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Title: Cornwall
Author: Mitton, G. E. (Geraldine Edith)
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  CORNWALL


                   AGENTS

  AMERICA      THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
                 64 & 66 Fifth Avenue, NEW YORK

  AUSTRALASIA  OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS
                 205 Flinders Lane, MELBOURNE

  CANADA       THE MACMILLAN COMPANY OF CANADA, LTD.
                 St. Martin's House, 70 Bond Street, TORONTO

  INDIA        MACMILLAN & COMPANY, LTD.
                 MACMILLAN BUILDING, BOMBAY
                 309 BOW BAZAAR STREET, CALCUTTA

  [Illustration]



  THE LAND'S END

  CORNWALL

  PAINTED BY
  G. F. NICHOLLS

  DESCRIBED BY
  G. E. MITTON

  WITH
  TWENTY FULL-PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS
  IN COLOUR

  [Illustration]

  A. & C. BLACK, LTD.
  4, 5 & 6 SOHO SQUARE, LONDON, W.
  1915



  Contents


  CHAPTER I                                PAGE
  POPULAR IDEAS OF CORNWALL                   1

  CHAPTER II
  THE GATEWAY OF THE DUCHY                   24

  CHAPTER III
  THE "TOE" OF CORNWALL                      34

  CHAPTER IV
  FURTHEST WEST AND FURTHEST SOUTH           51

  CHAPTER V
  KING ARTHUR'S LAND                         71

  CHAPTER VI
  THE SANDY BEACHES OF THE NORTHERN COAST    92

  CHAPTER VII
  THE INLETS OF THE SOUTH COAST             109

  CHAPTER VIII
  CORNISH TOWNS                             124

  CHAPTER IX
  CORNISH CUSTOMS                           135

  SOME BOOKS ON CORNWALL                    145

  INDEX                                     147



  List of Illustrations in Colour


  1. The Land's End             _Frontispiece_
                                  FACING PAGE
  2. Carbis Bay                             6
  3. Kynance Cove                          10
  4. At Polperro                           14
  5. The Coast near the Lizard             16
  6. Old Bridge at Lostwithiel             28
  7. St. Michael's Mount                   34
  8. Newlyn                                38
  9. Lamorna Cove                          42
  10. Caerthilian Cove                     66
  11. St. Ives                             92
  12. A Street in St. Ives                 94
  13. From Lelant to Godrevy               98
  14. Fowey                               110
  15. Bodinnick Ferry, Fowey              114
  16. Looe                                118
  17. Flushing--from Falmouth             122
  18. Truro                               124
  19. The Banks of the Fal, Falmouth      128
  20. At Newlyn                           138

  _Bird's-Eye View of Fowey Haven, pp._ 112 _and_ 113.
  _Sketch-Map at end of volume_.



CORNWALL



I

POPULAR IDEAS OF CORNWALL


To the mind of the ordinary Briton there is a curious attraction in
"getting as far as you can"--a streak in mentality which has accounted
in no small degree for the world-wide Empire. In England you cannot in
one direction get any farther than the extreme point of Cornwall. Owing
to the geographical configuration of Cornwall, the idea is magnified
very vigorously into a really gallant effort to "get there," such as
might be made by an individual stretching out not only to his full
stride, but indulging in a good kick! We feel in very truth we have "got
there," on to the edge of something or somewhere. As Wilkie Collins
expresses it, the Land's End is "the sort of place where the last man in
England would be most likely to be found waiting for death at the end of
the world!"

Thus it is that Cornwall holds a special magnet which steadily draws a
never-ending succession of strangers. Look only at those who do the feat
of cycling or motoring from John o' Groat's to Land's End. Picture them
in an indomitable long-drawn-out line, wheel to wheel; shadowy forms
flitting over that last--or first--piece of road, full of hope and
exultation at the thought of the journey's end, or full of anticipation
at the journey's beginning. No road in England has been so wheel-worn as
that strip running out to the most westerly point of England.

Some there are who are drawn by a similar magnet to the Lizard, the most
southerly point of our land, but the attraction is not so potent. From
time immemorial John o' Groat's to Land's End has formed the measure of
Britain.

For very many years Cornwall has been known for its fine coast scenery,
but wild and desolate scenery was not the fashion in Early Victorian
days, and there were comparatively few brave souls who penetrated so
far. It is rather remarkable to notice how many books about the charm of
Cornwall appeared in the sixties, doubtless due to the opening of the
Cornwall Railway in 1859. There is Wilkie Collins's _Rambles Beyond
Railways_, 1861; J. O. Halliwell's _Rambles in Western Cornwall_ and J.
T. Blight's _Land's End_, the same year, followed by Richard Edmonds's
_Land's End District_ the next year.

But Cornwall really began to be known by hundreds of persons in place of
tens about 1904, and since then the number of visitors has increased to
thousands.

This book is not written by a Cornishman, for the very obvious reason
that no Cornishman could for one instant think impartially of his Duchy,
any more than you could expect a Yorkshireman to believe that the "rest
of England" was in any way to be compared with Yorkshire. The more
individual and peculiar a person is, the more deeply is he loved by
those who really know him, provided that he has lovable qualities. No
characterless good soul ever wins the heartfelt devotion that is the
meed of those who have unexpected kinks and corners in their
personality, and in the same way a flat, featureless country, carefully
cultivated and uninteresting, will never win to itself the true
land-love felt for one that is varied, rough maybe, rugged a bit, and in
a hundred ways surprising. Of all things human nature hates boredom, and
the man or the country who can win free of any trace of boredom insures
a reward. Cornwall has in a peculiar measure gained the devotion of its
own people. Not only on account of its unexpectedness, but because it
stands in some measure apart from the rest of England. The Celtic blood
of its older inhabitants, while making them akin to the Welsh and Irish,
cuts them off from the Saxons, whom so often and so heartily in the old
days they fought.

The geographical position of Cornwall, with three sides washed by the
sea, and even the "land" boundary mainly marked by a river, has
influenced its sons, who, never being far from the sound of the surging
waves, have gained something of the robust aloofness of the sailor. They
are friendly to all, but guarded nevertheless; and standing thus apart,
marked out by their territory, with small chance to mingle with
inhabitants of other counties, the clan feeling among them has grown to
be analogous to that of the clans in Scotland. All other Britishers are
to the true Cornishman "foreigners." How then could a man so imbued with
his own and his Duchy's place in regard to the "rest of England" write a
book which should convey in any way the real characteristics of his
land?

It would be a feat impossible.

The rugged outlines of a well-known face lose meaning with years of
familiarity, and are taken for granted; thus it is with landmarks in
Cornwall, which would never figure in such a chronicle at all.

Therefore, as this book is intended not so much for those who know
Cornwall as for those who will know it sometime in that future which
lies beyond the reading of it, the impressions of an outsider are most
fitting.

There are people who go to Cornwall once for a holiday and return to it
ever and again, when they get the chance, unable to find satisfaction
anywhere else; the "atmosphere" of the country has entered into their
blood. They think with an ache of the coast in all its cruelty and
glory, they picture the bright blue of the rain-washed skies in a burst
of sunshine, and they recall the great "hedges" with a foundation or
core of stone, generations old, overlaid by an ample covering of turf
and grass, a hot-bed for the stonecrop and hart's-tongue, fern,
primrose, or foxglove.

But what is a catalogue of words? It conveys nothing, any more than a
catalogue of the names of books. Unless one can conjure up feelings, the
attempt to explain the grip of the Duchy on recollection is useless. The
clammy sea-wind on the face, the sense of great spaces, the grandeur of
the coast, with its solemn, immovable rampart of cliff, and the pulsing
life of the cold spray, for ever beating and frilling against the hard,
glistening surface--these enter into consciousness. Of all things
living, the swing of the seagull on motionless wings over a cavernous
hollow brings one nearest to the realization of a dream.

Others again go to visit the Duchy and come away disappointed because
they have not found exactly what they wanted or expected. They take
small children to coast places of which they have only heard by name,
and are dismayed to find there is no sand, no beach, no bathing--only
hills steep as the blue slate-roofs; and a good deal in the "people's"
part of the town, which is narrow, slatternly and disagreeable. But it
is one of the traits of Cornwall that she embraces such wide variety and
shows such startling contrasts close up against each other. There are
certainly a great many places where there are no sands at all, nothing
but sheer wild cliffs falling perpendicularly to the sea, pierced by
gigantic caves, to be explored at low tide only, and a small strip of
shingle on which bathers are warned to enter at their peril, for the
huge breakers from the Atlantic roll in continually, and one moment
you are over head and shoulders in the smother of their foam, and the
next stand naked to the winds, with a villainous undertow sucking away
the pebbles from beneath your twitching soles. Carew, Cornwall's
best-known historian, speaks of the Duchy's "long, naked sides." The
writer on geology in the _Victoria County History_ says: "It has been
calculated that a single roller of the Atlantic ground-swell (20 feet
high) falls with a pressure of about a ton on every square foot." Places
where such forces are felt are the Poles apart from the usual English
seaside resort, sarcastically described by "Q" as "A line of sea in
front, a row of hotels and lodging-houses behind, all as flat as a
painted cloth, with a brass band to help the morality." Yet even in
Cornwall if you want sandy beach you can have it. There are sands that
stretch for miles, firm and flat, such as the famous beaches at St.
Ives; and in most places, even the rocky ones, there is some provision
made for bathing of a sort.

[Illustration: CARBIS BAY]

I think the reason why a small proportion of people are disappointed in
Cornwall is that the advertisements are focussed on one aspect only. In
almost every one of them is the mildness of the climate insisted on, and
this gives rise to semi-invalidish ideas. It is true that semi-invalids
who go there in winter in search of warmth can find suitable places if
they know where to go. Cornwall as a whole must have an equable climate,
or we should not see the growth of exotic plants out of doors--myrtle,
tree-geranium, aloes, palms, and camellias, to name only a few of the
most abundant--but the whole county is by no means a hot-bed of warmth,
and the winds are frequently very cold indeed. There are everywhere now
first-class hotels, with the ample lounges which have superseded the
shut-up drawing-room and smoking-room compartments of earlier days, and
these hotels mostly have verandahs so placed that the glorious sun can
flood them while the winds are kept at bay. There those who come to
recuperate can bask in delight, and draw straight from the Atlantic the
pure fresh air, which has a wonderfully tonic effect.

    "The lungs with the living gas grow tight,
    And the limbs feel the strength of ten.

           *       *       *       *       *

    God's glorious oxygen."

Two such verandahs come up before me as I write--that at Fowey, raised
high, and overlooking the most lovely harbour along the whole coast,
shut in by rising banks almost like a Norwegian fiord; the other, the
verandah at Housel Bay Hotel, where, facing due south, you may sit in an
atmosphere of summer which is indeed like a climate usually only to be
looked for many degrees further south.

But though this aspect is the keynote of almost every advertisement, or
at any rate every winter advertisement, it is by no means the most
prominent or characteristic one of Cornwall, which appeals far more to
the hardy than the weak. When I think of Cornwall the vision that comes
before me is not that of sheltered sun-bathed balconies, but rather of a
high wind making the breakers frill around the jagged bases of the
cliffs, while above, amid the towans or sandhills covered with bent
grass, the golf-balls fly. The tang of the air seems once again in my
nostrils, carrying with it an exhilaration that makes the blood race in
the veins and entirely prevents tiredness. Only in one place elsewhere
have I felt that exact stimulus, and that was far west in the
neighbouring land of Brittany, near the Point du Raz, which stretches
razor-like into the ocean, and in many respects strikingly resembles a
bit of the Cornish coast. Many people will object that this is exactly
what they understand Cornwall does not offer; on the contrary they have
heard apologies for its stuffiness and the relaxing qualities of the
air. Why yes, if one visits it in the height of summer, and goes to one
of the many places situated in a hole or funnel and facing south, it
might be very relaxing indeed; but the "advertisements for invalids," if
one may so call them, usually refer to early spring and it is in early
spring that the invigorating breezes may be found almost anywhere the
whole way round, while the northern coasts are never stuffy even in
summer.

Besides unusual golf facilities another feature appealing to the hardy
and sound are the cliff paths, mere coastguard tracks, unfenced and
unspoilt, which circle the whole coast. Those who keep to roads will
never see the real Cornwall and that is why so many motor-bound souls
miss it. One may wander for days on these cliff paths, lured on from
point to point and bay to bay, always rejoicing in something new or
glorious, something which beckons onward. At the foot of the vertical
walls of rock are tiny sandy bays for ever cut off from the foot of man
even at low tide, and inaccessible to all save the sea-birds, who well
know it! My mind brings back visions of great pieces of rock, torn and
ripped from their hold, and apparently flung pell-mell on the beach.
Except that they are usually three-cornered and not columnar, they are
somewhat like the drongs of Shetland in their piercing sharpness.
Remarkably fine specimens of these isolated rocks are seen at Kynance
Cove, near the Lizard, and at Bedruthan Steps, in Watergate Bay; but
almost everywhere some stand up aloof from the neighbouring cliff.

[Illustration: KYNANCE COVE]

Whoever loves the wild desolation of the northernmost Scottish coasts
will feel at home in Cornwall. Of course the cliffs are not nearly so
high--most of the Cornish cliffs could go four times into the finest
specimens of Mull or Shetland--but there is not much lost by this. The
human mind can only grasp up to a certain amount of size conveyed by the
eye in vertical measure, and after the first awed glance down a
1,000-foot cliff, when the mind is almost stunned, the impression
rapidly wears off, and all the grandeur needed is equally well conveyed
by 300 feet of sheer precipice, while the details of the natural carving
and the play of the wild birds on its crevices are far better observed.

The popular idea of Cornwall in the minds of those who have not been
there is that there runs a long raised ridge down the middle like a
spine, and that from this on each side the ground slopes away to the
sea; but this is a very misleading idea. Cornwall is all hills, and yet
has none to boast of. Brown Willy, not far from Launceston, reaching to
1,375 feet, is the highest, but yet there is very little flat land
anywhere. If you took a silk handkerchief, crumpled it up in your hand,
and threw it on the table, it might fall somewhat as Cornwall is
constituted. The people who live there are used to hills and not afraid
of them. Why should they be? In most of the towns--and almost every
small village is a "church-town," while every stream is a river--the
streets are often at about the angle of an ordinary house-roof, and as a
rule there are miles of hill to be negotiated in rising out of the towns
for they lie in hollows or crevices, corresponding to the folds of the
handkerchief. This is not wonderful considering the fact that the wind
blows freely from the sea on both sides, and that it is in the hollows
and sheltered nooks that vegetation flourishes. There are of course
exceptions. Take such a town as Launceston. One main street has been
engineered to go round in curves, so as to enable horses--horses bred to
the work--to get up it, and at the top there is a bit of level, but most
of the other streets fall sheer down. When babes who can scarce toddle
scramble forth from their living-room on to a road slanting at an angle
of forty-five degrees or more, which forms their only playground,
naturally their leg muscles get strengthened, and as they grow up and
have to start off to school, or return from it, up a hill that taxes the
sinews of a "foreigner" till he groans, they make nothing of it. Roads
seem to wander at their own sweet will with no inclination to the Roman
ideal, but they never wander to avoid inclines; they tilt up and down
again with the most gracious equanimity, and a man on a cycle who has
struggled up a steep ascent and feels at last he will be able to reap
the reward, as often as not finds the descent too perilous to ride
without the utmost caution. Cornwall is not a county for cyclists except
they be strong in the leg; but it is good country for those pedestrians
who measure the day's journey by what they have seen and not by ground
got over as the crow flies, for they can follow the enchanting little
paths winding in and out by the great headlands of the coast.

Cornwall is no place for being in a hurry.

Many of the most famous sights, such as the great outlying cliffs at
Gurnard's Head, and the Logan Rock, are not anywhere near a road. The
roads keep inland, and for very good reason. These places have to be
reached over long, sloping fields, and entail a good deal of
scrambling--ideal places to resort to for a whole day with picnic
provision, so long as one has a clear head and steady foot, but not to
be sought as a "side-show."

Very many of the little coast places too are down at the end of what may
be called long shafts, and to the ardent cyclist, intent on mileage, to
go down, down, down, for miles till he can see the cows grazing in the
fields high overhead, and to arrive at last at a little port where a few
old salts sit and smoke and idle, and there is no way of getting out
again but by the funnel, is a matter for as strong comment as conscience
permits. Yet again for those who love what is beautiful and unhackneyed,
there is charm beyond measure in the spirit of these places. In
Polperro, which might be a bit of Brittany planted wholesale in our
land; or Fowey, with its unforgettable harbour, where the blue tide
creeps up like a stain of spreading dye; or in Mullion, with its huge
rounded masses of rock lying off the coast.

Another popular idea of Cornwall, also mistaken, is that the interior of
the Duchy is hideous and only the coast beautiful. There is much that is
ugly no doubt; raw places where the half-grown mounds of rubbish and
crumbling chimneys mark disused tin-mines; where the sharp and hard
outlines of slate shriek at you everywhere; where ragged, scrubby fences
break up an endless series of barren-looking fields, and the whole
landscape gives the impression that it is flying at a terrific speed
westward, heading into the prevailing wind, because all the trees and
shrubs that have managed to survive it at all are bent nearly double.
But what of the glorious wooded slopes in Bodmin neighbourhood where
smooth roads wind between the rich growth of woods? What of the famous
valleys such as Luxulyan and others? There is plenty inland attractive
enough if one knows where to look for it.

[Illustration: AT POLPERRO]

Perhaps this impression as to the interior has grown because the
painting fraternity, now a recognized part of Cornish society, mostly
paint views on or near the coast, having settled chiefly at and near
Newlyn and St. Ives. Mr. Lewis Hind, in his book on Cornwall, says:
"Probably two hundred canvases are despatched each year from the
Delectable Duchy to Burlington House and elsewhere; of this number
seven-eighths have been painted in Newlyn or St. Ives.... The great
centres are Newlyn, St. Ives, and Falmouth, and the votes of the
Cornish contingent, it is said, can turn the scale in an election at the
Royal Academy."

The truth is, Cornwall must be taken in bits, and often the most hideous
lie close up alongside the most attractive; however they only help to
intensify that which is very good. People who look too cursorily are the
most often disappointed.

Wandering about Cornwall certainly induces one ache, and that is the
ache to be more knowledgeable. Those lucky creatures who know something
of botany and geology here have delights not unfolded to others.
Cornwall is a paradise for the botanist and geologist, because for the
former there are rare species and some altogether unknown elsewhere,
such as the _Erica vagans_ so often mentioned, which grows in the
neighbourhood of the Lizard. In fact Cornwall possesses more
specialities in plant-life than any other county in England. For the
latter because even the amateur can see the wonder and difference of the
rocks: the pink tinged granite of Land's End, the great granite tors
inland on the moors, and the variegated serpentine at the Lizard, as
well as the cruel, sharp-edged slate of the northern coast. While as for
the archæologist is there any part of Britain that affords him such
endless material? A mere enumeration of the ancient stone crosses,
the standing stone circles, the cromlechs, the British huts, the
earthworks, the cliff-castles, the hill-castles or camps, the stone
graves, the chambered cumuli, the barrows, and other relics of a
long-past age, would fill pages. The moors are covered with them and the
bare heights above Land's End are a rich hunting-ground.

[Illustration: THE COAST NEAR THE LIZARD]

This evidence of the lives and habits of the very ancient inhabitants
adds much depth and flavour to the "atmosphere," and especially when it
is remembered that the original Cornish are the purest example of that
old race--the British. Mr. W. H. Hudson, in his book _The Land's End_,
quotes Lord Courtney's saying: "The population of Cornwall in general
has remained much more homogeneous, much more Celtic in type, than in
other parts; and of all Cornwall there is no part like this [Penzance
and Land's End district] in which we meet with probably so pure a breed
of human beings."

The nation now calling itself British has Saxon, Teutonic, French, and
Norse blood in its veins, as well as that of the original stock; but
when the successive waves of invaders swept over the country, they
usually exhausted themselves before reaching this remote corner, into
which the oldest island stock was swept up.

This probably accounts for the queer impression one often gets in
Cornwall of being abroad. It comes suddenly, rising like one of the
Cornish mists and enveloping one, until suddenly the conviction that one
is across the sea, far from home, flows almost overwhelmingly over the
mind. There is much more likeness and kinship between parts of Cornwall
and parts of Brittany than between Cornwall and most of the rest of
England. There is no doubt that Cornwall differeth not as "one county
from another county," but as one county from all the rest. Here, where
the British race had its last stronghold, the stamp of the national
characteristics was retained in its effects much longer than elsewhere.
Nowadays of course there is intermarrying and travelling, and frequent
streams of new blood coming in--half the people you speak to are not
Cornish at all--but still there is something remaining which stamps them
as a whole. It has often been noticed that there are traces of Spanish
blood to be found in the dwellers in the extreme west where many of the
great Spanish galleons were wrecked in bygone days; just as there are
found brown faces and black hair in the Fair Isle of the Shetlands,
where half the population intermarried with some Spaniards of the great
Armada wrecked on their coast. In this part of Cornwall one constantly
sees women with clear-skinned faces, dark-brown eyes and hair, of a
distinctly foreign type. The people, with their rather remote and
surface friendliness, have often been described. They will greet you
pleasantly and courteously--courteous manners have lingered here--small
boys, and men too, still salute a stranger in passing with a greeting,
and if one asks the way the answer will be no abrupt direction, but a
careful and minute description repeated until clearly understood. Even
in Wilkie Collins's time the people were noticeable for their courtesy.
He says: "The manners of the Cornish of all ranks, down to the lowest,
are remarkably distinguished by courtesy--a courtesy of that kind which
is quite independent of artificial breeding, and which proceeds solely
from natural motives of kindness and from an innate anxiety to please.
Few of the people pass you without a salutation."

As it was then so it is now.

Yet everywhere one feels a want; there is a lack of something. Perhaps
it is they are too matter-of-fact; a passing jest leaves them puzzled.
There is none of the dry humour of the Scot, which makes every man you
meet on the road in Scotland instinctively approach a remark from what
may be called the humorous angle. As an example of the Cornish lack of
this quality, when I remarked to a man who was showing me a real fine
golf-links stretching over the sandy towans of bent-grass, "these
sandhills are simply made for golf," he answered: "Oh no, they were not
made for the links; they were here long before!"

The people simply don't understand analogy or imagery; their minds are
very literal. In this part of the world they may well be literal, for
the hard necessity of making a livelihood from very poor material must
crush out fun. Yet in spite of many hardships endured, it is a rare
thing to see a pale or miserable-looking child. The children are round
and rosy, with sturdy legs, as indeed they may well have for they need
them. This general well-being cannot be altogether attributed to the
pure air, because in the Shetlands and on the West Coast of Scotland
where the air is just as pure the children are usually brown and thin.
It may be that this is due to the lack of milk, the heaths of Scotland
affording scant pasturage, while the constant moisture of the air in
Cornwall makes the grass grow richly.

At midday you will see the bairns running along the street munching
great pasties--a Cornish specialty--made with bits of meat and onion and
potato in a cover of paste, and the pasty seems to be the school-child's
usual dinner. Another specialty of Cornwall are the yellow saffron
cakes, so unappetizing in appearance to those unused to them. Of the
cream there is hardly need to speak. As one ardent admirer of the Duchy
remarked: "Of course, Devonshire cream _is_ Cornish cream, only they've
managed to get all the credit for it." In spite of this testimony it
seems to me there is a difference, the Cornish variety is at once more
fluid and more lumpy, but this may be an erroneous opinion based on
insufficient experience.

Of history Cornwall has little. The brightest jewel in her coronet is
that she stood unfailingly for the Stuarts in the Civil Wars, and many a
church holds a letter of thanks from King Charles I. Except for the
struggles of that epoch, the Duchy has little to tell of what may be
called historical times, but before them much. It is in the misty ages
before the Norman Conquest that history was made in Cornwall, and every
now and then we catch fleeting glimpses of scenes standing out bright
and clear amid a general fog, just as we can to-day catch the vivid
pictures of the landscape before the grey mists sweep down with
incredible speed and blot them out. We see Athelstan's terrible fight
with the Britons; his establishment of the collegiate church at St.
Buryan in pursuance of his vow, when he returned victorious from the
Scilly Isles. We get brilliant peeps in the legends of King Arthur; in
the mysterious beehive huts and stone circles of a people who have
vanished; in the whimsical tales of the early saints who scattered
themselves so freely over the land on their arrival from Ireland; and we
find hieroglyphic messages we cannot read in structures we call
cromlechs and in the cliff-castles.

Small wonder that Cornwall is a land of legend and story, and that tales
of fabulous men and wonder-working men abound. In our very earliest
nursery days, long before we could point to Cornwall on the map, we
learned to repeat:

    "Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum,
    I smell the blood of a Cornishman.
    Let him be alive or let him be dead,
    I'll grind his bones to make me bread."

And if modern nurseries substitute "Englishman" for "Cornishman," that
is distinctly their loss. The coast with its mighty fragments and giant
"chairs" and enormous blocks of stone is quite obviously the home of
giants.



II

THE GATEWAY OF THE DUCHY


The gateway to the Duchy is impressive--that is to say, the gateway by
which far the largest proportion of visitors enter--the railway bridge
of the Great Western at Saltash. This marvellous bridge of Brunel's has
been often described; it does not impress by its beauty for it has none,
but by its tremendous height and length. It is 2,240 feet from end to
end, and rises 260 feet above the water. It cuts across the narrowest
part of that great ganglion of waters which break up the land behind
Plymouth Sound. On the north lie the broad inlets of the Rivers Tamar
and Tavy, and to the south that of the St. Germans or Lynher River
curves away, and all along it the line runs, crossing the broad inlets
of mud at low tide and shining water at high tide, giving a glimpse of
the famous Hamoaze at Devonport and the busy dockyards filled with the
clang of driven rivets.

In the Hamoaze lies the _Powerful_, an establishment consisting of
three ships for the training of boys, and also the _Impregnable_, used
for the same purpose, with two ships attached; one of them has a fine
figure-head of the Black Prince. These are close to the ferry to Mount
Edgcumbe, the family seat of the Earl of that name. The lads have
drillgrounds and playgrounds ashore, but live on board. When they all
swarm about the decks and rigging in their white suits, to rest in the
sun for a brief half-hour after the midday meal, it is as if a flock of
sea-birds had alighted on the picturesque old hulk.

In old times the destroyers used to be moored, two by two, when in port,
just below Saltash Bridge, and this place was called the "destroyer
trot," but the war has changed all that. Above the bridge are two
powder-hulks.

If we passed up the river in a small boat we should see a variety of
bird-life. The most attractive are the cranes, measuring upwards of 5
feet in length, ash-coloured with blackish wings and black legs. They
stand and fish on the margin of the river, especially at evening time,
planted close together like sentinels up to their knees in the water.
They rise most gracefully and their great wings move slowly in measured
action. The gulls and rooks are jealous of them, possibly seeing in
this measured movement some imagined superiority, for they occasionally
buffet them as they fly. There is a current saying accounting for the
erratic allotment of days in the spring quarter. It is said that March
borrowed a few days of February to catch the crane on her nest, but he
only caught her tail, and so the crane has no tail since then! Milton
speaks of the migration of the cranes when he says:

    "Part loosely wing the region; part, more wise,
    In common, ranged in figure, wedge their way,
    Intelligent of seasons; and set forth
    Their airy caravan; high over seas
    Flying, and over lands with mutual wing
    Easing their flight; so steers the prudent crane
    Her annual voyage, borne on winds, the air
    Floats as they pass, fanned with unnumbered plumes."

The most common birds up these tidal rivers are the sheldrake. They are
plentiful and very tame as they sit dozing away the hours in little
parties on the tide edge, or flighting over the water with low musical
quacks. They are extremely white when on the wing--in fact that is how
one always thinks of them, white and orange. The orange flash is their
bill, which is brightened in the springtime. They give poor sport for a
gun, and don't seem to be of much use. They were the wildest of all wild
fowl but have now taken on the tamest ways.

And all the time in spring you can hear the wild musical note of the
curlew, and see the dun-coloured birds flitting against the green of the
woods. They are shy and wary, and common along the shores on the sands
which are exposed at low water. Ringed plovers can sometimes be seen
running on the wet surface of the sands at the tide's edge, flocks of
lapwings too. Teal is by no means infrequent up the rivers, and an
occasional shag (cormorant) may be noticed swimming far up towards
Saltash and fishing. In its spring dress, with its horn-like crest, and
miserable-looking yellow face, and its lustrous dark-green plumage, the
shag is a handsome bird. Mallard is fairly plentiful in the rivers, and
you may see flocks sleeping away the day-hours on the flats, and
recognize them by the longitudinally marked plumage of the drakes.
Sometimes they fly back and forth as gulls do while they wait for the
tide to ebb. Small birds there are, of course, in numbers, such as
wag-tails, sandpipers, and the oddly crying and flying redshank, a shore
bird. It wheels above the tide-line, or rests, bowing quaintly, on some
grassy hummock near a pool.

But these things can only be studied in leisured intimacy from a
slow-going boat passing in the spring-time, when the blackthorn frosts
the hedges and starry-eyed primroses grow to monstrous size. The train
which flashes us across the bridge reveals none of them!

In the first glimpse of our first Cornish "town" we catch sight of a
steep winding street, which serves as full introduction, for in many a
Cornish town shall we see the same again! And then, even as the train
runs in the cuttings of Cornish soil, we realize almost at once the
key-note of Cornwall--the extraordinary richness of growth. Ivy bursts
over every wall in a perfect cataract; ferns and small wild things fill
every crevice with their grasping roots, and even in winter there is no
thinness or barrenness to be felt for evergreens flourish amazingly. The
wooded reaches of the hills dispel the idea that Cornwall is everywhere
a treeless land, and the constant dampness of its climate is shown by
the lichen which clings to every branch and twig like hoar-frost, so
that in winter the whole mass has a curious shot-green-and-brown
effect.

[Illustration: OLD BRIDGE AT LOSTWITHIEL]

The West Cornwall Railway, reaching as far as Truro, was opened in 1852,
and the Cornwall Railway in 1859. Both of these were afterwards absorbed
by the Great Western Railway.

One of the most beautiful parts of the whole line is that between
Liskeard and Bodmin Road. The woods run riot on the ever varying slopes,
and the evergreens are so fine, with their abundance of clean, glossy
leaves, that even the ordinary country roads have something of the
appearance of a carefully tended private drive.

The Cornish valleys are especially treasured by the people and much
admired, because they present such a striking contrast to the high bleak
uplands. That it is only the wind which prevents the growth of trees may
be judged from these valleys, where they flourish finely. Take Luxulyan
Valley, running down to St. Blazey, a place where hundreds come for
picnics. Even in any part of England it would be admired; here its charm
is enhanced by its surroundings. There are plenty of trees of a fair
size, and the sides of the valley are covered with bracken and furze,
from which peep out great grey rocks. Primroses and violets abound in
the spring, and the mossy boulders and the extensive variety of ferns
show a flourishing vegetation almost like that of a fern-house under
glass. There is something also about the grey lichened rocks bursting
out of the waist-deep furze and bracken that serves to emphasize the
fulness of growth. The only drawback about Luxulyan is that it lies in
the china-clay country, and the stream which runs down to ugly St.
Blazey is white as milk. This china-clay is one of Cornwall's most
living industries now that the tin-mining has declined, and the
pilchards come so scantily. It is the product of decomposed granite
owing to the action of fluoric acid. The works where it may be seen at
its best are near Roche, on the little line between Newquay and Fowey,
and here the piles of white earth might be mistaken for flour or
whitening by those who did not know what they were. The clay is sent
down by rail to Fowey, and the greater number of the steamers putting
into that harbour are engaged in carrying it away. At Roche is an
extraordinary rock starting sheer up from the plain. On the top was
formerly a cell or hermitage, of which Norden says quaintly, "It
standeth upon the wilde moares farr from comon societie."

There are innumerable "singing valleys" in Cornwall, though mostly
small. I call them so because of the congregation of singing-birds here
crowded together for lack of nesting-places, instead of being spread
thinly over the district. As can easily be understood, there is no
difficulty in nesting for the larks, who make joyous the wide uplands,
or for the sea-birds who haunt the rugged coast, and only come inland at
times of storm, or to follow in a white, restless cloud close at the
heels of the ploughman as he turns up the sod and exposes the fat white
slugs and delicious grubs. Nor is there any difficulty for the smaller
hedge-birds, least of all the wrens, who, like red-brown butterflies,
flit in perfect safety to the roomy depths of the age-old "hedges."
These hedges in Cornwall are, particularly in the west, but a core of
hard stone piled loosely together and covered with mud or sod and the
growth of many generations of plant-life, and knitted by creeping plants
till they stand broad-based and immovable like ramparts, and are used as
paths by the inhabitants, who pass quickly and safely from one swampy
field to another along their turfy tops. Indeed in flooded winter-time
it is often the only possible path, and when the main road lay deep in
water I have been reduced to dragging my bicycle on to the summit of a
"hedge" and wheeling it precariously along. Such places are paradises
for Jenny Wren, who springs into the maze of twisted stalks and heavy
leaves, and hops about the spacious corridors in the perpetual twilight,
perfectly secure from intrusion. Smaller birds too can make shift with
the windblown specimens of shrubs that sometimes adorn such hedges, but
the great majority prefer something of larger size and so gather
wherever trees make an oasis.

One such "singing valley" is Landewednack, near the Lizard, called
locally Church Cove, one of the sweetest of the Cornish chines. The
little church is charming architecturally with its weathered pinnacles
crowning the grey stone tower. The small-leaved Cornish elms cluster
round the graveyard, and show through their warped and twisted stems
glimpses of the infinite blue sea, giving an idea of boundless
expansion, and adding to the snugness of the shut-in valley. The
emerald-green moss clings thickly to the westward or windward side of
the crusted trunks, and at their foot what a riot of vegetation! The
sound of running water and the brilliant green of the grass, as well as
the masses of long hart's-tongue ferns falling abundantly from the
churchyard wall, all tell of perpetual moisture. Passing beyond the
church, we come to a few thatched cottages placed anglewise to the
steeply falling road, and near them see an immense hedge of veronica
covered with big, furry, heliotrope-coloured blossoms, affording shelter
to the straggling blue periwinkles below. Every niche and crevice of the
wall shows small, green, flat leaves crawling out to the sun and light.
Only a short way below, the cove comes to an abrupt end, and there is a
steep drop made smooth for the boats, which have to be hauled up by
pulleys, while the sea below for ever beats on the huge black stones.
The marvel is how the boats are ever got up and down such a place, and
that marvel confronts one everywhere in Cornwall. This cove is typical
of hundreds,--vegetation down almost to the water's edge, a haunt of
singing-birds, a tiny steep cove very inconvenient and dangerous for
landing, and mighty cliffs rising at each side.



III

THE "TOE" OF CORNWALL


Penzance is strongly reminiscent of the Channel Isles to those who know
both. There is the same odd mixture of sternness in the bare outlines of
the stone houses--as bare as those on the Cumbrian Fells--and the
unexpected luxuriance of growth, the flourishing tree-shrubs such as
hydrangeas and fuchsias, in backyards and odd corners. When one gets a
vista down the Morab Gardens in the midst of the town, with the steep
green depths framed by the bushy-topped palms falling away to the
brilliant blue sea, one might almost be having a peep in the Riviera, if
we accept the lack of orange-trees, with their golden lamps, so
beautiful to the sight, so disappointing to the taste! It is surprising
to those coming from harsher parts of England to see the deprecating
droop of the blue-grey tongues of the eucalyptus, the feathery grace of
clumps of bamboo, and the glossy-leaved bushes of camellia. At any rate,
whatever one compares the place with, one is conscious of an odd
surprise at its un-English characteristics.

[Illustration: ST. MICHAEL'S MOUNT]

The "front" is not the great attraction at Penzance. No doubt the
wonderful bay, with its priceless jewel of St. Michael's Mount, does at
all times satisfy the imagination; but the flat esplanade, the
singularly ineffective strip for sea-bathing, and the rather dull style
in which most of the houses are built, are not in themselves attractive.
The bay can be seen better elsewhere, from the heights of the very ample
churchyard of St. Mary's for instance, overlooking the grey slate roofs,
or from Newlyn Hill, when at sunset time all the colours of the spectrum
may be reflected on the Mount, and the only thing one can say with
perfect certainty is that it is never twice exactly alike. One of the
most lovely visions is when the sun catches it through a rift in sombre
clouds, bathing it in a kind of unearthly radiance or dawning light,
while Penzance, with its tall-pinnacled church tower, is all mouse-grey.
And when a rainbow arches over one side of the steep slope, as I have
seen it, it is almost unearthly.

Sometimes the Mount disappears entirely, melting into its background, or
only the castle is left visible, apparently unsupported except by a
filmy mist. There is no end to the vagaries played by the lights and
shadows and sea-colours on this wonderful instrument. Indeed the Mount
is chiefly valuable for this reason, because, owing to the fact that it
is private property, and that access to it is much restricted, it is not
nearly so much an object of intrinsic interest as its grand counterpart
in Brittany.

It must be a strange place to live on. When the St. Levan family arrive
they have to go over by launch from Penzance, probably after a long
journey by rail; and the weather, if tempestuous, must make even such a
short crossing unpleasant. Once there, there is the stupendous steep to
climb--no trifle, even though the roads are graded. Dining out with
county neighbours must be an almost impossible feat, and grand as the
surroundings are, they must pall very soon because of their limitations.
Tradition says that the men-folk of the family are not supposed to be
able to swim properly until they can swim all round the Mount, a fine
undertaking in view of the rocks and shoals!

The Mount in Brittany is only 57 feet higher, but looks much larger,
which is curious, as it stands considerably farther out to sea, being
1¼ miles away; the Cornish one is only about 1,200 feet from the
mainland. Perhaps the reason is the greater variety and grandeur of the
buildings on St. Michel.

The old name of Marazion was Market-jew, and the two together certainly
make most people imagine there is some Israelitish association; but this
is unfounded. Marazion is "the market by the seaside," and Market-jew
"the market on the side of the hill." Some have supposed the Mount to
have been the Ictis of the ancient tin trade, where the merchants from
far met the inhabitants to barter for tin. "When they have cast it [the
tin] into the form of cubes, they carry it to a certain island adjoining
Britain called Ictis. During the recess of the tide the intervening
space is left dry, and they carry over abundance of tin in carts"
(Diodorus Siculus). Many other islands have been suggested to fit this
account, even the Isle of Wight; but the bed of the sea must have
changed very quickly if people could in historic times pass over to it
on foot at low tide!

The legend of the fair land of Lyonnesse is supported by the evidence of
a submarine forest in Mount's Bay, noted by Borlase in 1757. This seems
to have been a wood chiefly of hazel, but with alders, oaks, and other
trees, and is by no means the only case of a submerged forest being
found around the shores of Cornwall. Great trunks have been disclosed,
and even hazel-nuts and twigs; but it is a big step from the subsidence
of some parts of the shore and the consequent submergence of forest
land, to the story of the overwhelming of such a land as Lyonnesse,
reaching out as far as Scilly and containing many villages and churches.

To return to Penzance. The town is very irregular, its meandering
streets meet at all angles, and here and there are linked by narrow,
passage-like cross-cuts, ofttimes as steep as wynds. There is a very
noticeable prevalence of Nonconformist places of worship, and these
show, as most of their kind do, a hideous lack of architectural beauty,
a sort of defiance of the pride of the eye. The Cornishmen since
Wesley's crusade have been strongly Nonconformist, notwithstanding the
fact that Wesley himself was a son of the Church. They probably find the
rigidity of the Established Church too formal for their fervent souls.
Nonconformity appeals to them as it does to their cousins the Welsh, and
it is a curious thing that St. Mary's, the most ancient of the churches,
should be the opposite of this, with ritualistic services, whence the
smell of incense is wafted into the uncompromising streets.

[Illustration: NEWLYN]

The greatest son of Penzance is Sir Humphry Davy, who was born here in
1778. He belonged to an old Cornish family. His statue stands at the
head of the sloping Market-jew Street.

Though Penzance has not in itself anything very remarkable to show in
the way of beauty, it is certainly a good centre for excursions, being
at the very joint of the swollen and deformed "toe" of the county. Roads
start from it in all directions over this much-sought peninsula, and it
would be easy to spend not one, but many weeks hunting out all the
quaint and interesting things, both natural and artificial, to be seen
within reasonable distance.

Newlyn, home of the painting colony known all the world over, is close
to Penzance, and straggles up the side of a terrific hill. Rows of
stereotyped villas in terraces now overlook the bay, and are eagerly
taken as they are built. But round the harbour linger still the odours
of the typical old fishing village, and there are few sights more
suggestive to the imagination than the scattering of the red-sailed
fishing-boats as one by one they pass at evening time out between the
narrow horns of the harbour to their rough, wet nights of toil in the
clammy sea air. Newlyn is famous for its apple-blossom, and the vision
of the bay between masses of apple-blossom in springtime is one never to
be forgotten. Newlyn itself is easily accessible compared with
Mousehole, right round the corner, tucked away under the cliff. Here a
name for once is thoroughly suitable, for the little place is hemmed in
by the towering hills, and the principal ways on foot out of it are by
tiny overgrown lanes, so narrow that two people can hardly pass, so
steep that in places they are veritable staircases, with rotten wooden
steps, or those made from hollowed mud worn by many feet. Yet whether
the name really does mean what it appears to, or is only a corruption of
some other word with a totally different significance, is not known. R.
Edmonds (_Land's End District_) suggests "Mozhel" or "Mouzhel," meaning
maids' brook or river, as a stream used for washing by the women runs
through the town.

The constant steep places in Cornwall are a great puzzle to many people
who come with an idea that the Duchy is neatly and evenly sloped, rising
in the middle and falling down to the sea on each side. As has been
explained, this is very far from the truth. A pilgrimage round the
county is like climbing a succession of ridges. The steeps are so steep
that they demand real physical effort, and even the drops put a strain
on unaccustomed leg-muscles. Newlyn Hill taxes the strength of those
coming from normally level districts. It is to be hoped that only horses
born and bred in Cornwall are used for the charabancs and other public
vehicles; it would be sheer cruelty to bring horses from flat-lands
here.

If we scrambled along the coast beyond Mousehole we should come to
Lamorna Cove, a deep indentation filled with scrub-bush and small trees.
Wherever it is possible trees grow in Cornwall; they take advantage of
every atom of shelter, and every cleft in the ground out of the raging
wind is filled with them.

The soil is wonderfully fertile, and the constant wet--not even its most
ardent admirer denies that Cornwall gets rather more than its share of
rain--develops a prodigal amount of growth in the way of ferns and
creepers and other plants that like warm moisture. At Lamorna is a
colony of artists; they have settled here as an outpost from Newlyn, for
the natural beauty and remoteness of the place suit them. They have
their picturesque houses within friendly reach all up and down the
little glen, and take pride in their gardens, with wonderful rockeries
and babbling streams, and all the rich growth that the soil and climate
bring forth. They drop in on one another at all hours, and know all
about each other's concerns. They are a friendly, kindly,
generous-hearted clan. Here, where the woods are white with hawthorn in
the spring, the stream gushes down in endless waterfalls, and the waves
burst and break on the rocks in the cove below, every one of them can
find endless scenes for his or her brush.

Mrs. Alfred Sidgwick's book, _In Other Days_, gives a picture of Lamorna
Valley in the guise of fiction: "It was a brilliant March day, warm in
the sun, cold in the wind. The gorse and the blackthorn were both out,
spreading the wild copse and common of the valley with a shimmer of
white and gold. The old bracken still lay in patches of ruddy brown,
primroses were just beginning shyly, and the short grass of the open
places had not put on its summer hues yet. The sky was clear and deep,
with little white clouds scudding across it; larks were singing, and in
the distance sounds of men at work in the fields were heard. The air was
scented with herbs and fresh from the sea, but sheltered by the lie
of the low hills, and by old, long-neglected trees. In some places the
trees were of a great height and girth, making a gloom over the huge
moss-grown granite rocks strewing the earth and edging the little
stream.... A small swamp full of peppermint scented the air."

[Illustration: LAMORNA COVE]

That is the work of a close observer.

In this neighbourhood there are many of those curious relics of bygone
times, which are bestrewn about Cornwall more thickly than any other
part of England. The Fougou Hole in one of the gardens is a weird place,
and its meaning and use is even yet little understood. It is a tiny,
damp vault, made of great, unhewn stones, and reached by a hole in the
ground. Here it is said harried cavaliers took shelter in the Civil
Wars, but the Hole is much older than that; it dates back to those
strange times beyond the dawn of history of which we only get vague
glimpses.

In the fields above, gaunt stones rise like pointing fingers to the sky.
These are called "The Pipers," and mark the scene of Athelstan's defeat
of the British in 936; it is the "place of blood." But if they were
really erected by Athelstan in the tenth century, and are not, as is
possible, relics of Druid worship, they are modern compared with the
Fougou Hole. Not far from them, in the midst of a grass-field, are the
"Merry Maidens," a circle of grey stones about 24 yards in diameter;
there are nineteen of them altogether, none quite the height of a man,
and some much smaller. They convey an impression of immovable solemnity,
as such age-old things always do, for they are planted so securely, and
look so indomitable with their grey, lichen-covered sides four-square to
the winds. Local tradition tells how the Merry Maidens were caught
dancing on the Sabbath to the music of the pipers, and turned to stone,
but history is silent as to their origin. There is indeed all over
Cornwall many a reminder of the ancient world now lost to all record. In
various other places are to be found other circles of Merry Maidens just
as much of a problem as these, but none so perfect or so impressive.

The long, narrow, rectangular tower of St. Buryan, crowned with
pinnacles, dominates all the landscape; exactly of this pattern are most
of the Cornish church towers. They are generally as much alike as if
they had been turned out of a mould. This is one of the most interesting
of the many interesting churches in Cornwall. After Athelstan's
triumphant victory near Lamorna, he vowed he would establish here a
large religious foundation if he were successful in his further
expedition to the Scilly Isles; and when he returned a conqueror he
carried out his vow. This was about 930. Of course, there is nothing
remaining of that church, but the present building contains much
grotesque carving of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and the
greater part of the building must have stood from the fifteenth or
sixteenth. There is a peacefulness about the ancient church, set in the
long, billowing fields bordered by rugged hedges, gorse and ivy-grown,
that appeals peculiarly to some natures. It is all very quiet.

Down on the shore, not many miles away, is a great pile of splintered
rocks jutting out into the sea, to be reached by a narrow neck. This is
Treryn Dinas or Castle, where is the famous Logan stone. The striking
thing about the rocks is that so many take the form of cubes, some of
the most astounding being almost exactly the shape of the ancient
Egyptian obelisks. There are so many shattered, square-edged lumps,
resting on small bases, that the difficulty to the stranger is to
discover the real Logan Rock, which brings hundreds of visitors to the
place in summer. This headland has evidently been at one time a
fortified cliff-castle, and in passing over to the peninsula visitors
cross the first line of defence or earthworks, though few would notice
it.

From Penzance we might run out by any one of the diverging roads across
the peninsula, and be sure of coming upon some relic of the most ancient
race inhabiting these islands.

By way of Madron we should pass the Lanyon Quoit or Cromlech, a great
slab of rock 18 feet long, supported on three other slabs which are just
a little too low to allow a man to stand upright beneath it. In 1816 it
fell or was blown down; before this a mounted man could sit under it.
When Lieutenant Goldsmith in 1824 committed the silly trick of upsetting
the Logan Rock, and was condemned by the Admiralty to rebalance it at
his own expense, the apparatus brought down to the duchy for the purpose
was also used to replace the cap of the Cromlech, though why it should
be of less height now than before is not known.

Amid the bleak hills around are to be found constant remains of ancient
British villages, rather in the manner of the Picts' houses of Scotland.
That the strange people who lived in them thrashed corn for food and
kept cattle, there is plenty of evidence. They lived in these little
beehive huts, which were sometimes placed singly, sometimes two or
three together, often with an embankment round, or a good cave near for
retreat if necessary. The huts are circular and built without cement or
mortar. Fragments of pottery have been found in and around. Some of them
are near Chun Castle, that ancient earthwork, one of the half-dozen or
so in the "toe" of Cornwall. This district was the last stronghold of
the British race, who had retreated before the Western invaders to the
very extremity of the land.

By any one of these roads we should come at last out on to the coast
road--rather grandiloquently called "The Atlantic Drive"--running from
Land's End to St. Ives. This has been compared with the famous Corniche
drives of the Riviera. But beware! Don't expect too much, or you will be
terribly disappointed. Yet if you go with an open mind, expecting
nothing, you will see something of very real interest and carry away new
knowledge.

The fields are in many places simply covered with stones. How the corn
finds room to grow is a miracle. The constant winds try everything
growing very severely, and there is a look of bare poverty about the
land. It is often compared with Ireland, and called the Connemara of
England; but in some ways, especially in the amount of stones, it is
more like bits of Galloway. Stone is employed for objects which
elsewhere are usually made of wood. The stiles are broad slabs of
granite, the gate-posts are granite blocks, and as we have seen, the
very "hedges" are stone. The name Zennor suggests gauntness of a Puritan
kind. The whole of the great hill above Zennor is covered with immense
and, if one may use such an expression, dignified stones. Away up among
them is another huge quoit or cromlech, probably marking the
burial-place of some chieftain long before Arthur's date. It is a grand
place for burial too, austere and solemn, overlooking the ocean, and
with a limitless horizon. The man who was buried here must have had
imagination if he chose the spot for himself beforehand. The tearing
winds shriek over the ragged furze and mighty stones, and howl in the
crevices of the monument above him; the great black clouds roll in, and
the whole country is drowned in a blinding squall of hail; the sky
clears, patches of brilliant blue appear, and the sun strikes down on
the dripping stones, while all the little rills and streams race down
the soaking ground and over the roads in the wayward manner of Cornish
streams; and still the old chieftain sleeps on, lulled by all the music
of Nature in this wild outpost which England thrusts into the sea.

The road surface round here is tolerably good. Much of it is granite,
and the tiny crystals glitter in the sun like diamonds, and quickly dry
up after the whirlwinds of rain that pitilessly descend in winter time.
The road winds along around the desolate hills, keeping mostly rather
far inland, and it passes by acres of rough land covered with the
wayward gorse, where small, fox-red cows take an interest in the
stranger. In spring primroses grow to enormous sizes, with leaves as
large as those of foxgloves; and the foxgloves in their turn decorate
the hedges, rearing their tall spikes of magenta-coloured bells in
profusion. Pigs abound, and great grey sheep-dogs, of the Old English
bobtail breed, come shyly to make friends. And everywhere in
irrepressible masses is the furze, the quick-burning fuel of the poor, a
godsend here where wood is so precious.

Almost due west of Penzance is the mining region, where until lately
there was great activity, now comparatively still. St. Just is the
centre of this district; but it is not what one would expect in a
mining town. Right in the heart of it, where now the children make their
playground, is a great amphitheatre, one of the best known and preserved
of the many like it that at one time held hundreds of Cornish folk to
watch the open-air plays that delighted their hearts until Wesley's
teaching made them think them wrong. After that they served as
meeting-places for Wesley himself in many instances. The church, with
some peculiarly quaint frescoes, and the Plan-an-guaré, the plane as it
is called locally, give St. Just a character of its own. Down one
terrific hill, falling at an angle that no one unless he lived in
Cornwall would dare to make a road, and up another, is Botallack, with
its well-known mine, now stilled, and the taint of the red tin is felt
in earth and air for many a mile beyond.



IV

FURTHEST WEST AND FURTHEST SOUTH


It has been the invariable creed of every writer on Cornwall that
visitors seeing the Land's End for the first time must be disappointed
with it. Disappointment there may be after a very cursory inspection,
but it is evanescent. It only lasts as one approaches across the flat
ugly ground where sodden patches of raw earth lie in ridges, and the dun
walls of the unsightly hotel present their dreariest side to the
newcomers. Particularly is this so in the height of the season, when
public vehicles of every variety and degree of manginess decorate the
landscape and the picture-postcard craze is at its strongest.

But those who stay long enough to see the place quietly or those who
visit it in the winter when there are few disturbers of the peace, tell
another story.

The reef of broken and pinkish tinged granite, decorated by weird
streaks of brilliant yellow lichen, is frequented by "guides" who point
out fancy resemblances to faces in the weather carven rocks. The reef is
small; there is not much that is grand about it; but if one sits there
while the sun sinks, a glowing ball, into the sea exactly opposite, and
the ruby and diamond points of the lighthouses flash out far and wide,
and perhaps a clear pale sickle moon begins to sharpen in outline in the
fading sky, there is plenty on which to exercise the imagination. The
granite, being split by the action of the weather into long columns, and
divided again horizontally into blocks, gives the impression of a series
of obelisks built up of separate stones. The general effect is rather
like the famous cavern at Staffa. In places however the rocks are split
into such massive and even-edged blocks that it is very difficult to
disentangle the natural from the artificial, and one often imagines
oneself to be gazing at the ruins of a castle which is really only some
cloven cliff hammered by natural elements and not by tools of man's
making.

On the seaward side the hotel lounge has been carried out in a great
bay, and from the sweep of windows there are no less than four
lighthouses to be seen, with their varying flashes. The bright ruby
spot is the Longships Light on a grisly reef so near that it looks as if
you could throw a stone upon it, though really two miles away. It is
only red on the landward side. Ships usually pass outside this reef
unless the sea is very calm, for it is a dangerous coast. It seems
hardly believable that at times the men in the lighthouse are held up
for two months by the swell which prevents their relief arriving, but so
it is, and even on the calmest days it is no easy matter to land. The
Longships is a reef composed of several rocky islets, some of which are
connected by bridges and in fine weather the men can walk about and even
fish, but in rough weather the great doors in the tower are closed for
days together. When the swell comes, rolling from out the profoundly
disturbed depths of the Atlantic and heralding a storm, the sheeted foam
flies high above the lantern and often the last vision one has before
night drops like a black curtain is that white froth of breaking foam
around the glowing red eye in the tower. Further out to the south is the
well-known Wolf Lighthouse, and far to the west that on the Scilly
Isles.

Even in the depth of winter, on clear white frosty moonlight nights,
there are those who motor down to see the Land's End by moonlight, but
usually the "trip" element occupies a very small part of the day and of
the year; and for the greater part of the time the place is strangely
solitary. When the storms beat on the coast, driven by the wild west
winds, the boom and clangour is heard as far inland as Lamorna Cove.

The chief characteristic of the weather is its uncertainty; there are
clear bright intervals when the sea and sky are of electric blue and the
headlands are etched out on them in black, and then all in a moment the
lowering wall of storm comes up visibly; the outlines of everything are
obliterated in one sweep, and a squall of hail as big as peas shrieks
around, whitening the ground, then flies on in its mad course, to be
succeeded by the joyous freshness of the clean-washed air and the glory
of the vivifying sun. In winter time it is not safe to go two hundred
yards from the hotel without a mackintosh, and yet just across the waste
of heather along the little sheep tracks on the slopes, what wonderful
views are to be seen in the steep-sided bays filled with a smother of
foam, where the stones being driven irresistibly against one another
grind off their harshnesses.

It is a terrible coast, and nearly always, even on the calmest day,
when the wolves might be supposed to be sleeping, the sudden baring of a
fang in the whitening of some jagged rock, a moment before invisible,
shows the lurking danger.

But what perhaps catches the imagination most sharply at that "raw edge"
is the tradition of the Land of Lyonnesse, lying between here and the
Scilly Isles.

There seems very little foundation for this poetic fable and though, as
already said, the roots and trunks of trees have been found in Penzance
Bay and it is possible there may have been some landslip on a large
scale in prehistoric times, there seems geologically nothing to point to
a complete submergence of miles of land at the extremity of Cornwall.
Tradition speaks of a land covered with villages and churches--indeed,
no less than a hundred and forty churches--all buried in the shifting
water by reason of one great convulsion, and Tennyson has placed here
the scene of Arthur's rule and his last battle:

    "For Arthur, when none knew from whence he came,
    Long ere the people chose him for their King,
    Roving the trackless realms of Lyonnesse,
    Had found a glen, grey boulder and black tarn."

And again:

    "So all day long the noise of battle roll'd
    Among the mountains by the winter sea;
    Until King Arthur's Table, man by man,
    Had fall'n in Lyonnesse about their lord."

The Scilly Isles are supposed to be the tops of the hills belonging to
the lost land and so are the Seven Stones, a jagged ridge midway between
them and Land's End, whence in fine weather the isles can be seen as
faint cirrus clouds lying along the horizon. But though this is the
nearest point to the islands, they can only be reached by steamer from
Penzance, the _Lyonnesse_ going and returning alternate days. There is
no harbour at Land's End and the cruel fanged rocks would make the
direct voyage very dangerous, so the journey has to be lengthened out
from Penzance.

As for the islands themselves, those who brave the crossing come away
with strangely mixed feelings according to their temperament. If they go
bathed in the glamour of _Armorel of Lyonnesse_, by far the best of
Besant's books, they will see the romance and charm of these windswept
bits of rock. If they are there in the spring they will visit with
delight the acres of carefully tended flowers guarded by high thick
walls and hedges from the ever sweeping western winds; if a little
later in the nesting time of gull and guillemot, razor-bill, puffin and
cormorant, say the first week in June, then the sights of bird-life will
well repay them. They may even find the nesting-places of the tern,
shearwater, or such voracious pirates as the kestrel and peregrine, or
the stormy petrel; but this will be in the outlying islets, as the
greater traffic and population of late years has driven many of the shy
birds away. The halcyon days when sea and sky are one soft blue dome and
the water washes and laps around the rocky shores give a glimpse of
peace and remoteness such as one might imagine form part of heaven. The
masses of cloud piled up in towering grandeur, the vast horizons and
even the beat of the sudden squalls will find response in some people.
But there are few save islanders born and bred who can revel in the lash
and struggle and constant menace of the black winter days.

Surrounded by water on all sides the temperature is kept equable, hence
it is that narcissus, violets, anemones, daffodils and other of the
earliest spring flowers can be grown in the open and sent to be
delivered in London weeks before the home counties can produce them.

It is rather curious that the name by which the whole group is known
should not be that of the largest, or even of one of the largest,
islands. Scilly is a mere rock rising from the sea to the west of
Bryher, it is flat and cleft in two by a deep chasm through which the
water runs. The currents are very strong and it is not often a landing
is possible here. St. Mary's, the principal island, is the one where the
steamers arrive, at Hugh Town. This name has not any authentic
derivation, though it has been suggested it may be connected with the
word "huer," to call or cry out. Tresco is next in size, and in summer a
steam launch runs across to it from St. Mary's. Here lives the
proprietor of the Scillies, Mr. Dorrien-Smith, in a comfortable house
amid a perfectly glorious garden, in which are the ruins of an old Abbey
built in the time of Henry I. There is some fine rock-scenery to be
found in the outlying islets, if one takes the trouble to look for it in
a boat, and some of the views of the scattered islands seen from a
height on a clear day can never be forgotten.

To the north of Land's End is the sweeping curve of Whitesand Bay
leading up to Cape Cornwall. It is possible to bathe off the shore with
certain precautions. Directly inland is the little village of Sennen,
which for many years boasted "The First and Last" house in England; and
down on the shore Sennen Cove, where the families of the lighthouse men
live, and the Atlantic cable comes ashore.

Whitesand Bay has historical memories; Athelstan sailed from here to
conquer the Scilly Isles after his sanguinary victory at St. Buryan. It
was a bold undertaking considering the means at his disposal. The shore
of Whitesand, which is low-lying on an otherwise iron-bound coast, has
naturally been the landing-place for those who arrived at this extremity
of England. Stephen disembarked here when he first came to the country
from France and so did Perkin Warbeck. In the centre of the bay the
granite and slate meet and mingle.

No other place can vie with the Cornish coast for curious and suggestive
names. We have here Vell-an-Dreath meaning "The Mill on the Sand." All
traces of the mill have disappeared, but the tradition of it lingers. It
was kept by a father and son, it is said, who found themselves attacked
by a roving gang of Spaniards who had landed to harry the country. The
native Cornishmen made a stout resistance, and finally escaped the back
way under protection of a cloud of smoke, carrying stout sacks of flour
on their backs to protect them from bullets. The Spaniards destroyed the
mill, which was never rebuilt.

Close to the southern end of the bay is a detached rock called The Irish
Lady, which with some imagination may be likened to a mincing dame
flouncing out to sea. Such rocks are not at all uncommon in Cornwall,
one, very well known, is Queen Bess at Bedruthan Steps. Towering above
the lady on the mainland is Pedn Men Dhu, Black Rock Headland, a pile of
massive granite. Further along we find Carn Barges, the Kites' Rock;
Carn Towan, the Rock on the Sandhills; Polpry Cove, the Clay-Pit; Carn
Leskez, the Rock of Light, said to be where the Druids kindled their
sacred fires, but much more likely the place where faked beacon fires
were lit to lure ships to destruction in the bad old days! Close off
Cape Cornwall are the Brisons, two fearful shattering piles, and near
them Priests' Cove, right under the headland.

The coast to the south of Land's End is even more interesting, and if
any of those who say they are "disappointed" with Land's End could walk
round here they would soon recover. The coast-line is serrated by
innumerable small bays like deep bites and in each one some wild and
strange rock-forms imitating natural objects can be seen. We pass at
first by Carn Greab, Cock's Comb Rock, where a conspicuous group
includes the Armed Knight, and then we come to a tiny island called Enys
Dodman, which has a great archway scored through it by the action of the
waves. Pardenick Point rises perpendicularly about two hundred feet from
the sea; the curious "pillar" appearance of the rocks is very striking,
and not less so the reddish veins which run like streams sheer down the
granite in places. Anyone lingering here, as the sun sets and the
shadows grow long, can make out all sorts of weird shapes and haunting
faces in the cliffs, as odd as any mediæval artist's conceptions
embodied in gargoyles. We pass Mozrang Pool, the Maid's Pool, and then
the Red Rock, and the Chilly Carn; next a chasm called by the poetical
name of "The Song of the Sea," and so to the "Cove under the Vale." All
along the coast, those who have time to explore it will find strange
sea-caverns, logan-stones, natural arches and other fantastic forms.

Then we reach Tol Pedn, where is quite the grandest scenery in the
whole district. Approaching from the landward side on an autumn or late
summer day the heights are seen covered by a wonderful carpet of purple
or crimson and gold. It is made by the intermingling of the dwarf gorse
and the heather, which are so interwoven they could not be separated. As
the result of this close embrace these two plants, both small, form a
gorgeous tapestry of colour, and the vast heights and sounding hollows
of the headland are glorified by them. Tol Pedn means Holed Headland and
evidently refers to the Funnel, a great chasm a hundred feet in depth
and eight feet in diameter, cut out as if by a giant cheese-scoop down
to the roaring sea. Below, the tide scours the bottom at every return,
and at low tide it is possible to enter from the beach. In early spring
the close sward on the higher reaches is starred with little blue
squills. Great care must be taken not to slip and lose one's balance on
this short turf, because in Cornwall one is never fenced in by puny
supports. The Chair Ladder usually attracts much wonder, it is an
immense pile of upright blocks. The whole scarping and shaping of the
cliff is vigorous and original, and looking down from above into one
gully after another you can see the gulls float in effortless dignity
over the measureless gulfs below.

Just round the corner from Tol Pedn is to be found one of the quaintest
little fishing villages, Porthgwarra, where a tunnel has been cut
through the solid rock to allow the fishermen to get down to their
boats. The rocks are fine red granite, and with the brilliant blue of
the sea on a sunny day and the yellow ochres of sand and sail there are
"ready-made" pictures at every turn. Looking out from the darkness of
the tunnel the colours are enhanced. One of the most attractive points
about the many mighty caverns along the coast are the clean-cut,
brilliantly clear pictures to be seen from their dark interiors.

All these and many other curious and fantastic things may be found by
those sure of eye and foot. For one of the greatest charms of Cornwall
is its variety and unexpectedness, at all events as regards the coast.

For a hundred people who go to Land's End it is safe to say only one
visits the Lizard. Though the usual run of tourist conveyances have
found it out, it is more difficult to get to than the western extremity,
and is a little out of the way. Yet in the opinion of those who have
seen both the Lizard beats even the fantastic scenery to the southward
of Land's End.

The approach is nothing short of lamentable in its dulness. Except for
an oasis about half-way across Goonhilly Downs, the wide, flat,
dead-alive plateau occupying the heel of Cornwall, there is nothing to
note. Even right on to the end the feeling of dismay grows. The meek
green fields carry one down almost to the shore, for though we have come
across a bit of heath _en route_ which recalls how repeatedly we have
been told that the _Erica vagans_ grows here and nowhere else, we leave
this behind and wind once more between grass fields toward the dreary
little cluster of houses called Lizard-town, which looks not unlike a
forsaken coast-guard station from the distance. To reach the famous
Housel Bay Hotel we must branch off before getting to the town, and
following a lane which looks as if it led merely to a lighthouse, we
come quite suddenly on the building, facing due south in the centre of a
little bay. Not until we have passed the hotel and got out to the cliff
paths does the surprising interest of the scenery begin to unveil
itself, and the orderly sanity of the fields, which vexed our eager
souls, is forgotten. On the two horns of the bay stand the flashing
lighthouse and Lloyds' signal station. We are here at the most
southerly, as we have just been at the most westerly, point of our
country.

The cliffs are carved into many fantastic and bewildering shapes. Before
we have got very far we are brought up short by an immense hole or
funnel, cut clean-lipped from the short turf, and just the shape of one
of those paper twists shop-keepers make for sweets. It is much larger in
circumference than the Funnel at Tol Pedn. No railing protects the edge;
people at the Lizard are supposed to have their wits about them. By
lying down flat and approaching cautiously, we can peer over and see
that here also the sea runs in on the floor. This is one of the cliff
vagaries made within the memory of man. On the night of February 19,
1847, the hole appeared suddenly, yet so quietly that no one knew of it
until it was seen. There had apparently been a shell or roof which had
given way as the sea scooped out the earth from below. Yet that such a
sudden catastrophe is possible shows how little we know about what goes
on under our feet.

A little further on a column of spray shoots in fluffy steam from a
blow-hole every few seconds after the last billow has fallen away. Near
it a huge boulder perched on a great plinth balances at an uncertain
angle. How did it get there? At every turn "chairs" of stone extend a
silent invitation to us to seat ourselves and gaze at the ships passing
and repassing in a silent and endless procession.

The Serpentine rock streaked with hornblende, felspar, slate and
green-stone, shows changing colours like a pigeon's breast. It weathers
into columns and pillars and arches and caverns, as if on purpose to
delight the hearts of children of a larger growth, too old for spades
and pails. Only a mile or two away at Kynance Cove these wonders come to
perfection in the torn and twisted rocks lying in masses on the shore,
which is covered with shining sand in summer but scoured black and stony
by the rough seas in winter. By Caerthillian Cove we may pass to
Pentreath beach and Yellow Carn and thus to Kynance. At places the
cliffs have broken away forming a natural quarry and here come the
people from the little town above, and search for well-coloured
fragments of serpentine to fashion into candlesticks, and brooches, and
ash-trays to sell to tourists. Dark red is a rare and popular colour
and dark green also; chocolate with splashes of green, like variegated
marble, is often seen. There is little fishing to be done on this wild
rigid coast, and beyond some rough farming and their "serpentine" shops,
it is hard to see what the population live upon. The rocks at the Lizard
are split more often horizontally than vertically, and instead of being
sharp upright columns as the granite fragments are at Land's End, these
are broad lumps giving a curious sense of steady untiring watching with
uplifted heads.

[Illustration: CAERTHILIAN COVE]

One interesting point about rock scenery is that it changes so little in
the course of years that the impressions of those who saw it long ago
are still not out of date. There are two very simple little books, two
generations old now, but full of charm when read on the spot, Mrs.
Craik's _An Unsentimental Journey in Cornwall_ and the Rev. C. A.
Johns's _A Week at the Lizard_, 1848. Mrs. Craik, who wrote _John
Halifax, Gentleman_, came here with two nieces near the end of her life,
and gives a picture of Lizard-town which might stand to-day. With a
horse and "shay" they visited the various points of interest along the
coast, climbed into the dank caves and mounted the slippery weed-strewn
rocks. It was a bold journey to make at the time, and their taste was in
advance of most of their contemporaries who had not learnt to delight in
the grand and desolate places of the earth. The Rev. C. A. Johns is well
known as the author of _Wild Flowers of the Field_, which ran through
numerous editions and is the most popular of his many natural-history
books.

Not many days after reading Mrs. Craik's book at the Lizard, I was in
the light railway running to Newquay in the north of the county and saw
a girl of about sixteen, deeply absorbed in a book, opposite to me. It
was bound in the dingy maroon cloth so beloved by the librarians of Free
Libraries, and peeping over I saw it was _John Halifax_, thus nearly
sixty years after publication giving as much pleasure as when it was
new! If the good lady could have known it, how pleased she would have
been!

When the sun falls over the shoulder of the cliff in the west, the
revolving light from the lighthouse begins to flash out with a regular
monotonous beat on its long night vigil. At any time after dark one can
see the huge pencil of light darting round, striking the white signal
station opposite, losing itself in the sea and so returning. There is
something awe-inspiring in that regular sweep of pulsing light every
three minutes, hour after hour, carrying its silent sure message to
those at sea. If anything happened to the Lizard light what terrible
wrecks there would be on this jagged coast!

Nearly as impressive is it to catch by night the glimmer of the Morse
code flashing from ships which are revealing their names and journeys to
those ever-vigilant watchers in the signal station as they pass. What
stories that signal station might tell of the journeyings to and fro, of
the ships conveying food and clothes and necessaries from port to port!
Here is a vessel bound from Galveston to Havre with cotton, she is
British; about every second or third that come by is laden with coals
from Cardiff; here is another from the other direction, bringing fruit
from the Mediterranean to Liverpool, with all the beating up the Irish
Channel yet to face; passing it, and doubtless hailing it in transit, is
another Liverpool ship carrying a general cargo to Italy, and when times
are peaceful and there are no scares from submarines, the great American
liners from Plymouth swell the number with their enormous bulk. It is a
regular, and, if one may use the expression, a well-beaten track around
this great blunt headland, and it is small wonder the enemy submarines
haunted it to find their prey, as men wait hidden beside the tracks of
wild animals in the jungle.



V

KING ARTHUR'S LAND


Tintagel can never disappoint anyone. The very spirit of romance is in
the place. If you have climbed across the narrow neck that links the
"island" to the main, and passing through the low doorway of the ruined
castle, have crossed the space surrounded by the broken wall, and so
gone out again to the plateau above, you will find yourself among the
sheep and cut off from the world, apparently swinging in space. There
are great mounds all around, in shape like graves, covered with coarse
tufty grass munched by the ragged sheep whose hair is blown into knots
by the ceaseless wind. It takes very little imagination to picture that
around lie the bodies of a mighty host of warriors, at peace at last in
sound of the booming sea which clashes in its mad rush through the
caverns deep beneath, with the wind whistling over them boisterously, or
crooning low even on the mildest summer day.

It is quite likely, as experts say, that the present ruins date only
from the twelfth or thirteenth century. Arthur may never have set foot
on the tufty grass of the cube-shaped island; there may never, for that
matter, have been an Arthur at all, but lying in the grass above the
slaty ruins and looking through the serrated arch to the onyx-green sea,
fretting the black rock, all these doubts seem simply silly and fly away
light as the spume flying inland in great balls.

The spirit of Arthur and his fighting men lives here still. It may
possibly have been summoned up by the thoughts of the countless host of
pilgrims who have come expectantly to the most beloved of all the
shrines of British history. For thoughts if repeated may conjure up
visions.

And the vision of Tintagel, that needs no seeking, but comes pressing on
you as insistently as the sea-laden air, is one of old-time warriors
impregnably ensconced. With their castle standing on the very edge of
the gulf--narrower then than now--which separated them from the
mainland. Guarded by a drawbridge crossing that sharp space so that
three men could well hold back an host. Protected on all other sides by
the sheer cliff, with a fortification at one point where it was just
possible to land. Having above a wide plateau from which to gaze seaward
and landward far over the rolling slopes of the country, along the
deeply broken coast with its sugar-loaves of detached rock, or else out
to the shifting ocean, they were in an enviable situation. They had a
well of water on the very summit of their stronghold, and pasture for
sheep by the dozen to insure plenty of mutton. They could laugh to scorn
any such enemies as that age could bring against them.

There are several such striking vantage points along the Cornish coast,
one at Tol Pedn, another at Treryn Dinas where is the Logan Rock, and
there are signs they have all been utilized, but none of them had the
superb advantages of Tintagel with its wide level of turfy heights, and
the living water flowing from the heart of the rock.

There is no doubt that some such man as Arthur existed, though it is
hardly likely he was the model of refined sensitiveness and perfect
chivalry romancers have made him out to be. At any rate he was a gallant
warrior if the old chroniclers are to be believed, and it is probable
that his standard of conduct was high above his age, or the legend of
his virtue would not have clung to him so persistently. The notion that
such a king in Cornwall would neglect such a position may be dismissed
as absurd, and so we may take it that Arthur fortified himself here on
the heights, from whence he ranged far and wide, even so far as
Scotland, to win his victorious battles. And all proof seems to point to
it that he met his death in Scotland far from the beating of his beloved
savage waves in Cornwall.

All this coast is slaty shale; there is a miniature quarry just away to
the west round the next headland, and the materials lying to hand were
not likely to be neglected in days when transport was more of a
consideration than now. So the crumbling walls which cling to the cliff
are of slate, sharp and jagged, and inside the arches present a serrated
edge like a crocodile's teeth. These arches are pointed which shows they
were of later date than Arthur, and the rest of the masonry can hardly
be said to have any style. The first mention of Tintagel in public
records is in 1305, and in 1337 the castle was fairly habitable, at any
rate that part of it standing on the mainland. We can imagine the
original castle, which this one superseded, to have been much the same
only with heavy round arches. So we can picture the past without great
difficulty. And lying in peace we can repeople the place with the
gorgeous figures of Tennyson's Idylls, much better known to most people
than _La Mort d'Arthur_. The constant splash of the waves and the steady
cropping of the sheep are broken now and again by a Woof! exactly like
the growl of an angry beast. This is caused by a blow-hole in the cliff
from which, when the wind is strong and onshore, the spout of water is
sent out forty feet or more.

Right beneath us is a cavern cut through the solid rock from side to
side, and into this the sea scours at its height, the breakers from each
end meeting with a shock in the middle. The rocks, which are so black
and frigid outside, are rounded within, and coloured a strange
sea-green, with almost a wan look, while the floor is composed of
myriads of flat stones, round and oval, all sizes, from a sixpence to a
soup-plate, making a natural pavement easy to the tread. The beach at
the mouth of the cave is the same, armoured by myriads and myriads of
flat smooth rounded stones lying so closely together as to give the
appearance of a dragon's scales; it would not be hard to conjure up
imaginary dragons here for the cave is by tradition "Merlin's Cave," and
magicians and dragons are always regarded as contemporaneous. These
plates of slate, for they are nothing else, have had all the angles
scoured off them by the scourging surge. The village people collect
them, picking out all that are of one size, to form neat pavements. You
also see them set like some strange mosaic on the fronts of the houses,
stuck in mortar, and making a deep frieze; the effect is not beautiful.

But the ruined castle on the island is not all that remains of man's
handiwork here, for high on the mainland, on the great boss of earth
fronting the island, are the remains of another castle, now falling
piecemeal into the gulf below as the cliff crumbles. Some hold that the
"island" was originally an island in reality, and that the slender neck
of rock now linking it to the mainland is the result of cliff-falls and
débris. But whether that was so or not the purpose of the landward
castle can only be guessed. It may have been an outwork, though that
seems rather unnecessary. Over it hover screaming jacks, who love the
sheltering crevices of artificial walls, and occasionally may be seen a
red-legged and beaked Cornish chough which here alone on the Cornish
coast is not extinct, and is supposed by the children to re-embody the
spirit of King Arthur.

Arthur lived about A.D. 500. His story is so overlaid with legend that
it is difficult to find any grains of truth concerning him. Tennyson
makes him of miraculous birth, cast upon the shore by a wave at
Tintagel, of which the earlier name was Dundagil, but even amid the
romantic surroundings of Tintagel we cannot swallow that bit of poetic
licence.

Gorlois, Duke of Cornwall, went to pay homage to the King of Britain,
Uther Pendragon of glorious name, at the noble city of Winchester, and,
like a foolish man, took his beautiful wife Igerna with him. Uther kept
his eye on the lady and presently the unhappy husband, having returned
to his domain of Cornwall, was besieged in the strong castle of
Damelioc, not far from Tintagel. Damelioc, represented to this day by an
earthwork, is on the road running through Delabole to Padstow, or more
correctly Rock, and is about eight miles from Tintagel. Meantime,
Gorlois had left his wife in Tintagel, probably thinking his own life
would be safer if he were apart from her, for he must have been well
aware of all the consequences his foolish indiscretion had brought
about. This did not save him; he was slain, and meantime the British
King obtained access to Tintagel and wooed the lady.

In due time Arthur was born, and succeeded to the chieftainship or
Dukedom of Cornwall, apparently without question, and proved himself one
of the strongest and bravest rulers that ever held high position. His
arms were everywhere triumphant, and about a dozen victories are placed
to his credit, but he fell at last, fighting his traitorous nephew
Mordred somewhere about the year 542, when Mordred was slain and Arthur,
mortally wounded, carried from the battlefield to die. This was the
Battle of Camulodunum and it was for long supposed to have been fought
quite near Tintagel, close by the present town of Camelford, the
similarity of names giving colour to the error. Besides there was a very
fierce battle fought near Camelford in some remote time, and the
tradition of it is strong to this day. The place is marked by Slaughter
Bridge, to be found by going half a mile down a side road from the
station. It is a small bridge over a tiny stream, and it is supported by
great blocks of stone instead of piers. If you linger there a girl comes
from a rough shanty near and says she will show you King Arthur's tomb.
A short scramble takes you down steep banks where tree-trunks grow out
horizontally turning up at an angle to reach the light, and brambles
and creepers cling thickly, while the long hart's-tongue ferns dip in
the running water, floating down stream like strange seaweed; then you
see a great monolith with a Latin inscription, of which the only word
still decipherable is "filius." You point out to the little guide that
in all probability King Arthur was not buried here at all but in
Scotland where the evidence shows that the Battle of Camulodunum was
fought, and she makes no objection provided the fee is forthcoming.

No doubt some great chieftain was laid here after the battle, where
thousands were killed, so that a thousand years later the bridge retains
the name of Slaughter Bridge, but it is likely the event took place long
after Arthur's death. For its date is generally now acknowledged to be
the year 823 in the time of King Egbert. It was between the Britons and
Saxons, and history does not say which was victorious. It may have been
a drawn fight, in which case the ground was strewn with bodies and the
waters of the stream dyed crimson all for nothing.

It is in later times that the dignity of King has been conferred on
Arthur, and some suppose he was King of Britain; but it seems more
likely that he gained slices of territory spasmodically as the result
of fighting, and was really only ruler in his own corner of the country
continuously, though his battles spread his name far and wide. There
were so many rulers in those days and the country was so cut up that it
is not likely he was able to assert himself supremely, and the conquests
of Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Gaul and Spain attributed to him are pure
legends. In a very interesting little book called _King Arthur in
Cornwall_ by W. Howship Dickinson, the case is put clearly:--

"The evidence which is wanting with regard to Arthur's battle on the
Camel comes to light on the Firth of Forth. There is reason to suppose
that tradition did not err in the fatal association of Arthur and
Mordred, though the place of the last scene was not Cornwall but
Scotland. The name Camlan which has been freely given by later writers
to the supposed battle on the Camel, is not to be found there, nor, so
far as I can ascertain, in Cornwall.

"Skene and Stuart Glennie maintain with much converging evidence that
Camlan is Camelon on the river Carron in the valley of the Forth, where
it is said are the remains of a Roman town. Here, according to Scotch
tradition Arthur and Mordred met. We have evidence which appears to be
sufficient that Mordred was King of the Picts, or, as he is sometimes
termed, King of Scotland, and the head of a confederacy of Picts, Scots
and Saxons, or, as some authorities have it of Picts, Scots and renegade
Britons. With this composite army he gave battle to Arthur and his
faithful British force, in which the latter were defeated and Arthur
slain.

"It is worth noting as in favour of the Scottish location of the battle
that Geoffrey [of Monmouth] who places it on the Camel states Mordred's
force to have consisted of Picts and Scots. It is surely improbable that
Arthur could have been confronted in Cornwall by a great army of these
northern savages.... It may be added that an earthwork with double lines
of circumvallation in the neighbouring valley of the Tay now known as
Barry Hill, is designated by tradition as Mordred's castle."

Where Arthur was buried will ever remain an open question; Glastonbury
long claimed the honour but that has for some time been discredited by
those who have gone into the evidence. The romantic account of his
"passing," as given by Malory and Tennyson is very fine. It tells how
Arthur, wounded to death, is carried down to the waterside and gives
his sword, Excalibur, to Sir Bedivere to throw into the water, and how
the knight, after some hesitation, does as he wishes, when a hand and
arm arise out of the surface of the lake, brandish the sword three times
and disappear. Then a little barge appears and carries the dying King
off to the Vale of Avallon from whence he will one day return. The grand
myth about Excalibur is generally said locally to have taken place at a
dreary little pool known as Dozmare, a lonely tarn, flat and bleak,
fringed by reeds, on a tableland several hundred feet above the sea near
Brown Willy, and on this assumption many a persevering tourist has paid
it a visit. But Tennyson in describing the scene took a much more
beautiful place as his model, for he describes Looe Pool which could by
no possibility be associated with the tragedy. This is close to Helston
at the entrance to the Lizard Peninsula. It is two or three miles long,
and formed by the widening out of the little river Cober. The water
formerly escaped into the sea but gradually a bar was built up, and
there was an old custom by which the Corporation of Helston had to
present the lord of the manor with two leather purses, each containing
three halfpence, in consideration of which they were then allowed to
cut through the bar, but that has long been discontinued. The bar is now
a mighty thing where great stones are hurled by powerful waves and even
on a calm day the thunder of the surf breaking on it is heard for miles.
The water of the lake is otherwise drained. Its banks are well wooded.

In Tennyson's _Mort d'Arthur_ when Sir Bedivere, last survivor of the
Knights of the Round Table, carried his mortally wounded ruler from the
stricken field--

    "On one side lay the ocean, and on one
    Lay a great water, and the moon was full."

And when Sir Bedivere, charged with the mission of throwing the magic
sword Excalibur into the water, left the dying King:--

    "From the ruin'd shrine he stept
    And in the moon athwart the place of tombs,
    Where lay the mighty bones of ancient men,
    Old Knights, and over them the sea-wind sang
    Shrill, chill, with flakes of foam. He stepping down
    By zigzag paths and juts of pointed rock,
    Came on the shining levels of the lake."

Thence twice he returned faithless, his mission unperformed, to
report:--

    "I heard the ripple washing in the reeds,
    And the wild water lapping on the crag."

All around Tintagel there are innumerable references to King Arthur. In
fact it might be said that only the devil is more popular in this
respect than Arthur, for his name occurs perhaps a little more
frequently. Mr. Dickinson says: "We have King Arthur's Hall, Hunting
Seat, Bed, Quoit, Cups and Saucers, Tomb and Grave." The cups and
saucers are the round holes weathered in the stones on the summit of
Tintagel island. The grave is a sepulchral mound lying within Warbstowe
Bury, one of the largest British camps in Cornwall. This is not very far
north of Boscastle. It is a vast circular mound with a sort of crater on
the top, and in the middle of this is another mound, which has been
called a Viking's grave and the Giant's grave as well as King Arthur's.

Another place much associated with King Arthur, which cannot be passed
over, is the earthwork known as Cardinham Castle about four miles east
of Bodmin. This has been identified by good authorities with Caradigan
where Arthur held his court, to which there are many references in
Arthurian legends.

On the other side of Tintagel, on the road between Camelford and
Wadebridge, and not four miles from the latter place, is Killibury
Castle identified with Kelliwic. Arthur was "lord of Kelliwic," and
these associations all taken together carry a fair amount of evidence as
to the presence of the chivalrous ruler in this district.

Whatever else is doubtful we cannot but be sure that Arthur's existence
and reputation contributed in no small degree to the preservation of the
men of the British race in this corner of the island when they were in
danger of being pushed back into the sea by the oncoming Saxons, and it
is to this that Cornwall owes in some ways its distinctive character,
preserving racial features that are found nowhere else. The men of
Ireland and of Wales are related certainly to the original Cornish but
there is a distinct cleavage. Arthur may have made his fame known right
across England, his victories may have carried him to the capital,
Winchester, and beyond, but it is certain that his name will ever be
associated most strongly with this far corner of the country where he
was born and where he had his homeland associations. And these
associations, being the very earliest of the British race surviving,
serve to attract from far our Colonial brothers and our American
cousins; Tintagel will never lack visitors.

But with the castle we have not exhausted by any means all that is worth
seeing here.

Leaving the castle on the mainland we come very quickly to the "little
grey church on the windy hill" with its graveyard wall almost swallowed
up in rising grass and turf, and some of the tombstones heavily
buttressed against the prevailing winds. The church tower must have
formed a mark for generations to men of the sea. It stands up straight
and bleak with never a tree to hide it. The entrances to the graveyard
are over a pavement of round stone bars placed a few inches apart so
that the cattle dare not cross them for fear of slipping in between with
their narrow hoofs. There are many marks of great age inside the
building and the grey stone walls, that have been many times restored,
have heard the strong west winds whistling round them from the sea and
moaning the tale of the wrecks on the coast for many generations.

All along this coast are steep descents and strange rock freaks. To the
north, across the gully leading down to Tintagel Castle, there is a
mighty fracture which has split asunder a huge angle of rock, that looks
as if it only needed a giant push to thrust it back into the fracture,
closely fitting. Yet the chasm below is so sheer and stern that no one
can climb up the sides. The sea-birds know it. It was a happy chance for
them that made this citadel free from the sullying steps of man, and the
steep slopes of brilliant green amid the bare rock surfaces are peppered
all over with them as if with a handful of comfits.

The wild music of a host of gulls is the bagpipes of the coast, and
arouses the same feelings in the breast of the sea-lover as the pipes do
in that of a Scotsman. It is associated with the sound of the surge and
the deadly thrust and heavy swell at the foot of the tough cliff. These
things tug at the heart of a sea-lover. Lying amid the prickly furze,
sheltered for a moment from the deadly wind-whistle, and gazing across
that unscalable chasm, we have before us that gull-fortress exactly as
it and its kind have been reproduced on the canvas of a well-known
painter many many times. What business has he to do the thing so well
that we are familiarized with the stern beauty of the haunts of the
freest of birds, and feel when we see them in Nature that half the charm
has been forestalled by the blunting of our sensibility?

It is no easy task to scramble along these rough cliff edges, and one
not to be undertaken by cripples or invalids.

Not very far is one of the valleys so attractive to the Cornish folk,
who find in them the growth and snugness that contrast so impressively
with their bleak uplands.

Down the Rocky Valley a stream gushes merrily, tumbling in miniature
waterfalls every few yards, and meeting at last the oncoming wave with a
shock as the sweet water mingles with salt. Everything grows amazingly,
and the huge rectangular rocks high overhead on each side of the gully,
are mostly draped in masses of ivy. They resemble ruins, as Cornish
rocks often do, so that it is frequently most difficult to distinguish
the natural from the artificial. Most people's idea of ivy is neat flat
clinging stuff but here it grows in lumps, yards in thickness, and
decorated with brilliant bunches of black berries in the season when
there is little else to compete with it. In the valley which leads from
the nearest station, Camelford, to Tintagel just such masses may be
seen. The road runs downhill for about four miles, leading mysteriously
into what seems the mouth of a quarry. The sides are covered with
untidy, loose clumps of furze, with mighty stones, and ever and always,
in all corners, moss so rich that it might almost be mistaken for a bed
of miniature ferns. Climb up on one side and you get a glimpse into a
pool, with sides sheer like a hewn cistern, and something so weird and
awful in its onyx depths that it suggests robbery with violence,
suicides, hangings, and anything else gruesome, while the water drips
perpetually from the green lines of slime on its sharp walls. Further on
are the glistening piles of slate from a disused quarry. The real quarry
of Delabole, famous far and wide, is behind, beside the railway, from
which one may look right down into it. The road to Tintagel opens out at
last and then, if we are lucky enough to be going westward at sunset, we
may see suddenly a hazy glow as of a forest fire over all the wide
expanse of sea and sky, and outlined against it the great black lumps of
rock off Trebarwith Strand.

With Tintagel must be associated Boscastle but a few miles along the
coast to the north, for hardly anyone who visits the one place will fail
to see the other, yet the two are singularly different. Boscastle lies
all down the sides of one of those curious clefts, which would be called
chines or denes elsewhere, and in this instance the drop is
extraordinarily steep. To go sheer down is a feat most people will find
difficult, even on foot, and the new road has been designed to help.
Even that would be accounted steep in any ordinary place. Down, down it
goes into the neck of the funnel, and looks for all the world as if it
were leading to a slate quarry, and then suddenly there opens out one of
the grandest harbours on the coast, with huge sloping cliffs running
alongside and curving round, making the entrance both difficult and
dangerous. With their lovely curves and angles they add greatly to the
vision. From the heights of these cliffs Lundy Island can be seen when
the air is clear. There is an old saw:--

    "When Lundy is high it will be dry
    When Lundy is plain it will be rain
    When Lundy is low it will be snow!"

If the word of the inhabitants is to be trusted the last contingency
must come seldom indeed!

The name Boscastle comes from Bottreux or Botreaux-castle, spoken
quickly and run together. The site of the castle, which had ceased to
exist by Queen Elizabeth's reign, is still pointed out. The town lies in
two parishes and the church of Forraburry, belonging to the one, stands
well up on the western cliff.

Care must be taken in climbing about the shore for the cliffs are very
steep. Just to the north or east is Pentargon Bay, cutting deeply into
the land, and near it the Seal Caves though seals seldom come there now.
The waves dash in with tremendous force, especially with a westerly
wind, which is common, when some grand sights may be seen. The black
walls of the slate rock and the white spray of the shattered waves and
the strange blue tint of the sea compose some pictures finer than any
that have yet found their way on to a painter's canvas.



VI

THE SANDY BEACHES OF THE NORTHERN COAST


What a splendid series of resorts lie along the northern coast of
Cornwall! Take them in order as they come. St. Ives, Newquay, Padstow,
and Bude, leaving aside for the moment the smaller ones, or those like
Boscastle and Tintagel, which stand in a class by themselves and have
been already referred to. All these four have certain characteristics in
common but each has a distinct individuality. That is one of the charms
of Cornwall, nothing is cut to a pattern. By far the best-known is of
course the first mentioned, St. Ives, with its splendid bays or
"porths," with acres of firm sand, and its unrivalled golf-links at
Lelant. It seems odd that a place should be able to face due east in
Cornwall, yet somehow part of St. Ives manages to do it, that part of it
which is on Porthminster Bay and is most favoured by visitors. The town
is curiously placed, for the older part lies on a neck or isthmus
protruding northward between two magnificent bays, and it is the curve
on each side of the neck that makes the east and west side face
respectively Porthminster or Porthmeor. From the east you look straight
across to Godrevy Point and lighthouse.

[Illustration: ST. IVES]

St. Ives could never pall because it is not all to be seen or understood
at a glance, and those who stay there longest admit they know it least.
Seen from almost any point there is a view which demands attention,
whether it be the green ruggedness of the island--only technically an
island--against the soft blue of the sea, with the terraced lines of
drab houses rising in tiers in front of it, or the harbour with its
boats and screaming gulls and the old weather-worn church abutting on
it. The prevailing tones of all the buildings are drab and grey; drab
stone, drab stucco, drab paint with pale slate-grey roofs; a little red
brick or tile would be an improvement from an artistic point of view.

It is an odd feature of Cornwall that however bare and treeless some
parts are, and they could hardly be barer in the Hebrides, yet the towns
are generally warmly encompassed by trees. It is so at Penzance and it
is so here. Woods rise behind the houses, and the richness of the
evergreens makes a shelter even in winter, while the ferns are
inexhaustible in number and of great variety. The season is only for two
months of the year, August and September, during which months the place
is packed and the numerous inhabitants who live upon the yearly godsend
of the "foreigners'" money, are hard put to it to supply accommodation;
but all the year round there is a certain number of visitors who find in
the clean fresh air, the glorious golf-links, second to none, and the
wide views, just what they need. It is true that tiresome change at St.
Erth junction has to be faced before reaching the town, but this is
nothing compared with the days when the junction was the very nearest
point of rail, and the rest of the journey had to be completed by road.
This was altered in 1877 and the innovation was a great factor in the
growth of the town. The road approach from this direction is well graded
and has a good surface, but from the Zennor side so much cannot be said.
A new road is being cut through and the approach improved, but even when
it is completed, there must still be the long and precarious descent
through a squalid part of the town to face.

[Illustration: A STREET IN ST. IVES]

The region of the visitors is mainly above the station, facing
Porthminster Bay, where terraces of houses exist for the sole purpose of
providing accommodation, but there is a secondary part above Porthmeor
Bay where rows of neat little houses claim their share. Down on the
harbour front and curving round behind it is the old town with its
indescribable jumble of what can scarcely be called architecture; where
outside staircases, and overhanging first-floor rooms with no visible
means of support, twisted archways and narrow passages are inextricably
mingled. The names of some of these places are quite delightful,
Puddingbag Lane, Chy-an-Chy, Street-an-Garrow, Bunkers' Hill, and the
Digey, while away westward is Clodgy Point. The old inhabitants must
have had a genius for nomenclature.

St. Ives is the haunt of a colony of artists who rival those at Newlyn,
and what with artists, fishing and visitors, the rest of the inhabitants
manage somehow to live. But the fishing is not what it was; gone are the
golden days when the shoals of pilchards announced by the "huers" from
the Malakoff bastion were sufficient to provide a good livelihood for
the whole town:

"The pilchards are expected on the coast in October, when their
appearance gives rise to general excitement at a place like St. Ives.
Often have been described the patient watching of the _huers_ on the
cliffs, who with a huge trumpet at length announce their joyful
discovery, and by the waving of bushes telegraph the movements of the
shoal marked by the colour of the sea and its hovering escort of gulls;
the rush of men, women, and children to the shore with shouts of _heva!
heva!_ which is Cornish for the classic _Eureka_; the marshalling of the
seine boats; the shooting of the huge nets; the enclosure of the
luckless victims by myriads; then the hurried orgy of capturing,
pickling, and storing, stimulated by its promise of prosperity to the
whole place."

Alas! they come but scantily now and there is not much of any sort of
fishing to be had. Though just enough to account for the brown-sailed
boats lying in the harbour and the blue-jerseyed men belonging to them
without which, it may be presumed, the artists would find some paucity
of material and perhaps disappear also.

St. Ives would not be a Cornish town if it lacked hills and there are
plenty to give exercise to leg muscles; but yet there are some places
almost flat, and one has only to descend to the sands to secure a
perfectly horizontal walk!

This is not a guide book and there is no need to go into detail about
the ancient church in the very midst of the workers, or the restored
tiny chapel out on the "island" that really once was an island, which
overlooks as in blessing the drying nets that blacken the green of the
grass on the slopes below. The chunk or bite out of this island on the
east is Porthgwidden Cove, and the Foresand runs from here to Penolva
Point whence begin Porthminster Sands. On the hill behind the town rises
the hideous Knill monument where the little girls dance around on July
25 every fifth year, in memory of the conventional alderman who left
such directions in his will, and yet after all is not buried here.

The impression carried away from St. Ives is of light and freshness and
space, and of width of sand that would attract attention anywhere, but
which here in Cornwall is phenomenal; and of enough modern comfort and
cleanliness to make things very pleasant though within reach lies the
old kernel of the town in piquant contrast.

The name Porthminster means "church of the sands" and it is curious that
the church should thus be referred to in one of the principal
place-names when the St. Ives' people had originally to go to Lelant
for their services, marryings and buryings. Finding this state of things
intolerable they petitioned for a church of their own and completed it
in 1426. It was built close to the shore for the obvious reason that the
stone of which there was abundance in the neighbourhood, could be more
easily brought by water than overland, but it was not so near the sea as
now, for in the seventeenth century "there was a field between the
churchyard wall and Porth Cocking Rock, and sheep grazed on it."

The church of Lelant was rapidly being overpowered by the sand which has
swallowed up many ancient oratories or "cells" built low down on the
shore, and it was only saved by the planting and rapid spreading of the
coarse rush grass which binds the surface of the towans together in a
kind of mat and prevents the sand from drifting.

St. Ives with its eastern aspect is fresh even in the summer, and yet
strange to say not very cold in winter, as the flowering shrubs which
grow so well testify.

Newquay is not at all like St. Ives; it has no quaint muddled fishing
town behind the "visitors' front," and it lies all along the top of high
cliffs so that its main street is almost level, or at any rate,
level for Cornwall. At one end is Towan Head not unlike St. Ives'
Island, and from thence the bay runs in great scoops or curves cut off
from each other except at low tide. These sandy bays, surrounded by high
cliffs, resemble to some extent those at Broadstairs, and the aspect of
Newquay is the same as that at Broadstairs for it faces mainly north. It
is airy and spacious and light, and its signmark of originality lies not
in its front so much as in its back, the long estuary of the Gannel
River which forms a kind of back-door entrance. But villas and
boarding-houses are rapidly springing up along the Gannel estuary,
facing south, with their backs to Newquay proper, and thereby a bit of
very fine wild land is being spoilt. There are excellent golf-links
along Fistral Bay and huge hotels have sprung up to reap what harvest of
visitors there may be, indeed it is a stock joke to say of Newquay, as
may be said with much truth about Oban, "every second house is an
hotel."

[Illustration: FROM LELANT TO GODREVY]

No one who looks at the map even cursorily can fail to note the
extraordinary number of places in Cornwall beginning with the prefix St.
This would be natural in Roman Catholic Ireland but it is whimsical in
Methodistical Cornwall. It is, however, but one of the many signs of the
very ancient history of the place which gives it so much charm. These
reminders keep cropping out constantly among the modern surroundings, as
the granite outcrops on the Bodmin moors and again at Land's End and the
far-lying Scilly Isles, which are too but granite peaks.

Newquay for all its newness lies in a district of ancient memories. Only
a mile or two away eastward are St. Columb Minor and Major, in fact
Newquay itself is really in the parish of St. Columb Minor. Not far from
St. Columb Major there is one of the most perfect remains of an ancient
castle of the earthwork kind. It is called Castle-an-Dinas, or, locally,
King Arthur's Castle. It is enclosed by three rings of earth and stone,
of which one was probably strengthened by a moat, and the inmost part
covers an acre and a half. But a little way from St. Columb Major on the
other side is St. Mawgan at the end of the Vale of Lanherne, one of the
well-wooded rich Cornish valleys which are so much admired by the
inhabitants. Cornish people go for their picnic-parties and pleasure
days to a valley as most people would to the seaside.

Newquay Bay is really one crescent or horn of a much larger bay
extending right up to Trevose Headland, and within this sweep lies
Watergate Bay and Bedruthan Steps with its detached rocks and fine
natural scenery. Dividing Watergate and Newquay Bays is Trevalgue Head,
an island connected with the mainland by a footbridge. Here the
sea-pinks flourish abundantly covering all the ground with their frilled
blossoms when in flower. They do well almost anywhere in Cornwall, but
exceptionally well here, and the sheet of pink-tinged ground, caught as
a foreground to a vivid summer sea, is a sight not to be forgotten. The
only thing that spoils the fine cliff effects is that the whole coast
here and northwards is composed of slate--a substance which does not
lend itself to beauty of line or colouring.

But by far the most "saintly" associations of Newquay are on the other
side. Across the Gannel is Crantock called after St. Crantock, St.
Patrick's great friend, one of the three bishops chosen to revise the
laws of Ireland after the country was converted to Christianity.
Crantock landed here and built his church. A mile or two away on the
shore is the Holy Well, still visited by curious men and maidens, and
within the memory of those living held to have a miraculous power of
making rheumatic men sound again. Holy wells in Cornwall are almost as
plentiful as saints, possibly the one is always associated with the
other as the outward sign of wonder-working power.

The extraordinary stretch of sand called Perran Beach would be
remarkable anywhere, but it is more remarkable still on the rock-bound
coast of Cornwall. Norden, with unconscious Irishism, describes Perran
as being "almost drowned with the sea sande." The whole region for three
miles in length and as much in breadth is sand alone. Inland a few
plantations of pines struggle to survive just beyond its zone, and the
little slate-roofed houses have a strangely glaring unfinished look; the
hedges which divide up the land show here and there straggly scrubby
bushes all bent violently eastward by the prevailing winds, and in the
dreary corner of sandhills between them and the sea is somewhere to be
found the tiny chapel of St. Piran, which is very interesting because it
is the very earliest ecclesiastical building to be found in the land. It
dates from the eighth or ninth century and is only twenty-five feet
long. It was covered with sand as if buried in a snow drift and for
seven centuries was completely lost. It is probably to this it owes its
preservation. Sir A. Quiller-Couch's irreverent but amusing story
concerning it in his _Delectable Duchy_ is known to most people. St.
Piran, or Kieran as he is called in Irish, came over from Ireland in the
sixth century and settled down here, where many wonders grew up about
his name and his fame spread far and wide. Hundreds of people who never
enter a modern church find themselves strangely impressed by this little
ruined church buried amid the sand dunes with its record of between
thirteen and fourteen hundred years of sanctity behind it. The very name
Perranporth and its neighbour Perranzabuloe are so peculiarly and
distinctly Cornish that they draw the inquisitive to them. The latter
means Perran in the Sand. There is some very curious rock-scenery near
Perranporth, where all the fantastic freaks of caves and natural arches,
so common in Cornwall, can be seen at their best.

Far deeper than the inlet of the Gannel at Newquay is that of the River
Camel, near the mouth of which Padstow stands. This is an estuary filled
with water at high tide and lying in long melancholy reaches of sand at
low tide. Padstow clusters round a very old-fashioned little port, where
seafaring men congregate and discuss the weather and prices. There is
not a great deal of fishing and only a little general trade, as the
mouth of the river requires ticklish navigation. There is an enormous
hotel standing on a height, and a very attractive church with an old
Elizabethan mansion of the Prideaux-Brune family behind it. But all the
sands are on the other side of the estuary, at Rock, whence the
ferry-boat paddles to and fro about every hour. The rolling dunes have
been utilized for fine golf-links and the all-encroaching sand has done
its best to swallow up the little chapel of St. Enodoc, as it once
succeeded in doing with St. Piran's; so far it has been kept at bay, but
it still drifts in whenever it gets the chance. The links run out in the
direction of Pentire Point, one of the fine coast headlands. It is very
remarkable in Cornwall how constantly names are duplicated, one might
imagine it would give rise to difficulties to find a Pentire Point here,
and an East and West Pentire Point at the mouth of the Gannel near
Newquay, many miles south, and just below this Pentire Point is Hayle
Bay, and opposite Lelant near St. Ives we have again Hayle at the mouth
of the river. Newlyn by Penzance is well known, and Newlyn East south of
Newquay not so well. We have St. Just in Penwith and St. Just in
Roseland. There are doubtless many other instances.

Of all the four seaside places discussed in this chapter Bude has
perhaps most strongly its own character. Whoever heard of a seaside
place with a sweet-water canal running down the beach? Canals are not
usually associated with beauty and the very word canal is enough to
frighten off many people. But the canal at Bude is quite peculiar. It
only serves the purpose of a harbour for the ketches or fishing-boats
apparently, and a very awkward harbour it makes too when a distracted
ketch harassed by the strong flowing tide and baffled by a teasing wind,
noses this way and that and fails to hit the narrow entrance. Then, a
thing of beauty and distress, she heels over on the beach as the tide
runs out, and the natives gather round to speculate whether she will
"break her back" or not.

Bude possesses a breakwater too, but the oddest breakwater! For, instead
of curving round like most normal ones, it sticks out straight into the
sea and forms a favourite public promenade, with the added excitement
that in rough weather you may very easily be swept off the hog's back of
rounded stones and dashed to pieces against the rocky masses on either
side.

Owing to the fact that Bude Bay is on a coast facing sheer west, the
quarter of the wildest winds, the waves drive in with great force
sometimes. The thunder of the surf on the shore may be heard like the
deep pedals of an organ and all the air is hazed by the flying scud. To
see the sun drop like glowing copper straight into the sea, behind ridge
upon ridge of the "wild white horses" is most impressive. The strata of
the rocks on the shore are most weirdly bent and contorted. It is
difficult to conceive the state of convulsion which twisted them into
the shape of innumerable up-ended triangles, one within the other,
fitting like puzzle-boxes, or bent them right back like gigantic hooks.
There is one great layer of rock which looks like the back of a whale,
half a-wash, with all the ribs showing.

Bude is peculiar in the fact that it has all sorts of scenery combined
in one place. The high downs covered with short grass lie north and
south, and between them is the bay covered at high tide but showing a
fine stretch of easily accessible hard sand at low water; while, as may
be gathered, the rock scenery is well worth seeing. Here, as at so many
places along this coast there are excellent golf-links, in this case in
the very centre of the straggling town on the "Summerleaze." There is a
second golf-links on the heights above Wrangle Point, belonging to the
old Falcon Hotel by the bridge.

About two miles inland is Stratton, the scene of the victory of Sir
Bevil Grenville over the Roundheads, a victory which was within an ace
of being a defeat. The Earl of Stamford had marched into Cornwall, with
forces of about seven thousand men, and camped at Stratton, where he was
attacked by Sir Bevil with half the number and defeated. Grenville came
of a famous Cornish family which numbered among its members Sir Richard,
who with his little ship the _Revenge_, tackled the great Spanish
galleons and managed to damage many of them before he fell mortally
wounded as is recorded in Tennyson's much-quoted poem!

Further north still, the very last place of note on the Cornish coast,
is Morwenstow, visited by hundreds of people because of its association
with its one-time vicar, the Rev. Robert Stephen Hawker, a muscular
Christian of a peculiarly pungent personality. His generosity and
kindliness toward his fellow-men was unstinting, but he was withal full
to the brim of eccentricity. He married while still a youth of twenty at
the University, his godmother, who was twenty-one years his senior, and
they lived happily together until her death in extreme old age. Hawker
believed in ghosts and was exceedingly superstitious; there are many
curious stories still current as to his doings, and the life of him by
the notable novelist Baring-Gould is well worth reading.



VII

THE INLETS OF THE SOUTH COAST


Fowey is perhaps the best known by name of all the Cornish towns. This
is due in some measure to its being the home of Sir A. Quiller-Couch,
who has made it familiar to thousands in his stories of _Troy Town_ and
_The Delectable Duchy_. But people who go to Fowey should be prepared to
find it unlike anything anywhere else. Fowey Harbour is a long narrow
slit penetrating into the land and closed in on each side by very steep
hills which drop down sharply to the water. On the west lies Fowey town
close to the mouth of the harbour, built on the hillside. It consists of
one long narrow street, so constricted that only here and there, where
the houses fall back a little, has it been found possible to drop in a
few feet of pavement, otherwise foot-passengers take their chance with
the traffic. There are houses on each side. Those on the seaward side
are built right on to the water so that many of them have ladders
hanging from their backyards by which the men can climb down into their
boats. Passing casually along the main street and glancing into an open
doorway one sometimes sees the passage falling downwards like an open
shaft, the lower end a rectangle of blue dancing water!

On the other side the levels, if they can be called levels--for there is
hardly a foot of level land anywhere--rise high overhead. In following
any of the quaint crooked streets it is possible at one moment to look
up at school children playing in a courtyard high overhead and five
minutes later to survey the same children shortened in perspective by
being seen from above!

In the very midst of the town is the splendid old church, and near it,
but so tucked away it is not easily discovered, is Place House, the seat
of the Treffrys, an old Cornish family. The oldest parts of this have
stood since 1457 and it is said that here once was a palace of the old
Earls of Cornwall, which is quite probable, as they could hardly have
chosen a better spot.

[Illustration: FOWEY]

If we pass on by the long narrow main street we come out eventually on
heights terminating in Gribbin Head. But Fowey is not recommended for
people with weak hearts unless they intend to sit upon the charming
verandah of the hotel as suggested in the first chapter. Wherever one
turns there are steep hills to negotiate, and the magnificent views
gained across the deep inlet must be bought by hard labour. Yet having
said that it is but fair to add that nowhere in Britain are there sights
to beat these. The harbour lies like a Norwegian fiord between its
hills, and the water ranges in all imaginable blues and greens as the
light wanes and changes, while there are ever coming and going craft of
many kinds. Fowey is not a fishing village; anyone who said it was would
have to reckon with Sir A. Quiller-Couch! The harbour is visited by
ships in search of cargo such as the china-clay which forms so large a
proportion of the export, and the graceful vessels, often sailing-ships,
which come to fetch it, are towed in and out by the little tugs which
work unceasingly about the narrow straits. And the inlet is one of the
most popular for yachts all along the coast. There is here reproduced a
most interesting chart of Fowey Harbour, drawn in Henry VIII.'s time,
and now in the British Museum. This reproduction is taken from Lysons'
_Magna Britannica_. As will be seen, it shows Lostwithiel, Liskeard, and
even Bodmin, with a pictorial representation of the stags grazing in
Restormel Park. Even at that date the twin forts guarding the narrow
entrance to the harbour were "decayed."

[Illustration]
[Illustration]

In Henry III.'s reign Fowey men rescued some of the ships of the men of
Rye, and Fowey was therefore honoured by the Cinque Ports "with armes
and privileges." In the time of Edward III. Fowey supplied more ships to
the King's Navy than any other port in England, which is an amazing
fact. At the Siege of Calais there were forty-seven ships from this
little place! The men of Fowey were always known as bold sailors, having
been brought up upon the water it seemed their natural element. So stung
were the French by the wasps issuing from this nest that they made a
descent on Fowey in 1457 when Lady Treffry, whose husband was not at
home, led the defence and helped to beat back the attackers to their
ships.

In later times Fowey earned a base reputation for being the harbour of
pirates and eventually was punished by being obliged to transfer its
ships to Dartmouth.

Those who like boating and sea-fishing will find plentiful opportunity
here to indulge in both.

[Illustration: BODINNICK FERRY, FOWEY]

Just opposite Fowey town a deep bite into the land cuts off a
projecting tongue, reached from the west by ferry, and the piled houses
upon it, falling down their mountain-side, lack something of the beauty
they might easily have had in such a situation. But further down, where
at Bodinnick ferry passengers are carried to and fro there is much to
admire. Bodinnick is an inland village which has fallen by accident upon
a seashore, at least that is the impression it gives. The walls are
lined with bladder seaweed, the seaweed that goes "pop" to the delight
of children. This hangs in black masses above the incoming water, but
over it rise woods and trees, and ivy and ferns, and all the
paraphernalia of a country lane. The ivy in fact tumbles riotously down
on the top of the seaweed! The cottages, maintaining their balance with
difficulty on the perilous slope rising from the ferry, are covered with
rose bushes. Candytuft and violets come out in their season to creep
over the rough stone walls; white pigeons flutter overhead and glimpses
of large-leaved plants of a kind more often associated with a tropical
climate, peep at one from backyards. There is nothing conventional or
suburban about Bodinnick! It takes no trouble to clear away the bits of
broken crockery or rusty tins; perhaps it likes the feeling of
homeliness they give, and the sleepy cats appear to like it too.

From Fowey there is one road and only one, which leads across the
headland westward to Par sands, but there is a choice of two routes by
railway, one running along beside the inlet, which is of course the
mouth of the River Fowey, and giving lovely views of the wooded reaches
about the mouth of its tributary the Lerryn, which, following the custom
of rivers in this district, has a considerable inlet to itself. While
Penpoll Creek, nearer the sea, affords a comfortable harbourage even in
a very high wind. But the one road and the two railways do not sum up
all the ways of getting out of Fowey, for you may persuade the burly
round-eyed old salt who has spent his life in crossing and recrossing
hundreds of times, to put you over at Bodinnick, and then you can wander
at your own sweet will by any of the innumerable tracks over the great
rectangle bounded on the west and north by Fowey River (which turns at a
right angle about Bodmin Road), and on the east by Looe River. This lump
of land is cut up and seamed by valleys and broken by hills. On the
sea-line, about halfway across, is the tiny fishing village--really a
fishing village this time--of Polperro, than which no quainter thing
exists in Britain. You drop down, down, down, to Polperro until you can
look up and see the cows grazing high overhead as you might in an Alpine
valley, and then you plunge into the miniature confused streets of the
town, and following them at random may or may not come out at the little
port, and walking along the rude jetty see the outer harbour and the
small beach. The smell of fish is strong in the air; the fishing-boats
lie in neat rows, supported by legs to prevent their heeling over when
the tide runs out. The houses cluster on the steep hillside in terraces,
and below them a collection of blue-guernseyed stout-booted men, with
wholesome sea-tanned faces, lounge about as if they were the idlest set
in Christendom, though their work demands the hardest toil and greatest
endurance of any calling man can follow.

Polperro is strangely like a little town in Brittany and has something
about it also which recalls the inland villages tucked away in the spurs
of the Alps or Apennines above the Riviera. It is easy to imagine that
anyone having visited it and trying to recall where he had looked upon
such a scene, would search his memory for tours abroad and never think
of England.

A good road leads up out of this valley on the Looe side and once the
hill is surmounted it may be remarked with surprise that at the cost of
going a little round it actually tries to keep on the level; that is not
a practice habitual to Cornish roads, which seem to take a pure delight
in a switchback manner of progress. This road was cut in 1849, the means
of arriving at Polperro before that being something like falling down
the face of a cliff. Polperro was the home of Jonathan Couch, the
naturalist, grandfather of the novelist Sir A. Quiller-Couch, who lives
a short way off at Fowey. Mr. Thomas Couch's _History of Polperro_
embodying his father, Jonathan Couch's, notes, and published in 1871,
may still be read with interest. He pictures himself standing on the
height of Brent. "Immediately below are the harbour, valley and town of
Polperro; the Peak with its striking jagged outline and massive black
colouring; the sail-loft resting in a recess on its side; the ledges of
rocks here and there hollowed into caverns, and the quays, between which
are the fishing-boats riding quietly in tiers. Further up among the
hills which shut this scene in you see strange, and apparently confused,
groups of houses, having a general tint of whitewash, and, above
them, on the southern side, the little Chapel of St. John."

[Illustration: LOOE]

Though many new and better-class houses have been built, this
description still holds good. The cliffs all round are very sheer and
steep, dropping straight into the water, which is deep up to the base.
In some of the little old houses there are low, dark rooms smelling
strongly of fish and brine, with the beams showing. Mr. Thomas Couch
says: "In the old home of the Quillers [his mother's family] there was
hanging on a beam a key, which we, as children, regarded with respect
and awe, and never dared to touch, for Richard Quiller, Jane's father,
had put the key of his quadrant on the nail with strong injunctions that
no one should take it off until his return [which never happened]; and
there, I believe, it still hangs." This doubtless gave "Q" his idea for
the key on the beam in that curiously unequal story, _Dead Man's Rock_.

The two Looes, East and West, facing each other across the mouth of the
river,--which here _looks_ like the mouth of a river and not a fiord as
at Fowey--are easily understood. You can see them both from the bridge,
whereas in Fowey on first arrival it is very difficult to know where you
are and I doubt if anyone really knows even after staying there awhile,
for there is no place where you can get a comprehensive view unless it
is from the opposite shore at the expense of much toil and trouble. The
Looes lack the picturesqueness of Fowey but on the other hand you can
get about much more easily and there is bathing on the front. The woods
lying inland have a great and peculiar charm. Not very far above the
bridge the river bifurcates, the two branches being east and west to
match the twin-town. Here in the wide sandy estuary sea-birds
congregate, and the boats are drawn up in rows beneath the overhanging
trees, which come right down to the very lip of the water. It is
difficult to contemplate without amusement the golden era before the
Reform Bill when this little place returned four members to Parliament,
two for the handful of houses each side of the river! It is
difficult--but perhaps not quite so difficult--to realize that Looe sent
twenty ships to help King Edward III. to besiege Calais.

But these inlets we have been sketching are small indeed compared with
the mighty harbours of many ramifications such as those at Devonport and
Falmouth. Devonport has already been touched upon elsewhere, and we can
pass on now to Falmouth with its wide opening in Carrick Roads and the
long thin fingers or tongues of water diving deep into the heart of the
land. One of these goes up to Truro and it is one of the popular
excursions from both towns to sail up and down in the summer steamboats
from one to the other. Falmouth itself lies along both sides of the neck
of land ending in Pendennis Point, and, though on a much larger scale,
is in that respect not unlike St. Ives in situation. The southern side
boasts the beach and what may be called Villadom for its share, and the
northern looks upon the harbour and faces over to the hamlet of Flushing
where the ferry runs continually. There are steep streets in Falmouth as
everywhere else in Cornwall, and even the main street passing all along
beside the water, mounts a tough hill toward Penryn. The glimpses of the
crowded harbour and the variety and picturesqueness of the boats and
ships that find their way in are a never-failing source of interest and
pleasure.

Before the days of steam Falmouth was of more importance than it is now,
and many a sailing ship started from here with a cargo of passengers who
had travelled as far as possible on land before committing themselves to
the uncertain sea. But Falmouth is particularly known for having been
the starting-place of the Royal Mail Packets which went to America, the
Indies and other parts of the globe. The mails were sent down by the
authorities, who chartered armed brigs with a crew of thirty men and
sent them off to run all the risks of the sea and to fight if need be in
defence of their valuable cargo. Many a stubborn fight there was too and
many the weeping widow of Falmouth who mourned her man in vain. It is
supposed that Falmouth first became a station for "packets" in 1688, and
the number sailing from the port was increased from time to time until
in 1763 there were boats going to Lisbon, the West Indies and New York
continually. Therefore for about 150 years, until 1850, Falmouth was the
port for the mail-packets, but when steam power was applied to ships she
lost the mail service which was transferred to Southampton.

There is a school of artists here, an offshoot from the Newlyn school,
which seems to have been the parent swarm of many a cluster.

The castle on the headland, now in the hands of the military, dates from
the time of Henry VIII.

Facing Pendennis Point are the jagged jaws of another peninsula
singularly like a crocodile's head. On the lower jaw is St. Mawes, a
pretty little place with a rising hill behind. This peninsula is
called by the pretty name of Roseland, which has however nothing to
do with flowers, being derived from Rhos, the Celtic word for heath or
gorse.

[Illustration: FLUSHING--FROM FALMOUTH]

About a mile along the southern shore of Falmouth is the Swan Pool, a
sheet of fresh water cut off from the sea by a narrow bar of sand, and
supposed by the Falmouth folk to outrival completely the better-known
Looe Pool near Mullion.

The whole of the Lizard peninsula is nearly shorn through by the Helford
River, which almost reaches across to Looe Pool. If this is the heel of
Cornwall, it, like the heel of Achilles, is vulnerable, and nearly
severed by the slash! There is less to say about the Helford River
estuary than any other. Beyond the fact that it was once a well-known
harbourage for pirates it does not seem to have any striking title to
fame.

It is rather odd that though Cornwall is so liberally endowed with
coast-line, so that at no part of the Duchy is one really far from the
sea, yet she should have in addition these delightful winding waterways
cutting deeply and widely into her south coast and affording excellent
means of transit.



VIII

CORNISH TOWNS


If an enquiry were made among the Cornish towns as to which of them it
were fittest to mention first, it can be easily imagined that one and
all would claim the honour for themselves. And truly each has something
to say for itself. Penzance is the town best known to the majority of
visitors, because the railway ends there, and "London to Penzance" has
become almost as common a phrase as "London to Cornwall." But so far as
we are concerned we need not bother about Penzance as we have already
given it full space. Truro could advance good claims for she is the seat
of the Bishop's See and possesses the modern cathedral, the only one in
the Duchy, and also she is the educational centre with fine county
education offices. Bodmin, however, is really the county town as the
Assizes are still held there, an honour she has disputed with Launceston
for many centuries, the Assize Courts having swayed to and fro
between them. Even now there is talk of removing them from Bodmin
owing to the difficulty of getting there. Bodmin is not on the main
Great Western line but only connected with it from Bodmin Road by a
branch line. Launceston can outshine the others by reason of her fine
ruin of the ancient castle and an historical record second to none, but
at present official recognition she cannot claim.

[Illustration: TRURO]

Beyond these three we need not go. The coast-towns have been already
visited, and as for smaller ones inland, such as Liskeard, Camelford,
Redruth, Cambourne, Callington and Helston, they cannot hope to compete.

Truro is just the picture of what one imagines a market-town to be. On
market-days its open spaces are filled with country carts and the quaint
little covered-in omnibuses, like those used by the peasantry of France
on their immensely long straight roads. There is a buzz and clamour of
talk outside the doors of the old Red Lion Inn, or, as it now seems to
be the fashion to say--hotel. This is the house in which Samuel Foote,
actor and dramatist, was born in 1720; his father was at one time Mayor
of Truro. The house is worth seeing on its own account, for it has a
massive carved oak staircase--alas, thickly overlaid with varnish, and
some moulded ceilings unusual in an inn.

Truro is well watered, as it stands between two small rivers which join
in the creek by which steamboats go down to Falmouth through pretty
wooded scenery. The town itself is quite tolerably flat for a Cornish
town, but long hills run up out of it on all sides. The oldest part of
the cathedral is that which was the parish church, incorporated into the
new building. About the cathedral there have been many opinions, but a
modern cathedral can hardly escape severe criticism considering that it
has to compete with all the dignity and reverence of those which have
stood hundreds of years! The white stone shows up well, and though the
town is more or less in a basin the tall spires are seen from the
surrounding hills to advantage. There are good shops in Truro and much
that is of interest, including the very fine collection in the Museum of
the Royal Institution of Cornwall, now housed in a worthy building. Here
anyone who has wandered in the hills and over the barren moors and seen
the relics of hoary antiquity so freely scattered, can look with seeing
eye on the more valuable specimens which have been found and are now
cared for and preserved where they will not be stolen or lost.

Even in Domesday Book Truro is mentioned, and at that time there were
two towns, Great and Little Truro, standing under the shadow of a
fortress held by the Earls of Cornwall, now vanished, though its site is
known and pointed out near the station. The town's charter was granted
in 1130 and renewed in 1589, so it is not much matter for wonder the
inhabitants look upon it as the first city in Cornwall, and, in olden
times, so bore themselves that they earned for their city the nickname
of "Proud Truro."

The cathedral was in great part due to the energy of Bishop Benson,
afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury, who was made first Bishop when the
See was created. Bishop Benson "delighted in the Cornish people and was
never tired of observing and analyzing their character." He did much for
Truro in many ways.

Bodmin stands almost in the middle of the Duchy with two long fingers,
that of the inlet of Fowey on the south and that of the inlet of the
River Camel on the north, pointing directly at it. It is a very quiet
little town but has somehow managed to preserve its charm. The fine old
parish church, almost worthy to take rank as a cathedral, is in the
midst, easily to be seen. The church is the largest in Cornwall and
parts of it date from 1125. It once had a very striking spire, destroyed
by lightning in 1699. Bodmin means the Monks' Town, and even though it
has the enormous barracks built in the usual style, just outside, it
still keeps something of the monkish atmosphere. Bodmin scorns Truro's
claims of long descent, turning to Athelstan as its founder. Athelstan,
who founded here in 926 a Benedictine Priory of which some traces even
now remain. The town is in a beautiful and well-wooded neighbourhood,
and anyone taking the trouble to climb Beacon Hill just outside will be
rewarded. It was at Bodmin in 1498 that Perkin Warbeck, who had
disembarked near Land's End, gathered 3,000 men together and started his
disastrous campaign by launching himself against Exeter. In Bodmin meet,
or rather "meet with a gap between," the two rival railways--the Great
Western and London and South Western; the latter station is a terminus,
and the line running northward connects the town with Wadebridge and
Padstow. The former comes from Bodmin Road where it joins the main
line, and continues also to Wadebridge.

[Illustration: THE BANKS OF THE FAL, FALMOUTH]

Between Bodmin and Launceston stretches the wild tract of country known
as Bodmin Moor. A more desolate region it would be hard to find or one
more covered with relics of primitive man. Norden has said in writing of
Cornwall, "The rockes are high, huge, ragged and craggy not only upon
the sea-coaste ... but also the inland mountayns are so crowned with
mightie rockes as he that passing through the country beholding some of
the rockes afar off may suppose them to be greate cyties planted on the
hills, wherin prima facie ther appeareth the resemblance of towres,
howses, chimnies and such like."

Though he flatters the Cornish highlands in calling them mountains, yet
it is true enough that the tors out-cropping in this region do take on
most curious shapes. The most remarkable of all is the unstable-looking
Cheesewring, southwest of Launceston, and rather difficult of access.
Here stones are piled one on the top of the other, each larger than the
last, till the effect is that of a gigantic and misshapen mushroom. But
it was not built deliberately, it just happened so. How--no one knows,
but the suggestion is that the mass was once banked in by earth, which
was washed away, leaving the bare pinnacle of stone. In the midst of the
moor Brown Willy and Rough Tor rise with considerable picturesqueness,
and their surfaces are strewn with the old beehive huts of a people
whose history is lost.

But those who are not familiar with the country should not wander far
from the road as the bogs and marshes are really dangerous. They find
their culmination in the odd little lake called Dozmare Pool associated
with the story of King Arthur. This has no apparent outlet, and was once
reported to be of fabulous depth.

Launceston stands in a category by itself; though both the preceding
towns are fairly hilly, it outdoes them magnificently in that respect!
The streets up from the station are so steep that only by one of them,
graded for the purpose, can vehicles mount at all. The others are merely
for foot-passengers. Yet if looked at on a map which does not give
contours, it will be seen that Launceston in reality is one very long
straggling street running from end to end with various branches. This
street dips down into the hollow where the railway is and mounts the
other side. Baring-Gould says of Launceston, "Scarcely another English
town has such a picturesque and continental appearance," but that is a
matter of opinion. The name, meaning Church-Castle-Town, is very
explanatory, for the church and castle are the two outstanding objects
of interest. The former is most curious, for every foot of the walls
outside is covered by granite carving, mostly of secular subjects and
hacked out instead of chiselled.

At the east end beneath the east window is a recess with a figure of
Mary Magdalene much worn and tormented, and no wonder, for it is one of
the Launceston superstitions that anyone who can chuck a pebble so as to
lodge on the statue's back--no easy feat as the slope is slippery--will
have a year's good luck, and many there be that try! The church is
dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene and is, as churches go, of no great age.
Curiously enough it was not at first the parish church but merely the
development of a chapel.

The present building dates from 1511 and the tower is older. What is
very singular, and accounts for the choice of subjects on its quaintly
carven walls, is that they were not designed for a sacred building at
all. They were done for Henry Ashe of Trecarell, a wealthy Cornishman
who had a great mansion and was rebuilding it regardless of cost; but in
the midst of the work his only son, a child, was drowned and the mother
died almost immediately from the shock, so the wretched father passed on
the granite carvings, designed for a gateway to his mansion, to the
church, where they now attract many curious visitors and adorn, not only
the walls but the very fine projecting south porch. The rose, the
pomegranate, the Prince of Wales's feathers are frequently repeated with
the arms of Trecarell and Ashe. In order to give it an ecclesiastical
finish certain sentences in Latin such as "Oh how terrible and fearful
is this place. Surely this is none other but the house of God and the
gate of heaven!" are embossed on shields round the base.

A much more ancient church is that of St. Stephen away on the opposite
heights beyond the valley. Some authorities think that the name
Launceston really means Llan Stephan, the church of St. Stephen, and
there is some colour for this, as it is possible the original town was
around the older church and that the other grew up near to the castle.
Baring-Gould boldly claims that the present town has no right to the
name at all, but should be called Dunheved meaning "Swelling Hill." The
castle keep certainly stands on a most appropriate swelling hill, just
the place for such a fortification, with a magnificent view over miles
of country.

The present remains, the great keep with its rings of stone, is of
Norman origin, but there was most certainly a Saxon castle here before
it. It stands in delightful grounds, freely open to all, and a very
sanctuary for birds. A winding stair runs within the wall and even in
the present roofless condition it needs but little imagination to
transport oneself back into feudal times, when the womenfolk cowered
within the small rooms behind the solid masonry, and the warriors
guarded the loopholes, watching, waiting for attack.

Launceston is peculiarly rich in churches; besides the two mentioned
there is St. Thomas, in the valley between, where have been discovered
the ruins of a priory. From this the doorway of the White Hart Hotel in
the market-place came.

Down a side street is one of the old city gates, the only one remaining
to show that Launceston was once walled. The chief point of interest
about this, however, is apparently the very substantial tree, which, in
most mysterious fashion, has found root-hold in the stone crevices and
continues to flourish many feet above the ground.



IX

CORNISH CUSTOMS


Old customs, and festivals carrying in them the germ of a meaning and
significance long forgotten by those who practised them but intelligible
to students of antiquity, continued to be observed in Cornwall when they
had died out in most other places. There is no part of England where so
many curious observances, superstitions and festivals are still observed
as in Cornwall.

Midsummer Day merrymakings were long kept up in many places, especially
in regard to the part played by fire, and Richard Edmonds, secretary for
Cornwall to the Cambrian Archæological Association, writing in 1862,
says:--"It is the immemorial usage in Penzance, and the neighbouring
towns and villages, to kindle bonfires and torches on Midsummer Eve....
St. Peter's Eve is distinguished by a similar display.... On these eves
a line of tar-barrels, relieved occasionally by large bonfires, is seen
in the centre of each of the principal streets in Penzance. On either
side of this line young men and women pass up and down, swinging round
their heads heavy torches made of large pieces of folded canvas steeped
in tar and nailed to the ends of sticks between three and four feet
long.... On these nights Mounts Bay has a most animating appearance
although not equal to what was annually witnessed at the beginning of
the present century when the whole coast from the Land's End to the
Lizard, wherever a town or a village existed, was lighted up with these
stationary or moving fires.... At the close of fireworks in Penzance, a
great number of persons of both sexes, chiefly from the neighbourhood of
the quay, used always, until within the last few years, to join hand in
hand forming a long string and run through the streets playing 'thread
the needle,' heedless of the fireworks showered upon them, and
oftentimes leaping over the yet glowing embers. I have on these
occasions seen boys following one another jumping through flames higher
than themselves."

This is a significant reminder of the custom of passing children through
the fire referred to in the Bible.

May Day celebrations are still kept up in the little town of Helston,
the key to the Lizard. This saturnalia is held on the eighth of the
month instead of the first, because the eighth is the festival of the
apparition of St. Michael, who is represented in the Town Arms. The
festival is called the "furry dance," a word which some writers have
associated with "forage" or "foray" because the young people make a raid
on all gardens and out into the fields early in the morning to collect
flowers and green boughs. Polwhele connects the word with the old
Cornish "fer," a fair or jubilee. Rather unsuccessful attempts have also
been made to bring in the goddess Flora, and suggest a corruption of
Flora-day to fit the present name.

The day is a general holiday and anyone caught working is subjected to
unpleasant penalties. About midday the most important person present
leads off with his partner down the main street to the tune of a
hornpipe--a local tune--and they are followed by a gay crowd. The throng
threads in and out of the houses, in by the front door and out by the
back if possible, for all doors are left open for them. Woe be to the
churl who kept his shut! At length they arrive at the Assembly Rooms
where a real ball begins.

This curious performance slackened off for some years, but the
Helstonians, finding that their little town owed a good deal of
advertisement to this special festival, have revived it with goodwill,
and now are inundated with visitors at the recurrence of the
anniversary.

Furry Day used to be held at Penryn on May 3 and at the Lizard on May 1
and also in the parish of Sithney, but now it can only be seen at
Helston.

May Day has peculiar significance as being the celebration of the return
of spring, and it is the custom at dawn on that day in some parts to dip
weakly infants in the holy wells, which abound in Cornwall, to ensure
strength. This is still done, though either secretly or in a jesting
spirit, at the holy well of Madron near Penzance of which Madron is the
mother parish.

Many people adorn their houses in Cornwall with boughs and garlands in
honour of the day even at the present time. May Day was the great day
for miracle plays, so beloved by the old Cornishmen before they learned
to consider them sinful under the teaching of Wesley. The best of the
old amphitheatres, at any rate the one most accessible, is the
Plan-an-Guaré at St. Just referred to elsewhere.

[Illustration: AT NEWLYN]

At Padstow hobby-horses still prance round the town on May Day.
Edmonds says:--"The hobby horse, or effigy of a horse, is, at this
festival of the moon, dipped in a pool of water, and, for the same
reason perhaps, that a similar figure was, in Ireland, passed through
fire at the festival of the sun; to preserve the cattle from death and
disease." Sun and moon being represented by fire and water.

Mr. Baring-Gould says:--"During the days that precede the festival no
garden is safe. Walls, railings, even barbed wire, are surmounted by
boys and men in quest of flowers. Conservatories have to be fast locked,
or they will be invaded. The house that has a show of flowers in the
windows is besieged by pretty children with roguish eyes begging for
blossoms which they cannot steal. The Hobby-horse Pairs, as they were
called, _i.e._, a party of eight men, then repaired to the 'Golden
Lion,' at that time the first inn in Padstow, and sat down to a hearty
supper of leg of mutton and plum-pudding, given them by the landlord.
After supper a great many young men joined the 'pairs,' _i.e._, the
_peers_, the lords of the merriment, and all started for the country,
and went round from one farmhouse to another, singing at the doors of
each, and soliciting contributions to the festivities of the morrow.

"They returned into Padstow about three o'clock in the morning, and
promenaded the streets singing the 'Night Song.' After that they retired
to rest for a few hours. At ten o'clock in the morning the 'pairs'
assembled at the 'Golden Lion' again, and now was brought forth the
hobby-horse. The drum-and-fife band was marshalled to precede, and then
came the young girls of Padstow dressed in white, with garlands of
flowers in their hair, and their white gowns pinned up with flowers. The
men followed armed with pistols, loaded with a little powder, which they
fired into the air or at the spectators. Lastly came the hobby-horse,
ambling, curvetting, and snapping its jaws. It may be remarked that the
Padstow hobby-horse is wonderfully like the Celtic horse decoration
found on old pillars and crosses with interlaced work. The procession
went first to Prideaux Place, where the late squire, Mr. Prideaux Brune,
always emptied a purse of money into the hands of the 'pairs.' Then the
procession visited the vicarage, and was welcomed by the parson. After
that it went forth from the town to Treator Pool 'for the horse to
drink.'"

In Hitchins' _History of Cornwall_, edited by Samuel Drew, he says of
the hobby-horse of Padstow: "The head, being dipped into the water, is
instantly taken up and the mud and water are sprinkled on the spectators
to the no small diversion of all."

The Maypole festivities have been given up of recent years, but
hobby-horses still prance the streets.

Hitchins gives an account of a few local superstitions, some of which
are not peculiar to Cornwall:--

"The sound of the cuckoo, if first heard on the right ear, denotes good
luck; but to hear the voice first on the left, is an omen of undefinable
disasters. To spit on the first piece of money that is received in the
morning will ensure a successful day in trade; and to hold up a silver
coin against the new moon on its first appearance can hardly fail to
secure lunar virtue for a month. To bite from the ground the first fern
that appears in the spring is an infallible preventive of the toothache
during the year; and the first ripe blackberry that is seen will put
away warts. To pay money on the first day of January is very unlucky as
it ensures a continuance of disbursements during the year; and to remove
bees on any day besides Good Friday will ensure their death; while to
work oxen on that day is an act which few would dare to perform lest
they should suddenly die in the yoke. To whistle underground is an
offence which few miners will suffer to pass over in silence; but to
whistle while the farmer is winnowing his corn will as inevitably bring
the wind as on board of a ship or boat, it is certain to secure a
favourable breeze."

Polwhele says: "The custom of saluting the apple-trees at Christmas with
a view to another year, is still preserved both in Cornwall and
Devonshire. In some places the parishioners walk in procession visiting
the principal orchards in the parish; in each orchard single out the
principal tree, salute it with a certain form of words and sprinkle it
with cyder or dash a bowl of cyder against it. In other places, the
farmer and his workmen only, immerse cakes in cyder and place them on
the branches of an apple-tree in due solemnity; sprinkle the tree, as
they repeat a formal incantation and dance round it."

The harvest custom where the last handful of corn is cut, being called
"a neck," and then dressed with flowers and carried off in triumph has
been often referred to.

The men of Cornwall have long been celebrated for wrestling, they being
no whit behind the men of Devonshire and Somerset in this.

They have other special games of their own too. Of which the chief is
"hurling," though now only kept up in the parishes of St. Columb Major
and Minor, in other words in the neighbourhood of Newquay, though a
collection is made at St. Ives in a silver "hurlers' ball." The game is
that of a ball being flung and thrown from one to the other, with goals
which may be two miles apart. Sometimes one match takes days to decide.
It is an extremely rough-and-tumble sport. In the season a match is
played on the wide flat firm expanse of Newquay sands and hundreds take
part in it, badges being used to discriminate between the players. And
on Shrove Tuesday a game is played in the town of St. Columb the ball
being thrown up in the market-place and all traffic being held up for
the occasion. The goals used to be "either the mansion-house of one of
the leading gentlemen of the party, a parish church, or some other
well-known place." The ball is rather larger than a cricket-ball, but
not so large as a football, and is silvered over. The struggle is
expressively described by Carew:--"The hurlers take their way over
hills, dales, hedges and ditches, through bushes, briers, mires,
plashes, rivers; sometimes twenty or thirty lie tugging together in the
water, scrambling and scratching for the ball."

These customs and sports are only samples, for there are many quaint
ideas still held in certain parishes which would almost provide the
material for a book by themselves, and are far too numerous to collect
together in a sketch like the present. However, enough has perhaps been
said to show how the Cornish spirit still lingers in spite of the influx
of "foreigners" growing ever greater yearly.



SOME BOOKS ON CORNWALL


  ANON. Walk Round Mount Edgcumbe. 1821.
  BARING-GOULD, S. Book of the East. 1902.
  BARING-GOULD, S. Vicar of Morwenstow. 1876.
  BLIGHT, J. T. Land's End. 1861.
  BORLASE, W. C. Noenia Cornubiæ. 1872.
  BRAY, ANNA ELIZA. Banks of Tamar. New edition. 1879.
  CAMDEN. Britannia. 1594.
  CAREW, RICHARD. Survey of Cornwall. 1602.
  COLLINS, WILKIE. Rambles Beyond Railways. 1861.
  COUCH, JONATHAN. History of Polperro. 1871.
  CRAIK, MRS. An Unsentimental Journey in Cornwall. 1884.
  DICKINSON, W. H. King Arthur in Cornwall. 1900.
  EDMONDS, RICHARD. Land's End District. 1862.
  GAY, SUSAN E. Old Falmouth. 1903.
  GILBERT, C. S. Historical Survey of Cornwall. Two vols. 1817-20.
  GILBERT, DAVIES. Parochial History of Cornwall. Four vols. 1838.
  HALLIWELL, J. O. Rambles in Western Cornwall. 1861.
  HAMMOND, JOSEPH. St. Austell. 1897.
  HARVEY, E. G. Mullion. 1875.
  HIND, LEWIS. Days in Cornwall. 1907.
  HUDSON, W. H. The Land's End. 1908.
  JOHNS, REV. C. A. A Week at the Lizard. 1874.
  LACH-SZYRMA, W. S. Short History of Penzance, etc. 1878.
  LYSONS. Magna Britannica. 1806-22. Vol. iii.
  MACLEAN, SIR J. Trigg Minor. Three vols. 1873-79.
  MATTHEWS, J. H. Parishes of St. Ives, Lelant, etc. 1892.
  NORTH, I. W. Week in Scilly. 1850.
  NORWAY, A. H. Highways and Byways in Devon and Cornwall. 1897.
  POLWHELE, REV. RICHARD. History of Cornwall. 1803 and 1806.
  ROBBINS, A. F. Launceston, Past and Present. 1888.
  SCOTT, C. A. DAWSON-. Nooks and Corners of Cornwall.
  STONE, J. HARRIS. England's Riviera. 1912.
  TREGARTHEN, J. C. Wild Life at the Land's End. 1904.
  VICTORIA COUNTY HISTORY. 1906.


NOVELS.

Most of Q's books.

  ELLIS, MRS. HAVELOCK. My Cornish Neighbours.
  SIDGWICK, MRS. ALFRED. In Other Days. 1915.
  BESANT, SIR WALTER. Armorel of Lyonnesse. 1890.



INDEX


Archæology, 17

Armed Knight, the, 61

Arthur. _See under_ King

Artists, 15, 39, 41, 95, 122

Athelstan, 22, 43, 59, 128

"Atlantic Drive, The," 47


Bedruthan Steps, 11, 60, 101

Benson, Bishop, 127

Bird-life, 25, 57, 76, 87

Bodinnick Ferry, 115

Bodmin, 124, 127

Bodmin Moor, 129

Bodmin Road, 29

Boscastle, 89

Brisons, the, 60

British villages, 46

Brown Willy, 12

Bude, 105


Callington, 125

Cambourne, 125

Camel River, 103, 127

Camelford, 78, 125

Camulodunum, Battle of, 78

Cape Cornwall, 60

Cardinham Castle, 84

Castle-an-Dinas, 100

Cheesewring, 129

Chun Castle, 47

Cliffs, 61, 65, 87, 106

Climate, mildness of, 7

Cornish cliffs, 11

Cornish people, 4, 17, 18, 85

Couch, Jonathan, 118

Crantock, 101

Cream, 21

Customs, 135


Davy, Sir Humphry, 39

Delabole, 89

Devonport, 120

Dozmare Pool, 130

Dunheved, 133


Earthworks, 47

East Looe, 119

Enys Dodman, 61


Falmouth, 120

Fistral Bay, 99

Flushing, 121

Forraburry, 90

Fougou Hole, 43

Fowey, 8, 14, 30, 109 _et seq._

"Furry dance," 137


Gannel River, 101

Godrevy Point, 93

Golf, 10, 20, 92, 99, 106

Goonhilly Downs, 64

Great Western Railway, 29, 128

Grenville, Sir Bevil, 107

Gribbin Head, 110


Hamoaze, 24

Hawker, Rev. Robert Stephen, 107

"Hedges," 5, 31

Helford River, 123

Helston, 125, 137

Hills, 12, 41, 50, 96, 130

History, 21

Holy wells, 101

Housel Bay Hotel, 64

Hugh Town, 58

Hurling, 143


Killibury Castle, 85

King Arthur, 55, 72 _et seq._

King Stephen, 59

Knill monument, 97

Kynance Cove, 11, 66


Lamorna Cove, 41

Land of Lyonnesse, 37, 55

Landewednack, 32

Land's End, 1, 2, 51, 60

Lanherne, Vale of, 100

Lanyon Quoit, 46

Launceston, 12, 124, 130

Lelant, 92, 98

Lerryn River, 116

Lighthouses, 53, 68

Liskeard, 125

Lizard, the, 63

Lizard-town, 64

Lloyd's Signal Station, 69

Logan Rock, 45, 46

London and South-Western Railway, 128

Longships Light, 53

Looes, East and West, 119

Lundy Island, 90

Luxulyan, 15

Luxulyan Valley, 29

Lynher or St. Germans River, 24


Madron, 46

Marazion, 37

May Day, 136

"Merry Maidens," 44

Midsummer Day, 135

Mining Region, 49

Mordred, 78

Morwenstow, 107

Mount Edgcumbe, 25

Mount's Bay, 35

Mousehole, 40

Mozrang Pool, 61

Mullion, 14


Newlyn, 15, 39

Newquay, 98

Nonconformists, 38


Padstow, 103, 128, 138

Pardenick Point, 61

Pasties, 21

Pedn Men Dhu, 60

Pendennis Point, 121, 122

Penolva Point, 97

Penpoll Creek, 116

Penryn, 121

Pentargon Bay, 91

Pentire Point, 104

Penzance, 34, 38, 93, 124, 136

Perran Beach, 102

Perranporth, 103

Perranzabuloe, 103

Pilchards, 95

"Pipers, The," 43

Pirates, 114, 123

Plan-an-guaré, 50

Plant-life, 16

Polperro, 14, 117

Porthgwarra, 63

Porthgwidden Cove, 97

Porthmeor Bay, 95

Porthminster Bay, 92


Quiller-Couch, Sir A., 118


Redruth, 125

Roads, 13, 49

Roche, 30

Rock, 104

Rocky Valley, 88

Roseland, 123

Royal Institution of Cornwall, 126

Royal Mail Packets, 121


St. Blazey, 29

St. Buryan, 22, 44

St. Columb Major, 100, 143

St. Columb Minor, 100, 143

St. Erth, 94

St. Germans or Lynher River, 24

St. Ives, 7, 15, 92 _et seq._

St. Mary's Island, 58

St. Mawes, 122

St. Mawgan, 100

St. Michael's Mount, 35

St. Piran, 102

Saints, 99

Saltash, 24

Scilly Isles, 56

Sennen, 59

Sennen Cove, 59

Serpentine Rock, 66

Seven Stones, 56

Slaughter Bridge, 78

Stamford, Earl of, 107

Stephen, King, 59

Stratton, 107

Swan Pool, 123


Tamar River, 24

Tavy River, 24

Tol Pedn, 61

Treffrys, the, 110

Treryn Dinas, 45, 73

Trevalgue Head, 101

Trevose Headland, 100

Truro, 125


Uther Pendragon, 77


Valleys, 30

Vell-an-Dreath, 59


Wadebridge, 128

Warbeck, Perkin, 59, 128

Watergate Bay, 101

Wesley, 38, 50

West Looe, 119

Whitesand Bay, 58

Wolf Lighthouse, 53

Wrangle Point, 107

Wrestling, 143


Zennor, 48


THE END


BILLING AND SONS, LTD., PRINTERS, GUILDFORD, ENGLAND

[Illustration: SKETCH-MAP OF CORNWALL

(A. & C. BLACK, LTD., LONDON)]


    Transcriber's note:

    _Underscores_ have been used to indicate _italic_ fonts.
    Inconsistent hyphenation left as written.





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