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From London to Land's End Daniel Defoe

Appendix To Land's End

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This point of the Lizard, which runs out to the southward, and the other promontory mentioned above, make the two angles--or horns, as they are called--from whence it is supposed this county received its first name of Cornwall, or, as Mr. Camden says, CORNUBIA in the Latin, and in the British "Kernaw," as running out in two vastly extended horns. And indeed it seems as if Nature had formed this situation for the direction of mariners, as foreknowing of what importance it should be, and how in future ages these seas should be thus thronged with merchant-ships, the protection of whose wealth, and the safety of the people navigating them, was so much her early care that she stretched out the land so very many ways, and extended the points and promontories so far and in so many different places into the sea, that the land might be more easily discovered at a due distance, which way soever the ships should come.

Nor is the Lizard Point less useful (though not so far west) than the other, which is more properly called the Land's End; but if we may credit our mariners, it is more frequently first discovered from the sea. For as our mariners, knowing by the soundings when they are in the mouth of the Channel, do then most naturally stand to the southward, to avoid mistaking the Channel, and to shun the Severn Sea or Bristol Channel, but still more to avoid running upon Scilly and the rocks about it, as is observed before--I say, as they carefully keep to the southward till they think they are fair with the Channel, and then stand to the northward again, or northeast, to make the land, this is the reason why the Lizard is, generally speaking, the first land they make, and not the Land's End.

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Then having made the Lizard, they either (first) run in for Falmouth, which is the next port, if they are taken short with easterly winds, or are in want of provisions and refreshment, or have anything out of order, so that they care not to keep the sea; or (secondly) stand away for the Ram Head and Plymouth Sound; or (thirdly) keep an offing to run up the Channel.

So that the Lizard is the general guide, and of more use in these cases than the other point, and is therefore the land which the ships choose to make first; for then also they are sure that they are past Scilly and all the dangers of that part of the island.

Nature has fortified this part of the island of Britain in a strange manner, and so, as is worth a traveller's observation, as if she knew the force and violence of the mighty ocean which beats upon it; and which, indeed, if the land was not made firm in proportion, could not withstand, but would have been washed away long ago.

First, there are the islands of Scilly and the rocks about them; these are placed like out-works to resist the first assaults of this enemy, and so break the force of it, as the piles (or starlings, as they are called) are placed before the solid stonework of London Bridge to fence off the force either of the water or ice, or anything else that might be dangerous to the work.

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From London to Land's End
Daniel Defoe

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