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from its distinctions. In the feasting that attends the fair, fires are often necessary; and no places seemed so proper to make them in, as the hollow cavities formed by the heaving roots of the tree. This practice has brought a speedier decay on Fairlop than it might otherwise have suffered.
William Gilpix, 1724-1807.
AN OLD OAK.
FROM COW PER'S LETTERS.
Since your departure I have twice visited the oak, with an intention of pushing my inquiries a mile beyond it, where it seems I should have found another oak, much larger, and much more respectable than the former ; but once I was hindered by the rain, and once by the sultriness of the day. This latter oak has been known by the name of * Judith” many ages, and is said to have been an oak at the time of the Conquest. If I have not an opportunity to reach it before your arrival here, we will attempt that exploit together, and even if I should have been able to visit it ere you come, I shall yet be glad to do so, for the pleasure of extraordinary sights, like all other pleasures, is doubled by the participation of a friend.
W. CowPER.- Lotter to S. Rose, Esq., Sept. 11, 1788.
Survivor sole, and hardly such, of all
and with excoriate forks deform,
It seems idolatry with some excuse,
Thou wast a bauble once; a cup-and-ball,
So Fancy dreams. Disprove it if ye can
Thou fill'st nature; and in the loamy clod,
Who liv'd when thou wast such ? O couldst thou speak As in Dodona once, thy kindred trees, Oracular, I would not curious ask The future, best unknown, but at thy mouth Inquisitive, the less ambiguous past.
By thee I might correct, erroneous oft,
Time made thee what thou wast, king of the wood ;
Thy popularity, and art become
While thus through all the stages thou hast push'd
WILLIAM COW PER, 1781-1800.
THE GROANING ELM OF BADESLEY.
The history of the Groaning Tree is this. About forty years ago, a cottager, who lived near the center of the village (Badesley, near Lymington), heard frequently a strange noise behind his house, like that of a person in extreme agony. Soon after it caught the attention of his wife, who was then confined to her bed. She was a timorous woman, and being greatly alarmed, her husband endeavored to persuade her that the noise she heard was only the bellowing of the stags in the forest. By degrees, however, the neighbors on all sides heard it, and the thing began to be much talked of. It was hy this time plainly discovered that the groaning noise proceeded from an elm, which grew at the end of the garden. It was a young, vigorous tree, and, to all appearance, perfectly sound.
In a few weeks the fame of the groaning tree was spread far and wide, and people from all parts flocked to it. Among others, it attracted the curiosity of the late Prince and Princess of Wales,* who resided, at that time for the advantage of a sea-bath, at Pilewell, the seat of Sir James Worsley, which stood within a quarter of a mile of the groaning
Though the country people assigned many superstitious causes for this strange phenononon, the naturalist could assign no physical one that was in any degree satisfactory. Some thought that it was owing to the twisting and friction of the roots. Others thought it proceeded from water, which had collected in the body of the tree—or perhaps from pent air. But no cause that was alleged appeared equal to the effect. In the mean time the tree did not always groan--sometimes disappointing its visitants; yet no cause could be assigned for its temporary cessations, either from seasons or weather. If any difference was observed, it was thought to groan least when the weather was wet, and most when it was clear and frosty ; but the sound at all times seemed to arise from the root.
* Frederick Prince of Wales, father of George III.- ED.
Thus the groaning tree continued an object of astonishment during the space of eighteen or twenty months, to all the country around; and for the information of distant parts a pamphlet was drawn up containing a particular account of all the circumstances relating to it.
At length the owner of it, a gentleman of the name of Forbes, making too rash an experiment to discover the cause, bored a hole in its trunk. After this it never groaned. It was then rooted up, with a further view to making a discovery; but still nothing appeared which led to any investigation of the cause. It was universally, however, believed that there was no trick in the affair, but that some natural cause really existed, though never understood.
WILLIAM GILPIN, 1724-1507.
There is a yew-tree, pride of Horton Vale,
With unrejoicing berries, ghostly shapes
WILLIAM WORDS WORTU.
FROM THE ICELANDIC KDDA,
I know an ash,
Thence come the maids
At Niestad,* in the duchy of Wurtemburg, stood a lime, which was for many ages so remarkable that the city frequently took its denomination from it, being often called Neustadt ander grossen Linden, or Niestad near the Great Lime. Scarce any person passed near Niestad without visiting this tree; and many princez and great men did honor to it by building obelisks, columns, and monuments of various kinds around it, engraved with their arms and names, to which the dates were added, and often some device. Mr. Evelin, who procured copies of several of