« PoprzedniaDalej »
suggest ideas of altars, castles, and other works of human art.
Yet picturesque the general scenery is not. It wants, as a whole, the striking outline of the grand, and the undulating curves of the beautiful. Except in spots particularly sheltered, it has no wood; a circumstance readily accounted for by its nearness to the coast, and by the violence of the Atlantic winds. Yet where there are high cliffs with the waves washing their base, no admirer of the works of God can be at a loss for objects of interest, or for indications of the power and benignity of Him who has placed his decree as a boundary which the sea cannot pass over.
And when the combined force of wind and wave sets in upon this iron coast, as in some parts it may literally be called, few natural scenes can be more sublime and spirit-stirring.
To the man of science, the objects of interest in St. Just are, I had almost said, exhaustless. Few tracts of equal extent present so great a variety of mineral productions; and of these many specimens are rare and beautiful. Some of its mining operations, also, are carried on under circumstances singular and surprising, and exhibit, in a peculiar way, the triumphs of human enterprise and ingenuity over natural difficulties, which probably at first would be pronounced insuperable. Of one of these scenes, the following lively description will be perused with interest:
“ We arrive at the Crown Engine of BOTALLACK:
• How fearful
I'll look no more,
my brain turn, and the deficient sight Topple down headlong.' This is undoubtedly one of the most extraordinary and surprising places in the mining district of Cornwall, whether considered for the rare and rich assembly of its minerals, or for the wild and stupendous character of its rock scenery. Surely, if ever a spot seemed to bid defiance to the successful efforts of the miner, it was the site of the Crown Engine at Botallack, where, at the very commencement of his subterranean labours, he was required to lower a steamengine down a precipice of more than two
hundred feet, with a view of extending his operations under the Atlantic ocean! There is something in the very idea which alarms the imagination; and the situation and appearance of the gigantic machine, together with the harsh jarring of its bolts, re-echoed from the surrounding rocks, are well calculated to excite our astonishment.
“ But if you are thus struck and surprised at the scene when viewed from the cliff above, how much greater will be your wonder if you descend to the surface of the mine! You will there behold a combination of the powers of art with the wild sublimity of nature which is quite unparalleled; the effects of the whole being not a little heightened by the hollow roar of the raging billows, which are perpetually lashing the cliff beneath. In looking up, you will observe troops of mules laden with sacks of coals, for the supply of the engine, with their undaunted riders fearlessly trotting down the winding path, which you trembled at descending even on foot. As you approach the engine, the cliff becomes almost perpendicular; and the ore raised from the mine is therefore drawn up over an inclined plane, by means of a horse-engine, placed on the extreme verge of the overhanging rocks above, and which seems to the spectator below as if suspended in ‘mid air.'
“The workings of this mine extend at least seventy fathoms in length under the bed of the sea; and in these caverns of darkness are many human beings, for a small pittance, and even that of a precarious amount, constantly digging for ore, regardless of the horrors which surround them, and of the roar of the Atlantic ocean, whose boisterous waves are incessantly rolling over their heads. We should feel pity for the wretch who, as an atonement for his crimes, should be compelled to undergo the task which the Cornish miner voluntarily undertakes, and as cheerfully performs; yet such is the force of habit, that very rarely does any other employment tempt him to forsake his own: the perils of his occupation are scarcely noticed, or, if noticed, are soon forgotten.'
*“Guide to Mount's Bay and the Land's End. By a Physician,” p. 131, &c. Such, at least, was Botallack. Its operations at present are conducted on a more limited scale; and it has, in consequence, lost much of its interest.
The tourist, scientific or curious, who visits this remote district, will find other objects to arrest his attention, which the limited purpose of this little volume will not permit us to notice. Our task is of a higher order; and to the moralist and the Christian, the details which are now to be supplied will, it is hoped, afford more delight than the most graphic representations of natural scenery, or the most extraordinary triumphs of mechanical art.
Few classes of our peasant population supply so striking a comment on the efficacy of Christianity, as is to be found in the mining districts of Cornwall. A century ago
were more debased. Ferocious in manners, obtuse in intellect, intemperate in habit, alternately servile and riotous, their more serious employments, when disengaged from the mine, were smuggling and wrecking; while their amusements partook of the same savage and brutal character. Exhibitions of their ancient manners are within the recollection of some still surviving, which, though happily mitigated by moral influences, were yet sufficient to show what the population must have been, when