[From Reminiscences of Notable Douglas Citizens etc, 1902]
The, conservatism of the average Manxman is very fixed and abiding ; it is like part of his very being and all innovations or attempts at progress are looked upon as the removing of old, but sacred, landmarks that ought to be cherished and conserved. and he is increasingly jealous if any "foreigner" or outsider dares to trespass on these sacred rights. But in spite of him, Douglas, like most places, has felt the force of the onward march, and has been pushed along with the rest of world commercially, educationally, and let us charitably hope, morally and religiously. I have in a previous chapter dealt with the "good old times," when things were cheap and the people lived under very different conditions to what they do now, and in this article on the question I wish to deal with my subject more in the character of
than that of a recorder of the events that passed under my eye, or within the ken of my knowledge.
I assisted as an enumerator to take the census of Douglas when the population was under 10,000. Now I presume it is slightly over double that number. But that, is not a marked increase when compared with Southport, which has put on 50,000 within a century, or of Bournemouth, which in half a century has three times the population of Douglas. Other watering places, such as Blackpool, show even a greater development ; but the whole Island as an Island isolated from the mainland cannot ever make the progress that towns easy of access with large populations within short distances to draw from can do.
The Douglas of fifty; to sixty years ago was a very circumscribed town ; taking the line along the Quay, up to Peel Terrace Athol Street only partly built on and "Hollantide Fair," held in the street winding round by Prospect Hill; the site of Murray's bake-house, up to the Scotch Kirk, market-gardens. St. George's Walk, back of Athol Street: was the boundary line between the town and country, and a walk to the Hills' house showed a mansion standing on its own ground as a centre of agricultural, arable, and grazing land. One side of Finch Road inhabited, and on the west side gardens and fields Mona Terrace looking down on the town, and then Harris Terrace running like a strayed part jutting up to a cul-de-sac. The entrance way of Castle Mona was at the Castle Tap by the "Iron Pier" building, and then a blank till McCrone's house was reached, with irregular houses in a string ending at Derby Castle.
The communication with the mainland, slow and seldom! The "King Orry " steamer had its hull built in Winram's ship yard, and sent to Glasgow for its " internals:" She had the reputation of being safe but slow a good eight hours was a farvourable passage, but nine or more an average ; and when one steamer made a six hours' run Robert Fargher said at a meeting; " it was quite within the bounds of probability that the distance might some day be covered in four hours." Some said he was mad; but was he ?
Now where were all
we have heard so much about living. The. people who went there to reside with their families and enriched the shop keepers? This is a matter that requires a little probing and light let in on it, for even now we hear so much of " the gentry " that once graced Douglas with their presence. This class of people do not now exist for the conditions of the Army and Navy in these days do not permit of men taking French-leave from their duties, selling out, or "swopping" their commissions, and "retiring on half-pay," &c. A great number of these people were returned officers from foreign service, who had been used to the isolation in their duties abroad; and a bi-weekly or tri-weekly mall was a luxury to them, and the climate of the Island was considered to have a remedial and invigorating effect upon those who had suffered from foreign climatic influences; but the whole secret, or a good part of it was caused by the fact that they could live more cheaply; and that there was not the same social position to keep up that would be exacted from their rank in England.. In addition to cheap provisions exemption from taxes, and low rents, they had peculiar privileges accorded to them by the Lieutenant-Governor in granting them "permits" for the importation of their own exciseable goods, which was
It was supposed that they had a kind of prescriptive right to this exemption, and the Governor favoured them and the officials of the Island, by granting them, or so such favourites as could influence him for the purpose. Men would apply for a large quantity of tea, sugar, spirits, wine, cigars, by a dozen times more than he would ever consume in his own family, mud for goods probably never used in his household. He might get a "permit" for only one-half of the quantity asked for ; but he would then set about to barter or trade with some persons not so privileged sell portions of his stock to friends but oftener trade with some grocer or spirit dealer, and get a quid-pro-quo for expanding over his order to another. This system was a vicious one, unjust to others outside the pale of favouritism, and very unfair to shopkeepers. Often the tradesmen were let in by them the men would go off, the women and children being left behind, perhaps in lodgings or a furnished house, and the assets left would not pay the cost of realising them.
Then the usual Douglas credit system was to render accounts at Christmas only, and if any tradesman pushed for his money out of season he would get blackballed or boycotted.
I have heard people say that with the advent of "trippers," dancing saloons and other draws of this kind for the crowd to visit the Island, this class of visitor or resident had been scared away. Whilst there may be some truth in it so far as retired people who had a regard for morality and wishing to bring up their families free from all the rowdy associations, I am not sure but that the military element that formed the larger portion of the upper class residents from fifty to sixty years ago, would not have thoroughly enjoyed it and helped in its promotion.
and of the last quarter century, there is much to be thankful for much to regret ; had its material advancement been separated from the exploiters in its moral ruin the town would have been richer in health and character than it is today, and with a surer basis or foundation for its future development,
Had Governors Loch and Walpole felt any interest in the religious and moral welfare of the Island, and not have measured its progress and developments by the amounts obtained from drink and tobacco, and by making each return of advance in duties the gauge for prosperity, Douglas would stand on a better footing commercially and morally today than it does.
I will always
that I hope some day will be recognised that the character for drunkenness and rowdyism in Douglas commenced with the laxity of the authorities in allowing dancing on the piers to the early hours of the morning. This compelled the boarding; houses to keep open for their visitors, and as a set-off they began to sell drink illicitly but under the knowledge, if not under a feigned sanction from the authorities. This dancing mania was provided for and fed at Derby Castle. Drink sellers and dividend hunters saw that this craze would grow with what it fed upon facilities multiplied; and from that source and through all as manipulations of syndicating and company-mongering may be traced all the various stages culminating in the great crash of Dumbell's Bank.
The inner life of these "limited" schemes, and of their promoters, directors, and supporters, over which charity or respect for some of their connections outside, compels me to throw a veil over base actions, short and polluted lives, not only cursed in themselves, but who have cursed others, by setting up pitfalls into which moral innocent blood has been spilt, characters ruined, homes devastated, and commercial, moral and social ruin dogged their actions, and placed the Devil's crow's-foot on every act.
If I wanted to dish up a chapter of horror: as a warning to others, I would begin with the. first company for drinking and dancing formed in Douglas, and trace the men connected with it and with the other ventures of the kind. Can any of my readers run back mentally over these men's lives and early deaths. Derby Castle, Falcon Cliff, &c., &c., &c.; how few have escaped from the inevitable consequences of connection with each places! and that few only for a time! The Nemesis is still dogging their heels daily, hourly, and they pass the reminder of their days despised and rejected by all or any who have studied their ways and means of making an appearance of riches, built upon the ruin of others!
in their fittings, furnishing, and general provisions are superior to anything I have ever seen anywhere; the Manx women are born lodging house keepers, as a rule, and we have no right to depreciate or disallow the "foreigners" in the trade either their right to be there, or that they have, with but special exceptions, properly conducted themselves and their houses. Many of the latter bought their properties or the goodwill of businesses under the impression that drink-selling in these houses was a. legitimate transaction allowed by the authorities, or winked at by them.
In fact, it was put on record by that famed speech of a former Deemster in introducing the " Permit Bill," that the houses were built larger in consequence of the illicit sale being allowed to go for years knowingly and admittedly by the authorities, and that to deprive them of the power to continue was to confiscate their properties. No enemy of the darns official system ever spoke harsher words against it or chronicled a. more damning indictment. Douglas now suffers from :an overproduction of accommodation. The supply of houses has exceeded the demand for them. The ever-increasing volume of visitors required to pay cannot be kept up, and the result is an opposition and cutting down of prices that cannot be remunerative. In no other watering-place in the Kingdom are visitors better housed, better catered for and certainly not at the loss cutting figures of Douglas; and there is nothing in Douglas, either in rents for good positions, price of food stuffs, coals, or has, to tenant it, and nowhere is the season so circumscribed or so dependable upon the weather.
No doubt but in the past the
to a certain extent, has done fairly well for the town, but like all other monopolies, they have held an iron hand, dominated their own course, irrespective of the wishes and interests of the general public ; their midnight Sunday steamer has keen largely at the bottom of the Sunday night noise on the Pier. I once made this statement before about 1882 or 1883. I was denounced, but I was surprised to meet one of their own directors a few days after my letter, who told me he had read my letter with disgust and disbelief. Said he : "I went last Sunday night by the steamer, in order, I hoped, to give you a direct contradiction ; but I found it worse than even your description, in fact it was unbearable, and I had to beat a retreat into a private cabin." Why should the Manx boats depart from the usual practices on board the general cross-channel steamers, i.e., close their bars at night at a certain hour!
The "No Sunday Steamer" is a piece of rank hypocrisy ; the men are engaged on Sunday, all the preparations are made on Sunday, and to allow the last stroke of twelve before they sail is a bit of too transparent "Devil dodging." It would be better for the Steam Packet Company, better for their employees, and a thousand times better for the passengers, morally and physically, if their steamers left Douglas at 5.30 p. m. on Sundays. Most of the passengers would get home for a night's rest not going about like half-drowned rats all next day ; the steamer's hands would get a respite ; Douglas would be saved from the usual Sunday night rush and noise on the Pier, and then conveyed back through the streets and into the boarding houses; and the quietly disposed could get to a place of worship.
is a huge mistake either summer or winter ; not only is there no necessity for it, but it is a, great inconvenience all the year round ; it compels the early departure of passengers from the outer towns in the winter, and it interferes with all the morning duties in boardinghouses and hotels in the season; it compels an extra, or early breakfast; it keeps the whole household dancing attendance on the departing guests, abstracting, the domestics' attention from their duties; when " boots" are on the Pier speeding the parting guests and looking after his "tips" he is most wanted at home to help; and then another breakfast has to be served for those who have been down seeing the steamer off. A 10 a.m. steamer would obviate all this confusion and annoyance There is no reason that the steamers should leave Douglas any earlier than when the steamers leave Liverpool 10.30 to 11.30. With even moderate fast steamers, passengers could go to London, or even to Brighton the same day.
The next thing I expect to hear is that the company has been swallowed by one of our large railway companies, and then another railway company will compete. The old order will have to make way for the new. This arrangement would not in any way disturb the. local trade or local interests of workmen and others; but, on the other hand, could be a blessing all round. Even you might get the "Mylrea Docks" for berthing and repairing the steamers.
The limited area of your landscapes and "Beauty spots" makes it all the more imperative that " with hearts resolved and hands prepared" you should all the more jealously guard them from the unholy grip of the destroyer the raids of vulturous syndicating speculators, rapacity of land-owners, and the official grasp of the agent of H.M. Woods and Forests. No amount of plastered over or concreted vandalism can compensate for the loss of natural beauty. The hideous ugliness of Douglas Head is now transformed from its once loveliness. The other headlands, mountains. valleys, and glens, cry out to the despoilers, " Hands off! " The substitution of turnstiles, gate-money, " merry-go-rounds," nigger singing, grog-selling, and dancing are poor exchanges for gorse, heather, ferns, flowers, and shrubs.
If thirty years' compulsory education, higher grade schools, art and science teaching, free libraries, picture galleries, &c., have not raised the minds and bodies of Manx visitors above the level of a long discarded " Manchester Rag Fair," or of Lancashire Wakes, then we have been spending our strength for nought, and are compelled to admit that stomach and heels drink and dance holds the field and dominates the situation.
I am afraid that the average native has not a very high ideal of the beauty of nature, landscape, &c., if we may judge from an incident in Tom Brown's experience. On one occasion he was in Baldwin, with the celebrated "Plains of Heaven" and "Day of Judgment" painter (Martin). In order to get a. better view of the glory and grandeur of an expanse of gorse in full bloom, they trespassed on a hillside. The owner, or tenant, made towards them in shirt sleeves, with hat in hand, panting and letting off steam, and his very look spelling" bad language." Brown knocked him off his guard by getting in " Good evenen' " words that always find a lodgment in the Manx heart. "'Deed, an' it's good evenen' to yourself," he replied. "We have got over the hedge," said Brown, " to better see this lovely landscape. What a glorious sight!" "well," said the farmer; "I don't know myself, at all, but I believe it's middlin'"; and scratching his head, said, " Now, if I could get riddance of the cushags and the goss, and manage to plough it, I think a middlin' good crop of turmits would grow there; may be priddis."
" Oh, what a falling off was there, my countrymen! "
The craze for advertising watering-places; and health resorts grows yearly, and the competition gets more severe. I question if it will result in very much good, for the difficulty will be to select from, and we all know to what extent "' padding " or make shifts are thrown into the illustrations, and very often a place naturally beautiful and lovely is marred by the over gaudy coloured caricature of it; but the battle is not so fierce among the resorts as it is among the "coloured" printers who get up these show posters, and I don't wonder that the street posters exhibited on the hoardings in London was taken as a proof of the want of taste and culture in England when compared with what America can do in fine art advertising.
But this battle of trying to out rival each other by bill-posting and advertising cannot last there is too much of the quack medicine puff about there, and it can only end in a waste of money and effort. People who go from home do not go merely to see beautiful scenery alone that of course makes their trip and stay all the more enjoyable but other considerations are now taken into account, and the most important one is that of health. People are not only anxious to know "what to eat, drink, and avoid," but where they may best dodge the microbes, bacilli, fever germs, bad sewage, bad water, and a hundred other fads and scares that never disturbed our forefathers or entered into their calculations for taking a. holiday.
The death rate of Southport, and even of small rural sanitary authorities are now given monthly, and many of the Southern watering places make this a great feature in their advertising, especially that part referring to zymotic diseases, and their freedom from them, but the general "tripper" to Manxland can scarcely have taken these things into consideration. But if ever you get back to a better class a higher and better paying class of visitors or of residents these will be difficulties that will have to be faced and will be exacted from you, and the sooner your house is put it order the better. The Island has so far suffered more from its moral reputation than from its physical, and one of your much-needed reforms is to place the Police Force under some proper board of control. It is a gross farce; that the Governor should be head of the police, with the appointment of the Chief, and all in authority under him, and the public get no voice in the selection or regulation of the force ; in fact your representative Government is only in name you are ruled by a one man despotism, and you have to run the risk of getting a wise or a very foolish ruler. The most natural or most national board would be the Town Council, but what I know of the Douglas Council I would be sorry to see them possessed of this power. I am afraid I am more than afraid I feel certain that many of the contra tempts" of the Manchester police would be acted and reacted in Douglas. A mixed committee consisting of the Attorney-General, as Governor's representative ; three of the Douglas M.H.K.'s, three from the Town Council, and two selected from the Guardians, and two from the School Board, so as to give it an elective character would be best.
Douglas has not only to wipe out its bad reputation, but it has to conduct its pubic life so as to obtain a clean bill of health physically and morally. There is no doubt but the chance for the better initiated a few years ago is bearing some good fruit; but one thing might be done, and that is to open up new roads and drives, for I have often heard visitors complain that it was " the old thing over again." but this, of course, is an unreasonable demand, and especially for those who might select Blackpool, Southport, and many other places where no drives can be had at all comparable with the worse of the Douglas ones, but where they are " dumpt" down in one town and nothing very near to see of either country or town. Douglas has not been so badly affected by the competition as has some other-places, for most of them suffered even worse this last season, but by the new system put in force by the
whereby they try to mop up all they can from the travelling public by keeping them continually on the wing from town to town, from place to place, feeding, and in some cases sleeping them, covering all the ground or sea possible so that nearly all the money goes into their coffers. You really require a much larger turnover in the number of the visitors in order that the boarding-houses can get the same profit result out of them or to be of the same service to shopkeepers.
I noticed this particularly in Douglas in the season of 1897 and 1898. I called to see some old Belvedere customers who used to stick for a fortnight or three weeks, I had a difficulty in catching them. "Gone to Dublin for a few days," "In the Lakes,' " At Belfast for a few days," " At Edinburgh and Glasgow." They told me at the hotel they had little more than pay for bed and breakfast out of some of them between their various trips so that the total number of arrivals or departures on the Island is entirely misleading unless the benefits of their visits are almost exclusively confined to the railways and steamers, But there is no use crying over spilt milk or kicking against the inevitable.
have come to stay ; it is too generally adopted, too popular and paying to be either opposed or growled at. It is a new departure to be reckoned with, and in a short season place will tell most prejudically on the takings got from these migratory visitors who merely fly through to other places, and frequently tourists possessed of circular tour tickets to the Island never reach there, but breaking their journey in Wales or the English Lake district squat down and go no further. I am not giving hypothetical cases, but from absolute bona-fide knowledge.
Just think of the facilities afforded through Cook's or the Railway Companies. aud this may serve as an illustration of the competition now going on. Visitors or tourists may go from the North of Ireland to the west of England for abort 25/-, taking Bath, Bristol, and Clifton, breaking their journey going, coming, or homewards at Birmingham, Worcester, Cheltleham, Gloucester, by fast trains.
It was a political saying in Englaud some years ago " that Ireland blocks the way," and if I may guage the tread of feeling and opinion, Ireland will become before long; the the great rival of the Isle of Man, and other places, for tourists. There has been a very sure and gradual development of this traffic for some years past, and but for the want of good hotels and boarding houses it would have been much greater. The '` dear, but dirty" hotels are being remodelled and new ones built to meet the demands for the Railway Companies are taking this matter up, aud some of these Irish companies are merged in or are subsidized by the large English ones, who have their own first-class Steamers aud every facility will be given to work them all in their own interest. The private enterprise of Irishmen are being devoted to this business with even an adance on most places, as they include in their daily tariff not only meat, drink, board, and lodgings, but pleasant drives daily. The novelty of being cadged, bullied, blarneyed, and outwitted by Pat on his own native heath gives a kind of romance and charm to the visitor, who as a rule is open to anything fresh and piquant as part of his change of air aud scenery, and there is no doubt but that the Heysham Dock schemes of the Midland Railway Company is intended for the Irish passanger aud cargo traffic.
T'here is no question but that the climate of tite Ishald is much milder than almost anywhere in England, except down in portions of Cornwall, and this feature ought to give it a pre-eminence as a winter resort, or make it more popular
but in view of its being utilised or resorted to would not very much benefit Douglas directly, only as the "front door" and chief commercial centre. The easterly aspect should be a great drawback to it; for it is too well known that an Eastern, North, or. North-Eastern aspect gives a larger death rate, than a town or country looking, south or west, and in the selection of dwelling-houses this consideration is becoming dairy more in request. I wonder if the Douglas people have as a rule ever contrasted the difference in the atmosphere on a cold day in Douglas between the general portion of the town Victoria Street, and elsewhere, with that part of the North Quay, from Ridgeway Street to the Bridge. along the Peel Road to the Quarter Bridge, or the sheltered, and remarkably changed temperature when once you pass the Iron Pier buildings, increasing in warmth till you reach a much higher temperature at Derby Castle.
I saw the other day that Dr Davies, of Ramsey, had attributed a high death rate in Lonan to inter marriage; this may be true to a certain extent, but my own impression is an impression I am corroborated in by a London Medical man that all the parts of the Island lying east from the Point of Ayre to Douglas Head must inevitably produce a large crop of pulmonary complaints.
I had a conversation once with a medical. man in Manchester on this subject, He said I am surprised that more is not made out of the middle of the Island; more resorting to the montain air, more going south and west. " ''If I ever thought," he said, " of starting a sanatorium or convalescent institution on the Island I would plant it south from Peel, about Glenmaye or Dalby."
There is no use suggesting or dreaming, of any great improvement in your fixed residents until you can offer then better means of transit, better postal facilities.
It is all very, well to point to the steamer service in summer quick and frequent. This only makes the contrast out of the season all the more keenly felt. If there is a time that rapid and comfortable passages are required it is surely when the days are short and the weather cold. The Tynwald was supposed to have been built and adapted for this object, but she has been conspicuous by her absence from the station, and is kept laid up for more than half the year, and "good old sure and safe boats" are kept doing their snail-paced journeys.
The question of few or many passengers or whether the winter's service pays or not, does not come into the calculation. Does the general station pay of which the Company claims a monopoly ? They have a right to take the horns if they take the hide. The question was asked once at a Midland Railway meeting if their hotels paid or not. The Chairman replied "hotels are part of our system; our general system pays, or you would get no dividends. We cannot select or eliminate what does or what does not pay." Hundreds of express trains are run in England which does not always pay. Scores of places are kept open on the Island which does not pay in winter" The Railway Companies here are taxed in every parish they pass through. Shop-keepers pay rates for slack as well as busy times, and the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company has its duties to perform to the public for its many privileges.
is a great drawback and hindrance, leaving Liverpool six or seven hours after the arrival in the city of all the mails from the three kingdoms, which are delivered in Douglas 12 or more hours after their receipt to Liverpool, and then the steamer's off again at nine next morning, leaving a few hours at night for correspondence, or missing That giving 48 hours of impossibility to reply. The two or three hours that could be saved in the passage by a fast steamer, and the steamer leaving Douglas at 10 or 10-30 a.m., would make a difference, but the mails ought to be in Douglas every morning, and despatched in the evening This would mean special steamers, ,say, from and to Holyhead. The Island is entitled to it, and ought to have it, but, the subsidy or grant would not pay the Isle of Man Company. Very well, let them ask for more, or chuck it up.
That the Irish mails would not afford of greater expense did not, weigh with the Irish M.P.'s., they insisted on a facilitated service. The L. & N.W.R.C. opposed, but they were. told they would either do it or leave it open to another company ; they had to swallow the threat and put on faster locomotives on land and shift off the stations their old steamers and put on new and very much faster one,. The mails had to be facilitated to the North of Scotland; the "Greyhound" trains were put on, and the greatest speed attained that was possible.
In Southport the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company has almost a monopoly of the town in their line, but they are not allowed to dominate or take their own way. They have to fight and yield to the combined public forces brought against them. The Town Council is ever to the front watching the interests of the town and demanding increasing facilities and advantages for the. public good. The Chambers of Commerce, the Recreation Committee, and even the small body of commercial travellers keep bombarding them, and now the company is carrying out enlarged stations, foot bridges, early trains, and other privileges that would not have been. conceded but for the pressure brought to bear on them.
The "crossing" will always form an elemnt in the calculation of visitors, for to the few who enjoy it there are many .who object; they don't like the experience of the man who said " one thing brought tip another," hence the need of every appliance and facility to minimize that difficulty. Short as the distance is between the main land and Isle of Wight they feel that it s a drawback and are now busy forrnulating a scheme for a. submarine connection wrtth the mainland, and there is even one projected to connect Ireland with Scotland, but that will be in the dim future after they have tried their "'prentice hand " on the English-France one.
The "all round the British Isles" trips, the "Mediterrean," "Land of the Midday Sun," &c., no doubt attracts a number who used to often cross and re-cross to the Island, but I have found that one trip of this kind is quite enough for a life time. and few have any ambition to face a worse edition of the discomforts that must inevitably be connected with them.
The attempt to kill the goose out-right now crippled that laid the golden egg the vandalism that has made the natural and rural beauty of Douglas Head into a fair ground and a centre of nigger buffoonery, cut up and devastated of its lovely slopes of heather and mountain grass. contracted in space, devasted and made a "waste howling wilderness" of ugliness, together with the mauling and spiteful desecration of the Nunnery Grounds; with the closing up of old paths, and circumscribing rights-of-way in every direction have all helped to mutilate and injure the town.
But the whole Island seems to have fallen among thieves, too often successful to grab the people's property for ërther the promoting cormorants or for the British Government goes on East, West, North, and South, but I do give credit for more pluck and fight to the Port Erin and Peel people in battling for their own than have. ever been shown by the inhabitant's of Douglas.
Over 30 year's ago, I was on the Island touring about. I came across two men working at a gateway. I saluted them with the usual " good everen." " May-be," one of them said, "you are a stranger looking at the country, and I am glad it is doing a fine day for you." I replied "You have a. lovely bit of scenery here." "Well, I suppose, indeed, it, is middlin', but don't tell them Douglas fellars about it at; all, for they will be here in a. crack. They'll put a public house here and a dancing place there, for they are like what the good Book says of the Devil, 'they are alway going about devouring,' and I hope they will never get this place." But get it they did.
The only two Manxmen who have attained to any high degree of honor in the world during the past century were born in Douglas Professor Forbes and the Rev T. E. Brown. The Professor was cut off in the middle of life and in the zenith of his fame, but much was expected from him as the result of his studies. His death was universally regretted as a great loss to the scientific world; but he was not kept in touch with the Island, for the demand on his talents sent him further afield, and to pursue his researches in and for the whole world.
Tom Brown, on the other band, was a home-bird, he lived, moved, and had his being in everything Manx; he found the ground thick with character, and incidents that appealed to the droll side of his natutre, and he revelled in it his powers of imitation and mimicry he cultivated in his younger days, and could imitate the good Archdeacon Moore so well that once in Louis Garrett's house, the housekeeper provided luncheon for the Archdeacon, who most likely at the time was busy in his Kirk Andreas study.
Evan Christian, Lewaigue, was another that Brown could do "to the life," in his preaching, and in his rolling out passages of Scripture, as easy as turning on a water-tap; or in his 'total speeches, denouncing the " ligger" traffic; or of Charles A. Killey, with his vehement denunciations against the Devil and drink; but no one expected that underneath all those comicalities, or above them all, there was a poetic genius that, had it been devoted to English poetry, and less to the delineation of his own native national life, would have placed him on the top roll as one of our greatest poets, and even now, he comes in as a good second to Tennyson.
The only other great Manxman of the middle century were all belonging to three different religious denominations, and, strangely, they were all branches of one family.
Canon Stowell, for many years, was the leading Church of England minister in the Manchester district, and was a great power and force in all its Church activities; his fine physique and energy, especially when on the platform, gave him an imposing appeararrce, and in both his sermons and speeches he dealt with strongly controversial subjects, and treated them generally in a combative and fighting form; he was particularly and more popularly known as the champion of Church against Dissent, and of Ultra-Protestantism against Popery,
was a near relative of the Canon; he was recognised more as a finely-cultured man than as a great preacher; his sermons were delivered in a more persuasive, conversational style, and formed a great contrast to the thunders of the Canon, but he left his mark on the Congregational Churches, adorning them himself, followed by two sons, who proved worthy sons of a worthy sire, and now two grandsons are in the truly Apostolic line all three generations following in the faith of the Doctor.
Of Hugh Stowell Brown, I may be allowed to have a better knowledge of his early public life than any other man living or even dead. I arranged for his first Temperance speech in Douglas; invited him to take part in the first Sunday Closing meeting, under the chairmanship of his good father, the Vicar of Braddan, giving his father the opportunity, for the first time, of hearing his intelligent and eloquent son, and which formed the turning point in his life towards the ministry. During his studies at King William's College, I was always in touch with him, and when the disagreement between him and the Bishop and Archdeacon took place, he made me one of his confidential advisers. The inner history of Hugh Stowell Brown's break with the Established Church has never been written never will be now as the principal actors have all passed off the stage of life.
I heard from his own lips the following version of it. St. George's and St. Thomas' Churches were then vacant, or likely soon to be. The Vicar of Braddan had the presentation or veto on these appointments, as they were only chapels-of- ease to the Parish of Braddan. Before Hugh Stowell Brown had passed his studies or was ripe for ordination, the Bishop approached the Vicar with a suggestion that these appointments or nominations should be transferred to him. The Vicar retorted that there was some ulterior object in this demand. If they were afraid that he would present to an important living his own son, who had neither age or experience needed for either appointments, then they had entirely misrepresented him and his duty to the Church; but although he might, so far as he was concerned, waive his right in the matter, he held a. trust a sacred trust, for his successors in the Vicarage, and this he would not barter away. If the system was wrong, the Bishop, as a member of the Legislature, had his remedy by seeking an alteration in the laws. Hugh Stowell Brown thought that there was a plot to keep him back, and that some of his examining questions were formulated to thwart or hinder him, and he, of all others, was not the man to be badgerel; he got his back up and fought them. In one examination he was asked as to his opinion on "Apostolic Succession." "Just this," he replied; "that it is a bit of gross humbug that is as untenable as it is un-Scriptural." The result of it all was that he was to be sent to penal servitude by being offered a kind of semi-cleric and school-master's position at Foxdale Mines, till he had sown some of his wild radical and theological oats and toned down. I remember him coming to me in a high dudgeon, his left arm emphasising very strong-language against Bishops and all in spiritual authority over him. I strongly appealed to him to break with a Church that would never be a congenial home for him; he had too much radicalism for his nature to be tied down by stereotyped forms. The Congregational Church would be more suited to him, and he could easily get into the Lancashire Congregational College. " Well," he said, "this is a serious step for me to take. I am personally inclined to act on your advice; but I will consult my father, and let you know in the morning what I have decided to do." I saw him next day, and he said, "All right, my father says follow your own conscience in the matter; my leanings are more towards the Baptists, and I have a friend whom I will consult about going into one of their colleges for a short training in their system."
The night he was leaving for Bristol Baptist College by a late steamer, his father was found dead in the road, and before he had left Liverpool for the west, he was summoned back to his father's funeral. After he had been at home a few weeks, I induced him to preach in Haining's Old Chapel, Athol Street, then without a minister. I got the consent of the Deacons this act completely severed his connection with the Established Church, and from his preaching the next few Sundays in the same place, came the invitation to Myrtle Street, Liverpool; he never went to any Dissenting College and never had but one pastorate. After he had been a few years in Liverpool, he came over to see his mother, who lived in Derby Square. I was going home with trim one. night, when, in his abrupt way, he stood. "Cowin," he said, "you are the human instrument in God's hand in giving me my present position as a Dissenting minister."
Many years after this, we met at Newton-in-the-Willows Station, both waiting for trains. "I am glad to see you," he said; "I often think of you. It was an appeal from you that made me turn my back on the Established Church, and my face to Dissent. If Liverpool, or mankind in general, are anything the better for my preaching and lecturing, you are entitled to :ome of the credit."
I am quite aware that Hugh Stowell Brown was not, in the later days of his life, over popular with a number of Manx-people in Liverpool. He had given them a few bitter pills to swallow, and to swallow them, too, at an annual gathering, where nothing but " our noble seires " was the key-note to be heard, and even where the failings of Manx human nature are supposed to be so sugar-coated that they will go down like " greased lightning." But I believe he was the only Manxman in the three kingdoms that the people he worked longest with and was best known amongst have revised an enduring life-size statue as a record of their appreciation of all his sterling good qualities and ability.
I have heard of other great Manxmen, but their greatness has been connected with some phases of war. I don't consider that even a greater warrior than ever the Island turned out to be entitled to any credit for greatness; for even pluck is only too often brute force, and for fighting, all thab a or ever was necessary in war, are tactics and endurance. The Boers carry the palm, notwithstanding all the contempt and vituperation that. have been cast on them by some writers in Manx newspapers.
One of the features that the Island possessed at the time I write about, was
All local papers had enjoyed this privilege for, I believe, all. time ; but the " foreigners" saw a scheme in it for evading the English postage and advertisment duty, and the British Temperance League issued their paper, which was printed by Mr W. Robinson in the house, Athol Street, formerly used as a. telegraph office. Two Scotch men, Shirreff and Russell, put down large printing plant at the back of "Kelly, the boots," in Lord Street. They issued some half a dozen newspapers for English or general circulation. Brontiere O'Brien, the famed Chartist Writer and speaker, lived in Douglas as editor of a Chartist newspaper. All was going on merrily; larger post cars were required; and a demand for more pay for the carriage to the steamers : but. at last, the straw that broke the camel's back arrived in a very fiery-turn-the-Church-upside-down Scotchman,-the Rev J. Marshall, who lived at Ballasalla, I think in Rushen Abbey, and he started a Church newspaper. The paper, published supposedly in the interests of the Church of England, had for its contributors many men eminent in the Church, in literature and Church reform, and they sent such a bombarding from Douglas for the reform of the finances, exposures of the sale and trucking in livings, Bishop's salaries, and other abuses, that no Bradlaugh, and certainly no Anti-State Church paper or Lecturer ever succeeded. Some of the Bishops winced under the lashing, and brought the matter as a grievance into the House of Lords, why should this free postal privilege be accorded to the Isle of Man, in order that fire-brand parsons, and others, should take advantage of it as a kind of battery or vantage ground to sow dissension in the Church, and to malign the good spiritual peers. Brontiere O'Brien might use the same weapons for things carnal, and to insist on all the points in the charter ; but the Church was too Sacred an institution to be reviled and threatened even by those of their own household and in the same faith. I had often hinted to Shirreff, with whom I was friendly. that some day the privlege would be withdrawn; but he only laughed at it. "If they hurt our trade," he would say, "they must compensate us for our loss,"-but the fiat arrived, subjecting thr: purely local papers, as well as the "foreigners," to the regular postage, and away went another Manx privilege. Shirreff and Russell published a weekly Manx paper, and, if I mistake not, it was called the "Isle of Man Times," and it is no disparagement to other local papers to say that it was the best local paper ever issued on the Island. They had at hand the choicest paragraphs from their export paper set up ready to transfer to their own local paper, and only required the purely Manx news to be added.