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The Gardiner had the Souldier's place,
Was then the only magazeen.
Λαμπάδια έχοντες διαδώσουσιν αλλήλοις. .
a retired Statesman and Diplomatist devoting his leisure to Gardening. The practice of Politics was one of the few forms of action that John Evelyn took no lively share in—though he was too much a Civis Mundi not to be intellectually interested in that, as in most other things. Unlike Edmund Burke, who also, as we learn from his correspondence with Arthur Young, busied himself with practical farming, and in politics, according to Goldsmith,
Narrowed his mind, And to party gave up, what was meant for mankind. Evelyn made mankind his constant study, and no one better fulfilled Terence's maxim, as was abundantly testified by his anxiety about the condition and relief of the poor discharged seamen, when he was appointed Commissioner for the Care of the Sick, Wounded, and Prisoners in the Dutch War.
Bookman and library-lover as he was, Grolier's generously genial motto, Sibi et Amicis, would not have sufficed the large-hearted and -minded Evelyn, for whom Mundo et Sibi would have better expressed his far-reaching humanity. Not only may he stand for the fine flower of English gentlehood of his day, but he offers the broadest and fullest example of Carolean culture and conduct, as Sidney fitly represents these qualities in the Elizabethan period. It is true that none of Evelyn's numerous writings scales the poetic peaks of Sidney's “ Arcadia”-nor glows with the fiery fervour of his “Defence of Poesie.” In Evelyn, the chivalry and urbanity of his character and styleinterchangeable words—are toned and tinctured by something of the chill autumnal hues of Puritan austerity—or are modified by the sweet seriousness, as well as reasonableness of Falkland, who died a martyr to moderation and the middle course. Although Evelyn held aloof from the storm and stress of politics and revolution, and as a moral-minded man was revolted by the scandalous licence and dissoluteness of Charles's Court, he was a trusted adviser to Charles II. and his brother; and as Member of the Council of Foreign Plantations (or as we should now say, of the Colonies) and a Commissioner of the Privy Seal, he served both
Sovereigns; in brief, as Sir Leslie Stephen writes rather irreconcileably, he was a hearty but cautious Royalist. The libertine levity of the Restoration reaction, its assertion of the “Will to Live,” and to enjoy life in its porcine way, was an offence to his delicacy and refinement.
Of the many subjects touched with his hand or pen, there was hardly one to which he did not lend lustre, for his own age at least. In nearly all he was a teacher, a friend of those who would “live in the spirit,” or excel in the artistry of life. Whether the subject were Painting, Architecture, Forestry, Agriculture, Gardens, Engraving, the installation or foundation of Libraries, Religion, Commerce, Lucretius's great Epicurean poem, the formation of the Royal Society, the rebuilding of London, the structure of the Earth, the abolition of the Smoke nuisance-even the fashions, follies and dress of his generation—in one and all he was an originator, a pioneer, a reformer, or a meliorator- either by his own example and in his own person, by his writings, or the interpretation of other men's. To few men has it been granted to spread so wide a range of excellence over so long a life and so many different branches of art and literature ; and to crown all, he has left in his Diary, as an eye-witness, a commentary on the Life and History of his generation, second only, in relation to its age, to the Annals of Tacitus or the Memoirs of Saint-Simon,
As Treasurer to Greenwich Hospital and in other administrative offices, he was often in close touch with Charles II., who highly valued his opinion, and was actually persuaded by Evelyn's advice to introduce a permanent standard and style for men's dress—but the inconstant King altered the fashion again within the
year. Of most of the great intellects of his dayBritish and Foreign-Boyle, Bentley, Wotton, Sir Thomas Browne, Gassendi, Peiresc, Wren, Pepys, Meric Casaubon, Clarendon, Cowley, Wilkins, Jeremy Taylor, Dugdale, Hollar, Gibbons-Evelyn was the friend, the correspondent, or the patron.
Oxford owes to him the Arundel marbles, and other benefactions to Museum and Library; he was one of the Founders, for a year the Secretary, and twice refused the Presidency, of the Royal Society—besides contributing many papers to its Philosophical Transactions; and in its archives may still lurk Lord Sandwich's descriptions of the Gardens and Villas of Spain, which he, when Ambassador, sent Evelyn, from Madrid—“many sheets of paper written in his own hand "-although the Sem
brador or Plough, which Evelyn gave to the Society, and described in its “ Transactions,” is probably long since broken
for firewood. His translation of the five remaining books of Lucretius (he published two editions of his version of Book I.) possibly “still lies in the dust of my study, where it is likely to be for ever buried” (Letter to Meric Casaubon from Sayes Court: July 15, 1674) ; and possibly in the Library at Wotton (for I have ascertained from Professor Church it is not in the keeping of the Royal Society) reposes Evelyn's translation of Naudé « On Libraries,” which he had himself prepared for a second impression, having suppressed as many copies as he could of the imperfect and badly-printed first issue.
In short, Evelyn proved the possibility of being both a citizen of the world and a true patriot--and in his own person identified these usually irreconcilable rôles. He was a signal instance of self-respect earning the respect of his race.
Love for his character has led me somewhat from the path-the garden-path-of Evelyn's “hortulan'
His “ Kalendarium Hortense” and “ Acetaria; or Discourse of Sallets” have been often reprinted and commented upon in Books of Gardening