REMINISCENCES OF CAMBORNE.
When the little hamlet of Camborne was in its infancy there stood just in a central position a primitive erection or shelter for those who might bring their commodities for sale; this was dignified by the name of "Market House" (God save the mark) though it was simply a protection from the elements, its architecture being described as two sides of a square each about thirty feet in length, one side facing east, the other the south. Opposite the latter stood an inn known by the sign of the Unicorn, and kept for a considerable time by a Miss Eudy; this was a place of rendezvous for singers, ringers, mourners, and wedding guests, and at the Feast time which was the Festival held annually in honour of St. Martin, the patron saint. Games of many sorts were indulged in such as prize wrestling, shooting, jumping in sacks, climbing greased poles, and as a fiddler was engaged on such occasions dancing was kept up until a late hour. A little down this street and nearer the Church resided the parish clerk. This functionary was conveniently situated between the sacred edifice and the "Unicorn," and was much in request having to keep the register of all weddings, burials, and other parochial records—in addition to which offices he was master of a small endowed school at Penponds, situate about a mile and a half from Camborne, which was founded by Mrs. Stackhouse, of Pendarves, and supported by funds derived from a small freehold estate in close proximity to the school house, which had been given for that purpose; it was originally intended for a limited number of the indigent poor, those of the bettermost class paying the ordinary school fees of the time.
The former schoolmaster was a Mr. Gribble, and he had the privilege of teaching some of the most respectable in the neighbourhood. We have but scanty knowledge of this individual beyond the present century, though he must have commenced his duties far back in the previous century; I have not been able to find one of the present generation who could say whether he was connected with the Church or not. I am, however, well informed that during the latter part of the seventeenth century the musical part of the Church service was sung by men who used to wear leather breeches and buff gloves, standing in front of the orchestra, and each beating time by giving a slap on his pantaloons thus emphazising the tonic in the scale. The instruments used on this occasion were Bassoons, Bass Viols, Flutes, Fiddles, Clarionets, etc. I remember, and just as far back as my memory serves me, hearing a very old gentleman, Capt. Simon Vivian, who had been one of the choir, speak of this performance of sacred music in a very amusing way. About this time it became disorganized, the common fate of such choirs. The service at this time was indifferently performed and unreliable, so much so indeed that it was decided to have an organ, but here another difficulty arose as to how the funds could be obtained to pay the salary of an organist. Finding that contributions fell short of the necessary sum, it was decided to have a barrel organ which was supplied with a copious index of Psalm tunes, but even with that aid the most ridiculous mistakes would sometimes occur. The clerk, who was the precentor, would give out the wrong psalm for the music set for that day's service or vice versa. This caused such confusion that the Incumbent and congregation decided to consult the maker as to the feasibility of altering the said instrument into a manual, which was soon done. The control of the musical part of the service was then conducted by two members of the clerk's family in addition to himself; so here under the dome of St. Martin everything now went on as harmoniously as a peal of marriage bells, or indeed until they were each stilled by the hand of Time.
On going a little further down the street we come upon a stationer's shop kept by a Mr. Newton, and on the very opposite side adjoining the churchyard wall was the lock-up styled the clink, the very sight of which must have had a deterring influence upon evil-doers, for it had a most gloomy appearance, and was situated so near the remains of the dead.
Tracing our steps in the same direction we notice the name of Mr. Borlase, solicitor, and immediately below his house and standing directly across the street, there stood an ancient-looking structure with its two windows facing the town towards Church street. This antiquated building was of very early date, and perhaps the first erection by any Nonconformist body at the time, and I have no doubt that John Wesley and his band had often held forth in this room. At the time of which I am writing, the early part of the present century, this little sanctuary was occupied by a Mr. Reece for a school-room, and he being a classical teacher had most of the elite of the surrounding places as pupils, and many amusing stories have been told about this worthy pedagogue. He seems to have been somewhat of a Quaker, was a strict disciplinarian, and had a good idea that physical training was necessary as well as mental culture, and with that idea maintained the doctrine of Mens sana et corporæ sano. His mode of chastisement was by the use of a knotted cane, and when spotting a delinquent would throw this instrument and request to have it brought back to him with which to inflict the punishment. This seemed to me an act of cruelty, and many a poor trembling boy would feel the smart of such castigation in imagination ere he reached the rostrum. On one occasion we are informed that in throwing this rod the boy caught it, but instead of taking it to the master, ran out of the open door towards his father's house which was not far distant. Mr. Reece was quickly in pursuit of the little culprit, reaching the parents' door about the same moment, when there was a judicial enquiry, for the boy's father was the lawyer alluded to, and soon made the condition that if ever the master touched either of his boys with the weapon in hand that they would be withdrawn from his school; so the matter was compromised, and the principal retained his pupils.
This schoolmaster was on the whole an excellent teacher, and had a good method of encouraging his pupils: occasionally he would hire a car and take the most deserving for a drive around the North Cliffs on a Saturday afternoon. He did not keep a carriage of his own, but would engage one from a Mr. Hosking who was of the same persuasion as himself, and kept this car more for the sake of himself and family for going to and fro' to the Friends' meeting house at Redruth. Friend Hosking was in very indifferent circumstances and would consequently let his conveyance on hire to help him out in his expenses, Mr. Reece availing himself of it occasionally as intimated.
In the long run the hirer became in arrear with his payments and the owner being impecunious was often pressing the schoolmaster for his money, until irritated by repeated importunities he turned on him with this admonition "John Hosking, thee had better go home and take a stiff glass of brandy and water; and go to bed to cool down thy choler." It was not long after this incident before this ancient school-room had to be removed to make room for the new road then projected from Camborne to Treswithian, and the name of Mr. Reece became a dead letter. It may here be mentioned that the above building was the property of the inhabitants, the freeholder having to compensate for it either by purchase or exchange—it was arranged that the late Lord De Dunstanville should provide similar accommodation close by it, which was known as the Bowling Green, and many a time I have seen the boys drawing furze (gorse) to make a bonfire and no one disputed their right to the spot! I have, however, lately been told that it has now been included in the glebe land. If so, why it has been taken from the public I know not. At the present time such efforts are being made for hygienic purposes that it behoves the inhabitants to look after their rights before making other investments in that way. The occupier of the new building was a Mr. John Thomas, who kept a school at one end, the other being used as a dispensary. At the lower part of the town called Vivian Row another school was started at this time by a Mr. Nicholas Gilbert, a very worthy man and an excellent teacher. At this period steel pens were unknown, and the Jewish fraternity carried on a thriving business by going up and down the country with large bundles of quills which the master would have to purchase by the hundred, and find himself full employment in making pens for his pupils. He, however, retired from teaching, getting a better employment in a merchant's office in a neighbouring town. At this time a large fire broke out at a row of thatched cottages just on the suburbs of the village known as Wheal Gerry, when six of them with their contents were utterly destroyed. At that time there was no sort of provision to check the ravages of such a calamity; the inhabitants getting alarmed, called a meeting of the ratepayers in view of devising means to bring water into the town to combat any similar outbreak. Certain dangerous risks were recounted and schemes suggested, one of the chief advocates on this occasion being a Mr. Soddy, whose sign at the Basset' Arms showed him to be a dealer in wines and spirits; he stated his case very forcibly in the following words: "In one of our bedrooms there was a pane of glass which had a knob in it and that acted as a burning glass which caught the bed curtains on fire, and before it was discovered and extinguished considerable mischief was done. Now, gentlemen! if this had happened by night instead of by day the whole town might have been burned down!" The whole assembly readily assented to the proposition and it was carried nem. con. that water be brought into the town with the least possible delay and by the best possible means.
Not far distant from this strange character, a contemporary of his has come into notoriety as founder of the Bryanites, a denomination now called by another name Bible Christians, and Peter, for that was his name whether as member or leader, took an active interest in promoting the welfare of this connection. He was a man of great determination and probity of conduct, though somewhat of an eccentric disposition and had many good parts. This useful man met with a terrible accident in his middle age by the loss of a leg, an account of which, so fat as can be ascertained may be given in his own words. I must first state that this sect had its class meetings like other Methodist bodies where each member relates to the leader his or her experience for the past week; on this occasion Uncle Peter, as he was called, rose to give an account of himself, commencing thus: "I and my cumrade was workin' upon a swing stage in Wheal Gurry Bal, when the stage gov away and we was hurled down six or eight fathoms with all the rocks and rubbish with us; my cumrade was killed, I had my leg brok' which I was obleeged to have amperated, and ever since then have been ponderin' up and down upon a timberin' one, and do often say with the poets—
Through wind and rain and storms, I wage my weary way,
In trembling hope to rise, Yet willing here to stay.
In faith and hope and trust, I'm strongest of the strong,
Yet in a worldly sense, I'm only fooching just along.
"Blessed experience, Brother Peter," cries the Leader, to which Brother Peter replies sub rosa "I wish you had it instead of me!" I have no doubt that in most country places there are to be found witty and humourous people and it does not follow that one need be highly educated or technically enlightened to relate, a ludicrous story, for there were certainly residing in this county during the eighteenth century and the early part of the present one some who were radiant with fun and much sought after in society for that gift, for there are not many who can tell a good story as it ought to be told, indeed it is often murdered in its recitation, and the art is not more easily acquired than that of Greek or any foreign language.
To a stranger coming to Cornwall, and visiting the mining district, he would be much surprised by hearing so many addressed as Captain, for in other parts of England the Army and Navy are only so honoured, but in this county anyone who occupies the post of overseer in tin or copper mining is dubbed captain. One famous Cornishman well known by repute and the Halter pie, was honoured by the name of Captain Joe Odgers; he retired from the office of mine management and became transformed into a share dealer, and when mining was in a more prosperous state, that worthy managed to bring large capital into the county: he was largely endowed with sophistical argument and would sometimes be invited to fill the pulpit in a Dissenting chapel. It is well authenticated that he was in full sympathy with his sick neighbours, and on one occasion being invited to pray for them did so in this manner:—
"Lord, have mercy upon old Capt. Simms, who is home very bad with a gathering under his chuck."
"Lord, have mercy upon Mr. Peter Boudge, for he is confined to bed with the plumbago in his cheens."
"Lord, have mercy upon old Thomas Knucky, for he tumbled in the water style and smashed in three of his ribs."
"Lord, have mercy upon Mr. A. Pederick, for he is a bad old crammer."
No doubt that this exemplary man was sincere, and had much faith in the efficacy of his prayer, however pious and well intentioned such people are, before holding forth in any public assembly they should endeavour to acquire a better form of their native language. This growing village, with its increasing inhabitants, could only boast of one surgeon at this period, namely, a Dr. Chirgwin, who, it is said, hailed from Fore street; his surgery was in a front room, the lower part or hapse of the door had a small bell inside to attract the attention of the professor. His dispensary being of limited dimensions, the country folks of the male sex especially, would have to wait outside until warned to come in, and being drawn from the rougher grades of society were often tempted to indulge in horse-play, and on one occasion pounced on one of the party, a man of diminutive stature, and threw him over the lower half of the door or hapse of the waiting-room or surgery. The doctor, hearing the commotion, rushed out whip in hand, and began to belabour the unfortunate intruder unmercifully. At length this martyr turned upon him with these words; "But, darn ye, doctor, too much of that won't do, I can tell ee. Another lash, and by gad, if I don't smash all your little gallipots to rags!" On this the doctor, seeing his passion aroused, was glad to liberate the prisoner with all possible haste.
About this time another amusing incident occurred, which for its ready wit and repartee has been rarely excelled. The doctor in question had a son whom he was bringing to the medical profession. This young Esculapius was rash in his beginnings, and in attempting to extract a tooth fractured the lower maxillary or jaw, and after long suffering the hapless patient lost his life. The young doctor had, therefore, to abandon his medical studies, and subsequently entered the church, which was more suitable to him. The doctor himself was somewhat famed for his treatment of sore legs, and was consulted by a person from an adjoining parish whose name was Knight. This individual was a notorious tooth-drawer; being asked by the doctor if he had any linen to apply to his wounded leg, and replying in the affirmative, he proceeded to unwrap a strange looking iron implement, which on enquiry he told the doctor was his tooth-puller, to which the doctor retorted "You will be breaking someone's jaw one of these days, and what will you do then?" His answer was "I suppose I shall have to turn parson!!" Whether this village dentist was fortunate enough to escape the ordeal doth not appear.
It has been handed down to us that the Cornish country folk, at not a very ancient date, were excessively superstitious and readily believed in ghosts, sprites, fairies, pixies, etc., and other unearthly manifestations, and it is on record that such hypothesis were somewhat encouraged by the clerics of that day. The following has been imparted to me by indisputable authority:—In a village churchyard an incumbent on reading the Burial Service committed her body to the grave in the sure and certain hope that she would rise again on the other side the Atlantic. This violation of the Rubric was instantly pointed out by one attending the obsequies, when he was at once called to order with the remark that he had no right to interfere, "It being my prerogative to bury the dead, not yours." The next morning, however, an explanation was demanded, when he stated that being strongly impressed at the time that the poor woman had been deserted by all her family and allowed to perish from sheer want, he thought he should like to transfer her where she might haunt them in the future.
This affair was greatly talked of among the lower classes, whose belief had been greatly strengthened in the transmigration of the departed to other spheres; indeed, that was a part of their creed. We hope never again to hear of such irreverence from a Protestant clergyman in a Christian country. Who could imagine that only one hundred years ago, that a parish priest would endeavour to inspire the too ignorant and credulous with the dogma that he had the power to call up evil spirits and put them to rest by his nightly peregrinations around the church: education has done much to dispel such superstitious folly from the masses.
Camborne has now grown to a large and populous place, numbering, perhaps, some 12,000 or 14,000; of late it has become somewhat notorious for fires, which have occurred in many busy parts and destroyed much valuable property. This fact acted as an impetus to private speculators, who soon formed their syndicate and found capital to bring in water, gas, and police supervision, which adds much to the safety and security of the inhabitants. In the parish proper there are four principal churches with several mission chapels, and a great many belonging to the Nonconformist communities, so that religious education is by no means neglected. The chief industry is that of mining, which of late has become so depressed, that a number of them have ceased to be wrought, causing a considerable loss to the adventurers&mash;it must not, however, be supposed that our mineral wealth in Cornwall has become less, but while the foreigner can produce the article profitably at £30 per ton, and we cannot with our deep mining operations send it to our market for less than £50, so it is patent that all our legitimate adventurers must be losing greatly by their holdings—the sole benefit arising from all such undertakings at present must be to the executive, merchants, smelters, lords' dues, etc. The principle of management under the system of limited liability, I consider erroneous: on discussing this matter some little time since with a gentleman, who is largely interested in Cornish mines, he unhesitatingly said that he considered the system an unlimited swindle. Some little time since, on reading a very interesting book by Dr. Jessop, he mentioned the circumstance of a visit to Cornwall, when he was invited to attend a meeting on the occasion of first lifting the piston of a pumping engine. This machine was of large dimensions, and the fellow to the one used for pumping or draining the Lake of Haarlem; this huge instrument, no doubt perfect enough in its way, had in a comparatively short time pumped all the water out of this deep mine, but had at the same time pumped all the gold out of the pockets of the enterprising adventurers, so the pumping being ended both ways, the mine was closed. It was, doubtless, well known, at a remote age, that the surface of this county in many parts carried oxide of tin, and it is on record that the invaders, perhaps two thousand years since, were chiefly Phoenicians, Danes, and Dutch; they seemed to have had a good knowledge of mineralogy and chemistry, for, not only had they made the discovery, but found the method of reducing into marketable form, smelting it on the spot, shipping it from St. Michael's Mount, which was then known as the Ictis. Ever since that time mining has been more or less carried on in Cornwall, but of late deep mining operations have been substituted for all surface work, except that of "Tin Streaming." Large sums have been handed over for investment in undertaking this industry, money which can never be seen or measured by the unfortunate wight, until in the long run, when alas! too late he finds himself irretrievably ruined. I once personally knew a gentleman residing in London, who was well known by repute throughout England, having established the "Supper Rooms" at Covent Garden. I am alluding to Mr. Evans, the eminent vocalist, who after many years of labour retired from public life, having made a snug little fortune; he, however, unfortunately fell in with some Cornish sharpers, mine jobbers, who induced him to pay them a visit, and invest largely in a sham concern, which showed extensive workings on the surface, while there was nothing underneath. This poor, unsuspecting man was simply beggared by this deception, and died broken-hearted; his remains now lie in Marazion Churchyard, far removed from his native place.
When the Mechanics Institute was first set up at Camborne, perhaps about fifty years since, more or less,—I am speaking from memory and may not therefore be chronologically accurate, which, however, is unimportant for my present object. When it was inaugurated, it was the only place of the sort within the town boundary, where the people of that day could go by paying a small sum for membership, scan the newspapers, read the best periodicals, and attend the lectures, etc.; this certainly was a great boon to the well disposed inhabitants. Before that time the only alternative was the public-house bar, where both young and old would assemble to hear gossip and scandal, for it was a very censorious age, and what was not known would oftentimes be invented for sensational effect. Of course, these people would be of no use to the publican, unless by purchasing the liquors which he vended; sometimes singing and music were introduced as an attraction to customers, and many of the unwary would often take more than was good for them, and become inebriated, and when equipped in that way would be equal to any mischief to the prejudice of the peaceable inhabitants. On one occasion these outlaws were guilty of a most revolting deed: they had found their way into the parish burying ground, removed several of the gravestones, and placed them in front of the Unicorn Inn. When the inmates came down the next morning, they were not a little surprised to find these mortuary records in front of the hotel. The authorities were instantly communicated with, had them removed, but the puzzled sexton was unable to find out till after much difficulty which belonged to which. Large rewards were offered for sufficient evidence to bring this sacrilegious guilt home to the perpetrators, and fortunately for them and their families they escaped conviction for this foul crime.
I have heard it said that the Cornish folk are proverbially addicted to practical joking, and which they oftentimes carry to a deplorable extent, the perpetrators thinking in all sincerity, that as their object was only to make fun, there could be no possible harm in carrying these canards into effect, but when they do mischief to others, it can but be profusely reprehensible. I once heard of a case in point, which for its strategy and cool daring in execution, is almost unrivalled. I will give it as told me, many years after, by one implicated in the plot, and, therefore, its veracity may be vouched for: The daughter of a Cornish incumbent had occasion to consult a dentist, and came to Truro for that purpose. She was attended and paid his fee, which, however, the patient considered excessive. She said nothing, but bore it in mind that if ever a chance should fall in her way she would be quits with him. Knowing well that there was no way of getting her money refunded, she concocted the following scheme by writing a letter purporting to come from Augustus Smith, Esq., of Tresco, Scilly Islands, sent it to a friend, and requested to have it addressed to N. Stephens, Esq., Dentist, Truro, asking him to come to Tresco, and attend him (A. Smith) and his family. Mr. Stephens quickly prepared himself and set out on his mission, a distance of upwards of fifty miles; on calling on his distinguished patient next morning, he was electrified to find it all a hoax, and that he had not been sent for. Fortunately, such expensive plots are but seldom hatched, as they would entail useless outlay to the deluded one, who in the case here referred to was kept prisoner in the island for nearly a week, the boat being unable to cross to Penzance through the stormy weather which then prevailed. We occasionally meet with people of very low intellectual calibre, who may be clever artificers, or possibly excel in domestic acquirements. I once knew a man who was a skilful engineer and had the control of several high pressure steam engines, which he managed in a praiseworthy manner, yet he seemed not to understand the most simple rudiments of arithmetic. I used to see him often at my house, being part owner in several of the mines with which he was connected. Once he came to see me with a large cucumber, one end of which stuck out six or eight inches above the pocket of his coat. A friend, who was present, endeavoured in a playful sort of way to purloin it, when the owner protested that he should not have the whole, but if he would procure a knife he would cut it in three parts, giving me one half, him one half, and keeping the other half for himself; he apparently had no idea of division by thirds, and could no more propound a problem in Euclid than he could fly to the moon. Yet he was considered a skilled artisan. While on this subject another amusing incident occurs to my mind: this remarkable man had a brother, who was well known in the west for his extreme drollery. He was attending a camp meeting just under the renowned Carn Brea Castle, when the preacher took for his text "Faith will remove mountains"; the listener interrupted him by saying, "If you can budge Carn Brea I shall have faith in your preaching, otherwise I can never believe it." John Brown like, well! who was he? I must tell you as nearly as I am informed: he was a Norfolk man of humble but respectable origin, a strict Nonconformist, and who would do a little at times in the way of pulpit oratory, and in his discourse would invariably declaim against "Eddication," which he alleged was of no use in shewing people the way of redemption, averring that the disciples were not "eddicated" men, yet they were the means of converting thousands. "No! No! brethren, I don't believe in "Varsity" men at all." This poor man evidently considered that education was of no importance to the rising generation, and seemingly ignored the fact that humanity is in a transitory state, and must either advance or retrogade, according to individual aim or ambition. Laissey faire should not be the motto; let Excelsior! be the golden rule of life.
One may be sitting in a placid mood, full of religious sentiments, when suddenly something strikes the eye of an amusing character, which excites the emotions, and instantly calls the risible faculties into action, with the result of an outburst of involuntary laughter. A very humourous story was told me sometime ago, which occurred in a provincial church not above twenty miles from St. Gwinear. The pastor was doing the service, and everything going on smoothly, when in the midst of his homily, he casually glanced at a side window, which commanded a view of a field grown with turnips, and saw a woman stealing therefrom, who was in the act of tugging with might and main at a stubborn root, when it suddenly gave way; the thief fell floundering on the soil. This ludicrous figure caused the parson to laugh heartily, and pause in his discourse, which necessitated an explanation to his congregation, when they too joined in the laugh. The turnip stealer, being recognized, was brought to book the next morning, when she asked forgiveness, and faithfully promised never to steal turnips again on a Sunday morning; so she was acquitted, after receiving a good lecture.
It may not be generally known that the working miners of Cornwall have to take all materials required for their underground work from the stores kept on the mine. On the setting day, as it is termed, the pare or party knowing their work as explained by the captain or overlooker, either to drive at so much per fathom, or on tribute, or it may be both. A commission is given on the mineral raised exclusive of the labour. The materials are taken by guess as to quantity, as they never know what they may require in carrying out the bargain; therefore, should there be a surplus left, candles being the chief commodity, and these negotiable whatever they have left on completion of their work, they divide between themselves, and it is a common practice with miners to take any surplus and barter with the shopkeeper for other goods, being impressed that tallow is a tangible commodity, and always convertible into other forms of goods, which is an act of true political economy. The following incident occurred some years ago, not far from Camborne: One of the miners was about to be married, went to the altar, and after the ceremony was over the settling of fees arose, when the bridegroom asked the registrar whether he would have any objection to take two or three pounds of candles in lieu of the fee; if so, he would not mind taking them to the parsonage house himself. The Rector, on hearing this laughable suggestion, offered forthwith to forego the fees to the amount of the proffered candles.
People from the far west are musically endowed, and have their choirs in both chapels and churches, and not seldom might be seen in those days the Sackbut and Bassoon as an adjunct to worship, but which have now become obsolete, organs having entirely superseded these instruments.
Military bands were almost unknown in Cornwall before the introduction of the Volunteer movement; now we often hear good music discoursed by very able performers.
This predilection was evinced at Camborne in my early youth, when a few gentlemen combined to meet for musical study and recreation once a fortnight, and engaged a professional from Truro as teacher. This preceptor was a Mr. Emidy, an African negro, who was stolen from his country by the officers of a frigate then on the African coast—they having engaged this genius to play for them at a ball they were then holding on board. Seeing his mysterious talent, they plied him with liquor to deprive him of his senses, and while in that condition set sail for England. When this poor man recovered consciousness, he was agonised and cried piteously on finding he was stolen from his home and native land. This remarkable man was the most finished musician I ever heard of, though I have had the privilege of listening to most of the stars who have appeared on the London stage during the past fifty years, but not one of them in my estimation has equalled this unknown negro. He was not only a wonderful manipulator on the Violin, 'Cello, or Viola, but could write fluently in either of these clefs; his hands seemed especially adapted for the work, his extremely long, thin fingers were not much larger than a goose quill: where this great talent came from was always a mystery to me, and to all who came in contact with him. This little party used to assemble at my father's house, when I was permitted to sit in the room, and the pleasure it then afforded me will never be erased from my memory. I well remember two French Horns were used on these occasions, and the large number of highly polished rings on these instruments had a great charm for me, although the music produced by them I could never appreciate; they now appear to have become obsolete, for I have not seen one for many years past.
I believe this happy little band have all been called to the home of their forefathers long since; the last of them was a Mr. J. Rule, of Park Bracket, Camborne, and he would often invite me to spend evenings with him to play duets on our violins. Another valued friendship was that of Mr. Winn, solicitor, who resided at Fore Street, and many a pleasant evening have I spent with him and Mrs. Winn, he playing the hautboy, Mrs. Winn the harp, and I either the violin or 'cello. He was the last of my private musical connections. Sometime afterwards, however, we started a Philharmonic Society, which after some years of successful training, fell into abeyance, from members leaving home or natural sickness and decay, the fate of most such institutions.
I have discussed the people, their dwellings, and their habits, and have now to speak of the different roadways into this embryo town at the beginning of this century. There were four chief entrances, one which we will designate the Higher Road, and over which ran a van from Penzance daily, passing through Marazion, Goldsithney, Relubas, Wall, Carnhell Green, Barepper, thence to Camborne Cross with its little cluster of houses, then down Cross Street to the front of the Town Clock. The second entrance we will call the Lower Road, that used to support a van running from Penzance to Truro daily, which would first skirt St. Erth, thence on to Hayle and Copperhouse, and over a long steep incline to Connor Downs, Roseworthy, on to Treswithian, thence by the Lower Road known by the name of Gilly to Waterstyle, and up through Fore Street into the town; the other road was from Truro to Camborne; as far as can be ascertained, an old rickety conveyance dragged its way on at the slow pace of three miles an hour, including the many halting places; it was a long tiresome journey, first reaching the Three-mile-stone Tavern on to Chacewater, Redruth, Pool, Tuckingmill, Camborne. The latter place, with all its surroundings, have undergone such changes during the past few years that one leaving it twenty years since would now scarcely recognise it as the same. It is feared that the great mining depression and consequent exodus of miners will add further to the existing distress, for the time being at least. I am quite of opinion that the forces at work in the grand evolution of nature, will exemplify new ways and means to compensate for the great overthrow of our staple industry. Who, a few years since, could have predicted that Africa would prove such a beneficent field of operation for our surplus unemployed and distressed people. Africa now, and other parts are equally attractive; indeed, but for these places and the remittances of foreign money therefrom our county, impoverished as it is at present, would be ten times more so. When the Right Hon. Lord Kinnaird came into this county some years ago, accompanied by two eminent medical men, Drs. Peacock and Bankart, whose object was to examine into the health of the working miner, he brought me a letter from Dr. Lethby. The latter, knowing I had been engaged upon a series of experiments on the question of Fuel Economy; I saw something of him every day for nearly a month. On parting, the first named gentleman said, "I am not a chemist, but am an agriculturist. I have only to say that at any time should you feel yourselt clear to prosecute your researches in that way, come to me, and I will make your way straight in any part of Scotland, for wasteful as the fuel is in Cornwall it is ten times worse in Scotland; however, I have not found time nor opportunity to accept his invitation yet.
Many scintillations of wit have occasionally been thrown off from those professing to know much of the Cornish character, but all of them, which have fallen in my way, appear to have been written in a fabulous and satirical manner, leaving a large void, which it is my intention to fill with something equally amusing, and, perhaps, a little historical.
It is evident that the authors of the writings referred to are desirous it should be known that they hail from the Mining District of Cornwall in order to enhance the repute of their Tales. How far I have succeeded with my miscellaneous collection I must leave the reader to judge.
WILLIAM R. TUCK,