Obrazy na stronie

this early season, prodigal of ferns eyes but follow it. They, too, grow, and wildflowers as they will be soon. and change, and die, and give up Yet they have already abundant or- their substance to the great All, renament. On the summit grows the turning whence they came.

Changefurze, with its profuse bunches of less they seem, in contrast with the imgold ; from the crevices peep the patient waters; and yet with relucstone-crop, the leaves of the foxglove, tant concession they give up their elepennywort, and a multitude of other ments to the ambient air, and the conwall-loving plants, dear to my eye, fluent restlessness of water, gradually though unknown by name ; already rounding off their angles, and soften. the dog-violet and celandine are gay ing their rugged asperities. Myste with colour, and the lichens tint the rious and beautiful law, which orstone with delicate pale greys or dains that the stubborn skeleton shall greens, deep orange, or bright gold. take its moulding fron the gentle

The grouping of the islands is very pressure of the softer flesh, as the picturesque, forming several good sterner asperities of life are moulded Sounds, where vessels of great ton- finally by tenderness and love. nage find secure anchorage, and give The Giant's Castle — indeed, the a pleasant aspect to the scene. Stand- whole of this southern shore-has ing on any of the eminences, we gaze a character of drear magnificence down upon the deep blue of the bays, and massive grandeur, given to it by the white sweep of sands, and rugged the disposition of its piled-up boulreefs, and purple masses of the oppo- ders and towering altitudes, not to site shores; the plaint of the sea-gull, be anticipated from the size of the who is floating overhead, being al- islands. The truth is, we are always most the only sound audible, except impressed by relative, not absolute the never-ending symphony of the size. Rocks, many thousands of feet waters. As we ramble round the in height, have a stupendous aspect coast, the successive scenes of the un- only in isolation; among others, of folding panorama make us long to kindred girth and altitude, they prohave the artist's power of transferring duce no such towering impression. them to our sketch-book. The rocks The eye takes its standard from the are entirely of granite ; and the huge forms around. The subtle influence wave-worn boulders, sudden pillars, of proportion rouses emotions of the and piles of broad ledges into which sublime, even on these small islands; they have been disrupted, give end- emotions of gentler swell are raised less variety to their forms. Some- by every creek and valley. The times they have a castellated aspect, rambles are delicious. They want, as at " Giant's Castle," on the south- indeed, the charm of Devonshire, ern coast-a noble edifice of nature's with its wondrous lanes cunning architecture. Beautiful are the outlines of its topmost grey shely

“Such nooks of valleys, lined with orchises,

Fed full of noises by invisible streams."* ing ledges, softened with shaggy palegreen Byssus-lichen-beautiful its There are no rills and rivulets interhuge rectangular masses of light warm secting the land, no affluence of rege brown, blackened here and there with tation making it a miracle of beauty the mysterious beginnings of life, and and of life; but the lanes have their darkening downwards to the shining charm, and to that charm I yielded deep-brown reefs that jut from the myself. Atlantic waves, which lift their curl- After my first walk had satisfied ing masses of crystal greenness into the first cravings, and set the mind momentary splendour, and then dash, at ease respecting the wisdom of my and break, and whirl in milky eddies choice in choosing Scilly, I returned among the ever-passive rocks. Pas- to my lodgings, unpacked the booksive are they? Yes; and yet passivity box, arranged the working table with itself is only a slower action, which its necessary jars, bottles, dissecting escapes our notice. The rocks, too, implements, and microscope ; and, are mutinous with change, could our resting from these labours, opened Borlase to gain from his ancient only at what is said of Queen Elizaquarto some information about the beth, who saw the importance of these place. I will not, as some learned islands; "and having the Spaniards, pundits do, pitilessly burden you with then the most powerful nation by sea all the knowledge recently obtained; in the world, to deal with, ordered because, although I suspect you to be Francis Godolphin (knighted by her hopelessly ignorant on all these mat- in 1580, and made Lord Lieutenant ters, I also suspect you to be quite of the county of Cornwall) to improve comfortable in that condition, and by this station. Star Castle was begun no means hungering for information; and finished in 1593. At the same and at any rate, you know where such time were built a curtain and some hunger can be satisfied. But on the bastions on the same hill.” The castle baptism of the islands a word may be still remains; and the fortificationsworth hearing. Borlase pertinently not of a very formidable aspectasks, " How came all these islands to manned by five invalids, still keep up have their general name from so small the fiction of awing the enemies of and inconsiderable a spot as the isle England. Not being a military man, of Scilly, whose cliffs hardly anything and still less a politician, it does occur but birds can mount, and whose bar- to me either that Scilly is strangely renness would never suffer anything neglected in the matter of fortiticabut sea-birds to inhabit there? A tions, or else that our enemies are due observation of the shores will very easily awed. What Borlase said answer this question very satisfac- of it a century ago remains true totorily, and convince us, that what day: “In the tiine of war it is of is now a bare rock, about a furlong the utmost importance to England over, and separated from the lands of to have Scilly in its possession : if it Guel and Brehar about half a mile, was were in an enemy's hand the Channel formerly joined to them by low necks trade from Ireland, Liverpool, and of land, and that Treskaw, St Martin's, Bristol to London and the south of Brehar, Samson, and the rocks and England could not subsist; for Scilly, islets adjoining, made formerly but lying at the point of England, and one island.” Thus it was by encroach- looking into both channels, no ship ments of the sea, according to Borlase, could pass, but a privateer miglit or by the dipping of the lands, that speak with it from one of these the one island was separated into sounds. This the parliament ministry several. Scilly was the highest and in the latter end of the civil wars of most conspicuous headland, and from Charles I. quickly experienced as it the whole group derived its name. soon as Sir John Granville had garThat these isles were by the Greeks risored and fortified Scilly. Whitecalled Cassiterides, and by the Ro- lock tells us that continual commans Sigdeles, Sillina, and Silures, plaints were made to the then mamay by conceded to antiquarians and nagers of affairs at London, of the topographers; or denied; we shall taking of ships by the privateers at trouble ourselves but slightly with Scilly, so that at last they were the question. Certain it seems that obliged to send Admiral Blake and Phænicians and Romans came here Sir George Askue to dislodge the for tin; still more certain that, in the cavaliers from a post which gave tenth century, " when trade began to them such opportunities of distressthrive, shipping to increase, and naval ing their trade.” Surely a post of wars to be carried on in the western this importance needs a stronger garworld, the commodious situation of rison than five invalids? Five may these islands at the opening into both do for the “contingent” of a small the channels, soon showed of what Gerinan prince; nay, in one sublime importance it was to possess them, instance, five is the sum total of the and how dangerous they might be to standing army, but in that case the the trade and safety of England if in principality itself is of commensurate an enemy's hand." The hungry may importance. find in Borlase & succession of histo- What has been already hinted will rical dates and facts from the tenth suffice to show that these patches of century downwards; we will pause rock,on which ribald Cockneys doubted whether English were spoken, and ble, on zoological grounds, that the flounces worn, are islands dignified Scillians, being carnivorously orzaby historical and political associa- nised, would eat meat with gusto tions. These Cockneys may be fur- conld they get it. Nay, as there are ther assured that not only is English several well-to-do people residing here, spoken here, but spoken with a purity some shipowners and shipbuilders of accent, and intelligent discrimina- and as there are no poor, it would, tion of diction, which I remember in on a priori grounds, be assumed that no other part of the English domi- meat was freely assimilated by the nion. The Scillians are a remark- Scillians, they not having fallen into ably healthy, good-looking race—the the fallacy of “ vegetarianism.” But black eyes and long eyelashes of the à priori conclusions force do pathway children making one's parental fibres through facts; and the stern and tingle with mysterious pleasure as the startling fact early obtruded itself on ruddy rascals pause in their sport to me, that of all things meat is one of look at the stranger. The manners the most unattainable in these parts. are gentle and dignified; civil, not Do not imagine that by “meat" I servile. Not an approach to rude- euphuistically indicate prime parts ness or coarseness have I seen any- and quick varieties; no, I mean meat where. In the highest sense of the of any kind, without epicurean disword civilisation, therefore, the no- tinctions. Beef is obtainable—by foretion of the place being “half-civil- thought and stratagem; but mutton ised” is altogether wrong. It is only is a myth. A vision of veal floats on making inquiries in the direction with aerial indistinctness through the of commerce that the mind gets fami- Scillian mind. Poultry, too, may be liarised with the consequences of the had—at Penzance; and fish-when remoteness of these islands. Then it the weather is calın, which it nerer is is seen that, as far as civilisation is at this season; and when the one solirepresented by shopkeeping, Scilly is tary fisherman adventurously takes at present in an embryonic condition. out his line—which he seldom does. To speak zoologically, there is but But market there is none. Twice slight differentiation of function in a-week a vegetable cart from “ the the Scillian commercial tissue. Just country" (which means a mile and as in the simpler organisms we see a half distance) slowly traverses the one part of the body undertaking town, and if you like to gather round several functions which in more com- it, as the cats and dogs do round the plex organisms devolve upon separate London cats'-ineat-man, you may parts, so here we perceive the same stock yourself with vegetables for smiling individual weighing out but- three days. The inhabitants, of ter, and measuring yards of muslin, course, know how to arrange matters proposing the new cut of a cheese to for themselves, although it was eriyour discriminating taste, or the new dent that my landlady regarded the style of bonnet to your instinct of wish of dining daily, and if possible fashion ; sarsenet ribbons are flanked on meat, as rather & metropolitan by mixed pickles, and the pickles weakness, which was to be politely thrown into relief by loaves. If you allowed for. The other day I should are troubled with a raging tooth, you have gone meatless, but for a certain must apply to the postmaster for his astuteness of forethought, met by : gentle services; whether he punches yielding benevolence on the part of it out with the letter-stamp, or em- the captain's wife. Meat was not to ploys more elaborate instruments, I be had for love or money, especially know not. This want of differentia- love. The "country" had been scourtion is, however, but a slight ob- ed for a fowl !stacle, especially to me, who am not


“But no such animal the meadows cropp'd." likely to array myself in sarsenet, and don't buy bonnets. Far other- I saw myself midway in the dilemma wise is the imperfection there where of going impransus, or of cooking my it could least have been expected, Actinie with what appetite I could least endured in the meat and -an extremity which, in a zoologist, market departments. It is proba- would have been only a milder form

of cannibalism. Standing thus at the was saluted by a shout still more point of intersection of two such heart-shaking. At the first flash of paths, the pangs of prospective hun- it there must have been a general ger developed in me new resources hush, an universal catching of the and new impudences. I went boldly breath, and the next moment, like to Mrs. Tregarthen (observe she is not thunder leaping from hill to hill, the a widoro), and to her pathetically un- loosened burst of gladness ran along folded the case, on the supposition the ranks, reverberating from comthat she might not be utterly meat- pany to company, swelling into a less, in which circumstance the loan mighty symphony of rejoicing. What of á chop or steak might gracefully a sight, and what a sound? There be accorded. Meatless the gentle was more than safety in that blue and generous woman was not. A expanse, there was more than loosenpiece of beef, killed eight days ago, ed fear in their joy at once again and now kept fresh in salt against seeing the dear familiar face. The emergencies, would furnish me with sea was a passion to the Greeks; they a steak sufficient for two days, and took naturally to the water, like there was a rumour that on the third ducks, or Englishmen, who are, if we day beef would be killed, when I truly consider it, fonder of water than could stock myself till next killing- the ducks. We are sea-dogs from our time. Beef, at sevenpence a pound, birth. It is in our race-bred in the as I said, is the only meat you can blood. Even the most inland and reckon on, even with forethought. bucolic youth takes spontaneously to In the time of Borlase it was just the the water, as an element he is born contrary, mutton being then the meat, to rule. The winds carry ocean murand beef a rarity. “ About twenty murs far into the inland valleys, and years since,” he says, “the inhabit- awaken the old pirate instincts of the ants generally lived on salt victuals, Norsernen. Boys hear them, and which they had from England or althongh they never saw & ship in Ireland; and if they killed a bullock, their lives, these murmurs make their here, it was so seldom, that in one of hearts unquiet; and to run away the best houses in the islands they from home, "to go to sea," is the inhave kept part of a bullock killed in evitable result. Place a Londoner in September to roast for their Christ- a turnip field, and the chances are mas dinner.” He adds, that in his that he will not know it from a field time mutton was abundant enough, of mangold-wurzel. Place him, unbut beef unattainable.

familiar with pigskin, on a "fresh" Spiritual-minded persons, indiffer- horse, and he will not make a majestic ent to mutton, may disregard this figure. But take this same youth, carnal inconvenience, and take refuge and fling him into a boat, how readily in the more ideal elements of pictur- he learns to feather an oar! Nay, esqueness, solitude, and simplicity. I even when he is sea-sick-asuncannot say that the inconvenience happily even the Briton will someweighed heavily in the scale against times be-he goes through it with the charms of Scilly: the more so, a certain careless grace, a mauly as an enlarged experience proved the laughtiness, or at the lowest a cercase not to be quite so bad as it seemed tain “official reserve,” not observable at first. After all, I came not here in the foreigner. What can be a for sumptuous larders, but for zoologi- more abject picture than a Frenchcal delights; and those were not want- man suffering from sea-sickness—uning. Was not the mere aspect of the less it be a German under the same sea a banquet? Xenophon tells us hideous circumstances ? Before getthat when the Ten Thousand saw the ting out of harbour he was radiant, sea again, they shouted. No wonder, arrogant, self-centred; only half an After their weary eyes had wandered hour has passed, and he is green, forlorn over weary parasangs of flat cadaverous, dank, prostrate, the manearth, and that earth an enemy's, hood seemingly spunged out of him. wistfully yearning for the gleams of N.B.—In this respect I am a Frenchthe old familiar blue, they came upon man. it at last, and the heart-shaking sight At the sight of the sea the Ten Thousand shonted. At that sight I chirp is said to have a lily-like sound too should have shouted, had not the ora asipiókosar-surely a strange inglorious vision come upon me through tonation If, therefore, to Homer, the windows of a railway carriage; familiar with sights and sounds so unwhere my fellow-travellers, not com usual, the sea could nevertheless be prehending such ecstasy, might have held as abounding in marvels, judge seized me as an escaped lunatic. But what it abounds in for our more easily if my lungs were quiescent, my heart astonished minds. shouted tumultuously. There gleam- Come with me to the rocks, on ed once more the laughing lines of my first visit after arrival. The tide light, there heaved and broke upon the is not a very good one, but in a sands the many-sounding waves; and few minutes we discover that we at the sight arose the thought, ob- are in the land of marvels. Here are vious enough, yet carrying a sort of the snaky-armed Antheas in abunsurprise, that even thus had the sea dance: green with ravishing pink been glancing, dancing, laughing, tips; brown with silver-grey tenbreaking in uninterrupted music, ever tacles; and a few of quaker drab. since I had left it. While I was Presently a noble Crassicornis reveals bustling through crowded streets, himself in a cleft-impossible to get amid the “fever and the stir unpro- at, unfortunately. But in a few fitable,” harassed by printers, bored minutes another, then another, then by politicians, and by

a group, at last such quantities of

them make their appearance, that “ The weary. Weary A, and the barren, the heart palpitates at such wealth

. barren B,"

Was not this worth a few hours' disbending over old books, engaged in comfort on board the packet? Nay serious work and daily frivolous talk, (now that it is past), what was that through all these hurrying hours, discomfort? A hurricane of blows the tides had continued rising and upon the chisel answers with conreceding, the pools had been filled temptuous emphasis. and refilled, the zoophytes had quiet- It is laborious work this chiselling ly dedicated their beauty to the sun, away of Anemones from the granite

. the molluscs had crawled among the The gray-slate of Ifracombe was weeds, the currents of life had ebbed troublesome; the limestone of Tenby and flowed in the great systole and worse; but this granite opposes us diastole of nature.

with quite another stubbornnes, By a mysterious law, every Thirst and needs energetic patience to orer: blindly, yet unerringly, finds its way come it. In spite of March winds I to the fountain. My thirst had led ain forced to take off my coat after a me here, to the shores of that ocean little of this hammering; and during which Homer, “ the paragon of phi- summer heats the exercise would crelosophers," as Rabelais calls him, very ate a vapour bath, giving unpleasant unphilosophically styles "unfruit- extension to the faculty of perspiring, ful,” åt púyktos. Barren, it may have which is exerted by the twenty-eight been to him, poor fellow, unable to miles of tubing (such is the calculause the microscope; (he was blind, tion) possessed by our skins. After you know!) yet even he had intellec- filling our baskets with as many of tual vision enough to see that it was these Anemones as satisfy present Meyaxýens “abounding in marvels;” desires, we begin turning over the and he was not a man to pause open- stones. Presently we descry two mouthed at a slight deviation from specimens of marine spiders, or dadordinary appearances, as may be ga- dy-long-legs (Nymphon gracile), very thered from this single example: curious to behold. They have no When Helen passes through the gates body to speak of; a mere line, not of Troy, under the eyes of Ucalegon thicker than one of their legs, repreand Antenor, those venerable and in- sentirg the torso. Tie a piece of silk spired men are by Homer seen to be thread, about one-fourth of an inch "like cicadæ chirping on the trees” long, into four equidistant knots, and -surely a very strange phenomenon that will represent the body; from each —and as if this were not enough, their of these knots let much longer pieces of

« PoprzedniaDalej »