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castle bearing his name stands in the channel between Bryher and Tresco; tradition still holds him responsible, though he never was here, for certain obscure ruins in different parts of St. Mary's; and to this Star fortress he sent the celebrated Unitarian divine John Biddle, with a subsistence of one hundred crowns a year, to keep him out of the way of his brother Nonconformists: “his persecutors," as the document has it in the Public Records.
At nine o'clock, down to the pier and into the boat, the arrival of the captain with the mail-bag being again the signal for departure. We were soon on board the Ariadne, gliding out of the Pool, past the Cow and Calf Rocks, to the Road. Hugh Town disappeared, then St. Agnes, as we passed from the Road into Crow Sound. The strong wind of the day before had subsided into a gentle breeze, the morning was hot, and the sky again cloudless, under which every feature of the shores came out beautifully distinct. In some places the channel is so shallow, that at low water a man may safely wade across from St. Mary's to Tresco; and the same at other parts of the Isles; and still the remains of fences, inclosures, and flat pavement are to be seen at the bottom: evidences of the sea's past ravages. looking over the stern as we crept through the Sound, half doubting if the scene before me were really the same that looked so dreary on the Saturday night. A thousand lights twinkled on the surface of the water, and, darting through, played and shifted on the “wrinkled sands" beneath in flashes of living emerald. The bottom could be read plainly as a book, so pure was the water: a slightly hollow plain of sand, studded here and there with lumps of rock, around which grew little forests of weed, and bunches of long brown
pennons quivering in the stream. Here and there some strange-looking animal crawled or gyrated along the furrows, and suddenly stopped as the shadow of our vessel passed over it. Gradually the hue of the sea deepened; the bottom sank lower and lower and ceased to be visible, and we rose and fell on the dark waters of the Atlantic,
I wished the time had permitted me to cross to the other Isles, for many of them are well worth a visit. There are curious caves, romantic coves, and distinct features in each; besides the people and their ways, always interesting to a traveller. But I had made good use of my time; and carried away a fair impression of the aspect of St. Mary's, which must more or less represent the others. As we increased our distance the eye took in their separate outlines,
“ Sitting in the deeps
Upon the hidden bases of the hills,” and it was easy to imagine the upheaved masses below of which they were but the visible summits. A region such as Dartmoor sunk beneath the waves, and with only the tops of its highest tors standing out of the water.
Among the Scillonians on board was a respectablelooking middle-aged woman, who was made the subject of a little quizzing by the others; for it was her first trip to the main. As the uninitiated used to have intimations of marvellous doings on approaching the Line, so was she told of the astonishing things that awaited her at Penzance. I thought it hardly possible that a woman should have lived more than forty years so near England without visiting it. “ Bless ye,” said the captain, " there's hundreds of 'em have never been over.”
The subjects most talked about were “Mr. Smith " and “potatoes.” The Lord Proprietor's character was pretty freely canvassed; some thought him by far too severe a ruler; and a Bryanite missionary censured him for hindering the promotion of dissent in the smaller Isles : had not a man a right to preach anywhere? However, on summing up, all were pretty well agreed that if the rule was severe, it was in the main beneficial. Scilly had never been so well off as under Mr. Smith.
And concerning the other subject: a young man of Hugh Town told me that he had the weighing of all the potatoes shipped from the port. London is the great market. Fifteen thousand baskets had been sent away
since the commencement of the season; the last cargo on the previous Saturday. A Scilly pilot-boat carries three hundred baskets, each containing a hundredweight of potatoes, to Southampton, for a shilling the basket. From Southampton they are forwarded to Covent Garden; and as some of the earliest parcels in February realise a shilling a pound on the average, there remains a handsome profit. “But the price gets lower every week,” said my informant, “and sometimes about Midsummer all that a man gets in return for a dozen baskets is a dozen postage stamps in a letter. We think it time to stop then,” The year had been one of the best for potatoes ever known in Scilly. In 1853 the people of St. Martin's got 20001. for their crop; the potatoes of that Isle being considered the best. But the growers were described as a close-fisted set, eager to make money, and keen to save. The old mistake: hoarding for others to spend. Nevertheless, the Scillonians subscribed 2501. to the Patriotic Fund.
The young merchant went on to tell me of the origin
of the potato-trade. About fifteen years ago his father, Alexander Gibson, while off the Isles with the quarantine-boat, hailed a Spanish vessel, and while on board saw some fine-looking potatoes, of which the captain gave him a few. These he planted, and saved the produce, finding them to ripen remarkably early, for successive seasons; and at last had a surplus to sell to his neighbours. One after another took to planting the early sort, and now, as we have seen, the supply is fifteen thousand hundred-weights in the first half of the year. No unimportant item in the resources of the Isles. The second crop which follows is mostly retained for home consumption, though large quantities are sent to the markets of Wales.
All this time we were sailing pleasantly before the wind, which, though light, was fair, and we had no tacking. Profiting by experience, I had brought a dinner with me, and there was always the cask of water at the foot of the mast: far preferable to doubtful porter. By-and-by the Isles disappeared, and the cliffs of Cornwall rose high before us. At half-past five we were abreast of Mousehole; and immediately after caught the breeze blowing merrily as it had blown on the Saturday morning. “Didn't I tell you there was always a breeze here?” said the captain. But for that one might have doubted the Ariadne's sailing qualities. As it was, she flew through the water, and before six we were off the pier at Penzance. Captain Tregarthen no longer scrupled to receive my fare: “Going to the main wasn't the same as going to Scilly. You were not so sure of meeting again.”
On the pier I met a friend, who, not being at home on my first arrival, now hastened down to bid me welcome.
Excursion with the Geologist-Lanyon Quoit--The Fertile Belt-Early
Vegetation-Perpetual Spring—The Wind and the Rain-Inscribed Stone-Capabilities of Penzance-Trip to the Land's End— TrerynCyclopean Architecture—The Logan Rock: an Immovable Stone Reclaiming the Waste- The Last Trees—The Westernmost VillageThe Land's End—Its Wild Features–Sennen- The First and Last Inn-St. Just-Botallack Mine - Under the Sea—The Cliffs-The Machinery—The Solitary Miner-Pendeen-Ludgvan-Difference between the North and the South — Glimpses of the Past -- Ancient Smelting-places—Iktin, not Iktis-St. Michael's Mount-Touches of History-Ravages of the Sea-Extraordinary Marine Phenomena An Escape—Cross to the Mount- The Queen's Footstep—The Castle -View from the Summit.
As my friend's geological knowledge and experience are only exceeded by his hospitality, I shall take leave, while in his company, to mention him as the Geologist. Refection first, and then a run round the neighbourhood, was the arrangement. The chaise came to the door, and we were soon beyond the town, trotting up the hill, between luxuriant hedges and belts of trees, among which tall rhododendrons rise conspicuous; but as the elevation increases the luxuriance diminishes, and oaks, elms, and sycamores are succeeded by plantations of firs. Past the poor little village and church of Madron, where, on one of the tombs, the memory of George Daniell, the founder of the school, is preserved in the couplet:
“ Belgia me birth, Britaine me breeding gave,
Cornwall a wife, ten children, and a grave.” And near by is Madron Well, once reputed miraculous