The Finding Of John Evelyn's Ms Diary At Wotton





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.







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