Our website is made possible by displaying online advertisements to our visitors.
Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker.

Download links will be available after you disable the ad blocker and reload the page.

Books and Authors Curious Facts and Characteristic Sketches

Download options:

  • 370.87 KB
  • 710.67 KB
  • 483.75 KB




The MS. Diary, or "Kalendarium," of the celebrated John Evelyn lay among the family papers at Wotton, in Surrey, from the period of his death, in 1706, until their rare interest and value were discovered in the following singular manner.

The library at Wotton is rich in curious books, with notes in John Evelyn's handwriting, as well as papers on various subjects, and transcripts of letters by the philosopher, who appears never to have employed an amanuensis. The arrangement of these treasures was, many years since, entrusted to the late Mr. Upcott, of the London Institution, who made a complete catalogue of the collection.

One afternoon, as Lady Evelyn and a female companion were seated in one of the fine old apartments of Wotton, making feather tippets, her ladyship pleasantly observed to Mr. Upcott, "You may think this feather-work a strange way of passing time: it is, however, my hobby; and I dare say you, too, Mr. Upcott, have your hobby." The librarian replied that his favourite pursuit was the collection of the autographs of eminent persons. Lady Evelyn remarked, that in all probability the MSS. of "Sylva" Evelyn would afford Mr. Upcott some amusement. His reply may be well imagined. The bell was rung, and a servant desired to bring the papers from a lumber-room of the old mansion; and from one of the baskets so produced was brought to light the manuscript Diary of John Evelyn—one of the most finished specimens of autobiography in the whole compass of English literature.

The publication of the Diary, with a selection of familiar letters, and private correspondence, was entrusted to Mr. William Bray, F.S.A.; and the last sheets of the MS., with a dedication to Lady Evelyn, were actually in the hands of the printer at the hour of her death. The work appeared in 1818; and a volume of Miscellaneous Papers, by Evelyn, was subsequently published, under Mr. Upcott's editorial superintendence.

Wotton House, though situate in the angle of two valleys, is actually on part of Leith Hill, the rise from thence being very gradual. Evelyn's "Diary" contains a pen-and-ink sketch of the mansion as it appeared in 1653.




A Quarterly Reviewer, in discussing an objection to the Copyright Bill of Mr. Sergeant Talfourd, which was taken by Sir Edward Sugden, gives some curious particulars of the progeny of literary men. "We are not," says the writer, "going to speculate about the causes of the fact; but a fact it is, that men distinguished for extraordinary intellectual power of any sort rarely leave more than a very brief line of progeny behind them. Men of genius have scarcely ever done so; men of imaginative genius, we might say, almost never. With the one exception of the noble Surrey, we cannot, at this moment, point out a representative in the male line, even so far down as the third generation, of any English poet; and we believe the case is the same in France. The blood of beings of that order can seldom be traced far down, even in the female line....