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is situated on the north-west side of Mount's Bay, about ten miles from the Land's End, and 282 from the metropolis. The land in the vicinity is exceedingly fertile, and the town is well defended from the fury of the Atlantic tempests by the surrounding hills; over these hills, and among the shady valleys which lie between them, are numerous walks, in which the botanist may cull a variety of rare plants, and the lover of nature will be gratified by the most charming and diversified prospects. Indeed, from the beauty of its situation, and the mildness of its climate, this town has become a favourite resort for seabathing, and Baths have been constructed, and other improvements made, which add much to the comfort and convenience of invalids.
Penzance is not distinguished in history by any remarkable event, except its having been burnt by the Spaniards in July, 1595; these invaders landed at Mousehole, which they burnt, as also the Church of Paul, and the village of Newlyn; they then proceeded to Penzance, from which the inhabitants fled in a panic terror, inspired by the remembrance of an ancient Cornish prophecy, which predicted that it should be burnt by strangers, who should land on the rocks of Merlin, the place where the Spaniards actually did land; the next day, however, the people rallied, and the invaders were driven to their galleys. From this disaster the town soon recovered, and it has now more than 6000 inhabitants, who are priocipally engaged in commerce and the fishery, the exports of tip and pilchards from hence being very considerable. A commodious Pier was erected about fifty years ago, which was much improved and extended a few years since, and is now the largest in the county, being more than 600 feet in length.
The parish Church is at Madron, about two miles distant, but a neat Chapel of Ease has been erected in the town; and here are also Meeting-houses for Methodists, Independents, Baptists, and Quakers, and a Synagogue for the Jews. A Public Dispensary, supported by subscription, a Charity School, founded in 1711, by J. Buller, Esq., and other benevolent institutions, are likewise established here.
This town was first incorporated by James I in 1614, and its Charter was confirmed by Charles II; the Corporation consists of a Mayor, Recorder, eight Aldermen, and twelve Common-Councilmen. It is one of the principal coinage-towns, and the blocks of tin are seen lying about the streets in great numbers, their weight, which is about 320lbs. each, being considered a sufficient security for their not being carried off. The Markets, which are held on Thursday and Saturday, are abundantly supplied with every species of provision, and excellent fish may be purchased every day at the stalls of the Newlyn fish-women, who are remarkable for the symmetry of their figures, and the beauty of their faces.
The Royal Geological Society of Cornwall, established here in 1814, has been eminently useful in promoting inquiry and diffusing a knowledge of the inexhaustible mineral treasures of the county, and has already enrolled among its members many persons of the highest scientific attainments in the kingdom: the apartments originally occupied by this Society becoming too small for the reception of its large and constantly-increasing collection of minerals, ores, and fossils, (which now far exceed 4000 specimens), a handsome and more capacious building was erected in 1817, to which is attached a Laboratory, and a public Library and Newspaper room. The Penwith Agricultural Society, instituted for the improvement of that most useful art, also holds its meetings, and distributes its premiums, in Penzance.
In this town, in 1779, was born Sir Humphrey Davy, one of the greatest practical philosophers of modern times. His family was ancient and respectable, but his father, who died in 1795, had much injured his fortune by agricultural speculations. After receiving the rudiments of education at the grammar schools of Penzance and Truro, young Davy, in his fifteenth year, became the pupil of a respectable surgeon at the former place, and while assiduously employed in studying the sciences conuected with the profession of medicine, to which he was destined, amused his scanty leisure with poetry and elegant literature. He soon afterwards attached himself peculiarly to Chemistry, and his communication of the results of some experiments to Dr. Beddoes led to a correspondence with that eminent man, the result of which was Mr. Davy's abandonment of the medical profession, and his exclusive devotion to chemical investigations, conjointly with the Doctor, with whom he resided during a considerable period, and made many important discoveries.
In 1800 he published his “ Researches, Chemical and Philosophical,” a work which embodied the discoveries just alluded to, and at once elevated its author to a very high rank in the scientific world, and led to his appointment as Professor of Chemistry to the Royal Institution. In 1802 he commenced his Lectures before the Board of Agriculture, which were afterwards published, and are considered as among the most useful of his labours. In 1803 he became a Fellow of the Royal Society; in 1805 a Member of the Royal Irish Academy, and in 1810 received from the University of Dublin the degree of LL.D. In 1812 he married the widow of S. Apreece, Esq. by which union he acquired not only a considerable fortune, but an amiable and enlightened companion. A few days before his marriage he was knighted by the Prince Regent. In 1813 he was elected a Member of the French Institute, from which learned body he had received a prize in 1808; about the same time he became Vice President of the Royal Institution; in 1817 an Associate R.A.; and in 1818 was created a Baronet.
In 1820, shortly after his return to England, from a tour in Italy, during which he had made some interesting experiments on the manuscripts and paintings found at Herculaneum and Pompeii, he was elected President of the Royal Society, which distinguished situation he held until 1827, when he was compelled by ill health to resign it, and to seek in a milder climate a remedy for the injuries inflicted on his constitution by his too arduous attention to his scientific pursuits. He resided principally at Rome, and continued to communicate to the Royal Society the result of the labours from which he could not, even now, wean himself. Early in 1829, he had an alarming attack of paralysis, and on his partial recovery determined to try the air of Switzerland; and being joined by his lady and Dr. John Davy, his brother, he reached Geneva, but expired very shortly after his arrival in that city, May 29, 1829, in the fiftieth year of his age. His funeral was attended
by the members of the various Academies and Societies, and by a numerous body of the Genevese manufacturers and mechanics, all desirous of paying this last tribute of respect to one whom they justly looked upon as an eminent benefactor to the arts and sciences.
It would be impossible within our limits to enumerate Sir Humphrey's contributions to the stock of his country's literature and science; but the most imperishable monument of his fame is doubtless to be found in the Safety Lamp, that admirable inven'tion by which innumerable valuable lives have been preserved, and for which the coal-owners of the Tyne and Wear presented him, in 1817, with a service of plate worth nearly £2000.
About four miles north-west of Penzance is Ludgvan Church-town*, remarkable only as the residence, during a long series of years, of that learned and indefatigable antiquary Dr. Borlase. Two miles nearer to Penzance is the village of Madron, whose Church is placed on an eminence, which commands a very extensive and beautiful prospect; it is the mother-church of Penzance. In this parish is Madron Well, whose waters, enclosed within half-ruined walls, were, and still are by some, believed to possess miraculous healing powers, and the cures performed are “ most incredibly attested.”
A mile and a half west of Penzance is the fishing village of Mousehole, remarkable as the birth-place and residence of Dolly Pentreath, the last person kuown to have used the Cornish dialect, who died at the age of 102 years, and was formerly commemo. rated by an epitaph, in the Church-yard of Paul, at a short distance, written in Cornish and English, but pot now to be seen. At Mousehole is a small Pier; and the number of inhabitants is about 600, who are almost wholly employed in the fishery. Not far from hence is Newlyn, with a population of 800 persons; this town has also a commodious Pier, principally employed as a shelter for the fishing-boats belonging to the inhabitants, which are said to exceed 400 in number.
* The appellation of Church-town is given in this county to those places where the Church is surrounded by a few houses, by way of distinction from such as are unprovided with a Church. VOL. I.
PORTHMEAR, or CHARLES Town, about one mile from St. Austle, is a thriving town, but previously to 1790 was a miserable hamlet, with only nine inhabitants; in the following year a Pier was begun; many houses and other buildings have since been erected, and a considerable pilchard fishery is now carried ou, which employs a great number of persons, while others are engaged in ship and boatbuilding, lime-burning, and maritime pursuits. These improvements are to be attributed to the active exertions of the late Charles Rashleigh, Esq. who improved this property to an almost incalculable extent, by his persevering and well-directed labours.
Rame, or Ram HEAD, is the name of a singularly. shaped promontory which forms the south-eastern extremity of the county. On the summit of the cliff are the ruins of an ancient Chapel, which are visible at a great distance, and form a land-mark in navi. gating the Channel. In 'the vicinity is the village of Rame, with about 800 inhabitants.
REDRUTH, A town of great antiquity, is situated in the midst of the mining district, dine miles from Truro, and 245 from London. It stands on the side of an eminence, and consists chiefly of one very long street. The Church, which is situated nearly a mile from the town, was rebuilt about sixty years ago, and is a uea edifice. Within the town are some remains of a Chapel, dedicated to St. Rumon; and here are also Meeting-houses for Baptists, Methodists, and Quakers; and several Schools. Redruth has two weekly Markets, and three annual Fairs; the population, in 1821, was 6607 persons, being an augmentation of nearly 2000 persons since the census of 1801.
Redruth owes all its importance to the numerous mines in its neighbourhood; the most celebrated of these are, Dolcoath, an immense copper mine, which extends 1050 feet below the level of the sea, and upwards of a mile in length; the Consolidated Mines, also producing copper; Huel* Unity, copper; and Poldice,
* Huel (pronounced Wheal) signifies a hole or pit; and the specific name of the Mine is taken from some trivial or accidental circumstance, or suggested by the whim of the Adventurers,