[From Atholl Papers - AP X22(3rd)-19(a)]

[Letter from Lt Gov Alex Shaw to Duke of Atholl, 30 Nov 1797]

My Lord

I had yesterday, by the arrival of two mails together, the honor to receive officially the truely noble and proper address of both Houses of Parliament on his Majesty's late declarations &c and the reply of his Majesty thereto - so worthy of a truely British King. And as our Keys are to meet next week on the country (law) business my inclination is strong to move a similar address from this Legislature. But we also are made up of materiels, in some respects, so discordant that I have not as yet made fully up my mind upon the subject. I may perhaps be again told by even some of the servants of the Crown that "he can be no friend to the Isle of Man who would advise or propose an address or any thing else whatsover that would serve to bring the Island into the notice of the 'Publick'. We want nothing for have we not in abundance all the necessaries with some of the luxuries of life ! Let us not then now or any occasion shew ourselves - far less be asking any thing- or most assuredly we shall have a quid pro quo demanded of us" That is, said I, you may possibly again be asked for some kind of aid to that King and that state who protects in you in the enjoyment of those blessings you speak of, and of immunities beyond now any other people we know of on earth, but you have undoubtedly express'd sentiments very unbecoming any honest subject, far more so in a servant of the Crown and one in high trust.

But I have heard that this Island is to be made a depot for prisoners of war and that all those in Irland are to be sent here immediately, and to be confined in barracks to be erected on the peninsula of Langness. Your Grace however must know the truth or otherwise of this report. I only think it not unlikely to be true nor see I any difficulty in it, except as to those same barracks or quarters for them, which will require time where as moving those culprits out of Irland may be immediately necessary, for I can have no doubt of an invasion of Irland being warmly in the contemplation of the French, that is if they think they cannot persuede Great Britain to part peaceably with her sister Kingdom, as a still nearer step to her own overthrow. But to return - my mind is quite at ease on this report. Your Grace being on the spot, whilst from your local knowledge and otherwise you are able to give to administration least aid in arranging their plan (if such be really in contemplation) - and rendering it effectual to its purpose, Your Grace can at the same time and I am persuaded will take care of the concerns of poor little Mona. As for my part, I trust your Grace knows that I am one who never think of any trouble or fatigue or even some danger when the object is to promote or assist the service of my King and Country. If there shall be for the above or any other cause any augmentation of troops made in the Island forgive me my Lord that I beg leave to repeat the [hint]-respecting persons mentioned in my last. It would tend much towards effecting an entire peace and harmony among ourselves ; and you know my Lord I have not or wish any object more truely at heart than to promote the honor and the proper consequences too - of the Kings Government, that government with all my soul in the person of your Grace.

At this next assembly of the Keys - I have some reason to believe that one or perhaps two matters may be agitated vizt to make here some legislative regulations in aid of the Acts of Parliament to prevent illicit practices carried on at present and for some time to comparatively a considerable extent - for instance, wine, salt. By the laws as they are, the revenue officers (even if the were - as they are not - properly active) have in fact no power over those articles whilst on the land. Altho' they saw, as they frequently do, the wine put up in small keggs - slung as for the express purpose of being smuggled and the instant it is on board, the vessel sails, and in fact if the said officers were never so willing to follow them, there is not in any port of the Island a boat belonging to the revenue fit to swin far less equipt with even oars. To apply therefore some remedy to this evil - threatening certainly, some day a judgement on the Island in being justly deprived of certain priviledges, is the object. Deemster Lace has already set himself forward in this matter, and probably will persist in it. But tho' I am as sensible as any man of the abuse and of the great propriety of correcting it. I wish not - nor will proceed in this matter, without being authorised so to do from above.

Another matter is - repealing so much of the law of 36 (I think it is) as secures strangers from their just creditors in other countries and of course makes the Isle of Man a place of refuge to perhaps very bad men, and with, certainly, no good to the Island in any respect. We think it now not fair that whilst a Manxman can follow his debtor into and have every redress from the laws of England, that any English man could have - that in the Isle of Man an Englishman is by the very laws precluded all redress against his debtor who laughs at him with perhaps more money in his pocket than would serve to pay the debt. But it is true also that we are tir'd out by the conduct of many of our strangers of their raising, by their very extravagance the prices of all the necessaries of life, beyond the reach of people even of small income - seting in the mean time not a very good example to young people, and not infrequently ruining or much injuring honnest but credulous tradesmen & by running away in their debt. In this matter I see nothing but what is proper in the ginnel - at least there is not any interference in it with any Parliamentary regulations of revenue - which the other has - at least in appearance tho perhaps very little in reality I would however beg your Grace to consider of those matters and honor me with your sentiments on them as speedily as may be convenient.

You know my Lord my opinions of old. A complaint still older is here that there is in fact no government at least not efficient; their legislature suspended or not suffered to act - and so forth) that the people should not be suffer'd to forget they have a government, but to feel that they have efficient and constantly sollicitous to promote their real good - the peace and prosperity of the Isle of Man. In this view, that your Grace should be the Governor in Chief if for no other reason (and I certainly thought of some - even personal to myself as well as several others) but that I did not know under heaven any other so fit that is who would take the trouble to be that friend poor Mona needed and your Grace from - I may say natural affection - was willing and ready to show yourself - and in that too - by no means infering your own private interest. That your Grace then should be Governor and as far as might be [altho ?] whither in or out of the Island ; and frequently might your Grace be of more benefit when out than when in especially if in London. That myself, as some good chance has placed me here - should as the faithful and willing second be acting in constant correspondence with your Grace (as indeed the only proper organ of such correspondence) - in comformance in confidence with the people still still doing something and still [peice ] and [pices] as we should get through - whether Act of Tynwald for the Royal Assent or only Memorial or representation to be laid before ministers - transmitting them to your Grace not more as our Governor - than as our best friend and patron and agent - able as well as willing to get all needful done on them. These were and these are my sentiments my highest wishes. And surely equal to any other considerations if ever there was a propriety or even necessity for harmony and unity of design and measure among those who have in any or every station and degree to conduct the King's service and to inculcate the same by both precept and example upon all others - this now - when our very existance as a state or independent nation is so obviously so directly so arragently [xxvil'd] at - is the time I wish indeed ny talents and my ability were much more than they are - But let me, my Lord feel myself properly supported and countenanced and I trust your Grace will never have any cause to complain of me - never I'm sure on the score of any want of goodwill both honest and disinterested; nor therefore for failing in anything within my power or capacity to promote the honor of the King's government, that government, expect it, in the person of your Grace And indeed the Government ought ever to appear the same exactly in the presence or absence of the Governor in Chief - for so only can it retain or possess that just dignity consequence and effect at all times so indepensibly necessary to it. I do not, my Lord, mean this in respect to outward show or the ability for such but neither ought that to be entirely overlook'd nor the means precluded of exhibiting a proper - nay necessary degree of it.

I would here my Lord beg your Grace to be assured that I have not personally a grain weight of either pride or vanity, nor any other ambition on earth than to be if I could, usefully in my duty in that station wherein providence has placed me. 'Tis therefore not for the sake of any self gratification - but for what I conceive the benefit of the service I would beg that in matters regarding the publick your Grace - if not chosing to honor me with any certain or mark'd confidence would yet - recollecting the station I fill here in the absence of your Grace, not by intirely neglecting [make] me quite a cyphir. Your Grace in the sincerity of your own heart may not be sufficiently aware that by acting thus, corresponding, for instance, altogether at of what is called the direct official channel - no doubt [..ss..] the [D.Govr] but also serious jealousies are excited various compositions formed for not only the sole confidence of your Grace but what is at least with some more exceedingly pris'd your whole favour ; and hence our miserable little vexatious and sometimes infurious party work much increased rather than it all diminished. All this however by the by, for what more especially I must to request was that your Grace would sometimes be pleased to write me letters to be communicated to proper persons. This grant for instance for Douglas Pier - stated by the minister as one of the services of the year, at a period too when money is so very precious - would seem a noble and a fair opportunity and indeed then would seem with instances of this kind as they may occur - there would seem to be nothing wanted but (mentioning such matters as your Grace may be endeavouring to accomplish for us) to express just those sentiments of kind benmevolence and fatherly regard which I'm sure your Grace feels for this Island, and of course towards its people tho' not always nor altogether perhaps, the most grateful people in the world.

I beg you my Lord to pardon all this freedom and unfortuneate length to which in spite of me it has extended. Your Grace will I trust at any rate allow me credit on the score of meaning well and do me the justice to believe that with least respect and suffer me tp add sincere attachment I have the honor &tc

My Lord Your Grace's most obedient and faithful servant

Alex Shaw

Castle Rushen 30 Nov 1797.


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