Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

There is the long, white, angular line of the Breakwater - there Mount Edgcumbe-- there Drake's Island there the towns glimmering against the sun, the blue water looking bluer by the contrast. How the red buoys catch the eye as they rise and fall on the restless swell! Yonder lie moored our great war-vessels, while ships, steamers, fishing-boats, pleasure-boats, gliding hither and thither, dashing in from the sea, or tacking vigorously out under the quickening breeze, impart life and animation to the roadstead, and your expectations will not be disappointed.

A little farther, and there is Staddon Point, crowned by its fort that has the look of being meant for real service, and not simply for show; and, descending to Bovisand Bay, you see, immediately beneath the fort, the pier, and that useful establishment where the navy is supplied with water. To get rid of the disgraceful make-shift system that once prevailed, the stream flowing into the bay was dammed about three-quarters of a

the valley, and a reservoir constructed to contain twelve thousand tuns of water, from which a nine-inch pipe leads to the pier, where boats and tenders can lie at all times of the tide. The supply is always pure, as the stream is contrived to flow only from the surface of the reservoir. These works were finished in 1824; and the largest ship can now take in her water in one-fourth of the time formerly required.

Bovisand is a pleasant little bay, much resorted to by parties from Plymouth, and you may voyage up to the town in a boat, or by a road, or along the heights which border the Sound. I preferred the latter route, and climbed the hill to the corner of the fort, where the

mile up

1

1

sing your

sentry, pointing to a door in the wall, told me it was the way to Plymouth.” You come out on a rough path that twists and pitches through Staddon Quarries and leads up to the heath, and past the ten-gun battery, commanding delightful views of the Sound; of the furzy hills springing boldly from its waters; of Cawsand Bay, and the forest-like elevations of the Cornish shore. The Sound itself, three miles deep and nearly as much in breadth, impresses you with a sense of vastness; reali

idea of a magnificent port, with room for innumerable fleets, and you will scarcely feel surprised that writers, especially some few of early date, have waxed enthusiastic in their descriptions of Plymouth and its environs. In some places the hills are precipitous, and from the path running along their edge, at a height of four hundred feet, you have the whole scene spread out as a panorama.

When abreast of the Breakwater you will not fail to remark the effect of its mass on the sea; calmness within, commotion without; and from this some faint idea may be formed of the protection to the inner anchorage, when the waves come sweeping in with tremendous fury, driven by south-westerly gales. Before the great barrier was commenced, in 1812, there was nothing to impede their rush up the whole length of the Sound, and vessels were sometimes wrecked close to Plymouth.

Near Mount Batten the path leads off on the right to Turnchapel. And now you see the quarries of Oreston, the Catwater, Sutton Pool, the Citadel, the Hoe, and the ins and outs of the harbour up to the Hamoaze. The Catwater is the estuary of the Plym; you may cross the

ferry direct, or get rowed down to the Barbican for sixpence. Bluff old boatmen are always in waiting.

A whole volume might be written about Plymouth and the interesting sights within and around it. I passed a day here on my return, and saw the Dockyard, the building slips, in one a keel just laid down, in another a frigate ready for launching; the spinning of ropes and cables in rooms twelve hundred feet long; the forges and saw-mills, and all that the stranger is permitted to see; ending with a survey over the whole of the busy area from the King's Hill. Then the Royal William Victualling Establishment at Stonehouse, a space of fourteen acres occupied with provisions for the navy, where the mills were grinding wheat day and night, and the bakers converting a sack of flour into biscuit every five minutes, so pressing was the demand occasioned by the war. Before this yard was built, the brewery was at one place, the slaughter-house at another, both inaccessible at low water; the bakery was somewhere else, three miles from the brewery, and the mill a quarter of a mile from the bakery. Now that all are brought together, the fleets are better served, and the public money is economised.

Then to Mount Edgcumbe, which, on Mondays, is open to all visitors. You will find a score of boats, besides the regular ferry, at Stonehouse Hard. You may wander about the beautiful grounds and enjoy the view from the top of the hills unquestioned. It commands that portion of the harbour seen but imperfectly from Mount Batten. You look into Mill Bay, and up the Hamoaze, and see the rush and whirl of the tide past the Devil's Point, and all the populous shore from Mount Wise to the Citadel.

Then if you end the day on the Hoe, till gun-fire tells the hour of sunset, and note the numbers of townsfolk of all classes sitting on the rocks, or on the turf, or strolling up and down the slopes; and the gangs of men and boys playing at leapfrog and fly-the-garter, you will believe that no better recreation-ground is to be found in the kingdom. It commands a view to seawards along the whole extent of the Sound.

I dined at a house where a party of emigrants were staying; some had been waiting six weeks for a ship. They were mostly small farmers from Cornwall, with two or three labourers from Dorsetshire. One of the latter, who had just returned from an inspection of a vessel with his newly-wedded wife, was eloquent in praise of the accommodation. “No genelman's parlour could be finer, and if that was hardship he hoped never to have wus.” Some of the farmers told me they could get a fairish living in Cornwall; but they wanted something better, and meant to seek it in America. From experience I was able to communicate information concerning that country; but as they had taken their berths, I did not tell them they would repent their expatriation. Thousands abandon their homes in England and a comfortable livelihood for a life of unmitigated drudgery in the backwoods, where their hope is perpetually cheated —where, after all, they get no more than a living, and in a climate which afflicts them with a West Indian summer and a Russian winter. How many are there who would give all they possess were it sufficient to bring them home again!

CHAPTER IX.

Enter Cornwall — Different character of Scenery-Antony-A Cornish

Stile — Grafthole — Nackers — A Dreary Lane – A Retreat - Shoemaker's Cottage-Sleeping Quarters-A Shoemaker's Notions—Aspect of the Country-Above Ground and Underground-Seaton-LooeA Queer Town-Talland—A Fetish-Polperro-Fossil Cliffs-Early Vegetation--Polruan-Fowey-Past and Present-Par-St. Austell.

It was about five in the afternoon when I crossed the Hamoaze by the great steam-bridge, which, plying continually, carries passengers, vehicles, horses, and merchandise, from one county to the other. The channel is six hundred yards wide, and though but a few minutes on the passage you have time to look at the fortifications on the Devonport side, at the vessels laid up "in ordinary," huge floating structures of famous name, that impress you with their mass, but now depreciated by the mightier energy of vapour. There you see away to the Sound, there up towards Saltash, and the upper course of the river, which will have to be visited by-and-by.

You land at Torpoint, a small place, looking like a sort of genteel suburb to the more crowded towns on the Devonshire shore, out of the noise and smoke; and here, for the first time, I set foot in the venerable Duchy-Cornwall. A few minutes take you clear of

« VorigeDoorgaan »