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Title: Popular Romances of the West of England - or, The Drolls, Traditions, and Superstitions of Old Cornwall
Author: Hunt, Robert
Language: English
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[Illustration: A Flight of Witches.]

                            POPULAR ROMANCES
                                 OF THE
                            WEST OF ENGLAND;

              The Drolls, Traditions, and Superstitions of
                              Old Cornwall.

                         COLLECTED AND EDITED BY
                           ROBERT HUNT, F.R.S.


                             SECOND SERIES.

                     JOHN CAMDEN HOTTEN, PICCADILLY.

                  [_Right of Translation is reserved._]

“‘Have you any stories like that, gudewife?’

“‘Ah,’ she said; ‘there were plenty of people that could tell those
stories once. I used to hear them telling them over the fire at night;
but people is so changed with pride now, that they care for nothing.’”





                               THE SAINTS.

      1. Legends of the Saints,                                          3

      2. The Crowza Stones,                                              5

      3. The Longstone,                                                  7

      4. St Sennen and St Just,                                          8

      5. Legends of St Leven—

           The Saint and Johana,                                         9

           The Saint’s Path,                                            10

           The St Leven Stone,                                          10

           The Two Breams,                                              11

     10. St Keyne,                                                      12

     11. St Dennis’s Blood,                                             15

     12. St Kea’s Boat,                                                 16

     13. St German’s Well,                                              17

     14. How St Piran reached Cornwall,                                 19

     15. St Perran, the Miner’s Saint,                                  20

     16. The Discovery of Tin,                                          21

     17. St Neot, the Pigmy,                                            22

     18. St Neot and the Fox,                                           23

     19. St Neot and the Doe,                                           23

     20. St Neot and the Thieves,                                       24

     21. St Neot and the Fishes,                                        25

     22. Probus and Grace,                                              26

     23. St Nectan’s Kieve and the Lonely Sisters,                      27

     24. Theodore, King of Cornwall,                                    33

                               HOLY WELLS.

     25. Well-Worship,                                                  35

     26. The Well of St Constantine,                                    38

     27. The Well of St Ludgvan,                                        39

     28. Gulval Well,                                                   43

     29. The Well of St Keyne,                                          45

     30. Maddern or Madron Well,                                        47

     31. The Well at Altar-Nun,                                         50

     32. St Gundred’s Well at Roach Rock,                               53

     33. St Cuthbert’s or Cubert’s Well,                                54

     34. Rickety Children,                                              55

     35. Chapell Uny,                                                   56

     36. Perran Well,                                                   56

     37. Redruth Well,                                                  56

     38. Holy Well at Little Conan,                                     56

     39. The Preservation of Holy Wells,                                57

                              KING ARTHUR.

     40. Arthur Legends,                                                59

     41. The Battle of Vellan-druchar,                                  62

     42. Arthur at the Land’s End,                                      63

     43. Traditions of the Danes in Cornwall,                           65

     44. King Arthur in the Form of a Chough,                           66

     45. The Cornish Chough,                                            68

     46. Slaughter Bridge,                                              68

     47. Camelford and King Arthur,                                     69

     48. Dameliock Castle,                                              71

     49. Carlian in Kea,                                                71

                         SORCERY AND WITCHCRAFT.

     50. The “Cunning Man,”                                             73

     51. Notes on Witchcraft,                                           76

     52. Ill-wishing,                                                   78

     53. The “Peller,”                                                  81

     54. Bewitched Cattle,                                              82

     55. How to Become a Witch,                                         83

     56. Cornish Sorcerers,                                             83

     57. How Pengerswick Became a Sorcerer,                             84

     58. The Lord of Pengerswick an Enchanter,                          86

     59. The Witch of Fraddam and Pengerswick,                          90

     60. Trewa, the Home of Witches,                                    92

     61. Kenidzhek Witch,                                               93

     62. The Witches of the Logan Stone,                                94

     63. Madgy Figgy’s Chair,                                           96

     64. Old Madge Figgey and the Pig,                                  99

     65. Madam Noy and Old Joan,                                       101

     66. The Witch of Treva,                                           102

     67. How Mr Lenine Gave Up Courting,                               104

     68. The Witch and the Toad,                                       105

     69. The Sailor Wizard,                                            108

                               THE MINERS.

     70. Traditions of Tinners,                                        111

     71. The Tinner of Chyannor,                                       115

     72. Who are the Knockers?                                         118

     73. Miners’ Superstitions,                                        122

     74. Christmas-Eve in the Mines,                                   123

     75. Warnings and “Tokens,”                                        124

     76. The Ghost on Horseback,                                       125

     77. The Black Dogs,                                               126

     78. Pitmen’s Omens and Goblins,                                   126

     79. The Dead Hand,                                                128

     80. Dorcas, the Spirit of Polbreen Mine,                          129

     81. Hingston Downs,                                               131

                         FISHERMEN AND SAILORS.

     82. The Pilot’s Ghost Story,                                      133

     83. The Phantom Ship,                                             135

     84. Jack Harry’s Lights,                                          136

     85. The Pirate-Wrecker and the Death Ship,                        137

     86. The Spectre Ship of Porthcurno,                               141

     87. The Lady with the Lantern,                                    143

     88. The Drowned “Hailing their Names,”                            146

     89. The Voice from the Sea,                                       146

     90. The Smuggler’s Token,                                         147

     91. The Hooper of Sennen Cove,                                    148

     92. How to Eat Pilchards,                                         149

     93. Pilchards Crying for More,                                    149

     94. The Pressing-Stones,                                          149

     95. Whipping the Hake,                                            152

                          DEATH SUPERSTITIONS.

     96. The Death Token of the Vingoes,                               155

     97. The Death Fetch of William Rufus,                             156

     98. Sir John Arundell,                                            157

     99. Phantoms of the Dying,                                        158

    100. The White Hare,                                               162

    101. The Hand of a Suicide,                                        164

    102. The North Side of a Church,                                   164

    103. Popular Superstitions,                                        165

                               OLD USAGES.

    104. Sanding the Step on New Year’s-Day,                           169

    105. May-Day,                                                      170

    106. Shrove Tuesday at St Ives,                                    171

    107. “The Furry,” Helstone,                                        171

    108. Midsummer Superstitious Customs,                              172

    109. Crying the Neck,                                              173

    110. Drinking to the Apple-Trees on Twelfth Night Eve,             175

    111. Allhallows-Eve at St Ives,                                    177

    112. The Twelfth Cake,                                             177

    113. Oxen Pray on Christmas Eve,                                   178

    114. “St George”—The Christmas Plays,                              179

    115. Geese-Dancing—Plough Monday,                                  182

    116. Christmas at St Ives,                                         183

    117. Lady Lovell’s Courtship,                                      188

    118. The Game of Hurling,                                          193

    119. Sham Mayors—

           The Mayor of Mylor,                                         196

           The Mayor of St Germans,                                    197

           The Mayor of Halgaver Moor,                                 198

    120. The Faction Fight at Cury Great Tree,                         198

    121. Towednack Cuckoo Feast,                                       200

    122. The Duke of Restormel,                                        200

                         POPULAR SUPERSTITIONS.

    123. Charming, and Prophetic Power,                                203

    124. Fortune-Telling, Charms, &c.,                                 204

    125. The Zennor Charmers,                                          208

    126. J. H., the Conjurer of St Colomb,                             209

    127. Cures for Warts,                                              210

    128. A Cure for Paralysis,                                         212

    129. A Cure for Rheumatism,                                        212

    130. Sundry Charms,                                                213

    131. Cure for Colic in Towednack,                                  213

    132. For a Scald or Burn,                                          213

    133. Charms for Inflammatory Diseases,                             213

    134. Charms for the Prick of a Thorn,                              213

    135. Charms for Stanching of Blood,                                214

    136. Charm for a Tetter,                                           214

    137. Charm for the Sting of a Nettle,                              215

    138. Charm for Toothache,                                          215

    139. Charm for Serpents,                                           215

    140. The Cure of Boils,                                            215

    141. Rickets, or a Crick in the Back,                              215

    142. The Club-Moss,                                                216

    143. Moon Superstitions,                                           217

    144. Cures for Whooping-Cough,                                     218

    145. Cure of Toothache,                                            219

    146. The Convalescent’s Walk,                                      220

    147. Adders, and the Milpreve,                                     220

    148. Snakes Avoid the Ash-Tree,                                    223

    149. To Charm a Snake,                                             223

    150. The Ash-Tree,                                                 224

    151. Rhyme on the Even Ash,                                        225

    152. A Test of Innocency,                                          225

    153. The Bonfire Test,                                             226

    154. Lights Seen by the Converted,                                 226

    155. The Migratory Birds,                                          226

    156. Shooting Stars,                                               227

    157. The Sun Never Shines on the Perjured,                         228

    158. Characteristics,                                              229

    159. The Mutton Feast,                                             232

    160. The Floating Grindstone,                                      232

    161. Celts—Flint Arrow-heads, &c.,                                 233

    162. Horns on the Church Tower,                                    233

    163. Tea-Stalks and Smut,                                          234

    164. An Old Cornish Rhyme,                                         234

    165. To Choose a Wife,                                             234

    166. The Robin and the Wren,                                       235

    167. To Secure Good Luck for a Child,                              235

    168. Innocency,                                                    235

    169. Rain at Bridal or Burial,                                     235

    170. Crowing Hens, &c.,                                            236

    171. The New Moon,                                                 236

    172. Looking-Glasses,                                              236

    173. The Magpie,                                                   236

    174. The Month of May Unlucky,                                     237

    175. On the Births of Children,                                    237

    176. On Washing Linen,                                             237

    177. Itching Ears,                                                 237

    178. The Spark on the Candle,                                      238

    179. The Blue Vein,                                                238

    180. The Croaking of the Raven,                                    238

    181. Whistling,                                                    239

    182. Meeting on the Stairs,                                        239

    183. Treading on Graves,                                           239

    184. A Loose Garter,                                               240

    185. To Cure the Hiccough,                                         240

    186. The Sleeping Foot,                                            240

    187. The Horse-Shoe,                                               240

    188. The Black Cat’s Tail,                                         240

    189. Unlucky Things,                                               241

    190. The Limp Corpse,                                              241

    191. “By Hook or by Crook,”                                        242

    192. Weather Signs,                                                242

    193. Weather at Liskeard,                                          243

    194. The First Butterfly,                                          243

    195. Peculiar Words and Phrases,                                   244

                         MISCELLANEOUS STORIES.

    196. The Bells of Forrabury Church,                                247

    197. The Tower of Minster Church,                                  249

    198. Temple Moors,                                                 250

    199. The Legend of Tamara,                                         251

    200. The Church and the Barn,                                      252

    201. The Penryn Tragedy,                                           253

    202. Goldsithney Fair and the Glove,                               255

    203. The Harlyn Pie,                                               256

    204. Packs of Wool the Foundation of the Bridge of Wadebridge,     256

    205. The Last Wolf in England,                                     258

    206. Churches Built in Performance of Vows,                        258

    207. Bolait, the Field of Blood,                                   259

    208. Woeful Moor, and Bodrigan’s Leap,                             261

    209. Pengerswick Castle,                                           263

    210. The Clerks of Cornwall,                                       264

    211. A Fairy Caught,                                               265

    212. The Lizard People,                                            267

    213. Prussia Cove and Smuggler’s Holes,                            267

    214. Cornish Teeny-tiny,                                           268

    215. The Spaniard at Penryn,                                       269

    216. Boyer, Mayor of Bodmin,                                       270

    217. Thomasine Bonaventure,                                        271

    218. The Last of the Killigrews,                                   274

    219. Saint Gerennius,                                              278

    220. Cornish Dialogue,                                             280


      A. St Piran—Perran Zabuloe,                                      287

      B. The Discoverer of Tin,                                        288

      C. St Neot,                                                      289

      D. The Sisters of Glen-Neot,                                     290

      E. Millington of Pengerswick,                                    291

      F. Saracen,                                                      292





    “With great pretended spiritual motions,
    And many fine whimsical notions,
    With blind zeal and large devotions.”

                              SAMUEL BUTLER.


    “This ilkë monk let olde thingës pace,
    And held after the newë world the trace.
    He gave not of the text a pulled hen,
    That saith, that hunters be not holy men,
    Ne that a monk, when he is reckëless,
    Is like to a fish that is waterless;
    This is to say, a monk out of his cloister,
    This ilkë text held he not worth an oyster,
    And I say his opinion was good.”

                _The Canterbury Tales_—CHAUCER.

The process through which a man, who has made himself remarkable to
his ignorant fellow-men, is passed after death—first, into the hero
performing fabulous exploits, and eventually into the giant—is not
difficult to understand.

The remembrance of great deeds, and the memory of virtues,—even in modern
days, when the exaggerations of votaries are subdued by the influence
of education,—ever tends to bring them out in strong contrast with the
surrounding objects. The mass of men form the background, as it were, of
the picture, and the hero or the saint stands forth in all his brightness
of colour in the foreground.

Amidst the uneducated Celtic population who inhabited Old Cornwall, it
was the practice, as with the Celts of other countries, to exalt their
benefactors with all the adornments of that hyperbole which distinguishes
their songs and stories. When the first Christian missionaries dwelt
amongst this people, they impressed them with the daring which they
exhibited by the persecution which they uncomplainingly endured and the
holy lives they led.

Those who were morally so superior to the living men, were represented
as physically so to their children, and every generation adorned the
relation which it had received with the ornaments derived from their own
imaginations, which had been tutored amidst the severer scenes of nature;
and consequently the warrior, or the holy man, was transmuted into the

If to this we add the desire which was constantly shewn by the earlier
priesthood to persuade the people of their miraculous powers—of the
direct interference of Heaven in their behalf—and of the violent
conflicts which they were occasionally enduring with the enemy of the
human race, there will be no difficulty in marking out the steps by which
the ordinary man has become an extraordinary hero. When we hear of the
saints to whose memories the parish churches are dedicated, being enabled
to hurl rocks of enormous size through the air, to carry them in their
pockets, and indeed to use them as playthings, we perceive that the
traditions of the legitimate giants, have been transferred to, and mixed
up with, the memories of a more recent people.

In addition to legends of the Titanic type, this section will include a
few of the true monastic character. The only purpose I have in giving
these is to preserve, as examples, some curious superstitions which have
not yet entirely lost their hold on the people.


St Just, from his home in Penwith, being weary of having little to do,
except offering prayers for the tinners and fishermen, went on a visit to
the hospitable St Keverne, who had fixed his hermitage in a well-selected
spot, not far from the Lizard headland. The holy brothers rejoiced
together, and in full feeding and deep drinking they pleasantly passed
the time. St Just gloried in the goodly chalice from which he drank the
richest of wines, and envied St Keverne the possession of a cup of such
rare value. Again and again did he pledge St Keverne; their holy bond
of brotherhood was to be for ever; Heaven was to witness the purity
of their friendship, and to the world they were to become patterns of
ecclesiastical love.

The time came when St Just felt he must return to his flock; and
repeating over again his vows, and begging St Keverne to return his
visit, he departed—St Keverne sending many a blessing after his good

The Saint of the west, had not left his brother of the south, many hours
before the latter missed his cup. Diligent search was made in every
corner of his dwelling, but no cup could be found. At length St Keverne
could not but feel that he had been robbed of his treasure by his western
friend. That one in whom he had placed such confidence—one to whom he
had opened his heart, and to whom he had shewn the most unstinting
hospitality—should have behaved so treacherously, overcame the serenity
of the good man. His rage was excessive. After the first burst was over,
and reason reasserted her power, St Keverne felt that his wisest course
was to pursue the thief, inflict summary punishment on him, and recover
his cup. The thought was followed by a firm resolve, and away St Keverne
started in pursuit of St Just. Passing over Crowza Down, some of the
boulders of “Ironstone” which are scattered over the surface caught his
eye, and presently he whipped a few of these stone pebbles into his
pockets, and hastened onward.

When he drew near Tre-men-keverne he spied St Just. St Keverne worked
himself up into a boiling rage, and toiled with increased speed up the
hill, hallooing to the saintly thief, who pursued his way for some time
in the well-assumed quiet of conscious innocence.

Long and loud did St Keverne call on St Just to stop, but the latter was
deaf to all calls of the kind—on he went, quickening, however, his pace a

At length St Keverne came within a stone’s throw of the dissembling
culprit, and calling him a thief—adding thereto some of the most choice
epithets from his holy vocabulary—taking a stone from his pocket, he let
it fly after St Just.

The stone falling heavily by the side of St Just convinced him that he
had to deal with an awkward enemy, and that he had best make all the
use he could of his legs. He quietly untied the chalice, which he had
fastened to his girdle, and let it fall to the ground. Then, still as if
unconscious of his follower, he set off to run as fast as his ponderous
body would allow his legs to carry him. St Keverne came up to where his
cup glistened in the sunshine. He had recovered his treasure, he should
get no good out of the false friend, and he was sadly jaded with his long
run. Therefore he took, one by one, the stones from his pockets—he hurled
them, fairly aimed, after the retreating culprit, and cursed him as he

There the pebbles remain where they fell,—the peculiarity of the stone
being in all respects unlike anything around, but being clearly the
Crowza stones,—attesting the truth of the legend; and their weights,
each one being several hundred pounds, proving the power of the giant

Many have been the attempts made to remove these stones. They are carried
away easily enough by day, but they ever return to the spot on which they
now repose, at night.



Some say it was St Roach, others refer it to St Austell; but all agree
in one thing, that the Longstone was once the staff of some holy man,
and that its present state is owing to the malignant persecution of the
demon of darkness. It happened after this manner. The good saint who
had been engaged in some mission was returning to his cell across St
Austell Downs. The night had been fine, the clearness of the sky and the
brightness of the stars conduced to religious thoughts, and those of the
saint fled heavenwards. The devil was wandering abroad that night, and
maliciously he resolved to play a trick upon his enemy. The saint was
wrapt in thought. The devil was working his dire spells. The sky became
black, the stars disappeared, and suddenly a terrific rush of wind seized
the saint, whirled him round and round, and at last blew his hat high
into the air. The hat went ricocheting over the moor and the saint after
it, the devil enjoying the sport. The long stick which the saint carried
impeded his progress in the storm, and he stuck it into the ground. On
went the hat, speedily followed the saint over and round the moor, until
thoroughly wearied out, he at length gave up the chase. He, now exposed
to the beat of the tempest bareheaded, endeavoured to find his way to
his cell, and thought to pick up his staff on the way. No staff could be
found in the darkness, and his hat was, he thought, gone irrecoverably.
At length the saint reached his cell, he quieted his spirit by prayer,
and sought the forgetfulness of sleep, safe under the protection of the
holy cross, from all the tricks of the devil. The evil one, however, was
at work on the wild moor, and by his incantations he changed the hat and
the staff into two rocks. Morning came, the saint went abroad seeking for
his lost covering and support. He found them both—one a huge circular
boulder, and the other a long stone which remains to this day.[1]

The Saint’s, or, as it was often called, the Giant’s Hat was removed
in 1798 by a regiment of soldiers who were encamped near it. They felt
satisfied that this mysterious stone was the cause of the wet season
which rendered their camp unpleasant, and consequently they resolved to
remove the evil spell by destroying it.


These saints held rule over adjoining parishes; but, like neighbours, not
unfrequently, they quarrelled. We know not the cause which made their
angry passions rise; but no doubt the saints were occasionally exposed
to the influences of the evil principle, which appears to be one of
the ruling powers of the world. It is not often that we have instances
of excess of passion in man or woman without some evidence of the evil
resulting from it. Every tempest in the physical world leaves its mark
on the face of the earth. Every tempest in the moral world, in a similar
manner, leaves some scar to tell of its ravages on the soul. A most
enduring monument in granite tells us of the rage to which those two
holy men were the victims. As we have said, there is no record of the
origin of the duel which was fought between St Just and St Sennen; but,
in the fury of their rage, they tore each a rock from the granite mass,
and hurled it onwards to destroy his brother. They were so well aimed
that both saints must have perished had the rocks been allowed to travel
as intended. A merciful hand guided them, though in opposite directions,
in precisely the same path. The huge rocks came together; so severe was
the blow of impact that they became one mass, and fell to the ground, to
remain a monument of the impotent rage of two giants.



The walls of what are supposed to be the hut of St Leven are still to
be seen at Bodellen. If you walk from Bodellen to St Leven Church, on
passing near the stile in Rospletha you will see a three-cornered garden.
This belonged to a woman who is only known to us as Johana. Johana’s
Garden is still the name of the place. One Sunday morning St Leven was
passing over the stile to go as usual to his fishing-place below the
church, to catch his dinner. Johana was in the garden picking pot-herbs
at the time, and she lectured the holy man for fishing on a Sunday. They
came to high words, and St Leven told Johana that there was no more sin
in taking his dinner from the sea than she herself committed in taking
hers from the garden. The saint called her foolish Johana, and said if
another of her name was christened in his well she should be a bigger
fool than Johana herself. From that day to this no child called Johana
has been christened in St Leven. All parents who desire to give that
name to their daughters, dreading St Leven’s curse, take the children to


The path along which St Leven was accustomed to walk from Bodellen, by
Rospletha, on to St Leven’s Rocks, as they are still called, may be yet
seen; the grass grows greener wherever the good priest trod than in any
other part of the fields through which the footpath passes.


On the south side of the church, to the east of the porch, is a rock
known by the above name. It is broken in two, and the fissure is filled
in with ferns and wild flowers, while the grass grows rank around it. On
this rock St Leven often sat to rest after the fatigue of fishing; and
desiring to leave some enduring memento of himself in connexion with this
his rude but favourite seat, he one day gave it a blow with his fist and
cracked it through. He prayed over the rock, and uttered the following

    “When, with panniers astride,
    A packhorse one can ride
    Through St Leven’s Stone,
    The world will be done.”

This stone must have been venerated for the saint’s sake when the church
was built, or it would certainly have been employed for the building. It
is more than fifty years since I first made acquaintance, as a child,
with the St Leven Stone, and it may be a satisfaction to many to know
that the progress of separation is an exceedingly slow one. I cannot
detect the slightest difference in the width of the fissure now and then.
At the present slow rate of opening, the packhorse and panniers will not
be able to pass through the rock for many thousands of years to come. We
need not, therefore, place much reliance on those prophecies which give
but a limited duration to this planet.[2]


Although in common with many of the churches in the remote districts of
Cornwall, “decay’s effacing fingers” have been allowed to do their work
in St Leven Church, yet there still remains some of the ornamental work
which once adorned it. Much of the carving is irremediably gone; but
still the inquirer will find that it once told the story of important
events in the life of the good St Leven. Two fishes on the same hook form
the device, which appears at one time to have prevailed in this church.
These are to commemorate a remarkable incident in St Leven’s life. One
lovely evening about sunset, St Leven was on his rocks fishing. There was
a heavy pull upon his line, and drawing it in, he found two breams on the
same hook. The good saint, anxious to serve both alike, to avoid, indeed,
even the appearance of partiality, took both the fishes off the hook,
and cast them back into the sea. Again they came to the hook, and again
were they returned to their native elements. The line was no sooner cast
a third time than the same two fishes hooked themselves once more. St
Leven thought there must be some reason unknown to him for this strange
occurrence, so he took both the fishes home with him. When the saint
reached Bodellen, he found his sister, St Breage,[3] had come to visit
him with two children. Then he thought he saw the hand of Providence at
work in guiding the fish to his hook.

Even saints are blind when they attempt to fathom the ways of the Unseen.
The fish were, of course, cooked for supper; and the saint having asked
a blessing upon their savoury meal, all sat down to partake of it. The
children had walked far, and they were ravenously hungry. They ate their
suppers with rapidity, and, not taking time to pick out the bones of the
fish, they were both choked. The apparent blessing was thus transformed
into a curse, and the bream has from that day forward ever gone by the
name, amongst fishermen, of “choke children.”

There are many disputes as to the fish concerned in this legend. Some of
the fishermen of St Leven parish have insisted upon their being “chad,”
(the shad, _clupeida alosa_;) while others, with the strong evidence
afforded by the bony structure of the fish, will have it to have been the
bream, (_cyprinus brama_.) My young readers warned by the name, should be
equally careful in eating either of those fish.


Braghan, or Brechan, was a king in Wales, and the builder of the town
of Brecknock. This worthy old king and saint was the happy father of
twenty-six children, or, as some say, twenty-four. Of these, fourteen
or fifteen were sainted for their holiness, and their portraits are
preserved within a fold of the kingly robe of the saint, their father, in
the window at St Neot’s Church, bearing the inscription, “Sante Brechane,
cum omnibus sanctis, ora pro nobis,” and known as the young women’s

Of the holy children settled in Cornwall, we learn that the following
gave their names to Cornish churches:—

     1. John, giving name to the Church of St Ive.
     2. Endellient,    ”           ”       Endellion.
     3. Menfre,        ”           ”       St Minver.
     4. Tethe,         ”           ”       St Teath.
     5. Mabena,        ”           ”       St Mabyn.
     6. Merewenna,     ”           ”       Marham.
     7. Wenna,         ”           ”       St Wenn.
     8. KEYNE,         ”           ”       ST KEYNE.
     9. Yse,           ”           ”       St Issey.
    10. Morwenna,      ”           ”       Morwinstow.
    11. Cleder,        ”           ”       St Clether.
    12. Keri,          ”           ”       Egloskerry.
    13. Helie,         ”           ”       Egloshayle.
    14. Adwent,        ”           ”       Advent.
    15. Lanent,        ”           ”       Lelant.[4]

Of this remarkable family St Keyne stands out as the brightest star.
Lovely beyond measure, she wandered over the country safe, even in
lawless times, from insult, by “the strength of her purity.”

We find this virtuous woman performing miracles wherever she went. The
district now known by the name of Keynsham, in Somersetshire, was in
those days infested with serpents. St Keyne, rivaling St Hilda of the
Northern Isle, changed them all into coils of stone, and there they are
in the quarries at the present time to attest the truth of the legend.
Geologists, with more learning than poetry, term them Ammonites,
deriving their name from the horn of Jupiter Ammon, as if the Egyptian
Jupiter was likely to have charmed serpents in England. We are satisfied
to leave the question for the consideration of our readers. After a life
spent in the conversion of sinners, the building of churches, and the
performance of miracles, this good woman retired into Cornwall, and in
one of its most picturesque valleys, she sought and found that quiet
which was conducive to a happy termination of a well-spent life. She
desired, above all things, “peace on earth;” and she hoped to benefit
the world, by giving to woman a chance of being equal to her lord and
master. A beautiful well of water was near the home of the saint, and she
planted, with her blessing, four trees around it—the withy, the oak, the
elm, and the ash. When the hour of her death was drawing near, St Keyne
caused herself to be borne on a litter to the shade which she had formed,
and soothed by the influence of the murmur of the flowing fountain, she
blessed the waters, and gave them their wondrous power, thus quaintly
described by Carew:—“Next, I will relate to you, another of the Cornish
natural wonders—viz., St Keyne’s Well; but lest you make wonder, first at
the sainte, before you notice the well, you must understand that this was
not Kayne the Manqueller, but one of a gentler spirit and milder sex—to
wit, a woman. He who caused the spring to be pictured, added this rhyme
for an explanation:—

    ‘In name, in shape, in quality,
      This well is very quaint;
    The name to lot of Kayne befell,
      No over-holy saint.
    The shape, four trees of divers kind,
      Withy, oak, elm, and ash,
    Make with their roots an arched roof,
      Whose floor this spring does wash.
    The quality, that man or wife,
      Whose chance or choice attains,
    First of this sacred stream to drink,
      Thereby the mastery gains.’”[5]


The patron saint of the parish church of St Dennis was born in the city
of Athens, in the reign of Tiberius. His name and fame have full record
in the “History of the Saints of the Church of Rome.” How his name was
connected with this remote parish is not clearly made out. We learn,
however, that the good man was beheaded at Montmartre, and that he
walked after his execution, with his head under his arm, to the place in
Paris which still bears his name. At the very time when the decapitation
took place in Paris, _blood fell on the stones of this churchyard_ in
Cornwall. Previously to the breaking out of the plague in London, the
stains of the blood of St Dennis were again seen; and during our wars
with the Dutch, the defeat of the English fleet was foretold by the
rain of gore in this remote and sequestered place. Hals, the Cornish
historian, with much gravity, informs us that he had seen some of the
stones with blood upon them. Whenever this phenomenon occurs again we may
expect some sad calamity to be near.

Some years since a Cornish gentleman was cruelly murdered, and his body
thrown into a brook. I have been very lately shewn stones taken from this
brook with bright red spots of some vegetable growth on them. It is said
that ever since the murder the stones in this brook are spotted with
gore, whereas they never were so previously to this dreadful deed.


St Kea, a young Irish saint, stood on the southern shores of Ireland and
saw the Christian missionaries departing to carry the blessed Word to
the heathens of Western England. He watched their barks fade beneath the
horizon, and he felt that he was left to a solitude which was not fitted
to one in the full energy of young life, and burning with zeal.

The saint knelt on a boulder of granite lying on the shore, and he prayed
with fervour that Heaven would order it so that he might diffuse his
religious fervour amongst the barbarians of Cornwall. He prayed on for
some time, not observing the rising of the tide. When he had poured out
his full soul, he awoke to the fact, not only that the waves were washing
around the stone on which he knelt, but that the stone was actually
floating on the water. Impressed with the miracle, St Kea sprang to his
feet, and looking towards the setting sun, with his cross uplifted, he
exclaimed, “To Thee, and only to Thee, my God, do I trust my soul!”

Onward floated the granite, rendered buoyant by supernatural power.
Floated hither and thither by the tides, it swam on; blown sometimes in
one direction, and sometimes in another, by the varying winds, days and
nights were spent upon the waters. The faith of St Kea failed not; three
times a day he knelt in prayer to God. At all other times he stood gazing
on the heavens. At length the faith of the saint being fairly tried, the
moorstone boat floated steadily up the river, and landed at St Kea, which
place he soon Christianised, and there stands to this day this monument
of St Kea’s sincere belief.


The good St German was, it would appear, sent into Cornwall in the reign
of the Emperor Valentinian, mainly to suppress the Pelagian heresy. The
inhabitants of the shores of the Tamar had long been schooled into the
belief in original sin, and they would not endure its denial from the
lips of a stranger. In this they were supported by the monks, who had
already a firm footing in the land, and who taught the people implicit
obedience to their religious instructors, faith in election, and that
all human efforts were unavailing, unless supported by priestly aid. St
German was a man with vast powers of endurance. He preached his doctrines
of freewill, and of the value of good works, notwithstanding the outcry
raised against him. His miracles were of the most remarkable character,
and sufficiently impressive to convince a large body of the Cornish
people that he was an inspired priest. St German raised a beautiful
church, and built a monastic house for the relief of poor people. Yet
notwithstanding the example of the pure life of the saint, and his
unceasing study to do good, a large section of the priests and the people
never ceased to persecute him. To all human endurance there is a limit,
and even that of the saint weakened eventually, before the never-ceasing
annoyances by which he was hemmed in.

One Sabbath morning the priest attended as usual to his Christian duties,
when he was interrupted by a brawl amongst the outrageous people, who had
come in from all parts of the country with a determination to drive him
from the place of his adoption. The holy man prayed for his persecutors,
and he entreated them to calm their angry passions and listen to his
healing words. But no words could convey any healing balm to their stormy
hearts. At length his brethren, fearing that his life was in danger,
begged him to fly, and eventually he left the church by a small door
near the altar, while some of the monks endeavoured to tranquillise the
people. St German went, a sad man, to the cliffs at the Rame head, and
there alone he wept in agony at the failure of his labours. So intense
was the soul-suffering of this holy man, that the rocks felt the power
of spirit-struggling, and wept with him. The eyes of man, a spiritual
creation, dry after the outburst of sorrow, but when the gross forms of
matter are compelled to sympathise with spiritual sorrow, they remain
for ever under the influence; and from that day the tears of the cliffs
have continued to fall, and the Well of St German attests to this day of
the saint’s agony. The saint was not allowed to remain in concealment
long. The crowd of opposing priests and the peasantry were on his track.
Hundreds were on the hill, and arming themselves with stones, they
descended with shouts, determined to destroy him. St German prayed to
God for deliverance, and immediately a rush, as of thunder, was heard
upon the hills—a chariot surrounded by flames, and flashing light in all
directions, was seen rapidly approaching. The crowd paused, fell back,
and the flaming car passed on to where St German knelt. There were two
bright angels in the chariot; they lifted the persecuted saint from the
ground, and placing him between them, ascended into the air.

“Curse your persecutors,” said the angels. The saint cursed them; and
from that time all holiness left the church he had built. The saint was
borne to other lands, and lived to effect great good. On the rocks the
burnt tracks of the chariot wheels were long to be seen, and the Well of
Tears still flows.


Good men are frequently persecuted by those whom they have benefited the
most. The righteous Piran had, by virtue of his sanctity, been enabled to
feed ten Irish kings and their armies for ten days together with three
cows. He brought to life by his prayers the dogs which had been killed
while hunting the elk and the boar, and even restored to existence many
of the warriors who had fallen on the battlefield. Notwithstanding this,
and his incomparable goodness, some of these kings condemned him to be
cast off a precipice into the sea, with a millstone around his neck.

On a boisterous day, a crowd of the lawless Irish assembled on the brow
of a beetling cliff, with Piran in chains. By great labour they had
rolled a huge millstone to the top of the hill, and Piran was chained
to it. At a signal from one of the kings, the stone and the saint were
rolled to the edge of, and suddenly over, the cliff into the Atlantic.
The winds were blowing tempestuously, the heavens were dark with clouds,
and the waves white with crested foam. No sooner was Piran and the
millstone launched into space, than the sun shone out brightly, casting
the full lustre of its beams on the holy man, who sat tranquilly on
the descending stone. The winds died away, and the waves became smooth
as a mirror. The moment the millstone touched the water, hundreds were
converted to Christianity who saw this miracle. St Piran floated on
safely to Cornwall; he landed on the 5th of March on the sands which bear
his name. He lived amongst the Cornish men until he attained the age of
206 years.[6]


St Piran, or St Perran, has sometimes gained the credit of discovering
tin in Cornwall; yet Usher places the date of his birth about the year
352; and the merchants of Tyre are said to have traded with Cornwall for
tin as early as the days of King Solomon.

There are three places in Cornwall to which the name of Perran is given:—

Perran-Aworthall—_i.e._, _Perran on the noted River_.

Perran-Uthno—_i.e._, _Perran the Little_.

Perran-Zabuloe—_i.e._, _Perran in the Sands_.

This sufficiently proves that the saint, or some one bearing that name,
was eminently popular amongst the people; and in St Perran we have an
example—of which several instances are given—of the manner in which a
very ancient event is shifted forward, as it were, for the purpose of
investing some popular hero with additional reasons for securing the
devotion of the people, and of drawing them to his shrine.[7]

Picrous, or Piecras, is another name which has been floated by tradition,
down the stream of time, in connexion with the discovery of tin; and in
the eastern portion of Cornwall, Picrous-day, the second Thursday before
Christmas-day, is kept as the tinners’ holiday.

The popular story of the discovery of tin is, however, given, with all
its anachronisms.


St Piran, or St Perran, leading his lonely life on the plains which
now bear his name, devoted himself to the study of the objects which
presented themselves to his notice. The good saint decorated the altar
in his church with the choicest flowers, and his cell was adorned with
the crystals which he could collect from the neighbouring rocks. In
his wanderings on the sea-shore, St Perran could not but observe the
numerous mineral veins running through the slate rocks forming the
beautiful cliffs on this coast. Examples of every kind he collected; and
on one occasion, when preparing his humble meal, a heavy black stone was
employed to form a part of the fireplace. The fire was more intense than
usual, and a stream of beautiful white metal flowed out of the fire.
Great was the joy of the saint; he perceived that God, in His goodness,
had discovered to him something which would be useful to man. St Perran
communicated his discovery to St Chiwidden. They examined the shores
together, and Chiwidden, who was learned in the learning of the East,
soon devised a process for producing this metal in large quantities.
The two saints called the Cornish men together. They told them of their
treasures, and they taught them how to dig the ore from the earth, and
how, by the agency of fire, to obtain the metal. Great was the joy in
Cornwall, and many days of feasting followed the announcement. Mead and
metheglin, with other drinks, flowed in abundance; and vile rumour says
the saints and their people were rendered equally unstable thereby.
“Drunk as a Perraner,” has certainly passed into a proverb from that day.

The riot of joy at length came to an end, and steadily, seriously, the
tribes of Perran and St Agnes set to work. They soon accumulated a vast
quantity of this precious metal; and when they carried it to the southern
coasts, the merchants from Gaul eagerly purchased it of them. The noise
of the discovery, even in those days, rapidly extended itself; and even
the cities of Tyre learned that a metal precious to them, was to be
obtained in a country far to the west. The Phœnician navigators were not
long in finding out the Tin Islands; and great was the alarm amidst the
Cornish Britons lest the source of their treasure should be discovered.
Then it was they intrenched the whole of St Agnes beacon; then it was
they built the numerous hill castles, which have puzzled the antiquarian;
then it was that they constructed the Rounds,—amongst which the Perran
Round remains as a remarkable example,—all of them to protect their tin
ground. So resolved were the whole of the population of the district
to preserve the tin workings, that they prevented any foreigner from
landing on the mainland, and they established tin markets on the islands
on the coast. On these islands were hoisted the standard of Cornwall, a
white cross on a black ground, which was the device of St Perran and St
Chiwidden, symbolising the black tin ore and the white metal.[8]


Whence came the saint, or hermit, who has given his name to two churches
in England, is not known.

Tradition, however, informs us that he was remarkably small in stature,
though exquisitely formed. He could not, according to all accounts, have
been more than fifteen inches high. Yet, though so diminutive a man,
he possessed a soul which was giant-like in the power of his faith.
The Church of St Neot, which has been built on the ancient site of the
hermit’s cell, is situated in a secluded valley, watered by a branch of
the river Fowey. The surrounding country is, even now, but very partially
cultivated, and it must have been, a few centuries since, a desert waste;
but the valley is, and no doubt ever has been, beautifully wooded. Not
far from the church is the holy well, in which the pious anchorite would
stand immersed to his neck, whilst he repeated the whole Book of Psalms.
Great was the reward for such an exercise of devotion and faith. Out
of numerous miracles we select only a few, which have some especial
character about them.


One day the holy hermit was standing in his bath chanting the Psalms,
when he heard the sound of huntsmen approaching. Whether the saint feared
ridicule or ill-treatment, we know not; but certainly he left some psalms
unsung that day, and hastily gathering up his clothes, he fled to his

In his haste the goodman lost his shoe, and a hungry fox having escaped
the hunters, came to the spring to drink. Having quenched the fever of
thirst, and being hungry, he spied the saint’s shoe, and presently ate
it. The hermit despatched his servant to look for his shoe; and, lo, he
found the fox cast into a deep sleep, and the thongs of the shoe hanging
out of his vile mouth. Of course the shoe was pulled out of his stomach,
and restored to the saint.


Again, on another day, when the hermit was in his fountain, a lovely doe,
flying from the huntsmen, fell down on the edge of the well, imploring,
with tearful eyes and anxious pantings, the aid of St Neot. The dogs
followed in full chase, ready to pounce on the trembling doe, and eager
to tear her in pieces. They saw the saint, and one look from his holy
eyes sent them flying back into the woods, more speedily, if possible,
than they rushed out of it.

The huntsman too came on, ready to discharge his arrow into the heart
of the doe; but, impressed with the sight he saw, he fell on his knees,
cast away his quiver, and became from that day a follower of the saint’s,
giving him his horn to hang, as a memorial, in the church, where it was
long to be seen. The huntsman became eventually one of the monks of the
neighbouring house of St Petroch.


When St Neot was abbot, some thieves came by night and stole the
oxen belonging to the farm of the monastery. The weather was most
uncertain,—the seed-time was passing away,—and a fine morning rendered
it imperative that the ploughs should be quickly employed. There were no
oxen. Great was the difficulty, and earnest were the abbot’s prayers.
In answer to them, the wild stags came in from the forests, and tamely
offered their necks to the yoke. When unyoked in the evening, they
resorted to their favourite pastures, but voluntarily returned each
morning to their work. The report of this event reached the ears of the
thieves. They became penitent, and restored the oxen to the monastery.
Not only so, but they consecrated their days to devotional exercises. The
oxen being restored, the stags were dismissed; but they bore for ever a
white ring, like a yoke, about their necks, and they held a charmed life,
safe from the shafts of the hunters.


On one occasion, when the saint was at his devotions, an angel appeared
unto him, and shewing him three fishes in the well, he said, “These are
for thee; take one each day for thy daily food, and the number shall
never grow less: the choice of one of three fishes shall be thine all
the days of thy life.” Long time passed by, and daily a fish was taken
from the well, and three awaited his coming every morning. At length the
saint, who shared in human suffering notwithstanding his piety, fell
ill; and being confined to his bed, St Neot sent his servant Barius to
fetch him a fish for his dinner. Barius being desirous of pleasing, if
possible, the sick man’s taste, went to the well and caught two fishes.
One of these he broiled, and the other he boiled. Nicely cooked, Barius
took them on a dish to his master’s bedside, who started up alarmed
for the consequences of the act of his servant, in disobedience to the
injunctions of the angel. So good a man could not allow wrath to get
the mastery of him; so he sat up in his bed, and, instead of eating, he
prayed with great earnestness over the cooked fish. At last the spirit of
holiness exerted its full power. St Neot commanded Barius to return at
once and cast the fish into the well. Barius went and did as his master
had told him to do; and, lo, the moment the fishes fell into the water
they recovered life, and swam away with the third fish, as if nothing had
happened to them.

All these things and more are recorded in the windows of St Neot’s


Every one is acquainted with the beautiful tower of Probus Church. If
they are not, they should lose no time in visiting it. Various are the
stories in connexion with those two saints, who are curiously connected
with the church, and one of the fairs held in the church-town. A safe
tradition tells us that St Probus built the church, and failing in the
means of adding a tower to his building, he petitioned St Grace to
aid him. Grace was a wealthy lady, and she resolved at her own cost
to build a tower, the like of which should not be seen in the “West
Countrie.” Regardless of the expense, sculptured stone was worked by
the most skilful masons, and the whole put together in the happiest of
proportions. When the tower was finished, St Probus opened his church
with every becoming solemnity, and took to himself all the praise which
was lavished on the tower, although he had built only a plain church.
When, however, the praise of Probus was at the highest, a voice was heard
slowly and distinctly exclaiming,

    “Saint Probus and Grace,
    Not the first, but the last;”

and thus for ever have Probus and Grace been united as patron saints of
this church.

Mr Davies Gilbert remarks, however, in his “Parochial History:” “Few
gentlemen’s houses in the west of Cornwall were without the honour of
receiving Prince Charles during his residence in the county about the
middle part of the civil wars; and he is said to have remained for a time
longer than usual with Mr Williams, who, after the Restoration, waited on
the king with congratulations from the parish; and, on being complimented
by him with the question whether he could do anything for his friends,
answered that the parish would esteem themselves highly honoured and
distinguished by the grant of a fair, which was accordingly done for
the 17th September. This fair coming the last in succession after three
others, has acquired for itself a curious appellation, derived from
the two patron saints, and from the peculiar pronunciation in that
neighbourhood of the word last, somewhat like laest,—

    ‘Saint Probus and Grace,
    Not the first, but the last,’—

and from this distinction it is usually called Probus and Grace Fair.” We
are obliged, therefore, to lean on the original tradition for the true
meaning of this couplet.


Far up the deep and rocky vale of Trevillet, in the parish of
Tintagel,[10] stands on a pile of rocks the little chapel of the good
St Nectan. No holy man ever selected a more secluded, or a more lovely
spot in which to pass a religious life. From the chapel rock you look
over the deep valley full of trees. You see here and there the lovely
trout-stream, running rapidly towards the sea; and, opening in the
distance, there rolls the mighty ocean itself. Although this oratory is
shut in amongst the woods, so as to be invisible to any one approaching
it by land, until they are close upon it, it is plainly seen by the
fishermen or by the sailor far off at sea; and in olden time the prayers
of St Nectan were sought by all whose business was in the “deep waters.”

The river runs steadily along within a short distance of St Nectan’s
Chapel, and then it suddenly leaps over the rock—a beautiful fall of
water—into St Nectan’s Kieve. This deep rock-basin, brimming with the
clearest water, overflows, and another waterfall carries the river to the
lower level of the valley. Standing here within a circular wall of rocks,
you see how the falling fluid has worked back the softer slate-rock until
it has reached the harder masses, which are beautifully polished by the
same agent. Mosses, ferns, and grasses decorate the fall, fringing every
rock with a native drapery of the most exquisite beauty. Here is one of
the wildest, one of the most untrained, and, at the same time, one of the
most beautiful spots in Cornwall, full of poetry, and coloured by legend.
Yet here comes prosaic man, and by one stroke of his everyday genius, he
adds, indeed, a colour to the violet. You walk along the valley, through
paths trodden out of the undergrowth, deviously wandering up hill, or
down hill, as rock or tree has interposed. Many a spot of quiet beauty
solicits you to loiter, and loitering, you feel that there are places
from which the winds appear to gather poetry. You break the spell, or the
ear, catching the murmur of the waters, dispels the illusions which have
been created by the eye, and you wander forward anxious to reach the holy
“Kieve,”—to visit the saint’s hermitage. Here, say you, is the place to
hold “commune with Nature’s works, and view her charms unrolled,” when,
lo, a well-made door painted lead colour, with a real substantial lock,
bars your way, and Fancy, with everything that is holy, flies away before
the terrible words which inform you that trespassers will be punished,
and that the key can be obtained at ——. Well was it that Mr Wilkie
Collins gave “up the attempt to discover Nighton’s Kieve;”[11] for had
he, when he had found it, discovered this evidence of man’s greedy soul,
it would have convinced him that the “evil genius of fairy mythology,”
who so cautiously hid “the nymph of the waterfall,” was no other than
the farmer, who, as he told me, “owns the fee,” and one who is resolved
also, to pocket the fee, before any pilgrim can see the oratory and the
waterfall of St Nectan. Of course this would have turned the placid
current of the thoughts of “the Rambler beyond Railways,” which now flow
so pleasantly, into a troubled stream of biliary bitterness.

St Nectan placed in the little bell-tower of his secluded chapel a silver
bell, the notes of which were so clear and penetrating that they could be
heard far off at sea. When the notes came through the air, and fell on
the ears of the seamen, they knew that St Nectan was about to pray for
them, and they prostrated themselves before Heaven for a few minutes, and
thus endeavoured to win the blessing.

St Nectan was on the bed of death. There was strife in the land. A severe
struggle was going on between the Churchmen, and endeavours were being
made to introduce a new faith.

The sunset of life gave to the saint the spirit of prophecy, and he told
his weeping followers that the light of their religion would grow dim
in the land; but that a spark would for ever live amidst the ashes, and
that in due time it would kindle into a flame, and burn more brightly
than ever. His silver bell, he said, should never ring for others than
the true believer. He would enclose it in the rock of the Kieve; but when
again the true faith revived, it should be recovered, and rung, to cheer
once more the land.

One lovely summer evening, while the sun was slowly sinking towards the
golden sea, St Nectan desired his attendants to carry him to the bank
which overhung the “Kieve,” and requested them to take the bell from the
tower and bring it to him.

There he lay for some time in silent prayer, waiting as if for a sign,
then slowly raising himself from the bed on which he had been placed, he
grasped the silver bell. He rang it sharply and clearly three times, and
then he dropped it into the transparent waters of the Kieve. He watched
it disappear, and then he closed his eyes in death. On receiving the bell
the waters were troubled, but they soon became clear as before, and the
bell was nowhere to be seen. St Nectan died, and two strange ladies from
a foreign land came and took possession of his oratory, and all that
belonged unto the holy man. They placed—acting, as it was believed, on
the wishes of the saint himself—his body, all the sacramental plate, and
other sacred treasures, in a large oak chest. They turned the waters of
the fall aside, and dug a grave in the river bed, below the Kieve, in
which they placed this precious chest. The waters were then returned to
their natural course, and they murmur ever above the grave of him who
loved them. The silver bell was concealed in the Kieve, and the saint
with all that belonged to his holy office rested beneath the river bed.
The oratory was dismantled, and the two ladies, women evidently of high
birth, chose it for their dwelling. Their seclusion was perfect. “Both
appeared to be about the same age, and both were inflexibly taciturn.
One was never seen without the other. If they ever left the house, they
only left it to walk in the more unfrequented parts of the wood; they
kept no servant; they never had a visitor; no living soul but themselves
ever crossed the door of their cottage.”[12] The berries of the wood, a
few roots which they cultivated, with snails gathered from the rocks and
walls, and fish caught in the stream, served them for food. Curiosity was
excited, the mystery which hung around this solitary pair became deepened
by the obstinate silence which they observed in everything relating to
themselves. The result of all this was an anxious endeavour, on the part
of the superstitious and ignorant peasantry, to learn their secret. All
was now conjecture, and the imagination commonly enough filled in a wild
picture: devils or angels, as the case might be, were seen ministering to
the solitary ones. Prying eyes were upon them, but the spies could glean
no knowledge. Week, month, year passed by, and ungratified curiosity
was dying through want of food, when it was discovered that one of the
ladies had died. The peasantry went in a body to the chapel; no one
forbade their entering it now. There sat a silent mourner leaning over
the placid face of her dead sister. Hers was, indeed, a silent sorrow—no
tear was in her eye, no sigh hove her chest, but the face told all that
a remediless woe had fallen on her heart. The dead body was eventually
removed, the living sister making no sign, and they left her in her
solitude alone. Days passed on; no one heard of, no one probably inquired
after, the lonely one. At last a wandering child, curious as children
are, clambered to the window of the cell and looked in. There sat the
lady; her handkerchief was on the floor, and one hand hung strangely, as
if endeavouring to pick it up, but powerless to do so. The child told its
story—the people again flocked to the chapel, and they found one sister
had followed the other. The people buried the last beside the first, and
they left no mark to tell us where, unless the large flat stone which
lies in the valley, a short distance from the foot of the fall, and
beneath which, I was told, “some great person was buried,” may be the
covering of their tomb. No traces of the history of these solitary women
have ever been discovered.

Centuries have passed away, and still the legends of the buried bell and
treasure are preserved. Some long time since a party of men resolved to
blast the “Kieve,” and examine it for the silver bell. They were miners,
and their engineering knowledge, though rude, was sufficient to enable
them to divert the course of the river above the falls, and thus to leave
the “Kieve” dry for them to work on when they had emptied it, which was
an easy task. The “borer” now rung upon the rock, holes were pierced,
and, being charged, they were blasted. The result was, however, anything
but satisfactory, for the rock remained intact. Still they persevered,
until at length a voice was heard amidst the ring of the iron tools in
the holes of the rock. Every hand was stayed, every face was aghast, as
they heard distinctly the ring of the silver bell, followed by a clear
solemn voice proclaiming, “The child is not yet born who shall recover
this treasure.”

The work was stopped, and the river restored to its old channel, over
which it will run undisturbed until the day of which St Nectan prophesied
shall arrive.

    When, in the autumn of 1863, I visited this lovely spot,
    my guide, the proprietor, informed me that very recently a
    gentleman residing, I believe, in London, dreamed that an angel
    stood on a little bank of pebbles, forming a petty island, at
    the foot of a waterfall, and, pointing to a certain spot, told
    him to search there and he would find gold and a mummy. This
    gentleman told his dream to a friend, who at once declared the
    place indicated to be St Nectan’s waterfall. Upon this, the
    dreamer visited the West, and, upon being led by the owner of
    the property to the fall, he at once recognised the spot on
    which the angel stood.

    A plan was then and there arranged by which a search might
    be again commenced, it being thought that, as an angel had
    indicated the spot, the time for the recovery of the treasure
    had arrived.

    Let us hope that the search may be deferred, lest the
    natural beauties of the spot should be destroyed by the
    meddling of men, who can threaten trespassers,—fearing to
    lose a sixpence,—and who have already endeavoured to improve
    on nature, by cutting down some of the rock and planting

    The Rev. R. S. Hawker, of Morwenstow, has published in his
    “Echoes of Old Cornwall” a poem on this tradition, which, as
    it is but little known, and as it has the true poetic ring, I
    transcribe to adorn the pages of my Appendix.[13]


Riviere, near Hayle, now called Rovier, was the palace of Theodore, the
king, to whom Cornwall appears to have been indebted for many of its
saints. This Christian king, when the pagan people sought to destroy the
first missionaries, gave the saints shelter in his palace. St Breca, St
Iva, St Burianna, and many others, are said to have made Riviere their
residence. It is not a little curious to find traditions existing, as it
were, in a state of suspension between opinions. I have heard it said
that there was a church at Rovier—that there was once a great palace
there; and again, that Castle Cayle was one vast fortified place, and
Rovier another. Mr Davies Gilbert quotes Whitaker on this point:—

    “Mr Whitaker, who captivates every reader by the brilliancy of
    his style, and astonishes by the extent of his multifarious
    reading, draws, however, without reserve, on his fertile
    imagination, for whatever facts may be requisite to construct
    the fabric of a theory. He has made Riviere the palace and
    residence of Theodore, a sovereign prince of Cornwall, and
    conducts St Breca, St Iva, with several companions, not only
    into Hayle and to this palace, after their voyage from Ireland,
    but fixes the time of their arrival so exactly, as to make it
    take place in the night. In recent times the name of Riviere,
    which had been lost in the common pronunciation, Rovier, has
    revived in a very excellent house built by Mr Edwards on the
    farm, which he completed in 1791.”[14]


    “A well there is in the west country,
    And a clearer one never was seen.”

                          ROBERT SOUTHEY.



                    “One meek cell,
    Built by the fathers o’er a lonely well,
    Still breathes the Baptist’s sweet remembrance round
            A spring of silent waters.”

                 _Echoes from Old Cornwall_—R. S. HAWKER.

A spring of water has always something about it which gives rise to holy
feelings. From the dark earth there wells up a pellucid fluid, which in
its apparent tranquil joyousness gives gladness to all around. The velvet
mosses, the sword-like grasses, and the feathery ferns, grow with more of
that light and vigorous nature which indicates a fulness of life, within
the charmed influence of a spring of water, than they do elsewhere.

The purity of the fluid impresses itself, through the eye, upon the mind,
and its power of removing all impurity is felt to the soul. “Wash and
be clean,” is the murmuring call of the waters, as they overflow their
rocky basins, or grassy vases, and deeply sunk in depravity must that
man be who could put to unholy uses one of nature’s fountains. The inner
life of a well of waters, bursting from its grave in the earth, may be
religiously said to form a type of the soul purified by death, rising
into a glorified existence and the fulness of light. The tranquil beauty
of the rising waters, whispering the softest music, like the healthful
breathing of a sleeping infant, sends a feeling of happiness through the
soul of the thoughtful observer, and the inner man is purified by its
influence, as the outer man is cleansed by ablution.

Water cannot be regarded as having an inanimate existence. Its
all-pervading character and its active nature, flowing on for ever,
resting never, removes it from the torpid elements, and places it, like
the air, amongst those higher creations which belong to the vital powers
of the earth. The spring of water rises from the cold dark earth, it
runs, a silver cord glistening in the sunshine, down the mountainside.
The rill (prettily called by Drayton “a rillet”) gathers rejoicingly
other waters unto itself, and it grows into a _brooklet_ in its course.
At length, flowing onward and increasing in size, the _brook_ state of
being is fairly won; and then, by the gathering together of some more
dewdrops, the full dignity of a stream is acquired. Onwards the waters
flow, still gleaning from every side, and wooing new _runlets_ to its
bosom, eager as it were to assume the state which, in America, would be
called a “run” of water. Stream gathers on stream, and run on run; the
union of waters becomes a _river_; rolling in its maturity, swelling in
its pride, it seeks the ocean, and there is absorbed in the eternity
of waters. Has ever poet yet penned a line which in any way conveys to
the mind a sense of the grandeur, the immensity of the sea? I do not
remember a verse which does not prove the incapacity of the human mind
to embrace in its vastness the gathering together of the waters in the
mighty sea. Man’s mind is tempered, and his pride subdued, as he stands
on the sea-side and looks on the undulating expanse to which, to him,
there is no end. A material eternity of rain-drops gathered into a mass
which is from Omnipotence and is omnipotent. The influences of heaven
falling on the sheeted waters, they rise at their bidding and float in
air, making the skies more beautiful or more sublime, according to the
spirit of the hour. Whether the clouds float over the earth, illumined by
sun-rays, like the cars of loving angels; or rush wildly onward, as if
bearing demons of vengeance, they are subdued by the mountains, and fall
reluctantly as mists around the rocks, condense solemnly as dews upon the
sleeping flowers, sink to earth resignedly as tranquil rains, or splash
in tempestuous anger on its surface. The draught, in whatever form it
comes, is drunk with avidity, and, circulating through the subterranean
recesses of the globe, it does its work of re-creation, and eventually
reappears a bubbling spring, again to run its round of wonder-working

Those minds which saw a God in light, and worshipped a Creator in the
sun, felt the power of the universal solvent, and saw in the diffusive
nature of that fluid which is everywhere, something more than a type of
the regenerating Spirit, which all, in their holier hours, feel necessary
to clear off the earthiness of life. Man has ever sought to discover the
spiritual in the material, and, from the imperfections of human reason,
he has too frequently reposed on the material, and given to it the
attributes which are purely spiritual. Through all ages the fountains
of the hills and valleys have claimed the reverence of men; and waters
presenting themselves, under aspects of beauty, or of terror, have been
regarded with religious feelings of hope or of awe.

As it was of old, so is it to-day. It was but yesterday that I stood near
the font of Royston Church, and heard the minister read with emphasis,
“None can enter into the kingdom of God except he be regenerate and born
anew of water.” Surely the simple faith of the peasant mother who, on
a spring morning, takes her weakly infant to some holy well, and three
times dipping it in its clear waters, uttering an earnest prayer at each
immersion, is but another form of the prescribed faith of the educated

Surely the practice of consulting the waters of a sacred spring, by young
men and maidens, is but a traditional faith derived from the early creeds
of Greece—a continuance of the _Hydromancy_ which sought in the Castalian
fountain the divination of the future.


In the parish of St Merran, or Meryn, near Padstow, are the remains of
the Church of St Constantine, and the holy well of that saint. It had
been an unusually hot and dry summer, and all the crops were perishing
through want of water. The people inhabiting the parish had grown
irreligious, and many of them sadly profane. The drought was a curse upon
them for their wickedness. Their church was falling into ruin, their
well was foul, and the arches over it were decayed and broken. In their
distress, the wicked people who had reviled the Word of God, went to
their priest for aid.

“There is no help for thee, unless thou cleansest the holy well.”

They laughed him to scorn.

The drought continued, and they suffered want.

To the priest they went again.

“Cleanse the well,” was his command, “and see the power of the blessing
of the first Christian emperor.” That cleansing a dirty well should bring
them rain they did not believe. The drought continued, the rivers were
dry, the people suffered thirst.

“Cleanse the well—wash, and drink,” said the priest, when they again went
to him.

Hunger and thirst made the people obedient. They went to the task. Mosses
and weeds were removed, and the filth cleansed. To the surprise of all,
beautifully clear water welled forth. They drank the water and prayed,
and then washed themselves, and were refreshed. As they bathed their
bodies, parched with heat, in the cool stream which flowed from the well,
the heavens clouded over, and presently rain fell, turning all hearts to
the true faith.


St Ludgvan, an Irish missionary, had finished his work. On the hill-top,
looking over the most beautiful of bays, the church stood with all its
blessings. Yet the saint, knowing human nature, determined on associating
with it some object of a miraculous character, which should draw people
from all parts of the world to Ludgvan. The saint prayed over the dry
earth, which was beneath him, as he knelt on the church stile. His prayer
was for water, and presently a most beautiful crystal stream welled up
from below. The holy man prayed on, and then, to try the virtues of the
water, he washed his eyes. They were rendered at once more powerful, so
penetrating, indeed, as to enable him to see microscopic objects. The
saint prayed again, and then he drank of the water. He discovered that
his powers of utterance were greatly improved, his tongue formed words
with scarcely any effort of his will. The saint now prayed, that all
children baptized in the waters of this well might be protected against
the hangman and his hempen cord; and an angel from heaven came down into
the water, and promised the saint that his prayers should be granted.
Not long after this, a good farmer and his wife brought their babe to
the saint, that it might derive all the blessings belonging to this
holy well. The priest stood at the baptismal font, the parents, with
their friends around. The saint proceeded with the baptismal ceremonial,
and at length the time arrived when he took the tender babe into his
holy arms. He signed the sign of the cross over the child, and when he
sprinkled water on the face of the infant its face glowed with a divine
intelligence. The priest then proceeded with the prayer; but, to the
astonishment of all, whenever he used the name of Jesus, the child, who
had received the miraculous power of speech, from the water, pronounced
distinctly the name of the devil, much to the consternation of all
present. The saint knew that an evil spirit had taken possession of the
child, and he endeavoured to cast him out; but the devil proved stronger
than the saint for some time. St Ludgvan was not to be beaten; he knew
that the spirit was a restless soul, which had been exorcised from
Treassow, and he exerted all his energies in prayer. At length the spirit
became obedient, and left the child. He was now commanded by the saint to
take his flight to the Red Sea. He rose, before the terrified spectators,
into a gigantic size, he then spat into the well; he laid hold of the
pinnacles of the tower, and shook the church until they thought it would
fall. The saint was alone unmoved. He prayed on, until, like a flash of
lightning, the demon vanished, shaking down a pinnacle in his flight. The
demon, by spitting in the water destroyed the spells of the water upon
the eyes[15] and the tongue too; but it fortunately retains its virtue
of preventing any child baptized in it from being hanged with a cord of
hemp. Upon a cord of silk it is stated to have no power.

This well had nearly lost its reputation once—a Ludgvan woman was hanged,
under the circumstances told in the following narrative:—

A small farmer, living in one of the most western districts of the
county, died some years back of what was supposed at that time to be
“English cholera.” A few weeks after his decease his wife married
again. This circumstance excited some attention in the neighbourhood.
It was remembered that the woman had lived on very bad terms with her
late husband, that she had on many occasions exhibited strong symptoms
of possessing a very vindictive temper, and that during the farmer’s
lifetime she had openly manifested rather more than a Platonic preference
for the man whom she subsequently married. Suspicion was generally
excited; people began to doubt whether the first husband had died fairly.
At length the proper order was applied for, and his body was disinterred.
On examination, enough arsenic to have poisoned three men was found in
the stomach. The wife was accused of murdering her husband, was tried,
convicted on the clearest evidence, and hanged. Very shortly after
she had suffered capital punishment horrible stories of a ghost were
widely circulated. Certain people declared that they had seen a ghastly
resemblance of the murderess, robed in her winding-sheet, with the black
mark of the rope round her swollen neck, standing on stormy nights upon
her husband’s grave, and digging there with a spade, in hideous imitation
of the actions of the men who had disinterred the corpse for medical
examination. This was fearful enough; nobody dared go near the place
after nightfall. But soon another circumstance was talked of in connexion
with the poisoner, which affected the tranquillity of people’s minds
in the village where she had lived, and where it was believed she had
been born, more seriously than even the ghost story itself. The well of
St Ludgvan, celebrated among the peasantry of the district for its one
remarkable property, that every child baptized in its water (with which
the church was duly supplied on christening occasions) was secure from
ever being hanged.

No one doubted that all the babies fortunate enough to be born and
baptized in the parish, though they might live to the age of Methuselah,
and might during that period commit all the capital crimes recorded in
the “Newgate Calendar,” were still destined to keep quite clear of the
summary jurisdiction of Jack Ketch. No one doubted this until the story
of the apparition of the murderess began to be spread abroad, then awful
misgivings arose in the popular mind.

A woman who had been born close by the magical well, and who had
therefore in all probability been baptized in its water, like
her neighbours of the parish, had nevertheless been publicly and
unquestionably hanged. However, probability is not always the truth.
Every parishioner determined that the baptismal register of the poisoner
should be sought for, and that it should be thus officially ascertained
whether she had been christened with the well water or not. After much
trouble, the important document was discovered—not where it was at first
looked after, but in a neighbouring parish. A mistake had been made
about the woman’s birthplace; she had not been baptized in St Ludgvan
church, and had therefore not been protected by the marvellous virtue of
the local water. Unutterable was the joy and triumph of this discovery.
The wonderful character of the parish well was wonderfully vindicated;
its celebrity immediately spread wider than ever. The peasantry of the
neighbouring districts began to send for the renowned water before
christenings; and many of them actually continue, to this day, to bring
it corked up in bottles to their churches, and to beg particularly that
it may be used whenever they present their children to be baptized.[16]


A young woman, with a child in her arms, stands by the side of Gulval
Well, in Fosses Moor. There is an expression of extreme anxiety in her
interesting face, which exhibits a considerable amount of intelligence.
She appears to doubt, and yet be disposed to believe in, the virtues
of this remarkable well. She pauses, looks at her babe, and sighs. She
is longing to know something of the absent, but she fears the well may
indicate the extreme of human sorrow. While she is hesitating, an old
woman advances towards her, upon whom the weight of eighty years was
pressing, but not over heavily; and she at once asked the young mother if
she wished to ask the well after the health of her husband.

“Yes, Aunt Alcie,” she replied; “I am so anxious. I have not heard of
John for six long months. I could not sleep last night, so I rose with
the light, and came here, determined to ask the well; but I am afraid. O
Aunt Alcie, suppose the well should not speak, I should die on the spot!”

“Nonsense, cheeld,” said the old woman; “thy man is well enough; and the
well will boil, if thee’lt ask it in a proper spirit.”

“But, Aunt Alcie, if it sends up puddled water, or if it remains quiet,
what would become of me?”

“Never be foreboding, cheeld; troubles come quick without running to meet
’em. Take my word for it, the fayther of thy little un will soon be home
again. Ask the well! ask the well!”

“Has it told any death or sickness lately?” asked the young mother.

“On St Peter’s eve Mary Curnew questioned the water about poor Willy.”

“And the water never moved?”

“The well was quiet; and verily I guess it was about that time he died.”

“Any sickness, Aunt Alcie?”

“Jenny Kelinach was told, by a burst of mud, how ill her old mother was;
but do not be feard, all is well with Johnny Thomas.”

Still the woman hesitated; desire, fear, hope, doubt, superstition, and
intelligence struggled within her heart and brain.

The old creature, who was a sort of guardian to the well, used all her
rude eloquence to persuade Jane Thomas to put her question, and at length
she consented. Obeying the old woman’s directions, she knelt on the mat
of bright green grass which grew around, and leaning over the well so as
to see her face in the water, she repeated after her instructor,

    “Water, water, tell me truly,
    Is the man I love duly
    On the earth, or under the sod,
    Sick or well,—in the name of God?”

Some minutes passed in perfect silence, and anxiety was rapidly turning
cheeks and lips pale, when the colour rapidly returned. There was a gush
of clear water from below, bubble rapidly followed bubble, sparkling
brightly in the morning sunshine. Full of joy, the young mother rose from
her knees, kissed her child, and exclaimed, “I am happy now!”[17]


St Keyne came to this well about five hundred years before the Norman
Conquest, and imparted a strange virtue to its waters—namely, that
whichever of a newly-married couple should first drink thereof, was to
enjoy the sweetness of domestic sovereignty ever after.

Situated in a thickly-wooded district, the well of St Keyne presents a
singularly picturesque appearance. “Four trees of divers kinds,” grow
over the well, imparting a delightful shade, and its clear waters spread
an emerald luxuriance around. Once, and once only, have I paid a visit to
this sacred spot. Then and there I found a lady drinking of the waters
from her thimble, and eagerly contending with her husband, that the right
to rule was hers. The man, however, mildly insisted upon it that he had
had the first drink, as he had rushed before his wife, and dipping his
fingers into the waters, had sucked them. This the lady contended was
not drinking, and she, I have no doubt, through life had the best of the

Tonkin says, in his “History of Cornwall,” “Did it retain this wondrous
quality, as it does to this day the shape, I believe there would be to
it a greater resort of both sexes than either to Bath or Tunbridge; for
who would not be fond of attaining this longed-for sovereignty?” He then
adds, “Since the writing of this, the trees were blown down by a violent
storm, and in their place Mr Rashleigh, in whose land it is, has planted
two oaks, an ash, and an elm, which thrive well; but the wonderful arch
is destroyed.” The author can add to this that (as he supposes, owing to
the alteration made in the trees) the sovereign virtues of the waters
have perished.

Southey’s ballad will be remembered by most readers:—

    “A well there is in the west country,
      And a clearer one never was seen;
    There is not a wife in the west country
      But has heard of the Well of St Keyne.

    “An oak and an elm-tree stand beside,
      And behind doth an ash-tree grow,
    And a willow from the bank above
      Droops to the water below.”

It has been already stated that, sitting in St Michael’s Chair, on the
tower of the church of St Michael’s Mount, has the same virtue as the
waters of this well; and that this remarkable power was the gift of the
same St Keyne who imparted such wonderful properties to this well.


    “Plunge thy right hand in St Madron’s spring,
    If true to its troth be the palm you bring;
    But if a false digit thy fingers bear,
    Lay them at once on the burning share.”

Of the holy well at St Maddern, Carne[18] writes thus:—

“It has been contended that a virgin was the patroness of this
church—that she was buried at Minster—and that many miracles were
performed at her grave. A learned commentator, however, is satisfied that
it was St Motran, who was one of the large company that did come from
Ireland with St Buriana, and he was slain at the mouth of the Hayle; the
body was begged, and afterwards buried here. Near by was the miraculous
Well of St Maddern, over which a chapel was built, so sacred was it held.
(This chapel was destroyed by the fanaticism of Major Ceely in the days
of Cromwell.) It stood at no great distance on the moor, and the soil
around it was black and boggy, mingled with a gray moorstone....

“The votaries bent awfully and tremblingly over its sedgy bank, and gazed
on its clear bosom for a few minutes ere they proved the fatal ordeal;
then an imploring look was cast towards the figure of St Motran, many
a crossing was repeated, and at last the pin or pebble held aloof was
dropped into the depth beneath. Often did the rustic beauty fix her eye
intently on the bubbles that rose, and broke, and disappeared; for in
that moment the lover was lost, or the faithful husband gained. It was
only on particular days, however, according to the increase or decrease
of the moon, that the hidden virtues of the well were consulted.”[19]


    Of this well we have the following notice by William Scawen,
    Esq., Vice-Warden of the Stannaries. The paper from which we
    extract it, was first printed by Davies Gilbert, Esq., F.R.S.,
    as an appendix to his “Parochial History of Cornwall.” Its
    complete title is, “Observations on an Ancient Manuscript,
    entitled ‘Passio Christo,’ written in the Cornish Language, and
    now preserved in the Bodleian Library; with an Account of the
    Language, Manners, and Customs of the People of Cornwall, (from
    a Manuscript in the Library of Thomas Artle, Esq., 1777)”:—

    “Of St Mardren’s Well, (which is a parish west to the Mount,)
    a fresh true story of two persons, both of them lame and
    decrepit, thus recovered from their infirmity. These two
    persons, after they had applied themselves to divers physicians
    and chirurgeons, for cure, and finding no success by them,
    they resorted to St Mardren’s Well, and according to the
    ancient custom which they had heard of, the same which was
    once in a year—to wit, on Corpus Christi evening, to lay some
    small offering on the altar there, and to lie on the ground
    all night, drink of the water there, and in the morning after
    to take a good draught more, and to take and carry away some
    of the water, each of them in a bottle, at their departure.
    This course these two men followed, and within three weeks
    they found the effect of it, and, by degrees their strength
    increasing, were able to move themselves on crutches. The year
    following they took the same course again, after which they
    were able to go with the help of a stick; and at length one of
    them, John Thomas, being a fisherman, was, and is at this day,
    able to follow his fishing craft. The other, whose name was
    William Cork, was a soldier under the command of my kinsman,
    Colonel William Godolphin, (as he has often told me,) was able
    to perform his duty, and died in the service of his majesty
    King Charles. But herewith take also this:—

    “One Mr Hutchens, a person well known in those parts, and now
    lately dead, being parson of Ludgvan, a near neighbouring
    parish to St Mardren’s Well, he observed that many of his
    parishioners often frequented this well superstitiously, for
    which he reproved them privately, and sometimes publicly, in
    his sermons; but afterwards he, the said Mr Hutchens, meeting
    with a woman coming from the well with a bottle in her hand,
    desired her earnestly that he might drink thereof, being then
    troubled with cholical pains, which accordingly he did, and was
    eased of his infirmity.” The latter story is a full confutation
    of the former; for, if the taking the water accidentally thus
    prevailed upon the party to his cure, as it is likely it did,
    then the miracle which was intended to be by the ceremony of
    lying on the ground and offering is wholly fled, and it leaves
    the virtue of the water to be the true cause of the cure. And
    we have here, as in many places of the land, great variety of
    salutary springs, which have diversity of operations, which
    by natural reason have been found to be productive of good
    effects, and not by miracle, as the vain fancies of monks and
    friars have been exercised in heretofore.

    Bishop Hale, of Exeter, in his “Great Mystery of Godliness,”
    says:—“Of which kind was that noe less than miraculous cure,
    which, at St Maddern’s Well, in Cornwall, was wrought upon
    a poore cripple; whereof, besides the attestation of many
    hundreds of the neighbours, I tooke a strict and impartial
    examination in my last triennial visitation there. This man,
    for sixteen years, was forced to walke upon his hands, by
    reason of the sinews of his leggs were soe contracted that he
    cold not goe or walke on his feet, who upon monition in a dream
    to wash in that well, which accordingly he did, was suddainly
    restored to the use of his limbs; and I sawe him both able to
    walk and gett his owne maintenance. I found here was neither
    art or collusion,—the cure done, the author our invisible God,”

    In Madron Well—and, I have no doubt, in many others—may be
    found frequently the pins which have been dropped by maidens
    desirous of knowing “when they were to be married.” I once
    witnessed the whole ceremony performed by a group of beautiful
    girls, who had walked on a May morning from Penzance. Two
    pieces of straw, about an inch long each, were crossed and the
    pin run through them. This cross was then dropped into the
    water, and the rising bubbles carefully counted, as they marked
    the number of years which would pass ere the arrival of the
    happy day. This practice also prevailed amongst the visitors to
    the well at the foot of Monacuddle Grove, near St Austell.

    On approaching the waters, each visitor is expected to throw
    in a crooked pin; and, if you are lucky, you may possibly see
    the other pins rising from the bottom to meet the most recent
    offering. Rags and votive offerings to the genius of the waters
    are hung around many of the wells. Mr Couch says:—“At Madron
    Well, near Penzance, I observed the custom of hanging rags on
    the thorns which grew in the enclosure.”

    Crofton Croker tells us the same custom prevails in Ireland;
    and Dr O’Connor, in his “Travels in Persia,” describes the
    prevalence of this custom.

    Mr Campbell,[20] on this subject, writes:—“Holy healing wells
    are common all over the Highlands, and people still leave
    offerings of pins and nails, and bits of rag, though few would
    confess it. There is a well in Islay where I myself have, after
    drinking, deposited copper caps amongst a hoard of pins and
    buttons, and similar gear, placed in chinks in the rocks and
    trees at the edge of the ‘Witches’ Well.’ There is another well
    with similar offerings freshly placed beside it, in an island
    in Loch Maree, in Ross-shire, and many similar wells are to
    be found in other places in Scotland. For example, I learn
    from Sutherland that ‘a well in the Black Isle of Cromarty,
    near Rosehaugh, has miraculous healing powers. A country woman
    tells me, that about forty years ago, she remembers it being
    surrounded by a crowd of people every first Tuesday in June,
    who bathed and drank of it before sunrise. Each patient tied
    a string or rag to one of the trees that overhung it before
    leaving. It was sovereign for headaches. Mr —— remembers to
    have seen a well, here called Mary’s Well, hung round with
    votive rags.’”

    Well-worship is mentioned by Martin. The custom, in his day, in
    the Hebrides, was to walk south round about the well.

    Sir William Betham, in his “Gael and Cymbri,” (Dublin: W.
    Curry, Jun., & Co., 1834,) says, at page 235:—“The Celtæ
    were much addicted to the worship of fountains and rivers as
    divinities. They had a deity called Divona, or the river-god.”


Amongst the numerous holy wells which exist in Cornwall, that of
Alternon, or Altar-Nun, is the only one, as far as I can learn, which
possessed the virtue of curing the insane.

We are told that Saint Nunne or Nuanita was the daughter of an Earl
of Cornwall, and the mother of St David; that the holy well, which is
situated about a mile from the cathedral of St David, was dedicated
to her; and that she bestowed on the waters of the Cornish well those
remarkable powers, which were not given to the Welsh one, from her
fondness for the county of her birth.

Carew, in his “Survey of Cornwall,” thus describes the practice:—

“The water running from St Nun’s well fell into a square and enclosed
walled plot, which might be filled at what depth they listed. Upon this
wall was the frantic person put to stand, his back towards the pool, and
from thence, with a sudden blow in the breast, tumbled headlong into
the pond; where a strong fellow, provided for the nonce, took him, and
tossed him up and down, alongst and athwart the water, till the patient,
by foregoing his strength, had somewhat forgot his fury. Then was he
conveyed to the church, and certain masses said over him: upon which
handling, if his right wits returned, St Nun had the thanks; but if there
appeared small amendment, he was bowssened again and again, while there
remained in him any hope of life or recovery.”

The 2d of March is dedicated to St Nun, and the influence of the water is
greatly exalted on that day.

Although St Nun’s well has been long famous, and the celebrity of its
waters extended far, yet there was a belief prevailing amidst the
uneducated, that the sudden shock produced by suddenly plunging an insane
person into water was most effective in producing a return to reason.

On one occasion, a woman of weak mind, who was suffering under the
influence of a religious monomania, consulted me on the benefit she might
hope to receive from electricity. The burden of her ever-melancholy tale
was, that “she had lost her God;” and she told me, with a strange mixture
of incoherence and reason, that her conviction was that a sudden shock
would cure her. She had herself proposed to her husband and friends that
they should take her to a certain rock on St Michael’s Mount, stand her
on it, with her back to the sea, when “the waters were the strongest, at
the flowing of the tide;” and after having prayed with her, give her the
necessary blow on the chest, and thus plunge her into the waters below.
I know not that the experiment was ever made in the case of this poor
woman, but I have heard of several instances where this sudden plunge had
been tried as a cure for insanity.

Mr T. Q. Couch thus describes the present condition of this well in a
paper on “Well-Worship:”—[21]

“On the western side of the beautiful valley through which flows the
Trelawney River, and near Hobb’s Park, in the parish of Pelynt, Cornwall,
is St Nun’s, or St Ninnie’s Well. Its position was, until lately, to be
discovered by the oak-tree matted with ivy, and the thicket of willow and
bramble which grew upon its roof. The front of the well is of a pointed
form, and has a rude entrance about four feet high, and spanned above
by a single flat stone, which leads into a grotto with arched roof. The
walls on the interior are draped with luxuriant fronds of spleenwort,
hart’s tongue, and a rich undercovering of liverwort. At the further end
of the floor is a round granite basin, with a deeply moulded brim, and
ornamented on its circumference with a series of rings, each enclosing
a cross or a ball. The water weeps into it from an opening at the back,
and escapes again by a hole in the bottom. This interesting piece of
antiquity has been protected by a tradition which we could wish to attach
to some of our cromlechs and circles in danger of spoliation.”

According to the narrative given by Mr Bond in his “History of Looe,” the
sacred protection given must have been limited in time, as the following
story will prove:—


    Probably so called from a consecrated well on the right hand
    side of the road. The titular saint of this well is supposed
    to have been St Cuby, now corrupted into Keby’s Well. The
    spring flows into a circular basin or reservoir of granite,
    or of some stone like it, two feet four inches at its extreme
    diameter at top, and about two feet high. It appears to have
    been neatly carved and ornamented in its lower part with the
    figure of a griffin, and round the edge with dolphins, now much
    defaced. The water was formerly carried off by a drain or hole
    at the bottom, like those usually seen in fonts and piscinas.
    This basin (which I take to be an old font) was formerly
    much respected by the neighbours, who conceived some great
    misfortune would befall the person who should attempt to remove
    it from where it stood, and that it required immense power to
    remove it. A daring fellow, however, (says a story,) once went
    with a team of oxen for the express purpose of removing it. On
    his arrival at the spot, one of the oxen fell down dead, which
    so alarmed the fellow that he desisted from the attempt he was
    about to make. There are several loose stones scattered round
    this basin or reservoir, perhaps the remains of some building
    which formerly enclosed it—a small chapel likely. The last time
    I saw this reservoir it had been taken many feet from where it
    used to stand, and a piece of the brim of it had been recently
    struck off.”


Carew, in his “Survey of Cornwall,” p. 139, (p. 324, Lord Dunstanville’s
edit.,) tells us, “near this rock there is another which, having a pit
in it, containeth water which ebbs and flows as the sea does. I was
thereupon very curious to inspect this matter, and found it was only a
hole artificially cut in a stone, about twelve inches deep and six broad;
wherein after rayne, a pool of water stands, which afterwards with fair
weather vanisheth away, and is dried up; and then again, on the falling
of rain, water is replenished accordingly, which with dry weather abates
as aforesaid, (for upon those occasions I have seen it to have water in
its pit, and again to be without it,) which doubtless gave occasion to
the feigned report that it ebbs and flows as the sea:” of all which
premisses thus speaks Mr Carew further, out of the Cornish “Wonder

    “You neighbour scorners, holy, proud,
      Goe people Roache’s cell,
    Far from the world and neer to the heavens;
      There hermitts may you dwell.

    “Is’t true the springe in rock hereby
      Doth tidewise ebb and flowe?
    Or have we fooles with lyars met?
      Fame says its, be it soe.”

The last tradition of this hermitage chapel is, that when it was kept
in repair, a person diseased with a grievous leprosy, was either placed
or fixed himself therein, where he lived until the time of his death,
to avoid infecting others. He was daily attended with meat, drink, and
washing by his daughter, named Gunnett or Gundred, and the well hereby
from whence she fetched water for his use is to this day shewn, and
called by the name of St Gunnett’s Well, or St Gundred’s Well.

It is not possible to give even the names of the wells which are still
thought to have “some healing virtue” in them. The typical wells have
alone been mentioned, and to these brief notices of a few others may be


Hal thus describes this famous place:—“In this parish is that famous
and well-known spring of water, called Holy-well, (so named, the
inhabitants say, for that the virtues of this water was first discovered
on All-Hallows day.) The same stands in a dark cavern of the seacliff
rocks, beneath full seamark on spring-tides, from the top of which cavern
falls down or distills continually drops of water from the white, blue,
red, and green veins of those rocks. And accordingly, in the place where
those drops of water fall, it swells to a lump of considerable bigness,
and there petrifies to the hardness of ice, glass, or freestone, of the
several colours aforesaid, according to the nature of those veins in the
rock from whence it proceeds, and is of a hard, brittle nature, apt to
break like glass.

“The virtues of this water are very great. It is incredible what numbers
in summer-season frequent this place and waters from counties far


The practice of bathing rickety children on the first three Wednesdays
in May is still far from uncommon in the outlying districts of Cornwall.
The parents will walk many miles for the purpose of dipping the little
sufferers in some well, from which the “healing virtue” has not entirely
departed. Among these holy wells, Cubert, just named, is far-famed. To
this well the peasantry still resort, firm in the faith that there, at
this especial season, some mysterious virtue is communicated to its
waters. On these occasions, only a few years since, the crowd assembled
was so large, that it assumed the character of a fair.


On the first three Wednesdays in May, children suffering from mesenteric
diseases are dipped three times in this well, _against the sun_,
and _dragged_ three times around the well on the grass, in the same


Children were cured of several diseases by being bathed in this well.
They were also carried to the sea-shore, and passed through a cleft in
a rock on the shore at Perranzabalo. In the autumn of 1863 I sought for
these holy waters. I was informed that some miners, in driving an adit,
had tapped the spring and drained it. There is not, therefore, a trace of
this once most celebrated well remaining. It was with difficulty that its
site could be discovered. I have since learned that the cut stone-work
which ornamented this holy place, was removed to Chiverton, for the
purpose of preserving it.


No child christened in this well has ever been hanged. Saint Ruth,
said to have been called Red Ruth, because she always wore a scarlet
cloak, especially blessed, to this extent, those waters. I believe the
population in this large parish cares but little now, whether their
children be baptized with this well water or any other; but, half a
century since, it was very different. Then, many a parent would insist
on seeing the water taken from the well and carried to the font in the


On Palm Sunday the people resorted to the well sacred to “Our Lady of
Nant’s,” with a cross of palm, and after making the priest a present,
they were allowed to throw the cross into the well; if it swam the
thrower was to outlive the year, if it sank he was not.[23]


It is a very common notion amongst the peasantry, that a just retribution
overtakes those who wilfully destroy monuments, such as stone circles,
crosses, wells, and the like. Mr Blight writes me—“Whilst at Boscaswell,
in St Just, a few weeks since, an old man told me, that a person who
altered an old Holy Well there, was drowned the next day in sight of his
home, and that a person who carried away the stones of an ancient chapel,
had his house burned down that very night.” We hope the certainty of
punishment will prevent any further spoliation. Cannot we do something
towards the preservation of our antiquities? I quote from a local paper
the following:—

    “If the attention of the members of the Penzance Antiquarian
    Society were directed to the state of the ‘Holy Well’ at
    Laneast, and the remains of the Old Chapel Park, St Clether,
    they might perhaps induce the proprietors of these ‘remnants
    of antiquity’ to bestow a little care on the same, and arrest
    their further ruin and destruction. Many other ‘objects of
    interest’ are in a sad state of neglect, and fast ‘fading
    away.’ Slaughtor Bridge, near Camelford, has completely
    vanished. This is much to be regretted, and is a double
    loss—first, to those who delight in these ‘memorials of the
    past,’ and also to the town and neighbourhood, depriving them
    of an attraction that has induced many strangers of taste to
    pay them a visit.”


    “There is a place within
      The winding shore of Severne sea
    On mids of rock, about whose foote
      The tydes turne—keeping play.
    A towery-topped castle here,
      Wide blazeth over all,
    Which Corineus ancient broode
      Tintagel Castle call.”

       _Old Poet—Translated by_ CAMDEN.



    “For there was no man knew from whence he came;
    But after tempest, when the long wave broke
    All down the thundering shores of Bude and Boas,
    There came a day as still as heaven, and then
    They found a naked child upon the sands
    Of wild Dundagil by the Cornish sea;
    And that was Arthur.”

                       _Idyls of the King_—TENNYSON.

The scarcity of traditions connected with King Arthur is not a little
remarkable in Cornwall, where he is said to have been born, and where
we believe him to have been killed. In the autumn of last year (1863) I
visited Tintagel and Camelford. I sought with anxiety for some stories of
the British king, but not one could be obtained. The man who has charge
of the ruins of the castle—was very sorry that he had lent a book which
he once had, and which contained many curious stories, but he had no
story to tell me.

We hear of Prince Arthur at the Land’s End, and of his fights with
the Danes in two or three other places. Merlin, who may be considered
as especially associated with Arthur, has left indications of his
presence here and there, in prophetic rhymes not always fulfilled; but
of Arthur’s chieftains we have no folk-lore. All the rock markings, or
rock peculiarities, which would in West Cornwall have been given to the
giants, are referred to King Arthur in the eastern districts.

Jack the Giant Killer and Thomas Thumb—the former having been tutor, in
his own especial calling, to King Arthur’s only son,[24] and the latter
the king’s favourite dwarf[25]—are, except in story-books, unknown. Jack
Hornby,[26]—if he ever lived near the Land’s End, unless he is the same
with “Little Jack Horner,”—has been so long a stranger, that his name is

The continuance of a fixed belief in the existence of Arthur is easily
explained. The poets and the romance writers have made the achievements
of a British chieftain familiar to all the people; and Arthur has not
only a name, but a local habitation given to him equally in Scotland,
England, Wales, and Ireland.

Mr Campbell, in his “West Highland Tales,” gives a “Genealogy Abridgment
of the very ancient and noble family of Argyle, 1779.” The writer says
this family began with Constantine, grandfather to King Arthur; and he
informs us that Sir Moroie Mor, a son of King Arthur, of whom great and
strange things are told in the Irish traditions—who was born at Dumbarton
Castle, and who was usually known as “The Fool of the Forest”—was the
real progenitor of “Mac Callen Mor.” From this Moroie Mor was derived the
mighty Diarmaid, celebrated in many a Gaelic lay—“to whom all popular
traditions trace the Campbell clan.”

“Arthur and Diarmaid,” writes Mr Campbell, “primeval Celtic worthies,
whose very existence the historian ignores, are thus brought together by
a family genealogist.”

“Was the Constantine grandfather to Arthur one of the five tyrants named
by Gildas?”—I quote from Camden[27] and Milton.[28]

_Constantinus_, son of Cador, Duke of Cornwall, Arthur’s half-brother by
the mother’s side, “a tyrannical and bloody king.”

_Aurelius Conanus_, who “wallowed in murder and adultery.”

_Vortipore_, “tyrant of the Dimeta.”

_Cuneglas_, “the yellow butcher.”

_Maglocunes_, “the island dragon.”

It is curious to find a Scotch genealogist uniting in one bond the Arthur
of Dundagel and the ancestors of the Argyles of Dumbarton.

May we not after this venture to suggest that, in all probability, the
parish of Constantine, (pronounced, however, _Cus-ten-ton_,) between
Helstone and Penryn, may derive its name from this Constantinus, rather
than from the first Christian emperor.

Again, the family of Cossentine has been often said to be offsets from
Constantine, the descendant of the Greek emperors, who was buried in
Landulph church. Seeing that the name has been known for so long a period
in Cornwall, may not this family rather trace their origin up to this
Constantine the Tyrant?


The Sea Kings, in their predatory wanderings, landed in Genvor Cove,
and, as they had frequently done on previous occasions, they proceeded
to pillage the little hamlet of Escols. On one occasion they landed in
unusually large numbers, being resolved, as it appeared, to spoil many of
the large and wealthy towns of Western Cornwall, which they were led to
believe were unprotected. It fortunately happened that the heavy surf on
the beach retarded their landing, so that the inhabitants had notice of
their threatened invasion.

That night the beacon fire was lit on the chapel hill, another was
soon blazing on Castle-an-dinas, and on Trecrobben. Carn Brea promptly
replied, and continued the signal-light, which also blazed lustrously
that night on St Agnes Beacon. Presently the fires were seen on Belovely
Beacon, and rapidly they appeared on the Great Stone, on St Bellarmine’s
Tor, and Cadbarrow, and then the fires blazed out on Roughtor and
Brownwilly, thus rapidly conveying the intelligence of war to Prince
Arthur and his brave knights, who were happily assembled in full force
at Tintagel to do honour to several native Princes who were at that time
on a visit to the King of Cornwall. Arthur, and nine other kings, by
forced marches, reached the neighbourhood of the Land’s-End at the end
of two days. The Danes crossed the land down through the bottoms to the
sea on the northern side of the promontory, spreading destruction in
their paths. Arthur met them on their return, and gave them battle near
Vellan-Druchar. So terrible was the slaughter, that the mill was worked
with blood that day. Not a single Dane of the vast army that had landed
escaped. A few had been left in charge of the ships, and as soon as they
learned the fate of their brethren, they hastened to escape, hoping to
return to their own northern land. A holy woman, whose name has not been
preserved to us, “brought home a west wind” by emptying the Holy Well
against the hill, and sweeping the church from the door to the altar.
Thus they were prevented from escaping, and were all thrown by the force
of a storm and the currents either on the rocky shore, or on the sands,
where they were left high and dry. It happened on the occasion of an
extraordinary spring-tide, which was yet increased by the wind, so that
the ships lay high up on the rocks, or on the sands; and for years the
birds built their nests in the masts and rigging.

Thus perished the last army of Danes who dared to land upon our western

King Arthur and the nine kings pledged each other in the holy water from
St Sennen’s Well, they returned thanks for their victory in St Sennen’s
Chapel, and dined that day on the Table-men.

Merlin, the prophet, was amongst the host, and the feast being ended, he
was seized with the prophetic afflatus, and in the hearing of all the
host proclaimed—

    “The northmen wild once more shall land,
    And leave their bones on Escol’s sand.
    The soil of Vellan-Druchar’s plain,
    Again shall take a sanguine stain;
    And o’er the mill wheel roll a flood
    Of Danish mixed with Cornish blood.
    When thus the vanquished find no tomb,
    Expect the dreadful day of doom.”


Bolerium, or _Bellerium_, is the name given by the ancients to the
Land’s-End. Diodorus writes, Belerium; Ptolemy, Bolerium. Milton adopts
this name in his “Lycidas,” and leads his readers to infer that it was
derived from the Giant Bellerus. It is quite possible that in Milton’s
time the name of one of the numerous giants who appear to have made the
Lands-End district their dwelling-place, might have still lived in the
memories of men. Certain it is no such a giant is remembered now.[30]

In a map of Saxon England we find the Land’s-End called Penꞃiðꞅꞇeoꞃꞇ, and
in some early English books this promontory is named _Penrhin-guard_,
and _Penrlien-gard_, said to signify the “Headland of Blood.”[31] The
old Cornish people called this promontory “Pen-von-las,” the “End
of the Earth,” hence we derive the name of the Land’s-End. May not
this sanguinary name have been derived from a fact, and that actually
several battles were fought by the Britons under the command of Arthur,
with the Saxons or the Danes, in this neighbourhood? We have not far
off the _Field of Slaughter_, “Bollait,” where the ancient people of
Cornwall made their final stand against the Saxons. On this field flint
arrow-heads have frequently been found. The tradition of Vellan-Druchar,
which is but one of several I have heard of a similar character, points
to the same idea. Arthur, according to one story, held possession of
Trereen Castle for some time. Another castle on the north coast is said
to have been occupied by him. An old man living in Pendean once told me
that the land at one time “swarmed with giants, until Arthur, the good
king, vanished them all with his cross-sword.”


The Danes are said to have landed in several places around the coast, and
have made permanent settlements in some parts. We have already spoken
of the battle of Vellan-druchar. In Sennen Cove there was for a long
period a colony of red-haired people,—indeed, I am informed some of them
still live on the spot,—with whom the other inhabitants of the district
refused to marry. Up to a very recent period, in several of the outlying
villages, a red-haired family was “looked down” upon. “Oh, he or she is a
red-haired Daäne,” was a common expression of contempt.

There are several hills which bear the names of Danes’ castles—as
Castle-an-Dinas, near Penzance, and another in St Columb.[32] Another
very remarkable earthwork in Perran Zabula (_Caer-Dane_) is described by

Eventually the Danes are said to have made permanent settlements in
Cornwall, and to have lived on friendly terms with the Britons.

The Danes and the Cornish are reported to have concentrated their forces
to oppose Egbert the Saxon. In 835 the combined body are reported to have
met, and fought a pitched battle on Hengistendane, (now Hengistondown,)
near Callington. The Cornish were so totally routed, that Egbert obliged
the Danes to retire to their ships, and passed a law “that no Briton
should in future cross the Tamar, or set foot on English ground, on pain
of death.”[34]

In 997 the Danes, sailing about Penwrith-steort, landed in several
places, foraged the country, burnt the towns, and destroyed the

Many of the traditions which are given in different parts of these
volumes have much of the Danish element in them.[36]


I quote the following as it stands:—[37]

    “In Jarvis’s translation of “Don Quixote,” book ii., chap. v.,
    the following passage occurs:—

    “‘Have you not read, sir,’ answered Don Quixote, ‘the annals
    and histories of England, wherein are recorded the famous
    exploits of King Arthur, whom, in our Castilian tongue, we
    always call King Artus; of whom there goes an old tradition,
    and a common one all over that kingdom of Great Britain, that
    this king did not die, but that, by magic art, he was turned
    into a raven; and that, in process of time, he shall reign
    again and recover his kingdom and sceptre, for which reason it
    cannot be proved that, from that time to this, any Englishman
    has killed a raven?’

    “My reason for transcribing this passage is to record the
    curious fact that the legend of King Arthur’s existence in the
    form of a raven was still repeated as a piece of folk lore in
    Cornwall about sixty years ago. My father, who died about two
    years since, at the age of eighty, spent a few years of his
    youth in the neighbourhood of Penzance. One day he was walking
    along Marazion Green with his fowling-piece on his shoulder, he
    saw a raven at a distance, and fired at it. An old man who was
    near immediately rebuked him, telling him that he ought on no
    account to have shot at a raven, for that King Arthur was still
    alive in the form of that bird. My father was much interested
    when I drew his attention to the passage which I have quoted

    “Perhaps some of your Cornish or Welsh correspondents may be
    able to say whether the legend is still known among the people
    of Cornwall or Wales.

                                                “EDGAR MACCULLOCH.”


I have been most desirous of discovering if any such legend as the above
exists. I have questioned people in every part of Cornwall in which King
Arthur has been reported to have dwelt or fought, and especially have I
inquired in the neighbourhood of Tintagel, which is reported to have
been Arthur’s stronghold. Nowhere do I find the raven associated with
him, but I have been told that bad luck would follow the man who killed a
Chough, for Arthur was transformed into one of these birds.


The tradition relative to King Arthur and his transformation into a
raven, is fixed very decidedly on the Cornish Chough, from the colour of
its beak and talons. The—

    “Talons and beak all red with blood”

are said to mark the violent end to which this celebrated chieftain came.


Historians and poets have made the world familiar with King Arthur. We
know how Merlin deceived, by his magic, the beautiful Igerna, so that
she received King Uter as her husband. We know also that Uter Pendragon
died, and that his son, by Igerna, reigned King of Britain. How Arthur
ruled, and how he slaughtered all the enemies of Britain, is told in the
chronicles. But even at Tintagel[38] all is silent respecting the king or
his celebrated Round Table.

“In the days of King Arthur the Mount of Cornwall was kept by a monstrous
giant,” is familiar to us all; and it is curious to find a tradition
that the extirpation of these Titans was due to Arthur and Christianity,
as already related. At Slaughter Bridge I heard the story, but it did
not sound like a tradition; the true native character was not in the
narrative. That in 824 the Cornish and Saxons fought so bloody a battle
that the river ran red with blood. On Slaughter Bridge Arthur is said
to have killed his nephew, Modred, but that, previously to this last
fight, Modred wounded his uncle with a poisoned sword, nearly in front of
Worthyvale House. A single stone laid over a stream, having some letters
cut on its lower surface, is believed to mark the exact spot where Arthur
received his death-wound.


At the head of this river Alan is seated Camelford, otherwise written
Galleford, a small town. It was formerly called Kambton, according to
Leland, who tells us that “Arthur, the British Hector,” was slain here,
or in the valley near it. He adds, in support of this, that “pieces of
armour, rings, and brass furniture for horses are sometimes digged up
here by the countrymen; and after so many ages, the tradition of a bloody
victory in this place is still preserved.” There are also extant some
verses of a Middle Age poet about “Camels” running with blood after the
battle of Arthur against Modred.[39]

“Camulus is another name of the god of war, occurring in two of Gruter’s

Seeing that Arthur’s great battles were fought near this town, and on
the banks of the river, may not the names given to the town and river be
derived from Camulus?

    “O’er Cornwall’s cliffs the tempest roar’d,
    High the screaming sea-mew soar’d;
    On Tintagel’s topmost tower
    Darksome fell the sleety shower;
    Round the rough castle shrilly sung
    The whirling blast, and wildly flung
    On each tall rampart’s thundering side
    The surges of the tumbling tide:
    When Arthur ranged his red cross ranks
    On conscious Camlan’s crimson’d banks.”

            _The Grave of King Arthur_—WHARTON.

In a Welsh poem it is recited that Arthur, after the battle of Camlan
in Cornwall, was interred in the Abbey of Glastonbury, before the high
altar, without any external mark. Henry II is said to have visited the
abbey, and to have ordered that the spot described by the bard should
be opened. We are told that at twenty feet deep they found the body
deposited under a large stone, with Arthur’s name inscribed thereon.

Glastonbury Abbey is said to have been founded by Joseph of Arimathea, in
a spot anciently called the island or valley of Avolmia or Avolon.

Bale, in his “Acts of English Votaries,” attests to the finding of the
remains of Arthur:—

“In Avallon, anno 1191, there found they the flesh bothe of Arthur and of
hys wyfe Guenever turned all into duste, wythin theyr coffines of strong
oke, the bones only remaynynge. A monke of the same abbeye, standyng and
behouldyng the fine broydinges of the wommanis heare as _yellow as golde_
there still to remayne. As a man ravyshed, or more than halfe from his
wyttes, he leaped into the graffe, xv fote depe, to have caugte them
sodenlye. But he fayled of his purpose. For so soon as they were touched
they fell all to powder.”


This ancient British castle once stood in savage grandeur a rival to
Tintagel. Its ruins, which can scarcely be traced, are in the parish of
St Tudy. Here Gothlois of the Purple Spear, Earl of Cornwall, fortified
himself against Uter Pendragon’s soldiery, and here he was slain.
Gothlois, or Gothlouis, was the husband of Igerna, who was so cruelly
deceived by Uter, and who became the mother of Arthur.


One of the most celebrated of Arthur’s knights, Sir Tristram, is said
to have been born in this parish. A tradition of this is preserved in
the parish, but it is probably derived from the verses of Thomas of
Erceldoune, better known as Thomas the Rhymer.


    “And, wow! Tam saw an unco sight—
    Warlocks and witches in a dance.”

               _Tam o’ Shanter_—BURNS.



    “And as he rode over the more,
    Hee see a lady where shee sate
    Betwixt an oke and a greene hollen;
    She was cladd in red scarlett.

    “Then there as shold have stood her mouth,
    Then there was sett her eye;
    The other was in her forhead fast,
    The way that she might see.

    “Her nose was crook’d and turn’d outward,
    Her mouth stood foule awry;
    A worse-form’d lady then shee was,
    Never man saw with his eye.”

                 _The Marriage of Sir Gawaine._

That a deep-rooted belief in the power of the witch still lingers in the
remote districts of Cornwall cannot be denied. A gentleman, who has for
many years been actively engaged in a public capacity, gives me, in reply
to some questions which I put to him relative to a witch or conjurer,
much information, which is embodied in this section.

A “cunning man” was long resident in Bodmin, to whom the people from all
parts of the country went to be relieved of spells, under the influence
of which either themselves or their cattle were supposed to be suffering.
Thomas ——, who resided at Nanstallan, not far from the town of Bodmin,
was waylaid, robbed, and well thrashed on his way home from market.
This act, which was accompanied by some appearance of brutality, was
generally referred to one of the dupes of his cunning. Howbeit, Thomas
—— appears to have felt that the place was getting too hot for him, for
he migrated to one of the parishes on the western side of the Fowey
river. Numerous instances are within my knowledge of the belief which
existed amongst the peasantry that this man really possessed the power
of removing the effects of witchcraft. Thomas —— took up his abode for
some time with a small farmer, who had lost some cattle. These losses
were attributed to the malign influences of some evil-disposed person;
but as Thomas —— failed to detect the individual, he with the farmer
made many journeys to Exeter, to consult the “White Witch,” who resided
in that city. Whether the result was satisfactory or otherwise, I have
never learned. Thomas ——, it must be remembered, was only a “witch.” The
term is applied equally to men as to women. I never heard any uneducated
person speak of a “wizard.” There appear to be, however, some very
remarkable distinctions between a male and a female witch. The former
is almost always employed to remove the evil influences exerted by the
latter. Witches, such as Thomas, had but limited power. They could tell
who had been guilty of ill-wishing, but they were powerless to break the
spell and “unbewitch” the sufferer. This was frequently accomplished
by the friends of the bewitched, who, in concert with Thomas ——, would
perform certain ceremonies, many of them of an obscene, and usually of
a blasphemous, character. The “White Witch” was supposed to possess the
higher power of removing the spell, and of punishing the individual by
whose wickedness the wrong had been inflicted.

Jenny Harris was a reputed witch. This woman, old, poor, and, from the
world’s ill usage, rendered malicious, was often charged with the evils
which fell upon cattle, children, or, indeed, on men and women. On one
occasion, a robust and rough-handed washerwoman, who conceived that she
was under the spell of Jenny Harris, laid violent hands on the aged
crone, being resolved to “bring blood from her.” The witch’s arm was
scratched and gouged from the elbow to the wrist, so that a sound inch of
skin did not exist. This violent assault became the subject of inquiry
before the magistrates, who fined the washerwoman five pounds for the

My correspondent writes:—“I was also present at a magistrates’ meeting at
the Porcupine Inn, near Tywardreath, some years ago, when an old woman
from Golant was brought up for witchcraft. One farmer, who appeared
against her, stated that he had then six bullocks hanging up in chains in
his orchard, and he attributed their disease and death to the poor old
woman’s influence. The case was dismissed, but it afforded a good deal
of merriment. There was a dinner at the inn after the meeting, and some
of the farmers present were disposed to ridicule the idea of witchcraft.
I said, well knowing their real views and opinions, ‘Gentlemen, it is
all well enough to laugh, but it appears to me to be a serious matter.’
Upon which Mr ——, a farmer of ——, said, ‘You are right, Mr ——; I’ll tell
of two cases in which one family suffered severely,’ and he gave us the
details of the cases. All the others present had a case or two, each one
within his own experience to vouch for, and the whole afternoon was spent
telling witch stories.”

The extent to which this belief was carried within a comparatively
recent period, may be inferred from the fact that, on one occasion when
the visitors were assembled at the county asylum, a man residing at
Callington came with the mother of a poor imbecile patient, and sent his
card to the boardroom. This was inscribed with his name and M.A. Upon
being asked how he became a Master of Arts, he replied that he was a
“Master of Black Arts.” The object of this fellow’s visit was, having
persuaded the mother of his power, to propose to the visitors that
they should place the imbecile girl in his care, upon his undertaking,
on their paying him five pounds, to cure her. Of course this was not
listened to. This fellow imposed upon people to such an extent, that he
was eventually tried at the sessions, under an almost forgotten Act of
Parliament, for witchcraft. The impression on the mind of my informant is
that the case broke down.


In confirmation of the melancholy facts related of the continuance of the
belief in witchcraft, I would give the accompanying cuttings from the
_West Briton_ newspaper of a very recent date:—


    “During the week ending Sunday last, a ‘wise man’ from Illogan
    has been engaged with about half-a-dozen witchcraft cases, one
    a young tradesman, and another a sea-captain. It appears that
    the ‘wise man’ was in the first place visited at his home by
    these deluded people at different times, and he declared the
    whole of them to be spell-bound. In one case he said that if
    the person had not come so soon, in about a fortnight he would
    have been in the asylum; another would have had his leg broken;
    and in every case something very direful would have happened.
    Numerous incantations have been performed. In the case of a
    captain of a vessel, a visit was paid to the sea-side, and
    while the ‘wise man’ uttered some unintelligible gibberish,
    the captain had to throw a stone into the sea. So heavy was
    the spell under which he laboured, and which immediately fell
    upon the ‘wise man,’ that the latter pretended that he could
    scarcely walk back to Hayle. The most abominable part of the
    incantations is performed during the hours of midnight, and
    for that purpose the wretch sleeps with his victims, and for
    five nights following he had five different bed-fellows.
    Having no doubt reaped a pretty good harvest during the week,
    he returned to his home on Monday; but such was the pretended
    effect produced by the different spells and witchcraft that
    fell upon him from his many dupes, that two of the young men
    who had been under his charge were obliged to obtain a horse
    and cart and carry him to the Hayle station. One of the men,
    having had ‘two spells’ resting on him, the ‘wise man’ was
    obliged to sleep with him on Saturday and Sunday nights, having
    spent the whole of the Sunday in his diabolical work. It is
    time that the police, or some other higher authorities, should
    take the matter up, as the person alluded to is well known, and
    frequently visited by the ignorant and superstitious.”


    “In the _West Briton_ of the 27th ult. we gave some particulars
    of several cases of disgraceful fraud and delusion which had
    been practised by a pretended ‘wise man’ from Illogan, and
    of gross superstition and gullibility on the part of his
    dupes. A correspondent has furnished us with the following
    particulars relative to the antecedents of the pretended
    conjurer. He states that James Thomas, the conjurer from the
    parish of Illogan, married some time since the late celebrated
    Tammy Blee, of Redruth, who afterwards removed to Helston and
    carried on as a fortune-teller, but parted from her husband,
    James Thomas, on account of a warrant for his apprehension
    having been issued against him by the magistrates of St Ives,
    for attempting to take a spell from Mrs Paynter, through her
    husband, William Paynter, who stated before the magistrates
    that he wanted to commit a disgraceful offence. Thomas then
    absconded, and was absent from the west of Cornwall for upwards
    of two years. His wife then stated that the virtue was in
    her and not in him; that she was of the real ‘Pellar’ blood;
    and that he could tell nothing but through her. His greatest
    dupes have been at St Just and Hayle, and other parts of the
    west of Cornwall. He has been in the habit of receiving money
    annually for keeping witchcraft from vessels sailing out of
    Hayle. He slept with several of his dupes recently; and about
    a fortnight since he stated that he must sleep with certain
    young men at Copperhouse, Hayle, in order to protect them
    from something that was hanging over them, one of them being
    a mason and another a miner, the two latter lately from St
    Just. He said himself this week at Truro that he had cured a
    young man of St Erth, and was going on Saturday again to take
    a spell from the father, a tin smelter. He has caused a great
    disturbance amongst the neighbours, by charging some with
    having bewitched others. He is a drunken, disgraceful, beastly
    fellow, and ought to be sent to the treadmill. One of the young
    men is now thoroughly ashamed of himself to think he has been
    duped so by this scoundrel. We have purposely withheld the
    names of a number of Thomas’s egregious dupes, with which our
    correspondent has furnished us, believing that the badgering
    which they have doubtless received from their friends has
    proved a sufficient punishment to them, and that their eyes are
    now thoroughly opened to the gross and disgraceful imposture
    that has been practised upon them.”

The following is from the _Western Morning News_:—


    “At the Liskeard police court, on Monday, Harriet King appeared
    before the sitting magistrates charged with an assault on
    Elizabeth Wellington. The complainant had called the mother of
    defendant a witch, and said she had ill-wished a person, and
    the ill wish fell on the cat, and the cat died. This annoyed
    the daughter, who retaliated by bad words and blows. The
    magistrates expressed surprise at the cause of the assault,
    but as that had been proved, they fined defendant 1s. and the
    costs, £1 in all.”


I give the following notices as I receive them:—“I caant altogether
exackly bleve in wiches at al,” said a good dame to us; “but this I can
tell ee, our John’s wife quarrelled once with her next door neighbor’s
wife, and when John come home, like a husband always should, he took up
for his wife, ‘northin but nat’r’l chiel was a.’ Well, the woman took a
nif, and for a long time never spoke to our John; at laast, after a bit,
she used to speak to un, and like as if a was all over, and she used to
speak quite sochebl’ like. Well, John alleas was very well when he used
to meet her, but as soon as ever he got underground, he was tooken ill to
wonce; when a dedn’t meet her, a was well enuf. Well, John was advised to
go to the ‘Peller,’ and off he went to Helstun sure nuf, and the ‘Peller’
towld un to come so many times in three months, and do something
anorther, and towld un who a was that hoverlooked un, and a was that vere
woman. Well, the ‘Peller’ towld John that if a dedn’t do it, a would very
likely die sudden. Our John, dear fellow, came home, and got unbelieving,
and dedn’t do as a was towld. Wat was the konsikense? Why, in less than
three months a was a dead man. Not as I believe the woman’s a witch—no,
not I; but she had a evil mind, and what’s so bad as a evil mind?”

“I used to have a woman meeting me,” said a fisherman, “when I went
a-fishing; and she used to wish me ‘a good catch’ every time she seed me,
and I was always sure to have no luck whenever I met her; luck used to be
good enough other times. Well, I went to the ‘Peller,’ and done what he
told me I done, and the woman came and begged my pardon, and my luck was
good enough after that.” To what purpose he had been lucky I could not
divine, for he was miserably clad, and I learned that his family were,
like himself, miserable and degraded.

In a certain cordwainer’s workshop, which we could name, the following
important information was afforded by a lady customer. The worthy
tradesman was bewailing the loss of a good-sized pig that had sickened,
and being afraid it would die, he had drowned it, to make its death
easier:—“If thee’st only towld me afore, tha peg wud a bean wel enuf in
a week, I knaw. That peg wus begruged thee, thas the way a wudn’ thrive.
I’ll tel ee wat mi faathur dun wonse. He wont hof to pausans[41] an’
bot a bra purty letle peg, an’ as a wus cumin home wed’en, a womun seed
un, an’ axed faathur to sell un to hur fur five shelins fur his bargin.
Shaan’t sell un, saze faathur. Mite sa wel, saze she, an’ off she went.
Faathur tendud un an’ tended un, an’ a wudn’ grough a mossel. Wy? A was
begruged, thas wot a was. Wel, faathur wen’ off, an’ he wos towld to go
hom an fill a botel with waater, an’ bere un in the cawl. Faathur dun so,
an’ a wuden long afore the wumun caame to faathur an’ axed un wat had a
dun by hur, for she suffered agonies; an’ if heed only _forgive_ hur,
she’d nevur do so nevur no mure. So faathur went to the cawl hus, an’
brok the botel. She was at once relieved, an’ the peg got wel enuf aftur.
I can tel ee, ef thee’s honle dun that, a wud ben wel enuf, if a wusn’d

“Well,” said one of the company, “I believe I was ill-wished once. I had
a great beautiful cage, full of pretty canaries. I hung them out one
Sunday morning, and a woman came along and asked me to let her have one
of my birds. ‘Yes,’ said I, ‘for half-a-crown.’ She said she shouldn’t
buy none. I told her I would not give her one, and off she went. That day
week I had not a bird left; everybody said they was bethought me, and I
suppose they were; but this I do know, I lost all my canaries.”

Carne, in his “Legend of Pacorra,” well expresses the belief in the power
of ill wishes:—“Thriven!” said the woman, with a bitter laugh; “not
if my curse could avail, should they thrive! and it has availed,” she
continued, in a lower tone. “You know the wasting illness that’s fallen
on all that cruel faggot, Dame Tredray’s children, that said they ought
to thraw me from the head of Tol-y-pedden, and that I should neither be
broken nor drowned; and the hard squire of Pendine, that would ha’ had me
burned in the great bonfire upon the bicking,[42] because King Harry had
a son born,—has he ever left his bed since, or will he ever again, ken


A man who has resided at several places on the south coast was known by
this name. He is said to be in possession of no end of charms, and to
possess powers, of no common order, over this and the other world. “He is
able,” writes a friend, “to put ghosts, hobgoblins, and, I believe, even
Satan himself, to rest. I have known farmers, well informed in many other
matters, and members of religious bodies, go to the ‘Peller’ to have the
‘spirits that possessed the calves’ driven out; for they, the calves,
‘were so wild, they tore down all the wooden fences and gates, and must
be possessed with the devil.’

“The ‘Peller’ always performs a cure; but as the evil spirits must go
somewhere, and as it is always to be feared that they may enter into
other calves or pigs, or, it may be, even possess the bodies of their
owners themselves, the ‘Peller’ makes it imperative that a stone wall
shall be built around the calves, to confine them for three times
seven days, or until the next moon is as old as the present one. This
precaution always results in taming the devils and the calves, and
consequently in curing them—the ‘Peller’ usually sending the spirits to
some very remote region, and chaining them down under granite rocks.”

An old woman had long suffered from debility; but she and her friends
were satisfied that she had been ill-wished. So she went to the “Peller.”
He told her to buy a bullock’s heart, and get a packet of pound pins. She
was to stick the heart as full of pins as she could, and “the body that
ill-wished her felt every pin run into the bullock’s heart same as if
they had been run into her.” The spell was taken off, and the old woman
grew strong.

An old man living on Lady Downs had a lot of money stolen from his house.
He, too, went to the “Peller.” In this case the magician performed the
spells, and the man was told the money would be returned. After a few
days, it was so; the money, during the night, was tied to the handle of
the door, and found there by the owner in the morning.


A farmer, who possessed broad acres, and who was in many respects a
sensible man, was greatly annoyed to find that his cattle became diseased
in the spring. Nothing could satisfy him but that they were bewitched,
and he was resolved to find out the person who had cast the evil eye on
his oxen. According to an anciently-prescribed rule, the farmer took one
of his bullocks and bled it to death, catching all the blood on bundles
of straw. The bloody straw was then piled into a heap, and set on fire.
Burning with a vast quantity of smoke, the farmer expected to see the
witch, either in reality or in shadow, amidst the smoke.

In this particular case he was to some extent gratified. An old woman who
lived in the adjoining village noticing the fire and smoke,—with all a
woman’s curiosity,—went to Farmer ——’s field to see what was going on.
She was instantly pounced on by this superstitious man, and he would
no doubt have seriously ill-treated her, had not the poor, and now
terrified, old soul, who roused her neighbours by her cries, been rescued
by them. Every person knew this poor woman to be a most inoffensive
and good creature, and consequently the farmer was only laughed at for
sacrificing thus foolishly one of his oxen.

Another farmer living in one of the western parishes was constantly
losing his cattle in the spring. Many persons said this was because they
were nearly starved during the winter, but he insisted upon it that he
was ill-wished, and that a blight was upon him.

At length, to break the spell, and discover the witch, he betook himself
to a conjuror (white witch) who lived near the Lizard Point. This learned
person, of whom several other facts are told in these pages, told the
farmer to bleed the next animal when taken ill, and to receive the blood
upon straw, being careful not to lose any of it. Then the straw and blood
were to be burnt, and whilst the blood was burning he would be certain of
seeing the witch pass through the smoke.

A young steer fell ill first; it was bled as ordered, the blood caught
upon the straw, and both carefully burnt. While this was going on, female
curiosity induced a poor weak old woman to go into the field and see what
was going on. She was well known to all, and as guiltless as a child of
ill-wishing any body, but she was seen through the smoke darted upon by
the farmer, and cruelly ill-treated.


Touch a Logan stone nine times at midnight, and any woman will become
a witch. A more certain plan is said to be—To get on the Giant’s Rock
at Zennor Church-Town nine times without shaking it. Seeing that this
rock was at one time a very sensitive Logan stone, the task was somewhat


The powers of the sorcerer appear to have been passed on from father to
son through a long succession of generations. There are many families—the
descendants from the ancient Cornish people—who are even yet supposed
to possess remarkable powers of one kind or another. Several families,
which have become extinct, are more especially reputed by tradition to
have had dealings with the bad spirits, and many of them to have made
compacts with the Evil One himself. Amongst the most curious of the
stories once told,—I believe they are nearly all forgotten,—are those
connected with Pengerswick Castle. A small tower alone remains to note
the site of a once famous fortified place. This castle was said to have
been occupied, in the time of Henry VIII., by a man who had committed
some great crime; but long previous to that period the place was famous
for its wickedness.[43]


The first Pengerswick, by whom the castle, which still bears his name,
was built, was a proud man, and desired to ally himself with some of the
best families of Cornwall. He wished his son to wed a lady who was very
much older than himself, who is said to have been connected with the
Godolphin family. This elderly maiden had a violent desire either for the
young man or the castle—it is not very clear which. The young Pengerswick
gave her no return for the manifestations of love which she lavished upon
him. Eventually, finding all her attempts to win the young man’s love
were abortive, and that all the love potions brewed for her by the Witch
of Fraddam were of no avail, she married the old lord—mainly, it is said,
to be revenged on the son.

The witch had a niece who, though poor, possessed considerable beauty;
she was called Bitha. This young girl was frequently employed by her
aunt and the lady of Godolphin to aid them in their spells on the young
Pengerswick, and, as a natural consequence, she fell desperately in love
with him herself. Bitha ingratiated herself with the lady of Pengerswick,
now the stepmother of the young man, and was selected as her maid. This
gave her many opportunities of seeing and speaking to young Pengerswick,
and her passion increased. The old stepdame was still passionately fond
of the young man, and never let a chance escape her which she thought
likely to lead to the excitement of passion in his heart towards her. In
all her attempts she failed. Her love was turned to hate; and having seen
her stepson in company with Bitha, this hate was quickened by the more
violent jealousy. Every means which her wicked mind could devise were
employed to destroy the young man. Bitha had learned from her aunt, the
Witch of Fraddam, much of her art, and she devoted herself to counteract
the spells of her mistress.

The stepmother, failing to accomplish her ends, resolved to ruin young
Pengerswick with his father. She persuaded the old man that his son
really entertained a violent passion for her, and that she was compelled
to confine herself to her tower in fear. The aged woman prevailed on Lord
Pengerswick to hire a gang of outlandish sailors to carry his son away
and sell him for a slave, giving him to believe that she should herself
in a short time present him with an heir.

The young Pengerswick escaped all their plots, and at his own good time
he disappeared from the castle, and for a long period was never heard of.

The mistress and maid plotted and counter-plotted to secure the old
Pengerswick’s wealth; and when he was on his deathbed, Bitha informed him
of the vile practices of his wife, and consoled him with the information
that he was dying from the effects of poison given him by her.

The young lord, after long years, returned from some Eastern lands with
a princess for his wife, learned in all the magic sciences of those
enchanted lands. He found his stepmother shut up in her chamber, with her
skin covered with scales like a serpent, from the effects of the poisons
which she had so often been distilling for the old lord and his son. She
refused to be seen, and eventually cast herself into the sea, to the
relief of all parties.

Bitha fared not much better. She lived on the Downs in St Hilary; and
from the poisonous fumes she had inhaled, and from her dealings with the
devil, her skin became of the colour of that of _a toad_.


The Lord of Pengerswick came from some Eastern clime, bringing with him a
foreign lady of great beauty. She was considered by all an “outlandish”
woman; and by many declared to be a “Saracen.”[44] No one, beyond the
selected servants, was ever allowed within the walls of Pengerswick
Castle; and they, it was said, were bound by magic spells. No one dared
tell of anything transacted within the walls; consequently all was
conjecture amongst the neighbouring peasantry, miners, and fishermen.
Certain it was, they said, that Pengerswick would shut himself up for
days together in his chamber, burning strange things, which sent their
strong odours,—not only to every part of the castle,—but for miles
around the country. Often at night, and especially in stormy weather,
Pengerswick was heard for hours together calling up the spirits, by
reading from his books in some unknown tongue. On those occasions his
voice would roll through the halls louder than the surging waves which
beat against the neighbouring rocks, the spirits replying like the roar
of thunder. Then would all the servants rush in fright from the building,
and remain crowded together, even in the most tempestuous night, in one
of the open courts. Fearful, indeed, would be the strife between the
man and the demons; and it sometimes happened that the spirits were too
powerful for the enchanter. He was, however, constantly and carefully
watched by his wife; and whenever the strife became too serious, her harp
was heard making the softest, the sweetest music. At this the spirits
fled; and they were heard passing through the air towards the Land’s-End,
moaning like the soughing of a departing storm. The lights would then
be extinguished in the enchanter’s tower, and all would be peace. The
servants would return to their apartments with a feeling of perfect
confidence. They feared their master, but their mistress inspired them
with love. Lady Pengerswick was never seen beyond the grounds surrounding
the castle. She sat all day in lonely state and pride in her tower, the
lattice-window of her apartment being high on the seaward side. Her voice
accompanying the music of her harp was rarely heard, but when she warbled
the soft love strains of her Eastern land. Often at early dawn the very
fishes of the neighbouring bay would raise their heads above the surface
of the waters, enchanted by the music and the voice; and it is said that
the mermaids from the Lizard, and many of the strange spirits of the
waters, would come near to Pengerswick cove, drawn by the same influence.
On moonlight nights the air has often seemed to be full of sound, and
yet the lady’s voice was seldom louder than that of a warbling bird. On
these occasions, men have seen thousands of spirits gliding up and down
the moonbeams, and floating idly on the silvered waves, listening to, and
sometimes softly echoing, the words which Lady Pengerswick sang. Long did
this strange pair inhabit this lonely castle; and although the Lord of
Pengerswick frequently rode abroad on a most magnificent horse—which had
the reputation of being of Satanic origin, it was at once so docile to
its master and so wild to any other person,—yet he made no acquaintance
with any of the neighbouring gentry. He was feared by all, and yet they
respected him for many of the good deeds performed by him. He completely
enthralled the Giants of the Mount; and before he disappeared from
Cornwall, they died, owing, it was said, to grief and want of food.

Where the Lord of Pengerswick came from, no one knew; he, with his lady,
with two attendants, who never spoke in any but an Eastern tongue, which
was understood by none around them, made their appearance one winter’s
day, mounted on beautiful horses, evidently from Arabia or some distant

They soon—having gold in abundance—got possession of a cottage; and in a
marvellously short time the castle, which yet bears his name, was rebuilt
by this lord. Many affirm that the lord by the force of his enchantments,
and the lady by the spell of her voice, compelled the spirits of the
earth and air to work for them; and that three nights were sufficient to
rear an enormous pile, of which but one tower now remains.

Their coming was sudden and mysterious; their going was still more so.
Years had rolled on, and the people around were familiarised with those
strange neighbours, from whom also they derived large profits, since they
paid whatsoever price was demanded for any article which they required.
One day a stranger was seen in Market-Jew, whose face was bronzed by long
exposure to an Eastern sun. No one knew him; and he eluded the anxious
inquiries of the numerous gossips, who were especially anxious to learn
something of this man, who, it was surmised by every one, must have
some connexion with Pengerswick or his lady; yet no one could assign
any reason for such a supposition. Week after week passed away, and the
stranger remained in the town, giving no sign. Wonder was on every old
woman’s lips, and expressed in every old man’s eyes; but they had to
wonder on. One thing, it was said, had been noticed; and this seemed to
confirm the suspicions of the people. The stranger wandered out on dark
nights—spent them, it was thought, on the sea-shore; and some fishermen
said they had seen him seated on the rock at the entrance of the valley
of Pengerswick. It was thought that the lord kept more at home than
usual, and of late no one had heard his incantation songs and sounds;
neither had they heard the harp of the lady. A very tempestuous night,
singular for its gloom—when even the ordinary light, which, on the
darkest night, is evident to the traveller in the open country, did not
exist—appears to have brought things to their climax. There was a sudden
alarm in Market-Jew, a red glare in the eastern sky, and presently a
burst of flames above the hill, and St Michael’s Mount was illuminated in
a remarkable manner. Pengerswick Castle was on fire; the servants fled in
terror; but neither the lord nor his lady could be found. From that day
to the present they were lost to all.

The interior of the castle was entirely destroyed; not a vestige of
furniture, books, or anything belonging to the “Enchanter” could be
found. He and everything belonging to him had vanished; and, strange to
tell, from that night the bronzed stranger was never again seen. The
inhabitants of Market-Jew naturally crowded to the fire; and when all was
over they returned to their homes, speculating on the strange occurrences
of the night. Two of the oldest people always declared that, when the
flames were at the highest, they saw two men and a lady floating in the
midst of the fire, and that they ascended from amidst the falling walls,
passed through the air like lightning, and disappeared.


Again and again had the Lord of Pengerswick reversed the spells of the
Witch of Fraddam, who was reported to be the most powerful weird woman
in the west country. She had been thwarted so many times by this “white
witch,” that she resolved to destroy him by some magic more potent than
anything yet heard of. It is said that she betook herself to Kynance
Cove, and that there she raised the devil by her incantations, and that
she pledged her soul to him in return for the aid he promised. The
enchanter’s famous mare was to be seduced to drink from a tub of poisoned
water placed by the roadside, the effect of which was to render him in
the highest degree restive, and cause him to fling his rider. The wounded
Lord of Pengerswick was, in his agony, to be drenched, by the old witch,
with some hell-broth, brewed in the blackest night, under the most evil
aspects of the stars; by this he would be in her power for ever, and she
might torment him as she pleased. The devil felt certain of securing the
soul of the Witch of Fraddam, but he was less certain of securing that
of the enchanter. They say, indeed, that the sorcery which Pengerswick
learned in the East was so potent, that the devil feared him. However,
as the proverb is, he held with the hounds and ran with the hare. The
witch collected with the utmost care all the deadly things she could
obtain, with which to brew her famous drink. In the darkest night, in
the midst of the wildest storms, amidst the flashings of lightnings and
the bellowings of the thunder, the witch was seen riding on her black
ram-cat over the moors and mountains in search of her poisons. At length
all was complete—the horse drink was boiled, the hell-broth was brewed.
It was in March, about the time of the equinox; the night was dark, and
the King of Storms was abroad. The witch planted her tub of drink in a
dark lane, through which she knew the Lord of Pengerswick must pass, and
near to it she sat, croning over her crock of broth. The witch-woman had
not long to wait; amidst the hurrying winds was heard the heavy tramp
of the enchanter’s mare, and soon she perceived the outline of man and
horse defined sharply against the line of lurid light which stretched
along the western horizon. On they came; the witch was scarcely able to
contain herself—her joy and her fears, struggling one with the other,
almost overpowered her. On came the horse and his rider: they neared the
tub of drink; the mare snorted loudly, and her eyes flashed fire as she
looked at the black tub by the roadside. Pengerswick bent him over the
horse’s neck and whispered into her ear; she turns round, and, flinging
out her heels, with one kick she scattered all to the wild winds. The tub
flew before the blow; it rushed against the crock, which it overturned,
and striking against the legs of the old Witch of Fraddam, she fell
along with the tub, which assumed the shape of a coffin. Her terror was
extreme: she who thought to have unhorsed the conjuror, found herself in
a carriage for which she did not bargain. The enchanter raised his voice
and gave utterance to some wild words in an unknown tongue, at which
even his terrible mare trembled. A whirlwind arose, and the devil was
in the midst of it. He took the coffin in which lay the terrified witch
high into the air, and the crock followed them. The derisive laughter
of Pengerswick, and the savage neighing of the horse, were heard above
the roar of the winds. At length, with a satisfied tone, he exclaimed,
“She is settled till the day of doom,” gave the mare the spurs, and rode
rapidly home.

The Witch of Fraddam still floats up and down, over the seas, around the
coast, in her coffin, followed by the crock, which seems like a punt in
attendance on a jolly-boat. She still works mischief, stirring up the sea
with her ladle and broom till the waves swell into mountains, which heave
off from their crests, so much mist and foam, that these wild wanderers
of the winds can scarcely be seen through the mist. Woe to the mariner
who sees the witch!

The Lord of Pengerswick alone had power over her. He had but to stand on
his tower, and blow three blasts on his trumpet, to summon her to the
shore, and compel her to peace.


As we walk from Nancledrea Bottoms towards Zennor we pass Trewa,
(pronounced _Truee_,) which is said to have been the place where at
midsummer all the witches of the west met. Here are the remains of very
ancient tin stream works, and these, I was informed, “were the remains
of bals which had been worked before the deluge; there was nothing so
old anywhere else in Cornwall.” Around us, on the hillsides and up the
bottoms, huge boulders of granite are most fantastically scattered. All
these rocks sprang from the ground at the call of the giants. At Embla
Green we still see the ruins of the Giant’s House, but all we know of
this Titan is that he was the king. On one side we have the “Giant’s
Well,” and not far off the “Druid’s Well,” and a little before us is
Zennor coit or cromlech.

From this point the scenery is of the wildest description. The granite
cairns are spread around in every direction, and many of those masses
are so strangely fashioned by the atmospheric influences ever acting on
them, that fancy can readily fashion them into tombs and temples. Rock
basins abound on these hills, and of ruined cromlechs there are many.
Whatever the local historians may say, local traditions assure us that on
Midsummer Eve all the witches in Penwith gathered here, and that they lit
fires on every cromlech, and in every rock basin, until the hills were
alive with flame, and renewed their vows to the evil ones from whom they
derived their power. Hence, to this day this place is called Burn Downs.
Amidst these rock masses there was one pile remarkable amidst all the
others for its size, and—being formed of cubical masses—for its square
character. This was known as the Witches’ Rock, and here it was said
they assembled at midnight to carry on their wicked deeds. This rock has
been removed, and with it the witches have died; the last real witch in
Zennor having passed away, as I have been told, about thirty years since,
and with her, some say, the fairies fled. I have, however, many reasons
for believing that our little friends have still a few haunts in this
locality. There is but one reason why we should regret the disappearance
of the Witches’ Rock. _Any one touching this rock nine times at midnight
was insured against bad luck._


On the tract called the “Gump,” near Kenidzhek, is a beautiful well of
clear water, not far from which was a miner’s cot, in which dwelt two
miners with their sister. They told her never to go to the well after
daylight; they would fetch the water for her. However, on one Saturday
night she had forgotten to get in a supply for the morrow, so she went
off to the well. Passing by a gap in a broken-down hedge (called a
_gurgo_) near the well, she saw an old woman sitting down, wrapped in
a red shawl; she asked her what she did there at that time of night,
but received no reply; she thought this rather strange, but plunged
her pitcher in the well; when she drew it up, though a perfectly sound
vessel, it contained no water; she tried again and again, and, though she
saw the water rushing in at the mouth of the pitcher, it was sure to be
empty when lifted out. She then became rather frightened; spoke again to
the old woman, but receiving no answer, hastened away, and came in great
alarm to her brothers. They told her that it was on account of this old
woman they did not wish her to go to the well at night. What she saw was
the ghost of old Moll, a witch who had been a great terror to the people
in her lifetime, and had laid many fearful spells on them. They said they
saw her sitting in the gap by the wall every night when going to bed.


Who that has travelled into Cornwall but has visited the Logan Stone?
Numerous Logan rocks exist on the granite hills of the county, but
that remarkable mass which is poised on the cubical masses forming its
Cyclopean support, at Trereen, is beyond all others “The Logan Stone.”

A more sublime spot could not have been chosen by the Bardic priesthood
for any ordeal connected with their worship; and even admitting that
nature may have disposed the huge mass to wear away, so as to rest
delicately poised on a pivot, it is highly probable that the wild worship
of the untrained tribes, who had passed to those islands from the shores
of the Mediterranean Sea, may have led them to believe that some
superhuman power belonged to such a strangely-balanced mass of rock.

Nothing can be more certain than that through all time, passing on from
father to son, there has been a wild reverence of this mass of rock; and
long after the days when the Druid ceased to be, there is every reason
for believing that the Christian priests, if they did not encourage, did
not forbid, the use of this and similar rocks to be used as places of
ordeal by the uneducated and superstitious people around.

Hence the mass of rock on which is poised the Logan Stone has ever been
connected with the supernatural. To the south of the Logan Rock is a high
peak of granite, towering above the other rocks; this is known as the
Castle Peak.

No one can say for how long a period, but most certainly for ages, this
peak has been the midnight rendezvous for witches. Many a man, and woman
too, now sleeping quietly in the churchyard of St Levan, would, had they
the power, attest to having seen the witches flying into the Castle Peak
on moonlight nights, mounted on the stems of the ragwort, (_Senécio
Jacobæa Linn_,) and bringing with them the things necessary to make their
charms potent and strong.

This place was long noted as the gathering-place of the army of witches
who took their departure for Wales, where they would luxuriate at the
most favoured seasons of the year upon the milk of the Welshmen’s cows.
From this peak many a struggling ship has been watched by a malignant
crone, while she has been brewing the tempest to destroy it; and many a
rejoicing chorus has been echoed, in horror, by the cliffs around, when
the witches have been croaking their miserable delight over the perishing
crews, as they have watched man, woman, and child drowning, whom they
were presently to rob of the treasures they were bringing home from other

Upon the rocks behind the Logan Rock it would appear that every kind of
mischief which can befall man or beast was once brewed by the St Levan


All those who have visited the fine piles of rocks in the vicinity of
the so-called “St Levan,” Land’s-End, called Tol-pedden-Penwith,—and
infinitely finer than anything immediately surrounding the most western
promontory itself,—cannot have failed to notice the arrangement of
cubical masses of granite piled one upon the other, known as the _Chair

This remarkable pile presents to the beat of the Atlantic waves a sheer
face of cliff of very considerable height, standing up like a huge
basaltic column, or a pillar built by the Titans, the horizontal joints
representing so many steps in the so-called “Ladder.” On the top is
placed a stone of somewhat remarkable shape, which is by no great effort
of the imagination converted into a chair. There it was that Madgy Figgy,
one of the most celebrated of the St Levan and Burian witches, was in
the habit of seating herself when she desired to call up to her aid the
spirits of the storm. Often has she been seen swinging herself to and
fro on this dizzy height when a storm has been coming home upon the
shores, and richly-laden vessels have been struggling with the winds.
From this spot she poured forth her imprecations on man and beast, and
none whom she had offended could escape those withering spells; and from
this “chair,” which will ever bear her name, Madgy Figgy would always
take her flight. Often, starting like some huge bird, mounted on a stem
of ragwort, Figgy has headed a band of inferior witches, and gone off
rejoicing in their iniquities to Wales or Spain.

This old hag lived in a cottage not far from Raftra, and she and all
her gang, which appears to have been a pretty numerous crew, were
notorious wreckers. On one occasion, Madgy from her seat of storms lured
a Portuguese Indiaman into Perloe Cove, and drowned all the passengers.
As they were washed on shore, the bodies were stripped of everything
valuable, and buried by Figgy and her husband in the green hollow, which
may yet be seen, just above Perloe Cove, marking the graves with a rough
stone placed at the head of the corpse. The spoils on this occasion must
have been large, for all the women were supplied for years with rich
dresses, and costly jewels were seen decking the red arms of the girls
who laboured in the fields. For a long time gems and gold continued to be
found on the sands. Howbeit, amongst the bodies thrown ashore was one of
a lady richly dressed, with chains of gold about her. “Rich and rare were
the gems she wore,” and not only so, but valuable treasure was fastened
around her, she evidently hoping, if saved, to secure some of her
property. This body, like all the others, was stripped; but Figgy said
there was a mark on it which boded them evil, and she would not allow
any of the gold or gems to be divided, as it would be sure to bring bad
luck if it were separated. A dreadful quarrel ensued, and bloodshed was
threatened; but the diabolical old Figgy was more than a match for any of
the men, and the power of her impetuous will was superior to them all.

Everything of value, therefore, belonging to this lady was gathered into
a heap, and placed in a chest in Madgy Figgy’s hut. They buried the
Portuguese lady the same evening; and after dark a light was seen to rise
from the grave, pass along the cliffs, and seat itself in Madgy’s chair
at Tol-Pedden. Then, after some hours, it descended, passed back again,
and, entering the cottage, rested upon the chest. This curious phenomenon
continued for more than three months,—nightly,—much to the alarm of all
but Figgy, who said she knew all about it, and it would all be right in
time. One day a strange-looking and strangely-attired man arrived at
the cottage. Figgy’s man (her husband) was at home alone. To him the
stranger addressed himself by signs,—he could not speak English, so he
does not appear to have spoken at all,—and expressed a wish to be led to
the graves. Away they went, but the foreigner did not appear to require
a guide. He at once selected the grave of the lady, and sitting down
upon it, he gave vent to his pent-up sorrows. He sent Figgy’s man away,
and remained there till night, when the light arose from the grave more
brilliant than ever, and proceeded directly to the hut, resting as usual
on the chest, which was now covered up with old sails, and all kinds of
fishermen’s lumber.

The foreigner swept these things aside, and opened the chest. He selected
everything belonging to the lady, refusing to take any of the other
valuables. He rewarded the wreckers with costly gifts, and left them—no
one knowing from whence he came nor whither he went. Madgy Figgy was now
truly triumphant. “One witch knows another witch, dead or living,” she
would say; “and the African would have been the death of us if we hadn’t
kept the treasure, whereas now we have good gifts, and no gainsaying
’em.” Some do say they have seen the light in Madgy Figgy’s chair since
those times.


Madge Figgey once lived in St Leven, but she removed to Burian
Church-town. She had a neighbour, Tom Trenoweth, who had a very fine
sow, and the old creature took it into her head to desire this sow. The
pig was worth a pound of any man’s money, but Madge offered Tom five
shillings for it.

“No,” says Tom, “I shan’t sell the sow to you, nor to anybody else. I am
going to put her in the house, and feed her for myself against winter.”

“Well,” said old Madge, nodding her head, and shaking her finger at Tom,
“you will wish you had.”

From that time the sow ceased to “goody” (thrive.) The more corn the sow
ate, the leaner she became. Old Madge came again, “Will ye sell her now,

“No! and be —— to you,” said Tom.

“Arreah, Tom! you will wish you had, before another week is ended, I can
tell ye.”

By next week the sow was gone to skin and bone, yet eating all the time
meat enough for three.

At last Tom took the sow out of the house, and prepared to drive her to
Penzance market, and sell her for what she would fetch.

The rope was put round her leg, but more for fashion’s sake than anything
else. The poor pig could scarcely stand on her legs, consequently there
was little chance of her running away. Well, Tom and his pig were no
sooner on the highroad than the sow set off like a greyhound, and never
stopped, racing over hedges and ditches, until she reached Leah Lanes.
Tom kept hold of the rope till his arm was almost dragged from his body,
and he was fairly “out of breath.” He dropped the rope, piggy went on
“as quiet as a lamb,” but only the way which pleased her best. At last
Tom and the sow arrived at Tregenebris Downs. At the corner of the roads,
where they divide,—one going to Sancreed, and the other to Penzance,—Tom
again laid hold of the rope, and said to himself, “I’ll surely get thee
to Penzance yet.”

The moment they came to the market-road, the sow made a bolt, jerked
the rope out of Tom’s hand, and ran off at full speed, never stopping
until she got in under Tregenebris Bridge. Now that bridge is more like
a long drain—locally a bolt—than anything else, and is smallest in the
middle; so when the sow got half way in, she stuck fast; she couldn’t
go forward—she wouldn’t come back. Tom fired all the stones he could
find,—first at the pig’s head, and then at her tail,—and all he got for
his pains was a grunt. There he stopped, watching the sow till near
sunset; he had eaten nothing since five in the morning, and was starving.
He saw no chance of getting the sow out, so he swore at her, and prepared
to go home, when who should come by but old Madge Figgey, with her stick
in one hand and basket in the other.

“Why, Tom, is that you? What in the world are ye doing here at this time
o’ day?”

“Well,” says Tom, “I’m cussed if I can tell; look under the bridge, if
you’re a mind to know.”

“Why, I hear the sow grunting, I declare. What will ye sell her for now?”

“If you can get her out, take her,” says Tom; “but hast anything to eat
in your basket?”

Madge gave him a twopenny loaf.

“Thank ye,” says Tom. “Now the devil take the both of ye!”

“Cheat! cheat! cheat!” says Madge. Out came the sow, and followed her
home like a dog.


They say that, a long time since, there lived an old witch down by Alsia
Mill, called Joan. Everybody feared to offend the old woman, and gave her
everything she looked for, except Madam Noy, who lived in Pendrea.

Madam Noy had some beautiful hens of a new sort, with “cops” on their

One morning early, Joan comes up to Pendrea, so as to catch Madam Noy
going out into the farmyard, with her basket of corn to feed the poultry,
and to collect the eggs.

Joan comes up nodding and curtsying every step. “Good morrow to your
honour; how well you are looking, Madam Noy; and, oh, what beautiful
hens. I’ve got an old hen that I do want to set; will you sell me a dozen
of eggs? Those with the ‘cops’ I’d like to have best.”

Madam turned round half offended, and said, “I have none to sell, neither
with the cops nor yet without the cops, whilst I have so many old
clucking hens about, and hardly an egg to be found.”

“You surely wouldn’t send me home empty as I came, madam dear?”

“You may go home the same way you came, for you aren’t wanted here.”

“Now,” croaked Joan, hoarse with passion, “as true as I tell you so, if
you don’t sell me some eggs, you will wish your cakes dough.”

As the old witch said this, she perched herself on the stile, shaking her
finger and “nodling” her head.

Madam Noy was a bit of a virago herself, so she took up a stone and
flung it at Joan; it hit her in the face, and made her jaws rattle.

As soon as she recovered, she spinned forth:—

    “Madam Noy, you ugly old bitch,
    You shall have the gout, the palsy, and itch;
    All the eggs your hens lay henceforth shall be addle;
    All your hens have the pip, and die with the straddle;
    And ere I with the mighty fine madam have done,
    Of her favourite ‘coppies’ she shan’t possess one.”

From that day forward, madam was always afflicted. The doctor from
Penzance could do little for her. The fowls’ eggs were always bad; the
hens died, and madam lost all her “coppies.” This is the way it came
about—in the place of cops the brains came out—and all by the spells of
old Joan.

This forms the subject of one of the old Cornish drolls, which ran in an
irregular jingle, such as the above, and was half sung, half said by the


Once on a time, long ago, there lived at Treva, a hamlet in Zennor, a
wonderful old lady deeply skilled in necromancy. Her charms, spells, and
dark incantations made her the terror of the neighbourhood. However,
this old lady failed to impress her husband with any belief in her
supernatural powers, nor did he fail to proclaim his unbelief aloud.

One day this sceptic came home to dinner and found, being exceedingly
hungry, to his bitter disappointment, that not only was there no dinner
to eat, but that there was no meat in the house. His rage was great,
but all he could get from his wife was, “I couldn’t get meat out of the
stones, could I?” It was in vain to give the reins to passion, the old
woman told him, and he must know “that hard words buttered no parsnips.”
Well, at length he resolved to put his wife’s powers to the proof, and he
quietly but determinedly told her that he would be the death of her if
she did not get him some dinner; but if in half an hour she gave him some
good cooked meat, he would believe all she had boasted of her power, and
be submissive to her for ever. St Ives, the nearest market-town, was five
miles off; but nothing doubting, the witch put on her bonnet and cloak,
and started. Her husband watched her from their cottage door, down the
hill, and at the bottom of the hill he saw his wife quietly place herself
on the ground and disappear. In her place a fine hare ran on at its full

He was not a little startled, but he waited, and within the half hour in
walked his wife with “good flesh and taties all ready for aiting.” There
was no longer any doubt, and the poor husband lived in fear of the witch
of Treva to the day of her death.

This event took place after a few years, and it is said the room was full
of evil spirits, and that the old woman’s skrieks were awful to hear.
Howbeit, peace in the shape of pale-faced death came to her at last, and
then a black cloud rested over the house when all the heavens were clear
and blue.

She was borne to the grave by six aged men, carried, as is the custom,
under hand. When they were about half way between the house and the
church, a hare started from the roadside and leaped over the coffin.
The terrified bearers let the corpse fall to the ground, and ran away.
Another lot of men took up the coffin and proceeded. They had not gone
far when puss was suddenly seen seated on the coffin, and again the
coffin was abandoned. After long consultation, and being persuaded by
the parson to carry the old woman very quickly into the churchyard,
while he walked before, six others made the attempt, and as the parson
never ceased to repeat the Lord’s Prayer, all went on quietly. Arrived at
the church stile, they rested the corpse, the parson paused to commence
the ordinary burial service, and there stood the hare, which, as soon
as the clergyman began “I am the resurrection and the life,” uttered a
diabolical howl, changed into a black, unshapen creature, and disappeared.


Mr Lenine had been, as was his wont, spending his evening hours with the
lady of his love. He was a timid man, and always returned to Tregenebris
early. Beyond this, as the lady was alone, she deemed it prudent to let
the world know that Mr Lenine left her by daylight.

One evening, it was scarcely yet dark, and our lover was returning home
through Leah Lanes. His horse started at an old woman, who had crept
under the hedge for shelter from a passing shower. As Mr Lenine saw a
figure moving in the shade he was terrified.

“Tu-whit, tu-whoo, ho,” sang an owl.

“It’s only me—Mr Lenine of Tregenebris,” said he, putting the spurs to
his horse.

Something followed him, fast as he might go, and he forced his horse up
the hill by Leah vean.

“Tu-whit, tu-whoo, ho,” sang the owl.

“It’s only me—Aunt Betty Foss,” screamed the old woman.

“Tu-whit, tu-whoo, ho, ho,” sang the owl again.

“Don’t ye be afeard, Mr Lenine,” shrieked Aunt Betty, almost out of

“Tu-whit, tu-whoo, ho, ho, ho,” also shrieked the owl.

“Oh, it’s only John Lenine of Tregenebris,” stammered the frightened
lover, who had, however, reached home.

He went no more a-courting. He was fully persuaded that either a
highwayman and his crew, or the devil and his imps, were upon him. He
died a bachelor, and the charming lady became a peevish old maid, and
died in solitude; all owing to the hooting owl.

Some do say Betty Foss was a witch, and the owl her familiar.


An old woman called Alsey—usually Aunt Alsey—occupied a small cottage in
Anthony, one of a row which belonged to a tradesman living in Dock—as
Devonport was then designated, to distinguish it from Plymouth. The old
woman possessed a very violent temper, and this, more than anything
else, fixed upon her the character of being a witch. Her landlord had
frequently sought his rent, and as frequently he received nothing but
abuse. He had, on the special occasion to which our narrative refers,
crossed the Tamar and walked to Anthony, with the firm resolve of
securing his rent, now long in arrear, and of turning the old termagant
out of the cottage. A violent scene ensued, and the vicious old woman,
more than a match for a really kind-hearted and quiet man, remained the
mistress of the situation. She seated herself in the door of her cottage
and cursed her landlord’s wife, “the child she was carrying,” and all
belonging to him, with so devilish a spite that Mr —— owned he was fairly
driven away in terror.

On returning home, he, of course, told his wife all the circumstances;
and while they were discoursing on the subject,—the whole story being
attentively listened to by their daughter, then a young girl, who is my
informant,—a woman came into the shop requiring some articles which they

“Sit still, father,” said Mrs —— to her husband; “you must be tired. I
will see to the shop.”

So she went from the parlour into the shop, and, hearing the wants of her
customer, proceeded to supply them; gossiping gaily, as was her wont, to
interest the buyer.

Mrs —— was weighing one of the articles required, when something falling
heavily from the ceiling of the shop, struck the beam out of her hand,
and both—the falling body and the scales—came together with much noise on
to the counter. At the same instant both women screamed;—the shopkeeper
calling also “Father! father!”—meaning her husband thereby—with great

Mr —— and his daughter were in the shop instantly, and there, on the
counter, they saw an enormous and most ugly toad sprawling amidst the
chains of the scales. The first action of the man was to run back to the
parlour, seize the tongs, and return to the shop. He grasped the swollen
toad with the tongs, the vicious creature spitting all the time, and,
without a word, he went back and flung it behind the block of wood which
was burning in the grate. The object of terror being removed, the wife,
who was shortly to become the mother of another child, though usually a
woman who had great command over her feelings, fainted.

This circumstance demanding all their attention, the toad was forgotten.
The shock was a severe one; and although Mrs —— was restored in a
little time to her senses, she again and again became faint. Those fits
continuing, her medical attendant, Dr ——, was sent for, and on his
arrival he ordered that his patient should be immediately placed in bed,
and the husband was informed that he must be prepared for a premature

The anxiety occasioned by these circumstances, and the desire to afford
every relief to his wife, so fully occupied Mr ——, that for an hour
or two he entirely forgot the cause of all this mischief; or, perhaps
satisfying himself that the toad was burnt to ashes, he had no curiosity
to look after it. He was, however, suddenly summoned from the bedroom, in
which he was with his wife, by his daughter calling to him, in a voice of

“O father, the toad, the toad!”

Mr —— rushed down-stairs, and he then discovered that the toad, though
severely burnt, had escaped destruction. It must have crawled up over the
log of wood, and from it have fallen down amongst the ashes. There it was
now making useless struggles to escape, by climbing over the fender.

The tongs were again put in requisition, with the intention this time of
carrying the reptile out of the house. Before, however, he had time to do
so, a man from Anthony came hastily into the shop with the information
that Aunt Alsey had fallen into the fire, as the people supposed, in
a fit, and that she was nearly burnt to death. This man had been sent
off with two commissions—one to fetch the doctor, and the other to
bring Mr —— with him, as much of the cottage had been injured by fire,
communicated to it by the old woman’s dress.

In as short a time as possible the parish surgeon and Mr —— were at
Anthony, and too truly they found the old woman most severely burnt—so
seriously, indeed, there was no chance that one so aged could rally from
the shock which her system must have received. However, a litter was
carefully prepared, the old woman was placed in it, and carried to the
workhouse. Every attention was given to her situation, but she never
recovered perfect consciousness, and during the night she died.

The toad, which we left inside the fender in front of a blazing fire,
was removed from a position so trying to any cold-blooded animal, by
the servant, and thrown, with a “hugh” and a shudder, upon one of the
flower-beds in the small garden behind the house.

There it lay the next morning dead, and when examined by Mr ——, it was
found that all the injuries sustained by the toad corresponded with those
received by the poor old wretch, who had no doubt fallen a victim to

As we have only to deal with the mysterious relation which existed
between the witch and the toad, it is not necessary that we should attend
further to the innocent victim of an old woman’s vengeance, than to say
that eventually a babe was born—that that babe grew to be a handsome
man, was an officer in the navy, and having married, went to sea, and
perished, leaving a widow with an unborn child to lament his loss.
Whether this was a result of the witch’s curse, those who are more deeply
skilled in witchcraft than I am may perhaps tell.


This appears to have been, and it may still be, a very common
superstition. I have lately received from Mr T. Q. Couch of Bodmin the
story of some sailors, who had reason to suspect that one of their body
was a wizard. This was eventually proved to have been the case, by
circumstances in every way resembling those of our old witch. There had
been a quarrel, and revenge had been talked of. The sailors were all
grouped together in the forepart of the ship, except the suspected one,
and a toad fell sprawling amongst them. One of the men flung the creature
into the fire in the caboose. It struggled for a moment in the fire, and
then by a convulsive effort flung itself out. Immediately the toad was
caught up by one of the men, and flung into the sea.

In the course of some little time the absent sailor made his appearance
dripping wet. In a drunken frolic he had first fallen into the fire at
a low beer shop or “Kiddle-e-Wink,” and subsequently he fell out of the
boat into the sea.


    “To us our Queen, who in the central earth,
    Midst fiery lavas or basaltine seas,
    Deep-throned the illimitable waste enjoys,
    Enormous solitude, has given these
    Her subterraneous realms; bids us dwell here,
    In the abyss of darkness, and exert
    Immortal alchymy.

    “Each devious cleft, each secret cell explore,
    And from its fissures draw the ductile ore.”

         _The Mine: a Dramatic Poem_—JOHN SARGENT.



    “An ancient story I’ll tell you anon,
    Which is older by far than the days of King John;
    But this you should know, that that red-robed sinner
    Robbed the Jew of the gold he had made as a tinner.”

                                     _Old Cornish Song._

There is scarcely a spot in Cornwall where tin is at present found, that
has not been worked over by the “old men,” as the ancient miners are
always called.

Every valley has been “streamed”—that is, the deposits have been washed
for tin; over every hill where now a tin mine appears, there are
evidences, many of them most extensive, of actual mining operations
having been carried on to as great a depth as was possible in the days
when the appliances of science were unknown.

Wherever the “streamer” has been, upon whatever spot the old miner has
worked, there we are told the “Finician” (_Phœnician_) has been, or the
Jew has mined.[45]

There is much confusion in these traditions. The Jew, and the Saracen,
and the Phœnician are regarded as terms applied to the same people.
Whereas the Phœnicians, who are recorded to have traded with the Cornish
Britons for tin, and the Jews, who were the great tin miners and
merchants in the days of King John, are separated by wide periods of
time; and the “Saracens,” who some suppose to have been miners who came
from Spain when that country was under the dominion of the Moors, occupy
a very undefined position. Tradition, however, tells us that the old
Cornish miners shipped their tin at several remarkable islands round the
coast. St Michael’s Mount has been especially noticed, but this arises
from the circumstance that it still retains the peculiar character which
it appears to have possessed when Diodorus wrote. But Looe Island, St
Nicholas’s Island in Plymouth Sound, the island at St Ives, the Chapel
Rock at Perran, and many other insular masses of rock, which are at but a
short distance from the coast, are said to have been shipping-places.

Tradition informs us that the Christian churches upon Dartmoor, which
are said to have been built about the reign of John, were reared by the
Jews. Once, and once only, I heard the story told in more detail. They,
the Jews, did not actually work in the tin streams and mines of the Moor,
but they employed tinners, who were Christians; and the king imposed on
the Jew merchants the condition that they should build churches for their

That the Phœnicians came to Cornwall to buy tin has been so often told,
that there is little to be added to the story. It was certainly new,
however, to be informed by the miners in Gwennap—that there could be no
shade of doubt but that St Paul himself came to Cornwall to buy tin, and
that Creegbraws—a mine still in existence—supplied the saint largely
with that valuable mineral. Gwennap is regarded by Gwennap men as the
centre of Christianity. This feeling has been kept alive by the annual
meeting of the Wesleyan body in Gwennap Pit—an old mine-working—on
Whit-monday. This high estate and privilege is due, says tradition, to
the fact that St Paul himself preached in the parish.[46]

I have also been told that St Paul preached to the tinners on Dartmoor,
and a certain cross on the road from Plympton to Princes-Town has been
indicated as the spot upon which the saint stood to enlighten the
benighted miners of this wild region. Of St Piran or Perran we have
already spoken as the patron saint of the tinners, and of the discovery
of tin a story has been told, (p. 21;) and we have already intimated
that another saint, whose name alone is preserved, St Picrous, has his
feast-day amongst the tinners of eastern Cornwall, on the second Thursday
before Christmas.

Amidst the giant stories we have the very remarkable Jack the Tinker,
who is clearly indicated as introducing the knowledge of tin, or of the
dressing of tin, to the Cornish. This is another version of Wayland
Smith, the blacksmith of Berkshire. The blacksmith of the Berkshire
legend reappears in a slightly altered character in Jack the Tinker. In
Camden’s “Britannia” we read, relative to Ashdown, in Berkshire:—

    “The burial-place of Baereg, the Danish chief, who was slain
    in this fight, (the fight between Alfred and the Danes,) is
    distinguished by a parcel of stones, less than a mile from
    the hill, set on edge, enclosing a piece of ground somewhat
    raised. On the east side of the southern extremity stand
    three squarish flat stones, of about four or five feet over
    either way, supporting a fourth, and now called by the vulgar,
    Wayland Smith, from an idle tradition about an invisible smith
    replacing lost horseshoes there.”—_Gough’s Camden_.

    See “Kenilworth,” by Sir Walter Scott, who has appropriated
    Wayland Smith with excellent effect.

    “The Berkshire legend of Wayland Smith (‘Wayland Smith,’ by W.
    S. Singer) is probably but a prototype of Dædalus, Tubal Cain,
    &c.”—_Wilson’s Prehistoric Annals of Scotland._

    See also Mr Thomas Wright’s Essay on Wayland Smith.

The existence of the terms “Jews’ houses,” “Jews’ tin,” “Jews’ leavings,”
or “atall,” and “atall Saracen,” prove the connexion of strangers with
the Cornish tin mines. The inquiry is too large to be entered on here. I
reserve it for another and more fitting place. I may, however, remark in
passing, that I have no doubt the Romans were active miners during the
period of their possession; and many relics which have been found and
ascribed to the Britons are undoubtedly Roman. See further remarks on p.
118, “Who are the Knockers?”

Mr Edmonds supposes that he found in a bronze vessel discovered near
Marazion a caldron in which tin was refined. In the first place, a bronze
vessel would never have been used for that purpose—chemical laws are
against it; and in the second place, it is more than doubtful if ever the
“Jews’ tin” was subjected to this process. In all probability, the bronze
vessel discovered was a “Roman camp-kettle.” A very full description of
bronze caldrons of this description will be found in “The Archæology and
Prehistoric Annals of Scotland,” by Daniel Wilson, p. 274.

It may not be out of place to insert here the tradition of a very
important application of this metal.

The use of tin as a mordant, for which very large quantities are now
used, is said to have been thus discovered:—

Mr Crutchy, Bankside, married a Scotchwoman. This lady often told her
husband that his scarlet was not equal to one she could dye. He set
her to work. She dyed a skein of worsted in a saucepan, using the same
material as her husband, but produced a better colour. She did not
know this was owing to the saucepan’s being tinned, but he detected the
fact, and made his fortune as a dyer of scarlet and Turkey-red. The most
important Turkey-red dye-works are even now in the neighbourhood of
Lochlomond; therefore, this Scotchwoman may have been better acquainted
with the process than the story tells.


The village of Trereen, near the Logan Stone, was at one time an
important market-town. Here came all the tin-streamers who worked from
Penberth to the hills, and to protect the place and the valuable property
which was accumulated here, Castle Trereen was built. Here came—or rather
into the cove near it came—the Tyrian merchants. They were not allowed
to advance beyond the shores, lest they should discover the country
from which the tin was brought. But it is not of them that we have now
to tell, but of a knot of tinners who came from the low country between
Chyannor and Trengothal. These were assembled round the Garrack Zans,
which then stood in the centre of the market-place of Trereen. Times had
been bad, and they were consulting together what they had better do. The
“streams” had failed them, and they believed all the tin was worked out.
Some of them had heard that there was tin in “the country a long way
off,” some miles beyond Market-Jew; but they had but a very dim idea of
the place or of the people. One of them, who, though an old man, was more
adventurous than any of his comrades, said he would travel there and see
what could be done. It was then determined that Tom Trezidder should try
his fortune, and the others would wait until he came home again, or sent
for them to come to him. This was soon noised about, and all the women,
old and young, came to say “Good-bye” to Tom. His parting with his wife
was brief but bitter. He bore up well, and with a stout heart started on
his adventure. Tom Trezidder arrived at length at a place not far from
Goldsythney, and here he found one of the Jew merchants, who farmed the
tin ground, and sold the tin at St Michael’s Mount; and the Jew was very
anxious to engage so experienced a “streamer” as Tom was. Tom, nothing
loath, took service for a year. He was to have just enough to live on,
and a share of profits at the year’s end. Tom worked diligently, and
plenty of tin was the result of his experienced labour. The year expired,
and Tom looked for his share of the profits. The Jew contrived to put Tom
off, and promised Tom great things if he would stop for another year,
and persuaded him to send for some of his old comrades, clenching every
argument which he employed with a small piece of advice, “Never leave an
old road for a new one.”

The other tinners were shy of venturing so far, so that two or three
only could be persuaded to leave the West Country. With Tom and with his
brethren the year passed by, and at the end he got no money, but only the
same piece of advice, “Never leave an old road for a new one.” This went
on for a third year, when all of them, being naturally tired of this sort
of thing, resolved to go home again.

Tom Trezidder was a favourite with his master, and was greatly esteemed
for his honesty and industry by his mistress.

When they left she gave Tom a good currant cake to take home to his old
woman, and told him to remember the advice, “Never leave an old road for
a new one.”

The tinners trudged on together until they were on the western side of
Penzance. They were weary, and they found that since they had left home
a new road had been made over the hills, which saved them a considerable
distance—in fact it was a “short cut.” On they went. “No,” says Tom;
“never leave an old road for a new one.” They all laughed at him, and
trudged on. But Tom kept in the old road along the valley round the hill.
When Tom reached the other end of the “short cut” he thought he would
rest a bit, and he sat down by the roadside and ate his _fuggan_. This
his mistress had given him, that he might not break his cake until he got

He had not sat long when he heard a noise, and, looking up the hill, he
saw his comrades, whom he thought were miles in advance of him, slowly
and sorrowfully descending it. They came at last to where Tom was seated,
and a sad tale had they to tell. They had scarcely got into the new road
when they were set upon by robbers, who took from them “all their little
bit of money,” and then beat them because they had no more.

Tom, you may be sure, thought the piece of advice worth something now, as
it had saved his bacon.

Tom arrived home at last, and glad was the old woman to see her old man
once again; so she made him some “herby tea” at once. He shewed his wife
the cake, and told her that all he had received for his share of profits
was the piece of advice already given.

The ladies who read this story will understand how vexed was Tom’s
wife,—there are but few of them who would not have done as she did, that
was to seize the cake from the table and fling it at her husband’s head,
calling him an old fool. Tom Trezidder stooped to avoid the blow. Slap
against the corner of the dresser went the cake, breaking in pieces with
the blow, and out on the lime-ash floor rolled a lot of gold coins.

This soon changed the aspect of things; the storm rolled back, and
sunshine was once more in the cottage. The coins were all gathered up,
and they found a scrap of paper, on which, when they got the priest to
read it, they discovered was written an exact account of each year’s
profits, and Tom’s share. The three years’ shares had been duly hoarded
for him by his master and mistress; and now this old couple found they
had enough to make them comfortable for the rest of their days. Many were
the prayers said by Tom and his wife for the happiness and health of the
honest Jew tin merchant and his wife.


Charles Kingsley in his “Yeast: a Problem,” asks this question—Tregarra

“They are _the ghosts_, the miners hold, _of the old Jews that crucified
our Lord, and were sent for slaves by the Roman emperors to work the
mines_: and we find their old smelting-houses, which we call _Jews’
houses_, and their blocks at the bottom of the great bogs, which we call
_Jews’ tin_: and then a town among us too, which we call _Market-Jew_,
but the old name was Marazion, that means the bitterness of Zion, they
tell me; and bitter work it was for them, no doubt, poor souls! We used
to break into old shafts and adits which they had made, and find fine
old stag’s-horn pickaxes, that crumbled to pieces when we brought them
to grass. And they say that if a man will listen of a still night about
these shafts, he may hear the ghosts of them at work, knocking and
picking, as clear as if there was a man at work in the next level.”

In _Notes and Queries_ will be found some learned discussions on the
question of the Jews working the Cornish tin mines, as though it were
merely one of tradition. That the Jews farmed the tin mines of Cornwall
and Devonshire is an historical fact, of which we have evidence in
charters granted by several of our kings, especially by King John. Carew
in his “Survey of Cornwall” gives some account of their mode of dealing
with the tinners. Hence the terms “Jews’ houses,” given to old and rude
smelting-works,—many of which I have seen,—and hence the name of “Jews’
tin,” given to the old blocks of tin, specimens of which may be seen
in the _Museum of Practical Geology_, and in the museum of the _Royal
Institution of Cornwall_, at Truro. “_Atall Sarazin_” is another term
applied to some of the old waste-heaps of the ancient tin mines.

“The Jews,” says Whitaker, (“Origin of Arianism,” p. 334,) “denominated
themselves, and were denominated by the Britons of Cornwall, _Saracens_,
as the genuine progeny of Sarah.” Be this as it may, I have often heard
in the mining villages—from twenty to thirty years since—a man coming
from a distant parish, called “_a foreigner_;” a man from a distant
country, termed “_an outlandish man_;” and any one not British born,
designated as “_a Saracen_.”

But this has led me away from the knockers, who are in some districts
called also “_the buccas_.” Many a time have I been seriously informed
by the miners themselves that these sprites have been heard working away
in the remote parts of a lode, repeating the blows of the miner’s pick
or sledge with great precision. Generally speaking, the knockers work
upon productive lodes only; and they have often kindly indicated to the
trusting miner, where they might take good tribute pitches.

To Wesley, Cornwall owes a deep debt. He found the country steeped in
the darkness of superstitious ignorance, and he opened a new light
upon it. Associated with the spread of Wesleyan Methodism, has been
the establishment of schools; and under the influence of religion and
education, many of the superstitions have faded away. We rarely hear
of the knockers now; but the following occurrence will shew that the
knockers have not entirely left the land:—

One Saturday night I had retired to rest, having first seen that all
the members of the household had gone to their bedrooms. These were my
daughters, two female servants, and an old woman, named Mary, who was
left, by the proprietor, in charge of the house which I occupied.

I had been some time in bed, when I distinctly heard a bedroom door open,
and footsteps which, after moving about for some time in the passage or
landing, from which the bedrooms opened, slowly and carefully descended
the stairs. I heard a movement in the kitchen below, and the footsteps
again ascended the stairs, and went into one of the bedrooms. This noise
continued so long, and was so regularly repeated, that I began to fear
lest one of the children were taken suddenly ill. Yet I felt assured, if
it was so, one of the servants would call me. Therefore I lay still and
listened until I fell asleep.

On the Sunday morning, when I descended to the breakfast-room, I asked
the eldest of the two servants what had occasioned so much going up
and down stairs in the night. She declared that no one had left their
bedrooms after they had retired to them. I then inquired of the younger
girl, and of each of my daughters as they made their appearance. No one
had left their rooms—they had not heard any noises. My youngest daughter,
who had been, after this inquiry of mine, for some minutes alone with the
youngest servant, came laughing to me,—

“Papa, Nanny says the house is haunted, and that they have often heard
strange noises in it.”

So I called Nancy; but all I could learn from her was that noises, like
that of men going up and down stairs,—of threshing corn, and of “beating
the borer,” (a mining operation,) were not uncommon.

We all laughed over papa’s ghost during the breakfast, and by and by old
Mary made her appearance.

“Yes,” she said, “it is quite true, as Nanny as a told you. I have often
heard all sorts of strange noises; but I b’lieve they all come from the
lode of tin which runs under the house. _Wherever there is a lode of tin,
you are sure to hear strange noises._”

“What, Mary! was it the knockers I heard last night?”

“Yes; ’twas the knackers, down working upon the tin—no doubt of it.”

This was followed by a long explanation, and numerous stories of mines
in the Lelant and St Ives district, in which the knockers had been often

After a little time, Mary, imagining, I suppose, that the young ladies
might not like to sleep in a house beneath which the knockers were at
work; again came with her usual low courtesy into the parlour.

“Beg pardon, sir,” says she; “but none of the young ladies need be
afraid. There are no spirits in the house; it is very nearly a new one,
and no one has ever died in the house.”

This makes a distinct difference between the ghost of the departed and
those gnomes who are doomed to toil in the earth’s dark recesses.[47] The
Cornish knocker does not appear to be the “_cobal_” of German miners.
The former are generally kindly, and often serve the industrious miner;
the latter class are always malicious, and, I believe, are never heard
but when mischief is near.


Miners say they often see little imps or demons underground. Their
presence is considered favourable; they indicate the presence of lodes,
about which they work during the absence of the miners. A miner told my
informant that he had often seen them, sitting on pieces of timber, or
tumbling about in curious attitudes, when he came to work.

Miners do not like the form of the cross being made underground. A friend
of my informant, going through some “levels” or “adits,” made a + by the
side of one, to know his way back, as he would have to return by himself.
He was compelled to alter it into another form.

If miners see a snail when going to “bal” in the morning, they always
drop a piece of tallow from their candles by its side.


On Christmas-eve, in former days, the small people, or the spriggans,
would meet at the bottom of the deepest mines, and have a midnight mass.
Then those who were in the mine would hear voices melodious beyond all
earthly voices, singing, “Now well! now well;”[48] and the strains of
some deep-toned organ would shake the rocks. Of the grandeur of those
meetings, old stories could not find words sufficiently sonorous to
speak; it was therefore left to the imagination. But this was certain,
the temple formed by the fairy bands in which to celebrate the eve of the
birth of a Saviour, in whose mercy they all had hope, was of the most
magnificent description.

Midsummer-eve and new-year’s day and eve are holidays with the miners.
It has been said they refuse to work on those days from superstitious
reasons. I never heard of any.


Amongst the mining population there is a deeply-rooted belief in
warnings. The following, related by a very respectable man, formerly a
miner, well illustrates this:—

“My father, when a lad, worked with a companion (James or ‘Jim,’ as he
was called) in Germo. They lived close by Old Wheal Grey in Breage. One
evening, the daughter of the person with whom they lodged came in to her
mother, crying, ‘Billy and Jim ben out theer for more than a hour, and
I ben chasin them among the Kilyur banks, and they waan’t ler me catch
them. As fast as I do go to one, they do go to another.’ ‘Hould your
tongue, child,’ said the mother; ‘’twas their forenoon core, and they
both ben up in bed this hours.’ ‘I’m sure I ben chasin them,’ said the
girl. The mother then went up-stairs and awoke the lads, telling them
the story. One of them said, ‘’Tis a warning; somethin will happen in
un old end, and I shan’t go to mine this core.’ ‘Nonsense,’ said the
other; ‘don’t let us be so foolish; the child has been playing with
some strangers, and it isn’t worth while to be spaled for any such
foolishness.’ ‘I tell you,’ replied the other, ‘I won’t go.’ As it was
useless for one man to go alone, both remained away. In the course of the
night, however, a run took place in the end they were working in, and
tens of thousands of kibblefuls came away. Had they been at work, it was
scarcely possible for them to have escaped.”

At Wheal Vor it has always been and is now believed that a fatal accident
in the mine is presaged by the appearance of a hare or white rabbit in
one of the engine-houses. The men solemnly declare that they have chased
these appearances till they were hemmed in apparently, without being
able to catch them. The white rabbit on one occasion being _run into a
“windbore”_ lying on the ground, _and, though stopped in_, escaped.

In this mine there appears to be a general belief among the men in
“tokens” and supernatural appearances. A few months since, a fine old man
reported, on being relieved from his turn as watcher, that during the
night he heard a loud sound like the emptying of a cartload of rubbish in
front of the account-house, where he was staying. On going out, nothing
was to be seen. The poor fellow, considering the strange sound as a
“warning,” pined away and died within a few weeks.


Billy —— and John ——, working at Wheal Vor, were in the habit, early in
the morning, of calling out a dog or two, kept by the occupier of an
adjoining farm, and with them hunt over the Godolphin warren adjoining.
One morning, while thus engaged, one of them gave the alarm that a man on
horseback was coming down the road. “’Tisn’t possible,” said the other;
“no horse can ever come over that road.” “There is a horse, and old
Cap’n T. is upon it,” replied the first. “Hold thy tongue,” rejoined his
comrade; “he’s dead months ago.” “I know that; but ’tis he, sure enough.”
Both crouched down behind a bush; and my informant, whose father was one
of the parties, declared that the appearance of Capt. T., on a black
horse, passed noiselessly down the road immediately before them, but
without noticing their presence.


About thirty years since, a man and a lad were engaged in sinking a shaft
at Wheal Vor Mine, when the lad, through carelessness or accident, missed
in charging a hole, so that a necessity arose for the dangerous operation
of picking out the charge. This they proceeded to do, the man severely
reprimanding the carelessness of his assistant. Several other miners
at the time being about to change their core, were on the plat above,
calling down and conversing occasionally with man and boy. Suddenly the
charge exploded, and the latter were seen to be thrown up in the midst of
a volume of flame. As soon as help could be procured, a party descended,
when the remains of the poor fellows were found to be shattered and
scorched beyond recognition. When these were brought to the surface, the
clothes and a mass of mangled flesh dropped from the bodies. A bystander,
to spare the feelings of the relatives, hastily caught up the revolting
mass in a shovel, and threw the whole into the blazing furnace of Woolf’s
engine, close at hand. From that time the enginemen declared that troops
of little black dogs continually haunted the place, even when the doors
were shut. Few of them liked to talk about it; but it was difficult to
obtain the necessary attendance to work the machine.


It is curious to notice the correspondence between the superstitions
of the coal-miner and those employed in the metalliferous mines. The
following comes very opportunely to our hand:—

    The superstitions of pitmen were once many and terrible; but
    so far from existing now-a-days, they are only matters of
    tradition among the old men. One class only of superstitions
    does exist among a few of the older and less-educated
    pitmen—namely, the class of omens, warnings, and signs. If one
    of these pitmen meet or see a woman, if he catch but a glimpse
    of her draperies, on his way, in the middle of the night to
    the pit, the probability is that he returns home and goes to
    bed again. The appearance of woman at this untimely hour has
    often materially impeded the day’s winning, for the omen is
    held not to be personal to the individual perceiving it, but to
    bode general ill luck to all. The walk from home to pit mouth,
    always performed at dead of the night, was the period when
    omens were mostly to be looked for. The supernatural appearance
    of a little white animal like a rabbit, which was said to
    cross the miner’s path, was another warning not to descend.
    Sometimes the omens were rather mental than visual. The pitmen
    in the midland counties have, or had, a belief, unknown in the
    north, in aerial whistlings, warning them against the pit.
    Who, or what the invisible musicians were, nobody pretended
    to know; but for all that, they must have been counted and
    found to consist of seven, as “The Seven Whistlers” is the
    name they bear to this day. Two goblins were believed to haunt
    the northern mines. One was a spiteful elf, who indicated his
    presence only by the mischief he perpetrated. He rejoiced
    in the name of “Cutty Soams,” and appears to have employed
    himself only in the stupid device of severing the rope-traces
    or soams, by which an assistant-putter—honoured by the title of
    “the fool”—is yoked to the tub. The strands of hemp which were
    left all sound in the board at “kenner-time,” were found next
    morning severed in twain. “Cutty Soams” has been at work, would
    the fool and his driver say, dolefully knotting the cord. The
    other goblin was altogether a more sensible, and, indeed, an
    honest and hard-working bogie, much akin to the Scotch brownie,
    or the hairy fiend, whom Milton rather scurvily apostrophises
    as a lubber. The supernatural personage in question was no
    other than a ghostly putter, and his name was “Bluecap.”
    Sometimes the miners would perceive a light blue flame
    flicker through the air, and settle on a full coal-tub, which
    immediately moved towards the rolley-way, as though impelled by
    the sturdiest sinews in the working. Industrious Bluecap was
    at his vocation; but he required, and rightly, to be paid for
    his services, which he modestly rated as those of an ordinary
    average putter; therefore once a fortnight Bluecap’s wages
    were left for him in a solitary corner of the mine. If they
    were a farthing below his due, the indignant Bluecap would
    not pocket a stiver; if they were a farthing above his due,
    indignant Bluecap left the surplus revenue where he found it.
    The writer asked his informant, a hewer, whether, if Bluecap’s
    wages were now-a-days to be left for him, he thought they would
    be appropriated; the man shrewdly answered, he thought they
    would be taken by Bluecap, or by somebody else. Of the above
    notions it must be understood that the idea of omens is the
    only one still seriously entertained, and even its hold upon
    the popular mind, as has been before stated, is becoming weaker
    and weaker.—_Colliery Guardian, May 23, 1863._


“I’ve seen it—I’ve seen it!” exclaimed a young woman, pale with terror,
approaching with much haste the door of a cottage, around which were
gathered several of the miners’ wives inhabiting the adjoining dwellings.

“God’s mercy be with the chield!” replied the oldest woman of the group,
with very great seriousness.

“Aunt Alice,” asked one of the youngest women, “and do ’e b’lieve any
harm will come o’ seeing it?”

“Mary Doble saw it and pined; Jinny Trestrail was never the same woman
after she seed the hand in Wheal Jewel; and I knows ever so many more;
but let us hope, by the blessing o’ the Lord, no evil will come on Mary.”

Mary was evidently impressed with a sense of some heavy trouble. She
sighed deeply, and pressed her hand to her side, as if to still the
beating of her heart. The thoughtless faith of the old woman promised
to work out a fulfilment of her fears in producing mental distress and
corporeal suffering in the younger one.

While this was passing in the little village, a group of men were
gathered around a deserted shaft, which existed in too dangerous
proximity with the abodes of the miners. They were earnestly discussing
the question of the reality of the appearance of the _dead hand_—those
who had not seen it expressing a doubt of its reality, while others
declared most emphatically, “that in that very shaft they had seed un
with a lighted candle in his hand, moving up and down upon the ladders,
as though he was carried by a living man.”

It appears that some time previously to the abandonment of the mine, an
unfortunate miner was ascending from his subterranean labours, carrying
his candle in his hand. He was probably seized with giddiness, but from
that or some other cause, he fell away from the ladders, and was found
by his comrades a bleeding corpse at the bottom. The character of this
man was not of the best; and after his burial, it was stated by the
people that _he had been seen_. From a vague rumour of his spectral
appearance on the surface, the tale eventually settled itself into that
of the dead hand moving up and down in the shaft.

By the spectral light of the candle, the hand had been distinctly visible
to many, and the irregular motion of the light proved that the candle
was held in the usual manner between the thumb and finger in its ball of
clay, while the fingers were employed in grasping stave after stave of
the ladder. The belief in the evil attendant on being unfortunate enough
to see this spectral hand, prevailed very generally amongst the mining
population about twenty years since. The dead hand was not, however,
confined to one shaft or mine. Similar narrations have been met with in
several districts.


Polbreen Mine is situated at the foot of the hill known as St Agnes
Becon. In one of the small cottages which immediately adjoins the mine
once lived a woman called Dorcas.

Beyond this we know little of her life; but we are concerned chiefly with
her death, which we are told was suicidal.

From some cause, which is not related, Dorcas grew weary of life, and one
unholy night she left her house and flung herself into one of the deep
shafts of Polbreen Mine, at the bottom of which her dead and broken body
was discovered. The remnant of humanity was brought to the surface; and
after the laws of the time with regard to suicides had been fulfilled,
the body of Dorcas was buried.

Her presence, however, still remained in the mine. She appears ordinarily
to take a malicious delight in tormenting the industrious miner, calling
him by name, and alluring him from his tasks. This was carried on by her
to such an extent, that when a “tributer” had made a poor month, he was
asked if he had “been chasing Dorcas.”[49]

Dorcas was usually only a voice. It has been said by some that they have
seen her in the mine, but this is doubted by the miners generally, who
refer the spectral appearance to the fears of their “comrade.”

But it is stated as an incontrovertible fact, that more than one man who
has met the spirit in the levels of the mine has had his clothes torn off
his back; whether in anger or in sport, is not clearly made out. On one
occasion, and on one occasion only, Dorcas appears to have acted kindly.
Two miners, who for distinction’s sake we will call Martin and Jacky,
were at work in their end, and at the time busily at work “beating the

The name of Jacky was distinctly uttered between the blows. He stopped
and listened—all was still. They proceed with their task: a blow on the
iron rod.—“Jacky.” Another blow.—“Jacky.” They pause—all is silent.
“Well, thee wert called, Jacky,” said Martin, “go and see.”

Jacky was, however, either afraid, or he thought himself the fool of his

Work was resumed, and “Jacky! Jacky! Jacky!” was called more vehemently
and distinctly than before.

Jacky threw down his heavy hammer, and went from his companion, resolved
to satisfy himself as to the caller.

He had not proceeded many yards from the spot on which he had been
standing at work, when a mass of rock fell from the roof of the level,
weighing many tons, which would have crushed him to death. Martin had
been stooping, holding the borer, and a projecting corner of rock just
above him turned off the falling mass. He was securely enclosed, and they
had to dig him out, but he escaped without injury. Jacky declared to his
dying day that he owed his life to Dorcas.

Although Dorcas’s shaft remains a part of Polbreen Mine, I am informed by
the present agent that her presence has departed.


    “Hengsten Down, well ywrought,
    Is worth London town dearly bought.”

         CAREW—_Lord De Dunstanville’s Edition_.

It may be worthy of consideration whether we have not evidence in this
distich of the extent to which mining operations were carried on over
this moorland and the adjoining country by the ancient Cornish miners.

It is said that this moorland was originally Hengiston; and tradition
affirms that the name preserves the memory of a severe contest, when the
Welsh joined Egbright, a king of the West Saxons, and defeated the host
of Danes, who had come over to “West Wales,” meaning thereby Cornwall.
On this waste Hengist had his fenced camp, and here the Cornish and the
Welsh attacked and entirely overthrew him. It is evident, if tradition is
to be believed, that the struggle was to gain possession of a valuable
tin ground.


    “I was saying to Jack, as we talk’d t’ other day
      About lubbers and snivelling elves,
    That if people in life did not steer the right way,
      They had nothing to thank but themselves.
    Now, when a man’s caught by those mermaids the girls,
      With their flattering palaver and smiles;
    He runs, while he’s list’ning to their fal de rals,
      Bump ashore on the Scilly Isles.”

                                              TOM DIBDIN.



    “On a sudden shrilly sounding,
      Hideous yells and shrieks were heard;
    Then each heart with fear confounding,
      A sad troop of ghosts appear’d,
    All in dreary hammocks shrouded,
      Which for winding-sheets they wore.”

                  _Admiral Hosier’s Ghost._

I prefer giving this story in the words in which it was communicated. For
its singular character, it is a ghost story well worth preserving:—“Just
seventeen years since, I went down on the wharf from my house one night
about twelve and one in the morning, to see whether there was any
‘hobble,’ and found a sloop, the _Sally_ of St Ives, (the _Sally_ was
wrecked at St Ives one Saturday afternoon in the spring of 1862,) in
the bay, bound for Hayle. When I got by the White Hart public-house, I
saw a man leaning against a post on the wharf,—I spoke to him, wished
him good morning, and asked him what o’clock it was, but to no purpose.
I was not to be easily frightened, for I didn’t believe in ghosts; and
finding I got no answer to my repeated inquiries, I approached close to
him and said, ‘Thee’rt a queer sort of fellow, not to speak; I’d speak to
the devil, if he were to speak to me. Who art a at all? thee’st needn’t
think to frighten me; that thee wasn’t do, if thou wert twice so ugly;
who art a at all?’ He turned his great ugly face on me, glared abroad his
great eyes, opened his mouth, and it was a mouth sure nuff. Then I saw
pieces of sea-weed and bits of sticks in his whiskers; the flesh of his
face and hands were parboiled, just like a woman’s hands after a good
day’s washing. Well, I did not like his looks a bit, and sheered off;
but he followed close by my side, and I could hear the water squashing
in his shoes every step he took. Well, I stopped a bit, and thought to
be a little bit civil to him, and spoke to him again, but no answer. I
then thought I would go to seek for another of our crew, and nock him up
to get the vessel, and had got about fifty or sixty yards, when I turned
to see if he was following me, but saw him where I left him. Fearing he
would come after me, I ran for my life the few steps that I had to go.
But when I got to the door, to my horror there stood the man in the door
grinning horribly. I shook like as aspen-leaf; my hat lifted from my
head; the sweat boiled out of me. What to do I didn’t know, and in the
house there was such a row, as if everybody was breaking up everything.
After a bit I went in, for the door was ‘on the latch,’—that is, not
locked,—and called the captain of the boat, and got light, but everything
was all right, nor had he heard any noise. We went out aboard of the
_Sally_, and I put her into Hayle, but I felt ill enough to be in bed.
I left the vessel to come home as soon as I could, but it took me four
hours to walk two miles, and I had to lie down in the road, and was
carried home to St Ives in a cart; as far as the Terrace from there I was
carried home by my brothers, and put to bed. Three days afterwards all my
hair fell off as if I had had my head shaved. The roots, and for about
half an inch from the roots, being quite white. I was ill six months,
and the doctor’s bill was £4, 17s. 6d. for attendance and medicine. So
you see I have reason to believe in the existence of spirits as much as
Mr Wesley had. My hair grew again, and twelve months after I had as good
a head of dark-brown hair as ever.”[50]


Years long ago, one night, a gig’s crew was called to go off to a
“hobble,” to the westwards of St Ives Head. No sooner was one boat
launched than several others were put off from the shore, and a stiff
chase was maintained, each one being eager to get to the ship, as she had
the appearance of a foreign trader. The hull was clearly visible, she was
a schooner-rigged vessel, with a light over her bows.

Away they pulled, and the boat which had been first launched still kept
ahead by dint of mechanical power and skill. All the men had thrown off
their jackets to row with more freedom. At length the helmsman cried out,
“Stand ready to board her.” The sailor rowing the bow oar slipped it out
of the row-lock, and stood on the forethought, taking his jacket on his
arm, ready to spring aboard.

The vessel came so close to the boat that they could see the men, and
the bow-oar man made a grasp at her bulwarks. His hand found nothing
solid, and he fell, being caught by one of his mates, back into the boat,
instead of into the water. Then ship and lights disappeared. The next
morning the _Neptune_ of London, Captain Richard Grant, was wrecked at
Gwithian, and all perished. The captain’s body was picked up after a
few days, and that of his son also. They were both buried in Gwithian


The phantom lights are called, they tell me, “Jack Harry’s lights,”
because he was the first man who was fooled by them. They are generally
observed before a gale, and the ship seen is like the ship which is sure
to be wrecked. The man who communicated this to me said, “What or how it
is we can’t tell, but the fact of its being seen is too plain.”

The following is another version, which I received from an old pilot:—

“Some five years ago, on a Sunday night, the wind being strong, our crew
heard of a large vessel in the offing, after we came out of chapel. We
manned our big boat, the _Ark_,—she was nearly new then,—and away we
went, under close-reefed foresail and little mizen, the sea going over
us at a sweet rate. The vessel stood just off the head, the wind blowing
W.N.W. We had gone off four or five miles, and we thought we were up
alongside, when, lo! she slipped to windward a league or more. Well, off
we went after her, and a good beating match we had, too; but the _Ark_
was a safe craft, and we neared and neared till, as we thought, we got up
close. Away she whizzed in a minute, in along to Godrevy, just over the
course we sailed; so we gave it up for “Jack Harry’s light,” and, with
wet jackets and disappointed hopes, we bore up for the harbour, prepared
to hear of squalls, which came heavier than ever next day.

“Scores of pilots have seen and been led a nice chase after them. They
are just the same as the _Flying Dutchman_, seen off the Cape of Good

Another man informed me that, once coming down channel, they had a
phantom ship alongside of them for miles: it was a moonlight night, with
a thin rain and mist. They could see several men aboard moving about.
They hailed her several times, but could not get an answer, “and we
didn’t know what to think of her, when all at once she vanished.”


One lovely evening in the autumn, a strange ship was seen at a short
distance from Cape Cornwall. The little wind there was blew from the
land, but she did not avail herself of it. She was evidently permitted to
drift with the tide, which was flowing southward, and curving in round
Whitesand Bay towards the Land’s-End. The vessel, from her peculiar rig,
created no small amount of alarm amongst the fishermen, since it told
them that she was manned by pirates; and a large body of men and women
watched her movements from behind the rocks at Caraglose. At length,
when within a couple of pistol-shots off the shore, a boat was lowered
and manned. Then a man, whose limited movements shew him to be heavily
ironed, was brought to the side of the ship and evidently forced,—for
several pistols were held at his head,—into the boat, which then rowed
rapidly to the shore in Priest’s Cove. The waves of the Atlantic Ocean
fell so gently on the strand, that there was no difficulty in beaching
the boat. The prisoner was made to stand up, and his ponderous chains
were removed from his arms and ankles. In a frenzy of passion he attacked
the sailors, but they were too many and too strong for him, and the fight
terminated by his being thrown into the water, and left to scramble up on
the dry sands. They pushed the boat off with a wild shout, and this man
stood uttering fearful imprecations on his former comrades.

It subsequently became known that this man was so monstrously wicked that
even the pirates would no longer endure him, and hence they had recourse
to this means of ridding themselves of him.

It is not necessary to tell how this wretch settled himself at Tregaseal,
and lived by a system of wrecking, pursued with unheard-of cruelties and
cunning. “It’s too frightful to tell,” says my correspondent, “what was
said about his doings. We scarcely believed half of the vile things we
heard, till we saw what took place at his death. But one can’t say he
died, because he was taken off bodily. We shall never know the scores,
perhaps hundreds, of ships that old sinner has brought on the cliffs,
by fastening his lantern to the neck of his horse, with its head tied
close to the forefoot. The horse, when driven along the cliff, would, by
its motion, cause the lantern to be taken for the stern-light of a ship;
then the vessel would come right in on the rocks, since those on board
would expect to find plenty of sea-room; and, if any of the poor sailors
escaped a watery grave, the old wretch would give them a worse death, by
knocking them on the head with his hatchet, or cutting off their hands as
they tried to grasp the ledges of the rocks.”

A life of extreme wickedness was at length closed with circumstances
of unusual terror—so terrible, that the story is told with feelings of
awe even at the present day. The old wretch fought lustily with death,
but at length the time of his departure came. It was in the time of the
barley-harvest. Two men were in a field on the cliff, a little below
the house, mowing. A universal calm prevailed, and there was not a
breath of wind to stir the corn. Suddenly a breeze passed by them, and
they heard the words, “The time is come, but the man isn’t come.” These
words appeared to float in the breeze from the sea, and consequently it
attracted their attention. Looking out to sea, they saw a black, heavy,
square-rigged ship, with all her sails set, coming in against wind
and tide, and not a hand to be seen on board. The sky became black as
night around the ship, and as she came under the cliff—and she came so
close that the top of the masts could scarcely be perceived—the darkness
resolved itself into a lurid storm-cloud, which extended high into the
air. The sun shone brilliantly over the country, except on the house of
the pirate at Tregaseal—that was wrapt in the deep shadow of the cloud.

The men, in terror, left their work; they found all the neighbours
gathered around the door of the pirate’s cottage, none of them daring to
enter it. Parson —— had been sent for by the terrified peasants, this
divine being celebrated for his power of driving away evil spirits.

The dying wrecker was in a state of agony, crying out, in tones of the
most intense terror, “The devil is tearing at me with nails like the
claws of a hawk! Put out the sailors with their bloody hands!” and using,
in the paroxysms of pain, the most profane imprecations. The parson, the
doctor, and two of the bravest of the fishermen, were the only persons
in the room. They related that at one moment the room was as dark as
the grave, and that at the next it was so light that every hair on the
old man’s head could be seen standing on end. The parson used all his
influence to dispel the evil spirit. His powers were so potent that he
reduced the devil to the size of a fly, but he could not put him out of
the room. All this time the room appeared as if filled with the sea,
with the waves surging violently to and fro, and one could hear the
breakers roaring, as if standing on the edge of the cliff in a storm. At
last there was a fearful crash of thunder, and a blaze of the intensest
lightning. The house appeared on fire, and the ground shook, as if with
an earthquake. All rushed in terror from the house, leaving the dying man
to his fate.

The storm raged with fearful violence, but appeared to contract its
dimensions. The black cloud, which was first seen to come in with
the black ship, was moving, with a violent internal motion, over the
wrecker’s house. The cloud rolled together, smaller and smaller, and
suddenly, with the blast of a whirlwind, it passed from Tregaseal to the
ship, and she was impelled, amidst the flashes of lightning and roarings
of thunder, away over the sea.

The dead body of the pirate-wrecker lay a ghastly spectacle, with eyes
expanded and the mouth partly open, still retaining the aspect of his
last mortal terror. As every one hated him, they all desired to remove
his corpse as rapidly as possible from the sight of man. A rude coffin
was rapidly prepared, and the body was carefully cased in its boards.
They tell me the coffin was carried to the churchyard, but that it was
too light to have contained the body, and that it was followed by a black
pig, which joined the company forming the procession, nobody knew where,
and disappeared nobody knew when. When they reached the church stile,
a storm, similar in its character to that which heralded the wrecker’s
death, came on. The bearers of the coffin were obliged to leave it
without the churchyard stile and rush into the church for safety. The
storm lasted long and raged with violence, and all was as dark as night.
A sudden blaze of light, more vivid than before, was seen, and those who
had the hardihood to look out saw that the lightning had set fire to the
coffin, and it was being borne away through the air, blazing and whirling
wildly in the grasp of such a whirlwind as no man ever witnessed before
or since.


Porthcurno Cove is situated a little to the west of the Logan Stone.
There, as in nearly all the coves around the coast, once existed a
small chapel[51] or oratory, which appears to have been dedicated to St
Leven. There exists now a little square enclosure about the size of a
(_bougie_) sheep’s house, which is all that remains of this little holy
place. Looking up the valley, (Bottom,) you may see a few trees, with the
chimney-tops and part of the roof of an old-fashioned house. That place
is Raftra, where they say St Leven Church was to have been built; but as
fast as the stones were taken there by day, they were removed by night
to the place of the present church. (These performances are usually the
act of the devil, but I have no information as to the saint or sinner
who did this work.) Raftra House, at the time it was built, was the
largest mansion west of Penzance. It is said to have been erected by the
Tresillians, and, ere it was finished, they appear to have been obliged
to sell house and lands for less than it had cost them to build the house.

This valley is in every respect a melancholy spot, and during a period of
storms, or at night, it is exactly the place which might well be haunted
by demon revellers. In the days of the saint from whom the parish has its
name—St Leven—he lived a long way up from the cove, at a place called
Bodelan, and his influence made that, which is now so dreary, a garden.
By his pure holiness he made the wilderness a garden of flowers, and
spread gladness where now is desolation.

Few persons cared to cross that valley after nightfall; and it is not
more than thirty years since that I had a narrative from an inhabitant of
Penberth, that he himself had seen the spectre ship sailing over the land.

This strange apparition is said to have been observed frequently, coming
in from sea about nightfall, when the mists were rising from the marshy
ground in the Bottoms.

Onward came the ill-omened craft. It passed steadily through the breakers
on the shore, glided up over the sands, and steadily pursued its course
over the dry land, as if it had been water. She is described to have
been a black, square-rigged, single-masted affair, usually, but not
always, followed by a boat. No crew was ever seen. It is supposed they
were below, and that the hatches were battened down. On it went to
Bodelan, where St Leven formerly dwelt. It would then steer its course to
Chygwiden, and there vanish like smoke.

Many of the old people have seen this ship, and no one ever saw it, upon
whom some bad luck was not sure to fall.

This ship is somehow connected with a strange man who returned from sea,
and went to live at Chygwiden. It may be five hundred years since—it may
be but fifty.

He was accompanied by a servant of foreign and forbidding aspect, who
continued to be his only attendant; and this servant was never known to
speak to any one save his master. It is said by some they were pirates;
others make them more familiar, by calling them privateers; while some
insist upon it they were American bucaneers. Whatever they may have been,
there was but little seen of them by any of their neighbours. They kept
a boat at Porthcurno Cove, and at daylight they would start for sea,
never returning until night, and not unfrequently remaining out the whole
of the night, especially if the weather was tempestuous. This kind of
sea-life was varied by hunting. It mattered not to them whether it was
day or night; when the storm was loudest, there was this strange man,
accompanied either by his servant or by the devil, and the midnight cry
of his dogs would disturb the country.

This mysterious being died, and then the servant sought the aid of a
few of the peasantry to bear his coffin to the churchyard. The corpse
was laid in the grave, around which the dogs were gathered, with the
foreigner in their midst. As soon as the earth was thrown on the coffin,
man and dogs disappeared, and, strange to say, the boat disappeared at
the same moment from the cove. It has never since been seen; and from
that day to this no one has been able to keep a boat in Porthcurno Cove.


The night was dark and the wind high. The heavy waves rolled round the
point of “the Island” into St Ives Bay, as Atlantic waves only can roll.
Everything bespoke a storm of no ordinary character. There were no ships
in the bay—not a fishing-boat was afloat. The few small trading vessels
had run into Hayle for shelter, or had nestled themselves within that
very unquiet resting-place, St Ives pier. The fishing-boats were all high
and dry on the sands.

Moving over the rocks which run out into the sea from the eastern side of
“the Island,” was seen a light. It passed over the most rugged ridges,
formed by the intrusive Greenstone masses, and over the sharp edges of
the upturned slate-rocks, with apparent ease. Forth and back—to and
from—wandered the light.

“Ha!” said an old sailor with a sigh, as he looked out over the sea; “a
sad night! a sad night! The Lady and the Lantern is out.”

“The Lady and the Lantern,” repeated I; “what do you mean?”

“The light out yonder”——

“Is from the lantern of some fisherman looking for something he has
lost,” interrupted I.

“Never a fisherman nor a ‘salt’ either would venture there to-night,”
said the sailor.

“What is it, then?” I curiously inquired.

“Ha’ast never heard of the Lady and the Lantern?” asked a woman who was
standing by.


Without any preface, she began at once to enlighten me. I am compelled,
however, to reduce her rambling story to something like order, and to
make her long-drawn tale as concise as possible.

In the year —— there were many wrecks around the coast. It was a
melancholy time. For more than a month there had been a succession of
storms, each one more severe than the preceding one. At length, one
evening, just about dusk, a large ship came suddenly out of the mist. Her
position, it was at once discovered, equally by those on board and by the
people on the shore, was perilous beyond hope. The sailors, as soon as
they saw how near they were to the shore, made every effort to save the
ship, and then to prepare for saving themselves. The tempest raged with
such fury from the west, that the ship parted her anchors at the moment
her strain came upon them, and she swang round,—her only sail flying into
ribbons in the gale—rushing, as it were, eagerly upon her fate. Presently
she struck violently upon a sunken rock, and her masts went by the board,
the waves sweeping over her, and clearing her decks. Many perished at
once, and, as each successive wave urged her onward, others of the hardy
and daring seamen were swept into the angry sea.

Notwithstanding the severity of the storm, a boat was manned by the
St Ives fishermen, and launched from within the pier. Their perfect
knowledge of their work enabled them, by the efforts of willing hearts,
anxiously desiring to succour the distressed, to round the pier-head, and
to row towards the ship.

These fishermen brought their boat near to the ship. It was impossible to
get close to her, and they called to the sailors on board to throw them
ropes. This they were enabled to do, and some two or three of the sailors
lowered themselves by their aid, and were hauled into the boat.

Then a group appeared on the deck, surrounding and supporting a lady, who
held a child in her arms. They were imploring her to give her charge into
the strong arms of a man ere they endeavoured to pass her from the ship
to the boat.

The lady could not be prevailed on to part with the infant. The ship
was fast breaking up, not a moment could be lost. So the lady, holding
her child, was lowered into the sea, and eagerly the fishermen drew her
through the waves towards the boat.

In her passage the lady had fainted, and she was taken into the boat
without the infant. The child had fallen from her arms, and was lost in
the boiling waters.

Many of the crew were saved by these adventurous men, and taken safely
into St Ives. Before morning the shore was strewed with fragments of
wreck, and the mighty ship had disappeared.

Life returned to the lady; but, finding that her child was gone, it
returned without hope, and she speedily closed her eyes in death. In
the churchyard they buried her; but, shortly after her burial, a lady
was seen to pass over the wall of the churchyard, on to the beach, and
walk towards the Island. There she spent hours amidst the rocks, looking
for her child, and not finding it, she would sigh deeply and return to
her grave. When the nights were tempestuous or very dark, she carried a
lantern; but on fine nights she made her search without a light. The Lady
and the Lantern have ever been regarded as predictors of disaster on this

May not the Lady Sibella, or Sibbets, mentioned by Mr Blight as passing
from the shore to a rock off Morva, be but another version of this story?


The fishermen dread to walk at night near those parts of the shore where
there may have been wrecks. The souls of the drowned sailors appear to
haunt those spots, and the “calling of the dead” has frequently been
heard. I have been told that, under certain circumstances, especially
before the coming of storms, or at certain seasons, but always at night,
these callings are common. Many a fisherman has declared he has heard the
voices of dead sailors “hailing their own names.”


A fisherman or a pilot was walking one night on the sands at Porth-Towan,
when all was still save the monotonous fall of the light waves upon the

He distinctly heard a voice from the sea exclaiming,—

    “The hour is come, but not the man.”

This was repeated three times when a black figure, like that of a man,
appeared on the top of the hill. It paused for a moment, then rushed
impetuously down the steep incline, over the sands, and was lost in the

In different forms this story is told all around the Cornish coast.


Until about the time of the close of the last French war, a large portion
of the inhabitants of the south-west coast of Cornwall were in some way
or other connected with the practice of smuggling. The traffic with the
opposite coast was carried on principally in boats or undecked vessels.
The risks encountered by their crews produced a race of hardy, fearless
men, a few of whom are still living, and it has been said that the
Government of those days winked at the infraction of the law, from an
unwillingness to destroy so excellent a school for seamen. Recently the
demand for ardent spirits has so fallen off that there is no longer an
inducement to smuggle; still it is sometimes exultingly rumoured that,
the “Coast Guard having been cleverly put off the scent, a cargo has
been successfully run.” The little coves in the Lizard promontory formed
the principal trading places, the goods being taken as soon as landed to
various places of concealment, whence they were withdrawn as required
for disposal. About eighty years since, a boat, laden with “ankers” of
spirits, was about, with its crew, to leave Mullion Cove for Newlyn.
One of the farmers concerned in the venture, members of whose family
are still living, was persuaded to accompany them, and entered the boat
for the purpose, but, recollecting he had business at Helston, got out
again, and the boat left without him. On his return from Helston, late
in the evening, he sat down, exclaiming, “The boat and all on board are
lost! I met the men as I passed the top of Halzaphron, (a very high cliff
on the road,) with their hair and clothes dripping wet!” In spite of the
arguments of his friends, he persisted in his statement. The boat and
crew were never more heard of, and the farmer was so affected by the
circumstance, that he pined and died shortly after.


This was supposed to be a spirit which took the form of a band of misty
vapour, stretching across the bay, so opaque that nothing could be seen
through it. It was regarded as a kindly interposition of some ministering
spirit, to warn the fishermen against venturing to sea. This appearance
was always followed, and often suddenly, by a severe storm. It is seldom
or ever seen now. One profane old fisherman would not be warned by the
bank of fog. The weather was fine on the shore, and the waves fell
tranquilly on the sands; and this aged sinner, declaring he would not be
made a fool of, persuaded some young men to join him. They manned a boat,
and the aged leader, having with him a threshing-flail, blasphemously
declared that he would drive the spirit away; and he vigorously beat the
fog with the “threshel”—so the flail is called.

The boat passed through the fog, and went to sea. A severe storm came on.
No one ever saw the boat or the men again; and since that time the Hooper
has been rarely seen.


It is unlucky to commence eating pilchards, or, indeed, any kind of
fish, from the head downwards. I have often heard persons rebuked for
committing such a grievous sin, which is “sure to turn the heads of the
fish away from the coasts.”

The legitimate process—mark this, all fish-eaters—_is to eat the fish
from the tail towards the head_. This brings the fish to our shores, and
secures good luck to the fishermen.


When there is a large catch of fish, (pilchards,) they are preserved,—put
in bulk, as the phrase is,—by being rubbed with salt, and placed in
regular order, one on the other, head and tails alternately, forming
regular walls of fish.

The fish often, when so placed, make a squeaking noise; this is called
“crying for more,” and is regarded as a most favourable sign. More fish
may soon be expected to be brought to the same cellar.

The noise which is heard is really produced by the bursting of the
air-bladders; and when many break together, which, when hundreds of
thousands are piled in a mass, is not unusual, the sound is a loud one.


Those who are not familiar with the process of “curing,” (salting)
pilchards for the Italian markets, will require a little explanation to
understand the accompanying story.

The pilchards being caught in vast quantities, often, amounting to many
thousand hogsheads at a time, in an enclosing net called a “seine,” are
taken out of it—the larger net—in a smaller net, called the “tuck net,”
and from it loaded into boats and taken to the shore. They are quickly
transferred to the fish-sellers, and “put in bulk”—that is, they are well
rubbed with salt, and carefully packed up—all interstitial spaces being
filled with salt—in a pile several feet in height and depth. They remain
in this condition for about six weeks, when they are removed from “the
bulk,” washed, and put into barrels in very regular order. The barrels
being filled with pilchards, pressing-stones,—round masses of granite,
weighing about a hundredweight,—with an iron hook fixed into them for
the convenience of moving, are placed on the fish. By this they are much
compressed, and a considerable quantity of oil is squeezed out of them.
This process being completed, the cask is “headed,” marked, and is ready
for exportation.

Jem Tregose and his old woman, with two sons and a daughter, lived over
one of the fish-cellars in St Ives. For many years there had been a great
scarcity of fish;[52] their cellar had been empty; Jem and his boys were
fishermen, and it had long been hard times with them. It is true they
went out “hook-and-line” fishing now and then, and got a little money.
They had gone over to Ireland on the herring-fishing, but very little
luck attended them.

Summer had passed away, and the early autumn was upon them. The
seine-boats were out day after day, but no “signs of fish.” One evening,
when the boys came home, Ann Jenny Tregose had an unusual smile upon
her face, and her daughter Janniper, who had long suffered from the
“megrims,” was in capital spirits.

“Well, mother,” says one of the sons, “and what ails thee a’?”

“The press-stones a bin rolling.”

“Haas they, sure enuff,” says the old man.

“Ees! ees!” exclaims Janniper; “they has been making a skimmage!”

“Hark ye,” cries the old woman, “there they go again.”

And sure enough there was a heavy rolling of the stones in the cellar
below them. It did not require much imagination to image these round
granite pebbles sliding themselves down on the “couse,” or stone
flooring, and dividing themselves up into sets, as if for a dance,—a
regular “cows’ courant,” or game of romps.

“Fish to-morrow!” exclaimed the old woman. The ejaculations of each one
of the party shewed their perfect faith in the belief, that the stones
rolling down from the heap, in which they had been useless for some time,
was a certain indication that pilchards were approaching the coast.

Early on the morrow the old man and his sons were on their “stem;” and
shortly after daylight the cry of “Heva! heva!”[53] was heard from the
hills; the seine was shot, and ere night a large quantity of fish might
be seen in the cellar, and every one joyous.


It is not improbable that the saying applied to the people of one of the
Cornish fishing-towns, of “Who whipped the hake?” may be explained by the

“Lastly, they are persecuted by the hakes, who (not long sithence)
haunted the coast in great abundance; but now being deprived of their
wonted bait, are much diminished, verifying the proverb, ‘_What we lose
in hake we shall have in herring_.’”—_Carew, Survey_, p. 34.

Annoyed with the hakes, the seiners may, in their ignorance, have
actually served one of those fish as indicated.


    “Continually at my bed’s head
      A hearse doth hang, which doth me tell
    That I ere morning may be dead,
      Though now I feel myself full well.”

                            ROBERT SOUTHWELL.



    “The messenger of God
      With golden trumpe I see,
    With many other angels more,
      Which sound and call for me.
    Instead of musicke sweet,
      Go toll my passing bell.”

              _The Bride’s Burial._

When you cross the brook which divides St Leven from Sennen, you are on
the estate of Treville.

Tradition tells us that this estate was given to an old family who came
with the Conqueror to this country. This ancestor is said to have been
the Duke of Normandy’s wine-taster, and that he belonged to the ancient
counts of Treville, hence the name of the estate. Certain it is the
property has ever been held without poll deeds. For many generations the
family has been declining, and the race is now nearly, if not quite,

Through all time a peculiar token has marked the coming death of a
Vingoe. Above the deep caverns in the Treville cliff rises a carn. On
this, chains of fire were seen ascending and descending, and often
accompanied by loud and frightful noises.

It is said that these tokens have not been seen since the last male of
the family came to a violent end.


Robert, Earl of Moreton, in Normandy,—who always carried the standard of
St Michael before him in battle,—was made Earl of Cornwall by William the
Conqueror. He was remarkable for his valour and for his virtue, for the
exercise of his power, and his benevolence to the priests. This was the
Earl of Cornwall who gave the Mount in Cornwall to the monks of Mont St
Michel in Normandy. He seized upon the priory of St Petroc at Bodmin, and
converted all the lands to his own use.

This Earl of Cornwall was an especial friend of William Rufus. It
happened that Robert, the earl, was hunting in the extensive woods around
Bodmin—of which some remains are still to be found in the Glyn Valley.
The chase had been a severe one; a fine old red deer had baffled the
huntsmen, and they were dispersed through the intricacies of the forest,
the Earl of Cornwall being left alone. He advanced beyond the shades of
the woods on to the moors above them, and he was surprised to see a very
large black goat advancing over the plain. As it approached him, which
it did rapidly, he saw that it bore on its back “King Rufus,” all black
and naked, and wounded through in the midst of his breast. Robert adjured
the goat, in the name of the Holy Trinity, to tell what it was he carried
so strangely. He answered, “I am carrying your king to judgment; yea,
that tyrant William Rufus, for I am an evil spirit, and the revenger of
his malice which he bore to the Church of God. It was I that did cause
this slaughter; the protomartyr of England, St Albyn, commanding me so to
do, who complained to God of him, for his grievous oppression in this
Isle of Britain, which he first hallowed.” Having so spoken, the spectre
vanished. Robert, the earl, related the circumstance to his followers,
and they shortly after learned that at that very hour William Rufus had
been slain in the New Forest by the arrow of Walter Tirell.


In the first year of the reign of Edward IV., the brave Sir John Arundell
dwelt on the north coast of Cornwall, at a place called Efford, on the
coast near Stratton. He was a magistrate, and greatly esteemed amongst
men for his honourable conduct. He had, however, in his official
capacity, given offence to a wild shepherd, who had by some means
acquired considerable influence over the minds of the people, under the
impression of his possessing some supernatural powers. This man had been
imprisoned by Arundell, and on his return home he constantly waylaid the
knight, and, always looking threateningly at him, slowly muttered,—

    “When upon the yellow sand,
    Thou shalt die by human hand.”

Notwithstanding the bravery of Sir John Arundell, he was not free from
the superstitions of the period. He might, indeed, have been impressed
with the idea that this man intended to murder him. It is, however,
certain that he removed from Efford on the sands, to the wood-clad hills
of Trerice, and here he lived for some years without the annoyance of
meeting his old enemy. In the tenth year of Edward IV., Richard de Vere,
earl of Oxford, seized St Michael’s Mount. Sir John Arundell, then
sheriff of Cornwall, gathered together his own retainers and a large host
of volunteers, and led them to the attack on St Michael’s Mount. The
retainers of the Earl of Oxford, on one occasion, left the castle, and
made a sudden rush upon Arundell’s followers, who were encamped on the
sands near Marazion. Arundell then received his death-wound. Although he
left Efford “to counteract the will of fate,” the prophecy was fulfilled;
and in his dying moments, it is said his old enemy appeared, singing

    “When upon the yellow sand,
    Thou shalt die by human hand.”


A gay party were assembled one afternoon, in the latter days of January,
in the best parlour of a farmhouse near the Land’s-End. The inhabitants
of this district were, in many respects, peculiar. Nearly all the land
was divided up between, comparatively, a few owners, and every owner
lived on and farmed his own land.

This circumstance, amongst others, led to a certain amount of style in
many of the old farmhouses of the Land’s-End district; and even now,
in some of them, from which, alas! the glory has departed, may be seen
the evidences of taste beyond that which might have been expected in so
remote a district.

The “best parlour” was frequently panelled with carved oak, and the
ceiling, often highly, though it must be admitted, heavily decorated. In
such a room, in the declining light of a January afternoon, were some ten
or a dozen farmers’ daughters, all of them unmarried, and many of them
having an eye on the farmer’s eldest son, a fine young man about twenty
years of age, called Joseph.

This farmer and his wife, at the time of which we speak, had three
sons and two daughters. The eldest son was an excellent and amiable
young man, possessed of many personal attractions, and especially fond
of the society of his sisters and their friends. The next son was of
a very different stamp, and was more frequently found in the inn at
Church-town than in his father’s house; the younger son was an apprentice
at Penzance. The two daughters, Mary and Honour, had coaxed their mother
into “a tea and heavy cake” party, and Joseph was especially retained, to
be, as every one said he was, “the life of the company.”

In those days, when, especially in those parts, every one took dinner at
noon, and tea not much after four o’clock, the party had assembled early.

There had been the usual preliminary gossip amongst the young people,
when they began to talk about the wreck of a fruit-ship which had
occurred but a few days before, off the Land’s-End, and it was said that
considerable quantities of oranges were washing into Nangissell Cove.
Upon this, Joseph said he would take one of the men from the farm, and
go down to the cove—which was not far off—and see if they could not find
some oranges for the ladies.

The day had faded into twilight, the western sky was still bright
with the light of the setting sun, and the illuminated clouds shed a
certain portion of their splendour into the room in which the party were
assembled. The girls were divided up into groups, having their own pretty
little bits of gossip, often truly delightful from its entire freedom and
its innocence; and the mother of Joseph was seated near the fireplace,
looking with some anxiety through the windows, from which you commanded a
view of the Atlantic Ocean. The old lady was restless; sometimes she had
to whisper something to Mary, and then some other thing to Honour. Her
anxiety, at length, was expressed in her wondering where Joseph could be
tarrying so long. All the young ladies sought to ease her mind by saying
that there were no doubt so many orange-gatherers in the Cove, that
Joseph and the man could not get so much fruit as he desired.

Joseph was the favourite son of his mother, and her anxiety evidently
increased. Eventually, starting from her chair, the old lady exclaimed,
“Oh, here he is; now I’ll see about the tea.”

With a pleased smile on her face, she left the room, to return, however,
to it in deeper sorrow.

The mother expected to meet her son at the door—he came not. Thinking
that he might possibly have been wetted by the sea, and that he had gone
round the house to another door leading directly into the kitchen, for
the purpose of drying himself, or of changing his boots, she went into
the dairy to fetch the basin of clotted cream,—which had been “taken up”
with unusual care,—to see if the junket was properly set, and to spread
the flaky cream thickly upon its surface.

Strange,—as the old lady subsequently related,—all the pans of milk were
agitated—“the milk rising up and down like the waves of the sea.”

The anxious mother returned to the parlour with her basin of cream,
but with an indescribable feeling of an unknown terror. She commanded
herself, and, in her usual quiet way, asked if Joseph had been in. When
they answered her “No,” she sighed heavily, and sank senseless into a

Neither Joseph nor the servant ever returned alive. They were seen
standing together upon a rock, stooping to gather oranges as they came
with each wave up to their feet, when one of the heavy swells—the
lingering undulations of a tempest, so well known on this coast—came
sweeping onward, and carried them both away in its cave of waters, as the
wave curved to ingulf them.

The undertow of the tidal current was so strong that, though powerful men
and good swimmers, they were carried at once beyond all human aid, and
speedily perished.

The house of joy became a house of mourning, and sadness rested on it for
years. Day after day passed by, and, although a constant watch was kept
along the coast, it was not until the fated ninth day that the bodies
were discovered, and they were then found in a sadly mutilated state.

Often after long years, and when the consolations derivable from pure
religious feeling had brought that tranquillity upon the mind of this
loving mother,—which so much resembles the poetical repose of an autumnal
evening,—has she repeated to me the sad tale.

Again and again have I heard her declare that she saw Joseph, her son, as
distinctly as ever she saw him in her life, and that, as he passed the
parlour windows, he looked in upon her and smiled.

This is not given as a superstition belonging in any peculiar way to
Cornwall. In every part of the British Isles it exists; but I have never
met with any people who so firmly believed in the appearance of the
phantoms of the dying to those upon whom the last thoughts are centred,
as the Cornish did.

Another case is within my knowledge.

A lady, the wife of an officer in the navy, had been with her husband’s
sister, on a summer evening, to church. The husband was in the
Mediterranean, and there was no reason to expect his return for many

These two ladies returned home, and the wife, ascending the stairs before
her sister-in-law, went into the drawing-room—her intention being to
close the windows, which, as the weather had been warm and fine, had been
thrown open.

She had proceeded about half way across the room, when she shrieked, ran
back, and fell into her sister-in-law’s arms. Upon recovery, she stated
that a figure, like that of her husband, enveloped in a mist, appeared to
her to fill one of the windows.

By her friends, the wife’s fancies were laughed at; and, if not
forgotten, the circumstance was no longer spoken of.

Month after month glided by, without intelligence of the ship to which
that officer belonged. At length the Government became anxious, and
searching inquiries were made. Some time still elapsed, but eventually it
was ascertained that this sloop of war had perished in a white squall, in
which she became involved, near the Island of Mitylene, in the Grecian
Archipelago, on the Sunday evening when the widow fancied she saw her


It is a very popular fancy that when a maiden, who has loved not wisely
but too well, dies forsaken and broken-hearted, that she comes back to
haunt her deceiver in the shape of a white hare.

This phantom follows the false one everywhere, mostly invisible to all
but him. It sometimes saves him from danger, but invariably the white
hare causes the death of the betrayer in the end.

The following story of the white hare is a modification of several tales
of the same kind which have been told me. Many, many years have passed
away, and all who were in any way connected with my story have slept for
generations in the quiet churchyard of ——.

A large landed proprietor engaged a fine, handsome young fellow to manage
his farm, which was a very extensive as well as a high-class one. When
the young farmer was duly settled in his new farmhouse, there came to
live with him, to take the management of the dairy, a peasant’s daughter.
She was very handsome, and of a singularly fine figure, but entirely
without education.

The farmer became desperately in love with this young creature, and
eventually their love passed all the bounds of discretion. It became the
policy of the young farmer’s family to put down this unfortunate passion,
by substituting a more legitimate and endearing object.

After a long trial, they thought they were successful, and the young
farmer was married.

Many months had not passed away when the discharged dairy-maid was
observed to suffer from illness, which, however, she constantly spoke
of as nothing; but knowing dames saw too clearly the truth. One morning
there was found in a field a newly-born babe strangled. The unfortunate
girl was at once suspected as being the parent, and the evidence was soon
sufficient to charge her with the murder. She was tried, and, chiefly
by the evidence of the young farmer and his family, convicted of, and
executed for, the murder.

Everything now went wrong in the farm, and the young man suddenly left it
and went into another part of the country.

Still nothing prospered, and gradually he took to drink to drown some
secret sorrow. He was more frequently on the road by night than by day;
and, go where he would, a white hare was constantly crossing his path.
The white hare was often seen by others, almost always under the feet of
his horse; and the poor terrified animal would go like the wind to avoid
the strange apparition.

One morning the young farmer was found drowned in a forsaken mine; and
the horse, which had evidently suffered extreme terror, was grazing near
the corpse. Beyond all doubt the white hare, which is known to hunt the
perjured and the false-hearted to death, had terrified the horse to such
a degree, that eventually the rider was thrown into the mine-waste in
which the body was found.


Placing the hand of a man who has died by his own act is a cure for many

The following is given me by a thinking man, living in one of the towns
in the west of Cornwall:—

“There is a young man in this town who had been afflicted with running
tumours from his birth. When about seventeen years of age he had the hand
of a man who had hanged himself passed over the wounds on his back, and,
strange to say, he recovered from that time, and is now comparatively
robust and hearty. This incident is true; I was present when the charm
was performed. It should be observed that the notion appears to be that
the ‘touch’ is only effectual on the opposite sex; but in this case they
were both, the suicide and the afflicted one, of the same sex.”

This is only a modified form of the superstition that a wen, or any
strumous swelling, can be cured by touching it with the dead hand of a
man who has just been publicly hanged.

I once saw a young woman led on to the scaffold, in the Old Bailey, for
the purpose of having a wen touched with the hand of a man who had just
been executed.


A strong prejudice has long existed against burying on the northern side
of the church. In many churchyards the southern side will be found full
of graves, with scarcely any on the northern side.

I have sought to discover, if possible, the origin of this prejudice,
but I have not been able to trace it to any well-defined feeling. I have
been answered, “Oh, we like to bury a corpse where the sun will shine on
the grave;” and, “The northern graveyard is in the shadow, and cold;” but
beyond this I have not advanced.

We may infer that this desire to place the remains of our friends in
earth on which the sun shines, is born of that love which, forgetting
mortality, lives on the pleasant memories of the past, hoping for that
meeting beyond the grave which shall know no shadow. The act of planting
flowers, of nurturing an evergreen tree, of hanging “eternals” on the
tomb, is only another form of the same sacred feeling.


It is, or rather was, believed, in nearly every part of the West of
England, that death is retarded, and the dying kept in a state of
suffering, by having any lock closed, or any bolt shot, in the dwelling
of the dying person.

A man cannot die easy on a bed made of fowls’ feathers, or the feathers
of wild birds.

Never carry a corpse to church by a new road.

Whenever a guttering candle folds over its cooling grease, it is watched
with much anxiety. If it curls upon itself it is said to form the “handle
of a coffin,” and the person towards whom it is directed will be in
danger of death.

Bituminous coal not unfrequently swells into bubbles, these bubbles of
coal containing carburetted hydrogen gas. When the pressure becomes
great they burst, and often throw off the upper section with some
explosive force. According to the shape of the piece thrown off, so is
it named. If it proves round it is a purse of money; if oblong, it is a
coffin, and the group towards which it flew will be in danger.

If a cock crows at midnight, the angel of death is passing over the
house; and if he delays to strike, the delay is only for a short season.

The howling of a dog is a sad sign. If repeated for three nights, the
house against which it howled will soon be in mourning.

A raven croaking over a cottage fills its inmates with gloom.

There are many other superstitions and tokens connected with life and
death, but those given shew the general character of those feelings
which I may, I think, venture to call the “inner life” of the Cornish
people. It will be understood by all who have studied the peculiarities
of any Celtic race, that they have ever been a peculiarly impressible
people. They have ever observed the phenomena of nature; and they
have interpreted them with hopeful feelings, or despondent anxiety,
according as they have been surrounded by cheerful or by sorrow-inducing
circumstances. That melancholy state of mind, which is so well expressed
by the word “whisht,” leads the sufferer to find a “sign” or a “token”
in the trembling of a leaf, or in the lowering of the tempest-clouds. A
collection of the almost infinite variety of these “signs and tokens”
which still exist, would form a curious subject for an essay. Yet this
could only now be done by a person who would skilfully win the confidence
of the miner or the peasant. They feel that they might subject themselves
to ridicule by an indiscreet disclosure of the religion of their souls.
When, if ever, such a collection is made, it will be found that these
superstitions have their origin in the purest feelings of the heart—that
they are the shadowings forth of love, tinctured with the melancholy dyes
of that fear which is born of mystery.

One would desire that even those old superstitions should be preserved.
They illustrate a state of society, in the past, which will never again
return. There are but few reflecting minds which do not occasionally feel
a lingering regret that times should pass away during which life was not
a reflection of cold reason.

But these things must fade as a knowledge of nature’s laws is
disseminated amongst the people. Yet there is—

    The lonely mountains o’er,
    And the resounding shore,
      A voice of weeping heard, and loud lament;
    From haunted spring and dale,
    Edged with poplar pale,
      The parting genius is, with sighing sent.


    “The king was to his palace, though the service was ydo,
    Yled with his meinie, and the queen to her also;
    For she held _the old usages_.”

                                       ROBERT OF GLOUCESTER.



    “They say, miracles are past, and we have our philosophical
    persons, to make modern and familiar things supernatural
    and causeless. Hence is it that we make trifles of terrors,
    ensconcing ourselves into seeming knowledge.”—_All’s Well that
    Ends Well_—SHAKESPEARE.

In the rural districts of Cornwall, it is thought to be unlucky if a
female is the first to enter the house on new-year’s morning. To insure
the contrary, it was customary to give boys some small reward for placing
sand on the door-steps and in the passage.

In many places, not many years since, droves of boys would march through
the towns and villages, collecting their fees for “sanding your step for
good luck.”

This custom prevails over most parts of England. I know a lady who, at
the commencement of the present year, sent a cabman into her house before
her, upon promise of giving him a glass of spirits, so that she might
insure the good luck which depends upon “a man’s taking the new year in.”


The first of May is inaugurated with much uproar. As soon as the clock
has told of midnight, a loud blast on tin trumpets proclaims the advent
of May. This is long continued. At daybreak, with their “tintarrems,”
they proceed to the country, and strip the sycamore-trees (called
May-trees) of all their young branches, to make whistles. With these
shrill musical instruments they return home. Young men and women devote
May-day to junketing and pic-nics.

It was a custom at Penzance, and probably at many other Cornish towns,
when the author was a boy, for a number of young people to sit up until
twelve o’clock, and then to march round the town with violins and fifes,
and summon their friends to the Maying.

When all were gathered, they went into the country, and were welcomed at
the farmhouses at which they called, with some refreshment in the shape
of rum and milk, junket, or something of that sort.

They then gathered the “May,” which included the young branches of
any tree in blossom or fresh leaf. The branches of the sycamore were
especially cut for the purpose of making the “May music.” This was done
by cutting a circle through the bark to the wood a few inches from the
end of the branch. The bark was wetted and carefully beaten until it was
loosened and could be slid off from the wood. The wood was cut angularly
at the end, so as to form a mouth-piece, and a slit was made in both
the bark and the wood, so that when the bark was replaced a whistle was
formed. Prepared with a sufficient number of May whistles, all the party
returned to the town, the band playing, whistles blowing, and the young
people singing some appropriate song.


Formerly it was customary for the boys to tie stones to cords, and with
these parade the town, slinging these stones against the doors, shouting

    “Give me a pancake, now—now—now,
    Or I’ll souse in your door with a row—tow—tow.”

A genteel correspondent assures me “this is observed now in the lower
parts of the town only.”


This ancient custom, which consists in dancing through the streets of
the town, and entering the houses of rich and poor alike, is thus well

    “On the 8th of May, at Helstone, in Cornwall, is held what
    is called ‘the Furry.’ The word is supposed by Mr Polwhele
    to have been derived from the old Cornish word _fer_, a fair
    or jubilee. The morning is ushered in by the music of drums
    and kettles, and other accompaniments of a song, a great part
    of which is inserted in Mr Polwhele’s history, where this
    circumstance is noticed. So strict is the observance of this
    day as a general holiday, that should any person be found
    at work, he is instantly seized, set astride on a pole, and
    hurried on men’s shoulders to the river, where he is sentenced
    to leap over a wide place, which he, of course, fails in
    attempting, and leaps into the water. A small contribution
    towards the good cheer of the day easily compounds for the
    leap. About nine o’clock the revellers appear before the
    grammar-school, and demand a holiday for the schoolboys, after
    which they collect contributions from houses. They then _fade_
    into the country, (fade being an old English word for _go_,)
    and, about the middle of the day, return with flowers and
    oak-branches in their hats and caps. From this time they dance
    hand in hand through the streets, to the sound of the fiddle,
    playing a particular tune, running into every house they pass
    without opposition. In the afternoon a select party of the
    ladies and gentlemen make a progress through the street, and
    very late in the evening repair to the ball-room. A stranger
    visiting the town on the eighth of May would really think the
    people mad, so apparently wild and thoughtless is the merriment
    of the day. There is no doubt of ‘the Furry’ originating from
    the ‘Floralia,’ anciently observed by the Romans on the fourth
    of the calends of May.”—_Every-Day Book._


If on midsummer-eve a young woman takes off the shift which she has been
wearing, and, having washed it, turns it wrong side out, and hangs it
in silence over the back of a chair, near the fire, she will see, about
midnight, her future husband, who deliberately turns the garment.

If a young lady will, on midsummer-eve, walk backwards into the garden
and gather a rose, she has the means of knowing who is to be her husband.
The rose must be cautiously sewn up in a paper bag, and put aside in a
dark drawer, there to remain until Christmas-day.

On the morning of the Nativity the bag must be carefully opened in
silence, and the rose placed by the lady in her bosom. Thus she must wear
it to church. Some young man will either ask for the rose, or take it
from her without asking. That young man is destined to become eventually
the lady’s husband.

    “At eve last midsummer no sleep I sought,
    But to the field a bag of hemp-seed brought;
    I scatter’d round the seed on every side,
    And three times in a trembling accent cried,—
    ‘This hemp-seed with my virgin hand I sow,
    Who shall my true love be, the crop shall mow.’
    I straight look’d back, and, if my eyes speak truth,
    With his keen scythe behind me came the youth.”

                                       _Gay’s Pastorals._

The practice of sowing hemp-seed on midsummer-eve is not especially a
Cornish superstition, yet it was at one time a favourite practice with
young women to try the experiment. Many a strange story have I been
told as to the result of the sowing, and many a trick could I tell of,
which has been played off by young men who had become acquainted with
the secret intention of some maidens. I believe there is but little
difference in the rude rhyme used on the occasion,—

    “Hemp-seed I sow,
    Hemp-seed I hoe,”

(the action of sowing the seed and of hoeing it in, must be deliberately
gone through;)—

                  “And he
    Who will my true love be,
    Come after me and mow.”

A phantom of the true lover will now appear, and of course the maid or
maidens retire in wild affright.

If a young unmarried woman stands at midnight on midsummer-eve in the
porch of the parish church, she will see, passing by in procession, every
one who will die in the parish during the year. This is so serious an
affair that it is not, I believe, often tried. I have, however, heard of
young women who have made the experiment. But every one of the stories
relate that, coming last in the procession, they have seen shadows of
themselves; that from that day forward they have pined, and ere midsummer
has again come round, that they have been laid to rest in the village


Owing to the uncertain character of the climate of Cornwall, the farmers
have adopted the plan of gathering the sheaves of wheat, as speedily as
possible, into “arish-mows.” These are solid cones from ten to twelve
feet high, the heads of the stalks turned inwards, and the whole capped
with a sheaf of corn inverted. Whence the term, I know not; but “arish”
is commonly applied to a field of corn recently cut, as, “Turn the geese
in upon the ‘arish’”—that is, the short stubble left in the ground.

After the wheat is all cut, on most farms in Cornwall and Devon, the
harvest people have a custom of “crying the neck.” I believe that this
practice is seldom omitted on any large farm in these counties. It is
done in this way. An old man, or some one else well acquainted with the
ceremonies used on the occasion, (when the labourers are reaping the last
field of wheat,) goes round to the shocks and sheaves, and picks out a
little bundle of all the best ears he can find; this bundle he ties up
very neat and trim, and plats and arranges the straws very tastefully.
This is called “the neck” of wheat, or wheaten-ears. After the field is
cut out, and the pitcher once more circulated, the reapers, binders, and
the women stand round in a circle. The person with “the neck” stands in
the centre, grasping it with both his hands. He first stoops and holds it
near the ground, and all the men forming the ring take off their hats,
stooping and holding them with both hands towards the ground. They then
all begin at once, in a very prolonged and harmonious tone, to cry, “The
neck!” at the same time slowly raising themselves upright, and elevating
their arms and hats above their heads; the person with the neck also
raising it on high. This is done three times. They then change their cry
to “We yen! we yen!” which they sound in the same prolonged and slow
manner as before, with singular harmony and effect, three times. This
last cry is accompanied by the same movements of the body and arms as
in crying “the neck.” I know nothing of vocal music, but I think I may
convey some idea of the sound by giving you the following notes in gamut:—

[Music: _Very slow._

We yen! we yen!]

Let these notes be played on a flute with perfect _crescendoes_ and
_diminuendoes_, and perhaps some notion of this wild-sounding cry may be
formed. Well, after this they all burst out into a kind of loud joyous
laugh, flinging up their hats and caps into the air, capering about, and
perhaps kissing the girls. One of them then gets “the neck,” and runs as
hard as he can down to the farmhouse, where the dairy-maid, or one of the
young female domestics, stands at the door prepared with a pail of water.
If he who holds “the neck” can manage to get into the house in any way
unseen, or openly by any other way than the door at which the girl stands
with the pail of water, then he may lawfully kiss her; but, if otherwise,
he is regularly soused with the contents of the bucket. I think this
practice is beginning to decline of late, and many farmers and their
men do not care about keeping up this old custom. The object of crying
“the neck” is to give notice to the surrounding country of the _end_ of
the harvest, and the meaning of “we yen” is “_we have ended_.” It may
probably mean “we end,” which the uncouth and provincial pronunciation
has corrupted into “we yen.” The “neck” is generally hung up in the
farmhouse, where it often remains for three or four years.


In the eastern part of Cornwall, and in western Devonshire, it was the
custom to take a milk-panful of cider, into which roasted apples had
been broken, into the orchard. This was placed as near the centre of
the orchard as possible, and each person, taking a “clomben” cup of the
drink, goes to different apple-trees, and addresses them as follows:—

    “Health to the good apple-tree;
    Well to bear, pocketfuls, hatfuls,
    Peckfuls, bushel-bagfuls.”

Drinking part of the contents of the cup, the remainder, with the
fragments of the roasted apples, is thrown at the tree, all the
company shouting aloud. Another account tells us, “In certain parts of
Devonshire, the farmer, attended by his workmen, goes to the orchard this
evening; and there, encircling one of the best bearing trees, they drink
the following toast three times:—

            ‘Here’s to thee, old apple-tree;
    Hence thou mayst bud, and whence thou mayst blow,
    And whence thou mayst bear apples enow!
            Hats full! caps full!
            Bushel, bushel-sacks full!
            And my pockets full, too! Huzza!’

This done, they return to the house, the doors of which they are sure
to find bolted by the females, who, be the weather what it may, are
inexorable to all entreaties to open them, till some one has guessed what
is on the spit, which is generally some nice little thing difficult to
be hit on, and is the reward of him who first names it. The doors are
then thrown open, and the lucky clodpole receives the tit-bit as his
recompense. Some are so superstitious as to believe that if they neglect
this custom, the trees will bear no apples that year.”[54]

Christmas-eve was selected in some parts of England as the occasion for
wishing health to the apple-tree. Apples were roasted on a string until
they fell into a pan of spiced ale, placed to receive them. This drink
was called _lamb’s-wool_, and with it the trees were wassailed, as in
Devonshire and Cornwall.

Herrick alludes to the custom:—

    “Wassaile the trees, that they may beare
    You many a plum, and many a peare;
    For more or lesse fruits they will bring,
    And you do give them wassailing.”

May not Shakespeare refer to this?—

        “Sometimes lurk I in a gossip’s bowl,
    In very likeness of a roasted crab;
    And when she drinks, against her lips I bob,
    And on her wither’d dew-lap pour the ale.”

                       _Midsummer Night’s Dream._

In some localities apples are blessed on St James’s-day, July 25.


The ancient custom of providing children with a large apple on
Allhallows-eve is still observed, to a great extent, at St Ives.
“Allan-day,” as it is called, is the day of days to hundreds of
children, who would deem it a great misfortune were they to go to bed on
“Allan-night” without the time-honoured Allan apple to hide beneath their
pillows. A quantity of large apples are thus disposed of, the sale of
which is dignified by the term Allan Market.


The custom, apparently a very ancient one, of putting certain articles
into a rich cake, is still preserved in many districts. Usually,
sixpence, a wedding-ring, and a silver thimble are employed. These are
mixed up with the dough, and baked in the cake. At night the cake is
divided. The person who secures the sixpence will not want money for
that year; the one who has the ring will be the first married; and the
possessor of the thimble will die an old maid.

    “Then also every householder,
      To his abilitie
    Doth make a mighty cake, that may
      Suffice his companie:
    Herein a pennie doth he put,
      Before it come to fire;
    This he divides according as
      His household doth require,
    And every peece distributeth
      As round about they stand,
    Which in their names unto the poor
      Is given out of hand.
    But who so chanceth on the peece
      Wherein the money lies,
    Is counted king amongst them all;
      And is with shoutes and cries
    Exalted to the heavens up.”

         _Naogeorgus’s Popish Kingdom._


I remember, when a child, being told that all the oxen and cows kept at
a farm, in the parish of St Germans, at which I was visiting with my
aunt, would be found on their knees when the clock struck twelve. This
is the only case within my own knowledge of this widespread superstition
existing in Cornwall. Brand says, “A superstitious notion prevails in
the western parts of Devonshire, that at twelve o’clock at night on
Christmas-eve, the oxen in their stalls are always found on their knees,
as in an attitude of devotion; and that, (which is still more singular,)
since the alteration of the style, they continue to do this only on the
eve of old Christmas-day. An honest countryman, living on the edge of St
Stephen’s Down, near Launceston, Cornwall, informed me, October 28, 1790,
that he once, with some others, made a trial of the truth of the above,
and, watching several oxen in their stalls at the above time,—at twelve
o’clock at night,—they observed the two oldest oxen only, fall upon their
knees and, as he expressed it in the idiom of the country, make ‘a cruel
moan, like Christian creatures.’ I could not, but with great difficulty,
keep my countenance: he saw, and seemed angry, that I gave so little
credit to his tale; and, walking off in a pettish humour, seemed to
‘marvel at my unbelief.’ There is an old print of the Nativity, in which
the oxen in the stable, near the Virgin and the Child, are represented
upon their knees, as in a suppliant posture. This graphic representation
has probably given rise to the above superstitious notion on this head.”


The Christmas play is a very ancient institution in Cornwall. At one time
religious subjects were chosen, but those gave way to romantic plays. The
arrangements were tolerably complete, and sometimes a considerable amount
of dramatic skill was displayed.

    “ST GEORGE, and the other tragic performers, are dressed
    out somewhat in the style of morris-dancers, in their shirt
    sleeves and white trousers, much decorated with ribbons and
    handkerchiefs, each carrying a drawn sword in his hand, if they
    can be procured, otherwise a cudgel. They wear high caps of
    pasteboard, adorned with beads, small pieces of looking-glass,
    coloured paper, &c.; several long strips of pith generally hang
    down from the top, with small pieces of different coloured
    cloth strung on them: the whole has a very smart effect.

    _Father Christmas_ is personified in a grotesque manner, as an
    ancient man, wearing a large mask and wig, and a huge club,
    wherewith he keeps the bystanders in order.

    The _Doctor_, who is generally the merry-andrew of the piece,
    is dressed in any ridiculous way, with a wig, three-cornered
    hat, and painted face.

    The other comic characters are dressed according to fancy.

    The _female_, where there is one, is usually in the dress worn
    half a century ago.

    The _hobby-horse_, which is a character sometimes introduced,
    wears a representation of a horse’s-hide.

    Beside the regular drama of “St George,” many parties of
    mummers go about in fancy dresses of every sort, most commonly
    the males in female attire, and _vice versâ_.

    _Battle of St George._

                    [_One of the party steps in, crying out_,—

            Room, a room, brave gallant, room,
            Within this court
            I do resort,
            To shew some sport
            And pastime,
            Gentlemen and ladies, in the Christmas time.

                    [_After this note of preparation, Old Father
                    Christmas capers into the room, saying_,—

            Here comes I, Old Father Christmas,
            Welcome or welcome not;
            I hope Old Father Christmas
            Will never be forgot.

    I was born in a rocky country, where there was no wood to make
    me a cradle; I was rocked in a stouring-bowl, which made me
    round shouldered then, and I am round shouldered still.

                    [_He then frisks about the room, until
                    he thinks he has sufficiently amused the
                    spectators, when he makes his exit, with this

    Who went to the orchard to steal apples to make gooseberry pies
    against Christmas?

                    [_These prose speeches, you may suppose, depend
                    much upon the imagination of the actor._

    _Enter_ Turkish Knight.

            Here comes I, a Turkish knight,
            Come from the Turkish land to fight;
            And if St George do meet me here,
            I’ll try his courage without fear.

    _Enter_ ST GEORGE.

            Here come I, St George,
            That worthy champion bold;
            And, with my sword and spear,
            I won three crowns of gold.
            I fought the dragon bold,
            And brought him to the slaughter;
            By that I gain’d fair Sabra,
            The King of Egypt’s daughter.

    _T. K._ St George, I pray, be not too bold;
            If thy blood is hot, I’ll soon make it cold.

    _St G._ Thou Turkish knight, I pray, forbear;
            I’ll make thee dread my sword and spear.

                    [_They fight until the Turkish Knight falls._

    _St G._ I have a little bottle, which goes by the name of Elicumpane;
            If the man is alive, let him rise and fight again.

                    [_The Knight here rises on one knee, and
                    endeavours to continue the fight, but is again
                    struck down._

    _T. K._ Oh, pardon me, St George; oh, pardon me, I crave;
            Oh, pardon me this once, and I will be thy slave.

    _St G._ I’ll never pardon a Turkish knight;
            Therefore arise, and try thy might.

                    [_The Knight gets up, and they again fight,
                    till the Knight receives a heavy blow and then
                    drops on the ground as dead._

    _St G._ Is there a doctor to be found,
            To cure a deep and deadly wound?

    _Enter_ Doctor.

            Oh yes, there is a doctor to be found,
            To cure a deep and deadly wound.

    _St G._ What can you cure?

    _Doctor._ I can cure the itch, the palsy, and gout:
              If the devil’s in him, I’ll pull him out.

                    [_The Doctor here performs the cure with sundry
                    grimaces, and St George and the Knight again
                    fight, when the latter is knocked down, and
                    left for dead._

                    [_Then another performer enters, and, on seeing
                    the dead body, says_,—

            Ashes to ashes, dust to dust;
            If Uncle Tom Pearce won’t have him, Aunt Molly must.

                    [_The hobby-horse here capers in, and takes off
                    the body._

    _Enter_ Old Squire.

            Here comes I, old, Old Squire,
            As black as any friar,
            As ragged as a colt,
            To leave fine clothes for malt.

    _Enter_ Hub Bub.

            Here comes I, old Hub Bub Bub Bub;
            Upon my shoulders I carries a club,
            And in my hand a frying-pan,
            So am I not a valiant man?

                    [_These characters serve as a sort of burlesque
                    on St George and the other hero, and may be
                    regarded in the light of an anti-masque._

    _Enter_ the Box-holder.

            Here comes I, great head and little wit;
            Put your hand in your pocket, and give what you think fit.
            Gentlemen and ladies, sitting down at your ease,
            Put your hands in your pockets, and give me what you please.

    _St G._ Gentlemen and ladies, the sport is almost ended;
            Come pay to the box, it is highly commended.
            The box it would speak, if it had but a tongue;
            Come throw in your money, and think it no wrong.

    The characters now generally finish with a dance, or sometimes
    a song or two is introduced. In some of the performances, two
    or three other tragic heroes are brought forward, as the King
    of Egypt and his son, &c.; but they are all of them much in the
    style of that I have just described, varying somewhat in length
    and number of characters.”—_The Every-Day Book._

Of the Cornish mystery plays which were once acted in the famous
“Rounds,” it is not necessary, in this place, to say anything. The
translations by Mr Norris preserve their characteristics, which indeed
differ in few respects from the mystery plays of other parts.

The “Perran Round” is fortunately preserved by the proprietor in its
original state. Every one must regret the indifference of the wealthy
inhabitants of St Just to their “Round,” which is now a wretched ruin.


The first Monday after Twelfth-day is Plough Monday, and it is the
ploughman’s holiday.

At this season, in the Islands of Scilly, at St Ives, Penzance, and
other places, the young people exercise a sort of gallantry called
“geese-dancing.” The maidens are dressed up for young men, and the
young men for maidens; and, thus disguised, they visit their neighbours
in companies, where they dance, and make jokes upon what has happened
during the year, and every one is humorously “told their own,” without
offence being taken. By this sort of sport, according to yearly custom
and toleration, there is a spirit of wit and drollery kept up among
the people. The music and dancing done, they are treated with liquor,
and then they go to the next house, and carry on the same sport. A
correspondent, writing to the “Table-Book,” insists on calling these
revels “goose-dancing.” The true Cornishman never uses the term, which
is, as I have elsewhere shewn, derived from _dance deguiser_,—hence
guise-dancing, or geese-dancing, by corruption.



    “We doubt if there is a spot in ‘merrie England’ where
    Christmas receives so hearty a welcome, and is ‘made so much
    of,’ as in the old-fashioned ‘antient borough of beloved St
    Ives.’ It is often said that ‘extremes meet;’ but as well
    might we expect the extremities of Britain—John o’Groat’s and
    Cape Cornwall—to meet, as that the frolic-loving descendants
    of Albion will ever imitate the cold, mountain-nurtured
    Caledonians in their observance of Christmas time. For months
    previous to the merry-making time, preparations are made
    for the approaching ‘carnival;’ we can assure our readers
    that never were the real ‘carnivals’ ushered in with greater
    festivities at Rome or Venice, in the zenith of their glory,
    than is observed here at Christmas. Were many of the denizens
    of our large towns to witness the making up of the scores
    of ‘sugar-loaf,’ ‘three-cocked,’ and indescribable-shaped
    hats, caps, bonnets, bloomer skirts, leggings, jackets, &c.,
    numberless _et ceteras_ of the most grotesque and pantomimic
    character, colour, and shape, which goes on in October and
    November, they would imagine there was to be a _bal masque_
    on a large scale, or a pantomime at ‘the theatre,’ of
    metropolitan proportions. But not so, for there is not even
    a singing class in the town, if we except the choirs of the
    various congregations, and all ‘this wilful waste’ of long
    cloth, scarlet, ringstraked, and speckled, is to do honour
    to King Christmas during the twelve nights which intervene
    ’twixt the birth of Christmas common and Christmas proper,
    which said outward manifestations of honour are known in the
    neighbourhood as ‘Christmas geezze-daancing,’ or guise-dancing;
    but of this presently. Not only are the ‘lovers of pleasure’ on
    the alert, but the choirs of the different places of worship
    strive to ‘get up’ a piece or two to tickle the ears of their
    hearers on Christmas-night, and the house that boasts the best
    ‘singing seat’ is sure to be crammed by persons attracted by
    the twofold advantage of a short sermon and a good lively tune.
    A pretty brisk trade is carried on by children in the retailing
    unquenched lime, in small quantities to suit the convenience
    of purchasers; and few are the domiciles but have had a lick
    of the lime brush, either on the wall, window-sill, door-post,
    or chimney. ‘A slut, indeed,’ is she declared who refuses to
    have a thorough clean out before Christmas. New shoes and
    clothes are worn for the first time on the great holiday; and
    woe betide the unlucky Crispin who, by some unaccountable
    oversight, has neglected to make Jennifer’s bran new shoes, for
    her to go and see how smart the church is on Christmas-day.
    As in other parts of England, a pretty large sum is spent in
    evergreens, such as holly, or, as it is called here, ‘prickly
    Christmas,’ bays, and laurels. Of mistletoe and cypress there
    is very little in the neighbourhood, and the windows of shops
    and private dwellings, as well as the parish church, are
    profusely and tastefully decorated. As to provisions there
    is no lack. Many a flock of geese has been bespoken, and set
    apart for private customers; whilst the ears of the grocers,
    who generally do a supplementary trade in swine’s flesh, are so
    accustomed to receive a month’s notice for ‘a nice bit of flea
    (spare) rib,’ that they are loth to engage any of the porcine
    fraternity that are not all rib. The Christmas market is not a
    mean affair at St Ives; if the butchers cannot boast of many
    prize oxen or ‘South Downs,’ they generally manage to make
    the best of their ‘home-raised’ and well-fed cattle, and the
    stalls are ‘titivated off’ nicely too. This year, however, the
    inspector of nuisances, who is also market-toll collector and
    police constable, sergeant, and inspector, actually refused to
    clean, or allow to be cleaned, the St Ives market on Tuesday
    for the Christmas-eve market, because there was no extra tolls
    payable for the Christmas markets, and, as may be expected,
    the epithets bestowed on him were by no means flattering
    or complimentary—we did hear of a suggestion to put the
    ‘gentleman’ policeman in an aldermanic stall on the 5th of next
    November, or maybe during the guise-dancing. Tradesmen have for
    the most part ‘cacht their jobs,’ and the good housewife ‘done
    her churs in season’ on Christmas-eve. In many families, a
    crock of ‘fish and tatees’ is discussed in West-Cornwall style
    before the ‘singers’ commence their time-honoured carol, ‘While
    Shepherds,’ which is invariably sung to ‘the same old tune,’
    struck by some novice in _u_ flat. There is usually a host of
    young men and maidens to accompany the ‘singers;’ these are
    composed of the choirs of two or three dissenting bodies, who
    chiefly select the members of their respective congregations
    for the honour of being disturbed from a sound nap on the
    eventful morning. The last two or three years the choirs have
    done their carolling amongst the most respectable of the
    inhabitants on the evening of Christmas-day, after divine

    “On Christmas-day the mayor, aldermen, and councillors walk in
    procession to church from the house of the mayor for the time
    being. The church is, as we have before remarked, gaily decked
    with evergreens. Two or three days after the singers make a
    call ‘for something for singing,’ the proceeds, which are
    pretty handsome, being spent in a substantial supper for the

    “But of the ‘guise-dancing,’ which has found a last retreat
    at St Ives,—this is the only town in the country where the
    old Cornish Christmas revelry is kept up with spirit. The
    guise-dancing time is the twelve nights after Christmas,
    _i.e._, from Christmas-day to Twelfth-day. Guise-dancing at St
    Ives is no more nor less than a pantomimic representation or
    _bal masque_ on an extensive scale, the performers outnumbering
    the audience, who in this case take their stand at the corners
    of the streets, which are but badly lighted with gas, and
    rendered still more dismal of late years by the closing of the
    tradesmen’s shops after sunset during this season, on account
    of the noise and uproar occasioned, the town being literally
    given up to a lawless mob, who go about yelling and hooting in
    an unearthly manner, in a tone between a screech and a howl,
    so as to render their voices as undistinguishable as their
    buffoon-looking dresses. Here a Chinese is exhibiting ‘vite
    mishe’ and ‘Dutch dops;’ there a turbaned Indian asks you if
    you ‘vant a silver vatch.’ A little further on you meet with a
    Highlander with ‘dops to cure the gout.’ The home-impoverishing
    packman, or duffer, has also his representative, urging to be
    allowed just to leave ‘a common low-price dress at an uncommon
    high price, and a quartern of his 6s. sloe-leaves, of the
    best quality.’ Faithless swains not unfrequently get served
    out by the friends of the discarded one at this time, whilst
    every little peccadillo meets with a just rebuke and exposure.
    About eighteen years ago, a party of youngsters, to give more
    variety to the sports, constructed a few nice representations
    of elephants, horses, and—start not gentle reader—lifelike
    facsimiles of that proverbially stupid brute, the ass. For
    several seasons it was quite a treat to witness the antics
    of the self-constituted elephants, horses, and asses, in the
    thoroughfares of this little town. On the whole, the character
    of the guise-dancing has degenerated very much this last
    twenty years. It was formerly the custom for parties to get
    up a little play, and go from house to house to recite their
    droll oddities, and levy contributions on their hearers in
    the form of cake or plum-pudding. Wassailing, as far as I can
    learn, never obtained much in this neighbourhood. Old Father
    Christmas and bold King George were favourite characters. It
    is not uncommon to see a most odiously-disguised person with
    a bedroom utensil, asking the blushing bystanders if there
    is ‘any need of me.’ Some of the dresses are, indeed, very
    smart, and even costly; but for the most part they consist of
    old clothes, arranged in the oddest manner, even frightfully
    ugly. It is dangerous for children, and aged or infirm persons,
    to venture out after dark, as the roughs generally are armed
    with a sweeping brush or a shillaly. The uproar at times
    is so tremendous as to be only equalled in a ‘rale Irish
    row.’ As may be anticipated, these annual diversions have a
    very demoralising influence on the young, on account of the
    licentious nature of the conversation indulged in, though
    we really wonder that there are not many more instances of
    annoyance and insult than now take place, when we consider
    that but for such times as Christmas and St Ives feast, the
    inhabitants have no place of amusement, recreation, or public
    instruction; there being no library, reading-room, institution,
    literary or scientific, or evening class; and unless there is
    one at the National School-room, not a night school or even a
    working-men’s institution is in the town.

    “We should not omit that one of the old customs still observed
    is the giving apprentices three clear holidays (not including
    Sunday) after Christmas-day, though we hear of attempts being
    made to lessen this treat to the youngsters. If we don’t wish
    success to these efforts, we do desire those should succeed who
    will endeavour to impart to our rising population a thorough
    contempt for guise-dancing and all such unmeaning buffoonery.
    There is one thing which must not be overlooked—viz., the few
    drunken brawls that occur at such times. Cases of drunkenness
    certainly occur, but these are far below the average of towns
    of its size, the population being in 1861 (parliamentary
    limits) 10,354.”—_St Ives Correspondent._


By the especial kindness of one who has a more abundant store of old
Cornish stories than any man whom I have ever met, I am enabled to give
some portion of one of the old Cornish plays, or guise-dances. Many parts
are omitted, as they would, in our refined days, be considered coarse;
but as preserving a true picture of a peculiar people, as they were a
century and a half or two centuries since, I almost regret the omissions.

    SCENE 1.—_The Squire’s Kitchen—Duffy sitting on the
    chimney-stool—Jane, the housekeeper, half drunk, holding fast
    by the table._

    _Jane._ Oh, I am very bad, I must go to bed with the wind in my
    stomach. You can bake the pie, Duffy, and give the Squire his
    supper. Keep a good waking fire on the pie for an hour or more.
    Turn the glass again; when the sand is half down, take the fire
    from the kettle. Mind to have a good blazing fire in the hall,
    for the Squire will be as wet as a shag. The old fool, to stay
    out hunting with this flood of rain! Now, I’ll take a cup of
    still waters, and crawl away to bed.

    _Duffy._ Never fear, I’ll bake the pie as well as if you were
    under the kettle along with it; so go to bed, Jane.

                    [_As soon as Jane turns her back, Huey Lenine
                    (Lanyon) comes in with_,—

    _Huey._ What cheer, Duffy, my dear? how dost aw get on, then?

    _Duffy._ Never the better for thee, I bla, Huey. What do bring
    thee here this time of night?

    _Huey._ Why, thee art never the worse, nan, I’m sure. Nor thee
    cussent say that the lanes are longer than the love neither,
    when I’m come a-courting to thee with this rainy weather.

                    [_Huey places himself on the chimney-stool, at
                    a good distance from Duffy._

    _D._ Why doesn’t aw come a little nearer then, Huey?

    _H._ Near enuff, I bla.

    _D._ Nearer the fire, I mean. Why doesn’t aw speak to me then,

    _H._ What shall I say, nan?

    _D._ Why, say thee dost love me, to be sure.

    _H._ So I do.

    _D._ That’s a dear. Fine pretty waistcoat on to you, man, Huey.

    _H._ Cost pretty money too.

    _D._ What did it cost, man?

    _H._ Two-and-twenty pence, buttons and all.

    _D._ Take good care of en, man.

    _H._ So I will.

    _D._ That’s a dear.

                    [_The Squire is heard calling the dogs._

    _D._ Dost aw hear? there’s the Squire close to the door. Where
    shall I put thee? Oh, I’m in such a fright. Wouldn’t for the
    world that he found thee here this time of night. Get in the
    wood-corner, quick, out of sight, and I’ll cover thee up with
    the furze.

    _H._ No.

    _D._ Then jump into the oven. A little more baking will make
    thee no worse.

                    [_Duffy pushes Huey back into the oven with the
                    fire-prong, till he gets out of sight, when the
                    Squire comes in, calling_,—

    _Squire._ Jane, take the hares and rabbits; be sure hang them
    out of the way of the dogs.

    _D._ Give them to me, master; Jane is gone to bed. The wind
    from her stomach is got up in her head, at least so she said.

    _S._ Why, who is here, then? I heard thee speaking to some one
    as I opened the door.

    _D._ I was driving away a great owl, master, that fell out of
    the ivy-bush on the top of the chimney, and came tumbling down
    through the smoke, perched hisself there on the end of the
    chimney-stack; there he kept blinking and peeping, like a thing
    neither waking nor sleeping, till he heard the dogs barking,
    when he stopped his winking, cried out, “Hoo! hoo!” flapped his
    wings, and fled up the chimney the same way he came down.

    _D._ Now, master, you had better go up in the hall; you will
    find there a good blazing fire.

                    [_The Squire examines his legs by the

    _S._ Well, I declare, these are the very best stockings I ever
    had in my life. I’ve been hunting, since the break of day,
    through the bogs and the brambles, the furze and the thorns, in
    all sorts of weather; and my legs,—look, Duffy, look—are still
    as dry and sound as if they had been bound up in leather.

    _D._ Then take good care of them, master; for I shall soon have
    a man of my own to knit for. Huey and I are thinking to get
    married before the next turfey season.

    _S._ You think of having a man! a young girl like you! If I but
    catch the boy Huey Lenine here, I’ll break his neck I declare.
    I can never wear old Jane’s stockings any more. Why, thee dust
    ought to be proud to know that the people from all over the
    parish, who were never to church before in their lives, come,
    and from parishes round, that they may see my fine stockings.
    And don’t I stop outside the church door—ay, sometimes two
    hours or more—that the women may see thy fine work? Haven’t
    I stopped at the cross till the parson came out to call the
    people in, because he and the clerk, he said, wanted to begin?

                    [_The Squire places himself beside Duffy on
                    the chimney-stool. The devil comes out of
                    the wood-corner, and ranges himself behind
                    them. Whenever the Squire is backward, the
                    devil tickles him behind the ear or under the
                    ribs. His infernal highness is supposed to be
                    invisible throughout. Huey shews a wry face now
                    and then, with clenched fist, through the oven

The following portion, which is the Squire’s courtship of Duffy with the
help of the devil, is a sort of duet in the old play. I don’t remember
the whole, yet sufficient, I think, to give some idea of the way it is
intended to be carried out:—

    _S._ No; I’ll marry thee myself, rather than Huey Lenine
         Shall ever wear stockings the equal of mine.
         Thou shall have the silk gowns, all broider’d in gold,
         In the old oak chest; besides jewels and rings,
         With such other fine things,
         In the old oak chest, as thee didst never behold.
    _D._ I’d rather work all the day by any young man’s side,
         Than sit in the bower, and be an old man’s bride.
    _S._ Thou shalt have silver and gold, and riches untold.
    _D._ I’ll buy my true love his shirt, rather than your silver and gold,
         With one like yourself, both feeble and old.
    _S._ You must say I’m old; though I’m near sixty,
         I’m stronger still than many a man of twenty.
         Thou shalt ride to church behind me, upon a new pillion,
         As grand as Madam Noy, or Madam Trezillian.
    _D._ O master, hold your flattering tongue;
         I’m very foolish, and very young.

                    [_Here the devil tickles the Squire sharply
                    under the ribs, when the Squire attempts to
                    hug and kiss Duffy, who takes the fire-prong
                    and brandishes it in the Squire’s face. The
                    devil tickles them both._

         Stand off, keep your distance, and none of your hugging;
         No man shall kiss me till he takes me to church;
         I’ll never cry at Michaelmas for Christmas laughing,
         Like the poor maid left in the lurch.

         Look, the sand is all down, the pie is burn’d black,
         And the crust is too hard for your colt’s teeth to crack;
         Up to the hall now, and take your supper.

                    [_Here Duffy pushes the Squire off the stool.
                    The Squire jumps up and begins to dance,
                    singing the old dancing tune, “Here’s to the
                    devil, with his wooden pick,” &c. Duffy and the
                    devil soon join in the dance, and cut all sorts
                    of capers, till the Squire dances off to the
                    hall, followed by the devil; when Huey crawls
                    out of the oven, Duffy opens the kitchen,
                    drives Huey out, saying_,—

         Now take thyself outside the door,
         And never shew thy face here any more;
         Don’t think I’d have a poor pityack like thee,
         When I may marry a squire of high degree.

                    [_Then takes up the pie, and dances away.
                    During the old pitch-and-pass dance, they beat
                    time with the fire-prong and hunting-staff._

SCENE 2.—_The first appearance of Lady Lovell (Duffy) after the wedding.
She is seen walking up and down the hall dressed in all sorts of
ill-assorted, old-fashioned finery, that might have been forgotten in the
old oak chest for many generations of Lovells. The high-heeled shoes,
train, fan, ruff, high tete. All sorts of rings on her fingers, and in
her ears are de rigeur. Then she sings something like the following_:—

            Now I have servants to come at my call,
            As I walk in grand state in the hall,
              Deck’d in silks and satins fine;
            But I grieve all the day, and fret the long night away,
              To think of my true love, young Huey Lenine.

            Many a weary long hour I sit all alone in my bower,
              Where I do nothing but pine,
            Whilst I grieve all the day, and fret the night away,
              To think of my true love, young Huey Lenine.
    Would the devil but come at my call, and take the old Squire, silks,
      satins, and all,
          With jewels and rings so fine;
    Then merry and gay I’d work all the day, and pass the night away,
          Kissing my true love, young Huey Lenine.

Another Cornish “Droll” is preserved, in part, as an example of the kind
of doggerel verse in which many of those stories were told.

Bet of the Mill tells the Squire and company that, one Christmas night,
all the inmates of Trevider House were gone off to a guise-dance, except
Madam Pender and herself, and that they agree to spin for pastime:—

    “One Christmas night, from Trevider Hall,
    They were off in a guise-dance, big and small;
    Nobody home but Madam Pender and I.
    So to pass away time we agreed to try
    Which would spin the finest yarn,
          The length of the hall,
          While the holly and bays
          Deck’d window and wall.

    “We took the rushes up from the floor,
    From up by the chimney down to the door.
    When we had the wool carded, ready to spin,
    It came into our heads, before we’d begin,
    We’d have a jug of hot-spiced beer,
    To put life in our heels, our hearts to cheer.
    So we drank to the healths of one and all,
          While the holly and bays
          Look’d bright on the wall.

    “The night was dark, the wind roar’d without,
    And whirl’d the cold snow about and about.
          But the best part of that night,
          By the bright fire-light,
          While the Christmas stock did burn,
    We danced forth and back as light as a feather,
    Spinning and keeping good time together,
          To the music of the ‘turn.’[55]
    And we never felt weary that night at all,
          While the holly and bays
          Hung so gay on the wall.

    “We pull’d out the yarn as even and fine,
    As a spinner can spin the best of twine:
    All the length of the hall,
    From window to wall,
    From up by the chimney
    Down to the door,—
    Full a dozen good paces and more;
          And never felt weary at all,
          While the holly and bays
          Were so green on the wall.
    At the turn of the night,
    Old Nick, out of spite,
    To see the log burn,
    And to hear the gay ‘turn,’
    Made my yarn to crack;
    And I fell on my back,
          Down the steps of the door.
    I thought I was dead, or, twice as bad,
          Should never be good any more.
    If I had broken my bones on the cursed hard stones,
          ’Twas no wonder.
    But, worst of all, with the force of the fall,
          My twadling-string burst asunder.


    Old madam was seized with frights and fears,—
    She thought the house falling about her ears;
    And, to save herself, she tore up-stairs,
    Where they found her next morning under the bed,
    With the brandy-bottle close to her head.”

Bet is found in a similar plight, and all is attributed to spinning;
however, the Squire orders that Madam Pender shall spin no more,—

    “And dance, one and all,
    With the holly and bays so bright on the wall.”


The game of “Hurling” was, until a recent period, played in the parishes
to the west of Penzance on the Sunday afternoon. The game was usually
between two parishes, sometimes between Burian and Sancreed, or against
St Leven and Sennen, or the higher side of the parish played against the
lower side.

The run was from Burian Cross in the Church-town, to the Pipers in
Boloeit. All the gentry from the surrounding parishes would meet at
Boloeit to see the ball brought in.

“Hurling matches” are peculiar to Cornwall. They are trials of skill
between two parties, consisting of a considerable number of men, forty
to sixty a side, and often between two parishes. These exercises have
their name from “hurling” a wooden ball, about three inches in diameter,
covered with a plate of silver, which is sometimes gilt, and has commonly
a motto, “Gware wheag yeo gware teag,” “Fair play is good play.” The
success depends on catching the ball dexterously when thrown up, or
_dealt_, and carrying it off expeditiously, in spite of all opposition
from the adverse party; or, if that be impossible, throwing it into the
hands of a partner, who, in his turn, exerts his efforts to convey it to
his own goal, which is often three or four miles’ distance. This sport,
therefore, requires a nimble hand, a quick eye, a swift foot, and skill
in wrestling; as well as strength, good wind, and lungs. Formerly it was
practised annually by those who attended corporate bodies in surveying
the bounds of parishes; but from the many accidents that usually attended
that game, it is now scarcely ever practised. Silver prizes used to be
awarded to the victor in the games. A correspondent at St Ives, writes:—

Hurling the Silver Ball.—This old custom is still observed at St Ives.
The custom is also kept up at St Columb and St Blazey, on the anniversary
of the dedication of the church. St Ives’ feast is governed by the
Candlemas-day, it being the nearest Sunday next before that day. On the
Monday after, the inhabitants assemble on the beach, when the ball,
which is left in the custody of the mayor for the time being, is thrown
from the churchyard to the crowd. The sides are formed in this way,—

    Toms, Wills, and Jans,
    Take off all’s on the san’s—

that is, all those of the name of Thomas, John, or William are ranged
on one side, those of any other _Christian_ name on the other; of late
years the odd names outnumber the Toms, Wills, and Jans. There is a pole
erected on the beach, and each side strives to get the oftenest at the
“goold,” _i.e._, the pole; the other side as manfully striving to keep
them out, and to send their opponents as great a distance from the pole
as possible. The tradition is, that the contest used to be between the
parishes of Ludgvan, Lelant, and St Ives,—St Ives then being part of
the _living_ of Ludgvan,—and that they used to have a friendly hurling
at Ludgvan, and that afterwards the contest was between Lelant and St
Ives. A stone near to Captain Perry’s house is shewn, where the two
parishes used to meet at the feast, and the struggle was to throw the
ball into the parish church, the successful party keeping the ball, the
unsuccessful buying a new one. St Ives is said to have outnumbered the
Lelant folks, so that they gave up the contest, and the ball was left
with St Ives. Thus much is certain—that the feasts of St Ives, Lelant,
and Ludgvan fall properly on one Sunday, though a misunderstanding has
arisen, Lelant claiming to be governed by the day before Candlemas-day,
which will alter the three every seven years.

The game of hurling is now but rarely played, and the Sabbath is never
broken by that or by any other game.



There was a curious custom in the town of Penryn in Cornwall, which long
outlived all modern innovations. On some particular day in September or
October, (I forget the exact date,) about when the hazel-nuts are ripe,
the festival of nutting-day is kept. The rabble of the town go into the
country to gather nuts, returning in the evening with boughs of hazel
in their hands, shouting and making a great noise. In the meantime the
journeymen tailors of the town have proceeded to the adjoining village
of Mylor, and elected one of their number “Mayor of Mylor,” taking care
the selection falls on the wittiest. Seated in a chair shaded with green
boughs, and borne on the shoulders of four stalwart men, the worthy
mayor proceeds from his “good town of Mylor” to his “ancient borough
of Penryn,” the van being led by the “body-guard” of stout fellows
well armed with cudgels,—which they do not fail to use should their
path be obstructed,—torch-bearers, and two “town serjeants,” clad in
official gowns and cocked hats, and carrying each a monstrous cabbage
on his shoulder in lieu of a mace. The rear is brought up by the rabble
of the “nutters.” About mid-day a band of music meets them, and plays
them to Penryn, where they are received by the entire population. The
procession proceeds to the town-hall, in front of which the mayor
delivers a speech, declaratory of his intended improvements, &c., for
the coming year, being generally an excellent sarcastic burlesque on
the speeches of parliamentary candidates. The procession then moves on
to each public-house door, where the mayor, his council, and officers
are liberally supplied with liquor, and the speech is repeated with
variations. They then adjourn to the “council-chamber,” in some
public-house, and devote the night to drinking. At night the streets are
filled with people bearing torches, throwing fireballs, and discharging
rockets; and huge bonfires are kindled on the “Green,” and “Old Wall.”
The legal mayor once made an effort to put a stop to this Saturnalia, but
his new-made brother issued prompt orders to his body-guards, and the
_posse comitatus_ had to fly.

The popular opinion is, that there is a clause in the borough charter
compelling the legitimate mayor to surrender his power to the “Mayor
of Mylor” on the night in question, and to lend the town sergeants’
paraphernalia to the gentlemen of the shears.


One of the first objects that attracts attention on entering the village
of St Germans is the large walnut-tree, at the foot of what is called
Nut-Tree Hill. In the early part of the present century there was a very
ancient dwelling a few yards south-east of this tree, which was supposed
to have been the residence of some ecclesiastic of former times. Many
a gay May fair has been witnessed by the old tree; in the morning of
the 28th of the month splendid fat cattle, from some of the largest and
best farms in the county, quietly chewed the cud around its trunk; in
the afternoon the basket-swing dangled from its branches, filled with
merry laughing boys and girls from every part of the parish. On the
following day, the mock mayor, who had been chosen with many formalities,
remarkable only for their rude and rough nature, starting from some
“bush-house,” where he had been supping too freely of the fair ale, was
mounted on wain or cart, and drawn around it, to claim his pretended
jurisdiction over the ancient borough, until his successor was chosen at
the following fair. Leaving the old nut-tree, which is a real ornament
to the town, we pass by a stream of water running into a large trough, in
which many a country lad has been drenched for daring to enter the town
on the 29th of May without the leaf or branch of oak in his hat.


The people of Bodmin had an old custom of assembling in large numbers on
Halgaver Moor in the month of July, and electing a “Mayor of Misrule,”
for the punishment of petty offenders. Our old historian gives a quaint
description. “The youthlyer sort of Bodmin townsmen use sometimes to
sport themselves by playing the box with strangers, whom they summon to
Halgaver; the name signifieth the Goats’ Moore, and such a place it is,
lying a little without the town, and very full of quagmires. When these
mates meet with any raw serving-man or other young master, who may serve
and deserve to make pastime, they cause him to be solemnly arrested for
his appearance before the Mayor of Halgaver, where he is charged with
wearing one spur, or wanting a girdle, or some such like felony, and
after he hath been arraigned and tried with all requisite circumstances,
judgment is given in formal terms, and executed in some one ungracious
prank or other, more to the scorn than hurt of the party condemned. Hence
is sprung the proverb, when we see one slovenly apparelled, to say, ‘He
shall be presented in Halgaver Court.’”


On a green knoll in the centre of the intersection of the roads from
Helston to the Lizard, and Mawgan to Cury, flourished an ash-tree of
magnificent dimensions. The peculiarity of its position, together with
its unusual size, in the midst of a district singularly destitute of
trees, rendered it famous throughout the surrounding neighbourhood; and
in designating a special locality, reference was, and still continues
to be, made to “Cury Great Tree,” as a position generally known. During
the last fifty years the tree has been gradually decaying, and at
present only a portion of the hollow trunk remains, which is rapidly
disappearing. It stands about half way up a gentle rise facing the north;
and in passing over the road, the country people speak of a dim tradition
of a time when the “road ran with blood.” The occasion of this, which is
almost forgotten, was a faction fight, on a large scale, between the men
of the parishes of Wendron and Breage, happening about a hundred years
since. A wreck took place near the Lizard, and the Wendron-men being
nearest, were soon upon the spot to appropriate whatever flotsam and
jetsam might come in their way. Returning laden with their spoils, they
were encountered at the Great Tree by the Wendron-men bound on a similar
errand, and a fight, as a matter of course, ensued, which was prolonged
till the following day. The contest is said to have been a most terrible
one, each party being armed with staves. The savage nature of the fight
may be inferred from the following fact:—A Wendron-man named Gluyas,
having been disabled, was put upon the top of the roadside hedge, out of
the _mêlée_, when he was seen by a Breage termagant known as “Prudy the
Wicked,” and by her quickly dragged into the road, “Prudy” exclaiming,
“Ef thee artn’t ded, I make thee,” suiting the action to the word by
striking Gluyas with her patten iron until he was dead. There is some
account of Prudy’s having been taken before the “Justice,” but she does
not appear to have been punished. These fights between parishes were so
common in those days that any death occurring in the fray was quietly
passed over as a thing of course, and soon forgotten. “So late as thirty
years since it was unsafe to venture alone through the streets of the
lower part of this town (Helston) after nightfall on a market-day, owing
to the frays of the Breage, Wendron, and Sithney men.” So writes a friend
residing in Helston.


The parish feast takes place on the nearest Sunday to the 28th of April.

It happened in very early times, when winters extended further into the
spring than they now do, that one of the old inhabitants resolved to be
jovial notwithstanding the inclemency of the season; so he invited all
his neighbours, and to warm his house he placed on the burning faggots
the stump of a tree. It began to blaze, and, inspired by the warmth and
light, they began to sing and drink; when, lo, with a whiz and a whir,
out flew a bird from a hollow in the stump, crying, Cuckoo! cuckoo! The
bird was caught and kept by the farmer, and he and his friends resolved
to renew the festal meeting every year at this date, and to call it their
“cuckoo feast.” Previous to this event Towednack had no “feasten Sunday,”
which made this parish a singular exception to the rule in Cornwall.

This feast is sometimes called “crowder” feast, because the fiddler
formed a procession at the church door, and led the people through the
village to some tune on his “crowd.”


A very singular custom formerly prevailed at Lostwithiel, in Cornwall,
on Easter Sunday. The freeholders of the town and manor having assembled
together, either in person or by their deputies, one among them, each
in his turn, gaily attired and gallantly mounted, with a sceptre in his
hand, a crown on his head, and a sword borne before him, and respectfully
attended by all the rest on horseback, rode through the principal street
in solemn state to the church. At the churchyard stile, the curate, or
other minister, approached to meet him in reverential pomp, and then
conducted him to church to hear divine service. On leaving the church, he
repaired, with the same pomp and retinue, to a house previously prepared
for his reception. Here a feast, suited to the dignity he had assumed,
awaited him and his suite; and, being placed at the head of the table,
he was served, kneeling, with all the rites and ceremonies that a real
prince might expect. This ceremony ended with the dinner; the prince
being voluntarily disrobed, and descending from his momentary exaltation,
to mix with common mortals. On the origin of this custom but one opinion
can be reasonably entertained, though it may be difficult to trace the
precise period of its commencement. It seems to have originated in the
actual appearance of the prince, who resided at Restormel Castle in
former ages; but, on the removal of royalty, this mimic grandeur stepped
forth as its shadowy representative, and continued for many generations
as a memorial to posterity of the princely magnificence with which
Lostwithiel had formerly been honoured.[56]

This custom is now almost forgotten, and Lostwithiel has little to
disturb its quiet.


    “The carrion crow, that loathsome beast,
      Which cries against the rain,
    Both for her hue, and for the rest,
      The devil resembleth plain.
    And as with guns we kill the crow
      For spoiling our relief,
    The devil so must we o’erthrow
      With gunshot of belief.”

                           GEORGE GASCOIGNE.



    “Late, late yestreen I saw the new moone
        Wi’ the auld moone in her arme;
    And I feir, I feir, my dear master,
        That we will com to harme.”

                          SIR PATRICK SPENCE.

I cannot more appropriately preface this section, than by quoting the
remarks of a medical gentleman in large practice, on the subject of
charms:—“In common with most of the lower classes of the West of England,
the miner is not free from many absurd superstitions, (though I am glad
to observe, even in the last few years, a great change has taken place,
and such follies are gradually declining.) Some think themselves endowed
with a species of supernatural agency, and, like the Egyptian alluded to
by Othello, call themselves charmers, and profess to stop the flowing
of blood, (no matter from what cause—a divided artery even,) to remove
specks from the cornea, (which, in the dialect of the country, are
called canons!) and cure erysipelas, by charming. But I have never been
able to ascertain by what means the charm is supposed to work. I only
know that it is an everyday occurrence for mothers to bring children
to the surgery, afflicted with either of the diseases mentioned, and
say that they have had them charmed; but they were no better, such
want of improvement having obviously excited the greatest feelings of
astonishment. I knew a person connected with the mines, who felt himself
endowed with prophetic powers; and in his case the divination was not
confined to events momentous and terrible, but extended to the most
trifling minutiæ of life.

“He with grave simplicity told me one day, by way of exemplifying the
proper estimation in which his prophetic powers were held by his wife,
that on one occasion, his pig having wandered from his sty, she came to
him to ascertain in what direction it was to be sought for; and on his
professing utter ignorance of the animal’s peregrinations, she exclaimed,
in reproachful tones, ‘_Ah, you are not so pious as you used to be. I
remember the time when you could have told me in an instant the exact
spot to have found it_.’”[57]


In relation to this subject, and confirming an opinion already expressed
in the existence still of a belief in magic and charms, I print the
following communication from a lady of considerable literary ability:—

“Every country, it may be safely inferred, has its own individual,
perhaps characteristic, Charm-record; and inquiry into it would more
than probably recompense the labour, by the light it would let in on
the still but little investigated philosophy of the human mind, and the
growth of popular superstitions. The portion of our country best known to
the writer of these remarks is Cornwall, remarkable for the picturesque
wildness of its scenery, and not less so for its numerous superstitions.
The Rev. Charles Kingsley, in his ‘Yeast,’ has availed himself, with
his usual tact and power, of one of the most striking of these, having
reference to the cruel treatment of the Jews, who were sold as slaves
to work in the mines; the evil treatment they experienced being avenged
on modern miners, by the terrors the souls of the departed Hebrews
inflicted, in returning to the scene of their former compulsory toil,
and echoing the sounds of the workmen now labouring in flesh and blood.
But this is a digression from the main object of this article—viz.,
the belief in charms. Several years ago, while residing at Falmouth, I
remember to have heard of a man in humble life, named Thomas Martin,
whose abode was said to be at a village in the neighbourhood of Redruth,
and who accomplished wonderful cures of children subject to fits, or
personally injured by any deformity, by his power of charming. This
man also practised soothsaying to a considerable extent, and revealed,
with unquestionable accuracy, where articles mysteriously abstracted
were concealed. If a cow suddenly lost her milk, whether witchcraft
had exerted its malignant influence on the non-producing animal or no,
such a personage could not but exercise an important power over the
rustic population of the neighbourhood. But belief in the mysterious
intelligence of Martin was by no means confined to the peasant class.
A highly-respected and even ladylike person told the writer, with all
the gravity becoming such a communication, that she had once made an
appointment with Thomas Martin to meet him at a certain stile, for the
purpose of receiving from him the prediction of her future lot,—in
other words, having her fortune told; and hastening thither at the time
appointed, was horrified to find the stile occupied by a large black
snake. As Martin did not make his appearance, she inferred that he had
assumed the serpent form, and not being disposed to hold any intercourse
with a being of such questionable exterior, she hastened away,
determined never more to risk the attainment of the knowledge she coveted
through a probably diabolic channel.

“This anecdote is given as veritable experience of the belief which
may prevail in a mind fairly intelligent, and generally rational in
conducting the ordinary business of life.

“Martin’s reputation was disputed by no one, and that it continued
unimpaired to the close of his life reflects no inconsiderable credit on
the shrewdness and sagacity of his mind and his power of guessing.

“In the town where the writer has been residing for the last four
months, there is a female, advanced in years and of good character, who,
according to the report of many persons,—one a relative of her own,—is
peculiarly endowed with the power of charming away the disease called the
“kennel,” an affection of the eye, which causes extreme pain. A young
lady’s father was one evening suffering severe pain in the right eye, and
after trying various remedies without effect, (the agony having greatly
increased,) in her despair she sought an occasion to leave the house, and
hastened at once to the abode of the charmer. She told her errand to the
woman, who said that many had come to her for the purpose of ridiculing
her, and she did not like to say anything about charming—she did not wish
to be laughed at. On this the young lady assured her that her object
in true faith was to obtain relief for her suffering father, and by no
means to indulge the spirit of ridicule. On this representation she was
satisfied, and desired to know the _kind_ of kennel which affected the
gentleman’s eye. This information the daughter was unable to give her,
being unacquainted with their peculiarities; ‘because,’ said the charmer,
‘there are nine kinds of kennels,’ intimating at the same time that a
different charm might be said or applied to each,—so that, to avoid
omitting any, she must say the charms for all, in order that the one
especially affecting the diseased eye should be certainly included in the
charm. She went up-stairs, and remained about half an hour. On her return
she addressed the young lady, and told her she might go home, where she
would learn whether the eye had been relieved. She took no money for
her incantation. Any little present might be offered at a subsequent
visit, but no direct payment was ever requested, and indeed would have
been declined. The amazement and pleasure of the anxious daughter, on
her arrival at home, will be imagined, on learning from her father that
the intense pain in the eye had ceased during her absence, though he had
not been made acquainted with her errand. The influence of the faith
of another, in this case, on the relief of the afflicted person, has
no verisimilitude save with that of the father of the demoniac in the
gospel, or the removal of the son’s fever in consequence of the faith
of the father. I have no reason whatever to question the truth of this
story, which was confirmed by the wife of the gentleman thus relieved.

“A still more curious instance of the effect of charm, though quite of
another character, was related to me by the same party. The gentleman
referred to being much afflicted with cramp, his wife was earnestly
advised, by a country woman to whom she mentioned the circumstance, to
request her husband to place his slippers, with the toes turned upward,
at the foot of the bed. Half smiling at the wise counsel, yet perhaps not
altogether incredulous, he followed the good woman’s advice, and to his
great comfort found himself unaffected by his dreaded enemy throughout
the night. His faith being thus established in the _anti-cramp_ influence
of upturned slippers, he took care to place them, or to have them
placed, in the prescribed attitude on several successive nights. One
night, however, he was again seized with some appalling twinges, and
bethinking himself of the cause, suddenly recollected that in hastening
into bed he had not observed the important rule; instantly he had the
slippers restored to their proper position, and, to his astonishment and
delight, the pain ceased, and visited him no more. After this experience
of the wonderful effects that followed so simple a specific, it may be
easily imagined that he did not again risk the return of the cramp from
neglecting it. Such phenomena seem beyond the power of explanation on
any known medical principles. If any one more than usually versed in
the subtle power exercised on the body by the mind, can throw light on
the _slipper_ cure of the cramp, he will deserve much at the hands of
physiological and mental science.”

                                                                 S. E. M.


Both men and women in this parish possessed this power to a remarkable
degree. They could stop blood, however freely it might be flowing. “Even
should a pig be sticked in the very place, if a charmer was present,
and _thought_ of his charm at the time, the pig would not bleed.” This
statement, made by a Zennor-man, shews a tolerably large amount of faith
in their power. The charmers are very cautious about communicating
their charms. A man would not on any account tell his charm to a
woman, or a woman communicate hers to a man. People will travel many
miles to have themselves or their children charmed for “wildfires,”
(erysipelas,) ringworms, pains in the limbs or teeth, “kennels” on the
eyes, (ulcerations.) A correspondent writes me:—“Near this lives a lady
charmer, on whom I called. I found her to be a really clever, sensible
woman. She was reading a learned treatise on ancient history. She told
me there were but three charmers left in the west,—one at New Mill, one
in Morva, and herself.” Their charm for stopping blood is but another
version of one given on another page.

    “Christ was born in Bethlehem;
    Baptized in the river Jordan.
    The river stood,—
    So shall thy blood,
    _Mary Jane Polgrain_, [_or whatever the person may be called_,]
    In the name of the Father,” &c.

J—— H——, The Conjurer of St Colomb.

This old man was successful in persuading his dupes that he owed his
powers over evil spirits to his superior learning and his unblemished
life. This assumption of piety was well preserved, and to the outside
world his sanctity was undoubted. The only practice which can be named as
peculiar to H—— was that of lighting scores of candles and placing them
around the meadow near his house. Of course such a display would attract
much attention; and J—— succeeded in conveying an impression to the minds
of the country people that this process was required to counteract the
spells of the witches. When this old fellow has been summoned, as he
often was, to the houses supposed to be under the influence of evil, or
to be bewitched, his practice was not a little original, though wanting
in all that dignifies the office of an exorcist. When he arrived at
the house, before speaking to any one, he would commence operations by
beating with a heavy stick on the wooden partitions, screens, or pieces
of furniture, so as to make the greatest possible noise, shouting loudly
all the time, “Out! out! out!—Away! away! away!—to the Red Sea—to the Red
Sea—to the Red Sea.” Frequently he would add, with violent enunciation
and much action, a torrent of incoherent and often incomprehensible
words, (locally, “_gibberish_.”) The proceeding being brought to a
close, and the spirits of evil flown, every part of the house was
ordered to be well cleansed, and the walls and ceilings to be thoroughly
lime-washed,—certainly the only sensible part of the whole operation.
When J—— H—— was applied to respecting stolen property, his usual
practice was to shew the face of the thief in a tub of water. J—— drove a
considerable trade in selling powders to throw over bewitched cattle.[58]



The vicar of Bodmin found, not long since, a bottle full of pins laid
in a newly-made grave. I have heard of this as an unfailing remedy;
each wart was touched with a new pin, and the pin then dropped into the
bottle. I am not quite certain that it was necessary that the bottle
should be placed in a newly-made grave; in many cases burying it in the
earth, and especially at a “four cross-roads,” was quite sufficient. As
the pins rust, the warts decay.


A piece of string should be taken, and as many knots tied on it as there
are warts on the body; each wart being carefully touched with the knot
dedicated to it. The string is then to be buried, and the warts fade
away as it decays. A few years since a shipwright in Devonport dockyard
professed to cure warts by merely receiving from an indifferent person a
knotted string,—the knots of which had been tied by the afflicted. What
he did with the string I know not.


To touch each wart with a pebble, place the pebbles in a bag, and to lose
the bag on the way to church, was for many years a very favourite remedy;
but the unfortunate person who found the bag received the warts. A lady
once told me that she picked up such a bag, when a child, and out of
curiosity, and in ignorance, examined the contents. The result was that
she had, in a short time, as many warts as there were stones in the bag.


Another remedy was to _steal_ a piece of meat from a butcher’s stall in
the public market, and with this to touch the warts, and bury it. As the
meat putrefied the warts decayed.


I remember, when quite a child, having a very large “seedy wart” on
one of my fingers. I was taken by a distant relation, an elderly lady,
residing in Gwinear, to some old woman, for the purpose of having this
wart charmed. I well remember that two charred sticks were taken from the
fire on the hearth, and carefully crossed over the fleshy excrescence,
while some words were muttered by the charmer. I know not how long it was
before the wart disappeared, but certainly, at some time, it did so.


Margery Penwarne, a paralysed woman, about fifty years of age, though
from her affliction looking some ten years older, sat in the church porch
of St ——, and presented her outstretched withered arm and open palm to
the congregation as they left the house of God after the morning service.

Penny after penny fell into her hand, though Margery never opened her
lips. All appeared to know the purpose, and thirty pennies were speedily
collected. Presently the parson came with his family, and then she spoke
for the first time, soliciting the priest to change the copper coins into
one silver one. This wish was readily acceded to, and the paralytic woman
hobbled into the church, and up the aisle to the altar rails. A few words
passed between her and the clerk; she was admitted within the rails, and
the clerk moved the communion-table from against the wall, that she might
walk round it, which she did three times.

“Now,” said Margery, “with God’s blessing, I shall be cured; my blessed
bit of silver must be made into a ring,” (this was addressed to the
clerk, half aside;) “and within three weeks after it is on my finger I
shall get the use of my limbs again.”

This charm is common throughout the three western counties for the cure
of rheumatism,—the Devonshire halt,—or for any contraction of the limbs.


Crawl under a bramble which has formed a second root in the ground. Or
get a woman who has been delivered of a child, feet foremost, to tread
the patient.


The vicar of a large parish church informs me that a woman came to him
some time since for water from the font after a christening; she required
it to undo some spell. The vicar states, that all the fonts in the
country were formerly locked, to prevent people from stealing the “holy
water,” as they called it.


To stand on one’s head for a quarter of an hour.


    “There came three angels out of the East,
    One brought fire and two brought frost;
    Out fire and in frost,
    In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Bramble-leaves, or sometimes the leaves of the common dock, wetted with
spring water, are employed in this charm, as also in the following one.


A similar incantation to that practised for a burn is used. Three angels
are invoked to come from the East, and this form of words is repeated
three times to each one of nine bramble-leaves immersed in spring water,
making passes with the leaves _from_ the diseased part.



    “Christ was of a virgin born,
    And He was prick’d by a thorn,
    And it did never bell[59] nor swell,
    As I trust in Jesus this never will.”


    “Christ was crown’d with thorns
    The thorns did bleed, but did not rot,
    No more shall thy finger.
          In the name,”[60] &c.


    “Sanguis mane in te,
    Sicut Christus fuit in se;
    Sanguis mane in tuâ venâ,
    Sicut Christus in suâ penâ;
    Sanguis mane fixus,
    Sicut Christus quando crucifixus.”

As this is repeated by ignorant old men or women, it becomes a confused
jargon of unmeaning words, but it impresses the still more ignorant
sufferer with awe, approaching to fear. The following is more common:—

    “Christ was born in Bethlehem,
    Baptized in the river Jordan;
    There He digg’d a well,
    And turn’d the water against the hill,
    So shall thy blood stand still.
                  In the name,” &c.


    “Tetter, tetter, thou hast nine brothers.
        God bless the flesh and preserve the bone;
    Perish, thou tetter, and be thou gone.
              In the name,” &c.

    “Tetter, tetter, thou hast eight brothers.
        God bless the flesh and preserve the bone;
        Perish, thou tetter, and be thou gone.
              In the name,” &c.

    “Tetter, tetter, thou hast seven brothers.”
              &c., &c.

Thus the verses are continued until tetter, having “no brother,” is
imperatively ordered to begone.


Many a time do I remember, when a child playing in the fields, having
suffered from the stings of the nettle, and constantly seeking for the
advantages of the charm of the dock-leaf. The cold leaf was placed on the
inflamed spot, and the well-known rhyme three times repeated:—

    “Out nettle,
    In dock;
    Dock shall have
    A new smock.”


    “Christ pass’d by His brother’s door,
    Saw His brother lying on the floor.
    ‘What aileth thee, brother?
    Pain in the teeth?—
    Thy teeth shall pain thee no more.
              In the name,’” &c.


The body of a dead serpent bruised on the wound it has occasioned, is
said to be an infallible remedy for its bite. Common report is sufficient
to warrant a poetical allusion:—

    “The beauteous adder hath a sting,
    Yet bears a balsam too.”

                 _Polwheel’s Sketches._


The sufferer is to pass nine times against the sun, under a bramble-bush
growing at both ends. This is the same as the cure prescribed for


The holed stone—Mên-an-tol—in Lanyon, is commonly called by the peasantry
the crick-stone. Through this the sufferer was drawn nine times against
the sun—or, if a man, he was to crawl through the hole nine times.

Strumous children were not unfrequently treated after another fashion.

A young ash-tree was cleft vertically, and the parts being drawn forcibly
asunder, the child was passed “three times three times” against the
sun through the tree. This ceremony having been performed, the tree
was carefully bound together: if the bark grew together and the tree
survived, the child would grow healthy and strong; if the tree died, the
death of the child, it was believed, would surely follow.


If this moss is properly gathered, it is “good against all diseases of
the eyes.”

The gathering is regarded as a mystery not to be lightly told; and if any
man ventures to write the secret, the virtues of the moss avail him no
more. I hope, therefore, my readers will fully value the sacrifice I make
in giving them the formula by which they may be guided.

On the third day of the moon—when the thin crescent is seen for the first
time—shew it the knife with which the moss is to be cut, and repeat,—

    “As Christ heal’d the issue of blood,
    Do thou cut, what thou cuttest, for good!”

At sun-down, having carefully washed the hands, the club-moss is to
be cut kneeling. It is to be carefully wrapped in a white cloth, and
subsequently boiled in some water taken from the spring nearest to its
place of growth. This may be used as a fomentation. Or the club-moss may
be made into an ointment, with butter made from the milk of a new cow.


The following superstitions are still prevalent on the north coast of

“This root, (the sea-poppy,) so much valued for removing all pains in the
breast, stomach, and intestines, is good also for disordered lungs, and
is so much better here than in other places, that the apothecaries of
Cornwall send hither for it; and some people plant them in their gardens
in Cornwall, and will not part with them under sixpence a root. A very
simple notion they have with regard to this root, which falls not much
short of the Druids’ superstition in gathering and preparing their selago
and samolus. This root, you must know, is accounted very good both as an
emetic and cathartic. If, therefore, they design that it shall operate
as the former, their constant opinion is that it should be scraped and
sliced upwards—that is, beginning from the root, the knife is to ascend
towards the leaf;—but if that it is intended to operate as a cathartic,
they must scrape the root downwards. The _senecio_ also, or groundsel,
they strip upwards for an emetic and downwards for a cathartic. In
Cornwall they have several such groundless opinions with regard to
plants, and they gather all the medicinal ones when the moon is just such
an age; which, with many other such whims, must be considered as the
reliques of the Druid superstition.”[61]

They, the Druids, likewise used great ceremonies in gathering an herb
called _samolus_, marsh-wort, or fen-berries, which consisted in a
previous fast, in not looking back during the time of their plucking it,
and, lastly, in using their left hand only; from this last ceremony,
perhaps, the herb took the name of _samol_, which, in the Phœnician
tongue, means the left hand. This herb was considered to be particularly
efficacious in curing the diseases incident to swine and cattle.—(_C. S.



Gather nine spar stones from a running stream, taking care not to
interrupt the free passage of the water in doing so. Then dip a quart of
water from the stream, which must be taken in the direction in which the
stream runs;—by no means must the vessel be dipped against the stream.

Then make the nine stones red hot, and throw them into the quart of
water. Bottle the prepared water, and give the afflicted child a
wine-glass of this water for nine mornings following. If this will not
cure the whooping-cough, nothing else can, says the believer.


A female donkey of three years old was taken, and the child was drawn
naked nine times over its back and under its belly. Then three spoonfuls
of milk were drawn from the teats of the animal, and three hairs cut from
the back and three hairs cut from the belly were placed in it. This was
to stand for three hours to acquire the proper virtue, and then the child
drank it in three doses.

This ceremony was repeated three mornings running, and my informant said
the child was always cured. I knew of several children who were treated
in this manner in one of the small villages between Penzance and Madron
Church-town, some twenty or thirty years since. There were some doggerel
lines connected with the ceremony, which have escaped my memory, and I
have endeavoured, in vain, to find any one remembering them. They were
to the effect that, as Christ placed the cross on the ass’s back when
He rode into Jerusalem, and so rendered the animal holy, if the child
touched where Jesus sat, it should cough no more.


One good man informed me that, though he had no faith in charming, yet
this he knew, that he was underground one day, and had the toothache
“awful bad, sure enough; and Uncle John ax’d me, ‘What’s the matter?’
says he. ‘The toothache,’ says I. ‘Shall I charm it?’ says he. ‘Ees,’
says I. ‘Very well,’ says he; and off he went to work in the next pitch.
Ho! dedn’t my tooth ache, Lor’ bless ee; a just ded ye knaw; just as if
the charm were tugging my very life out. At last Uncle John comed down
to the soller, and sing’d out, ‘Alloa! how’s your tooth in there?’ says
he. ‘Very bad,’ says I. ‘How’s a feeling?’ says he. ‘Pulling away like an
ould hoss with the “skwitches,”’ says I. ‘Hal drag my jaw off directly,’
says I. ‘Ees the charm working?’ says he. ‘Es, a shure enuf,’ says I.
‘Es,’ says he, ‘al be better d’rectly.’ ‘Hope a will,’ says I. Goodness
gracious! dedn’t a ache; I believe a did you; then a stopped most to
once. ‘Es better,’ says I. ‘I thought so,’ says he; ‘and you waan’t have
un no more for a long time,’ says he. ‘Thank ee, Uncle John,’ says I;
‘I’ll give ee a pint o’ beer pay-day,’ and so I ded; an’ I haben’t had
the toothache ever since. Now, if he dedn’t charm un, how ded a stop? and
if he dedn’t knaw a would be better a long time, how ded he say so? No,
nor I haven’t had un never since. So that’s a plain proof as he knaw’d
all about it, waden’t a you?”

I nodded assent, convinced it was useless to argue against such reasoning
as that.


If an invalid goes out for the first time and makes a circuit, this
circuit must be with the sun; if against the sun, there will be a relapse.


The country people around the Land’s-End say that in old times no one
could live in the low grounds, which were then covered with thickets,
and these swarming with adders. Even at a much later period, in the
summer-time, it was not safe to venture amongst the furze on the Downs
without a _milpreve_. (I have never seen a milpreve; but it is described
to me as being about the size of a pigeon’s egg, and I am told that
it is made by the adders when they get together in great numbers.
Is it not probable that the milpreve may be one of the madrepore
corals—_millepore_—found sometimes on the beaches around Land’s-End?)

A friend writes me:—“I was once shewn a milpreve; it was nothing more
than a beautiful ball of coralline limestone, the section of the coral
being thought to be entangled young snakes.”

When some old men were streaming the “Bottoms” up near Partimey, they
were often obliged to leave work on account of the number of adders that
would get together as if by agreement, and advance upon them.

One day one of the tin streamers chanced to leave his pot of milk,
uncovered, out of the moor-house, when an adder got into it. The man cut
a turf and put over the pot to prevent the reptile from escaping. In a
few minutes the tinners saw “the ugly things crawling and leaping from
all quarters towards the pot.” The streamers were obliged to run, and
take which way they would; the adders seemed to be coming from every
direction, further and further off.

At last “they formed a heap round the pot as large as a pook [cock] of
hay.” Towards night all the reptiles were quite still, then the men
gathered together, around the mass of adders, a great quantity of furze,
(being summer, there was plenty cut and dry close at hand,) and piled
it up like sheaves to make a mow, laying a circle of well-dried turf
without it. They then fired the turf on every side, and when it was well
ignited, they fired the furze. “Oh, it was a sight to see the adders
when they felt the smoke and the flame! they began to boil, as it were,
all in a heap, and fell back into the flaming furze; those which leaped
through perishing on the brilliant ring of burning peat. Thus were killed
thousands upon thousands of adders, and the moors were clear for a long,
long period.”

This is related nearly as the story was told; but it appears necessary
to make some allowance for that spirit of exaggeration which is a
characteristic of all Celtic people, ere they have been tutored to know
the dignity of truth.

“The country people retaine a conceite, that the snakes, by their
breathing upon a hazel-wand, doe make a stone ring of blew colour, in
which there appeareth the yellow figure of a snake, and that beasts which
are stung, being given to drink of the water wherein this stone hath bene
socked, will there-through recover.”[62]

This was clearly one of the so-called “Druidic rings,”—examples of which
may be seen in our museums,—which have been found in England and in
Ireland. It is curious that at the glassworks of Murano, near Venice,
they still make rings, or beads, precisely resembling the ancient ones,
and these are used largely as money in Africa.

Snakes were formerly held in great reverence; and Camden asserts that
one of the prevailing superstitions concerning them was that, about
midsummer-eve, they all met together in companies, and, joining their
heads, began a general hiss, which they continued until a kind of bubble
was formed, which immediately hardened, and gave to the finder prosperity
in all his undertakings.[63]

Lhuyd, in a letter written in 1701, gives a curious account of the then
superstitious character of the people in this district. “The Cornish
retain variety of charms, and have still towards the Land’s-End the
amulets of _Maen Magal_ and _Glain-neider_, which latter they call a
_Melprer_, a thousand worms, and have a charm for the snake to make it,
when they have found one asleep, and struck a hazel-wand in the centre
of its _spiræ_.” Camden mentions the use of snake-stones as a Cornish

“The very same story, in fact, is told of the _Adder-stane_ in the
popular legends of the Scottish Lowlands, as Pliny records of the origin
of the _Ovum Anguinum_. The various names by which these relics are
designated all point to their estimation as amulets or superstitious
charms; and the fact of their occurrence, most frequently singly, in
the sepulchral cist or urn, seems to prove that it was as such, and not
merely as personal ornaments, that they were deposited with the ashes
of the dead. They are variously known as adder-beads, serpent-stones,
Druidical beads; and, amongst the Welsh and Irish, by the synonymous
terms of _Gleini na Droedh_ and _Glaine nan Druidhe_, signifying the
magician’s or Druid’s glass.”—_Wilson’s Archæology and Prehistoric Annals
of Scotland_, p. 304.


It is said that no kind of snake is ever found near the “ashen-tree,” and
that a branch of the ash-tree will prevent a snake from coming near a

A child, who was in the habit of receiving its portion of bread and
milk at the cottage door, was found to be in the habit of sharing its
food with one of the poisonous adders. The reptile came regularly every
morning, and the child, pleased with the beauty of his companion,
encouraged the visits. The babe and adder were close friends.

Eventually this became known to the mother, and, finding it to be a
matter of difficulty to keep the snake from the child whenever it was
left alone,—and she was frequently, being a labourer in the fields,
compelled to leave her child to shift for itself,—she adopted the
precaution of binding an “ashen-twig” about its body.

The adder no longer came near the child; but from that day forward the
child pined, and eventually died, as all around said, through grief at
having lost the companion by whom it had been fascinated.


When an adder or snake is seen, a circle is to be rapidly drawn around
it, and the sign of the cross made within it, while the two first verses
of the 68th Psalm are repeated:—

    “Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also
    that hate him flee before him.

    “As smoke is driven away, so drive them away: as wax melteth
    before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of

When a child, I well remember being shewn a snake, not yet dead, within
a circle of this kind; the gardener who drew my attention to the reptile
informing me that he had charmed it in the manner related.


Weakly children—“children that wouldn’t goode,” or thrive—were sometimes
drawn through the cleft ash-tree. I have seen the ceremony performed but
in one case.

The tree was young, and it was taken by the two forks,—bifurcation having
taken place,—and by force rended longitudinally. The cleft was kept
open, and the child, quite naked, was passed head first through the tree
nine times. The tree was then closed and carefully tied together. If the
severed parts reunited, the child and the tree recovered together; if the
cleft gaped in any part, the operation was certain to prove ineffectual.

I quote another example. A large knife was inserted into the trunk of the
young tree, about a foot from the ground, and a vertical rending made for
about three feet. Two men then forcibly pulled the parts asunder, and
held them so, whilst the mother passed the child through it three times.
This “passing” alone was not considered effective; it was necessary that
the child should be washed for three successive mornings in the dew from
the leaves of the “charmed ash.”

In the _Athenæum_ for September 1846, Ambrose Merton—Mr Thoms—has some
interesting notices of the widespread belief in, and the antiquity of,
this superstition.


    “Even ash, I thee do pluck;
    Hoping thus to meet good luck.
    If no luck I get from thee,
    I shall wish thee on the tree.”


A farmer in Towednack having been robbed of some property of no great
value, was resolved, nevertheless, to employ a test which he had heard
the “old people” resorted to for the purpose of catching the thief.
He invited all his neighbours into his cottage, and when they were
assembled, he placed a cock under the “brandice,” (an iron vessel
formerly much employed by the peasantry in baking, when this process was
carried out on the hearth, the fuel being furze and ferns.) Every one was
directed to touch the brandice with his, or her, third finger, and say,
“In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, speak.” Every one did
as they were directed, and no sound came from beneath the brandice. The
last person was a woman, who occasionally laboured for the farmer in his
fields. She hung back, hoping to pass unobserved amidst the crowd. But
her very anxiety made her a suspected person. She was forced forward, and
most unwillingly she touched the brandice, when, before she could utter
the words prescribed, the cock crew. The woman fell faint on the floor,
and, when she recovered, she confessed herself to be the thief, restored
the stolen property, and became, it is said, “a changed character from
that day.”


A bonfire is formed of faggots of furze, ferns, and the like. Men and
maidens by locking hands form a circle, and commence a dance to some wild
native song. At length, as the dancers become excited, they pull each
other from side to side across the fire. If they succeed in treading
out the fire without breaking the chain, none of the party will die
during the year. If, however, the ring is broken before the fire is
extinguished, “bad luck to the weak hands,” as my informant said.


There is, in many parts of the county, a belief, derived no doubt
from the recollection of St Paul’s conversion, that, when sinners are
converted, they see shining lights about themselves. I have many times
heard this, but every one seems to have his own particular mode of
describing the phenomenon,—where they can be prevailed on to describe it
at all,—and usually that is derived from some picture which has made an
impression on their minds: such as, “exactly like the light shining round
the angel appearing to St Peter, in fayther’s Bible.”


I find a belief still prevalent amongst the people in the outlying
districts of Cornwall, that such birds as the cuckoo and the swallow
remain through the winter in deep caves, cracks in the earth, and in
hollow trees; and instances have been cited of these birds having been
found in a torpid state in the mines, and in hollow pieces of wood. This
belief appears to be of some antiquity, for Carew writes in his “Survey
of Cornwall” as follows:—

“In the west parts of Cornwall, during the winter season, swallows are
found sitting in old deep tynne-works, and holes in the sea cliffes:
but touching their lurking-places, _Olaus Magnus_ maketh a far stranger
report. For he saith that in the north parts of the world, as summer
weareth out, they clap mouth to mouth, wing to wing, and legge to legge,
and so, after a sweet singing, fall downe into certain lakes or pools
amongst the caves, from whence at the next spring they receive a new
resurrection; and he addeth, for proofe thereof, that the fishermen
who make holes in the ice, to dip up such fish in their nets as resort
thither for breathing, doe sometimes light on these swallows congealled
in clods, of a slymie substance, and that, carrying them home to their
stoves, the warmth restored them to life and flight.”

A man employed in the granite quarries near Penryn, informed me that he
found such a “slymie substance” in one of the pools in the quarry where
he was working, that he took it home, warmth proved it to be a bird, but
when it began to move it was seized by the cat, who ran out on the downs
and devoured it.


A mucilaginous substance is found on the damp ground near the granite
quarries of Penryn, this is often very phosphorescent at night. The
country people regard this as the substance of shooting stars. A
tradesman of Penryn once brought me a bottle full of this substance for
analysis, informing me that the men employed at the quarries, whenever
they observed a shooting star, went to the spot near which they supposed
it to fall, and they generally found a hat full of this mucus. It is
curious that the Belgian peasants also call it “the substance of shooting
stars,” (“Phosphorescence,” p. 109. By T. L. Phipson.) This author
says, “I have sketched the history of this curious substance in the
_Journal de Médecine et de Pharmacologie_ of Bruxelles, for 1855. It was
analysed chemically by Mulder, and anatomically by Carus, and from their
observations appears to be the peculiar mucus which envelops the eggs
of the frog. It swells to an enormous volume when it has free access to
water. As seen upon the damp ground in spring, it was often mistaken for
some species of fungus; it is, however, simply the spawn of frogs, which
has been swallowed by some large crows or other birds, and afterwards
vomited, from its peculiar property of swelling to an immense size in
their bodies.”

In Mulder’s account of its chemical composition, given by Berselius in
his _Rapport Annual_, he distinguishes it by designation of _mucilage


There appears to exist a very old superstition, to the effect that when
a man has deeply perjured himself,—especially if by his perjury he has
sacrificed the life of a friend,—he not merely loses the enjoyment of the
sunshine, but he actually loses all consciousness of its light or its
warmth. Howsoever bright the sun may shine, the weather appears to him
gloomy, dark, and cold.

I have recently been told of a man living in the western part of
Cornwall, who is said to have sworn away the life of an innocent person.
“The face of this false witness is the colour of one long in the tomb;
and he has never, since the death of the victim of his forswearing, seen
the sun.” It must be remembered the perjured man is not blind. All
things around him are seen as by other men, but the sense of vision is so
dulled that the world is for ever to him in a dark, vapoury cloud.


An esteemed and learned correspondent, himself a Cornishman, writing to
me on the Cornish character, says:—

“There are some adages in which beadledom receives various hard
knocks—that abstraction mostly taking the shape of some unlucky mayor;
and I have heard in Cornwall, but never elsewhere, that the greatest fool
in the place for the time being is always made the mayor.

“There is an adage of the Mayor of Calenich, (and yet I doubt if ever
that hamlet had such an officer.) Calenich is one mile from Truro,
and the mayor’s hackney was pastured two miles from home; so, as his
worship would by no means compromise his dignity by walking to Truro, he
invariably walked to his horse to ride there, so that it was said of any
one who would keep up appearances at great trouble, that he was ‘_like
the Mayor of Calenich, who walked two miles to ride one_.’

“The class who never know on which side their bread is buttered, are
said to be ‘_like the Mayor of Market-Jew, sitting in their own light_;’
and the stupid man whose moods, whether of sadness or merriment, are
inopportune, is, as may be, said to be ‘_like the Mayor of Falmouth, who
thanked God when the town-jail was enlarged_.’

“Many persons are chronicled in the same manner.

“‘_Like Nicholas Kemp, he’s got occasion for all._’ Nicholas was said to
be a voter in a Cornish borough, who was told to help himself (so that no
one should have given him a bribe,) from a table covered with gold, in
the election committee-room. Taking off his hat, he swept the whole mass
into it, saying, ‘I’ve occasion for all.’

“‘_Like Uncle Acky Stoddern, the picture of ill luck._’ This was always
applied to a once well-known Gwennap-man.

“When a boy is asked what he will be, it is sometimes answered on his
behalf, ‘_I’ll be like Knuckey, be as I am_.’

“‘_Like Nanny Painter’s hens, very high upon the legs_,’ is applied to a
starveling or threadpaper.

“‘_Like Malachi’s cheeld, choke-full of sense_,’ applied derisively to
any one boasting of himself or of his children. This is, I believe,
purely Cornish.

“‘_Like a toad under a harrow, I don’t know whichee corse to steer._’ The
first division of this adage is common property, the last is confined to

“‘_He is coming home with Penny Liggan_,’ sometimes ‘Peter Lacken,’
signifies the return of a pennyless scapegrace. The term was probably
‘penny lacking’ originally.

“Are the Cornish folk given to making ‘bulls,’ like the Irish?” asks my
correspondent. “I have heard of one or two curious inversions of speech.

“Once upon a time a little boy having vainly importuned his seniors for a
penny to go and buy sweets, being determined not to be disappointed, went
off, exclaiming, ‘I don’t care; I’ll go and _trust_ Betty Rule,’ (the
sweetmeat vendor.) This is native and genuine Gwennapian.

“The common people are fond of figures of speech. Port-wine negus was
christened by the miners ‘black wine toddy.’ They go on Midsummer-day to
Falmouth or Penzance, to get ‘_a pen’ord o’ say_’—that is, they go out in
a boat on payment of a penny.

“With them, when their health is inquired after, every man is ‘_brave_,’
and every woman ‘_charming_;’ and friendship takes dear household names
into its mouth for more expressiveness.

“‘Well, Billy, my son, how’s faether?’

“‘Brave, thank ee.’

“‘How are you, Coden [Cousin] Jaan, and how’s Betty?’

“‘She’s charming, thank ee.’

“_Trade_ is a word of special application, ‘_a pa’cel o’ trade_.’

“A precious mess is ‘_a brave shape_.’

“Of an undecided person it is said, ‘_He is neither Nim nor Doll_.’ Does
this mean he is neither Nimrod nor Dorothy?

“A phrase descriptive of vacuity of expression is, ‘_He looks like
anybody that has neither got nor lost_.’”

Years since it was a common custom to assign some ridiculous action to
the people of a small town or village. For example, the people of one
place were called “Buccas,” “because some one of them was frightened at
his shadow.”

Those of another town were named “Gulls,” “because two of the townsmen
threw a gull over a cliff to break its neck.”

The men of a fishing-village were nicknamed “Congers,” “because they
threw a conger overboard to drown it.”

“Who whipped the hake?” was applied to the inhabitants of another town,
because hake, it is said, being excessively plenty, the fishermen flogged
one of those fish, and flung it back into the sea; upon which all the
hakes left that coast, and kept away for years.[65]

“Who drowned the man in a dry ditch?” belongs especially to another place.

Certain Cornishmen built a wall around the cuckoo, to prevent that bird
from leaving the county, and thus to insure an early spring. When built,
the bird flew out, crying “Cuckoo! cuckoo!” “If we had put one course
more on the wall we should a’ kept’n in,” said they.

Camborne is so called from _Camburne_, _a crooked well-pit_ of water.
This crooked well was at one time far famed for the cure of many diseases.

The persons who washed in this well were called _Merrasicke_. I know not
the meaning of the word. According to an old Cornish custom of fixing
nicknames on people, the inhabitants of Camborne are called _Mearageeks_,
signifying perverse, or obstinate.—(_Lanyon._)

The Church was anciently called _Mariadoci_. I therefore suspect that the
above terms have some connexion with this name. By an easy corruption,
and the addition of _geeks_, or _gawks_, (meaning awkward,) either word
can be produced.

Of the Gorran men it is asked, “Who tried to throw the moon over the


An old tradition—the particulars of which I have failed to recover—says
that a flock of sheep were blown from the Gwithian Sands over into St
Ives Bay, and that the St Ives fishermen caught them,—believing them to
be a new variety of fish,—either in their nets, or with hook and line,
and brought them ashore as their night’s catch.

I learn that Mr Fortescue Hitchins, some fifty or sixty years since,
wrote a “copy of verses” on this tradition, but I have never seen this


I have already told of St Piran and his grindstone. I have, however,
another and a more modern story, which is told with great glee at some of
the social meetings of the fishermen. This is given merely to indicate
the simplicity of this honest race.

A party was got together on a promontory at the extremity of the bay
which enclosed a fishing-town. They were gathered to see a wonder, a
_floating grindstone_. Seeing that grindstones were grindstones in those
days, and worth many pounds sterling, a boat was manned, and away they
went, the mover of the expedition being in the bow of the boat.

As they approached the grindstone, this man planted his foot on the
gunwale, ready for a spring. They were close aboard the circular
mass,—“All my own, and none for nobody,” he cries, and sprang off, as
he fancied, on to the grindstone. Lo! to his great surprise, he sank
under water, presently popping up again within his charmed circle, to be
greeted with roars of laughter. He had leaped into a sheet of “salt sea
foam” which had gathered, and was confined within a large hoop.


The common people believe these to be produced by thunder, and thrown
down from the clouds, and that they shew what weather will ensue by
changing their colour.

I have also found a belief prevailing in many districts, that Celts
impart a virtue to water in which they have been soaked, and that
diseases have been cured by drinking it.


When the masons were building the tower of Towednack Church, the devil
came every night and carried off the pinnacles and battlements. Again and
again this work was renewed during the day, and as often was it removed
during the night, until at length the builders gave up the work in
despair, feeling that it was of no use to contend with the evil one.

Thus it is that Towednack Church stands lonely, with its squat and
odd-looking tower, a mark of the power of evil to the present day.
Associated with this tower is a proverb: “There are no cuckolds in
Towednack, because there are no horns on the church tower.”


Stems of tea floating in that beverage indicate strangers. Flakes of smut
hanging loose to the fire-bars do the same thing.

The time of the stranger’s arrival may be known by placing the stem on
the back of one hand, and smacking it with the other; the number of
blows given before it is removed indicates the number of days before his

The flake of carbon is blown upon, and according as it is removed by the
first, second, or third blow, so is the time at the end of which the
visitor may be expected.


    “When the corn is in the shock,
    Then the fish are on the rock.”

The pilchard visits this coast in the early autumn. These are the “fish”
_par excellence_ of the Cornish, and they are thus distinguished.


Ascertain the day of the young woman’s birth, and refer to the last
chapter of Proverbs. Each verse from the 1st to the 31st is supposed to
indicate, either directly or indirectly, the character, and to guide
the searcher—the verse corresponding with her age indicating the woman’s


    “Those who kill a robin or a wran,
      Will never prosper, boy or man.”

This feeling is deeply impressed on every young mind; there are few,
therefore, who would injure either of those birds.

I remember that a boy in Redruth killed a robin: the dead robin was tied
round his neck, and he was marched by the other boys through the town,
all of them singing the above lines.


Give the first person whom you meet between your own house and the church
to which you are taking the infant to be christened, a piece of bread and


To wash the hands is an attestation of innocency. To call a man “dirty
fingers,” is to accuse him of some foul or unjust deed.


    “Blessed is the bride
        Whom the sun shines on,
    Blessed is the dead
        Whom the rain rains on.”

If it rains while a wedding party are on their way to the church, or on
returning from it, it betokens a life of bickering and unhappiness.

If the rain falls on a coffin, it is supposed to indicate that the soul
of the departed has “arrived safe.”


A whistling maid and a crowing hen in one house, is a certain sign of a
downfall to some one in it. I have known hens killed for crowing by night.

The braying of an ass is a sign of fair weather; so is also the crowing
of a cock. The quacking of ducks foretells rain.


To see the new moon for the first time, through glass, is unlucky; you
may be certain that you will break glass before that moon is out. I
have known persons whose attention has been called to a clear new moon,
hesitate. “Hev I seed her out a’ doors afore?” if not, they will go into
the open air, and if possible shew the moon “a piece of gold,” or, at all
events, turn their money.


Breaking a looking-glass is certain to insure seven years of misfortune.


    “One is a sign of anger,
      Two is a sign of mirth,
    Three is a sign of a wedding,
      Four is a sign of a {birth.

A scolding woman is called a magpie. Whenever you see a magpie, take off
your hat to it; this will turn away the anger.


May is regarded by many as an unhealthy and unlucky month.

Children born in the month of May are called “May chets,” and kittens
cast in May are invariably destroyed, for—

    “May chets
    Bad luck begets.”

Another rhyme is—,

    “A hot May,
    Fat church hay,”

meaning that funerals will be plenty.


    “Sunday’s child is full of grace,
    Monday’s child is full in the face,
    Tuesday’s child is solemn and sad,
    Wednesday’s child is merry and glad,
    Thursday’s child is inclined to thieving,
    Friday’s child is free in giving,
    Saturday’s child works hard for his living.”


    “They that wash Monday got all the week to dry,
    They that wash Tuesday are pretty near by,
    They that wash Wednesday make a good housewife,
    They that wash Thursday must wash for their life,
    They that wash Friday must wash in need,
    They that wash Saturday are sluts indeed.”


When the ears are red and itch, it is a sign that some one is talking
of the suffering individual. If it is the left ear, they are being
scandalised; if the right ear, they are being praised.

Often have I heard, when the lower and middle class people have been
indulging in some gossip of their neighbours or friends, “I’ll bet how
their ears do itch.”


A bright spark on the candle-wick indicates a letter coming to the
house. The person towards whom it shines will receive it. The time of
its arrival is determined by striking the bottom of the candlestick on
the table. If the spark comes off on the first blow, it will be received
to-morrow; if two blows are required, on the second day, and so on.


A fond mother was paying more than ordinary attention to a fine
healthy-looking child, a boy about three years old. The poor woman’s
breast was heaving with emotion, and she struggled to repress her sighs.
Upon inquiring if anything was really wrong, she said “the old lady of
the house had just told her that the child could not live long, because
_he had a blue vein across his nose_.”


There is a common feeling that the croaking of a raven over the house
bodes evil to some member of the family. The following incident, given to
me by a really intelligent man, illustrates the feeling:[66]—

“One day our family were much annoyed by the continued croaking of a
raven over our house. Some of us believed it to be a token; others
derided the idea; but one good lady, our next-door neighbour, said,
‘Just mark the day, and see if something does not come of it.’ The day
and hour were carefully noted. Months passed away, and unbelievers were
loud in their boastings and inquiries after the token.

“The fifth month arrived, and with it a black-edged letter from
Australia, announcing the death of one of the members of the family in
that country. On comparing the dates of the death and the raven’s croak,
they were found to have occurred on the same day.”


To whistle by night is one of the unpardonable sins amongst the fishermen
of St Ives. My correspondent says, “I would no more dare go among a party
of fishermen at night whistling a popular air than into a den of untamed

No miner will allow of whistling underground. I could never learn from
the miners whether they regarded it as unlucky or not. I rather think
they feel that whistling indicates thoughtlessness, and they know their
labour is one of danger, requiring serious attention.


It is considered unlucky to meet on the stairs, and often one will retire
to his or her room rather than run the risk of giving or receiving ill

I find this superstition prevails also in the Midland counties.


    “To see a man tread over graves,
      I hold it no good mark;
    ’Tis wicked in the sun and moon,
      And bad luck in the dark!”

So sings Coleridge in his ballad of “The Three Graves.”

Whenever a person shivers from a sensation of cold down the spine, it is
said some one is walking over his or her grave.

Persons believing this will give directions that they may be buried in
some secluded corner of the churchyard, so that their corpse may not be
disturbed by unholy footsteps.


If an unmarried woman’s garter loosens when she is walking, her
sweetheart is thinking of her.


Wet the forefinger of the right hand with spittle, and cross the front of
the left shoe or boot three times, repeating the Lord’s Prayer backwards.


This irregularity in the circulation is at once removed by crossing the
foot with saliva.


To nail a horse-shoe, which has been cast on the road, over the door
of any house, barn, or stable, is an effectual means of preventing the
entrance of witches.


Those little gatherings which occur on the eye-lids of children, locally
called “wilks,” are cured by passing a black cat’s tail nine times over
the place. If a ram cat, the cure is more certain.


To put the loaf on the table upside down—to cut the butter at both
ends—to place the bellows on the table—to upset the salt—to cross your
knife and fork—to pour gravy out of a spoon backwards, (or back-handed,)
is each unlucky, and leads to quarrels. To borrow or lend a bellows is
most unlucky, and many would rather give than lend one.

If you are going on an errand, never turn back to your house, it presages
ill luck to do so. If, however, you are compelled to it, fail not to sit
down. By doing this, some mischief may be avoided.


If a corpse stiffens shortly after death, all is thought to proceed
naturally; but if the limbs remain flexible, some one of the family is
shortly to follow. If the eyes of a corpse are difficult to close, it is
said “they are looking after a follower.”

To find a louse on one’s linen, is a sign of sickness. To find two,
indicates a severe illness. If three lice are so found within a month, it
is a “token to prepare.”

Talking backwards, or putting one word incorrectly before another,—“the
cart before the horse,”—is considered to foretell that you will shortly
see a stranger.

If two young people, in conversation, happen to think of the same thing
at the same time, and one of them utters the thought before the other,
that one is certain to be married first.


In the parish of Egles-Hayle are two crosses, known as “Peverell’s
Crosses;” and near Mount Charles, also in this parish, is another
“moorstone” cross, called the Prior’s Cross, whereon is cut the figure
of a hook and a crook, in memory of the privileges granted by a prior,
belonging to the family of the Peverells, who are said to have possessed
lands in this parish since the time of Richard II.

The poor of Bodmin were greatly distressed through the scarcity of fuel,
the “turf,” or peat of the moors being insufficient to supply their
wants. The prior gave “privilege and freedom” to the poor of Bodmin for
gathering, for “fire-boote and house-boote,” such boughs and branches of
oak-trees in his woods of Dunmear, as they could reach to, or come at,
with a “hook and a crook,” without further damage to the trees.

Hence the proverb concerning filching, “that they will have it by hook or
by crook.”


The WEATHER DOG.—It frequently happens in unsettled weather that banks of
rain-cloud gather around the horizon, and that, over isolated tracts, the
rain falls. If these depositions from this low stratum of clouds occur
opposite to the sun, the lower limb of a bow is formed, often appearing
like a pillar of decomposed light; and sometimes two of these coloured
bands will be seen, forming indeed the two extremities of the arch. These
are “weather dogs,” and they are regarded as certain prognostications of
showery or stormy weather.[67]

The usual proverb with regard to the full bow; which prevails generally,
is common in Cornwall,—

    “The rainbow in the morning
    Is the shepherd’s warning;
    The rainbow at night
    Is the shepherd’s delight.”

But, as far as I know, the “weather dog” is peculiarly Cornish.


    “The south wind always brings wet weather;
    The north wind, wet and cold together.
    The west wind always brings us rain;
    The east wind blows it back again.
    If the sun in red should set,
    The next day surely will be wet;
    If the sun should set in gray,
    The next will be a rainy day.”

                                _Bond’s Looe._


“One of the superstitions prevailing in Devonshire is, that any
individual neglecting to kill the first butterfly he may see for the
season, will have ill luck throughout the year.”[68] The following
recent example is given by a young lady:—“The other Sunday, as we were
walking to church, we met a man running at full speed, with his hat in
one hand, and a stick in the other. As he passed us he exclaimed, ‘I
shan’t hat ’en now, I b’lieve.’ He did not give us time to inquire what
he was so eagerly pursuing; but we presently overtook an old man, whom
we knew to be his father, and who, being very infirm, and upwards of
seventy, generally hobbled about by the aid of two sticks. Addressing
me, he observed, ‘My _zin_ a took away wan a my sticks, miss; wan’t be
ebble to kill’n now though, I b’lieve.’ ‘Kill what?’ said I. ‘Why, ’tis
a butterfly, miss,—the _furst_ hee’th a zeed for the year; and they
zay that a body will have cruel bad luck if a ditn’en kill a _furst_ a

I have found this belief prevailing in the east, but never in the west,
of Cornwall.


“The people in the west,” writes a correspondent, “have adopted many
words from the Danish invaders.” Tradition assures us that the sea-rovers
of the North frequently landed at Witsand Bay, burned and pillaged the
villages of Escols and Mayon, sometimes took off the women, but never
made a settlement. Certain red-haired families are often referred to
as Danes, and the dark-haired people will not marry with “a red-haired
Dane.” He continues:—“If you were in Buryan Church-town this evening,
you might probably hear Betty Trenoweth say, ‘I’ll take off my _touser_,
[toute serve,] and run up to Janey Angwins to _cousey_ [causer] a spell;
there’s a lot of boys gone in there, so there’ll be a grand _courant_,
[de courir,] I expect.’ In a short time Betty may come back disappointed,
saying, ‘’Twas a mere _cow’s courant_ after all, cheld vean—all hammer
and tongs.’”

The _touser_ is a large apron or wrapper to come quite round and keep the
under garments clean. By a _courant_ with the boys, they mean a game of
running romps. It is not at all uncommon in other parts of the country
to hear the people say, “It was a fine _courant_,” “We’ve had a good
_courant_,” when they intend to express the enjoyment of some pleasure
party. These are, however, probably more nearly allied to Norman-French.

There are some proverbial expressions peculiar to the west:—

“Sow barley in dree, and wheat in pul.”[69]

“To make an old nail good, right it on wood.”

“Fill the sack, then it can stand.”

The last meaning that neither man nor beast can work on an empty stomach.

The following are a few of less common expressions, preserving remarkable

’Tis not _bezibd_—It is not allotted me.

He will never _scrip_ it—He will never escape it.

He is nothing _pridy_—He is not handsome.

Give her _dule_—Give her some comfort or consolation.

Hark to his _lidden_—Listen to his word or talk.

It was _twenty_ or _some_—It was about twenty.

The wind brings the _pilme_—The wind raises the dust.

How thick the _brusse_ lies—How thick the dust lies.

He is _throyting_—He is cutting chips from sticks.

He came of a good _havage_—He belongs to a good or respectable family.

_Hame_—a straw collar with wooden collar-trees, to which are fastened the
rope traces.

_Scalpions_ (_buckthorn_, or rather _buckhorn_)—salt dried fish, usually
the whiting.

“Eating fair maids, or fermades—(_fumadoes_)—[pilchards,] and drinking
mahogany, [gin and treacle.]”


    “Farewell, rewards and fairies,
      Good housewives now may say;
    For now foul sluts in dairies
      Do fare as well as they.


    “A tell-tale in their company
      They never could endure;
    And who kept not secretly
      Their mirth, was punish’d sure.”

            _Farewell to the Fairies_—RICHARD CORBET.



    “The Cornish drolls are dead, each one;
    The fairies from their haunts have gone:
    There’s scarce a witch in all the land,
    The world has grown so learn’d and grand.”

              HENRY QUICK, _the Zennor Poet_.

To this day the tower of Forrabury Church, or, as it is called by Mr
Hawker, “the silent tower of Bottreaux,” remains without bells. “At
Forrabury the chimes have never sounded for a marriage, the knell has
never been heard for a funeral.”—_Collins._

In days long ago, the inhabitants of the parish of Forrabury—which does
not cover a square mile, but which now includes the chief part of the
town of Boscastle and its harbour—resolved to have a peal of bells which
should rival those of the neighbouring church of Tintagel, which are said
to have rung merrily at the marriage, and tolled solemnly at the death,
of Arthur.

The bells were cast; the bells were blessed; and the bells were shipped
for Forrabury. Few voyages were more favourable; and the ship glided,
with a fair wind, along the northern shores of Cornwall, waiting for the
tide to carry her safely into the harbour of Bottreaux.

The vesper bells rang out at Tintagel, and the pilot, when he heard the
blessed sound, devoutly crossed himself, and bending his knee, thanked
God for the safe and quick voyage which they had made.

The captain laughed at the superstition of the pilot, as he called it,
and swore that they had only to thank themselves for the speedy voyage,
and that, with his arm at the helm, and his judgment to guide them, they
should soon have a happy landing. The pilot checked this profane speech;
but the wicked captain—and he swore more impiously than ever that all was
due to himself and his men—laughed to scorn the pilot’s prayer. “May God
forgive you!” was the pilot’s reply.

Those who are familiar with the northern shores of Cornwall will know
that sometimes a huge wave, generated by some mysterious power in the
wide Atlantic, will roll on, overpowering everything by its weight and

While yet the captain’s oaths were heard, and while the inhabitants on
the shore were looking out from the cliffs, expecting, within an hour, to
see the vessel, charged with their bells, safe in their harbour, one of
these vast swellings of the ocean was seen. Onward came the grand billow
in all the terror of its might. The ship rose not upon the waters as it
came onward. She was overwhelmed, and sank in an instant close to the

As the vessel sank, the bells were heard tolling with a muffled sound,
as if ringing the death-knell of the ship and sailors, of whom the good
pilot alone escaped with life.

When storms are coming, and only then, the bells of Forrabury, with their
dull, muffled sound, are heard from beneath the heaving sea, a warning to
the wicked; and the tower has remained to this day silent.


      “The Minster of the Trees! a lonely dell,
        Deep with old oaks, and ’mid their quiet shade,
      Gray with the moss of years, yon antique cell!
        Sad are those walls: the cloister lowly laid,
      Where pacing monks at solemn evening made
        Their chanted orisons: and as the breeze
      Came up the vale, by rock and tree delay’d,
        They heard the awful voice of many seas
    Blend with thy pausing hymn, thou Minster of the Trees!”


On a visit to this old church, which is allowed to perish under the
influences of damp and the accompanying vegetable growth, in a way
which is but little creditable to the parishioners, I was struck at the
evidence that the tower had either been taken down or that it had fallen.
Amidst the long grass of the churchyard I found many remains of carved
stones, which clearly belonged at one time to the tower. I sought for
some information, but I could obtain none. The officiating clergyman,
and several gentlemen of Boscastle, were alike ignorant of any tradition
connected with the tower—the prevalent idea being that it was left

At length, the ostler at the inn informed me that the story of the
destruction of the tower ran thus:—

The tower of the church of the ancient abbey was seen through the gorge
which now forms the harbour of Boscastle, far out at sea. The monks were
in the habit of placing a light in one of the windows of the tower to
guide the worshippers, at night, to the minster.

Frequently sailors mistook this, by day for some landmark, and at night
for a beacon, and were thus led into a trap from which they could not
easily extricate themselves, and within which they often perished.
This accident occurred so frequently that the sailors began at last to
declare their belief that the monks purposely beguiled them to their
fate, hinting, indeed, that plunder was their object. Eventually, a band
of daring men, who had been thus lured into Boscastle, went to the abbey,
and, in spite of the exertions made by the monks, they pulled down the
tower, since which time it has never been rebuilt.


The parish of Temple in 1851 had a population of 24. Yet once the Knights
Templars built a church here; and with the purpose of civilising the
inhabitants of the moors in the midst of which it was founded, they
secured for their temple some special privileges. “Many a bad marriage
bargain,” says Tonkin, “is there yearly slubbered up, and grass widows
with their fatlings put to lie-in and nurse here.” “Send her to Temple
Moors,” implied that any female requiring seclusion might at one time
secure it under the charge of these Christian knights in this their
preceptory, and be returned to the world again, probably, in all
respects, a better woman. At all events, the world, being in ignorance,
did not repudiate the erring sister.

Stories linger over this wilderness of mixed good and evil. The church,
which was consecrated to the great cause of saving sinners, has perished.
No stone remains to tell us where it stood; and to “send her to Temple
Moors,” is to proclaim a woman an outcast from society.


The lovely nymph Tamara was born in a cavern. Although her parents were
spirits of the earth, the child loved the light of day. Often had they
chided her for yielding to her desires and visiting the upper world; and
often had they warned her against the consequences which would probably
arise from her neglect of their advice.

The giants of the moors were to be feared; and it was from these that the
earth spirits desired to protect their child.

Tamara—beautiful, young, heedless—never lost an opportunity of looking on
the glorious sun. Two sons of Dartmoor giants—Tavy and Tawrage—had seen
the fair maid, and longed to possess her. Long was their toil, and the
wild maiden often led them over mountain and moor in playful chase.

Under a bush in Morewinstow, one day, both Tavy and Tawrage came upon
Tamara. They resolved now to compel her to declare upon which of them her
choice should fall. The young men used every persuasion, and called her
by every endearing name. Her parents had missed Tamara, and they sought
and found her seated between the sons of the giants whom they hated.
The gnome father caused a deep sleep to fall on the eyes of Tavy and
Tawrage, and then he endeavoured to persuade his daughter to return to
his subterranean cell.

Tamara would not leave her lovers. In his rage the gnome cursed his
daughter, and, by the might of his curse, changed her into a river, which
should flow on for ever to the salt sea. The lovely Tamara dissolved in
tears, and, as a crystal stream of exceeding beauty, the waters glided
onward to the ocean.

At length Tavy awoke. His Tamara was gone; he fled to his father in the
hills. The giant knew of the metamorphosis, and, to ease the anguish of
his son, he transformed him into a stream. Rushing over rocks, running
through morasses, gliding along valleys, and murmuring amidst the groves,
Tavy still goes on seeking for Tamara—his only joy being that he runs by
her side, and that, mingling their waters, they glide together to the
eternal sea.

Tawrage awakened after a long sleep. He divined what had taken place, and
fled to the hills to an enchanter. At his prayer he, too, was changed
to a stream; but he mistook the road along which Tamara had gone, and
onward, ever sorrowing, he flows—away—away—away from his Tamara for ever.

Thus originated the Tamar, the Tavy, and the Taw.


The Daunays were great people in their day; but many of them bore
indifferent characters.

Sir John de Daunay was a strange mixture of ostentatious pride and
penuriousness. His Lady Emelyn was as proud as her husband, but
extravagant to a fault.

The priests of St Germans persuaded Sir John to build a church on his
lands at Sheviock. He commenced the work, and, notwithstanding his great
wealth, his heart failed him and he curtailed the fair proportions on
which he had at first decided.

Emelyn was enraged at this; and it is said, that, prompted by the devil
in visible presence, she resolved to build a barn which should exceed in
beauty the house of God.

The barn rose with astonishing rapidity. Stones were laid at night, and
the work proceeded as if the most lavish expenditure had been bestowed
upon it. The church progressed but slowly, and was, after all, a very
inferior structure to the barn. The devil, without doubt, having assisted
Lady Daunay in her wicked work.

“There runneth a tale amongst the parishioners how one of the Daunay
family’s ancestors undertook to build the church, and the wife the barn
adjoining; and that, casting up accounts on finishing their work, the
barn was found to have cost 1½d. more than the church.”[70]

The Daunay aisle in Sheviock Church still preserves the name of this
family, who appear to have possessed at one time nearly all this, and
much of the adjoining parish.


    “News from Penryn, in Cornwall, of a most bloody and unexampled

Such was the title of a black-letter pamphlet of eight pages referred to
by Lysons. This curious book does not appear to be in existence.

Mr Davies Gilbert, who possessed much property in the parish of Gluvias,
was especially interested in the farm of Bohelland, the place which has
been rendered for ever notorious, as having been the scene of Lillo’s
tragedy of “Fatal Curiosity.”

From a work entitled “The Reign and Death of King James of Great
Britain,” Mr Gilbert quotes as follows:—

    “He had been blessed with ample possessions and fruitful
    issue, unhappy only in a younger son, who, taking liberty
    from his father’s bounty, and with a crew of like condition,
    that wearied on land, they went roving to sea, and in a small
    vessel southward, took boot from all they could master. And
    so increasing force and wealth, ventured on a Turk’s man
    in the Streights; but by mischance their own powder fired
    themselves, and our gallant, trusting to his skilful swimming,
    got on shore upon Rhodes; with the best of his jewels about
    him; where, offering some to sale to a Jew, who knew them
    to be the Governor’s of Algier, he was apprehended, and, as
    a pirate, sentenced to the galleys among other Christians,
    whose miserable slavery made them all studious of freedom, and
    with wit and valour took opportunity and means to murder some
    officers, got on board of an English ship, and came safe to
    London; where his misery, and some skill, made him servant to
    a surgeon, and sudden preferment to the East Indies. There,
    by this means, he got money; with which returning back, he
    designed himself for his native county, Cornwall. And in a
    small ship from London, sailing to the west, was cast away
    upon that coast. But his excellent skill in swimming, and
    former fate to boot, brought him safe to shore; where, since
    his fifteen years’ absence, his father’s former fortunes much
    decayed, now retired him not far off to a country habitation,
    in debt and danger.

    “His sister he finds married to a mercer, a meaner match
    than her birth promised. To her, at first, he appears a poor
    stranger, but in private reveals himself, and withal what
    jewels and gold he had concealed in a bow-case about him;
    and concluded that the next day he intended to appear to his
    parents, and to keep his disguise till she and her husband
    should meet, and make their common joy complete. Being come
    to his parents, his humble behaviour, suitable to his suit of
    clothes, melted the old couple to so much compassion as to give
    him covering from the cold season under their outward roof; and
    by degrees his travelling tales, told with passion to the aged
    people, made him their guest so long by the kitchen fire, that
    the husband took leave and went to bed. And soon after his true
    stories working compassion in the weaker vessel, she wept, and
    so did he; but compassionate of her tears, he comforted her
    with a piece of gold, which gave assurance that he deserved a
    lodging, to which she brought him; and being in bed, shewed her
    his girdled wealth, which he said was sufficient to relieve
    her husband’s wants, and to spare for himself, and being very
    weary, fell fast asleep.

    “The wife tempted with the golden bait of what she had,
    and eager of enjoying all, awakened her husband with this
    news, and her contrivance what to do; and though with horrid
    apprehensions he oft refused, yet her puling fondness (Eve’s
    enchantments) moved him to consent, and rise to be master of
    all, and both of them to murder the man, which instantly they
    did; covering the corpse under the clothes till opportunity to
    convey it out of the way.

    “The early morning hastens the sister to her father’s house,
    where she, with signs of joy, inquires for a sailor that should
    lodge there the last night; the parents slightly denied to have
    seen any such, until she told them that he was her brother,
    her lost brother; by that assured scar upon his arm, cut with
    a sword in his youth, she knew him; and were all resolved this
    morning to meet there and be merry.

    “The father hastily runs up, finds the mark, and with horrid
    regret of this monstrous murder of his own son, with the same
    knife cuts his own throat.

    “The wife went up to consult with him, where, in a most strange
    manner beholding them both in blood, wild and aghast, with the
    instrument at hand, readily rips herself up, and perishes on
    the same spot.

    “The daughter, doubting the delay of their absence, searches
    for them all, whom she found out too soon; with the sad sight
    of this scene, and being overcome with horror and amaze of
    this deluge of destruction, she sank down and died; the fatal
    end of that family. The truth of which was frequently known,
    and flew to court in this guise; but the imprinted relation
    conceals their names, in favour to some neighbour of repute
    and kin to that family. The same sense makes me therein silent
    also.”—_Gilbert_, vol. ii. p. 100.

Mr Harris of Salisbury, in his “Philological Inquiries,” says of Lillo’s

“It is no small praise to this affecting fable that it so much resembles
the ‘Œdipus Tyrannus’ of Sophocles. In both tragedies, that which
apparently leads to joy, leads in its completion to misery; both
tragedies concur in the horror of their discoveries, and both in those
great outlines of a truly tragic revolution, (according to the nervous
sentiment of Lillo himself,)—

                ‘the two extremes of life,
    The highest happiness the deepest woe,
    With all the sharp and bitter aggravations
    Of such a vast transition.’”


On the 5th of August, St James’s day, (old style,) a fair is held here,
which was originally held in the Church-town of Sithney, near Helston.

In olden time the good _St Perran the Little_ gave to the wrestlers
in his parish a glove as the prize, and the winner of the glove was
permitted to collect the market toll on the day of the feast, and to
appropriate the money to his own use. The winner of the glove lived in
the Church-town of Sithney, and for long long years the right of holding
the fair remained undisputed.

At length the miners of Goldsithney resolved to contest the prize, and
they won it, since which time the fair has been held in that village,
they paying to the poor of the parish of Sithney one shilling as

Gilbert remarks, “The displaying of a glove at fairs is an ancient and
widely-extended custom. Mr Lysons says it is continued at Chester. The
editor has seen a large ornamented glove over the guildhall at Exeter
during the fairs.”[71]


“Adjoining the Church of Constantine, in the parish of St Merryn, was
a cottage which a family of the name of Edwards held for generations,
under the proprietors of Harlyn, by the annual render of a pie, made of
limpets, raisins, and various herbs, on the eve of the festival in honour
of the saint to whom the church was dedicated. The pie, as I have heard
from my family, and from more ancient members of the family, and from
old servants, was excellent. The Edwards had pursued for centuries the
occupation of shepherds on Harlyn and Constantine commons. The last died
about forty years ago, and the wreck of their cottage is almost buried in
the sand.”[72]


Lovebone was the vicar of Wadebridge, and there was a ferry across the
river. It was a frequent custom for the farmers to ride their horses and
to drive their cattle across when the tide was low, and frequently men
and beasts were lost in the quicksands formed on the rising of the tide.
A sad accident of this kind happened, and Lovebone resolved on building
a bridge; as Leland says in his “Itinerary,” “Then one Lovebone, vicar
of Wadebridge, moved with pitie, began the bridge, and with great paine
and studie, good people putting their help thereto, finished it with xvii
fair and great uniform arches of stone.”

Great was the labour, and frequent the disappointment. Pier after pier
were built, and then they were lost in the sands. A “fair structure”
was visible at night, in the morning there was no trace of the work of
the masons. Lovebone almost despaired of success, indeed he was about
to abandon the work, when he dreamed that an angel came with a flock
of sheep, that he sheared them, let the wool fall into the water, and
speedily built the bridge upon the wool.

Lovebone awoke with a new idea. He gathered from the farmers around, all
the wool they would give him, he put it loosely into packs, placed these
thickly upon the sand, and built his piers. The work remains to this day
in proof of the engineering skill of the suggesting angel.[73]

Quoting Beaumont and Fletcher’s “Knight of the Burning Pestle,” we find
the Citizen saying to the Prologue:—

“Why could you not be content as well as others, with the Legend of
Whittington? or the Life and Death of Sir Thomas Gresham, with the
building of the Royal Exchange? or the Story of Queen Eleanor, with the
rearing of London Bridge upon woolsacks?”


The extirpation of the wolves, which once existed in every part of these
islands, is an oft-told story.

But it is not generally known that the last native wolf lived in the
forests of Ludgvan, near Penzance. The last of his race was a gigantic
specimen, and terrible was the havoc made by him on the flocks. Tradition
tells us that at last he carried off a child. This could not be endured,
so the peasantry all turned out, and this famous wolf was captured at
Rospeith, the name of a farm still existing in Ludgvan.


There are several churches which, tradition tells us, owe their origin
to vows made by terrified men that they would, if relieved from their
dangers, build a temple to God.

Amongst these may be named Brent Tor, thus spoken of by Mr Bray:—

“The church of Brent Tor is dedicated to St Michael. And there is
a tradition among the vulgar that its foundation was originally
laid at the foot of the hill; but that the enemy of all angels, the
Prince of Darkness, removed the stones by night from the base to the
summit,—probably to be nearer his own dominion, the air,—but that,
immediately on the church’s being dedicated to St Michael, the patron of
the edifice hurled upon the devil such an enormous mass of rock, that
he never afterwards ventured to approach it. Others tell us that it was
erected by a wealthy merchant, who vowed, in the midst of a tremendous
storm at sea, (possibly addressing himself to his patron, St Michael,)
that if he escaped, he would build a church on the first land he

Brent Tor is a very remarkable hill, and can be seen far off at sea. This
may possibly lend some support to the latter tradition.

St Anthony, in Kerrier, is likewise stated to be the consequence of a
vow. Soon after the Conquest, as some persons of rank and fortune were
coming to England from Normandy, they were overtaken by a violent storm,
from which they expected immediate destruction. In the midst of their
distress, they directed their prayers to St Anthony, and laid themselves
under a solemn vow to erect a church to his memory, if he would save
them from shipwreck; and that this church should be erected on the very
spot where they should first get on shore. Driven by the tempest, they
were conducted, by a power fully equal to that which St Anthony might be
supposed to possess, into St Mawes’ harbour, and happily landed on that
very spot where the church now stands. And it appears that the materials
with which the tower is built, and the situation which the church and
tower occupy, are calculated to give sanction to this tradition.


Tradition asserts that it was on the spot, so called in the parish of
Burian, that the last battle was fought between the Cornish Britons and
Athelstan. This is in some measure confirmed by the discovery of flint
arrow-heads, in considerable quantities, from time to time, in and near
this “field of slaughter.”

We have little beyond the evidence of tradition to guide us in regard
to any of the triumphs of Athelstan in Cornwall. It appears tolerably
certain that this Saxon king confined the Cornish Britons to the western
side of the Tamar; thus breaking up the division known as Danmonium, and
limiting the territory over which the kings of the west ruled.

Scattered over Cornwall, we have the evidence, in the names of places,
of Saxon possession. In all probability these were the resting-places of
portions of the Saxon army, or the district in which fortified camps were
placed by Athelstan, to restrain a turbulent people. Be this as it may,
the battle at Bolait is said to have raged from morning until night, and
then, overpowered by numbers, the Cornish who still survived fled to the
hills, and thus left Athelstan the conqueror.

It was after this fight that Athelstan, seeing the Islands of Scilly
illumined by the setting sun, determined, if possible, to achieve their
conquest. He then recorded his vow, that he would, if he returned
victorious, build a church, which should be dedicated to St Buryana. Of
this church Hals writes as follows:—


“This church was founded and endowed by King Athelstan, about the year
930, after such time as he had conquered the Scilly Islands, as also the
county of Devon, and made Cornwall tributary to his sceptre. To which
church he gave lands and tithes of a considerable value for ever, himself
becoming the first patron thereof, as his successors the kings of England
have been ever since; for which reason it is still called the royal
rectory, or regal rectory, and the royal or regal peculiar; signifying
thereby that this is the church or chapel pertaining to the king, or
immediately under the jurisdiction of him, as the supreme ordinary from
whom there is no appeal; whereas other peculiars, though exempt from the
visitation or jurisdiction of the diocesan bishop within whose see they
stand, yet are always subject to the provincial Archbishops of Canterbury
and York, or other persons.

“This church or college consisted of canons, Augustines or regular
priests, and three prebendaries, who enjoyed the revenues thereof in
common, but might not marry; and the lord chancellors of England of old
visited this peculiar—which extended only over the parishes of Burian,
Sennen, and St Levan—for the king.

“One of the Popes of Rome, about the time of Edward III., obtruded upon
this church, the canons and prebends thereof, a dean to be an inspector
and overseer over them,—whom he nominated to be the Bishop of Exon for
the time being,—who for some time visited this church as its governor,
as the lord chancellor did before; which encroachment of the Pope being
observed by Edward III., as appears from the register of the writs, folio
40 and 41, 8 Edward III., rot. 97, this usurpation of the Pope was taken


The Bodrigans, from a very early period, were connected with the borough
of Looe. Otto, or Otho de Bodrigan, was lord of the manor of Pendrim and
Looe in the reign of Edward II. Another Otho de Bodrigan was Sheriff of
Cornwall in the 3d of Richard II., A.D. 1400.

Sir Henry Bodrigan was “attaynted for taking part with King Richard
III. against Henry VII.; and, after flying into Ireland, Sir Richard
Egecombe, father of Sir Pears Egecombe, had Bodrigan, and other parcels
of Bodrigan’s lands; and Trevanion had part of Bodrigan’s lands, as
Restronget and Newham, both in Falmouth Haven.”

On the Barton of Bodrigan there exists what are evidently the remains of
ancient fortifications, and near them a piece of waste land known as the
_Woeful Moor_.

Here Sir Henry Edgecombe and Trevanion defeated the great Bodrigan. He
fled, and tradition preserves, on the side of the cliff, the spot known
as Bodrigan’s leap, from which he leapt into the sea, and swam to a ship
which kept near the shore. As he leapt the precipice, he bequeathed,
with a curse, “his extravagance to the Trevanions, and his folly to the

These families divided between them an estate said to be worth, in those
days, £10,000 per annum.

“At that period in our history when the law of the strongest was the
rule, three families in Cornwall were engaged in a series of domestic
wars; these were Bodrigan, Trevanion, and Edgecumbe. And when Richard
the Third obtained sovereign power, on the division which then took
place in the York faction, Bodrigan endeavoured to seize the property
of Edgecumbe, with little respect, as it would seem, for the life of
the possessor; but in the final struggle at Bosworth Field, where Henry
Tudor put an entire end to this contest for power under the guise of
property, by seizing the whole to himself, Trevanion and Edgecumbe had
the good fortune to appear on the winning side, and subsequently availed
themselves to the utmost of belligerent rights against Bodrigan, as he
had attempted to do before against them. The last of that family was
driven from his home, and seems to have perished in exile. His property
was divided between the two families opposed to him, and, after the lapse
of three hundred and fifty years, continues to form a large portion of
their respective possessions.”—_Gilbert_, vol. iii., p. 204.

William de Bodrigan was lord of the manor of Restronget, in the 12th of
Henry IV. The family possessed it till the beginning of the reign of
Henry VII., when, on the attainder of Bodrigan, it was given to William


This castellated building—for it does not now admit of being called
a castle, notwithstanding its embattled turrets and its machicolated
gate—is situated in a hollow running down to Pengerswick Cove, in the
Mount’s Bay, where there never could have been anything to defend; and
certainly there is nothing to induce any one to incur the cost of such a

Mr Milliton, in the reign of Henry VIII., slew in the streets of London a
man in a drunken brawl. He fled, and went to sea. It is not known to what
part of the world he went, but we are told that he became excessively
rich; so rich, indeed, that “when he loaded his ass with his gold, the
weight was so great as to break the poor animal’s back.” Returning to his
country, and not daring to appear in any of the large towns, he bought
the manor of Pengerswick, and built this castle, to defend himself, in
the event of his being approached by any of the officers of the law.

A miserable man, Milliton is said to have lived in a secret chamber in
this tower, and to have been visited only by his most trusted friends.
Deeply deploring the crime that had condemned him to seclusion from the
world, he spent his dreary hours in ornamenting his dwelling. His own
story is supposed to be told in the painting of an overladen ass in one
room, with a black-letter legend, importing that a miser is like an ass
loaded with riches, who, without attending to his golden burden, feeds on
thistles. There is also a carving of water wearing a hollow in a stone,
and under it the word “Perseverance.” Of the death of Milliton we have no

There is very little doubt but that Pengerswick Castle is very much older
than the time of Milliton; indeed tradition informs us that he purchased
the place. The legends previously given, and others in my possession,
refer to a much earlier period. This castle was, it is said, surrounded
by trees; but John Hals, who inherited the property, had all the timber
cut down and sold.



“In the last age there was a familiarity between the parson and the clerk
and the people which our feelings of decorum would revolt at—_e.g._, ‘I
have seen the ungodly flourish like a _green bay_-tree.’ ‘How can that
be, maister?’ said the clerk of St Clement’s. Of this I was myself an


“At Kenwyn, two dogs, one of which was the parson’s, were fighting at
the west end of the church; the parson, who was then reading the second
lesson, rushed out of the pew and went down and parted them; returning to
his pew, and doubtful where he had left off, he asked the clerk, ‘Roger,
where was I?’ ‘Why, down parting the dogs, maister,’ said Roger.”


“At Mevagizzey, when non-resident clergymen officiated, it was usual
with the squire of the parish to invite them to dinner. Several years
ago, a non-resident clergyman was requested to do duty in the church of
Mevagizzey on a Sunday when the Creed of St Athanasius is directed to be
read. Before he had begun the service, the parish clerk asked him whether
he intended to read the Athanasian Creed that morning. ‘Why?’ said the
clergyman. ‘Because if you do, no dinner for you at the squire’s, at


“A very short time since parish clerks used to read the first lesson.
I once heard the St Agnes clerk cry out, ‘To the mouth of the burning
_viery vurnis_, and spake, and said, Shadrac, Meshac, and Abednego, _com
voath and com hether_,’ (Daniel iii.)”


“The clerk of Lamorran, in giving out the psalm, ‘Like a timorous bird
to distant mountains fly,’ always said, ‘Like a timmersum burde,’ &c.,
&c., with a shake of the head, and a quivering voice, which could not but
provoke risibility.”[76]


The following, communicated to me on the 8th of August, is too good to be
lost. I therefore give it in my correspondent’s own words:—

“I heard last week of three fairies having been seen in Zennor very
recently. A man who lived at the foot of Trendreen hill, in the valley
of Treridge, I think, was cutting furze on the hill. Near the middle
of the day he saw one of the small people, not more than a foot long,
stretched at full length and fast asleep, on a bank of griglans, (heath,)
surrounded by high brakes of furze. The man took off his furze cuff, and
slipped the little man into it, without his waking up; went down to the
house; took the little fellow out of the cuff on the hearthstone, when he
awakened, and seemed quite pleased and at home, beginning to play with
the children, who were well pleased with the small body, and called him
Bobby Griglans.

“The old people were very careful not to let Bob out of the house, or be
seen by the neighbours, as he promised to shew the man where the crocks
of gold were buried on the hill. A few days after he was brought from the
hill, all the neighbours came with their horses (according to custom)
to bring home the winter’s reek of furze, which had to be brought down
the hill in trusses on the backs of the horses. That Bob might be safe
and out of sight, he and the children were shut up in the barn. Whilst
the furze-carriers were in to dinner, the prisoners contrived to get
out, to have a “courant” round the furze-reek, when they saw a little
man and woman, not much larger than Bob, searching into every hole and
corner among the trusses that were dropped round the unfinished reek. The
little woman was wringing her hands and crying, ‘Oh, my dear and tender
Skillywidden, wherever canst ah (thou) be gone to? shall I ever cast
eyes on thee again? ‘Go ’e back,’ says Bob to the children; ‘my father
and mother are come here too.’ He then cried out, ‘Here I am, mammy!’ By
the time the words were out of his mouth, the little man and woman, with
their precious Skillywidden, were nowhere to be seen, and there has been
no sight nor sign of them since. The children got a sound thrashing for
letting Skillywidden escape.”


There is a tradition that the Lizard people were formerly a very inferior
race. In fact it is said that they went on all fours, till the crew of a
foreign vessel, wrecked on the coast, settled among them, and improved
the race so much that they became as remarkable for their stature and
physical development as they had been before for the reverse. At this
time, as a whole, the Lizard folks certainly have among them a very large
population of tall people, many of the men and women being over six feet
in height.


Smugglers’ hiding-places (now, of course, unused) are numerous. On the
banks of the Helford river are several, and two or three have lately
been discovered on the coast about St Keverne by the falling in of their
roofs. In a part of Penzance harbour, nine years ago, a hiding-place
of this kind was discovered; it still contained one or two kegs, and
the skeleton of a man, with his clothes in good preservation. It is
presumed that the poor fellow while intoxicated was shut in, and the
place never more opened by his companions. Speaking of Penzance—about
fifty years since, in the back of the harbour, was an old adit called
“Gurmer’s Hole,” and in the cliff over its entrance, _on a dark night_, a
phosphorescent appearance was always visible from the opposite side. It
could not be seen from beneath, owing to the projection of the face of
the cliff. A fall of the part taking place, the phenomenon disappeared.

Sixty or seventy years since, a native of Breage called “Carter,” but
better known, from a most remarkable personal resemblance to Frederick
the Great, as the “King of Prussia,” monopolised most of the smuggling
trade of the west. By all accounts he was a man of uncommon mental power,
and chose as the seat of his business a sequestered rocky cove about two
miles east of Marazion, which continues to bear the name of “Prussia
Cove,” and where deep channels, cut in hard rock, to allow of the near
approach of their boats, still shew the determination of the illicit
traders. Although constantly visited by the excise officers, the “king”
rarely failed to remove his goods, the stocks of which were at times very
large, suffering for a long period comparatively little from “seizures.”
On one occasion his boats, while landing a cargo, being hard pressed by
the revenue cutter, Carter had some old cannon brought to the edge of
the cliff and opened fire on the unwelcome intruder, and after a short
but sharp engagement, fairly beat her off. The cutter was, of course,
back again early in the morning, and part of the crew, with the captain,
landed; the only traces, however, of the engagement to be seen was the
trampled ground. On approaching Carter’s house, the officer was met by
the “king” himself, with an angry remonstrance about practising the
cutter’s guns at midnight so near the shore, and disturbing his family at
such unseemly hours. Although the principal parties concerned were well
known, no evidence could be obtained, and the matter was allowed to drop.
Toward the close of his career, Carter “ventured” in larger ships, became
less successful, and was at last exchequered. He died, at a very advanced
age, in poor circumstances.


Mr Halliwell gives us, in his “Popular Rhymes and Nursery Tales,” the
story of Teeny-tiny. In this a little old woman takes a bone from the
churchyard to make soup. She goes to bed, and puts the bone in the
cupboard. During the night some one comes demanding the bone, and at
length the terrified old woman gives it up.

A similar story is told in Cornwall.

An old lady had been to the church in the sands of Perranzabuloe. She
found, amidst the numerous remains of mortality, some very good teeth.
She pocketed these, and at night placed them on her dressing-table before
getting into bed. She slept, but was at length disturbed by some one
calling out, “Give me my teeth—give me my teeth.” At first the lady took
no notice of this, but the cry, “Give me my teeth,” was so constantly
repeated, that she at last, in terror, jumped out of bed, took the
teeth from the dressing-table, and, opening the window, flung them out,
exclaiming, “Drat the teeth, take ’em.” They no sooner fell into the
darkness on the road, than hasty retreating footsteps were heard, and
there were no more demands for the teeth.


In the reign of James I. there happened to be upon our coast a Spanish
vessel of war. Favoured by the mists of evening and the growing darkness,
the ship entered Falmouth harbour unseen. The crew armed themselves,
and taking to their boats, proceeded with great caution to the town of
Penryn, situated at the head of the harbour. There they landed, formed
themselves into proper order, and marched into the town, purposing
to plunder the inhabitants and burn the town. With steady tramp they
cautiously proceeded up the dark main street, resolving to attack the
principal dwellings first. Suddenly a great shout was heard, drums and
trumpets sounded, the noise of many feet rushing to and fro fell on the
ears of the Spaniards. Believing that they were discovered, and that
preparations had been made for their reception, fear seized them, and
they fled precipitately to their boats and left the town. The martial
music proceeded, however, from a temporary theatre, in which a troop of
strolling players were entertaining the people.


In the reign of Edward VI., Boyer was the mayor of Bodmin, and he
appears to have been suspected of aiding in an insurrection of the men
of Devonshire and Cornwall. However this may be, Sir Anthony Kingston,
provost-marshal of the king’s army, sent orders to Boyer to have a gibbet
erected in the street opposite his own house by the next day at noon. He,
at the same time, sent his compliments to the mayor, telling him that he
should dine with him, in order to be present at the execution of some

The unsuspecting mayor obeyed the command, and at the time appointed
provided an entertainment for his guest. Kingston put about the wine, and
when he observed the mayor’s spirits were exhilarated, asked him if the
gibbet was ready. Being told that it was, with a wanton and diabolical
sneer he ordered the mayor to be hanged upon it.

At the same time a miller was ordered to be hanged; his servant was so
deeply attached to him, that he went to Kingston and begged him to spare
his master’s life, even if he hung him in his place. “If you are so fond
of hanging,” said Kingston, “you shall not be disappointed,” and he
hanged the miller and his servant together.

A similar story is told of a mayor of St Ives.


In the reign of Henry VI., about the year 1450, in the parish of Week
St Mary, on the northern coast of Cornwall, was born of humble parents
a girl, to whom the name of Thomasine was given. This child was in no
way distinguished from other Cornish children; they ever have been, and
still are, remarkable for their healthful beauty, and Thomasine, like
others, was beautiful. Her father was a small farmer, and the daughter
was usually employed in minding the sheep upon Greenamore, or preventing
the geese from straying too far from his dwelling.

Thomasine appears to have received no education beyond that which nature
gave her. She grew to womanhood a simple, artless maiden, who knew
nothing of the world or its cares beyond the few sorrows which found
their way into the moorland country of Week and Temple.

Thomasine was watching her flocks when a mounted traveller, with
well-filled saddle-bags, passing over the moors observed her. Struck by
the young woman’s beauty, he halted and commenced a conversation with
her. “Her discreet answers, suitable to the beauty of her face, much
beyond her rank or degree,” says the quaint Hals, “won upon him, and he
desired to secure her as a servant in his family.” This traveller, who
was a draper from London, sought out the parents of the shepherdess,
and proposed to relieve them of this daughter, by taking her to the
metropolis, promising her good wages and many privileges; and beyond this
he agreed that, in case he should die, seeing she would be so far removed
from her friends, she should be carefully provided for.

Having satisfied themselves of the respectability of this merchant
traveller, the parents agreed to part with their daughter; and
Thomasine, full of girlish curiosity to see the city, of which she had
heard, was willing to leave her home.

We next find Thomasine in London as a respected servant to this city
draper. His wife and family are pleased with the innocent Cornish
girl; and by her gentle manners and great goodness of heart, she won
upon all with whom she was brought in contact. Years passed away, and
the draper’s wife died. In the course of time he proposed to make the
faithful Thomasine his wife. The proposal was accepted, and “Thomasine
and her master were solemnly married together as man and wife; who then,
according to his promise, endowed her with a considerable jointure in
case of her survivorship.” Within two years of this marriage the draper
died, and Thomasine was left sole executrix. The poor servant, who but
a few years previous was minding sheep on the moors, was now a rich
widow, courted by the wealthy of the metropolis. With that good sense
which appears ever to have distinguished her, she improved her mind; and
following the examples by which she had been for some time surrounded,
she added to her natural graces many acquired elegances of manner.

The youth and beauty of the widow brought her numerous admirers, but
all were rejected except Henry Gale, of whom we know little, save that
he was “an eminent and wealthy citizen.” He was accepted, and Thomasine
Gale was the most toasted of all city madams. After a few years passed in
great happiness, Thomasine became again a widow. Gale left her all his
property, and she became, when not yet thirty years of age, one of the
wealthiest women in London. So beautiful, so rich, and being yet young,
the widow was soon induced to change her state again. She chose now for
her companion John Percivall, who was already high in the honours of the

At the feast of Sir John Collet, who was Lord Mayor in the second year
of the reign of Henry VII., in 1487, Percivall was the mayor’s carver,
“at which time, according to the custom of that city, Sir John drank to
him in a silver cup of wine, in order to make him sheriff thereof for the
year ensuing, whereupon he covered his head and sat down at table with
the Lord Mayor of London.” John Percivall was elected Lord Mayor himself
in 1499, and he was knighted in the same year by Henry VII. Sir John
Percivall and Dame Thomasine Percivall lived many years happily together;
but he died, leaving all his fortune to his widow.

Lady Percivall was now advanced in years. She had had three husbands,
but no children. The extraordinary accession of fortune made no change
in her simple honest heart; the flattery of the great, by whom she had
been surrounded, kindled no pride in the beautiful shepherdess. The home
of her childhood, from which she had been so long separated, was dear to
her, and she retired in her mourning to the quiet of that distant home.

She spent her declining years in good works. Roads were made and bridges
built at her cost; almshouses for poor maids were erected; she relieved
prisoners; fed the hungry, and clothed the naked. In Week St Mary,
Thomasine founded a chantry and free school “to pray for the souls of her
father and mother, and her husbands and relatives.” To the school she
added a library, and a dwelling for the chanters and others, “and endowed
the same with £20 lands for ever.” Cholwell, a learned man and great
linguist, was master here in Henry VIII.’s time; and here he educated in
the “liberal arts and sciences,” says Carew, “many gentlemen’s sons.”
Such were a few of the benefits conferred on Week by the girl who once
had tended the flocks upon the moors; but who, by great good fortune,
and more by the exercise of good sense, became Lady Mayoress.

Dame Thomasine Percivall died, respected by all who knew her, in 1530,
having then reached the good old age of eighty years.

It appears probable that the name Bonaventure, by which this remarkable
female is usually known, was given to her, likely enough, by the linguist
Cholwell, to commemorate her remarkable fortune.

Berry Comb, in Jacobstow, was once the residence of Thomasine, and it was
given at her death to the poor of St Mary Week.


Lady Jane, the widow of Sir John Killigrew, sate in one of the windows
of Arwenick House, looking out upon the troubled waters of Falmouth
Harbour. A severe storm had prevailed for some days, and the Cornish
coast was strewn with wrecks. The tempest had abated; the waves were
subsiding, though they still beat heavily against the rocks. A light
scud was driving over the sky, and a wild and gloomy aspect suffused all
things. There was a sudden outcry amongst a group of men, retainers of
the Killigrew family, which excited the attention of Lady Jane Killigrew.
She was not left long in suspense as to the cause. In a few minutes two
Dutch ships were seen coming into the harbour. They had evidently endured
the beat of the storm, for they were both considerably disabled; and
with the fragments of sail which they carried, they laboured heavily. At
length, however, these vessels were brought round within the shelter of
Pendennis; their anchors were cast in good anchoring-ground; and they
were safe, or at least the crew thought so, in comparatively smooth

As was the custom in those days, the boat belonging to the Killigrew
family, manned by the group of whom we have already spoken, went off as
soon as the ships were anchored and boarded them. They then learnt that
they were of the Hanse Towns, laden with valuable merchandise for Spain,
and that this was in the charge of two Spanish factors. On the return of
the boat’s crew, this was reported to Lady Killigrew; and she being a
very wicked and most resolute woman, at once proposed that they should
return to the ships, and either rob them of their treasure, or exact from
the merchants a large sum of money in compensation. The rude men, to whom
wrecking and plundering was but too familiar, were delighted with the
prospect of a rare prize; and above all, when Lady Killigrew declared
that she would herself accompany them, they were wild with joy.

With great shouting, they gathered together as many men as the largest
boat in the harbour would carry, and armed themselves with pikes, swords,
and daggers. Lady Jane Killigrew, also armed, placed herself in the stern
of the boat after the men had crowded into their places, and with a wild
huzza they left the shore, and were soon alongside of the vessel nearest
to the shore. A number of the men immediately crowded up the side and on
to the deck of this vessel, and at once seized upon the captain and the
factor, threatening them with instant death if they dared to make any
outcry. Lady Jane Killigrew was now lifted on to the deck of the vessel,
and the boat immediately pushed off, and the remainder of the crew
boarded the other ship.

The Dutch crew were overpowered by the numbers of Cornishmen, who were
armed far more perfectly than they. Taken unawares as they were, at a
moment when they thought their troubles were for a season at an end, the
Dutchmen were almost powerless.

The Spaniards were brave men, and resisted the demands made to deliver up
their treasure. This resistance was, however, fatal to them. At a signal,
it is said by some, given by their leader, Lady Jane Killigrew,—although
this was denied afterwards,—they were both murdered by the ruffians into
whose hands they had fallen, and their bodies cast overboard into the sea.

These wretches ransacked the ships, and appropriated whatsoever they
pleased, while Lady Jane took from them “two hogsheads of Spanish pieces
of eight, and converted them to her own use.”

As one of the Spanish factors was dying, he lifted his hands to Heaven,
prayed to the Lord to receive his soul, and turning to the vile woman to
whose villany he owed his death, he said, “My blood will linger with you
until my death is avenged upon your own sons.”

This dreadful deed was not allowed to pass without notice even in those
lawless times. The Spaniards were then friendly with England, and
upon the representation made by the Spanish minister to the existing
government, the sheriff of Cornwall was ordered to seize and bring to
trial Lady Jane Killigrew and her crew of murderers. A considerable
number were arrested with her; and that lady and several of her men were
tried at Launceston.

Since the Spaniards were proved to be at the time of the murder
“foreigners under the Queen’s protection,” they were all found guilty,
and condemned to death.

All the men were executed on the walls of Launceston Castle; but by the
interest of Sir John Arundell and Sir Nicholas Hals, Queen Elizabeth was
induced to grant a pardon for Lady Jane.

How Lady Jane Killigrew lived, and when she died, are matters on which
even tradition, by which the story is preserved, is silent. We know,
however, that her immediate descendant, John Killigrew, who married one
of the Monks, and his son William Killigrew, who was made a baronet in
1660 by Charles II., were only known for the dissoluteness of character,
and the utter regardlessness of every feeling of an exalting character,
which they displayed. Sir William Killigrew, by his ill conduct and his
extravagant habits, wasted all the basely-gotten treasure, and sold
the manor and barton of Arwenick to his younger brother, Sir Peter
Killigrew. With the son of this Peter the baronetcy became extinct. The
last Sir Peter Killigrew, however, improved his fortune by marrying one
of the coheirs of Judge Twisden. Sir Peter and his wife, of whom we know
nothing, died, leaving one son, George Killigrew, who connected himself
with the St Aubyn family by marriage. This man appears to have inherited
many of the vices of his family. He was given to low company, and towards
the close of his life was remarkable only for his drunken habits.

He was one evening in a tavern in Penryn, surrounded by his usual
companions, and with them was one Walter Vincent, a barrister-at-law.
The wine flowed freely; songs and loose conversation were the order of
the night. At length all were in a state of great excitement through
the extravagance of their libations, and something was said by George
Killigrew very insultingly to Walter Vincent.

Walter Vincent does not appear to have been naturally a depraved man, but
of violent passions. Irritated by Killigrew, he made some remarks on the
great-grandmother being sentenced to be hanged. Swords were instantly
drawn by the drunken men. They lunged at each other. Vincent’s sword
passed directly through Killigrew’s body, and he fell dead in the midst
of his revelries, at the very moment when he was defending the character
of her who had brought dishonour upon them.

This Walter Vincent was tried for the murder of George Killigrew, but
acquitted. We are told by the Cornish historian, “Yet this Mr Vincent,
through anguish and horror at this accident, (as it was said,) within
two years after, wasted of an extreme atrophy of his flesh and spirits;
that, at length, at the table whereby he was sitting, in the Bishop of
Exeter’s palace, in the presence of divers gentlemen, he instantly fell
back against the wall and died.”

George Killigrew left one daughter; but of her progress in life we know
nothing. Thus the Cornish Killigrews ceased to be a name in the land.

Such a tale as this does not, of course, exist without many remarkable
additions. Ghosts and devils of various kinds are spoken of as
frequenting Arwenick House, and the woods around it. Those spectral and
demoniacal visitations have not, however, any special interest. They are
only, indeed, repetitions of oft-told tales.


This reached me at too late a period to be included with the legends of
the saints:—

“The beacon at Veryan stands on the highest ground in Roseland, at a
short distance from the cliff which overlooks Pendower and Gerrans Bay.
Dr Whitaker, in his ‘Cathedral of Cornwall,’ states it to be one of
the largest tumuli in the kingdom. Its present height above the level
of the field in which it stands is about twenty-eight feet, and its
circumference at the base three hundred and fifty feet; but it must have
been originally much larger, as a considerable portion on one side has
been removed, its summit being now about eighty feet from the base on
the south side, and only fifty feet on the north, whilst the top of the
cairn which was discovered in it, and which was, no doubt, placed exactly
in the original centre of the mound, is at least ten feet still further
north than the present summit.

“A tradition has been preserved in the neighbourhood, that Gerennius,
an old Cornish saint and king, whose palace stood on the other side of
Gerrans Bay, between Trewithian and the sea, was buried in this mound
many centuries ago, and that a golden boat with silver oars were used in
conveying his corpse across the bay, and were interred with him. Part of
this tradition receives confirmation from an account incidentally given
of King Gerennius, in an old book called the ‘Register of Llandaff.’ It
is there stated that, A.D. 588, Teliau, bishop of Landaff, with some
of his suffragan bishops, and many of his followers, fled from Wales,
to escape an epidemic called the yellow plague, and migrated to Dole
in Brittany, to visit Sampson, the archbishop of that place, who was a
countryman and friend of Teliau’s. ‘On his way thither,’ says the old
record, ‘he came first to the region of Cornwall, and was well received
by Gerennius, the king of that country, who treated him and his people
with all honour. From thence he proceeded to Armorica, and remained there
seven years and seven months; when, hearing that the plague had ceased in
Britain, he collected his followers, caused a large bark to be prepared,
and returned to Wales.’ ‘In this,’ the record proceeds, ‘they all arrived
at the port called Din-Gerein, king Gerennius lying in the last extreme
of life, who, when he had received the body of the Lord from the hand of
St Teliau, departed in joy to the Lord.’ ‘Probably,’ says Whitaker, in
his remarks on this quotation, ‘the royal remains were brought in great
pomp by water from Din-Gerein, on the western shore of the port, to
Carne, about two miles off on the northern; the barge with the royal body
was plated, perhaps, with gold in places; perhaps, too, rowed with oars
having equally plates of silver upon them; and the pomp of the procession
has mixed confusedly with the interment of the body in the memory of


As the Cornish dialogue peculiarly illustrates a description of literary
composition which has no resemblance to that of any other county, I think
it advisable to give one specimen:—


    ’Twas Kendle teening, when jung Mal Treloare
    Trudg’d hum from Bal, a bucken copper ore;
    Her clathing hard and ruff, black was her eye,
    Her face and arms like stuff from Cairn Kye.
    Full butt she mit jung Saundry Kemp, who long
    She had been token’d to, come from Ding Dong;
    Hes jacket wet, his faace rud like his beard,
    And through his squarded hat hes hair appeared.
    She said, “Oh, Kemp, I thoft of thee well leer,
    Thees naw that daay we wor to Bougheehere,
    That daay with ale and cakes, at three o’clock,
    Thees stuff’d me so, I jist neen crack’d me dock:
    Jue said to me, ‘Thee mayst depend thee life,
    I love thee, Mal, and thee shust be ma wife.’
    And to ma semmen, tes good to lem ma naw
    Whether the words were aal in jest or no.”
      _Saundry._ Why, truly, Mal, I like a thing did zay,
    That I wud have thee next Chewiden daay.
    But zence that time I like a think ded hear
    Thees went wi’ some one down, ‘I naw where;’
    Now es that fitty, Mal? What dost think?
      _Mal._ Od rot tha body, Saundry, who said so?
    Now, faath and traath, I’ll naw afore I go;
    Do lem me naw the Gossenbary dog.
      _Saundry._ Why, then, Crull said jue wor down to Wheal Bog
    With he and Tabban, and ded make some tricks
    By dabben clay at jungsters making bricks;
    Aand that from there jue went to Aafe-waye house,
    Aand drink’t some leeker. Mal, now there’s down souse.
    Aand jue to he, like a thing ded zay,
    Jue wed have he, and I mait go away.
      _Mal._ I tell the lubber so! I to Wheal Bog!
    I’ll scatt his chacks, the emprent, saucy dog.
    Now hire me, Saundry Kemp, now down and full,
    Ef thee arten hastes, thee shust hire the whole.
    Fust jue must naw, tes true as thee art there,
    Aant Blanch and I went to Golsinny feer.
    Who overtookt us in the doosty road,
    In common hum but Crull, the cloppen toad.
    Zes he to Aant, “What cheer? Aant Blanch, what cheer?
    Jue makes good coose, suppose jue been to feer.”
    “Why, hiss,” zes Aant, “ben there a pewer spur.
    I wedn’t a gone ef nawed ed been so fur.
    I bawft a pair of shods for Sarah’s cheeld.”
    By this time, lock! we cum jist to the field.
    We went to clemmer up the temberen style.
    (Haw kept his eye upon me all the while.)
    Zes hem to Aant, “Then whos es thees braa maide?
    Come tha wayst long, dasent be afraid.”
    Then mov’d my side, like a thing,
    Aand pull’d my mantle, and just touch’d my ching,
    “How arry, jung woman?” zes haw. “How dost do?”,
    Zes I, “Jue saucy dog, what’s that to jue?
    Keep off, jung lad, else thees have a slap.”
    Then haw fooch’d some great big doat figs in me lap.
    So I thoft, as haw had been so kind,
    Haw might go by Aant Blanch, ef haw had a mind.
    Aand so haw ded, aand tookt Aant Blanch’s arm.
    “Araeh!” zes haw, “I dednt mane no harm.”
    So then Aant Blanch and he ded talk and jest
    Bout dabbing clay and bricks at Petran feast.
      _Saundry._ Ahah then, Mal, ’twas there they dabbed the clay?
      _Mal._ Plaase Father, Kemp, tes true wot I do saay.
    And hire me now, pla-sure, haw dedent budge
    From Aanty’s arm till jest this side Long Brudge.
    Aand then zes he to Aant, “Shall we go in
    To Aafe-way house, and have a dram of gin
    And trickle mixt? Depend ol do es good,
    Taake up the sweat, and set to rights the blud.”
    So Aant did saay, “Such things she dedn’t chuse,”
    And squeezed my hand, aand loike a thing refuse.
    So when we pass’d along by Wheal Bog moor,
    Haw jumpt behind, and pok’t es in the door.
    Haw caal’d for gin, aand brandy too, I think.
    He clunk’d the brandy, we the gin did drink.
    So when haw wish’d good night, as es the caase,
    Haw kiss’t Aant Blanch, and jist neen touched my face.
    Now, Saundry Kemp, there’s nothing shure in this,
    To my moinde, then, that thee shust take amiss.
      _Saundry._ No, fath, then Mal, ef this is all aand true,
    I had a done the same ef I was jue.
      _Mal._ Next time in any house I see or near am,
    I’ll down upon the plancheon, rat am, tear am,
    Aand I will so poaw am.
      _Saundry._ Our Kappen’s there, just by thickey bush.
                  Hush! now Mally, hush!
    Aand as hes here, so close upon the way,
    I wedent wish haw nawed what we did zay,
    And jett I dedent care, now fath and soul,
    Ef so be our Kappen wor to hire the whole.
    How arry Kappen? Where be going so fast?
    Jure goin’ hum, suppose, jure in sich haste.
      _Kappen._ Who’s that than? Saundry, arten thee ashamed
    To coosy so again? Thee wust be blamed
    Ef thees stay here all night to prate wi’ Mal!
    When tes thy cour, thee wusten come to Bal.
    Aand thee art a Cobbe, I tell thee so.
    I’ll tell the owners ef thee dosent go.
      _Saundry._ Why, harkee, Kappen, doant skoal poor I.
    Touch pipe a crum, jue’ll naw the reason why.
    Cozen Mal aand I ben courtain bout afe a year.
    Hould up tha head, Mal; don’t be ashamed, dost hire?
    Aand Crull one day made grief ’tween I and she;
    But he shall smart for it now, I swear by G——.
    Haw told me lies, as round as any cup.
    Now Mal and I have mit, we’ve made it up;
    So, Kappen, that’s the way I stopt, I vow.
      _Kappen._ Ahah! I dedent giss the case jist now.
    But what dost think of that last batch of ore?
      _Saundry._ Why pewer and keenly gossen, Kappen, shure
    I bleeve that day, ef Frankey’s pair wornt drunk,
    We shud had pewer stuff too from the sump.
    But there, tes all good time, as people saay,
    The flooken now, aint throw’d es far away;
    So hope to have bra tummells soon to grass.
    How did laast batch down to Jandower pass?
      _Kappen._ Why, hang thy body, Saundry, speed, I saay,
    Thees keep thy clacker going till tes day.
    Go speak to Mally now, jue foolish toad.
    I wish both well, I’ll keep my road.
      _Saundry._ Good nightie, Kappen, then I wishee well.
    Where artee, Mally? Dusten haw hire me, Mal?
    Dusent go away, why jue must think of this,
    Before we part, shure we must have a kiss.

        _She wiped her muzzle from the mundic stuff_,
        _And he rubb’d his, a little stain’d with snuff_.

    Now then, there, good night Mal, there’s good night;
    But, stop a crum.
      _Mally._ Good night.
      _Kappen._ Good night.

_Keendle teening_, candle lighting.

_Squarded hat_, broken or cracked hat.

_Lem ma naw_, let me know, tell me.

_Wheal Bog_, wheal, or, correctly spelt, huel, is old Cornish, and
signifies a mine or work.

_Doat figs_, broad figs.

_A cobbe_, a cobbler, a bungler.

_Bra tummills_, brave heaps, large piles of ore.


[1] Another tradition affirms that one of the sons of Cyrus lies buried
beneath the Longstone.

[2] See 1st Series, p. 198.

[3] St Breock or Briock, a bishop of a diocese in Armorica, is said to
have been the patron saint of St Breage. But there is a Cornish distich,
“Germow Mathern, Breaga Lavethas.” Germoe was a king, Breaga a midwife,
which rather favours the statement that St Breage was a sister of St
Leven. Breage and Germoe are adjoining parishes, having the shores of
the Mount’s Bay for their southern boundaries. When the uncultivated
inhabitants of this remote region regarded a wreck as a “God-send,” and
plundered without hesitation every body, living or dead, thrown upon
the shore, these parishes acquired a melancholy notoriety. The sailors’
popular prayer being,

    “God keep us from rocks and shelving sands,
    And save us from Breage and Germoe men’s lands.”

Happily those days are almost forgotten. The ameliorating influences of
the Christian faith, which was let in upon a most benighted people by
John Wesley, like a sunbeam, dispelled those evil principles, and gave
birth to pure and simple virtues.

[4] Leland, cited by William of Worcester from the Cornish Calendar at St
Michael’s Mount. Michell’s “Parochial History of Saint Neot’s.”

[5] Carew’s Survey, Lord Dedunstanville’s edition, p. 305. See “The Well
of St Keyne,” by Robert Southey, in his “Ballads and Metrical Tales,”
vol. i.; or of Southey’s collected works, vol. vi.

St Keyne, or St Kenna, is said to have visited St Michael’s Mount, and
imparted this peculiar virtue to a stone chair on the tower.

[6] See Gilbert, vol. iii. p. 329. See Appendix A. The name of this saint
is written Piran, Peran, and Perran.

[7] _See_ Perran-Zabuloe, with an Account of the Past and Present State
of the Oratory of St Piran in the Sands, and Remarks on its Antiquity. By
the Rev. Wm. Haslam, B.A., and by the Rev. Collins Trelawney.

St Kieran, the favourite Celtic saint, reached Scotland from Ireland, the
precursor of St Columba, (565 A.D.) “The cave of St Kieran is still shewn
in Kintyre, where the first Christian teacher of the Western Highlands is
believed to have made his abode.”—_Wilson’s Prehistoric Annals._

There is a curious resemblance between the deeds and the names of those
two saints.

[8] See Appendix B.

[9] See Appendix C.

[10] TINTAGEL is the usual name. Gilbert, in his “Parochial History,” has
it, “DUNDAGELL, _alias_ DYNDAGELL, _alias_ BOSITHNEY;” in “Doomsday-book”
it is called “DUNECHEINE.” Tonkin writes “Dindagel or Daundagel,” and
sometimes DUNGIOGEL. “A King Nectan, or St Nectan, is said to have built
numerous churches in several parts of Scotland, as well as in other parts
of the kingdom of the Northern Picts.”—_Wilson’s Prehistoric Annals of

[11] It is called indifferently Nectan, Nathan, Nighton, or Knighton’s

[12] Rambles beyond Railways. By Wilkie Collins. Mr Collins was curiously
misled by those who told him the tradition. The building which these
strange solitary women inhabited was St Nectan’s, or, as he and many
others write it, St Nighton’s, Chapel, and not a cottage. They died, as
Mr Collins describes it; but either he, or those from whom he learned
the tale, has filled in the picture from imagination. I perceive, on
referring to Mr Walter White’s admirable little book, “A Londoner’s Walk
to the Land’s End,” that he has made the same mistake about the cottage.

[13] Appendix D.

[14] Parochial History, vol. iii. p. 423.

[15] It is curious that the farm over which some of this water flows is
called “Collurian” to this day.

[16] See another story of this wretched woman in the section devoted to
Demons and Spectres. 1st Series.

[17] Hals, speaking of Gulval Well, thus describes it and its
virtues:—“In Fosses Moor, part of this manor of Lanesly, in this parish,
is that well-known fountain called Gulval Well. To which place great
numbers of people, time out of mind, have resorted for pleasure and
profit of their health, as the credulous country people do in these days,
not only to drink the waters thereof, but to inquire after the life
or death of their absent friends; where, being arrived, they demanded
the question at the well whether such a person by name be living, in
health, sick, or dead. If the party be living and in health, the still
quiet water of the well-pit, as soon as the question is demanded, will
instantly bubble or boil up as a pot, clear crystalline water; if sick,
foul and puddle waters; if the party be dead, it will neither bubble,
boil up, nor alter its colour or still motion. However, I can speak
nothing of the truth of those supernatural facts from my own sight or
experience, but write from the mouths of those who told me they had seen
and proved the veracity thereof. Finally, it is a strong and courageous
fountain of water, kept neat and clean by an old woman of the vicinity,
to accommodate strangers, for her own advantage, by blazing the virtues
and divine qualities of those waters.”—_Hals, quoted by Gilbert_,
_Parochial History of Cornwall_, vol. ii. p. 121.

[18] “Tales of the West,” by the author of “Letters from the East.”

[19] The tale of “The Legend of Pacorra.”

[20] “Popular Tales of the West Highlands,” by J. F. Campbell. (See page
134, vol. ii.)

[21] Notes and Queries.

[22] Gilbert, vol. i. p. 291.

[23] Carew.

[24] “Popular Rhymes and Nursery Tales,” by James O. Halliwell.

[25] See “Thomas of the Thumb, or _Tómas na h’ordaig_,” Tale lxix.
“Popular Tales of the West Highlands,” by J. F. Campbell.

[26] “Popular Rhymes and Nursery Tales,” by James O. Halliwell.

[27] Camden’s “Britannica,” by Gough, vol. i., p. 139. From this author
we do not learn much. Indeed he says—“As to that Constantine, whom Gildas
calls ‘that tyrannical whelp of the impure Danmonian lioness,’ and of the
disforesting of the whole country under King John, before whose time it
was all forest, let historians tell—it is not to my purpose.” vol. i. p.

[28] Milton’s “History of Britain,” edit. 1678, p. 155.

[29] Vellan (mill), druchar (wheel.)

[30] Carew says, “a promontory, (by _Pomp. Mela_, called Bolerium; by
_Diodorus_, Velerium; by _Volaterane_, Helenium; by the Cornish, Pedn an
laaz; and by the English, the Land’s-End.)”—_Survey of Cornwall._

[31] Penꞃiðꞅꞇeoꞃꞇ.—The name of the Land’s-End in the Saxon map; in the
text, Camden prints Penꞃihꞇꞅꞇeoꞃꞇ.

[32] “CASTELL-AN-DINAS.—In the parish of St Colomb Major stands a castle
of this name. Near this castle, by the highway, stands the Coyt, a stony
tumulus so called, of which sort there are many in Wales and Wiltshire,
as is mentioned in the ‘Additions to Camden’s Britannia’ in these places,
commonly called the Devil’s Coyts. It consists of four long stones of
great bigness, perpendicularly pitched in the earth contiguous with each
other, leaving only a small vacancy downwards, but meeting together at
the top; over all which is laid a flat stone of prodigious bulk and
magnitude, bending towards the east in way of adoration, (as Mr Lhuyd
concludes of all those Coyts elsewhere,) as the person therein under
it interred did when in the land of the living; but how or by what art
this prodigious flat stone should be placed on the top of the others,
amazeth the wisest mathematicians, engineers, or architects to tell or
conjecture. Colt, in Belgic-British, is a cave, vault, or cott-house, of
which coyt might possibly be a corruption.”—_Gilbert’s Parochial History._

[33] In the Manor of Lambourn is an ancient barrow, called Creeg Mear,
the Great Barrow, which was cut open by a labourer in search of stones
to build a hedge. He came upon a small hollow, in which he found nine
urns filled with ashes; the man broke them, supposing they were only old
pitchers, good for nothing; but Tonkin, who saw them, believes them to
have been Danish, containing the ashes of some chief commanders slain in
battle; and, says he, on a small hill just under this barrow is a Danish
encampment, called Castle Caer Dane, vulgo Castle Caer Don,—_i.e._, the
Danes’ Camp,—consisting of three entrenchments finished, and another
begun, with an intent to surround the inner three, but not completed; and
opposite to this, about a bowshot, the river only running between, on
another hill is another camp or castle, called Castle Kaerkief, castrum
simile, from Kyfel similis, alike alluding to Castle Caer Dane. But this
is but just begun, and not finished in any part, from which I guess
there were two different parties, the one attacking the other before the
entrenchments were finished.

[34] C. S. Gilbert’s Historical Survey.

[35] Gilbert.

[36] See Popular Tales from the Norse. By George Webbe Dasent, D.C.L.
Legends of Iceland, collected by Jón Arnason. Translated by George E. J.
Powell and Eirékur Magnússon.

[37] _Notes and Queries_, vol. viii. p. 618.

[38] “I shall offer a conjecture touching the name of this place, which
I will not say is right, but only probable. _Tin_ is the same as _Din_,
_Dinas_, and _Dixeth_, deceit; so that _Tindixel_, turned, for easier
pronunciation, to _Tintagel_, _Dindagel_, or _Daundagel_, signifies
_Castle of Deceit_, which name might be aptly given to it from the
famous deceit practised here by Uter Pendragon by the help of Merlin’s

“Mr Hals says this place is called _Donecheniv_ in ‘Domesday Survey.’
_Dunechine_ would mean the fortress of the chasm, corresponding precisely
with its situation.”—_Davies Gilbert._

[39] Gilbert, vol. ii. p. 402, _et seq._

[40] Gruter’s Collection of Ancient Inscriptions, quoted by J. C.

[41] The Parson’s.

[42] The Beacon.

[43] See Appendix E.

[44] See Appendix F, “_Saracen_.”

[45] “They maintaine these works to have been verie auncient, and first
wrought by the _Jewes_ with Pickaxes of Holme-Boxe and Hartshorne. They
prove this by the name of those places yet enduring, to wit, _Attall
Sarazin_, in English, the _Jewes Offcast_, and by those tooles daily
found amongst the rubble of such workes.”—_Survey of Cornwall. Carew._
(Appendix F.)

[46] Is this supported by the statement of Dr Stillingfleet, Bishop of
Worcester, who says, “The Christian religion was planted in the Island of
Great Britain during the time of the apostles, and probably by St Paul”?

[47] “Some are sent, like the spirit Gathon in Cornwall, to work the will
of his master in the mines.”—_Mrs Bray’s Traditions of Devonshire._

Who was the spirit Gathon?

“The miner starts as he hears the mischievous Gathon answering blow for
blow the stroke of his pickaxe, or deluding him with false fires, noises,
and flames.”—_A Guide to the Coasts of Devon and Cornwall. Mackenzie
Walcott, M.A._

Carne, in his “Tales of the West,” alludes to this:—“The miners have
their full share of the superstitious feelings of the country, and
often hear with alarm the noises, as it were, of other miners at work
deep underground, and at no great distance. The rolling of the barrows,
the sound of the pickaxes, and the fall of the earth and stones, are
distinctly heard through the night,—often, no doubt, the echo of their
own labours; but sometimes continued long after that labour has ceased,
and occasionally voices seem to mingle with them. Gilbert believed that
he was peculiarly exposed to these visitations; he had an instinctive
shrinking from the place where the accident had happened; and, when
left alone there, it was in vain that he plied his toil with desperate
energy to divert his thoughts. Another person appeared to work very near
him: he stayed the lifted pick and listened. The blow of the other fell
distinctly, and the rich ore followed it in a loud rolling; he checked
the loaded barrow that he was wheeling; still that of the unknown workman
went on, and came nearer and nearer, and then there followed a loud,
faint cry, that thrilled through every nerve of the lonely man, for
it seemed like the voice of his brother. These sounds all ceased on a
sudden, and those which his own toil caused were the only ones heard,
till, after an interval, without any warning, they began again, at times
more near, and again passing away to a distance.”—_The Tale of the Miner._


    “Now well! now well! the angel did say
    To certain poor shepherds in the fields who lay
    Late in the night, folding their sheep;
    A winter’s night, both cold and deep.
          Now well! now well! now well!
          Born is the King of Israel!”

[49] A tributer is a man who agrees with the adventurers in a mine to
receive a certain share of the profits on the ore raised by him in lieu
of wages. This account is settled monthly or bi-monthly, which will
explain the phrase a “poor month.”

[50] “The man has still a good thick head of hair.—C. F. S.”

[51] I am informed that there are no less than four of these cliff
chapels between St Leven and St Loy, which was a larger building, where
mass was probably celebrated.

[52] Pilchards are called _par excellence_ “fish.”

[53] Heva is shouted from the hills, upon which a watch is kept for the
approach of pilchards by the “huer,” who telegraphs to the boats by
means of bushes covered with white cloth, or, in modern days, with wire
frames so covered. These signals are well understood, and the men in the
seine and the other boats act according to the huer’s directions. The
following song contains all the terms employed in this fishery; many of
them, especially _Could Roos_, do not appear to have any definite meaning
attached to them.

The song is by the late C. Taylor Stevens of St Ives, who was for some
time the rural postman to Zennor. I employed Mr Taylor Stevens for some
time collecting all that remains of legendary tales and superstitions in
Zennor and Morva. The net is spelled sometimes Seine at others Sean.


    “With a cold north wind and a cockled sea,
    Or an autumn’s cloudless day,
    At the huer’s bid, to stem we row,
    Or upon our paddles play.
    All the signs, ‘East, West, and Quiet,
    Could Roos,’ too well we know;
    We can bend a stop, secure a cross,
    For brave sean lads are we!
        _Chorus_—We can bend a stop, secure a cross,
                  For brave sean lads are we!

    “If we have first stem when heva comes,
    We’ll the huer’s bushes watch;
    We will row right off or quiet lie,
    Flying summer sculls to catch.
    And when he winds the towboat round,
    We will all ready be,
    When he gives Could Roos, we’ll shout hurrah!
    Merry sean lads are we!
        _Chorus_—When he gives Could Roos, we’ll shout hurrah!
                  Merry sean lads are we!

    “When the sean we’ve shot, upon the tow,
    We will heave with all our might,
    With a heave! heave O! and rouse! rouse O!
    Till the huer cries, ‘All right.’
    Then on the bunt place kegs and weights,
    And next to tuck go we.
    We’ll dip, and trip, with a ‘Hip hurrah!’
    Merry sean lads are we!
        _Chorus_—We’ll dip, and trip, with a ‘Hip hurrah!’
                  Merry sean lads are we!”

[54] Hone’s “Every-Day Book.”

[55] Spinning-wheel.

[56] Every-Day Book.

[57] On the Diseases of Cornish Miners. By William Wale Tayler, F.R.C.S.

[58] When cattle or human beings have been bewitched, it was very
commonly thought that if a bottle of urine from the diseased beast or
person was obtained, then corked very tight and buried mouth downwards,
that the witch would be afflicted with strangury, and in her suffering
confess her crime and beg forgiveness.

[59] Throb.

[60] The invocation of the “Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,” invariably
accompanies every form of charm.

[61] Borlase’s Observations on the Ancient and Present State of the
Island of Scilly.—“Notes and Queries,” vol. x. p. 181. 1854.

[62] The Survey of Cornwall. By Richard Carew.

[63] Draw and Hitchin’s Cornwall.

[64] See also p. 216.

[65] In Hugh Miller’s “Scenes and Legends of the North of Scotland,”
edit. 1858, pp. 256, 257, will be found some stories of the flight of the
“herring drove” from the coast of Cromarty, which are analogous to this.

[66] See “Death Tokens.”

[67] “There appeared in the north-east the frustrum of a large rainbow;
all the colours were lively and distinct, and it was three times as wide
as the arch of an ordinary complete rainbow, but no higher than it was
wide. They call it here, in Cornwall, _a weather dog_; but in the Cornish
language, _Lagas-auel_,—that is, the weather’s eye,—and pronounce it a
certain sign of hard rain.”—_Borlase’s Natural History of Cornwall._

[68] Hone’s Table-Book.

[69] In pul; meaning in mud.

[70] Davies Gilbert’s “Cornwall.”

[71] Vol. iii. p. 309.

[72] Letter from William Peter, Esq. of Harlyn, to Davies Gilbert, vol.
iii. p. 178.

[73] See Keighton’s “Tales and Popular Fictions,” p. 247.

[74] “Traditions, Legends, Superstitions, and Sketches of Devonshire,”
by Mrs Bray, who gives a letter of her husband’s, for some time vicar of

[75] See Gilbert, vol. iii., p. 293, and Bond’s account of the Trelawnys
in Bond’s Looe.

[76] Hone’s Table-Book.





“It is rather a curious circumstance,” says Davies Gilbert, “that the
word _Zabuloe_ added to Perran, for the distinction of this parish,
is not Celtic, but through the French _sable_, from _sabulum_, a word
frequently used by Pliny, as indicative of sand or gravel.

“The encroachments of the sand have caused no less than three churches
to be built, after considerable intervals of time, in this parish. The
last was commenced in 1804; and in this year, (1835,) a building has
been discovered more ancient than the first of these churches, and not
improbably the oratory of St Perran himself. The length of this chapel
within the walls is 25 feet, without, 30 feet; the breadth within, 12½
feet; and the height of the walls the same.

“At the eastern end is a neat altar of stone covered with lime, 4 feet
long, by 2½ feet wide, and 3 feet high. Eight inches above the centre
of the altar is a recess in the wall, where probably stood a crucifix;
and on the north side of the altar is a small doorway, through which the
priest may have entered. Out of the whole length, the chancel extended
exactly 6 feet. In the centre of what may be termed the nave, in the
south wall, occurs a round arched doorway, highly ornamented. The
building is, however, without any trace of window; and there is only one
small opening, apparently for the admission of air.

“The discovery has excited much curiosity throughout the neighbourhood;
which has, unfortunately, manifested itself by the demolition of
everything curious in this little oratory, to be borne away as

“Very little is known concerning the saint who has given his name to the
three Perrans. He is, however, held in great veneration, and esteemed the
patron of all Cornwall, or, at least, of the mining district.”—_Hals._



By an anachronism of fifteen hundred years or more, St Perran was
considered as the person who first found tin; and this conviction induced
the miners to celebrate his day, the 5th of March, with so much hilarity,
that any one unable to guide himself along the road has received the
appellation of a Perraner; and that, again, has been most unjustly
reflected as a habit on the saint.

“It may here be worthy of remark, that, as the miners impute the
discovery of tin to St Perran, so they ascribe its reduction from
the ore, in a large way, to an imaginary person, St Chiwidden; but
_chi-wadden_ is white house, and must, therefore, mean a smelting or
blowing house, where the black ore of tin is converted into a white metal.

“A white cross on a black ground was formerly the banner of St Perran,
and the standard of Cornwall; probably with some allusion to the black
ore and the white metal of tin.”—_Gilbert._

A college, dedicated to St Perran, once stood in the parish of St Kevern,
(Dugdale’s “Monasticon,” vol. vi., p. 1449.) This probably had some
connexion with Perran Uthnoe. The shrine of St Perran was in that parish,
which is said to have contained his head, and other relics.

Lysons quotes a deed in the registry of Exeter, shewing the great resort
of pilgrims hither in 1485.

In the will of Sir John Arundell, 1433, occurs this bequest:—“Item,
lego ad usum parochie S’c’i’ Pyerani in Zabulo, ad clandendum capud S.
Pierani honorificè et meliori modo quo sciunt xls.”—_Collectanea Topogr.
et Geneal._, vol. iii p. 392.

For a full examination of the question, Did the Phœnicians trade with
Britain for tin? the following works should be consulted:—“History of
Maritime and Inland Discovery,” by W. D. Cooley; “Historical Survey of
the Astronomy of the Ancients,” by Sir George Cornewall Lewis; “Commerce
and Navigation of the Ancients,” by W. Vincent, D.D.; “Phœnicia,” by
John Kenrick, M.A.; “The Cassiterides: an Inquiry into the Commercial
Operations of the Phœnicians in Western Europe, with particular Reference
to the British Tin Trade,” by George Smith, LL.D., F.A.S.



The following account of this celebrated saint, as given by Mr Davies
Gilbert, will not be without interest:—

“Multitudes flocked to him from all parts. He founded a monastery, and
repaired to Rome for a confirmation, and for blessing at the hands of
the Pope; these were readily obtained. He returned to his monastery,
where frequent visits were made to him by King Alfred, on which occasions
he admonished and instructed the great founder of English liberty; and
finally quitted this mortal life on the 31st of July, about the year
883, in the odour of sanctity so unequivocal that travellers all over
Cornwall were solaced by its fragrance. Nor did the exertions of our
saint terminate with his existence on earth; he frequently appeared to
King Alfred, and sometimes led his armies in the field. But, if the tales
of these times are deserving of any confidence, the nation is really and
truly indebted to St Neot for one of the greatest blessings ever bestowed
on it. To his advice, and even to his personal assistance as a teacher,
we owe the foundation by Alfred of the University at Oxford.

“The relics of St Neot remained at his monastery in Cornwall till about
the year 974, when Earl Alric, and his wife Ethelfleda, having founded
a religious house at Eynesbury, in Huntingdonshire, and being at a loss
for some patron saint, adopted the expedient of stealing the body of
St Neot; which was accordingly done, and the town retains his name,
thus feloniously obtained, up to this time. The monastery in Cornwall
continued feebly to exist, after this disaster, through the Saxon times;
but, having lost its palladium, it felt the ruiner’s hand; and, almost
immediately after the Norman Conquest, it was finally suppressed. Yet
the memory of the local saint is still cherished by the inhabitants of
the parish and of the neighbourhood—endeared, perhaps, by the tradition
of his diminutive stature, reduced, in their imagination, to fifteen
inches of height; and to these feelings we, in all probability, owe the
preservation of the painted glass, the great decoration of this church,
and one of the principal works of art to be seen in Cornwall.”—_Gilbert’s
Hist Corn._, vol. iii. p. 262.




    It is from Neot’s sainted steep
    The foamy waters flash and leap;
    It is where shrinking wild-flowers grow,
    They lave the nymph that dwells below!

    But wherefore in this far-off dell,
    The reliques of a human cell?
    Where the sad stream and lonely wind
    Bring Man no tidings of their kind!

    Long years agone! the old man said,
    ’Twas told him by his grandsire dead,
    One day two ancient sisters came,
    None there could tell their race or name.

    Their speech was not in Cornish phrase,
    Their garb had marks of loftier days;
    Slight food they took from hands of men,
    They wither’d slowly in that glen.

    One died! the other’s shrunken eye
    Gush’d till the fount of tears was dry;
    A wild and wasting thought had she—
    “I shall have none to weep for me!”

    They found her silent at the last,
    Bent in the shape wherein she pass’d—
    Where her lone seat long used to stand,
    Her head upon her shrivell’d hand!

    Did fancy give this legend birth?
    The grandame’s tale for winter-hearth,
    Or some dead bard, by Neot’s stream,
    People these banks with such a dream?

    We know not! but it suits the scene,
    To think such wild things here have been;
    What spot more meet could grief or sin
    Choose at the last to wither in?

                     _Echoes of Old Cornwall._



In the reign of Henry VIII., one Militon, or Millington, appears to
have purchased Pengerswick Castle. This Millington is said to have
retired into the solitude of this place on account of a murder which he
had committed. (Mr Wilkie Collins appears to have founded his novel of
“Basil” on this tradition.) In all probability a very much older story
is adapted to Mr Millington. So far from his being a recluse, we learn
of his purchasing St Michael’s Mount, “whose six daughters and heirs
invested their husbands and purchasers therewith.”

That Millington was a man of wealth, and that large possessions were held
by his family, is sufficiently evident. St Michael’s Mount appears to
have been “granted at first for a term of years to different gentlemen of
the neighbourhood. To Millington, supposed of Pengerswick, in Breage; to
Harris, of Kenegie, in Gulval; and, perhaps jointly with Millington, to a
Billett or Bennett.”—_Hals._



The term Saracen is always now supposed to apply to the Moors. This is
not exactly correct. Percy, for example, in his “Essay on the Ancient
Minstrels,” says, “The old metrical romance of ‘Horn Child,’ which,
although from the mention of Saracens, &c., it must have been written,
at least, after the First Crusade, in 1096, yet, from its Anglo-Saxon
language or idiom, can scarcely be dated later than within a century
after the Conquest.” I think this ballad, and several others of an early
date, prove the application of this term to some Oriental people previous
to the Crusades. Soldàin, soldàn, regarded as a corruption of sultan,—

    “Whoever will fight yon grimme soldàn,
    Right fair his meede shall be,”—

is clearly a much older term, applied to any grim Eastern tyrant, and
especially to the Oriental giants. It would not be a difficult task to
shew that the word Saracen, as used in Cornwall,—“_Atal Saracen!_” “_Oh,
he’s a Saracen!_” &c., was applied to the foreigners who traded with this
county for tin—at a very early period.




Catalogue _of Useful, Curious, and Interesting Books Published or Sold by_



⁂ _Those Books offered at one-fourth of their published prices are
warranted to be as clean and as perfect as when sold at the full prices._

⁂ NOTE.—_In order to insure the correct delivery of the ACTUAL WORKS, or
PARTICULAR EDITIONS, specified in this list, it is necessary that THE
will probably receive books of a different character from those which
were ordered. Stamps or a Post Office Order may be remitted direct to the
Publisher, who will forward per return._

       *       *       *       *       *

Anacreon’s Odes. Paris, 1864. Didot’s exquisite EDITION, _printed in very
beautiful Greek characters, with French notes, each page ruled with red

The original drawings cost £5,000. The volume is, without exception, the
most lovable book ever sent forth by a prodigal publisher.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now ready, NEW AND POPULAR EDITION, post 8vo, pp. 336, price 2s.,

Anecdotes of the Green Room and Stage; or, Leaves from an Actor’s
Note-Book, at Home and Abroad. By GEORGE VANDENHOFF.

Mr. Vandenhoff, who earned for himself, both in the Old and New Worlds,
the title of THE CLASSIC ACTOR, has retired from the Stage. His
Reminiscences are extremely interesting, and include Original Anecdotes
of the Keans (father and son), the two Kembles, Macready, Cooke, Liston,
Farren, Elliston, Braham and his Sons, Phelps, Buckstone, Webster, Chas.
Mathews; Siddons, Vestris, Helen Faucit, Mrs. Nisbett, Miss Cushman, Miss
O’Neil, Mrs. Glover, Mrs. Chas. Kean, Rachel, Ristori, and many other
dramatic celebrities.

       *       *       *       *       *

Archæological Proceedings held at Winchester in 1845. The thick handsome
vol., published by the Institute in 1846, 8vo, pp. 600, _with numerous_
other REMAINS in HAMPSHIRE, with _Facsimiles_ and ETCHINGS ON COPPER, 8vo
(sells at £1 10s.), only 8s. 6d.

⁂ THIS IS A SCARCE VOLUME. Amongst the very interesting contents may be

       *       *       *       *       *


Now ready, half morocco, handsomely printed by Whittingham and Wilkins,
price 7s. 6d.,

Army Lists of the Roundheads and Cavaliers in the Civil War: GIVING THE
now first reprinted from the comparatively unknown originals, and Edited,
with Notes, by EDWARD PEACOCK, F.S.A. In 4to, with elaborate floreated

These most curious _Lists_ show on which side the gentlemen of England
were to be found during the great conflict between the King and the
Parliament. As illustrations of County History they are exceedingly
interesting. The literary antiquary and the genealogist will find much
new and out-of-the-way matter in them; and there are but few families
in England who cannot claim a relationship to one or other of the names
mentioned in the Royalist or Roundhead lists. ONLY A VERY FEW COPIES HAVE
BEEN MOST CAREFULLY REPRINTED _on paper that will gladden the heart of
the lover of Choice Books_.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now ready, 12mo, in binding after a pattern of the period, very choicely
printed, by Whittingham and Wilkins, price 6s. 6d.,


A Collection of the Names of the Merchants Living IN AND ABOUT THE
CITY OF LONDON; very usefull and necessary. Carefully Collected for
the Benefit of all Dealers that shall have occasion with any of them,
directing them at the first sight of their name to the place of their
abode. London: Printed for SAM LEE, 1677. See Review in the _Times_, Jan.

This curious little volume has been reprinted verbatim from one of the
only two copies known to be in existence. It contains an Introduction
pointing out some of the principal persons mentioned in the list. For
historical and genealogical purposes the little book is of the greatest
value. Herein will be found the originators of many of the great firms
and copartnerships which have prospered through two pregnant centuries,
and which exist some of them in nearly the same names at this day.
Its most distinctive feature is the early severance which it marks of
‘goldsmiths that keep running cashes,’ precursors of the modern bankers,
from the mass of the merchants of London. Here also will be found in the
general list some of the entertainers of the wits of their day; Fountain,
the father of the wealthy knight with whom Swift was familiar, as shown
in his letters to Stella; Kiffen, the sturdy Baptist, whom James II.
could neither affright nor seduce; Bathurst, with Bragg his connexion,
the Vansittarts, Van Milderts, Ducanes, Beckfords, Papillons, Burdetts,
Biddulphs, and Holfords. Here are Russells, Temples, Palmers, and
Harveys, the latter near kinsman of Dr. William Harvey, who discovered
the secret of our own circulation. Only two originals are known, and one
of these recently produced £30 at public auction. The little book is
curious, among other things, as containing the name of Alexander Pope,
the father of the poet, among the merchants residing in Broad Street.
The names of the Messrs. Hoare, the eminent bankers of Fleet Street, at
the sign of the ‘Leathern Bottle’—the house, by the way, where Oliver
Cromwell kept his money—occurs in the Directory, as also do those of the
Messrs. Child, the well-known bankers of Temple Bar. ONLY A VERY FEW

       *       *       *       *       *

This day, on tinted paper, price 3s. 6d., by post 3s. 10d.,

Artemus Ward—His Book. Edited, with Notes and Introduction, by the Editor
of the “BIGLOW PAPERS.” One of the wittiest and certainly the most
mirth-provoking book which has been published for many years.

The author has recently been delighting his countrymen with lectures on
“The Babes in the Wood,” “Sixty Minutes in Africa,” and “Life among the
Mormons,” and it is expected will shortly visit this country, to take for
a time the late Albert Smith’s place among us.

“He is as clever as Thackeray In Jeames’s dialogue and Policeman X’s
ballads.... There is no merriment in him; it is all dry, sparkling

“Genuine humour.... He is likely to take with the British

“Bryant, the poet, pays him a high compliment.... Exceedingly
amusing.”—_Pall Mall Gazette._

“We never, not even in the pages of our best humorists, read anything
so laughable and so shrewd as we have seen in this book by the mirthful
Artemus.”—_Public Opinion._

“We can heartily commend it to every one of our numerous readers, not an
individual of whom, we are assured, will regret the small sum expended on
it, should he become a purchaser.”—_Western Daily News._

       *       *       *       *       *

Beeton’s (Mrs.) Book of Household Management; Comprising a History of the
Origin, Properties, and Uses of All Things connected with Home Life and
Comfort; Information for Mistresses and Servants, and Sanitary, Medical,
and Legal Information. 1864. Very thick fcap. 8vo, over 1,110 pages,
WOODCUTS AND PLATES PRINTED IN COLOURS, _neatly half-bound_, 5s. 10d.

⁂ INDISPENSABLE TO EVERY HOUSEHOLD—containing in itself, besides
being a Complete COOKERY BOOK, all that is ever wanted to refer to in
Housekeeping; with a valuable INDEX _for Instant Reference_.

       *       *       *       *       *

Berjeau’s (P. C.) Book of Dogs; the Varieties of Dogs as they are found
the sides richly lettered in gold_, 7s. 6d.

In this very interesting volume are 52 plates, facsimiled from rare old
Engravings, Paintings, Sculptures, &c., in which may be traced over 100
varieties of Dogs known to the Ancients.

⁂ The volume forms a handsome small 4to, is printed on tinted paper, and
contains numerous admirable facsimiles by Mr. Berjeau. Some of the dogs,
from the engravings by Albert Durer, are the veritable Scotch terriers of
Leech, so familiar to all readers of _Punch_. The book is a most pleasing
and satisfactory combination of modern and antiquarian interest. The
regular price of the book is 10s. 6d., but Mr. Hotten can sell a copy for
7s. 6d.

       *       *       *       *       *

Book of Common Prayer, according to the Usage of the Church of England.
ENGLISH LETTER, _on the finest vellum paper_—A TRULY REGAL VOLUME, and
one of the few books printed in the present century which will compare
with the works of the early printers. Half-vellum, very neat (sells £7
7s.), only 38s., _or bound in half-morocco in the Roxburghe style_. £2
7s. 6d.

⁂ Admirably adapted for use in the pulpit or reading-stand. _With lovers
of choice books it is not unfrequently termed the_ “CATHEDRAL EDITION.”

       *       *       *       *       *

Baron Munchausen, Aventures de. Illustrated WITH 220 FANTASTIC AND
6d. With a portrait of the renowned Baron, and his Motto, “Mendace


       *       *       *       *       *


Now ready, 8vo, half morocco, very neat, price 5s. 6d.,

Bibliographical Account of nearly 1,500 Curious and _rare_ BOOKS,
of YORKSHIRE, collected by Mr. Hotten, with numerous DESCRIPTIVE NOTES,
LITERARY ANECDOTES, etc., _illustrated with curious wood engravings_
from blocks formerly in the possession of the eccentric JOHN COLE of
_Scarborough_, interleaved for MS. notes, additions, etc. 1863.

Only Fifty Copies have been printed on thick paper, for the use of
Yorkshire Antiquaries and Topographers.

       *       *       *       *       *


Now ready, 8vo, half morocco, very neat, price 4s. 6d.,

Bibliographical Account of nearly 1,000 Curious and _rare_ BOOKS, TRACTS,
_MSS._, and ENGRAVINGS relating to the HISTORY and TOPOGRAPHY of NORTH
AND SOUTH WALES, collected by Mr. Hotten, with numerous DESCRIPTIVE
NOTES, LITERARY ANECDOTES, etc., interleaved for MS. notes, additions,
etc., _illustrated with curious wood engravings from old chap-books and

Only Fifty Copies have been printed on thick paper, for the use of Welsh
Antiquaries and Topographers.

       *       *       *       *       *


Brownrigg Papers, by Douglas Jerrold. Edited by his Son, BLANCHARD
JERROLD. Coloured Illustration by GEORGE CRUIKSHANK. 8vo, sells at 10s.
6d.; a few copies offered at 4s. 6d., cloth gilt.

⁂ Containing some of the most characteristic pieces from the pen of the
master-wit, now first collected. “Henry Brownrigg” was the favourite
_nom-de-plume_ of the author. A MOST ENTERTAINING VOLUME.

       *       *       *       *       *

Burke’s Genealogical and Heraldic History of EXTINCT AND DORMANT
BARONETCIES. 1838. 8vo. _Fine Portrait of James I., and upwards of_ 1,000
COATS OF ARMS, ENGRAVED ON WOOD, _neatly bound, half-morocco_, 10_s._

⁂ An invaluable work of reference; giving the LINEAGE OF NEARLY A
THOUSAND FAMILIES, with minute and accurate details of the alliances,
fortunes, and memorable events of each generation; the search for which,
through public and private records, occupied the Author many years.

       *       *       *       *       *

Cambridge Slang Phrases—Gradus ad Cantabrigiam; or, Guide to the
_Academical Customs and Colloquial_, or _Cant Terms_, peculiar to the
University of Cambridge. 8vo, WITH COLOURED HUMOROUS ENGRAVINGS. 3s. 6d.

Without the Illustrations the book is common enough.

       *       *       *       *       *

Cheke’s (Sir J.) Gospel according to St. Matthew, and part of St. Mark’s
Gospel, translated into English, with _Notes_, and seven Original
Letters. 8vo, new cloth, _with facsimile plates_, 2s. 6d.

Sir J. Cheke was Tutor and Secretary of State to King Edward VI., and,
towards the close of his life, embraced the Catholic Faith. The very
peculiar nature of this old Translation Is explained in the Introduction,

       *       *       *       *       *

This day, Collected Edition, cloth, neat, 2s. 6d.; by post, 2s. 8d.,

Cornish Tales, in Prose and Verse, by J. T. Tregellas. With a GLOSSARY.

⁂ This Collection comprises all the best stories of the author, who made
a fame peculiarly his own by a wonderful power of story-telling and
mimicry. The book includes _Tremnan_, _the St. Agnes Bear Hunt_, _the
Queen’s Washing Day_, _the Perran Cherry-beam_, _Grammar’s Cat and Ours_,
_the Squire’s Tame Conger_, _Rozzy Paul and Zacky Martin_, _Josee Cock_,
and ten other inimitable stories.

       *       *       *       *       *


Beautifully printed, thick 8vo, new half-morocco, gilt back, 14s. 6d.,

Contes Drolatiques (Droll Tales collected from the Abbeys of Loraine).
Par BALZAC. With Four Hundred and Twenty-five Marvellous, Extravagant,
and Fantastic Woodcuts by GUSTAVE DORÉ.


⁂ The most singular designs ever attempted by any artist. This book
is a fund of amusement. So crammed is it with pictures that even the
_Contents_ are adorned with thirty-three illustrations. Now the reader
is made to smile at the mishaps of some fat monks; then a battle scene,
with fighting men jammed in inextricable confusion until the picture
becomes painful to look at, occupies his attention; next, some portraits
of fellows who would pass for Pluto’s firemen, all seared, as though they
had been for a thousand years stirring molten lava; then knights making
love, and kissing through their visors; then dreamy old German cities,
with diablerie, or satanello, going on right and left—but all so quaint,
so wonderful, that the beholder confesses he never looked upon the like

       *       *       *       *       *

Common Prayer. Illustrated by Holbein and Albert Durer. Facsimile of
the Prayer Book of Queen Elizabeth, adapted to the present Reign, with
wood-engravings of ALBERT DURER’S “Life of Christ,” _rich woodcut
Border_ on every page of Fruit and Flowers; also the DANCE OF DEATH, a
_singularly curious series_ after HOLBEIN, with Scriptural Quotations and
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tinted paper, price 10s. 6d.

This book, from the variety and quaintness of the borders surrounding
each page—resembling some of the beautiful early printed Missals—is
worthy of the most elaborate binding. Few modern works sustain the
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the softness and beauty of the paper, appears to the greatest advantage
in the most brilliant covers. Mr. Hotten has just had some copies bound
as samples of the artistic beauty which may be displayed in binding.

STYLE IMPRESSED ON THE SIDES, _gilt edges_, 17s. 6d.

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4. In rich brown morocco, blind-tooled and inlaid with red Maltese
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5. In very choice red morocco, the sides covered with hand-tooling in
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7. A very sumptuous specimen of Inlaid _Maioli_ Binding, dark blue
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10. A similar pattern, hand-tooled with great accuracy in gold, on a
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_This edition has been prepared expressly for Mr. Hotten._ All the LATEST
alterations in the Common Prayer Book of our Established Church are
given. Several new and most curiously engraved woodcut borders have been
added. It is only necessary to remark that the _old_ edition, without
these improvements, sold for £1 1s. per copy.

       *       *       *       *       *


Christmas Carols, Ancient and Modern; including several never before
given in any collection. Beautifully printed by Whittingham, fcap 8vo.,
price 4s. 6d.

⁂ This Garland comprises those delightful Carols that for generations
have charmed the good people of our country at the festive season. They
have been collected from every source that would afford materials,
including rare old broadsides, ballad-sheets, chap-books, and the various
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       *       *       *       *       *

Cicero de Officiis, &c., &c. The exquisite Diamond TYPE EDITION, 48mo
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Artistically bound in morocco, with exquisite taste and neatness, 10s.
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       *       *       *       *       *

Costume. Picturesque Representations of the Dress and Manners of the
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classes of English Society fifty years ago_, half crimson morocco,
Roxburghe style, VERY SCARCE, 11s. 6d.

       *       *       *       *       *

Crests, Orders, Mitres, Crowns, Flags of all Nations, CHOICE MONOGRAMS.
FAIRBAIRN’S CRESTS of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 2 vols.,
large 8vo, _fine impressions on India paper_ of the 2,100 ENGRAVED
CRESTS, _cloth gilt_ (sells at £3 15s.), 28s. only. 1860.

A book invaluable to the Heraldic Student and the Genealogist, with an
Appendix of all the MOTTOES used by the Nobility, translated, &c.

——. 2 vols. 4to, an extra large paper COPY, _half morocco, top edge
gilt_, (sells at £8 8s.) £3 18s. 1860.

       *       *       *       *       *

Dante’s Divina Commedia. The exquisite diamond TYPE EDITION, 2 vols. 48mo
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Artistically bound in morocco, with exquisite taste and neatness, 21s.;
or, with the sides delicately tooled, 25s.

       *       *       *       *       *

In a few days, in 8vo, handsomely printed,

Diamonds and Precious Stones: their History, Value, and Properties, WITH
numerous illustrations, coloured and plain.

⁂ Although this Work is intended as a plain and practical Guide to Buyers
and Sellers of Precious Stones, the History and Literature of the subject
have not been overlooked. Anecdotes of the peculiar accidents and strange
fortune which have attended some Jewels are given, and what is hoped will
be found a valuable Bibliography of the subject is added as an Appendix
at the end.

       *       *       *       *       *


Now ready, in 8vo, on tinted paper, nearly 350 pages, very neat, price

Descriptive Account of Twenty Thousand most CURIOUS AND RARE BOOKS, OLD
PAPERS, relating to the History of almost every LANDED ESTATE and OLD
ENGLISH FAMILY in the Country; interspersed with nearly _Two Thousand_
Original Anecdotes, Topographical and Antiquarian Notes, by JOHN CAMDEN

HISTORY EVER FORMED. Each article has a small price affixed for the
convenience of those who may desire to possess any book or tract that
interests them.

interleaved with writing paper for MS. additions, and bound in
half-morocco, price 12s. 6d.

       *       *       *       *       *

Thick 8vo, published at £1 5s., only 12s. 6d.,

Dictionary of Americanisms; Words and Phrases usually regarded as

_The work extends to 560 pages, and presents to the English reader a
body of admirably-selected extracts from the humorous and dialectical
literature of the United States._

It is a curious fact connected with Slang, that a great number of vulgar
words common in England are equally common in the United States; and when
we remember that America began to people two centuries ago, and that
these colloquialisms must have crossed the sea with the first emigrants,
we can form some idea of the antiquity of popular or street language.
Many words, owing to the caprices of fashion or society, have wholly
disappeared in the parent country, whilst in the colonies they are yet
heard. The words SKINK, to serve drink in company, and the old term
MICHING or MEECHING, skulking or playing truant, for instance, are still
in use in the United States, although nearly, if not quite, obsolete here.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now ready, only a few copies for sale, original price 5s., now offered at
2s. 6d., a

Dictionary of the Oldest Words in the English LANGUAGE, from the
Semi-Saxon Period of A.D. 1250 to 1300; consisting of an Alphabetical
THE 13TH CENTURY, by the late HERBERT COLERIDGE, Secretary to the
Philological Society. 8vo, neat half-morocco.

An invaluable work to historical students and those interested in
linguistic pursuits. “The present publication may be considered as the
foundation-stone of the Historical and Literary Portion” of the great
ENGLISH DICTIONARY now in preparation by the Philological Society.
“Explanatory and etymological matter has been added, which, it is hoped,
may render the work more generally interesting and useful than could
otherwise have been the case.”

       *       *       *       *       *


Only 50 copies printed, in marvellous facsimile, 4to, on old Welsh paper,
half-morocco, 12s. 6d.,

Display of Herauldry of the particular Coat Armours now in Use in the Six
Counties of North Wales, and several others Elsewhere; with the NAMES OF
THE FAMILIES, whereby any Man knowing from what Family he is descended
may know his particular Arms. By JOHN REYNOLDS, of Oswestry, Antiquarian;
printed 1739.

From a Unique Copy, of priceless value to the lover of Heraldry and
Genealogy. The work on _Welsh Family History_ issued privately by this
author in the same year is comparatively common, yet copies of this have
realised _twenty guineas_. A few copies have been taken off in marvellous
facsimile, on old Welsh paper. They have cost more than the price asked.
THIS. Photozincography is a shallow pretence when compared with it.

       *       *       *       *       *


8vo, 300 pages, published at £1 1s., only 7s. 6d.,

Freeman’s (Ed., M.A., Author of the “History of Architecture”) Origin and
Development of Window Tracery in England; with nearly 400 Illustrations.

Originally issued by Mr. Parker of Oxford, to whom the antiquarian world
is indebted for so many admirable works on ancient architecture. This
work gives an interesting and minute account of the most beautiful or
remarkable windows existing in old English churches, castles, family
mansions, in every county of England and Wales.

       *       *       *       *       *

Fun (the Comic Weekly Journal and Rival to _Punch_). A Complete Set from
its Commencement in September, 1861, to September, 1864. 6 vols., 4to,
HUNDREDS OF HUMOROUS WOODCUTS, _fancy boards_ (sells 27s.), 18s.

Contains many very clever cartoons and comic woodcuts by Mathew Morgan,
one of the most notable of our rising caricaturists.

       *       *       *       *       *

Forster and Foster Family. Some Account of the PEDIGREE of the FORSTERS
of _Cold Hesledon_, in the County Palatine of Durham. Also, the FOSTERS
of other parts of England. By JOSEPH FOSTER. 4to, _exquisitely printed on
fine tinted paper_, with EMBLAZONED COAT ARMOUR of the FAMILY of FORSTER,
or FOSTER. 12s. 6d. _Sunderland, printed 1862._

PRIVATELY PRINTED FOR THE FAMILY, _and only a very few copies_. The
information supplied is of the most reliable character, and just the kind
that one desires to know respecting departed worthies. A capital _Index_
concludes the volume.

       *       *       *       *       *


Now ready, square 12mo, handsomely printed on toned paper, in cloth,
green and gold, price 4s. 6d. plain, 5s. 6d. coloured (by post, 6d.

Family Fairy Tales; or, Glimpses of Elfland at Heatherston Hall. Edited
by CHOLMONDELEY PENNELL, Author of “The Naturalist Angler,” “Puck on
Pegasus,” &c., adorned with BEAUTIFUL PICTURES of “MY LORD LION,” “KING
UGGERMUGGER,” and other great folks.


    My Lord Lion.
    The Blue Fish.
    King Uggermugger; or, The Princess Silver-Silk.
    See Me.
    Spider Face.
    The Great Forest.
    The Legend of the Little Flower.
    “Patch;” or, The Smile Fairy.
    The Story of the Spring Fairies.
    A Fable with a Moral.

⁂ This charming volume of Original Tales has been universally praised by
the critical press. From a great many reviews the following notices are

“When children have grown weary of boisterous play, and settled down
on chair and footstool and rug, round the brightly-glowing fire, Mr.
Cholmondeley Pennell’s ‘Fairy Tales’ will make their influence felt;
cheering them up to renew their joyous laughter, and eventually sending
them to bed with a store of droll fancies and pretty thoughts—thoughts
and fancies which they will think about as they fall asleep, and dream
about as they wake up on the following morning.”—_Athenæum._

“They fully deserve the care which has preserved them, and in their
present dress will afford amusement at the fireside at which they may be
read. We may instance in particular the story of ‘The Blue Fish’ as one
of the best Fairy Tales we have seen. The collection is excellent; the
illustrations good.”—_London Review._

“The tales are of the most charming kind we have read for a long time,
and, we have no doubt, will cheer many a fireside. Our author is as
tender as he is quaint and humorous, and seems to have imbibed the true
spirit of fairy and legendary lore. The illustrations have our heartiest
admiration. Miss Edwards works with a pencil as graceful as it is

       *       *       *       *       *

In fcap. 8vo, cloth, price 3s. 6d., beautifully printed,

Gog and Magog; or, the History of the Guildhall Giants. With some Account
of the Giants which Guard English and Continental Cities. By F. W.


⁂ The critiques which have appeared upon this amusing little work have
been uniformly favourable. The _Athenæum_ pronounces it a perfect model
of successful antiquarian exposition, readable from the first line to the
last. The _Art Journal_ devotes a considerable space to the little work,
and congratulates the author upon his success. The _Leader_ contributes
two full pages of eulogy. The _Builder_ directs its readers to purchase
it. The _Critic_ says, in a long article, that it thoroughly explains who
these old Giants were, the position they occupied in popular mythology,
the origin of their names, and a score of other matters, all of much
interest in throwing a light upon fabulous portions of our history.

       *       *       *       *       *

Genealogy and Family History. Stemmata CHICHELEANA; or, A GENEALOGICAL
NORTHAMPTONSHIRE. _Oxford_, 1765. With the RARE SUPPLEMENT, _so often
wanting_, containing CORRECTIONS and VERY LARGE ADDITIONS, _Oxford_,
1775. 2 vols. in 1, 4to. _Plates of monuments, uncut, beautifully
preserved, with rough edges_, 17s. 6d.

⁂ PRIVATELY PRINTED, compiled by Dr. BENJ. BUCKLER. The 2 vols.
contain over 700 carefully-prepared TABLES of DESCENTS, PEDIGREES, and
GENEALOGIES of Families of the NOBILITY and GENTRY, in which may be found
traces of the blood of THOS. CHICHELE, of Higham Ferrars [obit. A.D.
1400], all of whom are entitled to become candidates for Fellowships
at All Souls’ College, Oxford, by virtue of their consanguinity to
Archbishop Chichele, the founder.

This work has long been scarce, the SUPPLEMENT EXTREMELY so, and
has generally brought at auctions upwards of £2. Mr. Hotten having
fortunately lighted upon a few copies which had lain unnoticed in an old
warehouse, bought them in one lot, and is thus enabled to offer them
so much below their intrinsic value. Amongst the pedigrees occur the
KENT, and hundreds of other old ENGLISH FAMILIES.

       *       *       *       *       *


Grimm’s Goblins; the Best Legends of all Nations and LANGUAGES. UPWARDS
(_Hablot K. Browne_). 4to, _fancy boards_ (_published at 5s._), _offered
at 2s. 6d._

STORIES. The Illustrations, by H. K. BROWNE, are mostly printed in
Colours by EDMUND EVANS, and are singularly clever and striking.

       *       *       *       *       *

Gray’s Poems, square 12mo, the Classical Edition, VERY EXQUISITELY
ILLUSTRATED _with Views by Birket Foster, and delightful little vignettes
by Harry Rogers_ (sells at 5s.), 3s. 6d. only.

A PERFECT GEM. It is, perhaps, the most elegant little volume of the kind
produced in the present century.

       *       *       *       *       *

Gustave Doré. La Legende de Croque-Mitaine Recueillie par Ernest L’Epine.

In this _mad_ volume Doré has surpassed all his former efforts. THE

       *       *       *       *       *

Homeri Ilias et Odyssea. 2 vols. The Exquisite DIAMOND TYPE EDITION, 48mo
(sells at 12s.), only 2s. 6d.

Artistically bound in morocco, with exquisite taste and neatness, 21s.;
or, with the sides delicately tooled, 25s.

       *       *       *       *       *

Hair, Whiskers, Beard, Mustaches, &c. The Whole ART OF HAIR-DRESSING,
with ample rules for ladies, women, valets; directions for persons to
dress their own hair, false hair, perfumery, &c.; by JAMES STEWART, _the
Truefitt of George III.’s time_. 8vo, pp. 435, 3s. 6d. only.

With _ten_ most curious Engravings of Beauties and Fashionable Beaux of
the time, showing the extraordinary Headdresses, Topknots, Pigtails,
Love-curls, Wigs, &c., then worn.

       *       *       *       *       *

Halliwell’s (J. O., F.R.S.) Notes of Family Excursions IN NORTH WALES,
taken from Rhyl, Abergele, Llandudno, and Bagnor, small 4to, pp. 231,
very choicely printed, 3s. 6d. _Chiswick Press_, 1860.

Only a very limited number of copies have been privately printed by the
accomplished author. A better man could not have been selected to visit
the Northern part of the ancient Principality for the purpose of writing
a readable book, descriptive of its glorious scenery, _Traditions,
Folk-lore, and Natural Antiquities_. All the _Ancient Wells_, _Castles_,
_Old Houses_, _Hills_, _Waterfalls_, _Caves_, _Cromlechs_, and _Druidical
Remains_ are described. We have, also, some curious particulars about
those venerable countrymen of ours, the _old British Giants_. ANCIENT
LEGENDS and FAIRY TALES are also given, together with interesting
particulars of the various ascents of Snowdon. It is an interesting book,
and should be offered at 10s. 6d. instead of the 3s. 6d. now asked. Only
a few copies remain.

       *       *       *       *       *


Heraldry, Historical and Popular. By Charles BOUTELL, M.A. Demy 8vo, with
750 Illustrations, 9s. 6d.

    “All the devices blazoned on the shield
    In their own tinct.”—IDYLLS OF THE KING.

It is the aim of this MANUAL to inquire into the true character and right
office of Heraldry, and to describe and illustrate both its action in
past times in England, and its present condition as it is in use amongst

In the great and general Art Revival of our own times, Heraldry now
appears to be in the act of vindicating its title to honourable
recognition as an Art-Science, that may be agreeably as well as
advantageously studied, and very happily adapted in its practical
application to the existing condition of things.

       *       *       *       *       *

Pp. 336, handsomely printed, cloth extra, price 3s. 6d.,

Holidays with Hobgoblins; or, Talk of Strange Things. By DUDLEY COSTELLO.

Amongst the chapters may be enumerated:—

    Shaving a Ghost.
    Superstitions and Traditions.
    The Ghost of Pit Pond.
    The Watcher of the Dead.
    The Haunted House near Hampstead.
    Dragons, Griffins, and Salamanders.
    Alchemy and Gunpowder.
    Mother Shipton.
    Bird History.
    Witchcraft and Old Boguey.
    The Apparition of Monsieur Bodry.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now ready, handsomely printed, price 1s. 6d.,

Hints on Hats, adapted to the Heads of the People, by HENRY MELTON, of
Regent-street. With curious Woodcuts of the various styles of Hats worn
at different periods.

Anecdotes of eminent and fashionable personages are given, and a fund of
interesting information relative to the History of Costume and change of
tastes may be found scattered through its pages.

       *       *       *       *       *

This day, handsomely bound, pp. 550, price 7s. 6d.,

History of Playing Cards, with Anecdotes of their USE in ANCIENT and
by the late Rev. ED. S. TAYLOR, B.A., and others. _With Sixty curious
Illustrations on toned paper._

With Anecdotes of


“A highly-entertaining volume.”—_Morning Post._

This most amusing work, introducing the reader to a curious chapter of
our social history, gives an interesting account, replete with anecdotes,
of the most popular and widely-known pastime which has ever been invented
by man for his amusement. A more instructive and entertaining book could
not be taken in hand for a pleasant hour’s reading.

       *       *       *       *       *

Hone’s Every-Day Book and Table Book; or, Everlasting Calendar of Popular
Amusements, Sports, Pastimes, Ceremonies, Manners, Customs, and Events,
incident to each of the 365 Days in Past and Present Times:—YEAR BOOK of
Daily Recreation and Information, forming a complete History of the Year,
and a perpetual Key to the Almanack, together four very thick vols. 8vo,
with SEVEN HUNDRED AND THIRTY WOODCUTS, _new cloth, good paper_ (sells at
34s.), only 24s. The same in half calf, neat, 36s.

One of the most delightful works that can be imagined for half-hour
readings. Wm. Hone was one of the very few authors who could invest
generally dry subjects with a peculiar charm that made them readable.

       *       *       *       *       *

How to See Scotland; or, a Fortnight in the Highlands for £6. Price 1s.

A plain and practical guide.

       *       *       *       *       *

Hunter’s (Rev. Jos., Historian of Yorkshire) Hallamshire GLOSSARY. _Wm.
Pickering._ 1829. Crown 8vo, cloth, 5s. 6d.

This book may serve as a model to all intending glossarists. Copies have
long been scarce. In the Appendices are contained reprints of “RAY’S

       *       *       *       *       *

Horace. The Exquisite Diamond Type Edition. 48mo. _Dedicated to Lord
Spencer_ (sells at 6s.), only 1s. 6d.

Artistically bound in morocco, with exquisite taste and neatness, 10s.
6d.; or, with the sides delicately tooled, 12s. 6d.

       *       *       *       *       *

Horatii Opera. Didot’s Exquisite Edition, in small _but very legible

Bound in the _finest polished morocco, exquisitely finished and gilt_,
45s.; or, with elaborately-tooled sides, after an ancient pattern, 55s.

The archæological part is from an actual survey of the localities by

       *       *       *       *       *


Now ready, in cloth, price 2s. 6d., by post, 2s. 8d., the

Housekeeper’s Assistant; a Collection of the most valuable Recipes,
carefully written down for future use, by Mrs. B——, during her forty
years’ active service.

⁂ As much as two guineas has been paid for a copy of this invaluable
little work.

“Truly a ‘Housekeeper’s Assistant.’ We should think the little book would
very quickly find a place in all the housekeepers’ rooms in the country.
No instructions appear to be given but those which are of the greatest
service to persons in the charge of family arrangements.”—_Illustrated

       *       *       *       *       *

Jeffery’s (Fred. J.) Genealogical Chart (Enlarged), showing all the
Branches of the House of Oldenburg, commonly styled Schleswig-Holstein,
now living and occupying the Thrones of Denmark, Russia, Oldenburg, and
Greece, and formerly those of Sweden and Norway. Price 1s. 6d.

An interesting Genealogical elucidation of the recent Danish difficulty.
The typography is exquisite, and by the adoption of variously-coloured
inks, the whole of this difficult question—in its genealogical aspect—is
laid plainly before the eye of the student.

       *       *       *       *       *


Joe Miller’s Jests; or, the Wit’s Vade Mecum, being a Collection of the
most Brilliant Jests, the politest Repartees, the most elegant Bons Mots,
and most pleasant short Stories in the English Language. An interesting
specimen of remarkable facsimile, 8vo. half morocco, old Dutch paper
sides, price 9s. 6d. _London: printed by T. Read_, 1739.

The book is well known, or rather the Jests are, for the veritable
_first edition_ of Joe Miller is one of the rarest books in the English
language. With regard to the contents of Joe Miller’s _Jests_, the
plain-spoken words are neither better nor worse than those in any other
similar collection of the period. It is to be regretted that the author
did not employ expressions a little less coarse than he has done: his wit
and pungency, however, it is impossible to deny. Only a very few copies
of this humorous book have been reproduced.

       *       *       *       *       *

Letters of the Marchioness Broglio Solari, one of the Maids of Honour to
the Princess Lamballe, &c.; with a Sketch of her Life, and Recollections
of Celebrated Characters. Fcap. 8vo, beautifully printed by Whittingham,
price 2s. (Intended to have been sold at 5s.)

The Marchioness Broglio Solari was the natural grand-daughter of Lord
Hyde Clarendon, and consequently one of the collateral branches of the
Queens Mary and Anne, and their grandfather, the great Chancellor of
England. She played an important part in the French Revolution; was the
friend of Emperors and Princes; was intimately acquainted with George
the Fourth, Burke, Sheridan, Madame de Staël, the Duke of Wellington,
Sir Robert Peel, Sir H. Davy, Paganini, &c., of most of whom she gives
characteristic anecdotes. The Marchioness endured many troubles, was
robbed of her fortune, and for some time obtained her living as an
actress at the theatres of London and Dublin. This work was published by
an intimate friend, and the entire impression (with the exception of a
few copies) passed into the hands of the family. It is believed that only
150 copies were printed. The book (by those who know of its existence)
has always been considered as a _suppressed work_.

       *       *       *       *       *

Linley’s (Geo., the Song-Writer) Modern Hudibras; a Poem, in Three
Cantos. 8vo, 4s.

A rattling satirical poem, the title to which gives a very fair idea
of its nature. Social abuses, the sighs and groans of gentility, the
trickeries of literature, the cash-prices of art and musical criticisms,
and a score of other subjects engage his satirical pen.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now ready, 8vo, price 1s.,

List of British Plants. Compiled and Arranged by ALEX. MORE, F.L.S.

This comparative _List of British Plants_ was drawn up for the use of the
country botanist, to show the differences in opinion which exist between
different authors as to the number of species which ought to be reckoned
within the compass of the _Flora_ of Great Britain.

       *       *       *       *       *

SECOND EDITION, fcap. 8vo, neatly printed (price 1s.), only 9d.,

Macaulay, the Historian, Statesman, and Essayist: Anecdotes of his Life
and Literary Labours, with some Account of his Early and Unknown Writings.

The fine paper edition, cloth, neat, with a PHOTOGRAPHIC PORTRAIT (_the
only one known to have been taken_) by MAULL and POLYBLANK (price 2s.
6d.), a FEW COPIES ONLY AT 1s. 6d.

⁂ Includes Anecdotes of SYDNEY SMITH, MOORE, ROGERS, and LORD JEFFREY:
and gives numerous examples of Lord Macaulay’s extraordinary memory and
great powers of conversation.

       *       *       *       *       *

Map of Munster (1560-80), including “ye cyties Corke, Lymeryke,
Waterforde,” &c., 2 feet square, with both the Old English and Irish
Names. Coloured Facsimile, giving very minutely all the Places. 4s. 6d.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now ready, price 5s.; by post, on roller, 5s. 4d.,

Magna Charta. An Exact Facsimile of the Original Document, preserved
in the British Museum, very carefully drawn, and printed on fine plate
paper, nearly 3 feet long by 2 wide, with the ARMS AND SEALS OF THE

COPIED BY EXPRESS PERMISSION, and the only _correct_ drawing of the
Great Charter _ever taken_. This important memorial of the liberties
and rights of Englishmen is admirably adapted for framing, and would
hang with propriety from the walls of every house in the country. As a
guarantee to the purchaser that the facsimile is exact, the publisher
need only state that Sir Frederick Madden has permitted copies to hang
for public inspection upon the walls of the Manuscript Department in the
British Museum. It was executed by Mr. Harrison, under whose auspices the
splendid work on the Knights of the Garter was produced some years ago.
6d. _It is uniform with the “Roll of Battle Abbey.”_

A FULL TRANSLATION, with Notes, has just been prepared, price 6d. It has
been very beautifully printed on a large sheet of tinted paper by Messrs.
Whittingham and Wilkins. It may be framed and hung beside the original,
or can be pasted at the back, according to the taste of the purchaser.

       *       *       *       *       *

Map of Ireland, 1567. Facsimile of an extremely curious and interesting
old Map, about 2 feet square, giving the Names of the different Tribes,
Towns, Villages, Castles, &c., with the Names and Territories of the
various great Landed Proprietors in those days; also the Coats of Arms of
the old Irish Nobles. 4s. 6d.

       *       *       *       *       *


Millais Family, the Lineage and Pedigree of, recording its History from
1331 to 1865, by J. BERTRAND PAYNE, with Illustrations from Designs by
the Author. Folio, exquisitely printed on toned paper, with the following
Etchings, &c., price 28s.:—

    1. The MILLAIS ARMS, Crest and Motto, exquisitely engraved by JOHN
    2. Arms of the Payne Family.
    3. Arms of William Henry Millais, of Kingston, Surrey.
    4. Arms of George Henry Millais.
    5. Etching of the old Keystone of the Great Entrance Arch, at Tapon,
         S. Saviour.
    6. Pedigree of the Millais Family, with numerous engraved Coats of
         Arms, from John Millays, of 1331, to 1865.
    7. Arms over the Principal Entrance to Elizabeth Castle, Jersey.
    8. Tapon Farm, the ancient residence (for three centuries) of the
         Millais Family.

Of this beautiful volume only SIXTY COPIES have been PRIVATELY
PRINTED for presents to the several members of the family. The work
is magnificently bound in blue and gold, the _Fleur-de-lys_ and
eight-pointed star ornamenting the sides in gilt. These are believed
to be the only etchings of an Heraldic character ever _designed and
engraved_ by the distinguished artist of the name.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mediæval Writers of English History, Gibson (Wm. Sidney, _author of
the History of Tynemouth_), Remarks on the. A popular Sketch of the
Advantages and Pleasures derivable from MONASTIC LITERATURE. 8vo, 1s. 6d.
_Pickering_, 1848.

An interesting survey of the famous old _English Monastic Writers_, to
whose pens we are solely indebted for the History of England from the
Invasion to the reign of Henry VIII.

       *       *       *       *       *

Miniatures from Manuscripts of the 14th and 15th Centuries, Four
different Collections, each containing _ten_ of the FINEST AND MOST
delicate COLOURS heightened in GOLD and SILVER, 7s. 6d. each.

PERFECT GEMS. The faces are equal to the finest miniatures on ivory. The
costumes are resplendent in colour and gold. Of very great use to those
who occasionally illuminate, as showing the VERY HIGHEST PERFECTION OF

       *       *       *       *       *

Monastic Ruins of Yorkshire, from their Foundation to their Decay,
by ARCHDEACON CHURTON, with magnificent Lithographs in imitation of
the ORIGINAL DRAWINGS, by W. RICHARDSON, 2 vols., imp. folio, proof
impressions, with INITIAL LETTERS COLOURED (published at £18 18s), only
£5 18s.

This imposing work is exactly similar, and in every respect equal, to
the celebrated Sketches of the Holy Land, by David Roberts. Although it
is now offered at a great reduction, the difficulty of reproducing the
illustrations insures the work being soon sought after, even at a premium
on the published price.

       *       *       *       *       *

Musée Francais et Musée Royal; ou, Recueil des TABLEAUX ET BAS-RELIEFS
ET LAURENT. _Paris_, 1816-18.


FRANCAIS,” in 4 vols., was published in 80 livraisons at 48 francs each,
being 3,840 francs; with the “Musée Royal” the 6 vols. were published at
over £300! Copies when sold by auction have never brought less than £50;
and it is believed that the lowest price they have ever sold for on any
previous occasion is £35.

The work comprises upwards of 500 large plates in the finest style of
WORLD, with Descriptions and very masterly Dissertations, in FRENCH and
ENGLISH, on the state of the Fine Arts in various ages, _Illustrated with

It is possible that a passing apprehension that the Louvre might not
always be allowed to retain the Art Treasures for which he had laid most
of the countries of Europe under contribution for its choicest pieces,
led NAPOLEON to think of forming this splendid series of Line Engravings,
the cost of which, for engraving alone, exceeded _seventy-five thousand
pounds sterling_, defrayed mostly from the Imperial Treasury. Since the
publication of these volumes many of the paintings and sculptures have
been claimed and restored to their rightful owners; and the dispersion of
so many choice gems enhances the value of the work which describes them
in a collected form.

_Mr. Hotten keeps sets richly bound in half red morocco, appropriately

       *       *       *       *       *

Musée Secret de Naples.—A most curious work in a case, PRIVATELY PRINTED
IN PARIS, _representing some of the more remarkable_ “Peintures, Bronzes,
Mosaiques,” &c., _depicting the_ CEREMONIES OBSERVED AT THE EARLIEST

The “Secret Museum” at Naples, from the extraordinary nature of its
contents, has always excited the liveliest curiosity amongst antiquaries
and students.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mundy’s (Gen.) Pen and Pencil Sketches in India; or, JOURNAL OF A TOUR IN
INDIA. 3rd edition, with many illustrations. 8vo (sells at 5s.), only 2s.

An exceedingly amusing and instructive volume, giving Europeans an
admirable idea of the everyday life of a resident in India. The author
visited every portion of our vast empire in company with Viscount
Combermere. The hunting stories and exploits are admirably told.

       *       *       *       *       *

Nell Gwyn, the Story of, and the Sayings of Charles the Second, related
and collected by PETER CUNNINGHAM, F.S.A., small 8vo, _beautifully
printed, with numerous woodcuts relating to_ NELL GWYNNE, _cloth gilt_
(sells at 6s.), 2s. 6d.

       *       *       *       *       *

Novum Testamentum Græcum. The exquisite DIAMOND TYPE EDITION, _with
a beautiful Frontispiece of Da Vinci’s Last Supper, engraved by
Worthington_, 48mo (sells at 10s. 6d.), only 2s.

Artistically bound in morocco, with exquisite taste and neatness, 11s.
6d.; or, with the sides delicately tooled, 13s. 6d.

       *       *       *       *       *

Ornamental Art, the Treasury of, Illustrative of Objects of Art and
Virtù, photographed from the originals in the Museum of Ornamental Art,
and drawn on stone by F. Bedford, with descriptive notices by J. C.
Robinson, F.S.A., imp. 8vo, _71 plates, richly illuminated in colours and
gold_ (pub. at £3 13s. 6d.), _elegantly bound in cloth extra, gilt edges,
new_, £1 7s.

The prejudice is gradually decaying which assigned an inferior status
in Art to every production not a picture or a statue; and in this
book a choice selection of the finest specimens of _virtù_ is made to
combat those narrow ideas of the subject which are still popular. The
æsthetic value and practical utility of such art is proved thus in a most
attractive and magnificent way. THE ABOVE IS ONE OF THE MOST MAGNIFICENT

⁂ _The stones have been destroyed, and Mr. Hotten has the few remaining

       *       *       *       *       *

Petrarca. The exquisite Diamond type Edition, 48mo. (sells at 6s.), only
1s. 6d. Artistically bound in morocco, with exquisite taste and neatness,
10s. 6d.; or, with the sides delicately tooled, 12s. 6d.

       *       *       *       *       *

Pansie; the Last Literary Effort of Nathaniel HAWTHORNE.

⁂ All that remains of Hawthorne’s unfinished Romance—a little sketch full
of that quaint and delightful genius which gave to the world “The House
with the Seven Gables” and “Twice-told Tales.”

       *       *       *       *       *

Philobiblon. Excellent Traite sur l’Amour des _Livres_, par Richard de
Bury. Small 8vo, _half-morocco, very neat_, EXQUISITELY PRINTED ON RIBBED
PAPER, 12s. 6d. 1856.

Only a small number of copies were printed. This edition contains
numerous notes on the ancient manuscript copies existing in the old
Cathedral Libraries.

       *       *       *       *       *

This day, in 2 vols., 8vo, very handsomely printed, price 16s.,


Popular Romances of the West of England; or, the DROLLS OF OLD CORNWALL.
Collected and Edited by ROBERT HUNT, F.R.S.

⁂ _For an analysis of this important work see printed description, which
may be obtained gratis at the Publisher’s._

The Work is in Two Series. The _First_ embraces the FABULOUS AGE, or
HISTORIC TIMES. Many of these Stories are remarkable for their wild
poetic beauty; others surprise us by their quaintness; whilst others,
again, show forth a tragic force which can only be associated with those
rude ages which existed long before the period of authentic history.

MR. GEORGE CRUIKSHANK has supplied two wonderful pictures as
illustrations to the work. One is a portrait of Giant Bolster, a
personage 12 _miles high_. The perspective of this extraordinary figure
is one of the most marvellous pieces of drawing that ever came from
Cruikshank’s magic pencil. The artist acknowledges that it is his most
daring conception.

⁂ A limited number of proofs, on _India paper_, have been struck off,
price 7s. 6d. the two illustrations.

       *       *       *       *       *


Now ready, in square 8vo, handsomely printed by CLAY, cloth extra, full
gilt (price 7s. 6d.), a few copies at 3s. 6d. each,

Puck on Pegasus. By H. Cholmondeley Pennell. With NUMEROUS ILLUSTRATIONS

“Humorous Poetry of the genuine Ingoldsby or Bon Gaultier kind, with
Pictures by the right Artists, is always welcomed by the reading public.
The illustrations of ‘Puck on Pegasus’ are by John Leech, George
Cruikshank, Tenniel, Phiz (Hablot K. Browne), and Julian Portch, names
redolent of mirth and humour.”—_London Review._

       *       *       *       *       *

Now ready, SECOND EDITION, in binding ornamented with postage stamps,
price 1s., by post 1s. 2d.,

Postage-Stamp Collecting, a Standard Guide to; Or, A Complete List of
all the Postage Stamps known to exist, with their Values and Degrees of

⁂ _This_ SECOND EDITION _gives upwards of 300 Stamps not in the previous

“A new handbook is about to appear, with the title, ‘_The Standard Guide
to Postage-Stamp Collecting, with their Values and Degrees of Rarity_,’ a
work upon which the authors, Messrs. Bellars and Davie, have been engaged
for three years. It will include an account of the Mormon Stamp issued by
Brigham Young in 1852.”—_London Review._

“Unexceptionable in the quality of the paper, clearness of print, &c.,
it affords an addition to the scientific knowledge attainable by means
of the study of postage stamps. A table of characters affords the
possessor an opportunity of obtaining an acquaintance with the shape and
comparative rarity of stamps. This insight into the marketable value and
scarcity of postage stamps is a new feature in books on the subject. The
exact words of the inscription on the stamps is greatly conducive to
facility of identification, and the queer characters on the Moldavian,
Russian, &c., stamps, copied without error, demonstrate the extreme care
with which the work must have been got up. The index and money table
appended will be found very convenient.”—_The Stamp Collectors’ Magazine._

       *       *       *       *       *

Bedford Jail, for the Support of his Family, entitled,

Profitable Meditations, Fitted to Man’s Different CONDITION: in a
Conference between Christ and a Sinner. By JOHN BUNYAN, Servant to the
Lord Jesus Christ. _Small 4to, half-morocco, very neat, price 7s. 6d._

This very interesting literary memorial of the Author of the celebrated
Pilgrim’s Progress has been choicely reprinted by Whittingham, from the
only known copy lately discovered by the publisher. It has been edited,
with an Introduction, by George Offor, Esq. The impression is limited.

“A highly-interesting memorial of the great allegorist.”—_Athenæum._

       *       *       *       *       *

Roberts’ (David) Sketches of the Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt,
and Nubia, _with two hundred and fifty splendid lithographic plates, from
those of Louis Haghe_, and Historical and Descriptive Notices by the Rev.
G. CROLY, LL.D. _Library edition_, 6 vols., 4to, bound in 3, CRIMSON
MOROCCO GILT, _gilt edges_ (sells at £21 21s.), only £4 18s.


Ib. 6 VOLS. IN CLOTH, ELEGANT, £3 18s.

       *       *       *       *       *

This day, on toned paper, price 6d.,

Robson; a Sketch, by George Augustus Sala. An interesting Biography of
the great Serio-Comic Actor, with sketches of his famous characters, “Jem
Baggs,” “Boots at the Swan,” “The Yellow Dwarf,” “Daddy Hardacre,” &c.
_Anecdotes of the old Olympic Theatre are also given._

       *       *       *       *       *

Rodd’s Collection of Scarce and Curious Portraits, to illustrate
Grainger’s History of England, forming a Supplement to _Richardson’s_
well-known collection, above 50 _plates_, faithfully copied from RARE
ORIGINALS, 2 vols in 1, 4to, half bound, neat, _edges uncut_, LARGE
PAPER, 12s. 6d. only.

A very interesting collection. Many of the portraits are from unique

       *       *       *       *       *


Rogers’ (Samuel) Poems, 1860. The Author’s LUXURIOUS EDITION, WITH THE
_with portrait and memoir_, FINE IMPRESSIONS, _cloth gilt_ (sells at
28s.), 8s. 6d.

A few picked copies have been selected and bound to various patterns in
the best morocco.

GILT EDGES, 17s. 6d.


       *       *       *       *       *

Now ready, in 4to, very handsomely printed, with curious woodcut initial
letters, by Whittingham and Wilkins, extra cloth, 18s.; or crimson
morocco extra, the sides and back covered in rich fleur-de-lys, gold
tooling, 55s.,

Roll of Carlaverlock; with the Arms of the Earls, BARONS, AND KNIGHTS
A.D. 1300; including the ORIGINAL ANGLO-NORMAN POEM, and an _English
Translation_ of the MS. in the British Museum; the whole newly edited by

A very handsome volume, and a delightful one to lovers of Heraldry, as
it is the _earliest blazon of arms known to exist_. “It contains the
accurate blazon of above one hundred Knights or Bannerets of the reign of
Edward I., among whom were the King, the Prince of Wales, and a greater
part of the Peers of the realm;” thus affording evidence of the perfect
state of the Science of Heraldry at that early period. THE ARMS ARE

       *       *       *       *       *

Now ready, uniform with “Magna Charta,” price 5s.; by post, on roller,
5s. 4d.,

Roll of Battle Abbey; or, a List of the Principal WARRIORS who came over
from Normandy with WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR and settled in this country,
A.D. 1066-7, from Authentic Documents, very carefully drawn, and printed
on fine plate paper, nearly three feet long by two feet wide, with the

A MOST CURIOUS DOCUMENT, and of the greatest interest, as the descendants
of nearly all these Norman Conquerors are at this moment living amongst
us, bearing the old Anglo-Norman names, slightly altered, but little
dreaming of the relationship betwixt them and the bold warriors who
fought and won at Hastings nearly a thousand years ago. The writing, of
the period, is very legible. _No names are believed to be in this “Battel
Roll” which are not fully entitled to the distinction._ HANDSOMELY FRAMED

       *       *       *       *       *


Slang Dictionary; or, The Vulgar Words, Street PHRASES, and “FAST”
EXPRESSIONS OF HIGH and LOW SOCIETY; many with their Etymology, and a few
with their History traced. WITH CURIOUS ILLUSTRATIONS. Pp. 328, in 8vo,
price 6s. 6d., by post, 7s.

⁂ One hundred and forty newspapers in this country alone have reviewed
with approbation this Dictionary of Colloquial English. The _Times_
devoted three columns to explain its merits, and the little _John
o’ Groat’s Journal_ gave its modest paragraph in eulogy. “It may
be doubted if there exists a more amusing volume in the English
language.”—_Spectator._ “Valuable as a work of reference.”—_Saturday
Review._ “All classes of society will find amusement and instruction in
its pages.”—_Times._


⁂ With this work is incorporated _The Dictionary of Modern Slang, Cant,
and Vulgar Words_, issued by “a London Antiquary” in 1859. The first
edition of that work contained about 3,000 words; the second, issued
twelve months later, gave upwards of 5,000. Both editions were reviewed
by the critical press with an approval seldom accorded to small works of
the kind. During the six years that have elapsed, the compiler has gone
over the field of unrecognised English once more. The entire subject has
been resurveyed, outlying terms and phrases have been brought in, new
street-words have been added, and better illustrations of old colloquial
expressions given. The result is the volume before the reader, which
offers, for his amusement or instruction, nearly 10,000 words and phrases
commonly deemed “vulgar,” but which are used by the highest and lowest,
the best, the wisest, as well as the worst and most ignorant of society.

       *       *       *       *       *

Shakspeare’s Dramatic Works. One of a few Copies ON A FINE AND BEAUTIFUL
PAPER, _the printing by Whittingham of Chiswick_, THE ILLUSTRATIONS BY
STOTHARD, _with charming little ornamental head-pieces, half morocco,
very neat, top edge crimsoned_, contents lettered, 10 vols., post 8vo
(sells at £6 15s., unbound), 58s. only; or, in yellow (or green) calf
extra and delicately-tooled backs, £5 18s. WHITTINGHAM, 1856.

The only really handsome and readable edition of Shakspeare, convenient
in size and accurate in text, ever printed. A _choicely-printed_ edition
has long been a positive want. I can recommend the above in the strongest

       *       *       *       *       *

Stokes (H. Sewell of Truro) the Vale of Lanherne, and other Poems, 8vo,
SCENERY OF THE NEIGHBOURHOOD (sells at 12s. 6d.), _perfectly new and
fresh, in cloth, elegant_, for 3s. 6d. Longman, 1853.

It was quite by accident that the publisher fell in with a few copies
of this delightful volume at an exceedingly low price. In the old
book market copies have been scarce for some time past. Amongst the

       *       *       *       *       *

Tasso, la Gerusalemme Liberata. The exquisite DIAMOND TYPE EDITION, 2
vols., 48mo. (sells at 10s.), only 2s.

Artistically bound in morocco, with exquisite taste and neatness, 21s.
or, with the sides delicately tooled, 25s.

       *       *       *       *       *

Ten Thousand Wonderful Things, comprising the MARVELLOUS and RARE, ODD,
in Art, Nature, and Science, including many Wonders of the World. By
AND ART, _neatly half-bound morocco, cloth sides, 4s. 10d. only_.

A most amusing at the same time that it is a very instructive volume. It
contains the pith of _Notes and Queries_, the whole of Mr. John Timbs’
labours in the world of literary curiosity, the essence of half-a-dozen
Encyclopædias, the marrow of such journals as the old _Penny Magazine_,
and admirable selections from the most rare, quaint, and marvellous books
in the British Museum and elsewhere. Open the work at any page, and the
reader is sure to be _edified and interested_—and this is more than can
be said of one book in ten thousand.

       *       *       *       *       *

Terentius. The exquisite Diamond Type Edition, 48mo. (sells at 6s), only
1s. 6d.

Artistically bound in morocco, with exquisite taste and neatness, 10s.
6d; or, with the sides delicately tooled, 12s. 6d.

       *       *       *       *       *


Now ready, in post 8vo, beautifully printed, price 7s. 6d.,

Thackeray: the Humourist and the Man of Letters. The Story of his Life
and Literary Labours. With some particulars of his Early Career never
before made public. By THEODORE TAYLOR, Esq., Membre de la Société des
Gens de Lettres.

Illustrated with a PHOTOGRAPHIC PORTRAIT (_one of the most
CHARACTERISTIC known to have been taken_) by ERNEST EDWARDS, B.A.; view
of MR. THACKERAY’S HOUSE, built after a favourite design of the great
Novelist’s; FACSIMILE OF HIS HANDWRITING, long noted in London literary
circles for its exquisite neatness; and a curious little sketch of his
COAT OF ARMS, a pen and pencil humorously introduced as the crest, the
motto “NOBILITAS EST SOLA VIRTUS” (_Virtue is the sole nobility_).

INCLUDES ANECDOTES of the London Literati during the past thirty years;
account of the THACKERAY FAMILY, showing the origin of their connexion
with India; THACKERAY’S SCHOOL-DAYS at the Charterhouse; his career at
CAMBRIDGE; residence in GERMANY, and ART-STUDIES IN PARIS; literary
apprenticeship in London; his connexion with “Fraser” and Maginn’s staff;
his marriage; partiality to Kensington as a place of residence; his
publication of “VANITY FAIR,” and the establishment of his fame; with
many other interesting matters connected with his literary career.

       *       *       *       *       *

12th Thousand, beautifully printed, 12mo, neat, 1s.; by post, 1s. 2d.,

The Biglow Papers. By James Russell Lowell.

⁂ _This Edition has been Edited with additional Notes explanatory of the
persons and subjects mentioned therein, and is the only complete and
correct Edition published in this country._

“The celebrated ‘Biglow Papers.’”—_Times_, July 25th.

“The Rhymes are as startling and felicitous as any in ‘Hudibras.’ ‘Sam
Slick’ is a mere pretender in comparison.”—_Blackwood’s Magazine._

“The fun of the ‘Biglow Papers’ is quite equal to the fun of the
‘Ingoldsby Legends.’ This is the real doggerel, the Rabelaiesque of

been prepared, strongly bound in cloth, price 3s. 6d. per copy.

       *       *       *       *       *


Now ready, in small 4to, half morocco, very choicely printed by
Whittingham, with floreated capitals, price 7s. 6d.,

The Mystery of the Good Cause: Sarcastic Notices of those Members of the
LONG PARLIAMENT that held Places, both Civil and Military, contrary to
the Self-denying Ordinance of April 3, 1645; with the Sums of Money and
Lands they divided among themselves.

Gives many curious particulars about the famous Assembly not mentioned
by historians or biographers. It has just been very carefully reprinted
from the excessively rare original. The history of almost every county in
England receives some illustration from it. Genealogists and antiquaries
will find in it much interesting matter.

       *       *       *       *       *


Now ready, handsomely printed, post 8vo, with numerous Illustrations,
price 6s. 6d.,

The Modern Confectioner: a Practical Guide to the latest and most
improved methods for making the various kinds of Confectionery; with the
manner of Preparing and Laying out Desserts; adapted for Private Families
or Large Establishments. By WILLIAM JEANES, Chief Confectioner at Messrs.
Gunter’s (Confectioners to Her Majesty), Berkeley-square.

⁂ A new and reliable work on the making of Confectionery and the Laying
out of Desserts has long been wanted. No pains have been spared to make
the present book a useful and safe guide to all Cooks and Housekeepers
in private families or large establishments. The Name of the Chief
Confectioner at the justly-celebrated house of Gunter & Co., in
Berkeley-square, is a sufficient guarantee of the usefulness of the book.

“The most important work which has been published for many years upon the
art of making Confectionery, Pastry, and on the arrangement and general
ordering of Desserts.”—_Daily News._

“The language is so simple that a child can with ease understand the
longest recipes.”—_Observer._

“All housekeepers should have it.”—_Daily Telegraph._

       *       *       *       *       *

Now ready, in cloth extra (only a few copies for sale), price 15s.,

The Noble and Gentlemen of England; or, Notes touching the Arms and
Descents _of the Ancient Knightly and Gentle Houses of England_, arranged
in their respective Counties, attempted by EVELYN PHILIP SHIRLEY, Esq.,
M.A., F.S.A., one of the Knights of the Shire for the County of Warwick,
4to, HANDSOMELY PRINTED, pp. 321, _with numerous heraldic illustrations_.

A very interesting work on the English Families now existing, that
were regularly established either as _knightly_ or _gentle_ houses
before 1500. It notices also the ancient and present estates of these
county families. The work possesses considerable value to those who are
interested in genealogical and heraldic studies.

       *       *       *       *       *


Thornbury’s (Walter) Shakespeare’s England: Sketches of SOCIAL HISTORY
in the REIGN of ELIZABETH. 2 vols, crown 8vo. _Published by_ LONGMAN _at
21s., only 4s. 9d., quite perfect, and newly bound in cloth_.

Two most interesting and READABLE volumes, thoroughly entering into
the spirit of that most romantic period of English history, containing

       *       *       *       *       *

Tobacco; its History, Cultivation, Manufacture, and Adulterations. By

A curious little Book of nearly 200 pages, relative to the often-repeated

The author, however, speaks somewhat in favour of the habit.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now ready, 8vo, price 1s.,

Traditionary Anecdotes of Shakespeare, collected in Warwickshire in the
year 1693, from the original MS. Edited by J. P. COLLIER.

       *       *       *       *       *

Trelawny’s (E. J.) Recollections of the Last Days of SHELLEY and BYRON.
8vo, _fine portrait and plate_ (sells at 9s.), only 3s. 6d.

Trelawny was the intimate companion of Byron and Shelley, and was the
first to find the body of the latter after the unfortunate accident which
was the cause of his death. The book gives many particulars never before
made public.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now ready, on toned paper, handsomely printed, price 1s. 6d.,

Vere Vereker’s Vengeance; A Sensation in Several PAROXYSMS, BY THOMAS

⁂ One of the most amusing volumes which have been published for a long
time. For a piece of broad humour, of the highly-sensational kind, it is
perhaps the best effort of Mr. Hood’s pen.

       *       *       *       *       *

Virgilii Opera, ed. Joannis Bond. Didot’s exquisite _edition, in small
PAINTINGS by _M. Barrias_. 24mo. 35_s._

_The most exquisite Classically illustrated edition of Virgil ever

Choicely bound in morocco of the finest quality, tooled and gilt in the
most finished style, 58s.; or with elaborately tooled sides, after an
ancient pattern, £3 5s.

       *       *       *       *       *


Ordinary price, 5s., a few copies now offered at 3s. 6d.,

Vocabulaire Symbolique. A Symbolic French and English Vocabulary, for
Students of every age. By RAGONET. Illustrated by many hundred Woodcuts,
exhibiting familiar objects of every description, with French and English
Explanations, thus stamping the French terms and phrases indelibly on the

       *       *       *       *       *

Walton’s Lives of Donne, Wotton, Hooker, Herbert, and Sanderson. 48mo.
THE EXQUISITE DIAMOND TYPE EDITION. _Portraits_ (sells at 6s.), only 1s.

Artistically bound in morocco, with exquisite taste and neatness, 10s.
6d.; or, with the sides delicately tooled, 12s. 6d.

       *       *       *       *       *


Waring’s Masterpieces of Industrial Art and Sculpture at the EXHIBITION
IN PARTS (cost £18 18s.), £12 18s.

The publishers destroyed the stones on the closing of the subscription
list, and no more copies were printed than those subscribed for.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now ready, price 2s.; by post, on roller, 2s. 4d.,

Warrant to Execute Charles I. An Exact Facsimile of this Important
Document in the House of Lords, with the FIFTY-NINE SIGNATURES of the
Regicides, and Corresponding Seals, admirably executed on paper made to
imitate the original Document, 22 in. by 14 in.

COPIED BY EXPRESS PERMISSION.—King Charles I., January 20th, 1648, was
brought from St. James’s to Sir R. Cotton’s house (now the Speaker’s
residence), and was four days arraigned at the bar of the House of
Commons by Bradshaw, and seventy-nine Judges Commissioners, named for
his Trial. The original document was kept in the Old House of Peers’
Library, and being saved from the Fire, was preserved in the Poet’s
Tower, and is now under the librarian’s care at the House of Lords. Some
of the Regicides died in America, while many of the children of those
executed at the Restoration betook themselves to that country, and laid
the foundations of many of the first families in New England. HANDSOMELY

       *       *       *       *       *

Now ready, safe on roller, 2s.; by post, 2s. 4d.,

Warrant to Execute Mary Queen of Scots. The Exact Facsimile of this
Important Document, including the Signature of Queen Elizabeth and
Facsimile of the Great Seal, on tinted paper, _made to imitate the
original MS._

“I praise and thank my God that it pleases Him to put an end by this
to the many miseries and calamities that they have compelled me to
endure; for, since nineteen years up to the present moment, I have
been constituted a prisoner, and very evilly entreated by the Queen of
England, my sister, without ever having injured, as God is my principal
witness.”—_Mary’s Reply to my Lord Beale, who was commissioned to inform
her of Elizabeth’s Sentence of Death._ HANDSOMELY FRAMED AND GLAZED, IN

       *       *       *       *       *


Worsaæ’s Primeval Antiquities of Denmark. Translated and APPLIED to
the Illustration of SIMILAR REMAINS in ENGLAND by W. J. THOMS. 8vo.
_Abounding with finely-cut Wood Engravings by Jewitt._ A NEW COPY IN
CLOTH, 3s. 9d. (sells at 10s. 6d.)

The history and account of _Ancient_ DENMARK, its MONUMENTS, BURIAL
offer many curious points of resemblance to our own early history. Whilst
the Antiquities of Rome, Greece, and Egypt have been carefully examined
and systematically described by English writers, the primeval national
antiquities of the British Islands have never hitherto been brought into
a scientific arrangement. The close connexion which in the old time
existed between Denmark and the British Islands renders it natural that
British antiquaries should turn with interest to the antiquities of
Denmark, and compare them with those of their own country. THE BOOK HAS

       *       *       *       *       *

Now ready, with nearly 300 Drawings from Nature, 2s. 6d. plain, 4s.
coloured by hand, The

Young Botanist: a Popular Guide to Elementary Botany. By T. S. RALPH, of
the Linnean Society.

⁂ An excellent book for the young beginner. “The plan which has been
adopted is as simple as the author has found it to be in his power
to follow out. As few hard names as possible have been employed, and
when so used will generally be found accompanied with some familiar
expression which can be adopted as a substitute. The objects selected as
illustrations are either easy of access as specimens of wild plants, or
are common in gardens.”

       *       *       *       *       *

⁂ _Where any difficulty occurs in the supply, postage-stamps may be
remitted direct to the Publisher, who will forward per return. Post
Office Orders payable at 57, Piccadilly. Parcels to the value of 2l. sent
carriage paid to any reasonable distance._

       *       *       *       *       *

⁂ _The Reader is requested to note the following announcements of New and
Interesting Books_:—



BUSINESS, COFFEE and other OLD HOUSES in the large and small Towns up and
down the Country.

By JACOB LARWOOD, assisted by another OLD HAND.

⁂ Nearly 100 most curious Illustrations on Wood are given, showing the
various old Signs which were formerly hung from Taverns and other houses.

       *       *       *       *       *


In 1 vol., small 8vo,

A Pedlar’s Wallet. By Dudley Costello.

Uniform with the CHOICEST JESTS, exquisitely printed,

Choicest Humorous Anecdotes and Short Stories in the English Language.

Uniform with the above, exquisitely printed, The Choicest Epigrams in the
English Language.

Uniform with the above, exquisitely printed, The Choicest Humorous Poetry
in the English Language.

⁂ The above are the result of many years’ literary toil in the byeways
and highways of English Literature. Readers who found amusement in the
recently-published “SLANG DICTIONARY” will not regret any acquaintance
they may form with the above.

       *       *       *       *       *

In One Volume, exquisitely printed from silver-faced type, price 4s. 6d.,


From the Rude Jokes of Ancient Jesters to the refined and impromptu
Witticisms of Theodore Hook and Douglas Jerrold; including


Comprising the best Sayings, Facetious and Merry, which have contributed
to give to our country the name of Merry England.



⁂ This work has been in preparation since 1858. Nearly 500 curious old
JEST BOOKS and collections of famous WITTICISMS are being examined for
materials. It is believed that no similar compilation issued since the
days when Jack Mottley compiled the book of Jests usually attributed to
“JOE MILLER” will be found to excel the above for true wit and refined

       *       *       *       *       *

Now ready, on toned paper, handsomely printed, price 1s. 6d

_Vere Vereker’s Vengeance_,







⁂ One of the most amusing volumes which have been published for a long
time. For a piece of broad humour, of the highly sensational kind, it is
perhaps the best effort of Mr. Hood’s pen.

_John Camden Hotten, 74 and 75, Piccadilly_

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