[From Our Centenarian Grandfather]
EARLY in 1832 the death occurred at Andreas Rectory of Archdeacon Mybia [sic Mylrea]. "He had been long confined to his room and latterly to his bed, so that the whole ecclesiastical authority in the island and the entire management of church affairs, while the Bishop was at his living in Essex rested on me. On hearing of the Archdeacon's death Bishop Ward at once wrote a most pressing letter to Lord Goderich and through him to Lord Melbourne (of which he sent me a copy) urging him to give me the appointment. This was immediately granted and I was instituted and inducted to the living of Andreas and the Archdeaconry in May, 1832."
The Rectory of Andreas in the north of the island was inseparable
by custom from the other office, hence the move. These appointments
were the first made by the Crown since the transfer of the island
from the partial jurisdiction of the Athol family. In the Bishop's
letter to Lord Goderich, a copy of which is before me, he writes:
" Mr. Philpot has laboured like five men these last three years and has been hands, feet, eyes and intellect to me since I have been over this diocese.
As therefore you value my poor mind, body and daily comfort, and what is worth more than all besides, the good of the Church of God, you will secure this appointment, and will lose no time in doing so, as Interest is making in another quarter. Your Lordship could never gratify me in a matter which I have more at heart than this. I had selected Mr. Philpot from the very first as my future Archdeacon and he has been assisting in the duties of the diocese most assiduously and effectually for the past three years and is the only man of my acquaintance I should think of appointing."
" It was a severe wrench to leave my most kind people at Douglas. The expression of their regrets was deeply affecting, as were numbers of private letters and among other things requests to have my sermons delivered there, published."
A tray of pure Manx silver from the Laxey mines with an affectionate and grateful inscription, together with the Manx arms of the three legs, remains as a testimony to the good old Archdeacon's labours at Douglas. It is quite a relief, too, to be now able to write of him as "The Archdeacon," for nobody ever called him anything else for the nearly sixty remaining years of his life. Once an Archdeacon to be sure always an Archdeacon in a titular sense. But this one seemed absolutely to demand some title of respect and authority, as his parishioners and friends for two generations after he had shed all archidiaconal duties seemed to feel. I never recollect hearing him called " Mr. Philpot " in my life and find quite a difficulty even in writing it.
Just before leaving Douglas the Archdeacon had assisted in erecting a second church and instituting to it a man who proved to be after his own heart. He was also succeeded in his own parish by a parson who came up to his rather critical standard. So things were getting on ! In the same year too he took a prominent part in mitigating the dangers of a great rock in the centre of Douglas Bay. An English baronet at Fort Anne, whose domicile in the island had originated, like probably many others, in the freedom from arrest for debt, compounded with his conscience, if indeed it pricked (though perhaps he had paid his debts!), in forwarding the work. Vessels entering the harbour often foundered on this dangerous obstacle. Quite recently a ship's crew had been stranded there and left for days before food could be got to them. The fund now raised went to building a tower of refuge on the rock, which was always to contain a store of sea-biscuit ready for any sailors that might be shipwrecked there. " The opening was a grand day and long remembered in the island. Sir W- H- laid the foundation stone while I offered up the prayers. We were joined in by as many as the rock would hold and hundreds of others in boats around with uncovered heads."
Three years before, the Archdeacon, as will be remembered, had carried his household bodily off to Suffolk on a holiday jaunt. He now decided before moving to the north of the island to repeat the adventure and though he had now six children instead of three to include in it, he doesn't seem to have thought any more of the undertaking than on the other occasion. So with the six children, their nurses, his wife and maid and a manservant and his roomy carriage he sailed gaily away for Liverpool. Here he hired a second conveyance and posted all the way to Suffolk. The children, he declares, enjoyed themselves immensely. I should think they did and I am quite sure he did! They travelled by easy day stages, stopping the night at all the inns, by this time quite familiar to him, and devoting the long summer evenings at each place to a personally conducted tour of such of the company as were up to it round the sights of the town and neighbourhood.
" After spending a joyous time with our old friends at Huntingfield, Walpole and Southwold, we posted back in the same manner, spending a few days with my wife's uncle, George Jenyns, Prebendary of Ely, at Bottisham Hall.1 We then went on to Calke Abbey, the seat of my old friend, and for long tenant of my Southwold house, Sir George Crewe, where we had a charming visit." just think of it, ye modern hosts and hostesses of even pre-war memories! Even in your intimate circles, what a flock-toddling infants, nurses and all! Did kinship or affection bear the strain ? I think it must have in those leisurely and peaceful days. And so back northwards, careering across England by the same cosy inns, the calvacade embarked again at Liverpool in the, packet, and were comfortably deposited, this time on Douglas quay in the daylight among welcoming friends, not dumped by boats in the dark on a rainy, friendless and almost hostile shore as on the first memorable arrival. Four years had in truth wrought a wondrous change!
The Rectory of Kirk Andreas was far too small for the Archdeacon's needs. So he rented Braust, in the heart of the parish, a roomy double house with large garden and outbuildings, " the front entirely covered with the sweet-scented verbena, the stem of which was nearly a foot round." Almost in fact a replica, as shown in the Archdeacon's sketches, of the house at Oakhill, it was only some four miles from the Point of Ayre, the northern extremity of the island and about the same distance above Ramsey ; the large parish of Kirk Andreas covering most of the sharp northern angle. Behind Oakhill the mountains rose tier above tier till they culminated in Snaefel, 2,050 feet, the monarch of the island. Here at Kirk Andreas they all lay to the south and a comparatively level country stretched towards the low northern cape, where the great lighthouse stood.
" Though the atmosphere of this northern end was pure and bracing, like the rest of the island., it was subject to constant showers, but so generally beneficial that there was an old Manx saying: ' Rain every day was too much, every other day not enough.' The character and even appearance of the people here differed somewhat from those of the more mixed and more educated people of the south. The intercourse with the mainland was very limited, though by degrees boats began to ply regularly and take off our fish. I used to buy large turbot for a shilling! At first my new parishioners were shy and distant, but when they found that honest kindness was felt and practised towards them their affections were gained and became very warm. Their English had been so much acquired through the Manx and English bibles that their ordinary converse was curiously full of biblical expressions. My congregations at first were small, but on the Good Friday and Easter Sunday following my arrival the church was crammed from all quarters with intending communicants. The people had been accustomed to regard the Holy Communion as a saving ordinance which cleared off their sins and gave them a fresh start for another career of carelessness or sin. At Christmas Eve, called 'Eel Varrey,'[sic Oiel Verree] the church presented an extraordinary appearance. Crowds came with candles stuck in hollow turnips and holly boughs which they held before them. They sung carols of their own composition and kept watch till midnight."
The Archdeacon lost no time in correcting his people on their distorted views of the Sacrament, which produced a wholesale thinning out of the sheep from the goats. He found the Wesleyans a little shy under the impression that he was a Calvinist. He soon, however, disabused their minds of this and attracted them back to the service of a church they had completely broken with. The most prominent of their number proved, secularly and morally, a tower of strength to him. This was one Captain Kneale, a member of the House of Keys and " Captain" of the parish. His title was a curious survival of old days when the duty of that official was to rouse the people when the Scots, Irish or Danes were threatening the coasts. Its former dignity had now sunk to keeping an eye on the public-houses and with the Archdeacon and High Bailiff of the district to sign_conjointly the applications, if approved, for a renewal of licences. There were now thirty-three public-houses and fourteen fairs in the parish of Kirk Andreas alone, which all kept aquadente on tap. The drunkenness was terrible, and the temperance society had not been able to cross the boundaries of the parish. The Archdeacon now took off his coat and prepared to grapple with the curse. When he put it on again thirty-one of the taverns had been closed! It was not merely by temperance meetings, and exhortations, public and private, that he brought about this transformation, but he and the doughty Captain above mentioned arranged to visit the public-houses in person on every fair night. "It was intensely laborious and sometimes dangerous work. On one occasion at a public-house near the Bride hills we were very roughly handled by strangers to the parish. The lights were extinguished and a rush was made at us. I was thrown under a table against the wall and thus escaped further injury. By this constant visiting and the knowledge acquired and our consequent refusal to sign the licences we brought about the suppression of thirty-one of these taverns and the land had peace.
I had a right of fishing for some miles along the coast, which was. here very shallow, with smooth sand running far out to sea, and I kept a trawl net and boat for the purpose. It took nine men to work the net, four in the boat and five on shore, and we caught large quantities of choice fish, soles, salmon, cod, etc. The fishing ceased when day began to dawn. . The fish were then all spread on the shore and divided into twelve parts, I had two for the net and one for the boat and the nine men had a share each. Their method of allotment was for one man to turn his back while another pointed with a stick to the successive heaps, calling on the other to name the owner, who promptly then took possession. Sometimes after my weekly lecture at Corkills on the Cliff I took a man's place in the boat or at the net. Those were truly most enjoyable nights. One I remember in particular, though the reason that took me out in it was of anything but happy memory. My dear wife's health was then beginning to give way and the condition of her nerves was deplorable. She couldn't bear a servant in her room and for several successive nights I sat up with her and got practically no sleep.
"At length worn out I threw myself into bed but my brain was so strained, sleep was impossible. So I rose, dressed and went across to the sea-shore where my net was at work. After a vain attempt to help, I left them and wandered slowly along the shore in the most perfect solitude. I imagined that I could hear the igneous gases under my feet escaping from one strata of rock to another. The lighthouses on the distant shores of England, Scotland and Ireland shone like large stars. The luminous phosphoric waves of the sea breaking in liquid fire caused a strange light, and the shrieking of the sea-birds seemed to give intensity to the solitude. I travelled on till I reached the noble lighthouse at the Point of Ayre just as Scott was trimming his lamps for the last time. He had been reading his great namesake's poems and was greatly startled at first but soon recognized me. We chatted quietly for an hour or so, he talking of the numbers of wild birds, migrants particularly, that dashed themselves against the lantern and fell dead on the shore., I then walked home by Bride, having compassed some sixteen miles. I got to bed before the family were up and slept soundly for nearly two days."
The Archdeacon, being the handy, all-round man he was, did as may be supposed a great deal of amateur but necessary doctoring in that out of the way district. He had a great belief in herbs and administered tinctures made from them to all and sundry. Mistletoe for epilepsy, meadow-saffron for rheumatic gout, dwarf-hypericum for heart trouble, are entered among the prescriptions in his notes. The name of one disease, however, recorded constantly in the parish registers as the cause of death completely baffled him on his first arrival in this northern parish. This was the "stitches."
"I was told it visited the parish at certain periods and people dated events by the last year of 'the Stitches.' In some years the registers had marked fourfold deaths with an S against the names of the victims. No cases of this mysterious ailment occurred during my first year at Andreas, and I had an intense curiosity to learn its nature. I had, however, more than a suspicion that it was pleurisy. At length on one of the parish fair nights when I had returned home very late in consequence of a bad case of stabbing, and had just got to sleep, the tramp of a horse under the window woke me up. On lifting the sash a voice called up: ' It is I, Sir, Phil-of-the- Loch, pray come to my poor boy Tom, he can't last long, he's got stitches.' Even if a better impulse had not urged me I could not have withstood that! So I hastily dressed and jumped on Phil's horse behind him and we galloped off to the Bride bills. (This picture of the chief ecclesiastical dignitary and at the moment deputy bishop of the island hanging on to the coat tails of a galloping- farmer is rather nice!) I found the whole family gathered on each side of a great fire and Tom in front of it. They lighted a candle and I found him as I expected suffering from an attack of pleurisy. I had brought what I believed to be the best remedy for it before it extends to the lung, which doubtless accounted for the extraordinary mortality it caused in this undoctored district, namely tartar emetic (I omit the Archdeacon's scientific arguments for its action). I administered it and left strict injunctions for further treatment and in a few days Tom was well. But on a second visit I had noticed a long rough box set up at the end of the room and asked Phil what it was. 'Why, it is Tom's coffin, Sir, to be sure.' There had been no cure for stitches till you came along, and I just knocked it up out of some loose boards that were lying about."
With a shoal of excited and suppressed publicans in the north end of the island, to say nothing of their thirsting clientele, the Archdeacon had enemies enough to daunt even his fearless soul. He had threatening letters and warnings no end, but as he did not care a snap for these, as often happens, nothing eventually came of the threats. He was constantly out alone by night and day. He had meetings of some sort every night in the week to which he usually rode, and frequent trips on horseback on his Archdeacon's work to various parts of the island including Douglas itself. This last was nearly twenty miles off, the way there lying over roughish tracks through mountain passes. He carried no weapon but a leaded butt to his riding whip. After all Man wasn't Ireland. A murderer would not have found it easy to get away and would have got short shrift, if arrested, from the Deemster's Court. Moreover he was making friends fast among the more respectable people and on the only occasion on which he was "lain for" he got warning. That the people were simple goes without saying. They were also extraordinarily honest. locks and keys, bolts and bars were unknown. An Englishman who came over and rented a house in the parish fitted it up inside and out with every precaution against thieves. " I'm thinking the people must be very dishonest where you come from," said a freespoken old Manxman one day over his front gate.
There were several idiots, too, in the parish, who were of course at large and enjoyed all the privileges, usual in primitive and superstitious communities Bishop Ward wanted to build an asylum for them but the Island took great offence at the suggestion. One of them, Chalse-a-Kelley, had a strange passion for death-beds and offering up his own prayers for departing souls, a supplementary item to death-bed scenes which seems in his case to have been welcomed. The Archdeacon had a room attached to his stables with a bedstead and washing apparatus in it which was at the temporary disposal of any homeless wanderers that came along. Chalse occasionally made use of it and would slip in to morning prayers behind the servants and add his peculiar contribution to the ceremony. He was an idiot in everything except religious exposition, but a quite celebrated character in the island. T. E. Brown of Port Erin [sic ?] and of familiar literary renown wrote a charming poem to Chalse in Heaven with which his host of readers are no doubt familiar.
The Archdeacon's first acquaintance with him was in his youth, while visiting a dying woman in the Curragh. " I had commended her to God in prayer when a loud voice arose at the back of the room in fluent supplication. It was Chalse-a-Kelley." Another local idiot but with less intelligence had an equal passion for religious ceremony. He was regular at church, till on one occasionhegave an exhibition of so formidable a character that the Archdeacon had to order his confinement during services, which durance he used to pass in hideous moans. But it cured him of indecent outbreaks and his restoration to church privileges was successful. " Every morning Billy Tear used to come to a stone stile behind Braust and after scrubbing the steps used to put an old rag of some sort over his shoulders for a surplice and then kneel and pray aloud so vigorously that he could be heard a quarter of a mile off. He would then rise and preach. Once after Mr. Carpenter had been preaching for me, Billy, on Monday morning had caught his tone and action to a nicety. He stood leaning on one side, his right hand up in the air, an exact imitation of Carpenter, who with myself stood watching the performance through the garden fence with much amusement."
These Andreas people expected a few long words that they could not understand from their parson. The Archdeacon got a hint as to this quite early and found a bit of Latin now and again most acceptable. It reminded him of a story of his Cambridge days when the Master of Trinity occasionally took duty at Trumpington, and of the old clerk's verdict that though he was "a pretty good preacher he wasn't much of a Latiner." If the parenthesis will be pardoned a still better story current in Wales tells how an English and a Welsh parson from a bi-lingual parish exchanged cures one summer holidays for their mutual benefit. The English parson strongly advised his locum tenens to put in a bit of Greek now and again because the people liked it. The Welshman, a bit staggered at the prospect of holding forth to so erudite a congregation replied, " But surely they don't understand it?" "Not a word of course," said the other, " but that is why they like it.' " But I'm afraid I've forgotten my Greek." " Oh, never mind, Welsh will do just as well." And so it did till one Sunday, when the not over friendly tenant of his own glebe, attending a big cattle sale in Shropshire, dropped in at the far end of the church to see how his vicar was faring. He was just in time to hear him finish up his sermon with a line from the Welsh version of "Men of Harlech as a quotation from one of the " Early Fathers!
He cornered his vicar it is said in the vestry afterwards and got the £5 off his rent he had been long striving for, as the price of his silence! Tear was a quite common name in those parts ; one Daniel Tear died about this time aged a hundred and ten according to the best local evidence, and here is an epigram that was written on him:-
Here, friend, is little Daniel's tomb,
At Joseph's age he did arrive,
Sloth killing thousands in their bloom,
While labour kept poor Dan alive.
'Tis strange, yet true, full seventy years,
His wife was happy in her Tears.
If the Archdeacon had little use for ghosts it did not follow that his abounding young family regarded the weird romancing of Manx servants and nurses with the same indifference. Cut off as they were in their remote country house of Braust from much association with the outside world, if such a goodly company had in truth felt any such need, their infant minds were well primed with all the phantasies of this outlandish neighbourhood. That it made for their present and future enjoyment I can state with some certainty and brought about none of those morbid results which have sometimes accrued to nurseries dominated by superstitious rustics. For they were a bright and clever group. Besides the Archdeacon had his infallible receipt against the existence of spooks already noted! These Manx stories lived long in the family. As the first grandchild of several dozen more or less nurtured on them I can speak to this with some confidence. But alas! they are but vague shadows now. The celebrated ghost dog of Peel Castle I do remember made an enormous impression on my infant fancy, but that is almost public property. There was another, however, which was amazingly popular in our circle, and even the Archdeacon was given to it and repeated it at length in his MS. But I have a suspicion that his partiality for this one lay partly in the fact that it exposed the ghost !
Here it is at any rate: Now St. Trinions Chapel, of which the ruin still stands, lies near the road between Douglas and St. John's, and the story is recorded, as were most of these parochial incidents, in the register of the parish. Parson More, a famous old character, was at the time Vicar of Marvum[? Marown]. A widow living in a lonely cottage by the side of Glen Greba sent for him one day to read the service for exorcising ghosts, stating that a figure dressed in white and clanking chains had come twice to her door about midnight and pushing it open appeared at the foot of her bed and struck her faint and speechless with terror. The parson, though his vicarage was a long way off, went to the woman's cottage for two or three nights, but the ghost failed to put in an appearance and it was presumably laid. However, it turned up again soon afterwards as fearsome as ever. So the parson determined on more elaborate tactics. Enlisting the help of a friend, a certain Captain Whiteside, who incidentally had greatly distinguished himself at sea in the American War, the two arranged to get into the cottage unobserved just before midnight, where they secreted themselves in the old woman's room, the captain having put a loaded pistol in his pocket. There was this time no disappointment. The old woman's practised ear heard the distant rattle of the chain and she began to quake in her bed and in due course the spectre presented itself. The pair sprang out at once, but the nimble ghost got the start of them. After a sharp chase, for it was a moonlight night, the captain came up with the quarry, and shouted to him to stop, and as he failed to, fired his pistol at him point blank at a few yards. This was at the ruins of St. Trinions.
When the smoke lifted there was nothing whatever to be seen or found search as they would and the Captain at any rate went home a firm believer in ghosts for the rest of his life. The poor woman soon afterwards died and her son, who had quarrelled with her, came in to her " intack, " where he lived for a long space of years. When Parson More was a very old man he was urgently sent for to the same cottage, where he found the owner on his death bed, anxious to unburden his soul and make a confession. This last was to the effect that he himself had been the ghost and his object had been to frighten his mother out of the cottage in order to get occupation of it. "But what became of you when the Captain, who was a practised shot, fired at such close quarters ; he wasn't the man to miss!"
Nor did he replied the other, " the ball went through my cheek and I pitched head foremost into the old open vault at the end of the aisle in the chapel and remained there till morning when I just managed to crawl home, and stuck there pretty close till my wound healed."
King William's College was founded about this time. There seem to have been certain funds available from an old school more or less derelict. The Archdeacon contributed his untouched salary during, the years he was Barrow Professor. He and the Clerk-of-the-Rolls, Mr. Aitchin, circulated a printed appeal both in the island and in England, and in due course the college was built, which has certainly been a success and made a modest name for itself in the north. It has acquired moreover a little fortuitous fame as the scene of that once familiar school boy tale, " Eric," which captured the fancy of mothers and small boys and their sisters and a certain portion of the outside public. But the public-school boy would have none of it, neither then nor since. That however was no fault of the Manx school ! At its inception the Archdeacon sent his two eldest sons there who afterwards went on to Rugby.
"I had gone over in September, 1830, to Liverpool to see the first experiment of travelling on land by steam. Clement Chevalier, an old Cambridge friend, was with me at the time and we crossed together, but were too late to see the first start. Some particulars were told us by an eye-witness. The draught power of the engine was ludicrously underrated but one engine started with carriages from Liverpool and the other from Manchester, intending to meet at Newton. Mr. Huskisson and the Duke of Wellington were passengers. The Liverpool party arrived first and alighted on the platform but on the approach of the carriages from Manchester the passengers were all urged to get into their carriages immediately. Huskisson had just entered, but thinking he had mistaken the order, descended again just as the approaching engine came alongside. He was knocked down and his thigh fearfully smashed. The Duke came up to him as he lay and lifting up the cloth saw the broken bone sticking out from his trousers. He seemed greatly shocked, and turning round put the back of his hand to his eyes."
Before the Archdeacon had been long at Kirk Andreas he had accomplished one of the wishes of his heart: a full monthly meeting of clergy. He held them all, however, at his own house at Braust, fed them, and many of them who came from a distance he kept for the night, setting up beds in the hall way and passages. " It was about the year 1833, too, when the dreaded Asiatic cholera broke upon the island. A fishing boat landed with eight men more or less infected with it; two of them were my parishioners. An awful alarm spread through the whole parish. Dr. -wouldn't go near them. One died before any remedy could be applied, but I went to the other at once. He lived on the Upper Jurby road and to avoid passing near his cottage, people climbed over the bank a long way short of it and came down again into the road as far beyond it. It was a strange sight to my experience and rather an awful one, cramps, vomiting, deadly paleness and a terrified expression. I gave the poor man gruel and sherry continually, thinking to support life while the disease was working through him, for to arrest it I thought would be fatal. My simple remedies were successful and he recovered. I told his wife to burn all the bed-linen on the windward side of the house and that I would give her more. But her instinctive thrift prevailed and the next day she washed it. She caught the disease and died so rapidly that I never even heard of it till too late. Captain Kneale and the clerk helped the coffin in and out of the cart but I had to carry one end of it from the church gates and poor jack (the clerk) stumbled in his nervousness with the other and all but fell down.
At Douglas and Peel the havoc and alarm were dreadful. One poor girl of about twenty years old who lived at Peel with her grandparents lost them both and as nobody would admit her into their house, she wandered away into the fields and mountains. A few days later some one passing along the old road to Kirk Michael saw her leaning out of the upper window of a deserted and roofless house. On going up she was found to be dead-starved her arms stretched out as if imploring help. The butcher at Peel was employed to get her buried. A hole was dug under the window and the butcher on horseback flung a rope up and dragged the body down into the hole and burned it. I severely reproached the magistrate and others concerned at Peel, but the dread of cholera absorbed all human feelings."
In 1836 the island was threatened with a disaster which touched its pride to the quick and stirred the gall of every Manxman. This was a measure to abolish the Bishopric and attach the island to the See of Carlisle. This too the oldest Bishopric in Britain! in the world some Manxmen maintained! Such an outrage had never been contemplated in history and in truth as Church and State in the island were linked together with something of a stronger tie than elsewhere, the tradition of it was stronger. If the Manx didn't like all their bishops in person they were proud of them in the abstract. They were one of the pillars of the island ceremonial and symbols of its independence. Even the seventeen parsons, whatever their individual merits, were regarded in virtue of their office with a certain unquestioning and even affectionate respect, as indispensable institutions, though some, perhaps, might well have been dispensed with! In short, they were part of the Constitution of the island of which its inhabitants were proud and jealous. But to lop off their bishop whose episcopal succession came straight from St. Germanicus ordained by St. Patrick himself long before St. Augustine landed in Kent: the very suggestion was preposterous! Unfortunately it was more than a little obscure how far the business had actually gone, but that matters nothing here. True, the island had appeared to get along pretty well in the prolonged absences of its spiritual shepherds; better indeed than when basking in the rather chilly presence of some of them, as will have been noticed. The Government may possibly have observed this and reflected that a thousand or so a year might be saved or applied to some other purpose-but not added to Carlisle let us hope! The very activity of our Archdeacon in representing the Bishop so long may have unconsciously contributed to this vandal and sordid proposition. He himself opposed it as strongly as any Manxman, though I doubt if he worried much about St. Patrick or St. Germanicus! And if his admiration for two or three of the eighteenth century Manx bishops was unbounded he chiefly foresaw in event of this catastrophe happening, a general slacking off in religious activity, of which he was such an ardent exponent and shining example. A half or even quarter-time bishop was better than none at all, and there had been nothing like the absenteeism in the Manx Episcopate that had disgraced the Sees of Wales and worse still of Ireland, though the last was rather a different story.
Old Bishop Watson, of Llandaff, was only recently dead. He had spent the whole of a long well-endowed life in absenteeism, sometimes hiring a proxy cheap, and sometimes not at all. He had held the richest professorship in Europe, that of divinity at Cambridge as an absentee, though a youngish man, for years in the period previous to my grandfather's time there, and put in a substitute at £200 a year. Having thus earned his promotion to the See of Llandaff, holding both posts I think for a time, he objected to the climate and settled in Cumberland with a rich wife where he spent some thirty peaceful years, planting trees and improving an acquired estate, paying but two flying visits to his South Welsh flock during his whole lifetime.
When the Archbishopric of York fell vacant, late in his laborious career, he complained bitterly that he was not given it, considering how he had regularly toiled up from Windermere to vote for the Whigs. Wordsworth, who naturally knew him well, has stated positively that he would have had it had the ministry of the day lasted another week! What times those were for a really enterprising cleric with brains, worldly wisdom and a thick hide ! For Watson was no aristocrat ; he had come up from the North as a friendless and humble sizar to Trinity.
Bishop Ward was in Essex at this critical moment. Better so, perhaps, as he was nearer the seat of judgment. The House of Lords were responsible for this alarming measure and he was of course strongly opposed to it.
" I was written to at this time," says the Archdeacon, "by Bishop Kaye, my old friend and Master at Christ's, urging me to go to London and state my objections before the Committee of the Lords then considering the measure. I did so, and was subjected to a most lengthy examination as to my reasons for opposition. When this was finished I was asked a great number of intimate questions about the laws, practices and religious sects of the island, till at length I refused to answer them unless Mr. G--, the reporter at the table, put down his pen, which he did. [This was thoroughly characteristic.] I was then questioned minutely as to the points of Manx law, my own practices as Vicar-General and work as Archdeacon, and so forth. They seemed interested in the customs of the island so I went on to tell them of the creditor's oath over the grave, the penance in a white sheet for immorality at which Lord -, whose character had suffered lately from his intimacy with Lady --, looked uneasy! [This is a delightfully characteristic touch.] I pointed out the remote position of some of the mountain parishes and related the fact of Bishop Wilson one Sunday morning having found his way over the mountains to Lonan Church after the service had begun and hearing the old clergyman reading the prayer for William and Mary out of a belated prayer book. Further, that I was persuaded the size of the island, the extent of many parishes, and want of education in many of the clergy, rendered intelligent Episcopal overseership necessary to sustain and uphold them; that it would be long before the deep-rooted superstition of the island and the solitary position of the clergy would make it safe to leave it without the help of a resident bishop."
If only the Archdeacon could see the island now with tea gardens in its once lonely glens, trains and charabancs chasing one another all over its broken surface ! But at any rate the abolition of its Episcopate was abandoned and the little diocese got a succession of bishops that not merely resided in it but did so I think to its profit. They had had, I take it, a thorough scare !
Body-snatching was at this time everywhere rife in the interests of the dissecting rooms, particularly across the water in the South of Scotland by or for enterprising Edinburgh students of medicine. Newly filled graves were regularly guarded by friends or relatives of the dead. It so happened that a man died in the parish of Andreas of ossification, which created a good deal of medical interest, the throat ultimately succumbing to it with death by starvation. " By putting the hands at the back of the head as he lay," says the Archdeacon, "he might be lifted on to his heels like a wooden post. I told the Wardens and John, the clerk, to keep a sharp eye on his grave. But it was of no use ; the body was quickly stolen by a young Scotchman who had recently come into the parish. I insisted on its being returned to earth. It was taken up, however, again, and feeling that anatomical science might perhaps be beneficially aided by so rare a specimen, I ceased to interfere, and I believe the skeleton is now in the museum of surgical cases in -- and much valued." This sounds rather casual nowadays!
1 Formerly the seat of the well known Soame Jenyns, contemporary of Horace Walpole, M.P. for Cambridge, a Lord of the Board of Trade, author and man of fashion, now owned by R. B. Jenyns, Esq.