Reference > Cambridge History > Cavalier and Puritan > Historical and Political Writings > Sir Simonds d’Ewes’s Autobiography and Correspondence
  Nehemiah Wallington John Rous’s Diary  


The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume VII. Cavalier and Puritan.

IX. Historical and Political Writings.

§ 20. Sir Simonds d’Ewes’s Autobiography and Correspondence.

Of more importance, though in some respects not very different in spirit, is the Autobiography and Correspondence of Sir Simonds d’ Ewes, Bart.  30  After serving as high sheriff of Suffolk in 1640, he in 1642 entered parliament as member for Sudbury. He took the covenant. The Autobiography, which becomes a record of affairs abroad (the great German war in particular) as well as at home, shows forth a man who is not a violent partisan. He judges the character of James I fairly, without ignoring his “vices and deviations,” and, in the following reign, wished for mutual concession and reconciliation between king and parliament, but was equally opposed to Rome and to the Anglicanism of Laud. He had in him something of the genuine spirit of puritanism, and disliked his own university, Cambridge, not only because of the licence of life, but, also, because of the “hatred of all piety and virtue under false and adulterate nicknames,” which he found obtaining there. There are touches of other kinds which go some way towards reconciling us to the pedantry of a man who, though no great orator,  31  was probably an excellent specimen of the average member of parliament in his day. For the rest, the Autobiography ends in 1636, some years before he took his seat, with the pathetic mention of the death of the writer’s “sweet and only” surviving son, “whose delicate favour and bright grey eyes were deeply imprinted in our hearts.”   42
  In contrast to the Autobiography of Sir Simonds d’Ewes may be mentioned that of Sir Henry Slingsby of Scriven, who, after being created a Nova Scotia baronet in 1638, sat for Knares-borough in both the Short and Long Parliaments, and in 1641 was one of the fifty-nine members who voted against the bill for the attainder of Strafford. In 1642, he appears to have ceased to attend; but his Diary, which begins in 1638, continues to 1649, the death of Charles I being the last public event noted in it.  32  Slingsby’s estates, though sequestered, were bought in for him by friendly trustees; but he had to live in privacy, and having been involved in a plot for a northern rising, underwent imprisonment at Hull. He was afterwards entrapped into mixing himself up with Ormonde’s design, and, after being tried in London, was beheaded on Tower hill, June, 1658. His Diary is interesting as exhibiting the life of a country gentleman, as well as on account of its political memoranda. He writes with businesslike directness but not without feeling, and can rise to saying of life here and hereafter: “Every man loves his Inn rather than his home.”   43

Note 30. The family letters subjoined to the Autobiography in some instances touch on public affairs during the period 1600–49. [ back ]
Note 31. He mentions with pride the compliments paid to him on one of his speeches by the earl of Holland (vol. II, p. 289). [ back ]
Note 32. “He end’d his good life upon the 20th of January, 1648–9, I hear: heu me, quid heu me? humana perpessi sumus. [ back ]

  Nehemiah Wallington John Rous’s Diary  

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