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.



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
That once lived here, thy brethren, at my birth,
(Since which I number threescore winters past),
A shatter'd veteran, hollow-trunk'd perhaps,

and with excoriate forks deform,
Relics of ages! Could a mind, imbued
With truth from Heaven, created thing adore,
I might with rev'rence kneel, and worship thee.

As now,

It seems idolatry with some excuse,
When our forefather Druids in their oaks,
Imagined sanctity. The conscience, yet
Unpurified by an authentic act
Of amnesty, the meed of blood divine,
Lov'd not the light, but, gloomy, into gloom
Of thickest shades, like Adam after taste
Of fruit proscrib'd, as to a refuge, fled.

Thou wast a bauble once; a cup-and-ball,
Which babes might play with ; and the thievish jay
Seeking her food, with ease might have purloin'd
The auburn nut that held thee, swallowing down
Thy yet close-folded latitude of boughs,
And all thy embryo vastness, at a gulp.
But Fate thy growth decreed ; autumnal rains
Beneath thy parent tree mellow'd the soil
Design'd thy cradle; and a skipping deer,
With pointed hoof, nibbling the glebe, prepar'd
The soft receptacle, in which, secure,
Thy rudiments should sleep the winter through.

So Fancy dreams. Disprove it if ye can
Ye reas'ners broad awake, whose busy search
Of argument employ'd too oft amiss,
Sifts half the pleasure of short life away!

Thou fill'st nature; and in the loamy clod,
Swelling with vegetative force instinct,
Didst burst thine egg, as theirs the fabled Twins,
Now stars; two lobes protruding, pair'd exact;
A leaf succeeded, and another leaf,
And, all the elements thy puny growth
Fost'ring propitious, thou becam’st a twig.

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,
The clock of History, facts and events
Timing more punctual, unrecorded facts
Recov'ring, and misstated, setting right-
Desp’rate attempt, till trees shall speak again!

Time made thee what thou wast, king of the wood ;
And Time hath made thee what thou art-a cave
For owls to roost in. Once thy spreading boughs
O'erhung the champaign ; and the numerous flocks
That graz'd it stood beneath that ample cope
L'ncrowded, yet safe-shelter'd from the storm.
No flocks frequent thee now. Thou hast outlived

Thy popularity, and art become
(Unless verse rescue thee awhile) a thing
Forgotten as the foliage of thy youth.

While thus through all the stages thou hast push'd
Of treeship—first a seedling, hid in grass ;
Then twig; then sapling; and as cent'ry roll d
Slow after century, a giant-bulk
Of girth enormous, with moss-cushion'd root
Upheay'd above the soil, and sides emboss'd
With prominent wens globose—till at the last
The rottenness, which time is charged to inflict
On other mighty ones, found also thee.

WILLIAM COW PER, 1781-1800.


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,
Which to this day stands single, in the midst
Of its own darkness, as it stood of yore,
Not loth to furnish weapons for the bands
Of Umfraville or Percy, ere they marched
To Scotland's heaths; or those that crossed the sea
And drew their sounding bows at Agincour,
Perhaps at earlier Crecy, or at Poitiers.
Of vast circumference and gloom profound
This solitary tree! a living thing
Produced too slowly ever to decay ;
Of form and aspect too magnificent
To be destroyed. But worthier still of note
Are those fraternal Four of Borrowdale,
Joined in one solemn and capacious grove;
Huge trunks ! and each particular trunk a growth
Of intertwisted fibers serpentine,
Up-coiling, and inveterately convolved
Nor uninformed with phantasy, and looks
That threaten the profune; a pillared shade,
Upon whose grassless floor of red-brown hue,
By sheddings from the piny umbrage tinged
Perennially-beneath whose sable roof
Of boughs, as if for festal purpose, decked

With unrejoicing berries, ghostly shapes
May meet at noontide : Fear and trembling Hope,
Silence and Foresight-Death the skeleton,
And Time the shadow-here to celebrate,
As in a natural temple scattered o'er
With altars undisturbed of mossy stone,
United worship; or in mute repose
To lie, and listen to the mountain flood
Murmuring from Glaramara's inmost caves.




I know an ash,
Named Ygg-drasill,
A stately tree,
With white dust strewed.
Thence come the dews
That wet the dales ;
It stands aye green
O'er Urda's well.

Thence come the maids
Who much do know;
Three from the hall
Beneath the tree;
One they named W'as,
And Being next,
The third Shall be,
On the shield they cut.

HENDERSON'S "Iceland."


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

* Neustadt.

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