Traditions and Hearthside Stories of West Cornwall, Vol. 1, by William Bottrell, , at sacred-texts.com
A quarter of an hour's walk brings us from Bosava to the gateway where Lamorna road joins the highway to the Land's-end. Here, the pleasant woody glen expands itself into a broad bottom, surrounded by green hills. On a woody knoll, gently rising in the midst, are situated the remains of the old mansion-house of Trewoof (more commonly called Trove). We get a good view of a portion of this ancient seat of the Levelis, or, Lovells, as we ascend the road on the eastern side of the gateway leading to Lamorna. A few minutes’ walk in this direction will bring us to Trove mill. Here we are in the very dwelling of the noted witch, who figures at Bet of the Mill, in the guise-dance of Duffy and the Devil.
A few years since all the mill-side of the gentle eminence on which Trove mansion stands was shaded and sheltered by hedgerows and clumps of flourishing oaks, elms, and other trees, which showed that it is neither the fault of the soil nor of the climate that our hills and dales, in many place, for want of wood, look so dreary, cold, and desolate. We enter Trove by the avenue, the outer part of which was formerly called the green-lane; the inner, the bowling-green. All about the town-place, in the walls of outhouses, in hedges and ditches, we may find many wrought stones, which formed parts of mullions, string-courses, foliated window-headings, or that belonged to arched, deeply-moulded, and otherwise enriched doorways of the demolished portions of the ancient mansion. The stone steps of what was once the grand staircase of the mansion may be found as gate-posts, lintels, and serving other purposes in the farm-yards and fields. Many years ago, we were well acquainted with all parts of Trove, and remember to have often then remarked the curled-up corbel of a wind-course (or windspar course, as the old masons used to call the raised stringcourse of the gable) built into the wall of a pigsty: this marked the rather simple style and the date of one portion of the building. If we remember rightly, near the entrance to the little enclosure called the Hop-garden there was then a triangular stone worked to lines verging to form a rectangular apex, which was, however, truncated so as to leave space for a soffit to receive the base of a pinnacle, or some kind of ornamental finial. The fine work on this, and many other stones lying about in the ditches, because rather unshapely for hedging, showed that a great portion of the old mansion must have been in a very ornate style. Far away in the hedges of fields we have also seen moulded stones which once belonged to handsome doorways, windows, gables, chimney-stacks, and other ornamented portions of a building that must
in its day have far surpassed any other in this neighbourhood. When the successors of
disposed of the estate of Trewoof, the land was sold in three unequal portions, the old mansion divided, and each of the three purchasers allotted a shore of the mansion-house proportionate to the value of his land.
From what we know to have been the arrangement of other old manor-houses of the west, built on a similar ground-plan, from the description of the old proprietors, from the names retained by various parts of the old buildings (even when divided and in ruins), and by other indications, we can understand pretty clearly what this interesting old seat was like, when the lord feasted his guests and retainers in the noble hall,
A pleasanter spot than the sunny slope on which Trove stands, surrounded by the sheltering hills, is not to be found in the west country.
The ground-plan of the principal part of the old mansion was in the form of the letter E. We suppose the back of the letter to represent the east front, or the side looking towards Lamorna vale, and continuing this front above the top limb of the letter, or the south wing of the house, there was a group of inferior buildings surrounding three sides of a kitchen-court, of which the south wing formed the fourth side.
The north wing stood a little farther back than the house which is now at the end of the broad lane, or bowling-green, as it used to be called. This wing, and part of the adjoining north end of the east front, was allotted to the Harvey's portion of the land.
To the Tremewans was apportioned the middle of the eastern or Lamorna front, the part which contains the fine arched doorway, with its ornamented jambs, surmounted by the armorial bearings of the Levelis (three calves’ heads, in allusion to the original name of the family). This doorway is almost the only vestige of the old mansion that remains entire.
The southern end of the east side, with the entire south wing and kitchen-court (all demolished long ago) belonged to the Bossustows, whose portion of the land was much larger than either of the other parts.
The Harveys rebuilt the north wing in the present dwelling, which stands near the original site.
Part of the materials of the Bossustows’ portion (which served as a quarry for more than a century) were used for building their new house on the bank, which was formerly part of the ground known as the Ladies’ Garden, to which a broad flight of steps ascended from the Green Court, which was enclosed on three sides by the mansion. Many years ago an old gentlemen, who was the proprietor of this part of the property, gave us such a graphic description of the ruins of the old mansion-house and grounds as enabled us to form some idea of this once noble seat. The venerable gentleman (being one who took great interest in such matters) remembered much about the beautiful proportions of the large mullioned windows of the room called "my lady's bower," in the end of this wing next the garden, and (what was a most unusual plan here) that the seats of stone, in the large window of the gable overlooking the private garden, were against, or rather in, the jambs on each side. The thickness and splaying of the wall afforded sufficient space on both sides for benches, on each of which two persons might sit, so that four persons, seated in the window, two on each side with their backs to the jambs, would place their feet where the window-seat is now usually put. By the shape of many wrought stones scattered about the Bossustows’ premises, we know that some portion of this part of the house was battlemented, probably a porch which had long disappeared, and that some of the windows were of a very ornate style.
The gentleman of whom we have spoken also learned much from the elders of his ancient and respectable family, and other old people connected with the place, of what had been the interior arrangement of the house.
Yet we must admit that all this does not furnish us with a very good authority for an exact description of the old manor-house, and in some instances we have copied from the existing remains of other old mansions in the west. When these failed us, we have also drawn pretty freely from fancy. And why not, if anything it suggests to us may afford a hint to those who like the old style of building and gardening? As the different portions of Trove are still designated by the names of the late proprietors, whose families resided here for many generations, we have thought best, for convenience sake, to do the same, although the lands have passed into other hands some years ago. Before proceeding to the interior we may remark that none of the original chimney-stacks appear to be left standing, as in middle-age architecture these prominent objects, however varied in design, were always ornamental, and served as much to embellish the dwelling-house by their beautiful form and proportions, seen against the sky, as the light and elegant bell-turrets, or the graceful finials and pinnacles of the same period did to adorn church and chapel. The roofs were mostly of the pitch masons call square roofs; that is, the gables or punions were right angles, rarely so high as to form equilateral triangles, and, where roofs and gables were exposed to view, they were still more
rarely found (except in debased masonry) at any uncertain angle between the two; indeed, the old masons seemed instinctively to have worked by the grand divisions of the circle, which are alone satisfactory to the eye, and, however rough the material, the outline is always so pleasing that one does not regard the details. We now proceed to the interior.
In the north wing, fronting the centre of the avenue, was a broad arched doorway under a roofed balcony or oriel supported on pillars. This we know, because the room from which the balcony or oriel was entered, retained the name of the oriel-chamber long after the porch, with its balcony had disappeared, and the pillars used for rolling-stones on the farm.
The archway opened into a passage, which gave direct access to the interior court. Crossing this court, a flagged pavement led to a door in the south wing, which contained the more private apartments. A projection on the eastern side of the court contained the grand stone staircase. This stair wing rose, tower-like, above the rest of the building, with a flat roof and parapet. There was also an exterior entrance to the staircase by a few semicircular steps to a door opening on the first landing of the stair. On the western side of the court a broad flight of steps rose to a terrace, which led away on either hand to gardens and orchards. Returning to the passage, a room in the western end of the north wing was supposed (from the name it bore of the Reeve's room) to have been appropriated to the use of the reeve or steward.
On the other side the entrance was an apartment called the Little Hall, which probably served as an ante-room to the adjoining great hall, or the little hall might have been a solar, or private parlour for the master and his family, to which he and his chief guests would retire from the high table after the feast was over, leaving the commonalty to their unrestrained mirth and revelry.
There was also a newel-stair from the passage to the oriel-chamber and other rooms in this wing. Not long ago a large stone, which once formed the arched heading of a doorway, was lying at the turn of the avenue. Probably this stone crowned the grand entrance of the north wing.
Through a broad folding-door in the eastern end of the north wing we enter on the dais, in the grand room of state, which was in the northern end of the Lamorna front, and occupied all the space on this side as far
as the ancient doorway still remaining, which opened into the entry which was screened off the lower end of the hall. Two or three steps at the higher or north end of the hall led to a raised boarded floor, or dais, on which the high table was placed across the end of the hall. In this end, at the back of the chair of state, there was a large mullioned and transomed window, looking towards the avenue. At the east end of the dais, opposite the entrance from the little hall, a window in a square projection looked down the vale of Lamorna, and narrow lookouts, one on each side of this bay, or square oriel, commanded a view of the eastern entrance and the avenue.
Here the Levelis of old often sat down at the same board with their household and dependents, to dispense their frank and social hospitality: then
and the minstrels’ harps, ringing to the metrical drolls or songs of the bards, gave an air of romantic chivalry to the convivial scene, or the mummer's jests excited the hearty laughter and boisterous mirth which was good aid to the digestion of solid viands, from a festive board, in the jovial days of old.
[paragraph continues] See the sturdy servants bearing out the heaps of pewter plates, wooden trenchers, and great round platters still containing enow of the untouched viands to feast all the families of the poor women who are waiting in the glowing kitchen for an abundant dole from the squire's board. The lady, and her fair damsels, leave the high table on the dais, and enter the kitchen, to see that all have enough and to spare. When they retire they are followed by the blessings of the poor to their gay bower, "bedecked with many a fragrant flower;" or some of the fair ascend to the minstrels’ gallery, that they may hear the music and look down on the sports of the hall.
The tables are no sooner relieved of pewter plates and platters, with the substantial remains of the feast, than the steaming wassail-bowl, flowing with hot spiced wine, and flagons of sweet mead, are placed on the table, with silver drinking-cups and goblets. The other tables are replenished with black jacks and bekers, pewter jugs and flagons, full of foaming ale, sweet cider, or common wines, which quickly pass from hand to hand and from mouth to mouth, whilst the merrie disport of the hall grows more boisterous, fast, and furious. After many flowing bowls are emptied, to increase their revelry and mirth, the master of the feast calls from the dais, "Harper! strike up thy liveliest strain, to some well-known old song, that one and all may join in the refrain. Take the boards from the tressels, clear the rushes off the floor for the dance." Whilst
bards and minstrels sing their merriest songs, and jesters tell their drolls, both of weeping and of game, or whilst the mummers get ready the guise-dance, all join in the chorus of a three-men's-song. Then pass the bowl around, till all are tired of frolic. The lord and his more honoured guests retire to their chambers, or to my lady's bower, if they are not too drunk. Many of those who remain in the hall stretch themselves on the benches, or lie snoring under the tables, where we leave them for the night, and follow the servitors through the screen and across the entry into
which occupied, with its offices, the remainder of the east front.
In the hospitable days of old this important room exhibited almost as much state as the hall itself. One end of this large room was taken up by the large open fireplace, with the oven opening into it. and a wood-corner at the right-hand side. There was room for several persons to sit within the chimney, on benches on each side of the fire. We wish we could hear the songs that were sung and the merry drolls told in that chimney-corner, by the blazing firelight of a frosty winter's night. The whole of the west side, only leaving space for a doorway, was furnished from end to end with a broad dresser, or side-board; with shelves, from end to end, over door and all, displayed the shining pewter platters, plates, and flagons, and many other things in the same serviceable material. Piles of wooden trenchers, bowls, and basins, on shelves under the board. Spits, pots, kettles, pans, and the endless variety of cooking utensils that spoke of good cheer, hanging on the walls, or suspended from racks and beams, with the flitches of bacon, collars of brawn, dried beef, and other winter stores which required to be kept dry.
The farm servants and day labourers took their meals in the kitchen on ordinary occasions, and when the day's work was ended the old ballad says,
Yet they had seldom such a meagre bill of fare as the above, not even on fast days, when they feasted; besides, in the good old times, the supper was the principal meal of the day. The fashionable dinner is only the old English supper, with a change of name.
Looking down the vale were broad mullioned windows of many lights, with an oaken bench continued all along the wall beneath. A great oak table, near the windows, extended nearly all the length of the room, and doors, opening into the entry, occupied the other side of this large apartment. The kitchen, and offices belonging thereto, extended beyond the junction of the east front with the south wing.
As in those times the mansion and farmhouse were mostly combined, extensive buildings were required for what may be regarded as the farming part of the establishment. These buildings surrounded the servants’ court on the southern side of the wing that contained the private rooms. The dairy, pantry, brewhouse, and store-rooms of various kinds enclosed three sides. A large stone trough on one side received a stream of water from the mill-brook, which still flows through the orchard above. An exterior stairs from this court led up to the rooms over the kitchens, pantries, and other offices and outbuildings. These chambers were the wool-loft, cheese-room, apple-chamber, and perhaps the upper servants’ sleeping-rooms. A few steps from this court also descended to the cellars, under the parlour and lady's bower in the south wing.
The kitchen offices and other building surrounding this court were of plain yet honestly finished work—no out-of-the-way holes and corners were slighted, nor anything attempted to be concealed or disguised. The door and window-frames alone were of dressed-work. The windows were high and had narrow openings, chamfered on the outside edges, and splayed within. The stream of water might be turned into the dairy and thence through to the kitchens at pleasure.
We now return to take the
The rich ornamentation of the jambs, and the heraldic devices on the shields that surmount this noble doorway, can now scarcely be made out, nor the fine work seen, from the detestable custom many of the cottagers have of whitewashing a border round the outside of their doorways; yet bedaubed as this interesting old doorway is with the cleaning-out of the dame's limebrush, we may still see that the jambs are richly sculptured with the figures of men, and other ornamentation, which gives some indication of the date and style of the mansion. Above the doorway are carved the arms of the family of Levelis, Leveal, or Lovell. The old name has passed through these and other changes. The latter is the most familiar form, as we always hear the old folks of Buryan, when speaking of the last of the ancient name, say Squire Lovell of Trove. This gentleman, the last of his name, though not the last of his race, was Arthur Levelis, who died in 1671, to whom the monument was erected in Buryan church, and inscribed with the following quaint epitaph:
Only fancy the trains of brocaded ladies, with their fair damsels; the troops of armed knights, followed by their squires and pages who have passed through this ancient portal, besides Duffy and the Devil; the old Witch of the Mill; Joan, the squire's old drunken housekeeper trundled through in the wheel-barrow, with the page Bevis (the last offshoot of this once noble house, and ancestor of a race with a new name) bringing up the rear. This doorway may be regarded as the principal entrance to the hall, as the entry into which it opened was only lightly screened off, and considered to form a portion of that apartment, though serving as a passage to the kitchen on the left and to the grand staircase at the end of the passage, in a projection which formed the tongue of the letter E.
There was a short passage from the inner end of the entry (on the kitchen side) from which doors opened into the buttery, pantry, and other offices under the butler's charge. A few steps from the buttery led down to the cellars under the private rooms in the south wing, and a few steps up from the passage to a solar, private parlour, or banqueting-room, through which one passed into the bower in the western end of the south wing.
In middle-age romances the term "bower" is ascribed indiscriminately to bed-chamber and parlour. In the old ballad of King Estmere, we read,
Down then came that mayden fayre,
With ladyes laced in pall,
And half a hundred of bold knightes,
To bring her from bowre to hall;
And as many gentle squiers,
To tend upon them all."
With the more general introduction of parlours the Ladies’ Bower was regarded much as the modern drawing-room and boudoir. The most striking feature in this parlour, or bower, was the large window, divided by mullions and transoms into many lights.
To these pleasant nooks and corners the lady and her fair damsels brought their spinning, their tapestry work, and their embroidery. In these favourite, old-fashioned retreats the ladies of the olden time wrought with their needles those marvellous and beautiful fabrics which have never been surpassed, and rarely equalled, in modern times. The ladies of the fifteenth century who could assume any amount of state and dignity, when state was proper, were not above attending to their housekeeping and were as skilled in the mysteries of cooking, confectionery, brewing,
spinning, knitting, and shirt-making, as in making the beautiful lace that is valued now higher than its weight in gold, entirely for the excellence of its work; for the thread is often of the coarsest. Nay; they were not above taking the grist to the mill and serging (bolting) the meal to the degree of fineness suitable for the family requirements.
It might be truly said of the lady who came from her bower into the hall with such great honour,
[paragraph continues] The humming of bees which came in through the open casement, the sweet scent and gay look of the pleasant garden, seen on the sunny bank sloping down to the window of my lady's bower, where she sits watching the swarming bees, and creating with her needle flowers only equalled in beauty by those in the garden, make her sing, with the birds around her,
[paragraph continues] In this delightful retreat let her work and sing, whilst we survey the rest of the house, before we pass into the gardens and other pleasant places of the old abode.
From the inner end of the entry we ascend the easy, low and broad stone steps of the grand stairs, which were lighted by a large and lofty mullioned and transomed window, with its arched head reaching nearly to the carved beams and pendants of the roof. On the first landing (about three feet from the pavement of the entry), a door opened on to an outside semicircular landing, from which a few steps led down to an alley in the green-court which conducted to the gardens. The broad landing at the stair-head was at the end of the minstrels’ gallery, or where the end of the said gallery should have been, had there been one (which, in truth, we are rather doubtful about), from which the landing might have been separated by a perforated screen of Gothic pattern, with doors to this doubtful balcony. From the stair-head, corridors, or galleries, passing round the interior or court side of the house, gave access to all the principal chambers.
From a light gallery, supported by a few pillars at the back of the hall, we look over on the dais of the state apartment, before we enter the adjacent room in the north wing, which was always called
because a door in the north-west corner of this room opened into the oriel, or covered balcony over the porch.
It was sometimes intended for the large oriel, over the principal entrance to have been regarded as the sacrarium, or chancel; and the oriel chamber, like the nave in the chapel, was the place from which the family might join in the sacred office. We believe that this was the original use of most of the rooms in old mansions still called the orrel chambers (hence the name) because the same arrangement for the domestic oratory is very general in old French chateaux and the casas of Spain. We never heard of any portion of the old buildings, or ruins, being called the chapel, yet there was probably a small chapel, or oratory, near the mansion, by the side of the spring known as St. Ann's Well, which was in some repute for its healing virtues.
From the orrel chamber a door opened into the reeve's or steward's bedroom, situated over his office or parlour: there was also a newel down to the passage, which crossed through the north wing to the green-court. Returning to the head of the grand stairs, we find a passage over the one below (in the rear of the kitchen); on the left are doors opening into rooms over the kitchen and offices. These chambers may also be reached by an exterior stairs in the servants’ court. On the right-hand side of this corridor, near the end, folding doors open into a suite of state apartments in the south wing, consisting of an ante-chamber, through which, by an arched doorway, one passed into the best, or
For what reason the large outer room is made a mere passage of we could never divine, yet such is the common arrangement (with respect to this state apartment) in most old mansions of the time of Henry the Eighth and the Elizabethan period, as might be seen in many old manor-houses in the west not long ago. In this room, where the lords of the domain first saw the light, and closed their eyes in everlasting rest, one was sure to find the great oak bedstead, carved with all sorts of curious devices—the dove and olive branch depending from the tester.
Two shelved recesses, or niches, contrived in the head of the bed, were most convenient for the lady's cup of caudle, spiced wine, or something stronger for herself and baby, when she got about as well as could be expected. There were so many large closets in the recesses by the sides of the chimneys, in all the out-of-the-way-places that could be made or thought of, as well as under the sloping roof or winding stair, that handing-presses were scarcely wanted. Yet one always found them furnished with drawers within drawers at the bottom; shelves, pins, racks, and other contrivances at the top, for the safe keeping of the lady's embroidered robes, russet gowns, hoops, farthingales, and other bravery that could
not be stowed away in the curiously-carved large oak chests with the elaborately-wrought ironwork in hinges and locks, placed all on the outside. (No craftsman then wished to conceal any part of their work; all was honestly above board.)
The remains of some old chests, yet to be seen in churches, show the style of those used in houses two or three centuries ago.
Perhaps the chest in which one of the misfortunate Levelis found the skeleton of his long-lost lady-love was kept in this chamber; for his step-father could have done no less than let him take the old oak chest home with him, that he might weep over it when he had nothing else to do.
We can know but little for certain about the furnishing or adornments of the bedrooms; yet, from the mention of a curious incident in one of the romantic legends connected with the place, at the time of the Crusades, we know that at least my lady's, or the best chamber was hung with tapestry, and that a small spiral stair from a closet in this room descended to the bower, where it was also concealed by a closet-door.
We conclude, from the remains of seats preserved about old-fashioned places, that the settle, or settee, with back made to turn down on the arms so as to serve as an occasionable, was a common piece of furniture for bedroom and parlour.
Little more than half-a-century ago, before the substantial yeomanry of the west became so generally infested with the desire of leaving their pleasant ancestral homes to be occupied by their dairymen, that they might exist for a time (like fish out of water) gasping in the constrained life of a dull country town, where no one knows, nor cares, anything more about them than to get their money, their houses contained furniture well worthy the attention of antiquaries. In those more simple times, many valuable, rare, and curious pieces of substantial ancient furniture were seen, in the shape of carved bedsteads, bureaus (with endless private drawers and pigeon-holes), chests (with curiously-contrived skibbets), handsome buffets, or corner cupboards (with their shelves displaying punch-bowls of old India china), drinking-cups, and Venice glass, splendid as gems, with many other rich and rare articles in pottery and verrerie. One frequently saw on the place of honour—the upper shelf—silver flagons and drinking-cups. The comfortable settles (carved and panelled) chairs of state, tables with spider legs of all imaginable patterns, were found in all the ancient homesteads, where the families of the old gentlemen-farmers of the west had lived for centuries in the enjoyment of every comfort. *
When Tre, Pen, and Pol took it into their heads to run away from home, many of these masterpieces of the turners’ and carvers’ craft, found their way into county inns and cottages, or were left to rot in some damp outhouse until the careless tenantry burnt them to put them out of the way. It would require a volume of plates and another of letterpress, to give an idea of the bold and picturesque though often grotesque, designs shown in the pillared and half-head bedsteads, with all their elaborate work in turning, panelling, and carving; the rich handings, and curiously-vandyked valance (and with fringe, bells, and balls), or garnished with gold and silver lace. It may be worth while to remark (now that the Tudor style seems to have a chance to become fashionable again), that when the pattern of the vandyke was traced on the Damascus cloth, or other rich stuff, the material was cut wide enough to make two setts of valance, so that there was no waste, and the complement of the valance, vandyke, or denticulation, in one room, would be found in the hangings of another. We know more than one country inn where, by the fireside, may still be seen the cosy, old, panelled settle, but now without the bankers and dorsars, or the cushions, for the seats and back, that the useful ladies of old took pride to adorn with their choice needlework. The carved, or deeply-moulded and panelled, wood or stone-work
around the fireplace, and mantel-shelf were often the principal ornaments of hall or chamber, as well as the wainscot and ornamental plaster-work.
In various parts of the west we have frequently seen pieces of very ancient furniture well worth preserving for the sake of the simplicity and beauty of the designs. The workmanship is often rude, yet the effect is good, and the peculiar way in which the panelling is sunk makes the carving appear exceedingly deep and rich, particularly around the recesses or niches, usual in the heads of old-fashioned bedsteads.
As we have omitted, when speaking of the hall, to mention anything about the armour, weapons, hunting-gear, and many other things usually found suspended on the walls of this grand room of state, we will supply the oversight by giving the translation of an extract from an old French work which gives a description of a Norman hall in the fifteenth century.
The customs of France and England were so much the same at that time (particularly among the old Norman gentry) that the curious pieces of information which it contains, relating to the manners of that age, are equally applicable to either country:
"In the common hall (for to have two was a mark of great distinction), there were the stags’ antlers, tipped with iron and fastened to the wainscot, on which were hung caps, hats, hunting-horns, couplings and cords for the dogs, and rosaries for the use of the common people. And on the dresser (dressouer), or buffet, with two shelves, there was the Holy Bible, translated as commanded by King Charles the Fifth more than two centuries ago, the Four Brothers Aymon, Oger the Dane, Melusina, the Shepherds’ Calendar, the Golden Legend, or the Romance of the Rose. Behind the principal door were long and large pegs, to hang game upon, and at the bottom of the hall, on close boarding let into the wall, half-a-dozen of bows with their quivers and arrows, two good and large bucklers with two short and broad swords, two pikes twenty feet long, two or three coats or shirts of mail in the little chest full of bran: two strong foresters’ cross-bows (arbalestes de passe) with their strings and other gear belonging thereto were also within the chest. In the large window and over the chimney, three arquebuses (hacquebutes). And, adjoining, the perch for the hawk; and farther down at the sides, the fowling-nets for taking quails and partridges, hunting-nets of various sizes, and other instruments used in the chase. And under the large bench, three feet wide, fine fresh straw for the dogs, which, by smelling and hearing their master near them, are better and more vigorous on that account. In addition, two pretty good chambers for the passers-by and the strangers. And in the fireplace large billets of green wood, with one or two dry faggots, which made a fire to last a long time."
The above is taken from Les Contes et Discours d’Eutrapel, par Noel du Fail, 1732, 12mo., vol. 2, pp. 45-6. (Du temps present et passe.)
246:* It is within bounds to say that there are not half so many proprietary farmers west of Hayle now as there were threescore years ago. About that time a mania seems to have taken some for educating their sons for the black-coated professions, from some notion of the superior gentility; and the young Bolerians seemed to think there was p. 247 something more refined even in serving behind a counter, or wielding a pen, than in ploughing and sowing their own lands. At the same time the farmers’ daughters, being sent to boarding-school, soon ended by being entirely ignorant of the ordinary work of a farmhouse kitchen, and knew little more of what belongs to the dairy than that scalded cream is much esteemed by their town acquaintances, many of whom would make better farmers’ wives than the gentility-infected farmer's daughters. With a few honourable exceptions, where the old names may still be found, the land is now almost all in the hands of dairymen and other rackers, many of them aliens to the place.
The general tone of rural society, too, is much altered for the worse within the last half-century. Notwithstanding all the cant, to the contrary, about the superior morality of the present time, there is now no longer the same rough-and-ready, yet kind-hearted, cordiality between neighbours, nor the same social gatherings at harvest-homes, or parish-feasts; nor at any of the other times or tides when old acquaintances used to meet to renew the friendship and neighbourly feeling that made country life so much the more pleasant. The young men have no longer the holiday sports and manly exercises, in which they used to meet in friendly contest. In place of the old candour, simplicity, and truth, there is now a clumsy plastering of affected gravity and gentility that manifests itself in sanctimonious spleen, hypocritical cant, and sickening grimace. There is but little gained on the score of deception, for
Yet there is now hopes of some social improvement being effected through the Volunteer movement, which is bringing the élite of the young men together just as the hurling and wrestling-matches were wont to do of old.
It would be a matter of regret if the respectable remnant of gentlemen-farmers were to desert such pleasant rural homes as they may soon create, if they have not, around them, and were to abandon the right royal independent and healthy occupation of farming, to enter some (falsely-considered) more genteel profession, as that of lawyer, doctor, or minister, when the ranks are already too full and many go to the wall, yet not for want of sterling honesty and fair abilities either. These qualities often obstruct success, in certain crafts and talking trades.