[From ManxNoteBook vol i,1885]
Fishing Fleet off Douglas
HE promoters of the Magazine, which makes its first appearance to-day, have asked me to write a short preface to it, explanatory of its origin, and furthering its objects.
Yet the purposes, which its projectors have in view, hardly require either explanation or recommendation.
The utilitarian spirit of modern times shows little reverence for monuments merely venerable for age, and devoid of practical use. In the eighteenth century a bishop stripped an old cathedral of its roof for the sake of completing a modern church; in the nineteenth century the ploughshare levels the old encampment; the builder uses the stone monuments, if they happen to be available; the people, instructing their children in English, forebear from imparting to them the old Manx language, which their forefathers used; and the traditions, which were handed down from generation to generation. and accepted with as much faith as the creed, are ridiculed as idle superstitions, and forgotten because they are considered not worth remembering.
These circumstances fill the thoughtful man with regret. The early history and customs of every race may be studied with most advantage in its monuments its traditions, its names, and its folk-lore. And, when a people, like the Manx, remain for centuries without a literature, almost the only chance of retaining some knowledge of its origin and progress lies in the maintenance of its monuments and the preservation of its traditions.
It may, perhaps, be thought that one of these objects has already been effected the excellent publications of "The Manx Society." But the work of " The Manx Society" is widely different from that which, I understand, the projectors of this Magazine desire to undertake. The Society devotes a volume to any subject with which it deals. This Magazine will always have a page, or a part of a page, ready for any short story illustrating the History or the Folk-lore of the Island. The inquirer, who wishes for information, will here find an opportunity of putting his question. The teacher, who has information to impart, will be able in the next number to supply an answer to it. Where etymology or tradition are in dispute, disputants will here find an arena for their controversy-a controversy in which it may be hoped that not only the narrow circle of Manxmen at home, but the wider circle of Manxmen in every part of the World may be tempted to join.
Such are some of the leading objects for which this Magazine has been projected. Let it not be said that Mann is too little, and that Manxmen are too few for such a publication. Those, who dwell in small countries, should recollect Lord Beaconsfield's striking statement-"Great countries are those that produce great men. It is not by millions of population that we measure the magnitude of the mind." If the Isle of Mann has not hitherto produced many men, whose names are foremost in British story, it may at least, boast that it has preserved its independence unimpaired; and that it still possesses the old legislature, which had its origin before the Battle of Hastings. Fifty thousand people, still retaining their old laws and their old customs, in the centre of the United Kingdom, is a spectacle as unique as it is notable. Their annals necessarily possess a peculiar interest to the antiquarian and historian; and, it should surely be the business of those Manxmen, who love their country, and are proud of its independence, to seize every opportunity of preserving the fading records of the past, just as it should also be their business, in the fine language of the laureate,
" to take
Occasion by the hand, and make
The bounds of freedom wider yet."