Expedition to the Isle of Man :
A hitherto unpublished Diary by George Borrow.

Through the generosity of Mr. Clement Shorter, who is allowing us to publish it free of charge, we here print for the first time, a diary written by Borrow during a visit to the Island with his wife and step-daughter in the autumn of 1855. The diary is contained in a small leatherpocket book in the possession of Mr. Clement Shorter, who will publish it in his forthcoming edition of the Collected Works of Borrow. In his chapter, "In the Isle of Man" in "Borrow and His Circle," Mr. Shorter speaks of the diary as "A quite vivacious account of his adventure", and as "The best original work that Borrow left behind him unpublished."

 

 

AUGUST 20th. Set out from Bury for Peterborough, Rugby and Liverpool ; passed by Newmarket, Cambridge and Ely ; glorious old grey cathedral; thought of Canute and the monks of Ely. Ely means Holy Isle; formerly an Island with a monastery. Manea pronounced Many, by the fens of Ely ; interminable plains covered with wheat, barley and oats —then marshes ; passed along causeway on piles; beautiful green pastures ; farm-house ; marsh ; station.

Interminable fields ; crops greenest as we advanced; marshes ; fens not quite dried up ; passed train near Whittlesea ; tall church ; rich pastures ; lofty trees; wonderfully rich ground.

Peterborough ; beautiful meadows ; noble cathedral; passed by meadows surpassingly fine.

Oundle ; beautiful river ; bridge ; church on the right; beautiful scenery ; hilly.

Thorpe ; corn old, being cut ; harvest as forward as at Bury ; river.

Ringsted ; kind of mound in sunny meadow, to the right.

Irthlinghborough—Higham Ferrers—Wellingborough ; beautiful river winding like a snake through green meadows, north and south, on the right.

Castle Ashby ; meadows and green hillocks evening of unequalled beauty ; sunshine steeping everything, meadow, hill and tree.

Billing road ; beautiful meadows ; unequalled English scenery. Northampton—Blissworth— Rugby; Eagle Inn ; ushered into a little parlour upstairs, at the end of an immense ballroom ; indifferent accommodation; everything of the worst kind ; strolled about town; drunken soldiers—" You are a Briton I’ll bet a guinea."

Tuesday 21st. Fine morning; strolled about Rugby; cattle fair ; fine cattle ; farmers immense men ; elderly. man at least six foot three and a half ; a race of giants Rugby School built in the modern antique—boy—fine with noble trees behind it.

Start ; very fast ; various stations ; beautiful country.

Nuneaton ; large old town on the left very large corn carrying ; beautiful forest scenery.

Atherstone ; field cleared ; beautiful river.

Tamworth ; glimpse of old castle ; recollections of childhood ; my brother ; forest scenery ; river.

Lichfield; dash on;beautiful meadow scenery ;river, weir ; along banks of River Trent.

Rugeley ; ridge of hills on the left ; dash on ; rich forest scenery ; castle (Stafford ?) ;two round towers on wooded hill ;rich meadows, then park scenery.

Norton Bridge ;green, beautiful scenery.

Whitmore ;onward ; stopped at large station three miles within Cheshire.

Winsford ;passed over river in romantic gulley.

Aston Station; hills to the south-west ;river ; on, on, river.

Harrington ;along navigable river ;ships ; rich pasture and corn fields.

Newton Junction ;beautiful scenery ;red houses; ships ;river ; bridges ;drawing near the mighty seaport. Green fields again ; cornfields and green banks ; villas thicker, thicker ; green fields again.

Broad Green ;on, on, immense works before one. Endless engines ; stop ; station ; tremendous tunnel; Liverpool ; three o’clock.

Liverpool; London in miniature ;noble Assize Hall; George Hotel ;nice quiet sitting room upstairs ; good accommodation ; family tea-party.

Strolled about town with my wife and Henrietta; wonderful docks and quays, where all the ships of the world seemed to be gathered—all the commerce of the world to be carried on ; St. George’s Crescent ;noble shops, strange people walking about ; herculean mulatto; went towards Assize Hall ; the old china shop ; cups with Chinese characters upon them ; farther on horrible looking Irish women with naked feet. Assize Hall noble edifice. Return to town.

22nd August. Liverpool ; fine morning.

Writing in sight of Man—a lofty ridge of mountains rising to the clouds ; as we advanced the Island became more distinct ;went amidships to the tranverse board; entered into conversation with two of the crew—Manx sailors—about Manx language ; one, a very tall man, said he knew only a little of it as he was born on the coast, but that his companion, who came from the interior, knew it well ; said it was a mere gibberish ; this I denied and said it was an ancient language, and that it was like the Irish ; his companion, a shorter man in shirt sleeves, with a sharp eager countenance now opened his mouth and said I was right, and that I was the only gentlemen whom he had ever heard ask questions about the Manx language ; I spoke various Irish words which they understood. Came near Douglas Bay ; very beautiful ;the quay was crowded with people, porters, baggage. Hill’s Royal Hotel very comfortable; close by the quay. Quay a dirty miserable place enough; after tea strolled about at the end of the quay, turning to the left up the hill ;found myself suddenly amongst magnificent esplanades and villas ; Douglas is evidently a very different place from what I had imagined ; walked to the north till I came to a road which a little girl told me led to Kirk Ancoln1 ; Returned by another way through the heart of the town ; crowded and bustling ; heard Manx language occasionally spoken ; reached inn.

About half-way up the hill was a church with trees, and when I got out upon the road I heard the bells of another church in the town chiming prettily. The people on the esplanades seemed to consist of such English as you generally find at watering places.

I was directed to the Commercial Inn or Royal Inn by a nice intelligent individual who knew Man well. He was a Cheshire man from Macclesfield, and I won his good graces by talking about Cheshire cheese and telling him I had been to school under Doctor Davies of Macclesfield.

23rd August. Lowering, drizzling morning; walked on the pier just round the corner ; pier very fine. The vessel by which I came—the "Tinwald" preparing to return. Talk with an old fisher looking man. He said the air of Man was very fine air, and that the country was a very fine country. Said that he could speak Manx; that it was less used at present than formerly ; that it was like Irish, for that he and an Irish fisherman had once compared words and had found many alike ; that it was also like Galic, for that he and a Hieland man had once walked together a mile and had compared words, and found many alike, but that the Hieland man’s language sounded broader than Manx. I said that I believed there were a great many Manx people ashamed to speak Manx, and that in a little time it would be discontinued ; he said that no Manxman need be ashamed of speaking the language of his country, and that Manx would be spoken as long as Man floated. He said that he could read Manx and often read the Bible. I asked him if there were any songs in the language ; he said there were many hymns. Anything else, said I, eagerly. Yes, said he, there is an old song called Molly Herayne 2 which the old people sometimes sing ; the air or tune is very sweet. How many bushels of barley will the land grow an acre ? said I. I don’t know, said the old man, and after looking at me for a moment, went away without a word of salutation.

The old man spoke with an accent very much like the Irish, and his features were like those of a very ill-tempered Irishman. Met my Cheshire friend on the pier, who seemed very glad to meet me ; told he intended to remain a week at Douglas.

Returned to inn ; first-rate breakfast ;lobsters, herrings in vinegar, eggs and fowl, white and brown bread and butter, and tea.

After breakfast walked out in quest of lodgings ; got handsome rooms at Albert Terrace, on the top of hill above sea ; the mistress of the house, a funny kind of Manxwoman ;were to enter into possession on Saturday. Afterwards walked along bottom of the bay towards Banks’s Howe; hill high on my left, studded with handsome villas, Kirk Conchan ; passed down ; discourse with a man who spoke almost unintelligible English; asked him questions about the village; said it was a very small one; that the church had been pulled down and then rebuilt about twenty years ago ; that there was occasionally service in it in Manx ; that Manx was not so much used as it was ; that he could read it aswell as speak it ; that there were songs in it, one of which he mentioned, and which he said he had seen in print, but of which he could give me; no intelligible account ; that it was for twenty years against the parlour wall of a farm-house, over the hill. I asked him to what place the road led which we were going along; he said it was the old road to Ramsey, but had for a long time been deserted ; that it joined the new road a long way off ; he presently turned aside into a farmyard. I walked along the road, which was broken and stony. Banks’s Howe was now before me, looking very bluff; presently coming to a gate on my right hand, which led into a field where I saw a path. I left the road and went up the field, which formed part of the back of the hill, coming to another gate in a stone wall on my left ; I went through it and walked along another wall which brought me near to the top of the hill, where was a barley field ; I now turned to the left and got to an open part of the hill covered with gorse, fern, and comfrey, amongst which sheep were feeding ; a stonewall of about five feet high separated the moor from the barley field. I advanced along this due north till I came to the top of the hill ; the wall, however, and the barley field separated me from the sea, and prevented me from having a full view, which I other-wise should have had. I had a view, however, of the coast to the north-east ; I went some way down the hill and, stopping, looked about. There was a deep glen below me, down which a brook seemingly ran communicating with the sea. A farm-house was below me on the other side of the wall, which seemed to divide the hill in two—half moor, half arable land. There was a fine view from where I stood over the country, and over the glen numerous farm-houses were to be seen; a road, perhaps part of the one I had quitted, was to be seen on the other thde of the glen, seemingly communicating with the sea, and then extending into the open country and joining the new Ramsey road. There was no want of trees and groves ; there was nothing cheerful in the view which, though grand, was sad, for the sky was leaden and sullen with no sun. After gazing about for some time, I returned on my steps, and on the top had a fine view of Douglas Bay, the distant town, the hills beyond it, and the villas which cover the side of the hills at the bottom of the bay. The wind was rising and there was surf in various directions.

At three dined at table d’hôte ; excellent dinner; soup and fish, afterwards lamb at top, ham at bottom, chicken and ham before me, ducks nearly opposite; vegetables not particularly good ; sherry very good ; port so so ; sat next dark intelligent looking man who told me he was a reporter for the " Times " ; conversed about Ireland, ale and various other matters.

Gloomy evening ; rain ; strolled along the quay ; saw two or three rough looking men like coal porters standing near a collier ; entered into discourse with them ; asked them the name of the hill just above the river ; one of them, a herculean-built fellow, very grimy, with an open bosom and without a hat, with a very large round bullet head and open features, told me that it had no particular name, but that the end of it was called Douglas Head. As I was talking to them about the Manx language, the ill-tempered looking old man whom I had met on the quay in the morning came up ; he seemed to be well-acquainted with the men and spoke to them in Manx ; then looking at me he said, Ah, I was talking to you in the morning. What questions are you asking now ? You could not tell me how many bushels an acre Banks’s Howe grows, said I. Perhaps you can tell me if there are any old stones in this neighbourhood, with old marks upon them, or letters like grenadiers standing upright. I don’t think there are any in this neighbourhood, said the old fellow, but in the parish where I was born there were some in a churchyard, but as some of them were thought to take up the ground uselessly they were taken up and flung away, and a person who was building a house used one or two in building the house, but he had better not have done so, for he found it impossible to finish the house whilst they were in it, for what he built during the day fell down at night, so that he was obliged to take the stones out and lay them in the churchyard, whereupon he finished building his house easily enough—What could those witch-stones be ? They were gravestones of the old Danes, said I, who conquered this Island long ago, and were kings of it ; did you never hear of the Danes ? Yes, said the old man, they are a people who live in a country to the north-east. And what do you call them in Manx, said I. We call them Danes, said the old man. And what do you call their country ? We call it Denmark. You are wrong, said I, you should call them Lochlinaich and their country Lochlin. You seem to know more about our language than we do, said the old fellow. I know something of Irish, said I, which is the mother of Manx. What doyou call a witch ? said the old man. I call a witch, said I, Bean Buisht.3 And what do you call yourself—I mean a wizard ? I call a wizard, said I, Duine Buisht, that is a man-witch. \Vell, said the old man, I never heard the word for witch or wizard in Manx, and I don’t believe there is a word. But there is, though, said the grimy herculean bullet-headed fellow whom I have mentioned before, and it is what the gentlemen said ; I have frequently heard it when young. Have you many witches, said I, in Man? Plenty, said the old fellow, but not so many as formerly. At one time, Man was full of witches and wizards ; one of the Kings of Man was a wizard, and a famous ore. too, and a good friend to the country for when enemies came to invade it, he would raise by art witchcraft such clouds and vapours that it was impossible for anybody to see it. He was a uiant and had three legs, and they are his legs which you see on the side of the steamer, for those three legs of his are the arms of Man. What was his name, said I. I believe he was called King Horry, 4 said the old man ; he had a wife who knew as much of witchcraft as himself. He called her Ben-ma-Chree, 5 which means—"Woman of my Heart," said I. It does so, said the old man, looking very respectfully at me and touching his hat, I see you are no wizard, but a schoolmaster. Ben-ma-Chree is certainly "Woman of my Heart," and King Horry no doubt called her so because he was so fond of her. Well, they are both dead and gone now, but they are not altogether abaft, for two of our best steam packets are called " King Horry," and " Ben-ma-Chree." I now asked of what religion the people were in these parts, and was told that they were either Church of England or Methodists.

There are Roman Catholics, too, in the Island, and theirs’ is no bad religion. I was once in England in a Catholic chapel, and it was the grandest place I ever was in in my life, and nowhere else did I ever see grander goings-on. I suppose you are a Roman Catholic, said he to me, as you are an Irishman. I am not an Irishman, said I, though I have been in the Irish country, and as for being what you call a Catholic, there is no religion which I abhor so much as the religion which the Papists hold; it is the worst and most cruel species of heathenism. I don’t say that it is not grand enough in outward appearance, but what has grandeur to do with real religion. Jesus Christ, the Saviour. had not a place where to lay His head, and when He wanted money He was obliged to send one of His lads to seek it in a fish’s mouth. That is true, sir, said a respectable looking man in a sailor’s dress, who looked like the captain of a collier, there is no pride in real Christianity, and that is why I dislike the Roman religion which is full of pomp and glitter, and the priesthood who would ride men as if they were ponies. I have been in Ireland, and have seen a man who had offended his priest stand at a chapel door with a bridle in his mouth and a saddle on his back.

Passing onward I reached the bridge at the end of the harbour ; beneath this bridge a small stream of fresh water runs into the harbour and mixes with the salt tide; the tide was now out and the fresh water was running fleetly under the bridge, though the depth seemed to be scarcely a foot. I stood and looked over the western side ; the view was pleasing though the evening was gloomy ; green umbrageous trees on the left side, green meadows and slopes on the right, with houses and hills in the background. I asked an uncouth fellow with a basket, whose face was swollen in a hideous manner, the name of the river. He told me that it was called the Nunnery River. And why the Nunnery River, I demanded, but on this point he could give me no information. Are you Manx, said I. Yes, he replied, I am Manx. And what do you call a river in Manx ? A river, he replied. Can you speak Manx, I demanded. Yes, he replied, I speak Manx. And you call a river, a river ? Yes, said he, I do. You don’t call it owen, said I. I do not, said he. I passed on, and on the other side of the bridge went for some time along an avenue of trees, passing by a stone watermill, till I came to a public-house on the left hand. Seeing a woman looking out of the window, I asked her to what place the road led. To Castletown, she replied. And what do you call the river in Manx, said I. We call it, an owen, 5 said she. So I thought, I replied, and after a little further discourse returned, as the night was now coming fast on. Coming to the mill I saw two men in miller’s dresses standing by the roadside. One was a tall hard-featured man. I asked the name of the mill. and he told me it was called the Nunnery Mill..And why the Nunnery ? said I. Because there was a Nunnery a little way above, said he, in the old time, and the mill is called after it. And what is the word for Nunnery, said I, in Manx. I do not know, said he, I am not Manx. Are you an Englishman, said I. Yes, from Lancashire. Is the mill yours ? said I, No, said he, I rent it from Colonel Goldie, who holds a good deal of land about here. And is your companion English, ? said I. No, replied the other, I am Manx and speak Manx, but I cannot tell you the word for Nunnery. And I don’t think anybody here can do it, said I. It may be, said he. Are you Manx ? No, said I, but I know something of Irish. You don’t look nor talk much like an Irishman, sir, said the miller. I am not, said I, but in early life I was in Ireland and learnt something of the language.I then talked to the miller about wheat and barley. The miller then asked me my opinion of the Corn Laws. I told him that I thought the Corn Laws very nice laws. But the miller did not like the Corn Laws, and told me that they were rascally laws. You say so, said I, because you are in the Isle of Man and pay no taxes. If you lived in Silly Suffolk and were a proprietor you would say otherwise. The miller then asked my opinion of R.C. I told him my opinion of R.C., which differed very much from the miller’s, who was a great admirer of R.C. We soon got into a loud dispute, during which the Manxman, who was the miller’s journeyman, went away whistling. We, however, got neither to blows or to downright abuse, and after disputing about an hour, and long after it had become dark, we separated with a mutual "Good-night."

Written at the bottom of the Groudle, close by the sea-shore ; a wild glen, with rocks on each side.

Douglas is situated at the bottom of a wide bay fronting the east ;this bay is caused by two projecting headlands, the southernmost called Douglas Head and the one to the north Banks’s Howe. The river runs into it on the southern side from the west, and along the sides of this river is the quay, at the eastern end of which there is a pier extending several hundred yards into the sea. This pier is at the entrance to the harbour which is almost dry at low water, except towards the mouth. About one-third across the bay is a rocky islet, on which stands a kind of castle. The town where business is transacted stands near the southern side of the bay, and above it and along the bill which rises at the bottom of the bay are tiers upon tiers of streets and handsome houses, where the visitors and upper classes of the in-habitants reside. The tout ensemble put me very much in mind of the town and bay of Algiers as seen in print. On Douglas Head there is a lighthouse and look-out tower, and on the south side of the harbour, on the side of the Howe, there are two or three handsome hotels, built in the manner of forts and castles—the principal one is called Fort Ann. The fashionable houses extend all along the side of the hill, almost as far as the commencement of Banks’s Howe. Close by the sea, towards the northern end is Derby Castle. There are no lack of trees and even groves towards the north side, so that the view of Douglas from the sea is very pleasing. There are several churches in Douglas. The principal, Saint James, 7 stands on the hill about a furlong to the north of the bridge ; on each side of the valley down which the river runs is a road, one to the south-west leading to Castletown, the other on the north-west to Peel.

August 24th. In the morning walked a little way on the Peel road ; several handsome villas with groves on the right hand side ; on my left was the valley with the river ; coming to a road on my left which seemed to lead down to the river, I turned off from the main road and soon reached a little bridge which led over the stream. On the other side at some distance was what appeared to be a mill. I asked a woman, who was coming over, the name of the bridge. She said it was called the White Bridge. And in Manx ? said I. In Manx, she replied, it is called Drawthod Bean.8 And what is the river called in Manx, I demanded. An Owain 9 Pulrose, that is Pulrose River, she replied. I thought it was called the Nunnery River, said I. It is, said she, further down ;up to a place where a Nunnery once stood it is called the Nunnery River, but here it is called Pulrose River after yonder mill, which is Pulrose Mill. And why is the mill called Pulrose Mill ? said I. That I don’t know, said she. Pulrose is a Cornish name, said I, and signifies the Pool of the Rocks ; perhaps the person who built the mill was a Cornish man. Perhaps he was, sir, said she, you seem to know a good deal ;and making me a courtsey, passed on, whilst I remained some time looking over the balustrade of the bridge into the water and wondering how the mill came to be called Pulrose Mill.

I returned to the quay, and as I was passing along I was encountered by the captain of the collier. He told me that he traded between Douglas and Cumberland, and brought coals from the latter place. I asked him how he liked the people of Cumberland. He said they were a rough set, very stupid and almost heathenish. And how do you like the Irish, said I ; you told me yesterday you had been in Ireland. They are a dreadful people, sir, said he, and yet amongst some even of the worst you find something you can’t help liking. Once on a Sunday I went up the country with one of my men for a stroll. We came to a barn in which there were a great many wild people shouting, drinking and dancing. I wished to see what was going on, and went a little way along the floor, which was boarded. There was a terrible hollabulloo at the further end. Presently a terrible looking fellow came towards me dancing ;he had a stick in his hand, and a tremendous pair of shoes with hobnails on his feet, with which he made a dreadful clatter on the floor. When he had nearly come up to me he turned his back towards me and came bouncing up against me, treading on my toes with his hobnailed heel shoes. I tried to push past him, but could not, and he fairly danced me back nearly to the door. I then asked him what he meant, whereupon he turned round with a look I shall never forget. Your good, sir, said he, you little knew where you were going. I am bad enongh, and partly at home here, but, bad as I am I dare not go to the end of this barn. Shall I tell you your opinions of the Irish, said I. I wish you would, said the man. That they are both better and worse than the English. You have hit it, sir, said the man. I have given you my own opinion, at any rate, said I.

In the afternoon I walked to the tower on the top of Douglas Head, also to the lighthouse ; the view of the ocean from both was very grand, but the wind was so violent that I could not enjoy it.

25th August. Tn the morning removed with my wife and family to our new lodgings, No. 4 Albert Terrace. We had a magnificent drawing-room and three other rooms ; the sea view from the drawing room was very good, for the terrace stood at nearly the top of the hill, overlooking the bay. After we had ordered dinner, I determined to explore the deep glen on the other side of Banks’s Howe, the sight of which the other day had excited my curiosity. I reached Kirk Connochine,10 not by the road at the bottom of the bay but by one at the top of the hill. I proceeded past the church along the lane which the man had told me was the old Ramsey road. Instead, however, of turning to my right up the back of Banks’s Howe, I proceeded forward bearing slightly to my left, till I came to a gate. I passed through and went down a descent, the moory side of Banks’s Howe rising above me, on which small sheep, something like welsh sheep, were browsing. These sheep, however, had black faces and twisting horns, which the Welsh sheep have not. Banks’s Howe from this part put me something in mind of Dinas Bran, but, unlike the Welsh hill, Bank’s Howe had no picturesque old castle on its brow. Following the path I presently came just above the glen ; a watermill was below me with a large red wheel turning at its side ; the glen terminated in the sea. I found some difficulty in getting down into the glen ; there was a little path that led to the mill, but I was fearful of going down lest I should be considered an intruder, and there appeared no other outlet. The wall of stones which had balked me on a former occasion on the top of the hill descended to the verge of the glen, and meeting a hedge which ran on the left on the side of the glen ; the hedge, however, was partly broken where it met the wall, and I managed to get through and found myself at the bottom of the glen, on the margin of a little brook or stream which ran towards the sea; before, however, it reached the sea it disappeared amongst a mass of small broken stones which formed the beach, from amongst which it was seen farther down filtering into the sea. The mouth of the glen about the sea might be about 150 yards across; black rocks on each side; Banks’s Howe rising above it on the south and a hill of lesser altitude on the north. The sea broke with considerable violence at the mouth of the glen. A country looking fellow with a cart and two horses was on the beach, gathering sea-weed. I gave him the sele of the day. Good-day to ye, answered he in a rough uncouth dialect, slightly glancing up. Fine weather, said I.—That it be.—A dreadful place this for ships to come ashore, said I, looking at the bay and breakers—Not many ships coomes ashore here. Are there braddan in this river ? Doon’t understand ye. Do you know what salmon is ? said I. I guess I doo.— Well braddan is Manx—Maybe—Are you Manx ? said I. I guess I bean’t.—Scotch or Irish ?—Not I.—Then what countryman may you be ? said I. A bit of an Englishman I believe. Loord, said I, you must be either froom Lankesheer or Yoorksheer.—Not mooch oot theer. Whom does the land there belong to ? said I, pointing to Banks’s Howe. - -Jacksoon.--And whoo is Jackson ?-Who? Whoy Jackson.—And who lives at that Mill ?—Who? Tommy Oates.--Is he Manx?—Never asked him.—Well, said I, Good-day to you, and thank you for your information. Welcome, said the genius, lifting up a huge mass of sea-weed and tossing it upon his cart. I walked a little way up the north side of the glen in the direction of the mill, and then stopped upon a bank just over the rivulet and looked about me. The savage scenery of the glen—by far the wildest place which I had yet seen in Man. The mill was nearly before me ; across the brook some children were playing near it, and presently a woman made her appearance from some cottages near the mill, and after speaking to them a few words in English went in again. Had the words been Manx, I should have at once gone over, but the late specimen of English manners in Man which I had, had made me rather unwilling to obtrude myself upon any people in the glen whom I deemed English. At last, however, I thought I may as well go, and crossed over the brook by little stepping stones. I said nothing to the children, whom I deemed too young to answer questions, but looked into the mill, in which, however, I saw no one, and then went to the cottages, which lay a little way up the skirt of Banks’s Howe, and to which the path led to where I had passed above. The cottages were two or three in number, and were huts of the smallest description. A little way inside the door of the second I observed the woman whom I had seen with the children ; I asked her the name of the glen. The Groodle,11 sir, said she, making me a courtsey. And what may Groodle mean in Manx, said I. I really cannot tell you, sir, said she. I suppose you are not Manx, said I. O, yes I am, sir, said she, and so is my husband and the children whom you see. You speak very good English, said I, much better than a person whom I just met on the beach and called himself an Englishman. Who may your husband be ? He is the miller, sir. Is the mill his own ? It is not, sir, said the woman, he only rents it. Can you read Manx, said I. I cannot, sir, but my husband can very well. I suppose you find this a dreadful lonely place, said I, in the winter. Not at all, sir, neither in winter or summer, for there are always plenty of people coming to the mill. Are your spirits good, said I. Very, sir, said she smiling. I wonder at that, said I, for the valley, unless I am mistaken, means the Valley of Horror. We always have plenty to do, said the woman, and having plenty of work is sure to keep the horrors away. That’s true, said I ; may I go up this path to the hill above ? Surely, sir, said the good woman, that is the way to Douglas. I bade her farewell and turned away, wondering at the superiority of manners and language of the Manx woman of the Groodle to those of the Englishman from Yorkshire or Lancashire.

A few yards from the door, there was a little spout in the hill from which water was flowing. I formed my two hands into a cup and filling them drank the purest and freshest water I had tasted since the time I had quitted the mountains of Wales.

I had made some enquiries of the woman of the house in which we lived about Manx books ; the woman had told me that her husband had several and that he could read Manx well. That evening she sent me up a Manx and English Dictionery, composed by one Archibald Cregeen of Arbory, published by J. Quiggin, of Douglas, 1835. It seemed a very fair one, but it was printed in double columns, and the type was fearfully small.

26th Sunday. Went in the morning to Saint George’s; heard sermon preached by the Bishop of Sodor and Man. Text, Genesis—"Am I my brother’s keeper ? " The sermon was a subscription sermon for the support of the schools of the Island. The service and sermon together lasted nearly two hours and a half ; the sermon was a good sensible sermon, and the Bishop, Dr. Powys, had all the appearance of an honest man.

Walked a little in the afternoon. in the evening rain began to fall and continued during the night, which was very tempestuous.

27th Monday. Wet and gloomy morning ; surf dashing high up against the precipitous sides of Banks’s Howe ; about one o’clock went to the beach, where there were a few bathing machines ; got into one and was driven a little way into the bay ; the water seemed very shallow ; swam a considerable distance till I got out of my depth, then dived in between six and seven foot of water. The sea was very pellucid, but the brine was very thick and swimming rather wearisome. After dinner took a little walk on the Castletown Road ; after a little way the road divided into two, the old road and the new road ; walked a little way up the former ; rain came on and I returned wet through.

Stayed at home all the rest of the day ; in the evening Mr. Goldsmith, our landord, came in to ask us if we were comfortable ; asked him to sit down, and entered into discourse with him ; found him a most intelligent man and a good Manx scholar. He came from the north of the Island, from the neighbourhood of Ramsey ; had originally been a schoolmaster, and had now a situation in the packet office of Dublin, in which, he said, be was employed throughout the year from nine in the morning till nine at night. Finding that I understood Galic, he asked me my opinion with respect to Ossian’s poems. I told him I believed they were for the most part authentic, but that vacuums in the poems had been supplied by MacPherson, who deserved better treatment from the English public than he had received, he having given to the world a book which contained a species of poetry like nothing it had ever been accustomed to. He said he perfectly agreed with me. He was a Presbyterian, and said that the Isle of Man had produced a man who had been as badly treated as MacPherson ever had been. This man was Christin, who had been stigmatised by Walter Scott in one of his novels, whereas he was a brave and honest man. He spoke with great veneration of Cromwell, whose real character, he said, people were beginning to understand. I asked him about Manx literature ; he said that the Manx version of the Scripture was an admirable one, made from the original tongues; that in many instances it differed from the English one, for example in ——12

He said that the Prayer Book version was a very fair one. Asked him if there were any poets at present in Man ; he said that he did not believe there were ; that the last Manx poet died some time ago at Kirk Conochine; he said that this man had translated Parnel’s Hermit beautifully, that the translation had been printed, that he possessed a copy, which he would show me as soon as he could find it. I enquired about the runic stones in the Island. He said that the most remarkable stones were in the north in the churchyard of ————12; but that there were one or two at Kirk Braddan, about two miles off; enquired if Kirk Braddan did not mean the Church of the Salmon ; he said it did, and that it was situated on the Owain Dooh 13 or Black River ; that Douglas had its name from two rivers which ran into its bay—one the Owain Dooh and the other the Owain or Grey River, whence the words Douglas or Dark Grey.

28th August. Morning very bright and fine ; set off to visit Kirk Braddan, which I was told was to the west of Douglas. I ascended to the top of the hill, and went some way along the road leading to Kirk Conochine. I was mis-directed and went too far to the north before I turned to the west; however, I did not regret going some slight distance out of my way, as my walk was very delightful. After walking about a mile I found myself in a beautiful valley, at the west end of which runs the Owain Glas ; I turned again to the north, and following a road by the bank of the stream I soon found myself at a delightful village ; I enquired the name of two men who were standing by a low wall which fenced the road from the river ; one of them looked like a bluff, hearty English farmer and the other a respectable Manxman. I asked the name of the village, and the one who looked like an Englishman told me it was Tremude14 ; asked if I could get to Kirk Braddan by the way I was going, and the bluff-looking individual told me that 1 had only to cross a bridge close by, then follow a road which led over the hill, and I should find myself at Kirk Braddan in no time. I thanked him and praised the beauty of the prospect, saying that I had never seen a more beautiful one in England. Nor I either, said the bluff gentleman, I am from England myself. From what part of England, said I. From Shropshire, he replied, from Oswestry. I wonder, said I, if there are salmon in this river, or in the next which meets it ; Kirk Braddan means the Kirk of the Salmon, I suppose the river on which it is situated is a salmon river. Here the person whom I supposed to be a Manxman pricked up his ears, and said that he had never thought of the matter before, but that he had no doubt I was right, and that the Kirk was called from the salmon that had once abounded in both rivers, andwhich were still occasionally caught;discourse; both highly intelligent men in different ways.

The view from the bridge at Kirk Braddan down the river is surpassingly beautiful. The river runs rapidly, after passing the bridge, down a valley with the loveliest green meadows on each side above which are lovely woods. It comes from the north-west from the mountains, and after passing the bridge runs nearly due south till it takes a turn to the east.

The churchyard is beautiful on the side of the hill on the western side Ant Owain Dooh 16; stately trees surround it on every side ; the steeple of the church is quadrangular ; it is convex at the top with a round roof at the east end. The runic stone is on the south side.

Written in Kirk Braddan churchyard before the runic stone about twenty yards off, between the two doors

29th August. Fine day ; rather unwell ; went to bathe ; swam out some way into the bay ; dived in about nine feet of water ; tide high ; in the evening walked with my family to Kirk Braddan by theTremude way as before; was told that a sermon in Manx would be preached there on the following Sunday ; talked with the maidservant of the house on the subject of witchcraft ; said that she did not believe in witchcraft, but that she believed in " bad eyes". In the evening when the tide was out the water was so low that we saw people walking across to to the castle on the island.

A woman who lived in a house by the bridge at Kirk Braddan to whom we said that a Manx sermon was going to be preached, seemed offended at the idea, and said that Manx had been for some time discontinued there and that nobody in the neighbourhood was sufficiently acquainted with Manx to understand a sermon. As soon, however, as I began to praise Manx, and to say that it, was a very ancient language, she changed her tone, and said it was a shame it had been dropped ; that many people professed not to understand Manx who had been bred up as Manx, and never spoke anything else till they were thirty. She said the clergyman of the parish was a good Manx scholar ; that she herseif could not read Manx, but that her husband could ; that he had once an old liturgy book in Manx which had been stolen out of his pocket at Liverpool ; that she herself was thorough Manx and had never been out of the Island.

Thursday, 30th August. This day year I ascended Snowdon, and this morning, which is very fine, I propose to start on an expedition to Castletown, and to return by Peel.

Beautiful view from top of hill of sea to the east and the villas of Douglas to the north. Douglas Howe prevented me seeing the bay. Drank at spout by the way. Farmhouses with their cool avenues of ash and other trees, and their gate columns ; came to savage kind of gorge, well-wooded ; bridge, brook and edifice on the right ; gate ; lovely view of a dingle and bay to the north-east ; fishing boats and skerry at foot of headland. The nameless glen of the white house ; skerry and ships nearly in front of me to the south ; cloud-capped mountain on my right to the west ; discourse with a man ; the name of the beautiful bay which I had just passed was Port Soddrig17 ; the name of the mountain Burrool 18 ; there is a gravestone in Kirk Santon of a man 110 ; his name Daniel T19 the person whom I got this information from was a rude boor who was ashamed to appear to know anything of his own language. He said it was pleasant to hear two old people talk but he scarcely knew anything about it. He did not attend to such things. Farm of Oatlands, anciently Klock an Lachan on the top of the hill; there was anciently a little loch ; discourse with bluff old farmer about prices. Kirk Saint Ann or Balley Crink ; the little owen or river ; Glyn Griannach; the old woman; then the soldier, Creech, 7th Fusiliers, wounded at Pampelona ; this glen Griannah is a beautiful place, full of ash trees ; the spout in the hill ; the basin ; no water in Spain better than that of Glyn Griannagh. Reached the bottom of the Glen ; the beautiful bay about a furlong deep with its beautiful shore ; the name of the bay is Port Griannach or Sunny Port, and the name of the hill some way above it is Lion Tock or the Hill of the Hay.

The church a little white building, like a Welsh church, with a little erection for bell to the west ; the clergyman’s name is Gelliing.

Here friend is little Daniel’s tomb,
To Joseph’s age he did arrive;
Sloth killing thousands in their bloom
While labour kept poor Dan alive.
How strange but true, full twenty years
Was his wife happy—in her Tears.
Daniel Tear died 9th Decr. I 787.
Aged 110 years.

The headstone of slate is on the north side of the church.

Mool ny Canyca ; discourse with Mrs. Broo ; William Keene in her service only speaks Manx and his children only English ; passed pleasant little brook of the same name ; came where the two roads met at Bally Quaggon.

Bally Sallagh; a large village; church ; old woman. Saw King William’s College at Some distance on my left to the east ; Straight road till I reached Castletown; Union Hotel ; dinner ; man eating bread and cheese with whom I enter into conversation ; Welshman from Monmouthshire, who had come to Man with gentleman and family.

Written on the end of the pier by the round light-house tower, Castletown ; an impressive but gloomy fane; the tide was out, and to the north as far almost as King William’s College there was a waste of mud and sea-weed: to the north-west, far in the distance were brown mountains, down whose sides the mists of evening began to roll then there was to my west the middy river crawling through it to the hay ; the grey house ; the church ; a slender tower, above that one more slender surmounted itself by spirelets at the top—the square castle of the Danes ; there was Scarcely a soul to be seen ; no sound to be heard save the voices of a few boys at the:sides of the quay by the town, and the gurgling of water just below the lofty rnassive pier on which I stood. The waters of the river stick to the creek on the east, where was a solitary fishing smack. O, a gloomy place is Castle Rushen.

Returned to inn; found company in the sitting room; four men ; Mr. Joseph Cooley20, smooth spoken gentleman ; the red fiery-faced man in the grey coat who stuttered ; the man at the end of the table, half drunk, who had been at Llangollen ; the other man with no character at all ; conversatioti ; the fiery-faced man born at Liverpool, but living at Beaumaris ; seemed to consider it wonderful that he had never been on Puffin Island; Mr Cooley said he had never been in the Calf of Man, though residing so near ; had only been once in his life out of Man, and then in Ireland ; the drunken individual talks a great deal about Llangollen, and is reproved by the man with no character

Friday, 31st August. Written on the top of the north~west tower of Castle Rushen ; a glorious view on all sides. Castle Rushen ; old gloomy hall some way up n the tower ; the rooms or cells ; the gaoler ; enquire about Manx manuscripts ; plenty ; Keeper of the Rolls, Mr. George Kiooley21, was aware of none; conversation. Set off along shore for King William’s College. Dr. Dixon, when I ask him about Manx manuscripts, tells me there are none in the College ; conversation ; asks me to dinner ; thank him for his invitation, which I am compelled to decline. Set off for Port Eirin’ ; pass by a magnificient looking house [Kentraugh] at some distance on my left ; want to know to whom it belongs ; ask lad who tells me he does not know.

Strand Hall.

Splendid bay ; Port ny Moreiy 22 overtake sailor with whom I enter into discourse. He said a great deal of Manx was spoken in these parts ; seemed a cheerful good-natured young fellow ; said he was acquainted with a great many Manx songs ; found, however, that he was unable to give the name of one of them, with the exception of Molly Charane.—Balley Kentraigh23. Reached Port Eirin Bay fronting the west ; Brada Head a tall craggy mountain on the north ; high hills and mountains on the south, not extending so far, however, as Brada Head ; the Inn ; Clugstone and his wife ; make a bargain with James McCoomb to take me to the Calf of Man for six shillings ; this man I subsequently found was the ferryman who carried letters out to the lighthouse people on the Calf. He put a bag into his boat ; we set out; the man and his two sons, one a boy of about thirteen rowed whilst I steered ; we soon turned the southern corner of the bay; passed by two caves in the rock ; asked their names, and was told they were called The Castles, from the similarity they bore to the dungeons of a castle; asked if anyone had ever been in them ; the eldest lad told me he had been in frequently ; had gone in one way and come out at the other mouth ; found nothing in them but sand and sea-weed. The father told me to steer close by the sea-chart as there was a head wind; the coast was very high and rocky ; we passed by a skerry, keeping to the coast side ; at last we came to the Calf Sound, in the middle of which between Man and the Calf is a rocky islet called Kitterland ; the distance between Man and the Calf is about a quarter of a mile a tremendous tide, running at least at the rate of nine miles an hour, runs on both sides of Kitterland. McCoomb pointed to me the place where the Lily struck on Kitterland and blew up. The landing place on the north side of the Calf ; the store-house ; fog and mist ; can scarcely see ; leave the boys in the boat ; Mc. attends me up the Calf ; the lighthouse ; Mrs. Law.

Written in the lighthouse on the Calf of Man.

The Burroo. The farmhouse looks nearly direct on the Burroo, which lies nearly on the north side of the island. Bushel’s House ; Bushel’s Well.

Braddagh Head ; been mining there since the time of the Danes. They call the island in the middle of the Sound Kaiterland.

Leaving the landing place with boys in the boat, McCoomb and myself went up the island towards a light on the south-eastern side ; he carried the letter bag ; we had scarcely landed when a dense mist came on, which prevented us seeing more than a hundred yards in any direction. He told me that all the land in the island belonged to one individual, and that he farmed it himself by means of an Irish bailiff; that the rent which he asked was £180, which no one would give ; that people had formerly given £125, but that the rent had been raised on which account the people had left ; that there were a great many rabbits on the island which were a source of profit, but that they nevertheless did considerable damage to the crops ; by far the greater part of the island consisted of sheep walk ; we passed by a farm-house and a few fields sown with barley, with stone walls ; the path or road was very good and not very steep; there was a high hill on our right ; we came at last to the lighthouse; there were two, the Upper and lower ; we went to the lower ; lighthouse man absent, but his wife, Mrs. Law, a nice Scotch body at home ; discourse born at Edinborough ; Scotch accent ; belonged to the Seceders ; the letter ; the address ; the glass of milk ascend the lighthouse ; its neatness ; mist begins to clear away ; the view ; departure ; the hill where Bushell lived his well ; arrival at the landing place ; the large fish caught by the boys during our absence ; wind right against us and violent; our pull back, myself with the fourth oar; boat tossed about like a cork, and I wet through ; Port Eirin without a pier or breakwater ; project for building one ; the public house fire ; the dinner ; the seat by the kitchen fire at evening ; the typsy fiddler ; Molly Charane ; the company ; the miners ; the miner’s tale ; Mr. Curphey, his tale : the prayer-book ; the comfortable bed ; the moaning of the sea.

Port Eirin.

1st Septr. Port Eirin ; beautiful morning ; the sun shone brightly upon the two windows of my bedroom, which looked upon the bay and upon the mighty head-land of Brada looking toward Ireland, and which bears no faint resemblance to the Rock of Gibraltar. Got up and went out ; saw my host, who instantly took hold of me by the arm and said :—We killed a bullock yesterday and are now cutting it up ; come and look at it. Conducted me to back-yard ; saw going-on there ; the butcher; the bullocks ; the butchers’s fee ; discourse ; the man with the carrainyn 25; breakfast first-rate ; eggs, bacon, potted herrings, first-rate tea. Excursion after break-fast ; Brada village ; the cottage of Peyrick Hodyell 26 the old fisherman ; held discourse with him ; asked if he knew Manx songs ; said that he had heard hundreds in his youth ; asked him what they were about ; said that they were about drowned seamen and matters of love, and that some were from the English ; asked me where I was going ; told him to see the mines ; asked me to call upon him as I came back, and tell him how I got on ; went a little farther up the hill then turned to left to the west ; went over stone wails and through fields, directed by reapers to the path which led dovn the hill to the mine just under the Head ; went down the path some way, then came to a horrible place, where I stopped and turned back ; went to Brada head, two paths.

Written on Brada Head. Looking from the Head in the direction of Ireland could see nothing ; felt ashamed that I had not got to the mine : went back, though very tired and nervous ; came to the horrible part ; stopped again ; at last slid down backwards nothing could be more horrible than the path ; slippery rocks, places cut here and there to put the feet in ; at last came to the bottom amidst broken rocks and huge stones ; made my way with the greatest difficulty forwards, till I came to a heap of rubbish, which lay just before the mouth of the mine, which was cut in the hill here were planks and parts of engines ; went to the mouth of the mine, out of which a small stream of water ran ; an old pair of shoes lay at the entrance.

Written within the mouth of the Brada Mine, 1st Septr. 1855, from whence I went down on the shore of the little bay below the mouth of the mine, looking nearly south ; the dreadful rock with its chasm at its brow above me ; the rock with a slit like a narrow window on my left ; huge rocks that seem to have tumbled from the brow of Brada on my right lying in the sea, and forming a west fence to the bay , waves roaring and spraying.

When inside the mine shouted but could make nobody hear ; indeed I afterwards learned that there was nobody at work there that day, the miners having received their wages the night before, and being all drinking about ; returned in triumph, bearing a piece from the top of the mine ; saw Peyrick Hodyell on my way back, whom I told how I had got on ; went to Clugston’s ; boy bitten by dog ; said I should stay another night ; afterwards walked to Port Mary27

Port ny Mornigh 27 written at the end of the pier at tue harbour, within which the fishing vessels lay ; I saw a brig with holes in her on the other side ; there is plenty of bustle about the little place ; the town lies on the west and southern sides ; discourse with active stirring young merchant on the pier ; met sailor of the day before ; ascend the hill ; the butcher and his daughter on the side of the hill above Port St. Mary ; time Ferkin veg 28 or porpoise ; went along up and down road till I came to a wall, over which lay the moory side of the mountain.

Saw the Calf from the top of the moory mountain like a huge fish, its head to the west, the Burroo to the east serving for a lumpy extremity at the tail ; the view to the north-west of mountain and headland in Man was inexpressibly fine ; mist on their tops ; the wild, moory, stony village of Creigneish, where the people look unhappy ; the woman from Saint — 29 ; the cottage with the tow 30 or thatch, kept together by sogard 31 or ropes, the root being "gad."

A little further on had nearly a complete view of the Calf and Sound.

View of the Calf.

Descended the mountain to the south of Port Eirin; the view of the shore and white houses of the village very beautiful ; the view of the mountains, especially of the misty head beyond the foreland, inexpressibly grand.

A little further down met with John Maddrall,

Cronk an nirry le 32; the Hill of the Break of Day. Septr. 2nd. Fine morning, but somewhat misty. Ballie Killowie ; ancient woman with spectacles ; not half the people who go to church understand a tenth part of the English that they hear there.

From the mountain above this place there is one of the noblest views imaginable ; St. Mary’s Bay and town before you ; Port Eirin Bay and the extremity of the Calf to the west ; all in sunshine when I saw it.

Passed through gate ; got upon moors ; stone walls the low cottage. Moors noble ; view of cultivated country and sea to the east ; the top of the great mountain Berool33 to the north-east ; the Lesser Berool partly shrouded in mist before me. Wretched sheep feeding on the side of the hill high above me ; the cottage ; the two old women : " Won’t ye come in and rest ye" ; so dark in winter that you can scarcely see ; the name of the parish—Kirk Christ Rushen ; strong smell of peat smoke. Glyn Gagne34, the valley on the right.

Keep strait forward ; the little road to the right leads to the "skaird" (below the heights), so a wild-looking man told me.

Pass through gate ; again out on wild moor ; stone wall on my right ; high hill with road slanting up its southern side before me ; keen wind from a kind of opening to the sea in the west ; the moor stony ; went to look at the sea through the opening ; some way to go; turf stacks ; no beach ; hill shelved precipitously to the blue sea ; thought I saw Ireland in the west.

Began to ascend the hill by the slanting path ; a stone wall on my right ; sat down on a bank ; there was the misty headland forming the southern side of the opening ; sheep browsed and bleated close behind me on the hill-side, which overhung me ; this is indeed Eilean Venna35 ; quite Ossianic.

Ascended the hill ; rounded corner ; came out upon wild unenclosed rnoory mountain tract ; noble prospect of Man, hay, the eastern ocean, Castle Rushen and Langnish ; prospect something misty ; drink at stream fountain ; now on, on, over the mountain moor mottled with grey stones and grey sheep, scarce distinguishable from the stones.

Came to the top of the bill ; Berool Moar, 36 or what I conceived to be he, capped with mist on my right mountain range full north in the distance ; all of a sudden desire came upon me to turn from the path which lay before, and ascend the Big Berool ; I hesitated for some time, at last saying, I will, I will. I set off towards the north-east leaving the path which would have soon taken me to the bottom of the moory hill ; I made now my way to the right ; straight forward amongst the heather ; there was no path ; I descended for a very long time, for the distance was much more than I had imagmed ; at length I came to a road which I supposed to be the road from Castletown to Peel, across the moors ; it was near the foot of the Great Berool ; I crossed it and began to ascend the mountain ; the side was heathery and slaty ; at last I gained a slate crag on its south-eastern brow ; a little way above was a cairn.

Written on the lee side or east of the slate cairn on the top of Berool Moar, after having ascended to the top Septr., 2. 1855. On a stone on the top is written amongst other things

R N 5 A P 1812.

The top of the hill is flat, evidently by the hand of art.[ There is a little pool about 9 feet diameter on the top with a slate flag on its NW. side.

Came to broken ruinous bridge at the bottom of this wild mountain tract; brook from gulley in the western Berool sounding plaintively down glen bending towards the north, cairn to the west, Berool in full view, that which I had quitted scarcely visible, though the crag was to be seen. As I advanced up the hill to the west the cairn of the Berool Moar became more distinct like a black hump; it is evidently intended to look to the east and the other to the west sea; soon the gorge became a narrow green valley and I saw a blue reach of water, the clump of houses or village looking white at some distance. The scenery was grand yet beautiful; there was mist and sunshine. The Isle of Man is a very noble Isle.

Proceed along road; the two men, one a dwarf, who told me that the glen was Glen Rushen, and further down Glen May where was the waterfall. The western Barool was none other than Craig an Ureadhle.2

The gate; leave the moor; enclosed country; glen by the left; pretty enclosures on its sides; lovely view of the sea; the silent village; sunshine.

A lovelier isle than Vennon3 never G. saw in his wide career.

Advanced along the road along the hillside on the northern side of the valley. The scene from this side across the vale is of indescribable loveliness; a big hill sliding down to the bottom of the glen, with beautiful enclosures; beyond that swelling hill with its pastures,
2 Cronk yn Irree Laa. 3 Mannin.]

 

[continued - the section in green is here included for convenience]

Footnotes

1 Kirk Onchan, called elsewhere Conochine, Kirk Conchan.

2 Mylecharane

3 The Manx word for both Witch and Wizard is Buitch.

4 King Orry.

5 Ben-my-Chree.

6 Yn Awin.

7 St. George’s.

8 Droghad Vane.

9 Yn Awin.

10 Conchan.

11 Groudle.

12 Blank.

13 Awin Doo.

14 Awin Glass.

15 Tromode.

16 Yn Awin-doo.

17 Port Soderick.

18 Barrule.

19 Tear.

20 Cowley.

21 Kewley.

22 Port Erin.

23 Port Noo Moirrey (Port St. Mary).

24 Kentraugh,

25 Carraneyn, i.e. carranes or brogues of untanned hide.

26 Parick or Patrick Hudgeon.

27 Port St. Mary.

28 Perkin beg.

29 Blank.

30 Thoo

31 Suggane, Straw-rope.

32 Cronk yn Irree Laa

33 Barrule

34 Glen Glawne

35 Ellan Vannin

36 Barrule Mooar

 


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