[From Douglas and other poems]
" Come unto these yellow sands ! "
" It is a goodly sight to see
What heaven hath done for this delicious land !
What fruits of fragrance blush on every tree!
What goodly prospects o'er the hills expand ! "
GEM of the ocean ! lovely Mona's Isle !
Fairest of em'ralds rising from the sea !
What soul is there but seeing thee must smile,.
And nearing thee but must enraptured be ?
Clear crystal waters kiss thy golden shore,
Thy hills of green stretch down into the deep,
And o'er thy rugged cliffs loud cascades pour,
Wild music making as they headlong sweep;
While streams pellucid thro' thy landscapes winding creep.
All nature's lovers must thy scenes adore,
Thy smiling valleys, and thy rippling rills,
Thy flow'rets fragrant of which thou hast store,
Thy sounding caverns, and thy purpled hills.
Thou art in truth a Paradise on earth,
And all who've seen thee must the same confess,
Thy charms so varied fill each heart with mirth,
For thou art fairer far than words express,
And who can o'er resist the~c spell of loveliness ?
The bay of Douglas is indeed,d a sight
That never fails t' enchant the gazer's eye,
And fill his soul with exquisite delight,
So placidly its azure waters lie;
Its shore is strewn with sea-weeds, pebbles, shells,
Its headlands green slope nobly to the sea;
So fair a scene all cank'ring care dispels,
And wraps the soul in thrilling ecstasy;
So grand is Douglas Bay in all its majesty:~.
To Douglas Head how many thousands stray
To taste the healthful freshness from the sea;
To stroll about and pass the hours away,
A sweeter spot, methinks, could scarcely be;
Its lighthouse towers above the ocean wide,
And sea-birds whistle as they wheel around,
While o'er the waters proudly vessels glide,
And wavelets sparkle as they onward bound,
And dash the rocks among that Mona's Isle surround.
Here stands the graceful Douglas Head Hotel,
A stately structure, and but lately new,
And weary pleasure-seekers would do well
To make a passing call-for hence the view
Is most magnificent,-the rocky coast
Is seen well nigh as far as Castletown;
While in the building, if you wish, "mine hosts
Will show you many things of some renown,-
Old axes, swords, and coins, ere you return to town.
But we must see the lovely " Fiddler's Green,"
It lies not far from hence-a choicer spot
For pic-nics on a summer's day, I ween,
Could rarely be by any party got.
Here brightly blooms the heather, rich and wild,
While deep below us plays the cresty foam
Among the cliffs in awful grandeur piled,
Where undisturbed the seamews make their home,
And foot of busy man has seldom dared to roam.
I love to gaze upon thy face, O Sea !
When like a mirror thou art 'fore me spread;
For thou hast deep entrancing charms to me,
And all who are by nature's beauty led.
And when the winds are loosed, and madly rave
Thy mighty billows towering to the sky,
How grand to look upon the angry wave,
And watch the sea-gulls as they shrieking fly,
Or riding on the surf as it comes hissing by.
Descending, soon we reach the noted creek
They call Port Skillion, and the swimmers there
Practise their manly art, and they who seer:
To learn it rightly thither should repair;
For there with head erect, and arms outspread,
They fling, in splendid style, the surge aside,
Then turn around and make the sea their bed,
Or deep beneath the lucid waters glide;
While others venture out into the bay so wide.
Our steps retracing, drinking in the scene,
We soon approach the famous Nunnery,-'
A charming residence is it, I ween,
And loveliness on every side we see.
The mansion old with ivy is o'ergrown,
Which makes it look romantic and serene;
'Tis Time the vesture over it has thrown,
And trees around it form a sylvan screen,-
While rooks and songsters build the spreading boughs between.
In days gone by, upon the present site,
The holy convent of St. Bridget rose;
Here vesper bell disturbed the ear of Night,
And many sought relief from worldly woes;
But now the morning, noon, and evening pass,
No tolling breaks the blissful quiet here;
No sister offers orison or mass;
The cells are silent, and the chapel drear,
And ivy-mantled walls are all that do appear.
Leigh Goldie's monument, erected nigh,
In front of which a trophy cannon stands,
Tells how a soldier for his Queen can die
To save his country's fame in foreign lands.
He fought in the Crimea, and he fell
At Inkerman, in eighteen fifty-four,
" A hero in the strife," and we may well
Respect his memory-had we but more
Such gallant men as he we need not much deplore.
Within the gardens flowers unrivalled bloom,
The grounds extensive are laid out with art,
The air is redolent with rich perfume,
That to the senses pleasure cloth impart.
A river winds like silv'ry snake along,
Beneath the trees, in all their pride arrayed,
On which the birds pour forth their souls in song
While lovers whisper in the leafy shade,
So beautifully cool by twining branches made.
But strolling on we soon approach " The Groves,"
Thro' which a foot-path guides the stranger's feet,
While o'er the hedges, which he passes, roves
The busy bee, intent on plunder sweet.
Soon straight before us lies " The Saddle Road,"
Yelept the saddle for from ages past
A saddle carved in stone was here bestowed, 2
On which the wisher had himself to cast,
When straight a snowy steed would rise and bear him fast.
Kirk Braddan Church from Douglas is not
A dear and sacred spot ! and there resort
Thousands of strangers coming from afar,
To view its relics and give way to thought;
Some quaint inscriptions, too, its tombstones hear,
And near the centre of the yard are seen
Some Runic Crosses, much the worse for wear,
For Time's rude hands have striving with them been;
Still on them there remains much that the many glean.
A tombstone stands beside the eastern door,.
Which bears a strange inscription;-it appears
The reverend pastor had it raised before
His spirit left this weary vale of tears;
It states-"Ye body underneath doth lie
Of Patrick Thompson, sixteen seventy-eight,
At present Vicar,"-but he did not die
Till sixteen eighty-nine,-he had to wait
Eleven years, it seems, before he met his fates
Within the churchyard thousands silent lie,
Beneath the shade of the embowering trees,
Whilst overhead is spread the azure sky,
And leaves around us rustle in the breeze.
Here many a parent sleeps in calm repose;
Here lies how many a young and trusting-heart;.
Here lie sweet infants, nipped like budding rose,
And few without a tear can hence depart;
Such rising feelings doth the hallowed place impart.
'Tis sweet at eve to this old spot to stray,
When Phoebus sinks his chariot in the West,
Among the tombstones falling to decay,
And think of those we loved, long laid to rest;
We almost fancy that we see them smile,
As they were wont to do, when they were here,
The loving smiles that did our cares beguile,
And hear their tender words salute the ear;
Then Memory fondly claims the tribute of a tear.
But soon the sun descends bellied the hills,
And jewelled stars adorn the curtained sky;
The Moon peeps forth, and o'er the murm'ring rills
Displays her robes of silv'ry radiancy.
Now gentle Zephyrs woo the balmy air,
And gliding streams so musically flow;
Suffused in light, how beautifully fair
Both everything around, above, below,
In mantle rich arrayed, in gorgeous glory glow.
Now all is still; the warblers are asleep;
They sang until they sang themselves to rest;
Now the fond fisherman upon the deep,
Is thinking of the one he loves the best.
'Tis night-if we can call it night-it seems
As day were sickened-paler is the sky; 5
Now faithful hearts unite in loving dreams,
And weary souls on sleepless pillows lie,-
Now Sleep bath set her seal on many an aching eye.
THE morning dawns again; above us sings
The herald of the morn his thrilling song;
From out the blushing East the sun upsprings,
Gilding the wavelets as they roll along.
Sweet flow'rets now, of every kind and hue,
Unveil their beauty to the god of day;
All nature glistens freshened with the dew,
And every sense and every heart is gay,
And longs to breathe the morn, and forth again to stray.
Once more the bay of Douglas is my theme,
Its waters glitt'ring as they onward flow,
Like burnished silver in the sun's bright beam,
While welcome Zephyrs sighing o'er it blow.
I love to watch the mimic wave, so clear,
Rush up in pride to kiss the golden shore,
Soft rippling making to my eager ear,
Where danced the mermaids in the days of yore:
At least it so is said in Mona's ancient lore.
This is indeed of watering places Queen,
The sea, the shore, the air, the scenery,
All stand unrivall'd in this fair demesne.
Mona, Dame Nature has been kind to thee!
All that we see is charming-far and near,
Where'er we turn, new beauties we descry;
Sweet songs of birds delight the pleased ear,
While stretching blue above us hangs the sky;
Here hill and dell alike allure the gazer's eye.
And here both Art and Nature have combined,-
The new embankment, styled the " Loch Parade," 6
Is said to be the finest of its kind;-
To me it seems some token should be paid
Of deep respect to him whose name it bears;
A statue, or memorial, for his zeal,
Would be a fitting tribute for his cares,
For he has laboured well for Mona's weal,-
May every loyal heart respond to this appeal !
Within the bay, on dread St. Mary's Isle,
A noble " Tower of Refuge " greets the eye; 7
It is a boldly castellated pile,
Erected by Sir William Hillary.
In days of old the wrecks were frequent here,
The treach'rous rock at times being flooded o'er,
And many a gallant son of Mona, dear,
Has perished, sad to say, in sight of shore;
But Hillary be praised, such scenes occur no more
There runs into the middle of the bay
A long and pleasant promenading pier,
And many here resort throughout the day
To breathe the freshness of the waters clear.
On summer evenings hundreds here repair
To see the fashions and themselves be seen;
To hear the music, and escort the fair,
And watch the rowers skim the wave serene,
Or gliding through the space the iron piles between.
A little distance further on there stands
Grand Castle Mona, built for ducal state; 9
Its promenade a lovely view commands,
And strangers pause to gaze in wonder great.
Its gardens vast abound with choicest flowers,
And many here retire beneath the shade,
To rest, or while away the golden hours,
Where branches form a cool Arcadian braid;
The pleasure grounds throughout are so inviting made.
Our way past the Falcon Cliff,10
Along the winding Crescent, by the sea,
Where many a lightsome, gaily-painted skiff
Is gliding o'er its bosom merrily,
We soon approach the foot of Onchan Hill,
And keeping by the shore, and passing thro',
We reach fair Derby Castle-if you will it
We'll climb the steepy headland; whence the view
Extends for miles around both town and ocean blue.'
But we must visit Onchan; o'er the Head
A footpath leads us to its fairy bay; 12
This is a fav'rite walk, the buoyant tread
Gives token of the health we bring away.
The village, too, will well repay an hour;
A pretty church erects its steeple high;
Some graceful homes the clust'ring trees embower;
The cottages are clean, the children shy,
And peace and quiet reign beneath the spreading Sky.
Returning by the upper road, the eye
Takes in a picturesque, extensive view;
Still, in the distance, hill and ocean lie,
While as we pass we find attractions new;
The Fairy Bridge-o'erarched with aged trees, 13
The Fairy Glen-the haunt of elf and fey;
He who repineth will be hard to please
If scenes like these, where Beauty loves to stray,
Do not his soul enchant and drive his care away.
Here far removed from murmur of the town,
Beneath the cool, green foliage of the trees,
The weary, wand'ring minstrel laid him down,14
And wooed the bracing fragrance of the breeze;
His burning brow was bared,-the summer hours
Unheeded rolled, and trilled the pipers gay
Their tender lyrics in the woodland bowers,
But still the poet's heart was far away,
As to his idol queen he sang this simple lay.
" Oh thou, Myrilla, 'fore whose matchless grace,
Earth, sky, and ocean sink in nothingness,
Would that I might behold thy absent face,
Would that thy presence might the minstrel bless !
Oh ! that mine arm might girdle soft thy waist,
That I might hear thy loving voice, divine,
And read those dreamy eyes, and, longing, taste
The nectar of those ruby lips of shine;
And feel thy honied breath commingle sweet with mine !
" Tho' far from thee I roam, my heart is bound
With vows recorded in the heav'ns above,
And blest am I to have life's spring-time crowned.
With the rich guerdon of thy maiden love;
" My heart, like truest needle to the pole,
Believe me, dearest, ever turns to thee,
To thee the fond enchantress of my soul,
Whose face in everything around I see,-
Whose picture fills my heart wherever I may be.
Tho' all around is fair-hill, dell, and lea
Wear not the olden brightness to mine eye,
All seem to lack the lovely imagery
Enriches everything when thou art by.
But this is nature ever-hearts were made
To hold communion; each must have its own,
And mine, transported, having homage paid
To thee, Myrilla, set thee on its throne,
Where it might idolize and worship thee alone.
" Before-the streamlet dances at my feet,
Above-the lark, high poised in ether, sings,
Around-the landscape lies in stillness sweet,
While Zephyrs fan me with their airy wings;
The world is full of love; all Nature breathes
The holy essence; flowers unfold their dyes
To glad creation; honeysuckle wreathes
Around the elm its balmy tendril ties;
Ah ! Nature teaches us the lesson it implies.
" Again I breathe the prayer-re-echoed oft-
That thou wert here I that thy dark eyes, divine,
Might gaze in mine, whilst that thy head, so soft,
Might nestling on my faithful breast recline;
That I might hear thee whisper thou art mine
And thus entranced the hours might glide away-
But be it so ! This homage to thy shrine,
This artless, unpremeditated lay,
My lowly lyre incites the wand'ring minstrel pay."
Continuing by the road that skirts the sea,
And saunt'ring down a grassy, country lane,
We enter " Little Switzerland," and we, 15
Well pleased, will surely seek its shades again;
For here, in Spring, the primrose in its pride,
(A flower the maids of Mona dearly prize),16
And purple violet grow side by side,
In rich abundance, 'neath the sunny skies;
A rare resort is this to rest and ruralise.
Now let us home return along the shore,
Where, in the summer, numbers love to roam;
Here bathe sweet sea-nympl:s, as in days of yore
And dance with joy, and breast the briny foam.
Beauty and health are seen on every hand,
Music abounds, and Fashion holds her sway;
Like some Enchanted Isle the golden sand
With all its life appears; the children play,
And in their boundless mirth the moments roll away.
Douglas ! adieu ! my song bath altho'
No pen could ever half thy charms reveal,
And they who further seek of thee to know
Should tread thy shores, and thy sweet influence feel.
Who can forget thy scenes-so wild-so grand ?
Thy crystal waters, and thy limpid rills ?
Thy magic beauties that around expand ?
Thy radiant landscapes, and thy tinted hills ?
No one can o'er forget whose soul with grandeur fills I
Again, I breathe a fond adieu to thee,
To scenes like shine what soul can say " Farewell ? "-
Thy green-clad hills, thy blue delightful sea,
Thy beauties scattered over hill and dell.
My heart is bound to thee, as with a spell,
For I have seen, and must thy charms adore;
'Tis calm and peace on thy sweet shores to dwell,
To me thou art all other lands before;
So let me ling'ring sigh adieu to thee once more !
1. This charming residence, the older portions of which are completely overgrown with ivy, is most delightfully situated, and, seeing that it stands on the sight of the ancient Nunnery founded by St. Bridget, it is said as far back as the sixth century, is well worthy of a visit indeed, as in the case of Kirk Braddan, no visitor who has omitted to " do " this sight has really seen the Island.
2. The saddle here referred to is still to be seen, and projects from the wall on our left as we pursue our way to Kirk Braddan, by the upper road, above Kirby, the seat of Sir W. A. Drinkwater. Whether the fairies still make use of the saddle or not may be, perhaps, is well imagined as told.
3. I believe I am not far wrong in stating that there are few, if any, attractions more dear to the hearts of the inhabitants of the Isle of Man in general, and more especially those of Douglas, than Kirk Braddan, with its old, simple, church, (may it never be permitted to fall into disrepair !) ancient tombstones, and relics of the distant past in the shape f Scandinavian and Tunic crosses. A feeling more than usually sacred must inspire even the most ordinary observer as he treads the consecrated earth of its crowded churchyard, where-
·'Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade,
Where heaves the turf in many a mould'ring heap Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,
The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep."
4. The tombstone erected by the Reverend Patrick Thompson, as it appears, eleven years before his death, bears the following uncommon and characteristic inscription:-" Here underlyeth the body of the Reverend Mr. Patrick Thompson, minister of God's word 40 years, at present Vicar of Kk Bradan. Aged 67, anno 1678. Deceased ye 24th of April, Ano 1689." Go and see it.
6. " This night methinks is but the daylight sick It looks a little paler; 'tis a day,
Such as the day is when the sun is hid "
Merchant of Venice, Act v., so. 1.
6. The Loch Parade, or Promenade-called after Sir Henry Brougham Loch, K.C.B., Lieutenant Governor of the Island-is one of the finest marine embankments of its kind in the United Kingdom, or elsewhere; and in naming it a well merited compliment has been paid to his Excellency, who, to his enduring credit, has transformed, since his appointment in 1863, the town of Douglas into one of the most charming watering places in the British Isles.
7. The " Tower Refuge," erected on St. Mary's Rook (n 1832, by Sir William Hillary, was built for the protection and shelter of ship. wrecked mariners, and, being exceedingly picturesque in appearance forms the subject of many a beautiful view and sketch It is and that it was constructed at the request of Lady Hillary, who then lived at Fort Anne, on Douglas Bead. All honour to her !
8. The Iron Pier, erected at a cost of above £6,000, is a very charming resort, and during the season is almost as well patronized as it deserves to be.
9. This imposing mansion, originally built by the Duke of Athol, for his own private residence, at no lees a cost than £40,000, the stones having been brought from the Isle of Arran, is now the property of the Castle Mona Hotel Company, Limited. On the sea-front of the building the armorial bearings of the Duke stand out in bold relief. The grounds (which, however, are open only to visitors to the hotel and subscribers) are the most delightful in Douglas, being not only beautiful, but highly cultivated.
10. This is a commanding building, with a pleasing tower, and crowde the brow of the lofty, precipitous Falcon Cliff. The view from this point is most extensive, and, probably, unequalled, and the appearance of the mansion, nestling in the trees, is unusually picturesque.
11. Derby Castle, which crowns the northernmost end of the Crescent and shore, is a delightfully romantic place, and has of late years been converted into a popular recreation ground.
12. Onchan Bay is a lovely spot, and should on no account be neglected. The walk referred to, over the head, is very pleasing, but it is only doing justice to the ladies, who, as a rule, are by no means partial to stiles, to prepare them for the difficulties, easily surmountable, hove. ever, inseparable from this journey. During the summer season wild flowers, of almost infinite variety, may be found growing here in bountiful profusion; the place being a perfect paradise of homers.
13. The Fairy Bridge and Glen are situated about two miles from Douglas-at least from the older part-and are beautifully situated, the road leading to the bridge being effectively shaded by stately, patriarchal trees, while the glen is a picture worthy alike of both poet and paimter.
14. Not necessarily the minstrel of the present poem. The feelings however, that inspires his breast is as old as Adam, and has been truer designated "the master passion." Who is insensible to its power ! I hare introduced this apparent digression (though it is not such) entirely for the sake of eulogising this charming glen, which all lovers of Nature, in order to form an adequate idea of its beauty, should certainly visit.
15. " Little Switzerland " is justly entitled to a leisurely visit, the viewer from the higher eminences being delightful; whilst in the summer's heat the shade of the abounding trees is most refreshing and inviting.
16. As proved by the number of maidens who wear bouquets of the" emblematical" flowers in their bosoms; to say nothing of the children. some of the brightest hours of whose lives are spent gathering them. It may be added that the primrose grows not only in great luxuriance but perfection in the Isle of Man.