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The Cornwall Coast
by Arthur L. Salmon
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The Cornwall

Coast

By Arthur L. Salmon

Illustrated



T. Fisher Unwin

London: Adelphi Terrace

Leipsic: Inselstrasse 20

1910



[All rights reserved.]



ROAD MAPS FOR THE CORNWALL COAST

Those who travel through Cornwall by cycle or motor-car will usually find very good roads, but for the most part these only touch the coast at special points; and in some cases it will be wise to leave bicycle or car at hotel or farm if the coast is to be fitly explored. The study of a map will show the tourist what to expect, and he may note the parts where, if he thinks of easy travelling alone, he will have to desert the sea. But by a judicious use of high-road and by-road he need never be far from the shore, and in some places the road that is actually best for him gives fine views of the coast. There are many excellent maps issued, but it is best to go to the fountainhead, to the publications of the Ordnance Survey. For the pedestrian those of one inch to a mile are admirable; but the cyclist or motorist will find the two miles to an inch more handy, as covering a wider range; and even those of four miles to the inch are sufficiently full for the motorist. If any special district is to be carefully explored, the one mile to an inch should be carried, but the wise rider will not content himself with a map of a single scale; he should at least carry one for the entire Duchy and others for the sections.

The maps of the Ordnance Survey for Cornwall are as follow:—

One mile to the inch, large series, in sheets about 27 x 18 inches, paper (flat or folded), 1s. 6d. net; mounted, 2s.; cut into sections and mounted to fold, 2s. 6d., Nos. 139, 146-7-8, 151-2.

One mile to the inch, small series, in contoured outline, with hills shaded or coloured, Nos. 347, 353, 1s. 6d. and 2s.; 348, 354, 1s. and 1s. 6d.; 322, 336, 1s. 6d. and 2s.; 335, 346, 1s. and 1s. 6d.; 351, 359, 1s. and 1s. 6d.; 352, 360, 1s. 6d. and 2s. These may be had flat or folded.

Two miles to an inch (flat or folded, or on the new layer system), Nos. 35-6, 1s. 6d., 2s., 2s. 6d.

Four miles to the inch, Cornwall, 1s. (flat or folded).

Four miles to the inch, Nos. 21, 22, 1s. 6d., 2s. (flat or folded).

Ten miles to the inch, No. II. (flat or folded), 1s., 1s. 6d.

It should be mentioned that Mr. T. Fisher Unwin is sole wholesale agent for these maps, which may be procured from any bookseller. Fuller details of the maps are given in a special Catalogue issued by Mr. Unwin.

A. L. S.



CONTENTS

CHAPTER PAGE

I. THE PLYMOUTH DISTRICT 13

II. LOOE AND POLPERRO 29

III. FOWEY 48

IV. ST. AUSTELL TO ST. MAWES 66

V. FALMOUTH AND TRURO 81

VI. FROM FALMOUTH TO THE LIZARD 106

VII. THE LIZARD TO HELSTON 126

VIII. MOUNT'S BAY 150

IX. THE PENZANCE DISTRICT 167

X. THE SCILLY ISLANDS 190

XI. FROM LAND'S END TO ZENNOR 211

XII. ST. IVES 231

XIII. FROM HAYLE TO PERRAN 253

XIV. CRANTOCK, NEWQUAY, MAWGAN 271

XV. THE PADSTOW DISTRICT 301

XVI. TINTAGEL AND BOSCASTLE 335

XVII. BUDE 354

XVIII. MORWENSTOW 363

INDEX 381



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

PAGE

LOOE 33 Photo by Gibson & Sons

FOWEY 55 Photo by Gibson, Penzance

ON THE RIVER FAL 83 Photo by Gibson & Sons

COVERACK 119 Photo by Gibson & Sons

THE LIZARD LIGHTHOUSE 129 Photo by Gibson & Sons

BENCH-ENDS IN MULLION CHURCH 133 Photo by Gibson & Sons

MARCONI STATION, POLDHU 139 Photo by Gibson & Sons

PRUSSIA COVE 155 Photo by Gibson & Sons

ST. MICHAEL'S MOUNT, FROM MARAZION 161 Photo by Gibson & Sons

PENZANCE 171 Photo by Gibson & Sons

LANYON CROMLECH 181 Photo by Gibson & Sons

SHIPMAN HEAD, SCILLY 191 Photo by Gibson & Sons

A SCILLY FLOWER GARDEN 201 Photo by Alex. Old

CAVERN AT LAND'S END 213 Photo by Gibson, Penzance

SENNEN COVE 219 Photo by Gibson & Sons

GURNARD'S HEAD 227 Photo by Gibson & Sons

ST. IVES 233 Photo by Gibson & Sons

CHURCH OF ST. PIRAN 267 Photo by Gibson & Sons

CRANTOCK CHURCH 283 Photo by Alex. Old

BEDRUTHAN STEPS 293 Photo by Alex. Old

MAWGAN CHURCH 297 Photo by Alex. Old

PORTHCOTHAN BAY 303 Photo by Alex. Old

RUINS OF CONSTANTINE CHURCH 307 Photo by Alex. Old

TREVOSE LIGHTHOUSE 311 Photo by Alex. Old

CLIFFS NEAR PADSTOW 317 Photo by Alex. Old

A ROUGH CORNISH SEA 323 Photo by Alex. Old

WADEBRIDGE 327 Photo by Alex. Old

PORT ISAAC 331 Photo by Gibson & Sons

TINTAGEL 337 Photo by Gibson & Sons

KING ARTHUR'S CASTLE 343 Photo by Alex. Old

ST. KNIGHTON'S KIEVE 349 Photo by Alex. Old

MORWENSTOW 367 Photo by Gibson & Sons



The Cornwall Coast

CHAPTER I

THE PLYMOUTH DISTRICT

Britain is an emergent mass of land rising from a submarine platform that attaches it to the Continent of Europe. The shallowness of its waters—shallow relatively to the profundity of ocean deeps—is most pronounced off the eastern and south-eastern coasts; but it extends westward as far as the isles of Scilly, which are isolated mountain-peaks of the submerged plateau. The seas that wash the long Cornish peninsula, therefore, though they are thoroughly oceanic in character, especially on the north, are not oceanic in depth; we have to pass far beyond Scilly to cross the hundred-fathom line. From the Dover strait westward there is a gradual lowering of the incline, though of course with such variations and undulations as we find on the emerged plains; but the existence of this vast submarine basis must cause us to think of our island, naturally and geologically, as a true part of the great European continent, rendered insular by the comparatively recent intrusion of shallow and narrow waters. With some developments and some limits, our flora and fauna are absolutely Continental, the limits being even more noticeable as regards Ireland. The extensive coast-line has played a most important part in influencing national history and characteristics. The greater or less resistance of different rocks and soils has affected not only coast-configurations, but therewith also the very existence and well-being of the inhabitants.

The very appearance of Cornwall is eloquent of its granitic structure; nothing less enduring could have survived the stress to which it is daily exposed. All softer measures have been eroded by the fierce wash of Atlantic seas; what we may consider a gaunt, bare backbone has stood the test, and the Cornish coast to-day confronts forces that would play havoc with the more yielding and gentle curves of east and south-east England. We know what the narrow seas can do on East-Anglian and Kentish shores; and the same work of coast-erosion that we there see proceeding before our very eyes must have taken place in Cornwall before the days when historians could note it. The denudations that left our stark Cornish coasts as we know them now for the most part occurred in times that are dim and legendary. We hear of the havoc by an uncertain voice of tradition; we dream of a lost land of Lyonesse, of which only the Scillies remain; but the underlying truth of such romantic rumour must be carried back to Neolithic or earlier times. Though inaccurate in detail, such legends are rarely baseless. In places, such as Mount's Bay, there is still evidence of what the sea has taken; in other parts the evidence has been washed far from sight. The fact that the shallow seas extend far westward cannot be ignored; when we speak of a lost Lyonesse we are not dealing with absurdities. We must only be careful to date it far enough backward, or rather to leave it without date, which is a matter for the geologist rather than the historian to settle. It is an alluring vision on which we can linger without the sense of being actually unhistoric. We may even carry our thought further still, if we choose, and dream of some old Atlantis, now lying submerged in far greater depths beneath the waters of the ocean that perpetuates its name.

It will be seen that the peculiar shape of Cornwall has not been attained by chance, but has been the result of natural forces. In its appearance on a map there is a certain resemblance to Italy; while some etymologists, taking this appearance as a guide, have imagined that the origin of its name may be found in its horn-like figure. No other British division—using the word "division" advisedly, for Cornwall is not strictly a county—has such an extent of coast-line. Its greatest direct length is 80 miles, but the broken nature of the shore increases this very considerably; even at its juncture with Devon the Duchy is not more than 46 miles in breadth, and at its narrowest it is only six miles. Both the most western and the most southern points in England are to be found in Cornwall, at Land's End and the Lizard. The climate is delightfully equable, without extremes of heat or cold, but it is naturally humid, as Cornwall has to bear the first brunt of rain-storms that drive in from the Atlantic. To find a fitting point of departure for a pilgrimage round these coasts we have to step into Devonshire. In some sense Plymouth is the gateway of Cornwall, and a very appropriate gateway it is. Of the three rivers that give Plymouth its noble estuary the Lynher is purely Cornish, and the Tamar is as much Cornish as it is Devonian, except that it rises just over the Devon border. The population of Plymouth, Stonehouse, and Devonport is so largely Cornish that the three towns, which we conveniently but incorrectly group under the name of Plymouth, have been styled the "capital of Cornwall"; and certainly no single Cornish town contains so many Cornish folk as have gathered together to assist and share in the prosperity of this Devonshire locality. The majority of visitors to the Duchy approach it by this avenue, and the old stage-coaches followed very much the same route as the present railway, but conveyed their passengers to Saltash by ferry instead of by bridge. The rail is the successor of an immemorial trackway that linked Devon and Cornwall in days when they had not been subdivided. Even in times long before shires had been dreamed of, it is certain that the river must have been an important tribal boundary. There was a British track by which Cornish tin was carried eastward to a point of nearer contact with the Continent; that point may have been the Isle of Wight, but was more probably Thanet. This track passed the Tamar at Saltash and ran to Liskeard, where it joined a tributary path from the Fosseway; after which junction it crossed the Bodmin Moors and pushed on to Truro and Mount's Bay. This has been spoken of as a Roman road, but it was certainly not of Roman construction, being far earlier in date. There is no proof that the Legions ever entered Cornwall at all, and such Roman remains as Cornwall has yielded may be attributed to British residents of Roman culture and taste. Cornwall was never conquered, in the sense of occupation, either by Roman or Teuton; and the conquest of the Ivernians, or Iberians, by the Celts must have been very partial and chiefly in the nature of a military predominance, if we may judge by the comparatively short stature, dark skin and hair, that are still largely characteristic of Cornish folk.

Plymouth has another link with Cornwall, though it must be considered a fabulous one. One of the suggested derivations for the name of Cornwall is Corineus. According to Geoffrey of Monmouth, Corineus was one of the companions of the Trojan Brutus, who landed at Totnes and proceeded to bestow his name and his rule upon Britain. In support of this we may quote Milton, with a suggestion that he was a greater poet than historian: "The Iland, not yet Britain but Albion, was in a manner desert and inhospitable, kept only by a remnant of giants, whose excessive force and tyranny had consumed the rest. Them Brutus destroies, and to his people divides the land, which, with some reference to his own name, he thenceforth calls Britain. To Corineus Cornwall, as now we call it, fell by lot; the rather by him liked, for that the hugest giants in rocks and caves were said to lurk still there; which kind of monsters to deal with was his old exercise." He was indeed the father of Cornish wrestling, which has ever since been so popular and so excellent. The poet proceeds to tell us how Corineus wrestled with the giant Goemagog (or Gogmagog) and threw him into the sea. Drayton, in relating the same legend, hints at the true cause that enabled the smaller Neolithic Ivernians to subdue the taller Paleolithic inhabitants; it being a fact that there was a difference in height great enough to be magnified by fancy and exaggeration into the myth of the giants. He tells how Gogmagog was brought forward as a champion to daunt the Trojan invaders:—

"Great Gogmagog, an oak that by the rootes could tear; So mighty were (that time) the men who lived there: But, for the use of arms he did not understand (Except some rock or tree that coming next to hand, He raised out of earth to execute his rage), He challenge makes for strength, and offereth there his gage."

If there is any basis to this Brutus legend at all, it may be taken as denoting an invasion of higher culture, of the later Stone or early Metal Age, opposed to the greater physical strength but inferior weapons of a lower scale in civilisation. Methods and materials of war were the standard of advance then, as they seem to be still the measure of dominance now. All tradition states that the struggle between Corineus and the giant took place on Plymouth Hoe, on a spot now partly covered by the Citadel. Plymouthians so devoutly cherished the legend that they preserved the figures of the two wrestlers, cut in the turf after the manner of the famous White Horses; but either a greater scepticism or another need for the site has caused the figures to vanish long since. As Corineus, by the same tradition, became first Duke of Cornwall, it was supposed that he bestowed his name on the Duchy; but the "Corn" is not so easily identified as this, and to get at the true origin we should have to understand more definitely the derivation of the tribal name Cornavii. But it does seem that the Plymouth Hamoaze can claim to be the Hamo's Port which Geoffrey of Monmouth wrongly identified with Southampton; and this proves that the fine estuary, where the pulse of national life now beats so strongly, was a haunt of navigators, defenders and invaders, in days before Britain's story had begun to be written. Britain also can never forget the part that Plymouth played in repulsing the Great Armada. It may or may not have been true that Drake was playing bowls on the Hoe when the Spanish ships were sighted; it may not be true that he said, "There's time to play the game out and to thrash the Spaniards afterwards." We can cherish this doubtful tradition or not, as we happen to be credulous or sceptical; but in any case that was the genuine spirit of the West Country in those days of stress, and that was the spirit by which the British Empire was moulded. It was a spirit born of rough seas and unruly winds, the confidence that sprang from successful struggle with peril and difficulty, the pluck that confesses nothing to be impossible. It was a spirit that loved sport, yet never shrank from war.

But the glorious memories that linger on Plymouth Hoe, perhaps the finest promenade in the kingdom, must not hinder us from passing over to the Cornwall coasts that are luring us with all their varied and exquisite beauty. We cannot stay to recall the sailing of the Mayflower from Plymouth Barbican, nor the wonderful siege endured by the town during the great Civil War—the fiercest siege of all that sad conflict, successfully sustained by the Plymouthians against the forces that the King's generals, backed by loyal Cornwall, could bring against them. The tales and associations that belong to the "Three Towns" are of the deepest interest; and surely no other English shires have so grand a dividing-line as this mouth of the three rivers. We must not forget that Devon itself was once a part of Cornwall or "West Wales."

We may well start our journey round the coast at Mount Edgcumbe, where we find ourselves on Cornish soil, however eagerly Plymouthians may claim the Mount as one of their special beauty-spots. There is good excuse for the tradition that the Spanish Admiral, Medina Sidonia, when he caught sight of Mount Edgcumbe on his way up the Channel in charge of the Armada, was so impressed by its loveliness that he selected the estate as his own future reward of victory. It is pretty certain, however, that on this occasion the Admiral would not have sighted Mount Edgcumbe at all until after-events had begun to render him a little less cocksure of the result. But he may have seen the manor during some earlier and more peaceful visit. The Edgcumbes are a Devonshire family, coming from the neighbourhood of Tavistock; the estate came to the possession of Sir Piers Edgcumbe by his marriage with Joan Durnford, of East Stonehouse, and the present house was begun by his son, Sir Richard, in 1553. It is possible that Sidonia had been a guest of Sir Richard's in the following year, when there was a notable gathering of Admirals here. There are some defences still standing that were erected in anticipation of the Armada, and these were brought into use by the Civil War, when Royalist Edgcumbe frowned defiance at Parliamentary Plymouth across the Sound. But it was Plymouth that had the last word, and Edgcumbe had to surrender in 1645. The peaceful memories of the spot are more in accord with its beauty than those of discord and bloodshed; that beauty, and the number of its distinguished visitors, had made it famous throughout Europe. The place has been noted for its hospitality and for its many guests, from the days of Cosmo de' Medici to those of our late King. During his stay at Torquay, after the close of the Franco-German War, the Emperor Napoleon III. came hither with his son; and it was only two days later that the Crown Prince of Prussia, afterwards the beloved Emperor Frederick, was here with his wife and sons, one of whom, the Kaiser, now looms so large in the imagination of Europe. But art has its associations with this spot, even more interesting than those of royalty. The elder Vandevelde is supposed to have been here, and to have painted his "Royal Charles" as the guest of Sir Richard Edgcumbe; this and other paintings of his are preserved among the art treasures. A little more certainty attaches to the visits of Sir Joshua Reynolds. He was the son of the headmaster of Plympton School—a school that can boast connection with three other famous artists: Northcote, Eastlake, and Haydon; and as a boy young Reynolds became a frequent companion of the second Lord Edgcumbe, then a lad of about his own age. The two between them painted a portrait of Thomas Smart, Vicar of Maker, who was the young Edgcumbe's tutor. The picture was executed on a piece of sailcloth, in a boathouse at Cremyll. It is probable that the portrait was done rather with mischievous than artistic intent—a boy's picture of his tutor is not likely to be flattering; but Reynolds had already begun to show signs of his wonderful genius, and it may be guessed that he did the lion's share of the work. The friendship between the two lads survived to maturity, and there are many examples of the artist's ripe work at Mount Edgcumbe. There are three generations of the family from his pencil; and the marble busts in the saloon were purchased by him for this purpose, at Rome, which he first reached chiefly through his friend and patron's influence. There are also paintings here by Lely and Mascall, and there is a good deal of fine statuary in the grounds. When these grounds are hospitably thrown open to visitors, as they are so often, the educative influence of art, as well as that of natural beauty, is brought to bear on many, of whom we may hope that some are susceptible. When Sir Joshua brought Dr. Johnson to Plymouth, in 1762, we may feel sure that he took his great friend across to be introduced at Mount Edgcumbe; and we know that others connected with the same brilliant circle, such as General Paoli and Garrick, were visitors here. Garrick, indeed, celebrated the place in verse, as surpassing "all the mounts of England." Miss Burney came in 1789, on an occasion when "all 'the Royals' went sailing up the Tamar"; and she was delighted with the manor and its occupiers. There are therefore many ghosts wandering about among these Upper and Lower Gardens—the misnamed English Garden with its subtropical vegetation—magnolias, cork, bamboo: the Italian Garden with its orange-trees; the French Garden with its arbours and trellis and ilex-trees in the style of the old Empire. But the ghosts that walk here among the crowd of sight-seers, or at night when the moon glitters brilliantly on the broad estuary, or when the dark, moonless expanse is pierced with lights from pier and masthead and distant Eddystone—these ghosts are not such as we dread; they are the gracious figures of old-time guests, grizzled seamen of Elizabethan glory when men dreamed of new worlds and found them: kings, nobles, poets, painters, they are all here to greet us on our approach to the enchanted regions of the Delectable Duchy.

It is said that a parish clerk, more than a century since, wrote a poem about Mount Edgcumbe in which he stated that—

"Mount Edgcumbe is a pleasant place, It looketh on Hamoaze, And on it are some batteries To guard us from our foes."

The batteries are certainly there, more numerous than ever, and we may hope that they will fulfil the purpose ascribed to them. Picklecombe Fort, on the cliff below the grounds, is particularly powerful, and in conjunction with the similar forts on the opposite heights of Staddon might be able to render a good account of itself if Plymouth Sound were ever attempted. The massive breakwater might also become an effective obstacle to unfriendly navigation. This defence, built to protect the harbour from south-west and south-easterly winds, is a very fine piece of engineering. It was begun in 1812, and its construction took twenty-eight years. About four and a half million tons of limestone were brought from the Oreston quarries, and two and a half million cubic feet of granite from Dartmoor. The central length is 1,000 yards, each of the wings being 350 yards, making the total length nearly a mile. The original cost was L1,500,000, to which may be added the expense on the lighthouse and on frequent repairs and renovations. The utility of the work has amply repaid the outlay. Though the surface rises several feet above normal high water, there are many times when the breakwater is swept by waves from end to end.

Mount Edgcumbe is in the parish of Maker, and there is a sensational tale attaching to the interesting and finely situated church. It is said that a former Lady Edgcumbe was brought here for burial, and the sexton, left to himself, was trying to tear the rings off her fingers, when she gave a sigh and awoke. She had been merely in a trance. Returning to her home, she lived for many years after. This tale is sometimes told of Cotehele, an earlier seat of the family; but in any case it is one of those legends that have been told of many places, in England and abroad. Maker church tower was used as a signalling station during the French wars, in connection with another at Mount Wise; there is now a regular signal station at Rame Head. The lychgate and old font deserve attention. These heights, and especially the Mount Edgcumbe woodlands, suffered severely from the great blizzard of 1891, many of the finest trees being uprooted. At the foot of Maker heights are the twin villages of Kingsand and Cawsand, separated by a small brook; some of the houses, built across this, claim to be in both places at once. This provides one of the most frequent and popular trips of the Plymouth pleasure-steamers, and the picturesque spot, once haunted by smugglers, is now, during the summer months, a lively playground of the excursionist. It is said that Richmond, afterwards Henry VII., landed at this spot on his first attempt against Richard Crookback, his fleet having been scattered by a storm. Southward is Penlee Point, and westward Rame or Ram Head. This is the most southern point of East Cornwall, and the nearest land to Eddystone. There is an old saying—

"When Dodman and Ram-head meet,"

Dodman being the extreme point of Mevagissy Bay; and, as Ray tells us: "These are two forelands, well known to sailors, nigh twenty miles asunder, and the proverb passeth for the periphrasis of an impossibility." The Head, which is nearly insular, has a chapel dedicated to St. Michael on its summit. St. Michael was widely claimed as a patron of lofty and exposed places (such as the two St. Michael's Mounts); it was considered his especial function to disperse and set at naught all evil forces of tempest and thunderstorm. Rame Church, dating from the thirteenth century, is about a mile inland; it occupies the site of a still earlier building. Whitesand Bay (generally called Whitsand), which stretches westward towards Looe, has many memories of the past to offer those who, in summer, come hither in large numbers. It was here that Drake and Howard first confronted the Armada, after the memorable but possibly fabulous game of bowls. Whether the Spaniards intended making for Plymouth or no is not quite certain; but it is certain that the Englishmen intended to prevent them. It was in the early Sunday morning that the Spaniards first caught sight of the English fleet—the royal or official squadron under Lord Howard, the volunteers under Francis Drake. Displaying his consecrated standard, the Duke Medina endeavoured to interpose between the two sections of the opposing flotilla, thinking to destroy them separately at his ease; but he was readily circumvented in his design, finding to his cost that the English vessels could sail closer to the wind than his own, and could be manipulated more quickly, while their guns carried further. His cumbrous ships also were too much crowded with men, being fitter for transport than for action; the fighters were impeded by the press, and every effective shot from the enemy's guns found many victims. The English managed to keep at a distance while they delivered their raking broadsides, which, according to the Spanish notions, was against all principles of chivalrous sea warfare. But, as Froude says, "it was effective, it was perplexing, it was deadly." Drake and Howard did not wish to come to closer quarters with their formidable foes; a near embrace of those heavy galleons, fully manned with brave men, might soon have brought disaster; the struggle would have been too unequal. It is the art of the weaker to be elusive. The engagement lasted till late on Sunday afternoon, by which time the squadrons had drifted past Plymouth Sound. Not many hours later the Capitana, England's first prize, was being towed into Dartmouth harbour, giving a welcome booty in bullion and powder. The Armada had received a first blow, from which it never recovered; though recovery might yet have been possible if the winds had not fought for the English. The Spaniards' first taste of the West Country had probably satisfied them, but other death-traps lay to the eastward. The later story of the Armada belongs to distant Scottish and Irish coasts, whereon many of its finest vessels drifted; it is a story of calamity, blunder, and stubborn bravery; all the courage was not on one side of the conflict—perhaps the Spanish were as great in their failure as the English in their success.

The shores of Whitesand Bay, though so beautiful, are treacherous both to the seaman and the bather; their beaches have often been strewn with wreckage. The Bay is fully exposed to south-westerly winds, which often hurl tremendous seas upon its coast, and many a good vessel has been driven to its destruction. There are shifting sands here also, which are the source of peril to unwary bathers; and it was at this spot that Mr. E. Spender, the founder of the Western Morning News, was drowned, with his two sons; a memorial marks the spot. But many parts of the extensive bay are perfectly safe, and there are several nooks that are becoming increasingly popular with visitors from Plymouth, such as Port Wrinkle, with its coastguard station, and the pretty village of Downderry. A portion of the coast is in the parish of St. John's, and here there is a grotto excavated by a lieutenant, who is said to have cured himself of gout by this labour; the walls and entrance are inscribed with verse. Another of the Whitesand parishes is Antony East, so named to distinguish it from other Antonies further westward, which extends from the Lynher to the coast. In this is the seat of the Pole-Carew family, a branch of the old Devonshire Carews. The house dates from 1721, and has some good pictures by Holbein, Vandyke, and Reynolds. Carew, the Cornish historian, who died in 1620, lived and wrote his works here.



CHAPTER II

LOOE AND POLPERRO

As we pass along the coast from Whitesand Bay towards Looe we are approaching a spot that is now prized for its exceeding loveliness, but that formerly took high rank among the seaports of the West Country. In appearance and in ancient position it must be classed with Dartmouth and Fowey, which both were likewise notable ports in days when the English navy was in its sturdy infancy—days when the national pulse beat most keenly in the south and east instead of in the north and midlands. Commerce and industrialism have largely changed all that; Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham have assumed metropolitan importance in their densely populated districts. Only Plymouth in the south-west is now of first-class consequence to the nation; and Plymouth is a parvenu compared with Looe and Fowey. The actual decline of these two little towns may not be great, but relatively it is enormous. Yet it deserves a milder term than decay, for the present-day life here is still wholesome and in a certain sense prosperous. It is a gentle and placid prosperity, very largely the happiness of places that have no history. There is the compensation of a glorious past, and there is the further compensation that such places preserve for us the best picture of what Old England truly was in days before she became "a nation of shopkeepers." It is no use to go to the flourishing commercial cities to find traces of earlier England; these cities have usually swept away the traces of antiquity they once possessed—tortuous streets are straightened and widened, quaint old houses are thrown down, the picturesque makes way for the useful; even the old churches are looked at askance, as occupying ground that might be devoted to warehouses and offices. In these quiet corners of the West such temptations have not presented themselves; population is thin, and there is little call for the destructiveness of expansion; mediaevalism may still be found here, in the streets and byways, in the houses, and sometimes in the people. The chief peril is in the intrusion of the summer holiday and the "week-end." Irreparable damage is sometimes prompted by the desire to attract visitors. But those who come to the West Country are not usually such as seek for the noise and glare of the conventional watering-place. They come for natural beauty, pure air, and quietude. The recreative pleasure that they crave must be of a different kind from that with which they can daily become familiar if they please. There are theatres and music-halls in town; it does not add to the wittiness of the Pierrot or the humour of the comic singer to find them exercising their functions on a hot dusty beach, densely packed with humanity, strewn with torn newspapers, burnt matches, orange skins, and banana peelings. Yet those who feel in this manner are a minority, otherwise certain popular resorts would be less flourishing.

The crowds that flock to the average watering-place may leave their toils behind them, but they apparently wish to carry their amusements. Even the jaded mill-hand asks for the congested variety entertainments of Blackpool or of Douglas, rather than for the solitudes of shore and woodland. In moments of pessimism one may fear that the very capacity of peaceful enjoyment is being killed, and that ceaseless grinding work destroys the power of resting. When the ordinary tourist visits places of peaceful solitariness he usually does so in crowds that rifle and ravish the sacredness of this solitude; he ruthlessly desecrates that which he does not understand; he never learns its secrets; the most commonplace of public parks would have responded fully to his needs and their gratification. But the West has long been a resort of that wiser, certainly better endowed, minority that seeks for direct personal contact with Nature, face to face, and not merely as seen through the glass windows of huge pavilions or from the seats of fashion-haunted promenades. Therefore the majority of Western watering-places are not yet spoiled; their physical features have often assisted to preserve them. They have not lost the quaint simplicity of their parochialism, to become national if not cosmopolitan. Constant intercourse with even the most sober of visitors must take something from the provincialism, the cherished traditions and local customs, the personal peculiarities and dialect. But there is still a good deal left; there is still the possibility of reaching Nature in her inmost sanctuaries, and at the same time winning some of those elusive and shy confidences that are the charm of locality.



In this sense Looe, or rather the two Looes, are purely delightful. When we liken the place to Fowey or Dartmouth we must grant it the advantages of being closer to the sea; it stands actually at the mouth of its river, instead of retired within protecting sea-gates. To some extent it has to submit to the tender mercies of the tripper, for Plymouth steamboats are fond of bringing excursionists here; apart from these invasions, the spot is as peaceful as could be desired except by the veriest misanthropist. Approached by rail from Liskeard, the journey is made in leisurely backward and forward stages, the engine being reversed at times; so that passengers, who are requested not to get out till "the train is at rest," sometimes imagine themselves to be carried back to their point of departure. It is an amusing little line, but it serves its purpose; and indeed has a definite usefulness in reminding us that we have come away from bustle and hurry to a region of placid leisure and quietness. Arrived at the journey's end, one at first wonders how the people get in and out of their houses, so higgledy-piggledy do they appear to be piled one on top of the other; but the mystery may be solved by exploring the lanes and allies. Deliveries of produce are still often made by panniered donkeys, in quaint old-world fashion. There are two Looes, East and West, and two rivers of the same name which meet above the bridge. East Looe belongs to the parish of St. Martin's, and West Looe to that of Talland; both were granted a corporation in the time of Elizabeth, and each, before the Reform Bill, returned two representatives to Parliament. The credit of having sent twenty vessels and 315 men to the siege of Calais is given to East Looe, but it may be guessed that all the residents on the banks of the Looe rivers joined in this great patriotic effort. Those were the days of the town's fiercest activities, though its business as a port trading with the Continent endured till long afterwards; and the pilchard-fishery was once more important than it is now. Pilchards now for the most part keep further west. There is still much fishing done, and some small coastwise shipping gives occasional bustle to the rugged little banjo-shaped pier. There was anciently a great animosity between the two Looes, as was natural with such near neighbours; and the two still nourish a lurking contempt for each other, not always successfully concealed. They are at one, however, in their scorn for the pretensions of Fowey. An intense local patriotism, that really cannot tolerate outside claims, is a feature of many Western towns; a man from the next parish is almost as much a foreigner as if he came from "the shires." The two Looes have been brought to an enforced companionship, but they are not mutually conciliatory. East Looe can claim to be the business portion of the town, having the pier and the principal shops, while West Looe is more select and residential. The debate as to the greater antiquity may be left for the two to settle between themselves, but its harbour and pier must long have given East Looe the practical precedence. At the harbour some coal and limestone are imported, and there is a shipment of fish, bark, granite, and china-clay. East Looe boasts a further relic of its past in the ancient pillory preserved at the porch of its town hall. St. Martin's, the parish church, has a Norman door, and a font that appears to be of the same date; there is also a more modern church, St. Anne's, whose dedication recalls that of the chapel which formerly stood on the old fourteen-arch bridge, long since displaced. At West Looe the church of St. Nicholas was once used as a town hall and room for general entertainment, and very curious indeed were some of the amusements that used to come here. Mr. Baring-Gould tells us that when he first saw Looe it struck him as one of the oddest old-world places in England. There was a booth-theatre fitted up, and luring the folk to its dingy green canvas enclosure. "The repertoire comprised blood-curdling tragedies. I went in and saw 'The Midnight Assassin; or, The Dumb Witness.' Next evening was to be given 'The Vampire's Feast; or, The Rifled Tomb.' This tragedy was followed by Allingham's play, 'Fortune's Frolick,' adapted to the narrow capacities of the company. It was performed in broad Cornish, and interspersed with some rather good and I fancy original songs. But surely nowhere else but at Looe could such a reminiscence of the old strolling company-show of fifty or sixty years ago be seen." It is said that there are still queer things to be seen at the annual fair of May 6th, the West Looe "cattle and pleasure fair." But the contact with outside influences has had its natural effect; Looe is not quite what it once was; better approaches have been made, so that the visitor no longer drops sheer upon the roofs of the houses as he did once; the claims of local improvement and sanitation have done something to remove quaint and characteristic features. Yet there are still picturesque whitewashed houses with ragged gables and outside staircases; there are still curious old porches and delightful hanging-gardens where myrtle, hydrangea, and geranium can thrive all the year round. The shops still partake of the dual character that we find in quiet villages, so that the grocer is also the chemist and the butcher is the greengrocer. In one case the grocer has not only a chemist's store but also keeps a circulating library—a charming confusion of trades that enables the visitor to do his shopping within very limited range. The fishing done here, both professionally and as a sport, is fairly considerable; the Looe fishing-fleet often goes as far afield as the shores of Ireland, but when at home the men hang about the quay in the usual fashion of their kind, getting an occasional job with visitors, but more often enjoying that dreamy laziness for which they appear supremely qualified. They have the faculty of gazing long and intently at nothing, and of disputing for hours over subjects of scarcely greater tangibility; but their capabilities and efficiency must not be measured by their customary longshore attitude. Sometimes their wrangling almost equals that of the gulls that clamour in crowds about the small harbour, and that are always on the look-out for refuse thrown from the boats or from the quaysides. A special haunt of these gulls is the little Looe Island lying off West Looe, which is about a mile in circumference and 170 feet in height. This islet, also called St. George's Isle, because a chapel to St. George once stood here, is of great value to the river-mouth as a natural breakwater, and was once of further value as an inestimable aid in smuggling. Traces of the chapel may yet be seen on the summit of the isle, and human remains found here may possibly date from an early Christian settlement; but the prevailing memories of the island are by no means saintly. It was once occupied by a reprobate pair who certainly lived the "simple life" to perfection so far as locality was concerned, but whose simplicity may otherwise be doubted. These were a man named Fyn and his sister "Black Joan," who appear to have been born on the Mewstone, near Plymouth, and who were as wild as their companion seabirds. Their desperate cleverness assisted ably in the running of many an untaxed cargo; and even when a coastguard was placed on the island itself, his vigilance was quite insufficient to baffle them. The smugglers of Whitsand Bay well knew the uses of Looe island, and made frequent expeditions to it. The supposed fishermen of Cawsand did far more smuggling than they did in their avowed avocation, finding it more exciting and profitable; they were joined by many wild spirits from Plymouth, discharged navy men, loafers, and dare-devils. A special kind of galley was built to suit them, ostensibly intended for seine-fishing, but in reality adapted for high speed and easy handling; and these boats often made the journey to and from the French shores, in the face of terrible danger not only from Preventive forces, but from sea and rock. Very often the cargoes were not landed at all from these boats, but were sunk near shore, to be fetched as opportunity offered. Suspicion soon attached to these fleet Cawsand fishing-boats, and when they set forth on their apparently innocent purpose, the coastguard men were in a state of irritated expectancy; they knew too often that they were being fooled, yet their task of prevention was both difficult and perilous. The order used to be sent out that "a rocket and blue-light will be fired from the Ramehead when the galleys go afloat, as a signal to Polperro." Many of the smugglers' tricks reveal invention of a high order. After their own galleys had earned too much of a risky reputation, many having been taken in the act, their owners resorted to the device of chartering French vessels, with which, under certain limits, the revenue cruisers could not interfere. It may be guessed that unscrupulous confederates on Looe island were able to play an important part in such enterprises; so that Fyn and "Black Joan" enjoyed a life of constant excitement, and an unlimited supply of the best spirits. Not many years since the floor of a barn on the islet collapsed, and underneath was discovered a cellar for the storage of such spirits. It will be seen that St. George's Isle fully deserved its share in the evil repute that formerly attached to such islands as the haunt of desperadoes; Lundy, off the North Devon coast, is another instance. It was probably in remembrance of this isle and its chapel that the Looe ship was named the George, of which it is related that, many centuries since, it attacked and captured three French vessels single-handed. But of this, and of Looe's nobler memories generally, there is small record.

In place of such we have an interesting memorial of Looe's former use of the "cage," a companion instrument to the pillory. It is stated that "at East Looe Hannah Whit and Bessie Niles, two women of fluent tongue, having exerted their oratory on each other, at last thought it prudent to leave the matter in dispute to be settled by the Mayor. Away they posted to his worship. The first who arrived had scarce begun her tale when the other bounced in in full rage, and began hers likewise, and abuse commenced with redoubled vigour. His worship, Mr. John Chubb, ordered the constable to be called, and each of the combatants thought her antagonist was going to be punished, and each thought right. When the constable arrived, his worship pronounced the following command to him, 'Take these two women to the cage, and there keep them till they have settled their dispute.'" It is therefore clear that the name of John Chubb must be added to the roll of Looe heroes; and something may also be said for the constable—if he accomplished his mission safely.

There are many beautiful walks to be enjoyed from Looe, one being along the cliffs to Downderry; still more delightful is the walk along the banks of the West Looe River to Watergate, where the luxuriant foliage and the rich undergrowth of ferns are a perpetual joy. Such wooded loveliness is of a kind that we do not usually associate with Cornwall, though it is amply to be found in different parts of the Duchy; it is more like parts of the Lyn or the Wye than what is generally attributed to Cornwall. Another beautiful walk or row is up the east river to Sandplace. Talland also should certainly be visited; it is about two miles from West Looe, of which it is the mother-parish. The church, with its campanile tower, is most finely situated among wooded hills, and contains some beautiful workmanship. There is an altar-tomb of Sir John Beville, 1574; and there are bench-ends bearing Beville and Grenville arms. The families were connected, as we are reminded by the name of the noble Sir Beville Grenville. The transept was formerly known as the Killigarth Chapel; and Killigarth, close by, was formerly the Beville manor, noted in old days for its prodigal hospitality. The house has been destroyed, and a farm stands on the site, retaining the old name. A mile or two inland is Trelawne, another notable Cornish manor associated with one of the great old families. Parts of the house, which is in Pelynt parish, date from the fifteenth century, but a great deal of restoration has been done. The Trelawneys removed hither from Alternon in 1600. Mrs. Bray's novel, Trelawney of Trelawne, gives many particulars about the family and the locality; but this typical Cornish name is now chiefly recalled by the refrain of Hawker's "Song of the Western Men":—

"And shall Trelawney die? Here's twenty thousand Cornishmen Will know the reason why."

Hawker's song, which both Scott and Macaulay took to be a genuine old local ballad, was skilfully woven around those three lines and made to apply to the committal of the Seven Bishops, Sir Jonathan Trelawney, then Bishop of Bristol, being one of the Seven. The ballad had an enormous circulation and reputation, but, being issued anonymously, brought little renown to its author. The refrain is generally supposed, and was believed by Hawker himself, to belong to a popular ballad of the days when the bishops were committed; but it seems to have been earlier still, and to belong directly to this neighbourhood of West Looe. It has been revealed that an earlier Trelawney was imprisoned in the Tower in 1627, and there seemed a probability that his life would be taken. Being much beloved in the district of his home, some one was inspired to write the quatrain:—

"And must Trelawney die, And shall Trelawney die? We've thirty thousand Cornish boys Will know the reason why!"

This circulated rapidly through the Duchy, and reached London, where it is said to have procured the Cornishman's release. It is certain that John Trelawney was committed to the Tower in 1627 by the House of Commons, but was shortly released by order of the King and created a baronet. It is very probable, therefore, that this occasion was really the origin of the much-debated refrain, and that its use was revived by the committal of Bishop Trelawney, if not on other occasions and attached to other names as well. Hawker was not always sufficiently explicit as to the derivations of his poems, and he was guilty of one or two mystifications, some of which still survive in the popular guide-books (such as his story of the "Silent Bells of Bottreaux"); but he cannot be accused on this occasion, as he never asserted that his ballad was really ancient; and he certainly did fine service in embodying and perpetuating the stirring refrain. As Hawker states, he never claimed the chorus, but he did claim the ballad.

But after making all allowance for the beauties and varied associations of the Looes and of Talland, it must candidly be confessed that the great gem of the district is Polperro. From West Looe it is reached by way of Portlooe and Talland; there are daily excursions by brake from Looe in the season. Of course visitors can go by boat if they prefer; the distance is about four miles. The little port was once much more inaccessible than it is now; passengers literally dropped into it by a path part of which was cut into steps; no wheeled vehicle could possibly get down. The houses cluster at the mouth of a deep ravine that runs up to the village of Crumplehorn. Approaching the place by road, Mr. Norway says that "just at first one sees nothing of the town, but all at once it bursts upon the sight as the road runs round a bend, a striking huddled group of houses, cast so strangely into a heap as to produce the impression that they must have been built originally upon the hillside at comfortable distances apart; and that by some slipping of the rock foundations the houses have slid and slid until they can slide no further, but are brought to a standstill in the very bottom of the hollow.

"The confusion of the town is immense. It is a labyrinth of winding alley often ending in a cul-de-sac. But the downward sweep of the headlands is superb; and under the towering cliffs studded with bosses of golden furze lies a little pier and harbour with the sea-foam flying sharply round the jutting peaks of rock before a stiff south-wester, while the gulls wheel shrieking overhead, and out at sea a schooner is labouring heavily." Unfortunately, the cliffs, both here and at Talland, have lately been somewhat disfigured by huge scaffoldings erected by the Admiralty for speed tests; but it takes more than this to spoil Polperro. In spite of its appearance of having slipped, many of the houses look as if they were carved out of the very rock itself, and in some cases their steps actually are so carved. Polperro, part of which is in the parish of Talland and part in Lansallos, remains more lonely and primitive than Looe, for it is not touched by the railway, and its site offers little temptation to expansion. But it is becoming more and more sought after; artists have learned to love it and have introduced it to the art galleries; the inevitable sophistication must follow, just as Clovelly and Robin Hood's Bay have become sophisticated. But nothing can take from Polperro the loveliness of its position at the mouth of this seaward gorge, the beauty of the hills that surround it, the deep, restful blue of its seas. There are three piers protecting its safe little harbour, but even these are hardly enough in times of tempest, and heavy baulks of wood are let down into grooves, further to break the force of the waves. The sea has played a deadly part to Polperro folk in the past, and is ready to do so again. Old Jonathan Couch, the forefather of our present "Q," gives a striking picture of what Polperro used to be like in a storm during the days when he was doctor here, a century since:—"The noise of the wind as it roars up the coomb, the hoarse rumbling of the angry sea, the shouts of the fishermen engaged in securing their boats, and the screams of the women and children carrying the tidings of the latest disaster, are a peculiarly melancholy assemblage of sounds, especially when heard at midnight. All who can render assistance are out of their beds, helping the sailors and fishermen; lifting the boats out of reach of the sea, or taking the furniture of the ground-floors to a place of safety." Every fishing port round the coast knows what such a tempest means, and the horror, the hopeless and helpless desolation it arouses in the minds of the women at home, if it should overtake their men at sea. In these aspects, at least, our shores are still primitive; they still know the primal force of wind and waves: there is no sophisticating, no taming of these. But days are not all of storm and wreckage; there are many times here when the waves lap peacefully against the old stone piers, when the air is soft and delicious, and when the women at their doors, engaged in their everlasting task of knitting jerseys for their men, can chatter of the happiest subjects without dreaming of storm or shipwreck. This is the calmer mood in which visitors generally find Polperro.

Probably not many visitors will trouble to inquire into the derivation of the name of Polperro; they will be content to know that it is Cornish. There would be something to do indeed if tourists were to ask the meaning of every place-name they meet with, and if they depended on local replies their last state would certainly be worse than their first. But an intelligent inquiry into the origin of place-names is always delightful and useful. Pol, of course, is one of the recognised Cornish prefixes; it is simply pool, the Welsh pwll, a creek or inlet or "pill." The perro is supposed to be a corruption of Peter, and the whole name would thus mean Peter's Pool, so called from a chapel to St. Peter that once stood on Chapel Hill. An earlier name was Porthpeyre, which neither assists nor contradicts such a derivation. That St. Peter should be the patron of an old fishing town is only natural. Leland speaks of the place: "a fishar towne with a peere." There are some who say that you really have to walk sideways in Polperro, the streets are so narrow; but that is an exaggeration. Small as the place is, it afforded abundant material to Mr. Jonathan Couch, the country doctor who lived and died here (1788-1870), for his History of Polperro, which is a very charming book; and he further added to the reputation of the town by discovering certain ichthyolitic remains known as the "Polperro fossils." Happily he was a naturalist who recognised that the study of man is an important branch of all natural history; and geologic curiosities, interesting as they are, can hardly compete with the tales of old Polperro privateers and smugglers. Polperro built its own boats as it bred its own seamen, and both were excellent. That they were arrant smugglers was a characteristic of the times and of the locality; it is not for us to judge them. That they were men of piety is proved by the epitaph of that smuggler who prays for the pardon of the Preventive man who had shot him down:—

"I by a shot which rapid flew Was instantly struck dead. Lord, pardon the offender who My precious blood did shed."

They were able to show a clean pair of heels not only to the excisemen but also to the King's enemies; as was proved by the Polperro captain who escaped from right under the nose of two French frigates during our last war with "that sweet enemy, France."

Lansallos, one of the mother-parishes of Polperro, has a finely placed church, useful as a sea-mark. It seems to have been in this parish that a former resident had a very interesting duck-pond. It had all the appearance of being like other ponds, and the revenue officers, who sometimes dined here with their hospitable host, could see nothing in the least suspicious. But, when desired, this duck-pond could be made to swing round on a pivot, and underneath it was a most convenient recess which was an admirable storehouse for such things as it was not expedient for the Preventive men to see. The ingenuity fostered by smuggling was notorious, but surely few cleverer devices than this were ever conceived for the evasion of the King's revenue.



CHAPTER III

FOWEY

The traveller along the cliffs from Polperro to the Fowey estuary finds himself first in the parish of Lanteglos, known as Lanteglos-by-Fowey, to distinguish it from Lanteglos-by-Camelford. The accent, locally, is laid on the second syllable; and the name is a curious composite of Celtic and corrupted Latin. Taking the t as simply euphonious, we have the Celtic lan, first signifying an enclosure, then a sacred enclosure or consecrated ground, finally the church erected on such an enclosure; and eglos, a corruption of the Latin ecclesia, found elsewhere in Cornwall at Egloshayle and Egloskerry; the same word appearing usually in English place-names as Eccles, in Welsh as Eglwys, in Irish as Aglish or Eglish (Gaelic, eaglais). The llan or lan may generally be considered of earlier date than the eglwys or eglos. Lanteglos is a large parish, with which visitors chiefly become familiar by means of Polruan, a kind of suburb of Fowey across the river. To many persons the beauty and grandeur of the scenery will be more attractive than any antiquarian details, but there can be no harm in mentioning that the church of Lanteglos is dedicated to St. Wyllow, who is supposed to have had his cell here in the early days of Cornish saintdom, and to have been murdered by a relative who was probably an unrepentant pagan. The greater number of the parishioners live at Polruan, distant rather more than a mile; the church is surrounded by fields and lanes, whose luxuriant growth of bank and hedge suggest a rich humidity of soil. In summer there is a remarkable abundance of ragged-robins by the wayside, with honeysuckles and wild-roses clustering above them in glorious profusion; here and there rises the stately spire of a foxglove. Ferns of exquisite grace and loveliness dispute the right of existence with brambles and grasses and moss; and golden grain comes close to the churchyard wall. Standing as it does in such isolation, it is surprising to find that the church is a building of considerable size; but it is never rare to discover noble churches even in greater solitude than this—our forefathers did not measure the size of their churches in relation to the probable number of their congregations. Also, the fact that a church is out of sight does not always mean that it is out of mind; and when the fine, deep-sounding peal of Lanteglos bells rings for service on Sunday mornings, a good number of countryfolk wend their way through the lanes and meadows towards it. A rugged and time-worn Celtic cross keeps guard beside the porch, having, doubtless, stood here since the days when the first Christian missionaries found these monoliths of granite serving a pagan purpose, and transformed them with rough labour into the Christian symbol. There is another such cross standing on the hill about a mile distant, looking down on the little fishing harbour of Polruan, by which is also a holy well. It is not many years since Lanteglos Church was a disgrace to the country-side, by reason of the decay into which it had been allowed to fall; but that period of neglect is past, and a careful restoration has preserved the noble groining of the interior and the fine woodwork of the benches. The building, chiefly Decorated with Perpendicular tower, is specially notable for its admirable ribbed vaulting. The font is of earlier date, and near it are the parish stocks, once devoted to the confining of unruly legs. In the Lady Chapel, south of the chancel, where an abortive stairway points to the former existence of a rood-gallery, is a lovely altar, constructed mainly of pure alabaster, and the flooring before both altars is of highly polished marble. Here, too, are some fine old brasses to members of a family that has played its part in the nation's history; one member of which family, the duellist Mohun, is a prominent figure in Thackeray's Esmond. The Mohuns, coming from Dunster, settled at Hall House in this parish in the fourteenth century; it was doubtless in connection with them that the church once belonged to a Bridgwater foundation. But the Mohuns had removed to Boconnoc by the time that they achieved their greatest notoriety, in the person of Lord Charles, some of whose duels partook rather of the nature of assassination than of fair fight, the most notable being his slaying of the actor Mountford. It was in keeping with his life that Mohun should die in a combat of such fierceness that both the combatants, himself and the Duke of Hamilton, received mortal wounds. Hall House, near the Bodinnick side of the ferry from Fowey, is now a farm, embodying some remains of the old mansion. The Hall Walk above this eastern bank of the river gives a magnificent view of Fowey town and harbour. Fowey itself needs to be seen from such a spot to be fitly appreciated. The house was taken and held for the King by Sir Richard Grenville, and it is said that Charles, who was here in August, 1644, was nearly struck by a ball from across the river, Fowey being at that time in the hands of the Parliamentarian Essex.

Bodinnick is just a tiny hamlet, a small cascade of houses tumbling to the riverside, with its own stone slip to meet the ferry at its foot. The road to this ferry is so steep as to be almost precipitous, and the cottages abutting on its side are embowered in fragrant bloom. There is a runnel of water at the roadside, and in one place this water is collected in a round stone basin that looks immensely old; from this it trickles forth again with coolness and musical plash. Having reached this spot, we may as well pass over into Fowey by the ferry here instead of by that from Polruan. If we had already come from Fowey to Bodinnick we should find that the ferryman would carry us back without further payment; the outward fee included a return—not like the ferry of Charon which had no return for passengers. The oars dip peacefully into the water, breaking its surface of glistening light; a delicious coolness, that phantom fragrance of water to which we can give no name, steals upward soothingly and sweetly.

Fowey, whose position is strikingly like that of Dartmouth, is named from its river, which rises at Foy-Fenton on the Bodmin Moors and passes through Lostwithiel on its journey to the mouth. Mr. Baring-Gould derives its name, as that of the Fal, from the Celtic falbh, which means the "running or flowing," but the point is hardly clear. It is pleasant to turn from such disputations to the place itself, which has become famous in present-day romance as "Troy Town," the fanciful title bestowed by a gifted literary resident. The true street of this town may be said to be its river, where it is delightful to do one's business by water—much pleasanter than the narrow and somewhat dingy road that lies out of sight behind. Each garden has its boat moored at its foot, where the tide eternally whispers and gurgles and ripples. Sometimes the stream flows silently, though it may be with power; at other times it finds a voice by which the air is possessed and thrilled. The old stained walls, the rugged ladders by which the folk descend to their boats, are washed by the clear, pure waters; the shimmer of water enters the dwelling-rooms and is reflected on the ceilings, a fluctuating quiver of light, moved by every breeze that ruffles the surface of the stream. The small gardens are green to the edge of the walls that drop sheer to the river; these ladders and gardens are the true household gates. Here and there may be a small strip of quay, with the soil and grime of industry—perhaps the blackness of coal-dust; but the prevalent flavour is domestic. Higher up the river there may be more dissonance, where the steamboats are being laden with china-clay and stone; there is a clang of cranes, a rattle of machinery, a bustle out of unison with the placid water beneath, the dense woodland behind. Maritime doings seem to lose much of their beauty when they are dependent on steam—they cannot lose it all. For pure beauty we must go to the sailing-boat, whether it be the fisher's smack with red or tawny sail, the graceful yacht of pleasure, the schooner or barque of commerce. All these are represented in this lovely harbour within its protecting sea-gates; but none of them are represented intrusively; there is plenty of room, and there are delightful creeks running up into utter woodland solitude, like that one which is the pleasantest way of reaching Lanteglos Church.

One feature of this Fowey creek is its constant clamour of seagulls. From morning to night their voice can be heard, sometimes with a noise of wrangling and discordance, sometimes in single cries of bodeful complaint. Occasionally the din is such that it is difficult to hear a friend speaking; the birds cluster and hover and swoop above with fierce argument and angry parleying. They are so accustomed to human presences that, even if sometimes a nuisance, they are more often a joy. They are never molested; they have a sense of privilege—the good women of the houses will come out and talk to them as one might to a pet canary. Very often the house-wife throws broken food to them, and laughs at their scramble for it—the birds' queer difficulty in settling downward on the water, the wide sweeps they take to reach what lies beneath, the awkward dives and tumblings when they are near the surface. In full flight they are graceful and buoyant, with an easy command of their passage; but in descending thus to snatch something from the tide they often appear clumsy. When the object they want is close beneath, they do not seem able to reach it without fluttering and effort; whereas if they see anything from a distance they can swoop down upon it with the greatest ease. Sometimes one will gather some morsel from the water or exposed beach, and soar away with it; if observed, another, or perhaps two, will pursue him, trying to snatch the booty from him. A flying bird with his beak engaged in holding a treasure is very much at the mercy of his pursuers; his only resource is either to outstrip his covetous comrades, or else hastily to gobble the desired morsel in a manner that must rob it of some of its sweetness. These gulls are peculiarly fond of settling on the boats that are moored at the foot of the gardens; sometimes as many as fourteen or fifteen may be seen on one little rowing-boat, all sitting solemnly with their heads turned in one direction. A single bird will alight first, and others follow till the boat is occupied from stem to stern. Such of the boats as are in frequent use are seldom visited in this way; but the birds select those that are rarely used, and the owners of these boats do not always appreciate the selection. Some are covered with canvas as a defence, and a few are at times decorated with streamers of coloured rags, like those that we innocently place in our gardens in seed-time to scare the sparrows. The gulls soon recover from their alarm, if they ever feel any; and it is somewhat suggestive of irony to watch a gull calmly wiping his beak on a piece of rag intended to scare him away. Whether meant as insulting or not, such conduct does not provoke the inhabitants to severe reprisals; the gulls are an institution of the place, to be grumbled at sometimes but always to be tolerated. And all the grumbling is not on one side, as one may judge from the noise the birds sometimes make. At times the sharp cawing of black crows mingles with the croaking, and of course other birds have their say as well, in the bright mornings and dreamy eves. Out beyond the mouth of the harbour there are curlews and puffins on the lonely sea-washed crags; and in quiet weather there are more of the gulls seaward than up among the gardens. But they may certainly be regarded as the presiding genius of Fowey.



The village of Fowey—it calls itself a town—runs along in a single street on the westward bank of the river. At first sight this street is almost unattractive; it is narrow, with some awkward bends, and it gives no view of the water except an occasional peep through a low doorway. It runs to a considerable distance, and tries to increase its importance by changing its name at intervals; a few small alleys and by-roads strike off from it. One of its turnings is a sharp drop as well as a curve, perilous to all but the initiated. In some parts when a vehicle passes it is necessary to press very close indeed to the wall or in the kindly shelter of a doorway; the ample omnibus of the chief hotel spares little space for pedestrians. It may be with something of a malicious chuckle that one notices that this four-wheeled tyrant is often empty; but the malice is of evanescent nature, born of narrow escape. There are some shops, respectable if not imposing, and a goodly supply of inns; a fine church and a notable old Cornish manor-house. But all the time one has a sense that the real life of the place is the river behind these houses; even the leisurely little railway station does not seem of much consequence, though it acts as a feeder of the boats that busily ply here. Quite obviously this is no resort of mere pleasure, and it is all the more pleasurable for that; it has set itself to live sturdily, not troubling to attract the idler and the luxurious. Fowey is not altogether content to repose on its memories, though these are great. Generations of those who laboured on deep waters have nestled in these riverside homesteads, these nooks and corners and precipitous byways; they were lusty fighters and dauntless smugglers; they rose for their old faith, they fought loyally for their king, and they molested his enemies when he was at peace with them. In general they were a tough and independent lot, with a considerable scorn of those who live "in England"—that is to say, beyond the Tamar; and to this day an Englishman from the shires is very much of a foreigner with them. Even the man from a parish a few miles distant is looked at somewhat askance; after long years of residence they will still think him an outsider, and they repudiate with scorn the idea that any interlopers can understand them or their ways. They do not easily initiate strangers into the local mysteries or bestow the freedom of their township. Such an attitude may be out of date in this cosmopolitan age, but it is not unpleasant to strike against it; it coexists with the kindest of welcomes, the warmest of hospitalities. Yet it must be confessed that there are moods in which these Cornish folk are neither kind nor hospitable; their roughness is very rough, their parliamentary elections are often conducted in a spirit notorious for its violence. They are not all the gentle visionary dreamers that the Celts sometimes claim to be; indeed, there is much in their very physiognomy that proclaims them in large measure to be not true Celts at all, but men of still more aboriginal blood. Where then, it may be asked, shall we find the pure Celt? Yet it cannot matter greatly, except to those who set far too much store on matters of race. The weaving of ethnologic Britain would take more skill to unravel than the most learned can now attain to; it is a weft of many strands, strangely inter-knitted, and its result is infinite variety of personality. But it may be that here in Cornwall some of its earliest elements have lingered longer than in parts of the kingdom more exposed to invasion and immigration.

Both Plymouth and Falmouth may be spoken of as modern towns compared with Fowey. Its antiquity is proved by the dedication of its church to the Irish St. Finbar, who seems to have been a pupil of the Welsh Dewi, or St. David. Very many of Cornwall's saints came either from Ireland or Wales, and some from Brittany, to which the debt was repaid. Not much is known of Finbar, and that little is probably apocryphal. In 1336 the church was reconstructed and rededicated; Bishop Grandisson, who did this, may have thought that a more firmly established saint would be better, and he chose St. Nicholas, the patron of sailors and fishermen. A good part of the present building, including the north aisle, probably dates from that time; but the tower, a hundred feet high, is true Perpendicular. The groundwork has settled, causing a curious slope. The south-porch doorways appear to be late Norman. Among the monuments of the Treffrys is one erected by John Treffry during his own lifetime. Place House, the home of the Treffrys, stands close by, dominating the little town that presses around it. If its restoration had been conducted in better taste this fine old house might have been more beautiful than it is; its best features are the two exquisite fifteenth-century bay windows. The original hall and porch-room also survive, the latter being now known as the "Porphyry Room." Perhaps some visitors will take a deeper interest in the residence of Sir A. T. Quiller-Couch, the "Haven," standing pleasantly by the waterside, facing the mouth of the harbour. Thousands of readers have made the acquaintance of "Troy Town" through the romances of "Q"; and Mr. Couch is not only the writer of fiction that is often delightful, he is also a fine literary critic.

We do not know a great deal of Fowey in its earlier days, but its manor passed to Robert de Mortain at the Conquest. The town sent vessels to the Crusades, and in 1340 it shared with the port of Looe in sending a representative to a Council at Westminster. But the usual test by which historians now estimate the relative consequence of old English ports is the number of vessels contributed to the siege of Calais under Edward III., and by this test, which should not be pressed too hard, Fowey would appear to have been the chief port in the kingdom. She sent as many as forty-seven ships, the largest number of any, manned by 770 seamen. Next came Yarmouth, with fewer ships but more men; and Dartmouth was third. It is interesting to recall that to this memorable expedition Ilfracombe contributed six vessels, and Liverpool one. We may take it that the whole Fowey estuary shared in the manning and maintenance of this gallant squadron. The Fowey men had certainly the defect of their qualities, being proud and stiff-necked under the successes that attended them. It is reported that Fowey was made a member of the Cinque Ports, that very elastic "five"; but its comradeship in that association was clearly of a stormy and high-handed fashion. We read that certain Fowey men, passing near Rye and Winchelsea, "would vaile no bonnet," by which we may suppose is intended the customary salutation made in courtesy to a fellow-port.

Highly indignant, the men of Rye and Winchelsea sallied forth to teach the Foyens better respect, our seamen in those days being as willing to quarrel among each other as they were with the men of Normandy or Brittany. In the quaint words of the Cornish Hals, this contempt shown by the Fowey men, "by the better enabled seafarers reckoned intolerable, caused the Ripiers to make out with might and maine against them; howbeit with a more hardy onset than happy issue; for the Foy men gave them so rough entertainment as their welcome, that they were glad to depart without bidding farewell—the merit of which exploit afterwards entitled them Gallants of Fowey." Of course the Fowey men held their heads higher than ever after this, and even presumed to wear the arms of Rye and Winchelsea interwined with their own, in token of their supremacy. It was from such tough fibres that the British navy was built; those strenuous days of constant conflict and privateering were a grand tutorage for seamen, though not unexceptionable from a moral standpoint. But a town that behaved as Fowey did naturally had to suffer reprisals.

To quote again from Hals, we learn that certain Normans, with a commission from the King of France to "be revenged on the pirates of Fowey town, carried the design so secret that a small squadron of ships and many bands of marine soldiers was prepared and shipped without the Fowey men's knowledge. They put to sea out of the river Seine in July, 1457, and with a fair wind sailed thence across the British Channel and got sight of Fowey Harbour, where they lay off at sea till night, when they drew towards the shore and dropped anchor, and landed their marine soldiers and seamen, who at midnight approached the south-west end of Fowey town, where they killed all persons they met with, set fire to the houses and burnt one half thereof to the ground, to the consumption of a great part of the inhabitants' riches and treasures, a vast deal of which were gotten by their pyratical practices. In which massacre the women, children and weakest sort of people forsook the place and fled for safety into the hill country. But the stoutest men, under conduct of John Treffry Esquire, fortified themselves as well as they could in his then new built house of Place, where they stoutly opposed the assaults of the enemies, while the French soldiers plundered that part of the town which was unburnt without opposition in the dark." But the country-side was aroused, and men began to gather in such force that the French invaders found it prudent to depart with some haste, and with such of their spoil as they could hurriedly carry with them. They departed, says Hals, "with small honour and less profit." It was after this attack that the twin forts were built, at Polruan and Fowey, to protect the mouth of the river, and a chain was dropped at night between the two, as was the practice at Dartmouth.

It must have been on another occasion that the wife of Thomas Treffry, as Leland tells us, "repelled the French out of her house in her husband's absence." But the great days of Fowey were nearing their end. When Edward IV. made peace with France the town declined to countenance this termination of hostilities, and continued to wage war on its own account; perhaps it felt that there was much yet to be wiped off. "I am at peace with my brother of France," came the royal message; but the Fowey men were not at peace, and they said so. It is even stated that they slit the nose of the King's pursuivant, which almost made it appear that they were willing to be at war with the King of England also. Edward was not the man to be so trifled with, but the course he took was unkingly and despicable. He sent a party of men, who were clearly afraid to come nearer than Lostwithiel; and these, pretending to be harbouring some new designs against the French, invited the men of Fowey to come and take counsel with them. The Fowey men were then treacherously seized and their leader hanged; and the men of Dartmouth were fetched to take away the chain from Fowey Harbour and to snatch its ships. It may be that Dartmouth had some accounts to settle with its Cornish neighbour, but even these Devonians must have felt some grudging at such an act. This was the death-blow of Fowey's naval prosperity. She was now at the mercy of her foes, home or foreign. Yet she continued to bear herself bravely. Later, she erected St. Catherine's Fort as a defence; it is now a picturesque ruin. In the Civil War Fowey, like Cornwall generally, was loyal to her King, and though Essex took the town, it was soon retaken, with six thousand prisoners, and held for a year and a half longer. A few years later, (in 1666) the Dutch chased our Virginian fleet into Fowey Harbour, and dared to follow the vessels with the purpose of destroying them. But the Fowey forts had a word to say in the matter, and they made the place so hot for the great Dutch frigate of seventy guns, that it was glad enough to escape without finishing its errand. Such are the leading incidents in the history of this plucky little town, which formerly returned two members to Parliament. Relatively, its eminent position is entirely lost, but it has an eminence for loveliness of situation that can never be taken from it, and it can educate its sons in a glorious though chequered tradition. It has memories of occupation long before days of Cinque Port emulation. Close to Menabilly Park (Menabilly is the seat of the Rashleighs, a Cornish family of ancient repute) is a granite pillar known as the Longstone, bearing the inscription Cirusius hic jacit Cunomori filius, doubtless commemorating a Romanised Cornishman. At this manor-house, about two miles westward of Fowey, on a height above the sea, is a curious grotto built by a former Rashleigh to exemplify the mineral wealth of the Duchy. It is octagonal, and its sides are inlaid with native ores, fossils, shells, and stones. There is a further remarkable mineral collection at the house, with fine specimens of sulphuret of tin and copper, malachite, fluor, crystals, topaz, with some blocks of prehistoric tin. The coast here extends to Gribbin Head, and there is then a sharp bend inward to Par sands. Par is not particularly attractive, except for its pleasant bay; but the decay of its former mining activities is compensated for by its busy shipping of china-clays at the quays built by the late Mr. Treffry. Much of the china-clay goes to distant potteries, or is used for the whitening of cheap so-called linens; of course, much of this is despatched at the railway station which is the junction for Fowey. This is a British export which seems to be advancing by leaps and bounds; and this St. Austell district, with another active port at Charlestown, is practically its centre. It is said that, in this district alone, the royalties paid to ground landlords approach the figure of L90,000 per annum, and foreign companies are keenly endeavouring to establish a footing. But the presence of the powdery clay is not alluring except to those who profit by its output, and we may leave Par and Charlestown to their industrialism. Tywardreath (the "house or town-place on the sands") claims mention for the memory of its old Benedictine priory, now vanished. To pursue the Fowey River inland, past the charming Golant and St. Winnow, is a delightful excursion with a fitting termination in the beauties of Lostwithiel; but on the present occasion it takes us too far from the coast. The loveliness of this river resembles and equals that of the Fal and of the Dart.



CHAPTER IV

ST. AUSTELL TO ST. MAWES

The town of St. Austell is not exactly upon the coast, but it is only about two miles inland, and visitors may be attracted by the reputation of its fine church. It is a busy and self-respecting little town, and is the commercial centre of a district that, for Cornwall, is quite thickly populated; it is, indeed, one of the few Cornish districts in which population has really shown an increase of recent years. Much of its growing activity is due to the china-clay business; St. Austell claims to be the china-clay metropolis of the world. Most of the shipment is done from Fowey, Par, and Charlestown. The industry is becoming a recognised lucrative field for investment. Yet the immediate presence of the mines and yards is not a thing of beauty or of comfort. St. Austell Church, dedicated to a companion of the famous St. Samson, has a lofty Perpendicular granite tower, whose niches contain statues of Christ, the Virgin, and many other saintly figures. The implements and emblems of the Crucifixion are carved in the southern buttresses. Older than the tower is the chancel; and there is a Cornish inscription, Ry Du ("give to God") above the porch. In the churchyard is one of the sacred stones whose names at least we find scattered in different parts of the kingdom, such as the stan (or Steyne) of Brighton, and the "folk's-stone" of a popular Kentish watering-place. This St. Austell stone, the Menagew, is said to have once stood at the junction of three manors, but its veneration doubtless dates from a far earlier period. The historian Lake tells us, "It is certain that on this stone all declarations of war and proclamations of peace were read; and although at present it is partially disregarded, a strong degree of veneration still attaches to its name. All cattle that had been impounded for a given time, and for which no owner could be found, were brought to this stone and exposed for a certain number of market days, after which, if they remained unclaimed, their sale became legal." But many visitors will probably take greater interest in the famed Carclaze Mine, situated more than 600 feet above sea-level; the pit is about 150 feet deep, and nearly a mile round. Once notable for its tin, this mine now supplies an immense quantity of china-clay and stone. Charlestown may claim to be the port of St. Austell, and is becoming also a popular residential suburb. But St. Austell has another watering-place in Porthpean, a mile or two westward, which, though it can boast of no shipping, has features that may some day bring it a wide reputation. With good sands, good bathing, a mild climate, Porthpean might easily develop into a holiday resort of the conventional but highly prosperous type. As yet its fame is hardly more than local.

South of Black Head, an eminence of about 150 feet, is the little port of Pentewan, noted for its elvan building stone, which is shipped, together with some china-clay, from its excellent small harbour. Pentewan stone has a good name for hardness and durability; its qualities are well shown in the tower of St. Austell Church. In the tin works here, carried on at some depth below sea-level, were found horns of the Irish elk, not petrified, but completely metallised by the tin ore; also definite traces of buried forest. It is said also that some curious oaken canoes were discovered in the soil, but were, unfortunately, destroyed for firewood by the tinners. It is hard to estimate how many valuable antiquities have been similarly destroyed by carelessness and ignorance; but such ruin has been more often suffered by stone monuments, longstones, kistvaens, snatched for use as gate-posts and walls by heedless farmers and builders.

About two miles inland from Pentewan is Heligan, a very fine estate, whose gardens display rare subtropical vegetation. Such vegetation is rather a boasted feature in southern and western Cornwall, and is, of course, interesting as a kind of tour-de-force, showing what the British climate at its best can do. Apart from this use, however, it may seem to some of us that such efforts are easily overdone; the native beauty of an English garden or woodland has infinitely more appeal, more freshness, more loveliness, than any grandeurs of the exotic. The glories of Kew Gardens have their charm, their utility, their educational value; but tropical growths are really as much out of place in an English landscape as a Moorish palace or a Buddhist temple would be. All who know anything of landscape gardening know that it has been a fertile field for the growth and exemplification of false taste. Yet the plea of botanical interest, educational use, may be added to the attraction of rarity as a defence of all such cultivations as we find not only at Heligan and Mount Edgcumbe, but at Morrab Gardens and Tresco. Those of us who dislike them can keep away. But Heligan has a reputation also for genuine English beauty. The old mill here has been a favourite with many artists, and has become familiar in many an exhibition-room. At Lanshadron, close by, is a mutilated cross, which is perhaps unique in having an inscription around its base; the inscription being Latin. Heligan is in the parish of St. Ewe, which is usually supposed to be a dedication to St. Eustachius; but non-Celtic saints are almost as much out of place in Cornwall as exotic plants are, and St. Ewe was probably some forgotten British or Welsh missionary. A former clergyman of this parish appears to have been notable as a healer of bodies as well of souls. We read of him that "Martin Atwell, parson of St. Ewe about 1600, was a physician of body as well as soul: now and then he used blood-letting or bleeding, and administered Marius Christi and other like cordials, yet mostly for all diseases he prescribed milk, and very often milk and apples, and recovered sundry out of desperate and forlorn extremities: his liberality was very great, his affection for religion sound, and he turned out with both hands in pios usus." Certainly a most enlightened man for his time, and if we could only add that he recommended the milk to be sour we should have brought his modernity to the highest point.

Mevagissey, about six miles south-west of St. Austell, was once one of the most flourishing fishing-ports on the Cornish coast, and though it has not quite maintained its relative position, it is not done with yet. The town can also boast some fame as the Aberalva of Kingsley's Two Years Ago, a book once far more popular than it is to-day. The same claim has been made for Clovelly; but though some features in the novelist's description may be applied equally to both, there are other points that can only be attributed to Mevagissey. Kingsley, who wrote the book fifty years since, says: "Between two ridges of high pebble bank some twenty yards apart, comes Alva River rushing to the sea. On the opposite ridge, a low white house, with three or four white canvas-covered boats and a flagstaff with sloping crossyard, betokens the coastguard station. Beyond it rise black jagged cliffs; mile after mile of iron-bound wall: and here and there, at the glens' mouths, great banks and denes of shifting sand.... Above, a green down stretches up to bright yellow furze-crofts far aloft. Behind, a reedy marsh, covered with red cattle, paves the valley till it closes in; the steep sides of the hill are clothed in oak and ash covert.... Pleasant little glimpses there are, too, of gray stone farmhouses, nestling among sycamore and beech; bright green meadows, alder-fringed; squares of rich fallow-field, parted by lines of golden furze; all cut out with a peculiar blackness and clearness, soft and tender withal, which betokens a climate surcharged with rain. Only, in the very bosom of the valley, a soft mist hangs, increasing the sense of distance, and softening back one hill and wood behind another, till the great brown moor which backs it all seems to rise out of the empty air. For a thousand feet it ranges up, in huge sheets of brown heather, in gray cairns and screes of granite, all sharp and black-edged against the pale blue sky." The description of the town itself that follows might apply tolerably well to a number of such fishing-ports in the West Country; but Kingsley is most clearly not speaking of Clovelly, and he introduces Cornish names. That corner of North Devon must be content with figuring in Westward-Ho! and not claim Two Years Ago. There was the cholera also, which was a very terrible reality at Mevagissey in 1849, and which did its good work as well as its evil, by causing the place to be thoroughly cleansed. The truly Cornish name of the town derives from a double dedication to the Saints Meven (or Mewan) and Issey; St. Mewan being a Welsh saint, and St. Issey probably an Irishman. The place has won, and deserved, the nickname of Fishygissey, but there is none the less a real charm about it; its distance from the railway, however inconvenient for visitors, brings compensations that many can appreciate. The pier dates from 1770, but the harbour is much more recent. A fine and costly harbour constructed about 1890 was destroyed in the following year by the great blizzard, which is distinctly "the storm" in the West of England; the present quays were built in 1897. At one time more pilchards were taken here than at any other spot, but the pilchard is a fickle fish, and has no consideration beyond the choice of feeding-grounds; if better satisfied elsewhere, no sentiment interferes with its migrations. But there are still a good many pilchards taken off Mevagissey, and these are largely cured here—many under their own name, but a large number find their way to the factory of the Cornish Sardine Company established in the town. It has often been debated whether pilchards and sardines are one and the same; Mr. Aflalo says they are identical. It is certain that many so-called sardines are pilchards—and some are sprats. Differences in size may be accounted for by the fact that Cornish nets have often a rather large mesh, and the smaller fish are not taken. Many such nets are made at Mevagissey. The seine, or sean-net, was that commonly used here when the pilchard schools came nearer, but is now almost abandoned for the drift-net; we shall find seines still common further west. The seine may be described as a wall of netting, buoyed at the surface and weighted below; this is dipped in the thick of the shoal, its ends drawn together, and the fish taken out with a tuck-net. The leaded bottom of the net must touch the ground or the fish will escape; thus seine-fishing is only practicable in shallow waters. With it is associated the occupation of the "huers," who are stationed on the look-out above the shore, and who signal the arrival of the schools, easily seen in the daylight. But this method is now abandoned at Mevagissey, where the fishermen go farther from port, sailing to meet the schools in open sea instead of waiting close to shore for them. In many details their drift-fishing differs from the seine. The nets are long and deep, with a fairly large mesh: the object being for the fish to become entangled as in a trap, into which they swim blindly. A dark night is the most favourable; the drift-fishers start from port about sunset, and are often back with their catch long before dawn. The fish, indeed, are frequently caught, brought ashore, and sold before daybreak; some are taken off by hawkers to be sold at farms and cottages about the country-side, while others go at once to the curers, or are pressed for export. Of course, mackerel and other fish are caught, often in considerable quantity, but the distinctive Cornish fish is the pilchard, and the pilchard has had most to do with the prosperity of Cornish fishing-ports. Unless cooked by the initiated, however, who get rid of the superfluous oil, the fresh pilchard is a very bilious article of diet, and the visitor must be wary.

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