27th February

Born: George Morley, bishop of Winchester, 1597, Cheapside; John David Michaelis, Orientalist. 1717, Halle; James Robinson Planche, littératear, 1796, London; Lord William George Frederick Bentinak, 1802; Henry W. Longfellow, poet, 1807.

Died: The Emperor Geta, murdered, 212; Philip Nye, Nonconformist, 1673, London; John Evelyn, diarist, 1706, Wotto; Dr. John Arbuthnot, 1735, Cork-street, London; Sir John B. Warren, G.C.B., 1822; William Woolnoth, engraver, 1837.

Feast Day: St. Nestor, bishop in Pamphylia, martyr, 250. Saints Julian, Chronion, and Besas, martyrs, 3rd century. St. Thalilaeus, 5th century. St. Leander, bishop of Seville, 596. St. Galmier, of Lyons, about 650. St. Alnoth, of England, martyr, about 7th century.


This excellent man,-the perfect model of an English gentleman of the seventeenth century, and known as 'Sylva Evelyn,' from his work with that title, on Forest Trees-was born of an ancient and honourable family, at Wotton House, in Surrey, on the 31st of October 1620. At four years old, he was taught to read by one Frier, in the church porch. at Wotton. He next learnt Latin in a school at Lewes, in Sussex; his father proposed sending him to Eton, but was deterred from doing so by the report of the severe discipline in that school. He completed his education at Balliol College, Oxford; and in 1640 was entered at the Middle Temple, London, but soon relinquished what he calls 'the unpolished study' of the law. Having stored his mind with travel and study, he entered on a long career of active, useful, and honourable employment. He was not, however, without some share in the intrigues connected with the Restoration of Charles the Second, after which he was often at court. On the foundation of the Royal Society, in 1662, he was appointed one of the fellows, and a member of the council. Among the various official duties to which he was appointed, was the commissionership for building Greenwich Hospital, the first stone of which edifice he laid on the 30th of June 1696.

But the delight of Evelyn was in the pursuits of rural economy. He was the great improver of English gardening, and first laid out his gardens at Sayes Court, Deptford, which he let to the Czar Peter the Great, who damaged them to the extent of £150 in three weeks. Evelyn then retired to his paternal home at Wotton, 'sweetly environed with delicious streams and venerable woods,' the latter valued at £100,000. His love of planting, and the want of timber for the navy, led him to write his Sylve; a Discourse on Forest Trees, the first book printed by order of the Royal Society; it led to the planting of many millions of forest trees, and is one of the very few books in the world which completely effect what they were designed to do. Another valuable work by Evelyn is his Diary, or Kalendarium, a most interesting picture of the time in which he lived, and the manuscript of which was accidentally saved from being used as waste paper. Evelyn's Diary is, however, an after compilation: unlike Pepys's Diary, which is an unstudied record from day to day.

John Evelyn died in his 86th year, at his town house, called The Read, in Dover-street, Piccadilly, on the 27th of February 1705-6: his remains rest in a raised coffin-shaped tomb in Wotton Church, where also is interred his estimable wife, the daughter of Sir Richard Browne.


February 27, 1557-8, the first Russian embassy arrived in the neighbourhood of London. It came in rather remarkable circumstances. The Russian Emperor, Ivan Vasilivich, thought the time had now arrived when his country ought to enter upon formal commercial relations with England. He therefore charged a noble named Osep Napea to proceed thither with a goodly company, and bearing suitable presents for 'the famous and excellent princes, Philip and Mary, King and Queen of England.' It appears that among the gifts were a number of the skins of the sable, with the teeth, ears, and claws of the animal preserved, four living sables, with chains and collars, 'thirty luzarnes rich and beautiful,' six great skins such as the emperor himself wore, and a great jerfalcon, with a silver drum used for a lure to it in hawking.

The expedition sailed in several English vessels from the port of St. Nicolas, in Russia, but was very unfortunate in the voyage. Several vessels being thrown away, or forced to seek shelter on the coast of Norway, one called the Edward Bonaventure, containing the ambassador, arrived with difficulty, after a four months' voyage, on the east coast of Aberdeenshire, in Scotland, along with a smaller vessel, called her pink. There they were driven ashore by a violent storm, near Kinnaird Head, when a boat containing the grand pilot, with the ambassador and seven other Russian gentlemen, making for land in the dark, was overwhelmed and beaten on the rocks: thus the pilot and several of the Russians and mariners were drowned, and only the ambassador himself and two or three others were saved. The ship became a total wreck, and such of her valuable goods as came on shore, including the gifts to the English monarchs, were pillaged by the rude people of the coast; but the ambassador and his small company were speedily received under care of the gentry of the district, and treated with the greatest kindness.

Stow relates in his Chronicle-' As soon as it was known to the company in London of the loss of their pilot, men, goods, and ships, the merchants obtained the Queen's letters to the Lady Dowager of Scotland [Mary of Lorraine, widow of James V, and Regent of the kingdom], for the gentle entertainment of the said ambassador with his train, and restitution of his goods, and also addressed two gentlemen, Mr. Laurence Hassey, Doctor of the Civil Law, and George Gilpin, with money and other requisites, into Scotland, to comfort him and his there, and also to conduct him into England.'

We learn from a contemporary Scottish writer, Bishop Lesley, that the ambassador and his friends were brought to Edinburgh, and there entertained handsomely by the Queen Regent for some time; after which they set out for Berwick, attended by Lord Hume on the part of the Queen, and accompanied by the two English gentlemen who had come for their succour, besides 500 gentlemen of Scotland on horseback. Arriving within twelve miles of London on the 27th February 1557-8, the Russian ambassador was there received in formal style by eighty merchants, in goodly apparel, and with chains of gold, all mounted on horseback, by whom he was conducted to a merchant's house, four miles from the city, and there honourably lodged. 'Next day,' says Stow, 'he was, by the merchant adventurers for Russia, to the number of 140 persons, and so many or more servants in one livery, conducted towards the city of London, where by the way he had not only the hunting of the fox, &c., but also, by the Queen's Majesty's commandment was received by the Viscount Montague; he, being accompanied by divers lusty knights, esquires, gentlemen, and yeomen, to the number of 300 horses, led him to the north parts of the city of London, where, by four merchants richly apparelled, was presented to him a fair, richly-trapped horse, together with a footcloth of crimson velvet, enriched with gold laces; whereupon the ambassador mounted, riding toward Smithfield bars, the Lord Mayor, accompanied with the aldermen in scarlet, did receive him, and so riding through the city of London, between the Lord Mayor and Viscount Montague, a great number of merchants and notable persons riding before, was conducted to his lodgings in Fenchurch-street, &c. &c.

'At his first entrance into his chamber, there was presented unto him on the Queen's behalf, for a gift and present, one rich piece of cloth of tissue, a piece of cloth of gold, another piece of cloth of gold raised with crimson velvet, a piece of crimson velvet in grain, a piece of purple velvet, a piece of damask purpled, a piece of crimson damask; which he thankfully accepted.'

It was not till the 25th of March, exactly a twelvemonth after his taking leave of his master, that he came before the English court. Being conducted by water to Westminster, he was there honourably received by six lords, who conducted him into a chamber, where he was saluted by the Lord Chancellor, the Treasurer, Privy Seal, the Admiral, the Bishop of Ely, and other counsellors. Then he was brought into the presence of the King and Queen, 'sitting under a stately cloth of honour,' and permitted to make his oration, and deliver his letters. Two days after, the Bishop of Ely and Sir William Peter, chief secretary, came to his lodging and concluded the commercial treaty which was desired by his master.

On the 3rd of May, having received sundry rich gifts for the Muscovian Emperor, including the singular one of a pair of lions, male and female, Osep Napea departed from the Thames in four goodly 'ships full of English merchandise. 'It is to be remarked,' says Stow, 'that during the whole abode of the said ambassador in England, the company of merchants did frankly give to him and his all manner of costs and charges in victuals, riding from Scotland to London, during his abode there, and until setting of sail aboard of ship.'