[From Bullock's History of IoM, 1816]
Agriculture-Its great Advance of late Years in the Isle of Man -Scale of Population at different Periods - State of Buildings-Advantages possessed by the Manx Farmer over those of neighbouring Countries -Roads. - Manure - Notice of some particular Improvements effected by Individuals.
THE agriculture of a state, whether large or small, must ever form an interesting consideration, connected as it is with all that relates to domestic ease and independence. Its pursuits have a character different to almost all others, in this money making and money spending world. The returns of the farmer, e're they can be insured, must be sought by a combination of industry, patience, and ingenuity; qualities tending to improve the character of the mind, whilst they are employed to embellish and enrich the surface of the land; if to the wisdom which enables him to discern the best means, he does not add coolness to pursue b end, he has little chance of ultimate success and if unremitting care and practical economy are wanting, he will still find himself at a distance from the goalthese are very different characteristics. to those which commerce demands, in whose service wealth and luxury too frequently become the reward of mere enterprise, whilst the unobtrusive and moderate trade is left to pine over disappointed hopes and fruitless efforts. The pursuits of the farmer had this essential advantage, that if the returns are slow they are in a moderate degree certain; and meanwhile, the health both of body and mind may be benefitted by a profession, which, in peculiar manner, protects its members from contamination of morals, and leads them to look up to that providence, whence only they can deride their success. The farmer snore than any one feels, or ought to feel, his dependence on a superior power, awaits his visible operations in the kindly return of the seasons ! he claims he bounty in the fruitful shower! and if he thinks at all, he must acknowledge, that though he may plough and sow, it is beyond his might to ensure any increase.
Again, I conceive that in this class the great virtue of benevolence is a more active principle than in those whose employments shuts them up in a shop or at a desk! The wants of the labourer must ever he visible to his employer: it is his interest to encourage industry and suppress immorality: and it is seldom you see the bustling female who superintends the domestic concerns of the farm-house or yard, forget the sick wife of the cottager, or refuse those little aids which, though hardly missed from her large stores, are yet of infinite benefit to those whose means are limited to the measure of daily wants, without any provision of increased comforts for the hour of sickness.
Perhaps this view of peace and goodness combined with Industry, will in England be regarded as drawn from the old school, when farmers moved contentedly in their own sphere, and fulfilled the duties of it, with scrupulous integrity and satisfied humility: when they took their turn at the plough, whilst their wives and daughters exercised their sensibility in the care of the poultry and pigs, and their ingenuity at the spinning wheel; before the possessor of an hundred acres thought it requisite that his sons should be dashing sportsmen, or his daughters accomplished young ladies, and before everything was given to speculation and theory, an nothing to practice and industry: if this primitive state of things is no longer held in deserts esteem in the wealthy and luxurious state Great Britain, there is no reason why it ma not be restored or preserved in the Isle of Man where the science is in its infancy, where success may yet crown the persevering endeavours industry, and both respect and honour attend progress.
In pursuing this subject I cannot follow better or more scientific guide than John Christian Curwen, Esq. president of the Workington Agricultural Society, of which the Isle of Man. formed a branch, from the year 1809 to 1813. This gentleman being much connected with the country, and having framed his annual report on the state of the agricultural interests, ups actual inspection, and great local knowledge must have been a sufficient judge of the subject: and I trust this general acknowledgment of his authority will supersede the necessity of noticing the particular passages which I m' give even in his own words.
Having in the course of my work comments on the great neglect of this useful science, which subsisted during the earlier times, and on the particular causes whence this inattention to the internal interests of the island originated, I shall only now endeavour to show the progress that has been made under a better system of government, in the last twenty years. At the time of the revestment, nearly all the farms were occupied by native landholders, who cultivated small portions of their estates, and submitted the residue to the undisturbed dominion of heath and gorse. The first advances, as might naturally be expected, took place in the neighbourhood of the four towns, with the exception of those domains occupied by Bishop Wilson, who first raised large supplies of corn and made extensive plantations, now flourishing in their prime and beauty, a lasting memorial, amongst a thousand others, of his judicious skill and care that his example to a certain extent did produce its proper effect, is proved by the consequences; because, from that era, those seasons of excessive scarcity, which, previous to and even during his life, so frequently recurred in the island, have never been felt with equal severity.
But for the present highly-improved state of the country, the Manx are certainly indebted to the spirited exertions, and superior practice taught them by those of their fellow subjects, whom they are too fond of separating from themselves by the offensive designation of strangers. It is those strangers who have ascertained the grateful nature of the soil! called forth and applied the various species of manure,; which nature, with abundant liberality, had far ages offered in vain to native indolence or prejudice: and by these means have transformed a sterile heath into luxuriant corn fields and verdent pasture.
To the same class of visitors, may also ascribed, the revival of planting, which, if it proceeds a few years more as rapidly as it has done in the last twenty, will render the legend of the naked valleys, and unclothed hills of Man as incredible to future ages, as we now consider the record which describes the druids in their groves, or an army in ambush under shelter of a forest.
Early writers all concur in representing the soil as extremely unfertile, in which account Sacheverell, Rolt, and many later authors agree without enquiry or examination: since, the present appearances evince, beyond dispute, that the defect lay not in the lands but in the cultivators. It is a truth, that small as the population was forty years back, they got most of the wheaten bread in a manufactured state from Cumberland; from whence vessels trading to Ireland brought it out, and disposed of it at sea to the Manx boats, then constantly hovering about in pursuit of their established trade; wheat was then hardly raised in the island, and even so late as 1798, when Feltham wrote his tour, he asserts that this grain could not be cultivated with advantage in the island, being from the nature of the soil and other predisposing causes, liable to the smut in such a degree, as to discourage all attempts to introduce it. This error is now fairly corrected by the large crops raised since that time of the cleanest and best quality, as the returns from Liverpool market will prove. The generality of land, in a good situation, well cultivated, will give of oats forty to fifty bushels per acre, of barley the same, and of wheat twenty five to thirty.
Formerly !and when on this subject I use that word, to prevent repetition I desire to be understood as meaning within twenty or thirty years. Formerly, the instruments of husbandry were so few, that scarcely twenty carts were to be found in the whole island, and the farmers had no mode of carrying their corn but in kreils fixed on the horses backs.
In the year 1642 Governor Greenhalgh made an ineffectual attempt to introduce the use of lime as a manure, and having built a kiln, it soon circulated as an article of news that the deputy was actually engaged in a project to burn stones for the improvement of the land. The people hastened in crowds to witness the result of this wonderful process, and probably not without some strong doubts of the worthy governor's sanity: when, however, they beheld these masses perfectly reduced by the action of fire, they eagerly resolved to profit by an example, from. whence they expected the most beneficial consequences must ensue. Earth pots as they were termed were raised in all parts of the island, in which, without reference to quality, every kind of stone, flint, slate, or pebble, were indiscriminately subjected to the same process For the ill success attending this judicious attempt they had an infallible reason to produce, founded on a belief, that the governor had intelligence with the fairies, by whose agency his minerals were turned to a powder, whilst those of his cotemporaries were only condensed to a greater degree of hardness.
Of this curious fact many evidences remain, and quantities of calcined stones are frequently found in different parts, which have either been left in heaps or used to fill up drains.
A clear idea of the little profit derived by proprietors of very large tracts of land from their possessions, may be obtained from a list of the implements in possession of a person who occupied at least four hundred acres of his own estate; for the cultivation of which he had, according to Mr. Curwen's information, one plough and one harrow. In abundant years, the estate produced bread corn (that is, oats and barley), for the family; in failing ones, not that: and the cattle depended on the gorse and furze, with which the land was covered, both for food and shelter: the same estate is now let to a thriving tenant, for a rent of £800. per annum.
Nor is the reign of prejudice and ignorance yet wholly at an end, they have still a strong hold in the minds of some of the natives, and at the time I write there is a tract of excellent land, within three miles of Douglas, held by the proprietor, and surrounded by farms, in such a state of cultivation as must awaken emulation, if that sentiment was not completely smothered; yet the owner of this place is so bigotted to his ancient habits, that, if out of three hundred acres he can raise enough to supply the instant wants of his family, and retain seed for the coming year, he thinks he has done all that foresight and industry can require. The females spin their own wool and flax for clothing, and at the end of the season they are well satisfied to behold the whole returns consumed, comforting themselves with the hope that there is more coming in: as to a possible failure of their returns, they never calculate on such an event; nor does the future provision for a large family disturb the equanimity of their minds, believing, with primitive simplicity, that "sufficient to the day is both the good and evil thereof." The estate by the laws of the land must descend to the next heir, and for the rest of the progeny, during the lives of their parents, they will live at home in unthinking and inactive stupidity, and at their death must turn out, as a matter of course, with no provision but their own labour for support. For all which improvidence, as we should call it, the present proprietor ha an unfailing apology and reason, viz. that his father did so before him: that he himself has enjoyed the estate as his due, and his brothers who were brought up with him, are now in extreme old age, spending the remains of their strength as daily labourers on the roads, or in the neighbouring farms.
But these instances of neglect are becoming every day less frequent, and Mr. Curwen ascribes the change to the advance of trade, the great resort of settlers from other countries, and the excessive increase of luxury and taxation in Great Britain. The years of scarcity, also, have had here, as elsewhere, their beneficial effects. The great profits made by some farmers, inducing a general spirit of speculation and improvement, which, in ordinary times, it would have taken many years to excite; whilst every tax imposed by the parliament in Great Britain, operates as a bounty upon Manx agriculture. In all cases, the advance has been commensurate with these causes, as appears from the following comparative statement.
And first, as to the population. Mr. Curwen says, that at the commencement of the last century, the number of inhabitants on the island was under ten thousand. In 1755, he computes them at fifteen thousand. In 1777, only twelve years after the revestment, the numbers had increased to twenty thousand. They are now estimated thirty-five thousand; that this scale is absolutely correct, I am not quite assured. Bishop Wilson wrote a short history of the island some years before his death, which took place in 1725; and certainly no man had better means of ascertaining the real state of the country; he then calculated the population at twenty thousand.
In 1795, the Duke of Athol observes, in his case submitted to the privy council, that the king, by the revestment, has acquired an increase of thirty thousand subjects. It usually turns out that round numbers are inaccurate, but it is a fact, admitting no dispute, that a great a. rapid increase has taken place of late years.
Another visible change appears in the buildings, every where the mud walled cabin and thatched roof are giving place to erections of brick or stone with slated tops. In 1790, there were but four breweries in the island; at this time there are more than thirty, and many of them individually doing more business than the whole collectively at that time. So lately as 1807 three butchers supplied the town and neighborhood of Douglas, and these only opened the stalls on the market day. There is now a constant supply of meat exhibited by at least twelve competitors. Mealmen and hucksters were recently unknown in the towns, and many consequent inconveniences were felt by private families, who had to seek their corn in large quantities at the farmers, and thence to carry it through the whole process of grinding, and manufacturing for use.
But the most beneficial improvement has been made in the cultivation of garden produce for the market. Ten years back, a cart loaded with vegetables for sale was surrounded as a prodigy and never seen except when some of the neighouring gentlemen collected the refuse of their gardens, and sent it for general distribution; whereas now, many acres round the different towns, but particularly Douglas and Castletown, are cultivated for public use, and the markets are almost overstocked with vegetables, and the common sorts of fruit.
Another evidence to the progress of agriculture appears in the quantity of clover and grass seeds imported; at present the gross annual amount exceeds £1000 in value; twenty years past they did not reach to £20, and even within five years not to £500.; in producing these various benefits, the institution of an agricultural society has been of essential service, for which measure the inhabitants are wholly indebted to Mr. Curwen, though their efforts are no longer conducted under his auspices, and it is to be feared, that they may languish in future for the want of some such spirited and experienced leader. In one of his reports he mentions, with very natural exultation, that when he attended an annual meeting at St. John's, in 1810, the assemblage of gentlemen and farmers greatly exceeded his expectations, whilst the interest and spirit which marked the proceedings, evinced the impression that was made upon the public mind, and proved that the views of the society referred objects connected equally with the profits of the landed proprietor, and the good of the public large.
A very material advantage appertains to the Manx farmer, in his freedom from all poor rates, as well as other taxes, the poor being wholly maintained by voluntary contributing Land rent has certainly risen, particularly of the towns, to its full value, and should the press depreciation of farm produce continue, it my necessarily fall. The soil, though neither very luxuriant nor of great depth, yet makes generally a grateful return, if frequently renewed stimulated by manure, and this operation is much facilitated by the abundance of wrack or sea weed*1 thrown up on the sands, and which has been found for a single crop to answer every purpose produced by more substantial manure and the easiness with which lime is procured water carriage round the coast is highly favour able to exertion. Mr. Curwen observed with pleasure and surprise, how much the cultivation of green crop had increased between the years 1809 and 1812, when he made his last visit.
Till lately, the importation of sheep was limited to one hundred annually from England; by the interference of Mr. Curwen the number has been increased to five hundred, and he confidently asserts, that the manufacture of woollens will ere long be the staple commodity of the island; only one establishment for this purpose exists at present, which is conducted with skill and spirit, and I believe amply rewards the care and industry of its proprietor,*2 who is also a very considerable planter, and in all his undertakings exhibits a patriotic, independent, and active mind, equally beneficial to the country, of which he is a native, and honourable to himself.
The quantities of grain cultivated in the last few years have been such, as to supersede the necessity of importing that article, notwithstanding the increased population. The rate of labour is as yet very moderate, being. much under that established on the opposite counties of Cumberland and Lancashire. Potation crops are now well understood; cleaning the land is very strictly attended to by many farmers, and from its obvious good consequences will doubtless soon become the general practice. Improvement of live stock has, of late, been an object of emulation amongst the graziers, and there are several dairy farms, admirably managed, in various parts of the island.
The small breed of horses, for which Manx, in common with the out isles, was famous, is now almost extinct; but there is no deficiency of such as answer well for purposes of husbandry, and even those for the saddle are of late much improved; but although, in the particulars I have mentioned, much has been it is nevertheless indisputable that much yet remains to be effected, and the impartiality I promised demands a fair statement on both sides. One of the greatest impediments to successful exertion in agricultural pursuits, is found in the state of the public roads. In the vicinity of Douglas, and also near to Castletown and Ramsay, these have been put into a much better state than they formerly were; but in many parts of the island they are in a most deplorable condition, and sadly increase both the labour and expence of the farmer; the great error seems to consist in the manner repairs are attempted which is simply by carting a few loads of stones wherever a deep hole or rut calls for such a supply, and leaving it to the action of carriages to crush or level them, instead of following the mode adopted in England of spreading and binding the solid material with a layer of earth or gravel. It is generally admitted, that the funds appropriated to the maintenance of the high roads are abundantly sufficient, if they were placed antler due superintendence; but it generally happens, that the overseers are men little acquainted with the proper methods of performing their duty, and besides that, they have usually distinct occupations and private concerns, which fill up their whole time, and renders it impossible they should perform their duty to the public so fully as they ought to do.
The herring fishery is another impediment to farming. At the time when an increase of hands are most wanted by the cultivator, he is left wholly to the aid he can derive from feminine assistance, by which alone he is to cut and carry in his harvest, whilst hundreds of stout young men are awaiting the arrival of the fish in listless idleness, or dissipating their expected gains in drunkenness; for such is the infatuation which the " herring fever" (as Mr. Curwen styles it) produces, that some weeks before the time it is expected to commence, and the whole period after it has begun, even on days when the weather or other causes prevent all possibility fishing, they will on no account, not even for hour, embark in any other pursuit. No one in their senses would recommend, that the fishery should he relinquished altogether, on the contrary, it must be admitted, that the pursuit is almost essential benefit to the island, and causes an influx of money, which gives life to every occupation. But I am warranted, by the occurrence of the best informed persons, in says that it is ill-conducted, and that one-half of the men, who are at present engaged in it, would under proper regulations, take as much fish the whole number do at this time. The difference to the agriculturist of the additional hands thus obtained, at the season of harvest, is evident, as well as the increased profit to individuals, since the advance on the price of manual labour, at this season, holds out as fair a return as can be derived from the fishery, all expences and extravagances included.
But if the male part of the population are irretrievably devoted to gathering in the harvest by sea, it is but justice to say, that the females. endeavour, by the utmost industry, to supply their place on shore. Nothing can exceed the activity and cheerfulness with which they undertake and effect labours apparently exceeding their physical strength, particularly in reaping, thrashing, &c. Another great fundamental inconvenience exists, in the want of au established market for disposing of farm produce. At present the grower, having no certain sale for his crops, must lose much time in seeking customers, before he can raise money for his rent or current expences; and the prices, in these cases, are too often arbitrarily regulated by the measure of his wants, rather than by the value of his commodities. Some adopt the mode of exporting their produce to Liverpool, or Whitehaven, where the returns may be more certain and prompt, but these are subject to severe drawbacks, from the risk at sea, and the heavy charges of freight and factors.
With the grazier the case is still worse: fat cattle can never be shipped without incurring great danger of deterioration from a lengthened voyage; and in the island, the consumption is too small to encourage extensive speculations in this line, nor are the butchers willing to give even such prices as their returns would fully warrant; this has been so much a subject of complaint, that some farmers have even opened shops to retail their own meat, of whom only one has found the plan either practicable or advantageous. There is no doubt, however, but a little public spirit and unanimity would overcome, this impediment, if the principal farmers would unite here, as in other places, to establish a regular market for corn and cattle: buyers would soon arrive from the opposite coasts, and then the prices also would be fixed by general agreement.
I am not aware of any other material disadvantage which the farmer has to encounter in this island, that can in any degree counterpoint the peculiar benefits held out, except one which is indeed of serious importance, but to which I cannot help thinking the wisdom of the Manx legislature will ere long apply a sufficient remedy. I speak of the laws as they are now constituted, first, with relation to persons not natives of the land; and next, as they regard the landlord and tenant, but on this subject I shall expatiate more at large under the proper division*3.
If those heroes who have depopulated nations are allowed still to occupy a distinguished place in the history of states and empires, surely, in a confined space like the Isle of Man, which is toosmall a theatre for magnificent actions, we may be allowed to celebrate those who have, to the extent of their power, exerted themselves to benefit and improve the little circle within their influence; and to my humble conception, there seems to be at least as much praise due to the conqueror of sterility as to the depopulator of nations. In the first class of those, coming under the former description, no one can deserve more honourable mention than the tenant of Ronaldsway, near Derby Haven, whose farm exhibits a scene of neatness and superior cultivation greatly to be admired: his vicinity to a lime-stone quarry, and the quantity of wrack deposited at his very door, are sources which, as he applies them, must produce wealth to him, and benefit to the community. Mr. Faulder is also unrivalled in the extent and excellence of his stock, and is the farmer, of whom I spoke before, as having successfully undertaken to retail his own meat: from his stores Castletown is abundantly supplied with animal food; the superiority of his mode of feeding is obvious, from the article he offers to the public, and, in fact, there is so; much integrity and judgment in his proceedings, as: well as a spirit and activity, that all are ready to allow his success, great as it is, is only commensurate with his exertions and deserts. There are few persons, however, who could at once embrace so many objects of speculation, as are encountered by the ardent spirit of this gentle man, who, besides supplying all the bodily wanted of his neighbour from his dairy, his shambles, and his granary, has actually undertaken to cultivate the minds of the rising generation, and for this purpose he has established an academy, where, under the care of a tutor, he receives. about twenty pupils, besides his own numerous progeny.
Mr. Coulthard is also a farmer, whose labours are worthy of notice, he has been long an object of emulation as well as admiration to his cotemporaries, and had at one time a fair prospect of receiving his merited reward from the hand of fortune; but having, unfortunately for himself, incurred the displeasure of his landlord, who is too powerful in this island to be offended with impunity, the farmer has, in consequence been condemned to ascertain, in his own person, how far the laws, as they now stand, may be made the instruments of oppression. Should he eventually sink in the contest, which he has maintained as a man and a Briton, he will have the regret of all ranks to console him under his unmerited misfortunes.
One of the best dairy farms is occupied by a gentleman of the name of Dunlop, who is remarked for the uncommon beauty of his stock, the extent of his crops, and the general air of success and abundance which follows his operations; notwithstanding all which, and that his calculations are made with mathematical precision, and his plans followed up with undeviating strictness, yet such is the result, that either from real disappointment, or a natural tendency of mind to murmur and complain, he never speaks but in the tone of complaint; and I verily believe, if plenty should pour out her whole stores at his feet, he would still grumble that she did not leave him the cornucopia also.
Mr. Curwen says of the north side of the island, that it offers much the greatest facilities for farming; the ground is in a state of nature; the means of enriching it are at hand; exertion, capital, and industry, are alone wanting to cover with luxuriant crops, that surface which, at present, yields little or nothing: the truth of this estimate is about to be proved. Several spirited settlers have, of late, fixed their abode in that district, and amongst them, the present bishop, who takes a lively interest in all agricultural concerns; but, as yet, the improvements are too new to be entered upon record, and it is only in the neighborhood of Castletown and that we can form an estimate of the capabilities of the soil.
Hitherto, I have spoken only of persons who rent the lands of others, and consequently have a present advantage to draw from their exertions. But there is another class lately sprung up amongst the natives, with whom profit is a subordinate consideration; and where the chief attention is fixed on ornamental husbandry amongst these, a general taste for planting seems to prevail. The seat of Major Taubman is an example very likely to have excited this spirit. The trees there of an old growth, are uncommonly fine, and the whole scene, as we have before observed, forms an agreeable contrast to the barren hills by which it is surrounded.
Several other places embellish the neighberhood of Douglas, and give fair promise of future beauty, though none, with the exception of Mona Castle, can be classed above the rate of middling gentlemen's houses in England; yet they diversify the face of the country, and their small lawns and paddocks, spotted with clumps of new planted shrubs, will soon form a very pretty scenery. It has been the work of time to efface a prejudice generally entertained, that the vicinity to the sea would be completely unfavourable to trees ; but the contrary has at length been decidedly proved, wherever the experiment has been fairly made. Perhaps no kind of improvers are more easily checked than planters ; their efforts must always be disinterested, since the real benefit or comfort can only be reaped by posterity; and it should, therefore, be attended with some degree of certainty, to compensate for its distance. Nor is it fair always to ascribe failures to a radical defect, either in the soil or situation. Trees, injudiciously managed, either from neglect or ignorance, might equally as well perish in the finest parks in Great Britain, as on the most steril mountain in the Isle of Man; and it is most true, that an unsuccessful attempt in a place where all eyes have been fixed on the result, with an inward inclination to believe it would not answer, has an effect to repress simliar endeavors, when, if the real source of the disappointment was taken into the account, it might rather stimulate than paralyze their hopes.
It is well known in the island, that an English gentleman, of considerable property, bought an extensive, track of mountain-land in the interior, not less than fifteen hundred acres; and when he cast his eyes over the wide spread domain, his imagination pictured such a fairy vision of beauty and fertility, as entirely overcame the sobriety of his judgment. In his first speculations, he promised himself a mansion embowered in groves, fields, white with his ever-increasing flocks, roads, rivers, canals, and bridges. He calculated not merely on supplying the wants of a paltry thirty thousand inhabitants in food and clothing, but actually extended his philanthropic views to the starving nations of the arctic circle who were to be rescued from the dominion of want and cold, with the surplus of his abundant stores.
In less time than ordinary abilities, with ordinary means would ask to reclaim a heath or a bog, and turn them into arable and pasture land, he undertook to have forests waving, and rivers flowing, through the whole compass of his property; and no sooner had his active mind overcome one difficulty in speculation, than he conjured up others to resist and to conquer. I forbear to dwell on his proposal for importing the musk oxen, on which he expatiated at an agricultural meeting, with all the warmth of his character, as replete with offered benefits to the community, and only attended by two or three trifling obstacles, the first of which. was found in the difficulty of importing these animals, and keeping them alive when imported; the other he thought still less consequential, being merely the possibility that prejudice might revolt from the taste of musk beef.
Projects so patriotic and extensive, deserved a better fate, and I grieve to record their evaporation in complete disappointment. The trees, it is true, were planted with an unsparing hand, and the sheep, purchased from an overflowing purse, combining the choicest breeds, selected from all parts of Great Britain, and the greatest pains were exerted to insure their safe arrival.
So far all was hope and exultation; the natives assembled in crowds to view these precious treasures-to admire the plaids of the Highland shepherds, who came from the Cheviot Hills to guard their fleecy care; and they believed the owner of such wealth and such wonders must be almost as great a man as their far-famed Prince Mananan, with his fogs and his fairies.
Whilst the summer smiled, the sheep grazed on the fragrant heath, and the young plants took root unmolested; but, alas! no sooner did winter assert his reign, than all was want and dismay; for, till the snow actually bespread the ground, the necessity of providing for such an astonishing event had never entered the thoughts,of this admirable projector. For a while, the animals preserved their existence by brousing on the buds of the infant plantations, and the tops of the young firs; but these were soon destroyed and with them all hope of future shade or shelter. Next, the sheep fell victims to disease, and lastly, the promises of philanthropy, with the visions of speculative profit, all sunk together in irretrievable ruin. Happily, however, this failure instead of annihilating the hopes of our mountain laird, has only turned them into another channel; he is now eagerly bent on the cultivation of flax, to which his whole domain is to be subjected; and he waits only till he has tried the effect of a new invention for dressing this article, before he will erect a factory, build a town, cover the mountain with artificers, and supply all Europe with linen cloths. There is so much vivacity of genius, such a grasp of benevolence, and such genuine public spirit, in all these designs combined as they are by the gentleman in question, with repeated acts of solid use to this community, of which he is an acknowledged benefactor that those who witness their failure, must still respect the source whence they originate, and that charity indeed be cold, that does not wish him success, though the faith must be strong that can hope it.
Much expectation of beneficial example was excited in the friends of Man, when Colonel Mark Wilkes, a native of the island, and a gentleman well known in the higher walks of literature, returned from the East Indies with a fortune, earned by uncommon talents judiciously applied, and promised his countrymen to devote the residue of his days to the peaceful pursuits of agriculture. Unfortunately for the Manx, his talents were too well known and appreciated to admit of this seclusion, his services were again demanded in the government of St. Helena, whither he returned in the year 1812. However he might at first regret this disturbance of his domestic arrangements, he will doubtless be reconciled by the great events in which he has now become It party. To his care for a short time is consioned the disturber of the peace of Europe, and it will be impossible to accept with indifference the honor of guarding even for a few months so distinguished a captive.
Colonel Wilkes is erecting a mansion in the Isle of Man [at Kirkby, Braddan], on an extensive scale, though I cannot help thinking, if it had been conducted under his own inspection, a better taste would have been displayed, especially as the farmhouses, offices, and cottages, built by himself upon his estate, are raised on plans so,chaste, as to add much to the rural beauty of the scenery, and form a decided contrast to the cumbrous mass appointed for his own future habitation. In the short space of three years, that part of the country belonging to Colonel Wilkes has been converted from a barren waste, not worth half a-Crown an acre, to luxuriant arable and pastureland, great part of it letting at £2.
There are doubtless many other individuals in the island, who may justly claim distinction as improvers in this valuable science', but it would be tedious to general readers to dwell longer upon the subject; to sum up the whole, I believe it is universally admitted, that a great, and for the time, an astonishing progress has been made; that the approaches of insular distress are nearly fenced out, and that the few obstacles which remain, must shortly give way to the awakened spirit of inquiry, industry, and emulation prevailing in the country.
1 Sea weed does not answer so well in compost of soil mould only, the decomposition being less rapid; but is admirable with stable-dung, or even with straw, either these promoting immediate fermentation, but in no case it combines with lime.
2 Mr. W. Kelly.
3 See Laws.