
Having ordered a coach to be built for the use of his wife, and having obtained from his schoolfellow, colonel Morley, one of the council of state, "a letter to the magistrates and searchers at Rye, to assist his wife at her landing, and shew her all civility," he went down to that place, where he welcomed her to her native land, to his "no small joy." She was accompanied by lady Browne, her mother.
The Dutch fleet was about that time hovering off the coast, and in order to escape it, the little vessel had been three days at sea, so that Mrs. Evelyn required rest after her voyage. When she was sufficiently recovered from its effects, they removed to Tunbridge, where they took a little cottage near the Wells, " in a very sweet place, private and refreshing."
Having remained with them for a few days, he set out on his way to Sayes Court, "to prepare for their reception." This journey had nearly proved fatal to him; for as he rode gently, on account of the heat of the sun, two fellows started out upon him, and dragged him from his horse; and having taken him into a thicket, robbed him, and left him bound hand and foot, with his back against a tree, with many dreadful imprecations. After two hours he succeeded in releasing his hands, though with much pain, and was thus enabled to proceed on his journey. In describing this occurrence, he expresses his deep gratitude to God for this deliverance, as well as for "many, many signal preservations," of which his memory preserved a thankful sense.
In the autumn of that year, "lady Browne was taken ill with the scarlet fever, and died. She was carried to Deptford, and interred in the church near sir Richard's relations, with all decent ceremonies, and according to the church-office, for which I obtained permission, after it had not been used in that church for seven years. Thus ended an excellent and virtuous lady, universally lamented, having been so obliging on all occasions to those who continually frequented her house in Paris, which was not only a hospital but an asylum to all our persecuted and afflicted countrymen during eleven years there in that honourable situation."
Mr. Evelyn had now taken up his abode at Sayes Court near Deptford. Sir Richard Browne previously held a great part of that estate in lease from the crown; but his connexion with the royal cause was sufficient to occasion his interest in the property to be sequestered and sold. His son-in-law offered a sum of money for it, and eventually purchased it; soon after the completion of which, he had the satisfaction of making the following entry,—" This day I paid all my debts to a farthing. O blessed day I"
GENERAL SKETCH OF HIS CHARACTER AND PURSUITS.—
O, friendly to the best pursuits of man,
It was Mr. Evelyn's lot to pass the earlier portion of his days in times particularly unsuited to his disposition and taste. That was " an age of light" indeed, but it was "light without love ;" and he was glad that his circumstances enabled him to retire to his calm and "green retreat" at Sayes Court, and to enjoy the repose of rural life, unmolested by the turbulence and noise of the world, and without losing the society of his relatives, and his religious and literary friends. His pursuits were sufficiently various to make all his hours pass agreeably:—
"Friends, books, a garden, and perhaps his pen,
Over all his employments piety diffused a spirit of grateful contentment, and taught him to trace his comforts, health, and prosperity, to the goodness of that God who gave him all things richly to enjoy. To trace his growth in the knowledge and love of God, is not in our power. His Diary was not intended to be a register of his private thoughts, and contains comparatively few intimations of his religious state; and the papers which he wrote upon