[From Mannin #7, 1916]

Notices of Books

In Praise of Lullabies.

The Board of Education has lately been laying down the law on the question as to the kind of songs most suitable for children in elementary schools throughout the land. That board has been called, and rightly so, ‘ the highest educational authority in the Country.’ Among other valuable suggestions, they insist upon the liberal use of our British traditional songs. Those for infants should be musically ‘as simple as possible,’ and especially Game Songs, and, they might well have added, Lullabies and Cradle Songs. During a recent discussion of the question, one of His Majesty’s Inspectors ventured the opinion that songs specially written for children should be excluded! The wisdom of such advice is difficult to discern, especially in view of the fact that he himself has composed children’s songs of distinctive value. Perhaps it was his little joke ! Be that as it may, the present writer has lately come across a very beautiful book published by the De la More Press, 32 George Street, Hanover Square, and entitled Lullabies of the Four Nations—a coronal of songs with renderings from the Welsh and the Gaelic, arranged by Miss Adelaide L. J. Gosset. Here, unfortunately, we have the words only, but in many cases, the music is already as ~ household words,’ and as the collection contains several poems by Manx authors, the title might fairly have spelt Five nations instead of Four only. But this is a detail on which the reader will be able to form an independent judgement, as doubtless a copy will find its way to the Douglas Public Library—if, indeed, it has not done so already.

The book is profusely illustrated, and contains fifteen charming reproductions of world-known pictures by the great masters, representing children and, of course, their mothers.

The contents are admirably arranged in ten groups, as fol. lows : (i) Of hope and joyousness ; (2) Of pensiveness and ruth; (3) Of sun, moon, and stars ; (4) Of the winds and the sea ; (5) Of bogies ; (7) Of fairies ; (8) Some old favourite hush rhymes; (9) Lullabies addressed to the Infant Christ ; (10) Echoes of the Christ Child.

For her Own discovery of the existence of Manx homespun material in the form of Lullabies, and hence their introduction into the general scheme of her book, the authoress tells us she is indebted to Miss Sophia Morrison.

The contributions from our little Island are as follows:

Little baby mine, by the Rev. T. E. Brown ; In the Glion of Ballacomùh, discovered by Mr. W. Cubbon ; The Glen of the Twilight, and Ole. Vie .Woght, by CUSHAG ; and Anqel’ Care, The Straw Cradle, and the imitation in English of a Sicilian. Lullaby, by Mr. W. H. Gill. That our esteemed Pan-Celtic friend and ally, Mr. A. P. Graves, is largely represented, goes without saying.

W. H. G.

The twenty-ninth annual Report of the Marine Biological Station at Port Erin has been issued.

It is fitting that the centenary of the birth of our great naturalist should have closed with yet another tribute in the form of ‘An Address upon the Life and Work of Edward Forbes,’ given to the Liverpool Biological Society, by Prof. W. A. Herdman. For upon him the mantle of Forbes has fallen. He more than any other British naturalist has carried on the special work originated by our countryman, that work in connection with which his name will go down to posterity for all time as ‘ the pioneer of oceanography—the science of the sea.’ Dr. Herdman’s special studies, as well as his long and intimate connection with Forbes’ Island home, qualify him in a peculiar manner to pronounce judgement. We are glad also to note that he supports our ardent desire for a Manx National Museum, of which he expresses the hope that ‘one of the principal halls—designed to contain the vast collections of marine biology, and to illustrate the application of that science to the sea fisheries—will surely be dedicated to the immortal memory of Edward Forbes the great Manx naturalist, who first made known the abundant treasures of our seas.

It is equally appropriate that this Address should appear in the Report of the Port Erin Biological Station, referred to by the author as ‘this workshop of Manx marine biology, devoted to the Continuation and extension of Forbes’ work in his native land.’

We are compelled to confine ourselves to a single quotation. After a reference to Forbes’ descriptive works ‘which will remain as classics for all time,’ the author proceeds—’ On the other hand, his theories, such as those on the distribution of marine animals in the Mediterranean and on the relations of the British fauna and flora to the great Ice Age, even if in some respects they are now regarded as erroneous or incomplete—have had a position and influence in the history of science, have been an inspiration to many both in his own generation and since, and have led up to and guided the very researches which have in some cases resulted in more correct views. His theory of the ‘Azoic Zone’ in the sea, that no life existed below three hundred fathoms, based upon his observations in the Eastern Mediterranean, was justified by the facts known at the time, but required to be modified later on, when the deep-sea dredging expeditions which Forbes’ work had stimulated, made known that an abundant living fauna extended down to the greatest depths of the abysses.’

We trust that readers will send to Port Erin for copies of this and of the other reports of a scientific institution of high standing, which is doing an immense amount of good in our midst, and is deserving of the fullest support of all Manx people.

P. M. C. K.


Manx Song and Maiden Song. By MONA DOUGLAS. London :- Erskine Macdonald. 1/- net.

This little book of lyrics is full of beauty and charm. The: sound of the sea, the scent of gorse and the silence of the, mountains pervade it. To any Manxman, or indeed, to anyone~ who has been in Mann, to read it is to feel himself in the midst of the Island countryside or on some rocky shore. The young poetess was there in spirit when she wrote, and has the power of taking her readers with her. No higher praise can given to the sea-poems than that conveyed in the words of an» old sailor, who said, ‘ she writes about it as a sailor feels.’ Miss Mona Douglas has not only a keen feeling for beauty and a deep love for her native land, but the gift of melodious verse—and she is only sixteen. Whatever she may gain in technique as she writes more, these early verses have in them the freshness of youth, an unsurpassable quality. One of the best of the poems is Two Twilights, which may be quoted :—

Mist on the fields, and a deepening summer twilight,
Cattle passing homeward along the narrow lane ;
Lily-pools that gleam in the darkness of the meadows,
Music of the night-breeze in fields of ripening grain.
Far above the mountains the last red light is dying ;
Goat-bells chime faintly in pastures far away-—
Nature is at rest, and the busy world lies dreaming .
In the magic hour of twilight, at the closing of the day.
Shadow on the rocks, and a wind across the water;
Glimmers of light in the eastern skies afar ;
High rides the moon, her pale shafts of radiance gleaming,
Where the seething tide frets across the harbour-bar.
Over the wild waves comes the call of the great spaces ;
White breakers leap from a plain of silver-grey—
Dreaming lies the world, but the reckless sea still moveth,
In the mystic hour of twilight, at the dawning of the day.

St. David’s Day. Compiled and issued by the Welsh Department of the Board of Education.

This beautiful and remarkable little book should hold a prominent place in the records of the history of education is surely a noteworthy and significant event that a Government Department should originate and publish such a book. With its me cover design, and its exquisite initial letters, borders and tailpieces, and its excellent illustrations, printing and paper, to say nothing of the interest and appropriateness of its letterpress, it is a unique production from both a literary and an artistic point of view. It is indeed what one would expect as the result of the energies of Mr. Alfred T. Davies, Permanent Secretary of the Welsh Department, for both he and his colleague, Sir Owen Edwards, Chief Inspector of Schools for Wales, are well-known as enthusiastic Celts and men of letters. Mr. Fred Richards, ARE., A.R.C.A., is the artist of the book, and most kindly allowed us to reproduce some of his initial letters in the last number of MANNIN. The children of Wales, for whom this book was made, as an aid to the right-keeping of St. David’s Day, will not fail to be inspired by it to further patriotism and self-sacrifice. Mr. Lloyd George’s magnificent speech on ‘ The World’s Debt to the Little Nations’ finds a fitting place among the Celtic items.

The Celtic Countries .. Their Literary and Library Activities. By D. RHYS PHILLIPS. Swansea: Morgan & Higgs; Liverpool: H. Evans & Sons. is. 3d. net.

Mr. Rhys Phillips gives within small compass, an extremely able résumé of the whole Celtic movement. He deals with each Celtic country or colony separately, gives a short historical sketch, an account of the present standing of the language and literature and of the chief scholars and workers in each case, To all interested in things Celtic this little book will be most welcome and the section on the Isle of Man will especially appeal to readers of MANNIN.

The World’s Supply of Potash. A pamphlet issued by the Imperial Institute.

This pamphlet gives most interesting information as to the making of kelp from seaweed, and the best method of obtaining potassium of chloride therefrom. The information is of practical value to dwellers by the sea, for it appears that the kelp industry is a paying one, and should be developed. It is carried on chiefly in Uist and Orkney and to a less extent in some other of the Islands and we see no reason why it should not be revived in Mann. It is stated in the Report of the Board of Agriculture that chemical companies are prepared to buy much larger quantities of kelp than usual just now. Before the war prices were’ from £4 to £5 per ton, and a London firm is prepared to give 9d. per lb. for dried tangle rod for surgical purposes.

Mr. W. W. Gill’s Book of Poems. Douglas : S. K. Broad-bent & Co. 1/- net.

Since the publication of the last number of MANNIN, a notable contribution has been made to Manx literature in the shape of a little volume entitled ‘Juan y Pherick’s Journey and other Poems, written by Mr. W. Walter Gill, who has already lent his pen to the cause of Ellan Vannin as represented by this journal, and by Mr. Cubbon’s anthology of Manx poetry. The book is issued with the object of earning money wherewith the Manx Society may be enabled to send music, reading matter and comforts to Manx soldiers and sailors on active service or in training, and to that purpose the gross receipts from sales will be devoted. But good wine needs no bush. Mr Gill’s verses are not ostensibly and ostentatiously ‘ Manxy.’ He uses the dialect sparingly, and a little unsurely, and he cannot produce the sympathetic intimate personal sketches which have so endeared ‘ Cushag’ to us all. But the truest expression of love is not a loud proclaiming ; the passionate enthusiasm for the beloved name is very well in those ‘friends whom in far-off. cities fate detains,’ in whom ‘ the tendrils travel, but the root remains ‘ (both of which quotations are from Mr. Gill himself) ; but those who live daily with the beloved one may not merely sing her praises, but must endeavour to understand her—must be conscious of her atmosphere almost without realising that it is she that creates the atmosphere. Mr. Gill is a passionate lover of Nature, and of Nature as she manifests herself in the Isle of Man, our little land which indeed contains infinite riches in a little room, whose parishes all have their ‘ heads in the mountains, feet in the sea.’ There is no place like Ellan Vannin for cultivating a feeling for sky and sea. Mr. Gill knows the sea in all its moods—in brilliant glitter, in hazy tranquillity, in murderous frenzy. Let the poems of Through a Window, Night-Piece and Thoughts After Storm serve as examples of each of these moods, He knows the sky when it consists of cloud-patched azure fire,’ and when ‘through fires of rose and saffron sinks the sun,’ and not less when ‘the floor sags heavily round Ballure,’ and ‘the sun’s face sinks to a silver stain.’ He has a glorious instinct for colour, and a wealth of various, yet delicate and accurate, comparison. As witness his description of the manifold bluenesses that make up the blueness of blue eyes:

Blue haze that stains the long-ridged hills,
Blue shadows that the twilight spills
In glens brimmed up with drowsihood,
Sweet beds of blue in the April wood,

The rough blue breaker-lighted sea,
The wood-smoke’s curled blue breath of home,
The soft blue noontide’s cloud-blanched dome,
The still blue midnight, foamed with stars.

Or this profusion of endearments heaped on a white-washed cottage:

A crystal flake from winter skies,
A lambkin bright in meadowland,
A bowl of curd, a fleck of foam,
A riding gull, a summer cloud,
A pearl, a dewdrop,—O a home!
Our white home, hedge screened and emboughed.

In the realm of pure thought, Mr. Gill has many tender and graceful fancies. A Red Cross Song, A Fancy, and Separation are charming little musings, and Water is worthy of very high poetic praise. Of the few poems which do definitely concern themselves with Manx life and Manx character, Thoughts After Storm is probably the most faithful to realities ; but Ould Jemmy Robyn is quite a life-like study ; The Ould Times is light and sparkling, and Juan-y-Pherick’s Journey is profoundly interesting, if not always convincing. In short, Mr. W. Walter Gill is a new and authentic Manx poet, to be read and to be proud of.


Manx Quarterly. Douglas : S. K. Broadbent & Co. 1/- net.

The February number of The Manx Quarterly contains, as usual, various interesting papers, including English-Manx-Gaelic Etymologies, by Prof. Leon ; From Przemysl to Douglas in 1796, by W. Cubbon ; The Adventure of the Vixen, by T. F. Edwardes; also poems by Beatrice A. Eyre and others ; news of Manx Societies at Home and Abroad, and Memorial Notices. The illustrations, particularly the view of Douglas in 1860, are very pleasing.

Fourth Report of the Archæological Survey.

Few people are aware of the extent and value of the work so far completed by the Manx Archæological Survey, the Fourth Report of which has been issued. It was decided in 1908 (when the Survey was brought into existence by the combined action of the Ancient Monuments Trustees and the Natural History and Antiquarian Society) that the Keeills and burial grounds should first be examined and described parish after parish ; and subsequently the pre-Christian monuments in the same order. All the parishes in the Sheadings of Glenfaba, Michael, Ayre and Garff have already been dealt with, and Middle Sheading is now being surveyed, leaving Rushen Sheading to be dealt with last.

The Fourth Report, dealing chiefly with Garff, is before us.

It is signed by Lord Raglan as President, but it goes without saying that the entire text and the forty-seven illustrations of the Keeill sites and other objects of interest associated with the Keeills are figured by that indefatigable archæologist and eminent Manxman, Mr. P. M. C. Kermode, F.S.A.

As was to be expected, Mr. Kermode has described the early Christian remains in Maughold very exhaustively. The parish has tender associations for him, as his father was the Vicar there from 1877 to 1890. The parish is undoubtedly the most interesting in Mann from the point of view of early Christian monuments; its Keeills are well preserved, and exist on every Treen excepting Cornay beg. There are two on Cardle and Cornay moar Treens, two on the Barony, and three on intack land, and no fewer than four within the bounds of the large piece of ground which is now the Parish Churchyard, a total of nineteen. Of this number it is pleasing to note that eight have still remains of walling, and cross slabs have been found in seven. An illustration of one of these is given on this page. It is of special interest because it shows for the first time on a Manx monument the figure of a Viking Ship. Its date is approximately fixed by Mr. Kermode as twelfth century. The most interesting part of the report deals with the finely-carved standing Cross outside the parish church, which Mr. Kermode suggests is of the fourteenth century. The four faces of the head of the Cross are well figured and described in the Report. The device of the Three Legs armed with spurs on one of the faces is set in a direction contrary to that of recent times, but is the same as that on our twelfth century Sword of State. The fourteenth century east window which the ‘renovation’ vandals took from its ancient position and re-built in the gable below the present one, is described, as well as the remarkable west porch with its carving of perhaps the twelfth century, the limestone capital, amid other interesting ornamened stone work.

Compared with Maughold, Lonan, although rich in sites of Keeills, is poor in actual remains. Keeill Vian, on Ballamillgen, appears to be the only one whose walls at present exist, perhaps with the exception of Keeill Woirrey on Gretch Voar, where excavations have not yet been made.

Maughold Cross

The work described in the Fourth Report is nmost valuable, and should be more practically supported by our Legislature and recognised by our people.


Guth Na Bliadkna. Glasgow : A. Maclaren, Argyle Street. 1/.

The spring number of this quarterly periodical contains some very good things. Mr. Blair writes on ‘ Celt Ascendency ‘; and A.M.E. on ‘ Dara Taobh a’ Chuinnidh, ‘ an article on the financial condition of the Kingdom ; D.M.C. continues his fine poem, ‘La nan Seachd Sion’; Mr. Dewar contributes an interesting article ‘On Style’; and these, with a number of Gaelic articles, go to form an excellent issue.



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