[from A Six Day Tour, 1836]
" The evaporation of a joyous day
Is like the last glass of champagne, without
The foam which made its virgin humber gay."
ANY sudden or unusual excitement, producing buoyancy and brilliancy of spirit, is generally followed by a corresponding depression; such is the ebb and flow, the rise and fall, of the never-resting tide of the human breast.
I was disposed to be out of humour with myself this morning for rising so late, especially when I found it to be so lovely a morning. However, as there was no more time to lose, I swallowed a hasty breakfast, and was soon mounted on one of Mr. Gillon's beautiful stud, and scouring the precincts of Douglas bay.
The first object which caught my attention again was the innumerable quantity of bathers lining the water's edge, like flamingos on the coast of Guiana, which resemble at a distance a regiment of soldiers, and are eternally seen advancing and receding with the rise and fall of the tide. I generally made one among the number every morning, and fresh and invigorating was the dip.
Passing over the sands, we come to the Crescent, which, on account of its lovely situation and peculiar shelter from cold winds, may be called the Arabia Prolix of the bayan Oasis beyond the Desert. There are many beautiful villas here, built within the last two years, the first of which is the residence of James M'Crone, Esq., in the picturesque " old English" or Tudor style of architecture, the consistency of which has been observed throughout; and, next to this, the unfinished mansion of James Brotherston, Esq., which promises to be, when completed, a very elegant and comfortable abode of the modern cottage style. Beyond these, a connected string of houses extends to Strathallan-Crescent, which commences with five pretty and picturesque cottages, the property of J. J. Luyken, Esq., Summer-hill, usually let furnished, and in the summer time the favourite temporary abodes of genteel families coming to enjoy the bathing. The Crescent terminates, as before mentioned, with Castle Pollock, alias Derby Castle. The Crescent is moreover supplied with a good family hotel.
Altogether there is not a more delightful locality in the Island than the Crescent, or a spot where, within so small a compass, the society is more desirableto a young man, indeed, " the prophet's paradise," purified, how ever, from what is extravagant in the heaven of Mahomet, without detracting from the fascination of that delightful home; for it must be understood the Crescent is famous for nothing more than " bonnie lasses", any one of whom might make a reasonable man happy for life.
In the summer season the Crescent is peculiarly gay, from the number of visitors gathered here to enjoy its sweet quiet and retirement, and from the convenience afforded for seabathing. A favourite retired spot for bathing was beyond Derby Castle, ere Father Gruff had as yet imposed an impenetrable barrier to this innocent operation, in the shape of a stone wall, which ladies cannot scale. The necessity of throwing up a few public baths on the sands opposite the Castle, somewhat sheltered from the " public gaze," will, from the recurrence of such circumstances, become daily more evident, the execution of which would not be as formidable as might be imagined.
After an easterly wind, the whole of the beach is covered with sea-weed or rack, and thirty or forty carts may at such time be seen leading the same away for manure. The practice of depositing this stuff under the Castle walls, and suffering it to rot there, should be prevented.
The immense precipitous cliffs which form Summer-hill supply the whole neighbourhood with the best building stone; a second purpose is also answered by quarrying and excavating these rocks, for while the country is supplied with stone, excellent sites for cottages are rapidly being made. Half way up, we have on our left the reservoir which feeds Douglas with water, which is, in fact, the dam which supplied an old mill that stood below, and the right and title to which was sold by D,Ewes Coke, Esq. to the Waterworks Company for £300, in the shape of a ground rent of £15 per annum. At the back of the dam is a lovely glen, the property of Deemster Heywood, Esq., as also Summer-hill.
We must here turn round to view the prospect behind us; the town in the distance, and the extensive beach and Crescent, like a map at our feet. The multitudes, whether on foot, in carriage, or on horseback, which so thickly strew yon arid sands, crossing each others paths in every direction, seem but as busy ants which the summer's sun has drawn forth; and their various destinations and allotments, the joys and sorrows which crowd so many beating breasts, what are they, but as the drops of the shower which falls in yon trackless sea
" A moment there, then lost for ever! "
or like the very impressions of their footsteps on the sea shore, which the next succeeding tide washes away, and they are no more seen ? Yon line of wall, about which you perceive so many artisans busied below, marks the boundary of the road, which the inhabitants of the Crescent have very judiciously removed a little farther from their windows, and not only by so doing made themselves more comfortable, but improved the public highway. Most of the new houses below have been built within the last two years, to the number of about twenty, thus shewing the additional value which has been put upon property within this time.
The first movement in this quarter from the profound lethargy and stupor in which these good people were indulging, was made by D'Ewes Coke, Esq., who purchased an apparently waste and unprofitable tract of land, which has since been enclosed and built upon, thus giving a start to that spirit of improvement which has been steadily progressing since. Nor has he been without his reward; some round hundreds have thus been very scientifically turned over, to the no small encouragement of future enterprise.
Every one can see when another has made a good bargain, but very few can make one themselves, though the thing seems so simple when done. This observation reminds me of the puzzle which Christopher Columbus set his countrymen, after his discovery of America, upon their boasting of being able to accomplish as much themselves. Taking an egg in his hand, " Can any one," says he, " make this egg stand on its end upon this table ?" To which, after some consideration and trial, they all replied, " No." Giving the egg a bit of a tap, so as to flatten the shell, he made it readily stand upright; upon which they all immediately saw how easy it is to do a thing, when seen done, the moral of which they applied to themselves.
Passing Summer-hill, on our left is the Hague, the seat of Carey Tupper, Esq., the garden of which is surrounded by full-grown timber, forming an agreeable shelter from the burning sun. Some white paling all along the bank which encloses the garden would very much add to the snug English appearance of the place.
A little beyond is Kirk Onchan, or as it is called in the Manx language Kiondroghad, distant about two miles and a half from Douglas. The principal, indeed the only object to look at, is the new church, very pleasantly situated, on ground presented by John Balms, Esq. for that purpose. The church was built, about three years lock, by Mr. John Skillicorn, vulgarly called " Johnny Sam," (the wittiest wag in the parish) under the inspection of Messrs. Hansom and Welch, architects. A queer tale is told about the mason taking up the grave-stone of Elizabeth Hayes from the churchyard below, for one of the pediments of the spire, which rests there to this day, with the inscription sacred to her memory upon it, for the puzzle of posterity. From the circumstance of having built every modern house in this part of the country, there would be no impropriety in handing this man's name down to posterity with the epitaph written by Swift for the Dutch architect, Vanbrugh, tacked to it.
" Lie heavy on him, Earth, for he
Laid many a heavy load on thee."
Leaving Kirk Onchan, I rode along the high land at the back of the Bay of Douglas, under the beautiful sites of Bemahague and Glencrutchery, embosomed in trees. The former is charmingly situated, commanding a fine view of the whole bay: the old house should be taken down, and a new one built in the abbey style; the situation deserves a good mansion.
A little further on we have a fine view of the valley behind Port-y chee (or the Harbour of Peace), the river Glas, like a silver thread at the bottom, winding its serpentine way past Tramode, the seat of Mr. James Moore; a little beyond which is the linen manufactory of Messrs. James Moore and Son. Further up the river is the remnant of an ancient Celtic fortification called Castle Ward, which is worth the visiting.
The meadow of Port-y-chee is well adapted for a race-course, and, from its vicinity to Douglas, will probably be used as such by and bye, when some sporting character of sufficient wealth and influence shall give the start to such an amusement. The old mansion of Port-y-chee was the temporary residence of the Duke of Atholl while on the island, before the Castle was built. From the road which looks down upon this valley, we descry, on the opposite shores of the island, the towers of Peel Castle.
As we come down to the Quarter Bridge, we have before us Kirby, the seat of Sir George Drinkwater, surrounded with woods and plantations; Ballaughton, the residence of John Wolff, Esq.; and Spring Valley.
About half a mile to the right of the Quarter Bridge, 'midst yon fine full-grown trees, is Kirk Braddan, the mother church of Douglas, its lonely and sequestered situation reminding one of Kirk Alloway, where Tam O'Shanter's warlocks and witches might without fear of disturbance have enjoyed their midnight orgies. The river Dhoo runs just below. In the churchyard, as in almost every churchyard in the island, is a fine old runic monument, and the remnant of another forming the stile. It its a pity these precious relics of by gone days, over which so many antiquarian tears are annually shed, were not collected together to afford public consolation to these sympathetic virtuosos, among which they might meditate like Hervey among the Tombs. I have no particular veneration for the gammon attempted to be palmed upon simple-minded people by these musty gentry. Some idea of the success which attends the deciphering of these mysterious characters may be formed from the fact of the inscription of the celebrated Kirk Michael Cross having been translated by five different antiquaries in five different ways, and which were as near alike as the Hundredth Psalm is to the tune of Green Sleeves.
As the church is so much visited in the summer-time by strangers from the town, chiefly on foot, there could be no objection to having a tolerable footpath to it, in which accommodation the roads, even round Douglas, are lamentably deficient. The Committee of Highways cannot justly compliment themselves upon having performed their duty, as long as they leave only a road for hoofs and wheels; they should extend their mercy also to pedestrians. In Kirk Braddan churchyard there is a lofty monument, or obelisk, in memory of Lord Henry Murray, brother of the late Duke.
Returning hence from the town, a little beyond the Quarter Bridge, we have the beautiful estate of Pulrose on the right, the elegant villa of F. Byne, Esq., and that of Edward Forbes, Esq., and others, overlooking some tolerably well wooded scenery.
We now come to the site of the ancient Nunnery, with a fine modern castellated mansion built upon it, the seat of General Goldie, Speaker of the House of Keys. The turrets, however, are not completed, they want their battlements; at present they have no further finished appearance than a man without his head. Not a vestige of the once celebrated asylum for old maids and discontented virgins now remains. These receptacles, in the march of intellect and (no doubt) true chastity and piety, are becoming exceedingly unfashionable in all countries; the monastic brotherhood, even in bigoted Spain, strewing a disposition and evident determination to resist the denunciations and thunders of the Vatican, and have a turn-out or strike for wives. It is to be hoped the holy sisterhood will not be backward in following so good an example, or what will these honest men do for sweethearts ?
Of all the miserable notions which in the name of religion have teased and afflicted mankind, there is none so pitiful and unfounded, and yet which has made greater circulation in all countries, than the supposition that we make Ourselves more meet for another world, in geometrical proportion as we make ourselves miserable in this. Nevertheless, these sons and daughters of affliction have always inconsistently fixed their abodes in the sweetest, the richest, and most beautiful parts of every country; an abbey or a monastery being ever associated with the idea of some lovely retreat on the banks of some beautiful river, and in the estuary of some rich and luxuriantly wooded dale.
The Nunnery is distant from Douglas about half a mile, and nobly situated in an extensive park, hedged in by fine and extensive woods, to which the public have access, deriving a right to a road through the estate from some prescriptive tenure, which its present proprietor has in vain attempted to supersede, and this constitutes one of the chief public luxuries in the beautiful walks, always open and at hand.
Among these shady groves and lengthened solitudes, an altar might very judiciously be raised, and dedicated to " the laughter-loving Queen;" for most of the marriages of the middle and lower classes of the town are here made up, though latterly the pleasure grounds of Castle Mona have in this respect vied with those of the Nunnery. And if we might not be accused of sacrilege in penetrating further into Love's Sanctuary, the stranger might readily conceive the "billing and cooing" that must therefore necessarily be constantly going on here in the pairing season, out of a population of 8,000; an occupation, indeed, which must very much perplex the spirits of those departed sisters who once otherwise employed their hours within these sacred precincts.
We come round again into the town of Douglas,the best, indeed the only proper, street in which, is Atholl-street. Most of the respectable people of the town live here. The shutting up of the Hills property from the market has driven the town along the bay; and this probably is an advantage to the place, rather than the contrary, though an enormous loss to the proprietors of the Hills, who have thus let pass the opportunity of turning the property to good account. As the new town extends towards the Crescent and over the Castle Mona estate, the old will be dedicated to warehouses and shops. Should this spot ever become a place of great trade, or, from other circumstances, of any consequence, the low part of the town will be cut up and intersected by docks and basins, which might be done with the utmost facility. In fact, I know of no place in the Channel which is capable of being so effectually new-made, as it were, as Douglas.
The island depends for its prosperity upon the fluctuating tastes of strangers and visitors. As long as the necessaries and luxuries of life are to be had here with greater facility than elsewhereas long as this country offers a quiet retreat from the factious turbulence of the party politics which distract one portion of the empire and derange the otherthere will he a never-failing inducement held out to strangers to settle here; and it will necessarily continue the resort (as at present) of men of retiring domestic habits, averse from public broils, people of limited incomes, halfpay officers, and, indeed, of all such as are desirous of having a shilling's-worth for sixpence, Independent of such considerations, however, there is the natural beauty of the place, its fine adaptation and accommodation for sea bathing, the healthy climate, so grateful to the invalid, and its central situation, like the heart in the system, so well connected in every way with the extremities of the empire, that would make it a desirable residence even for the man of wealth and affluence.
For here indeed he may meet with the most varied and agreeable societythose who have traversed every quarter of the world, the frozen regions of Nova Zembla and Russian Lapland, or the arid plains of central Africa, " small-eyed China's crockery-ware metropolis," or Santiago, the capital of the Southern Pacific. Let a man come from what country or climate he pleases, he is certain to meet with some one who will recognise him here; by whom his friends and circumstances are known, and from whom he can conceal nothing long. It is, indeed, not the least amusement to behold airs and affectation attempted by every new-comer, who fancies he has arrived among a set of savages, "as gross as ignorance made drunk," who will credulously swallow every conceit like sugar-candy. In nothing is he more mistaken; long experience of the shifting, quicksilver nature of the population that resort here, has given a shrewd edge to their appreciation of character, which is, indeed, in many instances carried to too great an extent, rendering them mistrustful and suspicious, " like a dog oft beaten, that snaps at the hand which attempts to caress it." The Isle of Man is not a country village, but the centre of an immense empire, crossed and traversed in every direction by every variety of character; most ot those, therefore, who figure away for a time in all the vanity of ephemeral greatness, are as transparent to this far-sighted people, and as easily seen through, as a piece of glass.
Should the general government ever assimilate the condition of this country to that of the surrounding shores, it will deal a blow, under the effects of which the place must reel and stagger for many long years. Tis true it will not be policy so to do; instead of remitting £14,000 per annum to the Treasury, after clearing all expenses of local government, such an experiment would make it, like all our other colonies, a burthen more than a benefit to the mother country. What, however, can a patient do in the hands of his physician, determined to try an experiment on his constitution; for while he is the means of affording practical wisdom to his bodily guardian, he is allowed to sink under the destructive influence of his physic; as in the fable of the boys and the frogswhat is sport to one is death to the other.
Considering the unbridled devolion of Douglas, not twenty years ago, to pleasure wherever it might be found, and gaiety in whatever garb, it appears unaccountable that at the present moment, with a population of 8000, there is no single public recreation, except we speak of a concert now and then made up for the benefit of some lazaretto or cabbagewater establishment; then indeed decorum has its carnival, propriety shakes a loose leg, decency has its fling, and the serious may smile with impunity. But these attempts to soften down the asperity of virtue, by imparting the sober beverage from the cup of pleasure, are sometimes spoiled by the incurable bickerings of the orchestra; discord among the sons of harmony being as proverbial as poetry and poverty
" Strange that such difference should be '
Twixt tweedle-dum and Tweedle-dee."
The Stage has been for some years declining here as elsewhere having been degraded from the " school of virtue " to the house of scandal. It is to be hoped it will be again revived, under better auspices, and shorn of some of its imperfections. Some burlesque attempts at restoring the drama (like the play of Hamlet, with Hamlet left out) have been latterly made in Castletown, which may tumble into something better.
The bay of Douglas is well suited for aquatic amusements, and I much wonder that regattas are not of more frequent occurrence or better patronised.
Horse-racing if it can be divested bring and drinking, might be very judiciously encouraged, and the beautiful plain of Port-y-chee substituted for the sands. I know of no situation so well adapted for a race-course.
The evil of almost every thing consists in its abuse, and not in its use. Moderation is the soul of enjoyment: inordinate pleasure is alone dangerous. Cynics may sneer, and moralists do may decry; but there is nothing in a community so desirable as some innocent and rational public amusements; nothing which so much tends to make men satisfied with life, or to give a better zest to the otherwise monotonous round of labour and toil.
''Though sages may turn out their wisdom's treasure,
There is no sterner moralist than pleasure."
"It is as impossible," said Amasis, the beloved king of Egypt, (when regulating by wise laws the amusements of his people,) " for the mind to be always bent upon business, as for a bow always strung to retain its vigour and elasticity." Very different are the disposition and turn of modern times from those of James I., when all kinds of sports except bull-baiting and bear-fighting were licensed on a Sunday after the morning service; and that monarch published on the occasion "a list of sports," for the purpose.
Under present circumstances, in the great dearth of other recreations, the principal resource of all idlers and loungers- all those under the painful necessity of killing time, "longing at sixty for the hour of six," or whose days are but half made up-is the table. Not indeed the luxury and elegance of female society, as connected with such, but the more material part of the business, the and drinking.
" A beauty, at the season's close growl hectic,
A genius who has drunk himself to death,
A rake turned methodistic or eclectic,
* * * *
But most an alderman struck apoplectic,
* * * *
But shew that late hours, wine, and love, are able
To do not much less damage than THE TABLE."
Society is, however, for one purpose or other, well kept up here, natives and strangers vying with each other in deeds of hospitality and good cheer. The usual routine of the day's recreation, preliminary to the evening's entertainment, being the news rooms, two or three indifferent libraries, the billiard table, a stroll or two on the pier; last, but not least, the tattle shops, where the scandal of the day is picked up and retailed.
" That abominable tittle-tatfle,
Which is the cud eschewed by human cattle."
To these unhappy mortals fly, as to a relief from the blue-devils, " that awful yawn which sleep cannot abate.'' When will mankind be benefited by experience ?
" It need not cost much showing,
That many of the ills o'er which men grieve,
And, still more, women, spring from not employing s
Some hours to make the remnant worth enjoying."
Within the last few years the is. enterprising spirit of stranger residents has infused into the hitherto sluggish veins of this community a corresponding feeling; and public improvements are now, here as elsewhere, the order of the day. At the present moment the town is being supplied with water-the streets lighted with gas-a new market projected-property protected by an efficient police-new roads forming-every eye bent on the extending and improving the harbour-and, most of all, communication with the surrounding shores proposed and seconded, in every variety of form which can be imagined conducive to the interests of business or the facility of pleasure.
A savings bank was established here some twelve months back, principally through the persevering agency of the Rev. W. Maclean, which has succeeded beyond expectation. The one great desideratum now required is a "joint stock bank;" for although there are two private banks already in the town, the one having capital enough and the other liberality, yet a " joint stock bank" would much more efficiently answer both purposes. The great secret of political economy consists in the free yet prudent distribution of capital-to allow enterprise its own unbounded career, and commerce the unfettered freedom of sea and land. To make use of the words of Bacon, " money is, like manure, if collected in heaps, of no benefit, but injury; but, spread over the land, however thinly, producing fertility and abundance." In the manner in which the Banking business is here carried on, such an establishment as a joint stock bank would, it is well known, tell well. Moreover, with the ready communication now established with the three kingdoms, it is time the exorbitant premium of two months' interest for English money should be reduced. The island is not now in the same position as when five or six weeks elapsed without having any communication with the surrounding shore. I am not, however, unacquainted with the secret chain which binds the mercantile interest from moving in their own behalf, nor where the key is deposited which locks most of the cellars of Douglas: but the difficulty of every undertaking is more in fancy than reality; when the ice is broken, there is but little further to encounter.
There are no public buildings here worth notice, if we except the churches, the court-house, and a large barn of a grammar-school.
There are no lack of schools in the town, of every variety and grade, and young people may be as well educated here as in any part of the empire. At the various seminaries, too, French, Italian, music, vocal and instrumental, and drawing are taught, by masters equally talented with those of the surrounding shores-the only deficiency seeming to be a dancing master; for though there is no want of itinerant professors of carriage and demeanour, who, during the vacations on the other side of the water, pour upon this country in dozens, here to day and gone to-morrow, " off and on," as Shakspeare says, "like a brewer's bucket, or the motion of a pewterer's hammer," yet there is no permanent, resident master. Those who are fully conscious how very necessary continued, unabated application is, to successful attainment in any pursuit, will attempt to remedy this as quickly as possible. Under the head of education, I might make one or two observations on religion; for while the schoolmaster teaches the young, the clergyman is attempting to drive information into the heads of those who have arrived at years of discretion, the peculiarity of the worship of the town consisting in the natives of every country having their own minister and church. The English have their St. George's, with an English minister; the Scotch their Kirk, with a regularly ordained minister connected with the presbytery of Lancaster; the Irish have their St. Barnabas (it should have been St. Patrick's), with an Irish leader; the Manx their St. Matthew's, or Macutus, with a native pastor; and another common receptacle for the superfluity of all, the De Grey, Mariners' Church, formerly a ship of war, now a place of worship-the sword into the plough share. Of the Irish clergy generally, it may be remarked, their implacable and bitter feeling of hostility to the Catholics corresponds badly with the practical reception of the Apostle's assertion, that of the three Christian virtues, charity is the greatest; the "milk of human kindness " being altogether forgotten in the savage contention for property in that distracted country. The question at issue appears to be really nothing more, if we would suffer ourselves to conceive right ideas of things, than one of pounds, shillings, and pence, and should be treated as such.
This people are generally religious, that is to say, attentive to the outward form and appearance of religion; though perhaps there is no less knavery here than elsewhere; the peculiarity of the religious condition of the town consisting in the hotheaded zeal with which tee-totalism, or entire abstinence from spirituous and fermented liquors, is advocated and mixed up with matters of faith and doctrine. But these well-meaning people are sure to outdo themselves by professing too much; a politic man says little, for fear his words and actions are placed in juxta position. As soon as the novelty of the thing has worn away, and the good folks find they are no longer considered as heroes and martyrs, they will return to their evil ways again, first secretly, and then openly, " like a dog to his vomit, or a sow to her wallowing in the mire," and the last estate of those men will probably be worse than the first. If the world wanted spectators, how much of this show would subsist behind ? If all the extraneous matter of a man's character were drained off, what an extremely small portion would be the real resid sum ~ The interior principle which regulates all these mushroom sects and parties in their eccentric movements, is nothing more or less than the selfish preference of their own appetites to those of others, and who thus shrewdly
" Compound for sins they have a mind to,
By damning those they're not inclined to."
The political parties which divide the country are, ostensibly, three; the Church Party, who consider any interference with the property or discipline of the Church as tantamount to " sin against the Holy Ghost,,' and who consequently uphold the "jure divino " system of ecclesiastical dominion; the Government Party, who in the same manner resist every attempt to modify the peculiar laws and civil institutions of the country, formed in a remote and feudal age, to the progressive condition of the times; and the Radicals, who, contented with neither moderation nor expediency, are for setting up Church and State to auction, and putting to the vote the propriety of all laws, human and divine. Each of these parties have their own peculiar organ or mouth-piece. The deep importance attached by each to their own peculiar dogmas, and the unceasing perseverance with which their separate leaders rip up and tear to pieces each other's reputation, reminds one of the brutal ferocity of two Kentucky editors in the heat of contest, who thus recriminate upon each other: "Does he want an excuse to call us to the field ? we have none to give him, further than to call him (which we do with the utmost sincerity, and with an especial regard to the meaning of our words) a liar, a blackguard, a puppy, and a most redemptionless scoundrel."
Among the many circumstances which simultaneously contribute to the prosperity of Douglas, there are none more permanently advantageous than the ship-building establishment of Messrs. James Aitken and Co.; forming (as long as the present slight duties upon timber remain the same) a sort of staple trade of the town; employing a great amount of human labour, and circulating a vast mass of English capital. Yet it has excited the jealousy of the shipping interests on the opposite coasts (though, comparatively with those immense establishments, only as a drop in the ocean), and petitions have been presented to parliament to put a stop to the same. The great advantages in building here, either ships or houses, consisting in the very low duties upon timber; being 10 per cent. only, while the duty on Baltic timber in England amounts to no less than £125 per cent., or 14½d. in the foot; intended in fact as a prohibitory duty. The vessels built in the Isle of Man have a bad name for the dry rot, notwithstanding the fungus pit and Kyan's patent. This should be looked into, and must proceed from the timber's being felled for this country at an improper season.
The market at Douglas is well supplied with every thing that can minister to the luxury of the greatest epicure. The price of provisions, however, or value of money, has much altered since the days of Sacheverell, in 1702, when a fat goose cost no more than 6d; hens and ducks, ad. each; rabbits, 2d. the pair; a dozen crabs for Id.; a fine lobster, Id; and a dozen eggs for Id. The general tendency of the increased intercourse of one portion of the empire with another, is that of raising the prices of marketable produce where low, and of depressing them where high; thus producing an equable value, a just medium, beneficial alike to the producer and consumer. It has been thus with the Isle of Man. The additional communication with the surrounding shores has opened new markets, and consequently much advanced the price of the necessaries of life. It is in fact a question whether any thing can be had cheaper here at the present moment, than in the corresponding portions of England, excepting only wines, spirits, teas, sugars, &c. &c. In the interior of the country, the position of affairs is of course somewhat different, but rapidly merging to the same level. In 1702, also, the Manx ale was in such repute as to be made an article of exportation; the Isle of Man water being likewise in great requisition on the opposite shores, supposing the good qualities of the ale to consist in this. At the present moment, very excellent ale, equal to the best Wrexham or Llangollen ale, is brewed by Messrs. Faulder and Primrose, of Castletown.
The administration of justice seems to be principally confined to the decision of the Deemsters or Judges, of whom there are two; one for the northern, and the other for the southern district of the Island; and in cases of intricate and complicated questions, parties are referred to the common-law and chancery courts; from the common-law courts, appeals are made to the House of Keys, and thence again to the King in Council. With the first glance at the practice of the Deemsters' Courts, the intelligent stranger will not fail to perceive, that though decisions are exceedingly prompt and accessible, yet that too much power over the person and property of the subject is in the hands of one individual; who, in a small community like this, must frequently be in the painful situation of arbitrating where a thousand feelings are at play to warp the judgment and implicate the verdict. In fact, Justice, with her scales, cannot here be painted blind.
The office of Deemster, or Judge, is a remnant of Druidical power, possibly the only distinct remnant of such in Christendom. In his breast was deposited the true interpretation of the law, and his office was to declare it to the people. At the latter end of the 17th century, the warrants of the Deemsters consisted merely of their initials on a slate stone, displayed by the Coroner, and the disobeying of which was punished with hanging and quartering. So sacred indeed was the official capacity of Deemster at one time, that any one accusing him of injustice, or mal-administration, forfeited life and limb. "Tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur in illis." There are not necessarily two Deemsters; at the close of the last century, one Deemster Moore held both the northern and southern Deemstership at the same time. The salary of Deemster is £800 per annum. The oath administered to the Deemster, when taking office, is somewhat unique in its nature:-"You shall do justice between man and man, as equally as the herring bone lies between the two sides." Every thing here smells of red-herrings.
There were no advocates employed in the Deemsters' Courts in the days of Sacheverell; every man pleading his own cause. Since then, however, gentlemen whose profession is the indiscriminate defence of right and wrong, have arisen, and plentifully multiplied.
Over each town presides a High Bailiff, who takes cognizance of all g branches of the public peace; the state of the weights and measures; the cleanliness and order of the towns, &c., and to whom the decision of all minor differences, and debts under forty shillings, appertains.
I must not neglect to notice here, a peculiar law which affects strangers. Any person making affidavit that another owes him a sum of money, and is not a native of the Isle, has the power of preventing that stranger from leaving the country, even on the most pressing emergency; of forcing him to give bail for his appearance when called upon; or of sending him to prison. As, on the one hand, we may conceive of a person under these circumstances unable to give immediate bail to such an action, highly respectable nevertheless; and, on the other, we may imagine such a proceeding in many cases to be instigated by pique or spite; the hardship and injustice of such a law will be sufficiently evident.
The burden, however, of this regulation seems to rest in its abuse, and not in its use. The High Bailiff, or person before whom such an affidavit is made, is in duty bound to see that there are just grounds for allowing this summary mode of justice, and should be held responsible for issuing this savage mandate upon the oath of every blackleg who comes before him for this purpose. While this Island was a place of resort and refuge for the most questionable characters, such a method of attaining direct and immediate justice, equal to the emergency of the moment, was right and fit; and such a power of preventing the evasion of the law of debtor and creditor was judicious and wise; but some discretion and prudence should at least be demanded for its exercise in the present day. Legitimate authority is something more sacred than the presumptuous fiat of Jack Falstaff: " Take any man's horses; the laws of England are at my commandment. Master Robert Shallow, choose what office thou wilt in the state, it is shine; blessed are those who have been my friends, and woe be unto mine enemies."
I take my leave of this subject with one remark; the more effectually we can strip the law of the gammon of mystery and form, and reduce it to its first elements, common sense and simple reason, the better. The severe dignity of justice is not enhanced by any tawdry cress whatever; butis,like beauty, "when unadorned, adorned the most."
The fine arts receive considerable encouragement here; as a proof of which I need only refer to the galleries of Sir William Hillary, Bart., and Deemster Heywood, who may be considered the most distinguished patrons of the arts in this little community. It was a saying of Mirabeau, that "the English could never have a Claude, for the best of all reasons, that bistre was the only colour suitable to describe their murky atmosphere ;" notwithstanding which, it may be questioned whether British artists have not displayed more genius than those of France. But the fine arts are plants of a very delicate growth, requiring a genial climate, and, more than all, the invigorating sun of public patronage to shine constantly upon them, to bring them to perfection. The career must also be open to talent, and every other circumstance crushed into this consideration.
In the sunshine of public patronage, all the luxuriant greatness of genius is developed; all the energies of superior minds brought into action and play. Those consecrated monuments of symmetry and beauty which have for so many centuries ennobled Greece and Rome, and given immortality to Pericles and Augustus, had never commanded our adoration but for public patronage. Phidias had died in obscurity, and Rome been still of brick. The Parthenon had not shed its splendour over the Aropolis of Athens, nor the " Eternal City " have been decorated with so many trophies of never-dying fame. The illustrious names which crowd the pages of the history of those mighty empires had not lived until now, but for the spirit and feeling thus embodied in the admiration of every thing noble and beautiful-but, in fact, for public patronage. It was the united, warm, and enthusiastic encouragement given by the ancients to the successful efforts of the chisel and the pencil, which brought forth those models of beauty to which we have been offering, for more than 2,000 years, the incense of our adoration; and to which we must yet bow as to shrines containing the ashes of all human greatness.
After spending an hour very agreeably in passing through the very beautiful collection of natural curiosities exhibited by Mr. Wallace, in his Museum, Great George-street, I returned to the Castle by Finch's road, the whole line of which is fast filling up with houses, which are let as fast as they are built. This is a favourite residence of those who do not wish to be out of the town, and yet who have no desire to linger away life in a state of protracted suffocation in the narrow alleys of this metropolis. Here, too, a fine view of the Bay is obtained, though occasionally intercepted by the stifling medium of smoke from the houses below.
The Tower of Refuge has a beautiful appearance hence. I had reserved to myself for some starry night, the pleasure of visiting this picturesque Tower, which at times of high tide appears, rising out of the water, like a fairy-palace from below. Such a night was this; and as we measured our way over the silver tide, we gave full effect to the Canadian Boat Song:
" Our voices kept tune, and our oars kept time."
Oh! how shall I attempt to describe the luxury of such a moment-
" The balmiest sigh
Which vernal zephyrs breathe in evening's ear,
Were discord to the speaking quietude
That wraps this moveless scene."
It was near high tide when we started. It is no inconsiderable pull from below the Castle walls across the Bay to St. Mary's, in which we were not assisted by the faintest breeze-
" Why should we yet our sails unfurl,
There's not a breath the blue wale to curl;
But when the wind blows off the shore,
Oh sweetly we'll rest our weary oar."
One of our companions had brought his bugle, on which he excelled, and we enjoyed a most voluptuous treat in its melodious accents, as they woke "the lone echoes along the wild shore,'' and at last sank to sleep afar off. There is no music so gorgeous in the dead stillness of the moonlight hour as the bugle; its clear, startling tones giving sudden life and being (as it were) to the whole universe. We were brought close to the steps, which, under the massy archway, lead up to this Tower. At low water there are nearly eleven acres of rock bare, though almost entirely covered by high tides.
The first stone of this tower was laid by Sir William Hillary, Bart. (its projector) on the 24th of April, 1832, being St. George's Day, and also the day on which Castle Mona was opened as an hotel. He was assisted in this ceremony by the venerable Archdeacon Philpot, the House of Keys, many of the principal gentlemen in the Island, and an innumerable concourse of spectators. The edifice was built agreeably to the designs, and under the superintendence, of Mr. John Welch, architect; and seems at this moment to defy the shocks of every sea that rages, and every wind that blows. There have been so many lives lost on this dangerous rock, in times of shipwreck, the sea breaking over it like a swollen torrent over its stony bed; it was deemed desirable to erect a tower, as a place of refuge in which the shipwrecked mariner might outlive the storm. This benevolent object was carried into effect, principally through the persevering agency, and in a great measure from the pocket, of Sir William Hillary, president of the Isle of Man District Association, and founder of the Royal National Institution, for the preservation of life from shipwreck. The rock on which it is built is known by the name of Connister, or St. Mary's. The superstitious will have it that at the present time, whenever a tempest rages, the moaning of the spirits of those who have been lost here is heard from the shore; and that in the " noon of night" pale corses are seen to look over the battlements of the round tower into the sea, pointing to their own watery graves. We however stood here, and looked down upon the wave in this '` witching hour,t' yet saw nothing of these trou bled spirits which are said to haunt this lonely isle. After staying a time to admire the beautiful spectacle from the summit of this tower, we got into our boat again, and renewed our song until we reached the beach.
Any comments, errors or omissions
gratefully received The Editor