from the Port Folio
In Evelyn’s Sylva, a work more familiar, perhaps to European than American scholars, I remember to have perused, at the puerile age, many marvelous accounts of the extraordinary growth and dimensions of the monarchs of the wood. But from the researches of a gentleman of South Carolina, whose science & veracity are alike indisputable; I am recently apprised that in the vicinity of the village of Coosawhatchi, in one of the vast swamps of that region, there grew an enormous Cypress tree, which was justly considered as the Emperour of the Forest. This proud title was conferred, not merely on the account of its loftiness, but its bulk. It actually overtopped the tallest of the tall trees is that exuberant region. It should be remembered that it grew on the margin of a lake, and that the soil was of a character remarkably fertile. A gentleman of fortune and leisure finding the tree partially excavated by the hand of Nature herself, ordered his workmen to enlarge the cavity, to construct a regular apartment within, to floor the basement, to attach a circular seat to the trunk, to form a door way, to cut windows for the free admission of light, and [sit?] up a sort of author's round table in the centre. Thus commodiously arranged, the hollow cypress became a haunt for the Sportsman, the Idler, and the Epicure. Here after the toils of angling and the chase, men met to drink and to dine. Seventeen guests in the demus interior of this venerable vegetable have been comfortably accommodated, without even the pressure, which we often experience at the Table d'Hote of an ordinary.
In process of time the votaries of Diana and Bacchus, [remarking?] that this enormous growth of the wood was susceptible of still farther improvements, constructed over the rustic hall we have just described, a sort of sylvan withdrawing room for the accommodation for the ladies. Access to this apartment was obtained by a flight of steps without the tree. The room itself had all the gladsomeness of a modern parlour. While gentlemen were convivially recalling themselves in the tree below, the ladies might amuse themselves by angling from the window above. This hollow in the cypress could easily accommodate eight persons.
I am, sir, yours, &c.
[Selected and transcribed by Matt Newman, HC 2015.]