[From Manx Yarns, 1905]
" Admirals all, for Englands sake,
Honour be yours, and fame!
And honour, as long as waves shall break,
To Nelsons peerless name !"
Let me commence my stories of the sea by a few authentic yarns of heroic deeds. done by a group of Manx heroes who fought for King and country under our greatest. naval hero in his greatest and last sea fightTrafalgar, won by Horatio, Lord Nelson. Digressing for a moment, I may remark that our Island race are all sailors and fond of the sea naturally, being born and bred in sight of it. Generation after generation has engaged in maritime pursuits. In boyhood their playthings are boats, and sails, and cars. The breast of the ocean is their playground in storm and calm. The sea is in their blood, and ever calling to them, and they love it passionately. Are they not children of the sea, come down to us. from. King Gorry, son of Orry, descended from the Vikings of the North, from Iceland, Denmark, and Norway. Monas Isle, being practically the middle spot of the British home dominions, is an ideal place for a naval reserve station or a naval rendezvous or base for naval manoeuvres, the latter of which, it is stated is under the consideration of the Admiralty, and the former is an accomplished fact, as we have seven hundred men in our Royal Naval Reserve station at Peel. It is a fact also that the Island has more sailors in proportion to its population than any other part of the British Isles.
Let me introduce to you our most prominent Manx hero, Captain John Quilliam, who steered the " Victory " into action at Trafalgar". James Naval History of Great Britain" tells us as follows : " Just as she had got. within about 500 yards of the larboard beam of the ' Buccentaure, ( the French Admirals ship of 80 guns, the first ship taken), the Victorys mizzen topmast was shot away about two-third up. A shot also struck and knocked to pieces the wheel ; and the ship was obliged to be steered from the gun-room. The first Lieutenant (John Quilliam) and Master (Thomas Atkinson) relieved each other at the duty." Again, when the battle was raging round, in the thick of the. fight, Nelson sent down once or twice to see how the steering was progressing, but the only answer he could get out of Quilliam was "Middlin, middlin well, for all "a reply which is the pink of Manxness, and meant, in this case, the very best possible. Then, again, we are told that " several seamen volunteered their services to Lieut. Quilliam to jump overboard, swim under the Redoubtables bows, and endeavour to get up there, but Capt. Hardy refused to permit it. " This shows what faith the men had in Quilliam's courage and naval ability. It must have been a grand and stirring sight. Quilliam was a born fighter, and, like his master, knew no fear. This is what his epitaph tells us : " In his early service he was appointed by Admiral Lord Duncan to act as Lieutenant at the battle of Camperdown. After victory was achieved, this appointment was confirmed. His gallantry and professional skill at the battle of Copenhagen attracted the notice of Lord Nelson, who subsequently sought for his services on board his own ship, and as his Lordships First Lieutenant, he steered the Victory into action at the battle of Trafalgar. By the example of Duncan and Nelson, he learned to conquer."
Quilliam was born in Marown, married a Miss Stevenson, of Balladoole, and is buried in Arbory Churchyard . Two days after his death, it is stated, his commission as Admiral arrived in the Island.
Trafalgar reeks of brave Manx sailors. Whilst being helped into the cockpit, Lord Nelson asked : " Do you think I shall recover, Crowe ?" " I doubt it, my Lord," was the answer . The man to whom he spoke. was a Manxman, distinguished for his bravery.
Another brave sailor, the grandfather of Mr J. T. Cowell, M.H.K., lost an arm on board the "Temeraire" at Trafalgar; and another Manxman., Lace, on the same day, lost a leg. The latter is buried at Bride. To commemorate such heroic deeds do loyal Manxman contribute wreaths to the National Trafalgar celebrations.
The island, not being an integral part of England, Scotland, or Ireland, had, and has, its own Custom House. It was centrally situated between the three countries, and became a depot for illicit or contraband trade. In the French wars, when the fear of invasion, like a clinging fog, enveloped the seaboard population of the British Isles, there were privateers about the coasts, of whom the most famous was Francois Thurot. He had a previous acquaintance with the Irish Sea as a smuggler, and the Island was a convenient place around which to play hide and seek with revenue cutter and ship of war. Thurot resided at Douglas for some years subsequent to . 1742, being in the " running " trade. His exploits made the place too hot for him, and he went to Dunkirk. On war breaking out., he went privateering, and, ultimately, got command of a French squadron of three ships. After plundering Carrickfergus, he was met, off the north-west of the Isle of Man, by Commodore Elliot with an English squadron. of three ships of inferior weight. Thurot was promptly and utterly beaten, himself killed in the action, and his three ships captured. The bowsprit of his ship, the " Belle Isle," drifted ashore, and was preserved for many years as a flag-staff at. Bishopscourt, where a monument in commemoration of the battle is erected.
The present writers great grandfather, Dominique LaMothe, was Surgeon on a French brig-of-war, the "St.. Laurence," of Bayonne, which was captured and brought into Douglas within a year of the affray between Elliot and Thurot. I have still in my possession Dominique LaMothes diploma and, among other papers, a diary, " Memoire au jour que nous avons ete pris par les Anglais, 13th Aout, 1755." From the diary it is found that the "St. Laurence" had taken six English vessels, and had on, board the captains and crews of four of them. The prisoners rose upon the French ships company, took the ship, and brought her into Douglas on November 9th, 1760. Dr. LaMothe, after his release as a prisoner of war, settled as a medical practitioner in Castletown, where he lived for 47 years.
" And theres nver an old wife that loves a dram,
But will mourn for the sale of the Isle of Man."
The risky, profitable, energetic traffic of smuggling (euphemistically called, by those who participated in it, "the running trade"), was, as the whole world knows, carried on to a greet extent in the Isle of Man, where different customs duties, and the central situation, made the trade very possible, and, one might say, very natural. In the eighteenth century especially, in the days of the Dukes of Athole, the Island became a hotbed of smuggling, and the English Government estimated the loss to their revenue caused by the Dukes regality as £300,000 annually. They bought out the Duke at a heavy price, established a vigilant coastguard system ; and then, though the trade held on for many years longer, the palmy days of smuggling were over.
Perhaps the most notorious figure connected with the "running trade" was the famous Quilliam, of Peel, immortalised by Hall Caine, in his charming little brochure, a "Little Man Island." This character must not be confused with Captain Quilliam, who was with Nelson on board the " Victory " at Trafalgar. The " Smuggler " lived a generation later, and is a totally different kind of hero. He was in the "running" trade between the Island (and for the most part) Whitehaven. His confederate in Whitehaven was Peggy Scott (born Quiggin), a widow, who kept a Whitehaven public-house. She had enough influence with Lord Lonsdale and the police to escape all interference, and Quilliam was able to transfer spirits from his vessel in Whitehaven harbour to her house in pots and kettles. This was risky, perhaps, but easy compared with the complicated achievement of landing a cargo by transferring it from casks to bladders and mollags, and carrying it through the revenue officers armed and forewarned lines of watch. Quilliam was a notably big man. His vessel was the " Mauthe Dhoo" (Black Dog), hailing from Peel, and mention is also made of a vessel of his called the " Jonadab." Many fragmentary accounts survive, bearing on different phases of his life. He loved children, and the " Jonadab " used to take the Peel children for a sail on " Sailing Monday " (Easter Monday), though this may have been a deep ruse to give himself out in certain quarters as a kindly sort of man with no mischief in him. Though well off, he went in shabby and patched clothes. He was a teetotaller, and a great stickler for what was right. With revenue agents about his steps, he was alvays playing a deep game of "innocence". He did business in Liverpool also, and it is recorded that he always paid any extra hands he employed in discharging a contraband cargo not on board the " Mauthe Dhoo " nor in a public-house, but on the flags of the Liverpool Exchange; and for this purpose had a stocking-full of coppers. This was meant to convey that he gave an air of publicity to his dealings, everything being in his case " above board ". On one occasion, to enable a confederate to sneak a bladder of brandy to its destination, Quilliam made a scene at the foot of the Nelson monument., offering sea-biscuit to the bronze negroes on the monument till he had attracted a crowd, who took him for a lunatic, and for the moment had no eyes for what was going on across the street, where the confederate had hurried past. in safety. Quilliam kept the crowd amused by saying, "Take a biscuit, lil black man. ; take a biscuit, lil black man."
Another good story of Quilliam concerns a cargo of rum he once landed somewhere off Carlingford Lough, in Ireland. The " Mauthe Dhoo" was lying off a small public-house fronting the lough. Suddenly a cutter came into sight, and sent a boat to board the Peel lugger. They found no one but. Quilliam on board, and he at once informed them that he was glad to see the boat, as out of a crew of six that he had brought with him, four were dead in the hold, and the remaining two lying sick with cholera in the focsle. The boat withdrew for orders from the officer in command of the cutter, and did not return to the lugger. Quilliam had played his part convincingly, and when the cutter stood off again, he was able to land his contraband without interruption.
This story has been narrated so often, and in so many varied forms, that it is probable that the trick actually was played once or more. Another hero of this adventure is said to be Captain Christian, of Baldroma, Maughold. He was a very strong man, and in an emergency could single-handed throw the anchor overboard.
Quilliam was particularly fond of playing the broken-winged lapwing to the revenue officers, while his confederates got through with their mollags of spirits. His mollag contained sea-water. He made a point of knowing where the revenue men were, of getting them upon his track, and leading them a chase till it suited him to be caughtwith a mollag of brine. His men had meanwhile got their loads into a place of safety.
There was also a duty on playing-cards, which made it worth while to smuggle them from the Island. Quilliam carried cards in a pair of bellows in his cabin, with invariable success. Apropos of smuggling cards, in November, 1814, a search was made on board the " New Triton " (Douglas and Liverpool packet), when fourteen packs of cards were found well wrapped up at the bottom of a barrel of potatoes.
In the harbour of the Isle of Whithorn., the quay, with a row of houses, is built on what was once a tidal sand, between the Wigtownshire shore and the little islet from which the town takes its name. This sand was really a shallow bar, and could not be used or, at least, never was used, except by small boats as an entrance and exit between the harbour and Wigtown Bay. The main entrance southwards had then, as now, water for vessels of any moderate draught. A Manx lugger engaged exclusively in the "running trade" between Ramsey and the Galloway Coast found herself one morning beating out of Luce Bay, when a cutter hove round the Mull of Galloway, and swept down the bay directly across the luggers course. There was a desperate hours manoeuvring on the part of the lugger to get a sailing advantage. That circumstance showed plainly what she was. The skipper of the lugger was a Kirk Bride man named Joughin, who claimed to have, among other exploits, married a Stuart Princess. What was, rather more to the point, he knew as much as any man living in his day about the coast of Galloway. Finding that he could not. shake off the cutter with her windward advantage, Joughin stood across the bay east-wards towards. Burrow Head. As the cutter carried more sail she came on steadily, firing again and again an unregarded shot, but holding the lugger safe to leeward all the time. The question for Joughin was, could he clear Burrow Head on one tack ? If not, he would be caught in half an hour, and if he cleared the Head, he was still being overhauled. The lugger fetched the mark with nothing to spare, and then swept out of sight, all but her topmast, rounding into the harbour of the Isle of Whithorn. The apparent explanation. was that the luggers crew meant to get ashore, leave her to the mercy of her captors, and save their own shins. The cutter came on, swept round the Head, and went. up the harbourbut found no lugger there. It was high water, and Joughin had swept up the harbour under full sail, driven the lugger through the shoal water on the tidal bar towards Wigton Bay, and grazing the ground with her keel, she had staggered over it, and passed clear out. The cutter had perforce taken in sail as she came into the harbour. Before she could work out again to renew the chase Joughin was beating out of Wigton Bay with enough lead to hold his own till night. After that the cutter did not renew the chase. When the tide went down, the Whithorn men were on the bar at the spot where the lugger passed across it. They found a deep furrow ploghed by her keel in the sand, with. notches in it, showing that she had, as it were, jerked herself through it.
Of course, these exploits were in uhe eighteenth century. In the early nineteenth century the smuggling was done by regular traders sloops, and in small quantities not worth the Customs officials powder and shot. But, in the second decade of the century, the trade began to be a little brisker. in 1816 the Marshal Blucher (smack) was seized, with fourteen jars of brandy and Geneva on board. In the same year the cutter Lynx seized the smack Mary, of Peel, in Peel Bay, with salt on board in excess of regulations. She was taking advantage of a privilege permitted the the Island in connection with herring curing, to reship, duty free, salt., to " run " it to England again. In 1818 a herring boat was seized in Douglas for having three pounds of tea ( !) on board. The legal allowance was one pound. In 1819 the smack Ann, of Peel, was seized at Whitehaven for having on board contraband tea ; and in the following year the Jenny and Peggy, of Peel, was. in the same predicament, also in Whitehaven. Another case in, 1820 was that of the Earl St. Vincent, of Ramsey, which was seizd in that port with rum and other spirit on hoard. In 1821 a smuggling wherry, laden with tobacco, had the ill-luck to run ashore at Kirk Michael, and was seized by the Peel Customs officers, its crew having " cut and run." In 1820, the Molly and Peggy did a nice quiet bit of running trade, utterly unsuspected. The Customs officers, however, chanced to get wind of something wrong, and found thirteen rolls of tobacco under the ballast in the hold.
In 1830, we learn from the files of an Insular newspaper (the " Manx Sun ") that "two of the St. George passengers were committed to Castle Rushen. for smuggling. On Thursday, Elizabeth Trainnor (a servant maid to a lady of independent fortune, as she expressed it, a resident in Liverpool) paid the Island. a visit, at the expresss desire of her respectable mistress, to furnish her wine and spirit stores. The following articles were taken from her person in our Custom House, viz. : One gallon and a half of brandy, half a gallon of rum, and the same quantity of hollands, which were secreted in bladders ; also five bottles of sherry wine, and half-a-pound of gunpowder tea. As a Chancery Court was held in Castletown on that day, she was immediately forwarded to that place, and, after the usual business of the court was concluded, was put on her trial, and the intention of leaving the Island with the before-mentioned contraband articles having, been proved, she was sentenced to pay the mitigated penalty of £25, or six months imprisonment in Castle Rushen.On Saturday, a Scotchman, named Gallagher, was also searched at the Watch-house, when two gallons of brandy was found on his person. He was tried at a special Deemsters Court the same day, and the same sentence was passed on him. As this kind of smuggling was very prevalent at that time, the sentences passed on detected offenders were severe.
Once Joughin, of Kirk Bride, had a smack hailing from Ramsey, and trading to the West Cumberland ports. Contraband was found on board in Wliitehaven harbour and the crew arrested. A boy feigned imbecility so well that he got off, while the rest of the crew were sent to Carlisle Gaol for a year and a day. The boys trick was extremely simple. He merely counted the bright buttons on the policemans coat., and fingered them with an air of wonder.
The reputations of some of the old vessels were quite touching. The " Paddy," of Castletown, was said to have run to Liverpool so many times that she could find her way there by herself, or at any rate she could " smell her way home," while a. Peel lugger,"a fresh buyer," running herrings from Peel to the Liverpool market, was so docile and intelligent a boat, " quite natural," in fact, that she " always went into stays of her own accord," and went on a fresh tack when beating to windward, without needing the least hint of the" hellum. She was the sort, you bet, that most of the smuggling craft must. have been. No doubt but she had been. a smuggler in her time.
A Peel smack did some " running" business, and, at the same time, the perfectly legitimate trade of carrying lime from Castletown to Carlingford. That she carried more than lime somehow got known to the coastguard. They boarded her, sent the crew ashore all but a boy, and were about to search the vessel when it. began to rain. To open the hatches and expose the lime to the rain was out of the question. To await the weather, they went below, into the skippers cabin aft. The boy, rather dull and stupid to all appearances, admitted that there was rum in the skippers locker. A few hours later the coastguards were asleep, and the skippers jar empty. The boy was wide awake, had a hatch off, and the contraband overboard. Next day the crew returned to the smack, nothing having been found of contraband on board of her.
The revenue officers used, of course, to pass a rope under a suspected vessel to ascertain that she had nothing dragging in tow, and submerged out of sight with attachments to the keel. In extreme fixes, the smuggler stowed his contraband in the small-boat, half submerged it, and sent it adrift, then laid himself out to give the cutter a wild-goose chase, trusting afterwards to pick up his derelict boat.
Within recent years a bit of smuggling has been done, of course, " as opportunity arose," so to speak. The owner of a Peel schooner went out to Antwerp, where the vessel was lying, the captain having died there. A Peel seaman went with him to bring the schooner home. The owner secured a few casks of fine brandy and a quantity of Brussels lace to bring home with him. To avoid questions, the goods were landed at the Niarbyl, and thence conveyed to the owners house in a country cart or two. The Brussels lace was wrapped round the body of the owner of the vessel.
There is an impression that caves along the shore were used by smugglers . As temporary shelters, perhaps, a little: but. the Man.x smugglers knew that no places were so much exposed to discovery by the revenue officers as these coast caves. Everything landed was at once carried inland by confederates on the look out for the expected vessel . What was to be embarked was brought to the shore to go on board at once; and the boat lost no time in getting clear away. Far too much importance has been assigned to the part. played by " caves " in smuggling operations. But if the old narrow streets, the oldest houses, the cellars and vaults under the streets, in the older parts of Douglas, Castetown, Peel, Ramsey, and the Derbyhaven neighbourhood could tell their secrets, we should have smuggling lore "galore."
Wrecking was another oocassional way of " culling the blossom of the passing hour " in the Isle of Man Manxmen show a disposition to scout this ; but the facts are against them. A Manxman will tell you that no Manxman ever uses bad language, profanity, or the like. On being pressed he will admit that " under provocation "extreme provocation, of coursehe himself swears" took off me guard, lek? Oh, certnly." It is the same about wrecking. What was done with the cargoes of the wrecked ships ? Did the honest Manxmen leave them to bleach upon the shore, or be devoured by the sea ? Certainly not, " because, of course, who was to claim them ? Nobody." The countrymen came down to the coast, from several parishes, to a good wreck. They were shod with carranes, and moved noiselessly as ghosts . The men who had worked all day in the harvest fields or digging potatoes, gathered at night, and walked many a long mile to watch and toil all night at a wreck. Loaded with casks, boxes, bales of cloth, etc., they returned to a day of labour, and the expectation of the coming night of plunder. A favourite place to deposit booty, if the authorities were disposed to attempt to recover it, was in the churchyards. A vault or table tomb was easily opened and closed, and was an unsuspected place. Wreckers and smugglers resorted to the white sheet to frighten wayfarers, as in England and Scotland was the custom with poachers. When the report got about that a ghost had been seen, all in white, carrying a black coffin on its shoulders, and going noiselessly to Kirk Patrick Churchyard, it was a warning to the whole country to be indoors and in bed, and the head under the clothes. But the fact was that there was a wreck at Poolvash, and the soldiers from Castletown were out watching it., and several houses had been searched already on the south of the Island. That was the real explanation of the mystery.
As a painful incident of one of these wrecking expeditions, the story of young McHutchin should be mentioned.
A large Liverpool Indiaman was wrecked near Strand Hall. The whole population of the southern parishes was astir, and the plunder was being dispersed everywhere. As all the wrecking was done at night, warnings were issued that a detachment of soldiers from the garrison at Castletown would be on guard at night with orders to fire on anyone approaching the wreck. The nights were clear and fine, and a son of Mr McHutchin, Clerk of the Rolls, with some other young gentlemen from Castletown, arranged to go round to the wreck in a boat, with no intention in the world of wrecking, of course. They expected to be challenged, and their identity recognised ; or at least they apprehended no risk to themselves. The soldiers, however, promptly fired on their boat as it approached the wreck, and McHutchin was killed.
A wreck of unusual consequence to the hinterland of the shore where it occurred, was that of the Glasgow barque " Ayrshire," on the shore of Kirk Michael. She had on board bundles of young trees from a. Scotch nursery for planting somewhere on the River Plate. With these young trees the plantations about. Cooil Shellaugh,Cronk Urleigh, and part of Glen Willyn were planted at present. the prettiest parts of Michael parish by reason of these charming woods.
In October of the year 1889, in a terrific gale from the N.W., the good ship St. George, from Norway, with a general cargo, drifted rudderless on to a dead lee shore, off Peel Castle. After hours of struggle, twenty-three souls were rescued by our gallant. lifeboatmen. They took three hours to get to the vessel, which was rolling helplessly on the top cf a tremendous sea about four miles off the coast. The lifeboat turned over three times in her struggle with the waves, but the brave sea~dogs would not give up the fight. The two iron masts snapped and the rigging and sails fell upon the deck. The captains son died from injuries caused by the wreckage. However, the only creatures lost were a dog and some fowls, swept overboard before assistance arrived. All hands were wet to the skin except a nine months old baby, carried on the carpenters back in a canvas bag. The captain " saved " his childs doll in his pocket. It was a thrilling and inspiring sight at the finish. As I stood oai the foam-swept Castle walls, the vessel came drifting on the cruel rocks below us like a great moving mountain . Such was the force of the hurricane that half an hour after she struck, her hull and cargo lay in atoms on the adjacent shore. The wind blew so strong that. it carried people off their feet, and the tempestuous seas lashed the outer shores and headlands. The landing of the rescued by the lifeboat crew was a vivid, and stirring, and never-to-be-forgotten picture. The eye-witnesses stood proud of their fellow men.. The women snatched the little child and nestled it in their breasts. Some of the rescued crew were laughing, others crying, with joy and thankfulness. " Three cheers" followed " three cheers" ; the lifeboat crew were petted, and feasted, and honoured, wherever they went.. The Norwegian Government sent medals for them and the Governor pinned them on the breasts of the brave crew. To crown all; on landing the rescued ones, a rainbow, broad and bright and beautiful, spanned the heavens. The scene suggested to me the following :
The Life-Boat Brigade
A cry went forth oer hill and dale,
Amid the winds tenipest.uoiis roar :
"A ship at sea with shattered sail,
Fast drifting on a leeward shore."
No time is lost , the lifeboats manned;
Neer word of doubt or thought of fear;
Brave hearts of oaka gallant band
Re-echo back the parting cheer.
On stormy seas three weary hours
Brave souls fight the angry tide,
Fierce struggle gainst. opposing powers,
At. last they reach the vessels side.
A thousand anxious eyes now stare,
From Castle walls and headlands high;
A thousand hearts send up a prayer
For brother men in misery.
The boat is oft, the boat has left.,
Lone ship dism.asted on the sea;
All homeward bound, the surges cleft,
All safe from strife and agony.
Hurrah ! heroic deeds are done!
All honour to the lifeboat crew!
Babe, mother, ship-mates twenty-one,
Snatched from the waves by brothers true!
Ah ! see, Gods bow outspa:ns the sky,
Fair emblem of His endless love;
Of promises, and presence nigh,
Connecting earth with heaven above.
Then darkness fell upon the sea,
Tempestuous waves on rock-bound coast;
Sweet sleep on sad hearts twenty-three:
Give God the praise, not one was lost.
Next morn arose, all fair and bright,
The cruel seas lashed wreck-strewn shore,
But ship St. George, once staunch and tight, ~ntl
Shall ride proud billows never more.
While on the subject of wrecks, let me proudly remark that Douglas is one of the largest contributors to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. The income from the branch last year (1903) was £1,015, of which £550 consisted of legacies.
The Island also glories in Sir William Hillary, the principal founder of the Institution, who lived at Fort Anne, Douglas, and who, at great personal danger, saved a crew from destruction on the terrible Conister Rock. He lies in an unmarked grave in St. Georges Churchyard, where he was buried fifty years ago. There is, however, a memorial to him in the stately Tower of Refuge which now marks the once dreaded reef of Conister
The Peel and Port le-Murra (Port St. Mary) fishermen are, as a rule, a God-fearing and religious set of people. They are emotional, of course. They like singing hymns, a simple sort of sermon, with anecdotes, and extemporaneous prayers., but they rigidly eschew emotion in things other than religious. Of course, the preacher who, on principle, suspects and discourages emotion in religion, will never get hold of the fisherman on his religious side. The " revivalist," on the other hand, never gets hold of them on that side of their natures which is most picturesque and rich he does not find out their humour, drollery, and love of nature.
The Manx fisherman has his eye on the sky, or rather, it rises from sea to sky, and drops to sweep the sea again, with a regular and almost mechanical constancy of movement. All the phases of sea and sky, all changes in the atmosphere, in wave and movement, cloud forms, "sun dogs,"wind dogs," mists on the hills, clear frosty morning mists, cirrus, nimbus, cumulus, stratus, "Turks heads," "weather heads," are his daily book, always open. The sea signs, indicating the presence of shoals of herrings, are, of course, his particular page, and favourite text . To a landsman all this is a sealed book.
It is nothing uucommon for a Peel fisherman at sea, and in daylight, to "call" by name forty and fifty of the boats within the horizon of his nickeys (the names given to the class of fishing boats used by the Manx fishermen are "nickey" and "nobby") deck. To the landsman, these boats are all precisely aliketwo masts, two lug sails, a hull of the same general model, and the size pretty much uniform. The subtle individualities of the boats are to the seamen as distinguishable as to the shepherd are the sheep of his flock.
The fishermen has a strong trend towards the belief in the supernatural. The wife of a Peel sailor who was away on an Iceland cod-boat, used often to hear a rattling in the house garret among some old tackle, :including a harpoon or two that her husband had used when he was a whaler. The noise was inexplicable. The sailors wife had her own theory about it, however. Subsequently, when he had returned. and was setting out on another voyage, she said to him "Be sure you dont come home this voyage the way you did the las one!""Aw, deed, very likely I did come home. I was longin terrible for one of the harpoons. thass in the garret!" Stories of this kind, of fishermen appearing to their families in this manner when they are away fishing at Kinsale or Lerwick, are very common, and who shall say that they are entirely without foundation?
Numerous other forms of belief in the supernatural, and of downright superstition, prevail among the older school of Peel fishermenin particular, the use of dust and herbs as charms.
during long voyages, of which old letters give us occasional glimpses. Here are some instances : In 1755, Vicar-General Wilks tells us of a voyage when they had to return to Douglas, after beating about for twenty-four hours, and finally, on starting again, he was, after tossing about for fifty-three hours, put on shore at "Sunderland Sands."
Again, in August, 1773, the following humorous account of a passage to Whitehaven is given by the Rev. Philip Moore, Rector of Bride, and master of the Douglas Grammar School, and one of the translators of the Manx Bible : " Sore sick and sadly sick we were, and, indeed, nerer worse in all my voyages that I remember, for you know how it was when we left youa high wind aloft., with a very rugged and boisterous sea. But ten times worse all along shore, the wind coming down from the mountains in thundering tornados that laid our ship almost opon her beam ends, and this till we got clear of the Manxland and Kirk Maughold Head. All this time Mr Birkett and I were got into our cotts, swinging and banging ahout from side to side, with many a sore thump against the wainscot cascading, in concert with grievous deep and hollow groans. Young Teare, Mollagh, all the while very assiduous with his mop and buckets to keep all sweet and clean about us, and well he was, for when near this coast, and the sea running high, with a heavy roll of the ship, I was fairly unshipped, and tumbled out of my cott, till our worthy Capt. Ross came to my release, and replaced me in my berth, and clueing up the cott with a cord, made it take a shorter swing and play easier than before. At last, please God, we got safe ashore!"
Of course, all this, thanks mainly to our well-conducted and prosperous Steam Packet Company, is now a thing of the past. The Steam Packet Company is now practically the "one and only " passenger-carrying agency to the mainland, but it has at many different periods had to meet with fierce opposition. Many years ago, in one of these contests, fares were lowered on the rival lines until the opposition carried passengers at a shilling a trip. The Manx company promptly underbid them, and charged sixpence. The opposition announced a passage gratis . The Manx company came down to nothing per ticket as well. Then came " free passage and a bottle of rum" ; the counter move was "free passage and dinner on board." On this basis the rivals determined to wear each other out, and as the Manx company had the longest purse, the rivals gave up the contest, with the fools consolation of having made a "dd plucky fight of it."
One of the prettiest sights to visitors in this sea-girt land is the crowds of sea-gulls which follow the herring fleet.. Here, for a marine artist, is a, picture, full of life, and colour. A fisher lad standing on the Quayside, feeding the hungry feathery mass of seagulls, fluttering round his head, or diving in the water for refuse thrown from a fishing boat. The seagull is protected by law, and tries to repay his obligations by eating any offensive matter his eagle eye may happen to discern. Thus he acts in the capacity of a scavenger. But he has a keen appetite, and will satisfy it with anything handy. For instance, one day, a canary escaped from its cage at Douglas. A quarryman, who saw it perched on the swing bridge, went through some wonderfal evolutions in trying to secure the yellow-winged songster, and was in the act of picking it from the harbour, whence it had fallen exhausted, when a gull swooped down and swallowed it. Again, some months after, a Peel youngster went to the shore to drown four kittens encased in a neat bag. The bag burst and the kittens struggled in the waves.
Their struggle was brief, for the gulls, who were near by, gathered to the spot, and in less time than it takes to tell it, devoured all four of the hapless kittens.
Speaking of gulls, a story comes from Peel, which is highly amusing. An old salt was throwing something edible to the gulls, and a great number gathered round him, as also did a visor, who watched the avidity with which the birds devoured everything that could be devoured. Quoth the salt : "The birds are quite tame. They all belong to me, and come every day to feed out of my hand. " Indeed! And do you know each of then" " Oh, yes, I have names for them all. Thats Jack, and thats Dick, and that Bob " " indeed ! And how pleasant for you. I should like to have one or two of these tame gulls. Would you have any ?" " All right. I could give you one or two at a shilling a piece " " Very well, Ill have two." All right. Are you going to the Castle ? Well, just give me the two shillings, and Ill get two ready for you by the time you come back." The visitor agreed, paid over the two shillings, crossed the harbour to the Castle, andin due time found out who had been sold, and who was the gull.
The skipper of the "Bee-hive", as tough a salt as ever stepped on the deck of a vessel, had a habit of excusing himself to his wife of an evening when in the home port, by saying that he would put a sight over to the harbour to see if the "Bee-hive " was all right at her moorings. That done, he went to moorings of his own., till "closing time." One night, on his way home through a dark and narrow Peel lane, he got a "wipe" on the head that felled him, given, he supposed, by his exasperated wife. "Come ! come ! dont be so rough, Judy woman!" he said, getting to his feet. But Judy had vanished. When the skipper got home he found that Judy had not been out of doors. There was a " bit of mysthery attached to that, then," said the skipper. The " mysthery " was discovered by Judy(the ladies can always get to know what goes on)and turned out thus. The Customs officer, of the same stout build as the skipper, had been at the harbour, too, that night. His wife had come to look for him ; had met him, as she thought, on the way home ; and had delivered a wifely expression of satisfaction. Hearing the skippers voice, she had fled. The skipper felt entitled to a bit of chaff as compensation, when the mystery was cleared up.
" Im a champion man with the ladies, " observed the skipper, on a subsequent evening at the " moorings," and tipped a wink to the company to indicate that he was going to take a "rise" out of the Customs officer . This led to some chaff, and ultimately the skipper continued : " Well, officer, theres a lady in this town that has thrated me exacly the same as her own husban. Thaas middlin , iss lek ? Iss a boast thou could hardly make thyself. Eh, men ?" (and the company smilingly approved). Wit at the "moorings" was rough and blunt. " Im the man, moreover, to tell her husban about it to his face. Im game, you know, officer. Im a plucky man to own up, aye, and brazen it out in any company in the town. Bless you, officer, I believe the lady wont concern herself to deny it. Shes Ha! ha! ha!"
" You re alluding to my wife ? said the skipper, in a mighty fume, seeing from the tone of the company that he was the butt of the chaff.
" Aw, is it. for takin your coat off you are ? All right. my man ! There, men, see fair play ! said the skipper, getting ready for battle.
These two middleaged, barrel-bodied good fellows were seemingly in a cock-pit of mortal combat.
"But," said the skipper, " as the lady consarned, what do you say about askin the misthress if it issn true? Yoll fight batthar, afthar that, maybe." (The company called a truce to hostilities, pending the officers having an explanation with his wife. Off goes the officer, ostensibly to take her to task ; nothing more comes of the matter till the officer and skipper are seen on the quay next day, both of them talking friendly enough.)
One day, during a trip round the Island, an enquiring visitor asked Captain Craine, of the steamer " Tynwald," what was the name of the church they were passing in sight of, when the old salt gravely made answer : " Aw, thats Onchan Church, where the firs drop of water was hove in my face."
Some years ago, says Mr Flaxney Stowell in his little volume on Castletown, there lived in Malew-street a joiner, a witty man, who knew how to get himself out of any scrape. He always had an excuse for his shortcomings. Once, while on the spree, he made a coffin for a sailor who had been found drowned in the harbour. The coffin, when completed, was very crooked, and when Jack the joiner was asked how came the twist in the coffin, he re1ied that " he had made it crooked because the dead sailor lay that way in the harbour."
One of the most remarkable characteristics of theManx race is their extreme diffidence in tle company of strangers.
Tom Brown, in one of his poems, gives an account of a Scottish lady who invited the crews of some of the ships of the Shetland fishing fleet, who had fou:nd shelter from a storm in the harbour which her mansion overlooked, to come and have tea with her in her mansion, but, although she " sent, and sent, and sent, there wasn a single one of them went." And the reason, it is explained, was not fear of forks and spoons, which is such a torture to many of the common people, but " jus the shy, and nawthin but the shy." That feeling is happily expressed by the poet thus :
" Stare they will, and wink and nudge and poke and bother,
An stan theer an laugh, an look like axin one another
Are you goin, and you ? an takin rises, an all to that,
Till you cant tell whether its your grandmorthers cat,
Or what it is thats doin on you ; but you feel jus a regulaa fool,
An all the time bitendin to he as cool as cool."
The Manx are so shy, indeed, that even if two old people who are perfectly well acquainted chance to meet in unusual surroundmgs, they hardly venture to speak. An old man and an old woman, both from Peel, and both well acquainted, had gone to Douglas. They were returning by the same train, and getting to the Railway Station early, they found themselves in the same compartment quarter of an hour before the starting of the train. They say not a word of recognition, but steal looks at one another, shifting uneasily, looking out of the window, and again giving a stealthy look. At last they make a start:
" is that you, Mrs Teare ?"
" Is that you, Mr Kelly?"
" I didn know you, Mrs Teare!"
" Well, I partly thought it was you, though."
" Aw yias, iss me. how are you, Mrs Teare ?"
" Aw, middlin . Hone are you yourself, Mr Kelly ?"
" Aw, middlin, too. Have you been to Douglas, Mrs Teare ?"
" Yiss ; have you been too, Mr Kelly ?"
" Aw yiss. las a fine day, issn it ?"
" Yiss, iss fine ; but there was a shockin lot of rain done las night, thongh."
" Aw, the weather has took a change, I think. Iss more settled to-day. Aw, aye."
An interval of silence follows thisa sotrt of taking breath, and feeling in company. Then they resume:
" An how is Mrs Kelly an the family with you ?"
" Aw, theyre well. How are they all at home with you ?"
Having made a start, they go on, and chat contentedly all the way to Peel.
There is, among the better classes particularly (and there are such, despite false impressions to the contrary), a deep-seated and intense family pride. At a recent House of Keys election, an aristocratic candidate assured a public meeting that his family had lived at a certain place in the district since the year 1500, when his ancestors prefixed the word Mac to their name. Such circumstances are in fact found in the cases of not merely the gentry, but also of proprietor-farmers, and are the cause of much silent pride such claims, however, resented by the generality with an ill-feeling verging on vindictiveness.
A Manx clergyman once got a note from a friend in America, asking him to call on two American ladies who were visiting the Isle of Man. He called, and the ladies in conversation said : " Now, Mr , we want yon to tell us what is the most interesting thing in the Island; to say we have seen it, to tell our friends in America, you know. " Well, what do you say to a farm-house, inhabited by the same family, from father to son, without break, since before Columbus discovered the American Continent ?"
" You dont say youve got that to show ?" " In this neighbourhood, I assure you." It was bona fide ; and not the only example in the Island " by a long chalk."
Another feature strongly characteristic of the Manx people, that is to say, all but the better-class Manx people, is their aversion to be addressed by their surnames. To use the Christian name means friendliness, good feeling, complaisance ; but to use the surname is to imply and convey contempt and scorn. The Christian name, of course, spells familiarity. The common Manx people insist on familiarity, and have no idea of friendly intercourse without it. The same thing doubtless exists among people of the same social horizon in England, Scotland, and Ireland, but hardly any-where with so much emphasis. Besides this, however, is the circumstance that the common Manx people are "ashamed," absolutely ashamed, of their surname. A Scotchman is proud of his surname. Call him Donald, and he is a ghillie ; but call him MacDonald, and he is a gentle-man. The Manx have no such association of honour attached to the family name. Two fishermen meet, and accost each other : " Good mornin, Edwad !" " Iss a foine mornin, William ! " This is unqualified friendliness. Tones of voice are used, moreover, sweetening the pronunciation of the Christian name with wonderful variation of cordiality. Two other fishermen are heard to say : " Thee, Kinnish ?" " Aw yiss, Keolya !" This is unqualified and open contempt and scorn, avowed and hissed at each other in the mere use of the surname. Tones of voice, indeed, are used to barb and edge the words ; but the mere use of the surname is insolent and withering contempt. To address a man so is to wound him with the wound of humiliation. But " Mr" with the surname is quite another matter. "Mr." and "Esquire" are as common in Man as "Hotels" in Ireland.
That splendid (though no doubt dubbed eccentric by the careless) result of extreme religious feeling, scrupulous conscienticusneas, is as rare in the Island as elsewhere, and as refreshing when found. One day an old man was erecting a gatepost, and carefully (to the common eye, unnecessarily so) using a plumb-bob and level. An onlooker asked him why he need be so particular with an old "thorag" of a past as to require a plumb-bob. The old man answered, in his simply impressive manner : " Aw, well, boy, my days will be few now, and when in another worl, on the judgment day, the first thing they will be doin will be to put the plumb-bob agin me, and hogh! hogh! if Oim not up-right an true an square, what then ?"
That other variety of extreme religious feeling, narrow minded straitlacedness, which restricts social amusement to the insipid and monotonous " taypaty," which will not permit any periodical save the " Christian Herald " and the "War-Cry " to be opened on Sunday, and which holds up its hands in horror at the idea of dancing, theatres, and anything calculated in its eyes to " lead people asthray," is, unfortunately, common enough. The Rev. E. Ferrier, for many years chaplain at Castletown, used often to play cricket at the College. An old " pious " woman at the Back Green, on discovering this, was greatly shocked, and expostulated with him thus : " As, isa terrble to see ye at the criggards, Mr Ferrier . Iss not nice." "But I dont see any-thing terrible about it. Im a young and active man, and like a game. Theres nothing wrong in it, surely ?" " Aw dear ! aw dear ! I used to think you a good man ; but you have fell of, Im thinkin, terrible bad."
It is said truly, but often as if there was ground for reproach, ipso facto, that Manxrnen are cautious. Cautious they are, but they are likewise observant. One of their own proverbs is apropos : " Maybe las the las dog thall catch the hare. Never rashly attempt to draw a Manxman, or you will find that from the first moment he set eyes on you he has taken your measure and has laid a pitfall to engulf yourself.
A countryman will stand talking to you at a gate, his voice pitched high enough to seach a person half-way across the field over which you are looking at his potatoes or barley. Why ? It conveys to you the impression that his mind is " off " yourself. He is all the time engaged in "making you out"a great deal more busy at that than you are in conjecturing the sort of chap he is.
"Takin in vistors" is a Manx industry ; when overdone, however, certain wicked persons allege, a Manx failing. This allegation I repudiate in tote ; but experience and observation permits me to concede that " takin in vistors, in Dan Cannans sense of the expression, is a Manx art. Dan was a farm labourer, and lived at Michael.
Dans exterior was to Dan s interior what the bait is to the hook, the paw to the clawthe sort of mien to suggest the clodhopper to take a a rise out of. One day Dan stood with elbows spread on the top bar of a roadside gate, chewing a blade of grass, and ruminating : in his hand a horseshoe he had been lucky (for every Manxman knows that it is lucky) enough to pick up in the highroad. A " vistor" came along, joined Dan, tried to talk in pleasant condescesion down to numbskull level ; but got most awkward answers, indicating a countryman of most limited intelligence. At last he said : " Anything unusual about that precious piece of iron, my friend ? You seem to be regarding it with much interest."
" Well, I wass wondherin what it iss you
" But you know, surely ?"
" Well not exacly ; at less"
" Why, my good man, its a horse-shoe!"
" A horse-shoe. A horses shoe. You understand horse ! horses shoe!"
" Well now, what a thing larnin is ! Bless me, to tell a thing like that, right away, without lookin at it, you might say"
" But what did you think it might be ?" said the visitor.
" Me ? Aw, I was only wondhorin which it wassa horses shoe or a mares shoe ; an I couldn exacly. Hello ! masthar, are yo off ?"
( Dan smiles ; and there hasnt been a line or movement of that " vistor " but Dan has scrutinized, summed up, and set down. He has been observing the man while the man has been airing himself.)
It is not exactly the sort of humour latent in Dan Cannon, but somewhat akin thereto, that has inspired many a sarcastic rejoinder to supercilious or inane queries. A . vis'tor" of one or the other ilk was passing along a country road, and noticed a farmer setting potatoes in a field adjoining the road. He asked what sort of potatoes they were. The farmer, who had perhaps been exasperated with similar queries that day, quietly answmred : " Well, theyre raw potatoes, for one thing."
Another answer of the same sort was given , intentionally or otherwise, at the Cluggit. The Cluggit is a wonderful cascade, between the "tops" or plateau overlooking Sulby Glen from the east, and a ravine confluent to the glen. Two anglers were fishing on the Sulby River, and the fish not rising well, they resolved to try a horsefly. They met a man-servant at the ford, and one of them asked : " I say ! Did you ever see a horse-fly about here ?" " A what? A horse fly ? Noi ; but Ive seen a cow fall over the Cluggit, though."
A Marown correspondent sends; me the following(bye the bye, Marown seems to be a good garden for stories) concerning a conversation which took place between Mr Thomas Christian, the then Parish Clerk, and Mr John Cretney, highroadman, a well-known wit. The latter would only converse in Manx :
" Cre naight, Jackey ? Cre naight ?"
" Cre naight tou laal ? Nagh vel Bible mooar ayds ec y thie, as specklyn, ta mee er fakin lesh my hooilyn hene? Gow thie as lhaih, as nee oo gheddyn naightyn dy liooar."
" What news, Jackey ? What news ?"
" What news are thou wantin, ? Havent thou a big Bible at home, and spectacles, which I seen with my own eyes ? Go home and read, and thoull get newses enough."
Sportsmen have a habit of alluding to their game under fancy namesa hare being "puss" and " pussy, "the " four-legged one," etc., with orther allusions of like application for bird and fish. A man of this sort was working through a turnip field, very vigorously, and with an air of deadly knowledge of what he was about, all the time making his way towards a fanner who was watching him from a gate. Arrived at the gate, the hunter vented an expressiom of disgust over his lost labour, and then asked:
" Havent you seen a four-footed fellow in
this field at all, farmer ?"
" No ; but I seen a two-footed fella in it, though."
" Oh I partridge ? Large covey ? Lately ?"
" Well, it was lately, aye ; but it wasn a covey at all. It was only a single falla."
" Oh ! strayed from the covey ; been shot at, I suppose ?"
" Maybe it was ; but it wasn a patridge I'm talkin about at all. Iss a man threspassin. Didn ye see him yorself?" (Tableau.)
Another sportsman was attracted by a farmer excitedly gesticulating to him to approach. On their meeting, the farmer said : " Hsh! hsh! over in that field!" and a dumb show of stealth at all costs. The sportsman worked the indicated field, but in vain. He came back, and asked, rather testily:
" What was it you saw, farmer ?"
" A mortal fine hare Didn yo see him ?"
" Not a trace ; when was it ?"
" Well, it would be aboutlet me seeaw, ayea fort-nit las Tchuesday!"
A Northside sportsman, not a native, was all through the season n shototing costume, and apparently did a great deal of shooting. His way of handling his gun, of posing, calling to his dog, were all perfect In the train, at inns where he called, at every gate where he stopped to chat, he always had game in his bag, which he never spoke of otherwise than as "puss " or " pussy."
" Oh, yes, I came across pussy to-day ; got her with the second barrel."
" Was assured that puss hadn t been seen on the farm this season. However, I guessed otherwise, and got her, you see!" (tapping game bag).
His repertoire of phrases was large and choice, and he certainly deceived people. One day, however, it was discovered that he carried a hare in his bag, dropped it, went off to fifty paces, turned sharply as if he had just caught a glimpse of "pussy," fired, walked back with the easy swagger of a man who never misses, and picked "pussy" up. On this occasion, a farmer of rather tattered exterior wished to see the hare to see if it was " a foine one". The sportsman was in a corner, as he had just shot it in the farmers turnip field. Courtesy could do no less than show it. The farmer handled the hare, and said:
" Bless me, Mr. , this hare wasn shot to-day ; no, nor yesterday ; no, nor las week. Iss high time to be cooked, is that hare, Mr. ." (Tableau.)
While on the subject of li I mean exaggerations sportsmens or otherwise I may mention a story told by the late J. S. Jackson of his gardeners answer, when, after Mr. Jacksons return from the Exhibition of 1851 , he told the gardener that London was not only as large as Douglas and Liverpool put together, but extended a distance equal to the distance apart of Douglas and Peel. "Well, sir, Ive noticed that men returnin from abroad can always stretch a bit, even if they were truthful before goin away. But yo know, yo could stretch a bit before yo went to London. Im not surprised ; aw, no!"
Everybody who was acquainted with Peel for half-a-century past, knew Sammy Coffey. He lived near the cemetery, a mile out on the Douglas road. He was a nocturnal bird, out long after the rest of the world had gone to bed, and frequently scaring timid people who had no suspicion of his habits. The Curate of German was returning from a house in the country where he had spent the evening, and had heard some hair-raising fairy and ghost stories. It was a wet night, and he had borrowed his hosts presentation unbrella, and was striding nervously on a dog within snapping distance of his heels He had heard a fearsome story of dogs that. are not dogs but super-natural, and it was no slight task to keep on, and keep an eye on this possibleHeuch! the dog had touched his hand. He leapt in the air, swung the umbrella down on the monster, and yelled ; and the dog had vanished! Then he heard a blood-curdling laugha deep, slow, abominable laughbeside the road right opposite to where he had stopped, and a voice : " Have yo bruk the umbaralla, Mr. ?" It was Sammy Coffey, whom, fortunately, he knew ; otherwise, he might have dashed off like a hunted hare towards the midnight town. Mr had " bruk the unbaralla." As for the dog, it was Sammys innocent companion that had come out fom the shadow of the road-side hedge, and darted back into it again.
Bishop Powys daughters paid a visit one Sunday morning to St. Peters Church. After the service somebody pointed out the ladies to Sammy. " I am only sorry," said he, " that I am gone a bit in age or else I would be offering marriage to them."
Sammy got an invitation to Mr. Corrins Mhelliah at Knockalee. Mr Corrin, with an eye to fun, introduced Sammy to two lady visitors, and enquired which of the two ladies he would prefer to marry. " I would like to know their fortunes first, " said he. Mr Corrin replied, " They have two thousand pounds each at the very least." " If thats the case, said Sammy, " Ill take the two of them."
Among the Manxmen of two or three generations ago, it was the rule that no professional beggar, or " walker," was turned empty away indeed, these gentry were credited with. all manner of beneficent powers and intentions, and could certainly convey "all the newses." That feeling has now passed away, and the law has also done its best to make the professional beggar pass away, also ; but nowadays he frequently assumes the form of a religious mountebank with a collection box. The following humorous incident is told of a man and woman who were going round the houses on this sort of errand :
Man (singing) : Seek salvation! seek salvation!
Its free to you and me!
(Aside, to the woman, who carried the tin cup) : What did they give you ? What did. they give you?
Woman : Only a hapenny.
Man : The skinny devils! (Continues singing about free salvation.)
The present writer met an old beggar man belonging to Glen Rushen, and stopped to speak to him, mainly by reason of the extraordinary dilapidation of the old boys nether gaaments, that clamoured for the charity of a new pair.
" Well, Robby, and do yea feel the cold to-day ?"
" Aye, Masther, iss a cowl day ; but it wass a cowler day yesterday, for all."
" Im afraid, Robby, its a pair of new breeches you need very bad, eh?"
Robby looked down at his patched and frayed breeches:
" Aw, theyre very oul friens, Masther ; theyre fittin me an theyre suitin me, an theyll do me my toime very leklyeven if iss on their las legs they are. Aw, aye, Masther!"
They were on their last legs, certainly ; but after this rather happy way of expressing his misery, the writer contrived that Bobby should not be in his last pair of breeches.
A veteran toper of a generation just within memory used to be chaffed in the public-house about the quantity of rum he had drnnk in his day. " Aw, deed, you have drunk in your time a fine lot of it, Mr. C! Eh, Mr. C? Ess lek, enough to float a mano-war ?" " L.ugger, man, lugger ! " (in deprecation of extremesin a fair way, certainly, but not to such excess, you knew).
A story told by John Quayle, Captain of the Manx Fencible Regiment, serving in the Irish Rebellion, and engaged at the storming of Strabane, is worth preserving. He was in the Island on furlough, but, receiving peremptory word to rejoin his regiment, he hurried off, leaving his man to follow with his luggage. This man had seen no service, and had heard a good deal about the Irish as being reckless and vindictive The man found himself in a Millingar public-house as his lodging for the night. He got a room that had been vacated by two travellers who had not left the town, as they intended, and returned to spend another night at their inn. Tom Cosnahan was roused at midnight by a terrible noise outside his door, threats to smash the door in and throw the occupant of " their " room through the window, the whole laced with choice profanity. In the morning, Tom was putting on his boots which he had left outside the door of his room over night, and in the act noticed on the soles a chalk-mark, " No. 7." " Im a marked man ! he said, in terror. All the stories of Irish reckless neas and vindictiveness rushed to his mind. He got out of the house, secured his luggage, and marched on his journey without staying for breakfast.
I picked up the following stories from a friend, Mr A. S. Collard, CC., of Liverpool The late Captain Quirk, of Raby, Patrick, and Philip Moore, of Ballamoore, once went on a yachting cruise, and arrived at Ardglass in Ireland. One of the Roman Catholic Churches in that town had just been made the butt of an Orange joke, by lampblack, or something of an equally unpeasant nature, having been placed in the holy water, and as the Catholic Priest had put this down to the work of one of his Protestant townsmen, he had pasted on the door of the Church the following words : " No Protestant shall come here."
Moore, who was a bit of a rhymester, could not resist the opportunity of writing underneath this notice :
" Who wrote the above wrote well;
The same is written on the gates of hell:
No Protestant shall come here. "
Unfortunately, as he was finishing writing his lines, the Priest belonging to the Church caught him in the act, and, summoning some of his Catholic friends to his assistance, they not only chased both Moore and his friend, Capt. Quirk, out of the town, but bombarded the yacht with stones, and the visitors were very pleased to get away with their lives.
Moore, who was quite an original character in his way, when he had a card party at Ballamoore, used to lock the door on the inside, throwing the key out of the window, so that no one could get out except through the window until the servants turned out in the morning. On one occasion, he got up a practical joke against a man whose name I now forget, but who was of rather a quarrelsome disposition, and it was arranged that another man who was in the know should challenge the quarrelsome friend to fight a duel. This was carried out successfully. It was arranged, as part of the joke, that no bullets were to be put in the pistols, but the quarrelsome friend did not know this. The men met, fired their pistols off, and the friend who was in the know immediately fell down and pretended he was dead. The quarrelsome friend, being assured that he had killed his man, at once beseeched his friends to do what they could for him, and they finally got him on board a fishing boat and deported him to Ireland. In those days steamboat connection did not exist, or if so, at very long intervals, so that it was several weeks before the fugitive discovered that after all he was not a murderer, and no doubt learnt for the future that quarrelsomeness did not suit with such men as Philip Moore.
Here is a Christmas story, from the repertoire of Mr Flaxney Stowell : Some years ago, at Balladoole, near Castletown, there would be great doings and fine fun going on, in the shape of balls and masquerades at Christmastide. Sometimes the merry guests at the masquerades would sally forth on to the high road and scare the country folks with their fantastic costumes. Deemster Moore then lived at Rushen Abbey, and on one occasion, two masqueraders, one dressed as an Angel of Light, and the other as an Angel of Darkness, invaded the Deemsters kitchen. The Angel with the horns carried a bait grip, and with it he started to rake out the kitchen fire. The ladies of the house happened to be in the kitchen at the time, and they ran out, screaming for the Deemster. The learned and brave judge came hastily to see what was amiss, and when he saw the angelical intruders, was for letting them smell powder. The apparitions, however, made for the door as fast as their legs could carry them . The Deemster, seeing them so easily routed, turned his gun about, and with the butt end of it, laid on to them. The Dark Angel with the bait grip tried as he ran to parry the blows, but the French retreat from Moscow was not in it with the flight of the two Angels from the Deemsters grounds that night. The finish of the escapade was, that the Dark Angel got very tipsy, and fell into a ditch, near Malew Churchyard. A passer-by next morning, believing him to he his Satanic Majesty, drew a circle round him, and abjured Old Nick in the name of the Trinity. Trembling, the wayfarer asked : " Whats the trouble ?" " Aw, trouble enough !" was the reply from the ditch. " Help me out of the ditch, so that Ill get home. Ive been out all night." Shortly after the Christmas revel, the two Angels, being joiners by trade, were working at Rushen Abbey. The Deemster related to them the very escapade which they had taken part in. He told them that they had nearly frightened the life out of the ladies, and that one of the Angels was like the devil himself to look at. " I would give five shillings to know who he was, " said the Deemster. " Would you," said the Dark Angel. " Well then, it was myself." The Deemater laughed, and handed over the money, with a caution to mind what other pranks they played; " for", said the Deemster, " if you come before me in the court, I wont know you , or be any more merciful to you than I was when I laid on to you with the gun."
The following dialogue between two friends and well-known personalties in the Island, its very illustrative of the feelings of the old school of Manxmen :
" Come in , man, do , a sight of ye is good for sore eyes. Its a clane monse of Sundas since I las clapped eyes on ye. Whats the news from the North ?" said Harry Barrule to Jacky Ballure on his entering his friends cottage on the hillside of South Barrule. " Here, take the sate in the chiollagh (hearth) and hev a smook. Well, quats the news from Ramsa side ? Wait a minute, man, till I take this pot of priddhas and herrin off the slowrie."
" Well, frien, theers nawthin new or strange our side," said Jacky, " excep the vistors are flockin over tremenjous; theyll be takin our lil Islan to themselves, they will I hard that a fine lump of them came over las night The packet was clane packed ; yes, packed lek herrins, with them. Theyll be roamin over the lan lek locusts, an eatin us out of house an home. Theerll be no pace or quietness with them. The oul days were far batthar. Deed, the strangers are makin everything so dear. Beef an mutton, fowls an fish, butter an eggs, twice the price they were when I was a boy ! Give me the good oul times, Harry bogh, even if they were poor, man."
" No, la ; hush, man ; hush, man ; arnt the Lancashire lads bringin heaps of goul, aye, fisfuls of money, lek a shower of goul on the lan, when theyre leavin us, anyway, sagely remarked Harry. " They mus eat an drink, man, when theyre over here, surely. The farmer gets a gran price for everything he grows an breeds. Where would the Government get their revenue but for the drink traffic? With the fishin bad, we would be nearly bruck wisout the cottonballs were comin over to see us."
" Weil, said Jacky, " Im thinkin theres somethin in what youre sayin, but Im not agreein altogether with you. Look at the evil ways the strangers are teachin us simple Manx people. Ive a daughter married in Liverpool, an las year in August I went to purra sight on her. Her I husband is a dacent man enough, but Liverpool is a terble wicked place, an I was longin awful to get back to my lil cot in the green hills by the sea. But comin in the packet bet all I ever seen. When a person is not feelin well, its distressin to see people actin like yhandar ones were. It was shockin altogethar. I was knocked clane moidhared an all-thro-othars at them. Yes, fud-y-cheillye, as the man said. They were singin " Houl the Fort," while the waves were washin over them lek mad. Some lumps of boys an gels were as drunk as McKillya. Iss sick they made out they were, but I dunno, youll get lave. Well, it was pitiful, anyway. When we landed I was terribly bad urra massy, an glad to get home as quick as I could walk from the confusion and crowds of people. An the imprence of these poor fallas with white faces at them was somethin shockin. Shoutin out " Hi ! Kelly," to people they didn know, and were not Kelly by name. Deed, yes, callin people out of their name. When yhandar falla was coortin my daughter, and they were degaged, an dwalkin out linked all correc, along the highway, these imps of sin would be passin in traps an shoutin out, " Hi ! Kelly, why dont you marry the girl ?"
Harry smoked for a while in silence, and then said: " Well, I navar was off the sod, an dont want to go. Jacky la, youve talked bravely, but you see when these young people get away from their smooky towns, where the only roar of the ocean they hear is the roar of the traffic in the streets, no fresh air, no sunshine, no sea for them ; so when they ger away they go dane mad with delight. Change an res from work is charmin. Dont be hard on sons of labour. We dont know what. work is here. They work hard, an play hard, an eat an drink hard. Look at the price I got for my lil black pig! Deed, theyre the cause of that, man ; it helped to pay my rent gran."
" An a mortal nice place thouve got, too, man," chimed in Jacky. "A nice tatch house, parla on one side, an kitchen, wis a roomy back kitchen, an upstairs la.fs to match, an the cowhouse an ttirf, an priddha house, an lil place for the pigs an fowls. What more does a man want. ? Chut, boy veen, ye ought to be as happy as a king an free as the air aroun."
Then the two cronies fell to their potatoes and herrings, with jam and honey and barley bread in plenty, with " lashins" of tea, and Jacky was so busy that the only words he said were : " I was jus thinkin to myself, man, what an oul dunkey Adam was to be turned out of Eden ; the toot went an loss the place, loss the place, an then put the blame on the woman. Yes, put urra the nice lovesome garden, with apple trees growin all roun. Went an eat the apple, scandalous rascal ! Look what he brought on us; sin an woe enough."
Then the two gossips chatted about all the principal families in the land, with their pedigrees, and the farms that belonged to them At last Harry struck a deeper note, and they talked of life and death and the resurrection, till Jacky asked solemnly : " Do you think well all be saved at last, when we go to the mercy of the Merciful ?"
" Aw, deed, man, yes, I do," said Harry. " I believe all will be saved. I believe that the Judge of all the earth will do right, and whats right can't be wrong, nor cruel, nor unjust ; else it would not be like Him who loved us to the death ; thats enough for me. His love will do all. We can do nothin to save ourselves. Night an mornin Im sayin the lil verse my mother taught me:
" Gentle Jesus, meek an mild,
Look upon a little child,
Pity my simplicity,
Suffer me to come to Thee."
" Amen, amen, " said Jacky.
This same Jacky, when I was a boy, told me a very comical story as follows :
Once on a time the beasts of the forest gave a dinner party. Mr Elephant was there showing his trunk, an Mr Lion an Mr Tiger were leapin about showin their strength, when up jumps Mr. Leopard, and showed off his agility, an in doing so, ran foul of an oul dunkey. The leopard was angry and exclaimed : Get out of the way, youre no use. But the dunkey shook his head, and replied, Wait, wait till the cooishyn (courtin.) time comes !"