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Title: Footprints of Former Men in Far Cornwall
Author: Hawker, Robert S.
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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Superscript text is indicated by caret signs, e.g. "Esq^{re}".


[Illustration: Yours thankfully

RS Hawker]









Hawker’s prose sketches appeared originally as contributions to various
periodicals, and in 1870 they were published for him in book form by
Mr. John Russell Smith, as “Footprints of Former Men in Far Cornwall.”
In 1893, eighteen years after his death, a new edition was issued by
Messrs. Blackwood, entitled “The Prose Works of Rev. R. S. Hawker,”
containing two essays previously unpublished, “Humphrey Vivian” and
“Old Trevarten.” The late Mr. J. G. Godwin, who was Hawker’s friend
and adviser in literary matters, edited the volume, and added the
bibliographical footnotes to the several papers. In the present
edition it has been thought appropriate to revert to Hawker’s own more
picturesque title, and this is to be done also in the case of his
poetical works, which will shortly be re-issued as “Cornish Ballads
and other Poems.” The two books will thus form companion volumes. It
is interesting to read them concurrently, and to compare his treatment
of the same themes in prose and verse. An attempt has been made in
the notes to assist such a comparison by indicating some of the more
obvious parallels. In the prose, as in the poems, there is the same
deep and peculiar love of symbol and miracle and superstition, but
the prose further reveals, what might not be suspected from the poems
alone, that Hawker was a humourist as much as a mystic.

Hawker won his literary reputation as a ballad-writer, but his prose
also deserves a share in his fame. He has the gift of style. Like his
handwriting, which makes a manuscript of his a thing of beauty in
itself, it is bold and clear, free from prettiness or affectation, but
with the massive grace of his native rocks, and made distinctive by
a characteristic touch of archaism. The rugged scenery of his abode
had its influence upon his work. He was a hewer of words, as Daniel
Gumb was a hewer of stone, and his language has the strength of rough
masonry wrought in a broad and homely manner out of solid granite. The
sea, and the great spaces of lonely moorland that surrounded him, gave
to his work a sense of breadth and freedom. He is always at his best in
describing his own dearly loved Cornwall, and in particular the wild
coast by which all his years were spent. Perhaps the finest passage of
this kind is that which concludes the legend of Daniel Gumb, and which
forms a prose counterpart to that grand ending of “The Quest of the

    “He ceased; and all around was dreamy night:
    There stood Dundagel, throned: and the great sea
    Lay, a strong vassal at his master’s gate,
    And, like a drunken giant, sobb’d in sleep.”

There is an element of fiction in Hawker’s biographical studies.
He never let facts, or the absence of them, stand in the way of
his imagination, and he had a Chattertonian habit of passing off
compositions of his own as ancient manuscripts.

His letters are full of complaints that legends “invented” by himself
have been regarded by others as common property. But this is not
surprising when the said inventions wear the solemn garb of history.
Hawker had many of the qualities necessary to historical romance. His
rich native humour, and his rare gift for telling a story; his vivid
presentment of scene, character, and situation, make it a matter of
regret that he did not apply his powers more fully in this direction,
just as it is a matter of regret that his fine poem, “The Quest of the
Sangraal,” is only a fragment, though a fragment worthy to rank beside

Both in his prose and his poetry there is a disappointing lack of
sustained effort. His literary manner and antiquarian tastes bear
many points of resemblance to those of Scott, whose novels it was his
custom to re-read every year as Christmas-time came round. In his local
and scanty degree Hawker has done for the legends and worthies of old
Cornwall what Sir Walter did for those of Scotland.

The prose impulse seems to have moved Hawker somewhat late in life,
all the following papers having been published since 1850, when he had
reached the age of forty-seven. These papers, as a matter of fact,
represent a brave effort in years of increasing pecuniary anxiety to
add to his income by his pen. His letters contain many interesting
allusions to his literary struggles and his dealings with the
editors of his day, among whom were Froude and Dickens. He also met
or corresponded with several other famous contemporaries, including
Tennyson, Longfellow, Kingsley, and Cardinals Newman and Manning.
Earlier, too, he had a correspondence with Macaulay. But on these
matters it will be more fitting to enlarge in the new memoir of Hawker,
which is in course of preparation.

It remains for me to express my warmest thanks to those who have
helped in the production of this volume. Mr. R. Pearse Chope has been
indefatigable in collecting matter for the Appendix, and his are the
notes on “Morwenstow,” “Daniel Gumb’s Rock,” “Cruel Coppinger,”
and “Thomasine Bonaventure.” This Appendix, it is hoped, will be
of interest both in itself and as showing the sources of Hawker’s
information. It enables us, too, to judge his power of imparting colour
and romance to a plain record of facts. The account of old Stowe and
the Granvilles, and their gigantic retainer, Antony Payne, has been
kindly furnished by a descendant of the great Sir Bevill, the Rev.
Prebendary Roger Granville, and it has thus a double interest. Mrs.
Waddon Martyn of Tonacombe Manor, Morwenstow, and her son, Mr. N. H.
Lawrence Martyn, have been especially kind and helpful. The Rev. John
Tagert, Vicar of Morwenstow, and his daughter, Miss Tagert, Miss Rowe
of Poughill, Miss Louisa Twining, Mr. and Mrs. William Shephard, the
Rev. Canon Bone, the Rev. Ll. W. Bevan of Stratton, Mr. J. Sommers
James, and the Rev. H. Upton Squire of Tetcott, have also rendered
generous and valuable assistance. The portraits of Black John, Arscott
of Tetcott, and Parson Rudall have been reproduced from pictures
kindly lent by Mrs. Calmady, Mrs. Ford of Pencarrow, and the Rev. S.
Baring-Gould respectively. The portrait of Black John was formerly in
the possession of Mr. Hawker.

These acknowledgments would be incomplete if they did not refer to
the zealous care bestowed by Mr. J. Ley Pethybridge on his charming
illustrations. His work has been to a large extent a labour of
love. Thanks are also due to the various photographers, amateur and
professional, who have lent their aid. Mr. George Penrose, Curator of
the Royal Institution of Cornwall at Truro, kindly photographed the
painting of Antony Payne and the flask which formerly belonged to the
giant. The Manning tomb is from a photo by Mr. T. W. Woodruffe. The
interior of Morwenstow Church as it was in Hawker’s time is by S. Thorn
of Bude, as is also the piscina.

  C. E. BYLES.

  _June, 1903._



  MORWENSTOW                                      1

  THE FIRST CORNISH MOLE                         27

  THE GAUGER’S POCKET                            32

  THE LIGHT OF OTHER DAYS                        41


  BLACK JOHN                                     79

  DANIEL GUMB’S ROCK                             90

  ANTONY PAYNE, A CORNISH GIANT                 109

  CRUEL COPPINGER                               123

  THOMASINE BONAVENTURE                         139

  THE BOTATHEN GHOST                            158

  A RIDE FROM BUDE TO BOSS                      176

  HOLACOMBE                                     199

  HUMPHREY VIVIAN                               216


  APPENDICES                                    241


  PORTRAIT OF REV. R. S. HAWKER       _Frontispiece_

  _From a photograph by the late Dr. Budd, of Barnstaple._


  _From a photograph by S. Thorn, of Bude._


  _From engravings in J. T. Blight’s “Ancient Crosses and
  other Antiquities in the East of Cornwall.”_

  Fig. 3, ANTONY PAYNE’S FLAGON (see p. 120)

  _From a photograph by Mr. George Penrose._


  _From a photograph by S. Thorn, of Bude._


  _Drawn in lithography by Mr. J. Ley Pethybridge._


  _From a photograph by Mr. T. W. Woodruffe._


  _Drawn in lithography by Mr. J. Ley Pethybridge._


  _From a picture lent by Mrs. Calmady, and formerly
  belonging to Mr. Hawker._


  _From a picture in the possession of Mrs. Ford, of


  _Drawn in lithography by Mr. J. Ley Pethybridge._


  _Drawn in lithography by Mr. J. Ley Pethybridge._


  _From the picture in the possession of Mrs. Waddon
  Martyn, at Tonacombe Manor._


  _From the picture by Sir Godfrey Kneller, now in the
  Museum of the Royal Institution of Cornwall at Truro._


  _Drawn in lithography by Mr. J. Ley Pethybridge._


  _Drawn in lithography by Mr. J. Ley Pethybridge._


  _Drawn in lithography by Mr. J. Ley Pethybridge._


  _From a picture in the possession of Rev. S. Baring-Gould._


  _Drawn in lithography by Mr. J. Ley Pethybridge._


  _Drawn in lithography by Mr. J. Ley Pethybridge._

The Design on the Title-page, by Mr. J. Ley Pethybridge, represents the
Carving of THE FRUITFUL VINE, in Welcombe Church.

The Panel Design on the Front Cover represents a BENCH END in
Morwenstow Church; that of the Border is the VINE CARVING of the Roof
(see p. 15).

The Panel Design on the Back represents the Carving of THE BARREN
FIG-TREE, in Welcombe Church.



There cannot be a scene more graphic in itself, or more illustrative
in its history of the gradual growth and striking development of the
Church in Celtic and Western England, than the parish of St. Morwenna.
It occupies the upper and northern nook of the county of Cornwall; shut
in and bounded on the one hand by the Severn Sea, and on the other by
the offspring of its own bosom, the Tamar River, which gushes, with its
sister stream the Torridge, from a rushy knoll on the eastern wilds
of Morwenstow.[2] Once, and in the first period of our history, it
was one wide wild stretch of rocky moorland, broken with masses of
dunstone and the sullen curve of the warrior’s barrow, and flashing
here and there with a bright rill of water or a solitary well. Neither
landmarks nor fences nor walls bounded or severed the bold, free,
untravelled Cornish domain. Wheel-tracks in old Cornwall there were
none; but strange and narrow paths gleamed across the moorlands, which
the forefathers said in their simplicity, were first traced by angel’s
feet.[3] These, in truth, were trodden and worn by religious men--by
the pilgrim as he paced his way toward his chosen and votive bourn, or
by the palmer, whose listless footsteps had neither a fixed keblah nor
a future abode. Dimly visible by the darker hue of the crushed grass,
these straight and narrow roads led the traveller along from chapelry
to cell, or to some distant and solitary cave. On the one hand, in
this scenery of the past, they would guide us to the “Chapel-piece of
St. Morwenna,” a grassy glade along the gorse-clad cliff, where to
this very day neither will bramble cling nor heather grow; and, on the
other, to the walls and roof and the grooved stone for the waterflow,
which still survive, halfway down a headlong precipice, as the relics
of St. Morwenna’s Well.[4] But what was the wanderer’s guidance along
the bleak, unpeopled surface of these Cornish moors? The wayside
cross. Such were the crosses of St. James and St. John, which even
yet give name to their ancient sites in Morwenstow, and proclaim to
the traveller that, or ever a church was reared or an altar hallowed
here, the trophy of old Syria stood in solemn stone, a beacon to the
wayfaring man, and that the soldiers of God’s army had won their
honours among the unbaptised and barbarous people!

Here, then, let us stand and survey the earliest scenery of pagan
Morwenstow. Before us lies a breadth of wild and rocky land; it is
bounded by the billowy Atlantic, with its arm of waters, and by the
slow lapse of that gliding stream of which the Keltic proverb said,
before King Arthur’s day,--

    “Let Uter Pendragon do what he can,
    The Tamar water will run as it ran.”

Barrows curve above the dead; a stony cross stands by a mossed and
lichened well; here and there glides a shorn and vested monk, whose
function it was, often at peril of life and limb, to sprinkle the brow
of some hard-won votary, and to breathe the Gospel of the Trinity on
the startled ear of the Keltic barbarian. Let us close this theme of
thought with a few faint echoes from the River of the West:--

    “Fount of a rushing river! wild flowers wreathe
      The home where thy first waters sunlight claim:
    The lark sits hushed beside thee while I breathe,
      Sweet Tamar spring, the music of thy name!

    On! through thy goodly channel, to the sea:
      Pass amid heathery vale, tall rock, fair bough,
    But never more with footsteps pure and free,
      Or face so meek with happiness as now!

    Fair is the future scenery of thy days,
      Thy course domestic, and thy paths of pride;
    Depths that give back the soft-eyed violet’s gaze;
      Shores where tall navies march to meet the tide!

    Thine, leafy Tetcott, and those neighbouring walls,
      Noble Northumberland’s embowered domain:
    Thine, Cartha Martha, Morwell’s rocky falls,
      Storied Cotehele, and ocean’s loveliest plain.

    Yet false the vision, and untrue the dream,
      That lures thee from thy native wilds to stray:
    A thousand griefs will mingle with that stream:
      Unnumbered hearts shall sigh those waves away.

    Scenes fierce with men thy seaward current laves,
      Harsh multitudes will throng thy gentle brink;
    Back! with the grieving concourse of thy waves;
      Home! to the waters of thy childhood shrink!

    Thou heedest not! thy dream is of the shore;
      Thy heart is quick with life,--on! to the sea!
    How will the voice of thy far streams implore
      Again amid these peaceful weeds to be!

    My soul! my soul! a happier choice be thine;
      Thine the hushed valley and the lonely sod:
    False dream, far vision, hollow hope resign,
      Fast by our Tamar spring--alone with God!”

Then arrived, to people this bleak and lonely boundary with the
thoughts and doctrines of the Cross, the piety and the legend of St.
Morwenna. This was the origin of her name and place.

There dwelt in Wales in the ninth century a Keltic king, Breachan[5] by
name--it was from him that the words “Brecon” and “Brecknock” received
origin; and Gladwys was his wife and queen. They had, according to the
record of Leland, the scribe, children twenty-and-four. Now either
these were their own daughters and sons, or they were, according to the
usage of those days, the offspring of the nobles of their land, placed
for loyal and learned nurture in the palace of the king, and so called
the children of his house.

Of these Morwenna was one. She grew up wise, learned, and holy above
her generation; and it was evermore the strong desire of her soul to
bring the barbarous and pagan people among whom she dwelt to the
Christian font. Now so it was that when Morwenna was grown up to
saintly womanhood there was a king of Saxon England, and Ethelwolf
was his noble name. This was he who laid the endowment of his realm
of England on the altar of the Apostles at Rome, the first and eldest
Church-king of the islands who occupied the English throne. He,
Ethelwolf, had likewise many children; and while he intrusted to the
famous St. Swithun the guidance of his sons, he besought King Breachan
to send to his court Morwenna, that she might become the teacher of the
Princess Edith and the other daughters of his royal house.[6] She came.
She sojourned in his palace long and patiently; and she so gladdened
King Ethelwolf by her goodness and her grace, that at last he was fain
to give her whatsoever she sought.

Now the piece of ground, or the acre of God, which in those old days
was wont to be set apart or hallowed for the site of a future shrine
and church, was called the “station,” or in native speech the “stowe,”
of the martyr or saint whose name was given to the altar-stone. So, on
a certain day thus came and so said Morwenna to the King: “Largess,
my lord the king, largess, for God’s sake!” “Largess, my daughter?”
answered Ethelwolf the king; “largess! be it whatsoever it may.” Then
said Morwenna: “Sir, there is a stern and stately headland in thy
appanage of the Tamar-land, it is a boundary rugged and tall, and
it looks along the Severn Sea; they call it in that Keltic region
Hennacliff--that is to say, the Raven’s Crag--because it hath ever been
for long ages the haunt and the home of the birds of Elias.[7] Very
often, from my abode in wild Wales, have I watched across the waves
until the westering sun fell red upon that Cornish rock, and I have
said in my maiden vows, ‘Alas! and would to God a font might be hewn
and an altar built among the stones by yonder barbarous hill.’ Give me,
then, as I beseech thee, my lord the king, a station for a messenger
and a priest in that scenery of my early prayer, that so and through
me the saying of Esaias the seer may come to pass, ‘In the place of
dragons, where each lay, there may be grass with reeds and rushes.’”

Her voice was heard; her entreaty was fulfilled. They came at the cost
and impulse of Morwenna; they brought and they set up yonder font, with
the carved cable coiled around it in stone, in memory of the vessel
of the fishermen of the East anchored in the Galilæan Sea. They built
there altar and arch, aisle and device in stone. They linked their
earliest structure with Morwenna’s name, the tender and the true;
and so it is that notwithstanding the lapse of ten whole centuries of
English time, at this very day the bourn of many a pilgrim to the West
is the Station of Morwenna, or, in simple and Saxon phrase, Morwenstow.
So runs the quaint and simple legend of our Tamar-side; and so ascend
into the undated era of the ninth or tenth age the early Norman arches,
font, porch, and piscina of Morwenstow church.[8]

The endowment, in abbreviated Latin, still exists in the registry of
the diocese.[9] It records that the monks of St. John at Bridgewater,
in whom the total tithes and glebe-lands of this parish were then
vested, had agreed, at the request of Walter Brentingham, the Bishop
of Exeter, to endow an altar-priest with certain lands, bounded on the
one hand by the sea, and on the other by the Well of St. John of the
Wilderness, near the church. They surrendered, also, for this endowment
the garbæ of two bartons of vills, Tidnacomb[10] and Stanbury, the
altarage, and the small tithes of the parish. But the striking point
in this ancient document is that, whereas the date of the endowment
is A.D. 1296, the church is therein referred to by name as an old
and well-known structure. To such a remote era, therefore, we must
assign the Norman relics of antiquity which still survive, and which,
although enclosed within the walls and outline of an edifice enlarged
and extended at two subsequent periods, have to this day undergone no
material change.

We proceed to enumerate and describe these features of the first
foundation of St. Morwenna,[11] and to which I am not disposed to
assign a later origin than from A.D. 875 to A.D. 1000.

First among these is a fine Norman doorway at the southern entrance
of the present church. The arch-head is semicircular, and it is
sustained on either side by half-piers built in stone, with capitals
adorned with different devices; and the curve is crowned with the
zigzag and chevron mouldings. This moulding is surmounted by a range
of grotesque faces--the mermaid and the dolphin, the whale, and other
fellow-creatures of the deep; for the earliest imagery of the primeval
hewers of stone was taken from the sea, in unison with the great
sources of the Gospel,--the Sea of Galilee, the fishing men who were
to haul the net, and the “catchers of men.” The crown of the arch is
adorned with a richly carved, and even eloquent, device: two dragons
are crouching in the presence of a lamb, and underneath his conquering
feet lies their passive chain.

But it is time for us to unclose the door and enter in. There stands
the font in all its emphatic simplicity. A moulded cable girds it on to
the mother church; and the uncouth lip of its circular rim attests its
origin in times of a rude taste and unadorned symbolism. For wellnigh
ten centuries the Gospel of the Trinity has sounded over this silent
cell of stone, and from the Well of St. John[12] the stream has glided
in, and the water gushed withal, while another son or daughter has
been added to the Christian family. Before us stand the three oldest
arches of the Church in ancient Cornwall. They curve upon piers built
in channelled masonry, a feature of Norman days which presents a
strong contrast with the grooved pillars of solid or of a single stone
in succeeding styles of architecture. The western arch is a simple
semicircle of dunstone from the shore, so utterly unadorned and so
severe in its design that it might be deemed of Saxon origin, were
it not for its alliance with the elaborate Norman decoration of the
other two. These embrace again, and embody the ripple of the sea and
the monsters that take their pastime in the deep waters. But there is
one very graphic “sermon in stone” twice repeated on the curve and on
the shoulder of the arch. Our forefathers called it (and our people
inherit their phraseology) “The Grin of Arius.” The origin of the name
is this. It is said that the final development of every strong and
baleful passion in the human countenance is a fierce and angry laugh.
In a picture of the Council of Nicæa, which is said still to exist, the
baffled Arius is shown among the doctors with his features convulsed
into a strong and demoniac spasm of malignant mirth. Hence it became
one of the usages among the graphic imagery of interior decoration to
depict the heretic as mocking the mysteries with that glare of derision
and gesture of disdain, which admonish and instruct, by the very name
of “The Grin of Arius.” Thence were derived the lolling tongue and
the mocking mouth which are still preserved on the two corbels of
stone in this early Norman work. To this period we must also allot the
piscina,[13] which was discovered and rescued from desecration by the
present vicar.

The chancel wall one day sounded hollow when struck; the mortar was
removed, and underneath there appeared an arched aperture, which had
been filled up with jumbled carved work and a crushed drain. It was
cleared out, and so rebuilt as to occupy the exact site of its former
existence. It is of the very earliest type of Christian architecture,
and, for aught we know, it may be the oldest piscina in all the land.
At all events, it can scarcely have seen less than a thousand years.
It perpetuates the original form of this appanage of the chancel; for
the horn of the Hebrew altar,[14] as is well known to architectural
students, was in shape and in usage the primary type of the Christian
piscina. These horns were four, one at each corner, and in outline like
the crest of a dwarf pillar, with a cup-shaped mouth and a grooved
throat, to receive and to carry down the superfluous blood and water of
the sacrifices into a cistern or channel underneath. Hence was derived
the ecclesiastical custom that, whenever the chalice or other vessel
had been rinsed, the water was reverently poured into the piscina,
which was usually built into a carved niche of the southward chancel
wall. Such is the remarkable relic of former times which still exists
in Morwenstow church, verifying, by the unique and remote antiquity of
its pillared form, its own primeval origin.


_From a photo by S. Thorn, Bude_]

But among the features of this sanctuary none exceed in singular and
eloquent symbolism the bosses of the chancel roof. Every one of these
is a doctrine or a discipline engraven in the wood by some Bezaleel or
Aholiab of early Christian days. Among these the Norman rose and the
_fleur-de-lis_ have frequent pre-eminence. The one, from the rose of
Sharon downward, is the pictured type of our Lord; the other, whether
as the lotus of the Nile or the lily of the vale, is the type of
His Virgin Mother; and both of these floral decorations were employed
as ecclesiastical emblems centuries before they were assumed into the
shields of Normandy or England. Another is the double-necked eagle,
the bird of the Holy Ghost in the patriarchal and Mosaic periods of
revelation, just as the dove afterwards became in the days of the
Gospel; and, mythic writers having asserted that when Elisha sought
and obtained from his master “a double portion of Elijah’s spirit,”
this miracle was portrayed and perpetuated in architectural symbolism
by the two necks of the eagle of Elisha. Four faces cluster on another
boss,--three with masculine features, and one with the softer impress
of a female countenance, a typical assemblage of the Trinity and the
Mother of God. Again we mark the tracery of that “piety of the birds,”
as devout writers have named the fabled usage of the pelican.[15] She
is shown baring and rending her own veins to nourish with her blood her
thirsty offspring,--a group which so graphically interprets itself to
the eye and mind of a Christian man that it needs no interpretation.

[Illustration: FIG. 2



But very remarkable, in the mid-roof, is the boss of the pentacle[16]
of Solomon. This was the five-angled figure which was engraven on
an emerald, and wherewith he ruled the demons;[17] for they were
the vassals of his mighty seal: the five angles in their original
mythicism, embracing as they did the unutterable name, meant, it may
be, the fingers of Omnipotence as the symbolic Hand subsequently came
forth in shadows on Belshazzar’s wall. Be this as it may, it was the
concurrent belief of the Eastern nations that the sigil of the Wise
King was the source and instrument of his supernatural power. So Heber
writes in his “Palestine”--

    “To him were known, so Hagar’s offspring tell,
    The powerful sigil and the starry spell:
    Hence all his might, for who could these oppose?
    And Tadmor[18] thus and Syrian Balbec rose.”

[Illustration: FIG. 1



Hence it is that we find this mythic figure, in decorated delineation,
as the signal of the boundless might of Him whose Church bends over
all, the pentacle of Omnipotence! Akin to this graphic imagery is the
shield of David, the theme of another of our chancel-bosses. Here the
outline is six-angled: Solomon’s device with one angle more, which,
I would submit, was added in order to suggest another doctrine--the
manhood taken into God, and so to become a typical prophecy of the
Incarnation. The framework of these bosses is a cornice of vines. The
root of the vines on each wall grows from the altar-side; the stem
travels outward across the screen towards the nave. There tendrils
cling and clusters bend, while angels sustain the entire tree.

    “Hearken! there is in Old Morwenna’s shrine,
      A lonely sanctuary of the Saxon days,
      Reared by the Severn Sea for prayer and praise,
    Amid the carved work of the roof a vine.
      Its root is where the eastern sunbeams fall
      First in the chancel, then along the wall,
    Slowly it travels on--a leafy line
      With here and there a cluster; and anon
      More and more grapes, until the growth hath gone
    Through arch and aisle. Hearken! and heed the sign;
      See at the altar-side the steadfast root,
      Mark well the branches, count the summer fruit.
    So let a meek and faithful heart be thine,
    And gather from that tree a parable divine!”

A screen[19] divides the deep and narrow chancel from the nave. A
scroll of rich device runs across it, wherein deer and oxen browse on
the leaves of a budding vine. Both of these animals are the well-known
emblems of the baptised, and the sacramental tree is the type of the
Church grafted into God.


_From a photo by S. Thorn, Bude_]

A strange and striking acoustic result is accomplished by this and by
similar chancel-screens: they act as the tympanum of the structure, and
increase and reverberate the volume of sound. The voice uttered at the
altar-side smites the hollow work of the screen, and is carried onward,
as by some echoing instrument, into the nave and aisles; so that the
lattice-work of the chancel, which at first thought might appear to
impede the transit of the voice, does in reality grasp and deliver into
stronger echo the ministry of tone.

Just outside the screen, and at the step of the nave, is the grave
of a priest. It is identified by the reversed position of the carved
cross on the stone, which also indicates the self-same attitude in
the corpse. The head is laid down toward the east, while in all
secular interment the head is turned to the west. Until the era of
the Reformation, or possibly to a later date, the head of the priest
upon the bier for burial, and afterwards in the grave, was always
placed “versus altare;” and, according to all ecclesiastical usage,
the discipline was doctrinal also. The following is the reason as laid
down by Durandus and other writers. Because the east, “the gate of the
morning,” is the keblah of Christian hope, inasmuch as the Messiah,
whose symbolic name was “The Orient,” thence arrived, and thence, also,
will return on the chariots of cloud for the Judgment: we therefore
place our departed ones with their heads westward, and their feet and
faces towards the eastern sky,[20] that at the outshine of the Last
Day, and the sound of the archangel, they may start from their dust,
like soldiers from their sleep, and stand up before the Son of man
suddenly! But the apostles were to sit on future thrones and to assist
at the Judgment: the Master was to arrive for doom amid His ancients
gloriously, and the saints were to judge the world. These prophecies
were symbolised by the burial of the clergy, and thence, in contrast
with other dead, their posture in the grave. It was to signify that it
would be their office to arise and to “follow the Lord in the air,”
when He shall arrive from the east and pass onward, gathering up
His witnesses toward the west. Thus, in the posture of the departed
multitudes, the sign is, “We look for the Son of Man: ad Orientem
Judah.” And in the attitude of His appointed ministers, thus saith the
legend on the tombs of His priests, “They arose and followed Him.”

The eastern window of the chancel,[21] as its legend records, is the
pious and dutiful oblation of Rudolph, Baron Clinton, and Georgiana
Elizabeth his wife. The central figure embodies the legend of St.
Morwenna, who stands in the attitude of the teacher of the Princess
Edith, daughter of Ethelwolf the Founder King; on the one side is shown
St. Peter, and on the other St. Paul. The upper spandrels are filled
with a Syrian lamb, a pelican with her brood, and the three first
letters of the Saviour’s name. The window[22] itself is the recent
offering of two noble minds; and while on this theme we may be pardoned
for the natural boast that the patrons of this chancel have called by
the name of Morwenna one of the fair and graceful daughters of their
house. “Nomen, omen,” was the Roman saying,--“Nomen, numen,” be our
proverb now! But before we proceed to descend the three steps of the
chancel floor, so obviously typical of Faith, Hope, and Charity, let us
look westward through the tower-arch; and as we look we discover that
the builders, either by chance or design, have turned aside or set out
of proportional place the western window of the tower. Is this really
so, or does the wall of the chancel swerve? The deviation was intended,
nor without an error could we render the crooked straight. And the
reason is said to be this: when our Redeemer died, at the utterance
of the word τετέλεσται, “It is done!” His head declined towards His
right shoulder, and in that attitude He chose to die. Now it was to
commemorate this drooping of the Saviour’s head, to record in stone
this eloquent gesture of our Lord, that the “wise in heart,” who traced
this church in the actual outline of a cross, departed from the precise
rules of architect and carpenter.

The southern aisle, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, with its
granite and dunstone pillars, is of the later Decorated order, and
is remarkable for its singular variety of material in stone. Granite
pillars are surmounted by arches of dunstone; and, _vice versa_,
dunstone arches by pillared granite. This is again a striking example
of doctrine proclaimed in structure, and is symbolic of the fact
that the Spiritual Church gathered into one body every hue and kind
of belief; whereas “Jew and Greek, Barbarian and Scythian, bond and
free,” were to be all one in Christ Jesus: so the material building
personified, in its various and visible embrace, one Church to grasp,
and a single roof to bend over all. This, the last addition to the
ancient sanctuary of St. Morwenna, bears on the capital of a pillar
the date A.D. 1475,[23] and thus the total structure stands a graphic
monument of the growth and stature of a scene of ancient worship, which
had been embodied and completed before the invention of printing and
other modern arts had worked their revolution upon Western Europe.

The worshipper must descend three steps of stone as he enters into this
aisle of St. John; and this gradation is intended to recall the time
and the place where the multitude went down into the river of Dan “at
Bethabara, beyond Jordan, where John was baptising.”

The churchyard of Morwenstow is the scene of other features of a remote
antiquity. The roof of the total church--chancel, nave, northern and
southern aisles--is of wood. Shingles of rended oak occupy the place of
the usual, but far more recent, tiles which cover other churches; and
it is not a little illustrative of the antique usages of this remote
and lonely sanctuary, that no change has been wrought, in the long
lapse of ages, in this unique and costly, but fit and durable, roofing.
It supplies a singular illustration of the Syriac version of the 90th
Psalm, wherein, with prophetic reference to these commemorations of the
death-bed of the Messias, it is written, “Lord, Thou hast been our
roof from generation to generation.”

The northern side of the churchyard is, according to ancient usage,
devoid of graves.[24] This is the common result of an unconscious sense
among the people of the doctrine of regions--a thought coeval with
the inspiration of the Christian era. This is their division.[25] The
east was held to be the realm of the oracles, the especial gate of the
throne of God; the west was the domain of the people--the Galilee of
all nations was there; the south, the land of the mid-day, was sacred
to things heavenly and divine; but the north was the devoted region
of Satan and his hosts, the lair of the demon and his haunt. In some
of our ancient churches, and in the church of Welcombe,[26] a hamlet
bordering on Morwenstow, over against the font, and in the northern
wall, there is an entrance named the Devil’s door: it was thrown open
at every baptism, at the Renunciation, for the escape of the fiend;
while at every other time it was carefully closed. Hence, and because
of the doctrinal suggestion of the ill-omened scenery of the northern
grave-ground, came the old dislike[27] to sepulture on the north side,
so strikingly visible around this church.

The events of the last twenty years have added fresh interest to
God’s acre, for such is the exact measure of the grave ground of St.
Morwenna. Along and beneath the southern trees, side by side, are
the graves of between thirty and forty seamen, hurled by the sea, in
shipwreck, on the neighbouring rocks, and gathered up and buried there
by the present vicar and his people. The crews of three lost vessels,
cast away upon the rocks of the glebe and elsewhere, are laid at rest
in this safe and silent ground. A legend for one recording-stone
thus commemorates a singular scene. The figurehead[28] of the brig
_Caledonia_, of Arbroath, in Scotland, stands at the graves of her
crew, in the churchyard of Morwenstow:--

    “We laid them in their lowly rest,
      The strangers of a distant shore;
    We smoothed the green turf on their breast,
      ’Mid baffled ocean’s angry roar!
    And there--the relique of the storm--
    We fixed fair Scotland’s figured form.

    She watches by her bold--her brave--
      Her shield towards the fatal sea;
    Their cherished lady of the wave
      Is guardian of their memory!
    Stern is her look, but calm, for there
    No gale can rend, or billow bear.

    Stand, silent image, stately stand!
      Where sighs shall breathe and tears be shed;
    And many a heart of Cornish land
      Will soften for the stranger-dead.
    They came in paths of storm--they found
    This quiet home in Christian ground.”

[Illustration: DOORWAY AT STANBURY, showing the initials of Kempthorne
and Manning.]

Halfway down the principal pathway of the churchyard is a granite
altar-tomb. It was raised, in all likelihood, for the old “month’s
mind,” or “year’s mind,” of the dead: and it records a sad parochial
history of the former time. It was about the middle of the sixteenth
century that John Manning, a large landowner of Morwenstow, wooed and
won Christiana Kempthorne, the vicar’s daughter. Her father was also a
wealthy landlord of the parish in that day. Their marriage united in
their own hands a broad estate, and in the midst of it the bridegroom
built for his bride the manor-house of Stanbury, and labelled the
door-heads and the hearths with the blended initials[29] of the married
pair. It was a great and a joyous day when they were wed, and the
bride was led home amid all the solemn and festal observances of the
time. There were liturgical benedictions of the mansion-house, the
hearth, and the marriage-bed; for a large estate and a high place
for their future lineage had been blended in the twain. Five months
afterwards, on his homeward way from the hunting-field, John Manning
was assailed by a mad bull, and gored to death not far from his home.
His bride, maddened at the sight of her husband’s corpse, became
prematurely a mother and died. They were laid, side by side, with their
buried joys and blighted hopes, underneath this altar-tomb--whereon the
simple legend records that there lie “John Manning and Christiana his
wife, who died A.D. 1546, without living issue.”


_From a photo by Mr. T. W. Woodruffe_]

When the vicar of the parish arrived, in the year 1836, he brought
with him, among other carved oak furniture, a bedstead of Spanish
chestnut, inlaid and adorned with ancient veneer: and it was set up,
unwittingly, in a room of the vicarage which looked out upon the tombs.
In the right-hand panel of the framework, at the head, was grooved
in the name of John Manning; and in the place of the wife, the left
hand, Christiana Manning, with their marriage date between. Nor was
it discovered until afterwards that this was the very couch of wedded
benediction, a relic of the great Stanbury marriage, which had been
brought back and set up within sight of the unconscious grave; and
thus that the sole surviving records of the bridegroom and the bride
stood side by side, the bedstead and the tomb, the first and the last
scene of their early hope and their final rest.

Another and a lowlier grave bears on its recording-stone a broken
snatch of antique rhythm, interwoven with modern verse. A young
man[30] of this rural people, when he lay a-dying, found solace in
his intervals of pain in the remembered echo of, it may be, some
long-forgotten dirge; and he desired that the words which so haunted
his memory might somehow or other be engraved on his stone. He died,
and his parish priest fulfilled his desire by causing the following
death-verse to be set up where he lies. We shall close our legends of
Morwenstow with these simple lines.[31] The fragment which clung to the
dying man’s memory was the first only of these lines:--

    “‘Sing! from the chamber to the grave!’
      Thus did the dead man say,--
    ‘A sound of melody I crave
      Upon my burial-day.

    ‘Bring forth some tuneful instrument,
      And let your voices rise:
    My spirit listened as it went
      To music of the skies!

    ‘Sing sweetly while you travel on,
      And keep the funeral slow:
    The angels sing where I am gone;
      And you should sing below!

    ‘Sing from the threshold to the porch,
      Until you hear the bell;
    And sing you loudly in the church
      The Psalms I love so well.

    ‘Then bear me gently to my grave:
      And as you pass along,
    Remember, ’twas my wish to have
      A pleasant funeral-song!

    ‘So earth to earth--and dust to dust--
      And though my bones decay,
    My soul shall sing among the just,
      Until the Judgment-day?’”


[1] The foundations of this article first appeared in Mr. Blight’s
“Ancient Cornish Crosses,” Penzance, 1850; in an article entitled
“A Cornish Churchyard,” in _Chambers’s Journal_, 1852; also, as the
“Legend of Morwenstow,” in _Willis’s Current Notes_, 1856; and in its
present extended form, in “Footprints of Former Men in Far Cornwall,”
1870, embodying the author’s latest corrections and impressions.

[2] Woolley Moor.


    “Ah! native Cornwall, throned upon the hills,
    Thy moorland pathways worn by Angel feet.”

  _Quest of the Sangraal._


    “If, traveller, thy happy spirit know
    That awful Fount whence living waters flow,
    Then hither come to draw: thy feet have found
    Amidst these rocks a place of holy ground.”

  _The Well of St. Morwenna._

[5] Breachan figures as a saint on a window in St. Neot’s church,
called “The Young Women’s Window,” erected in 1529 at the cost of the
maidens of the village. Mr. Baring-Gould says that “Brychan” lived in
the fifth century, and that Morwenna was probably his grand-daughter.

[6] According to Mr. Baring-Gould, this story is full of anachronisms,
arising from the confusion of three different saints, Morwenna of
Cornwall, Modwenna of Burton-on-Trent, and Monynna of Newry.

[7] Compare Hawker’s poem “A Croon on Hennacliff.”

[8] This prose description of Morwenstow church has its metrical
counterpart in “Morwennæ Statio.” The poetry in stone has never been
more beautifully expressed than by those strong and simple lines.

[9] See Appendix A.

[10] A mistake for “Tunnacomb.” See Appendix A.

[11] See Appendix A_a_.

[12] The water for baptisms at Morwenstow is always drawn from this
well, which Hawker won for the glebe by a law-suit soon after his
appointment to the living.

[13] See Appendix A.

[14] In Blight’s book on “Ancient Cornish Crosses,” etc., there is an
engraving of the Morwenstow Piscina and a Hebrew altar, with a note by

[15] Among some unpublished MSS. of Hawker’s is the following verse,
dated 1840:--

    “Thus said the pious Pelican unto her thirsty Young,
    ‘Drink, drink! my desert children: be beautiful and strong.
    What tho’ it be the lifeblood from my veins ye drain away;
    Ye will grow and glide in glory, and for me, O let me die.’”

[16] Hawker had a seal engraved with this pentacle. Compare the lines
in his poem “Baal-Zephon.”

    “Oh for the Sigil! or the chanted spell!
    The pentacle that Demons know and dread.”

In a letter to Miss Louisa Twining, Hawker writes: “The pentacle of
Solomon, or five-pointed figure, was derived from his seal wherewith
he ruled the genii. It was a sapphire, and it contained a hand _alive_
which grasped a small serpent, also alive. Through the bright gem both
were visible, the hand and the ‘worm’ as of old they called it. When
invoked by the king, the fingers moved and the serpent writhed and
miracles were wrought by spirits which were vassals of the gem....
Because of this mystic Hand the pentacle or five-pointed (fingered)
figure became the Sigil of Signomancy in the early ages.”

[17] For an instance of its use in exorcism, see the “Botathen Ghost”
story, p. 158.

[18] “And Solomon built ... Baalath, and Tadmor in the Wilderness” (1
Kings ix. 17-18).

[19] This screen was constructed by Mr. Hawker from the rescued
remnants of an older screen, pieced together with ironwork. It has
since been taken down, and the old carving placed in other parts of the

[20] See Appendix A_b_.

[21] The chancel has been restored by Lord Clinton. The old altar
ornaments used by Mr. Hawker are preserved in the vestry.

[22] See note on p. 6. Two new lancet windows have since been placed
in the chancel, one by Mrs. Waddon Martyn, of Tonacombe, in memory of
her husband, the other by friends of the Rev. J. Tagert, to commemorate
the restoration of the church during his vicariate. A larger memorial
window has also been placed by the Martyn family at the east end of the
north aisle.

[23] This appears to be an error, as the date on the pillar (in Roman
figures) is 1564. (See Appendix A.)

[24] See Appendix A_b_.

[25] Compare the apportionment of the regions among the four great
knights, Lancelot, Perceval, Tristan, and Galahad, in “The Quest of the

                        “Let us arise
    And cleave the earth like rivers; like the streams
    That win from Paradise their immortal name:
    To the four winds of God, casting the lot....”

The mystic attributes of the four regions are told in lines of
incomparable grandeur.

[26] More about this village is to be found in the article “Holacombe.”

[27] This dislike is disappearing. When I was at Welcombe recently
a grave was being dug on the northern side of the church. The
grave-digger said he had been christened and married by Mr. Hawker:
“one of the best passons,” he added, “us ever had.”--ED.

[28] See p. 62.

[29] These initials are still to be seen at Stanbury, now a farmhouse.
The scene of Mr. Baring-Gould’s novel “The Gaverocks” is partly laid

[30] Richard Cann, who died February 15, 1842. Compare Hawker’s
head-note to the poem in “Cornish Ballads,” where it is called “The

[31] It may be said that the first editions of some of Hawker’s poems
are on the grave-stones in Morwenstow churchyard. Other verses of
this kind are those “On the Grave of a Child,” and some of the prose
inscriptions bear traces of the same authorship.



A lonely life for the dark and silent mole! Day is to her night. She
glides along her narrow vaults, unconscious of the glad and glorious
scenes of earth and air and sea. She was born, as it were, in a grave;
and in one long, living sepulchre she dwells and dies. Is not existence
to her a kind of doom? Wherefore is she thus a dark, sad exile from the
blessed light of day? Hearken!

Here, in our bleak old Cornwall, the first mole was once a lady of
the land. Her abode was in the far west, among the hills of Morwenna,
beside the Severn Sea. She was the daughter of a lordly race, the only
child of her mother; and the father of the house was dead: her name
was Alice of the Combe. Fair was she and comely, tender and tall; and
she stood upon the threshold of her youth. But most of all did men
marvel at the glory of her large blue eyes. They were, to look upon,
like the summer waters, when the sea is soft with light. They were
to her mother a joy, and to the maiden herself, ah! _benedicite_, a
pride. She trusted in the loveliness of those eyes, and in her face
and features and form; and so it was that the damsel was wont to
pass the whole summer day in the choice of rich apparel and precious
stones and gold. Howbeit this was one of the ancient and common usages
of those old departed days. Now, in the fashion of her stateliness
and in the hue and texture of her garments, there was none among the
maidens of old Cornwall like Alice of the Combe. Men sought her far and
near, but she was to them all, like a form of graven stone, careless
and cold. Her soul was set upon a Granville’s love, fair Sir Beville
of Stowe--the flower of the Cornish chivalry--that noble gentleman!
That valorous knight! he was her star. And well might she wait upon
his eyes; for he was the garland of the west. The loyal soldier of a
Stuart king--he was that stately Granville who lived a hero’s life and
died a warrior’s death! He was her star. Now there was signal made of
banquet in the halls of Stowe, of wassail and dance. The messenger
had sped, and Alice of the Combe would be there. Robes, precious and
many, were unfolded from their rest, and the casket poured forth jewel
and gem, that the maiden might stand before the knight victorious. It
was the day--the hour--the time--her mother sate at her wheel by the
hearth--the page waited in the hall--she came down in her loveliness,
into the old oak room, and stood before the mirrored glass--her robe
was of woven velvet, rich and glossy and soft; jewels shone like stars
in the midnight of her raven hair, and on her hand there gleamed afar
off a bright and glorious ring! She stood--she gazed upon her own fair
countenance and form, and worshipped! “Now all good angels succour
thee, my Alice, and bend Sir Beville’s soul! Fain am I to greet thee
wedded wife before I die! I do yearn to hold thy children on my knee!
Often shall I pray to-night that the Granville heart may yield! Ay,
thy victory shall be thy mother’s prayer.” “Prayer!” was the haughty
answer: “now, with the eyes that I see in that glass, and with this
vesture meet for a queen, I lack no trusting prayer!”[33] Saint Juliot
shield us! Ah! words of fatal sound--there was a sudden shriek, a sob,
a cry, and where was Alice of the Combe? Vanished, silent, gone! They
had heard wild tones of mystic music in the air, there was a rush, a
beam of light, and she was gone, and that for ever! East sought they
her, and west, in northern paths and south; but she was never more
seen in the lands. Her mother wept till she had not a tear left; none
sought to comfort her, for it was vain. Moons waxed and waned, and the
crones by the cottage hearth had whiled away many a shadowy night with
tales of Alice of the Combe. But at the last, as the gardener in the
pleasaunce[34] leaned one day on his spade, he saw among the roses a
small round hillock of earth, such as he had never seen before, and
upon it something which shone. It was her ring! It was the very jewel
she had worn the day she vanished out of sight! They looked earnestly
upon it, and they saw within the border, for it was wide, the tracery
of certain small fine runes in the ancient Cornish tongue, which said--

    “Beryan erde
    Oyn und perde!”

Then came the priest of the place of Morwenna, a grey and silent man!
He had served long years at his lonely altar, a worn and solitary form.
But he had been wise in language in his youth, and men said that he
heard and understood voices in the air when spirits speak and glide. He
read and he interpreted thus the legend on the ring,--

    “The earth must hide,
    Both eyes and Pride!”

Now as on a day he uttered these words, in the pleasaunce, by the
mound, on a sudden there was among the grass a low faint cry. They
beheld, and oh, wondrous and strange! There was a small dark creature,
clothed in a soft velvet skin in texture and in hue like the Lady
Alice her robe, and they saw, as it groped into the earth, that it
moved along without eyes, in everlasting night! Then the ancient man
wept, for he called to mind many things and saw what they meant; and he
showed them how that this was the maiden, who had been visited with a
doom for her Pride! Therefore her rich array had been changed into the
skin of a creeping thing; and her large proud eyes were sealed up, and
she herself had become


Ah, woe is me and well-a-day! that damsel so stately and fair, sweet
Lady Alice of the Combe, should become, for a judgment, the dark mother
of the Moles! Now take ye good heed, Cornish maidens, how ye put on
vain apparel to win love! And cast down your eyes, all ye damsels of
the west, and look meekly on the ground! Be ye ever good and gentle,
tender and true; and when ye see your own image in the glass, and ye
begin to be lifted up with the loveliness of that shadowy thing, call
to mind the maiden of the vale of Morwenna, her noble eyes and comely
countenance, her vesture of price, and the glittering ring! Set ye by
the wheel as of old they sate, and when ye draw forth the lengthening
wool, sing ye evermore and say--

    “Beryan erde
    Oyn und perde!”


[32] From _Notes & Queries_, 1st ser., vol. ii. p. 225. 1850. See
Appen. B.

[33] Compare “The Silent Tower of Bottreaux.”

    “Thank God, thou whining knave! on land,
    But thank, at sea, the steersman’s hand.”

[34] The scene of this legend is pointed out in the garden at Tonacombe


Poor old Tristram Pentire! How he comes up before me as I pronounce his
name! That light, active, half-stooping form, bent as though he had a
brace of kegs upon his shoulders still; those thin, grey, rusty locks
that fell upon a forehead seamed with the wrinkles of threescore years
and five; the cunning glance that questioned in his eye, and that nose
carried always at half-cock, with a red blaze along its ridge, scorched
by the departing footstep of the fierce fiend Alcohol, when he fled
before the reinforcements of the coast-guard.

He was the last of the smugglers; and when I took possession of my
glebe, I hired him as my servant-of-all-work, or rather no-work, about
the house, and there he rollicked away the last few years of his
careless existence, in all the pomp and idleness of “The parson’s man.”
He had taken a bold part in every landing on the coast, man and boy,
full forty years; throughout which time all kinds of men had largely
trusted him with their brandy and their lives, and true and faithful
had he been to them, as sheath to steel.

Gradually he grew attached to me, and I could but take an interest in
him. I endeavoured to work some softening change in him, and to awaken
a certain sense of the errors of his former life. Sometimes, as a sort
of condescension on his part, he brought himself to concede and to
acknowledge, in his own quaint, rambling way--

“Well, sir, I do think, when I come to look back, and to consider what
lives we used to live,--drunk all night and idle abed all day, cursing,
swearing, fighting, gambling, lying, and always prepared to shet
[shoot] the gauger,--I do really believe, sir, we surely was in sin!”

But, whatever contrite admissions to this extent were extorted
from old Tristram by misty glimpses of a moral sense and by his
desire to gratify his master, there were two points on which he was
inexorably firm. The one was, that it was a very guilty practice in
the authorities to demand taxes for what he called run goods; and the
other settled dogma of his creed was, that it never could be a sin
to make away with an exciseman. Battles between Tristram and myself
on these themes were frequent and fierce; but I am bound to confess
that he always managed, somehow or other, to remain master of the
field. Indeed, what Chancellor of the Exchequer could be prepared to
encounter the triumphant demand with which Tristram smashed to atoms
my suggestions of morality, political economy, and finance? He would
listen with apparent patience to all my solemn and secular pleas
for the revenue, and then down he came upon me with the unanswerable

“But why should the king tax good liquor? If they _must_ have taxes,
why can’t they tax something else?”

My efforts, however, to soften and remove his doctrinal prejudice as to
the unimportance, in a moral point of view, of putting the officers of
his Majesty’s revenue to death, were equally unavailing. Indeed, to my
infinite chagrin, I found that I had lowered myself exceedingly in his
estimation by what he called standing up for the exciseman.

“There had been divers passons,” he assured me, “in his time in the
parish, and very learned clergy they were, and some very strict; and
some would preach one doctrine and some another; and there was one
that had very mean notions about running goods, and said ’twas a wrong
thing to do; but even he, and the rest, never took part with the
gauger--never! And besides,” said old Trim, with another demolishing
appeal, “wasn’t the exciseman always ready to put _us_ to death when he

With such a theory it was not very astonishing--although it startled
me at the time--that I was once suddenly assailed, in a pause of his
spade, with the puzzling inquiry, “Can you tell me the reason, sir,
that no grass will ever grow upon the grave of a man that is hanged

“No, indeed, Tristram. I never heard of the fact before.”

“Well, I thought every man know’d that from the Scripture: why, you
can see it, sir, every Sabbath-day. That grave on the right hand of
the path, as you go down to the porch-door, that heap of airth with no
growth, not one blade of grass on it--that’s Will Pooly’s grave that
was hanged unjustly.”

“Indeed! but how came such a shocking deed to be done?”

“Why, you see, sir, they got poor Will down to Bodmin, all among
strangers, and there was bribery, and false swearing; and an unjust
judge came down--and the jury all bad rascals, tin-and-copper-men--and
so they all agreed together, and they hanged poor Will. But his friends
begged the body and brought the corpse home here to his own parish; and
they turfed the grave, and they sowed the grass twenty times over, but
’twas all no use, nothing would ever grow--he was hanged unjustly.”

“Well, but, Tristram, you have not told me all this while what this man
Pooly was accused of: what had he done?”

“Done, sir! Done? Nothing whatever but killed the exciseman!”

The glee, the chuckle, the cunning glance, were inimitably
characteristic of the hardened old smuggler; and then down went the
spade with a plunge of defiance, and as I turned away, a snatch of his
favourite song came carolling after me like the ballad of a victory:--

    “On, through the ground-sea, shove!
      Light on the larboard bow!
    There’s a nine-knot breeze above,
      And a sucking tide below!

    Hush! for the beacon fails:
      The skulking gauger’s by.
    Down with your studding-sails,
      Let jib and foresail fly!

    Hurrah for the light once more!
      Point her for Shark’s-Nose Head;
    Our friends can keep the shore,
      Or the skulking gauger’s dead.

    On, through the ground-sea, shove!
      Light on the larboard bow!
    There’s a nine-knot breeze above,
      And a sucking tide below!”

Among the “king’s men,” whose achievements haunted the old man’s memory
with a sense of mingled terror and dislike, a certain Parminter and
his dog occupied a principal place. This officer appeared to have been
a kind of Frank Kennedy[36] in his way, and to have chosen for his
watchword the old Irish signal, “Dare!”

“Sir,” said old Tristram once, with a burst of indignant wrath--“Sir,
that villain Parminter and his dog murdered with their shetting-irons
no less than seven of our people at divers times, and they peacefully
at work in their calling all the while!”

I found on further inquiry that this man Parminter was a bold and
determined officer, whom no threats could deter and no money bribe. He
always went armed to the teeth, and was followed by a large, fierce,
and dauntless dog, which he had thought fit to call Satan. This animal
he had trained to carry in his mouth a carbine or a loaded club, which,
at a signal from his master, Satan brought to the rescue. “Ay, they was
bold audacious rascals--that Parminter and his dog--but he went rather
too far one day, as I suppose,” was old Tristram’s chuckling remark, as
he leaned on his spade, and I stood by.

“Did he, Trim; in what way?”

“Why, sir, the case was this. Our people had a landing down at
Melhuach,[37] in Johnnie Mathey’s hole, and Parminter and his dog
found it out. So they got into the cave at ebb tide, and laid in wait,
and when the first boat-load came ashore, just as the keel took the
ground, down storms Parminter, shouting for Satan to follow. The dog
knew better, and held back, they said, for the first time in all his
life: so in leaps Parminter smash into the boat alone, with his cutlass
drawn; but” (with a kind of inward ecstasy) “he didn’t do much harm to
the boat’s crew----”

“Because,” as I interposed, “they took him off to their ship?”

“No, not they; not a bit of it. Their blood was up, poor fellows; so
they just pulled Parminter down in the boat, and chopped off his head
on the gunwale!”

The exclamation of horror with which I received this recital elicited
no kind of sympathy from Tristram. He went on quietly with his work,
merely moralising thus--“Ay, better Parminter and his dog had gone now
and then to the Gauger’s Pocket at Tidnacombe[38] Cross, and held their
peace--better far.”

The term “The Gauger’s Pocket,” in old Tristram’s phraseology, had
no kind of reference to any place of deposit in the apparel of the
exciseman, but to a certain large grey rock, which stands upon a
neighbouring moorland, not far from the cliffs which overhang the
sea. It bears to this day, among the parish people, the name of the
Witan-stone--that is to say, in the language of our forefathers, the
Rock of Wisdom; because it was one of the places of usual assemblage
for the Grey Eldermen of British or of Saxon times--a sort of speaker’s
chair or woolsack in the local parliaments. It was, moreover, there is
no doubt, one of the natural altars of the old religion; and, as such,
it is greeted with a fond and legendary reverence still. Hither Trim
guided me one day, to show, as he told me, “the great rock set up by
the giants, so they said--long, long ago, before there was any bad laws
such as they make now.” It was indeed a wild, strange, striking scene;
and one to lift and fill, and, moreover, to subdue the thoughtful mind.
Around was the wild, half-cultured moor; yonder, within reach of sight
and ear, that boundless, breathing sea, with that shout of waters which
came up ever and anon to recall the strong metre of the Greek[39]--

    “Hark! how old ocean laughs with all his waves!”

And there, before me, stood the tall, vast, solemn stone: grey and
awful with the myriad memorials of ancient ages, when the white fathers
bowed around the rocks and worshipped!

“And now, sir,” clashed in a shrill, sharp voice, “let me show you the
wonderfullest thing in all the place, and that is, the Gauger’s Pocket.”

Accordingly I followed my guide, for it seems “I had a dream that was
not all a dream,” as he led the way to the back of the Witan-stone;
and there, grown over with moss and lichen, with a movable slice of
rock to conceal its mouth, old Tristram pointed out, triumphantly, a
dry and secret crevice, almost an arm’s-length deep. “There, sir,” said
he, with a joyous twinkle in his eye,--“there have I dropped a little
bag of gold, many and many a time, when our people wanted to have the
shore quiet and to keep the exciseman out of the way of trouble; and
there he would go, if so be he was a reasonable officer, and the byword
used to be, when ’twas all right, one of us would go and meet him, and
then say, ‘Sir, your pocket is unbuttoned;’ and he would smile and
answer, ‘Ay, ay! but never mind, my man, my money’s safe enough;’ and
thereby we knew that he was a just man, and satisfied, and that the
boats could take the roller in peace; and that was the very way, sir,
it came to pass that this crack in the stone was called for evermore
‘The Gauger’s Pocket.’”


[35] From _Household Words_, vol. vi. pp. 515-517. 1853.

[36] A character in “Guy Mannering.”

[37] A cove some six miles S.W. of Bude. Hawker has a poem on the death
of a noted smuggler, “Mawgan of Melhuach.”

[38] A mistaken spelling: see Appendix A.

[39] The allusion is to a passage in Æschylus, “Prom. Vinct.” 90.

            ποντίων τε κυμάτων
    ἀνήριθμον γέλασμα.

It was a favourite metaphor of Hawker’s, and occurs over and over again
in his poetry. The best instance is in “The Quest of the Sangraal,”
where he apostrophises Cornwall.

    “Thy streams that march in music to the sea,
    ’Mid Ocean’s merry noise, his billowy laugh.”


The life and adventures of the Cornish clergy during the eighteenth
century would form a graphic volume of ecclesiastical lore. Afar off
from the din of the noisy world, almost unconscious of the badge-words
High Church and Low Church, they dwelt in their quaint grey vicarages
by the churchyard wall, the saddened and unsympathising witnesses of
those wild, fierce usages of the west which they were utterly powerless
to control. The glebe whereon I write has been the scene of many an
unavailing contest in the cause of morality between the clergyman and
his flock. One aged parishioner recalls and relates the run--that
is, the rescue--of a cargo of kegs underneath the benches and in the
tower-stairs of the church. “We bribed Tom Hockaday, the sexton,” so
the legend ran, “and we had the goods safe in the seats by Saturday
night. The parson did wonder at the large congregation, for divers
of them were not regular church-goers at other times; and if he had
known what was going on he could not have preached a more suitable
discourse, for it was, ‘Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess.’
One of his best sermons; but there it did not touch us, you see, for
we never tasted anything but brandy or gin. Ah! he was a dear old man
our parson, mild as milk; nothing ever put him out. Once I mind, in
the middle of morning prayer, there was a buzz down by the porch, and
the folks began to get up and go out of church one by one. At last
there was hardly three left. So the parson shut the book and took off
his surplice, and he said to the clerk, ‘There is surely something
amiss.’ And so there certainly was; for when we came out on the cliff
there was a king’s cutter in chase of our vessel, the _Black Prince_,
close under the land, and there was our departed congregation looking
on. Well, at last Whorwell, who commanded our trader, ran for the
Gullrock (where it was certain death for anything to follow him), and
the revenue commander sheered away to save his ship. Then off went our
hats, and we gave Whorwell three cheers. So, when there was a little
peace, the parson said to us all, ‘And now, my friends, let us return
and proceed with divine service.’ We did return; and it was surprising,
after all that bustle and uproar, to hear how Parson Trenowth went on,
just as nothing had come to pass: ‘Here beginneth the Second Lesson.’”
But on another occasion, the equanimity and forbearance of the parson
were sorely tired. He presided, as the custom was, at a parish feast,
in cassock and bands, and had, with his white hair and venerable
countenance, quite an apostolic aspect and mien. On a sudden, a busy
whisper among the farmers at the lower end of the table attracted his
notice, interspersed as it was by sundry nods and glances towards
himself. At last one bolder than the rest addressed him, and said that
they had a great wish to ask his reverence a question if he would
kindly grant them a reply: it was on a religious subject that they had
dispute, he said. The bland old man assured them of his readiness to
yield them any information or answer in his power.

“But what was the point in debate?”

“Why, sir, we wish to be informed if there were not sins which God
Almighty would never forgive?”

Surprised and somewhat shocked, he told them “that he trusted there
were no transgressions, common to themselves, but, if repented of and
abjured, they might clearly hope to be forgiven.” But, with a natural
curiosity, he inquired what kind of iniquities they had discussed as
too vile to look for pardon. “Why, sir,” replied their spokesman, “we
thought that if a man should find out where run goods was deposited and
should inform the gauger, that such a villain was too bad for mercy.”

How widely the doctrinal discussions of those days differed from our
own! Let us not, however, suppose that all the clergy were as gentle
and unobtrusive as Parson Trenowth. A tale is told of an adjacent
parish, situate also on the sea-shore, of a more stirring kind. It
was full sea in the evening of an autumn day when a traveller arrived
where the road ran along by a sandy beach, just above high-water
mark. The stranger, who was a native of some inland town, and utterly
unacquainted with Cornwall and its ways, had reached the brink of
the tide just as a “landing” was coming off. It was a scene not only
to instruct a townsman but also to dazzle and surprise. At sea, just
beyond the billows, lay the vessel well moored with anchors at stem and
stern. Between the ship and the shore boats laden to the gunwale passed
to and fro. Crowds assembled on the beach to help the cargo ashore. On
the one hand a boisterous group surrounded a keg with the head knocked
in, for simplicity of access to the good cognac, into which they dipped
whatsoever vessel came first to hand: one man had filled his shoe. On
the other side they fought and wrestled, cursed and swore. Horrified
at what he saw, the stranger lost all self-command, and, oblivious of
personal danger, he began to shout, “What a horrible sight! Have you no
shame? Is there no magistrate at hand? Cannot any justice of the peace
be found in this fearful country?”

“No--thanks be to God,” answered a hoarse, gruff voice; “none within
eight miles.”

“Well, then,” screamed the stranger, “is there no clergyman hereabout?
Does no minister of the parish live among you on this coast?”

“Ay! to be sure there is,” said the same deep voice.

“Well, how far off does he live? Where is he?”

“That’s he yonder, sir, with the lanthorn.” And sure enough there he
stood, on a rock, and poured, with pastoral diligence, the light of
other days on a busy congregation.


[40] From _Household Words_, vol. viii. pp. 305, 306. 1853.


It has frequently occurred to my thoughts that the events which have
befallen me since my collation to this wild and remote vicarage, on the
shore of the billowy Atlantic sea, might not be without interest to
the reader of a more refined and civilised region. When I was collated
to the incumbency in 18--,[42] I found myself the first resident
vicar for more than a century. My parish was a domain of about seven
thousand acres, bounded on the landward border by the course of a
curving river,[43] which had its source with a sister stream[44] in a
moorland spring within my territory, and, flowing southward, divided
two counties in its descent to the sea. My seaward boundary was a
stretch of bold and rocky shore, an interchange of lofty headland and
deep and sudden gorge, the cliffs varying from three hundred to four
hundred and fifty feet of perpendicular or gradual height, and the
valleys gushing with torrents, which bounded rejoicingly towards the
sea, and leaped at last, amid a cloud of spray, into the waters. So
stern and pitiless is this iron-bound coast, that within the memory of
one man upwards of eighty wrecks have been counted within a reach of
fifteen miles, with only here and there the rescue of a living man. My
people were a mixed multitude of smugglers, wreckers, and dissenters
of various hue. A few simple-hearted farmers had clung to the grey old
sanctuary of the church and the tower that looked along the sea; but
the bulk of the people, in the absence of a resident vicar, had become
the followers of the great preacher[45] of the last century who came
down into Cornwall and persuaded the people to alter their sins. I was
assured, soon after my arrival, by one of his disciples, who led the
foray among my flock, that my “parish was so rich in resources for his
benefit, that he called it, sir, the garden of our circuit.” The church
stood on the glebe, and close by the sea. It was an old Saxon station,
with additions of Norman structure, and the total building, although of
gradual erection, had been completed and consecrated before the middle
of the fifteenth century. The vicarage, built by myself, stood, as it
were, beneath the sheltering shadow of the walls and tower. My land
extended thence to the shore. Here, like the Kenite,[46] I had “built
my nest upon the rock,” and here my days were to glide away, afar from
the noise and bustle of the world, in that which is perhaps the most
thankless office in every generation, the effort to do good against
their will to our fellow-men. Mine was a perilous warfare. If I had
not, like the apostle, to “fight with wild beasts at Ephesus,” I had to
soothe the wrecker, to persuade the smuggler, and to “handle serpents,”
in my intercourse with adversaries of many a kind. Thank God! the
promises which the clergy inherit from their Founder cannot fail to
be fulfilled. It was never prophesied that they should be popular, or
wealthy, or successful among men; but only that they “should endure to
the end,” that “their generation should never pass away.” Well has this
word been kept!

Among my parishioners there were certain individuals who might be
termed representative men,--quaint and original characters, who
embodied in their own lives the traditions and the usages of the
parish. One of these had been for full forty years a wrecker--that is
to say, a watcher of the sea and rocks for flotsam and jetsam, and
other unconsidered trifles which the waves might turn up to reward the
zeal and vigilance of a patient man. His name was Peter Burrow, a man
of harmless and desultory life, and by no means identified with the
cruel and covetous natives of the strand, with whom it was a matter of
pastime to lure a vessel ashore by a treacherous light, or to withhold
succour from the seaman struggling with the sea. He was the companion
of many of my walks, and the witness with myself of more than one
thrilling and perilous scene. Another of my parish notorieties, the
hero of contraband adventure, and agent for sale of smuggled cargoes
in bygone times, was Tristram Pentire,[47] a name known to the readers
of these pages. With a merry twinkle of the eye, and in a sharp and
ringing tone, it was old Tristram’s usage to recount for my instruction
such tales of wild adventure and of “derring-do” as would make the
foot of an exciseman falter and his cheek turn pale. But both these
cronies of mine were men devoid of guile, and in their most reckless
of escapades innocent of mischievous harm. It was not long after my
arrival in my new abode that I was plunged all at once into the midst
of a fearful scene of the terrors of the sea. About daybreak of an
autumn day I was aroused by a knock at my bedroom-door; it was followed
by the agitated voice of a boy, a member of my household, “Oh, sir,
there are dead men on vicarage rocks!”

In a moment I was up, and in my dressing-gown and slippers rushed
out. There stood my lad, weeping bitterly, and holding out to me in
his trembling hands a tortoise alive. I found afterwards that he had
grasped it on the beach, and brought it in his hand as a strange and
marvellous arrival from the waves, but in utter ignorance of what it
might be. I ran across my glebe, a quarter of a mile, to the cliffs,
and down a frightful descent of three hundred feet to the beach. It was
indeed a scene to be looked on once only in a human life. On a ridge of
rock, just left bare by the falling tide, stood a man, my own servant;
he had come out to see my flock of ewes, and had found the awful
wreck. There he stood, with two dead sailors at his feet, whom he had
just drawn out of the water stiff and stark. The bay was tossing and
seething with a tangled mass of rigging, sails, and broken fragments
of a ship; the billows rolled up yellow with corn, for the cargo of
the vessel had been foreign wheat; and ever and anon there came up out
of the water, as though stretched out with life, a human hand and arm.
It was the corpse of another sailor drifting out to sea. “Is there
no one alive?” was my first question to my man. “I think there is,
sir,” he said, “for just now I thought I heard a cry.” I made haste
in the direction he pointed out, and, on turning a rock, just where
a brook of fresh water fell towards the sea, there lay the body of a
man in a seaman’s garb. He had reached the water faint with thirst,
but was too much exhausted to swallow or drink. He opened his eyes at
our voices, and as he saw me leaning over him in my cassock-shaped
dressing-gown, he sobbed, with a piteous cry, “O mon père, mon père!”
Gradually he revived, and when he had fully come to himself with the
help of cordials and food, we gathered from him the mournful tale of
his vessel and her wreck. He was a Jersey man by birth, and had been
shipped at Malta, on the homeward voyage of the vessel from the port of
Odessa with corn. I had sent in for brandy, and was pouring it down his
throat, when my parishioner, Peter Burrow, arrived. He assisted, at my
request, in the charitable office of restoring the exhausted stranger;
but when he was refreshed and could stand upon his feet, I remarked
that Peter did not seem so elated as in common decency I expected he
would be. The reason soon transpired. Taking me aside, he whispered in
my ear, “Now, sir, I beg your pardon, but if you’ll take my advice, now
that man is come to himself, if I were you I would let him go his way
wherever he will. If you take him into your house, he’ll surely do you
some harm.” Seeing my surprise, he went on to explain, “You don’t know,
sir,” he said, “the saying on our coast--

    “‘Save a stranger from the sea,
    And he’ll turn your enemy.’

There was one Coppinger[48] cast ashore from a brig that struck up at
Hartland, on the Point. Farmer Hamlyn dragged him out of the water
and took him home, and was very kind to him. Lord, sir! he never would
leave the house again! He lived upon the folks a whole year, and at
last, lo and behold! he married the farmer’s daughter Elizabeth, and
spent all her fortin rollicking and racketing, till at last he would
tie her to the bedpost and flog her till her father would come down
with more money. The old man used to say he wished he’d let Coppinger
lie where he was in the waves, and never laid a finger on him to save
his life. Ay, and divers more I’ve heerd of that never brought no good
to they that saved them.”

“And did you ever yourself, Peter,” said I, “being, as you have told
me, a wrecker so many years--did you ever see a poor fellow clambering
up the rock where you stood, and just able to reach your foot or hand,
did you ever shove him back into the sea to be drowned?”

“No, sir, I declare I never did. And I do believe, sir, if I ever had
done such a thing, and given so much as one push to a man in such a
case, I think verily that afterwards I should have been troubled and
uncomfortable in my mind.”

“Well, notwithstanding your doctrine, Peter,” said I, “we will take
charge of this poor fellow; so do you lead him into the vicarage and
order a bed for him, and wait till I come in.”

I returned to the scene of death and danger, where my man awaited me.
He had found, in addition to the two corpses, another dead body jammed
under a rock. By this time a crowd of people had arrived from the land,
and at my request they began to search anxiously for the dead. It was,
indeed, a terrible scene. The vessel, a brig of five hundred tons, had
struck, as we afterwards found, at three o’clock that morning, and by
the time the wreck was discovered she had been shattered into broken
pieces by the fury of the sea. The rocks and the water bristled with
fragments of mast and spar and rent timbers; the cordage lay about in
tangled masses. The rollers tumbled in volumes of corn, the wheaten
cargo; and amidst it all the bodies of the helpless dead--that a few
brief hours before had walked the deck the stalwart masters of their
ship--turned their poor disfigured faces toward the sky, pleading
for sepulture. We made a temporary bier of the broken planks, and
laid thereon the corpses, decently arranged. As the vicar, I led the
way, and my people followed with ready zeal as bearers, and in sad
procession we carried our dead up the steep cliff, by a difficult path,
to await, in a room at my vicarage which I allotted them, the inquest.
The ship and her cargo were, as to any tangible value, utterly lost.

The people of the shore, after having done their best to search for
survivors and to discover the lost bodies, gathered up fragments of
the wreck for fuel, and shouldered them away,--not perhaps a lawful
spoil, but a venal transgression when compared with the remembered
cruelties of Cornish wreckers. Then ensued my interview with the
rescued man. His name was Le Daine. I found him refreshed, and
collected, and grateful. He told me his Tale of the Sea. The captain
and all the crew but himself were from Arbroath, in Scotland. To that
harbour also the vessel belonged. She had been away on a two years’
voyage, employed in the Mediterranean trade. She had loaded last at
Odessa. She touched at Malta, and there Le Daine, who had been sick in
the hospital, but recovered, had joined her. There also the captain
had engaged a Portuguese cook, and to this man, as one link in a
chain of causes, the loss of the vessel might be ascribed. He had
been wounded in a street-quarrel the night before the vessel sailed
from Malta, and lay disabled and useless in his cabin throughout the
homeward voyage. At Falmouth whither they were bound for orders, the
cook died. The captain and all the crew, except the cabin-boy, went
ashore to attend the funeral. During their absence the boy, handling in
his curiosity the barometer, had broken the tube, and the whole of the
quicksilver had run out. Had this instrument, the pulse of the storm,
been preserved, the crew would have received warning of the sudden
and unexpected hurricane, and might have stood out to sea. Whereas
they were caught in the chops of the Channel, and thus, by this small
incident, the vessel and the mariners found their fate on the rocks of
a remote headland in my lonely parish. I caused Le Daine to relate in
detail the closing events.

“We received orders,” he said, “at Falmouth to make for Gloucester to
discharge. The captain, and mate, and another of the crew, were to be
married on their return to their native town. They wrote, therefore, to
Arbroath from Falmouth, to announce their safe arrival there from their
two years’ voyage, their intended course to Gloucester, and their hope
in about a week to arrive at Arbroath for welcome there.”

But in a day or two after this joyful letter, there arrived in Arbroath
a leaf torn out of my pocket-book, and addressed “To the Owners of the
Vessel,” the _Caledonia_ of Arbroath, with the brief and thrilling
tidings, written by myself in pencil, that I wrote among the fragments
of their wrecked vessel, and that the whole crew, except one man, were
lost “upon my rocks.” My note spread a general dismay in Arbroath,
for the crew, from the clannish relationship among the Scots, were
connected with a large number of the inhabitants. But to return to the
touching details of Le Daine.

“We rounded the Land’s End,” he said, “that night all well, and came
up Channel with a fair wind. The captain turned in. It was my watch.
All at once, about nine at night, it began to blow in one moment as
if the storm burst out by signal; the wind went mad; our canvas burst
in bits. We reeved fresh sails; they went also. At last we were under
bare poles. The captain had turned out when the storm began. He sent
me forward to look out for Lundy Light. I saw your cliff.” (This was
a bluff and broken headland just by the southern boundary of my own
glebe.) “I sung out, ‘Land!’ I had hardly done so when she struck with
a blow, and stuck fast. Then the captain sung out, ‘All hands to the
maintop!’ and we all went up. The captain folded his arms, and stood
by, silent.”

Here I asked him, anxious to know how they expressed themselves at such
a time, “But what was said afterwards, Le Daine?”

“Not one word, sir; only once, when the long-boat went over, I said to
the skipper, ‘Sir, the boat is gone!’ But he made no answer.”

How accurate was Byron’s painting--

    “Then shrieked the timid, and stood still the brave”!

“At last there came on a dreadful wave, mast-top high, and away went
the mast by the board, and we with it, into the sea. I gave myself up.
I was the only man on the ship that could not swim, so where I fell in
the water there I lay. I felt the waves beat me and send me on. At
last there was a rock under my hand. I clung on. Just then I saw Alick
Kant, one of our crew, swimming past. I saw him lay his hand on a rock,
and I sung out, ‘Hold on, Alick!’ but a wave rolled and swept him away,
and I never saw his face more. I was beaten onward and onward among
the rocks and the tide, and at last I felt the ground with my feet. I
scrambled on. I saw the cliff, steep and dark, above my head. I climbed
up until I reached a kind of platform with grass, and there I fell down
flat upon my face, and either I fainted away or I fell asleep. There I
lay a long time, and when I awoke it was just the break of day. There
was a little yellow flower just under my head, and when I saw that I
knew I was on dry land.” This was a plant of the bird’s-foot clover,
called in old times Our Lady’s Finger. He went on: “I could see no
house or sign of people, and the country looked to me like some wild
and desert island. At last I felt very thirsty, and I tried to get down
towards a valley where I thought I should find water; but before I
could reach it I fell and grew faint again, and there, thank God, sir,
you found me.”

Such was Le Daine’s sad and simple story, and no one could listen
unmoved or without a strong feeling of interest and compassion for the
poor solitary survivor of his shipmates and crew. The coroner arrived,
held his ’quest, and the usual verdict of “Wrecked and cast ashore”
empowered me to inter the dead sailors, found and future, from the
same vessel, with the service in the Prayer-book for the Burial of the
Dead. This decency of sepulture is the result of a somewhat recent
statute, passed in the reign of George III. Before that time it was
the common usage of the coast to dig, just above high-water mark, a
pit on the shore, and therein to cast, without inquest or religious
rite, the carcasses of shipwrecked men. My first funeral of these lost
mariners was a touching and striking scene. The three bodies first
found were buried at the same time. Behind the coffins, as they were
solemnly borne along the aisle, walked the solitary mourner, Le Daine,
weeping bitterly and aloud. Other eyes were moist, for who could hear
unsoftened the greeting of the Church to these strangers from the sea,
and the “touch that makes the whole earth kin,” in the hope we breathed
that we, too, might one day “rest as these our brethren did”? It was
well-nigh too much for those who served that day. Nor was the interest
subdued when, on the Sunday after the wreck, at the appointed place in
the service, just before the General Thanksgiving, Le Daine rose up
from his place, approached the altar, and uttered, in an audible but
broken voice, his thanksgiving for his singular and safe deliverance
from the perils of the sea.

The text of the sermon that day demands its history. Some time before,
a vessel, the _Hero_ of Liverpool, was seen in distress, in the offing
of a neighbouring harbour, during a storm. The crew, mistaking a
signal from the beach, betook themselves to their boat. It foundered,
and the whole ship’s company, twelve in number, were drowned in sight
of the shore. But the stout ship held together, and drifted on to
the land so unshattered by the sea that the coast-guard, who went
immediately on board, found the fire burning in the cabin. When the
vessel came to be examined, they found in one of the berths a Bible,
and between its leaves a sheet of paper, whereon some recent hand had
transcribed verses the twenty-first, twenty-second, and twenty-third of
the thirty-third chapter of Isaiah. The same hand had also marked the
passage with a line of ink along the margin. The name of the owner of
the book was also found inscribed on the fly-leaf. He was a youth of
eighteen years of age, the son of a widow, and a statement under his
name recorded that the Bible was “a reward for his good conduct in a
Sunday-school.” This text, so identified and enforced by a hand that
soon after grew cold, appeared strangely and strikingly adapted to the
funeral of shipwrecked men; and it was therefore chosen as the theme
for our solemn day. The very hearts of the people seemed hushed to hear
it, and every eye was turned towards Le Daine, who bowed his head
upon his hands and wept. These are the words: “But there the glorious
Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams; wherein shall
go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby.
For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our
king; He will save us. The tacklings are loosed; they could not well
strengthen their mast, they could not spread the sail: then is the prey
of a great spoil divided; the lame take the prey.” Shall I be forgiven
for the vaunt, if I declare that there was not literally a single
face that day unmoistened and unmoved? Few, indeed, could have borne,
without deep emotion, to see and hear Le Daine. He remained as my guest
six weeks, and during the whole of this time we sought diligently, and
at last we found the whole crew, nine in number. They were discovered,
some under rocks, jammed in by the force of the water, so that it
took sometimes several ebb-tides, and the strength of many hands, to
extricate the corpses. The captain I came upon myself lying placidly
upon his back, with his arms folded in the very gesture which Le Daine
had described as he stood amid the crew on the maintop. The hand of
the spoiler was about to assail him when I suddenly appeared, so that
I rescued him untouched. Each hand grasped a small pouch or bag. One
contained his pistols; the other held two little log-reckoners[49] of
brass; so that his last thoughts were full of duty to his owners and
his ship, and his latest efforts for rescue and defence. He had been
manifestly lifted by a billow and hurled against a rock, and so slain;
for the victims of our cruel sea are seldom drowned, but beaten to
death by violence and the wrath of the billows. We gathered together
one poor fellow in five parts; his limbs had been wrenched off, and
his body rent. During our search for his remains, a man came up to me
with something in his hand, inquiring, “Can you tell me, sir, what is
this? Is it a part of a man?” It was the mangled seaman’s heart, and we
restored it reverently to its place, where it had once beat high with
life and courage, with thrilling hope and sickening fear. Two or three
of the dead were not discovered for four or five weeks after the wreck,
and these had become so loathsome from decay, that it was at peril of
health and life to perform the last duties we owe to our brother-men.
But hearts and hands were found for the work, and at last the good
ship’s company--captain, mate, and crew--were laid at rest, side by
side, beneath our churchyard trees. Groups of grateful letters from
Arbroath[50] are to this day among the most cherished memorials of my
escritoire. Some, written by the friends of the dead, are marvellous
proofs of the good feeling and educated ability of the Scottish people.
One from a father breaks off in irrepressible pathos, with a burst of
“O my son! my son!” We placed at the foot of the captain’s grave the
figurehead[51] of his vessel. It is a carved image, life-size, of his
native Caledonia, in the garb of her country, with sword and shield.

       *       *       *       *       *

At the end of about six weeks Le Daine left my house on his homeward
way, a sadder and a richer man. Gifts had been proffered from many a
hand, so that he was able to return to Jersey, with happy and grateful
mien, well clothed, and with £30 in his purse. His recollections of
our scenery were not such as were in former times associated with the
Cornish shore; for three years afterward he returned to the place of
his disaster accompanied by his uncle, sister, and affianced wife, and
he had brought them that, in his own joyous words, “they might see the
very spot of his great deliverance:” and there, one summer day, they
stood, a group of happy faces, gazing with wonder and gratitude on
our rugged cliffs, that were then clad in that gorgeous vesture of
purple and gold which the heather and gorse wind and weave along the
heights; and the soft blue wave lapping the sand in gentle cadence,
as though the sea had never wreaked an impulse of ferocity, or rent a
helpless prey. Nor was the thankfulness of the sailor a barren feeling.
Whensoever afterward the vicar sought to purchase for his dairy a
Jersey cow, the family and friends of Le Daine rejoiced to ransack the
island until they had found the sleekiest, loveliest, best of that
beautiful breed; and it is to the gratitude of that poor seaman and
stranger from a distant abode that the herd of the glebe has long been
famous in the land, and hence, as Homer would have sung--hence came

    “Bleehtah, and Lilith, Neelah, Evan Neelah, and Katy.”

Strange to say, Le Daine has been twice shipwrecked since his first
peril--with similar loss of property, but escape of life; and he is now
the master of a vessel in the trade of the Levant.

In the following year a new and another wreck was announced in the
gloom of night. A schooner under bare poles had been watched for many
hours from the cliffs, with the steersman fastened at the wheel. All
at once she tacked and made for the shore, and just as she had reached
a creek between two reefs of rock, she foundered and went down. At
break of day only her vane was visible to mark her billowy grave.
Not a vestige could be seen of her crew. But in the course of the
day her boat was drifted ashore, and we found from the name on the
stern that the vessel was the _Phœnix_ of St. Ives. A letter from
myself by immediate post brought up next day from that place a sailor
who introduced himself as the brother of a young man who had sailed
as mate in the wrecked ship. He was a rough plain-spoken man, of
simple religious cast, without guile or pretence: one of the good old
seafaring sort--the men who “go down to the sea in ships, and occupy
their business in great waters:” these, as the Psalmist chants, “see
the wonders of the Lord, and His glories in the deep.” At my side he
paced the shore day after day in weary quest of the dead. “If I could
but get my poor brother’s bones,” he cried out yearningly again and
again, “if I could but lay him in the earth, how it would comfort dear
mother at home!” We searched every cranny in the rocks, and we watched
every surging wave, until hope was exchanged for despair. A reward of
meagre import, it is true, offered by the Seaman’s Burial Act, to which
I have referred, and within my own domain doubled always by myself,
brought us many a comrade in this sickening scrutiny, but for long it
was in vain. At last one day, while we were scattered over a broken
stretch of jumbled rocks that lay in huddled masses along the base of
the cliffs, a loud and sudden shout called me where the seaman of St.
Ives stood. He was gazing down into the broken sea--it was on a spot
near low-water mark--and there, just visible from underneath a mighty
fragment of rock, was seen the ankle of a man and a foot still wearing
a shoe. “It is my brother!” yelled the sailor, bitterly; “it is our own
dear Jem--I can swear to that shoe!” We gathered around; the tide ebbed
a very little after this discovery, and only just enough to leave dry
the surface of the rock under which the body lay. Soon the sea began
again to flow, and very quickly we were driven by the rising surges
from the spot. The anguish of the mourner for his dead was thrilling
to behold and terrible to hear. “O my brother! my brother!” was his
sob again and again; “what a burial-place for our own dear merry boy!”
I tried to soothe him, but in vain: the only theme to which he could
be brought to listen was the chance--and I confess it seemed to my own
secret mind a hopeless thought--that it might be possible at the next
ebb-tide, by skill and strength combined, to move, if ever so little,
the monstrous rock, and so recover the corpse. It was low water at
evening tide, and there was a bright November moon. We gathered in
numbers, for among my parishioners there were kind and gentle-hearted
men, such as had “pity, tenderness, and tears,” and all were moved
by the tale of the sailor, hurled and buried beneath a rock, by the
strong and cruel sea. The scene of our first nightly assemblage was a
weird and striking sight. Far, far above loomed the tall and gloomy
headlands of the coast: around us foamed and raged the boiling waves:
the moon cast her massive lowering shadows on rock and sea--

    “And the long moonbeam on the cold wet sand
    Lay, like a jasper column, half upreared.”[52]

Stout and stalwart forms surrounded me, wielding their iron bars,
pickaxes, and ropes. Their efforts were strenuous but unavailing. The
tide soon returned in its strength, and drove us, baffled, from the
spot before we had been able to grasp or shake the ponderous mass. It
was calculated by competent judges that its weight was full fifteen
tons: neither could there be a more graphic image of the resistless
strength of the wrathful sea than the aspect of this and similar blocks
of rifted stone, that were raised and rolled perpetually, by the power
of the billows, and hurled, as in some pastime of the giants, along
the shuddering shore! Deep and bitter was the grief of the sailor
at our failure and retreat. His piteous wail over the dead recalled
the agony of those who are recorded in Holy Writ, they who grieved
for their lost ones, “and would not be comforted because they were
not!” That night an inspiration visited me in my wakeful bed. At a
neighbouring harbour[53] dwelt a relative[54] of mine, who was an
engineer, in charge of the machinery on a breakwater and canal. To
him at morning light I sent an appeal for succour, and he immediately
responded with aidance and advice. Two strong windlasses, worked by
iron chains, and three or four skilful men, were sent up by him next
day with instructions for their work. Again at evening ebb we were all
on the spot. One of our new assistants, a very Tubal-Cain in aspect
and stature, and of the same craft with that smith before the Flood,
plunged upon the rock as the water reluctantly revealed its upper
side, and drilled a couple of holes in the surface with rapid energy,
to receive, each of them, that which he called a Lewis-wedge and a
ring. To these the chains of the windlasses were fastened on. They
then looped a rope around the ankle of the corpse and gave it as the
post of honour to me to hold. It was on the evening of Sunday that all
this was done, and I had deemed it a venial breach of discipline to
omit the nightly service of the Church in order to suit the tide. A
Puseyite bishop might have condemned my breach of Rubric and Ritual,
but I exercise episcopal authority in my own parish, and accordingly I
absolved myself. Forty strong parishioners, all absentees from evening
prayer, manned the double windlass power; I intoned the pull; and by
a strong and blended effort the rocky mass was slowly, silently, and
gently upheaved: a slight haul at the rope, and up to our startled
view, and to the sudden lights, came forth the altered, ghastly,
flattened semblance of a man! “My brother! my brother!” shrieked a
well-known voice at my side, and tears of gratitude and suffering
gushed in mingled torrent over his rugged cheek. A coffin had been
made ready, under the hope of final success, and therein we reverently
laid the poor disfigured carcass of one who a little while before had
been the young and joyous inmate of a fond and happy home. We had to
clamber up a steep and difficult pathway along the cliff with the
body, which was carried by the bearers in a kind of funeral train.
The vicar of course led the way. When we were about halfway up a
singular and striking event occurred, which moved us all exceedingly.
Unobserved--for all were intent on their solemn task--a vessel had
neared the shore; she lay to, and, as it seemed, had watched us with
night-glasses from the deck, or had discerned us from the torches and
lanterns in our hands. For all at once there sounded along the air
three deep and thrilling cheers! And we could see that the crew on
board had manned their yards. It was manifest that their loyal and
hearty voices and gestures were intended to greet and gratulate our
fulfilment of duty to a brother mariner’s remains. The burial-place of
the dead sailors in this churchyard is a fair and fitting scene for
their quiet rest. Full in view and audible in sound for ever rolls the
sea. Is it not to them a soothing requiem that

    “Old Ocean, with its everlasting voice,
    As in perpetual Jubilee proclaims
    The praises of the Almighty”?

Trees stand, like warders, beside their graves; and the Saxon and
shingled church, “the mother of us all,” dwells in silence by, to watch
and wail over her safe and slumbering dead. It recalls the imagery of
the Holy Book wherein we read of the gathered relics of the ancient
slain: “And Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it
for her upon the rock from the beginning of harvest until water dropped
upon them out of heaven, and suffered neither the birds of the air to
rest on them by day, nor the beasts of the field by night.” In such
a shelter we laid our brother at rest, rescued from the unhallowed
sepulture of the rock; and there the faithful voice of the mourner
breathed a last farewell. “Good-bye,” he said, “good-bye! Safe and
quiet in the ground!”

A year had passed away when the return of the equinox admonished us
again to listen for storms and wrecks. There are men in this district
whose usage it is at every outbreak of a gale of wind to watch and ward
the cliffs from rise to set of sun. Of these my quaint old parishioner,
Peter Burrow, was one. On a wild and dreary winter day I found myself
seated on a rock with Peter standing by, at a point that overhung
the sea. We were both gazing with anxious dismay at a ship which was
beating to and fro in the Channel, and had now drifted much too near
to the surges and the shore. She had come into sight some hours before
struggling with Harty Race, the local name of a narrow and boisterous
run of sea between Lundy and the land, and she was now within three or
four miles of our rocks. “Ah, sir,” said Peter, “the coastmen say,

    “‘From Padstow Point to Lundy Light,
    Is a watery grave, by day or night.’

And I think the poor fellows off there will find it so.” All at
once, as we still watched the vessel labouring on the sea, a boat
was launched over her side, and several men plunged into it one by
one. With strained and anxious eyes we searched the billows for the
course of the boat. Sometimes we caught a glimpse as it rode upon some
surging wave; then it disappeared a while, and no trace was visible
for long. At last we could see it no more. Meanwhile the vessel held
down Channel, tacked and steered as if still beneath the guidance of
some of her crew, although it must have been in sheer desperation that
they still hugged the shore. What was to be done? If she struck, the
men still on board must perish without help, for nightfall drew on; if
the boat reappeared, Peter could make a signal where to land. In hot
haste, then, I made for the vicarage, ordered my horse, and returned
towards the cliffs. The ship rode on, and I accompanied her way along
the shore. She reached the offing of a neighbouring haven, and there
grounded on the sand. No boatman could be induced to put off, and thick
darkness soon after fell. I returned worn, heart-sick, and weary on
my homeward way; there strange tidings greeted me,--the boat which we
had watched so long had been rolled ashore by the billows empty. Peter
Burrow had hauled her above high-water mark, and had found a name,
“_The Alonzo_, of Stockton-on-Tees,” on her stern. That night I wrote
as usual to the owner, with news of the wreck, and the next day we
were able to guess at the misfortunes of the stranded ship: a boat had
visited the vessel, and found her freighted with iron from Gloucester
for a Queen’s yard round the Land’s End. Her papers in the cabin showed
that her crew of nine men had been reported all sound and well three
days before. The owner’s agent arrived, and he stated that her captain
was a brave and trusty officer, and that he must have been compelled
by his men to join them when they deserted the ship. They must all
have been swamped and lost not long after the launch of the boat, and
while we watched for them in vain amid the waves. Then ensued what has
long been with me the saddest and most painful duty of the shore: we
sought and waited for the dead. Now there is a folk-lore of the beach
that no corpse will float or be found until the ninth day after death.
The truth is, that about that time the body proceeds to decompose,
and as a natural result it ascends to the surface of the current, is
brought into the shallows of the tide, and is there found. The owner’s
representative was my guest for ten days, and with the help of the
ship’s papers and his own personal knowledge we were able to identify
the dead. First of all the body of the captain came in; he was a fine,
stalwart, and resolute-looking man. His countenance, however, had a
grim and angry aspect, and his features wore somewhat of a fierce and
reproachful look--just such an expression as would verify the truth
of our suspicion that he had been driven by the violence of others to
forsake his deck. The face of the dead man was as graphic a record of
his living character as a physiognomist could portray. Then arrived the
mate and three other men of the crew. None were placid of feature or
calm and pleasant in look, as those usually are who are accidentally
drowned or who die in their beds. But many of them had _that_ awful
expression of countenance which reminded me of a picture once described
to me as the result of an experiment by certain artists in France. It
was during the Revolution, and amid the anarchy of those times, that
they bought a criminal who had been condemned to die, fastened him
to a cross, and painted him for a crucifixion; but his face wore the
aspect, not of the patient suffering which they intended to portray,
but a strong expression of _reluctant agony_. Such has been the look
that I myself have witnessed in many a poor disfigured corpse. The
death-struggle of the conscious victim in the strong and cruel grasp of
the remorseless sea was depicted in harsh and vivid lines on the brow
of the dead.

But one day my strange old man, Peter Burrow, came to me in triumphant
haste with the loud greeting, “Sir, we have got a noble corpse down
on your beach! We have just laid him down above high-water mark, and
he is as comely a body as a man shall see!” I made haste to the spot,
and there lay, with the light of a calm and wintry day falling on his
manly form, a fine and stately example of a man: he was six feet two
inches in height, of firm and accurate proportion throughout; and he
must have been, indeed, in life a shape of noble symmetry and grace.
On his broad smooth chest was tattooed a rood--that is to say, in
artist phrase, our blessed Saviour on His cross, with, on the one hand,
His mother, and on the other St. John the evangelist: underneath were
the initial letters of a name, “P. B.” His arms also were marked with
tracery in the same blue lines. On his right arm was engraved “P. B.”
again, and “E. M.,” the letters linked with a wreath; and on his left
arm was an anchor, as I imagined the symbol of hope, and the small
blue forget-me-not flower. The greater number of my dead sailors--and
I have myself said the burial service over forty-two such men rescued
from the sea--were so decorated with some distinctive emblem and
name; and it is their object and intent, when they assume these
pictured signs, to secure identity for their bodies if their lives
are lost at sea, and then, for the solace of their friends, should
they be cast on the shore and taken up for burial in the earth. What
a volume of heroism and resignation to a mournful probability in this
calm foresight and deliberate choice, to wear always on their living
flesh, as it were, the signature of a sepulchral name! The symbolic
figures and the letters which were supposed to designate our dead were
all faithfully transcribed and duly entered in the vicar’s book. We
carried the strangely decorated man to his comrades of the deck; and
gradually, in the course of one month, we discovered and carefully
buried the total crew of nine strong men. These gathered strangers, the
united assemblage from many a distant and diverse abode, now calmly
slept among our rural and homely graves, the stout seamen of the ship
_Alonzo_, of Stockton-on-Tees! The boat which had foundered with them
we brought also to the churchyard, and there, just by their place of
rest, we placed her beside them, keel upward to the sky, in token that
her work, too, was over and her voyage done. There her timbers slowly
moulder still, and by-and-by her dust will mingle in the scenery of
death with the ashes of those living hearts and hands that manned her,
in their last unavailing launch and fruitless struggle for the mastery
of life! But the history of the _Alonzo_ is not yet closed. Three years
afterwards a letter arrived from the Danish consul at a neighbouring
seaport town, addressed to myself as the vicar of the parish; and the
hope of the writer was that he might be able to ascertain through
myself, for two anxious and grieving parents in Denmark, tidings of
their lost son. His name, he said, was Philip Bengstein, and it was in
the correspondence that this strange and touching history transpired.
The father, who immediately afterward wrote to my address, told me in
tearful words, that his son, bearing that name, had gone away from his
native home because his parents had resisted a marriage which he was
desirous to contract. They found that he had gone to sea before the
mast, a position much below his station in life; and they had traced
him from ship to ship, until at last they found him on the papers
of the _Alonzo_, of Stockton-on-Tees. Then their inquiry as to the
fate of that vessel had led them to the knowledge through the owners
that the vicar of a parish on the seaboard of North Cornwall could in
all likelihood convey to them some tidings of their long-lost son. I
related in reply the history of the death, discovery, and burial of
the unfortunate young man. I was enabled to verify and to understand
the initial letters of his own name, and of her who was not to become
his bride--although she still clung to his memory in loving loneliness
in that foreign land! Ample evidence, therefore, verified his corpse,
and I was proudly enabled to certify to his parents the reverent
burial of their child. A letter is treasured among my papers filled to
overflowing with the strong and earnest gratitude of a stranger and a
Dane for the kindness we had rendered to one who loved “not wisely,”
perchance, “but too well,” to that son who had been lost and was found
too late: one, too, “whose course of true love” had brought him from
distant Denmark to a green hillock among the dead, beneath a lonely
tower among the trees, by the Cornish sea! What a picture was that
which we saw painted upon the bosom and the limbs of a dead man, of
fond and faithful love, of severed and broken hearts, of disappointed
hope, of a vacant chair and a hushed voice in a far-away Danish
home! Linked with such themes as these which I have related in this
Remembrance are the subjoined verses, which were written on a rock by
the shore.


    War! ’mid the ocean and the land!
    The battle-field Morwenna’s strand,
    Where rock and ridge the bulwark keep,
    The giant warders of the deep!

    They come! and shall they not prevail,
    The seething surge, the gathering gale?
    They fling their wild flag to the breeze,
    The banner of a thousand seas!

    They come, they mount, they charge in vain,
    Thus far, incalculable main!
    No more! thine hosts have not o’erthrown
    The lichen on the barrier stone!

    Have the rocks faith, that thus they stand
    Unmoved, a grim and stately band,
    And look, like warriors tried and brave,
    Stern, silent, reckless, o’er the wave?

    Have the proud billows thought and life
    To feel the glory of the strife,
    And trust one day, in battle bold,
    To win the foeman’s haughty hold?

    Mark, where they writhe with pride and shame,
    Fierce valour, and the zeal of fame;
    Hear how their din of madness raves,
    The baffled army of the waves!

    Thy way, O God! is in the sea;
    Thy paths where awful waters be:
    Thy Spirit thrills the conscious stone;
    O Lord! Thy footsteps are not known.


[41] From _All the Year Round_, vol. xiii. pp. 153-156. 1865.

[42] 1834.

[43] The Tamar.

[44] The Torridge.

[45] John Wesley.

[46] And like Daniel Gumb. See p. 107.

[47] _Vide_ p. 32, _et seq._

[48] See the essay, “Cruel Coppinger,” and Appendix F.

[49] These are still preserved. They are little sand-glasses, shielded
with brass, cylindrical in shape. The sand in one takes twenty-eight
seconds to run, that in the other fourteen.

[50] Hawker is not forgotten in Arbroath. A lecture was delivered there
on February 18, 1903, by the Rev. A. E. Crowder, on “Cornwall: its
Scenery, People, Antiquities, and Folklore.” The lecturer referred to
Hawker and the wreck of the _Caledonia_.

[51] For Hawker’s poem on this occasion, see p. 22.

[52] “Gebir,” Book I., lines 216, 217. The usual version has “_hard_
wet sand.” Hawker and Landor (it may be remarked by the way) were in
many respects kindred spirits.

[53] Bude.

[54] Probably Mr. George Casebourne, Civil Engineer, who married a
sister of Mr. Hawker’s, and was for some years superintendent of the
Bude Canal.


[Illustration: “BLACK JOHN”

_From a picture formerly belonging to R. S. Hawker, now in the
possession of Mrs. Calmady_]

A picture hangs in my library--and it is one of my most treasured
relics of old Cornwall--the full-length and “counterfeit presentment,”
in oil, of a quaint and singular dwarf. It exhibits a squat figure,
uncouth and original, just such a one as Frederick Taylor would delight
to introduce in one of his out-of-door pieces of Elizabethan days,
as an appendage to the rural lady’s state when she rode afield with
her hawk on her wrist. His height is under four feet, hump-backed
and misshapen; his head, with tangled elfy hair falling wildly on
his shoulders, droops upon his chest. Negro features and a dark skin
surround a loose and flabby mouth, which teeth have long ceased to
harmonise and fill out. He is clad in a loose antique russet gaberdine,
the fashion of a past century: one hand leans on a gnarled staff, and
the other holds a wide-brimmed felt hat, with humble gesture and look,
as though his master stood by.

The traditionary name of this well-remembered character on the
Tamar-side is Black John. He lived from the commencement to the
middle of the eighteenth century in the household of an honoured
name, Arscott of Tetcott,[56] an ancestor of one of the distinguished
families of Cornwall; and as his master was wellnigh the last of the
jovial open-housed squires of the West of England, so was Black John
the last of the jesters or makers of mirth. When the feast was over,
and the “wrath of hunger”[57] had been assuaged, while the hare’s or
fox’s head, the festive drinking-cup of silver, went round with the
nectar of the Georgian era, “strong punch for strong heads,” the jester
was called in to contribute by merry antic and jocose saying to the
loud enjoyment of the guests. Such were the functions sustained by
my pictured and storied dwarf, and many an anecdote still survives
around us in hearth and hall of the feats and stories of the “Tetcott
merry-man.” Two of his usual after-dinner achievements were better
suited to the rude jollity and coarse mirth of our forefathers than to
the refinements of our own time; although they are said to exist here
and there, among the “underground men” and miners of Western Cornwall,
even to this day. These were “sparrow-mumbling” and swallowing
living mice, which were tethered to a string to ensure their safe
return to light and life. In the first of these accomplishments, a
sparrow, alive, was fastened to the teeth of the artist with a cord,
and he was expected to mumble off the feathers from the fluttering
and astonished bird, with his lips alone, until he was plucked quite
bare without the assistance or touch of finger or hand. A couple of
projecting tusks or fangs, such as are called by the Italians Bourbon
teeth, were of singular value as sparrow-holders to Black John; but
these were one day drawn by violence from his mouth by an exasperated
blacksmith, whose kitten had been slain, and who had been persuaded by
a wretch, who was himself the actual assassin, that it was the jester
who had guillotined the poor creature with his formidable jaws. The
passage of the mouse was accomplished very often, amid roars of rude
applause, down and up the gullet of the dwarf.

A tale is told of him, that one day, after he had for some time amused
the guests, and had drank his full share of the ale, he fell, or seemed
to fall, asleep. On a sudden he started up with a loud and terrified
cry. Questioned as to the cause of his alarm, he answered, “O sir,” to
his master, “I was in a sog [sleep], and I had such a dreadful dream! I
thought I was dead, and I went where the wicked people go!”

“Ha, John,” said Arscott of Tetcott, in his grim voice, wide awake for
a jest or a tale, “then tell us all about what you heard and saw.”

“Well, master, nothing particular.”

“Indeed, John!”

“No, sir; things was going on just as they do upon airth--here in
Tetcott Hall--the gentlefolks nearest the fire.”

His master’s house was surrounded with all kinds of tame animals and
birds so bold and confiding, from long safety and intercourse, that
the rooks would come down at a call and pick up food like pigeons at
the very feet of a man. Among the familiar creatures of the Hall were
two enormous toads: these were especial favourites with Mr. Arscott,
who was a very Chinese in his fondness for the bat and the toad, and
who used to feed them very often with his own hands. One morning the
family were aroused by sounds near the porch, of battle and fight. A
guest from a distant town, who had arrived the night before on a visit,
was discovered prone upon the grass, and over him stood as conqueror
Black John, belabouring him with his staff. His story was, when rescued
and set upon his feet, that on going out to breathe the morning air he
had encountered and slain a fierce and venomous reptile--a big bloated
creature that came towards him with open mouth. It turned out to be one
of the enormous toads, an old and especial pet of master and man,
who had heard a sound of feet, and came as usual to be fed, and was
ruthlessly put to death; not, however, unavenged, for a wild man of the
woods (so the townsman averred) had rushed upon him and knocked him
down. When Mr. Arscott had heard the story, he turned on his heel, and
never greeted his guest[58] with one farewell word. Black John sobbed
and muttered vengeance in his den for many a day for the death of “Old
Dawty”--the household name of the toad.


    “The good old Squire! once more along the glen,
    Oh, for the scenes of old! the former men!”

    _R. S. Hawker_

    _From the picture by F. Northcote, R.A._

Black John’s lair was a rude hut, which he had wattled for a snug
abode, close to the kennel. He loved to retire to it, and sleep near
his chosen companions, the hounds. When they were unkennelled, he
accompanied and ran with them afoot, and so sinewy and so swift was his
stunted form that he was very often in their midst at the death. Then,
with the brush of the fox elaborately disposed as the crest of his felt
hat, John would make his appearance on the following Sunday at church,
where it was displayed, and pompously hung up above his accustomed
seat, to his own great delight and the envy of many among the
congregation. When the pack found the fox, and the huntsman’s ear was
gladdened by their shrill and sudden burst into full cry, Black John’s
shout would be heard in the field, with his standing jest, “There they
go! there they go! like our missus at home in one of her storms!” As he
grew older, and less equal to the exertion of his strong and youthful
days, John took to wandering, gipsy-fashion, about the country-side;
and he found food and welcome at every cottage and farmhouse. His
usual couch was among the reeds or fern of some sheltering brake or
wood, and he slept, as he himself used to express it, “rolled up, as
warm as a hedgeboar, round his own nose.” One day, in bitter snowy
weather, he was found wanting from his accustomed haunts--“one morn
they missed him on the usual hill”--and after long search he was
discovered shrouded in snow, cold, stiffened, and to all outward
appearance dead. He was carried home, and in due course was coffined
and borne towards the grave. But there, just as the clergyman[59] who
read the service had reached the solemn words which commit the body
to the ground, a loud thumping noise was heard within the coffin.
The bystanders rent open the lid in hot haste, and up started Black
John alive, in amazement, and in furious wrath. He had been in a long
_deliquium_, or death-trance,[60] from cold, and had been restored to
life by the motion and warmth of his own funeral ride. As he told the
astonished mourners, “He heard the words ‘dust to dust,’ and then,”
said he, “I thought it was high time to bumpy.” His words passed into
a proverb; and to this very day, when Cornish men in these parts are
placed in some sudden extremity, and it becomes necessary to take
strong and immediate measures for extrication, the saying is, “It is
time to bumpy, as Black John said.” In his anger and mental confusion,
Black John ever after attributed his attempted burial to the conspiracy
and ill-will of the clergyman, whose words he had interrupted by his
sudden resurrection. More than once the reverend gentleman was suddenly
assaulted in his walks by a stone hurled at him from a hedge, followed
by an angry outcry, in a well-known voice, of “Ha! old Dust-to-dust;
here I be, alive and kicking!”

It may be easily believed that Black John was a very refractory subject
for clerical interference and admonition. The result of frequent
clerical attempts to reform his habits, was a rooted dislike on his
part of the black coat and white neckcloth in all its shades and
denominations. The visit of the first field-preacher to the precincts
of the Hall was signalised by an exhibition of this feeling. John
waylaid the poor unsuspecting man, and offered to guide him on his
road by a short cut across the park, which, John alleged, would save
him a “considerable bit of way.” The treacherous guide led him
along a narrow path into a paddock, wherein was shut up for safety
Mr. Arscott’s perilous favourite bull. This animal had grown up
from calf-hood the wanton but docile companion of Black John, whose
wonderful skill in taming all manner of wild animals had made the “sire
of the herd” so familiar with his strange warder, that he would follow
him and obey his signals and voice like a dog. What took place between
the bull and the preacher could only be guessed at.[61] A rush was
heard by a passer-by, and a yell; then the rustling of the branches
of a tree, and finally a dead thud upon the grass. From the paddock
gate some little time after emerged Black John with a fragment of a
white cravat in his hand, and this was all, so he steadfastly averred,
that ever he could find of “the preacher’s body.” Actually, it was the
sole relic of his arrival and existence that survived in those wild
parts. He was never heard of more in that region. And although there
were rural sceptics who doubted that the bull could have made such
quick work of a full-grown man, the story was fearful enough to scare
away all wandering preachers from that district while the dwarf lived.
On the Sunday following the terrific interview between the preacher
and the bull, John took his usual place in church, but, to the
astonishment of those who were not in the secret, instead of the usual
fox’s brush, a jaunty pennon of white rag floated as the crest of the
well-known felt hat.

Black John was long and fondly cherished by his generous master. Mr.
Arscott lived like Adam in the garden, surrounded by his animals and
pets, each with its familiar and household name; and no man ever more
fully realised the truth of the saying that “love makes love,” and that
the surest way to kindle kindness is to be kind. Accurately has it been
said of him--

    “Oh, for the Squire! that shook at break of morn
    Dew from the trees with echo of his horn!
    The gathering scene, where Arscott’s lightest word
    Went, like a trumpet, to the hearts that heard;
    The dogs, that knew the meaning of his voice,
    From the grim foxhound to my lady’s choice:
    The steed that waited till his hand caressed:
    And old Black John that gave and bare the jest!”[62]

None, high or low, during the lifetime of the squire, were allowed
with impunity to injure or harass his cross-grained jester, and many
a mischievous escapade was hushed up, and the sufferer soothed or
pacified by money or influence. When gout and old age had imprisoned
Mr. Arscott in his easy-chair, Black John snoozed among the ashes of
the vast wood fires of the hearth, or lay coiled upon his rug like
some faithful mastiff, watching every look and gesture of his master;
starting up to fill the pipe or the tankard of old ale, and then
crouching again.

    “This lasted long; it fain would last
    Till autumn rustled on the blast,”[63]

and the good old squire, in the language of the Tamar-side, “passed out
of it.” At his death and funeral, the agony of his misshapen retainer
was unappeasable. He had to be removed by force from the door of the
vault, and then he utterly refused to depart from the neighbourhood
of the grave. He made himself another lair, near the churchyard wall,
and there he sobbed away the brief remnant of his days, in honest and
unavailing grief for the protector whom he had so loved in life, and
from whom in death he would not be divided. Thus and there, not long
after, he died, as the old men of the parish used to relate, for the
“second and last time.” He had what is called in those parts a decent
funeral, for his master had bequeathed to him an ample allowance for
life and death in his last will. The mourners ate of the fat and drank
of the strong, as their Celtic impulses would suggest; and although
some among them, who remembered John’s former funeral, may have
listened again for a token or sign, poor Black John, alas for him! had
no master to come back to now, and declined “to bumpy” any more.

A singular and striking circumstance attended the final funeral of
Black John. An aged crone, bent and tottering, “worn Nature’s mournful
monument,” was observed following the bier, and the people heard her
muttering ever and anon, “Oh, is he really dead? He came to life again
once you know, and lived long after.” When assured that all indeed was
over, even her wild hope, she cried with a great sob, “O poor dear
Johnny! he was so good-looking and so steady till they spoilt him up
at the Hall!” Her words recalled her to the memory of some old men who
were there, and they knew her as a certain Aunty Bridget, who had been
teased and worried, long years agone, at markets and fairs, as “Black
John’s sweetheart.”


[55] From _All the Year Round_, vol. xiii. pp. 454-456. 1865.

[56] See Appendix C.

[57] Compare Hawker’s fine description of the feast at Dundagel in “The
Quest of the Sangraal”--

    “Strong men for meat, and warriors at the wine,
    They wreak the wrath of hunger on the beeves,
    They rend rich morsels from the savoury deer,
    And quench the flagon like Brun-guillie dew!”

[58] Another version of the story says that he was a shoemaker come on
business, and that he never made boots for Mr. Arscott again. For the
fate of the other toad, see end of Appendix C.

[59] The Rev. Robert Martyn, then Vicar of Stratton.

[60] On another occasion Black John awoke from a less serious trance.
The parson in his sermon was speaking of “that blessedness which on
earth it is impossible to find,” when a well-known voice from the
gallery shouted, “Not find! Us be sartain to find un to-morrow in
Swannacott Wood!”

[61] In another version of the tale, Black John said to the preacher,
“Only just take your hat off and say two words of gospel to ’im, and
her won’t touch ’ee.”

[62] This is one stanza from Hawker’s own poem, “Tetcott, 1831; in
which year Sir William Molesworth caused the old house to be taken
down, and a new one built.” (See Appendix C.)

[63] These lines are from Hawker’s poem, “A Legend of the Hive.”


There is no part of our native country of England so little known, no
region so seldom trodden by the feet of the tourist or the traveller,
as the middle moorland of old Cornwall. A stretch of wild heath and
stunted gorse, dotted with swelling hills, and interspersed with
rugged rocks, either of native granite or rough-hewn pillar, the rude
memorial of ancient art, spreads from the Severn Sea on the west to the
tall ridge of Carradon on the east, and from Warbstow Barrow on the
north to the southern civilisation of Bodmin and Liskeard. Throughout
this district there is, even in these days, but very scanty sign of
settled habitation. Two or three recent and solitary roads traverse
the boundaries; here and there the shafts and machinery of a mine
announce the existence of underground life; a few clustered cottages,
or huts, for the shepherds, are sprinkled along the waste; but the
vast and uncultured surface of the soil is suggestive of the bleak
steppes of Tartary or the far wilds of Australia, and that in the very
heart of modern England. Yet is there no scenery that can be sought
by the antiquary or the artist that will so kindle the imagination or
requite the eye or the mind of the wanderer as this Cornish solitude.
If he travel from our storied Dundagel, eastward, Rowter,[65] the
Red Tor, so named from its purple tapestry of heather and heath, and
Brunguillie,[66] the Golden Hill, crested with yellow gorse like a
crown, will win his approach and reward, with their majestic horizon,
the first efforts of his pilgrimage. The summits and sides of these
mountains of the west are studded with many a logan-rock[67] or
shuddering-stone of the old superstition. This was the pillar of ordeal
in Druid times, so poised that while it shook at the slight faint touch
of the innocent finger, it firmly withstood the assailing strength of
the guilty man.

Passing onward, the traveller will pause amid a winding outline of
unhewn granite pillars, and he will gradually discover that these
are set up to represent the coils of a gigantic serpent, traced,
as it were, in stone. This is a memorial of the dragon-crest of a
Viking, or the demon-idol and shrine of an older antiquity. Not far
off there gleams a moorland lake or mimic sea, with its rippling laugh
of waters--the Dozmere Pool[68] of many an antique legend and tale,
the mystic scene[69] of the shadowy vessel and the Mort d’Arthur of
our living bard. A sheep-track--for no other visible path will render
guidance along the moor--leads on to Kilmarth Tor, from the brow of
which lofty crag the eye can embrace the expanse of the two seas which
are the boundaries of Cornwall on the right and left. There, too, looms
in the distance rocky Carradon, with the valley of the Hurlers at its
foot. These tall shapes of granite, grim and grotesque, were once,
as local legends say, nine bold upstanding Cornish men who disdained
the Sabbath-day; and as they pursued their daring pastime and “put
the stone” in spite of the warning of the priest, they were changed,
by a sudden doom, where they stood up to play, and so were fixed for
ever in monumental rock. Above them lowers the Devil’s Wring, a pile
of granite masses, lifted, as though by giant or demon strength, one
upon another; but the upper rocks vast and unwieldy, and the lower
gradually lessening downward, until they rest, poised, on a pivot of
stone so slender and small that it seems as though the wind sweeping
over the moor would overtopple it with a breath; and yet centuries
many and long have rolled over the heath, and still it stands unshaken
and unswerved. Its name is derived from the similitude of the rocky
structure to the press wherein the ancient housewives of rude Cornwall
were accustomed to “wring” out the milk from their cheese.

[Illustration: THE CHEESEWRING (or The Devil’s Wring).]

Not far off from this singular monument of “ages long ago” there is
found to this day a rough and rude assemblage of moorstone slabs,
some cast down and others erect, but manifestly brought together and
arranged by human hands and skill. There is still traceable amid the
fragments the outline of a human habitation, once divided into cells,
and this was the origin and purpose of this solitary abode. It was
the work and the home of a remarkable man--an eccentric and original
character among the worthies of the west--and the place has borne ever
since the early years of the last century the name of Daniel Gumb’s
Rock. He was a native Cornishman, born in a cottage that bordered on
the moor, and in the lowlier ranks of labouring life. In his father’s
household he was always accounted a strange and unsocial boy. In his
childhood he kept aloof from all pastime and play, and while his
companions resorted to their youthful amusements and sports, Daniel
was usually seen alone with a book or a slate whereon he worked, at a
very early age, the axioms of algebra or the diagrams of Euclid. He had
mastered with marvellous rapidity all the books of the country-side,
and he had even exhausted the instructions of the schoolmaster of the
neighbouring town. Then it became his chosen delight to wander on the
moors with some favourite volume in his hand, and a crust from his
mother’s loaf in his bag; with his inseparable tools, also, the chisel
and the mallet, wherewithal to chip and gather the geological specimens
of his own district. Often he would be absent whole nights, and when he
was questioned as to his place of shelter, he would reply, “Where John
the Baptist slept,” or “At Roche, in the hermit’s bed;” for the ruined
cell of a Christian anchorite stood, and yet stands, above the scenery
of the wanderings of that solitary boy.

But Daniel’s principal ambition was to know and name the planets
and the stars. It was at the time when the discoveries of foreign
astronomers had peopled the heavens with fresh imagery, and our
own Newton had given to the ethereal phenomena of the sky a “local
habitation and a name.” It is very striking to discover when the minds
of any nation are flooded with new ideas and original trains of
thought, how soon the strange tidings will reach the very skirts of the
population, and borne, how we know not, will thrill the hamlet and the
village with the wonders that have roused and instructed the far-off
and civilised city. Thus even Daniel’s distant district became aware
of the novel science of the stars, and this intelligence failed not to
excite and foster the faculties of his original mind. Local legends
still record and identify the tall and craggy places where the youthful
“scholar” was wont to ascend and to rest all night with his face turned
upward to the sky, “learning the customs of the stars,” and “finding
out by the planets things to come.” Nor were his studies unassisted
and alone. A master-mind of those days, Cookworthy[70] of Plymouth, a
learned and scientific man, still famous in the west, found out and
fostered the genius of the intelligent youth. He gave him access to
his library, and allowed him to visit his orrery and other scientific
instruments; and the result of this kindness was shown in the tastes
and future peculiarities of the mind of Gumb. The stern necessities
of life demanded, in the course of time, that Daniel should fulfil
the destiny of his birth, and win his bread by the sweat of his brow;
for the meagre resources of his cottage-home had to be augmented by
his youthful labour. In the choice of an occupation his early habits
were not without their influence. He selected the craft of a hewer of
stone, a very common calling on the surrounding moors; and there he
toiled for several years of his succeeding life, amid the cyclopean
models of the early ages. The pillared rocks of that wild domain were
the monoliths of Celtic history, and the vast piles of the native moor
were the heaped and unhewn pyramids of an ancient and nameless people.
All these surrounding scenes acted on his tastes and impulses. “So
the foundations of his mind were laid!” His father died, and Daniel
became his own master, and had to hew his way through the rugged world
by what the Cornish call “the pith of his bones.” That he did so his
future history will attest; but it was not unsoothed nor alone; nor
was it without the usual incident of human existence. No man ever yet
became happily great or joyfully distinguished without that kindling
strength, the affectionate presence of a woman.

                    “He who Joy would win,
    Must share it: Happiness was born a twin.”

Such was the solace that arrived to soothe the dreary path of Daniel
Gumb. He wooed and won a maiden of his native village, who, amid the
rugged rocks and appellatives of Cornwall, had the soft Italian name
of Florence. But where, amid the utter poverty of his position and
prospects, could he find the peaceful and happy wedding-roof that
should bend over him and his bride? His friends were few, and they
too poor and lowly to aid his start in life. He himself had inherited
nothing save a strong head and heart, and two stalwart hands. He looked
around him and afar off, and there was no avenue for house or home.
Suddenly he recalled to mind his wandering days and his houseless
nights, the scanty food, the absorbing meditation, and the kindly
shelter of many a nook in the hollow places of the granite rock. He
formed his plan, and made it known to his future and faithful bride;
she assented with the full-hearted strength and trusting sacrifice of a
woman’s love. Then he went forth in the might of his simple and strong
resolve,--his tools in his scrip, and a loaf or two of his accustomed
household bread. He sought the well-known slope under Carradon,
searched many a mass of Druid rock, and paced around cromlech and
pillared stone of old memorial,[71] until he discovered a primeval
assemblage of granite slabs suited to his toil. One of these, grounded
upon several others, the vast boulders of some diluvian flood, had the
rude semblance of a roof. Underneath this shelving rock he scooped
away the soil, finding, as he dug on, more than one upright slice of
moorstone, which he left to stand as an inner and natural wall. At
last, at the end of a few laborious days, Daniel stood before a large
cavern of the rocks, divided into chambers by upstanding granite, and
sheltered at a steep angle by a mountainous mass of stone. Nerved and
sustained by the hopeful visions which crowded on his mind, and of
which he firmly trusted that this place would be the future scene,
he toiled on until he had finally framed a giant abode such as that
wherein Cyclops shut in Ulysses and his companions, and promised to
“devour No-man the last.” Materials for the pavement and for closing
up the inner walls were scattered abundantly around--nay, the very
furniture for that mountain-home was at once ready for his hand; for
as Agag,[72] king of the Amalekites, had his vaunted iron bed, so
did Gumb frame and hew for himself and Florence, his wife, table and
seat and a bedstead of native stone. Then he smoothed out and shot
into a groove a thick and heavy door, so that, closed like an Eastern
sepulchre, it demanded no common strength to roll away the stone. When
all had been prepared, the bridegroom and the bride met at a distant
church; the simple wedding-feast was held at her father’s house; and
that night the husband led the maiden of his vows, the bride of his
youth, to their wedding-rock! If he had known the ode, he might have
chanted, in Horatian[73] verse, that day--

    “Nunc scio quid sit amor, duris in cotibus illum”

    “Now know I what true love is; in rugged dens he dwells.”

Here the wedded pair dwelt in peace long and happy years, mingling
the imagery of old romance with the sterner duties of practical life.
As a far-famed hewer of stone, the skill and energy of this singular
man never lacked employ, nor failed to supply the necessities of his
moorland abode. Like a patriarch in his tent amid the solitudes of
Syria, he was his own king, prophet, and priest. He paid neither rent,
nor taxes, nor tithe. When children were born to him, he exercised
unwittingly the power of lay-baptism which was granted in the primitive
Church to the inhabitants of a wilderness, afar from the ministry of
the priesthood, and his wife was content to be “churched” by her own
cherished husband, among the altars of unhewn stone that surrounded
their solitary cell. Who shall say that this simple worship of the
father and the mother with their household, amid the paradise of hills,
was not as sweet, with the balsam of the soul, as the incense-breathing
psalm of the cathedral choir? Rightly or wrongly, it is known that
Daniel entertained an infinite contempt for “the parsons” whose
territories bordered on the moor. Not one of them, it was his wont to
aver, could cross the Asses’ Bridge of his favourite Euclid, a feat
he had himself accomplished in very early youth; nor could the most
learned among them all unravel the mysteries of his chosen companions,
the wandering stars that travelled over Carradon every night. Long
and frequent were his vigils for astronomical researches and delight.
To this day the traveller will encounter on the face of some solitary
rock a mathematical diagram carefully carved by some chisel and hand
unknown; and while speculation has often been rife as to the Druidical
origin of the mystic figure, or the scientific knowledge of the early
Kelts, the local antiquary is aware that these are the simple records
of the patient studies of Daniel Gumb.

When the writer of this article visited the neighbourhood in 183-,
there still survived relics and remembrances of this singular man.
There were a few written fragments[74] of his thoughts and studies
still treasured up in the existing families of himself and his wife.
Here is a transcript: “Mr. Cookworthy told me, when I saw him last,
that astronomers in foreign parts, and our great man Sir Isaac here at
home, had thought that the planets were so vast, and so like our earth
in their ways, that they might have been inhabited by men; but he said,
‘their elements and atmosphere are thought to be unfit for human life
and breath.’ But surely God would not have so wasted His worlds as to
have made such great bright masses of His creation to roll along all
barren, as it were, like desert places of light in the sky. There must
be people of some kind there: how I should like to see them, and to go
there when I die!”

Another entry on the same leaf: “Florence asked me to-day if I thought
that our souls, after we are dead, would know the stars and other
wise things better than we can now. And I answered her, Yes; and if I
could--that is, if I was allowed to--the first thing I would try should
be to square the circle true, and then, if I could, I would mark it and
work it out somewhere hereabouts on a flat rock, that my son might find
it there, and so make his fortune and be a great man. N.B.--Florence
asked me to write this down.”

On a thick sheet of pasteboard, with a ground-plan of a building on
the other side, he had written: “_January 16, 1756_.--A terrible storm
last night. Thunder and lightning and hail, with a tempest of wind. Saw
several dead sheep on the moor. Shipwrecks, no doubt, at sea. A thought
came into my mind, Why should such harm be allowed to be done? I read
some reasons once in a book that Mr. Cookworthy lent me, called ‘The
Origin of Evil;’ but I could not understand a word of it. My notion is,
that when evil somehow came into the world, God did not destroy it at
once, because He is so almighty that He let it go on, to make manifest
His power and majesty; and so He rules over all things, and turns them
into good at the last. N.B.--The devil is called in the Bible the
Prince of the Powers of the Air: so he may be, but he must obey his
Master. The poor wretch is but a slave after all!”

On the fly-leaves of an old account-book the following strange
statement appears: “_June 23, 1764_.--To-day, at bright noon, as I was
at my work upon the moor, I looked up, and saw all at once a stranger
standing on the turf, just above my block. He was dressed like an old
picture I remember in the windows of St. Neot’s Church, in a long
brown garment, with a girdle; and his head was uncovered and grizzled
with long hair. He spoke to me, and he said, in a low, clear voice,
‘Daniel, that work is hard!’ I wondered that he should know my name,
and I answered, ‘Yes, sir; but I am used to it, and don’t mind it,
for the sake of the faces at home.’ Then he said, sounding his words
like a psalm, ‘Man goeth forth to his work and to his labour until
the evening; when will it be night with Daniel Gumb?’ I began to feel
queer; it seemed to me that there was something awful about the unknown
man. I even shook. Then he said again, ‘Fear nothing. The happiest man
in all the earth is he that wins his daily bread by his daily sweat,
if he will but fear God and do no man wrong.’ I bent down my head like
any one confounded, and I greatly wondered who this strange appearance
could be. He was not like a preacher, for he looked me full in the
face; nor a bit like a parson, for he seemed very meek and kind. I
began to think it was a spirit, only such ones always come by night,
and here was I at noonday, and at work. So I made up my mind to drop
my hammer and step up and ask his name right out. But when I looked
up he was gone, and that clear out of my sight, on the bare wide moor
suddenly.[75] I only wish that I had gone forward at once and felt him
with my hand, and found out if he was a real man or only a resemblance.
What could it mean! Mem. to ask Mr. C.”

This event is recorded in a more formal and painful handwriting than
the other MSS. which survive. Nothing could be further removed from
superstition or fear than this man’s whole character and mind. Hard as
one of his native rocks, and accurate as a diagram, yet here is a tinge
of that large and artless belief which is so inseparable from a Keltic
origin, and which is so often manifested by the strongest and loftiest
minds. Another paragraph, written on the blank page of an almanac, runs
thus: “Found to-day, in the very heart of a slab rock that came out
below the granite, the bony skeleton of a strange animal, or rather
some kind of fish. The stone had never been broken into before, and
looked ages older than the rocks above. Now, how came this creature
to get in, and to die and harden there? Was it before Adam’s time, or
since? What date was it? But what can we tell about dates after all?
Time is nothing but Adam’s clock--a measurement that men invented to
reckon by. This very rock with the creature in it was made, perhaps,
before there was any such thing as time. In eternity may be--that is,
before there were any dates begun. At all events, when God did make
the rock, He must have put the creature there.” This appears to be
a singular and rude anticipation of modern discovery, and a simple
solution of a question of science in our own and later time. It is to
be lamented that these surviving details of a thoughtful and original
life are so few and far between.

Gumb appears to have united in his native character the simplicity of
an ancient hermit and the stern contempt of the solitary student for
the busy hum of men, with the brave resolution and independent energy
of mind which have won success and fame for some of our self-made sons
of science and skill. But his opportunities were few, and the severance
of his life and abode from contact with his fellow-men forbade that
access to the discoveries and researches of his kind which might have
rendered him, in other days, the Hugh Miller of the rocks, or the
Stephenson or Watt of a scientific solitude. He and his wife inhabited
their wedded cell for many years and long. The mother on her stony
couch gladdened her anxious husband with sons and daughters; but
she had the courage to brave her woman’s trials alone, for neither
midwife nor doctor were ever summoned to “the rock.” These, as may
well be imagined, were all literally educated at home; but only one
of their children--his name was John--appears to have inherited his
father’s habits or energy. He succeeded to the caverned home after
Daniel’s death, and when his mother had returned to her native village
to die also, the existence of John Gumb is casually seen recorded
as one of the skilful hewers of stone at the foot of Carradon. But
Daniel died “an old man full of days,” and he was carried after all
_ad plures_, and to the silent society of men, in the churchyard of
the parish wherein stood afar off his rocky home. He won and he still
deserves a nook of remembrance among the legendary sons of the west,
“the giants” of Keltic race, “the mighty men that were of old, the men
of renown.” His mind, though rough-hewn, like a block of his native
granite, must have been well balanced: resolute and firm reliance on a
man’s own resources, and disdain of external succour, have ever been
a signal of native genius. To be able to live alone, according to the
adage of an ancient sage, a man must be either an angel or a demon.
Gumb was neither, but a simple, strong-hearted, and intellectual man.
He had the “mens sana in corpore sano” of the poet’s aspiration. A
scenic taste and a mind “to enjoy the universe” he revealed in the
very choice of his abode. In utter scorn of the pent-up city, and
dislike for the reek of the multitude, he built like “the Kenite, his
nest in the rock;”[76] nor did he pitch his stony tent by chance, or
in a casual place in the wild. He chose and he fixed his home where
his eye could command and exult in a stretch of circumferent scenery
a hundred and fifty miles in surrounding extent. In the east, he
greeted the morning sun, as he mounted the rugged saddle of Dartmoor
and Exmoor for his daily career. To the west, Roche, the rock of the
ruined hermitage, lifted a bold and craggy crest to the sky, where long
centuries before another solitary of more ascetic mind lay, like the
patriarch on his pillow of granite, and reared a ladder to heaven by
the energy of nightly prayer. Far, far away to the westward the haughty
sun of England went into the storied sea of Arthur and his knights,
and touched caressingly the heights of grim Dundagel with a lingering
halo of light. These were the visions that soothed and surrounded the
worker at his daily toil, and roused and strengthened the energies of
the self-sustaining man. The lessons of the legend of Daniel Gumb are
simple and earnest and strong. The words of supernatural wisdom might
be graven as an added superscription on his rock, “Whatsoever thou
doest, do it with all thine heart.” If thou be a man friendless and
alone, the slave of the hammer or the axe, and doomed to the sweat
of labour day by day till the night shall come that no man can work,
“aide-toi et Dieu t’aidera”--aid thyself and God will succour thee.


[64] From _All the Year Round_, vol. xv. pp. 206-210. 1866. See
Appendix D.

[65] Spelt “Routorr” in the lines quoted on p. 234. It seems more
natural to take the word as meaning “rough, or rugged, tor.” Hawker
spells it “Roughtor” on p. 124.

[66] Now called “Brown Willy.” See the lines quoted on p. 80.

[67] Compare the lines on Sir Lancelot in “The Quest of the Sangraal,”
and Hawker’s note--

    “Ah me! that logan of the rocky hills,
    Pillar’d in storm, calm in the rush of war,
    Shook at the light touch of his lady’s hand!”

The ballad on “The Doom Well of St. Madron” records a similar test of
innocence. For Carew’s description of a logan-rock, see end of Appendix

[68] See Appendix D_a_.


    “On one side lay the Ocean, and on one
    Lay a great water, and the moon was full.”

[70] William Cookworthy (1705-1780) started life as a small druggist in
Nut Street, Plymouth. He had been educated by the Society of Friends,
and at thirty-one he retired from trade, became a Quaker minister, and
continued so for twenty-five years. About 1758, having discovered a
new process of making porcelain, he set up a manufactory at Plymouth,
which was after his death transferred to Bristol, and thence to the
Potteries. “Cookworthy is said to have been a believer in the _dowsing_
or divining-rod for discovering mineral veins, and we learn that he
became a disciple of Swedenborg.... As a lover of science he was much
appreciated, as is proved by the fact that Sir Joseph Banks, Dr.
Solander, and Captain Cook, dined with him at Plymouth before their
voyage round the world” (“Dictionary of National Biography”). His
duties led him to travel about the mining districts of Cornwall, and
he was a great friend of Nancarrow of Godolphin, a superintendent of
mines. It would be on these journeys, no doubt, that he came across
Daniel Gumb. Cookworthy died on October 16, 1780, aged 76.


    “On many a cairn’s grey pyramid,
    Where urns of mighty chiefs lie hid.”

    _Lay of the Last Minstrel._

[72] It was not Agag, but Og, the king of Bashan, who had the bedstead
of iron. See Deuteronomy iii. 11.

[73] This is probably a slip of the pen for “Virgilian.” The line
occurs in Virgil’s “Eclogues,” 8, 43. There is no stop at “illum.” The
sentence is carried on to the next lines--

    “Aut Tmaros aut Rhodope aut extremi Garamantes
    Nec generis nostri puerum nec sanguinis edunt.”

Conington translates the passage thus: “Now know I what love is; it
is among savage rocks that he is produced by Tmarus or Rhodope or the
Garamantes at earth’s end; no child of lineage or blood like ours.”
Hawker’s translation, it must be owned, is preferable as far as it goes.

[74] Evidences of thought and style make it almost certain that these
ingenious “fragments” are Hawker’s “own invention.” See note on p. 104.

[75] It was a trick of Hawker’s style to end a sentence with this
or similar adverbs. Instances occur on pp. 17 and 172. Elsewhere he
writes: “As the lightning leaps from the dark cloud suddenly.” Little
points like this suggest the real authorship of Daniel Gumb’s diary.

[76] Numbers xxiv. 21, “And he (Balaam) looked on the Kenites, and
took up his parable, and said, Strong is thy dwelling-place, and thou
puttest thy nest in a rock.”



On the brow of a lofty hill, crested with stag-horned trees, commanding
a deep and woodland gorge wherein “the Crooks of Combe”[78] (the curves
of a winding river) urge onward to the “Severn Sea,” still survive
the remains of famous old Stowe,--that historic abode of the loyal
and glorious Sir Beville,[79] the Bayard of old Cornwall, “sans peur
et sans reproche,” in the thrilling Stuart wars. No mansion on the
Tamar-side ever accumulated so rich and varied a store of association
and event. Thither the sons of the Cornish gentry were accustomed to
resort, to be nurtured and brought up with the children of Sir Beville
Granville and Lady Grace; for the noble knight was literally the “glass
wherein” the youth of those ancient times “did dress themselves.” There
their graver studies were relieved by manly pastime and athletic
exercise. Like the children of the Persians, they were taught “to
ride, to bend the bow, and to speak the truth.” At hearth and hall
every time-honoured usage and festive celebration was carefully and
reverently preserved. Around the walls branched the massive antlers
of the red deer of the moors, the trophies of many a bold achievement
with horse and hound. At the buttery-hatch hung a tankard marked with
the guests’ and the travellers’ peg, and a manchet, flanked with
native cheese, stood ready on a trencher for any sudden visitant who
might choose to lift the latch; for the Granville motto was, “An open
door and a greeting hand.” A troop of retainers, servants, grooms,
and varlets of the yard, stood each in his place, and under orders to
receive with a welcome the unknown stranger, as well as their master’s
kinsman and friend.

[Illustration: ANTONY PAYNE’S HOUSE, STRATTON, now the Tree Inn.]

Among these, at the beginning of the seventeenth century, appeared a
remarkable personage. He was the son of an old tenant on the estate,
who occupied the manor-house of Stratton, a neighbouring town. His
parents were of the yeoman rank in life, and possessed no singularity
of personal aspect or frame, although both were comely. But Antony,
their son, was from his earliest years a wonderful boy. He shot up
into preternatural stature and strength. His proportions were so vast
that, when he was a mere lad, his schoolmates were accustomed to
“borrow his back,” and, for sport, to work out their geography lessons
or arithmetic on that broad disc in chalk; so that, to his mother’s
amazement and dismay, he more than once brought home, like Atlas, the
world on his shoulders, for her to rub out. His strength and skill in
every boyish game were marvellous, and, unlike many other large men,
his mental and intellectual faculties increased with his amazing growth.

It was Antony Payne’s delight to select two of his stoutest companions,
whom he termed “his kittens,” and, with one under each arm, to climb
some perilous crag or cliff in the neighbourhood of the sea, “to show
them the world,” as he said. He was called in the school “Uncle Tony,”
for the Cornish to this day employ the names “uncle and aunt” as titles
of endearment and respect. Another relic of his boyhood is extant
still: the country lads, when they describe anything of excessive
dimensions, call it, “As long as Tony Payne’s foot.”

He grew on gradually, and in accurate proportion of sinews and thews,
until, at the age of twenty-one, he was taken into the establishment at
Stowe. He then measured seven feet two inches without his shoes,[80]
and he afterwards added a couple of inches more to his stately growth.
Wide-chested, full-armed, and pillared like a rock on lower limbs of
ample and exact symmetry, he would have gladdened the critical eyes of
Queen Elizabeth, whose Tudor taste led her to exult in “looking on a
man.” If his lot had fallen in later days, he might have been hired by
some wonder-monger to astonish the provincial mind, or the intellect of
cities, as the Cornish Chang. But in good, old, honest, simple-hearted
England, they utilised their giants, and deemed that when a cubit was
added to the stature of a man, it was for some wise good end, and they
looked upon their loftier brother with added honour and respect.

So for many years Payne continued to fulfil his various duties as Sir
Beville’s chief retainer at Stowe. He it was who was the leader and
the authority in every masculine sport. He embowelled and flayed the
hunted deer, and carried the carcass on his own shoulders to the Hall,
where he received as his guerdon the horns and the hide. The antlers,
cleansed and polished, were hoisted as a trophy on the panelled wall;
and the skins, dressed and prepared, were shaped into a jerkin for
his goodly chest. It took the spoils of three full-grown red deer to
make the garment complete. His master’s sons and their companions, the
very pride of the West, who were housed and instructed at Stowe, when
released from their graver studies, were under his especial charge.
He taught them to shoot, and fish, and to handle arms. Tilt-yard and
bowling-green, and the hurler’s ground, can still be identified at
Stowe. In the latter, the poising-place and the mark survive, and a
rough block of graywacke is called to this day “Payne’s cast;” it lies
full ten paces beyond the reach whereat the ordinary players could “put
the stone.”

It is said that one Christmas-eve the fire languished in the Hall.
A boy with an ass had been sent to the woodland for logs, and the
driver loitered on his homeward way. Lady Grace lost patience, and
was displeased. All at once a sudden outcry was heard at the gate,
and Sir Beville’s Giant appeared with the loaded animal on his mighty
back. He threw down his burden in triumph at the hearth-side, shouting
merrily, “Ass and fardel! ass and fardel for my lady’s Yule!” Another
time he strode along the path from Kilkhampton village to Stowe with
a bacon-hog of three hundredweight thrown across his shoulders, and
merely because a taunting butcher had doubted his strength for the
feat. Among the excellences of Sir Beville’s Giant, it is told of him
that he was by no means clumsy or uncouth, as men of unusual size
sometimes are, but as nimble and elastic, and as capable of swift and
dexterous movement, as a light and muscular man. Added to this, his
was a strong and acute intellect; so happy also in his language, and
of such a ready wit, that he was called by a writer[81] of the last
century, from his resemblance, in these points only, to Shakespeare’s
knight, “the Falstaff of the West.”

But a great and sudden change was about to come over the happy halls
of Stowe. The king and his Parliament were at fatal strife; and there
could be but one place in the land for the true-hearted and chivalrous
Sir Beville, and that was at his royal master’s side.[82] The
well-known rallying cry went through the hills and valleys of Cornwall,
“Granville’s up!” and the hearts and hands of many a noble knight and
man-at-arms turned towards old Stowe. Mounted messengers rode to and
fro. Strange and stalwart forms arrived to claim a place in the ranks.
Retainers were enrolled day and night; and the smooth sward of the
bowling-green and the Fawn’s Paddock were dinted by the hoofs of horses
and the tread of serried men. Foremost among these scenes we find, as
body-guard of his master, the bulky form of Antony Payne. He marshalled
and manœuvred the rude levies from the western mines, “the underground
men.” He served out arms and rations, and established order, by the
mere terror of his presence and strength, among the wild and mixed
multitude that gathered “for the king and land.”

Instead of the glad and hospitable scenery of former times, Stowe
became in those days like a garrison surrounded by a camp. At last,
one day tidings arrived that the battalions of the Parliament, led by
Lord Stamford, were on their way northwards, and not many miles off. A
picked and goodly company marched forth from the avenue of Stowe, and
among them Payne, on his Cornish cob Samson, of pure Guinhilly breed.
The next day, eight miles towards the south, the battle of Stratton
Hill was fought and won by the royal troops. The Earl of Stamford
was repulsed, and fled, bequeathing, by a strange mischance, his own
name, though the defeated commander, to the field of battle. It is
called to this day Stamford Hill.[83] Sir Beville returned that night
to Stowe, but his Giant remained with some other soldiers to bury the
dead. He had caused certain large trenches to be laid open, each to
hold ten bodies side by side. There he and his followers carried in the
slain. On one occasion they had laid down nine corpses, and Payne was
bringing in another, tucked under his arm, like one of “the kittens”
of his schoolboy days, when all at once the supposed dead man was heard
pleading earnestly with him, and expostulating, “Surely you wouldn’t
bury me, Mr. Payne, before I am dead?” “I tell thee, man,” was the grim
reply, “our trench was dug for ten, and there’s nine in already; you
must take your place.” “But I bean’t dead, I say; I haven’t done living
yet; be massyful, Mr. Payne--don’t ye hurry a poor fellow into the
earth before his time.” “I won’t hurry thee: I mean to put thee down
quietly and cover thee up, and then thee canst die at thy leisure.”
Payne’s purpose, however, was kinder than his speech. He carried his
suppliant carefully to his own cottage not far off, and charged his
wife to stanch, if possible, her husband’s rebellious blood. The man
lived, and his descendants are among the principal inhabitants of the
town of Stratton to this day.[84]

That same year the battle of Lansdown, near Bath, was fought. The
forces of the Parliament prevailed, and Sir Beville nobly died. Payne
was still at his side, and, when his master fell, he mounted young
John Granville, a youth of sixteen, whom he had always in charge, on
his father’s horse, and he led the Granville troop into the fight. A
letter[85] which the faithful retainer wrote to his lady at Stowe still
survives. It breathes in the quaint language of the day a noble strain
of sympathy and homage. Thus it ran:--

    “HONOURED MADAM,--Ill news flieth apace. The heavy tidings no doubt
    hath already travelled to Stowe that we have lost our blessed
    master by the enemy’s advantage. You must not, dear lady, grieve
    too much for your noble spouse. You know, as we all believe, that
    his soul was in heaven before his bones were cold. He fell, as he
    did often tell us he wished to die, in the great Stuart cause, for
    his country and his king. He delivered to me his last commands,
    and with such tender words for you and for his children as are
    not to be set down with my poor pen, but must come to your ears
    upon my best heart’s breath. Master John, when I mounted him on
    his father’s horse, rode him into the war like a young prince, as
    he is, and our men followed him with their swords drawn and with
    tears in their eyes. They did say they would kill a rebel for every
    hair of Sir Beville’s beard. But I bade them remember their good
    master’s word, when he wiped his sword after Stamford fight; how
    he said, when their cry was, ‘Stab and slay!’ ‘Halt, men! God will
    avenge.’ I am coming down with the mournfullest load that ever a
    poor servant did bear, to bring the great heart that is cold to
    Kilkhampton vault. Oh, my lady, how shall I ever brook your weeping
    face? But I will be trothful to the living and to the dead.

    “These, honoured madam, from thy saddest, truest servant,


[Illustration: ANTONY PAYNE (p. 118)

_From the picture by Sir Godfrey Kneller_]

At the Restoration the Stowe Giant reappears upon the scene in
attendance on his young master, John Granville. Sir Beville’s son
had been instrumental in the return of the king, and had received
from Charles II. largess of money, great offices, and the earldom
of Bath. Among other places of trust, he was appointed Governor
of the Garrison at Plymouth. There Payne received the appointment
of Halberdier of the Guns, and the king, who held him in singular
favour, commanded his portrait to be painted by the Court artist, Sir
Godfrey Kneller.[86] The fate of this picture was one of great
vicissitude. It hung in state for some years in the great gallery at
Stowe; thence, when that mansion was dismantled at the death of the
Earl of Bath, it was removed to Penheale, another manor-house of the
Granvilles, in Cornwall; but it ceased to be highly esteemed, from
ignorance of the people and the oblivion of years, insomuch so that
when Gilbert, the Cornish historian, travelled through the county to
collect materials for his work, he discovered the portrait rolled up
in an empty room, and described by the farmer’s wife as “a carpet with
the effigy of a large man upon it.” It was a gift to her husband, she
said, from the landlord’s steward, and she was glad to sell it as she
did for £8! When Gilbert died his collection of antique curiosities
was sold by auction at Devonport, where he lived, and this portrait
of Payne, which had been engraved as the frontispiece to the second
volume of his “History of Cornwall,” was bought by a stranger who
was passing through the town, and who had strolled in to look at the
sale, at the price of forty guineas. The value had been apparently
enhanced by oil, and varnish, and frame. This stranger proved to be a
connoisseur in paintings: he conveyed it to London, and there it was
ascertained to be one of the masterpieces of Kneller; it was resold
for the enormous sum of £800. This picture, or even the engraving in
Gilbert’s work, reveals still to the eye the Giant of Old Stowe, “in
his natural presentment” as he lived. There he stands before the eye,
a stalwart soldier of the guard. One hand is placed upon a cannon, and
the other wields the tall halberd of his rank and office as yeoman
of the guns. By a strange accident this very weapon[87] and a large
flask or flagon,[88] sheathed in wicker-work, which is said to have
held “Antony’s allowance,” a gallon of wine, and which is placed in
the picture on the ground at his feet--both these relics of the time
and the man are now in the possession of the writer of this article,
in the Vicarage House, near Stowe. It was in Plymouth garrison, and
in his later days, that an event is recorded of Payne which testifies
that even after long years “his eye had not grown dim, neither was his
natural force abated.” The Revolution had come and gone, and William
and Mary had been enthroned. At the mess-table of the regiment
in garrison, on the anniversary of the day when Charles I. had been
beheaded, a sub-officer of Payne’s own rank had ordered a calf’s head
to be served up in a “William-and-Mary dish.” This, in those days of
new devotion to the house of Hanover, was a coarse and common annual
mockery of the beheaded king; and delf, with the faces of these two
sovereigns for ornament, was a valued ware (the writer has one large
dish). When Payne entered the room, his comrades pointed out to him the
insulting and practical jest--to him, too, most offensive, for he was
a Stuart man. With a ready and indignant gesture he threw out of the
window the symbolic platter and its contents.

[Illustration: FIG. 3


A fierce quarrel ensued and a challenge, and at break of day Payne
and his antagonist fought with swords on the ramparts. After a strong
contest--for the offender was a master of his weapon--Payne ran his
adversary through the sword-arm and disabled him. He is said to have
accompanied the successful thrust with the taunting shout, “There’s
sauce for thy calf’s head!” When the strong man at last began to bow
himself down at the approach of one stronger than he, the Giant of
Stowe obtained leave to retire. He returned to Stratton, his native
place, and found shelter and repose in the very house and chamber
wherein he was born.

After his death, neither the door nor the stairs would afford egress
for the large and coffined corpse. The joists had to be sawn through,
and the floor lowered with rope and pulley, to enable the Giant to pass
out towards his mighty grave. Relays of strong bier-men carried him
to his rest, and the bells of the tower, by his own express desire,
“chimed him home.” He was buried outside the southern wall of Stratton
church.[89] When the writer was a boy, the sexton one day broke, by
accident, through the side wall of a vast but empty sepulchre. Many
went to see the sight, and there, marked by a stone in the wall, was a
vault, like the tomb of the Anakim, large enough in these days for the
interment of three or four of our degenerate dead. But it was empty,
desolate, and bare. No mammoth bones nor mysterious relics of the
unknown dead. A massive heap of silent dust!


[77] From _All the Year Round_, vol. xvi. pp. 247-249. 1866. See
Appendix E.

[78] See Appendix B.

[79] Compare Hawker’s poem, “Sir Beville--the Gate Song of Stowe.” See
also Appendix E_a_.

[80] It is said locally that Antony’s stocking would hold a peck of

[81] C. S. Gilbert in his “History of Cornwall.”


    “Ride! ride! with red spur, there is death in delay,
      ’Tis a race for dear life with the devil;
    If dark Cromwell prevail, and the king must give way,
      This earth is no place for Sir Beville.”

    _The Gate Song of Stowe._

[83] There is a description of this battle in Q’s novel, “The Splendid
Spur,” one of the most vivid and stirring battle pictures in modern

[84] In a letter dated September 21, 1866, to his brother-in-law, the
late Mr. John Sommers James, Hawker says, “He (Antony Payne) was an
Ancestor of Captain Parsons and Sam. He was going to bury your Great
Grandfather at Stamford Hill alive, wounded among the other Rebels, but
he spared him, and, as I have stated, his ‘descendants are among the
most conspicuous of the Inhabitants of Stratton to this day.’”

[85] The authenticity of this letter is doubtful. If spurious, however,
it is interesting as an example of Hawker’s Chattertonian propensities
and his skill in catching the antique style. (See Appendix E.)

[86] Sir Godfrey Kneller (1646-1723), a German by birth, was Court
painter to five English sovereigns, Charles II., James II., William
III., Anne, and George I. He came to England in 1675, and if Charles
II., who died in 1685, commanded him to paint the portrait of Antony
Payne, it must have been between those years that the picture was
executed. According to the dedication under Gilbert’s engraving,
however, it was done at the expense of the Earl of Bath. The Royal
Institution of Cornwall, Truro, has published a pamphlet (price 2_d._)
entitled “A Short Account of Anthony Payne, the Cornish Giant, and the
History of his Portrait.” This states that the picture was painted
in 1680. “Ten reigning sovereigns in all sat to Kneller for their
portraits. His sitters included almost all persons of rank, wealth, or
eminence, in his day, and examples of his brush may be found in nearly
every historic mansion or palace in the kingdom.... Kneller can best be
studied at Hampton Court” (“Dictionary of National Biography”).

[87] In the letter to Mr. J. Sommers James quoted above Hawker refers
to Antony Payne as “owner of the spear your brother Henry gave me years

[88] This flagon was given by Mr. Hawker to Mr. Thomas Shephard, of
Stratton, whose daughter, Mrs. William Shephard, of Barnstaple, has
presented it to Truro Museum. (See illustration facing p. 14.) The
Shephards are descendants of Antony Payne, and Mr. William Shephard has
in his possession a pewter shaving cup that belonged to Antony’s father.

[89] Gilbert says “in the north aisle.” Possibly Hawker altered this
in accordance with the superstition mentioned on p. 21. See end of
Appendix E.


A record of the wild, strange, lawless characters that roamed along
the north coast of Cornwall during the middle and latter years of the
last century would be a volume full of interest for the student of
local history and semi-barbarous life. Therein would be found depicted
the rough sea-captain, half smuggler, half pirate, who ran his lugger
by beacon-light into some rugged cove among the massive headlands of
the shore, and was relieved of his freight by the active and diligent
“country-side.” This was the name allotted to that chosen troop of
native sympathisers who were always ready to rescue and conceal the
stores that had escaped the degradation of the gauger’s brand. Men
yet alive relate with glee how they used to rush at some well-known
signal to the strand, their small active horses shaved from forelock
to tail, smoother than any modern clip, well soaped or greased from
head to foot, so as to slip easily out of any hostile grasp; and then,
with a double keg or pack slung on to every nag by a single girth,
away went the whole herd, led by some swift well-trained mare, to the
inland cave or rocky hold, the shelter of their spoil. There was a
famous dun mare--she lived to the age of thirty-seven, and died within
legal memory--almost human in her craft and fidelity, who is said to
have led a bevy of loaded pack-horses, unassisted by driver or guide,
from Bossinney Haun to Roughtor Point. But beside these travellers by
sea, there would be found ever and anon, in some solitary farmhouse
inaccessible by wheels, and only to be approached by some treacherous
foot-path along bog and mire, a strange and nameless guest--often a
foreigner in language and apparel--who had sought refuge with the
native family, and who paid in strange but golden coins for his shelter
and food; some political or private adventurer, perchance, to whom
secrecy and concealment were safety and life, and who more than once
lived and died in his solitary hiding-place on the moor.

[Illustration: INTERIOR OF GALSHAM, once the home of Cruel Coppinger.]

There is a bedstead of carved oak still in existence at Trevotter--a
farm among the midland hills--whereon for long years an unknown
stranger slept. None ever knew his nation or name. He occupied a
solitary room, and only emerged now and then for a walk in the evening
air. An oaken chest of small size contained his personal possessions
and gold of foreign coinage, which he paid into the hands of his host
with the solemn charge to conceal it until he was gone thence or
dead--a request which the simple-hearted people faithfully fulfilled.
His linen was beautifully fine, and his garments richly embroidered.
After some time he sickened and died, refusing firmly the visits of
the local clergyman, and bequeathing to the farmer the contents of
his chest. He wrote some words, they said, for his own tombstone,
which, however, were not allowed to be engraved, but they were simply
these--“H. De R. Equees & Ecsul.” The same sentence was found, after
his death, carved on the ledge of his bed, and the letters are, or
lately were, still traceable on the mouldering wood.

But among the legends of local renown a prominent place has always been
allotted to a personage whose name has descended to our times linked
to a weird and graphic epithet--“Cruel Coppinger.” There was a ballad
in existence within human memory which was founded on the history of
this singular man, but of which the first verse[91] only can now be
recovered. It runs--

    “Will you hear of the Cruel Coppinger?
      He came from a foreign kind;
    He was brought to us by the salt-water,
      He was carried away by the wind.”

His arrival on the north coast of Cornwall was signalised by a terrific
hurricane. The storm came up Channel from the south-west. The shore and
the heights were dotted with watchers for wreck--those daring gleaners
of the harvest of the sea. It was just such a scene as is sought for in
the proverb of the West--

    “A savage sea and a shattering wind,
    The cliffs before, and the gale behind.”

As suddenly as if a phantom ship had loomed in the distance, a strange
vessel of foreign rig was discovered in fierce struggle with the waves
of Harty Race. She was deeply laden or waterlogged, and rolled heavily
in the trough of the sea, nearing the shore as she felt the tide.
Gradually the pale and dismayed faces of the crew became visible, and
among them one man of herculean height and mould, who stood near the
wheel with a speaking-trumpet in his hand. The sails were blown to
rags, and the rudder was apparently lashed for running ashore. But the
suck of the current and the set of the wind were too strong for the
vessel, and she appeared to have lost her chance of reaching Harty
Pool. It was seen that the tall seaman, who was manifestly the skipper
of the boat, had cast off his garments, and stood prepared upon the
deck to encounter a battle with the surges for life and rescue. He
plunged over the bulwarks, and arose to sight buffeting the seas. With
stalwart arm and powerful chest he made his way through the surf, rode
manfully from billow to billow, until with a bound he stood at last
upright upon the sand, a fine stately semblance of one of the old
Vikings of the northern seas. A crowd of people had gathered from the
land, on horseback and on foot, women as well as men, drawn together
by the tidings of a probable wreck. Into their midst, and to their
astonished dismay, rushed the dripping stranger: he snatched from a
terrified old dame her red Welsh cloak, cast it loosely around him, and
bounded suddenly upon the crupper of a young damsel, who had ridden
her father’s horse down to the beach to see the sight. He grasped her
bridle, and, shouting aloud in some foreign language, urged on the
double-laden animal into full speed, and the horse naturally took his
homeward way. Strange and wild were the outcries that greeted the
rider, Miss Dinah Hamlyn, when, thus escorted, she reached her father’s
door in the very embrace of a wild, rough, tall man, who announced
himself by a name--never afterwards forgotten in those parts--as
Coppinger, a Dane. He arrayed himself without the smallest scruple in
the Sunday suit of his host. The long-skirted coat of purple velveteen
with large buttons, the embroidered vest, and nether garments to match,
became him well. So thought the lady of his sudden choice. She, no
doubt, forgave his onslaught on her and on her horse for the compliment
it conveyed. He took his immediate place at the family board, and on
the settle by the hearth, as though he had been the most welcome and
long-invited guest in the land. Strange to say, the vessel disappeared
immediately he had left her deck, nor was she ever after traced by land
or sea. At first the stranger subdued all the fierce phases of his
savage character, and appeared deeply grateful for all the kindness he
received at the hands of his simple-hearted host. Certain letters which
he addressed to persons of high name in Denmark were, or were alleged
to be, duly answered, and remittances from his friends were supposed
to be received. He announced himself as of a wealthy family and
superior rank in his native country, and gave out that it was to avoid
a marriage with a titled lady that he had left his father’s house and
gone to sea. All this recommended him to the unsuspecting Dinah, whose
affections he completely won. Her father’s sudden illness postponed
their marriage. The good old man died to be spared much evil to come.

The Dane succeeded almost naturally to the management and control
of the house, and the widow held only an apparent influence in
domestic affairs. He soon persuaded the daughter to become his wife,
and immediately afterwards his evil nature, so long smouldering, broke
out like a wild beast uncaged. All at once the house became the den
and refuge of every lawless character on the coast. All kinds of wild
uproar and reckless revelry appalled the neighbourhood day and night.
It was discovered that an organised band of desperadoes, smugglers,
wreckers, and poachers were embarked in a system of bold adventure, and
that “Cruel Coppinger” was their captain. In those days, and in that
unknown and far-away region, the peaceable inhabitants were totally
unprotected. There was not a single resident gentleman of property or
weight in the entire district; and the clergyman, quite insulated from
associates of his own standing, was cowed into silence and submission.
No revenue officer durst exercise vigilance west of the Tamar; and to
put an end to all such surveillance at once, it was well known that one
of the “Cruel” gang had chopped off a gauger’s head on the gunwale of a
boat, and carried the body off to sea.[92]

Amid such scenes Coppinger pursued his unlawful impulses without check
or restraint. Strange vessels began to appear at regular intervals on
the coast, and signals were duly flashed from the headlands to lead
them into the safest creek or cove. If the ground-sea were too strong
to allow them to run in, they anchored outside the surf, and boats
prepared for that service were rowed or hauled to and fro, freighted
with illegal spoil. Amongst these vessels, one, a full-rigged schooner,
soon became ominously conspicuous. She bore the name of the Black
Prince, and was the private property of the Dane, built to his own
order in a dockyard of Denmark. She was for a long time the chief
terror of the Cornish Channel. Once with Coppinger on board, when under
chase, she led a revenue cutter into an intricate channel near the Gull
Rock, where, from knowledge of the bearings, the Black Prince escaped
scathless, while the king’s vessel perished with all on board. In those
times, if any landsman became obnoxious to Coppinger’s men, he was
either seized by violence or by craft, and borne away handcuffed to
the deck of the Black Prince; where, to save his life, he had to enrol
himself, under fearful oaths, as one of the crew. In 1835, an old man
of the age of ninety-seven related to the writer that, when a youth, he
had been so abducted, and after two years’ service had been ransomed by
his friends with a large sum. “And all,” said the old man, very simply,
“because I happened to see one man kill another, and they thought I
should mention it.”

Amid such practices ill-gotten gold began to flow and ebb in the hands
of Coppinger. At one time he chanced to hold enough money to purchase
a freehold farm bordering on the sea. When the day of transfer arrived,
he and one of his followers appeared before the astonished lawyer with
bags filled with various kinds of foreign coin. Dollars and ducats,
doubloons and pistoles, guineas--the coinage of every foreign country
with a seaboard--were displayed on the table. The man of law at first
demurred to such purchase-money; but after some controversy, and an
ominous oath or two of “that or none,” the lawyer agreed to take it
by weight. The document bearing Coppinger’s name is still extant.
His signature is traced in stern, bold, fierce characters, as if
every letter had been stabbed upon the parchment with the point of a
dirk. Underneath his autograph, also in his own writing, is the word

Long impunity increased Coppinger’s daring. There were certain byways
and bridle-roads along the fields over which he exercised exclusive
control. Although every one had a perfect right by law to use these
ways, he issued orders that no man was to pass over them by night, and
accordingly from that hour none ever did. They were called “Coppinger’s
Tracks.” They all converged at a headland which had the name of
Steeple Brink. Here the cliff sheered off, and stood three hundred
feet of perpendicular height, a precipice of smooth rock toward the
beach, with an overhanging face one hundred feet down from the brow.
There was a hollow entrance into the cliff, like a huge cathedral
door, crowned and surrounded with natural Saxon arches, curved by the
strata of native stone. Within was an arched and vaulted cave, vast
and gloomy; it ran a long way into the heart of the land, and was as
large and tall--so the country-people said--as Kilkhampton church.
This stronghold was inaccessible by natural means, and could only be
approached by a cable-ladder lowered from above and made fast below
on a projecting crag. It received the name of “Coppinger’s Cave,” and
was long the scene of fierce and secret revelry that would be utterly
inconceivable to the educated mind of the nineteenth century. Here
sheep were tethered to the rock, and fed on stolen hay and corn till
their flesh was required for a feast: kegs of brandy and hollands
were piled around; chests of tea; and iron-bound sea-chests contained
the chattels and the revenues of the Coppinger royalty of the sea.
No man ever essayed the perilous descent into the cavern except the
captain’s own troop, and their loyalty was secured, not only by their
participation in his crimes, but by a terrible oath.

The terror linked with Coppinger’s name throughout the coast was so
extreme that the people themselves, wild and lawless as they were,
submitted to his sway as though he had been the lord of the soil
and they his vassals. Such a household as Coppinger’s was of course
far from happy or calm. Although when his wife’s father died he had
insensibly acquired possession of the stock and farm, there remained
in the hands of the widow a considerable amount of money as her dower.
This he obtained from the poor helpless woman by instalments; and when
pretext and entreaty alike failed, he resorted to a novel mode of levy.
He fastened his wife to the pillar of her oak bedstead, and called her
mother into the room. He then explained that it was his purpose to
flog Dinah with the sea-cat, which he flourished in his hand, until
her mother had transferred to him such an amount as he required of
her reserved property. This deed of atrocity he repeated until he had
utterly exhausted the widow’s store. He had a favourite mare, so fierce
and indomitable that none but Coppinger himself could venture on her
back, and so fleet and strong that he owed his escape from more than
one menacing peril by her speed and endurance. The clergyman had spoken
above his breath of the evil doings in the cave, and had thus aroused
his wrath and vengeance.[94] On a certain day he was jogging homeward
on his parish cob, and had reached the middle of a wide and desolate
heath. All at once he heard behind him the clattering of horse-hoofs
and a yell such as might have burst from the throat of the visible
demon when he hurled the battle on the ancient saint. It was Cruel
Coppinger with his double-thonged whip, mounted on his terrible mare.
Down came the fearful scourge on his victim’s shuddering shoulders.
Escape was impossible. The poor parson knew too well the difference
between his own ambling galloway, that never essayed any swifter pace
than a jog-trot, and that awful steed behind him with footsteps like
the storm. Circling, doubling like a hare, twisting aside, crying aloud
for mercy,--all was vain. He arrived at last at his own house, striped
like a zebra, and as he rushed in at the gate he heard the parting
scoff of his assailant, “There, parson, I have paid my tithe in full;
never mind the receipt!”

It was on the self-same animal that Coppinger performed another freak.
He had passed a festive evening at a farmhouse, and was about to take
his departure, when he spied at the corner of the hearth a little old
tailor of the country-side, who went from house to house to exercise
his calling. He was a half-witted, harmless old fellow, and answered
to the name of Uncle Tom Tape.

“Ha, Uncle Tom!” cried Coppinger; “we both travel the same road, and I
don’t mind giving thee a hoist behind me on the mare.”

The old man cowered in the settle. He would not encumber the
gentleman,--was unaccustomed to ride such a spirited horse. But all
his excuses were overborne. The other guests, entering into the joke,
assisted the trembling old man to mount the crupper of the capering
mare. Off she bounded, and Uncle Tom, with his arms cast with the
strong gripe of terror around his bulky companion, held on like grim
death. Unbuckling his belt, Coppinger passed it around Uncle Tom’s
thin haggard body, and buckled it on his own front. When he had firmly
secured his victim, he loosened his reins, and urged the mare with
thong and spur into a furious gallop. Onward they rushed till they fled
past the tailor’s own door at the roadside, where his startled wife,
who was on the watch, afterwards declared “she caught sight of her
husband clinging on to a rainbow.” Loud and piteous were the outcries
of Tailor Tom, and earnest his shrieks of entreaty that he might be
told where he was to be carried that night, and for what doom he had
been buckled on. At last, in a relaxation of their pace going up a
steep hill, Coppinger made him a confidential communication.

“I have been,” he said, “under a long promise to the devil that I would
bring him a tailor to make and mend for him, poor man; and as sure as I
breathe, Uncle Tom, I mean to keep my word to-night!”

The agony of terror produced by this revelation produced such
convulsive spasms, that at last the belt gave way, and the tailor fell
off like a log among the gorse at the roadside. There he was found next
morning in a semi-delirious state, muttering at intervals, “No, no; I
never will. Let him mend his breeches with his own drag-chain, as the
saying is. I will never so much as thread a needle for Coppinger nor
his friend.”

One boy was the only fruit of poor Dinah’s marriage with the Dane. But
his birth brought neither gladness nor solace to his mother’s miserable
hearth. He was fair and golden-haired, and had his father’s fierce,
flashing eyes. But though perfectly well formed and healthful, he was
born deaf and dumb. He was mischievous and ungovernable from his birth.
His cruelty to animals, birds, and to other children was intense. Any
living thing that he could torture appeared to yield him delight. With
savage gestures and jabbering moans he haunted the rocks along the
shore, and seemed like some uncouth creature cast up by the sea. When
he was only six years old he was found one day upon the brink of a tall
cliff, bounding with joy, and pointing downward towards the beach with
convulsions of delight. There, mangled by the fall and dead, they found
the body of a neighbour’s child of his own age, who was his frequent
companion, and whom, as it was inferred, he had drawn towards the steep
precipice, and urged over by stratagem or force. The spot where this
occurred was ever afterwards his favourite haunt. He would draw the
notice of any passer-by to the place, and then point downward where
the murdered child was found with fierce exultant mockery. It was a
saying evermore in the district, that, as a judgment on his father’s
cruelty, his child had been born without a human soul. He lived to be
the pestilent scourge of the neighbourhood.

But the end arrived. Money had become scarce, and the resources of the
cave began to fail. More than one armed king’s cutter were seen day and
night hovering off the land. Foreigners visited the house with tidings
of peril. So he “who came with the water went with the wind.” His
disappearance, like his arrival, was commemorated by a turbulent storm.
A wrecker, who had gone to watch the shore, saw, as the sun went down,
a full-rigged vessel standing off and on. By-and-by a rocket hissed up
from the Gull Rock, a small islet with a creek on the landward side
which had been the scene of many a run of smuggled cargo. A gun from
the ship answered it, and again both signals were exchanged. At last a
well-known and burly form stood on the topmost crag of the island rock.
He waved his sword, and the light flashed back from the steel. A boat
put off from the vessel with two hands at every oar--for the tide runs
with double violence through Harty Race. They neared the rocks, rowed
daringly through the surf, and were steered by some practised coxswain
into the Gull Greek. There they found their man. Coppinger leaped on
board the boat, and assumed the command. They made with strong efforts
for their ship. It was a path of peril through that boiling surf.
Still, bending at the oar like chained giants, the man watched them
till they forced their way through the battling waters. Once, as they
drew off the shore, one of the rowers, either from ebbing strength or
loss of courage, drooped at his oar. In a moment a cutlass gleamed over
his head, and a fierce stern stroke cut him down. It was the last blow
of Cruel Coppinger. He and his boat’s crew boarded the vessel, and
she was out of sight in a moment, like a spectre or a ghost. Thunder,
lightning, and hail ensued. Trees were rent up by the roots around the
pirate’s abode. Poor Dinah watched, and held in her shuddering arms
her idiot-boy, and, strange to say, a meteoric stone, called in that
country a storm-bolt, fell through the roof into the room at the very
feet of Cruel Coppinger’s vacant chair.


[90] From _All the Year Round_, vol. xvi. pp. 537-540. 1866. For the
historical basis of this article, see Appendix F.

[91] In the original form of this article, a second verse was added,
and the first was slightly different.

    “Will you hear of the bold, brave Coppinger?
      How he came of a foreign kind?
    He was brought to us by the salt water;
      He’ll be carried away by the wind.

    For thus the old wives croon and sing,
      And so the proverbs say,
    That whatsoever the wild waves bring
      The winds will bear away.”

[92] See p. 38.

[93] Hawker himself used a seal engraved with the one word, “Thorough,”
the motto, as he said, of Archbishop Laud.

[94] Mr. Baring-Gould, in his “Vicar of Morwenstow” (Edition 1899, p.
110), gives another reason for Coppinger’s wrath:--“The Kilkhampton
parson hated rook-pie. Coppinger knew it. He invited him to dine with
him one day. A large rook-pie was served at one end of the table, and
roast rooks at the other, and the parson, who was very hungry, was
forced to eat of them. When he departed he invited Coppinger to dine
with him on the following Thursday. The smuggler arrived, and was
regaled on pie, whether rabbit or hare he could not decide. When he
came home he found a cat’s skin and head stuffed into his coat pocket,
and thereby discovered what he had been eating.”


The aspect of rural England during the fifteenth and sixteenth
centuries must have presented a strange and striking contrast, in
the eye of a traveller, to the agricultural scenery of our own time.
Thinly peopled--for the three millions of our chief city nowadays are
in excess of the total population of the whole land of the Edwards and
the Henrys--the inhabitants occupied hamlets few and far between, and
a farm or grange signified usually a moated house amid a cluster of
cultivated fields, gathered within fences from the surrounding forest
or wold, and gleaming in the distance with rich or green enclosures,
rescued from the wilderness, to give “fodder to the cattle, and bread
to strengthen the heart of man.” But the great domains of the land for
the most part expanded into woodland and marsh and moor, with glades
or grassy avenues here and there for access to the lair of the red
deer or the wild boar, or other native game, which afforded in that
day a principal supply of human food. Yonder in the distance appeared
ever and anon a beacon-tower, which marked the place and ward for the
warning of hostile advances by night, and for the gathering rest of the
hobbelars or horsemen, whose office it was to scour the country and to
keep in awe the enemies of God and the king. Wheel-roads, except in
the neighbourhood of cities or on the line of a royal progress, there
were none; and among the bridle-paths men urged their difficult path
in companies, for it was seldom safe for an honest or well-to-do man
to travel alone. Rivers glided in silence to the sea without a sail
or an oar to ruffle their waters; and there were whole regions, that
now are loud with populous life, that might then have been called void
places of the uninhabited earth. But more especially did this character
of uncultured desolation pervade the extreme borders of the west of
England, the country between the Tamar and the sea. There dwelt in
scattered villages, or town-places as they are called to this day, the
bold and hardy Keltic people, few in number, but, like the race of the
Eastern wild man, never taught to bear the yoke. Long after other parts
of England had settled into an improved agriculture, and submitted to
the discipline of more civilised life, the Cornish were wont to hew
their resources out of the bowels of their mother earth, or to haul
into their nets the native harvest of the sea. Thus the merchandise
of fish, tin, and copper became the vaunted staple of their land.
These, the rich productions of their native county, were, even in
remote periods of our history, in perpetual request, and formed,
together with the wool of their moorland flocks, the great trade of
the Cornish people. From all parts, and especially from that storied
city whose merchants were then, as now, princes of the land, men were
wont to encounter the perilous journey from the Thames to the Tamar,
to pursue their traffic with the “underground folk,” as they termed
the inhabitants of Cornwall, that rocky land of strangers, as, when
literally interpreted, is the exact meaning of its name.

It was in the year 1463, when Edward IV. occupied the English throne,
that a tall and portly merchant, in the distinctive apparel of the
times, rode along the wilds of a Cornish moor. He sat high and firm
upon his horse, a bony gelding, with demipique saddle. A broad
beaver, or, as it was then called, a Flanders hat, shaded a grave and
thoughtful countenance, wherein shrewdness and good-humour struggled
for the mastery and the latter prevailed, and his full brown beard was
forked--a happy omen, as it was always held, of prosperous life. His
riding garb displayed that contrast of colours which was then so valued
by native taste, insomuch that the phrase “motley” had in its origin a
complimentary and not an invidious sound. Behind him and near rode his
servant, a stout and active-looking knave, armed to the teeth.

The traveller had crossed the ford of a moorland stream, when he halted
and reined up at a scene that greeted him on the bank. There, on a
green and rushy knoll and underneath a gnarled and wind-swept tree, a
damsel in the blossom of youth stood leaning on her shepherd-staff: her
companion, a peasant boy, drew back, half shaded by a rock. Sheep of
the native breed, the long-forgotten Cornish Knott, gathered around.
As he drew nigh, the stranger discovered that the maiden was tall and
well formed, and that her rounded limbs had the mould and movement
of a natural grace that only health and exercise could develop or
bestow. The sure evidence of her Keltic origin was testified by her
eyes of violet-blue and abundant hair of rich and radiant brown--the
hue that Italian poets delight to describe as the colour of the ripe
chestnut,[96] or the stalks and fibres of the maidenhair fern. She had
also the bashful nose that appears to retreat from the lip with the
unmistakable curve of the Kelt. She was clad in a grey kirtle of native
wool, and her bodice also was knitted at the hearth by homely hands.
The merchant was first to speak.

“Be not scared,” said he, “fair damsel, by a stranger’s voice. My name
is John Bunsby, of the city of London, and I am bound for the hostel of
Wike St. Marie, which must be somewhere nigh this moor. What did thy
gossips call thee, maiden, at the font?”

“My name, kind sir,” she answered, modestly, “is Thomasine Bonaventure,
and my father’s house is hard by at Wike. These are my master’s sheep.”

“The evening falls fast,” said the traveller; “I would fain hire safe
guidance to yonder inn.”

She beckoned to the youth and whispered a word in his ear, to which,
however, he seemed to listen with reluctance or dislike, and then, with
her crook still in her hand, she herself went on to guide the stranger
on his way. They arrived in due course at the hostel-door, at the sign
of the Rose: but it was the Rose, mere, and without an epithet; for
mine host had wisely omitted, in those dangerous days, to designate
the hue of that symbolic flower. The traveller dismounted at the door,
thanked and requited his gentle guide, and signified that as soon as
his leisure allowed he would find his way to her father’s house. After
a strict command to his own servant and the varlet of the stable that
his horses should receive due vigilance and abundant food, Master
Bunsby at last entered the inn. A hecatomb of wood blazed on the earth,
shedding light as well as heat around the panelled room--for in those
times of old simplicity a single apartment was allotted for household
purposes and for the entertainment of guests. The traveller took an
offered seat on the carved oak settle, in the place of honour by the
fire, and looked on with interest at the homely but original scene. At
his right hand a vast oven, with an entrance not unlike a church-door,
was about to disgorge its manifold contents. Rye-loaves led the way,
sweet and tasty to the final crust (wheat was in those days a luxury
unknown in Cornwall); barley-bread and oaten cakes came forth in due
procession from the steaming cave; and, last of all, the merchant’s
sight and nostrils were greeted by the arrival of a huge and mysterious
pie from its depths. The achievements of the dame, who was both cook
and hostess in her own person, were duly and triumphantly arrayed upon
the board, and the stranger-guest took the accustomed seat at the right
hand of “mine host.” His eyes were fixed with curiosity and interest
on the hillock of brown dough which stood before him, and reeked like
a small volcano with steaming puffs of savoury vapour. At last, when
the massive crust which lay like a tombstone over the mighty dish had
been broken up, the pie revealed its strange contents. Conger-eels,
pilchards, and oysters were mingled piecemeal in the mass beneath,
their intervals slushed with melted butter and clotted cream, and
the whole well seasoned, not without a savour of garlic, with spices,
pepper, and salt. The stranger’s astonishment was manifest in gesture
and look, although he by no means repulsed the trencher which came
towards him loaded with his bountiful share.

“Sir guest,” said the host, “you doubtless know the byword--‘The
Cornish cooks make everything into a pie.’ Our grandames say that the
devil never dared cross the Tamar, or he would have been verily put
under a crust.”

Satisfied with his fare, the merchant now inquired for the
dwelling-place of his guide. It was not far off. The parents of the
shepherdess inhabited a thatched hut in the village, with the usual
walls of beaten cob, moulded of native clay: all within and without
bespoke extreme poverty and want, but there Master John Bunsby soon
found himself an honoured visitor seated by the hearth, with a blazing
fire of dry gorse gathered from the moor to greet his arrival. There,
while the mother stood by her turn or wheel, and span, and the maiden’s
nimble fingers flashed her knitting-needles to and fro by the fitful
light of the fire, the old man her father and the merchant conversed
in a low voice far into the night, on a theme of deep interest to
both. The talk was of Thomasine, the child of the house. The merchant
related his own prosperous affairs, and spoke of his goodly house
in London, governed by a thrifty and diligent wife: the household
was one of grave and decent demeanour, with good repute in the vast
city wherein dwelt the king. He had taken an immediate interest, he
declared, in the old man’s daughter, and desired to rescue her from the
life she led on the bleak, unsheltered moor. He pledged himself, if
they should consent, to convey her in safety to London, and to place
her in especial attendance on his wife; and there, if her conduct were
in unison with her looks, he doubted not she would win many friends,
and secure a happy livelihood for the rest of her days. He would await
their decision at the inn, where he should be detained by business
two or three days. Earnest and anxious were their thoughts and their
language in the cottage that night and the next day. The aspect and
speech of the rich patron were such as invited confidence and trust;
but there were the love and fear of two aged hearts to satisfy and
subdue. There was the fierce and stubborn repugnance also of the youth,
the companion of the maid, who stood with her under the tree upon the
moor. He was her cousin, John Dineham,[97] of Swannacote, and they had
grown up together from childhood, till, unconsciously to themselves,
the tenderness of kindred had strengthened into love. The damsel
herself could not conceal a natural longing to visit the great city,
where, they said, but it might be untrue, “that the houses were stuck
as close together as Wike St. Marie church and tower;” but she would at
all events behold for once in her life the dwelling-place of the king.
“She would store up every coin, and come back with money enow to buy a
flock of sheep of her own, which she and John would tend together, as
aforetime, on the moor.” All this shook the scale.

When the merchant arrived to seek their decision, it was made, and in
favour of his wish. A pillion or padded seat was obtained from some
neighbouring farm, and belted behind the saddle of the merchant’s man.
Thereon, with a small fardel in her hand, which held all her worldly
goods and gear, mounted Thomasine Bonaventure, while all the villagers
came around to bid her farewell--all but one, and it was her cousin
John. He had gone, as he had told her, to the moor, and there among the
branches of the tree which marked the greeting-place of Master Bunsby
the youth waited to watch her out of sight. He lifted up his hand and
waved it as she passed on with a gesture of warning, but which she
interpreted and returned as a silent caress.

The travellers arrived at their journey’s end after being only a
fortnight on the road--a speed so satisfactory and unusual, that it was
Dame Bunsby’s emphatic remark that she verily thought they must have

Her mistress received Thomasine with a kind and hearty welcome, and
ratified, by her everyday approval, her husband’s choice of the Cornish
maid. When she was first told that her name was Bonaventure, and
her husband explained that it signified good luck, she said, “Well,
sweetheart, when I was a girl they used to say that the name was a
fore-sign of the life, and God grant that thine may turn out [so] to

Time passed on, and in a year or two the wild Cornish lass had
grown into a frame of thorough symmetry, firmness, and health. Her
strong thews, of country origin, rendered her capable of long and
active labour, and she had acquired with gradual ease the habits
and appliances of city life. She was very soon the favoured and the
favourite manager of the household. Her mistress, born and reared in a
town, had been long a frail and delicate woman; and life in London in
those days, as now, was fraught with the manifold perils of pestilent
disease. To one of those ancient scourges of the population, the
sweating-sickness, Dame Bunsby succumbed. Her death drew nigh, and,
with the touching simplicity of the times, she told her true and tender
husband, with smiling tears, that she thought he could not do better
than, if they so agreed, to put Thomasine in her place when she was
gone. “Tell her it was my last wish.”

This gentle desire so uttered--her strong and grateful feelings
towards the master who had taken her, as she expressed it in her
rural speech, lean from the moor, and fed her, so that her very bones
belonged to him--her happy home, and the power she would acquire to
make the latter days in the cottage at Wike St. Marie prosperous
and calm,--all these impulses flocked into Thomasine’s heart, and
controlled for the time even the remembrance of Cousin John. That poor
young man, when the tidings came that she was about to become her
master’s wedded wife, suddenly disappeared, and for a while the place
of his retreat was unknown; but it afterwards transpired that he had
crossed the moor to a “house of religious men,” called the White Monks
of St. Cleer, and pleaded for reception there as a needy novice of the
gate. His earnest entreaties had prevailed; and six months after his
first love, and his last, had put on her silks as a city dame, and
begun her rule as the mistress of a goodly house in London, her cousin
had taken the vows of his novitiate, and received the first tonsure of
St. John.

Her married life did not, however, long endure. Three years after the
master became the husband, he took the “plague sore,” and died. They
were childless; but he bequeathed “all his goods and chattel property,
and his well-furnished mansion, to his dear wife Thomasine Bonaventure,
now Bunsby;” and the maid of the moor became one of the wealthy widows
of London city. Among the MSS. which still survive, there is a letter
which announces the event of her husband’s death and bequest, and then
proceeds to notify her solemn donation, as a year’s-mind of Master
Bunsby, of ten marks to the Reeve of Wike St. Marie, “to the intent
that he shall cause skeelful masons to build a bridge at the Ford of
Green-a-Moor: yea, and with stout stonework well laid; and see,” she
wrote, “that they do no harm to that tree which standeth fast by the
brook, neither dispoyle they the rushes and plants that grow thereby;
for there did I passe many goodly hours when I was a simple mayde,
and there did I first see the kind face of a fathful frend.” But in
another missive to her mother, about the same date, there is a touch of
tenderness which shows that her woman’s nature survived all changes,
and was strong within her still. She writes: “I know that Cousin John
is engaged to the monks of St. Cleer. Hath he been shorn, as they do
call it, for the second time? Inquire, I beseech, if he seeketh to
dispart from that cell? And will red gold help him away? I am prospered
in pouch and coffer, and he need not shame to be indebted unto me,
that owe so much to him.” But this frank and kindly effort--“the
late remorse of love”--did not avail. John had broken the last link
that bound him to the world, and was lost to love and her. Reckless
thenceforward, therefore, if not fancy-free, and it may be somewhat
schooled by the habits and associations of city life, she did not wear
the widow’s wimple long. After an interval of years, we find her the
honoured wife “of that worshipful merchant-adventurer, Master John Gall
of St. Lawrence, Milk Street.”

Gall was very rich, and he appears to have emptied his money-bags into
his wife’s lap, as the gossip of the city ran, for it is on record that
soon after her second marriage she manifested her prosperity like a
true-hearted Cornish woman by ample “gifts” and largess to the borough
of St. Marie, “my native place.” Twenty acres of woodland copse in the
neighbourhood were bought and conveyed by that kind and gracious lady,
Dame Thomasine Gall, to feoffees and trust-men for the perpetual use of
the poor of the paroche, “for fewel to be hewn in parcels once a-year,
and justly and equally divided for evermore on the vigil of St. Thomas
the twin.” To her mother she sends by “a waggon which has gone on an
enterprise into Cornwall for woollen merchandise, a chest with array of
clothing, fair weather and foul, head-gear and body raiment to boot,
all the choice and costly gifts to my loving parents of my goodman
Gall, and in remembrance, as he chargeth me to say, that ye have reared
for him a kindly and loving wife.” But the graphic and touching passage
in this letter is the message which succeeds: “Lo! I do send you also
herewithal in the coffer a litel boke: it is for a gift to my Cousin
John. Tell him it is not written as the whilom usage was, and he was
wont to teach me my Christ Cross Rhime;[98] but it is what they do call
emprinted with a strange device of an iron engin brought from forrin
parts. Bid him not despise it, for although it is so small that it
will lie on the palm of your hand, yet it did cost me full five marks
in exchange.” But her marriage life was doomed to bring her only brief
and transitory intervals of wedded happiness. Five years after the date
of her letter above quoted, she was again alone in the house. Master
Gall died, but not until he had endowed his “tender wife with all and
singular his moneys and plate, bills, bonds, and ventures now at sea,”
etc., with a long inventory of the “precious things beneath the moon,”
too long to rehearse, but each and all to the sole use, enjoyment,
and behoof of Dame Thomasine, whose maiden name of Bonaventure was
literally interpreted and fulfilled in every successive change of

We greet her then once more as a rich and buxom widow of city fame.
Her wealth, added to her comeliness--for she was still in the prime of
life--brought many “a potent, grave, and reverend seignor” to her feet,
and to sue for her hand. Nor did she long linger in her choice. The
favoured suitor now was Sir John Perceval, goldsmith and usurer--that
is to say, banker, in the phrase of that day; very wealthy, of
high repute, alderman of his ward, and in such a position of civic
advancement that he would have been described in modern language as
next the chair. He wooed and won the “Golden Widow”--for so, because
of her double inheritance of the wealth of two rich husbands, she was
merrily named. Their wedding was a kind of public festival, and the
bride, in acknowledgment of her own large possessions, was invested
with a stately dower at the church-door. One year after their marriage
her husband, Sir John, was elected to that honourable office which is
still supposed by foreign nations to be only second in rank to that of
the monarch on the throne, Lord Mayor of the city of London.

Thus, by a strange succession of singular events, the barefooted
shepherdess of a Cornish moorland became the Lady Mayoress of
metropolitan fame; and the legend of Thomasine Bonaventure--for it was
now well known--was the popular theme of royal and noble interest among
the lords and ladies of the Court. She demeaned herself bravely and
decorously in her ascent among the great and lofty ones of the land.
Like all noble natures, her spirit rose with her personal elevation,
and took equal place with her compeers of each superior rank. Nor did
her true and simple woman’s nature undergo any depreciation or change.
It breathes and survives in every sentence of her family letters,
transcripts of which have been perpetuated and preserved to our own
times. One part of her personal history is illustrative of a scene of
life and manners when Henry VII. was king.

“Sweet mother,” she wrote, “thy daughter hath seen the face of the
king. We were bidden to a banket at the royal palace, and Sir John and
I dared not choose but go. There was such a blaze of lords and ladies
in silks and samite, and jewels and gold, that it was like the city
of New Jerusalem in the Scriptures; and I, thy maid Thomasine, was
arrayed so fine, that they brought up the saying that I was dressed
like an altar. When we were led into the chamber of dais, where his
highness stood, the king did kiss me on the cheek, as the manner is,
and he seemed gentle and kind. But then did he turn to my good lord
and husband, and say, with a look stark and stern enow, ‘Ha, Sir John!
see to it that thy fair dame be liege and true, for she comes of the
burly Cornish kind, and they be ever rebels in blood and bone. Even
now they be one and all for that knave Warbeck,[99] who is among them
in the West.’ You will gesse, dear mother, how my heart did beat.
But withal the king did drink to me at the banket, and did merrily
call, ‘Health to our Lady Mayoress, Dame Thomasine Perceval, which now
feedeth her flock in the rich pastures of our city of London.’ And
thereat they did laugh, and fleer, and shout, and there was flashing of
tankards and jingling of cups all down the hall.”

Dame Thomasine Perceval contributed 40 marks.]

With increase of wealth came also many a renewed token of affectionate
regard and sterling bounty to her old and well-beloved dwelling-place
of Wike St. Marie. As her wedding-gift of remembrance she directed that
“a firm and steadfast road should be laid down with stones,” at her
whole cost, along the midst of Green-a-Moor, and fit for man and beast
to travel on, with their lawful occasions, from Lanstaphadon to the
sea. At another time, and for a New Year’s gift, she gave the sum of
forty marks towards the building of a tower for St. Stephen’s church,
above the causeway of Dunheved; and it was her desire that they should
carry their pinnacles so tall that “they might be seen from Swannacote
Cross, by the moor, to the intent that they who do behold it from the
Burgage Mound may remember the poor maid which is now a wedded dame of
London citie.”

During her three marriages she had no children, and it was her singular
lot to survive her third husband, Sir John: it was in long widowhood
after him that she lived and died. Her will, bearing date the vigil
of the Feast of Christmas, A.D. 1510, is a singular document, for
therein the memory and the impulses of her early life are recalled
and condensed. She bequeaths large sums of money to be laid out and
invested in land for the welfare of the village borough, whereto, amid
all the strange vicissitudes of her existence, her heart had always
clung with fond and lingering regret. She directs that a chantry[100]
with cloisters was to be built near the church of Wike St. Marie, at
the discretion and under the control of her executor and cousin, John
Dineham, the unforgotten priest. She endows it with thirty marks by
the year, and provides that there shall be established therein “a
schole for young children born in the paroche of Wike St. Marie; and
such to be always preferred as are friendless and poor.” They are to
be “taught to read with their fescue from a boke of horn, and also to
write, and both as the manner was in that country when I was young.”
The well-remembered days of her girlhood appear to tinge every line
of her last will. Her very codicil is softened with a touch of her
first and fondest love. In it she gives to the priest of the church,
where she well knew that her cousin John would serve and sing,[101]
“the silver chalice gilt, which good Master Maskelyne the goldsmith had
devised for her behoof, with a leetle blue flower which they do call
a forget-me-not wrought in Turkess at the bottom of the bowl, to the
intent that whensoever it is used the minister may remember her who was
once a simple shepherd-maid by the wayside of Wike St. Marie, and who
was so wonderfully brought by many great changes to be the Mayoress of
London citie before she died.”



[95] From _All the Year Round_, vol. xvii. pp. 276-280. 1867. For the
origins of this story, see Appendix G.


    “Straight, but as lissome as a hazel wand;
    Her eyes a bashful azure, and her hair
    In gloss and hue the chestnut, when the shell
    Divides threefold to show the fruit within.”

    TENNYSON, _The Brook_.

[97] One of Mr. Hawker’s sisters was the wife of John Dineham, surgeon,
of Stratton.

[98] Hawker has a pretty poem for children with this title--

    “Teach me, Father John, to say
    Vesper-verse and matin-lay:
    So when I to God shall plead,
    Christ His Cross shall be my speed.”

[99] The love of the Lady Katherine Gordon for Perkin Warbeck is the
subject of Hawker’s poem, “The Lady of the Mount.”

[100] The remains of this old building have been embodied in some
cottages. The doorway shown in the illustration forms the front door of
one of these. The other is occupied by the Cornwall County Police, and
the unsuspecting pilgrim who rambles round without permission is liable
to be startled by the gruff remark, “You’m trespassing!” Thus are we
recalled from “the baseless fabric” of the past to the stern realities
of the living present.

[101] Hawker gives a romantic turn of his own to this part of the story.


There was something very painful and peculiar in the position of the
clergy in the west of England throughout the seventeenth century. The
Church of those days was in a transitory state, and her ministers,
like her formularies, embodied a strange mixture of the old belief
with the new interpretation. Their wide severance also from the great
metropolis of life and manners, the city of London (which in those
times was civilised England, much as the Paris of our own day is
France), divested the Cornish clergy in particular of all personal
access to the masterminds of their age and body. Then, too, the barrier
interposed by the rude rough roads of their country, and by their
abode in wilds that were almost inaccessible, rendered the existence
of a bishop rather a doctrine suggested to their belief than a fact
revealed to the actual vision of each in his generation. Hence it
came to pass that the Cornish clergyman, insulated within his own
limited sphere, often without even the presence of a country squire
(and unchecked by the influence of the Fourth Estate--for until the
beginning of this nineteenth century, _Flindell’s Weekly Miscellany_
distributed from house to house from the pannier of a mule, was the
only light of the West), became developed about middle life into an
original mind and man, sole and absolute within his parish boundary,
eccentric when compared with his brethren in civilised regions, and
yet, in German phrase, “a whole and seldom man” in his dominion of
souls. He was “the parson,” in canonical phrase--that is to say, The
Person, the somebody of consequence among his own people. These men
were not, however, smoothed down into a monotonous aspect of life and
manners by this remote and secluded existence. They imbibed, each in
his own peculiar circle, the hue of surrounding objects, and were
tinged into distinctive colouring and character by many a contrast
of scenery and people.[103] There was the “light of other days,”
the curate by the sea-shore, who professed to check the turbulence
of the “smugglers’ landing” by his presence on the sands, and who
“held the lantern” for the guidance of his flock when the nights were
dark, as the only proper ecclesiastical part he could take in the
proceedings.[104] He was soothed and silenced by the gift of a keg
of hollands or a chest of tea. There was the merry minister of the
mines, whose cure was honeycombed by the underground men. He must needs
have been artist and poet in his way, for he had to enliven his people
three or four times a-year, by mastering the arrangements of a “guary,”
or religious mystery, which was duly performed in the topmost hollow
of a green barrow or hill, of which many survive, scooped out into
vast amphitheatres and surrounded by benches of turf, which held two
thousand spectators. Such were the historic plays, “The Creation” and
“Noe’s Flood,” which still exist in the original Celtic as well as the
English text, and suggest what critics and antiquaries Cornish curates,
masters of such revels, must have been,--for the native language of
Cornwall did not lapse into silence until the end of the seventeenth
century. Then, moreover, here and there would be one parson more
learned than his kind in the mysteries of a deep and thrilling lore
of peculiar fascination. He was a man so highly honoured at college
for natural gifts and knowledge of learned books which nobody else
could read, that when he “took his second orders” the bishop gave him
a mantle of scarlet silk to wear upon his shoulders in church, and
his lordship had put such power into it that, when the parson had it
rightly on, he could “govern any ghost or evil spirit,” and even “stop
an earthquake.”

Such a powerful minister, in combat with supernatural visitations,
was one Parson Rudall,[105] of Launceston, whose existence and exploits
we gather from the local tradition of his time, from surviving letters
and other memoranda, and indeed from his own “diurnal”[106] which fell
by chance into the hands of the present writer. Indeed the legend of
Parson Rudall and the Botathen Ghost will be recognised by many Cornish
people as a local remembrance of their boyhood.

[Illustration: “PARSON RUDALL” (P. 161)]

It appears, then, from the diary of this learned master of the
grammar-school--for such was his office as well as perpetual curate
of the parish--“that a pestilential disease did break forth in our
town in the beginning of the year A.D. 1665; yea, and it likewise
invaded my school, insomuch that therewithal certain of the chief
scholars sickened and died.” “Among others who yielded to the malign
influence was Master John Eliot, the eldest son and the worshipful
heir of Edward Eliot, Esquire of Trebursey, a stripling of sixteen
years of age, but of uncommon parts and hopeful ingenuity.[107] At his
own especial motion and earnest desire I did consent to preach his
funeral sermon.” It should be remembered here that, howsoever strange
and singular it may sound to us that a mere lad should formally solicit
such a performance at the hands of his master, it was in consonance
with the habitual usage of those times. The old services for the dead
had been abolished by law, and in the stead of sacrament and ceremony,
month’s mind and year’s mind, the sole substitute which survived was
the general desire “to partake,” as they called it, of a posthumous
discourse, replete with lofty eulogy and flattering remembrance of the
living and the dead. The diary proceeds:--

“I fulfilled my undertaking, and preached over the coffin in the
presence of a full assemblage of mourners and lachrymose friends. An
ancient gentleman, who was then and there in the church, a Mr. Bligh of
Botathen,[108] was much affected with my discourse, and he was heard to
repeat to himself certain parentheses therefrom, especially a phrase
from Maro Virgilius, which I had applied to the deceased youth, ‘Et
puer ipse fuit cantari dignus.’

“The cause wherefore this old gentleman was thus moved by my
applications was this: He had a first-born and only son--a child who,
but a very few months before, had been not unworthy the character I
drew of young Master Eliot, but who, by some strange accident, had of
late quite fallen away from his parent’s hopes, and become moody, and
sullen, and distraught. When the funeral obsequies were over, I had
no sooner come out of church than I was accosted by this aged parent,
and he besought me incontinently, with a singular energy, that I would
resort with him forthwith to his abode at Botathen that very night; nor
could I have delivered myself from his importunity, had not Mr. Eliot
urged his claim to enjoy my company at his own house. Hereupon I got
loose, but not until I had pledged a fast assurance that I would pay
him, faithfully, an early visit the next day.”

[Illustration: “THE PLACE” OF BOTATHEN.]

“The Place,” as it was called, of Botathen, where old Mr. Bligh
resided, was a low-roofed gabled manor-house of the fifteenth century,
walled and mullioned, and with clustered chimneys of dark-grey stone
from the neighbouring quarries of Ventor-gan. The mansion was flanked
by a pleasaunce or enclosure in one space, of garden and lawn, and
it was surrounded by a solemn grove of stag-horned trees. It had the
sombre aspect of age and of solitude, and looked the very scene of
strange and supernatural events. A legend might well belong to every
gloomy glade around, and there must surely be a haunted room somewhere
within its walls. Hither, according to his appointment, on the morrow,
Parson Rudall betook himself. Another clergyman, as it appeared, had
been invited to meet him, who, very soon after his arrival, proposed
a walk together in the pleasaunce, on the pretext of showing him, as
a stranger, the walks and trees, until the dinner-bell should strike.
There, with much prolixity, and with many a solemn pause, his brother
minister proceeded to “unfold the mystery.”

“A singular infelicity,” he declared, “had befallen young Master
Bligh, once the hopeful heir of his parents and of the lands of
Botathen. Whereas he had been from childhood a blithe and merry
boy, ‘the gladness,’ like Isaac of old, of his father’s age, he had
suddenly, and of late, become morose and silent--nay, even austere and
stern--dwelling apart, always solemn, often in tears. The lad had at
first repulsed all questions as to the origin of this great change, but
of late he had yielded to the importunate researches of his parents,
and had disclosed the secret cause. It appeared that he resorted,
every day, by a pathway across the fields, to this very clergyman’s
house, who had charge of his education, and grounded him in the studies
suitable to his age. In the course of his daily walk he had to pass a
certain heath or down where the road wound along through tall blocks of
granite with open spaces of grassy sward between. There in a certain
spot, and always in one and the same place, the lad declared that he
encountered, every day, a woman with a pale and troubled face, clothed
in a long loose garment of frieze, with one hand always stretched
forth, and the other pressed against her side. Her name, he said, was
Dorothy Dinglet,[109] for he had known her well from his childhood, and
she often used to come to his parents’ house; but that which troubled
him was, that she had now been dead three years, and he himself had
been with the neighbours at her burial; so that, as the youth alleged,
with great simplicity, since he had seen her body laid in the grave,
this that he saw every day must needs be her soul or ghost. ‘Questioned
again and again,’ said the clergyman, ‘he never contradicts himself;
but he relates the same and the simple tale as a thing that cannot be
gainsaid. Indeed, the lad’s observance is keen and calm for a boy of
his age. The hair of the appearance, sayeth he, is not like anything
alive, but it is so soft and light that it seemeth to melt away while
you look; but her eyes are set, and never blink--no, not when the
sun shineth full upon her face. She maketh no steps, but seemeth to
swim along the top of the grass; and her hand, which is stretched out
alway, seemeth to point at something far away, out of sight. It is
her continual coming; for she never faileth to meet him, and to pass
on, that hath quenched his spirits; and although he never seeth her by
night, yet cannot he get his natural rest.’

“Thus far the clergyman; whereupon the dinner clock did sound, and
we went into the house. After dinner, when young Master Bligh had
withdrawn with his tutor, under excuse of their books, the parents did
forthwith beset me as to my thoughts about their son. Said I, warily,
‘The case is strange, but by no means impossible. It is one that I will
study, and fear not to handle, if the lad will be free with me, and
fulfil all that I desire.’ The mother was overjoyed, but I perceived
that old Mr. Bligh turned pale, and was downcast with some thought
which, however, he did not express. Then they bade that Master Bligh
should be called to meet me in the pleasaunce forthwith. The boy came,
and he rehearsed to me his tale with an open countenance, and, withal,
a modesty of speech. Verily he seemed ‘ingenui vultus puer ingenuique
pudoris.’ Then I signified to him my purpose. ‘To-morrow,’ said I, ‘we
will go together to the place; and if, as I doubt not, the woman shall
appear, it will be for me to proceed according to knowledge, and by
rules laid down in my books.’”

The unaltered scenery of the legend still survives, and, like the
field of the forty footsteps in another history, the place is still
visited by those who take interest in the supernatural tales of old.
The pathway leads along a moorland waste, where large masses of rock
stand up here and there from the grassy turf, and clumps of heath and
gorse weave their tapestry of golden and purple garniture on every
side. Amidst all these, and winding along between the rocks, is a
natural footway worn by the scant, rare tread of the village traveller.
Just midway, a somewhat larger stretch than usual of green sod expands,
which is skirted by the path, and which is still identified as the
legendary haunt of the phantom, by the name of Parson Rudall’s Ghost.

But we must draw the record of the first interview between the minister
and Dorothy from his own words. “We met,” thus he writes, “in the
pleasaunce very early, and before any others in the house were awake;
and together the lad and myself proceeded towards the field. The youth
was quite composed, and carried his Bible under his arm, from whence
he read to me verses, which he said he had lately picked out, to have
always in his mind. These were Job vii. 14, ‘Thou scarest me with
dreams, and terrifiest me through visions;’ and Deuteronomy xxviii. 67,
‘In the morning thou shalt say, Would to God it were evening, and in
the evening thou shalt say, Would to God it were morning; for the fear
of thine heart wherewith thou shalt fear, and for the sight of thine
eyes which thou shalt see.’

“I was much pleased with the lad’s ingenuity in these pious
applications, but for mine own part I was somewhat anxious and out of
cheer. For aught I knew this might be a _dæmonium meridianum_, the most
stubborn spirit to govern and guide that any man can meet, and the
most perilous withal. We had hardly reached the accustomed spot, when
we both saw her at once gliding towards us; punctually as the ancient
writers describe the motion of their ‘lemures, which swoon along the
ground, neither marking the sand nor bending the herbage.’ The aspect
of the woman was exactly that which had been related by the lad. There
was the pale and stony face, the strange and misty hair, the eyes firm
and fixed, that gazed, yet not on us, but on something that they saw
far, far away; one hand and arm stretched out, and the other grasping
the girdle of her waist. She floated along the field like a sail upon a
stream, and glided past the spot where we stood, pausingly. But so deep
was the awe that overcame me, as I stood there in the light of day,
face to face with a human soul separate from her bones and flesh, that
my heart and purpose both failed me. I had resolved to speak to the
spectre in the appointed form of words, but I did not. I stood like one
amazed and speechless, until she had passed clean out of sight. One
thing remarkable came to pass. A spaniel dog, the favourite of young
Master Bligh, had followed us, and lo! when the woman drew nigh, the
poor creature began to yell and bark piteously, and ran backward and
away, like a thing dismayed and appalled. We returned to the house, and
after I had said all that I could to pacify the lad, and to soothe the
aged people, I took my leave for that time, with a promise that when I
had fulfilled certain business elsewhere, which I then alleged, I would
return and take orders to assuage these disturbances and their cause.

_“January 7, 1665._--At my own house, I find, by my books, what is
expedient to be done; and then, Apage, Sathanas!

_“January 9, 1665._--This day I took leave of my wife and family, under
pretext of engagements elsewhere, and made my secret journey to our
diocesan city, wherein the good and venerable bishop then abode.

_“January 10._--_Deo gratias_, in safe arrival at Exeter; craved and
obtained immediate audience of his lordship; pleading it was for
counsel and admonition on a weighty and pressing cause; called to the
presence; made obeisance; and then by command stated my case--the
Botathen perplexity--which I moved with strong and earnest instances
and solemn asseverations of that which I had myself seen and heard.
Demanded by his lordship, what was the succour that I had come to
entreat at his hands? Replied, licence for my exorcism, that so I
might, ministerially, allay this spiritual visitant, and thus render
to the living and the dead release from this surprise. ‘But,’ said
our bishop, ‘on what authority do you allege that I am intrusted with
faculty so to do? Our Church, as is well known, hath abjured certain
branches of her ancient power, on grounds of perversion and abuse.’
‘Nay, my lord,’ I humbly answered, ‘under favour, the seventy-second
of the canons ratified and enjoined on us, the clergy, anno Domini
1604, doth expressly provide, that “no minister, _unless he hath_ the
licence of his diocesan bishop, shall essay to exorcise a spirit, evil
or good.” Therefore it was,’ I did here mildly allege, ‘that I did not
presume to enter on such a work without lawful privilege under your
lordship’s hand and seal.’ Hereupon did our wise and learned bishop,
sitting in his chair, condescend upon the theme at some length with
many gracious interpretations from ancient writers and from Holy
Scripture, and I did humbly rejoin and reply, till the upshot was that
he did call in his secretary and command him to draw the aforesaid
faculty, forthwith and without further delay, assigning him a form,
insomuch that the matter was incontinently done; and after I had
disbursed into the secretary’s hands certain moneys for signitary
purposes, as the manner of such officers hath always been, the bishop
did himself affix his signature under the _sigillum_ of his see, and
deliver the document into my hands. When I knelt down to receive his
benediction, he softly said, ‘Let it be secret, Mr. R. Weak brethren!
weak brethren!’”

This interview with the bishop, and the success with which he
vanquished his lordship’s scruples, would seem to have confirmed Parson
Rudall very strongly in his own esteem, and to have invested him with
that courage which he evidently lacked at his first encounter with the

The entries proceed: _“January 11, 1665._--Therewithal did I hasten
home and prepare my instruments, and cast my figures for the onset of
the next day. Took out my ring of brass, and put it on the index-finger
of my right hand, with the _scutum Davidis_[110] traced thereon.

_“January 12, 1665._--Rode into the gateway at Botathen, armed at
all points, but not with Saul’s armour, and ready. There is danger
from the demons, but so there is in the surrounding air every day. At
early morning then, and alone,--for so the usage ordains,--I betook me
towards the field. It was void, and I had thereby due time to prepare.
First, I paced and measured out my circle on the grass. Then did I
mark my pentacle[111] in the very midst, and at the intersection of
the five angles I did set up and fix my crutch of _raun_[112] [rowan].
Lastly, I took my station south, at the true line of the meridian, and
stood facing due north.[113] I waited and watched for a long time. At
last there was a kind of trouble in the air, a soft and rippling sound,
and all at once the shape appeared, and came on towards me gradually. I
opened my parchment-scroll, and read aloud the command. She paused, and
seemed to waver and doubt; stood still; then I rehearsed the sentence
again, sounding out every syllable like a chant. She drew near my ring,
but halted at first outside, on the brink. I sounded again, and now at
the third time I gave the signal in Syriac--the speech which is used,
they say, where such ones dwell and converse in thoughts that glide.

“She was at last obedient, and swam into the midst of the circle, and
there stood still, suddenly.[114] I saw, moreover, that she drew back
her pointing hand. All this while I do confess that my knees shook
under me, and the drops of sweat ran down my flesh like rain. But now,
although face to face with the spirit, my heart grew calm, and my
mind was composed. I knew that the pentacle would govern her, and the
ring must bind, until I gave the word. Then I called to mind the rule
laid down of old, that no angel or fiend, no spirit, good or evil,
will ever speak until they have been first spoken to. _N.B._--This is
the great law of prayer. God Himself will not yield reply until man
hath made vocal entreaty, once and again. So I went on to demand, as
the books advise; and the phantom made answer, willingly. Questioned
wherefore not at rest? Unquiet, because of a certain sin. Asked what,
and by whom? Revealed it; but it is _sub sigillo_, and therefore _nefas
dictu_; more anon. Inquired, what sign she could give that she was
a true spirit and not a false fiend? Stated, before next Yule-tide
a fearful pestilence would lay waste the land and myriads of souls
would be loosened from their flesh, until, as she piteously said, ‘our
valleys will be full.’ Asked again, why she so terrified the lad?
Replied: ‘It is the law: we must seek a youth or a maiden of clean
life, and under age, to receive messages and admonitions.’ We conversed
with many more words, but it is not lawful for me to set them down. Pen
and ink would degrade and defile the thoughts she uttered, and which
my mind received that day. I broke the ring, and she passed, but to
return once more next day. At even-song, a long discourse with that
ancient transgressor, Mr. B. Great horror and remorse; entire atonement
and penance; whatsoever I enjoin; full acknowledgment before pardon.

_“January 13, 1665._--At sunrise I was again in the field. She came
in at once, and, as it seemed, with freedom. Inquired if she knew my
thoughts, and what I was going to relate? Answered, ‘Nay, we only know
what we perceive and hear; we cannot see the heart.’ Then I rehearsed
the penitent words of the man she had come up to denounce, and the
satisfaction he would perform. Then said she, ‘Peace in our midst.’
I went through the proper forms of dismissal, and fulfilled all as
it was set down and written in my memoranda; and then, with certain
fixed rites, I did dismiss that troubled ghost, until she peacefully
withdrew, gliding towards the west. Neither did she ever afterward
appear, but was allayed until she shall come in her second flesh to the
valley of Armageddon on the last day.”

These quaint and curious details from the “diurnal” of a simple-hearted
clergyman of the seventeenth century appear to betoken his
personal persuasion of the truth of what he saw and said, although
the statements are strongly tinged with what some may term the
superstition, and others the excessive belief, of those times. It is a
singular fact, however, that the canon which authorises exorcism under
episcopal licence, is still a part of the ecclesiastical law of the
Anglican Church, although it might have a singular effect on the nerves
of certain of our bishops[115] if their clergy were to resort to them
for the faculty which Parson Rudall obtained. The general facts stated
in his diary are to this day matters of belief in that neighbourhood;
and it has been always accounted a strong proof of the veracity of the
Parson and the Ghost, that the plague, fatal to so many thousands, did
break out in London at the close of that very year. We may well excuse
a triumphant entry, on a subsequent page of the “diurnal,” with the
date of July 10, 1665: “How sorely must the infidels and heretics of
this generation be dismayed when they know that this Black Death, which
is now swallowing its thousands in the streets of the great city, was
foretold six months agone, under the exorcisms of a country minister,
by a visible and suppliant ghost! And what pleasures and improvements
do such deny themselves who scorn and avoid all opportunity of
intercourse with souls separate, and the spirits, glad and sorrowful,
which inhabit the unseen world!”


[102] From _All the Year Round_, vol. xvii. pp. 501-504. 1867. The story
occurs in C. S. Gilbert’s “Historical Survey of Cornwall,” in Mrs.
Bray’s “Trelawny of Trelawn,” and in “Histories of Launceston,” by R.
and O. B. Peter.

[103] All this is singularly applicable to Hawker himself.

[104] See p. 45.

[105] John Ruddle, or Rudall, A.M., was instituted Vicar of St. Mary
Magdalene, Launceston, on Christmas Day, 1663, on which day he began
his ministry. He is entered in the Visitation Book of 1665 as vicar,
and in that of 1692 as curate. He became a prebendary of Exeter. On
July 15, 1671, he married Mary Bolitho, a widow. He was buried on
January 22, 1698. (See Appendix H.)

[106] It is a question whether these documents ever existed outside
Hawker’s brain. See note on p. 101.

[107] See Vivian’s “Visitations of Cornwall,” p. 148.

[108] For the pedigree of the family of Bligh, of Botathen, see
Vivian’s “Visitations of Cornwall,” p. 38. William Bligh, baptized May
18, 1657, was the son of William, who was baptized June 9, 1633, and
was, therefore, only thirty-two in 1665. According to ancestries given
by Carew and Gilbert, it is probable that the Earls of Darnley are
descended from the Blighs of Botathen. (See App. H.)

[109] This is no doubt a mis-spelling for “Dingley.” A James Dingley
was vicar of the parish of South Petherwin, where the ghost appeared,
in the same reign, and assisted Parson Rudall in his ministrations at
Launceston. The name Dingley exists in that town and district at the
present day.

[110] See p. 15.

[111] The pentacle of Solomon. See p. 14.

[112] Compare the lines on Merlin in “The Quest of the Sangraal”--

    “He raised his prophet-staff: that runic rod,
    The stem of Igdrasil--the crutch of Raun,”

to which Hawker appends the following note: “Igdrasil, the mystic tree,
the ash of the Keltic ritual. The Raun, or Rowan, is also the ash of
the mountain, another magic wood of the northern nations.”

[113] See Appendix A_b_.

[114] See note on p. 104.

[115] Hawker was quite capable of submitting a poser of this kind to
his own bishop, Dr. Phillpotts. It is on record that he once exorcised
a rebellious vestry, but whether he obtained the bishop’s licence in
this case is not stated.



Dear old Oxford![118] amid the brawl and uproar of the latter days, and
with many a frailty in the curtains of the Ark which the weapons of
the Philistines have found and pierced, yet _alma mater_, mother mild,
like our native England, “with all thy faults I love thee still.” And
when I recall my own undergraduate life of thirty years and upwards
agone, I feel, notwithstanding modern vaunt, the _laudator temporis
acti_ earnest within me yet and strong. Nowadays, as it seems to me,
there is but little originality of character in the still famous
University; a dread of eccentric reputation appears to pervade College
and Hall; every “Oxford man,” to adopt the well-known name, is subdued
into sameness within and without, controlled as it were into copyism
and mediocrity by the smoothing-iron of the nineteenth century.[119]
Whereas in my time, and before it, there were distinguished names,
famous in every mouth for original achievements and “deeds of
daring-do.” There were giants in those days--men of varied renown--and
they arose and won for themselves, in strange fields of fame, record
and place. Each became in his day a hero of the “Iliad” or “Odyssey”
of Oxford life--a kind of Homeric man. Once and again in the course
of every term, the whole University would ring with some fearless and
practical jest, conceived and executed with a dash of original genius
which betokened future victories in the war of wit and the world of
men. How well do I remember a bold travesty of discipline[120] which
once set the common-rooms in a roar, and even among “mine ancients,”
made it

        “merry in hall
    Where beards wagged all”!

A decree had been issued by the “authorities” of a well-known College
(it was in the pre-ritual days) that no undergraduate should present
himself at morning chapel service with his scarlet hunting-coat
underneath his surplice--a costume neither utterly secular nor
completely ecclesiastical, and therefore a motley garb which it did
not seem unjust or unreasonable to forbid in a sacred place. However,
the order was implicitly obeyed at the ensuing matins, with solemn
and suspicious exactitude. Alas! it was “the torrent’s smoothness
ere it dash below;” for on the third morning, when the College
servants arrived to take down the shutters and to light the fires,
they discovered that “a change had come over the spirit of their
dream.” Every one of the panelled doors throughout the Quadrangle of
the Canons, the very seat of hoar and reverend authority, had been
artistically painted during the night with the hue of Nimrod, a glowing
hunter’s red! The gates were immediately closed and barred, and every
member of the College convened before a grand divan of the Dons, to
undergo immediate scrutiny on the origin of that which some of the
undergraduates irreverently termed this ultra-observance of the rubric
(their wit would be obscure to those who are unaware that _rubrica_,
the etymon of our Church rules, signifies ruddy or red). The authors of
this outrage escaped detection, although every painter in Oxford was
summoned for examination, and all the dealers in colours and oils.
It was subsequently whispered among the initiated that the artist,
with his brushes and materials, had been brought down from London in a
post-chaise-and-four, secretly introduced through an unnoted postern,
and when his work was done, hospitably feasted and paid, and then sent
back at full speed through the night to town.

Another “merrie jest,” but with a lowlier scene and an humbler
_dramatis personæ_, raised the laugh of many a common-room and
wine-party about the same period of my own undergraduate recollections.
There was an ancient woman, blear-eyed and dim-sighted, “worn nature’s
mournful monument,”[121] who had the far and wide repute of witchcraft
among the College servants and the “baser sort” in the suburbs of the
town; but in reality she was a mere “wreck of eld,” a harmless and
helpless old creature, who stood at more than one college-gate for
alms. Her well-known name was Nanny Heale. Her cottage, or rather
decayed old hut, leaned against a steep mound by the castle-wall, and
was so hugged in by the ground that, from a path along the ramparts
a passer-by might cast a bird’s-eye look down Nanny’s chimney, and
watch well her hearth and home. One winter evening certain frolicsome
wights, out of College in search of a channel for the exuberant spirits
of their age, were pacing, like Hardicanute, the wall east and west,
when a glance down the witch’s chimney revealed a quaint and simple
scene of humble life. There she crouched, close by the smoking embers,
peering into the fire; and before her very nose there hung, just over
the fire, a round iron vessel, called in the western counties a crock,
filled to the brim with potatoes, and without a cover or lid. This
utensil was suspended by its swing-handle to an iron bar, which went
from side to side of the chimney-wall. To see and to assail the weak
point in a field of battle is evermore the signal of a great captain.
The onslaught was instantly planned. A rope, with a hook of iron at the
end, was slowly and noiselessly lowered down the chimney, and, unnoted
by poor Nanny’s blinking sight, the handle of the iron pot was softly
grasped by the crook, and the vessel with its mealy contents began to
ascend in silent majesty towards the upper air. Thoroughly roused by
this unnatural and ungrateful demeanour of her lifelong companion of
the hearth, old Nanny arose from her stool, peered anxiously upward to
watch the ascent, and shouted at the top of her voice: “Massy ’pon my
sinful soul! art gwain off--taties and all?”[122]

The vessel was quietly grasped, carried down in hot haste, and planted
upright outside the cottage-door. A knock, given for the purpose,
summoned the inmate, who hurried out and stumbled over, as she
afterwards interpreted the event, her penitent crock.

“So then,” was her joyful greeting--“so then! theer’t come back to
holt, then! Ay, ’tis a cold out o’ doors.”

Good came out of evil; for her story, which she rehearsed again and
again, with all the energy and firm persuasion of truth, at last
reached the ears of the parish authorities, and they, on inquiry into
the evidence, forthwith decreed the addition of a shilling a-week to
poor old Nanny’s allowance, on the plea that her faculties had quite
failed her, and that she required greater charity because of her
wandering mind. Yet the fact which she testified met the criterion of
evidence demanded by Hume, for the event occurred within the experience
of the witness herself.

It was by outbreaks of animal spirits such as these that the monotony
of collegiate life in those days was relieved, for the University
supplied but little excitement of mental kind. The battle-cries of High
Church and Low Church--“that bleating of the sheep and that lowing of
the oxen” which nowadays we hear--had not yet begun to rouse the Oxford
mind;[123] and the only war about vestments that I recollect was our
hot fierce struggle after a festive assembly to get first out into
the lobby, and to grasp as a spoil the best caps and gowns one by one,
until the unhappy freshman who arrived last had to put up with such
ragged specimens of University costume as would hardly have satisfied
the veriest Puritan for the performance of divine service.

Well, for us two--the subjects of this paper--the life of Oxford,
with its freaks and its discipline, for a time was over; we had each
passed the final examination so graphically named “the Great Go;” and
that so as to be, what man so seldom is in this world, satisfied. In
high heart, and with spirits running over, my friend and I appointed
a tryst in a small watering-place on the north coast of Cornwall as
a starting-point for a ride “all down the thundering shores of Bude
and Boss.” In due time, and on a glorious summer day, we mounted our
“Galloway nags,” and, like the knights of ancient ballad, “we laughed
as we rode away.” The start was from Bude, and we made our first halt
at a place twelve miles towards the south-west; a scene of general
local renown, and which bears the parochial name of Warbstow Barrow.
It stands upon a lofty hill that soars and swells upward into a vast
circular mound, enthroned, as it were, amid a wild and boundless
stretch of heathy and gorsy moorland. It was soothing to the sight to
look down and around on the tapestry of purple and gold intermingled
in natural woof, and flowing away in free undulation on every side.
The view from this mountain-top was of wonderful extent, but wild,
desolate, and bare. Beneath, on three sides, spread the moor, dotted
here and there with a grey old church, that crouched toward the shadow
of its low Saxon battlemented tower, as if it still sought shelter,
after so many ages, from the perils of surrounding barbarism. On the
fourth side swelled the sea. But the brow of this hill, like that of
many others in the west, dropped into the shape of a mighty circular
bowl--a kind of hollow valley turfed with grass, and surrounded by
a rim; an amphitheatre, however, large enough to hold five thousand
people at once.[124] On the flat level floor of this round crater, and
in the exact midst, still swells up uninjured the outline of a viking’s
grave, unlike other burial-mounds[125] so common in Cornwall and

    “Where the brown barrow curves its sullen breast
    Above the bones of some dead gentile’s soul,”[126]

and that on every hillside and plain. The shape of the great hillock
at Warbstow is neither oval nor round, but survives the exact image
of the dragon-ship of northern piracy and war.[127] Moreover, not
the shape only, but the size of the ancient vessel of the dead, is
perpetuated here. Measured and graduated by scale, this oblong, curved,
and narrow grave would yield the dimensions of a boat of fifty tons,
which would be about the weight of a Scandinavian serpent of the sea.

We saw that an effort had been made to open this barrow at one of the
ends; but an old woman, whom we found at a cottage not far off, assured
us “that they that tried it were soon forced to give up their digging
and flee, for the thunders came for ’em, and the lightnings also.”

We endeavoured to sound the local mind of our informant as to the
history of the place and origin of the grave; but all we could drag
out of her, after questions again and again, was “great warriors,
supposing, in old times.” Such was the dirge of the mighty dead, and
their requiem, at Warbstow Barrow. But the sun had begun to lean, and
we were bound for Boscastle, the breviate of Bottreau[128] Castle, and
the abode of the earls[129] of that name.

[Illustration: BOSCASTLE HARBOUR.]

Strange, striking, and utterly unique is the first aspect of this
village by the sea. The gorge or valley lies between two vast and
precipitous hills, that yawn asunder as though they had been cleft by
the spells of some giant warlock[130] of the West, like the Eildon
Hill by Michael Scott.[131] As you descend the hill from the north
you discover on the opposite side clusters of quaint old-fashioned
houses, grotesque and gabled, that appear as though they clung together
for mutual support on the slope of that perilous cliff. Between the
houses, and sheer down the mountain side, descended, or rather fell, a
steep and ugly road; which led, however, to the “safety of the vale,”
and landed the traveller at last in a deep cut or gash between the
hills, where the creek ebbed and flowed, which was called by strangers
in their courtesy, and by the inhabitants, with aboriginal pride,
“the Harbour”--_Cornice_ “Hawn.” There “went the ships,” so that
they did not exceed sixty tons in freight; and thither arrived, at
certain intervals, coals and timber in bulk and quantity, which can be
ascertained, no doubt, by the return of imports laid before Parliament
by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

We reached in safety our bourn for the night at the bottom of the
hill, and discovered the hostelry by the sign which swung above the
door. This appeared to us to represent a man’s shoe; but when we
had read the legend, we found that it signified the Ship Inn, and
was the “actual effigy” of a vessel which belonged to the port. Here
we received a smiling welcome from the hostess, a ruddy-visaged
widow,--Joan Treworgy was her Keltic name--fubby and interjectional in
figure, and manifestly better adapted for her abode at the foot of the
hill than at any mansion further up. She was born, as she afterwards
related, two doors off: and, except that she had travelled up the hill
to Forraburry church to be married there, it appeared that a diameter
of five yards would have defined the total circumference of her
wandering life.

As soon as we arrived, she called up from some vasty deep underneath
her house a grim and shaggy shape, who answered to the name of Tim,
but whom we identified as Caliban on the spot, and charged him to take
proper care of the Captains’ horses (for by that title all strangers
in sound garments and whole hats are saluted in the land of the
quarry and the mine), and to be sure that they had plenty of whuts.
She then invited us to enter her “parrolar,” a room rather cosy than
magnificent; for when our landlady had followed in her two guests,
and stood at the door, no one beside could have forced an entrance
any more than a cannon-ball could cleave through a feather-bed.
We then proceeded to confer about beds for the night, and, not
without misgiving, inquired if she could supply a couple of those
indispensable places of repose. A demur ensued. All the gentry in the
town, she declared, were accustomed to sleep “two in a bed,” and the
officers that travelled the country, and stopped at her house, would
mostly do the same; but, however, if we commanded two beds for only
two people, two we must have; only, although they were both in the
same room, we must certainly pay for two, and sixpence a piece was her
regular price. We assented, and then went on to entreat that we might
dine. She graciously agreed; but to all questions as to our fare her
sole response was, “Meat--meat and taties.” “Some call ’em,” she added,
in a scornful tone, “‘purtaties,’ but we always say ‘taties’ here.”
The specific differences between beef, mutton, veal, etc., seemed to
be utterly or artfully ignored, and to every frenzied inquiry her calm
inexorable reply was, “Meat--nice wholesome meat and taties.”

In due time we sat down in that happy ignorance as to the nature of our
viands which a French cook is said to desire; and although we both made
a not unsatisfactory meal, it is a wretched truth that by no effort
could we ascertain what it was that was roasted for us that day by
widow Treworgy, hostess of the Ship, and which we consumed. Was it a
piece of Boscastle baby? as I suggested to my companion in the midst of
his enjoyment; and the question caused him to arise and rush out to
inquire once again, and insist on knowing the whole truth; but he soon
came back baffled, and shouting, “Meat and taties!” There was not a
vestige of bone nor any outline that could identify the joint, and the
not unsavoury taste was something like tender veal. It was not until
years afterwards that light was thrown on our mysterious dinner that
day by a passage which I accidentally turned up in an ancient history
of Cornwall. Therein I read “that the sillie people of Bouscastle and
Boussiney do catch in the summer seas divers young soyles [seals],
which, doubtful if they be fish or flesh, conynge housewives will
nevertheless roast, and do make thereof very savoury meat.” “Ay, ay,”
said my friend and fellow-traveller, when I had transcribed and sent
him this extract--“Ay! clear as day--meat and taties; how I wish I had
old mother Treworgy now by the throat! I would make her walk up that
hill every day for a month, and stop her meat and taties till she was
the size of other people.” When the hour arrived that should have been
the time of rest, we mounted a cabin-ladder, which our hostess assured
us was “the stairs.” We found the two beds which had been allotted
to us, but, as it was foretold, in one small, hot, stuffy room. As
we entered the narrow door, a solitary casement twinkled on one side
of the opposite wall, flanked by a glazed cupboard door, paned to
match, on the other. This latter, the false light, my friend opened
by mistake--he was near-sighted, and our single dip was dim--to sniff,
as he said, the evening air; but he shut it up again in quick disgust,
declaring that the whole atmosphere of the village was impregnated with
onions and cheese. To bed, but not to rest. Every cubic inch of ozone
was exhausted long before midnight, and, as the small hours struck on
the kitchen clock below, we found that “Boscastle had murdered sleep,
and therefore Oxford could sleep no more.” With the first faint glimmer
of day we arose and stole gently out into the dawn. Before us stood the
one-arched bridge spanning the river bed. Lower down the creek the mast
and rigging of a sloop at anchor was visible, like network traced upon
the morning sky. But the lowly level had no attraction for our path:
there lay the sluggish mist of night, and it seemed to our distempered
fancy like the dull heavy breath of the snorers in that village glen;
but above and upwards stretched the tall ascending road, like Jacob’s
ladder resting on the earth and reaching to the sky. Surely on the
brow of that mountain top there must be breath and room. We turned,
therefore, to climb, and for once “vaulting ambition did not o’erleap
itself.” Slow and difficult was the way, but cooler and more bracing
the air every yard that we achieved.

We stood at last on the brow of the vast gorge, and full five hundred
feet above the sea, where church and tower crowned the cliff like a
crest. The scene we looked upon was indeed exhilarating, stately, and
grand. On the right hand, and to the west, arose and stood the craggy
heights of Dundagel, island and main, ennobled by the legends of old
historic time. To the left, a boundless reach of granite-sprinkled
moor, where barrow, logan rock, and cromlech stood, the mute memorials
of Keltic antiquity.[132] Beneath, and afar off, the sea, at that
silent hour, like some boundless lake, “its glad waves murmuring all
around the soul;” near, and at our feet, the jumbled village, crouching
on either side of the steepy road, and clinging to its banks as if the
inhabitants sought to secure access for escape when the earthquake
should rend or the volcano pour. We prepared to return and descend; but
this was by no means an easy feat, from the extreme angle at which the
roadway fell. At the first look on the inclined plane it seemed easier
to sit down and slide; but on the whole we thought it better to walk,
and pause, and creep.

Another and a new feature in the scene now met our gaze. Annexed to
every human abode a small hut had been stuck on to the walls for
the home of the “gentleman” that, in Cornwall as in Ireland, pays
the rent--_Keltice_, the pig. The hovels of these bristly vassals,
like the castles of their lords, were cabined and circumscribed in
the extreme. There was just room enough to breathe, but not to snore
without impediment of tone. A sudden inspiration awoke in our minds.
Surely it would be an act of humanity and kindness to enable these poor
suffocating creatures once in their lives to taste the balmy breath of
a summer morning. It will be to us, we said and thought, a personal
delight to see them emerge from their close and festering abodes and
rush out in the free, soft radiance of the dawn! Action followed close
on thought. Hastily, busily, every rude rough bar was drawn back,
door and substitute for door unclosed; and a general jail-delivery of
imprisoned swine was ruled and accomplished on the spot. Undetected by
a single human witness, without interruption from slumbering master
or lazy hind, the total deed was done. Gradually descending the hill,
and scattering, like ancient heroes and modern patriots, freedom and
deliverance as we went, never did the children of liberty so exult
in their unshackled deliverance as these Boscastle hordes. There was
one result, however, which we had not foreseen, and its perilous
consequences had quite escaped anticipation. The inmates of every
sty, as soon as their opportunities of egress had been ascertained
by marching out of their prison-doors and arriving unchecked at the
roadside--when they looked upward and surveyed the steep and difficult
ascent, and counted mentally the cost of attempting to surmount the
steep, they all, as with one hoof and mind, turned down the hill.
Sire and dam, lean and corpulent, farrow and suckling, all _uno
impetu_, selected and rushed down the _facilis descensus Averni_; and
although, in all likelihood, they had never pondered the contrast of
the Roman poet, yet they spontaneously moved and seconded, and carried
the unanimous resolution that _revocare gradum, his labor, hoc opus
est_. The consequence of this choice of way was too soon apparent.
Just as we had drawn the last bar, and were approaching the bottom of
the steep, we looked back and saw that we were pursued, and should
speedily be surrounded, by a mixed multitude of porcine advocates for
free discussion in the open air, such as might have gladdened the
heart of any critic on the original and cultivated breeds of the west
of England. Prominent among them the old Cornish razor-back asserted
its pre-eminence of height and bone, nor were punchy representatives
of the Berkshire[133] and Suffolk genealogies absent on this festive
occasion. Growing now apprehensive of the consequences of discovery,
if an early rising owner should ascertain the authors of this daring
effort to “deliver their dungeons from the captive,” we hastened to
secure ourselves in the shelter of our hostelry of the Ship, and
fortunately found, on reaching our “little chamber on the wall,” that
the widow and her household were still fast asleep. We fastened the
door and listened for results. The outcries and yells were fearful.
By-and-by human voices began to mingle with the tumult; there were
shouts of inquiry and surprise, then sounds of apparent expostulation
and entreaty, and again a “storm of hate and wrath and wakening fear.”
Many a battle of soldiers must have fought and ended with less uproar.
At last the tumult pierced even the ears of our hostess Joan Treworgy.
We heard her puff and blow, and call for Tim. At last, after waiting
a prudent time, we thought it best to call aloud for shaving-water,
and to inquire with astonishment into the cause of that horrible
disturbance which had roused us from our morning sleep. This brought
the widow in hot haste to our door.

“Why, they do say, Captain,” was her doleful response, “that all the
pegs up-town have a-rebelled, and they’ve a-be, and let one the wother
out, and they be all a-gwain to sea huz-a-muz, bang!”

Although this statement was somewhat obscure in its phraseology, and
the Keltic byword at the close, wherein the “sense is kindred to the
sound,” yet we understood too well that the main facts of the history
were as true as if Macaulay had recorded them; so we pretended to dress
in great haste, and hurried down to see the war. It was indeed an
original scene;

    “For chief intent on deeds of strife,
      Or bard of martial lay,
    ’Twere worth ten years of peaceful life,
      One glance at their array!”

Here a decently dressed woman made many fruitless endeavours to
coax out of the brawl five or six squealing farrows, the offspring
of a gaunt old dam that, like the felon sow of Rokeby,[134] was “so
distraught with noise” that “her own children she mought clean devour.”
There a stalwart quarryman, finding all other efforts fruitless,
had seized his full-grown porker by the legs and hoisted him on his
shoulders to ride home pickaback uttering all the while yells of fierce
expostulation and defiance. One hot little man, with a red face and
gesticulating hands, had grasped a long pole, and laid about him in mad
fury, promiscuously, until a tall and bristly hog rushed at him from
behind, and carried him off down the hill seated at full charge like a
knight of King Arthur’s Court, with “semblance of a spear,” and tilted
him at last head over heels in the bed of the stream. But some way up
the hill we came suddenly upon a scene which demanded all our sympathy;
help there was none. A panting old woman had singled out her hog and
separated him from the crowd; and a fine fat animal he was--four
hundred-weight at least--and so unfitted for the slightest exertion,
that unless he had resorted to sliding and rolling, it was difficult
to conceive how he had accomplished even his downhill journey from the
sty. But up hill--as his obdurate mistress appeared to propose,--no,
no. There was a look in his eye, as he glanced back at his despairing
owner, that seemed to suggest a grunt in strong German emphasis, _das
geht nicht_. He had thrust his snout and half his nose through the
bars of a gate; and there he stuck, and manifestly meant to stick
fast, while she belaboured him with strokes like a flail. She paused
as we approached the spot, and with an appealing look for our assent,
she piteously exclaimed, “My peg’s surely mazed, maister, or he’s
ill-wished; some ennemie hath a-dond it!” My thought responded to her
charge; it was certainly no enemy of the pig that “dond it,” whatsoever
he might be to his owner.

We left “her alone in her glory,” and returned to the inn, communing
as we went on the store of legend, tale, and history we had laid up
for future generations in thus opening a field of achievement for the
Boscastle swine. What themes of marvel would travel down by the cottage
hearth, there to be rehearsed by wrinkled eld!--the wondrous things
always the more believed as they became more incredible. Doubtless the
local event would very soon be resolved into demoniac agency, because,
ever since the miracle of Gadara, the people have always linked the
association of demons and swine; and they refer to the five small
dark punctures always visible on the hoof of the hog as the points of
entrance and departure for the fiend.[135]

Once in after-life did this fitful freak[136] recur to our minds. We
separated, my companion of this ride and myself--I to a country cure,
and my friend back to Oxford, “to climb the steep where fame’s proud
temple shines afar.” He ascended step by step until he became Dean of
the College[137] to which we both belonged. In course of time, after
the usual interval, I went up to take my M.A. degree. Now the custom
was, and is, that the Dean takes the candidate by the hand, leads him
up to the chair of the Vice-Chancellor, and presents him for his degree
in a Latin speech. We were all assembled in the appointed place, the
Dean, my friend, taking us up in turn one by one. Among the group was
a stout burly man, a gentleman commoner, sleek and fat, and manifestly
well-to-do in life. With him the Dean had trouble; unwieldy and
confused and slow, it was difficult to get him through the crowd and
up to his place in time. They passed me in a kind of struggle,--the
Dean leading and endeavouring to guide, the candidate hanging back and
getting pitched in the throng. Just then I managed to whisper--

“Why, your peg’s surely mazed, maister!”

I was hardly prepared for the result when I “struck the electric chain
wherewith we are darkly bound.” The association came back; the words
called up the scene among the swine; and when the crowd gave way, there
stood the Dean before the Vice-Chancellor’s chair, greeting him, not
with a Latin form, but in spasms of uncontrollable laughter!

To return to the original scene. We ordered Caliban with our ponies to
be ready at the door, and we in the meanwhile called on our hostess to
produce her bill. She hum’d and ha’d and hesitated, and seemed at a
loss to produce the “little dockyment,” which is usually supposed to
be a matter of very fluent composition at an inn. It was not until we
had again and again explained that we desired her to state in writing
what we had to pay, that she seemed at last to comprehend. A deal of
scuffling about the kitchen ensued. There was a quick passing to and
fro, in and out; there were several muttered discussions of the lower
house; a neighbour, who appeared to be a glazier, was sent for; and
at last the door opened, and our red pursy little hostess bustled in,
bobbed a curtsey, and presented for our perusal her small account,
chalked upon the upper lid of the kitchen bellows, which she gracefully
held towards us by the snout. Poor old Joan Treworgy! how utterly
did thy rough simplicity put to shame the vaunting tariff and the
“establishment charges” of this nineteenth century of Messrs. Brag and
Sham! The bill, which we duly transcribed, and which was then paid and
rubbed out, thus ran:--


                             _s._ _d._

  T for 2                        0     6
  Sleep for 2                    1     0
  Meat and Taties and Bier       1     6
  Bresks                         1     6

Four shillings and sixpence for bed and board for two wolfish appetites
for a night and a day, to say nothing of the pantomime performed
gratuitously for our behoof, at a very early hour, by Boscastle
amateurs! Good day, Mrs. Treworgy! good day! “To-morrow to fresh woods
and pastures new.”


[116] From _Belgravia_, vol. iii. pp. 328-337. 1867.

[117] The author and Rev. Dr. Jeune, afterwards Bishop of Peterborough,
father of Sir Francis Jeune.


    “O type of a far scene! the lovely land,
      Where youth wins many a friend, and I had one;
    Still do thy bulwarks, dear old Oxford, stand?
      Yet, Isis, do thy thoughtful waters run?”

    _The Token Stream of ‘Tidna’ Combe._

(See Appendix A.)

[119] Compare Tennyson, “In Memoriam”--

      “For, ‘ground in yonder social mill
    We rub each other’s angles down,

    ‘And merge,’ he said, ‘in form and gloss,
      The picturesque of man and man.’”

[120] Such things have been known to occur even in these degenerate

[121] A variant of a line in Hawker’s poem, “A Legend of the Hive.”

[122] The Oxford crone speaks with a Cornish accent, and some think
that she hailed from Stratton.

[123] Hawker came in contact, however, with some of the leaders of
the Oxford Movement, as we learn from a letter where he says: “How I
recollect their faces and words--Newman, Pusey, Ward, Marriott; they
used to be all in the common-room every evening, discussing, talking,
reading.” Hawker went up to Oxford in 1822, and won the Newdigate in
1827, when Newman was a Tutor of Oriel and Keble was publishing “The
Christian Year.”

[124] One of the kind so often used by Wesley for his open-air sermons
in Cornwall. See p. 160.

[125] Compare Hawker’s poem,“Trebarrow,” and his footnote thereto.

[126] From the description of Carradon in “The Quest of the Sangraal.”


    “Kings of the main their leaders brave,
    Their barks the dragons of the wave.”

    _Lay of the Last Minstrel._

[128] Compare Hawker’s well-known ballad, “The Silent Tower of

[129] There were no “earls” of Bottreaux. Knights, or barons, would be
more correct.

[130] Wizard.

[131] See Appendix J.

[132] Compare Tennyson--

                  “that gray king, whose name, a ghost,
    Streams like a cloud, man-shaped, from mountain peak,
    And cleaves to cairn and cromlech still.”


    “One breed may rise, another fall;
    The Berkshire hog survives them all.”

It was, perhaps, in commemoration of this episode that Hawker when
afterwards curate of North Tamerton, kept a tame Berkshire pig. Another
parson-poet, Robert Herrick, is also said to have had a pet porker.

[134] Compare p. 204.

[135] Compare p. 202.

[136] An escapade with pigs occurs in Tennyson’s poem, “Walking to the

[137] Pembroke.


There is a small outlying hamlet[138] in my parochial charge, about two
miles from my vicarage, with a population of about two hundred souls,
inhabiting a kind of plateau shut in by lofty hills and skirted by the
sea. These rural and simple-hearted people, secluded by their remote
place of abode from the access of the surrounding world, present a
striking picture of old and Celtic England such as it existed two or
three hundred years ago. A notion of their solitude and simplicity may
be gathered from the fact that, whereas they have no village postman
or office, their only mode of intercourse with the outer life of
their kind is accomplished through the weekly or other visit of their
clergyman. He carries their letters, which contain “the short and
simple annals of the poor,” and he receives and returns their weekly
and laborious literary compositions to edify and instruct their distant
and more civilised correspondents. The address on each letter is often
such as to baffle all ordinary curiosity, and unless deciphered
by the skill of the experts of the post-office, must often furnish
hieroglyphics for the study of the Postmaster-General as obscure, if
not so antique, as the legends on a pyramid or Rosetta stone. A visit
to a distant market-town is an achievement to render a man an authority
or an oracle among his brethren; and one who has accomplished that
journey twice or thrice is ever regarded as a daring traveller, and
consulted about foreign countries with a feeling of habitual respect.

They have amongst them no farrier for their cattle, no medical man for
themselves, no beerhouse, no shop; a man who travels for a distant town
supplies them with tea by the ounce, or sugar in smaller quantities
still. Not a newspaper is taken in throughout the hamlet, although they
are occasionally astonished and delighted by the arrival from some
almost forgotten friend in Canada of an ancient copy of the _Toronto
Gazette_. This publication they pore over to weariness, and on Sunday
they will worry the clergyman with questions about Transatlantic places
and names of which he is obliged to confess himself utterly ignorant,
a confession which consciously lowers him in their veneration and
respect. An ancient dame once exhibited her Prayer-book, very nearly
worn out, printed in the reign of George II., and very much thumbed at
the page from which she assiduously prayed for the welfare of Prince
Frederick, without one misgiving that she violated the article of our
Church which forbids prayer for the dead.

Among the singular traits of character which are developed amid
these, whom I may designate in the German phrase as my mossy[139]
parishioners, there is one which I should define, in their extreme
simplicity, as exuberant belief, or rather faith in excess. I do not,
however, intend by this term any kind of religious peculiarity of tenet
or creed, but only a prostration of the intellect before certain old
traditionary and inherited impulses of the human mind. They share and
they embrace those instinctive tendencies of their Celtic nature which
in all ages have led their race to cherish a credence in the existence
and power of witches, fairies, and the force of charms and spells. It
is well known that all such supernatural influences on ordinary life
are singularly congenial to the ancient and the modern Cornish mind. I
do not exaggerate when I affirm at all events my own persuasion, that
two-thirds of the total inhabitants of Tamar-side implicitly believe
in the power of the _Mal Occhio_, as the Italians name it, or the Evil
Eye. Is this incredible in a day when the spasms and raps and bad
spelling of a familiar spirit are received with acquiescent belief in
polished communities, and even in intellectual London? The old notion
that a wizard or a witch so became by a nefarious bargain with the
enemy of man, and by a surrender of his soul to his ultimate grasp,
although still held in many a nook of our western valleys, and by the
crooning dame at her solitary hearth, appears to have been exchanged
in my hamlet of Holacombe (for such is its name) for a persuasion that
these choosers of the slain inherit their faculty from their birth.
Whispers of forbidden ties between their parents, and of monstrous and
unhallowed alliances of which these children are the issue, largely
prevail in this village. There it is held that the witch, like the
poet, is so born. I have been gravely assured that there are well-known
marks which distinguish the ill-wishers from all beside. These are
black spots under the tongue; in number five, diagonally placed: “Like
those, sir, which are always found in the feet of swine,”[140] and
which, according to the belief of my poor people, and which, as a
Scriptural authority, I was supposed unable to deny, were first made in
the unclean animals by the entrance of the demons into the ancestral
herd at Gadara. A peculiar kind of eyeball, sometimes bright and clear,
and at others covered with a filmy gauze, like a gipsy’s eye, as it is
said, by night; or a double pupil, ringed twice; or a larger eye on
the left than on the right side; these are held to be tokens of evil
omen, and accounted to indicate demoniac power, and certain it is that
a peculiar glare or a glance of the eye does exist in those persons
who are pointed out as in possession of the craft of the wizard or
witch. But an ancient man, who lived in a lone house in a gorge near
the church, once actually disclosed to me in mysterious whispers, and
with many a gesture of alarm and dread, a plan which he had heard from
his grandfather, and by which a person evilly inclined, and anxious for
more power than men ought to possess, might at any time become a master
of the Evil Eye.

“Let him go to chancel,” said he, “to sacrament, and let him hide
and bring away the bread[141] from the hands of the priest; then,
next midnight let him take it and carry it round the church,
widdershins--that is, from south to north,[142] crossing by east
three times: the third time there will meet him a big, ugly, venomous
toad,[143] gaping and gasping with his mouth opened wide, let him put
the bread between the lips of the ghastly creature, and as soon as ever
it is swallowed down his throat he will breathe three times upon the
man, and he will be made a strong witch for evermore.”

I did not fail to express the horror and disgust with which I had
listened to this grandsire’s tale, and to assure him that any man
capable of performing such an atrocious ceremony for such a purpose,
must be by his very nature fit for every evil desire, and prepared, of
his own mere impulse, to form the most unhallowed wishes for the harm
of his fellow-creatures, such as a demon only could delight to fulfil.
But the feats which are supposed to be achieved by the witch--for the
question proposed by the sapient King Jamie has been solved by the
Cornish people, whether the Devil doth not oftener dally with ancient
women than men--are invariably deeds of loss and harm: Some felon sow,
like her of Rokeby,[144] becomes the grunting mother of a large family
of farrows; all at once, like Medea,[145] she hates her own offspring
with a fiendish hatred, and spurns them all away from her milk. They
pine and squeal, and at last sit upright on their hinder parts like
pleading children, put their little paws together in piteous fashion,
and die one by one. All this would never have come to pass had not the
dame, the day before, refused a bottle of milk to one who “should
have been a woman,” “but that her beard forbade them to interpret
that such she were.” What graphic tales of “things ill-wished” have
I not heard around and within this wild and lonely hamlet! All at
once a flock or herd would begin to pine away with some strange and
nameless disease, the shepherd’s ewes yeaned dead lambs, and were found
standing over their lost offspring aghast. Or his cows, “the milky
mothers of the herd,” would rush from field to field, “quite mad,”
with their tails erect towards the sky, like the bare poles of a ship
in distress scudding before the gale; or the brown mare would refuse
to be harnessed, and signify her intention to remain in the stall on
a busy day, to her master’s infinite disgust. In the more civilised
part of my parish the well-to-do farmer would have a remedy. He would
mount his horse one break of day on some secret expedition, and be
absent for another day or two. Then he returns armed with a packet of
white powders, which he scatters carefully, one at every gate on his
farm, and his men hear him as he goes muttering in solemn fashion some
strange set words, which turn out, when the scroll is submitted to the
schoolmaster afterwards, to contain the blessings of the twenty-eighth
chapter of Deuteronomy, copied in writing for his use. He has paid
a visit, it appears, to a distant town, and been closeted with a
well-known public character of the west, popularly called the White
Witch, and it is he who has not only exposed the name and arts of the
parish practitioner of evil, but has supplied an antidote in the shape
of baffling powders and “charms of might.”

Some years agone a violent thunderstorm passed over the hamlet of
Holacombe, and wrought great damage in its course. Trees were rooted
up, cattle killed, and a rick or two set on fire. It so befell that I
visited, the day after, one of the chief agricultural inhabitants of
the village, and I found the farmer and his men standing by a ditch
wherein lay, heels upward, a fine young horse quite dead. “Here sir,”
he shouted, as I came on, “only please to look! is not this a sight to
see?” I looked at the poor animal, and uttered my sympathy and regret
at the loss.

“One of the fearful results,” I happened to say, “of the storm and
lightning yesterday.” “There, Jem,” said he to one of his men,
triumphantly, “didn’t I say the parson would find it out? Yes, sir,”
he said, “it is as you say: it is all that wretched old Cherry[146]
Parnell’s doing, with her vengeance and her noise!” I stared with
astonishment at this unlooked-for interpretation which he had put into
my mouth, and waited for him to explain. “You see, sir,” he went on
to say, “the case was this: old Cherry came up to my place, tottering
along and mumbling that she wanted a fagot of wood. I said to her,
‘Cherry,’ says I, ‘I gave you one only two days agone, and another
two days before that, and I must say that I didn’t make up my woodrick
altogether for you.’ So she turned away, looking very grany, and
muttering something about ‘Hotter for me hereafter.’ Well, sir, last
night I was in bed, I and my wife, and all to once there bursted a
thunderbolt, and shaked the very room and house. Up we started, and my
wife says, ‘O father, old Cherry’s up! I wish I had gone after her with
that there fagot.’ I confess I thought in my mind I wish she had; but
it was too late then, and I would try to hope for the best. But now,
sir, you see with your own eyes what that revengeful old woman hath
been and done. And I do think, sir,” he went on to say, changing his
tone to a kind of indignant growl--“I _do_ think that when I call to
mind how I’ve paid tithe and rates faithfully all these years, and kept
my place in church before your reverence every Sabbath-day, and always
voted in the vestries that what hath a be ought to be, and so on, I do
think that such ones as old Cherry Parnell never ought to be allowed to
meddle with such things as thunder and lightning.” What could I--what
could any man in his senses--say to this?

The great charmer of charms[147] in this strange corner of the world
is a seventh son born in direct succession from one father and one
mother. Find such a person, and you have “the sayer of good words”
always at your command. He is called in our folk-lore the doctor of the
district. There is such an old man in my hamlet, popularly called Uncle
Tony Cleverdon. He was baptised Anthony; but this has been changed by
kindly village parlance and the usage of the West. For with us the
pet name is generally the short name, and any one venerable from age
and amiable in nature is termed, without relationship, but merely for
endearment, “uncle” and “aunt.”[148] Uncle Tony has inherited this
endowment in a family of thirteen children, he being the seventh born.
He often says that his lucky birth has been as good as “a fortin” to
him all his life; for although he is forbidden by usage and tradition
to take money for the exercise of his functions, nothing has hindered
that he should always be invited to sit as an honoured guest at the
table furnished with good things in the houses of his votaries. Uncle
Tony allowed me, as a vast favour, to take down from his lips some of
his formularies: they had never been committed to writing before, he
said; not, as I believe, for more than three centuries, for they smack
of the Middle Ages. He very much questioned whether their virtue would
not be utterly destroyed when he was gone, by their being “put into

Uncle Tony was like an ancient augur in the science of birds. “Whenever
you see one magpie alone by himself,” said he, with a look of
inimitable sagacity, “that bird is upon no good: spit over your right
shoulder three times, and say--

    “Clean birds by sevens,
      Unclean by twos,
    The dove in the heavens
      Is the one I choose!”

Among the myriads of sea and land birds that throng this coast, the
raven is king of the rock.[149] The headland and bulwark of the slope
of Holacombe is a precipice of perpendicular rock. There, undisturbed
(for no bribe would induce a villager to slay them, old or young), the
ravens dwell, revel, and reign. One day, as we watched them in their
flapping flight, said Uncle Tony to me, “Sometimes, sir, these wild
creatures will be so merciful that they will even save a man’s life.”
“Indeed! how?” “Why, sir, it came to pass on this wise. There was once
a noted old wrecker called Kinsman: he lived in my father’s time; and
when no wreck was onward, he would get his wages by raising stone in a
quarry by the sea-shore. Well, he was to work one day over yonder, half
way down Tower Cliff, and all at once he heard a buzz above him in the
air, and he looked up, and there were two old ravens flying round and
round very near his head. They kept whirling and whirling and coming
so nigh, and they seemed so knowing, that the old man thought verily
they were trying to speak, as they made a strange croak; but after
some time they went away, and old Kinsman went on with his work. Well,
sir, by-and-by they both came back again, flying above and round as
before; and then at last, lo and behold! the birds dropped right down
into the quarry two pieces of wreck-candle just at the old man’s feet.”
(Very often the wreckers pick up Neapolitan wax-candles from vessels in
the Mediterranean trade that have been lost in the Channel.) “So when
Kinsman saw the candles, he thought in his mind, ‘There is surely wreck
coming in upon the beach:’ so he packed his tools together and left
them just where he stood, and went his way wrecking. He could find no
jetsam, however, though he searched far and wide, and he used to say
he verily believed that the ravens must have had the candles at hand
in their holt, to be so ready with them as they were. Next day he went
back to quarry to his work, and he always used to say it was as true
as a proverb: there the tools were all buried deep out of sight, for
the craig above had given way and fallen down, and if he had tarried
only one hour longer he must have been crushed to death! So you see,
sir, what knowledge those ravens must have had; how well they knew
the old man, and how fond he was of wreck; how crafty they were to
hit upon the only plan that would ever have slocked him away: and the
birds, moreover, must have been kind creatures, and willing to save a
poor fellow’s life. There is nothing on airth so knowing as a bird is,
unless it may be a snake. Did you ever hear, sir, how I heal an adder’s
bite? You cut a piece of hazelwood, sir, and you fasten a long bit and
a short one together into the form of a cross; then you lay it softly
upon the wound, and you say, thrice, blowing out the words aloud like
one of the commandiments--

    “‘Underneath this hazelin mote
    There’s a Braggoty worm with a speckled throat,
      Nine double is he:
    Now from nine double to eight double,
    And from eight double to seven double,
    And from seven double to six double,
    And from six double to five double,
    And from five double to four double,
    And from four double to three double,
    And from three double to two double,
    And from two double to one double,
    And from one double to no double,
      No double hath he!’

“There, sir,” said uncle Tony, “if David had known that charm he never
would have wrote the verse in the Psalms about the adder that was so
deaf that she would not hear the voice of the charmer, charm he never
so wisely. I never knew that charm fail in all my life!” Tony added,
after a pause--“Fail! of course, sometimes a body may fail, but then
’tis always from people’s obstinacy and ignorance. I dare say, sir,
you’ve heard the story of Farmer Colly’s mare, how she bled herself to
death; and they say he puts the blame on me. But what’s the true case?
His man came rapping at my door after I was in bed. I got up and opened
the casement and looked out, and I asked what was amiss. ‘O Tony,’
says he, ‘master’s mare is blooding streams, and I be sent over to
you to beg you to stop it.’ ‘Very well,’ I said, ‘I can do it just as
well here as if I came down and opened the door: only just tell me the
name of the beast, and I’ll proceed.’ ‘Name,’ says he, ‘why, there’s
no name that I know by; we allus call her the black mare.’ ‘No name?’
says I; ‘then how ever can I charm her? Why, the name’s the principal
thing! Fools! never to give her a name to rule the charm by. Be off!
be off! I can’t save her.’ So the poor old thing died in course.” “And
what may your charm be, Tony?” said I. “Just one verse in Ezekiel, sir,
beginning, ‘I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live.’ And
so on. I say it only twice, with an outblow between each time. But the
finest by-word that I know, sir, is for the prick of a thorn.” And here
it follows from my diary in the antique phraseology which Uncle Tony
had received from his forefathers through descending generations:--

    “Happy man that Christ was born!
    He was crownèd with a thorn:
    He was piercèd through the skin,
    For to let the poison in;
    But His five wounds, so they say,
    Closed before He passed away.
    In with healing, out with thorn:
    Happy man that Christ was born!”

Another time Uncle Tony said to me, “Sir, there is one thing I want to
ask you, if I may be so free, and it is this, Why should a merry-maid”
(the local name for mermaid), “that will ride about upon the waters in
such terrible storms, and toss from sea to sea in such ruxles as there
be upon the coast--why should she never lose her looking-glass and
comb?” “Well, I suppose,” said I, “that if there are such creatures,
Tony, they must wear their looking-glasses and combs fastened on
somehow--like fins to a fish.”[150] “See!” said Tony, chuckling
with delight; “what a thing it is to know the Scriptures like your
reverence! I never should have found it out. But there’s another point,
sir, I should like to know, if you please; I’ve been bothered about
it in my mind hundreds of times. Here be I, that have gone up and
down Holacombe cliffs and streams fifty years come next Candlemas, and
I’ve gone and watched the water by moonlight and sunlight, days and
nights, on purpose, in rough weather and smooth (even Sundays, too,
saving your presence), and my sight as good as most men’s, and yet
I never could come to see a merry-maid in all my life! How’s that,
sir?” “Are you sure, Tony,” I rejoined, “that there are such things
in existence at all?” “Oh, sir, my old father seen her twice! He was
out once by night for wreck (my father watched the coast like most of
the old people formerly), and it came to pass that he was down by the
duck-pool on the sand at low-water tide, and all at once he heard music
in the sea. Well, he croped on behind a rock, like a coastguard-man
watching a boat, and got very near the noise. He couldn’t make out the
words, but the sound was exactly like Bill Martin’s voice, that singed
second counter in church. At last he got very near, and there was the
merry-maid very plain to be seen, swimming about upon the waves like a
woman bathing--and singing away. But my father said it was very sad and
solemn to hear--more like the tune of a funeral hymn than a Christmas
carol by far--but it was so sweet that it was as much as he could do
to hold back from plunging into the tide after her. And he an old man
of sixty-seven, with a wife and a houseful of children at home! The
second time was down here by Holacombe Pits. He had been looking out
for spars: there was a ship breaking up in the Channel, and he saw some
one on the move just at half-tide mark. So he went on very softly, step
and step, till he got nigh the place, and there was the merry-maid
sitting on a rock, the bootifullest merry-maid that eye could behold,
and she was twisting about her long hair, and dressing it just like one
of our girls getting ready for her sweetheart on the Sabbath-day. The
old man made sure he should greep hold of her before ever she found
him out, and he had got so near that a couple of paces more and he
would have caught her by the hair as sure as tithe or tax, when, lo and
behold! she looked back and glimpsed at him. So in one moment she dived
head-foremost off the rock, and then tumbled herself topsy-turvy about
in the waters, and cast a look at my poor father, and grinned like a


[138] Welcombe, to which Mr. Hawker became curate in 1850, and which he
continued to serve until his death. There is an allusion to Welcombe
church on p. 21.

[139] Hawker writes in one of his letters: “And now enough of myself.
Solitude makes men self-praisers, and a Bemööster Herr--as the Germans
call lonely readers--a mossy vicar likes to talk about his own

[140] Compare p. 196.

[141] A similar sacrilege occurs in Hawker’s poem, “A Legend of the

[142] See Appendix A_b_.

[143] An echo from Shakespeare--

          “... the toad, ugly and venomous,
    Wears yet a precious jewel in his head.”

[144] Compare p. 194.

[145] Horace, “Ars Poetica,” 185--

    “Ne pueros coram populo Medea trucidet.”

[146] _Charity_ is the full name.

[147] There is a chapter on charms in Hunt’s “Popular Romances of the
West of England.”

[148] Compare Hawker’s poem, “Modryb Marya”--

    “Now the holly with her drops of blood for me:
    For that is our dear Aunt Mary’s tree.”

[149] Compare the poem, “A Croon on Hennacliff.”

[150] Hawker was no doubt reminded of his own impersonation of a
mermaid at Bude. For many quaint legends about mermaids and mermen, see
Hunt’s “Popular Romances of the West of England.”


Among the changes that have passed over the face of our land with
such torrent-like rapidity in this wondrous nineteenth century of
marvel and miracle, none are more striking and complete than that
which has transformed the torpid clergy of past periods into the
active and energetic ministers of our own Church and time. The country
incumbent of Macaulay’s “History,” the guests at the second table of
the patron and the squire--the Trullibers and the Parson Adams of
Fielding and Smollett--would find no deuterotype in the present day.
But in the transition period of our ecclesiastical history there are
here and there fossil memorials of the former men that would enable a
thoughtful mind to construct singular specimens of character which,
while embodying the past, would also indicate the future lineaments of
gradual change and improvement. Among these is one, a personal friend
of the writer when he first entered the ministry, whose kindliness
of heart and originality of character may supply sundry graphic and
interesting reminiscences. As old Johnson would have said, had he
written his life, so let me say of Humphrey Vivian, that he was at once
the stately priest, the genial companion, and the faithful, facetious
friend. Let me indulge some of these recollections, and gather up some
materials of personal history, which are by no means wanting. For it
was his great delight, when a guest at my table, after he had done more
than justice to the viands set before him, when his gold snuff-box had
been produced and ceremoniously offered to all around, and his glass
filled with his favourite wine--“sound old Tory port”--to recall in
whole volumes the events of his youth and manhood, and to dilate with
emphatic gusto on the contrasts of the age and times.

The personal aspect of my friend presented an imposing solemnity to
the eye. Tall, even to the measure of six feet two inches, but slender
withal as the bole of a poplar-tree, with small features and twinkling
eye, and a round undersized head, and yet with a demeanour so pompous,
such a frequency of condescending bows, and such a roll of words, that
he took immediate rank as a gentleman of the old school. And as to his
mental endowments, be it enough to record that there were few men as
wise as he looked. His garb was that of a pluralized clergyman of the
days of the Georges,--fine black broadcloth, that hung around him in
festive moments like mourning on a Maypole. His vest was of rich silk
with wide pockets, roomy enough to hold the inevitable snuff-box, the
gold _étui_, and the small cock-fighter’s saw, which was used to cut
away the natural spur of the bird when it was replaced with steel. This
last was a common equipment of a country gentleman, lay or clerical, in
those days. His apparel terminated in black silk stockings and nether
garments, buckled with gold or silver at the knee. Buckles also clasped
his shoes. Thus attired, he was no unfit representative of the clergy
who ruled and reigned in their parochial domain in the west of England
in the early part of the eighteenth century. His conversational powers
were ample and amusing; but it was when he could be brought to dilate
on his own adventures and history in earlier life that he most surely
riveted and requited the attention of his auditors.

At my table one day the topic of discourse was the marriage of the
clergy. “The young curates,” said he, “should always marry, and that
as soon as ever they are ordained. Nothing brightens up a parsonage
like the ribbons of a merry wife. I, you know, have buried three Mrs.
Vivians; and when I come to look back, I really can hardly decide
which it was that made the happiest home. If I had to live my life
over again, I should certainly marry all three. And yet I did not win
my first love, after all. Her grumpy old father came between us and
blighted our days, as the Psalmist puts it. Ah! the very sound of her
name is like a charm to me still. Bridget Morrice! But ‘Biddy’ she was
always called at home; and very soon she was ‘Biddy dear’ to me.

“I was at Oxford then, and when I came down for the ‘Long’ I used to
be very duly at church, because there I could see Biddy. Her pew was
opposite to mine; and there was I in full rig as we used to dress in
those days,--long scarlet coat, silk waistcoat with a figured pattern,
and tights. One Sunday after prayers up comes old Morrice, roaring like
a bull. ‘Mr. Vivian,’ he growled, ‘I’ll trouble you to take your eyes
off my daughter’s face in church. I saw you, sir, when you pretended
to be bowing in the Creed. You were bowing to Biddy, my daughter, sir,
across the aisle; and that you call attending divine service, do you,
sir?’ However, in spite of the old dragon, we used to meet in the
garden, and there, in the arbour, what fruit Biddy used to give me!
Such peaches, plums, and sometimes cheesecakes and tarts? Talk of a
sweet tooth! I think that in those days I had a whole set; and now I
have but one left of any kind, and that is a stump. But Biddy treated
me very unkindly after all. There was a regiment of soldiers stationed
in the town, and of course lots of gay young officers fluttering about
in feathers and lace. Well, one day it was rumoured about that old
Morrice and his wife were going to give a spread, and these captain
fellows were to be there, head and chief. There were to be dinner and
a dance, and I of course thought that, somehow or other, Biddy would
manage with her mother to get me a card and a corner. I waited and
watched; but no--none came. So at last away I went to the house, angry
and fierce, and determined to have matters cleared up. Old Morrice,
luckily, was out, and his wife with him; but there was Biddy, up to
her elbows in jellies and jams, fussing and fuming like a maid to get
things nice and toothsome for cockering up those red rascals, that
I hated like grim death. ‘Well, Biddy,’ I said, ‘do you call this
pretty, to serve me so? Here you ask everybody to your feasts and your
junkets--yes, every one in the town but me!’ And what with the vexation
and the smell of the cookery, I actually burst out sobbing like a boy.
This made Biddy cry too, and there was a scene, sure enough. ‘It is
father’s fault, Henry, utterly and entirely: he is so mad against you
because he thinks you want me for the sake of my money.’ ‘Money, Biddy
dear!’ I said--‘money! Now I do think that if I bring blood your father
ought to bring groats!’

“Just then some one lifted the latch, and poor Biddy began to scream:
‘O Henry, dear! what shall I do? That’s father come back. He’ll surely
kill you or me, or do some rash deed. What can I do? Here, here,’ she
said, opening a kind of closet-door, ‘step in, that’s a dear, and
wait till I can get you out. Don’t cough or sneeze, but keep quiet
and still as a mouse till I come to call you.’ In I went, and Biddy
shut the door. Well, do you know, I found she had put me in a sort of
storeroom, where they kept the sweets; and on a long table there was
such a spread: raspberry-creams, ices, jellies, all kinds of flummery,
and in the middle a thing I never could resist--a fine sugary cake.
Didn’t I help myself! and when I began to think that all these niceties
were got up to fill up the waistcoats of those rollicking fellows that
had cut me out of my Biddy’s heart, it did make me half mad. However,
when I thought of that cake, I said to myself, ‘Not one crumb of that
lovely thing shall go down their horrid throats after all--see if it
does!’ We wore long wide pockets in those days, big enough to hold a
Christmas-pie. So in went the cake; and there was room besides for a
whole plate of macaroons. Presently Biddy was at the door, and in such
a way. ‘Make, haste, Henry, dear--quick; and do go straight home! I
would not have you meet father for the world!’ You may guess how I
scudded away through the streets with my skirts bulging out, and the
boys shouting after me, ‘There goes the Oxford scholar with his humps
slipped down!’

“Next time I met Biddy, it was coming out of church. She could hardly
tell whether to laugh or cry. ‘How could you, Henry, dear?’ she
said,--‘how could you carry off our beautiful cake?’ ‘How? Biddy,
dear,’ said I; ‘why, in my pocket, to be sure.’

“But the worst of all was that Biddy was cold to me from that very
time; and when I came home from college the next year I heard that she
was engaged to a Captain Upjohns, and she was married to him not long
after. So he had Biddy and I had the cake. But she was my first love;
and I do think, after all, notwithstanding the three Mrs. Vivians, she
was verily my last love also. People say that Queen Mary declared that
if she was opened after her death, Calais would be found graven on her
heart.[151] And I, too, say often, that if my dead bosom were examined,
it would be found that Biddy Morrice was carved on mine.[152]

“Well, well; time passed away--years upon years. I was ordained, and
served half-a-dozen curacies--three at once for some time; and then I
got, one after another, my two first livings. I was a widower. I had
lost the first--no, no, I am sorry to say the second Mrs. Vivian, when
one day I heard that Biddy Morrice was a rich widow. Old Upjohns, it
seems, had died and left her no end of money. And then the thought
occurred to me that we two might come together after all. ‘’Twould be
like a romance,’ I said. I found out that she was settled in great
style at Bath. So up I went and found, sure enough, she had a splendid
house. A fine formal old butler received me, and I sent up my name. I
was shown into a splendid drawing-room, with rich furniture, like a
bishop’s palace, all velvet and gold. I sat down, thinking over old
times, when Biddy used to come to meet me with her rosy cheeks and her
strawberry mouth, and a waist you might span with your hand. At last
the door opened, and in she came. But alack, alas! such a cat! oh dear,
oh dear! and with such a bow-window: it was surprising,--more like old
Mrs. Morrice than my Biddy. I was aghast. I never kissed her, as I
intended, but I stood staring like a gawky. I remember I offered her a
pinch of snuff, which she took. We had a talk, but it was all prisms
and prunes with Biddy. However, she invited me to dinner the next day,
and I went. Everything first-rate,--turbot and haunch, and so on,
all upon silver; fine old Madeira, and glorious port; and that sleek
fellow, the butler, ruling over all! There was a moderate dessert, and
on the middle dish there was such a cake! ‘I remember,’ said Biddy, but
without the shadow of a smile--‘I remember that you are fond of cake.’
Well, after the cloth was removed, I felt all the better for my dinner,
and it is at that time I always have most courage, particularly after
the third glass. As I looked on the sleek butler and his pompous ways,
I thought to myself, ‘I should like to dethrone that rule, and reign
myself over her cellar.’

“So I broached the subject of my wishes. ‘Don’t you think, Biddy dear,’
said I, ‘now that my second Mrs. V. has gone, and old Upjohns also out
of the way, that we two----?’ ‘O Henry, Henry,’ she broke in; ‘the old
Adam is still, I see, strong as ever in you. As sweet Mr. Cheekey says
at our Bethesda, “We are all criminally minded to our dying day.”’
Never believe me if Bridget had not turned Methodist, and all that. And
so, in short, she cut me dead. However, she sent me this snuff-box, and
I had her picture put under the lid. Sweet face, isn’t it? But then it
was taken thirty years before that dinner at Bath.”

But it was when the conversation turned upon curacies, and stipends,
and the usual topers among clerical guests, that our friend Humphrey’s
remembrances became of chief interest and value. “Oh, the changes
that I have lived to see!” was his favourite phrase. “I remember
so well when I was ordained deacon, and came down in my brand-new
bombasine bachelor’s gown, and a hood that made me look behind like
a two-year-old goat, and bands half a yard long, what a swell I used
to think myself to be! Talk of your one good curacy! why, when I
began to work I served four. Ay, and I had £10 apiece for them, and
thought myself in paradise. I remember there were three of us. John
Braddon--he had two curacies and the evening lecture; and Millerford we
thought very low down--he had two and no more. We all lived, sir, in
the town, and boarded and lodged together. £20 a year each we paid the
unfortunate fellow that took us in. Our first landlord was old Geake,
the grocer. He stood it twelve months, and then broke all to pieces,
and was made bankrupt by his creditors. He actually said in court that
we had eaten and drunk all his substance. Well, then, a man called Stag
undertook us. He was a market-gardener; and, do you know, after a time
he went too! He said it was not so much the meat we consumed, but he
had no more vegetables to sell. So we cut him. At last an old fellow
named Brewer came forward, and said he would try his luck with us. He
stood it pretty well, but then his wife had private property of her
own; but she used to say it all went under the waistcoats of the young
clergy. She had no family; but she said she would rather have had six
children of her own than keep us three. But, no doubt, she exaggerated.
Women will do so sometimes.”

“Did you live well, Mr. Vivian?” we interposed.

“Like fighting-cocks, sir. We insisted on good breakfasts, plain joints
and plenty for dinner, and nice hot suppers. We didn’t care much about
tea--nobody did in those days. But then, behind the parlour door there
was always a keg of brandy on tap, and we had a right to go with our
little tin cups and draw the spigot twice a day.”

“No doubt, Mr. Vivian, you worked hard in those days?”

“Didn’t we? To be sure it was only on Sundays, but it was enough for
all the week. We used to start in the morning and travel on foot to
all the points of the compass, every man of us with his umbrella. My
first service was at nine o’clock in the morning, prayers and sermon.
Then on to Tregare at half-past eleven, West Lariston at two o’clock,
and Kimovick at four, and home in the evening, pretty well done up.
Braddon and Millerford just the same tramp. But then, how we did enjoy
our roast goose, sirloin, or leg of mutton afterwards! We bargained
expressly for a hot dinner on Sundays, and we had it too. Then what
fun afterwards! Every man had something to tell about his parish. I
remember Millerford had to call and see an old woman, a reputed witch.
He was to examine her mouth, and see if the roof had the five black
marks[153] that stamped an old woman as a witch. He wished to save her,
and he declared that she had but four, and one of them doubtful. One
day Braddon had christened a man-child, as he thought, Thomas; but the
next week the father came in great perplexity. ‘’Twas the mistake of
the nurse. ’Tis a girl. How shall us do? Us can never call a maid Tom.
You must christen her over again, sir.’ As this could not be, we had
to put our heads together, and at last we advised Braddon to alter the
name to Thomasine (pronounced Tamzine), and so he just saved her sex.

“One day I had a good story of my own to relate about a pinch of snuff.
It was always the custom in those days for the clergyman after the
marriage to salute the bride first, before any other person. Well,
it was so that I had just married a very buxom, rosy young lady, and
when it was over I proceeded to observe the usual ceremony. But I had
just before taken an enormous finger-and-thumb-ful of snuff; so no
sooner had the bride received my kiss--and I gave her a smart kiss
for her good looks--than she began to sneeze. The bridegroom kissed
her, of course, and he began also. Then the best man advanced to
the privilege. Better he hadn’t, for he began to sneeze awfully; and
by-and-by the bridesmaids also, for they were all kissed in turn, till
the whole party went sneezing down the aisle, and the last thing I
heard outside the church door was _’tchu, ’tchu, ’tchu_, till the noise
was drowned by the bells from the tower.”

“But I suppose, Mr. Vivian, you did not remain long a curate; you must
have received some of your several livings at an early period of life?”

“So I did, sir, sure enough. My text on such subjects was, ‘_Ask not,
and you shall never receive_.’ First of all, I had the vicarage of
Percombe, up towards the moors. This came from a private friend. Next,
the Duchy gave me the rectory of South Wingley. I had trouble enough
to get it. I went up to London, and besieged the Council two or three
times a day. People said they gave me the living to get rid of me
from town. But it wasn’t so. Next I had Trelegh from the second Mrs.
Vivian’s uncle. Yes, yes, preferment enough for one man. By-the-by, did
you ever hear how near I was once to the lawn-sleeves and the bench?
That was a close shave! I was staying in Bath, at the York House, and
there I always dined in the coffee-room. Well, one day a gentleman came
in and ordered dinner in the next box to mine--a sole and a chop. I
observed a bottle of Madeira wine; and from his nicety and parlour
ways, I judged him to be some big-wig, and very rich. I saw he looked
about for a news _Gazette_, so I offered him mine, and exchanged a
few words by way of getting known to him. He offered me a glass of
wine, and of course I took it, and sat down to converse. We grew very
friendly, and by-and-by it turned out that his name was Vivian, and
spelt exactly like mine. It was growing late, and he took leave, but,
to my surprise, invited me to dine with him the next day at Lansdowne
Crescent. I was only too glad to go. It was a noble house, with a troop
of servants and superb furniture, and, what was most to the purpose,
a glorious feed. After dinner, at dessert-time, while we were talking
over our wine, I saw, over the mantelpiece, a fine picture of Perceval,
the Prime Minister at that time.[154] So I ventured to ask, ‘Is Mr.
Perceval, sir, a relative of your family?’ ‘No, sir, no,’ he said. ‘I
have his picture because I like his politics, and respect him as a
Minister and as a man. I have been introduced to him, however, and I
can claim some personal acquaintance with him. ‘Have you, my friend?’
thought I. ‘Then, take my word for it, I will make use of you as a
stepping-stone in life.’ So, when it was nearly time to wish him good
night, I said, ‘I have a favour to ask you, sir. I am going to town in
a day or two, and I shall be deeply obliged if you will write a letter
to Mr. Perceval, merely telling him that the bearer is a friend of
yours, a clergyman in quest of some preferment, and that as he is the
patron of so many good things in the Church, you will be much obliged
to him if he will bestow something valuable on your friend.’ He looked
rather glum at this, and twirled his fingers a bit, and at length said,
‘Why, no, Mr. Vivian, I can’t go so far as that. Consider, I have known
you only a few hours, and have never heard you officiate--although, no
doubt, you are well qualified to hold preferment in the Church. But
I’ll tell you what I will do. I have a friend, the rector of the parish
where Mr. Perceval lives, and I know he always attends his church. I
will give you a letter to him, and he may suggest some opportunity
of promoting your plan.’ Of course I jumped at this, took my letter,
and was off by the mail the very next day. The first man I called on
was, of course, the clergyman. It was on a Saturday, and by good luck
he had been taken ill. I was shown in where he lay on a sofa, looking
quite ghastly. ‘Have you got a sermon with you, Mr. Vivian?’ said
he; ‘anything will do.’ I always took with me, wherever I went, some
half-dozen, and I said so. ‘Because, as you see, I cannot go to church
to-morrow, and a friend who was to have taken my duty has disappointed
me. I shall be indeed thankful if you will undertake the work.’ This
was the very thing; and accordingly I was in the vestry-hall the next
morning, an hour before time, rigged out in full canonicals, hired
for the day--silk and sarcenet--and my hair well frizzed, as you may
suppose. Just before service I said to the clerk, ‘I am told that
Mr. Perceval attends your church; can you point out to me his pew?’
‘That I can, sir,’ said he, ‘in a moment. There it is in full front
of the desk and pulpit, the third pew down, with the brass rods and
silk curtains.’ Well, the service began; but the said pew was empty
till the end of the Belief, when, lo and behold! in came the beadle,
marching with great pomp, and after him Mr. Perceval and some friends.
You may guess after that what eyes and ears I had for the rest of the
congregation. There was the Prime Minister; I see him now, in his
purple coat and cuffs, silk waistcoat--fine as Sisera’s--and with a
wig that looked like wisdom itself. He was very attentive. I watched
him, and saw how careful he was to keep time with all the service. At
length came the last psalm, and up I went. The pulpit fitted me as if
it had been made for me; and the cushion, I remember, was all velvet
and gold. My text was, ‘Where is the wise man? where is the scribe?
where is the disputer?’ etc. I saw that Mr. Perceval never took his
eyes off my face all through the discourse. It was one of my very best
sermons. I saw that he was delighted with it; and when I came to the
end, I observed that he turned round and looked up at me, and whispered
something to a gentleman who was with him, and then they both looked
up at me and smiled. Said I to myself, ‘Humphrey, the golden ball is
cast; thy fortune is made, as sure as rates and taxes. Look out for
a bishopric, and that soon!’ I never was so happy in all my life. I
dined that night at the Mitre in Fleet Street, on a rump-steak; and
I often caught myself smiling and slapping my thigh and muttering. I
saw the waiter stare when I said to myself, but in an audible voice,
‘Done for a guinea! Make way for my lord!’ Next day I went into the
City to meet ----, who was in town on business. After he had settled
what he came to do, he walked some way home with me. Well, sir, when
we came to the Strand there was a dreadful uproar, people talking very
low and seriously. At length a gentleman said to my companion, ‘Have
you heard the dreadful news? A rascal called Bellingham[155] has shot
Mr. Perceval dead in the lobby of the House of Commons!’ It was like
a deathblow to me. Poor fellow! It cut me through like a knife. I was
indeed a crushed man, clean dissolved, as the psalm says. And from
that very hour I have been convinced and persuaded--ay, I do believe
it like the Creed--that the very same ball that shot poor Perceval cut
away a mitre from my head as clean as a whistle. Yes, I have never
swerved from that belief all these years; and up to this day, when I
say my prayers, as I do after I am in bed, I always begin with the
Confirmation from ‘Defend, etc., this Thy servant.’”


[151] Compare Browning’s lines--

    “Italy, my Italy!
    Queen Mary’s saying serves for me--
      (When fortune’s malice
      Lost her--Calais)--
      Open my heart and you will see
      Graved inside of it, ‘Italy.’”

[152] The same conceit, humorously applied, occurs in Calverley--

    “And the lean and hungry raven,
      As he picks my bones, will start
    To observe ‘M.N.’ engraven
      Neatly on my blighted heart.”

[153] See pp. 196, 202.

[154] Perceval was Prime Minister from 1809 to 1812, in the time of the
Regency and the Peninsular War.

[155] The “Dictionary of National Biography” gives the following
account of this event: “There was a certain bankrupt named John
Bellingham, a man of disordered brain, who had a grievance against the
Government originating in the refusal of the English Ambassador at St.
Petersburg to interfere with the regular process of Russian law under
which he had been arrested. He had applied to Perceval for redress,
and the inevitable refusal inflamed his crazy resentment. On Monday,
May 11 (1812), the House of Commons went into Committee on the orders
in Council, and began to examine witnesses. Brougham complained of
Perceval’s absence, and he was sent for. As he passed through the lobby
to reach the house, Bellingham placed a pistol to his breast and fired.
Perceval was dead before a doctor could be found.... Bellingham was
tried at the Old Bailey on May 15, and the plea of insanity being set
aside by the court, he was hanged on May 18.”



    “Mount and follow! stout and cripple!
      Horse and hattock, ‘but and ben;’[157]
    Horses for the Pixie people,
      Hattock for the Brownie men.”

    R. S. HAWKER.

People may talk if they please about the march of agriculture, and they
may boast that by the discoveries of science a man will soon be able to
carry into a large field enough manure for its soil in his coat-pocket,
but there has been the ready answer, “Yes, and bring away the produce
in his fob.” I am half inclined to agree with an old parishioner of
mine, who used often to say, “It was an unlucky time for England when
the phrase ‘gentleman farmer’ came up, and folks began to try their
new-fangled plans--such as clover for horses and turnips for sheep.”
“Rents,” he declared, “were never lower than when a tenant would pare
and burn,[158] and take their crops out of every field, so as to carry
off the land as much as he brought on it”--a theory on which, being
a renter himself, he had thriven, and put by money for full fifty
years. Equally original, by the way, were the devices cherished by
my aged friend for the repair of roads. When Macadam had driven his
first turnpike through the West, a public dinner was given in honour
of the event; and being presented with a free ticket, and well coaxed
into the bargain, Old Trevarten made his appearance as a guest. But it
was observed that, amid all the jingling of glasses and cheering of
toasts, he sat motionless and mute, if not actually sulky. At length
the engineer, somewhat piqued at his silence, said, during a pause,
“Why, sir, I am afraid that I have not had the honour of gaining your
approval in this undertaking of mine.”

“To tell you the truth, sir,” was the slow and sturdy answer, “I don’t
like your road at all, by no means.”

“Well, but what are your reasons, sir, for disliking what most people
are pleased with?”

“Why, sir, you have had a brave lot of money out of the country, and
there’s nothing as I see to show for it--’tis all gone!”

“Gone, sir, gone! Why, bless me, isn’t there the road--the fine, wide,
level road?”

“Well, yes, sartainly; but where’s they matereyals that cost such a
sight of taxes? You’ve smashed mun to nort: there’s pilm [dust] in the
drought, and there’s mucks [mud] in the rain, but nowt else that I
see. Now, when I wor way-warden of Wide Widger, I let the farmers have
something to show for their money. Why, sir, ’tis ten year agone come
Candlemas that I wor in office for the ways, and I put down stones as
big as beehives, and there they be now!”

Access to such a living volume of bygone usages and notions was an
advantage not to be despised, and it was long my custom to resort to
“mine ancient” for information difficult to be obtained elsewhere. Once
“I do remember me” that I encountered him in the middle of a reedy
marsh on his farm. He paused, and awaited my approach, leaning on his
staff just where the path crossed a bed of the cotton-rush, then in
full bloom. I had gathered a handful of the stalks, each with its pod
of fine white gossamer threads, like a bunch of snowy silk.

“Ha!” said he, with a kind of half alarm, “you bean’t afeared to pick
that there?”

“Afraid? No; why should I be?”

“Why, some people think it’s unlucky to carry off the pisky wool; but
perhaps you know from the Scriptures how to keep off any harm.”

I did know better than to reason against such fancies with a Cornish
yeoman of threescore and fifteen, and I thought it a good opening for a
saw or ancient instance.[159] “Pixies!” was my leading answer; “and who
are they?”

“Ancient inhabitants,” was the grave reply--“folks that used to live in
the land before us Christians comed here. So, at least, I’ve heerd my
mother say. They are a small people.”

“And what about this wool? What use do they make of it.”

“Why, they spin it for clothing, and to keep ’em warm by night. They’d
do a power of work for the farmers, and for a very small matter to eat
and drink, too; and they would sing, evenings--sing and crowdie like a
Christmas choir.”

The solemn tones of his voice, and the grim gravity of visage with
which old Trevarten made known these mysteries, attested his own deep
belief in their reality and truth. “Had I never seen those rings on the
grass upon Hennacleave Hill--circles about a foot wide, of a darker
colour than the rest of the turf?” he inquired, well knowing that I
had, but rather rejoicing in an opportunity of enlightening me with
scientific revelations of his own. “Did I know how they came there, and
who made them?”


“Well, that was surprising: he thought that the college teached
such things, or why did it cost so much money to go there to learn?
Howsomever, _he_ would let me know about they rings. The piskies made
mun, dancing hand-in-hand by night. They rise about midnight, and they
put on their Sunday clothes, and they agree to meet in such or such a
spot, and there one will crowdie and the others daunce, and beat out
the time with their feet, till they’ve worn the shape of a round-about
in the grass, and nort will wear out that ring for evermore!”

Deeply grateful for this information, I ventured to inquire, “And did
you ever see any of these pixy people yourself?”

“Why, I can’t say for sartain that I didno seed mun; my mother hath--so
I’ve yeerd her tell divers times. No; but I’ve seed their works, such
as tying up the manes of the colts in stirrups for riding by night, and
terrifying the cows into the clover till they wor jist a bosted with
the wet grass. And I’ve been pisky-eyed more than once coming home from
the market or fair; and I’ve yeerd mun at their rollicking night-times
frayquently, but I can’t say that I ever seed their faytures, so as to
know ’em again another time.”

“Well,” said I, as a sort of closing and clenching remark, “all I can
say is that I wish I could lay hold of one of these pixies, just to
look at--that’s all.”

“Do you?” was his quick rejoinder; “do you really desire it? I daresay
I can oblige you one day. It is not a month agone that I’d all but
catched one.”

“Indeed!” said I, half bewildered. “How? Where was it?”

“Why, sir, you see the case was this. I’d a bin to Simon Jude fair,
and I stayed rather latish settling with the jobber Brown for some
sheep, and so it wor past twelve o’clock at night before I come through
Stowe wood; and just as I crossed Combe Water, sure enough I yeerd the
piskies. I know’d very well where their ring was close by the gate,
and so I stopped my horse and got off. Well, on I croped afoot till
there was nothing but a gap between me and the pisky ring, and I could
hear every word they said. One had got the crowder, and he was working
away his elbow to the tune of ‘Green Slieves’ bravely, and the rest
wor dauncing and singing and merrymaking like a stage-play. It made
me just ’mazed in my head to look at ’em. Well, I thort to myself, if
I could but catch one of these chaps to carry home! I’ve yeerd that
there’s nothing so lucky in a house as a tame pisky. So I stooped down
and I picked up a stone, oh, as big as my two fistes, and I swinged my
arm and I scrashed the stone right into the ring. What a screech there
was! Such a yell! and one in pertickler I yeerd screaming and hopping
with a leg a-brok like a drashel. That one I was pretty sure of. But
still, as it was very late, and my wife would be looking for me home,
and it was dark also, so I thout I might as well come down and fetch my
pisky in the morning by daylight. Well, sure enough, soon as I rose, I
took one of these baskets with a cover that the women have invented--a
ridicule, they call it--and down I goes to the ring. And do you know,
sir, they’d a be so cunning--they’d a had the art for to carry their
comrade clear off, and there wasn’t so much as a screed of one left!
But, however,” said my venerable friend, seeing that I did not look
quite satisfied with the evidence, “however, there the stone was that I
drashed in amongst mun!”

Alas! alas! how often in after-days, when I have encountered the
theories of men learned in the ’ologies, and pondered the prodigious
inferences which they had deduced from a stratum here and a deposit
there,--how irresistibly have my thoughts recurred to old Trevarten and
his amount of proof, “There the stone was that I drashed in amongst


[156] Robert Hunt has a delightful chapter on “The Elfin Creed of
Cornwall,” in his “Popular Romances of the West of England.”

[157] Compare “The Doom-Well of St. Madron”--

    “‘Now horse and hattock, both but and ben,’
    Was the cry at Lauds, with Dundagel men,
    And forth they pricked upon Routorr side,
    As goodly a raid as a king could ride.”

[158] A reference to a custom, still followed to some extent in Devon
and Cornwall, of paring the turf of grass-fields and burning the sods.
It is called “bait-burning,” or “burning bait.”

[159] “Full of wise saws and modern instances.”--_As You Like It._






The “endowment” referred to by Mr. Hawker is a copy of the original
document, which was executed on May 20th, 1296, by Bishop Thomas de
Bytton. The church was appropriated by his predecessor, Bishop Peter
Quivil, to the Hospital of St. John the Baptist at Bridgwater, on
November 16th, 1290. Bishop Bytton’s Register having been lost, the
“endowment” was copied by William Germyne, Registrar to John Woolton,
Bishop from 1579 to 1593-94, on a blank page of the Register of
Thomas de Brantyngham, Bishop from 1370 to 1394. The name “Walter
Brentingham” is probably due to some confusion between this Thomas
de Brantyngham and Bishop Walter de Stapeldon, for there was no
Bishop of Exeter having the first name. Germyne’s copy is printed in
full in the Register of Bishop Brantyngham, edited by the Rev. F. C.
Hingeston-Randolph (Part I. p. 106), and is here reproduced.

    “Universis presentes Literas inspecturis Thomas, permissione
    Divina Exoniensis Episcopus, salutem et pacem in Domino
    sempiternam.--Noverit Universitas vestra quod, cum olim bone
    memorie Petrus, tunc Exoniensis Episcopus, Ecclesiam de
    Morewinstowe, cum juribus suis et pertinenciis, Religiosis viris,
    Magistro et Fratribus Hospitalis Sancti Johannis de Bridgwater,
    Bathoniensis Diocesis, de consensu Capituli sui appropriasset,
    et concessisset eisdem in usus proprios imperpetuum possidendam,
    salva competenti Vicaria, per ipsum et Successores suos taxanda
    et ordinanda juxta juris exigenciam in eadem; nos, eidem
    postmodum succedentes in onere et honore, cum res integra adhuc
    existeret, pensatis ejusdem Ecclesie facultatibus, habita super
    hoc cognicione debita que requiritur in hac parte, de expresso
    consensu dictorum Magistri et Fratrum, ipsam Vicariam, quod in
    subscriptis porcionibus consistat imperpetuum, tenore Presentium
    ordinamus; videlicet, quod Vicarius qui pro tempore in Ecclesia
    supradicta fuerit habeat et percipiat, nomine Vicarie, omnes
    fructus, proventus, et obvenciones totius alterlagii Ecclesie
    supradicte; sub quo, preter ceteros proventus, decimam feni totius
    Parochie, simul cum tota decima molendinorum ejusdem Parochie,
    volumus comprehendi; cum Sanctuario jacente a parte Occidentali
    curie et croftarum Parsonatus Ecclesie supradicte, sursum a veteri
    via que ducit usque ad mare et usque ad deorsum ad rivulum in
    valle, cum duabus croftis subter Ecclesiam a parte Boreali, et
    cetera terra ibidem usque ad quendam fontem Johannis, quatuor
    acras terre continente et ultra; cum tota decima garbarum ville de
    Stanburie et trium villarum de Tunnacombis; volentes et ordinantes
    quod dicta Religiosi omnes Libros et Ornamenta dicte Ecclesie,
    si que deficiunt, vel usu seu vetustate consumpta fuerint, que,
    tamen, ad ipsos parochianos non pertinent, suis sumptibus de novo
    invenient; alia, vero, si per reparacionem fuerint per tempus
    non breve duratura, in statum congruum et sufficientem reparent
    et reficiant hac vice prima; quodque extunc custodia eorundem
    et reparacio pro tempore successuro, una cum omnibus oneribus
    ordinariis integraliter, et extraordinariis pro quarta parte
    dumtaxat, ad Vicarium qui pro tempore fuerit pertineant; residua
    parte dictorum onerum extraordinariorum, una cum sustentatione,
    reparatione, et reedificatione Cancelli ipsius Ecclesie dictis
    Religiosis totaliter incumbente.--In cujus rei testimonium nos,
    Thomas, Exoniensis Episcopus supradictus, sigillum nostrum, et nos,
    prefati Magister et Fratres sigillum nostrum commune Presentibus
    duximus apponendum.--Data apud Chidleghe, xiij^o Calendas Junii
    [May 20th], Anno Domini Millesimo ducentesimo nonagesimo sexto.

  “Hec Taxatio vere est Registrata,

The Editor points out, in an interesting note, that the certified copy
of this, which was used by Mr. Hawker, has “Tidnacombis” instead of
“Tunnacombis.” In the Register itself the letter “u” is turned up at
the end, the usual contracted form of “un,” but the writing is obscure;
and, although experts would read it correctly without hesitation, it
might easily, in this case, be mistaken for “id” by others. One of Mr.
Hawker’s most beautiful poems is entitled “The Token Stream of Tidna
Combe.” It is interesting to note that Stanbury was the birthplace of
John Stanbury, Bishop of Hereford, who died 1474. He was confessor
to Henry VI., and was nominated the first Provost of Eton College,
although he never took up the office.

The following curious tradition relating to the extremely rude font is
quoted by Lieut.-Colonel Harding in a paper on Morwenstow Church in the
“Transactions of the Exeter Diocesan Architectural Society” (Second
Series, vol. i. p. 216). It has been preserved among some valuable MSS.
which belong to the Coffin family of Portledge, near Bideford, and were
collected by an antiquary of that family about three hundred years ago.

    “Moorwinstow, its name is from St. Moorin. The tradition is, that
    when the parishioners were about to build their church, this saint
    went down under the cliff and chose a stone for the font which she
    brought up upon her head. In her way, being weary, she lay down the
    stone and rested herself, out of which place sprang a well, from
    thence called St. Moorin’s well. Then she took it up and carried
    it to the place where now the church standeth. The parishioners
    had begun their church in another place, and there did convey this
    stone, but what was built by day was pulled down by night, and the
    materials carried to this place; whereupon they forbare, and built
    it in the place they were directed to by a wonder.”

The date on one of the capitals seems to be 1564 instead of 1475. The
inscription runs round the capital, each of the twenty letters being on
a separate face, thus--


The next capital has the following inscription, _upside down_--


The supposed piscina, according to the Rev. S. Baring-Gould, is merely
“the base of a small pillar, Norman in style, with a hole in it for
a rivet which attached to it the slender column it supported” (“The
Vicar of Morwenstow,” ed. 1899, p. 60). It has also been stated that
Mr. Hawker obtained the piscina from the ruined chapel at Longfurlong,
Hartland, and placed it in his church at Morwenstow (Rev. T. H. Chope,
“Hartland Parish,” 1896, p. 17).[160]


[160] Hawker’s account (on p. 11) of the discovery of the piscina in
the chancel wall at Morwenstow is, however, very circumstantial. If
“the jumbled carved work and a crushed drain,” which, he says came to
light when the mortar was removed, proceeded from his imagination, it
is a touch of genius in fabrication. In a letter to Mr. Richard Twining
dated October 25th, 1855, Hawker writes: “Will you have the kindness
to present the inclosed drawing to Miss L. Twining in my name and with
my best regards. It is of a piscina discovered by me in the south wall
of my chancel, where it has been hidden by mortar full 300 years, and
existed there before that date full 500 years more.”

The whole passage from Mr. Baring-Gould is as follows: “The ancient
piscina in the wall is of early English date. Mr. Hawker discovered
under the pavement in the church, when reseating it, the base of a
small pillar, Norman in style, with a hole in it for a rivet which
attached to it the slender column it supported. This he supposed was
a piscina drain, and accordingly set it up in the recess beside his
altar.” Mr. Baring-Gould evidently uses the word “piscina” as meaning
the whole “recess” beside the altar. Mr. Chope appears to use it for
the pillared structure within the recess. Hawker’s own words seem to
show that he found the whole piscina, _i.e._ the recess with the drain
inside it, “in the chancel wall.” He says nothing of any discovery
“under the pavement,” and Mr. Baring-Gould does not give his authority
for this statement.

At any rate, if the piscina, or piscina drain, or pillar-base,
whichever it be, was abstracted from the ruined chapel at Longfurlong,
it presumably was not discovered under the pavement of Morwenstow
Church, unless by another stroke of genius.

It may be of interest to add that, on thrusting a piece of grass
down the hole which Hawker took for a piscina drain, and which Mr.
Baring-Gould says is a rivet-hole, I found that it went right through
to the floor of the recess, a depth of about 13 inches. It is quite
possible, therefore, that, if connected with another hole through the
wall, it might at one time have served the purpose of a drain.--EDITOR.

APPENDIX A_a_ (p. 9 and foll.)



One of the most beautiful of Mr. Hawker’s poems commences with the
words “My Saxon shrine.” It becomes of interest, therefore, to examine
as far as possible into the dates which attach to the different periods
of architecture of the truly venerable church of Morwenstow.

It is very likely that Mr. Hawker is correct when he speaks of the
first church here dedicated to God’s service as being of Saxon times,
but it is equally true that, with the exception of perhaps the font,
no trace of that early building remains. The earliest portion of the
present building consists of the south porch and the three Norman
arches which form the western portion of the north arcade. There is a
difference in the elaboration of the work of these three arches, but
it is scarcely likely that they could have been erected at different
times. It is more probable that they are intended to show the varied
methods of dealing with the semi-circular arch at that early period. It
is of perhaps more interest to decide whether the pattern of the Norman
arch bisected, which occurs on the easternmost of the Norman pillars,
was placed there at the time of the Norman church or at the time of the
construction of the two Gothic arches on the same side. If the former
supposition be correct, it will signify, of course, that the whole
structure was made at the close of the purely Norman period; if the
latter, it would be intended to explain the reason why the architecture
of that period passed so strangely from the round to the pointed arch.

Before passing on to speak of the second date of architecture, which
was certainly of the pure Gothic or early English character, it may be
interesting to speak of the size and shape of the church as it stood in
the early Norman times. Taking everything into consideration, it would
seem likely that the Norman church consisted of a nave, north aisle,
and chancel. The Norman porch consequently stood twelve or fourteen
feet further in than at present, the boundary of this church being
clearly marked by the foundation plainly visible outside the north wall.

We pass on to consider the next step in the work of enlargement, which
consisted in the extension of the north aisle and the erection of two
fine, though somewhat rudely constructed, arches with circular pillars.
By this means the chancel became absorbed in the new portion of the
aisle, and consequently the present chancel was erected further on to
the eastward.

The next step consisted in the erection of the three bays of very
beautiful polyphant stone on the south side exactly co-extensive
with the three Norman arches, so that a line drawn from the
foundation-stones of the Norman church southwards through the church
would mark the boundary of the polyphant extension also. It is
difficult to assign a date to this very beautiful addition, but we must
suppose that the present wall-plate, with its richly and boldly carved
foliage, dated from this period. There would seem to be good ground for
this argument, inasmuch as the last addition to the church in 1564,
when the two granite arches were erected on the south-eastern side of
the church, had a piece of wall-plate specially carved for that new
portion. It is quite certain that the whole roof of the church was put
up in 1564 at the time of the erection of the granite arches, and I
have no doubt that this roof was placed upon the older and magnificent
wall-plate, since much injured by the leaks which a defective roof
has caused in so many places. It is worth noting that, although the
polyphant arches were erected prior to the granite ones, yet they were
taken down and the whole arcade entirely rebuilt at the same time. This
I consider proved by the fact that the relieving arches are so very
similar in character. The effect, meanwhile, on the wall-plate on the
south side of the nave was not good, the exactly perpendicular line of
the pillars and arches not catching it on every point, and thus giving
it a somewhat ragged appearance which it will require care to rectify.

A word here on the height of the building. It is probable that the
present height was attained when the early English arches were erected.
Before that time the church was evidently lower. This, again, may be
proved by the additional stonework which was added above the Norman
arches, and which must have been so added at the next additional work,
as the two lofty arches (especially that at the east) would really
require it.

A very interesting question remains, as to whether the portion of
ground now spanned by the granite arches was formerly disused, or
whether it formed a Baptistery or other building in connection with the
church, such as priests’ chambers, etc. That it was separated off from
the portion of the church at the west end of the south aisle is evident
by the discovery of a portion of the wall which so separated it,
running southwards from the westernmost of the granite pillars. I may
add that in the same way traces of the Norman chancel further to the
west than the present chancel were found when the workmen were engaged
in the work of restoration.

There only remains to notice the last period of restoration, the
first time in which, as far as we can judge, granite was introduced
into the building. The date may be found on the westernmost of the
two pillars--MDLX4: on the other the words, “This is the House of the
Lord.” It is noticeable that the half polyphant pillar, which had at
one time formed the boundary of the arcade towards the east, was then
carried forwards and placed against the wall of the chancel. It thus
seems to mark, not only that the arcade was designed at different
periods, but that it was ultimately (the former portion being taken
down) all built together.

It was at this time (c. 1564) that the whole fabric of the church
(possibly not the chancel) was built [it may be clearly seen where
the new work stands on the old early English foundations on the north
side], the only remaining portion untaken down being the Norman and
early English pillars, and a portion of the wall by the south porch,
and (as before observed) possibly the chancel.

The tower was, we may consider, built at the same time as the church,
in 1564.

The seats, with their magnificent carving, followed in 1575, as is
testified by an inscription[161] on the rail of the front seat touching
the pulpit. This will, however, be removed in due course, the position
of these few seats being contrary to the original plan. I should think
that this rail and the seats also were formerly fixed where the font at
present stands at the end of the church.

As we stand within the walls and beneath the bending roofs of this
magnificent building, our mind naturally inquires what teaching its
designs serve to afford us--the cable on its font, the dog-tooth
pattern on its Norman arches. Is it really true that, following out
the established teaching of the nave, whereby the ship with inverted
side was depicted to us--is it really true that, following out this
idea, the cable implied the anchor by which every soul baptized into
Christ was bound _to_ Christ? Does the pattern, with its many points
(“dog-tooth,” as it is generally spoken of), really signify the ripple
on the Lake of Gennesaret? Do the three steps by which we enter allude
in very deed to the Baptism of John, the saint of dedication? It would
certainly seem probable that, having acknowledged the church to be the
nave or ship, we should not find that the imagery would end here, but
that it would pass into other matters which the mediæval times knew
so well how to formulate. If so, we have a rich vein of thought to be
wrought out from this ancient sanctuary of the West, all untouched as
it is by ruthless and destructive hands. Solemn be the thoughts of all
who enter here! Lowly and humble the hearts that here bend at the feet
of their great Liberator and Saviour! In the words of one who will long
be remembered in the parish which he loved so well, Robert Stephen

    “Pace we the ground! our footsteps tread
      A cross--the builder’s holiest form:
    That awful couch, where once was shed
      The blood, with man’s forgiveness warm.
    And here, just where His mighty breast
      Throbb’d the last agony away,
    They bade the voice of worship rest,
      And white-robed Levites pause and pray.”


[161] The inscription runs as follows: “THIS · WAS · MADE · IN · THE ·
YERE · OF · OURE · LORDE · GOD · 1575.” The pew bearing it now stands
(1903) at the east end of the north aisle, facing south.--EDITOR.

APPENDIX A_b_ (pp. 16, 20, 203)


Hunt, in his “Popular Romances of the West of England,” quotes
the following translation by the Rev. J. C. Atkinson from Hylten
Cuvalliec’s “Wärend och Wirdurne,” pp. 287-88. It agrees with many of
Hawker’s ideas.

    “Inasmuch as all light and all vigour springs from the sun, our
    Swedish forefathers always made their prayers with their faces
    turned towards that luminary. When any spell or charm in connection
    with an ‘earth-fast stone’ is practised, even in the present day,
    for the removal of sickness, the patient invariably turns his face
    towards the east, or the sun. When a child is to be carried to
    church to be baptized, the Wärend usage is for the godmother first
    to make her morning prayer, face towards the east, and then ask the
    parents three several times what the child’s name is to be. The
    dead are invariably interred with their feet lying eastward, so as
    to have their faces turned towards the rising sun. _Frånsols_, or
    with or in a northerly direction, is, on the other hand, according
    to an ancient popular idea, _the home of the evil spirits. The
    Old Northern Hell was placed far away in the North._ When any
    one desires to remove or break any witch-spell, or the like,
    by means of ‘reading’ (or charms), it is a matter particularly
    observed that the stone (_i.e._ an ‘earth-fast’ one) is sought
    to the northward of the house. In like manner also the ‘bearing
    tree’ (any tree which produces fruit, or quasi fruit, apples,
    pears, &c., _rowan tree_, especially, and white thorn herbs), or
    the shrew mouse, by means of which it is hoped to remedy an evil
    spell, must be met with in a northerly direction from the patient’s
    home. Nay, if one wants to charm away sickness over (or into) a
    running stream, it must always be one which runs northwards. On
    the self-same grounds it has ever been the practice of the people
    of the Wärend district, even down to the present time, not to
    bring their dead _frånsols_--or to the northward--of the church.
    In that part of the churchyard the contemned _främlings högen_
    (strangers’ burial-place) always has its site, and in it are buried
    malefactors, friendless wretches, and utter strangers. A very old
    idea, in like manner, connects the north side of the church with
    suicides’ graves,” etc.

APPENDIX B (pp. 27 and 109)

The following quaint verses have been found among some unpublished
manuscripts in Hawker’s handwriting:--


    There’s a Face will o’ershadow all faces!
      There’s an Eye that will brighten a room:
    There’s a Form that would win mid the Graces:
      The Maid of the Crooks of Combe!

    There’s a Heart that is harder than Granite:
      There’s a Voice that will thrill you with gloom:
    There’s a Look--how a Lover would ban it--
      The Maid of the Crooks of Combe!

    Good Lord! what a World we do pine in!
      Where the Rose on the Bramble will bloom:
    Where a Fiend like an Angel is shining:
      The Maid of the Crooks of Combe.

The “Crooks of Combe” is a name given to the windings of the stream
that runs down Combe Valley to the sea (see p. 109). It seems possible
that these verses may have been written to accompany the story of Alice
of the Combe, and then discarded. On the other hand, the legend of
the mole is associated with Tonacombe Manor, and Tonacombe and Combe
are two different valleys. The poem may have been addressed to Miss
Kuczynski (afterwards Mrs. Hawker), who used to visit Combe and was
fond of riding about the valley. The third line of the last verse is an
echo from Coleridge’s poem “Love.” This poem was marked in a copy of
Coleridge given by Hawker to his future wife.

[Illustration: TONACOMBE MANOR.]

APPENDIX C (pp. 80 and 87)


This was John Arscott, whose epitaph in the parish church of Tetcott
ran as follows:--

    “Sacred to the memory of John Arscott late of Tetcott in the
    Parish, Esq^{re}, who died the 14^{th} day of January 1788.

    What his character was need not here be recorded. The deep
    impression which his extensive benevolence and humanity has left
    in the minds of his friends and dependents will be transmitted by
    tradition to late Posterity.”

A little paper-covered book, entitled “J. Arscott, Esq., of Tetcote,
and his Jester, Black John,” was published at Plymouth in 1880 by W. H.
Luke. From this we take the following:--

    “The Arscotts, of Tetcot, were descended from the Arscotts, of
    Holsworthy, an ancient family that ramified into the several
    branches of Annery, Tidwell, Holsworthy and Tetcot. A descendant
    of the Arscotts of Holsworthy, at a remote period, purchased the
    manor and demesne of Tetcot from the Earl of Huntingdon and made
    it his principal residence, and the other branches of the family
    having become dispersed, and married into different houses,
    the representation of the family and property at Holsworthy
    and elsewhere became vested in Arscott, of Tetcot. The last
    descendant of that name--John Arscott,--the subject of the annexed
    song, died without issue, and devised Tetcot, with its manor
    and appurtenances, to his relation, the late Sir Arscott Ourry
    Molesworth, Bart., of Pencarrow. The late celebrated Dartmoor
    sportsman, known as the Foxhunter Rough and Ready, Paul Ourry
    Treby, Esq., of Goodamoor, was a near connection of the Tetcot
    patriarch, and inherited the tastes and followed the pursuits of
    this collateral ancestor. The lairds of Tetcot had been Sheriffs
    of the County of Devon, A.D. 1633-38. C.I., 1678-28. C. II., and
    1755-15. G. III. The family was noted for its loyalty, and the
    Tetcott dependents mustered in full force and did their duty at
    Stratton fight on May 16, 1643, whilst hunters and men were in full
    working condition.”

The writer proceeds to say that the hunting song in honour of Mr.
Arscott was written “170 years ago” (_i.e._ 1710), but as the last
John Arscott lived till 1788, he would hardly have been of an age to
inspire hunting songs in 1710. There was an earlier John Arscott, whose
epitaph, with that of his wife, is also to be seen in Tetcott church.
These epitaphs read as follows:--

    “Here lieth the body of John Arscott Esq^{re} who married the
    daughter of Sir Shilston Calmady. He died while Sheriffe of the
    County the 25^{th} day of September 1675 aetatis suae 63.

    Here also lieth the body of Gertrude wife of the deceased John
    Arscott Esq^{re} who died the 18^{th} day of October 1699 aged 77.”

If the song existed in 1710, and referred to this John Arscott, it was
no doubt written still earlier. The last of the Arscotts, however,
Black John’s master, would seem more likely to be the subject of it.
Mr. Baring-Gould, who includes it among his “Songs of the West,” says
that one of the many versions supplied to him was dated 1772, which
would suit this theory. Hawker himself published the song in “Willis’s
Current Notes” for December, 1853, and it has since his death been
erroneously included in his poems, for apparently he only claimed
to have been the first to print it, though he doubtless added some
touches of his own. Black John is mentioned in his version, and Mr.
Baring-Gould says that “the author of the song is said to have been
one Dogget, who used to run after Arscott’s fox-hounds on foot.” A
search for this name in the parish registers of Tetcott and Stratton
has proved unsuccessful. Mr. R. P. Chope found a version of the song
current at Hartland, and an old man there (over eighty in 1903) says
that his father used to sing it seventy years ago.

From Luke’s book we learn that--

    “The Old house at Tetcott, which, as well as the mansion of
    Dunsland, had been built under the superintendence of the Architect
    sent by the government of Charles II. to build Stowe for the Earl
    of Bath, was taken down in 1831, and a Gothic cottage constructed
    in its stead. The demolition of the ancient structure was a very
    unpopular act, and the old crones of the neighbourhood shake their
    heads and say that Black John and Driver (a staghound), when the
    Cottage was burnt down a few years only after it had been built,
    were seen yelling and dancing round the flames. The origin of that
    fire was never ascertained.”


Hawker’s poem, “Tetcott, 1831,” which is all his own, is an elegy on
the destruction of the old house. He quotes one stanza of it on p. 87
of the present volume. The present representative of John Arscott’s
family, Mrs. Ford, of Pencarrow, describes Tetcott as “an imposing
Queen Anne’s house,” and speaks of “the front door steps under which
John Arscott’s pet toad resided, and every morning came out to be fed
by his kind master till the envious peacock killed him.”

       *       *       *       *       *

Mrs. Calmady, of Great Tree, Chagford, writes as follows:--

    “An old retainer, called Oliver Abbot, who, with his forefathers,
    had worked at Tetcott for generations, told me that Arscott of
    Tetcott kept not only a well-known pack of foxhounds, but a pack of
    foumart hounds, which he hunted by night.[162] The song, ‘Arscott
    of Tetcott,’ was undoubtedly not written concerning the Arscott
    who married Gertrude Calmady, but of the more recent John Arscott,
    who died in 1788, and was Black John’s master. Gossips will still
    tell how Black John, though pleasant and amusing enough when things
    went smoothly, became dangerous when roused. One day, Sir William
    Molesworth playfully tried to push him into one of the fishponds,
    when Black John, wrathfully exclaiming, ‘Turn sides, brother
    Willie, turn sides’ (and, although a dwarf, he was very strong),
    soon had Sir William in the water, and, in his rage, would have
    drowned him, had not a man named Beare come to the rescue.

    “It is said that Arscott of Tetcott still appears on a phantom
    horse, with a phantom pack, on the wild moors he used to hunt,
    and that their cry portends death or misfortune to the unlucky
    wayfarer; but I am inclined to agree with the man who, when told
    the devil appeared to people on Cookworthy Moor, replied, ‘I’ve
    been out on the moor all hours of the day and night; had there
    been e’er a devil, I must a seen un.’ During the thirty years that
    Mr. Calmady lived at Tetcott, he kept up with zeal the sporting
    reputation of the place by keeping a pack of foxhounds and otter
    hounds, and showing such sport as will long be remembered in
    the West. During those years, I heard many a story of the olden
    times. One ascribed, whether rightly or wrongly, to that grand old
    sportsman, Paul Treby, was to the effect that, on some one asking
    the meaning of Dosmary Pool, he replied, ‘Don’t e knaw? Why, Do,
    Dos, Dot damme Mare, give’d up from the Zay, to be Zure.’

    “Some years ago I obtained from a cottage in Tetcott an old
    Staffordshire jug, decorated with game. It was said to have been
    formerly in the possession of Arscott of Tetcott. This jug I have
    since given to Mr. Lane, the publisher.”

The surname of Black John, and the place and date of his birth, death,
and burial are unknown. The editor would be glad to hear from any one
who could supply information on these points.


[162] The foumart is now extinct in England, though, I believe, to be
met with in parts of Scotland.

APPENDIX D (p. 90)



A long account of Daniel Gumb is given in C. S. Gilbert’s “Historical
Survey of Cornwall” (vol. i. p. 166). When Gilbert visited the spot
in 1814, some remains of the habitation could still be traced, and on
the entrance, graven on a rock, was inscribed “D. Gumb, 1735.” (See
also Bond’s “Looe,” p. 203.) “Unfortunately they have now altogether
disappeared before the march of the barbarians known as quarrymen.”

The Cheesewring itself was claimed by Dr. Borlase as a Rock Idol, in
accordance with the quaint Druidical theories of the early antiquaries.
He says--

    “From its having Rock-basons, from the uppermost Stone’s being
    a Rocking-stone, from the well-poised structure and the great
    elevation of this groupe [of rocks], I think we may truely reckon
    it among the Rock-Deities, and that its tallness and just balance
    might probably be intended to express the stateliness and justice
    of the Supreme Being. Secondly, as the Rock-basons shew that it was
    usual to get upon the top of this Karn, it might probably serve
    for the Druid to harangue the Audience, pronounce decisions, and
    foretell future Events.” (“Antiquities of Cornwall,” p. 174.)

The Rev. S. Baring-Gould gives in his “Book of the West” (vol. ii. p.
107) a curious instance of the persistency of tradition in connection
with a cairn near the Cheesewring, in which a gold cup was found a few
years ago.

    “The story long told is that a party were hunting the wild boar
    in Trewartha Marsh. Whenever a hunter came near the Cheesewring a
    prophet--by whom an Archdruid is meant--who lived there received
    him, seated in the stone chair, and offered him to drink out of
    his golden goblet, and if there were as many hunters approach,
    each drank, and the goblet was not emptied. Now on this day of
    the boar-hunt one of those hunting vowed that he would drink the
    cup dry. So he rode up to the rocks, and there saw the grey Druid
    holding out his cup. The hunter took the goblet and drank till he
    could drink no more, and he was so incensed at his failure that he
    dashed what remained of the wine in the Druid’s face, and spurred
    his horse to ride away with the cup. But the steed plunged over the
    rocks and fell with his rider, who broke his neck, and as he still
    clutched the cup he was buried with it.”

In Carew’s “Survey of Cornwall” (1602) occurs the following quaint
description of a logan-stone called Mainamber:--

    “And a great rocke the same is, aduaunced upon some others of a
    meaner size, with so equal a counterpeyze, that the push of a
    finger, will sensibly moue it too and fro: but farther to remooue
    it, the united forces of many shoulders are ouer-weake. Wherefore
    the Cornish wonder-gatherer, thus descrybeth the same.

    Be thou thy mother natures worke,
      Or proof of Giants might:
    Worthlesse and ragged though thou shew,
      Yet art thou worth the sight.
    This hugy rock, one fingers force
      Apparently will moue;
    But to remooue it, many strengths
      Shall all like feeble prooue.”

APPENDIX D_a_ (p. 92)


The following is extracted from Hunt’s ‘Popular Romances of the West of

    “Mr. Bond, in his ‘Topographical and Historical Sketches of the
    Boroughs of East and West Looe,’ writes--

    ‘This pool is distant from Looe about twelve miles off. Mr. Carew

    Dosmery Pool amid the moores,
      On top stands of a hill;
    More than a mile about, no streams
      It empt, nor any fill.

    It is a lake of freshwater about a mile in circumference, the only
    one in Cornwall (unless the Loe Pool near Helston may be deemed
    such), and probably takes its name from _Dome-Mer_, sweet or fresh
    water sea. It is about eight or ten feet deep in many parts. The
    notion entertained by some, of there being a whirlpool in its
    middle, I can contradict, having, some years ago, passed all over
    in a boat then kept there.’

    Such is Mr. Bond’s evidence; but this is nothing compared with
    the popular belief, which declares the pool to be bottomless,
    and beyond this, is it not known to every man of faith that a
    thorn-bush thrown into Dosmery Pool has sunk in the middle of it,
    and after some time has come up in Falmouth (? Fowey) Harbour?

    Notwithstanding that Carew says that ‘no streams it empt, nor any
    fill,’ James Michell, in his parochial history of St. Neot’s, says:
    ‘It is situate on a small stream called St. Neot’s River, a branch
    of the Fowey, which rises in Dosmare Pool.’

    There is a ballad, ‘Tregeagle; or Dozmaré Poole: an Anciente
    Cornish Legende, in two parts,’ by John Penwarne.... Speaking of
    Dozmaré Pool, Mr. Penwarne says--

    ‘There is a popular story attached to this lake, ridiculous enough,
    as most of those tales are. It is, that a person of the name of
    Tregeagle, who had been a rich and powerful man, but very wicked,
    guilty of murder and other heinous crimes, lived near this place;
    and that, after his death, his spirit haunted the neighbourhood,
    but was at length exorcised and laid to rest in Dozmaré Pool. But
    having in his lifetime, in order to enjoy the good things of this
    world, disposed of his soul and body to the devil, his infernal
    majesty takes great pleasure in tormenting him, by imposing on him
    difficult tasks, such as spinning a rope of sand, dipping out the
    pool with a limpet shell, etc., and at times amuses himself with
    hunting him over the moors with his hell-hounds, at which time
    Tregeagle is heard to roar and howl in a most dreadful manner, so
    that, “roaring or howling like Tregeagle” is a common expression
    amongst the vulgar in Cornwall.’”

APPENDIX E (p. 109)



According to the Episcopal Registers of the diocese of Exeter, a
marriage license was granted on September 12th, 1612, to “Anthony Payne
of Stratton, and Gertrude Deane of the same.” These were evidently the
parents of the famous Cornish giant, who served as henchman to Sir
Bevill Grenvile at Stowe.

When the Civil War broke out, Anthony Payne followed Sir Bevill to the
battlefield, and was doubtless present with him at the engagements of
Bradock Down, Modbury, and Sourton, in the early months of 1643. On the
16th of May the battle scene had shifted to his own home at Stratton,
where every inch of ground must have been perfectly familiar to him.
The Earl of Stamford had occupied a strong position on a hill within
a mile of the little town. From five in the morning till three in the
afternoon the battle raged, and though the Parliamentarians had the
superiority both of numbers and position, they could not prevail over
the brave Royalists. At three word was brought to Hopton and Grenvile
that their scanty stock of powder was almost exhausted. To retreat
would have been fatal. A supreme effort had to be made. Trusting
to pike and sword alone, the lithe Cornishmen pressed onwards and
upwards, led, can we doubt it, by Anthony Payne?

    “His sword was made to match his size,
      As Roundheads did remember;
    And when it swung, ’twas like the whirl
      Of windmills in September.”

The boldness of the attack seems to have struck their opponents with
terror. Stamford’s Horse turned and fled, and in vain Chudleigh
attempted to rally his Foot. He was surrounded and captured, and his
men, left without a commander, at once gave way and retreated, and
soon the victorious commanders embraced one another on the hard-won
hill-top, thanking God for a success for which, at one time, they had
hardly ventured to hope.

The following July Anthony Payne was at the battle of Lansdowne, near
Bath, where his brave master was mortally wounded. When Sir Bevill fell
the fight would have been lost for the King, and in another moment the
Cornish would have crowded down the hill. It was the quick nobility of
Anthony Payne which won the battle, and the deed should give him an
enduring place in history.

    “Catching his master’s horse, with a fine knightly impulse, he
    set little John Grenville, a lad of sixteen, who had followed his
    gallant father close, on the hacked and gory saddle, and led him to
    the head of his father’s troop. There was no more giving way after
    this sight, and the Cornish followed the lad up the hill like men
    possessed. By this time, too, the musketry had practically routed
    the Parliament Horse, which were already retreating; and so, while
    Sir Bevill lay dead on the hillside, his own regiment, led by
    his giant servant and his little son, gained the top.” (Norway’s
    “Highways and Byways in Devon and Cornwall,” p. 196.)

There is surely “no finer story to be told than this; nor can there
have been, since first men began to slay each other, many sights more
noble than that of the child, tearful, excited, triumphant, set upon
the great charger, a world too high for him, and led up the hill at the
head of his dying father’s troop.” What wonder that the King knighted
the boy-warrior at Bristol on the 3rd of August following, for his
bravery at Lansdowne fight (cf. Metcalfe’s “Book of Knights,” p. 200),
or that Prince Charles, his own contemporary in age, attracted by his
heroism, chose him out of all others to be his personal attendant and
intimate friend ever afterwards--a friendship that was only broken by

We wish that we could bring ourselves to believe that the letter (on
page 117), breathing the spirit of rare nobility, and stated by Mr.
Hawker to have been written to Lady Grace Grenvile after her valiant
husband’s death by his true-hearted giant retainer, was authentic. We
fear, however, that it originated in the study at Morwenstow, and is
the product of Mr. Hawker’s own versatile and gifted pen.

What became of Anthony Payne after this is not certainly known. Did he
return with his master’s body to Stowe, and remain on there to protect
his mistress during the four unquiet years of her widowhood? There
is, indeed, a tradition which would bear out this supposition, if it
is true. It relates that the poor Queen, in her flight (within a week
after her confinement) from Exeter, to avoid capture by Lord Essex,
escaped to Okehampton with a small body of attendants, where she was
met by Anthony Payne, who guided her to Stowe by a series of tracks and
lanes, in order to secure greater secrecy, and that from Stowe she went
to Lanherne, and so on to Falmouth, whence she escaped to France. In
confirmation of this theory a letter is said to have been seen from
Lady Grace, in which she mentions the fact of the Queen having slept at
Stowe, and of her departure to Lanherne. But the letter is no longer
extant, if it ever existed, and it has been proved pretty conclusively
by Mr. Paul Q. Karkeek, in a very interesting paper on the subject of
the Queen’s flight, that from Okehampton the Queen went to Launceston,
the most direct route, under the escort of Prince Maurice, and from
Launceston to Falmouth.

Or did Anthony Payne remain on with his young master, who narrowly
escaped meeting his father’s fate at the second battle of Newbury, and
afterwards took a prominent part in the defence of the West under his
uncle, Sir Richard Grenvile, and who so gallantly defended the Scilly
Islands, the last rallying point of the Royalists, against Admiral
Blake, in 1651, that he obtained exceptionally favourable terms when he
was at last compelled to capitulate?

Nothing is heard of Payne again till the Restoration. Then honours were
showered thickly on the Grenviles in recognition of all that they had
done and sacrificed for the royal cause, and especially of the signal
services they had rendered, in conjunction with their cousin, George
Monk, in restoring the Monarchy. Sir John Grenvile was created Earl
of Bath, and made Governor of Plymouth, where he at once undertook to
rebuild and strengthen the fortifications, which had been much damaged
in the late war. Upon their completion Lord Bath appointed Payne, whom
he evidently still held in great favour, as a yeoman of the guard and
halberdier of the guns. The King made a surprise visit by sea in July,
1671, to inspect the new citadel, accompanied by the Dukes of York and
Monmouth and a large retinue. They were entertained by Lord Bath at his
own cost with great profusion, and the Merry Monarch professed himself
highly pleased with his visit. It was probably on this occasion that
he commanded Sir Godfrey Kneller to paint Payne’s portrait,[163]
which is now in possession of the Royal Institution of Cornwall, at
Truro, and which was engraved as a frontispiece to the first volume of
Gilbert’s “History of Cornwall.”

Payne remained at Plymouth until old Time pulled the giant down.
Obtaining leave to retire, he returned home to Stratton, and died in
the same house in which he was born. It is now “The Tree Inn.” On the
wall is the following inscription, on a tablet which formerly marked
the battle-field.

        In this Place
  Y^e Army of y^e Rebels under y^e command
  of y^e Earl of Stamford received a signal
  overthrow by y^e valour of Sir Bevill Grenville
  and y^e Cornish Army on Tuesday y^e
  16th of May 1643.

But the only memento of poor Anthony Payne is a hole in the ceiling,
through which his coffin, being too large to be taken out of the window
or down the stairs in the usual way, was lowered from the room above.
Even the very place of his burial is uncertain. Some say he was buried
in the _north_, others in the _south_ aisle of Stratton Church, on July
13th, 1691, at an age which was little short of eighty years. Let us
hope that a sufficient number of appreciative friends may shortly be
found who shall be willing to contribute towards the erection of some
memorial in Stratton Church worthy of one who proved himself all his
days a faithful, loyal, true-hearted servant.


In the parish register of Stratton, which begins in the year 1687, the
following entries appear:--


  Sibilla, wife of Anthony Payne     9 July,  1691
  Anthony Payne                     13   „     „
  William and Mary Payne            20 Aug.,   „
  William Payne                      „  „     1697
  Richard, son of Anthony Payne     27 March, 1699
  George    „    „    „    „                  1708
  Nicholas Payne                     1 Aug.,  1710

The occurrence of four deaths so close together in 1691 suggests that
they may have been caused by some epidemic. The previous book has
unfortunately been lost, so that it is impossible to verify the dates
of Anthony’s baptism and marriage.

The sexton points out a spot in the south aisle where he says that he
saw a large grave opened, 8 ft. by 3 ft., at the restoration of the
church in 1887, and that this was generally supposed to be the grave of
Anthony Payne. Among the many skeletons unearthed at that time was a
thigh bone 2 ft. 9 in. long.

During some excavations in the west end of the north aisle a slate
stone came to light, very thin and decayed, bearing the names of
Nicholas and Grace Payne. These were thought locally to be the parents
of the giant, but there is no proof of this.

The Rev. Canon Bone, of Lanhydrock, who was Vicar of Stratton when the
church was restored, has kindly supplied a copy of the inscription on
the stone. One corner had been broken off, and the remainder bore the
following words:--

  “Nicholas Payne of Hols in this towne
  Yeoman ... nd also neer by him lieth
  Grace his wife buried the 22 day of
  January 1637.”

Canon Bone says--

    “The stone was removed to the Vicarage, but it had worn so thin
    that it broke up, and unfortunately the fragments were lost. I do
    not know whether the attribution of the stone to Antony Payne’s
    parents was more than a likely guess.”

The Paynes were evidently a numerous clan in Stratton about that time,
but though many names and dates are available, there is little to
establish the relationship of the different members of the family.
According to a pedigree in the possession of Mr. Herbert Shephard, an
Anthony Payne married a Miss Dennis, and had by her a son Hugh. No date
appears on the document, but it will be seen below that a Hugh Payne is
mentioned as riding to Launceston in 1688. As the giant died in 1691,
this Hugh might be his son.

It should be mentioned that in the old registers his Christian name is
spelt “Anthony,” the omission of the “h” being peculiar to Hawker.

In the records of the Blanchminster Charity in the parish of Stratton
(compiled by R. W. Goulding, 1898) the names of several Paynes appear.
The following are some of the entries:--

    (1603) “Paid to Nicholas Paine for writtinge of the Quindecem booke
    8 [_d._].”

    By a “Feoffment,” dated “12 Jan., 1618-9,” Walter Yeo and another
    make over to William Arundell and others, including Anthony Payne
    and Nicholas Payne, certain property at Mellhoc and elsewhere.

    (Either of these, Anthony or Nicholas, might be the father of the

    In a “Feoffment” dated “20 March, 14 Charles II. (1662),” the
    names of Nicholas and William Payne appear.

    “18 March 1688. Item pd Hugh Payne p Riding to Launceston upon the
    Report yt (that) the ffrench were landed 00 02 06.”

    “After the Stockwardens’ account for 1719 there is a statement by
    Anthony Payne,” etc.

    (This Anthony Payne might be a son of the giant.)

The flagon which contained the giant’s allowance of liquor is mentioned
by Hawker in a private letter. He says--

    “It is now safe in its usual place under my Escritoire.... The
    Bottle itself is Antony Payne’s Allowance which used to be filled
    for him every morning at Stowe, and as I measured it last week and
    found it Six Quarts it ought to have sufficed him.”

From “Collectanea Cornubiensia,” by G. C. Boase (1890), we get the
following details as to the portrait of Anthony Payne. In August,
1888, the collection of antiquities at Trematon Castle, near Saltash,
was sold by auction on behalf of the executors of Admiral Tucker. One
of the lots was the portrait of Payne, and it was sold to a Plymouth
dealer for about £4. Through the good offices of Major Parkyn of Truro,
Mr. Harvey, on February 12th, 1889, purchased the picture from Skardon
& Sons of Plymouth, and presented it to the Royal Institution of
Cornwall at Truro.

[The Editor will be very glad to hear from any reader who may be able
to supply further information about Anthony Payne, his birth, life,
will, etc., that could be added to a future edition of this book.]


[163] See note on p. 118.

APPENDIX E_a_ (p. 109)



Hals states that Sir Thomas Grenvile (_temp._ Henry VI.) was the first
of the family who resided at Stowe, but Bishop Brantyngham licensed a
chapel there for Sir John de Grenvile on August 30th, 1386, and Henry
de Grenvile was buried at Kilkhampton about 1327, and the inquisition
after his death was taken there, and I believe that Henry de Grenvile
was the first to reside regularly at Stowe. His father, Bartholomew,
constantly signed deeds at Bideford, and Bishop Stapledon granted him
a license for the celebration of divine service “in capellâ suâ de
Bydeford.” So that I think it is safe to say that the Grenviles resided
at Stowe from at least the reign of Edward III.

The place was maintained in much style, I expect, in the time of Sir
Roger de Grenvile, “the great housekeeper,” famed far and wide for his
princely hospitality. Charles Kingsley’s description of the old house
in Elizabethan times is probably pretty accurate.

    “A huge rambling building, half castle, half dwelling-house. On
    three sides, to the north, west, and south, the lofty walls of
    the old ballium still stood, with their machicolated turrets,
    loop-holes, and dark downward crannies for dropping stones and fire
    on the besiegers, but the southern court of the ballium had become
    a flower-garden, with quaint terraces, statues, knots of flowers,
    clipped yews and hollies, and all the pedantries of the topiarian
    art. And towards the east, where the vista of the valley opened,
    the old walls were gone, and the frowning Norman keep, ruined in
    the wars of the Roses, had been replaced by the rich and stately
    architecture of the Tudors. Altogether the house, like the time,
    was in a transitionary state, and represented faithfully enough the
    passage of the old Middle Age into the newer life that had just
    burst into blossom throughout Europe, never, let us pray, to see
    its autumn and winter,” etc.

Hawker’s reference to Stowe having been turned into an academy for all
the young men of family in the county is correct. He is quoting from
George Granville’s (Lord Lansdowne) letter to his nephew, who tells us
that Sir Bevill--

    “provided the best masters for all kinds of education, and the
    children of his neighbours shared the advantage with his own.
    Thus, in a manner, he became the father of his county, and not
    only engaged the affection of the present generation, but laid a
    foundation of friendship for posterity which has not worn out to
    this day.”

John Granville, Earl of Bath, pulled down old Stowe, and in its
place, though on a different site a little farther from the shore,
built a magnificent new mansion (covering 3-1/2 acres of ground, and
containing, it is said, 365 windows) out of the moneys he had received
from the Government as a debt owing to himself and his father for their
sacrifices to the royal cause. Dr. Borlase describes this new house as
“by far the noblest in the west of England, though with not a tree to
shelter it.” And in the MS. diary of Dr. Yonge, F.R.S., a distinguished
physician of the latter part of the seventeenth century, the following
entry occurs in the year 1685:--

    “I waited on my lord of Bathe, then Governor of Plymouth, to his
    delicious house Stowe. It lyeth on y^e ledge of y^e North Sea of
    Devon,--a most curious fabrick beyond all description.”

Here lived John, Earl of Bath. His son Charles, Lord Granville, shot
himself (accidentally the jury found) while preparing for the journey
into Cornwall to take down his father’s body for burial, and they were
both buried together in Kilkhampton Church, September 27th, 1701. His
boy, William Henry, then nine years of age, succeeded, but died of
small-pox, unmarried, May 17th, 1711, aged nineteen.

The next male heir was George Granville the poet, who presented
his cousin, Chamond Granville, to the Rectory of Kilkhampton on
October 22nd, 1711, and on December 31st, 1711 (after serving in the
Parliaments called in the fourth and seventh years of Queen Anne), he
was created Lord Lansdowne of Bideford, “a promotion justly remarked to
be not invidious, inasmuch as he was at that time the heir of a family
in which two peerages, that of the Earl of Bath and Lord Granville of
Potheridge, had recently become extinct.”

Lord Lansdowne’s claim to the estates of the Earls of Bath was,
however, disputed by the two surviving daughters of John, first Earl of
Bath, viz. Lady Jane Leveson-Gower and Lady Grace Carteret. A family
law suit was the result of this claim, which lasted for some years.
With the death of Queen Anne (who had specially honoured him with her
favour, making him Comptroller of her household, and also Secretary of
State for War, and afterwards Treasurer) Lord Lansdowne’s prospects
darkened. He was supposed to be in favour of the exiled Stuarts rather
than of the House of Hanover; and there seems no little doubt that he
was more or less implicated in the scheme for raising an insurrection
in the West of England, which Lord Bolingbroke and the Duke of Ormonde
were at the head of. At any rate, Lord Lansdowne was seized as a
suspected person, and on September 26th, 1715, was committed, along
with Lady Lansdowne, to the Tower, where they were confined as close
prisoners. Whilst there he compromised the law suit for £30,000, and
the Devonshire property passed to Lady Jane Leveson-Gower, and the
Cornish to Lady Grace Carteret, who was created Countess Granville in
her own right.

Stowe, having stood for a little over half a century, was pulled down
in 1739. In Polwhele’s “History of Cornwall” it is stated that a man
of Stratton lived long enough to see its site a cornfield before the
building existed, and after the building was destroyed a cornfield
again. The materials were sold piecemeal by auction. The carved cedar
wood in the chapel, executed by Michael Chuke,[164] was bought by Lord
Cobham and applied to the same purpose at his mansion of Stowe in
Buckinghamshire. The staircase is at Prideaux Place, Padstow, while the
Corporation of South Molton, who were then building a new Town Hall,
Council Chamber, etc., purchased the following:--

  Lady’s fine Bed-chamber and planching          35    0    0
  9 shash windows at 10/6 and 2 at 11/6           5   17    6
  no. 27 y^e winscott w^{th}out y^e chimney
    and door casings                             11   13    0
  6 squares of Planching                          1   16    0
  A Tunn and 1/2 of Sheet & Pipe at 13/          19   10    0
  7 p^{rs.} of winscott window shutters at 8/     2   16    0
  172 rustic quoins at 1                          8   12    0
  4 Corinthian Capitalls & Pillasters             2    2    0
  Y^e caseing and ornaments of 3 windows          1   11    6
  3 Architraves w^{th} Pedem^{ts.} for doors &
    27 y^{ds.} of winscott in the Lobby           2    2    0
  A carved Cornish and Triumph of K.
    Charles II.                                   7    7    0
  2 right panel doors                             1    1    0

These articles, with many others, were taken to Bude, shipped to
Barnstaple, and thence carted to South Molton. The outlay for the whole
only amounted to £178! The “carved Cornish and Triumph of Charles II.”
is still to be seen over the fireplace in the old dining-room in the
Town Hall at South Molton.

No doubt the isolated position of Stowe, and the long distance from
London was one cause of its being destroyed. Lord Carteret was
appointed Lord Lieutenant of Devonshire in 1716, and the previous
year he had been doing all he could in support of the new Hanoverian
establishment. While the Jacobite rebellion was at its height in
the north, Carteret was writing from Stowe to Robethon, the French
Secretary of George I.--

    “I am now two hundred long miles from you, situated on a cliff
    overlooking the sea, and every tide have fresh prospects in viewing
    ships coming home. _In this corner of the earth_ have I received
    your letter, and without that I should have heard nothing since I
    came. Sept. 25, 1715.”--Brit. Mus. Sloane MSS. 4107, fol. 171, etc.

Another cause may have been the bursting of the “South Sea Bubble,” in
which Countess Granville and the Carterets had invested a good deal of
money. Lord Carteret wrote to a friend in October, 1720--

    “I don’t know exactly how the fall of the South Sea has affected
    my family, but they have lost considerably of what they had once

The stables alone remain, and these have been converted into a
farmhouse, the tennis-court into a sheepcote, and the great quadrangle
into a rick-yard, and civilisation, spreading wave after wave so fast
elsewhere, has surged back from that lovely corner of the land, let us
hope only for a while.

Referring to this ruined mansion, Edward Moore exclaimed--

    “Ah! where is now its boasted beauty fled?
      Proud turrets that once glistened in the sky,
    And broken columns, in confusion spread,
      A rude mis-shapen heap of ruins lie!

    Where, too, is now the garden’s beauty fled,
      Which every clime was ransacked to supply?
    On the dread spot see desolation spread,
      And the dismantled walls in ruin lie.

    Along the terrace walks are straggling seen
      The thickly bramble and the noisome weed,
    Beneath whose covert crawls the toad obscene,
      And snakes and adders unmolested breed.”


[164] The cedar wainscot which lined the chapel is said to have been
bought out of a Spanish prize, and the carving is mentioned by Defoe,
in his “Western Tour,” as the work of Michael Chuke, and not inferior
to Gibbon’s. (C. S. Gilbert, “Survey of Cornwall,” vol. ii. p. 554.)

APPENDIX F (p. 123)



The real Coppinger, around whose name Mr. Hawker has woven such a
fascinating legend, has been identified by the Rev. S. Baring-Gould,
in a footnote to his account of “The Vicar of Morwenstow” (edit. 1899,
p. 113), with an Irishman of that name, having a wife at Trewhiddle,
near St. Austell, by whom he had a daughter, who married a son of Lord
Clinton. However, there can be little doubt that the Coppinger Mr.
Hawker had in his mind lived nearer at hand, in the adjoining parish
of Hartland, where several of these tales, together with others of a
similar nature, are still told about him. His name was Daniel Herbert
Coppinger or Copinger, and he was wrecked, probably at Welcombe Mouth,
the end of the romantic glen which separates Welcombe from Hartland, on
December 23rd, 1792. He was hospitably received and entertained, not by
Mr. Hamlyn, but by Mr. William Arthur, another yeoman farmer, at Golden
Park in Hartland. While there he scratched the following inscription
on a window-pane, which was preserved for many years, but has now

    “D. H. Coppinger, shipwrecked December 23rd, 1792; kindly received
    by Mr. Wm. Arthur.”

In the following year he married Ann Hamlyn, the elder of the two
daughters of Mr. Ackland Hamlyn, of Galsham, and his wife Ann, who was
one of the last of the ancient and gentle family of Velly of Velly,
a family which had held a prominent position in the parish for at
least five hundred years. The marriage is thus entered in the parish

    “Daniel Herbert Coppinger of the King’s Royal Navy and Ann Hamlyn
    mar^d (by licence) 3 Aug.”

Far from being “a young damsel,” the bride was of the mature age of
forty-two. Two years later her sister, Mary, was married to William
Randal, but there is no record or local tradition of any issue from
either marriage. What rank Coppinger held in the Navy is not known, but
his name does not appear in the lists of commissioned officers.

For about two years he carried on his nefarious business of smuggling,
and stories are still told of the various methods he adopted of
outwitting the gauger. His chief cave was in the cliff at Sandhole,
but another is pointed out in Henstridge Wood, a couple of miles
inland. On one occasion, perhaps after Coppinger’s time, the caves
were watched so closely that the kegs of brandy which had been landed
were deposited at the bottom of the _zess_, as the pile of sheaves in
a barn is called, of an accommodating farmer. The gauger, who had his
suspicions, wished to search the zess, but the farmer was so willing to
help him in turning over the sheaves that his suspicions were allayed,
and he went away without finding any of the incriminating articles. On
another occasion the result was not so satisfactory for the farmer. On
the arrival of the gauger, he produced some empty kegs in order to give
his wife an opportunity of hiding a supply of valuable silks which had
been left in their care. The safest place she could think of in her
hurry was the oven, but she forgot that it had been heated for baking
a batch of bread. The result was that, although the gauger failed to
find them, they were burnt to ashes.

Mrs. Coppinger’s mother went to live with her other daughter and
son-in-law at Cross House in Harton. She was the owner of Galsham, and
retained possession of her husband’s money, and the tale runs that,
in order to obtain money from her, Coppinger, having been refused
admission, had been known to stand, with a pistol in each hand, on the
_lepping-stock_, or horse-block, in front of the house and threaten to
shoot any person who appeared at the door or any of the windows unless
the required sum was produced. It is even said that once, as he was
passing the house, he saw his brother-in-law, Randal, at the window,
and fired at him without provocation, but luckily missed his aim.

Mrs. Ann Hamlyn was buried on September 7th, 1800, after which date the
farm became the property of Mrs. Coppinger. Coppinger spent what he
could, but apparently became bankrupt, for in October, 1802, he was a
prisoner in the King’s Bench, in company with a Richard Copinger, who
is stated to have been a merchant in the island of Martinique. What
became of him afterwards does not seem to be known, but it is said
that he lived for many years at Barnstaple, in receipt of an allowance
from his wife. She herself went there to live out her days, and died
there on August 31st, 1833, at the age of eighty-two. She was buried
in the chancel of Hartland Church, in the grave of her friend, Alice
Western, and by the side of her mother. Coppinger’s name can still be
seen, inscribed in bold characters “D. H. Copinger” on a window-pane at
Galsham. Galsham is now the property of Major Kirkwood of Yeo Vale.

Writing to his brother-in-law, Mr. J. Sommers James, in September,
1866, Mr. Hawker asks him, “Do you remember Bold Coppinger the
Marsland Pirate? He died eighty-seven (?) years ago. I am collecting
materials for his Life for _All the Year Round_;” and again in November
of the same year, “Hadn’t you an Aunt called Coppinger?”

It is interesting to note that Coppinger has “entered fiction” through
the pages of Mr. Baring-Gould’s “In the Roar of the Sea.”

APPENDIX G (p. 139)



The tale of the shepherdess who became Lady Mayoress was told by Carew
in his “Survey of Cornwall,” and her biography has since been sketched
by many different authors, such as Lysons in “Magna Britannia,” W. H.
Tregellas in “Cornish Worthies,” and in the “Dictionary of National
Biography,” and G. C. Boase in “Collectanea Cornubiensia.” An account
appears also in the “Parochial History of Cornwall;” and a book by E.
Nicolls, entitled “Thomazine Bonaventure; or, the Maid of Week St.
Mary,” was published at Callington in 1865, only two years before Mr.
Hawker’s article appeared in _All the Year Round_. The Churchwardens’
Accounts of St. Mary Woolnoth, from which extracts were given in
the _Gentleman’s Magazine_ for 1854 (vol. xlii. p. 41), and in the
“Transcript of the Registers of the United Parishes of St. Mary
Woolnoth and St. Mary Woolnoth Haw,” by J. M. S. Brooke and A. W. C.
Hallen (1886, p. xvi.), contain the following entries:--

    “1539.--Item receyved of the Master and Wardens of the Merchint
    Tayllours for the beame light of this church according to the
    devyse of Dame Thomasyn Percyvall widow late wyf of Sir John
    Percyvall Knight deceased

  xxvj^{s.} viij^{d.}

    Item receyved more of the Master and Wardens of Merchint Tayllors
    for ij tapers thoon of vij _lb._ and the other of v LB. to brenne
    about the Sepulture in this Church at Ester ij^{s.} iiij^{d.} and
    for the churchwardens labor of this church to gyve attendance at
    the obit of Sir John Percyvall and otherwyse according to the
    devyse of Dame Thomasyn Percyvall his wyf

  iiij^{s.} vj^{s.} iiij^{d.}

    Item receyved of the said Master and Wardens of Merchint Taillors
    for the Repacions of the ornaments of this church according to the
    will of the said Sir John Percyvall


    Item receyved of the Maister and Wardens of Merchint taillors for a
    hole yere for our Conduct for kepying the Antempur afore Saint John
    with his children according to the will of the said Dame Thomasyn


A monument erected to Sir John Percival in the old church is mentioned
by Stow, but it is no longer in existence. Sir John’s will hangs in the
present church.

The following account of the chantry founded by Dame Percival at Week
St. Mary was extracted by Oliver from the Chantry Rolls of Devon and
Cornwall, preserved among the records of the Court of Augmentations:--

    “SAYNT MARYE WEKE.--See Cert. 9, No. 6. The chauntrye called Dame
    Percyvalls, at the altar of Seynt John Baptist, in the north yeld
    within the same church. Founded by Dame Tomasyne Percyvall, wyf of
    syr John Percival, knt., and alderman of London. To fynd a pryste
    to praye for her sowle in the paryshe churche of Saynt Marye Weke;
    also [to] teach children freelye in a scole founded by [her] not
    farr distant from the sayd parishe churche; and he to receyve for
    his yerelye stipend xij^{li.} vj^{s.} To fynde a mancyple also
    to instructe children under the sayd scolemaster, and he to have
    yerelye xxvj^{s.} viij^{d.} To a laundresse for the scolemaster and
    mancyple yerelye xiij^{s.} iiij^{d.} And the remayne of the lands
    (all charges of reparacons of the tenements and houses, chalys and
    ornaments, being first allowed) should be expended in an obytt
    yerelye for her in the paryshe church.--Cert. 10, No. 8, xiij^{s.}
    iiij^{d.} to y^e pore peple yerelye.

    “The yerelye value of the lands and possessions,

  xv^{li.} xiiij^{s.} viij^{d.}

    “Cert. 9, No. 6. M^{d.}That one John Denham, of Tyston [Devon], one
    of y^e feoffees of founders of the said scole, kepyth land named
    Ashe in Broadworth and other quylytts thereto adjoinyng, parcel of
    possessions gyven for sayd scole; and with y^e profytts thereof
    payeth iiij^{li.} yerely to y^e manciple ther, and xiij^{s.}
    iiij^{d.} to y^e launder of y^e said scole-house.” (Oliver,
    “Monasticon Dioecesis Exoniensis,” p. 483.)

Carew’s quaint account is worth quoting in full:--

    “_S. Marie Wike_ standeth in a fruitfull soyle, skirted with a
    moore, course for pasture, and combrous for travellers. This
    village was the birth-place of _Thomasine Bonaventure_, I know not,
    whether by descent, or event, so called: for whiles in her girlish
    age she kept sheepe on the fore-remembred moore, it chanced, that a
    London marchant passing by, saw her, heeded her, liked her, begged
    her of her poore parents, and carried her to his home. In processe
    of time, her mistres was summoned by death to appeare in the other
    world, and her good thewes, no lesse than her seemely personage, so
    much contented her master, that he advanced her from a servant to
    a wife, and left her a wealthy widow. Her second marriage befell
    with one _Henry Gall_: her third and last, Sir _John Percival_,
    Lord Maior of London, whom she also overlived. And to shew, that
    vertue as well bare a part in the desert, as fortune in the meanes
    of her preferment, she employed the whole residue of her life and
    last widdowhood, to works no lesse bountifull, than charitable:
    namely, repayring of high waies, building of bridges, endowing
    of maydens, relieving of prisoners, feeding and apparelling the
    poor, &c. Amongst the rest, at this _S. Mary Wike_, she founded a
    Chauntery and free-schoole, together with faire lodgings, for the
    Schoolemasters, schollers, and officers, and added twenty pound
    of yeerely revennue, for supporting the incident charges: wherein
    as the bent of her desire was holy, so God blessed the same with
    al wished successe: for divers the best Gent. sonnes of _Devon_
    and _Cornwall_ were there vertuously trained up, in both kinds of
    divine and humane learning, under one _Cholwel_, an honest and
    religious teacher, which caused the neighbours so much the rather,
    and the more to rewe, that a petty smacke onely of Popery, opened a
    gap to the oppression of the whole, by the statute made in _Edw._
    the 6. raigne, touching the suppression of Chaunteries.” (Carew,
    “Survey of Cornwall,” edit. 1769, p. 119.)

Mr. W. H. Tregellas states that at the death of Sir John Percyvall,
about 1504, his widow retired to her native place; but Carew’s words
do not appear to justify this inference, and it is stated in the
Stocken MSS. in the Guildhall Library that she was buried at St. Mary
Woolnoth. Mr. Tregellas does not appear to have been able to trace the
will; but Lysons, whose account was published in 1814, says definitely
that the will was dated 1512, and this statement has been accepted by
subsequent writers. By this will she bequeathed to her brother, John
Bonaventer, £20; she made her cousin, John Dinham, who had married her
sister’s daughter, residuary legatee, and committed to his discretion
the chantry and grammar school founded in her lifetime; she gave a
little gilt goblet, having a blue flower in the bottom, to the Vicar
of Liskeard, to the intent that he should pray for her soul; and
towards the building of the tower of St. Stephen’s by Launceston she
left 20 marks. Robert Hunt, in his “Popular Romances of the West of
England,” says that Berry Comb, in Jacobstow, was once the residence of
Thomasine, and was given at her death to the poor of Week St. Mary. The
“Parochial History of Cornwall” gives 1530 as the approximate date of
her death.

APPENDIX H (pp. 161-62)


The following is extracted from a little book entitled “Some Account
of the Church of St. Mary Magdalene, Launceston,” by S. R. Pattison,

    “Adjoining is a marble monument, in memory of Sarah, the wife of
    the Rev. John Ruddle, interred near this place, in 1667. Below
    the family arms is the following epitaph, entitled “The Husband’s

    “Blest soul, since thou art fled into the slumbers of the dead,
              Why should mine eyes
    Let fall unfruitful tears, the offspring of despair and fears,
              To interrupt thine obsequies.
    No no, I won’t lament to see thy day of trouble spent;
              But since thou art gone,
    Farewell! sleep, take thy rest, upon a better Husband’s breast,
              Until the resurrection.”

    A stately monument of fine variegated marble, in the south aisle,
    is charged with the arms of Bligh, and the following Latin

  “Juxta hoc marmor jacet Carolus Bligh, Gen.
  Aldermanus et hujus municipii sæpius Prætor
  Qui cum sibe satis, suis parum diu vixerat
  Pietate plenus obiit A.D. 1716, Die 8bris 2do
  Hunc jam Æternitatem inhians Iudith uxor 27 Maii
  An. Dni.
  1717mo secuta est.”

The Botathen Ghost story, as told by “the Rev. Mr. Ruddell” himself,
occupies five pages of C. S. Gilbert’s “History Survey of Cornwall,
1817” (vol. i. pp. 115-119). Gilbert does not mention how he came by
it. Hawker’s version is obviously a paraphrase of this, with some
embellishments of his own.

APPENDIX J (p. 185)


Michael Scott, the Wizard of the North, was a mediæval scientist around
whose memory many traditions have gathered. Compare “The Lay of the
Last Minstrel,” canto 2, stanza 13. The Monk speaks.

    “In these far climes it was my lot
    To meet the wondrous Michael Scott;
      A wizard of such dreaded fame,
    That when, in Salamanca’s cave,
    Him listed his magic wand to wave,
      The bells would ring in Notre Dame!
    Some of his skill he taught to me,
    And, warrior, I could say to thee
    The words that cleft Eildon Hills in three,
      And bridled the Tweed with a curb of stone:
    But to speak them were a deadly sin;
    And for having but thought them my heart within,
      A treble penance must be done.”

In the note on this passage Sir Walter says--

    “In the South of Scotland any work of great labour or antiquity
    is ascribed either to the agency of Auld Michael, of Sir William
    Wallace, or of the devil.”

Gilfillan tells an amusing anecdote that--

    “when Sir Walter was in Italy he happened to remark to Mr. Cheney
    that it was mortifying to think how Dante thought none worth
    sending to hell except Italians, on which Mr. C. remarked that he
    of all men had no right to make this complaint, as his ancestor
    Michael is introduced in the ‘Inferno.’ This seemed to delight

The passage in the “Inferno” occurs in Canto 20--

    “Quell’ altro che ne’ fianchi è così poco,
      Michele Scotto fu, che veramente
      Delle magiche frode seppe il giuocho.”

translated by Cary thus:--

                “That other, round the loins
    So slender of his shape, was Michael Scott,
    Practised in every slight of magic wile.”

Boccaccio also mentions him (Dec. Giorn. VIII., Nov. 9): “It is
not long since there was in this city (Florence) a great master
in necromancy, who was called Michele Scotto, because he was from
Scotland.” Legend has obscured the real fame of Michael Scott. He
lived between 1175 and 1234, studied at Oxford, Paris, Palermo, Toledo
(where he translated Aristotle from Arabic), and became court physician
and astrologer to the Emperor Frederick II. He took Holy Orders, but
declined the Pope’s offer of an Irish archbishopric on the ground of
not knowing the Irish language. He probably died in Italy, but fable
connects his burial with Holme Coltrame in Cumberland, or with Melrose
Abbey. It is said that Sir Walter Scott confused him with another
Michael Scott, of Balwearie, and that he “more probably belonged to
the border country whence all the families of Scot originally came,
and where the traditions of his magic power are common” (“Dict. of
Nat. Biog.”). The best book on the subject is the “Life and Legend of
Michael Scot (1175-1232),” by Rev. J. Wood Brown, M.A., 1897.


  The Life and Letters


  Robert Stephen Hawker

  Vicar of Morwenstow

A full and authentic biography of the late Rev. R. S. Hawker, by his
son-in-law, is in course of preparation, and will be issued next
Spring. It was originally intended to prefix this as an introduction
to the present volume, but so much new material has come to light that
it could not well be compressed within the limits of a short memoir.
This new material includes a most interesting account, written by
Hawker himself, of Tennyson’s visit to Morwenstow in 1848, and their
conversation. Many unpublished letters of Hawker’s have also been
collected. The book will contain numerous illustrations, consisting
partly of photographic reproductions, and partly of lithographic
drawings by Mr. J. Ley Pethybridge. No pains or expense will be spared
to produce a picturesque record of the man and his environment, both so
picturesque and romantic in themselves.

Should this notice meet the eye of any one who knew Hawker, or could
in any way supply further material for the biography, in the shape of
letters, manuscripts, relics, anecdotes, or reminiscences, such will
be gladly received, and may be addressed to the editor of the present
volume, care of the publisher.

  _July, 1903._



  Cornish Ballads
  Other Poems

  Vicar of Morwenstow

  Illustrated by

  Price 5_s._ net.

This book will be issued in the Autumn of the present year (1903).
It is a revised edition of Hawker’s Complete Poems, published in
1899 at 7_s._ 6_d._ The chief differences consist of the reduction
in price, the inclusion of a number of fresh illustrations and a few
additional poems, and a general improvement in the “get-up” of the
book. In binding it will be uniform with “Footprints of Former Men in
Far Cornwall.” The new illustrations will include some or all of the

    ILLUSTRATION.      _To illustrate_         POEM.

  Clovelly                            “Clovelly.”
  The Black Rock, Widemouth           “Featherstone’s Doom.”
  St. Nectan’s Kieve                  “The Sisters of Glen Nectan.”
  Morwenstow Church (Exterior)        “Morwennae Statio.”
  The Well of St. Morwenna            “The Well of St. Morwenna.”
  The Well of St. John                “The Well of St. John.”
  The Source of the Tamar             “The Tamar Spring.”
  Launcells Church                    “The Ringers of Launcells Tower.”
  The Figure-head of the              “The Figure-head of the _Caledonia_
    _Caledonia_                          at her Captain’s Grave.”
  Boscastle cliffs in a storm         “The Silent Tower at Bottreaux.”
  Hartland Church                     “The Cell by the Sea.”
  St. Madron’s Well                   “The Doom-Well of St. Madron.”
  Hennacliff                          “A Croon on Hennacliff.”
  Tintagel                            “The Quest of the Sangraal.”
  Effigy of Sir Ralph de              “Sir Ralph de Blanc-Minster of
    Blanc-Minster in Stratton Church     Bien-Aimé.”
  Sharpnose Point                     “The Smuggler’s Song.”
  Portrait of Sir Bevill Granville    “The Gate Song of Stowe.”
  The Font in Morwenstow Church       “The Font.”


       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Note

Illustrations have been moved next to the text to which they relate.
The back cover referred to in the List of Illustrations was not
included in the scanned book.

The following apparent errors have been corrected:

p. 86 (note) "’ee.’" changed to "’ee.”"

p. 158 (note) "1867" changed to "1867."

p. 186 "canon-ball" changed to "cannon-ball"

p. 199 footnote anchor added

p. 203 (note) "head." changed to "head.”"

The following possible errors have been left as printed:

p. 221 ‘Make, haste,

p. 237 of it.

Inconsistent hyphenation has not been changed, nor has use of both
Morwennæ and Morwennae. An inscription is given as both MVCLX4 (p. 246)
and MDLX4 (p. 251).

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