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Departure for Scilly-The Ariadne-Newlyn-A Mackerel-boat to Australia-St. Clement's Isle-Mousehole
The Last of the Cornish Language-Lamorna Cove — The Cliffs — Tol-pedn-Penwith - The Land's End—The Seven Stones—The Wolf Rock-A Dilemma at Dinner-time-The Captain's Hospitality–Lyonnesse: the Drowned Land - The Tradition - Crow Sound by Twilight — Arrival — The Hotel-door-St. Mary's Pool—The Park—The Treacherous IsthmusPhenomena of Hugh Town—Buzza Hill - Population-Old Man's Talk-Past and Present-Schools—Wrecks—Peninnis Head—The Rock Basins The Pulpit Rock – Old Town—Tolmen Point - The Garden—The Fields—The Giant's Castle–The Cove of Willows—Sir Cloudesley Shovel —Anomalous Tides—A Storm-A poor PreacherHoly Vale-Maypole Hill-Bishop Rock Lighthouse-Star CastleCaptives and Visitors—Lady Fanshawe-Departure-A First Visit to England— The Lord Proprietor—The Potato-trade-Penzance.
The next morning, shortly before nine, I walked down to the pier; but seeing no sign of a vessel about to sail, I inquired for the Ariadne : “The Scilly pocket ?" replied a brown-faced fisherman, with a very open sound of the vowel, “ she's outside. You must go yonder;" pointing to the quay. At the place indicated I found an asseinblage of bundles, baskets, boxes, and people waiting, as it appeared, for the captain, who, soon after the clock struck, made his appearance with the mail-bag in his hand. Immediately we stepped into a four-oared gig that lay at the landing-place, finding room as best we could among the baggage, and not without close packing, to save a second trip, and were rowed across the harbour. Once round the pier-head
we saw the Ariadne, with her mainsail up, sitting graceful as a swan on the heaving waters. An exclamation of surprise broke from me at seeing so pretty a vessel. “She ought to be a pretty one,” rejoined the captain ; "she was Lord Francis Godolphin's yacht, till I bought her two or three years ago." An assurance, I thought, of elegant accommodation. Soon we were alongside, and on board; the gig steered back to the shore, the yacht's boat was hoisted in, the foresail hauled up, the captain took the helm, and away we went before a lively breeze. Some expected a quick passage; and were disappointed.
From Penzance to Hugh Town the distance is thirtysix miles—a three or four hours' trip for a steamer; but the trade with the Isles being too small for the profitable employment of steam, travellers between the two ports have to trust to the winds. To me this was a particularly gratifying alternative. It was like going back to the primitive times to find one's-self in a sailing-vessel for so short à voyage; gliding along with an easy rocking motion, lulling and delightful. Besides, the day was as glorious as an unclouded sun, a sparkling sea, and a rustling breeze could make it; and we were going out on the broad Atlantic. I would have made the voyage, had there been no Isles to visit.
Penzance, seen from the sea, has an extremely pleasing appearance, set in a landscape of much quiet beauty. The houses, clustered thickly together near the water, becoming scattered as they rise up the hill, merge at last in the surrounding woods, the most remote faintly revealed by the gleam of their white walls through the foliage. And as you see more and more of the broad, blue stretch of the bay, bounded by the far-stretching line of the Lizard, and embracing its island gem—the Mount--your admiration of the scene will kindle into enthusiasm. Then looking along the shore to the west: that group of cottages is Wherry Town, close to the famous Wherry Mine, the entrance to which was once down an iron shaft that stood far out in the sea: a wonder while it lasted, but long since abandoned. Carry your eye along the pleasant green slope, and there is Newlyn, a village of fishermen and pilots, hardy and adventurous, as lately proved by seven men having sailed from thence in a mackerel-boat of sixteen tons for Australia. That church, some distance on the hill beyond, marks the village of Paul, from whence
you get one of the finest views in the neighbourhood. Now we are passing St. Clement's Island, which serves as a breakwater to the harbour of Mousehole, a village noted as the place where, by the death of an old woman of ninety, in 1777, the Cornish language ceased to exist. Daines Barrington paid her a visit, and entertained the Society of Antiquaries with an account of his conversation with the venerable fish wife;* and was rewarded for his long journey and his painstaking by a touch of immortality in Peter Pindar's lines beginning:
way, as he
* The zealous antiquary, judging from his own recital published in the Archeologia, vol. iii., appears to have formed his conclusions on slender evidence. He journeyed to Mousehole with a guide, and on the
says, “I inquired how he knew that this woman spoke Cornish, when he informed me that he frequently went from Penzance to Mousehole to buy fish, which were sold by her; and that when he did not offer a price which was satisfactory, she grumbled to some other old women in an unknown tongue, which he concluded, therefore, to be the Cornish.
" When we reached Mousehole, I desired to be introduced as a person who had laid a wager that there was no one who could converse in Cornish ; upon which Dolly Pentraeth spoke in angry tone of voice for two or three minutes, and in a language which sounded very like Welsh.
“ The hut in which she lived was in a very narrow lane, opposite to two rather better cottages, at the doors of which two other women stood, who were advanced in years, and who, I observed, were laughing at what Dolly Pentraeth said to me.
“ Hail, Mousehole! birthplace of old Doll Pentraeth,
The last who jabberr'd Cornish-so says Daines.” Come here a month or two later in the season and you will see the space we have traversed alive with fishingboats, catching pilchards by tens of thousands. The Mount's Bay fisheries are worth 30,000l. a year.
We lost the brisk breeze after rounding St. Clement's Island; and fell in with light airs and contrary. “There's always a wind from Penzance to Mousehole," said the captain; "we are sure to have it coming and going in that part of the bay, if we have it nowhere else.” I kept his remark in mind, to be tested on our return. Now we had to creep along under the cliffs to get a favourable start for a tack; a necessity which I did not at all regret, as it gave us a near view of the coast. Soft slopes no longer; but sturdy bluffs and rocky hollows, backed by a bare and stony region, where sundry supposed Druidic monuments are to be seen by those who care about them. Then we came to Lamorna Cove, once a craggy solitude, now peopled by quarrymen, who, finding the granite of good quality, show little regard for its romantic features. At its mouth, where
“Upon this I asked them whether she had not been abusing me? to which they answered—Very heartily, and because I had supposed she could not speak Cornish. I then said, that they must be able to talk the language; to which they answered that they could not speak it readily ; but that they understood it readily, being only ten or twelve years younger than Dolly Pentraeth,”
“I continued,” adds Daines, "nine or ten days in Cornwall after this ; but found that my friends, whom I had left to the eastward, continued as incredulous almost as they were before about these last remains of the Cornish language.”
the visitor delighted to stroll on the small patch of sandy beach, a crane now projects from a newly-built shipping-stage. But a collector of geological specimens will find the cove well worth a visit, as the varieties of stone are numerous, and the crystals of larger size than usual.
We pass the Black Rock, and keeping about a hundred fathoms from the shore, have a good view of the caverns and recesses in the cliffs, the little patches of sand and gravel at their base, alternating with rugged slopes of boulders, and rugged slopes of fern and gorse, outlying rocks here and there, and all clear and distinct in the sunlight. Near Carn Boscawen we tacked and stood out for a while, then in again, running down on Castle Treryn, the grand promontory of the Logan Rock. Huge blocks of granite, piled one above another, to a height of two hundred feet, might well cheat the beholder into the idea that here stood a mighty fortress, frowning over the deep, and formidable in ruin. In some places the blocks have the
appearance of enormous columns, rising into shattered pinnacles ; and the gaps around the summit may represent dismantled embrasures.
Turning from the shore once more, we saw the Runnel Stone, a dangerous rock, covered at high water. Two beacons on the cliff, and an iron staff on the rock itself, indicate its situation in clear weather to passing vessels. Presently going about again, we approached Tol-pedn-Penwith-the Holed Head of Penwith the most magnificent headland on this part of the coast. At this point the cliffs seen from the deck, stretching away on either hand for miles, present a scene not easy to describe, so much does it partake of wild