Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

those times." Being a frequent attendant at the meetings of the Royal Society, he had opportunities of cultivating the acquaintance of those whose tastes and genius agreed with his own. He gave, and was in turn invited to, literary entertainments; and we frequently find him setting out with lord Brounker, sir Robert Murray, bishop Wilkins, Mr. Boyle, sir Christopher Wren, and other "excellent persons and philosophers," to witness new inventions, and improvements in the several branches of. science.

Piety and virtue were strong recommendations to his esteem; and to his great honour, his friendship was as warm in adversity as in prosperity. Lords Clarendon, Clifford, and Arlington, felt the constancy of his regard when their fortunes were on the wane; and it is pleasing to observe the satisfaction with which he dwells upon the better parts of their characters.

His conversation appears to have been seasoned with cheerfulness and pleasantry. Mr. Pepys relates that on one occasion he enjoyed an evening, "the most merry he ever spent in his life," in the company of Evelyn, who recited some humorous lines on the various uses of may and can, which made the whole party " die almost with laughing."

Through his influence with the honourable Henry Howard (afterwards sixth duke of Norfolk), that noble person was induced to present his very valuable library to the Royal Society, and to send his celebrated collection of ancient inscriptions to the university of Oxford, where they are known as the Arundelian marbles. Mr. Howard had "little inclination to books," and exposed them "to everybody to carry away and dispose of what they pleased;" and the precious monuments which his magnificent grandfather, the illustrious earl of Arundel had gathered with so much cost and industry from Greece" were "miserably neglected, and scattered up and down about the garden," where they were suffering great damage from the weather. Mr. Evelyn received the cordial thanks of each of the learned bodies to whose benefit he had thus contributed; the University sent a deputation to express their gratitude, and in 1669 conferred upon him the honorary degree of Doctor of Civil Law.

In the year 1668 Evelyn published a translation, entitled An Idea of the Perfection of Painting, with a new preface, containing some of his own reflections. This work is now scarce, and has been greatly admired by the lovers of that beautiful art. He subsequently published A History of Three late famous Impostors; an account of the Origin and Progress of Navigation and Commerce, which he undertook by the command of King Charles;— Terra, a philosophical Discourse on Earth' and Vegetation;Numismata, a Discourse on Medals; and several works on Gardening ;—besides which, he revised and enlarged several of his former works, for new editions.

It is not surprising that his family should have imbibed the tastes which he was labouring to spread throughout the nation. His wife has been already described as busied with him in his study, skilled in the arts which her husband loved, and cultivating the garden which established his fame. A son also has been mentioned, whose dawning genius awakened hopes, which were only disappointed by his early death; and the only surviving son gave fair promise to his father's ardent wishes. At an early age he was a " pleasant and most ingenious child, conquering difficulties with incredible industry, and capable beyond his years." He was educated at home, under his father's eye, and received the first rudiments of his education from Mr. Edward Philips, the nephew of Milton. Afterwards, he was for some years under the care of Mr. Bohun, who attended him in due time to Oxford, still superintending his studies. At the age of fifteen young Evelyn wrote a short Greek poem of some merit, which was prefixed to the second edition of the Sylva; and at eighteen he translated and published Rapin's Gardens, a portion of which also was usually printed in the subsequent editions of Sylva. He lived to distinguish himself by several other publications.

Mr. Bohun became an attached and esteemed friend of the family. He was "a learned person and excellent preacher," and Mr. Evelyn gladly availed himself of the first opportunity of appointing him to the living of Wotton. Mr. Bohun corresponded with Mrs. Evelyn, and left a sketch of her character, which has happily been preserved, and from which many of the particulars contained in this memoir have been taken.

In 1671 Evelyn had the merit of rescuing from poverty and obscurity "that incomparable young man," Grinling Gibbons, the earliest British sculptor of eminence. He found him by accident in a "lonesome place" at Deptford; and struck with his genius and manners, became his earliest friend and patron. He introduced him to the notice of the king, and recommended him to sir Christopher Wren, who employed him to make the splendid carvings which adorn the interior of St. George's chapel at Windsor, and the choir of St. Paul's cathedral, as well as in decorating many other churches, and several of the mansions of the nobility and gentry. As a token that he remembered with gratitude the acts of kindness of which he was the object, he presented to Evelyn his own bust in wood; but unhappily this work has perished.

Early in the same year Evelyn was made a Commissioner of Plantations, on the establishment of the board; and he appears to have been very active in the discharge of the duties imposed upon him by that appointment.

In the following spring he had to lament the death of Dr. Breton, the vicar of Deptford, upon whose piety and virtues he dwells with a melancholy pleasure. "Dr. Breton," he says, "had preached on the 28th and 30th of January; on the Friday, having fasted all day, making his provisionary sermon for the Sunday following, he went well to bed, but was taken suddenly ill, and expired before help could come to him. Never had a parish a greater loss, not only as he was an excellent preacher, and fitted for our great and humble auditory, but for his excellent life and charity, his meekness and obliging nature, industrious, helpful, and full of good works. He left near 400/. to the poor in his will, and that what children of his should die in their minority, their portion should be so employed. 1 lost in particular a special friend, and one that had an extraordinary love to me and mine."

Mrs. Evelyn's character of this beloved pastor agrees with that of her husband. "Should I tell you," she writes to Mr. Bohun, "how full of sorrow I have been for the loss of Dr. Breton, you only would blame me. After death, flattery ceases; therefore you may believe there was some cause to lament, when thousands of weeping eyes witnessed the affliction their souls were in. One would have imagined that every one in this parish had lost a father, brother, or husband, so great was the bewailing; and in earnest it does appear there never was a better nor a more worthy man. Such was his temper, prudence, charity, and good conduct, that he gained the weak, and preserved the wise. The suddenness of his death was a surprise only to his friends; as for himself, it might be looked upon as a deliverance from pain, the

effect of sickness; and I am almost persuaded God snatched him from us, lest He might have been prevailed with by the number of petitions, to have left him still amongst us. If you suspect kindness in me makes me speak too much, Dr. Parr is a person against whom you cannot object; it was he who preached the funeral sermon, and as an effect of truth as well as eloquence, he himself could not forbear weeping in the pulpit. It was his own expression, that there were three for whom he had infinitely grieved, the martyred king, my lord primate (Usher), and Dr. Breton; and as a confirmation of the right that was done him in that oration, there was not a dry eye, nor a dissenting person."

A few days after the funeral, wishing to have "a grave and learned man" for the successor of his departed friend, Mr. Evelyn made interest with the patron to appoint Mr. Frampton (afterwards bishop of Gloucester) to the living, he being " not only a very pious and holy man, but excellent in the pulpit for moving the affections." Mr. Holden, however, was the new vicar of Deptford. "This gentleman," says Evelyn, "is a very excellent and universal scholar, a good and wise man; but he had not the popular way of preaching, nor is he in any measure fit for our plain and vulgar auditory, as his predecessor was. There was, however, no comparison betwixt their parts for profound learning; but time and experience may form him to a more practical way than that he is in of university lectures and erudition, which is now universally left off for what is much more profitable."

Notwithstanding the awful visitations by which the nation had been chastened, profligacy and impiety maintained their dominion over the court and people. Evelyn was grieved to witness " the horrid vice of gam

« НазадПродовжити »