Зображення сторінки

his Golden Grove, in behalf of monarchy and the persecuted church. Evelyn expresses the anxiety occasioned to him by the tidings of Taylor's calamity, congratulates him on his release from prison, and thanks him for his example of the patient endurance of tribulation, by which he preached as effectually in his "chains as in the chair, in the prison as in the pulpit." In another letter, the date of which is involved in some uncertainty, Evelyn condoles with his friend, who was evidently again in bondage.

From their subsequent correspondence it may be proper here to quote a few passages, particularly such as will illustrate Evelyn's piety and manner of life.

Taylor to Evelyn, Nov. 21, ] 655.—" There could

not. be given me a greater or more persuasive testimony of the reality of your piety and care, than that you pass to greater degrees of caution, and the love of God. It is the work of your life, and I perceive you betake yourself heartily to it- The God of Heaven and earth prosper you and accept you!"

Taylor to Evelyn.—" St. Paul's Convers. Jan. 25, 1556. I perceived by your symptoms how the spirits of pious

men are affected in this evil time Yet I am highly

persuaded that to good men and wise, a persecution is nothing but the changing the circumstances of religion, and the manner of the forms and appendages of divine worship. Public or private is all one; the first hath the advantage of society, the second of love. There is more warmth and light in that; there is a heat and zeal in this .... Sir, I thank you for the kind expressions at the latter end of your letter; you have never troubled me, neither can I pretend to any other return from you but that of your love and prayers."

Taylor to Evelyn, April 16, 1656, written a few days after having dined with the latter at Sayes Court in company with the philosophers Berkeley, Boyle, and.Wilkins; —" Sir, I did believe myself so very much bound to you for your so kind, so friendly reception of me in your literary retreat, that I had some little wonder upon me when I saw you making excuses that it was no better. Sir, I came to see you and your lady, and am highly pleased that I did so, and found all your circumstances to be an heap and union of blessings. But I have not either so great a fancy of the prettiness of your abode, or so low an opinion of your prudence and piety, as to think you can be any way transported with them. I know the pleasure of them is gone off from their height before one month's possession, and that strangers and seldom-seers feel the beauty of them more than you who dwell with them. I am pleased indeed at the order and cleanness of all your outward things; and look upon you, not only as a person, by way of thankfulness to God for his mercies and goodness to you, specially obliged to a greater measure of piety; but also as one who, being freed in great degrees from secular cares and impediments, can without excuse and allay intend [devote yourself to] what you so passionately desire, the service of God."

In the same letter he speaks of having heard with some regret that Evelyn was about to publish a translation of Lucretius. He feared that amidst the reflections of the heathen philosopher, the truths of the gospel might be forgotten or undervalued; and availing himself of the privilege of a friend and spiritual counsellor, urged Evelyn to supply a " sufficient antidote," either by notes or in a preface. He further requested him to "employ the same pen in the glorifications of God," suggesting "divine things as worthy subjects for his poesy and spare hours." We have no evidence, however, that Evelyn ever complied with his friend's wishes.

Evelyn toTaylor,—in answer; (April 27,1656.)— "... I hope I shall prevail with you that I may have the honour to see you again at my poor villa, when my respects are less diverted, and that I may treat you without ceremony and constraint. For it were fitting you did see how I live when I am by myself, who cannot but pronounce me guilty of many vanities, deprehending [finding] me (as you did) at a time when I was to gratify so many curious persons, to whom I had been greatly obliged, and for whom I have much value. I suppose you think me very happy in these outward things; but really I take so little satisfaction in them, that the censure of singularity would not affright me from embracing an hermitage, if I found that they did in the least distract my thoughts from better things; or that I did not take more pleasure and incomparable felicity in that intercourse which it pleases God to permit me, in vouchsafing so unworthy a person to prostrate himself before Him, and contemplate his goodness. These are indeed gay things, and men esteem me happy, but I, a polluted and guilty sinner, am oppressed day and night with the fear of being called to my account. Whilst that account is in suspense, who can truly enjoy anything in this life without an alloy? For I am always dreading that I shall deceive myself by false security." *

With regard to the translation of Lucretius, he says in this letter, that he has endeavoured to guard against giving currency to any evil sentiments, and promises to proceed with caution, remembering his friend's counsel. The First Book was published in 1656; but the work was never finished, and many years after he speaks of it as having * The sentences in italics are in Latin in the original letter.

been only undertaken in his youth, " to charm his anxious thoughts during that sad and calamitous time." Taylor afterwards bestowed the highest commendations upon the performance, and bishop Heber considered Evelyn "fairly entitled to the credit of having transfused the sense, if not all the spirit of his original, into harmonious English verse."

On the sixth and seventh of the following month, we find Evelyn introducing to Taylor a young Frenchman, whom he had "some time before brought to a full consent to the church of England, her doctrine and discipline," and who, notwithstanding the afflictions of that church, was now a candidate for holy orders. Taylor being well satisfied with him, recommended him to some Irish prelate, whom Evelyn calls the bishop of Meath, then living in abject distress in London, and to whom the fees paid by Evelyn were a matter of charity. "To that necessity," he exclaims, "were our clergy reduced!"

Early in the following year Taylor was again in trouble, being committed to the Tower for a publication to which the bookseller had prefixed a print of Christ in the attitude of prayer. Evelyn ventured to write to the lieutenant of the Tower, soliciting an interview for his friend, whom he recommended as a man of innocent life, and one who had done good service to the cause of protestant truth. This application appears to have been successful, for Dr. Taylor was soon after at liberty.

Evelyn to Taylor, May 9th, 1657. —" Amongst the rest that are tributaries to your worth, I make bold to present you with this small token [a sum of money]; and though it bears no proportion either to my obligation or your merit, yet I hope you will accept it as the product of what. I have employed for this purpose; and which you shall yearly receive, as long as God makes

e able, and that it may be useful to you."

Taylor to Evelyn, May 15, 1657.—" A stranger came two nights since from you with a letter and a token; full of humanity and sweetness that was; and this, of charity Sir, what am I, or what can I do, or what

have I done, that you think I have or can oblige you? Sir, you are too kind to me, and oblige me not only beyond my merit, but beyond my modesty. I only can love you, and honour you, and pray for you; and in all this I cannot say but I am behindhand with you, for I have found so great effluxes [overflowings] of all your worthinesses and charities, that I am a debtor for your prayers, for the comfort of your letters, for the charity of your hand, and the affection of your heart."

Evelyn to Taylor, June 9, 1657. —" To come and christen my son George."—" Sir, I heartily acknowledge the Divine mercies to me, both in this and many other instances of his goodness to me; but for no earthly concernment more than for what he has encouraged me by your charity and ministration towards my eternal and

better interest Sir, I had forgotten to tell you, (and

it did indeed extremely trouble me,) that you are to expect my coach to wait upon you presently after dinner, that you are not to expose yourself to the casualty of the tides in repairing to do so christian an office for, sir, &c. &c."

Taylor to Evelyn, June 9, 1657. — " Honoured and dear Sir, your messenger prevented mine but an hour. But I am much pleased that God hath given you another testimony of his love to your person, and of care of your family; it is an engagement to you of new degrees of duty Sir, your kind letter hath so abundantly rewarded and crowned my innocent endeavours in my descriptions of friendship, that I perceive there is a friendship beyond what I have fancied .... and when anything shall be observed to be wanting in my character, I can

« НазадПродовжити »