페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

• The reason of the difference appears obvious. The ministers of the Romish persuasion will not permit their flocks to be wrought upon. To distrust the fallibility of any point of doctrine or discipline is with them heresy. Catholics, therefore, are preserved from those dubitations which, when once engendered, generally end in conver sion. The moment of danger is, when ancient opinions in matters of faith are wavering, or in the noviciate of those recently embraced. And to this danger every Protestant is more particularly exposed; especially in a country where toleration in religious opinions is allowed; for there excess of fervour is the most likely to be awakened.'

After all, however, we believe that constitutional temperament has much more to do with illusory conceits, than any of the exciting causes alleged. It has been well remarked, that the Poet Cowper, who has been so often cited as an instance of religious melancholia, was about to commit suicide before he was the subject of religious impression; and by the same Writer we are reminded that neither Swift nor Rousseau was a religious melancholic. It is this constitutional temperament that distorts truth, and thus, as Dr. Burrows remarks, generates an opinion that melancholy insanity is the effect of religious impressions.' In minds so constituted, the most ordinary incidents become provocations of derangement. Some minds are so framed as

6

to view all the blessings of this, or a future life, by involution. Their greatest gratification is persistive despondency. Deaf to precept or example, they retort:

Go-you may call it madness-folly-
You shall not chase my gloom away;
There's such a charm in melancholy-
I would not if I could, be gay!'

We must here terminate our account of this very interesting performance. The medical reader will of course look to Dr. Burrows for a detail of those plans and practices which he represents as having proved so efficacious in healing wounded, or in restoring lost reason. In his "Commentaries on Insanity," (a work some time ago promised,) we shall hope to meet with these details in the mean time, we readily accept the stated results on the credit of our Author's name and character, and acknowledge our obligations to him for having placed the matter of mental aberration in a much more consolatory point of view than we have hitherto been accustomed to contemplate it..

Dr. Burrows is an able writer: his principal fault, as it relates to manner, consists in an occasional endeavour to compose too carefully. We think that with a little less of the récherché about his words and sentences, the style of the book would have

See Quarterly Review. Article" Insanity and Madhouses."

been still less exceptionable. It behooves authors who are solicitous about dressing their thoughts out to the best advantage, to keep in constant recollection the maxim, artem celare.

Art. III. Memoirs illustrative of the Life and Writings of John Evelyn, Esq. F.R.S. Author of the "Sylva," &c. &c. Comprising his Diary from the Year 1641 to 1705, 6, and a Selection of his Familiar Letters. To which is subjoined, the private Correspondence between King Charles I, and his Secretary of State, Sir Edward Nicholas, whilst his Majesty was in Scotland 1641, and at other Times during the Civil War; also between Sir Edward Hyde, afterwards Earl of Clarendon, and Sir Richard Browne, Ambassador to the Court of France. The whole now first published from the Original MSS. Edited by William Bray, Esq. F.R.S. Second Edition. 2 vols. 4to. [Plates] pp. xxviii. 1350.

London. 1819.

THE HESE volumes combine the attractions of biography, travels, and historical memoirs. The Diary, which occupies rather more than half of the work, exhibits the unaffected sentiments of one of the most virtuous men of his time, on the passing events, prevailing manners, and most distinguished personages of the interesting period which it embraces. It is a private record, having no pretensions to the character of history or political annals; for some of the most important occurrences are alluded to in the slightest manner possible; but disclosing information sometimes of a curious and valuable description, always entertaining, and affording a display of integrity, good sense, and signal amiableness of disposition in the accomplished Writer, which in no small degree contributes to the pleasure and interest felt in the perusal. The rank which Mr. Evelyn held in society, and the universality of his acquaintance, could not fail to enrich his personal journal with details relating to the most illustrious actors in those events which form the matter of history; at the same time, there is a very singular abstinence from the parade of an anecdotist, from the self-important enunciation of opinions, and even from all expressions of party rancour. Mr. Evelyn appears to have been a person of a remarkably calm and philosophic temper, and of the most perfect simplicity of character. The appearance of such a man in the midst of the licentious court of Charles the Second, as the intimate of Royalty and the confidant of statesmen, yet himself neither a politician nor a man of intrigue, is a phenomenon which might seem to admit of a reference by way of analogy, though not of parallel, to the situation of Daniel at the court of Babylon. With what are properly termed politics, it is astonishing how little Mr. Evelyn appears to have meddled. It was certainly neither indolence nor a deficiency of patriotism, M

VOL. XIV. N.S.

that led him to decline taking a part in the conflicts of parliamentary debate, or allying bimself, otherwise than by his sentiments and intimacies, to either of the contending parties. Shall we say that he had too much good sense to be ambitious, or that he was too modest to be aspiring, or too pious to sell himself to the dirty service of the State ? He was not wholly destitute of ambition, he had a taste for public life, and was susceptible of the full impression of whatever grandeur can attach to the pomp of office and the dignity of station. His loyalty, too, was a passionate sentiment, intimately blending with his religious feelings, and borrowing something of their character: it was that of a Tory of the old school, who, when once he bad lived to see the King restored, and Church and State re-established on their old basis, could have chaunted the Nunc-Dimittis, all his solicitudes for his country being then over. The marked proofs of favour and confidence which Mr. Evelyn continued to receive from the restored Monarch, are recorded with an evident sense of the gratification he derived from them. But he was made for better things than to be a courtier. The favourite pursuits to which the ardour of his mind was devoted, and which, re-acting upon his character, contributed to determine its bias, were natural pbilosophy and agricultural science. These pursuits, by pre-occupying his taste and his ambition, saved him from the necessity of seeking in the service of party or of the Court, less innocent-at least, more hazardous employment; saved him, too, from hankering after those empty distinctions which are the bribe or the reward of political service; and armed him, within the very magic circle of the Court, with a counter-spell that baflled its Circean influence, so that he came forth in all the integrity of a man. The declaration which, in pursuance of his intention, is inscribed upon his tomb, speaks the result of his experience : « That all

is vanity which is not honest, and that there is no solid wisdom .but in real piety.'

Evelyn has been best known to posterity as the Author of the Sylva ;* and to his talents as an agreeable and accomplished Writer, he will be indebted for his lasting fame. It is certain,' says the Author of the article Evelyn in the Biographia Britapnica, 'that very few Authors who have written in our lan

6

[ocr errors]

guage, deserve the character of able and agreeable writers so • well as Mr. Evelyn, who, though he was acquainted with most • sciences, and wrote upon many different subjects, yet was very

far, indeed the farthest of most men of his time, from being a

* For an account of this work, the reader may consult ECLECTIC Review, Old Series. Vol, viii. p. 1108.

6

superficial writer. He had genius, he had taste, he had learning; and he knew how to give all these a proper place in his works, so as never to pass for a pedant, even with such as were least in love with literature, and to be justly esteemed a

polite author by those who knew it best. His works are sufficiently numerous to have precluded his being regarded as a literary idler, even if his whole time had been occupied with such pursuits; but the fact is, that they are the fruits of intervals of leisure in the busy life of a man who took a very active part in society. An enuineration of the posts he occupied, will at once shew the consideration in which he was held by bis contemporaries, and the activity of his mind.

His first public appointment 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 inquiry 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; and in the same year he was appointed one of the Commissioners for the care of the sick and the wounded in the Dutch War; and was continued in the same employ-, ment 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 in a Commission for regulating the farming and making of salt petre. In 1671, he was made 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, he laid the first stone of that building, being appointed Treasurer.'

Besides these engagements, (some of which were of a light and temporary nature, but others were extremely laborious and of longer duration), he was a very active member of the Royal Society, in the institution of which he had a considerable share. On its establishment in 1662, he was appointed one of the Council, and in 1672, was chosen Secretary. He obtained for this society the splendid gist of the Arundelian library, as he had before prevailed upon Lord Henry Howard to bestow the Arundelian marbles on the University of Oxford. His whole life, which was extended to 86 years, amply justified the encomium pronounced by Lord Orford; it was a course of 'inquiry, study, curiosity, instruction, and benevolence.'

The Kalendarium,' as the Writer styles it, commences with some brief memoranda of his parentage and early life. Under the year 1631, occurs a notice of the extraordinary dearth which ocourred in England in that year. And now, Évelyn tells us,

а

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

in imitation of what I had seen my Father do, I began to 'observe matters more punctualy, which I did use to set downe ' in a blanke almanac.' He was at this time but eleven years of age. The Diary itself was commenced, or transcribed, at a later period, but it appears to have originated in this simple circumstance, and to have been prosecuted without the most distant view to its being made public. Of his father, he speaks in terms of the most exemplary reverence and affection; and he appears to have been held by all his acquaintance in the highest consideration.

1634. My Father was appointed Sheriff for Surrey and Sussex before they were disjoyned. He had 116 servants in liverys, every one livery'd in greene sattin doublets; divers gentlemen and persons of quality waited on him in the same garb and habit, which at that time (when 30 or 40 was the usual retinue of the High Sheriff) was esteemed a great matter. Nor was this out of the least vanity that my Father exceeded (who was one of the greatest decliners of it), but because he could not refuse the civility of his friends and relations, who voluntarily came themselves, or sent in their servants.'

(

In illustration of his being a studious decliner of honours ' and titles,' there is given in a note, the copy of a curious voucher for the receipt of £50 by waie of composic'one to 'the use of his Ma'tie, for his (Richard Evlinge's) fine for not apearinge at the time and place apoynted for receavinge order ' of K'hood.'

·

C

"

In Dec. 1840, Mr. Evelyn's father died: he had lost his mother five years before; and thus,' he says, we were bereft ' of both our parents in a period when we most of all stood in 'need of their counsel and assistance.'

But so it pleased God to make tryall of my conduct in a conjuncture of the greatest and most prodigious hazard that ever the youth of England saw. If I did not amidst all this peach my liberty, nor, my vertue, with the rest who made shipwreck of both, it was more the infinite goodness and mercy of God than the least discretion of myne owne, who now thought of nothing but the pursuite of vanity, and the confused imaginations of young men.'

<

'

·

On the 3d of November of the same year, (a day,' he remarks, never to be mentioned without a curse,') he had seen the King proceed in state, after his return from his Northern expedition, to that long, ungratefull, foolish, and fatal Parliament, the beginning of all our sorrows for twenty years after, and the period of the most happy monarch in the world.' On the 12th of May, 1641, he beheld on Tower Hill, the fatal stroke that severed the wisest head in England from the shoulders of the Earl of Strafford.' Dismayed at this ill 'face of things,' he took the prudent resolution to absent himself from his country till the storm should have blown over,

·

« 이전계속 »