[from D. Robertson, Tour, 1794]
REVIEW OF THE MANKS HISTORY, FROM THE SCOTTISH CONQUEST TO THE ACCESSION OF THE HOUSE OF STANLEY.
ALEXANDER having subdued the ancient kingdom of Man, submitted it to be governed by Thanes or Lieutenants; against whose tyranny the natives struggled for several years. At length, impelled by their distresses, they rose, determined either to exterminate the Scots, or perish in the attempt. They were however restrained from this resolution by the influence of their Bishop; who shuddering at such a general effusion of blood, proposed to decide the future fate of the country by a combat of select warriors. The Scots being elated by their former success, and the Manks fired with that enthusiasm which the love of liberty ever inspires, both parties eagerly assented. Thirty heroes were selected from each nation: a vale was appointed for the lists; and on the opposite mountains were ranged the two nations, anxious spectaters of the valour of the combatants. The engagement commenced about three hours before noon; and with various success continued till sunset, when the last of the Manks warriors fell. Astonishing feats of heroism were displayed on each side: the Scots obtained the victory; but their Thane was pressed to death by the multitude, and twenty-five of their combatants were slain(1).
The Natives thus finding every effort to restore their ancient Government frustrated, reluctantly bowed their necks to the rigorous yoke of the Scottish Monarch. The prudence and generosity of Maurice Okerfair(2), and the mildness of his Successor, for a few years mitigated their oppression: but the Manks were soon again subjected to the controul of masters less politic and merciful, under the rod of whose power their sufferings increased. With regret they looked back to the warlike dignity of their hereditary Kings; and now highly prized even the small portion of freedom they sometimes enjoyed under them. Remembrance of past happiness heightened their present wretchedness. The martial Genius which had animated them to repel the invader at home, or achieve conquests abroad, was no longer terrible. The virtues of the people gradually degenerated; till at length, by the tyranny of their new conquerors, the Manks nation sunk into a race of sullen and indolent slaves(3).
The Scottish Monarchy preserved her conquest of the Hebrides; but the Isle of Man was, after various contests, finally wrested from her by the English arms. Sir William Montacute, an affable and generous hero, who had married a descendant of Godred Crovan, being furnished, by Edward the Third, with an army and navy to prosecute his lady's right, soon reduced the Island; and, by command of the English Monarch, in 1344, was crowned King of Man. But Montacute did not long retain this honour: his pecuniary exigencies compelling him to mortgage his kingdom to Anthony Beck, Bishop of Durham; a subtle and avaricious bigot, who soon after obtained a Grant of the Island from Richard the Second. On this Prelate's decease, the kingdom of Man returned to Montacute, now created Earl of Salisbury; who soon after sold it to Sir William Scroop, Chamberlain to the King. Scroop was an artful sycophant of Richard the Second; and to gratify his own avarice and ambition, deluded his Sovereign into those errors, which soon terminated in the ruin of both (4). Richard's fate is well known. Scroop, on Henry's assumption of the crown of England, was beheaded; and the Isle of Man was then granted by that Monarch to Percy, Earl of Northumberland, and his heirs; on condition that they should carry on their left shoulder, at the coronation of else English Monarchs, the sword with which Henry was girt when he entered England. To the power and influence of Percy, Henry was considerably indebted for the crown he had assumed. His services merited the gratitude of the King: but the honours he obtained, being either inferior to his merit or ambition, he boldly attempted to shake the throne, which he had so zealously contributed to establish. The vigilance and policy of Henry frustrated his perfidy: while the just resentment of the Monarch deprived him of this ample domain.
The Isle of Man was then, in the sixth year of the same reign, conferred on
for life: and soon afterwards, (A. D.1406,) he enjoyed a new and ample Grant (5), which extended to his heirs and successors; " to " be held of the crown of England by liege homage, and the service of rendering to the English Monarchs two Falcons on their coronation."
By this liberality of Henry the Fourth, Sir John Stanley and his Descendants obtained a plenitude of regal power and dignity. Nor was this grant inauspicious to the Manks nation. It does not present a gloomy picture of the turbulence of heroes, or the devastation of conquerors: but a record of the People, limiting the prerogative of their Kings; combating the despotism of their Governors; and establishing a form of legislation, which, notwithstanding its imperfections, is to this day revered as the sacred constitution of the country.
1 From this combat probably arose an ancient law in this Island, for deciding controversies by prowess; which was prudently abolished in 1429.
2: He attempted to extinguish the animosities of the two nations, by commanding thirty intermarriages to be celebrated is, one day.
3: This degeneracy is not peculiar to the Manks nation. When the divine flame of Liberty enlightened and animated Greece, her sons were accounted beings of a superior rank to the rest of mankind: but when the Sun of Freedom visited other climes, Science, Genius, and Virtue expired in that country; and the descendants of those great men sunk into the most abject slavery. Even at this day, they are only distinguished from the hordes of slaves who surround the Turkish throne by a baser servility.
4: For opposing the despotic measures of Richard the Second, the Earl of Warwick was condemned to perpetual imprisonment in this Island.
5: This Grant contained the royalties and manerial rights of the Isle, as amply as any former Lord had enjoyed them; with the patronage of the Bishoprick and the advowson of all other Ecclesiastical Benefices.