THE WELL OF ST KEYNE.
ST KEYNE came to this well about five hundred years before the Norman Conquest, and imparted a strange virtue to its waters--namely, that whichever of a newly-married couple should first drink thereof, was to enjoy the sweetness of domestic sovereignty ever after.
Situated in a thickly-wooded district, the well of St Keyne presents a singularly picturesque appearance. "Four trees of divers kinds" grow over the well, imparting a delightful shade, and its clear waters spread an emerald luxuriance around. Once, and once only, have I paid a visit to this sacred spot. Then and there I found a lady drinking of the waters from her thimble, and eagerly contending with her husband that the right to rule was hers. The man, however, mildly insisted upon it that he had had the first drink, as he had rushed before his wife, and dipping his fingers into the water had sucked them. This the lady contended was not drinking, and she, I have no doubt, through life had the best of the argument.
Tonkin says, in his "History of Cornwall," "Did it retain this wondrous quality, as it does to this day the shape, I believe there would be to it a greater resort of both sexes than either to Bath or Tunbridge; for who would not be fond of attaining this longed for sovereignty ?" He then adds, "Since the writing of this, the. trees were blown down by a violent storm, and in their place Mr Rashleigh, in whose land it is, has planted two oaks, an ash, and an elm, which thrive well; but the wonderful arch is destroyed." The author can add to this that (as he supposes, owing to the alteration made in the trees) the sovereign virtues of the waters have perished.
Southey's ballad will be remembered by most readers :--
"A well there is in the west country,
And a clearer one never was seen;
There is not a wife in the west country
But has heard of the Well of St Keyne.
"An oak and an elm-tree stand beside,
And behind doth an ash-tree grow,
And a willow from the bank above
Droops to the water below."
It has been already stated that, sitting in St Michael's Chair, on the tower of the church of St Michael's Mount, has the same virtue as the waters of this well; and that this remarkable power was the gift of the same St Keyne who imparted such wonderful properties to this well.