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COUNTY CHARACTERISTICS-CORNWALL.

THAT remote promontory

Where England, stretched towards the setting sun,
Narrow and long, o'erlooks the western wave,

is differentiated from the other English counties by many and marked peculiarities. Principal amongst these are the antiquity of its lithic remains, its magnificent cliff scenery, its mines of tin, copper, and lead, its Celtic population, its pilchard fisheries, and the picturesque bosses of granite which crop out in the central ridge running through the county, and at last stretching forth like a gauntleted hand, in defiance of the ceaseless onset of the Atlantic rollers. From its position as the southernmost and westernmost county of England, Cornwall has been named the vanguard of them all; and although it is true that in configuration, in coast-line, and in position it bears no small resemblance to Pembrokeshire, and is still more similar to Caernarvon, here the likeness may be said to cease. The cliffs of those two counties are for the most part of dark monotonous slate, instead of the lichen-covered, golden-grey granite; and along the yet more dangerous Welsh seaboard

Stern melancholy sits, and round her throws

A death-like silence and a sad repose.

The Cornish seas have, on the contrary, a cheerful aspect, owing, it may be, partly to the bright tracts of yellow sand over which at so many places the unsullied apple-green waves lazily curl and dash themselves into miles of ' pearl-threaded foam;' partly to the colours of the rocks; and partly to their being thronged highways for ocean traffic, formed by the English and St. George's Channels meeting at the Land's End: but, above all, the beauty of the Cornish seas is due to the clearness of the water, and the readiness with which it assumes all the brighter influences of sky and air. Standing on the cliffs at Kynance Cove on a breezy summer day, or at Tol-pedn-Penwith, and gazing down into the rocky coves below on the gigantic waves, as they give forth what the late vicar of Morwenstow (paraphrasing the well-known passage in the Prometheus) called 'old

Ocean's merry noise, his billowy laugh,' the restless waters seem living sapphires and amethysts and emeralds. Even when 'cradled 'neath the grey sky's brooding wings,' the outlook over some such wide waste of waters as may be seen from the Land's End reveals through the opaline haze such hues of turquoise, lilac, peach, and silver grey,half tints of pink and pearl,' as have astounded by their delicate beauty, and by the subtleness of their intermingling, many a gazer who had hitherto been accustomed carelessly to think of the ocean as monochromatic. Mr. Brett has more than once made a brilliant attempt to portray the Cornish sea; but it is a thing to dream of, not to tell,' or paint. Nor, at times, are the seas on this part of the coast less remarkable for their terrific majesty, when, as on some dark afternoon, the rushing pinions of the wild-winged north-west wind stir them into madness, and the billows hurl themselves in rapid charges against the mural precipices which stretch from Morvah to the Point of Guethensbras.

The transition is not difficult from these natural characteristics of the cliffs to certain other objects of interest which they closely resemble; for it is still a moot point with some whether many of the pinnacled 'pedns,' or headlands, are entirely nature's work. Cornwall is 'the land of the giants,' and to human hands tradition has assigned at least some share in the logan rocks, the huge granite basins, and such-like fantastic shapes, which are scattered through the westernmost hundred of the county, Penwith, and to a less extent through the Isles of Scilly. On the other hand, some of the undoubted works of man's hands-the menhirs, tall rude stone pillars which mark the graves of forgotten heroes, or the scenes of battles unknown to history; the tol-mens, or holed stones, which the Cornish peasant still associates with miraculous cures, performed at first by Druid hands, and even yet efficacious; nay, even some of the cromlechs themselves, the stone graves of long-forgotten men of other days-are so rude in their character that many on beholding them for the first time smile incredulously on being told that they are something more than the native rock. Well said Drayton of such monuments as these:

Ill did those mighty men to trust thee with their storie,
Thou has forgot their names who reared thee for their glorie;
For all their wondrous cost, thou that has served them so,
What 'tis to trust to tombes by thee we all may know.

And the difficulty which strangers feel in accrediting to a human origin primæval remains of this class is not a little enhanced by the lonely spots in which they are, for the most part, to be found; as, for example, on the bleak, treeless moors (or, as they are more generally called by the Cornish, downs'), barely covered with a hungry coat of heather, which stretch westward from Madron and Sancreed.

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It is almost impossible to imagine anything more weird than a VOL. XXII.-No. 129.

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thunderstorm on such a scene, when the hollow, jagged granite pile of the Cairn of Hooting-Carn Kenidzhek-makes good its name; or than the look of the same distorted mass of rocks in the lurid light of the

last glare of day's red agony,

Which, from a rent among the fiery clouds,

Burns far along the tempest-wrinkled deep.

And there are yet other indubitable traces of præhistoric man still traceable on the wild moorlands of Cornwall in the stone circles-miniature Stonehenges-in the remains of beehive huts of Cyclopean masonry; in the ogofs or secret shelter-caves; and in the stone-lined pits and enclosures which exist in various parts of the county, though perhaps nowhere in such profusion and in so good preservation as in the isolated district-containing some sixty or seventy square miles-which lies west and north of Penzance.

At length we come to a class of stone monuments whereon we seem to touch ground and gain the surer footing of history; such are the inscribed stones, of which there are yet to be found some examples in Cornwall. In almost every instance these inscriptions are in Latin; and yet there is scarcely the faintest trace to be found of Roman roads or of Roman occupation in Cornwall; a fact to which the Cornwealhas, or foreigners of the horn-shaped land' (as the English called them), point with pride as evidence of their having been unconquered, but which others aver to be merely a proof of the worthlessness of the conquest. It should, however, be added that these Latin inscriptions generally record the death of some distinguished Cornishmen; as, for instance, the fragment known as 'the other halfstone,' near Trevethy Cromlech, in the parish of St. Cleer, which was erected in memory of Dongerth, a king of Cornwall, who was drowned circa A.D. 872.

It is unnecessary to refer, at any length, to the Christian antiquities of Cornwall, though certain characteristic peculiarities are by no means unworthy of notice, especially in the crosses and the names of the churches. Of the former it should be observed that the great majority of them are of the Greek or equal-limbed type (although in many cases a cross of the Latin type has been subsequently incised on the back of the stone)—a fact which helps to show that the Church was in vigorous existence here before the mission of St. Augustine. And this is confirmed by the original names of the churches, many of which are even yet retained. They are generally dedicated either to early Irish, Welsh, or Breton saints (and here it is well to remember that there is a Cornouaille in Brittany); those in West Cornwall to Irish saints; those in the north and north-west to Welsh; and those on the southern coast to Breton priests or anchorites. Most, if not all, of the churches specified in a subsidy roll of

Edward III. can still be identified. As to the legends of the saints themselves, the curious reader must be referred to an interesting series of articles by the Rev. C. W. Boase, of Penzance, in Dr. Smith's Dictionary of Christian Biography, and to Mr. W. C. Borlase's Age of the Saints,' in the Journal of the Royal Institution of Cornwall. The church buildings are, as a rule, uninteresting, owing to the state of decadence into which church architecture had already fallen when, in the sixteenth century, a great wave of activity in rebuilding swept over the county; and that, too, at a time when means do not appear to have been forthcoming for the construction of large or handsome edifices. Moreover, the scarcity of a good freestone for carving contributed to that want of beauty of detail which characterises so many of the churches of Cornwall. Some brilliant exceptions there undoubtedly are, but they only serve to enforce the general rule. No one, for instance, can look upon that small but perfect example of the Decorated period-the spire of Lostwithielwithout agreeing with the late Mr. Street, R.A., that, architecturally considered, it is the glory of Cornwall;' nor can he fail to be struck with the exquisite proportions of the tower of Probus, of later date, or the elaborate exteriors of the south aisles of St. Mary Magdalene at Launceston and of St. Mary's at Truro-the latter now incorporated in the new cathedral there, which is to be opened immediately by the Heir Apparent to the Throne, the Duke of Cornwall. Norman work is rare, and examples of the Early English period even more so; but, where they occur, they have singular features of their own which have often afforded interesting problems for the architect and the antiquary.

Such are amongst the chief materials for the early history of the county of Cornwall. The written records are meagre, and may perhaps be thought of no considerable interest. That the Phoenicians traded to the Cassiterides for metals which their own country did not produce may now be considered certain, though whether or not their god Poseidon's xaλкoßaтès dŵ1 was built of Cornish copper may be left an open question.

1

Traces of contact with Roman influences are almost entirely confined to a few stray coins, and to the inscribed Brito-Roman stones to which reference has already been made. By the Saxons Cornwall was the last part of England subjugated-probably for the same reasons as induced the Romans to abstain from interference with the remote and infertile west country. It was not until the year 926 A.D. that Athelstan marched through Cornwall, and fixed, two years later, the Tamar for her eastern boundary. The connection of the county with the story of Danish influences is much the same here as elsewhere throughout England; the Northmen came to ravage and destroy,

1 Od. viii. 321.

their incursion of 1068 being especially destructive. To this period may probably be referred some at least of the cliff castles' which stud the numerous small promontories, and which are supposed to have formed, in some cases, safe retreats for the natives from their invaders, whilst in others they were possibly used by the invaders themselves when they wished to secure for their marauding galleys 'a base of operations' close to the sea.

The main work of the Norman in Cornwall has been summarised by Mr. G. T. Clark, our greatest living authority on castrametation; it consisted almost entirely in the construction of fortifications, with a view to keeping the half-conquered Cornishmen in check. Mr. Clark observes :

Upon and beyond the Tamar, as at Montacute, Wallingford, and Berkhampstead, may be traced the footsteps of the powerful nobles who held the great earldom of Cornwall. Their principal Cornish castles-Trematon, Launceston (where the town was also walled), and Restormel were the work originally of Robert, halfbrother of the Conqueror. Their remains are considerable, and their strength and position were such as to give them immense influence in that wild and almost impenetrable district. St. Michael's Mount remains fortified; Carn Brea, the work of Ralph de Pomeroy, still marks the rocky ridge whence it derives its name; and there are traces of Boscastle, the hold of the Barons Botreaux, and of the 'Arthurian' castle of Tintagel. There are besides in Cornwall a few fortified houses and a multitude of strong places, camps rather than castles, very peculiar in character, and probably the work of the native Cornish before the arrival of the stranger.

The red walls of the 'ivy-tapissed keep' of Trematon and the gaunt ruins of Launceston still frown upon quiet branches of the Tamar; as the lovelier remains of Restormel still watch the banks of the Fowey. The castle on St. Michael's Mount, as in Spenser's days, still 'wardes the western coast;' and grim Carn Brea yet stands on a granite hill from which the sea may be discerned on both the northern and southern shores of the county. But only mounds remain to show the sites of Botreaux Castle and Truro; King Arthur's Castle' on

Wild Dundagil, by the Cornish sea

sometimes, according to the old stories, visible, at others hidden from mortal gaze—is fast crumbling into ruins, and the dark cliffs on which it stands are being rapidly undermined by the long waves that break

All down the thundering shores of Bude and Boss.

But the influence of the Norman chiefs in Cornwall seems to have been not very strong, permeating, or lasting; few Norman names survive, and their former owners' places are now for the most part

2 Mr. Clark might have added the once existing shell-keep of Truro to his list of Norman castles.

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