HOW TOM AND THE TINKEARD [a] FOUND THE TIN, AND HOW IT LED TO MORVA FAIR.
WHEN Tom had fairly thrown the tinkeard in the wrestling match, which, it must be remembered, was seen by the miners of Tregender, at which Tom was much pleased, although he did not express his pleasure, it was settled that Tom was the best man. This was sealed over a barrel of strong ale, and a game of quoits was proposed, while Jane was taking up the dinner. Tom had often wished, but never more so than now, that the green sloping banks against the inside of the castle walls had not been there, that he might have a fair fling of the quoits from end to end of the court. Tom's third throw in this game was a very strong one, and the quoit cut a great piece of turf from the banks, laying bare many gray-looking stones, small rounded balls, and black sandy stuff.
"Look here you, Jack," says Tom; "whatever could possess the old fools of giants to heap up such a lot of black and gray mining-stones against the wall? wherever could they have found them all?"
Jack carefully looked at the stuff thus laid bare, clapped his hands together, and shouted --
"By the gods, it 's all the richest tin!"
Now Tom, poor easy-going soul, "didn't knaw tin;" so he could scarcely believe Jack, though Jack had told him that he came from a tin country.
"Why, Tom," says Jack, "thee art a made man. If these banks are all tin, there is enough here to buy all the land, and all the houses, from sea to sea."
"What do I care for the tin; haven't I all a man can desire ? My lands are all stocked with sheep and horned cattle. We shall never lack the best beef and mutton, and we want no better than our honest homespun."
Jane now made her appearance, announcing that dinner was ready. She was surprised at seeing so much tin, but she didn't say anything. She thought maybe she would get a new gown out of it, and go down to St Ives Fair. Notwithstanding that Tom and Jane professed to treat lightly the discovery of the tin, it was clear they thought deeply about it, and their thoughts spoiled their appetites. It was evidently an accession of wealth which they could not understand.
Tom said he didn't know how to dress tin, it was of little use to him. Jack offered to dress it for the market on shares. Tom told him he might take as much as he had a mind to for what he cared. After dinner, the giant tried to sleep, but could not get a snore for the soul of him. Therefore, he walked out into the court, to get some fresh air, as he said, but in reality to look at the tin. Jane saw how restless Tom was, so she unhung his bows and arrows, and told him he must away to the hills to get some kids and hares.
"I shan't trouble myself with the bows and arrows," says Tom; "all I want are the slings Jack and I have in our pockets. Stones are plenty enough, hit or miss, no matter; and we needn't be at the trouble to gather up the stones again."
Off went Tom and Jack, followed by young Tom and Jane, to the Towednack and Zennor hills. They soon knocked down as many kids, hares, and rabbits as they desired;--they caught some colts, placed the children on two of them and the game on the others, and home they went. On their return, whilst waiting for supper, Jack wandered around the castle, and was struck by seeing a window which he had not before observed. Jack was resolved to discover the room to which this window belonged, so he very carefully noticed its position, and then threw his hammer in through it, that he might be certain of the spot when he found the tool inside of the castle. The next day, after dinner, when Tom was having his snooze, Jack took Jane with him, and they commenced a search for the hammer near the spot where Jack supposed the window should be, but they saw no signs of one in in any part of the walls. They discovered, however, a strangely-fashioned, worm-eaten oak hanging-press. They carefully examined this, but found nothing. At last Jack, striking the back of it with his fist, was convinced, from the sound, that the wall behind it was hollow. He and Jane went steadily to work, and with some exertion they moved the press aside, and disclosed a stone door. They opened this, and there was Jack's hammer lying amidst a pile of bones, evidently the relics of some of old Blunderbuss's wives, whom he had imprisoned in the wall, and who had perished there. Jane was in a great fright, and blessed her good fortune that she had escaped a similar end. Jack, however, soon consoled her by showing her the splendid dresses which were here, and the gold chains, rings, and bracelets, with diamonds and other jewels, which were scattered around. It was agreed that Tom for the present should be kept in ignorance of all this. Tom awoke, his head full of the tin. He consulted with Jack and Jane. They duly agreed to keep their secret, and resolved that they would set to work the very next day to prepare some of the tin stuff for sale. Tom as yet scarcely believed in his wealth, which was magnified as much as possible by Jack, to bewilder him. However, several sacks of tin were duly dressed, and Tom and Jack started with them for Market-Jew, Tom whispering to Jack before he left the castle, that they would bring home a cask of the brewer's best ale with 'em. " It is a lot better than what Jane brews with her old-fashioned yerbes; but don't 'e tell. her so."
The brewer of Market-Jew was also mayor, and, as it appears, tin-smelter, or tin merchant. To him, therefore, Tom went with his black tin, [c] and received not only his cask of beer, but such an amount of golden coin--all of it being a foreign coinage--as convinced him that Jack had not deceived him. This brewer is reputed to have been an exceedingly honest and kind-hearted man, beloved by all. It was his practice, when any of the townspeople came before him, begging him to settle their disputes,--even when they "limbed" one another,--to shut them up in the brewery-yard, give them as much beer as they could drink, and keep them there until they became good friends. Owing to this practice he seldom had enough beer to sell, and was frequently troubled to pay for his barley. This brewer, who was reputed to be "the best mayor that ever was since the creation of gray cats," gave rise, from the above practice of his, to the proverb still in daily use, "Standing, like the mayor of Market-Jew, in his own light."
The mayor was always fat and jolly. He was an especial favourite, too, with the Lord of Pengerswick, who is believed to have helped him out of many troubles. He had bought his tin of Tom and Jack, such a bargain, that he resolved to have some sport, so a barrel of beer was broached in the yard, and the crier was sent round the town to call all hands to a "courant" (merrymaking). They came, you may be certain, in crowds. There was wrestling, hurling,--the length of the Green from Market-Jew to Chyandour, and back again, --.throwing quoits, and slinging. Some amused themselves in pure wantonness by slinging stones over the Mount; so that the old giant, who lived there, was afraid to show above ground, lest his only eye should get knocked out. The games were kept up right merrily until dusk; when in rode the Lord of Pengerswick on his enchanted mare, with a colt by her side. The brewer introduced Tom and Jack, and soon they became the best of friends. Tom invited Pengerswick to his castle, and they resolved to go home at once and make a night of
it. Pengerswick gave Tom the colt, and, by some magic power, as soon as he mounted this beautiful animal, he found himself at home, and the lord, the brewer, and Jack with him. How this was brought about Tom could never tell, but Jack appeared to be in the secret. Tom was amazed and delighted to find Jane dressed like a queen, in silks and diamonds, and the children arrayed in a manner well becoming the dignity of their mother.
Jane, as soon as Tom and Jack had left her, had proceeded to the room in the wall, and with much care removed the jewels, gold, and dresses, caring little, as she afterwards said, for the dead bones, although they rattled as she shook them out of the robes. In a little time she had all the dresses in the main court of the castle, and having well beaten and brushed them, she selected the finest--those she now wore--and put the rest aside for other grand occasions.
The condescension of the great Lord of Pengerswick was something wonderful. He kissed Jane until Tom was almost jealous, and the great lord romped about the court of the castle with the children. Tom was, on the whole, however, delighted with the attention paid to his wife by a real lord, but our clear-headed Jack saw through it all, and took measures accordingly.
Pengerswick tried hard to learn the secret of the stores of tin, but he was foiled by the tinkeard on every tack. You may well suppose how desirous he was of getting Jack out of the way, and eventually he began to try his spells upon him. The power of his necromancy was such, that all in the castle were fixed in sleep as rigid as stones, save Jack. All that the enchanter could do produced no effect on him. He sat quietly looking on, occasionally humming some old troll, and now and then whistling to show his unconcern. At last Pengerswick became enraged, and he drew from his breast a dagger and slyly struck at Jack. The dagger, which was of the finest Eastern steel, was bent like a piece of soft iron against Jack's black hide.
"Art thou the devil?" exclaimed Pengerswick.
"As he 's a friend of yours," says Jack, "you should know his countenance."
"Devil or no devil," roared Pengerswick, "you cannot resist this," and he held before Jack a curiously-shaped piece of polished steel.
Jack only smiled, and quietly unfastening his cow's hide, he opened it. The cross, like a star of fire, was reflected in a mirror under Jack's coat, and it fell from Pengerswick's grasp. Jack seized it, and turning it full upon the enchanter, the proud lord sank trembling to the ground, piteously imploring Jack to spare his life and let him go free. Jack bade the prostrate lord rise from the ground. He kicked him out of the castle, and sent the vicious mare after him. Thus he saved Tom and his family from the power of this great enchanter. In a little time the sleep which had fallen upon them passed away, and they awoke, as though from the effects of a drunken frolic. The brewer hurried home, and Tom and Jack set to work to dress their tin. Tom and Jane's relations and friends flocked around them, but Jack said, "Summer flies are only seen in the sunshine," and he shortly after this put their friendship to the test, by conveying to them the idea that Tom had spent all his wealth. These new friends dropped off when they thought they could get no more, and Tom and Jane were thoroughly disgusted with their summer friends and selfish relations. The tinkeard established himself firmly as an inmate of the castle. No more was said about the right of the public to make a king's highway through the castle grounds. He aided Torn in hedging in the wastelands, and very carefully secured the gates against all intruders. In fact, he also quite altered his politics.
Jack had a desire to go home to Dartmoor to see his mother, who had sent to tell him that the old giant Dart was near death. He started at once, on foot. Tom wished him to have Pengerswick's colt, but Jack preferred his legs. It would be too long a tale to tell the story of his travels. He killed serpents and wild beasts in the woods, and when he came to rivers, he had but to take off his coat, gather up the skirts of it with a string, and stretch out the body with a few sticks,--thus forming a cobble,--Iaunch it on the water, and paddle himself across. He reached home. The old giant was at his last gasp. Jack made him give everything to his mother before he breathed his last. 'When he died, Jack carefully buried him. He then settled all matters for his mother, and returned to the West Country again.
Tom's daughter became of marriageable years, and Jack wished to have her for a wife. Tom, however, would not consent to this, unless he got rid of a troublesome old giant who lived on one of the hills in Morva, which was the only bit of ground between Hayle and St Just which Tom did not possess. The people of Morva were kept in great fear by this giant, who made them bring him the best of everything. He was a very savage old creature, and took exceeding delight in destroying every one's happiness. Some of Tom's cousins lived in Morva, and young Tom fell in love with one of his Morva cousins seven times removed, and by Jack's persuasion, they were allowed by Tom and Jane to marry. It was proclaimed by Jack all round the country that great games would come off on the day of the wedding. He had even the impudence to stick a bill on the giant's door, stating the prizes which would be given to the best games. The happy day arrived, and, as the custom then was, the marriage was to take place at sundown. A host of people from all parts were assembled, and under the influence of Jack and Tom, the games were kept ~p in reat spirit. Jack and Tom, by and by, amused themselves by .itching quoits at the giant's house on the top of the hill. The old giant came out and roared like thunder. All the young men were about to fly, but Jack called them a lot of scurvy cowards, and stayed their flight. Jack made faces at the giant, and challenged him to come down and fight him. The old monster thought he could eat Jack, and presently began to run down the hill,--when, lo! he disappeared. When the people saw that the giant was gone, they took courage, and ran up the hill after Jack, who called on them to follow him.
There was a vast hole in the earth, and there, at the bottom of it, lay the giant, crushed by his own weight, groaning like a volcano and shaking like an earthquake.
Jack knew there was an adit level driven into the hill, and he had quietly, and at night, worked away the roof at one particular part, until he left only a mere shell of rock above, so it was, that, as the giant passed over this spot, the ground gave way. Heavy rocks were thrown down the hole on the giant, and there his bones are said to lie to this day.
Jack was married at once to young Jane, her brother Tom to the Morva girl, and great were the rejoicings. From all parts of the country came in the wrestlers, and never since the days of Gogmagog had there been such terrific struggles between strong men. Quoits were played; and some of the throws of Tom and the tinkeard are still shown to attest the wonderful prowess of this pair. Hurling was played over the wild hills of those northern shores, and they rung and echoed then, as they have often rung and echoed since, with the brave cry, "Guare wheag yw guare teag," which has been translated into "Fair play is good play," [d]--an honourable trait in the character of our Celtic friends. All this took place on a Sunday, and was the origin of Morva Feast and Morva Fair. We are, of course, astonished at not finding some evidence of direct punishment for these offences, such as that which was inflicted on the hurlers at Padstow. This has, however, been explained on the principle that the people were merely rejoicing at the accomplishment of a most holy act, and that a good deed demanded a good day. [e]
[a] I have preserved the pronunciation of this word, which was common in Cornwall between twenty and thirty years since, and which still prevails in some of the outlying districts. --
In Webster's English Dictionary we find tinker oddly enough derived from the Welsh tincerz, the ringer, from tinclaw, to ring, "a mender of brass kettles, pans, and the like." The word being so obviously tin-ceard, or tin-cerdd,.ithe original having been in all probability staen, or ystaen-cerdd, a worker in tin. The Gaelic still retains "ceard" and "caird" to represent the English smith.[b]
In the present case, we have to deal, there can be little doubt, not with the modem tinker, but the ancient worker in tin, as is shown in this division of the legend, although the story has suffered some modern corruption, and Jack is made to mend Jane's pots and pans.
The old Cornish saying --
Stean San Agvus an quella stean in Kernaw,
St Agnes' tin is the best tin in Cornwall--gives the original Cornish term for tin.
Jack the Tinkeard partakes of the character of Wayland Smith in many of his peculiarities. See Appendix F.
[b] Gomer; or, A Brief Analysis of the Language and Knowledge of the Ancient Cymry. By John Williams, A.M., Oxon.
[c] "Black tin," tin ore; oxide of tin.
[d] Or, "Sweet play is fair play," ie.., it is not fair to play roughly.
[f] See Appendix G for Mr Wright's story of "The Wonderful Cobbler of Wellington."