[From Manx Soc vols 25+28 - Blundell's History]
THERE are many much mistaken herein; some seem to con tract it too much; some extend it too long; but I find none to have erred so much as the Scots,~ from whom, in all probability, we have reason to have expected the truest in formation, but they say the Island of Man is but only 24 miles long and 18 miles broad, and are mistaken in both, for thereby they should make within a fourth part the Island to be as broad as it is long. Whereas later dimensions have found it to be far otherwise, for ye length exceedeth 3 times ye breadth, all agreeing the form of the Island to be long and narrow. Those yt have best informed us are Cambden, P. Helens, Arthur Hopton, John Sp6ed,2 for they found yt Manksmen's relation to agree with theirs yt from Cransten Village in ye north, unto ye Mull Hills in the south, it strik eth itself in length above 28 or 29, if not 30 miles ; ye breadth from Douglas Point unto Peeltown the distance is scarce 9 miles; for ye Manksmen account ye distance between these 2 towns, Douglas and Peel, to be only 8 miles. It is true yt more northward the Island is somewhat broader, yet not fully of Mr. Cambden's account, who will have ye Island here 15 miles broad; and much more is Mr. Maxwel mistaken, who maketh the Island to be 18 miles broad. Now, suppose a medium be chosen: If the middle betwixt 8, which is ye least breadth of the Island, and 18 ye greatest, whereof I will take as little as cannot be denied, which is 12, now mul tiply 29, wch is agreed upon by all to be the length, by 12, which I suppose is ye breadth, and they make only 87 square miles in the Island.
The whole circumference by John Speed is 82 miles, by Arthur Hopton 91 miles. I will not contend with either, as little concordance do I find amongst geographers as historiographers.
Touching ye elevation of ye Pole:' John Speed not mentioning anything at all. Mercator, in his Atlas, saith the Island of Man standeth in 15 degrees of longitude, and 55 or 56 degrees of latitude. Mr. Harrison gives 16 degrees of longitude, and 40 minutes, in latitude 53 degrees and 30 minutes. Hector Boetius, omitting ye longitude, saith yt in latitude it standeth in about 57 degrees 0 minutes. John Tapin his Seaman's Calender, and Thos. Sterne's correction, placeth Man in 19 degrees of England, and in 34 degrees and 51 minutes of latitude. The former counting every degree 60 miles, altho' yt Hector Boetius reckoneth to every degree 62 miles and one half.
Concerning ye scituation of Man, I have not faith enough to assent to Polydore Virgil, who affirmeth for truth a strange wonder, so saith he what time can do, this Island of Man is now remoted from land 25 miles space, which in old time was scarce one mile distant from Anglisey, and joined unto Wales; but I observe as great, if not a greater absurdity, in Hector Boetius, who, in his History of Scotland, maketh no distinction at all betwixt ye 2 Islands of Man and Anglisey, but seemeth to seat them, not only to be contiguous, but also to be continuous ye one unto ye other; for in all his history being misled by Tacitus, as I suppose, nameth them both by the only name of Mona, not once naming Anglisey alone, by any name m any part of yt work; and whatsoever Paulus Suetonius, in ye reign of Nero, Aulus Plantius, and Julius Agricola, in the time of Vespasian, or any of the liomans, acted in Anglisey, he confidently occurreth to be done in his Mona, which he always calleth Man. Paulus Jovius sup poseth these two Islands to have been joind together, and so to the Continent of England,' but cut off by the working of ye waves of ye ocean, as Cisely,2 and some suppose betwixt Dover and Calais, etc. Howsoever, at this day it is far seated in the main sea, at least 25 miles from any part of England or Wales.
Ranolf, Monk of Chester (out of Gnildas), saith neatly, yt it is seated in ye navel of the sea, and standeth in the very midst, as if it were the center of all the great kings of Great Britain do coxY~and, as ye heart of a man is seated in ye midst of his body, the comparison will hold very fitly, for the heart of a man is encompassed round about in a bag of water, which bag is called ye pericardium, and therefore the heart of man may truly be called the Isle of Man. This liquid humour the naturalists and anatomists do say yt God did place about e heart to
y ye end it might temper ye excessive heat of ye heart, which otherwise it wou'd acquire by reason of its perpetual motion; and one of the eminent anatomists saith he hath observed yt this liquid humour is to be found both in the living and in ye dead, which yt eagle-eyed Evangelist St. John curiously observed, when our Blesd. Saviour's side was opened by Longinus, or as others name him Legorius.
His spear, after his Passion, there issued out water and blood, thereby to demonstrate yt he was truly dead, for the pericardium yielded the water, and the heart being pierced, streamed out ye blood. St. Cyprian saith his heart was wounded yt he might let out all his moisture in his body, and all his blood residing in his heart, and reserve nothing to himself.
This Island of Man being thus as the center point of a circle is comodiously seated for the venting, if it were stored, as it might be, of all sorts of manufactories and mer chandizes to every part of its circumference, for it stand eth in St. George's Channel, equally distant on the north from Galloway in Scotland; from the province of Ulster in Ireland on the east; from the south of Cumberland and the north part of Lancashire, on the south from the Island of Anglisey. Neither is ye voyage long or far to France or Spain itself.
But yet Mathew Paris saith it is placed nearer England than any other, altho' Guiraldus Cambrensis saith, Man was so equally distant from England and Ireland, as yt there arose a controversy in old times' whether of the 2 countries it shou'd appertain unto, and the controversy was thus taken up, for asmuch as this Island of Man fostered venomous toads and other worms, brought over thither for trial, it was adjudged by a cofl~ion censure and doom to belong unto Britain.
Hereby it is inferred yt if the Isle of Man had not fos tered them it had belonged unto Ireland, the censure therefore was doomed of the dipendancy of the Isle of Man (unto whether continent), not by the proximity but by the im munity. So large a latitude of reputation had the Irish sanctified soil acquired in those days, as yt even Islands far more remote than Man, if they enjoyed yt privilege, were held obliged to acknowledge their homage unto it, for Hector Boetius saith the Orkney freed Islands because from venomous worms was therefore appendant unto Ireland. I wonder no Irish writers lay claim to ye Island of Guernsey, which braggs of the same immunity, and probably was endowed therewith by the prayers of St. Patrick; for Probus, saith St. Patrick, was coffianded by Pope Celestin the First to preach in Nor mandy as he went into Ireland, unto whose continent the Island of Guernsey, wth Jarsey, are nearly contiguous and conterminate. I shall, if Spain will assert they shall lay claim to ye Balcares Islands, now called Majorca and Minorca, yea, and to their neighbouring Ebasus, Creek, or any other, so they lay no claim to our Barbadoes' and Melita, now Malta, for Tertullian seemeth to insinuate yt it had the iffiunity from St. Paul ever since he shook of ye viper into ye fire that had fastened itself upon his hand. But Sylvester Geraldus (a fisherman), I say, an Irishman of the family of the Geraldines, but being born in Wales, which is called Cambria, he was thence called Cambrencis, is noted of many not to omit any occasion offered to elevate ye honour of the Irish, and yt his own country, yet here he seemeth not to be clear sighted for himself, for ye doom he produceth tacitly doth confess that there were no toads or venomous worms in Man before, and therefore some were bronght to make ye trial but, besides, I observe that those yt were brought in did not leave any of their breed behind them, for the Manksmen glory even at this day with Ireland in ye immunity not only from toads, snakes, and other venomous creatures, but also from all noxious and poison beasts. Here I hold myself obliged to testify a truth, yt during my abode in ye Island, I did neither hear nor see any to be in any part of the Island, excepting only spiders, which Ireland also hath, but without venom, and whether those of Man were of the same quality innoxious or no, I made no experiment. Besides, Joselinus,2 who lived in the same time with Giraldus, testifieth the Manksmen's immunity to be the same with yt of Ireland; for, saith he, after St. Patrick had precipitated all ye venomous beasts in Ireland from a high rock into ye sea, he turned his face towards the Island of Man, and all ye other Islands which had been converted by him, he blessed and prayed for them, and freed them from all venomous and creeping creatures. But, moreover, if these toads which were imported thither for the trial had sympathis'd with the soil, for ye toads are known to be creatures not suddenly easily exterminated, for out of the corruption, of one dead and putrified another toad will be generated; yea, some curious naturalists have observed yt tho' you burn a toad to ashes, not only one, but, as another saith, a multiparous production of ye same species will be produced if it be exposed subio to the wind and weather for a convenient time; and why not, seeing experience attesteth in ye putrifaction of one serpent many hundred serpents will breed out thence, and every one will be as big as ye first;' yet, with my peruser's permission, I wou'd willingly insert one more remarkable note, out of ye antient writer Joselinus, yt certain inhabitants of some Islands converted by St. Patrick's preaching, having forsaken the Law of God, left unto them by him, were alienated from the faith, backsliding, and therefore unto this day are de prived of this prerogative and special gift of God, which other places which persevered do still enjoy thro' his prayers verily it is much to be feared, lest not only the Isle of Man,2 but Ireland also, being both of them fallen from yt Faith which St. Patrick preached, lose not at last this excellent iffiunity, seeing in our days never there known before the plague ye most contagious poyson hath for many years prevailed in many places of yt Island, to the almost depopu lating not only of Limerick, but of Dublin itself; and a great toad is acknowledged to have been seen in their metropolitan city not many years since, a prodrome premonstrating and presaging much more ominous calamities than did that frog found in ye meadows of Waterford in our King Henry ye 2nd's reign, which the Irish writers say foreshowed their following fate to be conquered by the English.'
But more strange effects have followed the toad's appari tionviz., the entire conquest of the whole Island, and their transplantation by Oliver Cromwel, and may it end here, but more and worse may be still feared; even in time an extir pation; for their Apostle's praying may seem to prophecy when he besought God with whom he was powerful, yt no Irish man might be then living when Antichrist should come. This was long since published by Ranulf,2 Monk of Chester, and since by one of ye Island itself.
1 II. Lyon's History of y5 Barbadoes, p. 62.
1 See Camb. Br. pp. 346, 347. 2 So Sicely from Yaly, as saith
~ Anno 1151.
1 Lyon's History of ye Barbadoes, p. 62.
2 In vita Patricii, c. 170. Flor. saith St. Hillarius, in ye Island Galinirain, ye Sea of Toscana, precipated all ye serpents there from a high rock into ye sea.
1 John French, of ye Art of Distillation, 1. 5, p. 121. 2 Anno 1651
' Stanihurst. Desertation of Ireland, c. 2, p. 41.
'Polycron, 1. 5, c. 4. ~ Fitsimons of ye West, p. 5, c. 4, p. 110.