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part would remain of the reputation of any action, if seen in all the nakedness of its motives? Mr. Evelyn's Diary, in passing through the hands of his editor, has been doubtless somewhat trimmed and prepared for its appearing before the public; and it is not to be imagined that Mr. Evelyn himself unreservedly committed to paper every passage of his life; but there is enough of particularity in the occurrences recorded in these volumes to bring the man with his very atmosphere before us, and to render them a truly important addition to the moral history of our country.
If incidents of a very opposite character sometimes occur in the same day, it will not be considered as extraordinary by those who have observed in their course through life of how great a medley the active day of most of us, we may say of the best of us, is composed; how tragi-comic a mixture its bustle, its business, and its amusements present; and how wide a margin each page of the volume of existence displays, blank and barren altogether, or scribbled over with impertinences, trifles, and hallucinations. scarcely wonder to find even in this sensible and respectable man's honest and unsophisticated statement of the little and great passages of his life, that he is frequently ludicrous in the midst of dignity, childish among great thoughts and actions, and weak and wise in the same moment, and almost in the same breath. The lesson we learn from it should be that which disposes to humiliation and dictates candour. How little are the greatest! and, therefore, how much it becomes us in charity towards our common nature to look to the prominent and prevailing parts of each other's course of conduct, rather than into corners and privacies, to the great result rather than to the hourly details of life! One cannot but observe how widely this petty biography which a man gives of himself, in this sort of day-book of his transactions, differs from the concocted and manufactured account which the regular life-writer for the press produces. Neither can one help remarking that a publication like the present derives its principal interest from its being a disclosure (we are not now considering the justifiableness of the proceeding) of what was never written with any other view than to serve as minutes and remembrances for the
author's personal and exclusive use. In the biography now under review, the writer tells us, on the same day, of the attack of a banditti in the forest of Orleans, attended with the slaughter of four of his companions, and of a cat kittening upon his bed, and leaving on it a young one, having six ears, eight legs, two bodies, and two tails; and, within the compass of a few pages, of cutting for the stone, of St. Margaret's fair, of Southwark monkeys, of fire-eaters, of water-spouters, of rope-dancers, and of re
volutions. Some of the greatest events of his life are expressed in a few words: his marriage with the daughter of a minister of state is recorded in a parenthesis; the arrival of the queen_pine sent a present to Cromwell, the first that was ever seen in England, takes up as large a space as the landing of King William, or the death of his royal consort; and the grand processions at the coronations of Louis XIV and Charles II, occupy more space than the characters of these potentates, or any of the occurrences of their reigns. But these incongruities are no mark of a desultory life, or frivolity of character: the most methodical life, unless methodically narrated, must present a disproportionate picture, with many infractions of the rules of moral perspective. Studied biography may produce a much more harmonious effect; but there is scarcely any province of human wit in which falsehood flourishes with so much effrontery as in studied biography. Besides the determination with which the formal biographer sits down to make the most of his hero, he is in general equally determined to make out a consistent exhibition; to consult what are called the laws which belong to his department, the choice of incidents, the development of character, the arrangement of facts, the harmony of colouring, the gradations of importance, and other supposed essentials to this species of composition, which necessarily induce a wide departure from the realities of existence.
To his Majesty, King Charles I, Mr. Evelyn appears to have been very loyally attached; though from the tenour of his political opinions there is no reason to doubt but that every arbitrary and unjust proceeding which disfigured the reign of that unfortunate prince, appeared to him in its proper obnoxious light. He probably saw, what every intelligent and candid mind must have seen, that in the precedents of former reigns there was large excuse for many acts of government, not reconcileable with the maxims of a free state; but he saw (for who that had not imbibed the ferocious prejudices of the times could avoid seeing), that the constitution of England had arrived at that efficiency and maturity of operation which made it fully equal to its own gradual reform, without the destruction of any of its parts. He saw nothing in the motives or speculations of men's minds at that period capable of regenerating a system of rule, and law, and liberty, nearly so good as that which then existed; and that, as experience developed the capacities of the organized polity of which the country was then in possession, and the utility and practicability of alteration, the progress of amelioration would probably proceed in a course correspondent to the march of intelligence; and perhaps he foresaw that by the atrocious execution of the Monarch, a revulsion would be given to
the minds of men, which would issue in that court corruption, those arbitrary measures, and that general profligacy and profaneness of manners, which deformed the character of Britons through several successive reigns, and has left a stain which is still distinctly traceable to the depravity of that period. We are disposed to consider the murder of the first Charles as the great misfortune of this country. If the Monarch had been permitted to live, and after the first political victories which were obtained over him, our freedom had been left to the impulse which had been given to it, and the popular course in which by a regular movement it had begun to proceed, we might have enjoyed the full effect of this corrective process; no derangement would have been given to the play of the constitution; we should have had the solid and lasting benefit of a moral and religious reign; and the posterity of the Monarch would have received an English instead of a French education.
The greater part of this agitated period Mr. Evelyn employed in travelling through the most polished parts of the Continent; and in the course of his journey he brings us into company with many distinguished personages of that time, of whom he affords us sometimes a nearer view than we can obtain from any other existing accounts. We must always remember, however, that we are reading only a cursory statement of facts and first impressions hastily committed to paper, without method or composition, and that therefore any criticism upon the matter or manner of them, beyond the mere qualities of sense and grammar, and the testimony they bear to the honesty and value of the writer's principles, would be neither necessary nor reasonable. Some peculiarities in the composition of Mr. Evelyn's mind are very observable, and naturally induce a smile. Though capable of very warm attachments, a certain equability of temper carries him with the same firm and tranquil step over the rough and smooth, the great and small incidents of his passage through life. Unless indeed the whole of the carriage of this true English gentleman did largely testify to the right tone of his feelings, and his high moral cast of thinking, we should consider the sensibility of his mind as brought somewhat into question, by the unsuitable mixture of occurrences which appear in the part of the diary which spreads over the two or three last years of the reign of his unhappy Sovereign. "On the 5th of October," he says, "I went to Wotton to my brother, and on the 10th to Hampton Court, where I had the honour to kiss his Majesty's hand, and give him an account of the several things I had in charge, he being now in the power of those execrable villains who not long after murdered him." On the 5th of February following he is a spectator of a tragi-comedy acted in the Cockpit, after a long discontinu
ance of these diversions: on the 1st of July in the same year he sits for his picture: on the 28th of the same month he goes to "the celebrated follies of Bartholomew Fair;" and in the same month in which the King is murdered, we find him in a course of chemical studies. He expresses, indeed, the deepest horror at this transaction; but probably the mind of this respectable man had been so long accustomed to public scenes of a melancholy description during this sanguinary period, that, like a soldier in camp, he had acquired the habit of proceeding in his ordinary current of life, amidst hourly prospects of blood and tumult.
The observations of the Editor in his preface respecting the general character of Mr. Evelyn, and the inferences deducible from these volumes in his favour, are worthy of being presented to the reader.
"They (the following pages) will shew that he did not travel merely to count steeples, as he expresses himself in one of his letters; they will develope his private character as being of the most amiable kind. With a strong predilection for monarchy, with a personal attachment to Kings Charles II. and James II. formed when they resided at Paris, he was yet utterly averse to the arbitrary measures of those Monarchs.
"Strongly and steadily attached to the doctrine and practice of the Church of England, he felt the most liberal sentiments for those who differed from him in opinion. He lived in intimacy with men of all persuasions, nor did he think it necessary to break connexions with any one who had even been induced to desert the Church of England and embrace the doctrines of that of Rome. In writing to the brother of a gentleman thus circumstanced, in 1659, he expresses himself in this admirable manner: For the rest, we must comitt to Providence the successe of times and mitigation of proselytical fervours; having for my owne p'ticular a very great charity for all who sincerely adore the blessed Jesus, our common & deare Saviour, as being full of hope that God (however the p'sent zeale of some, & the scandals taken by others at the instant [present] affliction of the Church of England may transport them) will at last compassionate our infirmities, clarifie our judgements, & make abatement for our ignorances, superstructures, passions, & errours of corrupt tymes & interests, of which the Romish persuasion can no way acquit herself, whatever the present prosperity & secular polity may pretend. But God will make all things manifest in his own tyme, onely let us possess ourselves in patience & charity. This will cover a multitude of imperfections.'" (Vol. i. p. ix, x.)
The account which this well-disposed Christian gives of the various deaths which happened in his family during his long life are always affecting and instructive, and full of nature and pathos.
"1635. My deare Mother departed this life upon the 29th September, about the 37th of her age and 22d of her marriage, her death has
tened by excessive grief for the losse of her daughter. When near her death, she summoned all her children then living (I shall never forget it), and express'd herself in a manner so heavenly, with instructions so pious and Christian, as made us strangely sensible of the extraordinary losse 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 recom'ended us to his care; and having importun'd him that what he design'd to bestow on her funeral he would rather dispose among y poore, she labour'd to compose herselfe 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 counsell." (Vol. i. p. 5.)
Notwithstanding the negligence of style which naturally belongs to this kind of composition, Mr. Evelyn has touched some subjects with considerable force and vivacity. His visit to the royal galleys at the port of Marseilles is rendered interesting by a few descriptive strokes of painting strongly marked by fidelity and spirit.
"7 Oct. 1644. We went to visite the Gallys being about 25; the Captaine of the Gally Royal gave us most courteous entertainment in his cabine, the slaves in the interim playing both loud and soft musiq very rarely. Then he shew'd us how he commanded their motions with a nod and his whistle, making them row out. The spectacle was to me new and strange, to see so many hundreds of miserably naked having their heads shaven close and having onely high red bonnets, a payre of course canvas drawers, their whole backs and leggs naked, doubly chayn'd about their middle and leggs, in couples, and made fast to their seates, and all commanded in a trise by an imperious and cruell seaman. One Turke he much favor'd, who waited on him in his cabin but with no other dress than the rest, and a chayne lock'd about his leg but not coupled. This gally was richly carv'd and gilded, and most of the rest were very beautifull. After bestowing something on the slaves, the captain sent a band of them to give us musiq at dinner where we lodged. I was amaz'd to contemplate how these miserable catyfs lie in their gally crowded together, yet there was hardly one but had some occupation by which, as leisure and calmes permitted, they gat some little monye, insomuch as some of them have, after many yeares of cruel servitude, been able to purchase their liberty. Their rising forward and falling back at their oare is a miserable spectacle, and the noyse of their chaines with the roaring of the beaten waters has something of strange and fearfull to one unaccustom'd to it. They are rul'd and chastiz'd by strokes on their backs and soles of theire feete on the least disorder, and without the least humanity; yet are they chereful and full of knavery." (Vol. i. p. 70, 71.)
His manner of narrating his adventures appears to us to be as remarkable for its vigour as for its simplicity; as a specimen of which we will present our readers with his little voyage from Canes to Genoa.