' THE CRUISE OF THE TOMTIT
THE Scilly Islands seem, at a rough glance, to form a great irregular circle, enclosing a kind of lagoon of sea, communicating by various channels with the main ocean all around.
The circumference of the largest of the group is, as we heard, not more than thirteen miles. Five of the islands are inhabited ; the rest may be generally described as masses of rock, wonderfully varied in shape and size. Inland, in the larger islands, the earth, where it is not planted or sown, is covered with heather and with the most beautiful ferns. Potatoes used to be the main product of Scilly; but the disease has appeared lately in the island crops, and the potatoes have suffered so severely that when we filled our sack for the return voyage, we were obliged to allow for two-thirds of our supply proving unfit for use. The views inland are chiefly remarkable as natural panoramas of land and sea - the two always presenting themselves intermixed in the loveliest varieties of form and colour. On the coast, the granite rocks, though not notably high, take the most wildly and magnificently picturesque shapes. They are rent into the strangest chasms and piled up in the grandest confusion ; and they look down, every here and there, on the loveliest little sandy bays, where the sea, in calm weather, is as tenderly blue and as limpid in its clearness as the Mediterranean itself. The softness and purity of the climate may be imagined, when I state that in the winter none of the freshwater pools are strongly enough frozen to bear being skated on. The balmy sea air blows over each little island as freely as it might blow over the deck of a ship .
The people have the same great merit which I had previously observed among their Cornish neighbours —the merit of good manners. We two strangers were so little stared at as we walked about, that it was almost like being on the Continent. The pilot who had taken us into Hugh Town harbour we found to be a fair specimen, as regarded his excessive talkativeness and the purity of his English, of the islanders generally. The longest tellers of very long stories, so far as my experience goes, are to be found in Scilly. Ask the people the commonest question, and their answer generally exhausts the whole subject before you can say another word. Their anxiety, whenever we had occasion to inquire our way, to guard us.... '
Back to the Top
Copyright © Ambra Books 2003. All rights reserved.