Hilpa was one of the 150 Daughters of Zilpah, of the Race of Cohu, by whom some of the Learned think is meant Cain. She was exceedingly beautiful, and when she was but a Girl of threescore and ten Years of Age, received the Addresses of several who made Love to her. Among these were two Brothers, Harpath and Shalum; Harpath, being the First-born, was Master of that fruitful Region which lies at the Foot of Mount Tirzah, in the Southern Parts of China. Shalum (which is to say the Planter in the Chinese Language) possessed all the neighbouring Hills, and that great Range of Mountains which goes under the Name of Tirzah. Harpath was of a haughty contemptuous Spirit; Shalum was of a gentle Disposition, beloved both by God and Man.
It is said that, among the Antediluvian Women, the Daughters of Cohu had their Minds wholly set upon Riches; for which Reason the beautiful Hilpa preferr'd Harpath to Shalum, because of his numerous Flocks and Herds, that covered all the low Country which runs along the Foot of Mount Tirzah, and is watered by several Fountains and Streams breaking out of the Sides of that Mountain.
Harpath made so quick a Dispatch of his Courtship, that he married Hilpa in the hundredth Year of her Age; and being of an insolent Temper, laughed to Scorn his Brother Shalum for having pretended to the beautiful Hilpa, when he was Master of nothing but a long Chain of Rocks and Mountains. This so much provoked Shalum, that he is said to have cursed his Brother in the Bitterness of his Heart, and to have prayed that one of his Mountains might fall upon his Head if ever he came within the Shadow of it.
From this Time forward Harpath would never venture out of the Vallies, but came to an untimely End in the 250th Year of his Age, being drowned in a River as he attempted to cross it This River is called to this Day, from his Name who perished in it, the River Harpath, and, what is very remarkable, issues out of one of those Mountains which Shalum wished might fall upon his Brother, when he cursed him in the Bitterness of his Heart.
Hilpa was in the 160th Year of her Age at the Death of her Husband, having brought him but 50 Children, before he was snatched away, as has been already related. Many of the Antediluvians made Love to the young Widow, tho' no one was thought so likely to succeed in her Affections as her first Lover Shalum, who renewed his Court to her about ten Years after the Death of Harpath; for it was not thought decent in those Days that a Widow should be seen by a Man within ten Years after the Decease of her Husband.
Shalum falling into a deep Melancholy, and resolving to take away that Objection which had been raised against him when he made his first Addresses to Hilpa, began immediately, after her Marriage with Harpath, to plant all that mountainous Region which fell to his Lot in the Division of this Country. He knew how to adapt every Plant to its proper Soil, and is thought to have inherited many traditional Secrets of that Art from the first Man. This Employment turn'd at length to his Profit as well as to his Amusement: His Mountains were in a few Years shaded with young Trees, that gradually shot up into Groves, Woods, and Forests, intermixed with Walks, and Launs, and Gardens; 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 through 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 70 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 Landskips 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 Sentiments, and Plainness of Manners which appears in the Original.
Shalum was at this Time 180 Years old, and Hilpa 170.
Shalum, Master of Mount Tirzah, to Hilpa, Mistress of the Vallies.
In the 788th Year of the Creation.
'What have I not suffered, O thou Daughter of Zilpah, since thou gavest thy self away in Marriage to my Rival? I grew weary of the Light of the Sun, and have been ever since covering my self with Woods and Forests. These threescore and ten Years have I bewailed the Loss of thee on the Tops 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.Translation of motto: