The country round about Blackwater was the reverse of picturesque,
and was made more so by the many "knacked" or used-up
mines which abounded, and which resembled so many small exhausted
volcanoes. But what the district lacked in rural beauty was occasionally
made up, and more than made up, by cloud scenery, and particularly
by sunsets over the sea. Nature, with simple mixtures of light and
vapour, produces an infinite variety of sky scenery. At times the
clouds over the sea appeared like magnificent mountains bathed in
amber or purple; or rainbow-tinted valleys, threaded with silver
streams; or forests fringed with fire; or glorified islands floating
in an azure sea.
Like a prairie
Left upon the level water,
One lone track and trail of splendour.
worship the rising sun. I should prefer to worship the setting sun,
and particularly when he pours his joy-laden benedictions on Cornish
coasts, and when I know he will leave behind him a flood of tender
twilight, and so intimate with a pale dawn his rising over other
lands and seas, and so on and on for ever.
One evening in later years, while admiring an unusually fine sunset
over St. Ive's Bay, when sea and sky met in lustrous union, a man
with a gun on his shoulder and a dog by his side passed, and I ventured
to ask him whether they frequently witnessed such sights. He looked
at me somewhat drowsily, and said: "I don't know; I would rather
see a good dog-fight." A step from the sublime to the ridiculous!
Here was a well-dressed, well-fed Englishman who preferred to see
dogs mangle each other, or birds he had shot fall mutilated to the
ground, than witness a scene worthy of a seraph's song. But this
man, probably without knowing it, carried with him germs of moral
ability which might, in favourable circumstances, blossom into beauty
and yield more genuine joy than ever was, or ever will be, derived
from blood-stained sports. The man and gun incident reminds me of
another and different one. On an occasion when an English visitor
was sauntering on and admiring a very fine sunset over some Welsh
bills, he passed an elderly and poorly-clad woman sitting on a bank
quietly enjoying the scene. He spoke to her about its peculiar colouring.
After a short pause, she said, in reply: "Yes, some people
like to talk about such splendour-I prefer to sit still and soak
it in." 4