[Yn Lioar Manninagh Vol 2 pp 78/81]



A. W. MOORE, F.R,H.S., Etc.

The chief event affecting our Society during the past year has been the establishment of a, Marine Biological Laboratory at Port Erin by the Liverpool Marine Biological Committee, and it is very gratifying to find that the distinguished Naturalists who have established that laboratory are greatly pleased with the rich fauna existing in the extended and varied line of coast round Port Erin. To give an idea, of the progress they are making therefor full details of which I must refer you to their interesting report-I may mention that two hauls only of the dredges, quite close to the shore, yielded three specimens new to science and several other rare and interesting forms. I need scarcely say that this is an undertaking deserving our utmost support, both individually and as a Society, and I trust that some, at least, of our members will take the opportunity thus afforded of gaining a very thorough training. I see that Mr. P. M. C. Kermode has already done so, and that he advises us, in the pages of our magazine, to develop and endow this laboratory as a permanent institution, in memory of Edward Forbes, the, Manx pioneer of Marine Biology. This is an excellent, scheme, but one which will require larger funds than we have at our disposal at present. Among other events of the year, I should mention the publication of a book of clever essays on Manx history by our Honorary President, which he has, somewhat obscurely, entitled "The Land of Home Rule"; also, the appearance of a second and enlarged edition of the valuable "Catalogue of Manks Crosses," by Mr. P. M. C. Kermode. I have also to record, with much regret, the lamented death of our Archaeological Secretary, Mr. J. M. C. Jeffcott. He had a principal hand in the preparation of the first, and, I regret to say, the only report of the Commissioners of Pre-historic Monuments, which was issued in 1878. Mr. Jeffcott was a zealous antiquary, a skilful artist, and a most amiable man.

The ordinary work of the past year shows steady progress, but of this you will have full particulars from the secretaries of the various sections. Thirteen papers have been read during the year, five of which have been on Geological, four on Biological, one on Anthropological, and one on Historical subjects. Our Library has been increased by 67 books and 13 maps, and there have been seven donations to, the Society's museum.

And now, in turning from the contemplation of the past to that of the future, you will, perhaps, allow me to mention seine questions which appear to me to more specially require your attention. In the domain of Archaeology mere is great need of complete lists of the various antiquarian objects in the Island, together with delineations of the exact situations of all the monuments, whether pre-historic or historic, such as Stone Circles, Hut Circles, Ancient Camps, Barrows, Cairns, Cists, Standing Stones, Keeills, etc., on the 25 inch Ordnance Maps. Of some of the, more important of these monuments, careful plans on a large scale, giving their dimensions, and photographs to depict their appearance would be of great value.

To our Geologists I would recommend the mapping of the positions of the chief erratic boulders, and a thorough investigation of their nature, as a useful and interesting study. To our Anthropologists (including under Anthropology the subject of Folklore) there is still a wide field open, and, as a means of systematising their work, I might suggest that they would do well to follow the course advised by a Committee of the British Association, which has been formed to organise an Ethnographical survey of the United Kingdom. This course is to make certain villages or districts subjects of special study as regards (1) the Physical Types of the Inhabitants ; (2) Their Current Traditions and Beliefs; (3) The Peculiarities of their Dialect; (4) The Monuments and other Remains of Ancient Culture; and (5) Historical Evidence as to Continuity of Race. It should be mentioned, in this connection, that the Committee has laid it down as a condition that the only villages or districts suitable for this inquiry are to be such as contain not less than 100 adults, the large majority of whose fathers have lived there so far back as can be traced, and of whom the desired physical measurements, with photographs, could be obtained. This is a work which might well be carried on by members of our Society, especially those living on the western side of the Island, where there have been fewer changes in the composition of the population than in the neighbourhoods of Douglas and Ramsey. I might suggest, also, that any traditions and beliefs recorded should be written in the Anglo-Manx dialect of the tellers, without any attempt to make what they say more readable by putting it into better English.

The subject of Meteorology, and of its handmaid, Phenology, are also worthy more notice than they have received from the Society. To Phenology I would more particularly draw your attention, since it can be studied without the apparatus required for Meteorology and without appreciable trouble. Indeed, all that, phenological observers, under the regulations of the Royal Meteorological Society, have to do is to note the earliest date on which a selected list, containing 13 plants, six birds, and four insects appear, and, as an additional inducement to our members to take it up, I may mention that the study of Phonology, one of the principal objects of which is to trace the influence of the weather upon natural objects, is certainly one of the best ways of developing and maintaining an interest in Natural History. The records thus derived are not nearly as precise as those derived from thermometers, sunshine recorders, and rain gauges ; but, on the other hand, they are more generally interesting. To the able members of our Society who interest themselves in the various sciences, which may be grouped under the general name of Zoology, I cannot venture to offer any advice. They have, doubtless, much work still before them, especially, as we have seen, in the direction of Marine Biology, though it seems to me that they have accomplished more, and have attained a completer knowledge of their subject than those who have studied the, possibly, more difficult sciences of Archaeology and Anthropology.

From the brief survey that I have made, it will be seen that the members of our Society interest themselves in a number of "ologies" of various kinds, which, however, are really intimately connected with each other; and I venture to think that when we are further advanced in our knowledge of them, we should make them each contribute their share in the development of one grand object; that object being a history, in the most comprehensive sense of the word, of our Island. Such a history should begin with an account of the physical conformation of the Isle of Man, with full particulars of its climate, and of its fauna and flora (both terrestrial and marine). Nest in succession should come an account of the monuments erected by the pre-historic inhabitants of fan, together with such indications of the origin and nature of these inhabitants, and their progress in culture, as may be obtained from Anthropological research. This will form a valuable introduction to the so-called historic, but really, as regards Man, pre-historic period from the first till the twelfth century of our era, since any account of it is mainly dependent on the evidence afforded by Place-Names and Surnames and by historic monuments, such as the ancient keeils and crosses, and not on contemporary written records. And, finally, as regards our history from the twelfth century to the present day, I need scarcely mention that it should not be merely a copy of monkish chronicles and legends, and of ;messes of non-contemporary authors, but a real history, derived from original materials, of which, for the, last three centuries at least, there is an mrple store in the Insular records. Such a task as the one I have attempted to describe should be well within our reach, as 'the area we have to work is a very small one, and, consequently, the information it affords is close at hand, and, therefore, attainable with the least possible waste of time.

In concluding, I have to thank those members of the Society who, during my year of office, have so kindly co-operated with me-or, I should rather say "operated" for me, as I have, I fear, left much more undone than I have done-and, especially, I would thank our indefatigable secretary, without whose incessant labours on its behalf this Society would not have attained its present position.


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