[From A Poetical Guide to the Isle of Mann, 1832]
"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"'
SO sang the Bard, and I shall sing the same,
Bards sing for money, and bards sing for fame
I sing for both.-Ye gentle strangers, list!
The Isle of Mann no longer lies in mist,
As erst when wizard Manninan, sly dog,
Suffus'd this gem of ocean with a togs
No longer on three legs th' enchanter whirls ;
Mann since has had its lords and dukes and earls,
Regen'rate quite. Annex'd to Britain Great
Manksmen begin to talk affairs or state.
Believe me, travellers-for you I write-
In this sweet island you'll regale your sight
With fair and pleasant views. A sweeter place
There is not on God's earth-a fairer face
Of things. Green hills and mountains high,
Whose heads arise 'neath clouds their canopy.
Vallies and dells and glens and verdant trees,
Landscapes all beauty, and the calmest seas.
No despot terrifies-here all is free :
No tax, no poor-rate-all live merrily.
Here men may drink and drink again for aye,
And never heed what moralists may say.
Here sot may lie as senseless as a log ;
Here wine, here brandy's cheap, and so is grog
And so is tea, and so are all the things-
Jewels and ribands, marriage gloves and rings.
If to a wat'ring place you wish to go,
This is the very spot where pleasures flow.
The natives bly the will welcome you with smiles;
But cautious must you be of female wiles ;
For here such graces charm the ravish'd eye
As make the manly bosom heave a sigh.
For female beauty England's fam'd afar;
But Mona's Isle-tis there the beauties are
If health ye seek, the air is balmy here,
The water pure, and pleasures cost not dear.
The bath, the vehicle, awaits your choice,
And all conveniences obey your voice.
The devious ride by fields of waving corn-
Delightful drive, when dew is on the thorn !
O'er roads which gradually rise and fall,
The easy gay barouche is best of all.
Come then ye young and flutter time away ;
Ye middle-ag'd pass here an idle day ;
Ye invalids, our shores invite to health,
Without large claims upon your stores of wealth.
Here let me then describe this little isle
Do you attend with patience for a while.
In midst o'th' Irish sea the island lies ::
It rather is diminutive of size,
Its length is thirty miles from end to end,
Across four leagues the visitor may wend.
The latitude is North-east fifty-four
Degrees,-of minutes ten and eke a score.
The longitude west London is but five-
The exactest point to which we can arrive.
The surface of the Isle's dimensions are
Six score and ten of thousands acres square.
Of this extended soil two thirds or more
Are cultur'd here and there from shore to shore.
The boundary sublime of beetling; cliff
Frowns down upon the prostrate deep, as if
To threaten boist'rous billows at a bay,
While the indented rocks appear to say
"Approach and form a basin, where a ship
"May quiet lay at anchor after trip,"
Wide bays spread out their arms in fair array, .
To shelter navies when bemaul'd at sea.
Behind those barriers of living stone
Strata of fertile loam the natives own,
Whence flow to myriads provision vast;
Corn of all hinds-potatoes to the mast!
Extensive vallies, verdant pastures which
Prove that the land is well manur'd and rich.
Obliquely north and south extends a chain
Of mountains, which divide the Isle in twain,
From Brada-head to Maughold it extends;
Thence it begins, and there the limit ends.
North of this ridge has e'er been northside nam'd,
The south the epithet of southside claim'd.
From these high mountains rush loud torrents down,
Through glens and ravines which the lowlands crown
With streams salubrious, both sweet and good ;
And nought is wanting save the leafy wood
To form a demi-paradise on earth,
Than which gay nature never did give birth
To fairer. Woods, though late, begin to rise,
Whose heads will take some time to reach the skies.
Mona was once a woody isle, most fair
With oak, and fir and ash and hazel rare,
Which now in piles lie scatter'd under ground,
In depths of bog; and noisome marshes drown'd.
Let none despair that future groves will grow
Where soil so fertile is to plant and sow.
From Brada-head, about a mile or more,
Arises Spanish-head tremendous o'er the shore,
Beyond which lies the Calf, an islet small,
A neat estate six hundred acres all.
Its form is roundish rising o'er the deep,
Where rats and rabbits breed, and puffins sleep,
'Tween Mona's Isle and this, a little strait
Flows in a current at a rapid rate
Along the south of Kitterland, (a stone
All moss-grown 'mid the narrow sea alone,)
The scenery around, immensely grand,
Partakes of beauties both of sea and land.
The rocks precipitous they Chickens call,
Cover'd with sea-birds in eternal squall ;
Perch'd on the shelving rocks, you fowls may see
Like china vases in a pottery ;
And wonder of all wonders ! you will view
A Calf's-eye made of rock, and yet most true.
A handsome lighthouse this rough coast illumes
With varied tinge. Its red-blue reign assumes
Each night; and while the headlong surge
Lashes the rock, and round the islet urge
The furious tides, the mariner espies
The friendly luminary with glad eyes.
Now turn we northward : from the lengthen'd chain
Of mountains view the land amain--
A rich extensive soil a la champaigne.
A lighthouse there the nightly seaman guards
From Point of Ayr fifty and hundred yards.
Its lumen splendid red and azure bright,
Throws far its rays through the sad gloom of night.
The mountains here are not so very high;
Though they who call them tame must surely lie.
Snafield the grand, majestically tall,
Looks round and down upon his neighbours all.
Five hundred yards above the sea, his head
Is oft with unthaw'd snow well powdered.
If ye desire to see the isle at large,
You may move hither at a mod'rate charge.
Drive to the mountain foot, and leave your horse
Tied to the heather or a bush of gorse.
Thence you may walk aslant to th' very top,
Dryshod, nor slipp'ry nor with any slop.
When there arriv'd, look round, and over sea,
England and Scotland, Ireland, Wales, you'll see.
The other mountains, as ye pass you'll know,
Cover'd with heath and fleecy flocks enow.
But gentle readers I would please your view
With one fair mountain prospect. There are few
Which equal of Montpelier the sweep.
Ride out through Baldwin, while your neighbours sleep,
At the sweet hour of dawn, to Golden Grove,
Wade's Injebreck, a seat the Muses love.
Pass by and wend along the mountain wall ;
(The solitude is grand 'long side of Sniall)
Until at length the broad sea meets your eye,
Th' euchanting prospect will your mind enthral.
The varied landscapes far beneath you lie,
Crown'd with fair crops, wheat, barley, oats, pulse, rye,
And the church steeple tow'ring to the sky.
Grand is the tout ensemble from the height,
O'er level land and sea, which bound the sight.
Wide is th' expanse o'er Scroundal from Shlieuhurrn,
The Crongan steep, whence flows the rapid Bourne
That sweeps along the valley to the sea,
Through lands far fam'd for rich fertility.
The isle well-water'd boasts of many a stream,
Which from the rock and mountain bosom teem
The Neb the largest, which flows west to Peele,
Where glideth many a trout and many an eel.
The next is Sulby, Snafield flowing down,
Which through Lezayre runs on to Ramsey town.
Of num'rous rivulets the country o'er
'There tedious all the sources to explore.
But there is pleasant angling all along,
Each nook and cranny, and the glens among.
In opposite directions rolls each tide
The one flows eastward to the channel wide
Of great St. George, then north; the other west
Sweeps southward from th' Atlantic without rest,
But what of this ? since ev'ry sailor knows
Each tide, each current regular that flows
Around the isle. There's always good-look-'out-
An offing safe, and more why care about ?
The soil along the Isle on the north-east
Is clay-slate ; onward to the mountain waste
It gen'rates by degrees to cold schistose,
Till at Baroole 'tis slate by nature's laws.
South of rich Foxdale many a lone mile
Harsh granite forms the surface of the soil.
The same pervades a portion of the grounds,
From Douglas far as Ramsey, and abounds.
Quarries of sand-stone shelve the shores of Peele,
A town once flourishing in Mona's weal;
Call'd Peele from Pile, the castle on the rocks,
Which storms and raging billows ever mocks;
A place renown'd for ancient feudal spight,
Where nobles chaind in dungeon dark as night.
For years lay hopeless ; and 'tis famous too
For "Pev'rill of the Peak," and "Mauthe dhoo,"
At Castletown the limestone rock prevails,
Of grain as fine as marble found in Wales.
Of this old Rushen's built, and College late
At Hangohill is rais'd in princely state.
Coal has been bored for here, for sordid gain
Long have they bored, but they have bored in vain.
Marle at the south in Strata has been found,
And at the north vast quantities abound.
Fossils in forms of Skeletons appear
At northside, through the country every where.
Sometime ago were found at Ballacain,1
The bones of a huge elk;--in what wet reign
Th' animal gigantic wended thither,
Whether by stress of sea or land or weather ?
No one can tell. It matters not a feather.
'Tis clear such animals don't now exist.
Their necks were far too short to graze. I wise
They upward on the foilage browz'd of trees,
When forests wav'd which now no mortal sees.
The turf and timber and the very nut
Of hazel lie beneath, as black as soot,
When or by what mysterious cause they came,
If 'I can't tell, you'll not attribute blame.
Copper in Brada, lead in Laxey shines,
And lead, dull lead, is found in Foxdale mines.
Few springs chalybeateor saline here,
But health abounds, and they superfluous were.
All climates have their inconveniencies;
The clime of Mona on the whole must please.
Neither too humid nor too dry the air;
'Tis seldom stormy, and in gen'ral fair.
More days you may ride out or walk for health
Than in Great Britain free, with all its wealth.
The winter's mild and open, seldom we
Endure the frosts inclement o'er the sea,
The arbutus, verhina, fuschia, myrtle,
Flourish gaily in this land so fertile,
So snug and balmy'.-where exotics grow,
In nooks well-shelter'd, without dread of snow.
The very place for Botanists to prove
In open air the science which they love.
The Manks prolific are, it is well known,
The several census various years have shewn
To about forty thousand they amount,
Correct, no doubt, is ev'ry year's account.
Th' inhabitants are lively and love fun ;
Of leisure fond-to bask beneath the sun.
A nation tractable, to rulers mild ;
But to th' adverse implacable-nay wild.
Not cross or unintelligent the race,
And very glad to see a British face.
The dialect is Celtic, but of late
English is spreading at a rapid rate.
There are no poor-rates, taxes are unknown ;
They love the king, his government and throne.
The Church of England is the nation's faith ;
Yet various sects here flourish without scath. _
The parishes in all are seventeen,
Fine cultivated spots and pastures green.
York's meek archbishop their chief pastor is,
That with their clergy leads them all to bliss.
Evangelists there are, and Ranters too,
But all the selfsame mistress join to woo. ;
Some weep-some think-some pray. Few bear-the cross
And few for sake of. heaven count all things loss.
The tenets all the same, like brethren they
Agree to march to heaven, in the same way :
And though the half-way house or bridge should differ,
It never troubles gizzard, heart, or liver.
All nations superstitions have a' few ;
Manksmen the fairies and dark. witchcraft rue ;
And this to prove they Endor's witch will cite,
And say much more than they can read or write.
Farming for years had fashionable been,
And Curwen's M. P. prizes we have seen.
The vain acquirement of a silver cup
Has many an honest man sold fairly up.
Content to rear a stout and healthy brood,
Manksmen are satisfied with homely food ;
But Scotch and English roamers often come,
Withouten flute or hautboy, pipe or drum
They find the soil repays a skilful hand,
And they have taught us how to till the land.
The rental all, is seventy thousand pounds,
And grain of the best quality abounds;
If sent to Liverpool, they prize it there,
And next to British wheat they Manks prefer.
The cow and horse, the turkey and the goose,
The duck and hen-whatever you may choose
Of poultry kind, here you may rear at ease,
As well as wheat and barley, oats and pease.
We have to boot whatever England boasts,
Each kind advantage of the neighb'ring coasts.
Game too.-the woodcock, partridge, snipe 8c grouse,,
And hares and rabbits from the bush arouse.
But fox we have not-no, nor in the brake
One reptile to cause wound or sting or ache.
Herrings I sing, the trade of Mona s Isle
Herrings I say, I sing-and you may smile.
Three hundred boats and more do herrings take,
In which four thousand men do keep awake
All night to catch. Sing Muse, and sing I say,
How many fish are caught, how many glide away ?
Alas! she cannot. Corn and cattle are
Sent o'er the sea to breathe the British air.
In lieu of articles that outward go,
Into our ports these various imports flow
Coals, timber, broadcloth, sugar, and the rest
Which warm the body, and which burn the breast,.
The manufactures in the Isle are few
Woollen cloths, leather, linen-paper too.
All foreign articles to Douglas come,
Which port admits the sugar, wine, and rum.
This precious gem- that twinkles on the, sea,
Of government unique has branches three..
The first is the Governor2 well belov'd
In public and private by all!
A ruler like him.to possess it behov'd
For the good.of the great and small.
The second in rank is the Council wise,
Compos'd of eleven grave men ;
The third, the choice twenty-four of the land,
Who all sign their names with a pen.
Whoever wishes more of them to know,
Must all the courts attend :-to Tynwald go,-
To Chancery,-Exchequer,-House of Keys,-
Where men give judgment sitting at their ease;
And Vicars' courts, and Offices of Rolls,
Where records lie in bundles and in scrolls.
The printer, Duke-street, sells the statute book ;
The trav'ler who would learn, there let him look.
The churches' livings to the king belong,
Since Athol sold his right for an old song. 3
Ah amiable prelate! why shouldst thou,
So lov'd amongst us, on the poor bestow
Thy kind attention and thy lib'ral purse,
Thou guardian friend of .Mona, and her nurse,
Yet leave us undeserving! While I see
The beauteous walks, and glens, and every tree
Thy dear hand planted-I cannot refrain-
I pass thy palace4 and my thought is pain!
-A truce to grief. I must go on and sing.
The Bishopric's a barony. A king
Is but a chieftain of a redder coat
A bishop too has castle, throne, and moat.
Each parish was divided into treens,
A s in a garden, carrots, pulse, and greens.
Each sep'rate space four quarterlands contain'd,
And o'er each treen a little monarch reign'd-
So doubtless deem'd ; for little baronies
Were all these treens, but now their lordships cease.
The quarterlands, all farms of various size,
Mark the due grade of landed properties.
Some to one hundred acres scarcely tend,
Yet some to five attain, and there they end.
But all these farms are held, it is most true,
By tenure feudal. Farmers pay or rue
A quit rent, to the king: a custom this
Which proves each landholder a vassal is. .;
The governor appoints the magistrates , _
Of towns, and other officers creates.
I'th' former the High-bailiffs he allots ;
The latter Cor'ners, Captains, and what nots.
Besides these petty functions there are two
Superior appointments which are due
To-royal patronage, whose power decrees-
Who wields the sceptre of the land and seas:
They 're Deemsters call'd. One o'er the north presides,
The other to the south gives law-decides
Each knotty cause, impartial as the bone
Lies in the herring of the Arctic zone!
Under these judges of the people's right,
Are certain functionaries, who affright
Th' unfortunate and eke the thief outright.
These are the coroners, who sheriffs are
One to each sheading from the Point of Ayr
To Spanish-head, and they be six in all,
Which sherifdoms an Englishman might call.
T' enforce the laws the king has soldiers here
A company or two throughout the year.
One kind arises from the customs old
On goods that in and out o'th' isle are sold
Imports and exports: hinht ; and 'tis from these
The king confirms his empire o'er the seas.
Another impost from the isle arises,
Which every man of sense most highly prizes:
This springs from taxes for the due repair
Of roads, and yields two thousand pounds a year.
As to the Hist'ry of this little isle
To write it o'er again 'tis not worth while.
So many queer accounts have oft appear'd,
So many monstrous fables have been rear'd.
To th' curious I shall leave it to find out
In Bullock, Robinson, and all that rout
Of sage historians. Feltham is the best
Of tourists through this isle. As for the rest
The less you trust the better. Go and see
The country for yourself:-you'll think with me.
1Anglicd Cain's place, next in antiquity to Adam's.
3£300,000; worth double the sum.
4At the accession of Dr. Murray, now Bishop of Rochester, to the See, this building underwent a total change. The high round tower of Gothic elevation, which stood about forty years ago, having been thrown down, (and which now lies buried in a verdant slope, in the front pleasure ground.) the dwelling was changed by the late Dr Crigan, into a respectable modern mansion. The whole has been re-modelled by Dr. Murray, and now presents the appearance of an ancient priory. A chapel is added at the east end, the interior of which is decorated in a primitive and yet elegant style which reflects credit on his Lordship's taste and munificence. A new range of out-offices, farm-house, &c has also been erected. The expenditure in effecting these and other improvements, within this beautiful seclusion, must have been very considerable.
Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received
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