[From Manx Soc vol 1 Sacheverell's Survey c.1692]
THIS Island seems almost wholly unknown to the ancients, and the Manks tradition says it was but lately discovered, but had for many ages been concealed by magical arts with mists and vapours, to which in truth it is subject, and therefore dangerous for strangers to approach. Amongst all our modern historians, lawyers, and geographers, there is not one has given any tolerable account of it, except Mr. James Challoner, (6) Governor for the Lord Fairfax, and the gentleman (7) (who has not been so kind to transmit his name to posterity) out of whose papers I have drawn the ensuing essays, in which I pretend to no farther share than wording, and reforming some few mistakes which it was very possible for a stranger to make. But as to the rest of our English historians, few of the ancients so much as mention it. Mr. Cambden (8) is the first that gives us any insight into it. After him my Lord Cook, and Mr. Heylin, but they all so abound with errors, that it is very unsafe following any of them. To instance, but in that great one, about the foundation of the Bishopric there, which, they all three affirm, was erected by Pope Gregory the 4th, anno 840, in an island near Castletown, whereas the Bishopric is sufficiently proved by the Primate of Armagh (9) to have been erected by St. Patrick about the year 447, and the Place itself shews there is no such island near Castletown. But the Cathedral dedicated to St. German the first bishop, and St. Patrick's Church in the Island, called the Peel, are standing witnesses, not only of the antiquity of the Bishopric, but of the error of the place in which it was supposed to be erected. But since I have sufficiently cleared all mistakes relating to the Bishopric (10) in my ecclesiastical account, I shall now endeavour to shew what natural misfortunes the country labours under. I think I may comprehend them all under the miserable name of poverty, which is occasioned by a thin soil, and unfruitful blasts (11) from the sea air, and the want of experience, rather than that of labour in the people. They likewise want all sorts of timber, salt, wrought iron, coals, and (what formerly supplied all these, and the lord's rent,) they have for several years past lost their herring fishing, which naturally produces a deadness of trade, and must in time reduce the country to great extremity,
As these are general misfortunes of the country, so I cannot but in justice shew where its advantages lie. The first is a perfect unanimity in matters of religion, strictly conformable to the doctrine and discipline of the Church of England.(12) The next to this is the goodness of their laws, admirably adapted to their Constitution. The Lord Cook(13) saith, that the Isle of Man has such laws the like whereof are not to be found in any other place, where every man pleads his own cause without counsel or attorney, or any person that can gain by strife; all Chancery business is ended in twelve or sixteen weeks at farthest, viz., four court days. I confess matters of Common Law are something more dilatory, because court days come but twice in the year; but the ease of the Government, and every man's interest, draws all suits to as speedy a conclusion as possible. Besides this there is an universal plenty and cheapness, that as there are few that can be properly said to be rich, so neither are there many that can be said to be miserably poor; and, I believe, fewer beggars (14) in proportion than in any nation. Not to mention the goodness of their ale, which is a commodity not only in the neighbouring kingdoms, but were we allowed the freedom of commerce, would be of great value wherever England trades. As God has given them this blessing in plenty to comfort them in their misfortunes, so he has given them hearts to make use of it, (I wish I could say with moderation.) The people are naturally of a jovial, sociable temper, much inclined to music, very loving among themselves, good natured, but choleric, as it is observed of most Islanders. They were formerly reputed courageous, and emment for many excellent military commanders, as will more fully appear from the history; as likewise what respect their kings had among foreign princes, of both which Macon (15) (not to mention more) was a most remarkable instance. But above all they have been famous for their hospitality to strangers, as great numbers of English in the late civil wars, and many thousands of Irish Protestants in these (1689) last devastations of that Kingdom can even now witness. Nor were they less celebrated, in former ages for sheltering distressed princes, of which I will venture to give my reader one instance:-Eugenius, when Prince of Scotland, took sanctuary in this Isle for nine years, and was afterwards recalled by the nobility and people, and crowned king of Scotland.
To omit Ederius and Corbred, surnamed Gald, (16) from his travelling and learning, (for whom, as I am informed, the Scots to this day call a man that has travelled Gald) who were educated in this Island, even before Christianity; for it is not improbable that these princes chose the Isle of Man for their retreat, because it was then, and many ages after, accounted the only seat of learning : first, under the Druids, of whom my author is of opinion, that this rather than Anglesey was the principal seat, and was called Sedes Druidarum, and Insula Druidarum(17). Nor was it less remarkable under their first pious Bishops, Hector Boetius says, Man was the fountain of all honest learning and erudition. Others of the Scotch nation held it the mansion of the muses, and the royal academy for educating the heirs apparent of the Crown of Scotland; as Eugenius the third himself, who likewise sent three of his sons, viz., Ferquard, Fiacre, and Donald, into the Isle of Man, to be educated under Conanus, whom they write Bishop of Sodor(18), two of which, Ferquard and Donald, were successively kings of Scotland, as both Hector, Boetius, and Hollinshead witness; who likewise inform us, that even before this Conanus (by Dr. Heylin writ Goran) ordered that the three sons of his brother Congel, viz., Eugenius the second, Congalus the second, and Kinatellus the first, should be brought up in the Isle of Man, says Boetius, under the government of certain instructors and schoolmasters, to be trained up in learning and virtuous discipline, according to an ancient ordinance thereof made and enacted. So celebrated was the discipline of those ages, that it seems to have passed into a law, that the princes of Scotland should be educated in this Island.
Having thus far shewn wherein the ancient honour of the island consisted, I think I ought to let my reader know that it had formerly an order of nobility for I find both earls and viscounts mentioned, who, in my opinion, were the governors of the out Isles; for, in those days, the Comes(19) was the first magistrate in the county, and the Vice-comes his substitute, though in these later ages they have been appropriated as marks of honour to particular families. There were likewise formerly several ecclesiastical barons(20) in this Isle, as the Bishop still is; but because those pious foundations lie buried in their own ruins, I shall crown my work with what is the greatest glory this world affords, that it was a kingdom, if you will take the words of my Lord Cook, in Calvin's case, lib. 7, cap. 21, " The ancient and absolute Kingdom of MAN," though since it fell under the homage of the Crown of England, it was never granted but by title of the Island and lordship of Man, so that it pretends to no such absolute dominion, but allegiance to the Crown of England is reserved in all public oatlis ; neither do I find my author of opinion, that it was an absolute kingdom even in the time of the Norwegians; not but that it still retains most of the essential marks of power, as making laws, of pardoning, of holding all courts in the lord's name, the patronage of the bishopric(21), and many other inferior marks of regality, which, as they were derived from the favour of the Crown to the house of Derby, so the uninterrupted loyalty of that family may be justly thought to have deserved it, especially while they managed that great trust with so much tenderiiess and care of the people; by which they stood examples to all in power, that there is one little barren spot, where law and justice, true religion, and primitive integrity flourished, in contempt of poverty, and all things the world calls misfortunes.