[From T.Quayle Agriculture of IoM, 1812]
IN the county of Cumberland a Society of this description, over which John Christian Curwen, Esq. member for Carlisle, presides, has attained greater distinction, been supported by more numerous subscribers, and has within its sphere probably conferred on agriculture greater benefit than almost any other establishment of a similar nature. It is called the Workington Agricultural Society. In an early stage of its progress, some of the Manks gentry, witnessing the good effects resulting from it, expressed a wish to form a Manks Agricultural Society in union with that of Workington. Their wish meeting with the unanimous concurrence of their English neighbours, the first meeting of the patrons of a similar institution in the island, was held in November 1806: Resolutions were then entered into for forming an Agricultural Society for the Isle of Man, as a branch of that of Workington, under the same president indeed, but with vice-presidents, and a committee, managing their own internal affairs. The first premiums were offered for the year 1807 ; from the President a cup of 10l. value for the best managed farm : from the Society itself, for the best general stock of cattle ; for the best stallions for agricultural purposes, and for the saddle : for the best crop of clover, or vetches (tares) for soiling: for the best crop of flax for the greatest quantity of land sufficiently marled : for the greatest quantity of land sufficiently timed; for irrigation ; for skill in ploughing; and as rewards for servants of both sexes in husbandry, continuing with unblemished characters for the longest period in their respective services.
These premiums, and others from the President and the Society, have ever since continued to be annually distributed ; and have, no doubt, drawn the attention and stimulated the exertions of many others besides the members of the Society, and the competitors for its re-wards. In the printed proceedings of the parent society, those of its insular branch are regularly published, and the discernment of the President enables him by annual visits which he pays to the island, to state in his Reports the progress of improvement, and to point out the defects yet to be corrected.
Discussions on agricultural subjects are frequent in the island: and a considerable degree of information is attained, and of zeal evinced, by many individuals.
Should this Society continue to flourish, no doubt can be entertained of the good effects which must result from it. In the Appendix I. are stated the premiums awarded in 1811.
To the proceedings of this Society, and more recently and more strongly to the present imperfect attempt to collect and lay before the Board some information as to the agriculture of the island, an objection has been taken by several of its inhabitants of a nature exactly similar to that which in former stages of the Board's proceedings, appears to have been taken to the Board itself ;* namely, that all their inquiries are but the precursors of taxation ; that the whole is a deep plot laid to introduce the exciseman ; and, under pretence of fostering and encouraging the agriculture of the country, to ruin it altogether. Unfortunately, in the Isle of Man, rumours and suspicions have not been confined, as in England, to the illiterate peasant.
*On the Advantages which have resulted from the Establishment of the Board of Agriculture by the Secretary, 1809, p. 64.
THE yeomanry and inferior ranks of people, of every description in the country, with a considerable proportion of those resident in the towns, still continue to converse in their original language. This is a dialect of the same tongue, which is spoken in Ireland and the Highlands of Scotland: By each of the three it is termed Gaelic.
The tongue now spoken in Wales, and in Basse Bretagne, and which was formerly spoken in Cornwall, differs from. it essentially. By the latter tribes, their native tongue is called Cimbric. It must be admitted, however, that in all these dialects, strong marks of similarity occur, as well in the words themselves, as in the idioms and grammatical construction of each dialect. In particular, the inflexions of their nouns and verbs are effected each by changes of the initial consonant, according to fixed rules. In one respect the Manks approaches more nearly to the Cimbric than to its sister-dialects spoken in Ireland and the Highlands. The Bas Breton,* and the Welsh,+appear, on some occasions, to employ a dual number, as does the Manks, and as did formerly the extinct Cornish.§
A comparative vocabulary of the three dialects of Gaelic, spoken at this day in Ireland, the Highlands, and in the Isle of Man, has been prepared for the press, and may, it is to be hoped, be published. The identity of these three dialects is there manifest ; and its publication will tend to the preservation of the expiring remains of a tongue once spoken by mighty nations, inhabiting a widely extended territory.
No manuscripts in this dialect are in existence ; nor have any ancient fragments of poetry been preserved in the native's memory. Through the care and piety of former prelates presiding over the see of Sodor and Man, the Holy Scriptures, and Common Prayer, with some other devotional books, were many years since translated into the vernacular dialect. Of the Common Prayer Book, several editions have been printed: of the Bible, but one. The British and Foreign Bible-Society have, with great liberality, recently published and sent for distribution to the island, a neatly printed edition, in Manks, of the New Testament. The church-service in the country is alternately, or occasionally, performed in it. These, or any other attempts to preserve it, are altogether in vain. The area on which this dialect of Celtic is spoken is so minute ; it is assailed on so many sides by the settling of strangers, and the return of natives who have forgotten their mother tongue, that it is not likely to endure many generations. Few young persons can now be found who have not at least a smattering of English, and the usual process of corrupting a tongue is evidently and rapidly going forward, by the introduction into Manks of English terms and English idioms ; which bye and bye will usurp its place altogether.
* Grammaire Celto-Bretone, par L. F. Legonidie, page 411, Paris,
+ Gambold's Welsh Grammar, p. 7-
Manks Grammar by J. Kelly, L L. D. London 1804, p. 14
§ Lhuyd's Archaeologia, p. 242.