The 842 holograph letters of which Evelyn kept copies are in two bound volumes and span the periods 1644 - 1660 and 1660- 1698 respectively.
The first Letter Copybook covers the period of the Civil War and Interregnum and thus contains a large number of family letters about politics and property, including Evelyn's attempt to hasten the restoration of the monarchy. But it also contains correspondence about his pioneering involvement with atomism, his early work on gardens and landscape, his recommendations on the European Grand Tour, his involvement with the early stages of engraving, and his extensive proposal to Robert Boyle (on 1 October 1659) for establishing the Royal Society.
The second Letter Copy book includes Evelyn's correspondance with important statesman: Lords Arlington, Clarendon, Danby, Godophin, Sandwich and Sunderland. It also includes Evelyn's correspondence about the Commission for Sick and Wounded Seamen and the related letters to Samuel Pepys about the navy and many other learned subjects. Many of the letters in this Copy book deal with Eveyn's protracted legal cases about property and estates, but they also include literary, theological, horticultural and scientific matters of the period, including material about the 'Ancients and Moderns' controversy.
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