John Evelyn's Daughter

FEBRUARY the 6th, 1685. I am Susanna Evelyn, by your favour, third daughter of John Evelyn, esquire, of Sayes Court, Deptford, and of Mary, his wife. My Father is a gentleman well knowne, very grave and sad of mien, and of greate learning; and my Mother is still right faire and gentle, as in her youth. So is also Mary, mine eldest sister, who is as much prais’d for her beauty as for her rare voice and understanding of music. Yet so am not I, though I am not ill-looking, neither, were my sister but out of view ; whereas for a quick and a ready wit — but of that I say nought. My Father is much elder than my Mother, for, being in France in the yeare 1647, travelling with Mr. Waller, the Poet, he tarried for a long season in Paris, and contracted a greate friendship with the family of Sir Richard Browne, then Resident at the Court of France of our sore lamented King Charles the Martyr, at that very time in the hands of such as did him foully to death. He did then set his affections upon Sir Richard’s young daughter, and they were married by Dr. Earle, then Chaplain to the Prince (now his Majesty King Charles the II.), but since Dean of Westminster and Bishop of Salisburie, in the family Chapell. My Father was then seven and twenty yeares of age, and my Mother but a child of twelve yeares. But she being faire of face, and of good conditions, and pleasing him well, he was full content to wait for her ; and so left her with her parents, till she should have well learn’d, and should be of proper age.

After five yeares well spent in study, she came unto England, and he, going to meet her, fell into a rare coil, being rob’d on the highway by two cut-throates, who bound him unto a tree, and his hands behind him, and scap’d with divers rings and jewells.

Methinks it were rare to be thus wed out of hand, ere one were well out of the nursery, and thus would be spar’d much vexation of speaking of this one or that one, and who were his grandsire, and chiefly whether he were of equall fortune, and ready to bring a goodly jointure. These be weary matters ; I would it were all well away. Moreover, then might one know which should best please her husband, ere she go to dwell with him ; whether to learn the Latine or the Italian, to study the lute or the harpsichord, or to look onely to housewifery, to be learn’d in pasties and manchets, in guarding of mantles with lace and fur, and in physicking of children. But alack ! Mary is mine elder, and must be look’d to first. Yet might she be wed ere now, were she so minded, for she hath no lack of suitors, as Mr. Hussey, of Sutton, and divers beside. But so have not I, if it be not Ned Saunders, brother to mine onely neere friend, Nell. But, indeede, my Father would none of him, he being but the eldest sonn of Sir Williams second wife, and poore enough, belike.

My second sister, Bess, is not of such beauty and learning, yet of a most sweete countenance, well-shap’d, and exceeding amiable. She is seventeen yeares old, two yeares mine elder, and like to be soone wed, and to a right worthy youth. We have also a brother, Jack, much elder than we maids, and married five yeares since to a sweete, agreeable, and most vertuous lady, whom we do all love right well. They have too beautifull and hopefull sonns, and had also a sweete little daughter, who liv’d onely two moneths, to our greate sorrow.

Now I bethink me, I know not if I desire an husband so much mine elder as my Mother hath, lest he should wish to guide me in all matters, the which pleaseth me little. Rather would I wish one like unto Mr. S. Pepys, of the Navy, which hath to wife an exceeding handsome woman, and takes pride in seeing her in costly attire, and having all the pleasure in life. But what a foolish maid am I to write of these vanities, that am not like to be wed, save and except it were Sir W. Saunders himself, for his third wife ; and a rare lot were that, forsooth, to be mother-in-law unto Nell! . . .

Thus far find I, writ by mine owne hand, and laid amongst mine antient Latine books in Sayes Court, whither we have late return’d. Wherefore I did take the paine to set downe the same I marvell, seeing that of a suretie I had no will to keepe a book like unto that in the which my Father hath writ whatsoever hath ben of greate note in his life time. But wherefore I did come to a pause, and added no whit thereto, that I have good cause to remember. Even the same hour of my writing the idle thoughts of a young maid, dy’d K. Charles II., after a reigne of greate prophanenesse and luxury, having sorely disappointed the hopes of his loyale subjects, even to causing many to repent that they had brought him hither.

Also, on March the 14th, our deare Mary went to dwell with God. She was staying with my Lady Falkland in London, where she did sing at Lord Arundel’s to Signior Jo. Baptists playing upon the harpsichord, a greate company being there present, and so won much praise. She came home but to die. There is none so much to be prais’d for beauty, for piety, for sweetenesse, and for greate and strange learning, though she were of 19 yeares onely. My Father was sore broken by this grief, and so also my Mother. Not long thereafter was Bess married, and I thus left alone at home. Then, to do my Father a pleasure, I did set myself to excell in Greeke and Latine ; learning to pronounce this latter as my Father doth, and not, as in the English Universities, in such manner that none out of England can understand it. But in sooth I ever lov’d better to paint, both in oil and miniature, or to worke fine broideries, as did also my Mother; who, indeede, did present to the late K. Charles a copy in miniature of a Madona, which it pleas’d him to cause to be plac’d in his cabinet, amongst his best paintings.

Now because it had become too-too quiet at Sayes Court, my Mother did entreate Frances Evelyn, daughter to my Fathers cousin at Nutfield, to visite us. She, though as yet very young, was already extraordinary beautifull: her hair pale yellow, in soft, curling loekes; her eyes gray and large; her brow and throate exceeding white and smoothe, with a countenance of greate sweetenesse and dignity; and in stature tall, exquisite-shap’d and wondrous gracefull. This beauty pleas’d me the more, that I am browne, with hair and eyes of a shining blacke, like unto my grandmother, in her picture, and of stature somewhat low and smalle.

Moreover, Will Draper, a likely youth, though overfond of sport, was here. He was neere mine owne age, and sonn to our friend Mrs. Draper of Adscomb, a lady of a very loving and excellent disposition. This was in June, the summer after K. Charles death, and a time of wondrous drowth.

It chanc’d, on a warm afternoone, that Frances and I sate in the gallery, with our needleworke. Over against us hung that picture of my Mother with a dog, painted when she was a young maid in France. It shows her exceeding beautifull, and rarely like our dear Mary ; yet is it something the worse of being wash’d with soapsuds by some ignorant lout. Frances asking of me how this came to pass, I told her the tale.

Thus it was : Whilst my Father was for a time in England, one moneth after the blessed Kings martyrdome, my Mothers unkle came out of France, bringing this picture for my Father. But he being rob’d at sea by Dunkyrke Pyrates, this and divers matters beside came not into port. A year or two thereafter, as my Father was dining with Lord Wentworth at Calais, he learn’d from divers English gentlemen there present that the Governor of Dunkyrke, the Count de la Strade, was in the towne, who had bought the sayd picture of my Mother. So it prov’d; and the Count generously and with greate politenesse sent it to Dover without charge or recompense; and thus strangely came it to Sayes Court at last.

Whilst we talk’d of this adventure, came in Will Draper, full of news, and with him Mr. Richard Lyttelton, who had ben with us severall dayes. He was a neere neighbour and friend of my cousin, a very handsome but silent young man. These told us that the Duke of Monmouth had landed in Dorsetshire, and set up his standard as King of England.

“ Heaven protect us ! ” cry’d Frances, waxing pale.

“ Amen ! ” quoth Master Lyttelton, solemnly. “ What with a Popish King, and these Parliamentary elections, and Argyle coming downe from the North, and now the ‘ Protestant Duke ’ come over, ’t were to be wish’d that Heaven would speake, on the one side or the other.”

“ What now ? ” calls Will (but half in jest, I trow) ; “ whom have we here ? What with Oates and Dangerfield, Plots and perjurie, Pillorie and carts taile, I would it were all well away, and we had our Merrie England once againe ! ”

“ And when had we Merrie England, since you and I were borne, Master Will ? ” sayd Frances, sighing.

“ I’ good sooth, I know not, Mrs. Frances; I have ben merry enow,” saith he, and with that lie fell a-laughing. But the others laugh’d not.

At that moment certaine sounds arising from the court, Will did look forth from a window, and sayd it was somewhat concerning the hounds ; and so, craving our leave, departed. Scarce was he forth of the doore ere Mr. Lyttelton, regarding me with a grave countenance, sayd, “ Mistress, I pray you of your courtesie that I may speake a few words privily with Mrs. Frances, your cousin.”

Being so desired, I went the length of the gallery, and look’d forth on the dry turf, and the fruite-trees devour’d by caterpillars; for never was such dearth of raine in memory of man, — “ for our sins,” as divers will have it, because the King was a Papist. I could hear their voices, but no word ; and erelong Frances fell a-weeping. Yonder were troublous times, when one had neede to consider the warning, “ Take ye heed every one of his neighbour, and trust ye not in any brother.” I made no doubt that Mr. Lyttelton lov’d my cousin, and here was cause to fear that he had thought of joyning the Duke. This caus’d me some heavinesse and perplexity, yet methought I could availe nothing, if such were the case. Without doubt Frances entreated him to yield his purpose, and if any might prevaile it were surely she. Howbeit, in brief time the speeche between them ceas’d, and the doore was suddainely shut. Frances was white as one that lies in a shroude, as she took up her broiderie frame, and went to the bedchamber. Verily, to love one that is dead is an hard matter, but to love one that is a traytor, — how might that be, I marvell ?

And yet in very sooth I judg’d his action not so hardly as many might have don, nor perchance even as Frances herselfe. Verily, how may one judge, where good and wise men differ so widely ? Here is my Father calling Oliver Arch-Rebell and Tyrant, whereas Mr. Pepys will have him the greatest general and ruler England ever saw. Yet is Mr. Pepys no whit a Precisian, but merry as man may be (yet marvellous discreete withall), and a lover of good company; moreover, a rare singer of catches and glees. And here again to-day, with our K. William and K. James, we are in a rare coil, soothly !

No word sayd Frances to me, save that, as I don’d my flower’d gowne, she pray’d me to go with her into the garden. A sorry garden was it; the rare plantes, the oranges 1 and mirtills, and likewise the rosemary and laurells, having ben destroied utterly by the wondrous cold and frost two winters before, whilst we abode in London, and now all else kill’d by this strange drowth. I mark’d that she bare in her hand a Prayerbook, of convenient size to be carry’d in the pocket. Shortly appear’d Mr. Lyttelton, passing by the apple-trees on the south wall, who stood still on beholding us. “ Mr. Lyttelton,” sayd my cousin, advancing, “ this is peradventure our last meeting. Take this book, reade it often, and remember that I pray for your safety and guidance.”

With that she look’d upon him earnestly, and he upon her with deepe sadnesse. So he tooke the book, and kiss’d her hand, seeming in much distresse, and pass’d into the house with no word more. Within, he tooke leave of all with greate courtesie, and, coming forth, mounted his horse, and so was gon.

But I told none what I had heard and seene.

Three dayes thereafter was the Duke proclaim’d to be a traytor, and a reward of £5000 put upon his head. At his landing, he had 150 men onely; but many flock’d to his standard, although chiefly phanatics, brawlers, and men of low condition, as poore clothworkers, miners, and the like. We had fear’d it had ben otherwise, he being the idol of the people, handsome, gallant, affable, and of pleasing conversation, though given to evill courses. Though his numbers were greate, yet for a season he refus’d battail, seeking to traine his rude army. My Father receiv’d a warrant to send out an horse, with provision, and Brother Jack the same.

“ Were it not for my Mother,” saith Will, “ I would go and drive ‘ King Monmouth,’ as they call him, out of England.” Whereat Jack was rare taken, seeing that Will was but a youth, though tall, strong, and well-favour’d.

At the end of June we had plentifull raine after the extraordinary drowth; and at the same time was Argyle defeated in Scotland, he executed, and his party dispers’d. Next came the news of the Duke’s defeate, and of his capture the day following, sixteen miles from the place of battail, whither he had gon on foote, in a poore coate that he had taken to him. Still was no word of Mr. Lyttelton, as indeede none was to be hop’d. Living or dead, he was traytor to his King ; and mine heart bled for my cousin. Yet, being but a young maiden, I deem’d that her quietnesse betoken d some carelessnesse.

On that same day in the which the Duke came to the scaffold, we sate all together in the browne parlour, discoursing in part on this execution, and in part on the death of sister Mary’s lover. Mr. Hussey, a few dayes earlier. He was a gracious and worthy young gentleman, and dwelt neere Wotton (mine unkle’s abode), at a pretty seate, exceeding well order’d. My Father had a will to consente, could my sister have answer’d his affection. After her death, he fell into an extream melancholy, and tooke no enjoyment. As we thus spake, came one of the wenches to say that a beggarman stood without, earnestly craving speeche of Mrs. Frances Evelyn.

She went forth, and I with her, and found one in beggarly raiment, with a rough beard that wellnigh cover’d his face, and a ragged hat low over his eyes. Without a word, he tooke from beneath his cloake a. little booke, and gave the same to Frances. She utter’d a cry as of one in feare and paine, and, trembling exceedingly, lean’d her hand against the wall. Thereupon Will Draper ran speedily forth, and bare her in his armes into the withdrawingroome, where was straightway a mighty to-do. As for me, I hasten’d to the poore man without, and sayd full softly, “ Is Mr. Lyttelton slaine ? Are you peradventure one of his acquaintance?”

“ Ay, truly, mistress,” saith he. “ Dick Lyttelton fell in a happy hour, ere he knew of our defeate. Happier he than any poore fugitive of us all. Two weekes agone was I one of the Duke’s gentlemen ; and to-day an outlaw. with life at your mercy, faire lady.”

“ Joyce,” I cry’d to the kitchen wench, “ give the poore man somewhat to eate.”

For of force I must deale with him as he were a beggar, though he might be an Earle’s sonn, for ought I knew. Then ran I in haste to the bedchamber, and fetch’d thence the crowne-piece my Father bestow’d upon me to buy a scarlett riband withall, and made speede to slip it into the poore man’s hand, saying, “ Would ’t were more! ” But I had bethought me of the silver buckle of my girdle ; so that went after the other, unseene in mine hand.

His eyes gave a glint aneath his rough lockes, but he sayd nought save “ God save ye, kind lady,” right like unto a beggarman, and so gat him away.

I was deeply griev’d for Frances, who, though she had her sisters at home, had no longer a mother to console her ; and her mother-in-law, though kind, having her owne little boys to think on. She was, however, of admirable courage and serenitie, and bare her trial like a Christian. She being now gon (and likewise Will return’d to Oxford), I had abundant opportunity for meditation; and I confesse it gave me little ease to consider of a gay young gentleman traversing the country with a silver buckle as a token from me. Howbeit, I consol’d me with the hope that he was gon beyond seas, having no doubt feare of his life. Our poore Bess dying shortly thereafter, in our deepe affliction I had smalle thought for a matter so trifling.

Early in the ye are following, and soone after the famous duell betwixt the Duke of Grafton and the brother of the Earle of Derby, came Sir Gilbert Gerrard to propose his sonn as a suitor for me. So soone as I learn’d thereof, and especially hearing that Mr. Gerrard was sayd to have an affection for me (though to me unknowne), it came suddainely into my mind that here was the courtly gentleman of the raggs and the beggars cloake, who had my silver buckle. Sir Gilbert was in suspicion and disfavour of his Majesty, and ’t were nothing strange (if so it were) that his sonn should have joyn’d the rebells. I knew not what to wish, nor what to say. I had no will to be wife to any, least of all to one I had scantly behelde. Neither could I, for very shamefastnesse, tell my Father of the buckle, and beseeche him to obtain it from Sir Gilbert. Therefore I held my peace, yet ever the more assur’d that this was the selfe-same Knight-errant. But, as it chanc’d, though the King was favourable thereto, my Father brake off, not deeming the marriage agreeable to his desires for me, and so came an end.

And in very sooth, as me seemeth, yonder were no dayes for marrying and giving in marriage. None could foresee who should prosper, or whose matters should stand, or who fall suddainely to disgrace and ruine. Greate men were going over to Popery every day, the people in evident disaffection, Judges perverting the Law, and all going ill. At the last, in that wondrous yeare 1688, came the Prince of Orange, bringing, whatever any may say against it, our Merrie England back againe, as Will Draper would have it.

Now this same Will, I may say in passing, was meanwhile gon to travell, soone after the coming of the Prince. His Mother, who came to visite us, did tell us plainely that his going was at her desire, in part that he might not share in these troubles, by fighting either for K. James or for K. William, for so we did continue to call them both. She told us likewise that he was in love (or deem’d himselfe so to be) with a very worthy young lady.

“And,” saith she, “ besides the unsettled times, he shall not, with my goodwill, marry young, though it be the present fashion. Yet have I a greate affection for the lady, who is sweete, discreete, delicately bred, and withall an excellent housewife.”

So much was she pleas’d to say, leaving me in wonder concerning this mighty paragon which mine old-time friend Will had discover’d. Him I had not seene for some yeares, but as children were we alway friendly, and methought some one were fallen into rare good fortune, Adscomb being a right beautifull seate, and the house richly furnish’d and very magnificent, and he like to be very rich, through his aunt Lady Temple, who was childless.

My Father was not well-affected toward the expedition of the Prince ; but presently seeing how the condition of the Kingdom was improv’d by these changes, he became reconcil’d. It gave him some displeasure that my brother was made a Commissioner of the Revenue and Treasury of Ireland ; the more that it was necessary for him to reside in that country, with his wife and infant daughter, the boys being at school.

Not many moneths thereafter, whilst that my Mother and I sate in the red parlour, reading in the news-letter of the Lord Mohun’s trial, and the extraordinary tales touching the Witches in New England, with other matters, came in Nell Saunders, our neighbor, for to tell of her betrothall to Mr. John Pryor, she having at the last her Fathers consent, and mightily pleas’d thereat.

“ And long enough have I tarry’d, i’ faith,” saith she. “But as for thee. Sue, I marvell if thou hast taken the vows ! Canst find ne’er an husband to thy liking ? ’’

“ Soothly so,” spake I. “ Here am I left the onely child at home, and there is neede of me.” With that, my Mother smiled as though rare diverted.

But, ere Nells marriage was come about, my Father had a letter touching the which he and my Mother spake privily in the library for a season. Coming forth both together, grave yet not ill-pleas’d, they told me that Will Draper was return’d to England, and had made proposals of marriage to the father of the lady we had heard of.

“ And might one know her name ? ” asked I ; “ for without doubt she has no ill answer in readiness for so fair an offer.”

“ Sayest thou so ? ” spake my Mother. “ Her name is Susanna Evelyn.”

With that I blush’d greately, and could onely say that I would follow the guidance of my Father and Mother. Then my Father sayd I must follow mine own heart; that Will would shortly visite us, and if he prove altogether (sayd he) such as his youth promis’d, this marriage must needes be a greate satisfaction to all our friends. Scantly knew I whether to be pleas’d or troubled.

One weeke later, learning that Mr. Draper was soone to arrive, I walk’d abroad (that winter being exceeding mild and warm) somewhat late in the afternoone, to consider what was before me. As I mus’d, came one riding up the lane, and, staying his horse, sprang to my side. It was Ned Saunders, and, catching mine hand, he fell to rating me full roundly, but all in terms like a new play, for that I had hearken’d to any talk of marriage with another, by reason that I was aware of his passion. As he knelt thus, a-kissing of mine hand like unto a strolling player, up cometh a rider in a sad-color’d cloake, but rare gallant to looke upon, and with one glance passeth by. So I answer’d Ned as I might, saying that I regarded him ever as Nell’s brother, and in none other way ; and so away home with all speede.

Here found I this very same gallant, deepe in talk with my Father, who, smiling, sayd to me, “ Sue, here is Will Draper come againe.”

He made me a low reverence, saying, “Your servant, Mrs. Susanna Evelyn,” as he were a very stranger. And I, blushing greately, and silent as any oyster, gat me up in haste to mine owne chamber. Yet I mark’d that he was growne right handsome and gracefull, though graver than of yore.

But a little season he tarry’d, scarce two weekes in all, then as suddainely departed. I fear’d it might be by reason of what he had behelde at his coming. My parents were well affected toward him, he proving well-natur’d and prudent, a man of businesse, and prosperous in affaires ; like also to be heyr to the estate of my Lady Temple, to the value of £20,000 or over. It vex’d me that their expectations should thus be lost, yet was nought in my power.

Late in February came an amazing heavy snow, whereby we were all detain’d within. In all this storm came againe my young gentleman, walking in as though he had left us an houre before, and spake a season with my Mother, telling how the coach had thrice ben overset on the way hither. Then my Mother leaving us two, he approach’d me, and gaz’d intently upon my needleworke, for I wrought certaine curious devices in silk upon greene sattin. On a suddaine spake he : —

“ MR. Ned Saunders is growne a comely proper gentleman, methinks.”

“ Say you so ? ” cry’d f in a pet. " Verily, Ned Saunders is a very popinjay.”

With that he fell a-laughing, as was his wont aforetime ; and I scantly know what follow’d, save that when my Mother return’d there was no more to be sayd.

We were married in the chapell of Ely House, by the Bishop of Lincoln. My portion was £4000, and £500 per ann. to my jointure. A world of company was there present, all right magnificent. There was much ceremony of receiving and returning visites during two weekes ; after which we proceeded, with our parents, to Adscomb, where was also greate ceremony. No maid could desire a gayer wedding.

At our marriage none was comparable in beauty and sweetnesse with my faire cousin Frances Evelyn, very gallant in a gowne exquisitely lac’d, who spake to me right lovingly, and delighted us both with her discreete jestes. My Father hath but now writ to me from Wotton that she is about to be married to our young neighbour Mr. Hussey, brother to sister Marys lover. Of this I am right glad, he being a worthy gentleman. May she be as happy as I!

Ere I left Sayes Court as a bride came a messenger with a smalle packet, in the which, when I had opportunity to open it (looking to find a weddinggift), I saw my silver buckle. Who was he who, having kept this token so many yeares, did thus honourably restore the same at my marriage I have never divin’d.

Agnes L. Carter.

  1. Mr. Evelyn’s orange-trees must have been among the earliest in England, as he himself records the presentation to Charles II. of the first specimen seen in the country. He appears to have committed the nearly incredible imprudence of leaving them exposed during the famous January of 1684, when the Thames was frozen over, and he and his family spending the winter in London. This garden is noted as the one which that great barbarian, the Czar Peter, during his two months’ occupation of Sayes Court, a few years later, did his best to devastate, by such wanton tricks as cutting the shrubbery, and riding his horse through the hedge.