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dens; insomuch that the whole region, from a naked and desolate prospect, began now to look like a second Paradise. The pleasantness of the place, and the agreeable disposition of Shalum, who was reckoned one of the mildest and wisest of all who lived before the flood, drew into it multitudes of people, who were perpetually employed in the sinking of wells, the digging of trenches, and the hollowing of trees, for the better distribution of water throug every part of this spacious plantation. The habitations of Shalum looked every year more beautiful in the eyes of Hilpa, who, after the space of seventy autumns, was wonderfully pleased with the distant prospect of Shalum's hills, which were then covered with innumerable tufts of trees and gloomy scenes, that gave a magnificence to the place, and converted it into one of the finest landscapes the eye of man could behold. The Chinese record a letter which Shalum is said to have written to Hilpa in the eleventh year of her widowhood. I shall here translate it, without departing from that noble simplicity of sentiment and plainness of manners which appears in the original. Shalum was at this time one hundred and eighty years old, and Hilpa one hundred and
“SHALUM, MASTER of MoUNT TIRZAH, to HILPA, MISTRESS OF THE WALLEYs
“In the 788th year of the creation.
“What have I not suffered, O thou daughter of Zilpah, since thou gavest thyself away in marriage to my rival! I grew weary of the light of the sun, and have been ever since covering myself with woods and forests. These threescore and ten years have I bewailed the loss of thee on the top of Mount Tirzah, and soothed my melancholy among a thousand gloomy shades of my own raising. My dwellings are at present as the garden of God; every part of them is filled with fruits, and flowers, and fountains. The whole mountain is perfumed for thy reception. Come up into it, O my beloved, and let us people this spot of the new world with a beautiful race of mortals; let us multiply exceedingly among these delightful shades, and fill every quarter of them with sons and daughters. Remember, O thou daughter of Zilpah, that the age of man is but a thousand years; that beauty is the admiration but of a few centuries. It flourishes as a mountain oak, or as a cedar on the top of Tirzah, which in three or four hundred years will
fade away, and never be thought of by posterity, unless a young wood springs from its roots. Think well on this, and remember thy neighbour in the mountains.” Having here inserted this letter, which I look upon as the only antediluvian billet-doux now extant, I shall in my next paper give the answer to it, and the sequel of this story.
NO. 585. WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 25, 1714
Ipsi laetitia voces ad sidera jactant
— VIRG. Ecl. v. 62.
The mountain tops unshorn, the rocks rejoice; The lowly shrubs partake of human voice.
THE SEQUEL of THE STORY OF SHALUM AND HILPA
The letter inserted in my last had so good an effect upon Hilpa, that she answered in less than a twelvemonth, after the following manner:
“HILPA, MISTREss of THE WALLEYs, to SHALUM, MASTER OF MOUNT TIRZAH
“In the 789th year of the creation.
“What have I to do with thee, O Shalum? Thou praisest Hilpa's beauty, but art thou not secretly enamoured with the verdure of her meadows? Art thou not more affected with the prospect of her green valleys than thou wouldest be with the sight of her person? The lowings of my herds and the bleatings of my flocks make a pleasant echo in thy mountains, and sound sweetly in thy ears. What though I am delighted with the wavings of thy forests, and those breezes of perfumes which flow from the top of Tirzah, are these like the riches of the valley?
“I know thee, O Shalum; thou art more wise and happy than any of the sons of men. Thy dwellings are among the cedars; thou searchest out the diversity of soils, thou understandest the influences of the stars, and markest the change of seasons. Can a woman appear lovely in the eyes of such a one? Disquiet me not, O Shalum; let me alone, that I may enjoy those goodly possessions which are fallen to my lot. Win me not by thy enticing words. May thy trees increase and multiply" mayes! thou add wood to wood, and shade to shade but tempt not Hilpa to destroy thy solitude, and make thy retirement populous.”
The Chinese say that a little time afterwards
she accepted of a treat in one of the neighbouring hills to which Shalum had invited her. This treat lasted for two years, and is said to have cost Shaluma five hundred antelopes, two thousand ostriches, and a thousand tun of milk; but what most of all recommended it, was that variety of delicious fruits and potherbs, in which no person then living could any way equal Shalum.
He treated her in the bower which he had planted amidst the wood of nightingales. The wood was made up of such fruit-trees and plants as are most agreeable to the several kinds of singing-birds; so that it had drawn into it all the music of the country, and was filled from one end of the year to the other with the most agreeable concert in season.
He showed her every day some beautiful and surprising scene in this new region of woodlands; and, as by this means he had all the opportunities he could wish for, of opening his mind to her, he succeeded so well, that upon her departure she made him a kind of promise, and gave him her word to return him a positive answer in less than fifty years. . She had not been long among her own people in the valleys, when she received new overtures, and at the same time a most splendid visit from Mishpach, who was a mighty man of old, and had built a great city, which he called after his own name. Every house was made for at least a thousand years, nay, there were some that were leased out for three lives; so that the quantity of stone and timber conSumed in this building is scarce to be imagined by those who live in the present age of the World. This great man entertained her with the voice of musical instruments which had been lately invented, and danced before her to the sound of the timbrel. He also presented her with several domestic utensils wrought in brass and iron, which had been newly found out for the conveniency of life. In the meantime Shalum grew very uneasy with himself, and was sorely displeased at Hilpa for the re. option which she had given to Mishpach, insomuch that he never wrote to her or spoke of her during a whole revolution of Saturn; but, finding that this intercourse went no farther than a visit, he again renewed his addresses to her; who, during his long silence, is said very §en to have cast a wishing eye upon Mount Tirzah.
Her mind continued wavering about twenty years longer between Shalum and Mishpach; or though her inclinations favoured the
former, her interest, pleaded very powerfully for the other. While her heart was in this unsettled condition, the following accident happened, which determined her choice. A high tower of wood that stood in the city of Mishpach having caught fire by a flash of lightning, in a few days reduced the whole town to ashes. Mishpach resolved to rebuild the place, whatever it should cost him: and, having already destroyed all the timber of the country, he was forced to have recourse to Shalum, whose forests were now two hundred years old. He purchased these woods with so many herds of cattle and flocks of sheep, and with such a vast extent of fields and pastures, that Shalum was now grown more wealthy than Mishpach; and therefore appeared so charming in the eyes of Zilpah's daughter, that she no longer refused him in marriage. On the day in which he brought her up into the mountains he raised a most prodigious pile of cedar, and of every sweet smelling wood, which reached above three hundred cubits in height; he also cast into the pile bundles of myrrh and sheaves of spikenard, enriching it with every spicy shrub, and making it fat with the gums of his plantations. This was the burntoffering which Shalum offered in the day of his espousals: the smoke of it ascended up to heaven, and filled the whole country with incense and perfume.
After the mind has been employed on contemplations suitable to its greatness, it is unnatural to run into sudden mirth or levity; but we must let the soul subside, as it rose, by proper degrees. My late considerations of the ancient heroes impressed a certain gravity upon my mind, which is much above the little gratification received from starts of humour and fancy, and threw me into a pleasing sad. ness. In this state of thought I have been looking at the fire, and in a pensive manner reflecting upon the great misfortunes and calamities incident to human life; among which
'Where there is at once the greatest and most honourable love, it is sometimes better to be joined by death than separated by life.
there are none that touch so sensibly as those which befall persons who eminently love, and meet with fatal interruptions of their happiness when they least expect it. The piety of children to parents, and the affection of parents to their children, are the effects of instinct; but the affection between lovers and friends is founded on reason and choice, which has always made me think the sorrows of the latter much more to be pitied than those of the former. The contemplation of distresses of this sort softens the mind of man, and makes the heart better. It extinguishes the seeds of envy and ill will towards mankind, corrects the pride of prosperity, and beats down all that fierceness and insolence which are apt to get into the minds of the daring and fortunate. For this reason the wise Athenians, in their theatrical performances, laid before the eyes of the people the greatest afflictions which could befall human life, and insensibly polished their tempers by such representations. Among the moderns, indeed, there has arisen a chimerical method of disposing the fortune of the persons represented, according to what they call poetical justice; and letting none be unhappy but those who deserve it. In such cases, an intelligent spectator, if he is concerned, knows he ought not to be so; and can learn nothing from such a tenderness, but that he is a weak creature, whose passions cannot follow the dictates of his understanding. It is very natural, when one is got into such a way of thinking, to recollect those examples of sorrow which have made the strongest impression upon our imaginations. An instance or two of such you will give me leave to communicate. A young gentleman and lady of ancient and honourable houses in Cornwall had, from their childhood, entertained for each other a generous and noble passion, which had been long opposed by their friends, by reason of the inequality of their fortunes; but their constancy to each other, and obedience to those on whom they depended, wrought so much upon their relations, that these celebrated lovers were at length joined in marriage. Soon after their nuptials, the bridegroom was obliged to go into a foreign country, to take care of a considerable fortune, which was left him by a relation, and came very opportunely to improve their moderate circumstances. They received the congratulations of all the country on this occasion; and I remember it was a common sentence in every one's mouth, “You see how faithful love is rewarded.”
He took this agreeable voyage, and sent home every post fresh accounts of his success in his affairs abroad; but at last, though he designed to return with the next ship; he lamented, in his letters, that “business would detain him some time longer from home,” because he would give himself the pleasure of an unexpected arrival.
The young lady, after the heat of the day, walked every evening on the sea-shore, near which she lived, with a familiar friend, her husband's kinswoman; and diverted herself with what objects they met there, or upon discourses of the future methods of life, in the happy change of their circumstances. They stood one evening on the shore together in a perfect tranquillity, observing the setting of the sun, the calm face of the deep, and the silent heaving of the waves, which gently rolled towards them, and broke at their feet; when at a distance her kinswoman saw something float on the waters, which she fancied was a chest; and with a smile told her, “she saw it first, and if it came ashore full of jewels, she had a right to it.” They both fixed their eyes upon it, and entertained themselves with the subject of the wreck, the cousin still asserting her right; but promising, “if it was a prize, to give her a very rich coral for the child of which she was then big, provided she might be godmother.” Their mirth soon abated, when they observed, upon the nearer approach, that it was a human body. The young lady, who had a heart naturally filled with pity and compassion, made many melancholy reflections on the occasion. “Who knows,” said she, “but this man may be the only hope and heir of a wealthy house; the darling of indulgent parents, who are now in impertinent mirth, and pleasing themselves with the thoughts of offering him a bride they have got ready for him? or, may he not be the master of a family that wholly depended upon his life? There may, for aught we know, be half a dozen father: less children, and a tender wife, now exposed to poverty by his death. What pleasure might he have promised himself in the different welcome he was to have from her and them! But let us go away; it is a dreadful sight!
The best office we can do, is to take care that
the poor man, whoever he is, may be decently buried.” She turned away, when a wave threw the carcass on the shore. The kinswoman immediately shrieked out, “Oh my cousin!" and fell upon the ground. The unhappy wife went to help her friend, when she saw her own husband at her feet, and dropped in a swoon upon the body. An old woman, who had been the gentleman's nurse, came out about this time to call the ladies in to supper, and found her child, as she always called him, dead on the shore, her mistress and kinswoman both lying dead by him. Her loud lamentations, and calling her young master to life, soon awaked the friend from her trance; but the wife was gone for ever.
When the family and neighbourhood got together round the bodies, no one asked any question, but the objects before them told the story.
Incidents of this nature are the more moving when they are drawn by persons concerned in the catastrophe, notwithstanding they are often oppressed beyond the power of giving them in a distinct light, except we gather their sorrow from their inability to speak it.
I have two original letters, written both on the same day, which are to me exquisite in their different kinds. The occasion was this: A gentlemen who had courted a most agreeable young woman, and won her heart, obtained also the consent of her father, to whom she was an only child. The old man had a fancy that they should be married in the same church where he himself was, in a village in Westmoreland, and made them set out while he was laid up with the gout at London. The bridegroom took only his man, the bride her maid: they had the most agreeable journey imaginable to the place of marriage; from whence the bridegroom writ the following letter to his wife's father. “SIR, “March 18, 1672. “After a very pleasant journey hither, we are preparing for the happy hour in which I am to be your son. I assure you the bride carries it, in the eye of the vicar who married you, much beyond her mother; though he says, , your open sleeves, pantaloons, and shoulder-knot, made a much better show than the finical dress I am in. However, I am contented to be the second fine man this village ever saw, and shall make it very merry before night, because I shall write myself from thence,
“Your most dutiful son,
“The bride gives her duty, and is as handSome as an angel. . . . I am the happiest man breathing.”
The villagers were assembling about the church, and the happy couple took a walk in a private garden. The bridegroom's man knew his master would leave the place on a sudden
after the wedding, and, seeing him draw his pistols the night before, took this opportunity to go into his chamber and charge them. Upon their return from the garden, they went into that room; and, after a little fond raillery on the subject of their courtship, the lover took up a pistol, which he knew he had unloaded the night before, and, presenting it to her, said, with the most graceful air, whilst she looked pleased at his agreeable flattery; “Now, madam, repent of all those cruelties you have been guilty of to me; consider, before you die, how often you have made a poor wretch freeze under your casement; you shall die, you tyrant, you shall die, with all those instruments of death and destruction about you, with that enchanting smile, those killing ringlets of your hair”—“Give fire!” said she, laughing. He did so; and shot her dead. Who can speak his condition? but he bore it so patiently as to call up his man. The poor wretch entered, and his master locked the door upon him. “Will,” said he, “did you charge these pistols?” He answered, “Yes.” Upon which he shot him dead with that remaining. After this, amidst a thousand broken sobs, piercing groans, and distracted motions, he writ the following letter to the father of his dead mistress.
“SIR, “I, who two hours ago told you truly I was the happiest man alive, am now the most miserable. Your daughter lies dead at my feet, killed by my hand, through a mistake of my man's charging my pistols unknown to me. Him, have I murdered for it. Such is my wedding day. ... I will immediately follow my wife to her grave; but, before I throw myself upon my sword, I command my distraction so far as to explain my story to you. I fear my heart will not keep together until I have stabbed it. Poor, good old man! . . . Remember, he that killed your daughter died for it. In the article of death, I give you my thanks, and pray for you, though I dare not for myself. If it be possible, do not curse me.”
NO. 95. NOVEMBER 17, 1709 Interea dulces pendent circum oscula nati,
Casta pudicitiam servat domus." - VIRG. Georg. ii. 523.
There are several persons who have many pleasures and entertainments in their possession, which they do not enjoy. It is, therefore, a kind and good office to acquaint them with their own happiness, and turn their attention to such instances of their good fortune as they are apt to overlook. Persons in the married state often want such a monitor; and pine away their days, by looking upon the same condition in anguish and murmur, which carries with it in the opinion of others a complication of all the pleasures of life, and a retreat from its inquietudes. I am led into this thought by a visit I made an old friend, who was formerly my school-fellow. He came to town last week with his family for the winter, and yesterday morning sent me word his wife expected me to dinner. I am, as it were, at home at that house, and every member of it knows me for their well-wisher. I cannot indeed express the pleasure it is, to be met by the children with so much joy as I am when I go thither. The boys and girls strive who shall come first, when they think it is I that am knocking at the door; and that child which loses the race to me runs back again to tell the father it is Mr. Bickerstaff. This day I was led in by a pretty girl, that we all thought must have forgot me; for the family has been out of town these two years. Her knowing me again was a mighty subject with us, and took up our discourse at the first entrance. After which, they began to rally me upon a thousand little stories they heard in the country, about my marriage to one of my neighbour's daughters. Upon which the gentleman, my friend, said, “Nay, if Mr. Bickerstaff marries a child of any of his old companions, I hope mine shall have the preference; there is Mrs. Mary is now sixteen, and would make him as fine a widow as the best of them. But I know him too well; he is so enamoured with the very memory of those who flourished in our youth, that he will not so much as look upon the modern beauties. I remember, old gentleman, how often you went home in a day to refresh your countenance and dress when Teraminta reigned in your heart. As we came up in the coach, I repeated to my wife some of your verses on her.” With such reflections on little passages which happened long ago, we passed our time, during a cheerful and elegant meal. After dinner, his lady left the room, as did also the children. As soon as we were alone, he took me by the hand; “Well, my good friend,” says he, “I am heartily glad to see thee; I was afraid you would never have seen all the company that
1 Meanwhile his sweet children hang upon his
kisses and his chaste home is the abode of virtue.
dined with you to-day again. Do not you think the good woman of the house a little altered since you followed her from the playhouse, to find out who she was, for me?” I perceived a tear fall down his cheek as he spoke, which moved me not a little. But, to turn the discourse, I said, “She is not indeed quite that creature she was, when she returned me the letter I carried from you; and told me, ‘she hoped, as I was a gentleman, I would be employed no more to trouble her, who had never offended me; but would be so much the gentleman's friend, as to dissuade him from a pursuit, which he could never succeed in.” You may remember, I thought her in earnest; and you were forced to employ your cousin Will, who made his sister get acquainted with her, for you. You cannot expect her to be for ever fifteen.” “Fifteen!” replied my good friend: “Ah! you little understand, you that have lived a bachelor, how great, how exquisite a pleasure there is, in being really beloved' It is impossible, that the most beauteous face in nature should raise in me such pleasing ideas, as when I look upon that excellent woman. That fading in her countenance is chiefly caused by her watching with me, in my fever. This was followed by a fit of sickness, which had like to have carried her off last winter. I tell you sincerely, I have so many obligations to her, that I cannot, with any sort of moderation, think of her present state of health. But as to what you say of fifteen, she gives me every day pleasures beyond what I ever knew in the possession of her beauty, when I was in the vigour of youth. Every moment of her life brings me fresh instances of her complacency to my inclinations, and her prudence in regard to my fortune. Her face is to me much more beautiful than when I first saw it; there is no decay in any feature, which I cannot trace, from the very instant it was occasioned by some anxious concern for my welfare and interests. Thus, at the same time, methinks, the love I conceived towards her for what she was, is heightened by my gratitude for what she is. The love of a wife is as much above the idle passion commonly called by that name, as the loud laughter of buffoons is inferior to the elegant mirth of gentlemen. Oh! she is an inestimable jewel. In her examination of her household affairs, she shows a certain fearfulness to find a fault, which makes her servants obey her like children; and the meanest we have has an ingenuous shame for an offence, not always to be seen in children in other families.