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From John Evelyn to Anthony d Wood.

Sayes-Court, 29th May, 1691.


Having lately received an account from Mr. Aubrey (as formerly by the Specimen and Proposals you have published) of the progress of the intended History (Athenc e Oxonienses), and that you desire to be informed who one Mr. Wells (some time since of Deptford) was: the best light I can give you will be from the inscription upon his wife's monument in that parish-church. Of what county, or family of that name, he originally was, I cannot say . but it might haply be conjectured by the arms, had not the clerk (whom I ordered to send me the inclosed note) forgotten that circumstance. Thus much only I can add, that Mr. Wells the husband married into a very ancient and worthy family of the Wallengers and Gonstones, of which the last (namely, Benjamin) had been treasurer of the Navy Royal during the reigns of Henry VIII., King Edward VI., Queens Mary and Elizabeth, a place of greatest trust and honour. And to these two families my wife has a near relation.—But to return to Mr. Wells. He was the author of a book of Shadows or Dialing, an excellent mathematician, well acquainted with Mr. Gunter, Gelibrand, Doctor Gilbert, Mr. Oughtred, and other famous mathematicians of his time: I have several horoscopes and other schemes of his, among my papers. He had two sons (whom I well knew), whereof the eldest succeeded in his father's office of Storekeeper in the Naval Arsenal, a place of good credit, and requiring extraordinary application. His second son, Ben. Wells, Physician, formerly fellow of All Souls in Oxon, a very good scholar, lately deceased at Greenwich, leaving only two daughters.

This, sir, being all I can at present learn of Mr. Wells, I take opportunity to superadd something which more immediately concerns myself. 'Tis some time since that Dr. Plot, communicating to me your noble design, required me (as from yourself) to give him some account of my own family, &c.: what then I writ I do not now so well approve of: and divers circumstances since that inter

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vening, both as to my fortune (which may possibly transfer my hitherto abode here at Sayes Court in Kent to the seat of my ancestors in Surrey), and an honourable charge which his late Majesty conferred on me, of one of the Commissioners of the Privy Seal, seems to require some other account from me than that which Dr. Plot exacted of me, which I desired he would entreat you to manage, not as written by me in my own person (which were a vanity insupportable), but that you would use the sponge, as you thought fit, and as becomes the modesty of one who has no other ambition in this, than that (if needs you will take notice of an inconsiderable man), though I can contribute little to your worthy labour, I may yet endeavour that the honour you intend me, and the glorious university who is pleased to own me, may not suffer through your too great civility, or reproach me of presumption, or ingratitude. I am,

Sir, yours, &c.


If I may be so bold I should esteem it a great favour, if at least you have prepared anything concerning me, that you would transmit me a copy thereof before you print it.

From Sir Richard Bulkeley to John Evelyn.

London, \Zth April, 1692.


It is from your great sense of religion, and love to learning, that I have been moved to give you the trouble of this; and it is from that also that I hope for my pardon for this, which otherwise were a great presumption. Although you have lived so long in the world as to know the vanity of learning in itself, and that almost all its satisfactions are calculated only for the meridian of this short life, yet you cannot but know that in some particulars it may be instrumental in promoting the glory of God; and that you may contribute in some measure to make it so, is the intent and end of this. The bearer hereof is the son of a poor widow in London, who, by the charitable care of Dr. Gale, has attained to so great a degree of learning, that upon the public examination at Paul's School he was chosen (with a small exhibition of 10/. a-year which the Mercer's Company do allow) to go off to Cambridge. But his learning (of which you will presently be the judge) is much short of his parts and his industry in his studies, and those are yet abundantly of his piety. I have known him a considerable time, and have found in him so deep a sense of religion, and such a pure, meek, humble, and resigned soul, of which in discourse I could give you evident testimonies, that I am fully persuaded he might become a very useful labourer in the Lord's vineyard; but here he sticks, and without the assistance of some Mecanas he cannot subsist at Cambridge. I hope you will pardon the great freedom I have taken in giving him this opportunity of applying himself to you for a charity of, I think, the best and most useful sort.

I rest, sir,
Your most humble servant,

Richard Bulkeley.

From the Bishop of Lincoln {Dr. Tenison) to John Evelyn.

Suckden, October 3rd, 1692.


Though I have had here a great deal of good company, yet I must own that I still wanted your conversation, especially upon the happening of the earthquake. None in Buckden (that I can hear of) were sensible of it, but it was discerned in divers neighbouring towns, and many have complained to me of a giddiness in their heads which it caused for a while. In the fens, nigh Ely, some turf-diggers were much surprised by it, whilst they perceived the ground to tremble in an unusual manner, and the water to come of a sudden a foot deep into dry pits, and by and by to sink down again.

Since this earthquake, I mused a little upon the nature of earthquakes in general, whilst I was upon the road to Cambridge, and I here send you my conjectures, to no other end than that I may draw from you some better thoughts upon the subject. My conceit is this. I imagine that the cause of thunder in the clouds is much the same with that of quaking in the earth, the discharge of a nitro-sulphurous matter. I know nothing in nature which goes off with such force, and moving with such speed, as that does; and in this earthquake it must have been something of mighty force to make it so general, and of wonderful celerity to cause it in so many very distant places about the same hour.

If I be not much mistaken in the last earthquake which destroyed Smyrna, a sulphurous flame broke out of the earth and did dreadful execution above-ground; and in this it was here said, that by many persons in London a sulphurous stench was smelt, and by some in Northamptonshire whilst they were hunting; and (if I well remember) the places most subject to earthquakes, as those nigh to Constantinople, abound with sulphur both in the air and in the earth. This nitro-sulphurous matter may be sometimes kindled in the earth by lightning striking into some deep cavity impregnated with that body, and, I think, in the late earthquake in Jamaica, there happened just before it a mighty tempest in the air. Whilst I mention Jamaica, give me leave to transcribe a few words out of Parker's Almanac, in his observations on September last. "We wish well," says he, "to the island of Jamaica, for if d be their horoscope, it cannot be of pleasant consequence to that people." Here, though he is too late by some months, and speaks not particularly of an earthquake, yet his singling out of that island this year has something of oddness in it, though nothing of prophecy. But to return to the matter from which I digressed. Sometimes the lightning may kindle the sulphur in the earth and cause an explosion, and by that an earthquake; sometimes some other causes in the bowels of the earth may set it on fire, and then, if it happens in a place where there is little communication by subterraneous caverns, the earthquake may be of less extent and the sulphurous flame may break out as in Vesuvius. But if it happens where there is great store of nitro-sulpliurous matter, and a great communication by long and various channels, perhaps it may be the first matter and by it which it immediately kindles, and so in succession make a very forcible and speedy and general concussion. I doubt not but that there are quantities of nitre and sulphur everywhere in the air and earth, but more especially towards the central parts of the earth, as also that there are innumerable very deep caverns in the earth by which the parts of it have communication. That which made this earthquake, whatsoever it was, moved in passages under the sea, being felt by us and by those beyond the seas that encompass us.

This is the sum of the fancies which came into my head whilst I was passing from Buckden to Cambridge. It may be, if I had slept all the way in my coach, I might have dreamt as philosophically as I now write: however, it will turn to my benefit if the effect of it be a letter of more judicious reflections from so knowing and worthy a friend as yourself to, Sir,

Your very obliged faithful servant,

Thomas Lincoln.

From John Evelyn to the Bishop of Lincoln
(Dr. Tenison).

Sayes-Court, \ 5th Oct. 1692.

My Lord,

Whatsoever my opinion had been concerning the cause of earthquakes, I am sure it had become me to have submitted to your Lordship's better judgment. But, indeed, I have long had no other sentiments of it than what I find confirmed by your Lordship with so great reason, by so many experiments, and pregnant instances of the irresistible effects of nitre, which no chains can bind. An experiment which was long since made at Gresham College, was enough to convince one. They prepared a ball of solid iron about the thickness of a pretty cannon bullet, which was hammered both hot and cold, to render it as hard and tough as possible. In this they

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