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path, bending sharply round past an imposing stone cross, brings you to the door of the castle. Visitors are permitted to view the interior. You will see the breakfast-room, the Chevy Chase room, a few pictures, a portrait by Opie, handsome oak carvings, antique ivories, the chapel and its dungeon, the terrace; and then, conducted to a low door, you will be left to find your way up the narrow winding stair to the top of the tower. It is very narrow; and on the top you have but scant room to move about. But you can stand and look at the magnificent prospect; and that is enough. The whole of the bay is before you, from the Lizard to Mousehole, the great curve of the shore, the green uplands, the bare moor beyond, Penzance with charming aspect, the port and Marazion immediately beneath, and all the rugged, strangely-piled surface of the rock itself. The Mount is nearly two hundred feet high, and the tower another hundred, so that you have a commanding outlook. You can survey the territory on which you stand with ease, for it is but a mile in circumference. At one corner of the tower you will see the broken turret to which the name of St. Michael's Chair has been transferred; and may climb into it from the parapet if to run needless risks be one of your pleasures. It is said to have virtues similar to those of St. Keyne's Well: the rule remains to the man or woman who after pronouncing the matrimonial vow shall first sit in it.
On descending from the tower you lay down a shilling, sign your name in a book, and may then ramble at pleasure round the base of the Mount.
A Look at St. Ives—The Sand-hills—Their mischievous Phenomena
Sand as a FertMizer-Hayle—Camborne—Among the Ruins—Carn Brea—The Druids again — The Mining Folk — Their Perils—Manmachines—Redruth-An Autobiography—A Hundred Pounds LostThe Old Shareholder-Gwennap Pit—John Wesley's PreachingThe Whit-Monday Gatherings-St. Day-Scotchmen in CornwallSt. Agnes — Tea-table Talk — The Beacon—The Vernacular-The Captains-Picking out the Eyes—The Head— The Harbour-Sunset -Opie's Birthplace—Behind the Bar-A Morning Walk-A Steamboat Excursion—The Truro River-St. Just in Roseland—The Vicar's Garden—The Bazaar-Music and Dancing—A Lounge on the HayThe Concert—Fireworks—A Late Return-A Midnight Walk.
FROM Marazion to the bottom of the estuary on which Hayle is situate is but an hour's walk; so near do the two Channels approach at this part of the county. Go by rail to St. Ives Road Station; and if you wish to have a chat with fishwomen who are carrying basketfuls of their scaly merchandise from one port to the other, take a third-class ticket, and you will come to some conclusions respecting human nature under one of its sturdy aspects. Alighting in company, they will be your companions till you come to the top of the ascent which commands St. Ives, and there, while they trudge onwards, sit down and look at what is before you. Not a handsome town-quite the re
-appears to be in process of dilapidation, and to have been built without any regard to order. Travellers to the Mediterranean say that it reminds them of towns on the shores of Greece. Unrestrained and picturesque. As your eye roams over the scene, the broken ground, the deep bay, and the bold cliffs, all lit by the sun, you will not regret having turned aside to gaze upon it. It is a good preparation for what you have yet to see on the northern coast. That is the bay where, as Borlase told Pennant, two hundred and fortyfive millions of pilchards were inclosed in the nets, at one haul, in October, 1767.
Do not disenchant yourself by going down into the town, but strike off the nearest way along the cliffs for Hayle. You will come close to some of the sand-hills, which are doing for the north side of Cornwall what the sea has done on the south. For miles along this northern coast has the land been buried by these fugitive sands, together with churches, fields, and houses. At times a fiercer gale than usual strips off the accumulated layers, and old, melancholy gable-peaks and bits of walls exhibit themselves to the light of day, till the impatient winds cover them up again. The sandy inundation would appear to be resistless, and yet water stops its advance. Let but a narrow stream cross its path, and it is at once stayed; and singular is the sight to see mounds of sand closely bordering the brook on one side, high above the untouched surface on the other. In some instances where dams have been thoughtlessly constructed for the mining-works, the sands have crept across the stream and onward over the country. In this way a church which, to save it from the inroad, had been removed across a brook, was ultimately encroached on and buried. The mischief would be greater than it is, but for a species of grass—the arundo
arenaria—which, planted in the shifting drifts, checks their farther advance.
These sands, known locally as “towans," or downs, are blown in by the north-west gales, which howl such fierce music along the northern coast of Cornwall. They are very light, being composed of finely comminuted shells; and it is said are borne inland as far as the spray. In fact, the spray is regarded as the bearer of the sand. The height of the hills, from one hundred to three hundred feet, is a sufficient evidence of the prodigious accumulation. When it first took place is uncertain; but, judging from certain coins dug up at Hayle, the supposition is that it began about the middle of the fifth century, just before the departure of the Romans.
The sands are at once an injury and a benefit. Shelly matter is one of the best of fertilizing substances, as Cornish farmers found out centuries ago. By an Act passed in 1609 any one was permitted to dig from the shore under high-water mark, as, to quote the words, “the sea-sand, by longe triall and experience, hath beene found to be very profitable for the bettring of land, and especially for the increase of corne and tillage within the counties of Devon and Cornewall.” Some sixty years later, Dr. Cox, describing the valuable fertilizing properties of the sand in a communication to the Royal Society, deplores the little use made of it at that time. 66 Tinn and fish,” he says, are two noble staples of the county; and this of sea-sand (if I mistake not) may be so ordered as to be as good as either." The Doctor was not mistaken; for the sand is now so much in request, that a canal and tramways scarcely suffice for its transport into the interior, to say nothing
of the quantity removed by wagons and carts, and on horseback. Hundreds of tons are conveyed away from Bude and Padstow every day; and the supply is inexhaustible, for the returning tide refills the gaps. Thus a constant interchange goes on between the sea and the land: forty million tons of water are every year pumped out from the mines; and seven million cubic feet of sand are lifted and spread over the fields. And near Bude, owing to the presence of an oxide of iron in the water that soaks through, the drifts are being slowly consolidated into sandstone, which has already been used for building purposes. A similar formation may be seen on the shore of St. Ives Bay, not far from Godrevy; and you may witness with your own eyes how one of Nature's great geological processes is carried on.
While passing the long embankment of the Hayle estuary you will have another characteristic Cornish picture before you. On one side Lelant (a name in which some see Les landes of Brittany), dotting the wood-sprinkled slopes; on the other, the busy town, making room for its famous foundries on the hill-side; and between, a broad surface of sand furrowed by a sluggish river, and the harbour with its ships. Hither is brought the sand we saw in our walk round the Lizard; and until Mr. Scott Russell cast the cylinders for his mammoth iron steamer, Hayle produced the largest cylinders in the world. Fifty years ago copper was smelted here, and you may still see the greenishyellow discoloration on some of the windows. Now it is found cheaper to send the ore to be smelted at Swansea, than to fetch coal for the process from Wales.