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leave to travel. Of these travels, and the observations he made therein, an ample account is given in this Diary.
The national troubles coming on before he bad engaged in any settled plan for his future life, it appears that he had thoughts of living in the most private manner, and that, with his brother’s permission, he had even begun to prepare a place for retirement at Wotton. Nor did he afterwards wholly abandon his intention, if the plan of a college, which he sent to Mr. Boyle in 1659, was really formed on a serious idea. This scheme is given at length in the “ Biographia,” and in Dr. Hunter's edition of the “Sylva” in 1776; but it may be observed that he proposes it should not be more than twenty-five miles from London.
As to his answer to Sir George Mackenzie's panegyric on Solitude, in which Mr. Evelyn takes the opposite part, and urges the preference to which public employment and an active life is entitled,-it may be considered as the playful essay of one who, for the sake of argument, would controvert another's position, though in reality agreeing with his own opinion ; if we think him serious in two letters to Mr. Abraham Cowley, dated 12th March and 24th August, 1666, in the former of which he writes: “You had reason to be astonished at the presumption, not to name it affront, that I, who have so highly celebrated recess, and envied it in others, should become an advocate for the enemy, which of all others it abhors and flies from. I conjure you to believe that I am stiil of the same mind, and that there is no person alive who does more honour and breathe after the life and repose you so happily cultivate and advance by your example ; but, as those who praised dirt, a flea, and the gout, so have I public employment in that trifling Essay, and that in so weak a style compared with my artagonist's, as by that alone it will appear I neither was nor could be serious, and I hope you believe I speak my very soul to you.
Sunt enim Musis sua ludicra mista Cam Bnis
In the other, he says, “I pronounce it to you from my heart as oft as I consider it, that I look on your fruitions with inexpressible emulation, and should think myself more happy than crowned heads, were I, as you, the arbiter of mine own life, and could break from those gilded toys to taste your well-described joys with such a wife and such a friend, whose conversation exceeds all that the mistaken world calls happiness.” But, in truth, Mr. Evelyn's mind was too active to admit of solitude at all times, however desirable it might appear to him in theory.
After he had settled at Deptford, which was in the time of Cromwell, he kept up a constant correspondence with Sir Richard Browne (his father-in-law), the King's Ambassador at Paris; and though his connexion must have been known, it does not appear that he met with any inter. ruption from the government here. Indeed, though he remained a decided Royalist, he managed so well as to have intimate friends even amongst those nearly connected with Cromwell; and to this we may attribute his being able to avoid taking the Covenant, which he says he never did take. In 1659, he published “ An Apology for the Royal Party;" and soon after printed a paper which was of great service to the King, entitled “The late News, or Message from Brussels Unmasked,” which was an answer to a pamphlet designed to represent the King in the worst light.
On the Restoration, we find him very frequently at Court; and he became engaged in many public employments, still attending to his studies and literary pursuits. Amongst these, is particularly to be mentioned the Royal Society, in the establishment and conduct of which he took a very active part. He procured Mr. Howard's library to be given to them; and by his influence, in 1667, the Arundelian Marbles were obtained for the University of Oxford.
His first appointment to a public office was in 1662, as a Commissioner for reforming the buildings, ways, streets, and incumbrances, and regulating hackney.coaches in London. In the same year, he sat as a Commissioner on an enquiry into the conduct of the Lord Mayor, &c., concerning Sir Thomas Gresham's charities. In 1664, he was in a commission for regulating the Mint; in the same year was appointed one of the Commissioners for the care of the Sick and Wounded in the Dutch war; and he was continued in the same employment in the second war with that country.
He was one of the Commissioners for the repair of St. Paul's Cathedral, shortly before it was burnt, in 1666. In that
year, he was also in a commission for regulating the farming and making saltpetre; and in 1671, we find him a Commissioner of Plantations on the establishment of the Board, to which the Council of Trade was added in 1672.
In 1685, he was one of the Commissioners of the Privy Seal, during the absence of the Earl of Clarendon (who held that office), on his going Lord Lieutenant to Ireland. On the foundation of Greenwich Hospital, in 1695, he was one of the Commissioners; and, on 30th June, 1696, laid the first stone of that building. He was also appointed Treasurer, with a salary of 2001. a year; but he says that it was a long time before he received any part of it.
When the Czar of Muscovy came to England, in 1698, proposing to instruct himself in the art of ship-building, he was desirous of having the use of Sayes Court, in consequence of its vicinity to the King's dock-yard at Deptford. This was conceded; but during his stay he did so much damage, that Mr. Evelyn had an allowance of 1501. for it. He especially regrets the mischief done to his famous hollyhedge, which might have been thought beyond the reach of damage. But one of Czar Peter's favourite recreations had been, to demolish the hedges, by riding through them in a wheel-barrow.
October, 1699, his elder brother, George Evelyn, dying without male issue, aged eighty-three, he succeeded to the paternal estate; and, in May following, he quitted Sayes Court, and went to Wotton, where he passed the remainder of his life, with the exception of occasional visits to London, where he retained a house. In the great storm of 1703, he mentions in his last Edition of the “Sylva,” above 1000 trees were blown down in sight of his residence.
He died at his house in London, 27th February, 1705-6, in the eighty-sixth year of his age, and was buried at Wotton. His lady survived him nearly three years, dying 9th February, 1708-9, in her seventy fourth year, and was buried near him at Wotton. The inscriptions on their tombs, and on those of his father and mother, are subjoined. His personal character was truly amiable. In the relative duties of father, husband, and friend, few could exceed him.
Of Mr. Evelyn's children, a son, who died at the age of five, and a daughter, who died at the age of nineteen, were almost prodigies. The particulars of their extraordinary endowments, and the profound manner in which he was affected at their deaths, may be seen in these volumes, and cannot be read without exciting the most tender emotions. One daughter was well and happily settled ; another less
but she did not survive her marriage more than a few months. The only son who lived to the age of manhood, inherited his father's love of learning, and distinguished himself by several publications.
Mr. Evelyn's employment as a Commissioner for the care of the Sick and Wounded was very laborious; and, from the nature of it, must have been extremely unpleasant, Almost the whole labour was in his department, which included all the ports between the river Thames and Ports. mouth;
and he had to travel in all seasons and weathers, by land and by water, in the execution of his office, to which he gave the strictest attention. It was rendered still more disagreeable by the great difficulty which he found in procuring money for support of the prisoners. In the library at Wotton, are copies of numerous letters to the Lord Treasurer and Officers of State, representing, in the strongest terms, the great distress of the poor men, and of those who had furnished lodging and necessaries for them. At one
time, there were such arrears of payment to the victuallers, that, on landing additional sick and wounded, they lay some time in the streets, the publicans refusing to receive them, and shutting up their houses. After all this trouble and fatigue, he found as great difficulty in getting his accounts settled.' In January, 1665-6, he formed a plan for an Infirmary at Chatham, which he sent to Mr. Pepys, to be laid before the Admiralty, with his reasons for recommending it; but it does not appear that it was carried into execution.
His employments, in connection with the repair of St. Paul's (which, however, occupied him but a brief time), as in the Commission of Trade and Plantations, and in the building of Greenwich Hospital, were much better adapted to his inclinations and pursuits.
As a Commissioner of the Privy Seal in the reign of King James II., he had a difficult task to perform. He was most steadily attached to the Church of England, and the King required the Seal to be affixed to many things incompatible with the welfare of that Church. This, on some cccasions, he refused to do, particularly to a license to Dr. Obadiah Walker to print Popish books: and on other occasions he absented himself, leaving it to his brotherCommissioners to act as they thought fit. Such, however, was the King's estimation of him, that no displeasure was evinced on this account.
2nd October, 1665, he writes to the Lord Chancellor, Lord Arlington, Sir William Coventry, and Sir Philip Warwick, complaining of want of money for the prisoners : praying that whilst he and his brother-Commissioners adventure their persons and all that is dear to them, in this uncomfortable service, they may not be exposed to ruin, and to a ne. cessity of abandoning their care; and adding that they have lost their officers and servants by the pestilence, and are hourly environed with the saddest objects of perishing people. “I have,” says he, “ fifteen places full of sick men, where they put me to unspeakable trouble ; the magistrates and justices, who should further us in our exigencies, hindering the people from giving us quarters, jealous of the contagion, and causing them to shut the doors at our approach.'
- Dr. Walker had been a member of the Church of England, but law renounced it, and turned Papist.