It is indeed difficult, with regard to these castles, to be positive as to the people by whom they were constructed. Tradition and history point to Romans and Saxons, as well as to Celts; nor is it at all unlikely that many of these half-natural, half-artificial strongholds, though originally planned by the Celtic inhabitants, were afterwards taken possession of and strengthened by Romans or Saxons.
But no such doubts are allowed with regard to Cornish huts, of which some striking remains have been preserved in Cornwall and other parts of England, particularly in those which, to the very last, remained the true home of the Celtic inhabitants of Britain. The houses and huts of the Romans were rectangular, nor is there any evidence to show that the Saxon ever approved of the circular style in domestic architecture.
If, then, we find these so-called bee-hive huts in places peculiarly Celtic, and if we remember that so early a writer as Strabo(57) was struck with the same strange style of Celtic architecture, we can hardly be suspected of Celtomania, if we claim them as Celtic workmanship, and dwell with a more than ordinary interest on these ancient chambers, now long deserted and nearly smothered with ferns and weeds, but in their general planning, as well as in their masonry, clearly exhibiting before us something of the arts and the life of the earliest inhabitants of these isles. Let anybody who has a sense of antiquity, and who can feel the spark which is sent on to us through an unbroken chain of history, when we stand on the Acropolis or on the Capitol, or when we read a ballad of Homer or a hymn of the Veda,—nay, if we but read in a proper spirit a chapter of the Old Testament too,—let such a man look at the Celtic huts at Bosprennis or Chysauster, and discover for himself, through the ferns and brambles, the old gray walls, slightly sloping inward, and arranged according to a design that cannot be mistaken; and miserable as these shapeless clumps may appear to the thoughtless traveller, they will convey to the true historian a lesson which he could hardly learn anywhere else. The ancient Britons will no longer be a mere name to him, no mere Pelasgians or Tyrrhenians. He has seen their homes and their handiwork; he has stood behind the walls which protected their lives and property; he has touched the stones which their hands piled up rudely, yet thoughtfully. And if that small spark of sympathy for those who gave the honored name of Britain to these islands has once been kindled among a few who have the power of influencing public opinion in England, we feel certain that something will be done to preserve what can still be preserved of Celtic remains from further destruction. It does honor to the British Parliament that large sums are granted, when it is necessary, to bring to these safe shores whatever can still be rescued from the ruins of Greece and Italy, of Lycia, Pergamos, Palestine, Egypt, Babylon, or Nineveh. But while explorers and excavators are sent to those distant countries, and the statues of Greece, the coffins of Egypt, and the winged monsters of Nineveh, are brought home in triumph to the portals of the British Museum, it is painful to see the splendid granite slabs of British cromlechs thrown down and carted away, stone circles destroyed to make way for farming improvements, and ancient huts and caves broken up to build new houses and stables, with the stones thus ready to hand. It is high time, indeed, that something should be done; and nothing will avail but to place every truly historical monument under national protection. Individual efforts may answer here and there, and a right spirit may be awakened from time to time by local societies; but during intervals of apathy mischief is done that can never be mended; and unless the damaging of national monuments, even though they should stand on private ground, is made a misdemeanor, we doubt whether, two hundred years hence, any enterprising explorer would be as fortunate as Mr. Layard and Sir H. Rawlinson have been in Babylon and Nineveh, and whether one single cromlech would be left for him to carry away to the National Museum of the Maoris. It is curious that the willful damage done to Logan Stones, once in the time of Cromwell by Shrubsall, and more recently by Lieutenant Goldsmith, should have raised such indignation, while acts of Vandalism, committed against real antiquities, are allowed to pass unnoticed. Mr. Scawen, in speaking of the mischief done by strangers in Cornwall, says:—
"Here, too, we may add, what wrong another sort of strangers has done to us, especially in the civil wars, and in particular by destroying of Mincamber, a famous monument, being a rock of infinite weight, which, as a burden, was laid upon other great stones, and yet so equally thereon poised up by Nature only, as a little child could instantly move it, but no one man or many remove it. This natural monument all travellers that came that way desired to behold; but in the time of Oliver's usurpation, when all monumental things became despicable, one Shrubsall, one of Oliver's heroes, then Governor of Pendennis, by labor and much ado, caused to be undermined and thrown down, to the great grief of the country; but to his own great glory, as he thought, doing it, as he said, with a small cane in his hand. I myself have heard him to boast of this act, being a prisoner then under him."
Mr. Scawen, however, does not tell us that this Shrubsall, in throwing down the Mincamber, i.e. the Menamber, acted very like the old missionaries in felling the sacred oaks in Germany. Merlin, it was believed, had proclaimed that this stone should stand until England had no king; and as Cornwall was a stronghold of the Stuarts, the destruction of this loyal stone may have seemed a matter of wise policy.
Even the foolish exploit of Lieutenant Goldsmith, in 1824, would seem to have had some kind of excuse. Dr. Borlase had asserted "that it was morally impossible that any lever, or indeed force, however applied in a mechanical way, could remove the famous Logan rock at Trereen Dinas from its present position." Ptolemy, the son of Hephaestion, had made a similar remark about the Gigoman rock,(58) stating that it might be stirred with the stalk of an asphodel, but could not be removed by any force. Lieutenant Goldsmith, living in an age of experimental philosophy, undertook the experiment, in order to show that it was physically possible to overthrow the Logan; and he did it. He was, however, very properly punished for this unscientific experiment, and he had to replace the stone at his own expense.
As this matter is really serious, we have drawn up a short list of acts of Vandalism committed in Cornwall within the memory of living man. That list could easily be increased, but even as it is, we hope it may rouse the attention of the public:—
Between St. Ives and Zennor, on the lower road over Tregarthen Downs, stood a Logan rock. An old man, perhaps ninety years of age, told Mr. Hunt, who mentions this and other cases in the preface to his charming collection of Cornish tales and legends, that he had often logged it, and that it would make a noise which could be heard for miles.
At Balnoon, between Nancledrea and Knill's Steeple, some miners came upon "two slabs of granite cemented together," which covered a walled grave three feet square, an ancient kist-vaen. In it they found an earthenware vessel, containing some black earth and a leaden spoon. The spoon was given to Mr. Praed, of Trevethow; the kist-vaen was utterly destroyed.
In Bosprennis Cross there was a very large coit or cromlech. It is said to have been fifteen feet square, and not more than one foot thick in any part. This was broken in two parts some years since, and taken to Penzance to form the beds of two ovens.
The curious caves and passages at Chysauster have been destroyed for building purposes within living memory.
Another Cornishman, Mr. Bellows, reports as follows:—
"In a field between the recently discovered Beehive hut and the Boscawen-un circle, out of the public road, we discovered part of a 'Nine Maidens,' perhaps the third of the circle, the rest of the stones being dragged out and placed against the hedge, to make room for the plough."
The same intelligent antiquarian remarks:—
"The Boscawen-un circle seems to have consisted originally of twenty stones. Seventeen of them are upright, two are down, and a gap exists of exactly the double space for the twentieth. We found the missing stone not twenty yards off. A farmer had removed it, and made it into a gate-post. He had cut a road through the circle, and in such a manner that he was obliged to remove the offending stone to keep it straight. Fortunately the present proprietress is a lady of taste, and has surrounded the circle with a good hedge to prevent further Vandalism."
Of the Men-an-tol, at Boleit, we have received the following description from Mr. Botterell, who supplied Mr. Hunt with so many of his Cornish tales:—
"These stones are from twenty to twenty-five feet above the surface, and we were told by some folks of Boleit that more than ten feet had been sunk near, without finding the base. The Men-an-tol have both been displaced, and removed a considerable distance from their original site. They are now placed in a hedge, to form the side of a gateway. The upper portion of one is so much broken that one cannot determine the angle, yet that it worked to an angle is quite apparent. The other is turned downward, and serves as the hanging-post of a gate. From the head being buried so deep in the ground, only part of the hole (which is in both stones about six inches diameter) could be seen; though the hole is too small to pop the smallest, or all but the smallest, baby through, the people call them crick-stones, and maintain they were so called before they were born. Crick-stones were used for dragging people through, to cure them of various diseases."
The same gentleman, writing to one of the Cornish papers, informs the public that a few years ago a rock known by the name of Garrack-zans might be seen in the town-place of Sawah, in the parish of St. Levan; another in Roskestal, in the same parish. One is also said to have been removed from near the centre of Trereen, by the family of Jans, to make a grander approach to their mansion. The ruins, which still remain, are known by the name of the Jans House, although the family became extinct soon after perpetrating what was regarded by the old inhabitants as a sacrilegious act. The Garrack-zans may still be remaining in Roskestal and Sawah, but, as much alteration has recently taken place in these villages, in consequence of building new farm-houses, making new roads, etc., it is a great chance if they have not been either removed or destroyed.
Mr. J. T. Blight, the author of one of the most useful little guide-books of Cornwall, "A Week at the Land's End," states that some eight or ten years ago the ruins of the ancient Chapel of St. Eloy, in St. Burian, were thrown over the cliff by the tenant of the estate, without the knowledge or permission of the owner of the property. Chun Castle, he says, one of the finest examples of early military architecture in this kingdom, has for many years been resorted to as a sort of quarry. The same applies to Castle-an-Dinas.
From an interesting paper on Castallack Round by the same antiquarian, we quote the following passages, showing the constant mischief that is going on, whether due to downright Vandalism or to ignorance and indifference:—
"From a description of Castallack Round, in the parish of St. Paul, written by Mr. Crozier, perhaps fourteen or fifteen years ago, it appears that there was a massive outer wall, with an entrance on the south; from which a colonnade of stones led to an inner inclosure, also formed with stones, and nine feet in diameter. Mr. Haliwell, so recently as 1861, refers to the avenue of upright stones leading from the outer to the inner inclosure.
"On visiting the spot a few days ago (in 1865), I was surprised to find that not only were there no remains of an avenue of stones, but that the existence of an inner inclosure could scarcely be traced. It was, in fact, evident that some modern Vandal had here been at work. A laborer, employed in the field close by, with a complaisant smile, informed me that the old Round had been dug into last year, for the sake of the stones. I found, however, enough of the work left to be worthy of a few notes, sufficient to show that it was a kindred structure to that at Kerris, known as the Roundago, and described and figured in Borlase's 'Antiquities of Cornwall.' ... Mr. Crozier also refers to a stone, five feet high, which stood within a hundred yards of the Castallack Round, and from which the Pipers at Boleit could be seen.
"The attention of the Royal Institution of Cornwall has been repeatedly called to the destruction of Cornish antiquities, and the interference of landed proprietors has been frequently invoked in aid of their preservation; but it unfortunately happens, in most cases, that important remains are demolished by the tenants without the knowledge or consent of the landlords. On comparing the present condition of the Castallack Round with a description of its appearance so recently as in 1861, I find that the greater and more interesting part has been barbarously and irreparably destroyed; and I regret to say, I could draw up a long list of ancient remains in Cornwall, partially or totally demolished within the last few years."
We can hardly hope that the wholesome superstition which prevented people in former days from desecrating their ancient monuments will be any protection to them much longer, though the following story shows that some grains of the old leaven are still left in the Cornish mind. Near Carleen, in Breage, an old cross has been removed from its place, and now does duty as a gate-post. The farmer occupying the farm where the cross stood, set his laborer to sink a pit in the required spot for the gate-post, but when it was intimated that the cross standing at a little distance off was to be erected therein, the man absolutely refused to have any hand in the matter, not on account of the beautiful or the antique, but for fear of the old people. Another farmer related that he had a neighbor who "haeled down a lot of stoans called the Roundago, and sold 'em for building the docks at Penzance. But not a penny of the money he got for 'em ever prospered, and there wasn't wan of the hosses that haeld 'em that lived out the twelvemonth; and they do say that some of the stoans do weep blood, but I don't believe that."
There are many antiquarians who affect to despise the rude architecture of the Celts, nay, who would think the name of architecture disgraced if applied to cromlechs and bee-hive huts. But even these will perhaps be more willing to lend a helping hand in protecting the antiquities of Cornwall when they hear that even ancient Norman masonry is no longer safe in that country. An antiquarian writes to us from Cornwall: "I heard of some farmers in Meneage (the Lizard district) who dragged down an ancient well and rebuilt it. When called to task for it, they said, 'The ould thing was so shaky that a wasn't fit to be seen, so we thought we'd putten to rights and build'un up fitty.' "
Such things, we feel sure, should not be, and would not be, allowed any longer, if public opinion, or the public conscience, was once roused. Let people laugh at Celtic monuments as much as they like, if they will only help to preserve their laughing-stocks from destruction. Let antiquarians be as skeptical as they like, if they will only prevent the dishonest withdrawal of the evidence against which their skepticism is directed. Are lake-dwellings in Switzerland, are flint-deposits in France, is kitchen-rubbish in Denmark, so very precious, and are the magnificent cromlechs, the curious holed stones, and even the rock-basins of Cornwall, so contemptible? There is a fashion even in scientific tastes. For thirty years M. Boucher de Perthes could hardly get a hearing for his flint-heads, and now he has become the centre of interest for geologists, anthropologists, and physiologists. There is every reason to expect that the interest, once awakened in the early history of our own race, will go on increasing; and two hundred years hence the antiquarians and anthropologists of the future will call us hard names if they find out how we allowed these relics of the earliest civilization of England to be destroyed. It is easy to say, What is there in a holed stone? It is a stone with a hole in it, and that is all. We do not wish to propound new theories; but in order to show how full of interest even a stone with a hole in it may become, we will just mention that the Men-an-tol, or the holed stone which stands in one of the fields near Lanyon, is flanked by two other stones standing erect on each side. Let any one go there to watch a sunset about the time of the autumnal equinox, and he will see that the shadow thrown by the erect stone would fall straight through the hole of the Men-an-tol. We know that the great festivals of the ancient world were regulated by the sun, and that some of these festive seasons—the winter solstice about Yule-tide or Christmas, the vernal equinox about Easter, the summer solstice on Midsummer-eve, about St. John Baptist's day, and the autumnal equinox about Michaelmas—are still kept, under changed names and with new objects, in our own time. This Men-an-tol may be an old dial erected originally to fix the proper time for the celebration of the autumnal equinox; and though it may have been applied to other purposes likewise, such as the curing of children by dragging them several times through the hole, still its original intention may have been astronomical. It is easy to test this observation, and to find out whether the same remark does not hold good of other stones in Cornwall, as, for instance, the Two Pipers. We do not wish to attribute to this guess as to the original intention of the Men-an-tol more importance than it deserves, nor would we in any way countenance the opinion of those who, beginning with Caesar, ascribe to the Celts and their Druids every kind of mysterious wisdom. A mere shepherd, though he had never heard the name of the equinox, might have erected such a stone for his own convenience, in order to know the time when he might safely bring his flocks out, or take them back to their safer stables. But this would in no way diminish the interest of the Men-an-tol. It would still remain one of the few relics of the childhood of our race; one of the witnesses of the earliest workings of the human mind in its struggle against, and in its alliance with, the powers of nature; one of the vestiges of the first civilization of the British Isles. Even the Romans, who carried their Roman roads in a straight line through the countries they had conquered, undeterred by any obstacles, unawed by any sanctuaries, respected, as can hardly be doubted, Silbury Hill, and made the road from Bath to London diverge from the usual straight line, instead of cutting through that time-honored mound. Would the engineers of our railways show a similar regard for any national monument, whether Celtic, Roman, or Saxon? When Charles II., in 1663, went to see the Celtic remains of Abury, sixty-three stones were still standing within the intrenched inclosure. Not quite a hundred years later they had dwindled down to forty-four, the rest having been used for building purposes. Dr. Stukeley, who published a description of Abury in 1743, tells us that he himself saw the upper stone of the great cromlech there broken and carried away, the fragments of it making no less than twenty cart-loads. After another century had passed, seventeen stones only remained within the great inclosure, and these, too, are being gradually broken up and carted away. Surely such things ought not to be. Let those whom it concerns look to it before it is too late. These Celtic monuments are public property as much as London Stone, Coronation Stone, or Westminster Abbey, and posterity will hold the present generation responsible for the safe keeping of the national heirlooms of England.(59)
XIV. ARE THERE JEWS IN CORNWALL?
There is hardly a book on Cornish history or antiquities in which we are not seriously informed that at some time or other the Jews migrated to Cornwall, or worked as slaves in Cornish mines. Some writers state this simply as a fact requiring no further confirmation; others support it by that kind of evidence which Herodotus, no doubt, would have considered sufficient for establishing the former presence of Pelasgians in different parts of Greece, but which would hardly have satisfied Niebuhr, still less Sir G. C. Lewis. Old smelting-houses, they tell us, are still called Jews' houses in Cornwall; and if, even after that, anybody could be so skeptical as to doubt that the Jews, after the destruction of Jerusalem, were sent in large numbers to work as slaves in the Cornish mines, he is silenced at once by an appeal to the name of Marazion, the well-known town opposite St. Michael's Mount, which means the "bitterness of Zion," and is also called Market Jew. Many a traveller has no doubt shaken his unbelieving head, and asked himself how it is that no real historian should ever have mentioned the migration of the Jews to the Far West, whether it took place under Nero or under one of the later Flavian Emperors. Yet all the Cornish guides are positive on the subject, and the prima facie evidence is certainly so startling that we can hardly wonder if certain anthropologists discovered even the sharply marked features of the Jewish race among the sturdy fishermen of Mount's Bay.
Before we examine the facts on which this Jewish theory is founded,—facts, as will be seen, chiefly derived from names of places, and other relics of language,—it will be well to inquire a little into the character of the Cornish language, so that we may know what kind of evidence we have any right to expect from such a witness.
The ancient language of Cornwall, as is well known, was a Celtic dialect, closely allied to the languages of Brittany and Wales, and less nearly, though by no means distantly, related to the languages of Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man. Cornish began to die out in Cornwall about the time of the Reformation, being slowly but surely supplanted by English, till it was buried with Dolly Pentreath and similar worthies about the end of the last century.(60) Now there is in most languages, but more particularly in those which are losing their consciousness or their vitality, what, by a name borrowed from geology, may be called a metamorphic process. It consists chiefly in this, that words, as they cease to be properly understood, are slightly changed, generally with the object of imparting to them once more an intelligible meaning. This new meaning is mostly a mistaken one, yet it is not only readily accepted, but the word in its new dress and with its new character is frequently made to support facts or fictions which could be supported by no other evidence. Who does not believe that sweetheart has something to do with heart? Yet it was originally formed like drunk-ard, dull-ard, and nigg-ard; and poets, not grammarians, are responsible for the mischief it may have done under its plausible disguise. By the same process, shamefast, formed like steadfast and still properly spelt by Chaucer and in the early editions of the Authorized Version of the Bible, has long become shamefaced, bringing before us the blushing roses of a lovely face. The Vikings, mere pirates from the viks or creeks of Scandinavia, have, by the same process, been raised to the dignity of kings; just as coat cards—the king, and queen, and knave in their gorgeous gowns—were exalted into court cards.
Although this kind of metamorphosis takes place in every language, yet it is most frequent in countries where two languages come in contact with each other, and where, in the end, one is superseded by the other. Robertus Curtus, the eldest son of the Conqueror, was by the Saxons called Curt-hose. The name of Oxford contains in its first syllable an old Celtic word, the well-known term for water or river, which occurs as ux in Uxbridge, as ex in Exmouth, as ax in Axmouth, and in many more disguises down to the whisk of whiskey, the Scotch Usquebaugh.(61) In the name of the Isis, and of the suburb of Osney, the same Celtic word has been preserved. The Saxons kept the Celtic name of the river, and they called the place where one of the Roman roads crossed the river Ox, Oxford. The name, however, was soon mistaken, and interpreted as purely Saxon; and if any one should doubt that Oxford was a kind of Bosphorus, and meant a ford for oxen, the ancient arms of the city were readily appealed to in order to cut short all doubts on the subject. The Welsh name Ryt-yhcen for Oxford was a retranslation into Welsh of an original Celtic name, to which a new form and a new meaning had been given by the Saxon conquerors.
Similar accidents happened to Greek words after they were adopted by the people of Italy, particularly by the Romans. The Latin orichalcum, for instance, is simply the Greek word ὀρείχαλκος, from ὄρος, mountain, and χαλκός, copper. Why it was called mountain-copper, no one seems to know. It was originally a kind of fabulous metal, brought to light from the brains of the poet rather than from the bowels of the earth. Though the poets, and even Plato, speak of it as, after gold, the most precious of metals, Aristotle sternly denies that there ever was any real metal corresponding to the extravagant descriptions of the ὀρείχαλκος. Afterwards the same word was used in a more sober and technical sense, though it is not always easy to say when it means copper, or bronze (i.e. copper and tin), or brass (i.e. copper and zinc). The Latin poets not only adopted the Greek word in the fabulous sense in which they found it used in Homer, but forgetting that the first portion of the name was derived from the Greek ὄρος, hill, they pronounced and even spelt it as if derived from the Latin aurum, gold, and thus found a new confirmation of its equality with gold, which would have greatly surprised the original framers of that curious compound.(62)
In a county like Cornwall, where the ancient Celtic dialect continued to be spoken, though disturbed and overlaid from time to time by Latin, Saxon, and Norman, where Celts had to adopt certain Saxon and Norman, and Saxons and Normans certain Celtic words, we have a right to expect an ample field for observing this metamorphic process, and for tracing its influence in the transformation of names, and in the formation of legends, traditions, nay even, as we shall see, in the production of generally accepted historical facts. To call this process metamorphic, using that name in the sense given to it by geologists, may at first sight seem pedantic and far-fetched. But if we see how a new language forms what may be called a new stratum covering the old language; how the life or heat of the old language, though apparently extinct, breaks forth again through the superincumbent crust, destroys its regular features and assimilates its stratified layers with its own igneous or volcanic nature, our comparison, though somewhat elaborate, will be justified to a great extent, and we shall only have to ask our geological readers to make allowance for this, that, in languages, the foreign element has always to be considered as the superincumbent stratum, Cornish forming the crust to English or English to Cornish, according as the speaker uses the one or the other as his native or as his acquired speech.
Our first witness in support of this metamorphic process is Mr. Scawen, who lived about two hundred years ago, a true Cornishman, though he wrote in English, or in what he is pleased so to call. In blaming the Cornish gentry and nobility for having attempted to give to their ancient and honorable names a kind of Norman varnish, and for having adopted new-fangled coats of arms, Mr. Scawen remarks on the several mistakes, intentional or unintentional, that occurred in this foolish process. "The grounds of two several mistakes," he writes, "are very obvious: 1st, upon the Tre or Ter; 2d, upon the Ross or Rose. Tre or Ter in Cornish commonly signifies a town, or rather place, and it has always an adjunct with it. Tri is the number 3. Those men willingly mistake one for another. And so, in French heraldry terms, they used to fancy and contrive those with any such three things as may be like, or cohere with, or may be adapted to anything or things in their surnames, whether very handsome or not is not much stood upon. Another usual mistake is upon Ross, which, as they seem to fancy, should be a Rose, but Ross in Cornish is a vale or valley. Now for this their French-Latin tutors, when they go into the field of Mars, put them in their coat armor prettily to smell out a Rose or flower (a fading honor instead of a durable one); so any three such things, agreeable perhaps a little to their names, are taken up and retained from abroad, when their own at home have a much better scent and more lasting."
Some amusing instances of what may be called Saxon puns on Cornish words have been communicated to me by a Cornish friend of mine, Mr. Bellows. "The old Cornish name for Falmouth," he writes, "was Penny come quick,(63) and they tell a most improbable story to account for it. I believe the whole compound is the Cornish Pen y cwm gwic, 'Head of the creek valley.' In like manner they have turned Bryn uhella (highest hill) into Brown Willy, and Cwm ty goed (woodhouse valley) into Come to good." To this might be added the common etymologies of Helstone and Camelford. The former name has nothing to do with the Saxon helstone, a covering stone, or with the infernal regions, but meant "place on the river;" the latter, in spite of the camel in the arms of the town, meant the ford of the river Camel. A frequent mistake arises from the misapprehension of the Celtic dun, hill, which enters in the composition of many local names, and was changed by the Saxons into town or tun. Thus Meli-dunum is now Moulton, Seccan-dun is Seckington, and Beamdun is Bampton.(64)
This transformation of Celtic into Saxon or Norman terms is not confined, however, to the names of families, towns, and villages; and we shall see how the fables to which it has given rise have not only disfigured the records of some of the most ancient families in Cornwall, but have thrown a haze over the annals of the whole county.
Returning to the Jews in their Cornish exile, we find, no doubt, as mentioned before, that even in the Ordnance maps the little town opposite St. Michael's Mount is called Marazion and Market Jew. Marazion sounds decidedly like Hebrew, and might signify Marah, "bitterness, grief," Zion, "of Zion." M. Esquiros, a believer in Cornish Jews, thinks that Mara might be a corruption of the Latin Amara, bitter; but he forgets that this etymology would really defeat its very object, and destroy the Hebrew origin of the name. The next question therefore is, What is the real origin of the name Marazion, and of its alias, Market Jew? It cannot be too often repeated that inquiries into the origin of local names are, in the first place, historical, and only in the second place, philological. To attempt an explanation of any name, without having first traced it back to the earliest form in which we can find it, is to set at defiance the plainest rules of the science of language as well as of the science of history. Even if the interpretation of a local name should be right, it would be of no scientific value without the preliminary inquiry into its history, which frequently consists in a succession of the most startling changes and corruptions. Those who are at all familiar with the history of Cornish names of places will not be surprised to find the same name written in four or five, nay, in ten different ways. The fact is that those who pronounced the names were frequently ignorant of their real import, and those who had to write them down could hardly catch their correct pronunciation. Thus we find that Camden calls Marazion Merkiu; Carew, Marcaiew. Leland in his "Itinerary" (about 1538) uses the names Markesin, Markine (vol. iii. fol. 4); and in another place (vol. vii. fol. 119) he applies, it would seem, to the same town the name of Marasdeythyon. William of Worcester (about 1478) writes promiscuously Markysyoo (p. 103), Marchew and Margew (p. 133), Marchasyowe and Markysyow (p. 98). In a charter of Queen Elizabeth, dated 1595, the name is written Marghasiewe; in another of the year 1313, Markesion; in another of 1309, Markasyon; in another of Richard, Earl of Cornwall (Rex Romanorum, 1257), Marchadyon, which seems the oldest, and at the same time the most primitive form.(65) Besides these, Dr. Oliver has found in different title-deeds the following varieties of the same name:—Marghasion, Markesiow, Marghasiew, Maryazion, and Marazion. The only explanation of the name which we meet with in early writers, such as Leland, Camden, and Carew, is that it meant "Thursday Market." Leland explains Marasdeythyon by forum Jovis. Camden explains Merkiu in the same manner, and Carew takes Marcaiew as originally Marhas diew, i.e. "Thursdaies market, for then it useth this traffike."
This interpretation of Marhasdiew as Thursday Market, appears at first very plausible, and it has at all events far better claims on our acceptance than the modern Hebrew etymology of "Bitterness of Zion." But, strange to say, although from a charter of Robert, Earl of Cornwall, it appears that the monks of the Mount had the privilege of holding a market on Thursday (die quintae feriae), there is no evidence, and no probability, that a town so close to the Mount as Marazion ever held a market on the same day.(66) Thursday in Cornish was called deyow, not diew. The only additional evidence we get is this, that in the taxation of Bishop Walter Bronescombe, made August 12, 1261, and quoted in Bishop Stapledon's register of 1313, the place is called Markesion de parvo mercato,(67) and that in a charter of Richard, King of the Romans and Earl of Cornwall, permission was granted to the prior of St. Michael's Mount that three markets, which formerly had been held in Marghasbigan, on ground not belonging to him, should in future be held on his own ground in Marchadyon. Parvus mercatus is evidently the same place as Marghasbigan, for Marghas-bigan means in Cornish the same as Mercatus parvus, namely, "Little Market." The charter of Richard, Earl of Cornwall, is more perplexing, and it would seem to yield no sense, unless we again take Marchadyon as a mere variety of Marghasbigan, and suppose that the privilege granted to the prior of St. Michael's Mount consisted really in transferring the fair from land in Marazion not belonging to him, to land in Marazion belonging to him. Anyhow, it is clear that in Marazion we have some kind of name for market.
The old Cornish word for market is marchas, a corruption of the Latin mercatus. Originally the Cornish word must have been marchad, and this form is preserved in Armorican, while in Cornish the ch gradually sunk to h, and the final d to s. This change of d into s is of frequent occurrence in modern as compared with ancient Cornish, and the history of our word will enable us, to a certain extent, to fix the time when that change took place. In the charter of Richard, Earl of Cornwall (about 1257), we find Marchadyon; in a charter of 1309, Markasyon. The change of d into s had taken place during these fifty years.(68) But what is the termination yon? Considering that Marazion is called the Little Market, I should like to see in yon the diminutive Cornish suffix, corresponding to the Welsh yn. But if this should be objected to, on the ground that no such diminutives occur in the literary monuments of the Cornish language, another explanation is open, which was first suggested to me by Mr. Bellows: Marchadion may be taken as a perfectly regular plural in Cornish, and we should then have to suppose that, instead of being called the Market or the Little Market, the place was called, from its three statute markets, "The Markets." And this would help us to explain, not only the gradual growth of the name Marazion, but likewise, I think, the gradual formation of "Market Jew;" for another termination of the plural in Cornish is ieu, which, added to Marchad, would give us Marchadieu.(69)
Now it is perfectly true that no real Cornishman, I mean no man who spoke Cornish, would ever have taken Marchadiew for Market Jew, or Jews' Market. The name for Jew in Cornish is quite different. It is Edhow, Yedhow, Yudhow, corrupted likewise into Ezow; plural, Yedhewon, etc. But to a Saxon ear the Cornish name Marchadiew might well convey the idea of Market Jew, and thus, by a metamorphic process, a name meaning in Cornish the Markets would give rise in a perfectly natural manner, not only to the two names, Marazion and Market Jew, but likewise to the historical legends of Jews settled in the county of Cornwall.(70)
But there still remain the Jews' houses, the name given, it is said, to the old, deserted smelting-houses in Cornwall, and in Cornwall only. Though, in the absence of any historical evidence as to the employment of this term Jew's house in former ages, it will be more difficult to arrive at its original form and meaning, yet an explanation offers itself which, by a procedure very similar to that which was applied to Marazion and Market Jew, may account for the origin of this name likewise.
The Cornish name for house was originally ty. In modern Cornish, however, to quote from Lhuyd's Grammar, t has been changed to tsh, as ti, thou, tshei; ty, a house, tshey; which tsh is also sometimes changed to dzh, as ol mein y dzkyi, "all in the house." Out of this dzhyi we may easily understand how a Saxon mouth and a Saxon ear might have elicited a sound somewhat like the English Jew.
But we do not get at Jews' house by so easy a road, if indeed we get at it at all. We are told that a smelting-house was called a White-house, in Cornish Chiwidden, widden standing for gwydn, which is a corruption of the old Cornish gwyn, white. This name of Chiwidden is a famous name in Cornish hagiography. He was the companion of St. Perran, or St. Piran, the most popular saint among the mining population of Cornwall.
Mr. Hunt, who in his interesting work, "The Popular Romances of the West of England," has assigned a separate chapter to Cornish saints, tells us how St. Piran, while living in Ireland, fed ten Irish kings and their armies, for ten days together, with three cows. Notwithstanding this and other miracles, some of these kings condemned him to be cast off a precipice into the sea, with a millstone round his neck. St. Piran, however, floated on safely to Cornwall, and he landed, on the 5th of March, on the sands which still bear his name, Perranzabuloe, or Perran on the Sands.
The lives of saints form one of the most curious subjects for the historian, and still more for the student of language; and the day, no doubt, will come when it will be possible to take those wonderful conglomerates of fact and fiction to pieces, and, as in one of those huge masses of graywacke or rubblestone, to assign each grain and fragment to the stratum from which it was taken, before they were all rolled together and cemented by the ebb and flow of popular tradition. With regard to the lives of Irish and Scotch and British saints, it ought to be stated, for the credit of the pious authors of the "Acta Sanctorum," that even they admit their tertiary origin. "During the twelfth century," they say, "when many of the ancient monasteries in Ireland were handed over to monks from England, and many new houses were built for them, these monks began to compile the acts of the saints with greater industry than judgment. They collected all they could find among the uncertain traditions of the natives and in obscure Irish writings, following the example of Jocelin, whose work on the acts of St. Patrick had been received everywhere with wonderful applause. But many of them have miserably failed, so that the foolish have laughed at them, and the wise been filled with indignation." ("Bollandi Acta," 5th of March, p. 390, B). In the same work (p. 392, A), it is pointed out that the Irish monks, whenever they heard of any saints in other parts of England whose names and lives reminded them of Irish saints, at once concluded that they were of Irish origin; and that the people in some parts of England, as they possessed no written acts of their popular saints, were glad to identify their own with the famous saints of the Irish Church. This has evidently happened in the case of St. Piran. St. Piran, in one of his characters, is certainly a truly Cornish saint; but when the monks in Cornwall heard the wonderful legends of the Irish saint, St. Kiran, they seem to have grafted their own St. Piran on the Irish St. Kiran. The difference in the names must have seemed less to them than to us; for words which in Cornish are pronounced with p, are pronounced, as a rule, in Irish with k. Thus, head in Cornish is pen, in Irish ceann, son is map, in Irish mac. The town built at the eastern extremity of the wall of Severus, was called Penguaul, i.e. pen, caput, guaul, walls; the English call it Penel-tun, while in Scotch it was pronounced Cenail.(71) That St. Kiran had originally nothing to do with St. Piran can still be proved, for the earlier Lives of St. Kiran, though full of fabulous stories, represent him as dying in Ireland. His saint's day was the 5th of March; that of St. Piran, the 2d of May. The later Lives, however, though they say nothing as yet of the millstone, represent St. Kiran, when a very old man, as suddenly leaving his country in order that he might die in Cornwall. We are told that suddenly, when already near his death, he called together his little flock, and said to them: "My dear brothers and sons, according to a divine disposition I must leave Ireland and go to Cornwall, and wait for the end of my life there. I cannot resist the will of God." He then sailed to Cornwall, and built himself a house, where he performed many miracles. He was buried in Cornwall on the sandy sea, fifteen miles from Petrokstowe, and twenty-five miles from Mousehole.(72) In this manner the Irish and the Cornish saints, who originally had nothing in common but their names, became amalgamated,(73) and the saint's day of St. Piran was moved from the 2d of May to the 5th of March. Yet although thus welded into one, nothing could well be imagined more different than the characters of the Irish and of the Cornish saint. The Irish saint lived a truly ascetic life; he preached, wrought miracles, and died. The Cornish saint was a jolly miner, not always very steady on his legs.(74) Let us hear what the Cornish have to tell of him. His name occurs in several names of places, such as Perran Zabuloe, Perran Uthno, in Perran the Little, and in Perran Ar-worthall. His name, pronounced Perran, or Piran, has been further corrupted into Picras, and Picrous, though some authorities suppose that this is again a different saint from St. Piran. Anyhow, both St. Perran and St. Picras live in the memory of the Cornish miner as the discoverers of tin; and the tinners' great holiday, the Thursday before Christmas, is still called Picrou's day.(75) The legend relates that St. Piran, when still in Cornwall, employed a heavy black stone as a part of his fire-place. The fire was more intense than usual, and a stream of beautiful white metal flowed out of the fire. Great was the joy of the saint, and he communicated his discovery to St. Chiwidden. They examined the stone together, and Chiwidden, who was learned in the learning of the East, soon devised a process for producing this metal in large quantities. The two saints called the Cornishmen together. They told them of their treasures, and they taught them how to dig the ore from the earth, and how, by the agency of fire, to obtain the metal. Great was the joy in Cornwall, and many days of feasting followed the announcement. Mead and metheglin, with other drinks, flowed in abundance; and vile rumor says the saints and their people were rendered equally unstable thereby. "Drunk as a Perraner" has certainly passed into a proverb from that day.
It is quite clear from these accounts that the legendary discoverer of tin in Cornwall was originally a totally different character from the Irish saint, St. Kiran. If one might indulge in a conjecture, I should say that there probably was in the Celtic language a root kar, which in the Cymbric branch would assume the form par. Now cair in Gaelic means to dig, to raise; and from it a substantive might be derived, meaning digger or miner. In Ireland, Kiran seems to have been simply a proper name, like Smith or Baker, for there is nothing in the legends of St. Kiran that points to mining or smelting. In Cornwall, on the contrary, St. Piran, before he was engrafted on St. Kiran, was probably nothing but a personification or apotheosis of the Miner, as much as Dorus was the personification of the Dorians, and Brutus the first King of Britain.
The rule, "noscitur a sociis," may be applied to St. Piran. His friend and associate, St. Chiwidden, or St. Whitehouse, is a personification of the white-house, i.e. the smelting-house, without which St. Piran, the miner, would have been a very useless saint. If Chywidden, i.e. the smelting-house, became the St. Chywidden, why should we look in the Cornish St. Piran for anything beyond Piran, i.e. the miner?
However, what is of importance to us for our present object is not St. Piran, but St. Chywidden, the white-house or smelting-house. We are looking all this time for the original meaning of the Jews' houses, and the question is, how can we, starting from Chywidden, arrive at Jews'-house? I am afraid we can not do so without a jump or two; all we can do is to show that they are jumps which language herself is fond of taking, and which therefore we must not shirk, if we wish to ride straight after her.
Well, then, the first jump which language frequently takes is this, that instead of using a noun with a qualifying adjective, such as white-house, the noun by itself is used without any such qualification. This can, of course, be done with very prominent words only, words which are used so often, and which express ideas so constantly present to the mind of the speaker, that no mistake is likely to arise. In English, "the House" is used for the House of Commons; in later Latin "domus" was used for the House of God. Among fisherman in Scotland "fish" means salmon. In Greek λίθος, stone, in the feminine, is used for the magnet, originally Μαγνῆτις λίθος while the masculine λίθος means a stone in general. In Cornwall, ore by itself means copper ore only, while tin ore is called black tin. In times, therefore, when the whole attention of Cornwall was absorbed by mining and smelting, and when smelting-houses were most likely the only large buildings that seemed to deserve the name of houses, there is nothing extraordinary in tshey or dzhyi, even without widden, white, having become the recognized name for smelting-houses.
But now comes a second jump, and again one that can be proved to have been a very favorite one with many languages. When people speaking different languages live together in the same country, they frequently, in adopting a foreign term, add to it, by way of interpretation, the word that corresponds to it in their own language. Thus Portsmouth is a name half Latin and half English. Portus was the Roman name given to the harbor. This was adopted by the Saxons, but interpreted at the same time by a Saxon word, namely, mouth, which really means harbor. This interpretation was hardly intentional, but arose naturally. Port first became a kind of proper name, and then mouth was added, so that "the mouth of Port," i.e. of the place called Portus by the Romans, became at last Portsmouth. But this does not satisfy the early historians, and, as happens so frequently when there is anything corrupt in language, a legend springs up almost spontaneously to remove all doubts and difficulties. Thus we read in the venerable Saxon Chronicle under the year 501, "that Port came to Britain with his two sons, Bieda and Maegla, with two ships, and their place was called Portsmouth; and they slew a British man, a very noble man."(76) Such is the growth of legends, aye, and in many cases the growth of history.
Formed on the same principle as Portsmouth we find such words as Hayle-river, the Cornish hal by itself meaning salt marsh, moor, or estuary; Treville or Trou-ville, where the Celtic tre, town, is explained by the French ville; the Cotswold Hills, where the Celtic word cot, wood, is explained by the Saxon wold or weald, a wood. In Dun-bar-ton, the Celtic word dun, hill, is explained by the Saxon bar for byrig, burg, ton being added to form the name of the town that rose up under the protection of the hill-castle. In Penhow the same process has been suspected; how, the German Hoehe,(77) expressing nearly the same idea as pen, head. In Constantine, in Cornwall, one of the large stones with rock-basins is called the Men-rock,(78) rock being simply the interpretation of the Cornish men.
If, then, we suppose that in exactly the same manner the people of Cornwall spoke of Tshey-houses, or Dshyi-houses, is it so very extraordinary that this hybrid word should at last have been interpreted as Jew-houses or Jews' houses? I do not say that the history of the word can be traced through all its phases with the same certainty as that of Marazion; all I maintain is that, in explaining its history, no step has been admitted that cannot be proved by sufficient evidence to be in strict keeping with the well-known movements, or, if it is respectful to say so, the well-known antics of language.
Thus vanish the Jews from Cornwall; but there still remain the Saracens. One is surprised to meet with Saracens in the West of England; still more, to hear of their having worked in the tin-mines, like the Jews. According to some writers, however, Saracen is only another name for Jews, though no explanation is given why this detested name should have been applied to the Jews in Cornwall, and nowhere else. This view is held, for instance, by Carew, who writes: "The Cornish maintain these works to have been very ancient, and the first wrought by the Jews with pickaxes of holm, box, hartshorn; they prove this by the names of those places yet enduring, to wit, Attall-Sarazin (or, as in some editions, Sazarin); in English, the Jews' Offcast."
Camden (p. 69) says: "We are taught from Diodorus and AEthicus that the ancient Britons had worked hard at the mines, but the Saxons and Normans seem to have neglected them for a long time, or to have employed the labor of Arabs or Saracens, for the inhabitants call deserted shafts, Attall-Sarazin, i.e. the leavings of the Saracens."
Thus, then, we have not only the Saracens in Cornwall admitted as simply a matter of history, but their presence actually used in order to prove that the Saxons and Normans neglected to work the mines in the West of England.
A still more circumstantial account is given by Hals, as quoted by Gilbert in his "Parochial History of Cornwall." Here we are told that King Henry III., by proclamation, let out all Jews in his dominions at a certain rent to such as would poll and rifle them, and amongst others to his brother Richard, King of the Romans, who, after he had plundered their estates, committed their bodies, as his slaves, to labor in the tin-mines of Cornwall; the memory of whose workings is still preserved in the names of several tin works, called Towle Sarasin, and corruptly Attall Saracen; i.e. the refuse or outcast of Saracens; that is to say, of those Jews descended from Sarah and Abraham. Other works were called Whele Etherson (alias Ethewon), the Jews' Works, or Unbelievers' Works, in Cornish.
Here we see how history is made; and if our inquiries led to no other result, they would still be useful as a warning against putting implicit faith in the statements of writers who are separated by several centuries from the events they are relating. Here we have men like Carew and Camden, both highly cultivated, learned, and conscientious, and yet neither of them hesitating, in a work of historical character, to assert as a fact, what, after making every allowance, can only be called a very bold guess. Have we any reason to suppose that Herodotus and Thucydides, when speaking of the original abodes of the various races of Greece, of their migrations, their wars and final settlements, had better evidence before them, or were more cautious in using their evidence, than Camden and Carew? And is it likely that modern scholars, however learned and however careful, can ever arrive at really satisfactory results by sifting and arranging and rearranging the ethnological statements of the ancients, as to the original abodes or the later migrations of Pelasgians, Tyrrhenians, Thracians, Macedonians, and Illyrians, or even of Dorians, AEolians, and Ionians? What is Carew's evidence in support of his statement that the Jews first worked the tin-mines of Cornwall? Simply the sayings of the people in Cornwall, who support their sayings by the name given to deserted mines, Attall Sarazin. Now admitting that Attall Sarazin or Attall Sazarin, meant the refuse of the Saracens, how is it possible, in cold blood, to identify the Saracens with Jews, and where is there a tittle of evidence to prove that the Jews were the first to work these mines,—mines, be it remembered, which, according to the same Carew, were certainly worked before the beginning of our era?
But leaving the Jews of the time of Nero, let us examine the more definite and more moderate statements of Hals and Gilbert. According to them, the deserted shafts are called by a Cornish name meaning the refuse of the Saracens, because, as late as the thirteenth century, the Jews were sent to work in these mines. It is difficult, no doubt, to prove a negative, and to show that no Jews ever worked in the mines of Cornwall. All that can be done, in a case like this, is to show that no one has produced an atom of evidence in support of Mr. Gilbert's opinion. The Jews were certainly ill treated, plundered, tortured, and exiled during the reign of the Plantagenet kings; but that they were sent to the Cornish mines, no contemporary writer has ever ventured to assert. The passage in Matthew Paris, to which Mr. Gilbert most likely alludes, says the very contrary of what he draws from it. Matthew Paris says that Henry III. extorted money from the Jews, and that when they petitioned for a safe conduct, in order to leave England altogether, he sold them to his brother Richard, "ut quos Rex excoriaverat, Comes evisceraret."(79) But this selling of the Jews meant no more than that, in return for money advanced him by his brother, the Earl of Cornwall, the King pawned to him, for a number of years, the taxes, legitimate or illegitimate, which could be extorted from the Jews. That this was the real meaning of the bargain between the King and his brother, the Earl of Cornwall, can be proved by the document printed in Rymer's "Foedera," vol. i. p. 543, "De Judaeis Comiti Cornubiae assignatis, pro solutione pecuniae sibi a Rege debitae."(80) Anyhow, there is not a single word about the Jews having been sent to Cornwall, or having had to work in the mines. On the contrary, Matthew Paris says, "Comes pepercit iis," "the Earl spared them."
After thus looking in vain for any truly historical evidence in support of Jewish settlements in Cornwall, I suppose they may in future be safely treated as a "verbal myth," of which there are more indeed in different chapters of history, both ancient and modern, than is commonly supposed. As in Cornwall the name of a market has given rise to the fable of Jewish settlements, the name of another market in Finland led to the belief that there were Turks settled in that northern country. Abo, the ancient capital of Finland, was called Turku, which is the Swedish word torg, market. Adam of Bremen, enumerating the various tribes adjoining the Baltic, mentions Turci among the rest, and these Turci were by others mistaken for Turks.(81)
Even after such myths have been laid open to the very roots, there is a strong tendency not to drop them altogether. Thus Mr. H. Merivale is far too good an historian to admit the presence of Jews in Cornwall as far back as the destruction of Jerusalem.(82) He knows there is no evidence for it, and he would not repeat a mere fable, however plausible. Yet Marazion and the Jews' houses evidently linger in his memory, and he throws out a hint that they may find an historical explanation in the fact that under the Plantagenet kings the Jews commonly farmed or wrought the mines. Is there any contemporary evidence even for this? I do not think so. Dr. Borlase, indeed, in his "Natural History of Cornwall" (p. 190), says, "In the time of King John, I find the product of tin in this county very inconsiderable, the right of working for tin being as yet wholly in the King, the property of tinners precarious and unsettled, and what tin was raised was engrossed and managed by the Jews, to the great regret of the barons and their vassals." It is a pity that Dr. Borlase should not have given his authority, but there is little doubt that he simply quoted from Carew. Carew tells us how the Cornish gentlemen borrowed money from the merchants of London, giving them tin as security (p. 14); and though he does not call the merchants Jews, yet he speaks of them as usurers, and reproves their "cut throate and abominable dealing." He continues afterwards, speaking of the same usurers (p. 16), "After such time as the Jewes by their extreme dealing had worne themselves, first out of the love of the English inhabitants, and afterwards out of the land itselfe, and so left the mines unwrought, it hapned, that certaine gentlemen, being lords of seven tithings in Blackmoore, whose grounds were best stored with this minerall, grewe desirous to renew this benefit," etc. To judge from several indications, this is really the passage which Dr. Borlase had before him when writing of the Jews as engrossing and managing the tin that was raised, and in that case neither is Carew a contemporary witness, nor would it follow from what he says that one single Jew ever set foot on Cornish soil, or that any Jews ever tasted the actual bitterness of working in the mines.
Having thus disposed of the Jews, we now turn to the Saracens in Cornwall. We shall not enter upon the curious and complicated history of that name. It is enough to refer to a short note in Gibbon,(83) in order to show that Saracen was a name known to Greeks and Romans, long before the rise of Islam, but never applied to the Jews by any writer of authority, not even by those who saw in the Saracens "the children of Sarah."
What, then, it may be asked, is the origin of the expression Attal Sarazin in Cornwall? Attal, or Atal, is said to be a Cornish word, the Welsh Adhail, and means refuse, waste.(84) As to Sarazin, it is most likely another Cornish word, which by a metamorphic process, has been slightly changed in order to yield some sense intelligible to Saxon speakers. We find in Cornish tarad, meaning a piercer, a borer; and, in another form, tardar is distinctly used, together with axe and hammer, as the name of a mining implement. The Latin taratrum, Gr. τέρετρον, Fr. tariere, all come from the same source. If from tarad we form a plural, we get taradion. In modern Cornish we find that d sinks down to s, which would give us taras,(85) and plural tarasion. Next, the final l of atal may, like several final l's in the closely allied language of Brittany, have infected the initial t of tarasion, and changed it to th, which th, again, would, in modern Cornish, sink down to s.(86) Thus atal tharasion might have been intended for the refuse of the borings, possibly the refuse of the mines; but pronounced in Saxon fashion, it might readily have been mistaken for the Atal or refuse of the Sarasion or Saracens.
The essay on the presence of Jews in Cornwall has given rise to much controversy; and as I republish it here without any important alterations, I feel it incumbent to say a few words in answer to the objections that have been brought forward against it. No one, I think, can read my essay without perceiving that what I question is not the presence of single Jews in Cornwall, but the migration of large numbers of Jews into the extreme West of Britain, whether at the time of the Phoenicians, or at the period of the destruction of Jerusalem, or under the Flavian princes, or even at a later time. The Rev. Dr. Bannister in a paper on "the Jews in Cornwall," published in the Journal of the Royal Institution of Cornwall, 1867, does indeed represent me as having maintained "that one single Jew never set foot on Cornish soil!" But if my readers will refer to the passage thus quoted from my essay by Dr. Bannister, they will see that it was not meant in that sense. In the passage thus quoted with inverted commas,(87) I simply argued that from certain words used by Carew, on which great stress had been laid, it would not even follow "that one single Jew ever set foot on Cornish soil," which surely is very different from saying that I maintained that no single Jew ever set foot on Cornish soil. It would indeed be the most extraordinary fact if Cornwall had never been visited by Jews. If it were so, Cornwall would stand alone, as far as such an immunity is concerned, among all the countries of Europe. But it is one thing for Jews to be scattered about in towns,(88) or even for one or two Jews to have actually worked in tin mines, and quite another to speak of towns receiving Hebrew names in Cornwall, and of deserted tin-mines being called the workings of the Jews. To explain such startling facts, if facts they be, a kind of Jewish exodus to Cornwall had to be admitted, and was admitted as long as such names as Marazion and Attal Sarazin were accepted in their traditional meaning. My own opinion was that these names had given rise to the assumed presence of Jews in Cornwall, and not that the presence of Jews in Cornwall had given rise to these names.
If, therefore, it could be proved that some Jewish families had been settled in Cornwall in very early times, or that a few Jewish slaves had been employed as miners, my theory would not at all be affected. But I must say that the attempts at proving even so much have been far from successful. Surely the occurrence of Old Testament names among the people of Cornwall, such as Abraham, Joseph, or Solomon (there is a Solomon, Duke of Cornwall), does not prove that their bearers were Jews. Again, if we read in the time of Edward II. that "John Peverel held Hametethy of Roger le Jeu," we may be quite certain that le Jeu does not mean "the Jew," and that in the time of Edward II. no John Peverel held land of a Jew. Again, if in the time of Edward III. we read of one "Abraham, the tinner, who employed 300 men in the stream-works of Brodhok," it would require stronger proof than the mere name to make us believe that this Abraham was a Jew.
I had endeavored to show that there was no evidence as to the Earl of Cornwall, the brother of Henry III., having employed Jews in the Cornish mines, and had pointed out a passage from Rymer's "Foedera" where it is stated that the Earl spared them (pepercit). Dr. Bannister remarks: "Though we are told that he spared them, might not this be similar to Joseph's brethren sparing him,—by committing their bodies as his slaves to work in the tin-mines?" It might be so, no doubt, but we do not know it. Again, Dr. Bannister remarks: "Jerome tells us that when Titus took Jerusalem, an incredible number of Jews were sold like horses, and dispersed over the face of the whole earth. The account given by Josephus is, that of those spared after indiscriminate slaughter, some were dispersed through the provinces for the use of the theatres, as gladiators; others were sent to the Egyptian mines, and others sold as slaves. If the Romans at this time worked the Cornish mines, why may not some have been sent here?" I can only answer, as before; they may have been, no doubt, but we do not know it.
I had myself searched very carefully for any documents that might prove the presence even of single Jews in Cornwall, previous to the time when they were banished the realm by Edward I. But my inquiries had not proved more successful than those of my predecessors. Pearce, in his "Laws and Customs of the Stanaries," published in London, 1725, shares the common belief that the Jews worked in the Cornish mines. "The tinners," he says (p. ii), "call the antient works by the name of the Working of the Jews, and it is most manifest, that there were Jews inhabiting here until 1291; and this they prove by the names yet enduring, viz. Attall Sarazin, in English, The Jews Feast." But in spite of his strong belief in the presence of Jews in Cornwall, Pearce adds: "But whether they had liberty to work and search for tin, does not appear, because they had their dwellings chiefly in great Towns and Cities; and being great Usurers, were in that year banished out of England, to the number of 15,060, by the most noble Prince, Edward I."
At last, however, with the kind assistance of Mr. Macray, I discovered a few real Jews in Cornwall in the third year of King John, 1202, namely, one Simon de Dena, one Deudone, the son of Samuel, and one Aaron. Some of their monetary transactions are recorded in the "Rotulus Cancellarii vel Antigraphum Magni Rotuli Pipae de tertio anno Regni Regis Johannis" (printed under the direction of the Commissioners of the Public Records in 1863, p. 96), and we have here not only their names as evidence of their Jewish origin, but they are actually spoken of as "praedictus Judens." Their transactions, however, are purely financial, and do not lead us to suppose that the Jews, in order to make tin, condescended, in the time of King John or at any other time, to the drudgery of working in tin-mines.
XV. THE INSULATION OF ST. MICHAEL'S MOUNT.(89)
St. Michael's Mount in Cornwall is so well known to most people, either from sight or from report, that a description of its peculiar features may be deemed almost superfluous; but in order to start fair, I shall quote a short account from the pen of an eminent geologist, Mr. Pengelly, to whom I shall have to refer frequently in the course of this paper.
"St. Michael's Mount in Cornwall, he says, "is an island at very high water, and, with rare exceptions, a peninsula at very low water. The distance from Marazion Cliff, the nearest point of the mainland, to spring-tide high-water mark on its own strand, is about 1680 feet. The total isthmus consists of the outcrop of highly inclined Devonian slate and associated rocks, and in most cases is covered with a thin layer of gravel or sand. At spring-tides, in still weather, it is at high-water about twelve feet below, and at low-water six feet above, the sea level. In fine weather it is dry from four to five hours every tide; but occasionally, during very stormy weather and neap tides, it is impossible to cross from the mainland for two or three days together."
"The Mount is an outlier of granite, measuring at its base about five furlongs in circumference, and rising to the height of one hundred and ninety-five feet above mean tide. At high-water it plunges abruptly into the sea, except on the north or landward side, where the granite comes into contact with slate. Here there is a small plain occupied by a village.... The country immediately behind or north of the town of Marazion consists of Devonian strata, traversed by traps and elvans, and attains a considerable elevation."
At the meeting of the British Association in 1865, Mr. Pengelly, in a paper on "The Insulation of St. Michael's Mount in Cornwall," maintained that the change which converted that Mount from a promontory into an island must have taken place, not only within the human period, but since Cornwall was occupied by a people speaking the Cornish language. As a proof of this somewhat startling assertion, he adduced the ancient British name of St. Michael's Mount, signifying the Hoar rock in the wood. Nobody would think of applying such a name to the Mount in its present state; and as we know that during the last two thousand years the Mount has been, as it is now, an island at high, and a promontory at low tide, it would indeed seem to follow that its name must have been framed before the destruction of the ancient forest by which it was once surrounded, and before the separation of the Mount from the mainland.
Sir Henry James, in a "Note on the Block of Tin dredged in Falmouth Harbor," asserts, it is true, that there are trees growing on the Mount in sufficient numbers to have justified the ancient descriptive name of "the Hoar rock in the wood;" but though there are traces of trees visible on the engravings published a hundred years ago, in Dr. Borlase's "Antiquities of Cornwall," these are most likely due to artistic embellishment only. At present no writer will discover in St. Michael's Mount what could fairly be called either trees or a wood, even in Cornwall.
That the geographical change from a promontory into a real island did not take place during the last two thousand years, is proved by the description which Diodorus Siculus, a little before the Christian era, gives of St. Michael's Mount. "The inhabitants of the promontory of Belerium," he says (lib. v. c. 22), "were hospitable, and, on account of their intercourse with strangers, eminently civilized in their habits. These are the people who work the tin, which they melt into the form of astragali, and then carry it to an island in front of Britain, called Ictis. This island is left dry at low tide, and they then transport the tin in carts from the shore. Here the traders buy it from the natives, and carry it to Gaul, over which it travels on horseback in about thirty days to the mouths of the Rhone." That the Island of Ictis, described by Diodorus, is St. Michael's Mount, seems, to say the least, very probable, and was at last admitted even by the late Sir G. C. Lewis. In fact, the description which Diodorus gives answers so completely to what St. Michael's Mount is at the present day, that few would deny that if the Mount ever was a "Hoar rock in the wood," it must have been so before the time of which Diodorus speaks, that is, at least before the last two thousand years. The nine apparent reasons why St. Michael's Mount cannot be the Ictis of Diodorus, and their refutation, may be seen in Mr. Pengelly's paper "On the Insulation of St. Michael's Mount," p. 6, seq.
Mr. Pengelly proceeded to show that the geological change which converted the promontory into an island may be due to two causes. First, it may have taken place in consequence of the encroachment of the sea. This would demand a belief that at least 20,000 years ago Cornwall was inhabited by men who spoke Cornish. Secondly, this change may have taken place by a general subsidence of the land, and this is the opinion adopted by Mr. Pengelly. No exact date was assigned to this subsidence, but Mr. Pengelly finished by expressing his decided opinion that, subsequent to a period when Cornwall was inhabited by a race speaking a Celtic language, St. Michael's Mount was "a hoar rock in the wood," and has since become insulated by powerful geological changes.
In a more recent paper read at the Royal Institution (April 5, 1867), Mr. Pengelly has somewhat modified his opinion. Taking for granted that at some time or other St. Michael's Mount was a peninsula and not yet an island, he calculates that it must have taken 16,800 years before the coast line could have receded from the Mount to the present cliffs. He arrived at this result by taking the retrocession of the cliffs at ten feet in a century, the distance between the Mount and the mainland being at present 1,680 feet.
If, however, the severance of the Mount from the mainland was the result, not of retrocession, but of the subsidence of the country,—a rival theory which Mr. Pengelly still admits as possible,—the former calculation would fail, and the only means of fixing the date of this severance would be supplied by the remains found in the forests that were carried down by that subsidence, and which are supposed to belong to the mammoth era. This mammoth era, we are told, is anterior to the lake-dwellings of Switzerland, and the kitchenmiddens of Denmark, for in neither of these have any remains of the mammoth been discovered. The mammoth, in fact, did not outlive the age of bronze, and before the end of that age, therefore, St. Michael's Mount must be supposed to have become an island.
In all these discussions it is taken for granted that St. Michael's Mount was at one time unquestionably a "hoar rock in the wood," and that the land between the Mount and the mainland was once covered by a forest which extended along the whole of the seaboard. That there are submerged forests along that seaboard is attested by sufficient geological evidence; but I have not been able to discover any proof of the unbroken continuity of that shore-forest, still less of the presence of vegetable remains in the exact locality which is of interest to us, namely between the Mount and the mainland. It is true that Dr. Borlase discovered the remains of trunks of trees on the 10th of January, 1757; but he tells us that these forest trees were not found round the Mount, but midway betwixt the piers of St. Michael's Mount and Penzance, that is to say, about one mile distant from the Mount; also, that one of them was a willow-tree with the bark on it, another a hazel-branch with the bark still fat and glossy. The place where these trees were found was three hundred yards below full-sea mark, where the water is twelve feet deep when the tide is in.
Carew, also, at an earlier date, speaks of roots of mighty trees found in the sand about the Mount, but without giving the exact place. Lelant (1533-40) knows of "Spere Heddes, Axis for Warre, and Swerdes of Copper wrapped up in lynist, scant perishid," that had been found of late years near the Mount, in St. Hilary's parish, in tin works; but he places the land that had been devoured of the sea between Penzance and Mousehole, i.e. more than two miles distant from the Mount.
The value of this kind of geological evidence must of course be determined by geologists. It is quite possible that the remains of trunks of trees may still be found on the very isthmus between the Mount and the mainland; but it is, to say the least, curious that, even in the absence of such stringent evidence, geologists should feel so confident that the Mount once stood on the mainland, and that exactly the same persuasion should have been shared by people long before the name of geology was known. There is a powerful spell in popular traditions, against which even men of science are not always proof, and is just possible that if the tradition of the "hoar rock in the wood" had not existed, no attempts would have been made to explain the causes that severed St. Michael's Mount from the mainland. But even then the question remains, How was it that people quite guiltless of geology should have framed the popular name of the Mount, and the popular tradition of its former connection with the mainland? Leaving, therefore, for the present all geological evidence out of view, it will be an interesting inquiry to find out, if possible, how people that could not have been swayed by any geological theories, should have been led to believe in the gradual insulation of St. Michael's Mount.
The principal argument brought forward by non-geological writers in support of the former existence of a forest surrounding the Mount, is the Cornish name of St. Michael's Mount, Cara clowse in cowse, which in Cornish is said to mean "the hoar rock in the wood." In his paper read before the British Association at Manchester, Mr. Pengelly adduced that very name as irrefragable evidence that Cornish, i.e. a Celtic language, an Aryan language, was spoken in the extreme west of Europe about 20,000 years ago. In his more recent paper Mr. Pengelly has given up this position, and he considers it improbable that any philologer could now give a trustworthy translation of a language spoken 20,000 years ago. This may be or not; but before we build any hypothesis on that Cornish name, the first question which an historian has to answer is clearly this:—
What authority is there for that name? Where does it occur for the first time? and does it really mean what it is supposed to mean?
Now the first mention of the Cornish name, as far as I am aware, occurs in Richard Carew's "Survey of Cornwall," which was published in 1602. It is true that Camden's "Britannia" appeared earlier, in 1586, and that Camden (p. 72), too, mentions "the Mons Michaelis, Dinsol olim, ut in libro Landavensi habetur, incolis Careg Cowse,(90) i.e. rupis cana." But it will be seen that he leaves out the most important part of the old name, nor can there be much doubt that Camden received his information about Cornwall direct from Carew, before Carew's "Survey of Cornwall" was published.
After speaking of "the countrie of Lionesse which the sea hath ravined from Cornwall betweene the lands end and the Isles of Scilley," Carew continues (p. 3), "Moreover, the ancient name of Saint Michael's Mount was Cara-clowse in Cowse, in English, The hoare Rocke in the Wood; which now is at everie floud incompassed by the Sea, and yet at some low ebbes, rootes of mightie trees are discryed in the sands about it. The like overflowing hath happened in Plymmouth Haven, and divers other places." Now while in this place Carew gives the name Cara-clowse in Cowse, it is very important to remark that on page 154, he speaks of it again as "Cara Cowz in Clowze, that is, the hoare rock in the wood."
The original Cornish name, whether it was Cara clowse in Cowse, or Cara Cowz in Clowze, cannot be traced back beyond the end of the sixteenth century, for the Cornish Pilchard song in which the name likewise occurs is much more recent, at least in that form in which we possess it. The tradition, however, that St. Michael's Mount stood in a forest, and even the Saxon designation, "the Hoar rock in the wood," can be followed up to an earlier date.
At least one hundred and twenty-five years before Carew's time, William of Worcester, though not mentioning the Cornish name, not only gives the Mount the name of "hoar rock of the wood," but states distinctly that St. Michael's Mount was formerly six miles distant from the sea, and surrounded by a dense forest: "PREDICTUS LOCUS OPACISSIMA PRIMO CLAUDEBATUR SYLVA, AB OCEANO MILIARIBUS DISTANS SEX." As William of Worcester never mentions the Cornish name, it is not likely that his statement should merely be derived from the supposed meaning of Cara Cowz in Clowze, and it is but fair to admit that he may have drawn from a safer source of information. We must therefore inquire more closely into the credibility of this important witness. He is an important witness, for, if it were not for him, I believe we should never have heard of the insulation of St. Michael's Mount at all. The passage in question occurs in William of Worcester's Itinerary, the original MS. of which is preserved in Corpus Christi College at Cambridge. It was printed at Cambridge by James Nasmith, in the year 1778, from the original MS., but, as it would seem, without much care. William Botoner, or, as he is commonly called, William of Worcester, was born at Bristol in 1415, and educated at Oxford about 1434. He was a member of the Aula Cervina, which at that time belonged to Balliol College. His "Itinerarium" is dated 1478. It hardly deserves the grand title which it bears, "Itinerarium, sive liber memorabilium Will. W. in viagio de Bristol usque ad montem St. Michaelis." It is not a book of travels in our sense of the word, and it was hardly destined for the public in the form in which we possess it. It is simply a notebook in which William entered anything that interested him during his journey; and it contains not only his own observations, but all sorts of extracts, copies, notices, thrown together without any connecting thread. He hardly tells us that he has arrived at St. Michael's Mount before he begins to copy a notice which he found posted up in the church. This notice informed all comers that Pope Gregory had remitted a third of their penances to all who should visit this church and give to it benefactions and alms. It can be fully proved that this notice, which was intended to attract pilgrims and visitors, repeats ipsissimis verbis the charter of Leofric, Bishop of Exeter, who exempted the church and convent from all episcopal jurisdiction. This was in the year 1088, when St. Michael's Mount was handed over by Robert, Earl of Mortain, half-brother of William the Conqueror, to the Abbey of St. Michel in Normandy. This charter may be seen in Dr. Oliver's "Monasticon Diocesis Exoniensis," 1846. The passage copied by William of Worcester from a notice in the church of St. Michael's Mount occurs at the end of the original charter: "Et omnibus illis qui illam ecclesiam suis cum beneficiis elemosinis expetierint et visitaverint, tertiam partem penitentiarum condonamus."
Though it is not quite correct to say that this condonation was granted by Pope Gregory, yet it is perfectly true that it was granted by the Bishop of Exeter at the command and exhortation of the Pope, "Jussione et exhortatione domini reverentissimi Gregorii." The date also given by William, 1070, cannot be correct, for Gregory occupied the papal throne from 1073-86. It was Gregory VII., not Gregory VI., as printed by Dr. Oliver.
Immediately after this memorandum in William's diary we meet with certain notes on the apparitions of St. Michael. He does not say from what source he takes his information on the subject, but we may suppose that he either repeated what he heard from the monks in conversation, or that he copied from some MS. in their library. In either case it is startling to read that there was an apparition of the Archangel St. Michael in Mount Tumba, formerly called the Horerock in the wodd. St. Michael seems indeed to have paid frequent visits to his worshippers, if we may trust the "Chronicon apparitionum et gestorum S. Michaelis Archangeli," published by Mich. Naveus, in 1632. Yet his visits were not made at random, and even Naveus finds it difficult to substantiate any apparition of St. Michael so far north as Cornwall, except by invectives against the impudenta et ignorantia of Protestant heretics who dared to doubt such occurrences.
But this short sentence of William contains one word which is of great importance for our purposes. He says that "the Hore-rock in the wodd" was formerly called Tumba. Is there any evidence of this?
The name Tumba, as far as we know, belonged originally to Mont St. Michel in Normandy. There a famous and far better authenticated apparition of St. Michael is related to have taken place in the year 708, which led to the building of a church and monastery by Autbert, Bishop of Avranches. The church was built in close imitation of the Church of St. Michael in Mount Garganus in Apulia, which had been founded as early as 493.(91) If, therefore, William of Worcester relates an apparition of St. Michael in Cornwall at about the same date, in 710, it is clear that Mont St. Michel in Normandy has here been confounded by him with St. Michael's Mount in Cornwall. In order to explain this strange confusion, and the consequences which it entailed, it will be necessary to bear in mind the peculiar relations which existed between the two ecclesiastical establishments, perched the one on the island rock of St. Michel in Normandy, the other on St. Michael's Mount in Cornwall. In physical structure there is a curious resemblance between the two mounts. Both are granite islands, and both so near the coast that at low water a dry passage is open to them from the mainland. The Mount on the Norman coast is larger and more distant from the coast than St. Michael's Mount, yet for all that their general likeness is very striking. Now Mont St. Michel was called Tumba at least as far back as the tenth century. Mabillon, in his "Annales Benedictini" (vol. ii. p. 18), quotes from an ancient author the following explanation of the name. "Now this place, to use the words of an ancient author, is called Tumba by the inhabitants, because, emerging as it were from the sands like a hill, it rises up by the space of two hundred cubits, everywhere surrounded by the ocean; it is six miles distant from the shore, between the mouths of the rivers Segia and Senuna, six miles distant from Avranches, looking westward, and dividing Avranches from Brittany. Here the sea by its recess allows twice a passage to the pious people who proceed to the threshold of St. Michael the Archangel." "Hic igitur locus, ut verbis antiqui autoris utar, Tumba vocitatur ab incolis, ideo quod in morem tumuli, quasi ab arenis emergens, ad altum SPATIO DUCENTORUM CUBITORUM porrigitur, OCEANO UNDIQUE CINCTUS, SEX MILLIBUS AB AESTU OCEANI, inter ostia situs, ubi immergunt se mari flumina Segia (See) et Senuna (Selure), ab Abrincatensi urbe (Avranches) sex distans millibus; oceanum prospectans, Abrincatensem pagum dirimit a Britannia. Illic mare suo recessu devotis populis desideratum bis praebet iter petentibus limina beati Michaelis archangeli."
This fixes Tumba as the name of Mont St. Michel before the tenth century, for the ancient author from whom Mabillon quotes wrote before the middle of the tenth century, and before Duke Richard had replaced the priests of St. Michel by Benedictine monks. Tumba remained, in fact, the recognized name of the Norman Mount, and has survived to the present day. The church and monastery there were called "in monte Tumba," or "ad duas Tumbas," there being in reality two islands, the principal one called Tumba, the smaller Tumbella or Tumbellana. This name of Tumbellana was afterwards changed into tumba Helenae, giving rise to various legends about Elaine, one of the heroines of the Arthurian cycle; nay, the name was cited by learned antiquarians as a proof of the ancient worship of Belus in these northern latitudes.
The history of Mont St. Michel in Normandy is well authenticated, particularly during the period which is of importance to us. Mabillon, quoting from the chronicler who wrote before the middle of the tenth century, relates how Autbert, the Bishop of Avranches, had a vision, and after having been thrice admonished by St. Michael, proceeded to build on the summit of the Mount a church under the patronage of the Archangel. This was in 708, or possibly a few years earlier, if Pagius is right in fixing the dedication of the temple in 707.(92) Mabillon points out that this chronicler says nothing as yet of the miracles related by later writers, particularly of the famous hole in the Bishop's skull, which it was believed St. Michael had made when on exhorting him the third time to build his church, he gently touched him with his archangelic finger. In doing this the finger went through the skull, and left a hole. The perforated skull did not interfere with the Bishop's health, and it was shown after his death as a valuable relic. The new church was dedicated by Autbert himself, and the day of the dedication (xvii. Kalend. Novemb.) was celebrated, not only in France, but also in England, as is shown by a decree of the Synod held at Oxford in 1222. The further history of the church and monastery of St. Michel may be read with all its minute details in Mabillon, or in the "Neustria Pia" (p. 371), or in the "Gallia Christiana" (vol. ix. p. 517 E, 870 A). What is of interest to us is that soon after the Conquest, when the ecclesiastical property of England had fallen into the hands of her Norman conquerors, Robert, Earl of Mortain and Cornwall, the half-brother of William the Conqueror, endowed the Norman with the Cornish Mount. A priory of Benedictine monks had existed on the Cornish Mount for some time, and had been richly endowed in 1044 by Edward the Confessor. Nay, if we may trust the charter of Edward the Confessor, it would seem that, even at that time, the Cornish Mount and its priory had been granted by him to the Norman Abbey, for the charter is witnessed by Norman bishops, and its original is preserved in the Abbey of Mont St. Michel. In that case William the Conqueror or his half-brother Robert would only have restored the Cornish priory to its rightful owners, the monks of Mont St. Michel, who had well deserved the gratitude of the Conqueror by supplying him after the Conquest with six ships and a number of monks, destined to assist in the restoration of ecclesiastical discipline in England. After that time the Cornish priory shared the fate of other so-called alien priories or cells. The prior was bound to visit in person or by proxy the mother-house every year, and to pay sixteen marks of silver as an acknowledgment of dependence. Whenever a war broke out between England and France, the foreign priories were seized, though some, and among them the priory of St. Michael's Mount obtained in time a distinct corporate character, and during the reigns of Henry IV. and Henry V. were exempted from seizure during war.
Under these circumstances we can well understand how in the minds of the monks, who spent their lives partly in the mother-house, partly in its dependencies, there was no very clear perception of any difference between the founders, benefactors, and patrons of these twin establishments. A monk brought up at Mont St. Michel would repeat as an old man the legends he had heard about St. Michel and Bishop Autbert, even though he was ending his days in the priory of the Cornish Mount. Relics and books would likewise travel from one place to the other, and a charter originally belonging to the one might afterwards form part of the archives of another house.