[From Manx Yarns, 1905]
" Manxmen love their native
Their Island songs, their Island tales."
IN the dawn of this new century, our little Man Island, notwithstanding its isolation and its present industrial depression, ought to boast of a prosperous, contented, and happy people, as it still possesses many peculiar advantages financially, civilly, and politically, in comparison with its adjacent neighbours. In addition to the great shoals of summer visitors that invade our shores, and are a source of great wealth to the inhabitants, is there not always left to the tillers of the soil and the toilers on the deep a reward and recompense for their labours, a two-fold blessing, namely, the golden harvest of the land, and the silver harvest of the sea ?
If we wish to adequately describe the Manx social life and character, and, by doing so, gain an insight into. the domestic features and modes of life of this little kingdom, and into what it was like in times long past, we can only do so by quoting its proverbs, idioms, customs, sayings, and doings, its many tales and anecdotes of wit and humour. There is quite a world of picturesqueness in our little national life, which lends itself to interesting and beautiful scenes.
If the rising generation carefully study and look into this interesting subject, they will soon get at the root of the matter, and, while enjoying an amusing anecdote or story, catch a glimpse of the features of the past, and discover what manner of men the forefathers of the present Manx nation were.
The Manxman at home is very aptly described in his life and character by a single word, " Traa dy liooar," which means " time enough," and the proverb, " The Manxman is never wise till the day after the fair." Like a Chinaman, he is never in a hurry. I was once urging a manservant to make haste on a message, when the reply came, " Well, Mastha, dont put your shouldher out. I was once in a hurry, and I fell, got up, and fell again." On the other hand, the Islands coat of arms, with its motto, " Quocunque jeceris stabit," speaks of action and independence. However, it is only fair to say that when a Manxman emigrates to any of our colonies he invariably becomes a new man.
His industry, thrift, sobriety, intelligence, and go-ahead-ness soon give him prominence as a man of grit, worth, and substance in his adopted home. Like the Scotchman and Irishman, he is to be found in all our colonies, and in every sea and every clime. The struggle for existence, in the stern reality of life, in a larger sphere, brings forth the sterling qualities and good parts of the man which lay dormant in his Island home. Competition and opportunity sting him into action. In the battle of life, a Manxman generally gives a good account of himself.
Now, in the pages of this little volume, I will endeavor to show you, by examples, that the Manx are a shrewd and observant race, with a character more like that of the Scotch people than that of their other near neighbours. Passing most of their lives in a lonely isle, they are naturally superstitious, clannish, cautious, conservative, and haters of anything new. Proud of their independence, insular rights, and privileges, they become vain and boastful of their privileges.
Easy-going, they abhor the bustle and excitement of modern ways of life. " What did for my father will do for me," is a favourite saying among them.
Only acquainted with war from afar off, the Manx by nature are a peace-loving and law-abiding people. We find mention of the Potato and Copper Riots by the natives as the only acts of rebellion against the rule of the Lords of Man. The horrors of war have never been experienced by them.
One peculiarity of character I should like to point out, and that is that with all their patriotism, if one of their kith and kin rises to distinction by acquiring wealth or fame above his fellows, they are fond of making little of his success or reputation, taking for granted that such things were nothing more than were to be expected. Let me explain by an example. Not so long ago, Mr Hall Caine was having a pleasant conversation with an old man in Ballaugh, where he spent his boyhood days, and during the conversation, his old friend inquired, " Where did you get your brains, Mr Caine? I knew your father and I knew your mother when they lived amongst us."
Again, on acquiring a large fortune in South Africa in the diamond fields, another man returned to his native place, where he was honoured and made much of. An old acquaintance of the successful man was heard to say, " That fellow, indeed ! I remember when he had as many patches on his breeches as I have now."
This darling insular race, sprung from so many parent stems, is mixed and inter-woven like a Scottish tartan plaid. Yet, living side by side, we find two distinct races of men, who differ greatly in colour, character, and temperament. In one street we will come across the fair-haired, blue-eyed, honest, good-natured Scandinavian, whilst his neighbour will be the swarthy, dark, sombre, scheming Celt, fond of litigation, and ready to pick a quarrel with anybody.
Dwelling in a lotus-land, when time is of no consequence, the Manx are always on the alert for news of any sort, and consequently are terrible gossips, and by nature procrastinators, always putting off their business affairs to a morrow which may never come. Manx gossips are great perverters of the truth, and their stories gather fresh detail as they go from lip to lip. Politics the natives are ignorant of, or quite indifferent to. Not having any party to vote for, their election cry is lowered to the standard of the teetotal Dissenting party against that of the Church, and the differences between these two sections constitute the main part of Manx politics. Party politics have no place.
How amusing it must seem to outsiders to mark their electioneering contests, or learn why they vote for a candidate!
By nature superstitious, in the country districts witch-craft, magic, and charms are believed in to this day, especially amongst the seafaring population. Let me give you a few samples.
In conversation with an old salt a few days ago I was seriously informed that " he believed that when ghosts wore seen it was largely due to drink," but as to fairies and bugganes, he was firmly of the opinion that they existed, as he had seen them many a time, especially on one occasion at Glen Cam, near Kirk Michael. On one occasion he and another man saw two damsels, attired in bright yellow bed-gowns, frisking in the moonlight on the banks of the Glen Cam streamlet.
He also related how a man passing a thorn fence at Greeba saw displayed thereon a fine " wash," including a number of little shirts, some of which he took for his large family at home. But, on reaching his house, a pain seized him in the arm with which he had stolen the shirts. A friend advised him to put them where be got them, and after he had done so, the pain went away.
Once he saw a neighbouring boats crew stealing ballast from another boat which had had a lucky season, so as to get " some of their luck."
Lastly, my old seafaring friend related that on his journey from the northside to join his fishing boat in Peel, he met a man he did not like the looks of. To "dodge" him, he went over the hedge and stayed there until he had passed, and then came out of his hiding-place, scraped up some of the dust off his feet, and said, "We ought to have luck this week." Dust is supposed to be the great antidote to the effects of witchcraft. Feeling greatly amused with my old friends stories, I asked him if he was convinced be had seen fairies dancing on the hillside, when he made answer, " Yes, indeed, I am certain of that, and I have smelt fairies too." On my asking what they smelt like, Tommy replied, " Like the mist off the sea, or the droppings from a goose."
A very curious superstition still lingers amongst fisher-folk, for which no good reason can be given. When the boats are about to start for the mackerel fishing in Ireland, the crews have a strange idea that the third boat leaving the harbour will be very unlucky, and they make all sorts of excuses to avoid being the third boat to leave the port. One year the difficulty was solved by tying two boats together. Sometimes the owners of the supposed unlucky boat have to resort to the expediency of a bribe to start the crew of the third boat upon their voyage.
In these days of steamer and railway, we may laugh at the belief in fairies, but we cannot help being persuaded by examples recorded that there may be some truth in the stories about them. Waldron gives an instance of Fairy Music. An English gentleman on horseback was passing through the river at Douglas, and as he was in the middle of it, he heard, or imagined ho heard, what he could not call the finest symphony in the world, for nothing human, he was convinced, ever came up to it. The horse was no less sensible of the harmony than himself, and kept in an immovable posture all the time it lasted, which, be said, could not. be less than three-quarters of an hour, according to the most exact calculation he could make when he arrived at the end of his little journey, and found how long he had been coming. He who before laughed at all the stories told of fairies, now became a convert.
It is well known that all fairies and their like have a great objection to noise, and especially to the ringing of church bells. W. Harrison relates the following story : About seventy years ago, a man, very early one spring morning, heard a low murmuring noise. On going to the door to see what occasioned it, he beheld multitudes of the "good people passing over the stepping stones in the river, and wending their way up the side of the hill until they were lost! in the midst that enveloped the top of Beary Mountain. They were dressed in "laughtyn" (brown Manx cloth), with little pointed red caps, and most of them were employed in bearing upon their shoulders various articles of domestic use, such as kettles, pots, pans, the spinning wheel, etc, evidently seeking fresh and more quiet quarters, having been dispersed from their old resort, it was supposed, by the noise of a fulling mill lately erected in the neighbourhood.
Jenkinson gives the following : A woman during harvest was in a field helping her husband to stook the corn, when she heard her child crying. She had previously placed it behind one of the stooks, and when the arrived at the spot, it was missing, and another child was in its place, it having been changed by the fairies. Soon afterwards, hearing this child cry, she began to run to it, but her husband, knowing it was not the voice of their own child, held her back, and would not let her go till the cry ceased. She then went back and found her own child. The fairies, having heard their child in distress, and seeing it uncared for, had taken it away, and left the woman her own child.
Among other traditions I may mention the following : It is said of children dying without being baptized that their ghosts used to lament in the churchyard in the dead of the night. Once a man was passing the churchyard, and he heard a little voice saying : " Lhiannoo dyn ennym moe, lhiannoo dyn ennym moo" ("A child without name am I, a child without name am I.") The man said : " My she gilley eu, ta moo bashtey en Juan, as my she inneen eu ta me bashtey eu Joney " (" If thou art a boy I christen thee John, and if thou art a girl I christen thee Joney") ; and thenceforth that ghost! was at rest. It is the custom yet to bury a stillborn child at dead of night, as they are not allowed to be buried in consecrated ground.
An enchantress who rode on a milk-white palfrey, led her train of lovers to a deep river, and when they were all a good way in it, she caused a sudden wind to rise which, driving the waters up, swallowed them all. She changed after into a bat and flew off, and the palfrey turned into a sea hog or porpoise, and plunged itself to the bottom of the stream.
On a wild common near Kirk German, an appearance is said to have been once seen which assumed the shape of a wolf, and filled the air with most terrible howlings. In is needless to say that the wolf in reality has always been unknown in the Island.
A man was going over a pretty high mountain in the night, coming from Douglas on his way to his sister in Kirk Malew, when he heard the noise of horses and the halloo of a huntsman, and the finest horn in the world. He counted thirteen in number, all dressed in green and gallantly mounted.
There is a story of some little white animal, like a young pig. The old folk called it the uircean sonny, or the lucky or plentiful little pig. They used to say if you caught it you would be very fortunate ; that you always find a piece of silver in your pocket when you were in need of it. A woman once said that she was walking one night, and came across some little white thing, but she did not catch it., nor try to catch it, but for some time afterwards she always found a silver piece in her pocket, when she needed it, and put her hand into her pocket, not thinking to find it. And this continued for some time ; but she told one of her friends about it, and she did not get any morethe bank was closed.
In Lord Teignmouths Sketches (1836), there is given an instance that fairies will not suffer abuse without resorting to some mode of punishment. A man of Laxey, somewhat intoxicated, met a party of them and began forthwith to abuse and curse them as the devils imps ; they wreaked their vengeance on him by piercing his skin with a shower of gravel. The writers guide, perhaps recollecting that the fairies were within hearing, took their part, and expressed his assurance that they would not have molested him had he not provoked them by his insults. The catastrophe did not terminate here. The offender sickened that night, his favourite beast died next morning, his cows died also, and in six weeks he himself was a corpse.
In these prosaic, matter-of-fact days of the "strenuous life," people may laugh at these tales, but they cannot succeed in. explaining them away.
The fairies of the Isle of Man are hollered to be spirits, some good, and some bad. In fact, they are supposed to be the real genuine aboriginal inhabitants of the Island.
The Manx, especially the fisher folk, are strict observers of the Sabbath, and adhere to the old law to " do no manner of work " on Sunday, not oven so much as Christ Himself sanctioned. Probably laziness has a good deal to do with this. Let me give an instance of this, in which I acted a part. Some years ago an Irish fishing boat caught some fine mackerel off the Manx coast on a Sunday. No natives would purchase the fish, because they were caught on the Sabbath Day. On the Monday morning, an Irish fish dealer from Douglas bought them, but while he was in the act of landing them on the quay, the local men indignantly seized the boat and upset man and fish into the sea. The unfortunate fish buyer employed me to put the law in, motion, and the result was that the wrong doers were fined and had to pay the price of the fish and costs. Needless to say, I was in great disfavor with my fishermen friends for some time afterwards.
In former days, the two chief industries the Manx people had to depend on were fishing and farming, both of which employments are peculiarly dependent upon what sort of weather Providence sends ; the winds and waves at sea, and the rain and sunshine on land. Naturally, therefore, the Island race are a religious and God-fearing people. One sweet old custom still lingers among them. When a fishing boat is leaving the shore and the sails are set, the skipper will call out, " Now, boys, are you ready ? Lets do as we always do." Then all hands take off their caps, and silently ask Gods blessing on their nights labours an the sea.
Caution is another prominent feature in the Manx character. The Manxman is very suspicious of strangers, and chary of giving them information ; and, also, he will seldom give a direct answer to a question, or an unqualified opinion about any person or thing. The common expressions of the country clearly demonstrate this peculiarity. " Thats a terrible fine turnip, as the Irishman mid." " Its a fine day, though." " How are you, for all." We can here observe the one idea of caution. Afraid of making his own assertion too positive, he uses the phrases, " though," " the Irishmen said," and " for all." Many more instances of this trait in Manx character will be found in Chapter III. of this volume.
A retrospective glance over the history of the little Manx nation will at once convince anyone that it formerly held, in its life and character, a unique and interesting position amongst the surrounding countries. A little island in the sea, isolated from its larger neighbours, it had to depend entirely upon itself for its life and existence.
If we picture to ourselves a farmer of those times, be verily was a King among his brethren. Bright, buoyant, and hopeful, he strove to be upright and just in all his dealings. He depended on no outsider for anything. He possessed all the necessaries of life on his own estate, and so the markets of the outside world affected him but little.
What a wonderfully privileged little kingdom this was, where nearly every man in it either inherited or rented a small amount of land, which he cultivated when not afloat in his fishing beat. Such a life, half-farmer, half fisherman, made him very independent, upright, brave, and fearless, yet strongly influenced by superstitions and religious feelings, the latter doubtless largely caused by " doing his business in great waters." Independence might well flourish in this favoured spot, where two-thirds of the Commons Lands were free for everybody to graze their cattle and sheep and dig turf without charge.
Speaking generally, there were no taxes to pay, and as the inhabitants possessed nearly everything for themselves, money was not requisite to purchase food or rainment. They had sheep on the mountains and abundant fish in the sea. Salmon was so plentiful that servants stipulated in their hirings that they should not be fed on salmon more than twice a week. The wages of a servant, by the bye, were fixed by law at £2 per annum.
One may guess how out-of-the world it was, when, in stormy weather, no mails were delivered for a week or ten days. The battle of Waterloo had been fought six weeks before the news reached its shores. How strange this seems to us nowadays, when our swift steamers reach the mainland in a few hours, and the telegraph can flash intelligence from all parts on the world. You can get a reply by wire from New Zealand in five or six hours.
Let me try and picture to the reader the life of a farmer many years agolet us draw a veil over the present state of society, and peep for a moment into the lives of the natives; of bygone times in Ellan Vannin Veg Veen.
The thrifty farmer leads a hardy life. His wants are few and simple, and he dwells contentedly in his small mud cottage, thatched with straw. His chief articles of furniture are a chaff bed, a stool or two, and a wooden table.
His hearth, or " chiollagh," is merely a few stones laid on the mud floor, with a turf fire burning on top of them, the smoke from which finds its way out by a hole in the roof.
His food consists principally of herrings, potatoes, and oatmeal, with ant unlimited supply of broth. He is clad in homespun woollen cloth, or " kialter," coloured "keeir," or grey, from the undyed fleece of the " laughtyn," or native sheep, with carranes of sheep skin for shoes ; while his wife wears a petticoat of winsey wool, dyed red, with a loose jacket with a broad collar, called the " bedgown," drawn in at the waist by a linen apron.
All these humble domestic affairs, however, are recompensed by the glories of the outside scenery, so full of life and motion, where we may see the children, and the hens and ducks, basking in the sunshine ; the blue smoke from the peat fire curling into; the bluer heavens ; the husband working in the fields, while his wife is busy with; her household duties ; the seagull scaring overhead ; the cattle and sheep grazing on the hillside ; while above all and through all is heard the murmur of the far-off sea, whispering of peace and contentment. In truth, this is a lotus-land, where it is always afternoon.
No wonder that, in this land of romance and legendary lore, the chronicler tells us that; parents sitting by the ingle nook in the long winter months, told to their children stories or "skeeaiyn" which they had heard from their grand parents, and so established our oral traditions, alas! now so fast fading away.
By way of contrast, let me here give you a present day summer scene, in our busy town of Douglas. Suppose you are crossing over to the Island in one of our magnificent steamers, replete with every up-to-date convenience and luxury. On nearing your destination, and approaching the town of Douglas, a truly beautiful sight meets your view. Old sea captains have been heard to say that the bay is equal to that of Naples. The scene is truly lovely. The sound and odour of the sea is everywhere, and the handsome terraces of the town, its palaces of amusement, its boarding-houses, its pretty villas encircled in trees, all backed by purple hills, form a glorious panorama. Above is the clear blue sky ; below is the clear blue water, with a soft breeze blowing. Leaving the steamer, you find yourself on the. long sea promenade. Here you see life in its most cheerful and merry mood. It seems to be the business of the town to be on pleasure bent. Carriages and conveyances of every kind are busy plying their trade. First-class hotels, shops, bazaars, pleasure grounds, etc., are all in full swing, and in the evening the theatres and concert halls are well patronised. The whole town is given over to enjoyment and merry-making. Truly Douglas in the height of the visiting season is a unique and pleasing sight. The whole scene presented is gay and bright ; the joy of life is everywhere. On the promenade you behold young men gaily attired in " blazers " many coloured and fantastic, enjoying themselves in a harmless way, chatting, smoking, singing, flirting, and watching the boats in the bay ; and the bright caps and jackets of the young men aforesaid, the pretty-coloured dresses and saucy hats of the ladies, the moving boats with their white sails, the seabirds soaring overhead, the clear air, the pleasant land and sea views, all make up a brilliant picture of peace and pleasure, of health and happiness. Great is the elation, the gipsy-like joy of the visitors. Well has the Isle of Man been called the playground of England. It is proud of the fact that its climate has a larger number of hours of sunshine than that of any other place in the United Kingdom. Here the busy sons of labour, in their thousands, flock to gain. the blessing and boon of change of air, people, and scenery ; but, above all, relaxation from the work and worry and cares of life, and opportunity to feel the healing breath of ocean on their cheeks. Can we wonder at our visitors revelling in this favoured spot of sunshine, of peace, of beauty, and of freedom, especially when we reflect that most of them were born and bred in the smoke and roar of cities ; that they have never seen the morning dawn upon the hills, nor listened to the waves eternal music ? For the most part, the only ocean which they know is the ebb and flow of the traffic of the streets. They only see sunrise and sunset through a forest of chimneys. They never see the ripples on the sunny waters, or hear the wavelets on the shingly shore. The beauty of the world beyond is to them an unknown mystery.
The Manx people, as a rule, are musical, with strong voices, and can, as they say, "put a tune" on a hymn or song easily enough. I know of a man born and bred in the country parts who occasionally goes to hear a new opera, and, without ever having learnt a note of music, can produce the airs of the piece on the piano on his return home. Yet, strange to say, our few national songs in the Manx dialect are neither patriotic nor noteworthy. Our national air, "Mylecaraine," is good, but the words are poor. Some of the Anglo-Manx songs are amusing and comic, but devoid of poetic thought or sentiment. The quaint Celtic melodies set to " The Song of the Herring," " The Manxman and the King," " Kirree fo Niaghtey," and others, are greatly admired, but the words are of very little value. The natives of the Island are mimetic, and can " take off " peculiar tones of voice and odd manners very correctly, but will all their romantic surroundings and natural qualifications, they have produced nothing to equal the Irish ballad poetry. There have been a few local versifiers, but no poets, save and except our illustrious countryman, the late Rev. T. E. Brown, whose verse will rank high among poetic works. He was the quintessence of the Manxman, and portrayed the ways of life and types of character of his beloved birthplace with correctness and sympathetic feeling. What Sir Walter Scott did for Scotland, and Edwin Waugh for Lancashire, Tom Brown has accomplished for his native land. In his " Focsle Yarns " and other poems, he has left us a heritage that will cause his memory to be dearly cherished by every true Manxman. Our great debt due to him is for preserving in his works the many national phrases, sayings, and experiences, which can never cease to hold their place in the affections of the many hearts whom they have charmed.
The other productions of our local versifiers are more comical than poetic. Tom the Dipper (Thomas Shimmin), wrote doggerel verses, and recited and sold them at the country fairs. Here is a specimen he recited for my edification. The subject was the building of his house on the hillside amongst the heather, a most remarkable building, by the bye, and how he had made his wife drag the stones up the hill to erect his castle. Out of the hundreds of lines he treated me to, I can recall to mind only two, but they fairly represent the quality of the rest :
" Unable to meet the Masons demands,
I went and soul the cocks and hens."
An eccentric old man, who used to be afraid when passing Malew Churchyard at nighttime, as his brother and sister were buried there, used to repent the following rhyme : " I dont care for none of them, Sammy or Bella or one of them."
Here is an amusing verse from a local poet, who sells coal from a boat in Peel Harbour. He once forwarded a consignment of coal to Mr Hall Caine, with the following note :
" 29th August, 1893.
" To brighten your hearth and comfort your soul,
I send you a ton of Whitehaven coal.
Price nineteen shillings, without a rebate.
Please send at your leisure to Tommy the Mate."" (Signed), THOMAS CRELLIN (now Captain)."
The reply he received ran :
"To Tommy the Mate, now Tommy the Capn,
Were glad that. its; in, but when did it happen?
May your debtors all be as ready and willin.
Heres an old Manx note, sir , send back a shillin."" HALL CAINE."
In these days of education and enlightenment, we miss a very witty class of people who used to wander as vagrants from house to house or from village to village begging their bread. They were silly, idle, lazy creatures, but quite harmless. I refer to the parish idiots. They were often cunning and sly enough, and could make sarcastic remarks upon people who treated them as fools.
In my boyhood, before there was an. Asylum or Poor House in existence, each district had its daft body, or fool, and I have vivid recollections of early battles with these crazy folk. It was my and my companions endless pleasure, alas! to tease and annoy them. I can vividly recall such half-witted characters as Dick Tridlie, with his wild attempts at playing the cornet, or Chalse-y-Killey, whom we used to persuade to preach to us on temperance, when, by way of illustration, he would flourish an empty bottle about his head.
" Archie Cuckoo," the fiddler, was also very comical ; also Bobby the Bull, who lived in a cave, and was a special terror to us boys, and from whom we always kept at a respectable distance ; but Tommy Maulty Moore, a weak, delicate creature, was a great source of amusement to roguish boys, whom he often tried to terrify by cracking a long whip at them. One day we so exasperated him that he clutched the paving stones in the street. to throw at us. However, it is only fair to say that we pitied and were kind to Crazy Kate and Mad Fanny, as one had lost her lover, and the other her child. Paddy Malgee and Kit Abbot, with Irish humour writ large on their actions, were also very witty and amusing. The passing away of these characters have deprived society of many amusing incidents, witty sayings, and doings.
Now, as I shall give many specimens of Wit and Humour in Sayings and doings of the Manx Clergy, let. me give a brief sketch of our National Church, whose older school of clergy supply many amusing anecdotes in my compilation of Yarns.
From time immemorial, we have possessed a Manx. National Church, which made its own laws, ordinances, canons, and prayers. There have been many remarkable bishops, too, in this little diocese, some of whom were Sword-Bishops, that is, governor-bishops, military commanders of the priestly order. Good Bishop Wilson, as the people called him, governed the Church of Man so successfully that Lord Chancellor King is reported to have said, " If the ancient discipline of the Church was lost elsewhere, it might be found in all its pomp in the Isle of Man." The clergy are a most worthy class of men, working and living from year to year amongst their congregations, and so a sympathy and good feeling generally exists between pastor and flock.
To conclude, let me mention one striking feature in the Manx character. The Rev. T. E. Brown was intensely Manx, and was not a bit ashamed of it, but gloried in it. He once told me how terribly he longed for his Island home when in Clifton. He assured me that this " Lawngen " (longing) had been at the root of everything he had done in the way of Manx literature. Every little story or poem had been wrung out of him by the feeling which natives call " lawngen."
Once he was tramping over the Cumberland hills and suddenly saw, in the far distance, the purple peaks of his Island home. " Aw, well !" as he said, the sight overpowered him ; he stood musing, a longing fit came upon him, and the next morning he was on the Barrow boat, and never rested until he was standing on his native heath. And when I laughed at his fondness for Manxland, he said, smiling, " Aw, well, the children wanted to come over, and amn I the eldest child."
Again, there was once a girl at Kirk Braddan, a servant in the Vicarage there, and she once told her mistress she was longing, and must go home. Her home was in Marown, the next. parish, and only two miles off, but she must go back. "What are you longing for ?" said her mistress. " I am longing for the cows," she answered.
There was another girl longing, and when. she was asked what she was longing for, she said, " To get a kiss from her father." " It might be somebody else," was the reply. " And, dear me, why not?" said she.
There is no mistaking the great national attachment so strong in the Manx character. A Manxman, though absent from home for however long a time, will never forget his Ellan Vannin Veg Veen. He is like a bird, eager to come back again to the nest when he has a chance.
Some years ago, I was on a visit to my sister in Manchester, who had in her service a young Manx girl. The moment I arrived the servant began to cry, and, on my sister asking her the reason, she said " the sight of me coming from the same place as she was born in made her long terribly," so she asked if she could return home with me at once. The end was that she fretted so much that her father came and begged to be allowed to take her back to her birthplace, dear old Peel.
The Greeks had a beautiful word for homesickness "nostalgia"meaning, literally, " the pain to return. "May my readers never lose the fond desire to return homeward, wherever they may roam, and whatever songs the sirens sing. It is something more than mere habit and the love of old acquaintance that draws our hearts homeward. Where else may be found the solace of perfect peace, and ease, and leisure ? The Manx are all lovers of their hearth and home home-birds by nature. In this respect, at least, they resemble the canny Scotch. I remember once mentioning to a Scotch lady that I was going on a visit to her native town. She exclaimed : " Oh ! bring me back even a stane from the dear place." Whenever I visit St. Pauls Cathedral, I look fondly upon its black marble steps, for they remind me forcibly of my Island home. These steps were presented to the Cathedral by Bishop Wilson, and hewn out of the unique Poolvaish quarriesunique, because that is the only spot in the world that can produce marble of that kind. So we have a tiny bit of Mannin Veg Veen in big London, the great Capital, wherein throbs the heart of our vast Empire, upon which the sun never sets.