MADGY FIGGY'S CHAIR.
ALL those who have visited the fine piles of rocks in th vicinity of the so-called "St Levan," Land's-End, callec Tol-Pedden-Penwith, - and infinitely finer than anything immediately surrounding the most western promontory itself,--cannot have failed to notice the arrangement of cubical masses of granite piled one upon the other, known as the Chair Ladder.
This remarkable pile presents to the beat of the Atlantic waves a sheer face of cliff of very considerable height, standing up like a huge basaltic column, or a pillar built by the Titans, the horizontal joints representing so many steps in the so-called " Ladder."
On the top is placed a stone of somewhat remarkable shape, which is by no great effort of the imagination converted into a chair. There it was that Madgy Figgy, one of the most celebrated of the St Levan and Burian witches, was in the habit of seating herself when she desired to call up to her aid the spirits of the storm. Often has she been seen swinging herself to and fro on this dizzy height when a storm has been coming home upon the shores, and richly-laden vessels have been struggling with the winds. From this spot she poured forth her imprecations on man and beast, and none whom she had offended could escape those withering spells; and from this " chair," which will ever bear her name, Madgy Figgy would always take her flight. Often, starting like some huge bird, mounted on a stem of ragwort, Figgy has headed a band of inferior witches, and gone off rejoicing in their iniquities to Wales or Spain.
This old hag lived in a cottage not far from Raftra, and she and all her gang, which appears to have been, a pretty numerous crew, were notorious wreckers. On one occasion, Madgy from her seat of storms lured a Portuguese Indiaman into Perloe Cove, and drowned all the passengers. As they were washed on shore, the bodies were stripped of everything valuable, and buried by Figgy and her husband in the green hollow, which may yet he seen just above Perloe Cove, marking the graves with a rough stone placed at the head of the corpse. The spoils on this occasion must have been large, for all the women were supplied for years with rich dresses, and costly jewels were seen decking the red arms of the girls who laboured in the fields. For a long time gems and gold continued to be found on the sands. Howbeit, amongst the bodies thrown ashore was one of a lady richly dressed, with chains of gold about her. "Rich and rare were the gems she wore," and not only so, but valuable treasure was fastened around her, she evidently hoping, if saved, to secure some of her property. This body, like all the others, was stripped; but Figgy said there was a mark on it which boded them evil, and she would not allow any of the gold or gems to be divided, as it would be sure to bring bad luck if it were separated. A dreadful quarrel ensued, and bloodshed was threatened; but the diabolical old Figgy was more than a match for any of the men, and the power of her impetuous will was superior to them all.
Everything of value, therefore, belonging to this lady was gathered into a heap, and placed in a chest in Madgy Figgy's hut. They buried the Portuguese lady the same evening; and after dark a light was seen to rise from the grave, pass along the cliffs, and seat itself in Madgy's chair at Tol-Pedden. Then, after some hours, it descended, passed back again, and, entering the cottage, rested upon the chest. This curious phenomenon continued for more than three months,--nightly,--much to the alarm of all but Figgy, who said she knew all about it, and it would be all right in time. One day a strange-looking and strangely-attired man arrived at the cottage. Figgy's man (her husband) was at home alone. To him the stranger addressed himself by signs,--he could not speak English, so he does not appear to have spoken at all,--and expressed a wish to be led to the graves. Away they went, but the foreigner did not appear to require a guide. He at once selected the grave of the lady, and sitting down upon it, he gave vent to his pent-up sorrows. He sent Figgy's man away, and remained there till night, when the light arose from the grave more brilliant than ever, and proceeded directly to the hut, resting as usual on the chest, which was now covered up with old sails, and all kinds of fishermen's lumber.
The foreigner swept these things aside, and opened the chest. He selected everything belonging to the lady, refusing to take any of the other valuables. He rewarded the wreckers with costly gifts, and left them--no one knowing from whence he came nor whither he went. Madgy Figgy was now truly triumphant. "One witch knows another witch, dead or living," she would say; "and the African would have been the death of us if we hadn't kept the treasure, whereas now we have good gifts, and no gainsaying 'em." Some do say they have seen the light in Madgy Figgy's chair since those times.