[From Oswald's Guide,1831]
" MONA ! I sing, the favourite of heaven ;
That happy spot, that was of old ordain'd
To be the seat of modern bliss ; where peace
For ever dwells, and fair prosperity,
Enthron'd, sits smiling on her golden shores."
A MANKS BARD
AT the present time, the ISLE of MAN presents itself to public notice in two points of view-as a watering place-as a residence to such as are disposed to retire from the expensive circles of the three kingdoms.
It is almost an every day occurrence to see many going to reside abroad for the purposes of economy, whilst it is not generally known that that object may be attained at home, in a central and very pleasant part of the empire. In the Isle of Man the comforts and luxuries of life may be enjoyed at a very cheap rate. To such as add to a plan of refinement, a wish to visit the world on the continent of Europe, it is unnecessary to observe, that excepting its insulated situation, it possesses advantages more numerous than any other country. Their plan we cannot presume to alter ; but to the English, Scottish, and Irish, who are desirous of a convenient and cheap residence at home, the following information is addressed.
The Island possesses a climate as agreeable and much more equable in temperature than the opposite coasts of England, Scotland, and Ireland. It is generally under cultivation, and is thickly populated. The language, the habits, and the comforts, especially of the better ranks, are entirely English. Except some trifling imposts, it is altogether exempt from taxation. The necessaries of life are plenty, of excellent quality, and moderate in price. The luxuries are in several instances two-thirds, and in general one-third cheaper than in England, and all colonial produce is at a much lower rate than there, or on the continent of Europe; even the continental wines may be had, of excellent quality, at a price little exceeding that paid for them in their native countries.
Hence, money will be found to go farther here, by more than a third, and, in some respects, more than a half, than in England; and people of small incomes may either enjoy those elegancies of life, that habit and taste have rendered necessary to them, or those of larger property may save a provision for the younger branches of their families, whilst the money they spend will be circulated for the general benefit of their native countries ; and in a place so situated, that at any time they can visit home with facility and convenience. It is calculated, that persons of this description now resident, introduce a capital to the amount of £100,000 per annum.
As a tour of pleasure, this fine Island offers numerous attractions, especially to those of the opposite shores, who wish to enjoy the recreation of a short summer excursion. Nor is it less so to the lovers of the picturesque, for although there is a want of woodland richness, its scenery displays much insular grandeur and natural wildness. For variety of sea views in a small space, this Island excels. The prominent features of which are mountain and precipice, close upheaving from the shore, combining the billowy shade with an unlimited extent of bold and trackless ocean. And the scientific tourist ought by no means to pass it by.
To the invalid, whom prospects of amendment are held out from a sea voyage and a change of air, it is an object particularly worthy of regard ; and for sea bathing and the purity of its tide, it is unrivalled. The town of Douglas is rising into distinction as a watering-place, and is frequented by crowds of visitors, to ensure whose comfort, improvements are daily going on. By means of steam boats from Liverpool, three times a week in summer, and once a week in winter, and also to Greenock and Dublin, the passage to the Island is rendered safe, expeditious, and pleasant. There are communications by means of sailing vessels between many other ports of the surrounding shores.
Indeed it is surprising, that, situated as this Island is, with all its privileges, in the midst of the three kingdoms, it should have so long remained unnoticed as offering all these advantages. Accidental and erroneous impressions regarding it have mainly contributed to this; but-when the visitor finds that, instead of being a bleak and barren rock, enveloped in mists, and inhabited by savage fishermen, the retreat and sanctuary of men of broken fortunes, it is a country covered by fertility, beautifully diversified by hill and dale, possessed of all the elegancies of life in abundance, and stocked by an intelligent and happy population, his prejudices vanish. He is satisfied that the misconception arose from the operation of its laws, which forms a code the most original and simple in Europe; laws that were upheld by the rigid reluctance of the natives to admit of any change in ancient institutions, which, if they were taken advantage of by many visitors from the neighbouring kingdoms, under circumstances that brought odium on the Island, ought to be looked upon more with the indulgence that charity inspires, than with the censure that some evil consequences dictated. These laws have been annulled for years, and if thereby the Island is a loser, by no longer being an asylum for characters of the above description, it is a gainer in the general estimation. To some it may be interesting to add, that it presents the exemplification of a people to whom the dangers of war are unknown, and to whom preparations and expences for defence are but a name; and who, under the protecting wing of the mother country, enjoy their own legislation and their own laws, in all the independence and security that the happiness of society requires.
But the Island has at length begun to emerge from the neglect that undeservedly obscured it ; and as it is the resort of many, and is likely to become so to a greater extent every day, there can be little apology necessary in offering the public a succinct Guide to its shores. Every possible exertion is making to improve the accommodation for visitors; and an attempt to direct their attention to objects agreeable to their tastes, as well as useful to their interests and comfort, however humble it is, cannot be undeserving of praise.
It will be the business of this little book, after glancing at its history, and giving a descriptive view of the geography of the Island, to guide the visitors to the several objects that appear worthy of notice, and to point out any information that is likely to be wanted.