Brief Lives (Modern History) by John Aubrey

By John Aubrey

John Aubrey's racy photographs of the good figures of 17th-century England stand along Pepys's diary as a bright evocation of the interval. Aubrey was once born in 1626, the son of a Wiltshire squire; on the age of 26 he inherited a family members property laden with debt, and eventually went bankrupt within the 1670s. From then on he led a sociable, rootless lifestyles on the homes of neighbors - from Oxford and the center Temple -pursuing the antiquarian reviews which had continually obsessed him. At his dying in 1697 he left a mass of notes and manuscripts, between them the cloth for short Lives. He by no means controlled to place even a unmarried existence into logical order; all now we have are the uncooked fabrics, scribbled down -`tumultuously as they occurredto my thoughts'. With this complete, sleek English version, which reproduces Aubrey's phrases as heavily as attainable, Richard Barber introduces us to Aubrey and his global, tells how the Livescame into being and permits many new readers to take pleasure in this eccentric masterpiece.

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B. It was stitched up when I sent it to him. 29 November 1692. When Aubrey deposited the manuscrips in the Ashmolean Museum the next year, he not unnaturally asked that Wood should not learn that they had been placed there. It was a sad ending to a fruitful collaboration. The Lives pose a formidable problem to any editor. Aubrey never proposed at any time to publish more than part of them, the Life of Thomas Hobbes and the Lives of the English Mathematicians. These usually represent his most finished work: but even here his constitutional incapability to finish anything shows through very clearly.

Himself. Whereupon repairing to his lodgings and telling him who he was, he got his acquaintance, talked to him about his studies, and offered him what assistance he could make, in order to the completion of the work that he was in hand with. Mr Aubrey was then in a sparkish garb, came to town with his men and two horses, spent high, and flung out A. W. in all his reckonings [cheated him]. But his estate of £700 per annum being afterwards sold and he reserving nothing of it to himself, lived afterwards in a very sorry condition, and at length made shift to rub out by hanging on Edmund Wyld esquire, living in Bloomsbury near London, on James, Earl of Abingdon, whose first wife was related to him, and on Sir John Aubrey his kinsman, living sometimes in Glamorganshire and sometimes at Boarstall near Brill in Bucks.

Then sold Easton-Piers and the farm at Broad Chalk. Lost £500 and £200 and goods and timber. Absconded as a banished man. Then in the mount of the Lord it shall be seen§ I was in as much affliction as a mortal could be, and never quiet till all was gone, and I wholly cast myself on God's providence. Monastery. I wished monasteries had not been put down, that the reformers would have been more moderate as to that point. Nay, the Turks have monasteries. Why should our reformers be so severe? Convenience of religious housesSir Christopher Wrenfit there should be receptacles and provision for contemplative men; if of 500, but one or two.

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