Chapter II. Ordination.--The Black Pig, "Gyp."--Writes to the Bishop.--His Father appointed to Stratton.--He is given Morwenstow.--The Waidron Lanthorn.--St. Morwenna.--The Children of Brychan.--St. Modwenna of Burton-on-Trent.--The North Cornish Coast.--Tintagel.--Stowe.--Sir Bevil Granville.--Mr. Hawker's discovery of the Granville Letters.--Those that remain.--Antony Payne the Giant.--Letters of Lady Grace.--Of Lord Lansdown.--Cornish Dramatic Power.--Mr. Hicks of Bodmin.
ROBERT STEPHEN HAWKER was ordained deacon in 1829, when he was twenty-five years old, by the Bishop of Exeter, to the curacy of North Tamerton, of which the Rev. Mr. Kingdon was non-resident incumbent. He threw two cottages into one, and added a veranda and rooms, and made himself a comfortable house, which he called Trebarrow. He was ordained priest in 1831, by the Bishop of Bath and Wells. He took his M.A. degree in 1836. He had a favorite rough pony which he rode, and a black pig of Berkshire breed, well cared for, washed, and curry-combed, which ran beside him when he went out for walks, and paid visits. Indeed, the pig followed him into ladies' drawing-rooms, not always to their satisfaction. The pig was called Gyp, and was intelligent and obedient. If Mr. Hawker saw that those whom he visited were annoyed at the intrusion of the pig, he would order it out; and the black creature slunk out of the door with its tail out of curl.
It was whilst Mr. Hawker was at Tamerton that Henry Phillpotts was appointed Bishop of Exeter. There was some unpleasant feeling aroused in the diocese at the mode of his appointment; and the bishop sent a pastoral letter to his clergy to state his intentions, and explain away what caused un-pleasantness. Mr. Hawker wrote the bishop an answer of such a nature that it began a friendship which subsisted between them till the death of Dr. Phillpotts. Whilst Mr. Hawker was curate of Tamerton, on one or two occasions the friends of the laboring dead requested that the burial hour might be that on which the deceased was accustomed "to leave work." The request touched his poetical instinct, and he wrote the lines:--
"Sunset should be the time, they said,
To close their brother's narrow bed.
'Tis at that pleasant hour of day
The laborer treads his homeward way.
His work is o'er, his toil is done;
And therefore at the set of sun,
To wait the wages of the dead,
We laid our hireling in his bed."
In 1834 died the non-resident vicar of Stratton, and the bishop of Exeter offered to obtain the living for Mr. Robert Stephen Hawker; but he refused it, as his father was curate of Stratton, and he felt how unbecoming it would be for him to assume the position of vicar where his father had been, and still was, curate. In his letter to the bishop he urged his father's long service at Stratton; and Dr. Phillpotts, at his request, obtained the presentation for Mr. Jacob Stephen Hawker to the vicarage of Stratton.
The very next piece of preferment that fell vacant was Morwenstow, whose vicar, the Rev. Mr. Young, died in 1834. Mr. Young had been non-resident, and had lived at Torrington, the parish being served by a succession of curates, some of them also nonresident. The vicarage house, which stood west of the tower near a gate out of the churchyard, was let to the clerk, and inhabited by him and his wife. The first curate was Mr. Badcock, who lived at Week St. Mary, some fourteen miles distant. He rode over for Sunday duty. Next came a M. Savant, a Frenchman ordained deacon in the English Church, but never priest. He was a dapper dandy, very careful of his ecclesiastical costume, in knee-breeches and black silk stockings. He lodged at Marsland. Parson Davis of Kilkhampton came over to Morwenstow to celebrate the holy communion. The Frenchman was succeeded by Mr. Bryant, who lived at Flexbury, in the parish of Poughill; the next to him was Mr. Thomas, a man who ingratiated himself with the farmers,--a cheery person, fond of a good story, and interested in husbandry, "but not much of the clerical in him," as an old Morwenstow man describes him. Whilst Mr. Thomas was curate, the vicar, Parson Young, died. A petition from the farmers and householders of Morwenstow to the bishop was got up, to request him to appoint Mr. Thomas. The curate, so runs the tale, went to Exeter to present the paper with their signatures, and urge his claims in person.
"My lord," said he, "the Dissenters have all signed the petition: they are all in favor of me. Not one has declined to attach his name; even the Wesleyan minister wishes me well, and to see me vicar of Morwenstow."
"Then, my good sir," said Dr. Phillpotts, "it is very clear that you are not the man for me. I wish you a good-morning." And he wrote off to Robert Stephen Hawker, offering him the incumbency of Morwenstow.
There was probably not a living in the whole diocese, perhaps not one in England, which could have been more acceptable to Mr. Hawker. As his sister tells me, "Robert always loved Morwenstow: from a boy he loved it, and, when he could, went to live there."
He at once adopted the preferment, and went into residence. There had not been a resident vicar since the Rev. Oliver Rose*, who lived at Eastaway, in the parish. [Throughout this memoir, wherever an asterisk accompanies a name it is for the purpose of showing that the real name has not been given, either at the request of descendants, or because relatives are still alive.] This Rev. Oliver Rose had a brother-in-law, Mr. Edward Waldron* of Stanbury; and the cronies used to meet and dine alternately at each other's house. As they grew merry over their port, the old gentlemen uproariously applauded any novel joke or story by rattling their glasses on the table. Having laughed at each other's venerable anecdotes for the last twenty years, the introduction of a new tale or witticism was hailed with the utmost enthusiasm. This enthusiasm reached such a pitch, that, in their applause of each other's sallies, they occasionally broke their wineglasses.
The vicar of Morwenstow, when Mr. Waldron snapped off the foot of his glass, would put the foot in his pocket, and treasure it; for each wineglass broken was to him a testimony to the brilliancy of his jokes, and also a reminder to him of them for future use.
In time he had accumulated a considerable number of broken wineglasses, and he had them fitted together to form an enormous lantern; and thenceforth, when he went to dine at Stanbury, this testimony to his triumphs was borne lighted before him.
The lantern fell into the hands of Mr. Hawker, and he presented it to the lineal descendant of Mr. E. Waldron, as a family relic. It is still in existence, and duly honored. It is of oak, with the fragments of wineglasses let in with great ingenuity in the patterns of keys, hearts, &c., about the roof, the sides being composed of the circular feet of the glasses.
On looking at the map of Cornwall, one is surprised to see it studded with the names of saints, of whom one knows nothing, and these names of a peculiarly un-English sound. The fact is, that Cornwall was, like Ireland, a land of saints in the fifth and sixth centuries. These were either native Cornwelsh, or were Welsh saints who migrated thither to seek on the desolate moors or wild, uninhabited coasts of Cornwall solitary places, where they might live to God, and fight demons, like the hermits of Egypt. Cornwall was the Thebaid of the Welsh.
Little or nothing is known of the vast majority of these saints. They have left their names and their cells and holy-wells behind them, but nothing more.
"They had their lodges in the wilderness,
Or built their cells beside the shadowy sea;
And there they dwelt with angels like a dream.
So they unclosed the volume of the Book,
And filled the fields of the Evangelist
With thoughts as sweet as flowers!"
["The Cornish Fathers," in Mr. Hawker's Echoes of Old Cornwall, 1846.]
The legends of a few local saints survive, but of very few. Such is that of St. Melor "with the golden hand," probably some old British deity who has bequeathed his myth to an historical personage. St. Padarn, St. Pieran, St. Cadoc, St. Theilo, have their histories well known, as they belong to Wales. But there are other saints, emigrants from Wales, who settled on the north-west coast, of whom but little is known.
What little can be collected concerning St. Morwenna, who had her cell at Morwenstow, I proceed to give.
In the fifth century there lived in Brecknock a Welsh prince, Brychan by name, who died in 450. According to Welsh accounts, he had twenty-four sons and twenty-five daughters, in all forty-nine children. Statements, however, vary, of which this is the largest. The smallest number attributed to him is twenty-four; and, as his grandchildren may have been included in the longer list, this may account for the discrepancy. He is said to have had three wives,--Ewrbrawst, Rhybrawst, and Peresgri,--though it is not said that they were living at the same time. He had also several illegitimate children.
The names of the sons and daughters and grandchildren of Brychan are given in the "Cognacio Brychani," and by Bonnedd-y-Saint; and a critical examination of the list is given by Dr. Rees in his "Essay on the Welsh Saints." In the "Young Women's Window "at St. Neots, near Liskeard, in Cornwall, is fifteenth-century glass, which represents Bryshan with his offspring, twenty-four in number, all of whom have been confessors or martyrs in Devon and Cornwall. The following are named: I. St. John, or Ive, who gave his name to the Church of St. Ives; 2. Endelient, who gave his name to Ende-lion; 3. Menfre, to St. Miniver; 4. Teth, to St. Teath; 5. Mabina, to St. Mabyn; 6. Merewenna, to Marham Church near Bude; 7. Wenna, to St. Wenna; 8. Yse, to St. Issey; 9. Morwenna, to Morwenstow; 10. Cleder, to St. Clether; 11. Kerie, to Egloskerry;. 12. Helic, to Egloshayle; 13. Adwen, to Advent; Lanent, to Lelant. Leland, in his "Itinerary," adds Nectan, Dilic, Wensenna, Wessen, Juliana, [St. Juliot, who has left her name near Boscastle.] Wymp, Wen-heder, Jona, Kananc, and Kerhender.
A few, but not many, of these can be identified with those attributed to Brychan by the Welsh genealogists. Morwenna is most probably the Welsh Mwynen, in Latin Monyina, daughter of Brynach Wyddel by Corth, one of the daughters of Brychan; and her sisters Gwennan and Gwenlliu are probably the Wenna and Wenheder of the St. Neots window.
St. Morwenna was therefore apparently the grand-daughter of Brychan. Her father, Brynach Wyddel, lived in Carmarthen and Pembroke. She had a brother named Gerwyn, who is admitted by Welsh authorities to have settled in Cornwall, and been slain on the isle of Gerwyn. He does not appear in Le-land's list. That list is evidently inaccurate: the same person recurs under two forms of his name. Thus John (Ive) and Jona are the same, so also probably are Merewenna of Marham Church and Morwenna of Morwenstow. Kananc is St. Caian, venerated on Sept. 5, a grandson of Brychan, and perhaps, therefore, a son of Corth or Cymorth, and brother of St. Morwenna. St. Cleder is St. Cleclog, who was buried in Herefordshire, at Clodock. He was martyred by the Pagan Saxons about A.D. 492, and is commemorated on Aug. 19. He also was a grandson of Brychan, but is said by the "Cognacio "to have been the son of St. Clydwyn, son of Brychan. He is said to have had a sister, St. Pcdita, and a brother, St. Dcdyn, who may be the Cornish Adwen. The St. Tedda, said to be a sister of St. Morwenna in the list, is no doubt St. Tydie, a daughter or granddaughter of Brychan. St. Endelient may be the same as St. Elined, the Almedha of Giraldus Cambrensis, who says that she suffered martyrdom upon a hill called Penginger, near Brecknock. She is venerated on Aug. 1.
In Cornwall, as in Wales, churches were called after the saints who founded cells there. Morwenna, we may safely conclude, like so many of her brothers, sisters, cousins, uncles, and aunts, migrated to Cornwall. St. Nectan, who may have been her brother, and who certainly was a near relation, established himself, we may conjecture, at St. Neighton's Kieve, at which time probably Morwenna had her cell at Marham Church. St. Nectan afterwards established himself on Hartland Point; and perhaps at the same time Morwenna erected her cell on the cliff above the Atlantic, which has since borne her name, and from which, in clear weather, and before a storm, the distant coast of her native Wales was visible. There she died. Leland, in his "Collectanea," quoting an ancient MS. book of places where the bodies of saints rest, says that St. Morwenna lies at Morwenstow: "in villa, quae Modwenstow dicitur, S. Mudwenna quiescit."
It will be seen from this extract that Leland confounded Morwenna with Modwenna; and Mr. Hawker, following Leland and Butler, did the same. In the year before he died I had a correspondence with him on this point, and convinced him of the error into which he had fallen in his "Footsteps of Former Men in Cornwall."
There exists a late life of St. Modwenna by one Concubran, an Irish writer of the end of the thirteenth and beginning of the fourteenth century. There is also an Irish life of a Monynna of Newry, in Ireland, who received the veil from the hands of St. Patrick, and died about A.D. 518.
Concubran had this life, and, knowing of the fame of the saintly abbess Modwenna of Burton-on-Trent, he supposed the two saints were the same, and wove the Irish legend of Monynna with the English life of Modwenna, and made out of them a life which is a tissue of anachronisms. He represents St. Modwenna as contemporary with Pope Caelestine I. (423-432), St. Patrick (died 465), St. Ibar (died 500), St. Columba (died 597), St. Kevin (died 618), and King Alfrid of Northumbria (died 705).
St. Modwenna, or Movenna, founded a convent at Pochard Brighde, near Faugher, in the county of Louth, about the year 630; and a hundred and fifty virgins placed themselves under her rule. But one night, an uproarious wedding having disturbed the rest and fluttered the hearts of her nuns, and threatened to turn their heads, Modwenna deemed it prudent to remove the excitable damsels to some more remote spot, where no weddings took place, nor convivial songs were heard; and she pitched upon Kill-sleve-Cuilin, in the county of Armagh, where she erected a monastery. One of her maidens was named Athea, another Orbile. She had a brother, a holy abbot, named Ronan.
In Concubran's "Life of St. Modwenna," we are told that about this time Alfrid, son of the king of England, came to Ireland. This is certainly Alfrid, the illegitimate son of Osw'y, who, on the accession of Egfrid (A.D. 670), fled to Ireland, and remained there studying, as Bede tells us, for some while. The Irish king, according to Concubran, was Conall. But this is a mistake. Conall, nephew of Donald II., reigned from 642 to 658. Seachnasch was king in 670, but was killed the following year, and was succeeded by Finnachta, who reigned till 695. When Alfrid was about to return to Northumbria, the Irish king wanted to make him a present, but, having nothing in his treasury, bade a kinsman go and rob some church or convent, and give the spoils to the Northumbrian prince. The noble fell on all the lands of the convent of Modwenna, and pillaged them and the church. Then the saint, with great boldness, took ship, crossed over to England, came to Northumbria, and found the prince Alfrid at Whitby (A.D. 685), and demanded redress. The king--for Alfrid was now on the throne--promised to repay all, and placed Modwenna in the famous double monastery of Whitby founded by St. Hilda in 658. His own sister, Elfleda, was there; and he committed her to St. Modwenna, to be instructed by her in the way of life. Elfleda was then aged thirty-one. Three years after, she succeeded to the place of St. Hilda, and was second abbess of Whitby. Then St. Modwenna returned to Ireland, and visited her foundations there. After a while she made a pilgrimage to Rome, and in passing through England founded a religious house at Burton-on-Trent, and left in it some of her nuns. I need not follow her history farther.
Concubran tells some odd stories of St. Modwenna. One day she and her nuns went to visit St. Bridget--regardless, be it remembered, of the gap of two centuries which intervened. A girl in the company took an onion away with her, lest she should be hungry on the road. On reaching the Liffey, the river was found to be too swollen to be crossed. "There is something wrong," said Modwenna: "let us examine our consciences, and cast away the accursed thing."
"The accursed thing is this onion," said the maiden, producing the bulb.
"Take it back to Bridget," said Modwenna; and, when the onion had been restored, the Liffey subsided.
Bridget sent a silver chalice to Modwenna. She threw it into the river, and the waves washed it to its destination.
One night Modwenna said to her assembled nuns, "My sisters, we must all cleanse our consciences, for our prayers stick in the roof of the chapel, and cannot break out."
Then one of the nuns said, "It is my fault. I complained to a knight of my acquaintance, of the cold I felt; and he told me I was too scantily clothed. He was moved to such pity of me, that he gave me some warm lamb's-wool underclothing, and I have that on now." The garment was removed and destroyed; and the prayers got out of the roof, and flew to heaven. ["Dixit S. Movenna: Melius, ut illi subtulares imponantur in profundis-simum branum (? barathrum) pro quibus nunc absentiam sentimus Angelorum! Vocata itaque una ex sororibus Brigna et aliis cum ea ex sororibus, dixit eis: Itel illos subtulares in aliquo profundo abscondite."]
One night, shortly before her death, before the gray dawn broke, two lay sisters came to her cell. As they approached, they saw two silver swans rise in the air, and sail away. They immediately concluded that these were angels come to bear off the soul of the abbess.
Her body was laid at Burton-on-Trent, and was long an object of pilgrimage. But the fact that for a short while St. Modwenna instructed the sister of Alfrid, "son of the king of England," has led some writers into strange mistakes. Capgrave supposes him to be Alfred the Great, son of Ethelwolf, and that the sister was Edith of Polesworth, who died in 954. And Dugdale followed Capgrave. Mr. Hawker, following Alban Butler, who accepted the account of Dugdale and Capgrave, made the blunder greater by fusing St. Morwenna of Cornwall, who, as has been shown, lived in the fifth century, with Modwenna, who lived at the end of the seventh century, and made her the instructress of St. Edith of Polesworth, who died in the tenth century, in the year 954. And Modwenna, as has been stated, was confounded by Concubran with Monynna of Newry, who died at the beginning of the sixth century.
On unravelling this tangle in 1874, when writing my July volumes of "Lives of the Saints," I wrote to Mr. Hawker of Morwenstow, and told him that the east window of his church represented Morwenna of Cornwall teaching Edith of Polesworth, and that it was an anachronism and mistake altogether, as it was not Edith who was educated by the saintly Modwenna, and the abbess Modwenna was not the virgin Morwenna. I told him also that St. Modwenna was buried at Burton-on-Trent.
I received this answer:--
"What! Morwenna not lie in the holy place at Morwenstow! Of that you will never persuade me,--no, never. I know that she lies there. I have seen her, and she has told me as much; and at her feet ere long I hope to lay my old bones."
I wrote at once to assure him that St. Morwenna did lie, as Leland says, at Morwenstow, and that St Modwenna did lie where she died, at Burton-on-Trent. I asked him some particulars about his vision of St. Morwenna. He thought I meant to obtain them for publication. "No," he wrote, "I might tell you what I saw, but never shall such a revelation be given to the unbelieving public. 'Give not that which is holy unto dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine.' "
In the little glen of Morwenstow, three hundred and fifty feet above the Atlantic, St. Morwenna had her cell, and gave origin to the church and parish of Morwenstow. As she lay a-dying, says the legend, her brother Nectan came to her from Hartland.
"Raise me in thy arms, brother," she said, "that my eyes may rest on my native Wales." And so she died on Morwenstow cliff, looking out across the Severn Sea to the faint blue line of the Welsh mountains. St. Nectan had a cell probably at Wellcombe, and afterwards at Hartland, for both of these churches bear his name.
The coast from Tintagel to Hartland is almost unrivalled for grandeur. The restless Atlantic is ever thundering on this iron-walled coast. The roar can be heard ten miles inland; flakes of foam are picked up after a storm at Holsworthy. To me, when staying three miles inland, it has seemed the roar of a hungry caged beast, ravening at its bars for food.
The swell comes unbroken from Labrador, to hurl itself against this coast, and to be shivered into foam on its iron cuirass.
"Twice," said a friend who dwelt near this coast, "twice in the sixteen years that I have spent here has the sea been calm enough to reflect a passing sail."
This Atlantic has none of the tameness of the German Ocean, that plays on the low flat shores of Essex; none of the witchery of the green crystal that breaks over the white sands of Babbicombe and Torquay: it is emphatically "the cruel sea," fierce, insatiate, hungering for human lives and stately vessels, that it may cast them up mumbled and mangled after having robbed them of life and treasure.
It is a rainy coast. It is said in Devon, and the same is true here:--
"The west wind comes, and brings us rain;
The east wind blows it back again;
The south wind brings us rainy weather;
The north wind, cold and rain together.
When the sun in red doth set,
The next day surely will be wet;
But, if the sun should set in gray,
The next will be a rainy day.
When buds the ash before the oak,
Then that year there'll be a soak;
But, should the oak precede the ash,
Then expect a rainy splash."
The moist air from the ocean condenses over the land, and envelops it in fine fog or rain. But when the sky is clear, with only floating clouds drifting along it, the sunlight and shadows that fall over the landscape through the vaporous air are exquisite in their delicacy of color; the sun-gleams soft as primrose, the shadows pure cobalt, tenderly laid on as the bloom on the cheek of a plum.
As the tall cliffs on this wild coast lose themselves in mist, so does history, which attaches itself to many a spot along it, stand indistinct and weird in its veil of legend. Kings and saints of whom little authentic is known, whose very dates are uncertain, have given their names to castle and crag and church.
Tintagel Rock is crowned with the ruins of the stronghold of King Marke, whose wife became the mother of the renowned Arthur, by Uther Pendragon. We have the tale in "Geoffrey of Monmouth." There, in the home of the shrieking sea-mews, Arthur uttered his first feeble cries. It is a scene well suited to be the cradle of the hero of British myth,--a tremendous crag standing out of the sea, which has bored a tunnel through it, and races in and clashes in subterranean passages under the crumbling walls which sheltered Arthur.
The crag is cut off from the mainland by a chasm once spanned by a drawbridge, but now widened by storm so as to threaten to convert Tintagel into an island.
Near Boscastle rises Pentargon, "Arthur's Head," a noble black sheer precipice, forming one horn of a little bay into which a waterfall plunges from a green combe.
But there are other names besides those of Arthur, Uther Pendragon, Morwenna, Juliot, and Nectan, which are associated with this coast.
At Stowe, in the parish of Kilkhampton, adjoining Morwenstow, lived Sir Bevil Granville, the Bayard of old Cornwall, "sans peur et sans reproche." who fought and conquered at Stratton, and fell at Lansdown. Sir Bevil nearly ruined himself for the cause of his king, Charles I.
One of Mr. Hawker's most spirited ballads is
THE GATE SONG OF STOWE.
Arise! and away! for the king and the law;
Farewell to the couch and the pillow:
With spear in the rest, and with rein in the hand,
Let us rush on the foe like a billow.
Call the hind from the plough, and the herd from the fold;
Bid the wassailer cease from his revel;
And ride for old Stowe when the banner's unfurled
For the cause of King Charles and Sir Bevil.
Trevanion is up, and Godolphin is nigh,
And Harris of Hayne's o'er the river;
From Lundy to Looe, 'One and all!' is the cry,
And 'The king and Sir Bevil forever!'
Ay! by Tre, Pol, and Pen, ye may know Cornishmen
'Mid the names and the nobles of Devon;
But if truth to the king be a signal, why, then
Ye can find out the Granville in heaven.
Ride! ride with red spear! there is death in delay:
'Tis a race for dear life with the devil!
If dark Cromwell prevail, and the king must give way, '
This earth is no place for Sir Bevil.
So at Stamford he fought, and at Lansdown he fell:
But vain were the visions he cherished;
For the great Cornish heart that the king loved so well,
In the grave of the Granville it perished.
One day, if indeed we may trust the story, Mrs. Hawker, the first wife of the vicar of Morwenstow, when lunching at Stowe in the farmhouse, noticed that a letter in old handwriting was wrapped round the mutton-bone that was brought on the table. Moved by curiosity, she took the paper off, and showed it to Mr. Hawker. On examination it was found that the letter bore the signature of Sir Bevil Granville. Mr. Hawker at once instituted inquiries, and found a large chest full of letters of different members of the Granville family in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. He at once communicated with Lord Carteret, owner of Stowe, and the papers were removed; but by some unfortunate accident they were lost. The only ones saved were a packet removed from the chest by Mr. Davics, rector of Kilkhampton, previous to their being sent away from Stowe. These were copied by Miss Manning of Eastaway, in Morwenstow; and her transcript, together with some of her originals,--I fear not all,--is now in the possession of Ezekiel Rous, Esq., of Bideford.
In his "Footprints of Former Men," Mr. Hawker has given a letter from Antony Payne, the gigantic serving-man of Sir Bevil, written after the battle of Lansdown, to Lady Grace Granville, giving an account of the death of her husband. This was probably one of the letters in the collection found by Mr. Hawker, and so sadly lost.
This Antony Payne was a remarkable man. He measured seven feet two inches without his shoes when aged twenty-one, when he was taken into the establishment at Stowe. He afterwards added two inches to his height. It is said that one Christmas Eve the fire languished in the hall at Stowe. A boy with an ass had been sent to the woods for logs, but had loitered on his way. Lady Grace lost patience. Then Antony started in quest of the dilatory lad, and re-entered the hall shortly after, bearing the loaded animal on his back. He threw down his burden at the hearth-side, shouting, "Ass and fardel! Ass and fardel for my lady's Yule!"
On another occasion he rode into Stratton with Sir Bevil. An uproar proceeded from the little inn-yard, and Sir Bevil bade his giant find out what was the cause of the disturbance. Antony speedily returned with a man under each arm, whom he had arrested in the act of fighting.
"Here are the kittens," said the giant; and he held them under his arms whilst his master chastised them with his riding-whip.
After the battle of Stamford Hill, Sir Bevil returned for the night to Stowe; but his giant remained with some other soldiers to bury the dead. He had caused trenches to be dug to hold ten bodies side by side, and in these trenches he and his followers deposited the slain. On one occasion they had laid nine corpses in their places; and Payne was bringing another, tucked under his arm like one of the "kittens," when all at once the supposed dead man began to kick, and plead for life. "Surely you won't bury me, Mr. Payne, before I am dead?"--"I tell thee, man," was the grim reply, "our trench was dug for ten, and there's nine in it already: thou must take thy place."--"But I bean't dead, I say; I haven't done living yet: be massyful, Mr. Payne; don't ye hurry a poor fellow into the earth before his time." --"I won't hurry thee: thou canst die at thy leisure." Payne's purpose was, however, kinder than his speech. He carried the suppliant to his own cottage, and left him to the care of his wife. The man lived, and his descendants are among the principal inhabitants of Stratton at this day.
I make no apology for transcribing from the original letters a very few of the most interesting and touching, some for whose escape we cannot feel too thankful. The following beautiful letter is from Lady Grace Granville to her husband.
The superscription is:--
FOR MY BEST FRIEND, SIR BEVILL GRENVILE.
MY EVER DEAREST,--I have received yours from Salisbury, and am glad to hear you came so farr well, with poore Jack. Ye shall be sure of my prairs, which is the best service I can doe you. I canott perceave whither you had receaved mine by Tom, or no, but I believe by this time you have mett that and another since by the post. Truly I have been out of frame ever since you went, not with a cough, but in another kinde, much indisposd. However, I have striven with it, and was at Church last Sunday, but not the former. I have been vexed with diverse demands made of money than I could satisfie, but I instantly paid what you sent, and have intreated Mr. Rous his patience a while longer, as you directed. It grieves me to think how chargeable your family is, considering your occasion. It hath this many yeares troubled me to think to what passe it must come at last, if it run on after this course. How many times what hath appeared hopefull, and yet proved contrary in the conclusion, hath befalen us, I am loth to urge, because tis farr from my desire to disturbe your thoughts; but this sore is not to be curd with silence, or patience either, and while you are loth to discourse or thinke of that you can take little comfort to see how bad it is, and I was unwilling to strike on that string which sounds harsh in your eare (the matter still grows worse, though). I can never putt it out of my thoughts, and that makes me often times seeme dreaming to you, when you expect I should sometimes observe more complement with my frends, or be more active in matters of curiousity in our House, which doubtlesse you would have been better pleasd with had I been capable to have performd it, and I believe though I had a naturall dullnes in me, it would never so much have appeard to my prejudice, but twas increasd by a continuance of sundry disasters, which I still mett with, yet never till this yeare, but I had some strength to encounter them, and truly now I am soe cleane overcome, as tis in vaine to deny a truth. It seems to me now tis high time to be sensible that God is displeasd, having had many sad remembrances in our estate and childrene late, yet God spard us in our children long, and when I strive to follow your advice in moderating my grieffe (which I praise God) I have thus farr been able to doe as not to repine at God's will, though I have a tender sence of griefe which hangs on me still, and I think it as dangerous and improper to forgett it, for I cannott but think it was a neer touched correction, sent from God to check me for my many neglects of my duty to God. It was the tenth and last plague God smote the Egyptians with, the death of their first borne, before he utterly destroyed them, they persisting in their disobedience notwithstanding all their former punishments. This apprehension makes me both tremble and humbly beseech Him to withdraw His punishments from us, and to give us grace to know and amend whatever is amisse. Now I have powrd out my sad thoughts which in your absence doth most oppresse me, and tis my weakness hardly to be able to say thus much unto you, how brimfull soever my heart be, though oftentimes I heartely wish I could open my heart truly unto you when tis overchargd. But the least thought it may not be pleasing to you will at all times restraine me. Consider me rightly, I beseech you, and excuse, I pray, the liberty I take with my pen in this kinde. And now at last I must thanke you for wishing me to lay aside all feare, and depend on the Almighty, who can only helpe us; for his mercy I daily pray, and your welfare, and our poore boys; so I conclude, and am ever your faithfully and only GRACE GRENVILE.
STOW, Nov. 23, 1641.
I sent yours to Mr. Prust, but this from him came after mine was gone last weeke. Ching is gone to Cheddar. I looke for Bawden, but as yet is not come. Sir Rob. Bassett is dead.
I heard from my cosen Grace Weekes, who writes that Mr. Luttrell says if you and he could meete the liking between the young people, he will not stand for money you shall finde. Parson Weekes wishes you would call with him, and that he might entice you to take the castle in your way downe. She sayes they enquire in the most courteous maner that can be imagind. Deare love, thinke how to farther this what you can.
The following is an earlier letter by many years, written when Grace was a wife of six years' standing.
SWEET MR. GRENVILE,--I cannott let Mr. Oliver passe without a line, though it be only to give you thankes for yours, Which I have receaved. I will in all things observe your directions as neer as I can, and because I have not time to say much now I will write againe to-morrow [. . . something torn away], and think you shall receave advertizment concerning us much as you desyre. I can not say I am well, neither have I bin so since I saw you, but, however, I will pray for your health, and good successe in all businesses, and pray be so kinde as to love her who takes no comfort in any thing but you, and will remayne yours ever and only GRACE GRENVILE.
FRYDAY NIGHT, Nov. 13, 1629.
The superscription of this letter is:--
"To my ever dearest and best Friend, Mr. Bevill Grenvile, at the Rainbow, in Fleet Street."
Lady Grace was the daughter of Sir George Smith of Exeter, Kt.: she was born in 1598, and married Sir Bevil Granville in 1620. He died in 1643, on the battle-field of Lansdown, near Bath; and she followed him to the grave in 1647.' Her portrait is at Haynes, "setatis suse 36, 1634." One of Sir Bevil is in the possession of Lord John Thynne; another with date 1636, "setatis suse 40," is in the possession of Rev. W. W. Martyn of Tonacombe, in Morwenstow.
There are other letters of the Granvilles in the bundle from which I have selected these. One from John Granville to his brother, giving a curious picture of London life in the seventeenth contury, narrating how he quarrelled with a certain barber Wells, and came very nigh to pulling of noses; one from Jane, wife of John Granville, Earl of Bath, to her husband, "for thy deare selfe," beginning, "My deare Heart," and telling how--
I am now without any man in the house, my father being gone, and Jacke is drunk all day and leyes out of nights, and if I do but tell him of it he will be gone presantly; therefore, for God's sake, make haste up, for I am so parpetually ill that I am not fit to bee anny longgar left in this condission. My poore motther hath now so much bisnese that I do not knowe how long she will be abble to tary with mee, and if that should happen, which God forbid it should at any time, much more now, what dost thou thinke I should do? I want the things thou prommysed to send me very much, which, being to long to put in a lettar, I have geven my brother a not of. My deare, consider how nere I am my time, and many women comming this yeare before thar time. . . . Thou mayst now thinke how impassiontly I am till I see thee agane, thinking every day a hon-dared yeare; my affecksion being so gret that I wounder how I have stayd till the outmoust time. I will saye no more now, hopping to see thee every day, but that I am, and ever will bee, thy most affectionate and faithful wife and sarvant,
JANE GRENVILE. Thy babe bayrs thy blessing.
This letter is dated only June 17, without year. It is always pleasant to meet with the beating of a warm human heart. A third letter I venture to transcribe here, from George Lord Lansdown, grandson of Sir Bevil, to his nephew, Bevil Granville.
DEAR NEPHEW,--I approve very well of your resolution of dedicating yourself to the service of God. You could not chuse a better master, provided you have so sufficiently searched your heart and examined your reins, as to be persuaded you can serve Him well. In so doing, you may secure to yourself many blessings in this world, as well as sure hope in the next.
There is one thing which I perceive you have not yet thoroughly purged yourself from; which is, flattery. You have bestowed so much of it upon me in your last letter, that I hope you have no more left, and that you meant it only to take your leave of such flights, which, however well meant, oftener put a man out of countenance than oblige him. You are now to be a searcher after truth, and I shall hereafter take it more kindly to be justly reproved by you than to be undeservedly complimented.
I would not have you misunderstand me, as if I recommended to you a sour Presbyterian severity. That is yet more to be avoided: advice, like physick, must be so sweetned and prepared as to be made palatable, or Nature may be apt to revolt against it.
Be always sincere, but at the same time be always polite. Be humble without descending from your character, and reprove and correct without ofending good manners. To be a Cynick is as bad as to be a Sycophant: you are not to lay aside the gentleman with the sword, nor put on the gown to hide your birth and good breeding, but to adorn it.
Such has been the malice of the wicked, that pride, avarice, and ambition have been charged upon the Clergy in all ages, in all countrys, and equally in all religions. What they are most obliged to combat against in the pulpits they are most accused of encouraging in their conduct. Let your example confirm your doctrine, and let no man ever have it in his power to reproach you with practising contrary to what you preach.
You had an unckle, the late Dean of Durham, whose memory I shall ever revere. [Denys Granville, Dean of Durham (born February, 1636), was son of Sir Bevil. He was a nonjuror, and so lost his deanery: he retired to Rouen in Normandy, and there died, greatly respected.] Make him your example. Sanctity sat so easy, so unaffected, and so gracefull upon him, that in him we beheld the very beauty of Holiness. He was as chearful, as familiar, as condescending in his conversation, as he was strict, regular, and exemplary in his piety; as well bred and accomplished as a courtier, and as reverend and venerable as an Apostle; he was indeed Apostolical in every thing, for he left all to follow his Lord and Master. May you resemble him; may he revive in you; may his spirit descend upon you, as Elijah's on Elisha; and may the great God of heaven, in guiding, directing, and strengthening your pious resolutions, pour down the choicest of His blessings upon you!
The old house at Stowe was pulled down, and a new red brick mansion, square, containing a court in the middle, was built in 1660 by John, Earl of Bath. He died in 1701; and his son, Charles, shot himself accidentally, when coming from London to Kilkhampton to his father's funeral, leaving a son, William Henry, third Earl of Bath, seven years of age when his father died. Thus, as was said, at the same time there were three Earls of Bath above ground. William Henry died at the age of seventeen, in 1711; and then the Granville property was divided between the sisters of Charles, second Earl of Bath,--Jane, who married Sir William Gower, ancestor of the Dukes of Sutherland; and Grace, who at the age of eight married George, afterwards first Lord Carteret, then aged eleven.
The letters of this little pair to one another, when the husband was at school, and she at Haynes, exist in the possession of Lord John Thynne.
Stowe house was pulled down. Within the memory of one man, grass grew and was mown in the meadow where sprang up Stowe house, and grew and was mown in the meadow where Stowe had been.
A few crumbling walls only mark the site of the old home of the Granvilles. [A picture of old Stowe is in the possession of Lord John Thynne; another in that of Mrs. Martyn of Harleston, Torquay.]
The Cornish people in former days were passionately fond of theatrical performances. In numerous parts of Cornwall there exist green dells or depressions in the surface of the ground, situated generally on a moor. These depressions have been assisted by the hand of man to form rude theatres: the slopes were terraced for seats, and on fine summer days, at the "revels" of the locality, were occupied by crowds of spectators, whilst village actors performed on the turf stage. [There is one such not far from Morwenstpw, in the parish of Kilkhampton.] Originally the pieces acted were sacred, curious mysteries, of which specimens remain, relating to the creation, or the legendary history of St. Mary, or the passion of the Saviour, the prototypes of the Ammergau Passions-spiel. These in later times gave way to secular pieces, not always very choice in subject, and with the broadest of jokes in the speeches of the performers; not worse, however, than are to be found in Shakspeare, and which were tolerated in the days of Elizabeth. These dramatical perfomances were in full vigor when Wesley preached in Cornwall. He seized on these rude green theatres, and preached the gospel from their turfy platforms to wondering and agitated crowds, which thronged the grassy slopes.
The Cornish people became Methodists, and play-going became sinful. The doom of these dramas was sealed when the place of their performances was turned into an arena for revivals. The camp-meeting supplanted the drama.
But, though these plays are things of the past, the dramatic instinct survives among the Cornish people. There is scarce a parish in which some are not to be found who are actors by nature. For telling a story, with power of speech, expression, and gesture, they have not their equals in England among unprofessionals.
One of the most brilliant "raconteurs" of our times was Mr. Hicks, mayor of Bodmin.
Some years ago a member sauntering into the Cosmopolitan Club would find a ring of listeners gathered about a chair. In that ring he would recognize the faces of Thackeray, Dickens, and other literary celebrities, wiping away the tears which streamed from their eyes between each explosion of laughter. He would ask, in surprise, what was the attraction.
"Only the little fat Cornishman from Bodmin telling a story." [He was formerly governor of the lunatic-asylum at Bodmin, and afterwards clerk of the Board of Guardians, and in turn mayor of Bodmin. Being very fat, he had himself once announced at dinner as "The Corporation of Bodmin."]
His tales were works of art, wrought out with admirable skill, every point sharpened, every detail considered, and the whole told with such expression and action as could not be surpassed. His "Rabbit and Onions "has been essayed by many since his voice has been hushed; but the copies are pale, and the outlines blurred.
The subject of this memoir had inherited the Cornish love of story-telling, and the power of telling stories with dramatic force. But he had not the skill of Mr. Hicks of telling a long story, and keeping his hearers thrilling throughout the recital, breathless lest they should lose a word. Mr. Hawker contented himself with brief anecdotes, but those he told to perfection.
I shall, in the course of my narrative, give a specimen or two of stories told by common Cornish peasants. Alas that I cannot reproduce the twinkling eye, the droll working countenances, and the agitated hands, all assistants in the story-telling!