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In describing the country of the Seres, we have already made mention1 of the wool-bearing trees which it produces; and we have, likewise, touched2 upon the extraordinary magnitude of the trees of India. Virgil3 has spoken in glowing terms of the ebony-tree, one of those which are peculiar to India, and he further informs us, that it will grow in no other country. Herodotus, however, has preferred to ascribe4 it to Æthiopia; and states that the people of that country were in the habit of paying to the kings of Persia, every third year, by way of tribute,5 one hundred billets of ebony-wood, together with a certain quantity of gold and ivory. Nor ought we here to omit the fact, inasmuch as the same author has stated to that effect, that the Æthiopians were also in the habit of paying, by way of tribute, twenty large elephants' teeth. So high was the esteem in which ivory was held in the year from the building of our city, 310: for it was at that period6 that this author was compiling his History at Thurii, in Italy; which is all the more remarkable, from the implicit confidence we place in him, when he says7 that up to that time, no native of Asia or Greece, to his knowledge at least, had ever beheld the river Padus. The plan of Æthiopia, which, as we have already mentioned,8 was recently laid before the Emperor Nero, informs us, that this tree is very uncommon in the country that lies between Syene, the extreme boundary of the empire, and Meroë, a distance of eight hundred and ninety-six miles; and that, in fact, the only kind of tree that is to be found there, is the palm. It was, probably, for this reason, that ebony held the third place in the tribute that was thus imposed.

1 See B. vi. c. 20.

2 See B. vii. c. 2. The tree to which he alludes is unknown.

3 Georg. B. ii. II. 116, 117.

4 B. iii. c. 97. There is little doubt that, under the general name of "ebony," the wood of many kinds of trees was,-and is still, imported into the western world, so that both Herodotus and Virgil may have been correct in representing ebony as the product of both India and Æthiopia.

5 Herodotus says two hundred.

6 In Italy, whither he had retired from the hostile attacks of his fellow-citizens. It is supposed by Le Vayer and others, that Pliny is wrong in his assertion, that Herodotus wrote to this effect while at Thurii; though Dr. Schmitz is inclined to be of opinion that he is right in his statement.

7 B. iii. c. 115.

8 B. vi. c. 35.

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