[From Feltham's Tour, 1798]
SINCE the great decrease in the value of money, a retrospective view of any remote period, relative to the prices of provision and labour, becomes not only an object of curiosity, but a speculation of importance, as it at all times materially affects the happiness of the majority of the people. Before, then, I speak of the parish immediately under review, I shall digress a moment to wander through the old Manks statutes, to learn, as far as I can, how these were estimated in the infancy of society.
I find by an act of Tynwald, 1430, it is enacted that the lord be victualled when he is in the island, at the following prices:" a cow, or beef, price Is. at two head courts in the year, of everysheading, two martes (bullocks), the price of every marte 3s.1d.;and when the lieutenant is here, a marte every week, withother victual; i. e. the price of a marte 1s., a mutton, 6d., a pork, 1d, a lamb, 1d., a kid, 1d., a pig, 1d., a goose, 1d., from Easter to Midsummer, and this by use and custom."
By a statute of 1758, the loss of sheep by dogs incurs a payment of 5s. for a mutton; 4s. for a slleep; and a yearling, and alamb, at 3s. severally; and the dogs to be hung.
By an act of Tynwald, in 1609, the wages of a ploughman per year, were fixed at 13s. 4d.; every driver, l0s.; every horseman, 8s.; and every woman-servant, as she shall be thought todeserve by the deemsters and jury. Every head tailor, per day, with meat and drink, 1d. and not above; and every apprentice tailor, with meat and drink, 2d. and not above. And if any refuse to work at these rates, they are to be "put to be a servant" *
"Weavers for every yard of woollen cloth for blanket, sufflciently wrought, 1d; for every four great hundred breadth of keare, 6d.; for every yard of medlie, 14d. being five hundred,which is for every great hundred one farthing.
"Linen websters to be paid according to old custom, as theyarn shall be in smallness or greatness.
" Every walker or fuller, for every yarn fulled, 1d. of the greathundred; keare cloth, ~d.; medlie, 1d.; white cloth, 1d.
" every mason, carpenter, trooper, slater, thatcher (thatching after the English fashion) and joiner, to have, with meat anddrink, 4d. per day, and not above, being sufficient workmen .Blacksmith, for laying of every courter, 1d.; for making, 2d.;for every new sock, 1d.; for making and laying of every wing, 1d. No person to give more under pain of forfeiting the whole wages, or day's work."
In 1664 and 1665, &c. acts were made respecting servants' hire, warning, diet, leaving the island, or being sent out without licence, &c. which is henceforth restricted.
In 1667, an act passed on the subject of servants, saying, that notwithstanding the act of 1609 restricting wages, "at which time the farmers were of better ability than of late time,since the enhancing of the wages, to pay the same by the rate aforesaid, for their corn and other commodities; nevertheless(says the statute) the servants will not, of late years, hire fordouble the wages so mentioned, unless they may receive what wages they please; not considering that the farmers are far moreunable now than formerly to pay the same, in respect to thescarcity of money, and the cheap rates both of corn and cattle;
* The 5th Elizabeth also empowered the justices in England to rate the wages of artificers, handicraftsmen, husbandmen, and other labour, era whose ?vaS,es had, its times past, beer rated. King James's first parliament appears to have been guided(says Sir F. M. Eden) by the same short-sighted policy, which influenced former Legislatures to attempt the difficult, though specious, task of regulating the wages of industry.(See " State of the Poor," vol. 1st and 3d, 4to. 1797.) and yet are the servants in a better condition to subsist, by the cheapness of cloth, both linen and woollen, and all other COIttmodities they stand in need of." To restrain, therefore, whatthey term the exorbitancy of the servants, and to moderate between both, the following rates of wages were enacted; a ploughman, 15s.; driver, 10s.; horseman, or lad, 8s.; household fisherman, 13s. per annum. Every maid-servant of ability, 9s.a year; wages of inferior servants to be estimated by thedeemster. Servants refusing at these rates to work, to be imprisoned. These obsolete laws were repealed in 1777.
The present price of labour is increased, Mr. Quayle informs us, within ten years, from 6d. to Sd. and Is. per day. A ploughman has six guineas, boys two guineas a year; carpenters and masons, Is. 6d.; quarriers, 1s. 4d.; mowers, Is. 6d. and a quartof ale per day (see page 46 ;) women, Id. per day at potato esetting, haymaking, weeding, and pulling flax; 8d. in harvest, and 7d. in digging potatoes.
The following notice was lately read in each parish:
" Whereas, in the years 1422, 1561, 1665, &c. acts of Tynwald were passed, that no beggar or vagabond should be permitted to come into this island. And the master of any vessel bringing over such, or any other person or persons, who had no visible means of making a livelihood, was obliged to maintain them himself, till he carried them back, under pain of having his vessel seized. Moreover, it is ordered by the said acts, that every parish shall maintain its own poor, and not suffer them to beg in any other parish, and that those who infringed upon this law should be whipped in their own parishes:Notice is therefore hereby given, that henceforward this law will be put instrict force."
* The clause in this act is, "Also that no man bring beggars or vagbonds into the country, upon pain of forfeiture of his boat." And the present migration of the Irish to the island is in great measure prevented, lay a late owlet, that neware to be received witllorlt passports.
But to our present object of parochial enquiry, Kirk Onchan.
In this parish is situated the little village Chondroghad, which in English signifies Bridge-end, and is about two miles from Douglas, through which the great road passes to Ramsey, by Laxey. This parish is one of the smallest in the island, and is bounded by Lonan, Braddan, and the sea. Crowdale, Bankesharbour, Port-Cooyn, and Port-y-artay, are denominated creeks in this parish.
Barley and oats are the prevailing crops. Here are four corn mills. The water I thought much better than I had met within other spots. The poor have a small fund, of about 30l. principal, appropriated to their benefit.
Among the many pleasant moments that my perambulations afforded me, I must recollect with regret those experienced with the worthy vicar of this parish, who, alas is since removed from among us. He received me with a confidence and a generosity which could not fail to captivate, and impressed my mind with warm ideas of liberality and benevolence.
The church, which is dedicated to Onca, the mother of St.Patrick, is fifty-six feet long, and fifteen broad. The Rev.William Gell was vicar fifty years, and was succeeded by his son, Samuel Gell, on whose removal to Kirk Lonan, in 17~9, the Rev. Thomas Quayle succeeded, who dying in 1798, the Rev.John Cannel, the present vicar, was instituted.
The parochial school is in the village above mentioned.
A small mountain, situated south of Sliaucoure, in Lonan, is called Karn-ajole in this district.
This coast, in its creeks and bays, produces a great variety of marine plants; and the marine mosses are tinged with the most beautiful shades of red, green, brown, and yellow. Some few areof a bluish cast, but those with the various shadings of red are the most numerous.
The eminences in this parish display the ocean to advantage; the English coast, on a clear day, is seen in almost every part of the island.; the eye, delighted, roves over the vast expanse of water, admires it under all its fluctuations, and observes,
" When calm,What iris-h~Tes of purple, green, and gold
Play on its glassy surface; and,when vexed
With storms, what depth of billowy shade, with light
Of curling foam, contrasted."GILPIN.
Among the first objects that attract in a new place are the church and churchyard. Let us here take a contemplative range for a few moments, and muse with sympathetic feeling over the mouldering ashes of those who, though once alive to the sweetest emotions of the mind, are now past that state we now enjoy.
" Together down they sink in special love,
Together freed their gentle spirits fly
To scenes where love and bliss immortal reign."
Seven persons are recorded between the ages of seventy-two and eighty-three, and three persons between ninety and ninetynine years of age.
A rude carving of a warrior, with some Runic characters, said to be on the highest step, escaped my notice.
In this churchyard is a tomb to the memory of Alice Busk, wife of Wadsworth Busk, Esq., attorney-general of the isle. On the 11th of June, 1776, in the 38th year of her age, her valuable life was suddenly lost by a fatal and deplorable accident, to the heart-rending grief of one whose happiness lies buried here; whose health, whose ease, whose comfort was her care; whose inclinations, ere his lips had uttered them, she caught even from his eye, and regarded as a law; whom to the last she honouredwith her love, and having blest him while she lived, blest him also with her expiring breath. On his distracted mind, the virtues she possessed have too deeply stamped the remembrance of her untimely death, though submitted to by herself, in themost calamitous circumstances, with a degree of fortitude and resignation which Christianity only could inspire, and which Red, a -lie On Her sex, her character, and her religion"
On another tomb is the following inscription: " Captain Wm.Harriman, buried Feb. 19, 1760, aged 32.
" The boisterous blasts on Neptune's waves
Have tost me to and fro:
In spite of both, by God's decrees,
I harbour here below.
" Although I here at anchor lie,
With many of our fleet,
I must one day set sail again,
Our Saviour Christ to meet."
This parish, from its vicinity to Douglas, is very pleasant, affording, from its higher ground, charming sea-views and landscapes; and the vessels coming into or going out of the bay are seen very prettily around it.
From the number of public-houses mentioned in page 115, it will be obvious that every village and parish is provided in that respect, and the little huts, thus privileged, have mostly a small empty barrel outside the door to indicate their nature. If you venture in, the chance is, that you will be gratified with excellent wine, plenty of rum, and improvable ale, and herrings and potatoes of course. The people are civil, and you may travel at all hours with the greatest security; they salute you with, Good morn, or Good eten, good e'en, whenever you meet them.
The people of this parish I noticed as very orderly and decent on the Sunday.
Dr. Knox, I think, remarks, that " Religion is the highest accomplishment and perfection of human nature, and that zeal for it, when properly directed, must be acceptable to God."
The progress of the Methodists in this island has been no less rapid than in other countries.
In this, and most other parishes, there is a place of worship: here I heard an English sermon delivered with an animated elocution, and one in Manks, by a native, no less fervent and devout.. No other denominations of dissenters exist in the island.
The word Methodist was first given to ancient physicians, who practised by regular rules, in opposition to the practice of quackery; but it is now applied to any body of Christians, who profess a more than ordinary zeal for the salvation of mankind.*
Their progress here was owing to Mr. Lowry, a native, who prevailed on Mr. Crook first to visit it in 1775. Mr. Crook preached to numerous audiences, and, after some violent opposition from turbulent spirits, established many societies. Mr Wesley visited it in 1777, and was well received. Preachers sprang up, who preached in Manks and English, and all opposition gradually died away. Mr. Wesley remarked, "that they had no such circuit, either in England, Scotland, or Ireland; it is," said he, " shut up from the world. There are no disputers, no dissenters of any kind. The governor, bishop, clergy, oppose not. They did for a season, but they grew better acquainted with us." Vide Evans's Sketches, 12mo.; and Dr. Coke's Life of Mr. Wesley
At present (1798) there are in the Methodist societies of the island 2,700 persons, three travelling preachers, sixty Manks preachers, and fifteen meeting-houses.
In 1797, William Savary, a quaker of Philadelphia, with Mr. Farrel, and George Binns, of Liverpool, and Mr. Foster, of Warrington, visited and preached in the island, and were treated with attention and respect. The two former had been through Europe to examine the state of the religion of Jesus Christ. They remarked that at Berlin, and here, they perceived more apparent marks of religion than at most other places..
Mr. Crook visited the island again in 1798. This district is now annexed to the Whitehaven circuit, and is regularly visited.
"The zeal with which the Methodist teachers diffuse their doctrine is exemplary. It exhibits every appearance of sincerity. Early and late, in season and out of season, they are ready to exert their best abilities in prayer, and in all acts of charity."*
I conclude with hoping, in the language of a pious foreigner,"that .the system of Christianity may not be a system of speculation, a barren theory, a mere external distinction, muchless a subject of controversy, dispute, and division, between us and our brethren; but let it be the constant rule of our conduct,a principle of action, our instructor and guide."