Jottings during a Holiday Ramble in Cornwall :
AN AFFECTIONATE FATHER TO HIS
Printed for Private Circulation only.
Jottings during a Holiday Ramble in Cornwall :
As I know you love me, and will like to hear where I have been, and who and what I have seen, for the last ten days of my absence from home, I purpose giving you a short account of my several journeyings, and especially of my visit into Cornwall.
I left Exeter on Saturday afternoon, September 17th, 1853, and reached the house of my kind cousin, Miss Garland, about eight in the evening, whose hospitality and kindness have rendered my visit to Plymouth one of the happiest events of my life.
The following day, being the Sabbath, was chiefly spent in attending the public means of grace. I heard Mr. Samuel Nicholson in the morning, from Psalm cxix. 72, a discourse full of truth, spoken from a heart evidently under its power, and accompanied with "an unction from the Holy One." He dwelt on the vast worth of the Scriptures; how important it was for godly parents to require their children to commit to memory, and to repeat to them, at least one verse of Scripture every day. On this principle my dear Father acted towards me from the age of six years and upwards, and to his strict requirement in this respect I owe that accurate and extensive knowledge of Holy Scripture which I have enjoyed through life, and which has proved of such signal benefit and advantage to me in my chequered career. I very much wish my dear children would adopt this mode, not as a task, but as an easy and profitable occupation, for the knowledge of the Holy Scriptures can, and does, "make us wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus." -- 2 Tim. iii. 15. In the evening I heard Dr. Halley, of Manchester, from Gal. iii. I.
My friend Mr. Clase had suggested to me, that if I intended to go into Cornwall, the sooner I did it the better. I am glad that I followed his advice, for the equinoctial gales, attended with heavy rains, would have probably prevented it altogether, had I deferred the trip until the second week of my absence from home, and had not taken it on the first. I had hoped, therefore, that I should leave Plymouth on Monday morning, the 19th, but the vessel not arriving from London on its way to Dublin so soon as was expected, it did not leave until the following day at one o'clock. On Monday afternoon, being exceedingly fine weather, I went with Miss Garland and three other friends to that enchanting place, Mount Edgcumbe, which is open every Monday, at certain parts of the year, to the public. Although I had been there twice, or oftener, the whole scene was as fresh and lovely as if I had never seen it before. I hope you will all, my dear children, at one time or other, visit this delightful spot. Dear Mary, Martha, Robert, John, and Bessy have already seen it. I longed to have had your dearest Mother with me, that she might have shared in my enjoyment.
On Tuesday, the 20th inst., I embarked on board the large and fine steamer, the Duke of Cornwall, which left Millbay Pier at one o'clock. The day was beautifully fine -- the sea as calm as a lake. Just as we were clearing out of Millbay, there glided majestically before us -- on her way from the Sound to the harbour in Hamoaze -- the Edinburgh, one of Her Majesty's ships of war, of 80 or 90 guns. As she had not a single sail set I could not imagine how it was she moved through the water as she did; but it occurred to me that she was propelled by steam, and was one of those vessels now employed in the Queen's service as screw-steamers. It was a grand sight; for, with the exception of a slight surge at the stern of the ship, a looker-on would be altogether unable to say how such a mighty mass could be propelled through the sea as it was. Mr. Pike, the newsvender, in South Street, Exeter, had, and perhaps he has still, in his window, the interior of a man-of-war worked by steam-screw; I should like you to look at it, as the art and ingenuity of man are wonderfully displayed in it. In passing out of the Sound, we went near the man-of-war lying at anchor inside the Breakwater; this was indeed a lovely sight, as was the Lighthouse, at the western end of that marvellous structure.
I may here mention to you, my dear children, that I was one among many thousands who witnessed the laying of the first stone of the Plymouth Breakwater. It took place on the Prince Regent's birthday (as he used to be called, afterwards George IV.), August 12th, 1812, and I well remember, although forty-one years have since passed away, what were my ideas then of the undertaking. I thought it the most foolish and Quixotic that could ever have been entered upon by man; but I was mistaken. A seawall rising many feet above high water, extending for more than a mile, and affording safe and quiet anchorage for the largest vessels in the world, is now reared. You will, however, if you place yourself in imagination in my circumstances, think that I was not very far from a right conclusion, in supposing that the building of a breakwater in the sea was a ridiculous project; for I well recollect the sea was very rough; hundreds of boats surrounding a small barge, which had one large stone, of about three or four tons weight, was, at a given signal, let fall into the sea out of the stern of the barge, amidst the huzzas of thousands, and the playing of music; but, in the middle of the sea as it were, three miles from land, it did seem to me absurd in the highest degree.
But to return from this digression to my voyage. We moved on nobly, and soon reached "Rame Head," a bold highland beyond Cawsand Bay, and rounding that point, we soon lost sight of dear old Plymouth, having the high and yet variegated coast of Cornwall about two miles at our right, and the wide expanse of sea on our left. At length, one of the officers, as he was giving command to the man at the helm, told me that Falmouth was round the high projecting point of land towards which we were making. About five o'clock we entered that port, one of the safest and most capacious in the world. At the entrance to the harbour from the Channel, which is much wider than from Exmouth to Starcross, you pass two fortifications; that on the left is Pendennis Castle, and that on the right somewhat resembles the drawings I have seen of the Eddystone Lighthouse. You go on, however, for some time into this beautiful land-locked harbour before you get sight of the town of Falmouth -- then it appears, and wears a very imposing aspect, as towns do which, like Falmouth, Dartmouth, etc., are built on the slope of a hill, and reaching down to the water's edge; but, on stepping ashore in Falmouth, I felt the same disappointment which I did upon visiting Dartmouth for the first time some years ago. The streets are narrow, ill-paved, dark, and dirty. It is true there are some terraces on the higher ground that are pleasant and command beautiful views; but to get to them you must ascend high hills and steep flights of steps. One in particular, they call "Jacob's Ladder," contains as many steps, if not more, than the one at the western end of our Cemetery, leading from Bartholomew Yard to Exe Lane.
I was received here with great cordiality and kindness by Mr. Cox. a gentleman whom I had known in Taunton since the year 1821. The next morning he accompaniced me to Penryn, a rather nice town, two miles distant. At five in the afternoon I left Falmouth to go to Redruth, a busy town in the county, to get to the rail, to be conveyed that night to Penzance, which place, the last in this part of the kingdom, I reached about ten o'clock. I was happy in being directed to the Temperance Hotel, kept by a Christian, and a member of the Baptist Church in Penzance, where I had a quiet resting-place from Wednesday until Friday evening at six o'clock, when I took the railway for Truro, a distance of twenty-five miles from Penzance, and arrived there about eight o'clock on Thursday morning. I sallied forth from the hotel to view this "Montpelier" of England as Penzance is sometimes called. The town lies towards the western end of Mount's Bay. This bay sweeps over a distance of at least five miles, at the eastern end of which is St. Michael's Mount, rising in a conical form upwards of 300 feet above the level of the sea, with a castellated mansion, once the residence of the ancient family of the St. Aubyns and still occupied by their descendants. Here you are shown the armour worn by the ancient baronets of the family -- the refectory, or dining-room -- the chapel, with its tower rising high from the centre, to the top of which I ascended, and when I think of the view which I saw there, I cannot do so without a thrill of terror passing through my whole frame. You may also go into a dungeon under one of the seats of the chapel, where, no doubt, some unfortunate victims had been suffered to pine and die -- the skeleton of a man having been discovered in it some fifty years ago. I had the gratification also of seeing the signatures of the Queen, Prince Albert, and the noblemen and ladies who attended Her Majesty, on her visit to the Mount in September, 1847--all visitors being expected to enter their names, residences, and times of going to the Mount in a book kept for that purpose. There is also cut out of the top stone step, of a long flight of steps, at the pier where you land, when the tide is not low enough to enable you to walk, "the print of the Queen's foot," being the place, as they tell you, where Her Majesty stepped on her landing -- a piece of brass, the shape of a lady's foot, being let into the stone. While Mr. Heynes and myself were at the Mount, we were joined by two ladies and a little boy who, like ourselves, were come to see this wonderful place. I found they were intending the next day to go to the Logan Rock and the Land's End, and but for my falling in with them I should have lost the grandest scene I ever beheld ; and the recollection of the awful grandeur of it will never be effaced from my memory.
Having told those friends -- who proved to be Mrs. Cowlen, the wife of a farmer, at Perran, near Redruth, and her sister, Mrs. Shapcott, of Plymouth, whose husband is a merchant in that town -- that I was going to the Land's End, and that I would be very glad to join them, they most readily assented, and offered me a place in their carriage on Friday morning, the 23rd inst. Mrs. Cowlen, Mrs. Shapcott, her little boy, and myself left Penzance in a close carriage; and after travelling eight miles we alighted, leaving the carriage at an inn, and accompanied by a guide (for I must tell you, that without guides we could have seen nothing, nor accomplished anything), we walked across two or three fields, and then came in sight of the waters of the Atlantic, and pursuing our way through many chasms of rocks, forming, in many instances, a path just wide enough for one person to pass through, we came in sight of the Logan Rock. Here we had a second guide, who had to descend very steep, craggy rocks towards the sea, and clamber up on the other side over many others to reach the ledge on which the Logan Rock is poised. I might have followed this man, as many bold adventurers have done, but I felt no inclination to do so. It was quite enough for me to be in a position to see this huge stone, and to see it moved by the hand of man! I do not know exactly how to describe the dimensions, shape, or weight of the Logan Stone. If you can conceive a rock, at least fifteen feet square, on the top of several others, the under part being of a conical or sugar-loaf form, and one hundred tons in weight, you may then picture to yourselves what a grand spectacle it must be, and how marvellous it must appear to find one man moving such a mighty mass with his hands! Mr. Besley, in his "Route Book of Cornwall," gives an interesting account of the Logan Rock and of the Land's End, which I should like you to read.
After remaining some time, we made our way back to the carriage, and rode on a distance of four miles, when we left our conveyance at an inn, appropriately styled the "First and Last Inn in England." Our guide took the lead, and in a few minutes we came to the Land's End -- a sight I feel quite unable to describe! I could not help turning aside from the company I was in, and lifting up my heart in adoration to that Almighty Being, "who spake, and it was done! -- He commanded; and it stood fast!" And, my dear children, you may say of that glorious Being, if you believe in Jesus --
This awful God is ours,
Here we had to pursue a very tortuous path, and often, to my apprehension, a most dangerous one, for had we made a false step we must have been dashed to pieces; but the Lord mercifully preserved us from all harm. The rocks at the Land's End have a singular appearance ; they stand in separate columns, as if placed by human hands, rising perpendicularly to the height of 200 and 300 feet -- you see the seams between them, as if they had been wrought by man's devices, for they are square masses of stone, piled one above the other, and against these precipitous rocks dash all the surges of the Atlantic. There is, about two miles from the land, a lighthouse surrounded by rocks, called "Long Ships," where are three men, who attend to the lights. Poor fellows! I do not envy their solitude. We saw two of the Scilly Islands from the high ground, a distance of twenty-seven miles, and Cape Cornwall, a bold promontory stretching far out into the sea, about four miles to the right of us. After looking on this imposing scene we returned to Penzance, took the train, and reached Truro at eight o'clock in the evening. This is the metropolis of Cornwall -- a well-laid-out, handsome town -- slept there on Friday night, and left the next morning by an omnibus for Plymouth. We passed through Grampound, St. Austell, Bodmin, Liskeard, etc. I was deeply affected at Bodmin, where, more than forty years ago, I had been for some time at boarding-school. In passing along by the churchyard, I tried to see the school-house, which I suppose had once been, in Roman Catholic times, a chapel used by some Order of Friars, but of that scene of my boyish days I was unable to catch a glimpse.
As you are parts of myself, my own dear children, I make no apology for giving you so long an account of my rambles, because I believe you will take an interest in whatever interests me, and subscribe myself your affectionate Father,
Plymouth. September 28,1853
Andrew Glanvill, Printer