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the King, and begg'd that he would give me leave to bring him and his worke to Whitehall
, for that I would adventure my reputation with his Mary that he had never seene any thing approch it, and that he would be exceedingly pleased, and employ him. The King said he would himselfe go see him. This was the first notice he had of Mr. Gibbon.' -vol. i. p. 410.
Gibbons should have made a pulpit for St. Pauls, his genius would then have had full scope for displaying itself, and we should have had something which might have vied with the magnificent works of this kind in the Low Countries. He was a very illiterate man, as appears by one of his notes inserted in these volumes, in the worst possible spelling.
The poplar burns untowardly, and rather moulders away than maintains any solid heat. Should it not then be preferred for the floors of dwelling houses, so long as we persist in the preposterous custom of constructing houses which may serve for funeral piles ? The Lombardy poplar we have heard commended for farm houses, and especially for cheese-rooms, because neither mice nor mites will attack it. The aspin, says Mr. Evelyn, differs from other poplars in this that he tukes it ill to have his head cut off.' 'Ale brewed with the ripe berries of the mountain ash is praised as an incomparable drink familiar in Wales. Of the shortest part of the old wood, found commonly in doating* birches, is made the grounds of our effeminate farined gallants sweet powder; and of the quite consumed aud rotten, (such as we find reduced to a kind of reddish earth, in superannuated hollow trees,) is gotten the best mould for the raising of divers seedlings of the rarest plants and flowers.' He recommends a more curious use for the down of the willow, saying, he is of opinion, if it were dried with care that it might be fit for cushions and pillows of chastity,--for such of old was the reputation of the shade of those trees. Their shade was thought so n holesome, that physicians, in his time, prescribed it to feverish persons, permitting the boughs to be placed even about their beds, as a safe and comfortable refrigeration. The ivy, he says, may with small industry be made a beautiful standard, a beautiful one indeed! Some of the American creepers which have become so, remain erect after the tree which they have clipt and killed has mouldered within their convolutions. Bacon, he thinks, introduced the plane; Archbishop Grindal the tamaric: Evelyn himself obtained seeds of the cedars from Lebanon, and · had the honour to be the first who brought the alaternus into use and reputation in this kingdom, for the most beautiful of hedges and verdure in the
This word, as Evelyn uses it here and in other places, seems to be synonymous with dottard, doddered, decayed, or going to decay. It is still applied to those persolis whose intellects tail them in extreme old age.
world, (the swiftness of the growth considered,) and propagated it from Cornwall even to Cumberland.' But he names the
for hedges, as preferable for beauty and a stiff defence to any other plant; and says, 'without vanity,' he was the first which brought it into fashion, as well for defence as for a succedaneum to cypress, whether in hedges or pyramids, conic-spires, bowls or what other shapes, adorning the parks or larger avenues with their lofty tops, thirty foot high, and braving all the efforts of the most rigid winter, which cypress cannot weather.
That fashion has passed away. It is to be wished that Evelyn had been equally successful in filling the country with fruit trees, according to his wise and benevolent desire. I do only wisli,' he says, ' upon the prospect and meditation of the universal benefit, that every person whatsoever, with ten pounds per annum, within her Majesty's doniinions, were by some indispensable statute obliged to plant his hedge-rows with the best and most useful kinds of them.' Old Gerrard had exprest a wish to the same effect before him, and he quotes the old man's honest and not ineloquent exhortation' forward in the name of God, graft, set, plant and nourish up trees in every corner of your ground; the labour is small, the cost is nothing, the commodity is great; yourselves shall have plenty, the poor shall have somewhat in time of want to relieve their necessity, and God shall reward your good minds and diligence.' Surely the time will come when the walnut, the pear and the cherry will take place of those trees, which are of less utility and beauty while they stand, and not of greater value when they are cut down. If that spirit of wanton mischief or more malignant havoc be apprehended, which is now but too prevalent among the populace in many parts of England, it should be remembered that this spirit was once as prevalent in France, and that there is now no country in the world where so little of it is displayed. When the sides of the highways were first planted, under Sully's administration, Evelyn tells
us, * the rude and mischievous peasants did so hack, steal and destroy what they had begun, that they were forced to desist from the thorough prosecution of the design; so as there is nothing more exposed, wild and less pleasant than the common roads of France, for want of shade, and the decent limits which these sweet and divertissant plantations would have afforded.' The peasant is now as sensible of the comfort which these road-side trees afford him by their shade in summer, and the security which they give him when the ground is covered with snow, as the foreigner is of their stateliness and beauty. Evelyn, whose love for trees and groves was only less than that which he felt for his fellow-creatures, more than once expresses his bitter indignation at the havoc made among them, owing to the barbarous manner in which Louis XIV. wasted
the countries in which he made war,-mischiefs, he says, not to be repaired in many ages; the truculent and savage marks (among others) of a most Christian King; nomine, non re! 'Diree and curses,' he exclaims, on those inhuman and ambitious tyrants, who, not contented with their own dominions, invade their peaceful neighbours, and send their legions, without distinction, to destroy and level to the ground such venerable and goodly plantations, and noble avenues, irreparable marks of their barbarity. No man, in modern times, had made war with so barbarous a spirit as Louis XIV.,-till Buonaparte,--the perfect Emperor of the British liberales, and the most remorseless and destructive tyrant that ever trampled upon the rights and feelings of humanity.
The greater part of the woods, which were raised in consequence of Evelyn's writings, have been cut down: the oaks have borne the British Aag to seas and countries which were undiscovered when they were planted, and generation after generation has been coffined in the elms. The trees of his age, which may yet be standing, are verging fast toward their decay and dissolution : but his name is fresh
in the land, and his reputation, like the trees of an Indian Paradise, exists and will continue to exist in full strength and beauty, uninjured by the course of time.
Thrones fall and dynasties are changed:
Survives all meaner things. No change of fashion, no alteration of taste, no revolutions of science have impaired or can impair his celebrity. Satire, from which nothing is sacred, scarcely attempted to touch bim while living; and the acrimony of political and religious hatred, though it spares not even the dead, has never assailed his memory. How then has he attained this enviable inheritance of fame? Not by surpassing genius; not by pre-eminent powers of mind; not by any great action, nor by any splendid accident of fortune, but by bis virtue and his wisdom; by the proper use of his talents, and of the means which God had entrusted into his hands; by his principles and his practice. The Abbé Boileau, in that far-fetched strain of Aattery for which the French are remarkable, proposed once to the Academy that the word bonheur should be proscribed from all panegyrics upon Louis XIV., parce que son bonheur étoit son propre ouvrage, son application au travail, son génie qui prévoit tout, qui pourvoit à tout, &c.: it was disparaging a prince, he said, whose success was owing to himself, to speak of his good fortune. More truly might this be said of Evelyn. The circumstances in
which he was placed were all fortunate; but how many men in every generation are placed in circumstances equally propitious and with equal talents, who yet for want of the same prudence and the same prmciples have gone through the world without being either useful to others or happy in themselves, with no other respectability ihan mere wealth, and talents unemployed or misemployed could command; and sometimes perverting both, so as to be the pests, the fire-brands, and the disgrace of their country! And this has happened even to men who have set out in life with generous feelings and good intentions; for evil principles end in corrupting both, and like diseased and putrid humours carry with them the curse of assimilating to their own nature the subject into which they are introduced.
The youth who looks forward to an inheritance which he is under no temptation to increase, will do well to bear the example of Evelyn in his mind, as containing nothing but what is imitable and nothing but what is good. All persons, indeed, may find in his character something for imitation; but for an English gentleman he is the perfect model. Neither to solicit public offices, nor to shun them, but when they are conferred to execute their duties diligently, conscientiously and fearlessly; to have no amusements but such as being laudable as well as innocent, are healthful alike for the mind and for the body, and in which, while the passing hour is beguiled, a store of delightful recollection is laid up; to be the liberal encourager of literature and the arts; to seek for true and permanent enjoyment by the practice of the household virtues--the only course by which it can be found; to enlarge the sphere of existence backward by means of learning through all time, and forward by means of faith through all eternity,—behold the fair ideal of human happiness! And this was realized in the life of Evelyn.
Art. II.-- Notes on a Journey in America, from the Coast of
Virginia to the Territory of Ilinois. By Morris Birkbeck, Author of Notes on a Tour in France.' London. 1818. THIS 'HIS little volume, printed with an ordinary type on coarse
paper, and ushered into the world under the unassuming title of Notes,' is no more to be held as a proof of its author's modesty, than the plain drab coat and broad-brimmed hat, which he once wore, were of bis,humility—for Mr. Morris Birkbeck was at one time numbered, as we understand, among the people called Quakers. From his manual, however, it would appear that he is now happily relieved from all manner of prejudices on the score of religion and civil polity, except indeed a vehement one against all relisions, and all governments, the one yielding, in his view, no better fruit than fanaticism and hypocrisy, the other nothing but rents, taxes, restraints, and oppression.
It is of little importance to the reader to know what were the circumstances which brought about so hopeful a change in our traveller's sentiments, except in so far as they may tend to explain the source of his discontent, and of those hostile feelings which every where manifest themselves against the land of his forefathers. The change, however, was not without a cause. Patriots and expatriates are alike the children of circumstances, and generally, we believe, of adverse circumstances. With regard to Friend Morris we understand that, during the late war, he held the lease of a farm at a rent of about five hundred pounds, which was worth three times that sum; that on its expiring, he had it renewed at a rent more wearly approaching its value, when, the sudden change from war to peace having reduced the demand for produce, and consequently the value of land, to rid himself of bis engagements and his country at the same time, he threw up his farm un beau matin, and, laughing in his sleeve at the humorous trick which he had played his unsuspecting landlord, set out on a land speculation into the back settlements of North America. Mr. Morris Birkbeck was not without a compagnon
voyage; he prevailed, it seems, on a young man of the name of Flower to accompany him as a sort of squire. This Flower bloomed freely in the kindly soil of Hertfordshire, in possession of a fine flock of Merino sheep, and with them of every comfort of life; but in an unlucky moment he was persuaded by his guide, philosopher, and friend,' that to be happy and contented under such a government as that of Great Britain was contrary to all sound reason, and that for his credit's sake he must be transplanted into a more philosophical soil; accordingly the ill-starred Corydon sold off his sheep, and consented to seek an abode in a country where sheep cannot thrive. The two farmers had previously made a hasty tour through France, where, thanks to the Revolution,' every thing was right. The speculators in land,' however, had been before them. The property, of which the rich had been plundered, Mr. Morris Birkbeck saw with infinite pleasure partitioned out among the plunderers, or, as he delicately expresses it, among those who stood in need of it, thanks to the Revolution!' and they were too well acquainted with the value of their acquisitions to admit our friend to any share of them. Wonderful is the prosperity, boundless the affluence of France !-there, the peasantry have their six bottles of wine daily, and a change of linen amounting to twelve or fifteen shirts apiece-and in the Pyrennees (where money is nearly as plentiful as on the Himmaleyan mountains) Mr. Birkbeck found the