Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

over, boasts a Public Library and News Room, a Natural History Society, a Cottagers' Garden Society; and is the head-quarters of the Geological Society of Cornwall: none better in the kingdom. The Museum contains valuable specimens of all that the county produces related to their science.

The next day we had a trip to the Land's End. The chaise was sent on with the ladies to wait at a rendezvous, while the Geologist took me by pleasant fieldpaths across the teeming slopes to the west of the town. Everywhere the same wonderful fertility, and a glorious view over the whole expanse of the Bay, backed by the low, dark level line of the Lizard; so level, indeed, that Professor Sedgwick's description of it as apparently “planed off,” will strike you as singularly appropriate. Emerging on the road at the end of about two miles we found the chaise, and rode on through Penwith, as the Land's End district is called. The road at first bowery; but after we passed Trercife and came upon the granite there was a change; the vegetation thinned off, and trees became few. The tall church-tower of Buryan will remind you of that at Probus: two old crosses stand near it. A little farther, and the road descends into a deep valley, and while passing, you see Penberth Cove at its mouth, where it meets the sea, and forms a romantic nook for a small fishing village and coastguard station. Up the opposite side of the valley and you come to Treryn (pronounced Treen), a rude little village, the sight of which might make you fancy the world had gone back two hundred years. It will surprise you to see small houses built with such enormous unhewn stones. Cyclopean architecture. The windows diminutive, and not made to open, that they may the better resist the wind. The carts and implements have a primitive look. Here and there you see one side of a shed formed of a single slab; and abundance of similar building material lies scattered round the outskirts. OMNIBUS TO LET, written on such a wall, seems very much out of place. The Logan Rock Inn is, however, a comfortable little hostelry, where visitors leave their vehicle while they walk to look at the Rock itself. On the parlour wall you will see an engraving, which represents Lieutenant Goldsmith busy with his tackling and machinery restoring to its place the stone he had so unceremoniously thrown down.

Across two or three fields, down a steep rocky declivity, and you are at the foot of the granite pile, which, jutting outwards, forms a magnificent headland. It is known as Castle Treryn, from an ancient intrenchment once having occupied the whole area, still traceable in the remains of curved banks and mounds. A page of dumb history. It is not an easy scramble up to the Rock which crowns the summit. Now you have an awkward slope ; now but a narrow foothold ; now to spring and get a good finger-grip; at last you are on the top and by the side of the famous stone. It is seventeen feet in length, thirty feet in circumference, and is estimated to weigh sixty-six tons. It rests by a flat boss on the rock beneath, and on a short iron bolt, in such a way as made me suspect, that whatever it might have been, it was no longer a rocking-stone. The holes drilled in it for the raising still remain. I was peering about when the Geologist, who in virtue of his experience had remained below, shouted his directions for the rocking: “Put your shoulder there, and heave." I bent my back, and heaved with might and

т

main, but to no purpose; the stone remained immovable as the huge masses beneath. “Try the other side!" I tried the other side, and with the same result. Hereupon the Geologist, incredulous, or unwilling to lose a local phenomenon, pulled off his coat, and scrambling up, came to my assistance. But two pairs of shoulders were of no more avail than one. The gravity of the mass was too much for us.

66 You had better not say anything about it,” he hinted, as he scrambled down again, “for people won't come here if they know the stone won't log.” In which case Treryn would again become the Deserted Village as it did when the Lieutenant, nephew of the author of the Vicar of Wakefield, overthrew its Logan Rock; and the guides who now hang about on the arrival of visitors would no longer need to appear in the landscape.

The promontory is made up of four massive rocky elevations, with rude gaps between, carpeted with soft turf; and everywhere in the crevices you see forests of moss and ferns. I climbed out upon the loftiest, from whence there is a view of the cliffs in either direction, and down to the jutting base, nearly two hundred feet below. Here, again, the huge blocks of granite appear to be piled by art, presenting so many combinations of form and colour, so many ins and outs, that one might well spend a whole summer day in exploring them. The cape is a loftier Peninnis; but it did not make the same impression on me as the Head of Scilly. Where so much of the effect depends on the living movement of another element, one must not be elevated too high above the surface of the foaming water.

A shrill whistle summoned me away. I scrambled over the rock barrier once more, rejoined the party,

and we continued our journey. The road, which had been pretty good up to the village, now becomes worse at every furlong; the fences and walls are ruder ; if possible, more Cyclopean. Some of the smaller houses, indeed, might be taken for stony hummocks of Nature's own fashioning.

But the soil is fertile, disguised though it be by stone and furze. You see numerous small holdings: some under good cultivation; others but partially cleared. The district supplies tenants who take the land on a lease, and in many instances succeed in paying the cost of reclamation by the first crop of potatoes. By good management afterwards they get from ten to sixteen tons to the acre, and then go on to barley and wheat. Should this continue, West Penwith will cease to look desolate; and a succession of fruitful fields will be seen even to the Land's End. Nor is live stock wanting, especially pigs; and, looking at these, you will see how great has been the improvement upon the Cornish grunter of twenty-five years ago: it was, we are told,

a large, whitish, long-sided, heavy boned, razorbacked animal;” and is not yet entirely extinct. In other parts of the county the miners, each taking a little patch, have cleared much of the waste. There are two thousand such tenants on the estates of the Earl of Falmouth.

I watched for the last trees, and saw them. Two miserable scrubs, very paupers of vegetation, that could do nothing but crouch in terror away from the wind. Then rougher roads and ruder walks, and the wild waste spreading out as though it were the confines of chaos. Yet look on the sheltered side of the stones, and you will see graceful ferns, and the coarse turf everywhere gay with flowers.

Two miles from the Logan Rock we caught a glimpse of Tol-pedn-Penwith on the left, and soon after passing Trevescan, the westernmost village of England, we came to the top of a slope, from which the ground falls away to the edge of the cliffs. There was the sea before us, and there the Land's End.

I thought to find a complete solitude; but a publichouse, the Land's End Inn, and outbuildings, stand near the cliff, and are felt to be an intrusion; and the more unnecessary, as “good entertainment” is to be got at Sennen, but half a mile off. We left the chaise and made our way, literally, to the end of our excursion, Near the edge the ground declines so rapidly that the height of the cliff is diminished to about sixty feet. You get through a broken ridge of rocks to a small triangular table of turf, from which the precipice descends sheer to the sea, and that is the Land's End. Those who expect to see a towering or far-stretching promontory will be disappointed. We form our ideas from ordinary maps, and imagine England's utmost cape to be a narrow tongue thrust out from the firm shore along which we may walk to meet the advancing waves. But we find the reality to be merely a protruding shoulder or buttress of the vast irregular bluff that terminates the county. Cape Cornwall, which looks so grand about two miles distant, appears to extend farther to the west than the Land's End.

Sit still and gaze: the scene grows upon you. Here the two Channels commingle with the ocean; and far out as eye can reach, and round on either hand till it meets the remotest point of the rugged shore, stretches

« VorigeDoorgaan »