LIKE every other Nation, the Isle of Mann has its Legends, Myths, and Mysteries, by which we may trace its antiquity, and its connection with remote peoples.
What fossil remains are to the Geologist, Customs and Creeds are to the Historian - landmarks of the extent and progress of intelligence and civilization.
Popular Tales, Songs, and Superstitions are not altogether profitless; like the fingers of a clock, they point to the time of day. Turns and modes of thought, that else had set in darkness, are by them preserved, and reflected, even as objects sunk below the horizon are, occasionally, brought again into view by atmospheric refraction.
Fables are facts in as far as they mirror the minds of our less scientific Ancestors.
That man should have solemnly believed in the existence of Fairies, Spectres, and every variety of Superstition, but testifies the vivid impression physical and mental phenomena made upon his mind. Placedin a world of marvels, he questioned the marvellousquestioned until dark Diviners, Interpreters, arose bewildered and bewildering, yet striving after the light-striving to solve the enigma of LIFE, striving to fling from the soul the burden of an unexplained mystery.
Divest our popular Superstitions of the grotesque garb thrown over them by the misconception and exaggeration of the illiterate, and we shall find in them embodied fancies graceful as. the Grecian.
When Paganism fell, its Myths and Mysteries perished not amid its ruins, - as preserved by the POET they are interesting relics of a dead creed.
Let us, who smile at the simple faith of the mountain rustic, ask-Does no Familiar-spirit,* no Spectre from the past, fling its darkening shadow over our homes, and colour our meditations? Does no Baalt walk with us in the subdued light of our solemn Cathedrals ?
It almost seems as if poor human nature could only open one eye at a time!
Our tales of Fairies and Phantoms are but the glamour of set or setting Creeds;- touching those of the Isle of Mann, the classic Student may discover curious resemblances suggestive of the Heathen Mythology.
The Manx possess many highly poetical, descriptive poems, legends, and songs, and are remarkable for their sweet, soft, musical voices.
The air of " MYLECHARANE " is singularly plaintive and of very high antiquity. The Song and Melody have a strange fascination for the imaginative Manx; but I think that some connecting verses are lost, for these primitive writers were precise and given to detail;-when they had a story to tell, they told every bit of it; and these Insular Melodies were not reduced to writing until, comparatively, modern times.
A friend tells me that, when a boy, he was acquainted with a blind old man who used to wander up and down the Island to sing at the fire-sides of his countrymen. This old, blind Singer often asked him " to write his songs down," and my friend regrets that he allowed such an opportunity of collecting Manx legendary lore to pass.
Like Socrates certain Manx Sages affected to have a Familiar spirit, and this spirit or demon they sometimes bequeathed in their wills as an heir-loom to their descendants.
The Kings of Mann had always their Court Minstrels. Where now the good old Manx lays these Minstrels sang?
If our upland Singers will commit any they may have to writing, and kindly send them to Mrs. QUIGGIN, Bookseller, North Quay, Douglas, they will be duly valued.
Woodburn Road, Douglas, May, 1859.
+ Baal; found to be identical with Apollo. Fires are still kindled on the bills here on Old May-day in commemoration of Baal or Bel-called Beltin.
[Since the publication of the first Edition of MYLECHARANE a Manx version, containing four additional verses, has been sent to the Translator.]