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There is no county in England with a stronger individuality than Cornwall. Removed out of the ordinary line of cosmopolitan traffic, and not picturesque enough, inland, to attract tourists, it has never lost its salient points nor had its angles rubbed off by salutary but obnoxious civilisation. From the Phoenicians, who first colonised it in search of tin, down to their remote descendant, Dolly Pentreath, who died in George III.'s time, and is recorded as the last person who spoke the Cornish language, there must have been something remarkable both in the land and its people. Legendary lore-from the date of those valiant Cornish men, Tom Thumb and Jack the Giant-killer-and balladromance, down to that celebrated song, which ends in the dashing chorus,
Friday. A dull colourless day. All the sunshine gone-the air close and mild-the ground soaked with wet. We asked our way to the cliffs, receiving the common answer, "Not far," (I believe, if you enquired of a Cornish man, or woman, the way to Paradise, they would tell you it was "not far,”) and wandered about forlornly through miry lanes and dripping turnip-fields, for an hour or more, when, quite suddenly, we came out upon the abrupt edge of the cliff.
"And shall Trelawny die? and shall Trelawny die? Then thirty thousand Cornish men will know the reason why"
combine to prove one remarkable fact that the posterity of King Arthur's subjects are a race strong and bold-resolute and acute-not to be trifled with either physically or morally ;-people who, whether you like them or not, infallibly make you respect them. Even as you appreciate, without loving it,— for it is not lovely,-this bare, breezy country, now at last thoroughly Cornwall.
As we drive on-mile after mile-we miss the extreme neatness, the admirably thatched roofs and carefully cultivated gardens of the little Devon villages. We find a change, too, in the type of face among the people. They are no longer fat and fair, round and rosy, but sharp, dark, acute, though often exceedingly handsome. There was a tiny lass of five, who stood dumb as Anderson's little mermaid, in spite of all our allurements of cake and conversation,-who was a treasure that any childless empress would have been delighted to kidnap, and foist on the world as a real princess. And in one place we stopped at, a troop of boys, who turned out of the national school, showed fine athletic figures and intelligent faces, worthy of the illustrious young hero who slew the giant Blunderbore.
We reached Bude in the dim dark; and, like certain critics, who pass wholesale condemnation on a book, and being asked if they have read it reply indignantly, "Oh, no! I wouldn't read it for the world!" so we, in the grim unkindly twilight, decided that this so-vaunted place was the ugliest place in the world; and we wished we had never come near it. Hasty judgment! at which the grand old sea, hidden behind those sloping uninteresting fields, laughed at us and presently the wide arch overhead, with the Milky Way especially bright, and Mars,
"The star of the unconquered will,”—
glowing redly just above the horizon, twinkled its myriad eyes maliciously at us, knowing we should be converted ere long.
There,—many hundred feet below, tossing and roaring, dashing madly against magnificent rocks, with small sandy flats between, or rolling shorewards in successive lines, that seemed almost a quarter of a mile long,-were solid white-crested waves, and beyond these the silent mass of waters stretching smoothly out into infinitude. Yes, it was the Atlantic itself. The great Atlantic! -an ocean, not a sea, as different from any sea we ever stood beside, ay, even in its sound, as one of Handel's choruses after Mendelssohn's part-songs.
"Everybody" was right. For grandeur, for solitariness, for the sense of immensity, which says, "Be still," to all worldly cares, there is no coast like the Cornish coast, no sea like the Cornish sea, on the shore of which, romance says, was once found a little naked babe, who grew to be the legendary Arthur of Britain.
As we stood looking right and left along miles of cliffs, each jutting headland seeming wilder and grander than the last, we could believe in any amount of romantic fable. Arthur and Merlin, Launcelot, Galahad, and Gawaine, were but the natural products of the region; such a sea, bounded by such a shore! We must go to the heart of it. We must visit Tintagel to-morrow.
Saturday.-A day to be marked with a white stone; for the like come seldom in a life-time. Though when we started, at 8 A. M., it looked any. thing but promising: the sky hung over us like a leaden roof; the sea had not a smile-or a frown either-upon its smooth, dull face; the land was one wide, dim, outlined, cheerless grey. Still, bent on enjoying all, we agreed that the day was not ill-suited to the place we were bound for, the scene of pre-historic myth, out of which modern poetry has created a vivid reality. Not that we suppose Tennyson's King Arthur to resemble - Sir Thomas Malory's, any more than that hero of medieval romance was like the real Arthur, the Cornish king, whom we conclude did live sometime, but was probably a very barbaric sort of personage; still, common sense must allow that the wildest fable has generally a grain of truth at the bottom of it; and to have existed only in tradition for so many centuries, Arthur must have been a notable man in his day. We muse over him a little, and then surrender ourselves to the practical conversation of our driver, an intelligent Cornishman. Who, of course, knows nothing of King Arthur, but has plenty of information to give on the state of the land, the bleak agricultural country through which
we are driving, so thinly populated that the farmers cannot find hands to work their ground, not even though rent is five shillings an acre, and wages ten shillings a week. "Everybody that can, gets off to Ameriky," said the man, pointing out more than one empty, decaying cottage, though habitations were so few that we often did not pass two in five miles. No wonder that these poor folks likewise were bent on "sailing to the sunset," the land of promise, and too often of promise only. For he that cannot do well here, will generally do no better in a foreign country than in his own.
Boscastle was our first halt. Now, this is a casual study of Cornish life, and not a description of Cornish scenery. Anybody who wants that, can find it in Murray's Handbook, or go and look at it for himself. Yet, a word about Boscastle: a quaint
little town, planted on either side of a wild ravine, through which runs-not one of your lazy, calm, impassive southern streams, but a regular northcountry beck or Scottish burn-tumbling and brawling, dancing and singing, as it leaps down seaward, and loses itself in the harbour. That most extraordinary little harbour! It is a narrow crooked inlet, or arm of the sea, embracing halfa-dozen little vessels, which, now placed high and dry, seem as if caught in a land-trap, from which it I was impossible to get out again. Yet they do-for behold one sloop, creeping slowly past the fragment of rock which sits in the centre of the basin, or bay, like a couchant animal. There must be some passages out and in, and a certain amount of sleepy business going on in this queer little harbour; though beyond it, on either side, risés that interminable, rock-barricaded coast, so desolate and grand. Grander than ever, I think, as we catch glimpses of Bottreux Castle, and Forrabury-and away southwards towards Tintagel-whither we must hasten fast.
"Keep his head up!-Cut his traces !-Hoo!"an unpronounceable howl, and then, with an expres
sion of unutterable contempt, "They be afeard o' wetting their feet, they be! He'll be drowned!"
"He" was a horse-the hinder one of three in a laden cart that had suddenly toppled over into the deepest part of the stream. He was struggling there now, so firmly held by the weight of the cart behind him, that his nose was drawn level with, nay, was actually under the water. Looked at from above, with the impossibility of getting down to it, it was really a dreadful sight.
"Hold his head up!" yelled our driver; but the half-dozen frightened excited men below took no notice-probably, did not hear. "His head-his head! O, what fools they be !"
It was a breathless minute, quite horrible in its suspense, and then, by a super-equine effort, the horse freed himself and stood safe on his four feet, with the stream harmlessly flowing round him. He was all right now.
A small thing, and yet the feeling of actual living sympathy, if only with a brute beast, put out of our heads, for the time being, all dreams about King Arthur and old romance.
It was not till we reached Trevena, the village which is the nearest point to the castle, and were actually on our way thither, that we realised how we walked along the very lands where the old knights used to pass. The country must have been the very woodlands through which rode Sir Launcelot and queen Guinevere-for whose real existence the curious circumstantial evidence yet remains that a common name here for girls is Jennifer. No woodlands now, except one sweet glen near Boscastle, where is a waterfall called St. Kynance's Keeve, and no forests: the whole face of the land must have been changed. But there are the same rocks, and sea, and sky: and, foolish or not, a strange feeling of awe comes over us as we enter the narrow valley, sloping to the sea, at the mouth of which rises that mass of rock, crowned with masonry which looks almost as old as itself; while beyond, connected with it by a neck of land, just broad enough for one person to cross, is the promontory called Tintagel Head, upon which, right out in the open sea, King Arthur built his castle.
Amidst all these misty fables, which, perhaps, sensible people are half justified in despising, one obvious fact remains: the men must have been very remarkable men of their kind, those who in all ages leave their mark behind them, and are elevated to the cloudland of romance as heroes-who could have conceived and carried out the building of a castle on such a site as this. No snug monkish paradise, planted in the midst of fat meadows; no moated fortress, commanding long stretches of smiling land, but a bare rock nearly inaccessible, exposed to all the Atlantic storms-a spot where apparently only the sea-eagle could safely build her nest. Yet that there was a castle there, built in times so far back that the masonry still left gives no clue to its date of erection, though it is proved to have stood, and been inhabited, through most
Like it? We shall never forget it while we live. Afterwards, when, instead of this grey monochrome, sea and land were painted in all the sunshiny colours of autumn, we often said to ourselves, "I wonder how Tintagel looks this day." But we never wished to see it again. We would rather remember it in its greyness, its intense stillness, its solemn unity of desolation, where nothing seemed to belong to this life, everything to the life beyond-the life unto which King Arthur and all his knights, with all their medieval successors, had silently passed, as we too are passing. Abierunt ad plures. Only "the many"-in itself a sad and poor consolation!-has become to us Christians the One. "I am the Resurrection and the Life," saith He to Whom we are going. Thinking thus, it seemed as if the long melancholy sea moan, the only dirge over the myriads of living men and women buried nameless under those dead centuries, suddenly ceased, and, even as when He walked the waters, "there was a great calm."
King Arthur's Castle, Tintagel.
it, and live in it, was undoubtedly a hero. Nothing
That it is not wholly such, many things prove. The tradition of the neighbourhood clings firmly to the fact that Arthur was a real man; that he built Tintagel Castle; that he lived and ruled there; and, -alas! for the tale about Sir Bedivere, the sword Excalibur, and the four queens, -died there. A small postern, by which a body might be lowered from the rock into a boat below, is still shown as the place through which Arthur's body was carried to his
Sunday.A day which in ordinary sea-side places is curiously anomalous-when the visitors, who have been streaming about all week in any sort
tourist costume, turn out in decorous Sabbatic splendour, in which, having performed their devotions, they flit about for the rest of the day, idle and aimless, like painted lady butterflies. Even in remote Bude, there was a little of the butterfly element mixed up with the provincial old-fashionedness and grave sobriety of the congregation. With the undoubted natives mingled stylish visitors in lemon-coloured gloves, which, taken off, displayed a dazzle of diamonds. And here, as in other churches, when service was ended, the "dearly beloved brethren" and humble "fellow-sinners " proved that after all there was a distinction between them, for the poorer "brethreu" hurried out first, and the genteeler "sinners," avoiding all personal contact with these others, remained behind a little, then slowly defiled out into the common sunshine and common air, alike the birthright of all.
Certainly, Bude itself is not a pretty place; not even on a sunshiny Sunday. Two one-sided streets, a few small shops, and, scattered irregularly over a mile or so of bare country, several rows of houses
Bude Haven.-The Breakwater.
has added very little to nature-simply made use of her. A raised pathway of rough stones, built from rock to rock, shelters the southward side of the shallow harbour at low water, a mere mass of sand; but outside these rocks, and at high water covering the stony pathway entirely, beats the perpetual ground-swell of this Cornish coast, tumbling on in waves that on the calmest day show boiling heads of foam. No wonder that there is a complete absence of boats in the harbour, and only a few small vessels lying loading in the Bude Canal Its iron-bound coast will at least save the quiet town from the misfortune of ever becoming a sea-port. Generally, all vessels give it a wide berth, and only on rare occasions happen such wrecks as that of the Bencoolen, beat to pieces at the end of the breakwater-or the Georgina, which struck on the rocks outside-ghastly stories, which the townspeople still relate to all who will listen. The wreck of the Bencoolen especially will, while this generation remains, form the staple "horror" of the good people of Bude.
But no such dreadful tales to-day-on this sunny antumn morning, which settled into the sweetest October evening, when out upon the downs and cliffs we met everywhere, and were glad to meet, the Bude-ites taking their innocent Sunday walk; parents and children, sweethearts and companions, dotted over the downs, or sitting in "Sir Thomas's Seat"-an erection put up, at the finest point of view, by the Lord of the Manor. And, a little further on, it was not ill to meet "Sir Thomas" himself, about whom there seems to be but one feeling, regret for the fourscore years that are running on so fast. The good man, creeping up the green slope, and seating himself quietly out of everybody's way, to watch the sunset and enjoy the breeze-he, too, had in his kindly acute old face a look of Sunday peace and childish enjoyment. May both last him till the end!
The sunset-it was one of the many proofs that Nature is more startling than Art, for if it had been painted, the host of critics would have been down upon it as "impossible." Bright as the day had been, there was still a heavy mist seaward, and we had given up all hope of a sunset; when suddenly, out of this dull grey vapour which enveloped the whole horizon, there burst forth a little above the sea-line, a round red ball, like molten iron, and in a minute or two more there stretched across the ocean, down to the very cliff-foot, a rippling pathway, which made one involuntarily think of "the sea turned into blood." This lasted a few minutes more, then slowly faded out, as the sun himself went back into his mists again, and was no more
Monday's sunset, all that need be recorded of the day, was of the same character, only still more remarkable. For, when the red-hot glowing ball came out of the mist, it had a curved line drawn across a third of its surface. No cloud, evidently, for it never moved, but was marked distinct and sharp, like the umbra of an eclipse. It was an eclipse, though we never guessed this at the time; and we saw it as we are never likely to see another in our life-time. Utterly perplexed and awed, for there was something "uncanny" in the sight, we watched this spectral, half-darkened sun glare out above the waters, and then slowly retire, like a ghost to its grave, back into the impenetrable gloom. These were the only two evenings that fulfilled our dream of sunset in the Atlantic: we are never likely to forget either.
Tuesday. We did not wander far, but contented ourselves with investigating life in the little Cornish town. First, the post-office: only one post a day, of course. About 11 A. M., up drives the mail-cart, a wonderful machine, which travels diurnally between here and North Tawton, Bude's nearest link with the busy, bustling London. It is curious for any one who has seen the six-o'clock Babel at the General Post Office, to track in imagination this solitary cart and its driver, dashing along, through winter and summer, fair weather and foul, that dusty seventy miles of solitary road. But, here it is, and one by one come in various messengers,
gardeners' lads, servants, and others of higher grade, -eager for the letters. For Bude boasts no postmen; only, (as a little old body, in a big black bonnet, with a market-basket crammed with letters and newspapers, turns round to suggest to us rather severely)-"the post-woman." Behind her, a young servant-girl apparently, who has been waiting a long time, stretches out her eager hand for one-it has a deep black border-and hastily opens and reads it. Reads it where she stands, with quivering mouth and rosy face gradually paling, then puts it in her pocket and walks away. Poor girl, poor girl! we can guess all. Most of us in our time have received such letters. We linger a minute or two longer in the little grocer's shop, and then pass on to the next grand object of interest
the photographer's. But his productions, which illustrate this paper, speak for themselves.
Every sea-side place ought to have a circulating library, so of course has Bude. Not unlimited in its variety, though we were regarded with profound contempt for declining certain valuable fictions, of which we could say, yes, quite conscientiously, that we had read them; but the sort of book we wanted, something archæological and antiquarian, a book of facts, was quite unattainable here. Of course, Bude has a history, but there are no relics of it, not even an old parish church. The only old house we could hear of, had been pulled down some years before. A faint tradition lingered about it, and its last inhabitant, old Nancy somebody, a wise woman, who "could tell'ee all about it, and lots o' things." But she was dead, so we were obliged to leave to sharper antiquity-hunters the curiosities of Bude.
And truly we believe it. In no place did we ever find more of that sturdy independence which is the back-bone of honour to both rich and poor; that scrupulous honesty which "makes all straight" to a half-penny on either side, added to the cordial kindliness which no money can purchase, and which keeps one's heart warm wherever one goes.
Thursday. Our last day here, and why should it be wasted? Somebody at least shall enjoy it. So we put two worthy Bude-ites behind us in a waggonet, and carried them exultant in their very best clothes, and fortified by a basket of provisions, to a place called Combe Valley, held to be one of the
attractions of the neighbourhood. It had need to be; for the road leading thither was awful. And the horse! the determination with which that inimitable Cornish beast, who had gone sixty miles the day previous, went up hill and down dale-hills steep as the side of a house, and dales which made you dread being pitched summarily over his earswas wonderful! Now and then he even put on a "spurt," as rowers say—which resulted in a shaking that was, as a sharp-witted friend behind observed, "just as good as 'lectrifying." And truly, driving along Cornish roads is a series of mental and physical galvanic shocks.
Yet we found interest enough in its modern humanities. There is something decidedly original in these Cornish folk, independent as frank, who have neither the servility of many rural districts, the roughness of manufacturing towns, nor the We descended the last hill and came to Combe horrible sharpness of cities: who will look you in | Valley-anything but a smiling one—a ravine, with the face with patronising gravity—“I think I shall a stream in the middle, cutting its way down to a like 'ee, missis,"-and on the slightest encourage-break in this rock-bound coast, and joining a little ment will pour out upon you a tide of personal or bay-Duckapool, they call it-full of the most abfamily history, innocently confident of your sym- horrent odour of decaying sea-weed, strewn in beds pathy in the smallest detail. Nor can you help till it should be fitted for farm purposes. giving it, and wishing it may be long before the cruel metropolitan reserve, doubting every man and suspecting every man of doubting you, finds its way to simple-minded Bude.
Clearly, Combe Valley was a mistake. Our friend behind-who at seventy-three still shows what a fine fellow he must have been half a century ago, stalwart and tall, with one of those dark, acute,
Yet it cannot remain long as now, for not ten regular-featured faces so continually seen in Cornmiles distant, you may already see the fatal survey-wall-he evidently thinks it so. He regards the ing poles sticking into corners of turnip-fields. dreary, lonely, and not too sweet-scented valley The railway will assuredly come, and open up a with a grim smile :very different future to the ignorant town, where butter is a shilling a pound, and fowls-such fat ones!-four shillings a couple. When we suggested the changes that would come, that Bude might actually learn to "cheat" soon, it was funny, and pleasant, to meet the look of astonishment on the face of an indignant inhabitant.
"Eh! I've lived in Bude this many a year, and I never come to this place afore, and I beant a-coming to it again."
At which his wife, with true feminine tact, rather hushes him up, apologetically.
"Never mind he, missis; he's content enough, only he hasn't a taste for scenery."
"Us cheat! You're joking, sure. Them London folks as the railway brings, they may cheat;-but us Bude folk-never!
However, when the honest fellow was settled comfortably with his apple-tart, his bottle of beer, and his pipe, he relaxed a little, and was left sitting beside his old woman on the bank of the stream, puffing away; but obstinately refusing to penetrate farther into the beauties of Duckapool. Yet the place had a charm of its own. The precipitous green slopes into which the cliffs broke, were threaded on the right hand by a narrow line, hardly broader than a sheep-track-deliciously tempting to a steady head and fearless foot. Dangerous, of course. One slip and-well, there would not be anything particular to say of a person afterwards. But there is the headland, solitary and grand; and there is the sea, and we may never look at it more-at least, never from such a coast as this. We have a childish pleasure in climbing-even in
Yet the more we saw of it, the better we liked this fine open country, lying large and bare to the sky like a noble savage. There were no green forests to clothe it-no umbrageous dells-no gen. tlemen's mansions, with deer-parks and lakes. The county is equally deficient in wood and water; but it is so bold and fresh, free and pure, that you do not wonder at the race it sends forth, and feel that, if you were a Cornishman, you would be very proud of Cornwall.