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. 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 fhew you Oaks in niy 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 leveral prodigal young heirs in the neigh• bourhood, felling down the most glorious monu'ments 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 tra.
dition, that Abraham planted a Cypress, a Pine, • and a Cedar, and that these three incorporated • into one tree, which was cut down for the build. ing of the temple of Solomon.
Ifidorus, 'who lived in the reign of Conftantius, • assures us, that he saw, even in his time, that ' fainous Oak in the plains of Mambre, under which
Abraham is reported to have dwelt, and adds, that the people looked upon it with a great vene* ration, and preserved it as a facred tree.
“The heathens still went farther, and regarded • it as the highest piece of sacrilege to injure cer+ tain trees which they took to be protected by * fome deity. The story of Erifierhon, the grove
at Donoda, and that at Delphi, are all instances of this kind.
• If we conlider the machine in Virgil, so much * blamed by several criticks in this light, we Mall hardly think it to violent.
« Æneas, when he built his fleet in order to fail ' for Italy, was obliged to cut down the grove on
mount Ida, which however he durft not do until - he had obtained leave from Cybele, to whom it
dedicated. The goddess could not but think • herself obliged to protect these ships, which were • made of consecrated timber, after a very extra
ordinary manner, and therefore desired Jupiter "chat they might not be obnoxious to the power s of waves or winds. Jupiter would not grant - this, but promised her, that as many as came safe .. to Italy. fhould be tranformed into goddeffes of t the fea; which the poet tells us was accordingly + executed.
And now at length the number'd hours were come,
; And, strange to tell
, like Dolphins in the main, They plunge their prows, and dive, and spring a.
As many beauteous maids the billows sweep,
The common opinion concerning the nymphs, + whom the ancients called Hamadryads, is more
to the honour of trees than any thing yet men• * tioned. It was thought the fate of these nymphs 6 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 · fuch persons who preserved those trees with which ' .
their being subfifted. Apollonius tells us a very
remarkable story to this purpose, with which I • shall conclude
letter. • A certain man, called Rhecus, observing an old oak ready to fall, and being moved with a · fort of compaflion 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, the was ' ready to grant whatever he should ask. As she I was extremely beautiful, Rhacus delired 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
tome days to abstain from the embraces of all o'ther women, adding that she would send a bee
a 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
Himadryad was so provoked at her own disap. • pointment, and the ill-usage of her messenger, that the deprieved Rlacus of the use of his
• limbs. However, fays 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.
Afiduo labuntur tempora motu
tum eft ;
Ovid. Met. l. xv. ver. 179.
the elays upon infinitude. We consider infinite fpace as an expansion with
'out a circumference : We conlider eterniry, 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 exift, as a kind of centre to the whole expansi
In our speculations of eternity, we consider the time which is prefent to us as the middle, which divides the whole line into two equal parts. For this reafon, many witty authors compare the pre- . fent time to an isthmus, or narrow neck of land. that rises in the midft of an ocean, immeasurably
, diffused in either side of it.
Philosophy, and indeed common sense, naturally throws eternity under two divisions ;. which we may call in English, that eternity which is past, and that eternity which is to come. The learned terms of Æternitas a parte ante, and Æternitas 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 paft, and an eternity that is to come. Each of these extre· mities is bounded at the one extreme; or, in o. ther words, the former has an end, and the latter a beginning.
Let us first of all coniider that eternity which is past, referving that which is to come for the fub. ject 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 fiame no idea of it, but what is big with absurdity and contradiction. have no other conception of any duration which is past, than that all of it was once prefent ; and. whatever was once present, is at some certain distance from us, and whatever is at any certain distance from us, be the distance never so remote, cannot be eternity. The very notion of all duration's being past, implies that it was once prefent ; for the idea of being once present; is actually included in the idea of its being past. This there.. fore is a depth not to be founded by human un-derstanding. We are sure that there-has, been an eternity, and yet contradict ourselves when we