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* I Shalum, Master of Mount Tirzah, to Hilpa, Mris
tress of the Valleys.
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 since ever been 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 Zilpalı, 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.
N° 585. WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 25, 1714.
Ipsi lætitiâ voces ad sidera jactant
VIRG. Ecl. v, 63.
The mountain tops unshorn, the rock rejoice;
THE SEQUEL OF THE STORY OF SHALUM AND
The letter inserted in my last had so good an effect upon Hilpa, that she answered it in less than twelve months, after the following manner:
• Hilpa, Mistress of the Valleys, to Shalum, Master of
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 ain 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 an 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; mayest 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 in ted her. This treat lasted for two years, and is said to have cost Shalum five hundred antelopes, two thousand ostriches, and a thousand tuns of milk; but what most of all recommended it, was the variety of delicious fruits and pot-herbs, 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. This 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 a promise, and gave him her word to return to 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 Mish. pach, 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 convenience of life. In the mean time Shalum grew very uneasy with himself, and was screly displeased at Hilpa for the reception 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 further than a visit, he again rerewed his addresses to her; who, during his long silence, is said very often to have cast a wishing eye upon mount Tirzah.
Her mind continued wavering about twenty years longer between Shalum and Mishpach; for 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 burnt-offering which Śhalum offered in the day of his espousals: the smoke of it ascended up to heaven, and filled the whole country with incense and perfume.