« PoprzedniaDalej »
Welsh coast in timber, iron, limestone, and other commodities. It had formerly very extensive establishments for smelting the copper ore found in the neighbourhood, but these have been abandoned, in consequence of the great expense of procuring the coals, and the ore is now exported as it is produced from the neighbouring mines. Hayle has still two very large iron foundries, in which are cast the largest steam engines hitherto made use of in the county. The country around this place is desolate in the extreme, being covered with sand, which is blown about by the wind, and often drifted into hills 50 or 60 feet high, rendering the prospect truly dismal and uninviting. This sand is conceived to have been originally brought from the sea-shore by hurricanes, but not even tradition points out the period of its first devastation; it reaches, in some parts, nearly 40 miles in length, and its shifting occasionally exposes the tops of houses and other buildings, which have been overwhelmed by its ravages; in a recent publication* it is stated that the further progress of this sand flood has been at length arrested by extensive plantations of the common rush.
HELSTON, An ancient town, 272 miles from London, is situated on the side of a hill which slopes gradually to the little river Cober. Its four principal streets form a cross, in the centre of which stands a handsome Markethouse and Town Hall. The Church, erected in 1762, at the sole expense of the Earl of Godolphin, stands on an eminence to the north of the town, and its lofty tower, crowned with pinnacles, forms a striking object from the surrounding country, and an usefullandmark from the sea: it contains several monuments, a handsome painting at the altar, and a good organ.
Helston is a place of considerable antiquity, and received its first Charter from King John; in the reign of Edward I it was represented in Parliament by two Burgesses, and still enjoys that privilege: it was incorporated by Queen Elizabeth, and received a new Charter from George III in 1774, by which the government of the town was vested in a Mayor, five Aldermen, and a Recorder, who, with the freemen, possess the elective franchise. The inbabitants of Helston, in 1821, were 2671 persons; the Market-day is Saturday, and four annual Fairs* are held. This is one of the ancient Stannary towns; but very little tin is now coined here; it has, however, a considerable trade.
*“ A Guide to Mount's Bay and the Land's End, by a Physician,” London, 1828: an interesting and useful little work.
Near Breage, about three miles west of Helston, is the richest and largest Tin Mine in Cornwall, called Huel Vor, which extends considerably more than a mile under ground, and employs above 1300 persons, and several steam engines.
About two miles from Helston is Penrose, a handsome mansion, the residence of John Rogers, Esq. si. tuated on the border of a large sheet of water called the Loe Pool, which is formed in a very singular manner: the waves of the Channel, rolling continually towards the shore, throw up a vast quantity of sand and pebbles, which forms a high bank extending from hill to hill across the valley, and by stopping the course of the river occasions its waters to spread over an area nearly seven miles in circumference, and in wet seasons the lake often rises ten feet above its or. dinary level. This has the effect of stopping the mills, and it then becomes necessary to apply a remedy, which is done by making an opening in the bar, when the water rushes out with an uncontrollable impetuosity, and is opposed by the sea, so as to form a very extraordinary spectacle: the force of the surge, however, is such, that the breach is again filled up in a few days. The scenery around the Pool is exceedingly fine and romantic.
* A remarkable festival, called the Furry, takes place here annually on the 8th of May, and we quote the following account of it from the work mentioned in the preceding note; its original intent is unknown:
“ The morning is ushered in with the sound of drums and kettles, when the streets are soon thronged with spectators and assistants in the Mysteries. So strict is the observance of this day as a general holiday, that should any person be found at work, he is instantly seized, set astride on a pole, and hurried on men's shoulders to the river, where, if he does not commute bis punishment by a fine, he is sentenced to leap over a wide place, which he, of course, fails in attempting, and falls into the water, to the great amusement of the spectators. At about the hour of nine the revellers appear before the Grammar School, and make their demand of a prescrip tive holiday, after which they collect contributions from house to housę. They then fade into the country (fadé being an old English word for go), and about noon return with flowers and oak branches in their hats and caps; from this time they dance, hand in hand, through the streets, preceded by a violin playing an ancient traditional tune. There is also a traditional song, which is sung in chorus, involving the history of Robin Hood, whose con. nexion with the present festival it is not easy to understand.
“Upon this occasion it is a right assumed from time immemorial, for the persons engaged in the dance to enter and run through any house they please, without molestation.
“ The higher classes of the inhabitants having, with much good humour, assisted in the rites of the day, and performed their exforensic orgies, resort to the ball room, where they are usually met by the neighbouring families, and by those strangers who may happen to be in this part of Cornwall.T'he merry dance is commenced at an early hour, and generally protracted to the dawn of the ensuing day.”
At a short distance from Helston are the picturesque ruins of Pengerswick Castle, consisting of a square stone tower, or keep, a smaller one adjoining, and some fragments of the walls and gateway: the period of its erection is unknown. About three miles from hence, in the parish of Sithney, is a rude pile of stones, of which the uppermost, called Menamber, or the top stone, is eleven feet long, six wide, and four thick, and was formerly a logan, or rockingstone; it was held in great veneration, and was much resorted to at particular seasons by the people, which occasioned Shrubsall, the Parliamentary governor of Pendennis Castle, to cause it to be broken and thrown off its balance, “ for the avoidance of superstition."
ST. IVES. This town is situated at the north-west angle of a fine Bay on the Bristol Channel, which bears the same uame, 277 miles from London, and about eight from Penzance. It is of considerable antiquity, and is said to derive its name from St. Iia, a holy Irishwoman, who came hither about the year 460. Queen Mary bestowed on this place the privilege of returning two Members to Parliament, which it still enjoys; the electors are the Corporation, (consisting of a Mayor, 10 Aldermen, 12 Common-Councilmen, a Recorder, and other officers, constituted by virtue of a charter of James II) and the householders paying scot and lot, whose number is stated to be about 300, while the inhabitants, in 1821, amounted to 3526.
The Church is an ancient fabric, near the sea-shore; it is spacious, but low, with a lofty pinnacled tower, and is dedicated to St. Iia, whose body is said to be preserved there; it contains some monuments, and à curious antique font. Meeting-houses for Independents and Methodists are established here; and to these Sunday Schools are attached; there is also a Grammar School, founded in the reign of Charles I.
Considerable traffic is carried on here; the principal articles of export are slates, and pilchards; the fishery for the latter is the great source of the prosperity of this town and neighbourhood, where it is carried on with the utmost activity and success *. The effect produced by the appearance of a shoal is thus described in the work already quoted : “ At the time of large draughts, it is usual for all the inhabitants to contribute their assistance; shops and dwelling-houses are frequently deserted on such occasions, and even the church has been abandoned, when large shoals have made their appearance on the Sabbath! By a certain signal given by a person stationed on the heights, the approach of a shoal is generally announced to the town; the effect is most singular, Trumpets are immediately heard in different parts, and the inhabitants, rushing from their houses, and quitting their ordinary occupations, are to be seen running in all directions, and vociferating the word • Hever-Hever-Hever.'—What the term signifies, or whence it was derived, no one can conjecture, but its sound is no less animating to the ears of a Saint Ivesman, than is the cry of To Arms,' to the son of Mars; and the tumult which it excites is more like that of a besieged city, than the peaceable and joyful bustle of an industrious fishing-town.”
* The Pilchard Fishery forms so important a part of the business of this county, that a brief account of it appears to be requisite.
The preparations for the Fishery commence about the end of July, when the pilchards are expected. They usually make their appearance in the evening, and persons are stationed on the cliffs or in boats to watch for their coming, which they discover by the red tint assumed by the water. Having communicated the gratifying intelligence, the Sean-boat, which is the largest, and contains seven men, is gently rowed round the shoal, while the enormous net, or sean, which is frequently 300 fathoms long, and 10 in depth, is cast from it into the sea, with such dexterity, that not more than four minutes are suffered to elapse before the fish are enclosed. The lower edge of the net is then sunk to the bottom by leaden weights, and the upper rendered buoyant by corks; and when this is accomplished, the two ends are brought together by the assistance of the men in the Follower, a second boat of equal size, while the operations are directed by the Master in a third, called the Lurker, which also has another man and two boys. When the fish are secured, the sean is drawn into shallow water by another body of men, called Blowsers, and as many as 1500 or 2000 hogsheads have been obtained at one draught by this method. The fish are conveyed in boats to the shore, laid up in large piles, and salted; they remain in salt about 40 days, are then washed, packed into hogsheads, and the oil pressed out of them, the quantity obtained varying from four to ten gallons per hogshead. The casks are then headed, and are ready for exportation: 100,000 hogsheads are sometimes exported in one year, and 30,000 consumed in this country; and it is calculated that the fishery affords employment to nearly 10,000 persons, many of whom are women and children.
The port of St. Ives is much exposed to the wind from the north-west, to protect it from which, and from the sands that formerly almost choked it up, attempts were made as early as the reign of Queen Elizabeth; but this desirable object was not accomplished until about 60 years ago, when Smeaton erected a Pier, which in 1816 was extended, and a Breakwater constructed, for its further security. Two weekly Markets, and four annual Fairs, are held at St. Ives.
Near the town, on a hill, is a modern mansion, called Tregenna Castle, which commands a fine marine prospect : about a mile further, on the summit of a lofty eminence, stands a pyramid, erected in 1782 by the late John Knill, Esq., and intended for the reception of his mortal remains; but as he afterwards ordered his body to be given to an anatomist in London for dissection, it remains unoccupied. By his will, this gentleman directed that in the July of every fifth year, a matron and ten girls, dressed in white, should walk in procession, with music, accompanied by the Mayor, &c. from the Market-place of St. Ives to this column, around which they are to dance, singing the 100th Psalm. Considerable freehold property is vested in trustees, a part of the income of which is divided among these girls, ten guineas are spent for a dinner, and another portion is given as prizes to those young men who may excel in rowing, racing, and wrestling, exhibitions of which form a part of the “ Knillian Games,” instituted in imitation of those of Olympia, and, like them, intended to cherish a love of manly and healthful exercise, and innocent festivity and cheerfulness. The first celebration took place in July, 1801; the Games have been since regularly repeated, and are attended by numberless spectators, not only from every part of the county, but from places much more distant.
LAND'S END. This promontory is the most westerly point of England, and one of the most remarkable objects in the Island. The immense and rugged rocks of which