The diary of John Evelyn

Regular posts from the diary of John Evelyn

Month: July 1641

Saturday 31 July 1641

The 31st to Nimeguen;

Thursday 29 July 1641

and the 29th to Utrecht, being thirty English miles distant (as they reckon by hours). It was now, or a fair, in this town, the streets swarming with boors and rudeness, so that early the next morning, having visited the ancient Bishop’s court, and the two famous churches, I satisfied my curiosity till my return, and better leisure. We then came to Rynen (now Rhenen -GS), where the Queen of Bohemia hath a neat and well built palace, or country house, after the Italian manner, as I remember; and so, crossing the Rhine, upon which this villa is situated, lodged that night in a countryman’s house.

Flemish Kermess by David Teniers the Younger (1652)

Wednesday 28 July 1641

The 28th of July I went to Leyden;

Monday 26 July 1641

The 26th of July I passed by a straight and commodious river through Delft to the Hague; in which journey I observed divers leprous1  poor creatures dwelling in solitary huts on the brink of the water, and permitted to ask the charity of passengers, which is conveyed to them in a floating box that they cast out.

Arrived at the Hague, I went first to the Queen of Bohemia‘s court, where I had the honor to kiss her Majesty’s hand, and several of the Princesses’, her daughters. Prince Maurice was also there, newly come out of Germany; and my Lord Finch, not long before fled out of England from the fury of the Parliament. It was a fasting day with the Queen for the unfortunate death of her husband, and the presence chamber had been hung with black velvet ever since his decease.

  1. [“Perhaps,” says Southey in vol. xix. of the Quarterly Review, “ this is the latest notice of lepers in Europe being thus thrust apart from the rest of mankind, and Holland is likely to be the country in which the disease would continue longest ”(p. 5).] – AH 

Friday 23 July 1641

The next day we arrived at Dort, the first town of Holland, furnished with all German commodities, and especially Rhenish wines and timber. It hath almost at the extremity a very spacious and venerable church; a stately senate house, wherein was holden that famous synod against the Arminians in 16181; and in that hall hangeth a picture of “The Passion,” an exceeding rare and much-esteemed piece.

From Dort, being desirous to hasten toward the army, I took wagon this afternoon to Rotterdam, whither we were hurried in less than an hour, though it be ten miles distant; so furiously do those Foremen drive. I went first to visit the great church, the Doole, the Bourse, and the public statue of the learned Erasmus, of brass.2 They showed us his house, or rather the mean cottage, wherein he was born, over which there are extant these lines, in capital letters:


  1. [From 13th November, 1618, to 19th May, 1619- Its object was to effect a compromise between the Arminians and the Calvinists ; but the latter prevailed.] –AD 

  2. [In the Groote Markt. It is by Hendrik de Keyser, and was erected in 1522. – AH

  3. [In the last chapter of Charles Reade’s The Cloister and the Hearth, 1861, some of the best scenes in which are confessedly from the “mediaeval pen” of Erasmus, the motto “over the tailor’s house in the Brede-Kirk Straet ” is given as—“ Haec est parva domus natus qua magnus Erasmus.” But further alterations must now have taken place, for according to Baedeker, “the façade of the house No. 5 in this street [the Wyde Kerkstraat], with a statuette of Erasmus in the pediment, is an exact repro- duction of the front of the house in which the great scholar was born” (Belgium and Holland, 1905, p. 294).] 

Thursday 22 July 1641

The next day at noon, we landed at Flushing.

Being desirous to overtake the Leagure1, which was then before Genep2, ere the summer should be too far spent, we went this evening from Flushing to Middleburg, another fine town in this island3, to De Vere, whence the most ancient and illustrious Earls of Oxford derive their family, who have spent so much blood in assisting the state during their wars. From De Vere we passed over many towns, houses, and ruins of demolished suburbs, etc., which have formerly been swallowed up by the sea; at what time no less than eight of those islands had been irrecoverably lost.

  1. [Siege. See post, under 17th December, 1684.] – AD 

  2. On the Niers, in the province of Limburg— a place which, having been greatly strengthened by the Cardinal Infante D. Ferdinando, in 1635, was at this time besieged by the French and Dutch. –  AH 

  3. i.e. the island of Walcheren.  – AH 

Wednesday 21 July 1641

We returned again this evening, and on the 21st of July embarked in a Dutch frigate, bound for Flushing, convoyed and accompanied by five other stout vessels, whereof one was a man-of-war.

Monday 19 July 1641

On the 19th of July, we made a short excursion to Rochester, and having seen the cathedral went to Chatham to see the Royal Sovereign, a glorious vessel of burden lately built there, being for defense and ornament, the richest that ever spread cloth before the wind.

Sovereign of the Seas

She carried an hundred brass cannon, and was 1,200 tons; a rare sailer, the work of the famous Phineas Pett, inventor of the frigate-fashion of building, to this day practiced.

But what is to be deplored as to this vessel is, that it cost his Majesty the affections of his subjects, perverted by the malcontent of great ones, who took occasion to quarrel for his having raised a very slight tax for the building of this, and equipping the rest of the navy, without an act of Parliament; though, by the suffrages of the major part of the Judges the King might legally do in times of imminent danger, of which his Majesty was best apprised.

But this not satisfying a jealous party, it was condemned as unprecedented, and not justifiable as to the Royal prerogative; and, accordingly, the Judges were removed out of their places, fined, and imprisoned.

Thursday 15 July 1641

so that, on the 15th of July, having procured a pass at the Custom-house, where I repeated my oath of allegiance, I went from London to Gravesend, accompanied with one Mr. Caryll, a Surrey gentleman, and our servants, where we arrived by six o’clock that evening, with a purpose to take the first opportunity of a passage for Holland1.

But the wind as yet not favorable, we had time to view the Block-house of that town, which answered to another over against it at Tilbury, famous for the rendezvous of Queen Elizabeth, in the year 1588, which we found stored with twenty pieces of cannon, and other ammunition proportionable.

  1. [In this he was acting upon the counsel he gives in his Preface to The State of France as to foreign travel:—“ The principall places of Europe, wherein a gentleman may, uno intuitu, behold as in a theater the chief and most signal actions wrhich (out of his owne countrey) concerne this later age and part of the world, are the Netherlands, comprehending Flanders and the divided provinces; which is a perfect encycle and synopsis of whatever one may elsewhere see in all the other countryes of Europe; and for this end I willingly recommend them to be first visited, no otherwise than do those who direct us in the study of history to the reading first of some authentick epitome, or universall chronology, before we adventure to launch forth into that vast and profound ocean of voluminous authours” (Miscellaneous Writings, 1825, p. 50). He goes on to regret that when he visited the Low Countries his judgment was yet immature.] – Footnote by Austin Dobson