[From ManxNoteBook vol i,1885]
IOGRAPHY, IN THE MODERN SENSE, CANNOT BE ADEQUATELY WRITTEN A CENTURY AFTER THE MAN'S VOICE HAS BECOME SILENT, AND HIS FACE LOST IN THE DIMNESS OF TOTAL OBLIVION. IT IS TOO LATE NOW TO HOPE THAT the Reverend Philip Moore, can be brought back to our view out of so vast a void. We live in a new era, as well as in a new century.
We have to do with four features in our study of this man :-his insular origin and life ; his ecclesiastical profession ; his relation to the time in which he lived ; and the personality, which, independent of all these, makes him worthy of remembrance.
The earlier half of the 18th century was a period of stupor in the national life of the English people: Philip Moore belonged to that period ; and, in so far as he reflects the influences of his time, he has little interest for us. But where, by the force of his individuality, he was untouched by its influences he is worthy of most kind and appreciative thoughts, at our hands, who live at so great a distance from him.
His people had lived in Pulrose, near Douglas, for two centuries, " very respectable people," permanent; and seemingly of a social and conservative cast. There he was born in 1705, with brothers and sisters about him. He went to school in Douglas,to the Academy founded, in 1706, by Bishop Wilson.
The old chapel of St. Matthews in the Market Place, was the town church, and the chaplain was also academic schoolmaster. The chaplain at that time was the Rev. Anthony Halsall. Of him and his influence little is known. It is by no means easy to get a glimpse of what the old town of Douglas was like in 1720, when Philip Moore was a schoolboy. Its population was about 4000, nestled low along the harbour and along the shore ; with its one church in its Market-place, and a fort by the sea, near the harbour mouth.
Bishop Wilson had come to the Island in 1697 ; and by 1720, had made his administration of ecclesiastical discipline feltvery unpleasantly in some quarters, and by the contemporaneous Governor in particular. Governor Horne found occasion to quarrel with the Bishop ; and, in 1722, suddenly lodged him and Dr. Walker, rector of Ballaugh, in Castle Rushen. They lay there for two months : and in their solitude formed the design of a translation of the Scriptures into Manx. At this time Philip Moore was 17 ; probably still at school with Mr. Halsall in Douglas. Fifty years later, in 1772, the translation was completed and printed : and in this work Philip Moore took a chief part.
The academical training given by the chaplain in Douglas, was in those days the usual preparation for the Manx Church. But in addition, Bishop Wilson took each candidate for orders, to reside with him in Bishop's Court for a whole year previous to the ordination. This time was spent in further study under the Bishop's immediate direction. Philip Moore was to be a clergyman; and so, in 1728, he went to Bishop's Court; and in the following year was ordained. The influence of Bishop Wilson was very decided. He was older than Philip Moore by more than 40 years. He kept him for some time after his ordination, as his own chaplain. Philip Moore was eventually appointed curate in charge of Kirk Marown ; and finally, in 1736, chaplain and academical master in Douglas. Here he remained nearly 48 years, till his death in 1783. His immediate predecessor in Douglas was the Rev. Thos. Birkett : Philip Moore married a lady named Birkett, probably the widow of his predecessor. With Bishop Wilson he continued to be on terms of the most affectionate kind - as of a son with a father. One episode in his life at this time is noteworthy. He had been ordained a deacon in 1729. It is usual for the deacon to be ordained a priest after the lapse of one year. In his case it was not till after ten years. it is, therefore, interesting to know the reason. The delay was voluntary-on grounds of conscience. He took objection to the dogma of the XXXIX Articles,-or to the supposed dogma of the XXXIX Articles,-on the impossibility of salvation for the heathen. He seemingly held the possibility of it; or, at least, he refused to assent to its absolute impossibility. The XXXIX Articles hardly seem to us to say much on this question. Philip Moore's position is best seen in his correspondence from which it is purposed further on to give some extracts illustrative of his personality. From his letters it is clear that his acquaintance with Latin authors is varied and thorough. He seems the man to have read the classics "with his feet on the fender." His allusions and quotations are frequent, familiar, and natural. He is a man, pious and loyal to the authors of his beloved books. There could, of course, have been no charge of heterodoxy. The case was, as if a man should refuse to subscribe to an article in which was stated the impossibility of the salvation of his own father and mother. However uncertain a man might be about their positive salvation, who could bring himself in such a case to assert their perdition ? Philip Moore held out for Cicero and Virgil. Rather than subscribe to the article in question, he would be "destitute, afflicted, tormented " said he, in one of his letters.
He was urged again and again by Bishop Wilson, and still resisted. Ten years after, he was at length ordained a priest. Of this period of his life, little or no information remains. But that it was for no material or worldly advantage is certain, from the fact that he had no preferment till five years after.
After fifteen years in Douglas, Philip Moore was appointed rector of Ballaugh. Bishop Wilson was still in Bishop's Court; and Edward Moore, an elder brother of Philip, was vicar in Kirk Michael, and a vicar-general. Though rector of Ballaugh, he continued to reside in Douglas, as chaplain and schoolmaster; with an assistant to officiate in his parish.
Bishop Wilson died in 1755; and was buried in Kirk Michael; and there Philip Moore preached the funeral sermon, an event that lived long in the homely tradition of our rustic and remote Island. After Bishop Wilson came Bishop Hildesley, a man of mild and sweet character,-the range of whose ambition was to tread in the footsteps of his greater predecessor, and to finish such designs as he had left unfinished. Of these, the most important was the translation of the scriptures into Manx ; and in the execution of this design Philip Moore was his chief assistant and adviser. Meanwhile, there grew up between these two men a friendship rooted in their common culture and sympathies. In 1760, Philip Moore was appointed rector of Kirk Bride. He still resided in Douglas ; with an assistant to officiate in Kirk Bride. This living he held for the remaining twenty-three years of his life. Of the period between 1760 and 1772, we have most intimate knowledge.
Bishop Hildesley, in addition to the bishopric of a "poor, despised, smuggling island" held for some years before his death, the mastership of Sherburn Hospital, near Durham. It was worth about £500 a year. He was a man of undoubtedly pure character, without lust of material prosperity; and here needs not the justification of an excuse, that plurality had the sanction of use and wont " in that 18th century. His generosity, in the furtherance of the work of his diocese, drew upon the income derived from it; and made the income from without an almost necessary subsidy.
Bishop Hildesley used to visit Sherburn Hospital annually. In the summer of 1772, Philip Moore accompanied him. On their way back, as they came to Whitehaven, they turned aside to visit Keswick. In December of that year, Bishop Hildesley died; and from that period less is known of the personal history of Philip Moore. At 68, men do not easily form new ties. With the next two prelates who in succession, held the see of Sodor and Mann, Philip Moore found himself out of sympathy. We have a brief notice of a visit to Dublin, in 1778, where he meets among others, two of the contemporaneous Irish bishops. Then his death in 1783. All the Clergymen at that time in the Manx Church, with the exception of four, had received their education under him. He died in Douglas, and was buried in Kirk Braddan. On his gravestone is an epitaph, suggested probably by himself-
Sis tu felix semper, ita
Et fruaris diu vita."*
Also in the old chapel of St. Matthew's, where his voice had been the familiar sound for nearly fifty years, there is a tablet on the wall, to his name and memory. And, finally, there is on our shelves, a Book in a language now obsolete, the MANX BIBLE,-in which he had a "principal hand."
JOHN QUINE, B.A.
Douglas Grammar School,
Be thy condition,
And of thy good fortune
A long fruition."
(TO BE CONTINUED.)
see also Manx Worthies p25/6