[From 3rd Manx Scrapbook ]



1. Death and its Imminence. — 2. Other Strange Experiences. — 3. Travelling in the Spirit. — 4. More about Christian Lewaigue.

NEARLY all the adventures of the soul grouped under this heading involve a faculty closely akin to Second Sight. They are distinguishable from the experiences related in the previous chapter by their individualised character ; except in the case of the dream common to certain members of one family, these occurrences are not of the kind that are repeated for other people. In this they differ from the typical meetings with fairies and apparitions who haunt particular places in habitual shapes.

Respectively to each other, the ensuing items might be classed in several different ways, each method implying a critical view. About half of them were premonitory. Some were waking visions, others were dreams in which the subject was more or less normally asleep ; of still others it is difficult to decide whether one of these adjoining regions, or that of trance, has a right to claim them. There is a fourth state, one of suspension, which interests us all, and which moreover actuates very many " supernatural phenomena " ; so it seemed best to make death the keynote here.

To be more accurate, we should in this connexion say the entrance into death, the act of dying ; it is to this that these warning dreams and visions point.

Most of the stories came to me from their principal actors, and nearly all the rest from persons closely concerned. Names and localities could be given in every case, but the objection to doing so here will be obvious from the nature of the material.

1. Death and its Imminence.

Messengers of Death. It is believed that when the representative of a prominent Rushen family dies away from his home a message of a supernatural nature is sent to the house — a house occupied by the family for many generations. For example: the great-grandfather of the last head, when attending a ploughing-match and sports in the South of Scotland, contracted a chill and died over there. At the hour of his death some unseen thing struck one of the windows of his house with such force that the glass was broken.

It is further related that when his corpse was brought home his horses refused to draw the hearse from the house to the cemetery, and others had to be obtained. This, it is said, was because he had led a godless life. The same reason was ascribed to his haunting the neighbourhood of Mount Gawne Brewery, a family possession, in the form of an enormous bear-like monster.

The tradition of the death-message may be an inheritance from the centuries when most Manxmen were fishermen, and often fishermen in far waters. When a Breton who follows that dangerous calling is lost at sea, gulls come crying and beating their wings against his house.

Phantom Funerals. Much of a spectral nature has been seen along the stretch of narrow, well-timbered and well-watered road (too well-watered in winter), which runs alongside the Struan-ny-Niee in Maughold and leads down to Cornaa Mill. Below the entrance to Booilley-velt farm a phantom coach and pair was sometimes seen passing, and the horses' hoofs heard. Between one and two in the morning was its usual hour, and it was understood to be going to Kirk Maughold. Opinions conflict as to whether or not it foreshadowed a death in the neighbourhood.

Two men going up Lewaigue Hill on the Ramsey and Douglas road one night met a spectral funeral near the spot where so many other queer things have been seen, heard and felt. Among the crowd following it on foot they recognised a man they both knew, and this man died within a week.

" About forty years ago I was acting as locum tenens at Foxdale. . . . While staying there, the young son and daughter of the late Captain [of the mines], natives of Cornwall, told me the following curious story. They had been to the village one evening, and were returning home after dark, when they saw proceeding up the hill before them what they took to be a carriage or vehicle of some sort, with lights, and heard the sound of horses' feet on the hard road. To their astonishment, the conveyance turned into the avenue leading to their house, and they thought that someone had called on urgent business late at night. However, when they reached home they saw no vehicle of any description there, and no one had called. Their father was ill at the time, and they looked upon it as a sign of his approaching death. It is true that the father did die a few days afterwards; and the widow and family firmly believed that the conveyance was the hearse sent to bear the Captain to his grave." (Ramsey Courier, Nov., 1932.)

Singing and Knocking. To hear singing coming from an unseen source, especially if it seems to resemble that of a church congregation or a funeral procession, is commonly thought to be a sign of a death in the near future. Many instances of this are on record, and more are constantly occurring. Two that came to my notice recently in Maughold differ in detail from the general run. Where a bungalow now stands on the Ballasloe land there was formerly a smithy. At three o'clock one night some men passing the smithy heard a number of people singing, and in the chorus they recognized the voice of a man they knew, who was noted for his remarkably strong singing-voice. This man died in the course of the following week.

Another time Matt Summers, the smith, while mending a plough, heard a hymn being sung just outside, as it seemed to him. Two days later a man in the neighbourhood, well-known to Summers, died, and Summers heard the same hymn sung at his funeral. A carpenter living in Glen May, who made coffins,often used to know by sounds of knocking and hammering that he heard in the night that a death was imminent in the neighbourhood, and that he would get the order for the coffin.

The Wood of the Violets. Over fifty years have elapsed since Mrs. A. received this symbolic intimation of trouble to come, but it has always been a tradition in the family. She dreamt she was walking with her two little girls, K. and M., in a beautiful wood full of violets which she could smell as well as see. Suddenly two men sprang out from behind the trees, snatched up M., and made off with her. Mrs. A. ran after them and begged them to give her back the child, and take K. instead ; for she felt that one of them had to be taken. They did as she asked, and the dream ended. Neither of the children was known to be unwell at the time, but K. died that day week.

The Light on the Coffin. This belongs to 1931. A lady I am well acquainted with, Manx by descent and birth, saw in the middle of the night in her house in London a vision (it is not easy to decide whether she was awake or dreaming) of a beam of bright light slanting down from the top of the bedroom wall upon a coffin lying on a trestle. It was covered with a white sheet except at one corner where the sheet was turned up, showing enough of the coffin to make it recognizable as such. This dream, or whatever it is to be called, did not impress her deeply at the time ; but when her baby suddenly developed diphtheria a fortnight later she remembered what she had seen, and interpreted it as foreshadowing his death. The child recovered, but during its illness her husband did away with himself.

The Reluctant Bridegroom. While lying in his bunk in a Provençal harbour, K-- dreamt that his brother in the Isle of Man wakened him and said, " Aren't you going to get ready ? " " Ready for what ? " " For your wedding, of course." K-- did not feel at all inclined to rise and take his part in such a ceremony. His brother then said, " Well, if you won't go will you let me go instead ? " K-- at once consented, and his brother left him. K-- then woke up and looked out of the port-hole, just in time to see a carriage with black horses driving away up the quayside. During the following afternoon K-- while doing some painting on board saw a telegraph messenger coming on the wharf. He put down his brush to go and meet him, knowing instinctively that the wire was for him, but the captain stopped him. The telegram was handed to the captain, who read it and told K-- that his brother had died the previous night.

The same man was lying awake one night on the deck of his ship, again in the Mediterranean. Though there was no one near him he felt a hand smoothing his forehead. Later he learned that his mother had died the same night.

Lights as a Death-warning. Mrs. C. of Sulby, when lying in bed, saw (to use her own words to me) a thing like a stick about a foot long with a blue light at each end of it. It travelled through the air and fastened itself to the gable of the house. She seemed to be looking at it from outside the house. A few weeks later her husband died, and her eldest son followed him within a month.

The " Ellan Vannin " Disaster. A recent rehearing of a prophetic dream that occurred the night before the Ellan Vannin was lost reminded me that I had omitted to place it with the visionary premonition of the same disaster related in the Second Scrapbook. In this case nothing was seen. The dreamer's experience was a terrifying sense of darkness and impending calamity, which could not be expressed in words. In consequence she dissuaded her husband, though with difficulty, from sailing by the ill-fated vessel next day, as he had intended.

Seeing Her Own Funeral. — Besides the seeing or hearing of symbolical death-warnings, the actual circumstances attendant on death may be foreseen. Thus, old Maggie Q. of Glen Aldyn had a vision, about nine months before she died, of her own funeral. The scene, according to her description shortly after its occurrence, came before her eyes as she was lying in bed, like a transparent veil between her eyes and the walls of the room, which remained visible. She was unwell at the time, but made some recovery before the final illness which carried her off. She watched the entire ceremony up to the taking of the coffin out of the hearse, and noticed that the men had some difficulty in doing this. When it was eventually got out it " had a funny shape, much thicker at one end than the other," a thing she could not understand.

This vision with its highly unlikely particulars was fulfilled in every point. The old woman, after lying ill for some months, died unexpectedly and without attention, and rigor mortis set in before the corpse could be straightened. Hence the coffin had to be made in the shape seen in her vision, and the difficulty in removing it from the hearse occurred exactly as she had described it. These circumstances were observed at the funeral by the lady to whom Maggie told her vision, and who related it, and its fulfilment, to me. The old woman was not a habitual seer ; evidently the decay of her physical vitality opened her eyes to more rarefied influences than those of the senses.

A Dream of the Unlived Future. This incident, and the two that follow it, were not inspired by actual death but by its imminence. Not long before she died Maggie Q. dreamt that she saw her grown-up son in a large square enclosure where water was rising rapidly all round him. With great difficulty he was holding a woman's form above it. The picture impressed the dreamer deeply, but she could not imagine what it meant. Shortly after her death her son married and went to live in a small dwelling within the courtyard of the Glen mill. In the memorable flood of 1930 the water flowed into this enclosure, and held the main gate shut by pressure from within, so that the man had to carry his wife to safety through another exit. He happened to mention this to M., but did not appear to have heard of the dream himself. It was from M., whose nurse the woman had formerly been, that I learned of it and its fulfilment after the dreamer's death.

A Disaster Averted. A lady I have known for many years saw in a " dream " a motor-car containing in the front seat her husband and her stepson; the latter was driving, and his wife was in the back seat ; the dreamer's husband was holding the young couple's baby. The dreamer seemed, she says, to be hovering in the air above them. The road along which the car was travelling was unfamiliar to her. Without warning another car came out of a side-lane and ran into the side of the first car, just amidships, overturning it and, she felt with anguish, killing all the passengers. At the time of this vision her husband was at home with her, but due to leave the Island next morning for a visit to his son in the Midlands. Before he started she begged him to warn his son (her stepson) to be very careful if when driving he should ever come to such a corner as she described ; she was able to picture it in detail. He was a good deal amused, but promised to mention the matter. A couple of days after his arrival at his destination his son was driving them all to the nearest town, and they happened to be sitting as they were in the dream. As they went along the dreamer's husband suddenly realised that they were approaching the spot she had described to him, and almost involuntarily he told his son to stop. The young man braked, and only just in time ; for as they came abreast of the opening and the brakes began to take effect, another car shot out into the main road and struck the front of their car a sharp blow, turning them aslant and shattering a lamp, but causing no personal injury. The dreamer and her husband were my informants.

A Message from the Antarctic. The son of a woman living at the Dog Mills near Ramsey was away at sea. One day while busied in the house she heard a favourite tune of his being hummed just as he often hummed it at home. It struck her so forcibly that she made a note of the day and hour. When he came back it turned out that at that time he was rounding the Horn Westward in very heavy weather. The cargo had shifted, two men had been washed overboard, the ship was in danger, and he did not expect to come through.

The Soul of a Dog. X's dog had been poisoned. She carried it to a shed near the house, shut the door, and went to get some water. As she came back she heard, when a few yards away from the shed, a loud cry, and knew the dog was dead. Almost immediately after she saw a small white rabbit run from the door. It gave her a sort of startled look in passing, crossed a small field towards the river, and vanished. She found the door still shut. The rabbit was of a peculiar whiteness, unlike anything else she could think of. No white rabbit had ever been seen about the farm, nor was one seen afterwards. She believed she saw the spirit of her dog.

2. Other Strange Experiences.

A Vision of the Past ? I have heard the following story (which I condense) from the same person in virtually the same words several times during the last 30 years. From her early childhood an unusually vivid dream repeated itself at intervals, and it was always identical in every detail. Men wearing helmets with something coming down over their faces (visors) were chasing her through long underground passages, dank and gloomy, down many steps, through doors which she banged-to after her to delay her pursuers, till she came out into a sunlit garden with a sort of summerhouse in it. Into this she ran for refuge, and felt she was safe.

At the age of about 24 she was taken to Bolsover Castle in Nottinghamshire, and in walking through the grounds recognized with astonishment the surroundings of her dream. Without being told anything about it, she showed the caretaker where the underground passage had its secret entrance in the Castle, and said it ended near a but with a high wooden wainscot. This was true, and he would not believe she had not been there before. She was then taken through the passage, and all was familiar to her. After this the dream never repeated itself. Its partial fulfilment in her recognition of the place had no further consequences. Whether it reflected some incident "in a previous life," as the phrase goes, I leave to others to consider.

A Prophetic Dream. This dream, curious in its reversal of one of the facts that it foreshadowed, was related to me by the dreamer herself and her husband, who was concerned in it. She dreamt that a man came to the front door of their house and told her that the house was on fire at the back. She felt mildly surprised, and said she knew nothing about it. He repeated his statement, adding that they must get out at once. She then noticed a fire-engine standing outside in the back street. While they were talking another man came up and said it was a mistake, the fire was not there but further down the street. In the small hours of the next night but two a man knocked at their back door. When the husband looked out of the window he was informed that the house was on fire at the front, and they must get ready to leave it as soon as possible. She went to the front of the house to look for the fire, and found a fire-engine outside with the driver turning the horses round. When he saw her at the door he said her husband had been misinformed ; the fire was in an oil-store further down, but the occupants of the intervening houses were being warned that they might have to turn out if the wind should blow the flames in their direction.

A Recurrent Family-dream. Perhaps nightmare would be a better name for this inherited sleepadventure. It began, so far as is known, with Aunt (or Great-Aunt) C--, who died many years ago. From her early childhood she had a recurrent nightmare that a horrible little old woman was advancing upon her to bite her thumb. Her nephew often dreamt of the same terrifying hag coming to strangle him ; as a child he used to wake up " screaming the house down." When towards his middle age she began to appear with a knife in her hand he made up his mind to kill her before she killed him. His final effort to do this woke him in the act of jumping out of bed.

He believed he had succeeded and broken her back; at any rate, she never came to him again. But not long afterwards she started invading the sleep of one of his two nephews living in England, who was about 24 years of age. His dream was of a similar woman trying to choke him. His uncle, who was surprised to hear that the hag was still active, advised him to kill her. I never heard whether he was successful.

Thus the dream repeated itself frequently over a period of perhaps a hundred years to members of three generations, who lived, at various times, in two countries and six different houses. The two men in the case are reasonable, practical people. The greataunt I never knew. She may have inherited the dream herself.

The Stigmata of the Vampire. A man I am acquainted with, by name R. F., is subject to unaccountable experiences, both while awake and while asleep. He suffered, for example, from a nightmare in which he was being strangled by some malevolent being, of whom he is unable or unwilling to give a clear description. On one occasion, when he woke with a loud cry, he told his dream to his bedfellow, and next morning showed him two red marks on each side of the throat where the skin was punctured.

The Bewildered Travellers. A man (now an official in Peel) and his friend started one autumn evening from Ballafesson, Arbory, to visit a girl at Ballasalla. They knew the district perfectly well. Not long after leaving home they found themselves in a countryside which was quite unfamiliar to them. They got over a hedge and stepped down into deep snow, though there was no snow in the Island at that time or for long before and after. They plunged through it and came to a large house, well lighted up, which they had never seen before. As they opened the garden gate all the lights went out and they could see nothing. They wandered on for an indefinite time, and eventually found that they were in the churchyard of Kirk Christ Rushen, about 3 miles from Ballafesson and in the opposite direction from Ballasalla. Then they gave it up and went back home. K-- wanted to try again next evening, but the other man refused.

The Cloud of Darkness. A woman well-known to me has told me that as she was going up Glen Aldyn one evening before nightfall, everything became perfectly black in front of her, and she could not see to take another step. She stood still for some time -she thought it was nearly half an hour-waiting for it to melt away. It was only ahead of her that the way was blocked ; down the glen the sky was clear and the road visible. Losing patience at last, she turned round and walked slowly backwards as well as she could manage it, till she got through. This happened above the bridge which was washed away by the flood some years later. Next day her father was told by a man I knew during his lifetime, whose cottage stood a little way back from the road at this point, that there had been " a great cloud of darkness " just at that place when he came up about half-past nine. This was an hour later than the woman's experience.

The Visionary Mansion. At a quarter to twelve on a rather dark spring night about eleven years ago a friend of mine who lived in the outskirts of Ramsey went out to post a letter. As she returned she was surprised to see below her and some distance away a large building brilliantly lighted up. At first glance she thought there must be a dance in progress at the large hall which stands about a hundred yards back from the road, and she wondered why she had not noticed it when passing down a few minutes earlier. When she came nearer she found the lighted house was standing in what she knew to be a boggy and rushy depression close to the road. Beside the house was a lake with small boats moving about on it, as though being rowed. She knew that there were living beings all about the place, for there was a hum of voices and music. She was utterly amazed, and turned her back to it for some moments to collect her thoughts. When she looked again it was still there. She was then standing just opposite, on the footwalk on the further side of the road. She felt afraid to go any nearer, so much afraid that instead she ran all the way home. The spot is visible from her house, and as soon as she got there she looked again, but all was as dark as usual.

The patch of ground where the house was seen lies near the shore, and contains no building of any kind, nor the vestiges of one. In fact it has for many years been sinking from some natural cause, probably a subterranean watercourse.

3. Travelling in the Spirit.

(i) A Peel man, C--, who was fishing for cod off the South of Ireland, found himself in need of a favourite harpoon which he had unfortunately left behind. It preyed on his mind, and he dreamt more than once that he had gone back to get it. When he came home he told his wife how much he had been wanting it, and she was able to tell him in return of the disturbance he had caused by rummaging about in the loft where the harpoon was kept. The implement was still there, in spite of his efforts.

What might be described as a return visit, though with a more serious purpose, is briefly alluded to in a brochure entitled Isle of Man Short Stories, page 30. The spirit of the mother of an Irish sailor drowned in Derbyhaven used to come over from Ireland during her lifetime and haunt his Manx burial-place, where she was often seen.

(ii) My informant, while on a visit to Liverpool during her 'teens, had an acute attack of homesickness one night, and was unable to sleep. She got up, opened the bedroom window, and sat on the edge of the bed, thinking of her home and longing to be there. After a while she fell into a doze and " dreamt " that she was at home again, where she went into her sister's and her brother's rooms and looked at them in turn. She then went downstairs, jumping the last couple of steps, as she often did. At the same time, as nearly as could be ascertained, her sister saw her come into the room and tried to put her arms round her, seeing she looked troubled ; but her arms touched nothing. The sister (from whom I heard her own side of the affair) felt puzzled, but did not realize that the other girl was not actually there. The brother likewise saw her come into his room, and called out in surprise, " Hullo ! are you back ? " She made no answer, but went out through the door. He got up and followed her, and saw her go downstairs, jumping the last steps. Both the brother and the sister, though mystified by her unheralded arrival, fully expected to see her there next morning. They have vouched for their share in the matter.

(iii) Z. dreamt that she was making a long train journey through unfamiliar country in the hope of catching up a younger sister ahead of her. With this intention she left the train at a station and went down a street through the middle of a strange town. When she turned up a side street in the suburbs she saw her sister a little way in front of her walking quickly, almost running. Her hair was flying loose and she was shaking it out to the right with her hand, as though to display it. Z. cried to her, " Don't be so vain ! " and at the same moment saw a man at the window of a house with one arm in his shirt and the other arm and shoulder bare and conspicuously white.

The sequel to this apparently meaningless dream lifts it out of the usual category. Z.'s sister eventually married the man whose face was seen at the window. The unusual whiteness of his arm and shoulder was also a fact. After the marriage Z. went to stay with them, and on leaving the train found that the streets of the town were those she had passed through in her dream. The house where she had seen the man was his mother's house, where he had lived before his marriage, and the window was that of his bedroom. The dream-sight of the face at the window could be explained by the fact that at the time of the dream the sister was engaged to this man, and Z. had seen him ; but neither of the girls had then visited his English home.

(iv) The two people here chiefly concerned, an unmarried woman of about 21 and a youth three or four years younger, lived near each other in the North of the Island. Both were of Manx descent, and persons of education and good social position. I must call them X. and Y. Y. died many years ago, soon after attaining his majority, and I never met him. X., whom I have known for forty years, related the following occurrence to me in 1932. It should be premised that between her and Y. existed a strong mental or psychic affinity and sympathy, though they were related by marriage only. Each was at times aware of what was passing through the other's mind, and one would reply to the other's unspoken thought or question. Y. could, for example, continue aloud X.'s train of thought even to repeating or continuing a tune or a line of verse. This would be done quite spontaneously.

One afternoon about 2 p.m., during Y.'s absence on a visit to friends in Liverpool, X. was standing before her mirror at home, doing her hair preparatory to going out. While thus engaged she felt a strange sensation coming over her which she can only describe as a faintness, though it was not quite the same as the feeling that heralds a fainting-fit. She sat down and closed her eyes to let it pass away. She then saw Y.'s mother, whom she had known before her death a year previously, standing beside her with hands outstretched, the palms upward and joined edge to edge. X. heard the words " You shall see Y." Then she felt herself lifted and borne through the air, as it seemed to her, and found herself standing with Y.'s mother in a bedroom, just in the act of disengaging her own palms from the other woman's. She saw Y. sitting before a fire, huddled up in something, and heard the mother say to the son, " This is Miss --" (using her Christian name) ; " I have brought her to see you." She stooped and whispered some further words in his ear, at which he looked greatly surprised. Then the dead woman held out her hands again, and X. found herself back in her own room, sitting in front of her mirror as before, but feeling unwell.

Later in the day she asked Y.'s father whether the boy was all right, without giving any reason for her question. He had no cause to think there was anything wrong with him, but to humour her anxiety he sent a telegram of enquiry. When Y. and X. met a couple of weeks afterwards he said in the course of conversation, " What made father send that wire ? That was the first day I was out of bed after starting with the quinsy. I was feeling depressed and rotten generally, and got up, against the doctor's orders. And that reminds me, while I was sitting by the fire a queer thing happened that I want to tell you about. I thought you and mother came into the room, and mother said she had brought you to see me." X. then related her own experience, and asked him what it was that his mother had whispered to him. After some hesitation he told her the words were, " She is going to marry your father. I want you to be kind to her and champion her." Though there was then no engagement either open or secret, the marriage came about well within the young man's lifetime, and the second part of the dead woman's message was not superfluous.

This little drama of the interior consciousness has been confirmed to me by members of the family who knew of it at the time it happened. The dead woman who was the active agent in the affair was the one who figures in the warning dream described at the foot of page 58 in A Second Manx Scrapbook ; a very strongwilled person, I have been told.

(v) For most experiences that others might call supernatural a man I know, named M--, has a ready explanation. But he admits to a few exceptions, and this is one of them. He was walking home along the Ramsey road from the Corrany in Maughold on a moonlight evening. About 100 yards short of the Hibernian (we stood at the exact spot while he was telling the story), he saw a woman on the other side of the road coming in the opposite direction. He bore towards the middle of the road and said " Good-night " as they came abreast of each other. There was no response, and he repeated his greeting. As the woman still did not answer he felt slightly nettled, for in the country all wayfarers exchange a friendly word at night , and he grasped her dress. Her face was hidden by the shadow of her arm, which she was holding up as though to screen it, and she would not turn her head towards him. Exasperated, he exclaimed, " I'll find out who you are, if I have to follow you to Douglas ! " She answered, " You don't know me, and you never will." He is not clear what happened then. The next thing he remembers is that he was standing in the roadway alone, holding his knife in his hand with the blade open and pointing behind him. When he got home he told his family what had happened, and then went to bed, because he was " feeling queer."

What he takes to be the true explanation presented itself a few days later. He went into a house in Maughold, and saw there the woman who lived in it but who had been away from home for some time. He had known her before she went away, and now the conviction came to him that it was she he had seen near the Hibernian. At that time she was not on the Island, but on a small coasting steamer (the " Yarrow ") from which she had expected to land at Ramsey. The boat missed the Ramsey call and went straight on to Douglas, and the Maughold woman felt distressed when she found she was being overcarried. If she had landed at Ramsey she would naturally have gone home along the road on which the meeting took place, and at about the same hour. This explanation does not account for her words to him, but they may have had some secret meaning.

4. More about Christian Lewaigue.

Ewan Christian in his second life as a folk-hero was essentially a visionary. He was transfigured in the popular mind somewhat as Virgil was in mediaeval Italy.

More than one fabulous account of how Christian met his death have been related in the previous volume. Here is yet another. A woman whom he had betrayed in his wild youth confessed (I think on her death-bed) to a man named Caine, belonging to the Southern end of Maughold, that she lay in wait for Christian one night in the shadow of the trees at Ballure Bridge, and after accusing him of having ruined her life, she handled the old man so roughly that he died at home a few hours later. It is risky to read one's own theories into such tales, but I cannot help suspecting the story ought to make her, and in an earlier form did make her, the spirit of the woman in question. It was at Ballure Bridge, as already recounted, that a spirit met him and converted him from his evil ways; and the White Lady of Lewaigue is generally understood to have been either the good or the bad angel of his life.

Christian's laying of the bad spirit at Dreem-y-Jeeskaig is described in chapter iii. It is the sort of accomplishment he was widely credited with ; but even in the department of applied science he was reputed a worker of wonders. One at least of the long line of the Lewaigue family must have shown a mechanical and inventive turn of mind, for the great door-lock of the church at Maughold which preceded the present building was made by a Christian of Lewaigue, and bore the date 1775 (Lioar Manninagh, i. 385). Hence perhaps the fastening upon this member of the family the imported Brass Head legend, and hence too the belief recorded by Kennish that fragments of a perpetual-motion machine invented by him were formerly to be seen among the rocks in the little glen near his house.

However these things may be, he certainly died on 4th October, 1874, aged 71, and lies in Maughold churchyard under a tombstone of later date, at the top of which is sculptured an inverted goblet. This is understood to be a token of his fervent advocacy of the temperance cause, in furtherance of which he travelled all over the Island. It may, however, be an approximation to the three chalices that formed the armorial device of the Cumberland Christians. (Was that suggested by the Gaelic word cruisten, a cup ?) At any rate, save for an occasional ramble about the parish " to see how things are going on," he is safely tucked under the sacred sod of Kirk Maughold among his kindred the innumerable Christians of the parish, where the family has been predominant since the beginning of Manx history. The legend of his intimacy with the unseen world has been vital enough to pass over to his son, who is said to have been " nearly as good as himself for talking to the spirits." The earliest discoverable stone bearing the surname is, though small, the handsomest of them all in shape and lettering. Its record is a simple one : " Edward Christian, 1660." The deeply-cut letters were repainted not many years ago. This man died in Peel Castle, having been imprisoned there for sedition while Governor of the Island.

Whether the largest and most imposing monument in the churchyard belonged to the family I do not know, but that is not unlikely, and for several reasons. The stone, horizontal and surrounded by high railings, has a crack right across it that leaves little of the inscription legible. This tomb is popularly said to have been a dummy built for the convenience of smugglers. They hid their goods inside it and conveyed them to and from it by an underground passage leading to the shore below.


Back index

Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2004