of a benefit than his being without all resentment of it, he will not be extremely forward to oblige such a man.' ́



No. 589. FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 1714.

Persequitur scelus ille suum: labefactaque tandem
Ictibus innumeris, adductaque funibus arbor

OVID. Met. I. viii. ver. 774.

The impious axe he plies; loud strokes resound,
'Till dragg'd with ropes, and fell'd with many a wound,
The loosen'd tree comes rushing to the ground.

• SIR,


'I AM SO great an admirer of trees, that the spot of ground I have chosen to build a small seat upon, in the country, is almost in the midst of a large wood. I was obliged, much against my will, to cut down several trees, that I might have any such thing as a walk in my gardens; but then I have taken care to leave the space, between every walk, as much a wood as I found it. The moment you turn either to the right or left you are in a forest, where nature presents you with a much more beautiful scene than could have been raised by art.

Instead of tulips or carnations, I can shew you oaks in my gardens of four hundred years standing, and a knot of elms that might shelter a troop of horse from the rain,

It is not without the utmost indignation that I observe several prodigal young heirs in the neighbourhood felling down the most glorious monuments of their ancestors' industry, and ruining, in a day, the product of ages.

I am mightily pleased with your discourse upon planting, which put me upon looking into my books, to give you some account of the veneration the ancients had for trees. There is an old tradition, that Abraham planted a cypress, a pine, and a cedar; and that these three in

*Mr. HENRY GROVE was a dissenting minister, and kept an aca demy at Taunton. See Nos. 601, 626, and 635.

corporated into one tree, which was cut down for the building of the temple of Solomon.

Isidorus, who lived in the reign of Constantius, assures us, that he saw, even in his time, that famous oak in the plains of Mamre, under which Abraham is reported to have dwelt; and adds, that the people looked upon it with a great veneration, and preserved it as a sacred tree.

The heathens still went further, and regarded it as the highest piece of sacrilege to injure certain trees which they took to be protected by some deity. The story of Erisicthon, the grove of Dodona, and that at Delphi, are all instances of this kind.

'If we consider the machine in Virgil, so much blamed by several critics, in this light, we shall hardly think it too violent.

' Æneas, when he built his fleet in order to sail for Italy, was obliged to cut down the grove on mount Ida, which, however, he durst not do, until he had obtained leave from Cybele, to whom it was dedicated. The goddess could not but think herself obliged to protect these ships, which were made of consecrated timber, after a very extraordinary manner, and therefore desired Jupiter, that they might not be obnoxious to the power of waves or winds. Jupiter would not grant this, but promised her, that as many as came safe to Italy should be transformed to goddesses of the sea: which the poet tells us was accordingly executed.

"And now at length the number'd hours were come,
Prefix'd by Fate's irrevocable doom,

When the great mother of the gods was free
To save her ships, and finish Jove's decree.

First, from the quarter of the morn, there sprung
A light that sing'd the heav'ns, and shot along;
Then from a cloud, fring'd round with golden fires,
Were timbrels heard, and Berecynthian quires:
At last a voice, with more than mortal sounds,
Both hosts in arms oppos'd, with equal horror wounds.
"O Trojan race, your needless aid forbear;
And know my ships are my peculiar care,
With greater ease the bold Rutulian may,
With hissing brands, attempt to burn the sea,
Than singe my sacred pines. But you, my charge,
Loos'd from your crooked anchors, launch at large,

Exalted each a nymph; forsake the sand,
And swim the seas, at Cybeles' command.'
No sooner had the goddess ceas'd to speak,
When lo, th' obedient ships their hausers break;
And, strange to tell, like dolphins in the main,
They plunge their prows, and dive, and spring again :
As many beauteous maids the billows sweep,
As rode before tall vessels on the deep."

DRYDEN'S Virgil.

The common opinion concerning the nymphs, whom the ancients called Hamadryads, is more to the honour of trees than any thing yet mentioned. It was thought the fate of these nymphs had so near a dependence on some trees, more especially oaks, that they lived and died together. For this reason they were extremely grateful to such persons who preserved those trees with which their being subsisted. Apollonius tells us a very remarkable story to this purpose, with which I shall conclude my letter.

A certain man, called Rhæcus, observing an old oak ready to fall, and being moved with a sort of compassion towards the tree, ordered his servants to pour in fresh earth at the roots of it, and set it upright. The Hamadryad, or nymph, who must necessarily have perished with the tree, appeared to him the next day, and after having returned him her thanks, told him she was ready to grant whatever he should ask. As she was extremely beautiful, Rhæcus desired he might be entertained as her lover. The Hamadryad, not much displeased with the request, promised to give him a meeting, but commanded him for some days to abstain from the embraces of all other women, adding, that she would send a bee to him, to let him know when he was to be happy. Rhæcus was, it seems, too much addicted to gaming, and happened to be in a run of ill luck when the faithful bee came buzzing about him; so that, instead of minding his kind invitation, he had like to have killed him for his pains. The Hamadryad was so provoked at her own disappointment, and the ill usage of her messenger, that she deprived Rhæcus of the use of his limbs. However, says the story, he was not so much a cripple, but he made a shift to cut down the tree, and consequently to fell his mistress.'

No. 590. MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 6, 1714.

-Assiduo labuntur tempora motu

Non secus ac flumen. Neque enim consistere flumen,
Nec levis hora potest: sed ut unda impellitur unda,
Urgeturque prior venienti, urgetque priorem,

Tempora sic fugiunt pariter, pariterque sequuntur;
Et nova sunt semper. Nam quod fuit ante, relictum est ;
Fitque quod haud fuerat: momentaque cuncta novantur.
OVID. Met. 1. xv. ver. 179.

E'en times are in perpetual flux, and run,
Like rivers from their fountains, rolling on.
For time, no more than streams, is at a stay;
The flying hour is ever on her way:
And as the fountain still supplies her store,
The wave behind impels the wave before ;
Thus in successive course the minutes run,
And urge their predecessor minutes on.
Still moving, ever new: for former things
Are laid aside, like abdicated kings;
And ev'ry moment alters what is done,
And innovates some act, till then unknown.


The following discourse comes from the same hand with the essays upon infinitude *.

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W E consider infinite space as an expansion without a circumference: we consider eternity, or infinite duration, as a line that has neither a beginning nor an end. In our speculations of infinite space, we consider that particular place in which we exist as a kind of centre to the whole expansion. In our speculations of eternity, we consider the time which is present to us as the middle, which divides the whole line into two equal parts. For this reason, many witty authors compare the present time to an isthmus or narrow neck of land that rises in the midst of an ocean, immeasurably diffused on either side of it.

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Philosophy, and indeed common sense, naturally throws eternity under two divisions, which we may call

*See Nos. 565, 571, 580, and 628.

in English, that eternity which is past, and that eternity which is to come. The learned terms of Æternitas a parte ante, and Eternitas a parte post, may be more amusing to the reader, but can have no other idea affixed to them than what is conveyed to us by those words, an eternity that is past, and an eternity that is to come. Each of these eternities is bounded at the one extreme; or, in other words, the former has an end, and the latter a beginning.

Let us first of all consider that eternity which is past, reserving that which is to come for the subject of another paper. The nature of this eternity is utterly inconceivable by the mind of man: our reason demonstrates to us that it has been, but at the same time can frame no idea of it, but what is big with absurdity and contradiction. We can have no other conception of any duration, which is past, than that all of it was once present; and whatever was once present is at some certain distance from us, and whatever is at any certain distance from us, be the distance ever so remote, cannot be eternity. The very notion of any duration's being past, implies that it was once present; for the idea of being once present, is actually included in the idea of its being past. This therefore is a depth not be sounded by human understanding. We are sure that there has been an eternity, and yet contradict ourselves when we measure this eternity by any notion which we can frame of it.

If we go to the bottom of this matter, we shall find, that the difficulties we meet with in our conceptions of eternity proceed from this single reason, that we can have no other idea of any kind of duration, than that by which we ourselves, and all other created beings, do exist; which is, a successive duration made up of past, present, and to come. There is nothing which exists after this manner, all the parts of whose existence were not once actually present, and consequently may be reached by a certain number of years applied to it. We may ascend as high as we please, and employ our being to that eternity which is to come, in adding millions of years to millions of years, and we can never come up to any fountain head of duration, to any beginning in eternity: but at the same time we are sure, that whatever was once present does lie within the reach of numbers, though perhaps we can never be able to put enough of them to

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