[From Manx Quarterly, #5 Nov 1908]
Paper read to the Members of the Douglas Progressive Debating Society, February. 1908,
It is with the desire to do something to save the name of Hugh Stowell Brown from oblivion that I venture to bring this subject before the notice of this society, The age we live in is one of rush, and unless a man has written a book which will live, his name is soon forgotten,
When Hugh Stowell Brown was at the height of his fame as a Liverpool preacher, his name was a household word both in the Isle of Man and in the United Kingdom, while the name of his brother, Thomas Ed. Brown, was hardly known, Now this is entirely reversed, and the name of Tom Brown is becoming more and more known, and his poems more widely read, while I am afraid Hugh is almost forgotten, The bulk of what I have to say tonight is taken from Hugh Stowell Brown's Autobiography, edited by his son-in-law, the late Mr W, S. Caine, M.P., the first and second editions of which are out of print.
The subject of our sketch was born in Douglas in 1823, His father was the Rev Robert Brown, sometime Vicar of Braddan, and his mother's maiden name was Dorothy Thomson, whose father was a Scotsman, of Jedburgh, who came to the Isle of Man, and was a farmer, seedsman, etc., and laid out the Nursery Gardens, still existing at Onchan. Says Hugh Stowell Brown: "My brother Tom, more interested in genealogies than I, went, some years ago, to the supposed original village of the family (his mother's), and found that there was a Birkett (his grandmother's name), who kept a small huckster's shop down the street. Fearful of making too plebeian a discovery, he pursued his researches no further, Thus, then, although I am a Manxman born, I do not know that I have any Manx blood in my veins; but I have English blood from the Birketts, Scotch from the Thomsons, and very probably Irish from the Drumgolds ; but from whatever sources derived, it is not of any great account." This short extract from the Autobiography gives us an insight into the character of Hugh Stowell Brown,
He was a big, burly man, and a personification of brusqueness. His father, at the time when Hugh was born, was minister of St, Matthew's Chapel, in the Douglas Market-place, demolished a few years ago, and his income was under £100 a year, on which sum he kept his mother, his wife, and five children, and there were two servants, We must remember that a pound in those days would go as far as three now, The chaplain's house was in New Bond-street still, I believe, to be recognised and he tells the funniest stories of the drunken, wretched people of the neighbourhood, There was no gaslight then in Douglas, and St, Matthew's was lit with candles, which the sexton snuffed at intervals, and which before the end of the sermon sweated and spluttered abominably. "The town," says Mr Brown, "bore a singular resemblance to the Manx Arms, which are three legs. The Market-place was the centre, the Bridge one foot, the Pierhead another, and Castle Mona might stand for the third, Athol-street was only half-built, and there was nothing beyond it, Finch-road, then only partly constructed, was the north-western boundary, and the town consisted of a most extraordinary lot of narrow lanes, running in all directions, Duke-street being the main thoroughfare, where were the principal shops; though even there some of the gentry had residences, Post Office-lane was at that period so narrow that a tall man could stretch his arm across it, and there was scarcely a street wide enough for two vehicles to pass, There were open gutters in all the streets, and in scarcely any was there a footpath, They were paved all over with small boulders from the shore, and were, I can't say, lighted with oil lamps, for they were apologies for such lighting, and the burning of a lamp opposite our house was an operation I watched with great interest. Water was supplied by carts, which went round the streets, and the water was sold at a halfpenny per can, the can being about the size of a bushel, The whole place was full of dirt and bad smells, and but for the tide which swept the filthy Harbour and carried away the offal from the shore, Douglas must have been almost pestilential, But there was the never-failing tide, and there was also a constant breeze of fresh air from the sea, I shall never forget the horrors of filth in Fancy-Street, Guttery Gable, and other choice spots. The town is very different now, The market was held on Saturday, and I used to think it impossible that there could be a greater crowd of people excepting at the Hollantide Fair, which was held in Athol-street, and was a scene of drunkenness so great that you could scarcely see a sober man on the ground."
In chapter 2, dealing with his christening, we have an insight into the rather free notions of his father's Churchmanship. He says: "We had no godfathers or godmothers until I was 7 years old, my brother Robert 10, William 5, and Dora 3" There was a great christening and feast. His godfather was the Rev Hugh Stowell, rector of Ballaugh, and the Rev Mr Nelson, rector of Kirk Bride (father of Mr C. B. Nelson, advocate, of Ramsey). His brother Tom was an infant in arms, and he was baptised the same time (1830), his godfathers being the Rev Mr Howard, vicar of Kirk Braddan, and the Rev Mr Craine, vicar of Kirk Onchan. Says the autobiography: "My godfathers never gave me any trouble; their appointment was only a matter of form, and although they were most evangelical clergymen, they never took the slightest notice of me. 'My father was one of the lowest of Low Churchmen, who took such liberties with Church Rules as would make most Low Churchmen of these days stand aghast. I never heard him read the Athanasian Creed. When the lesson for the day was a chapter that contained anything that he did not think fit to be publicly read, he passed it by, and chose another. He took not the slightest notice of Ash Wednesday or of Lent. I do not think that he always had service on Good Friday; Holy Thursday was like any other Thursday, and as to honouring the saints by the observance of the days appointed in the calendar, he would never have dreamt of it."
In 1832, his father was appointed to Kirk Braddan, and the change was a; delightful one to the family. His description of the service in old Kirk Braddan Church, when first he remembered it, borders on the ludicrous, He says: " There were no cushions in the pews; there was no stove, no organ, no choir; the clerk not only led the singing, but made it. No other voice could be heard, and his own was hoarse and cracked. He also had a vested interest in the responses, and anyone joining in them would have been stared at. with wonder, and perhaps with indignation. The people sat and knelt and stood absolutely mute, The sermons were alternately, or nearly alternately, in English and Manx, My father when hp went to Kirk Braddan, knew nothing of the Manx language, but he set to and learned it, and before long preached in it very creditably, I can scarcely imagine anything more dreary than that Manx service, especially on a dark, cold, blowing, and rainy day. The church, damp and cold, with the green mould upon its walls, 30 or 40 people forming the congregation; the clerk doing the singing and the responses, and my sister, brothers, and self, not comprehending a single word, I am inclined to think that even the Manx-speaking portion of the congregation, with few exceptions, would have understood my father better in English than in his Manx, Every Sunday morning, after service, the Sumner of the parish, a burly old man named Christopher Corran (father (or grandfather) to Mr Matt. Corran), mounted a tombstone in the churchyard, and announced, first in Manx and then in English, the fairs and sales by auction that were to take place during the week, He would also inform us what arrangements were being made for the propagation of cattle and horses; legal information was next given as to Chancery and other courts, the meetings of Tynwald; he also knew what farms were to be let, and what cattle had gone astray. Churchings generally took place in the afternoon, and it was customary for the mother who brought the child to drink the water that remained in the three-halfpenny basin that served as a font. Then on every Sunday afternoon, funerals, for the churchyard had to do duty for almost all the people of Douglas, as well as the other inhabitants of the parish. So the friends came at service time, the coffins were placed in the church, and remained there until the end of the service, perhaps an hour and a half. I have seen as many as five at a time; and in hot weather, my father in the pulpit improving the occasion, and we in a pew, within three feet of the coffins, were half-poisoned by the stench, Many of the mourners were drunk, of course, and some of them in a state of stupor, tumbling over the coffins, sometimes sobbing and howling,"
He then describes the Oeil Verrey service held on the evening before Christmas, and a carol in English was so indecent that his father could stand it no longer, and brought the service to a close,
" Such," he says, " was Kirk Braddan in 1832, and such or worse were almost all the parish churches in the Island."
No sooner were the family settled at Braddan, than Douglas was visited by the scourge of cholera, and there were often six or seven funerals a day at Kirk Braddan. They (the children) liked it well, for they had holidays from June to October,
We must read one paragraph (p. 14) showing how our predecessors in Douglas looked at the cholera visitation:
The manner in which the people of Douglas and of the Island generally looked upon cholera. was characteristic of them. They thought it a judgment on them for their sins, but had no idea that it was the punishment of their filthy habits. Any one suggesting this, and proposing as a remedy some sanitary measure, would have been looked upon with horror as an infidel, And so nothing was done. The undredged and unflushed harbour stunk its stinks as before, the high water of the bay continued to be distinguished as a dark line of mingled ashes, filth, rotten fish, and offal of every description; the water lay stagnant in the gutters and streets, and the people died like flies. Discarding science and common sense as things profane, the survivors developed the superstition that has always been a feature in the Manx character; and instead of whitewashing their houses, cleansing their streets, and drinking less ruin, they went to their prayers,
Hugh's early education was received in St, Matthew's Old Schoolroom (still remaining), and his schoolmaster was the Rev John Stowell. (I knew him very well, for he was vicar of Kirk German, Peel, afterwards.) He does not speak highly of this period, He says Greek was never thought of; a knowledge of the three R's was enough, Their Latin exercises were simply passed as correct. There was no Euclid, but the head master was an adept with a formidable ebony ruler and a cane, and both the head master and his brother, W. Stowell, who had a wooden leg, believed firmly in corporal punishment for trivial offences. Hugh Stowell Brown says that William Stowell, the layman, was a good-tempered old fellow, who did not always chide, And when his strokes were felt,
His strokes were fewer than our crimes, And lighter than our guilt.
The Rev John Stowell going to be Vice-Principal of King William's College, his next master was an Englishman, whose name he withholds. This master had a hasty temper. He was a downright savage, There were standup fights between the bigger boys and the master, and on one occasion a boy drew a knife to defend himself. He sat by the fire all the morning, and made them read two chapters of the Bible, verse about, and flung the ruler at any boy who made a mistake. The Bible reading over, he read for his own pleasure the rest of the day. In the afternoon of each day they returned to the Braddan Vicarage, to be taught by their father, who, however, did not have time for much teaching, owing to the funerals he had to attend, Hugh Stowell Brown attributes his defection from the Church of England to the conscientious teaching or non-teaching of Mr William Stowell, who was an Independent or Congregationalist, and avoided, when teaching the Church of England Catechism, all of what he considered the unscriptural and superstitious elements. He speaks very highly of this teacher, and says that a son of his (the Rev Dr W. H, Stowell) was president of the Rotherham Independent College, and afterwards of Cheshunt, and was a man of great learning and preaching power, while a Dr, Stowell became first a Congregational minister, and afterwards filled an important position on that great paper of the North of England "The Newcastle Chronicle." Ellen and Belle Anne Stowell, daughters of Mr William Stowell, are not long dead. 'They wrote several books connected with the Island, notably the " Memoirs of Nelly Brennan," and a history of the country churches,
The period which Hugh Stowell Brown calls "My Best School," we must now refer to. His father's eyes underwent several operations for cataract, and our hero from his eleventh to his sixteenth year spent most of the afternoons reading his stricken parent, He says he often read for four or five hours at a stretch, and it is something to my credit that I never read him to sleep, and never got sleepy myself." Of Latin, he read Virgil, Horace, Ovid, Cicero. History embraced Mosheim, Hume, Gibbon, Robertson, Burnet, etc. As to poetry, Shakespeare, Spenser, Milton, Butler, Dryden, Pope, Thomson, Young, Goldsmith, Scott, Byron, Wordsworth, were all eagerly devoured; and there was general reading t the literature of the day. He read every word in the Penny Encyclopaedia, twelve volumes, then first issued, There can be no doubt but that these five years powerfully influenced the character and destiny of the future great Nonconformist preacher, But I must not anticipate too much.
Although destined by his father for the ministry of the Established Church, Hugh had no desire to be a parson, In 1839 he crossed in the old King Orry to Liverpool. She was a wooden steamer, Manx built, and took ten hours on the passage, The captain and many of the passengers spent the night in drinking " Gill, Quayle, and Kermode (names of some of the captains), though they drank," he says, " never got drunk, for the steamers never came to grief." He relates how, on a rough night, when the vessel was in danger of getting on a sandbank, Captain Quayle shouted down to the stokers, "Work, you rascals, or you'll all be in hell in five minutes," He also says that the Archdeacon of the Island was on board, and that on anxiously asking the captain whether there was any danger, the reply given in consideration of his cloth was " Sir, you are very likely to be in heaven before morning"; on which the venerable gentleman lifted up his eyes and exclaimed " God forbid!"
His first occupation was an assistant to a land surveyor David Macfarlane, then engaged in a survey at Biddulph, Staffordshire, How he got there and stayed at the Black Lion, and next morning worked, is interesting reading. He remained four months at this place, and then after a stay in the Isle of Man from April to November, in " a pottering and uncomfortable way," returned to England to do surveying in the neighbourhood of Shrewsbury, and from there he went to Harborne, near Birmingham, This was in 1840, He then obtained some work on the Ordnance Survey at York, and he says that on the Ordnance Map the grandest Minster in England is laid down from measurements made by his own hands.
The same year, 1840, Hugh Stowell Brown made up his mind to be a mechanical engineer, and got work on the London and Birmingham Railway, and resided at Wolverton, being one of about 500 hands. He says of the 500 he knew only a dozen men who wont, to church or chapel. There was no inducement, he says, to attend church, for most of the neighbouring clergy were gentlemen who followed the hounds, Many of the clergy were hopelessly in debt, and were held in very little esteem, There was not one for ten miles round who could preach so as to interest any mortal creature.
He says Nonconformity was no better at Wolverton ; there was no church, no school, no reading room; but there was a public house, which went by the name of " Hell's Kitchen," and there he spent on the first afternoon 10s for drink, His wages at this period were: for the first year, 4s a week; 5s for the second; and 6s for the third, And of course his father had to supplement his needs (with nine children, and an income of £200). He says the men could do wonderfully true work by hand, for there was scarcely any machinery in those days" I have seen a fitter take two rough pieces of wrought iron, of more than one pound weight each, I have seen him chip them to a surface almost perfectly smooth, and then with files so perfect the surface that when placed one upon the other the lower piece would hang to the upper by the force of molecular attraction, as if glued to it. I never could do anything like that; in fact, I was but an indifferent workman. My best performance was at the hand lathe; there I did pretty well," It was an idle shop. They took their turns to watch for the foreman, and the word " Nix " saw every man at his place, He made some friendships among the workmen, and they went on Sundays to various places of worship. Once at Northampton on Sunday afternoon, they heard a Mormon preacher in the market place. Mickle, a workman, and himself attacked the Mormon, and this, he says, was his first attempt at public speaking, "Strange to say," says Mr Brown, "thirty years afterwards I heard the same Mormon deliver the same sermon (or one very much like it, and on the same text) in the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City,
He then becomes a teetotaller, Rechabite, and Sunday-school teacher, and he was brought into antagonism with the drinking workmen. About this time he meets with a clergyman the Rev Geo. Weight who influenced him for good, and encouraged him to take lessons in Greek, By the light of a candle he wrote on the sides of the firebox with chalk. Next we find him desirous of entering the ministry of the Church of England, In 1843 we find him at home for seven months, reading up with his father. Then he goes to King William's College, and for masters has Dr. Dixon and the Rev. J. G. Cumming, the great geologist. He studied Latin and, Greek, and acquired a little mathematics.
He had been twelve months at the College, when he received intelligence that his father was ill and unfit to take his duties, and we find Hugh going each Saturday evening or each Sunday afternoon to Kirk Braddan to read the lessons, The double journey was eighteen miles, and he usually walked. The crucial event of his life occurred towards the end of 1845. The whole subject of baptism, as practised by the Church of England, was repulsive to him; so was the burial service, confirmation, and the Athanasian Creed. The then Bishop of the Island was a stiff Churchman, whom he could not possibly agree with. He says "Broad Churchism had not then made its appearance, or if it had I knew nothing of it, This system, rivalling and surpassing Ritualism in its plausible ways of making the Church rules and creeds seem anything you please, might have reconciled me to the whole Prayer Book, but I was a stranger to its subtleties; and, as a poor honest fool, thought that creeds ought to be taken in their plain, grammatical, and natural sense." His father approved of his scruples, and Hugh wrote in 1846 to the Bishop and Archdeacon, abandoning the idea of entering the Church. They were furious, and an angry correspondence ensued. In August he left Braddan so depressed as to think of jumping into the dock at Liverpool, The fit of despondency passed off, He went to Crewe, and not being able to get work, went to Manchester; but mechanical work was scarce that year. He applied for a position in the Manchester Town Mission, but was unsuccessful, Meanwhile his convictions were leading him to join the Baptist Church a shopmate called Youlen had already done so. In November he was baptised in Stony Stratford, by a Mr Forster, and preached his first sermon on the evening of the same day. A day or two afterwards he was summoned home to Kirk Braddan. His father was not well, but news had been received that his brother Robert, who had gone to the Bahamas in the spring, had died of yellow fever; while his brother Harry was stricken with gastric fever, When he reached home Harry was dead, and the family were crushed with grief, He stayed at home for a fortnight, and succeeded in raising his father's spirits, and leaving him better than he had been for a long time. He returned to Stratford, and four days afterwards he received a letter stating his father was found dead in the road, of an apoplectic fit, The family were stunned by the disaster, Their means were slight, They had £100 after paying their debts, and the furniture in the house, and no one earning a shilling, T, E, Brown was then only sixteen years old, The parishioners raised nearly £400, and certain Church charities were drawn on; and we find the mother removed to Castletown with two sons and three daughters,
For about half-a-dozen Sunday evenings we find young Hugh preaching in Douglas for the Independents, who then worshipped in Athol-street, where up to recently the first Free Library was located, The chapel was crowded, and he says " I began to feel I could preach," He was just about to complete an agreement with the trustees of a Wesley an Methodist Chapel on the Crescent which had been closed, when he received an invitation to preach in the Liverpool Myrtle-street Baptist Chapel on the following Sunday. Hugh Stowell accepted, He did not even know where the chapel was, Calling upon one of the deacons, he was taken to see the edifice he was to preach in next day. He says: " Now, I, poor creature, had never to my knowledge seen any Baptist Church save that at Stony Stratford, which is as proper an old barn of a place as ever was devoted to Christian worship, Judge, then, of my surprise when, as we reached the top of Hardman-street, my new acquaintance said 'There, sir, that's our chapel,' I think if there had been a steamer that day bound for Douglas I should have returned, even had it been through the fiercest storm that ever swept the Irish Sea, The idea of preaching in such a place was almost too much for me. But when we got the keys from the chapel-keeper, the inner glories of the place appeared to my rustic gaze something overpowering, and when at my good friend's suggestion I walked up the pulpit stairs and looked around me, I was almost stunned,"
Thus he commenced his ministry at Myrtle-street Chapel. He describes very humorously the flights of eloquence he attempted at the first service, and how he was much tamer at the evening one, On the second Sunday he was better still, Four months afterwards the Church agreed to give him a three months' trial, This was in August, 1847, and when the three months had passed, he was asked to become pastor; not, however, without a minority being opposed to him, Thus at the age of 23, with no experience in pastoral work or in preaching, with a library of 25 volumes, he settled in the great commercial city of Liverpool. It is not our place to give statistics as to the progress the church made during Hugh Stowell Brown's ministry, He entered upon his work with 239 members, an(I he raised it to 849 members.
Those who wish to obtain more information about Mr Brown's church work can peruse for themselves the volume I have drawn from, I would, however, like briefly to refer to his Sunday afternoon lectures in the Liverpool Concert Hall, He began these May 12th, 1854, and they made a great sensation at the time, Not the least sensational were the titles of the lectures " Five Shillings and Costs," " Napoleon's Book of Fate," " Cleanliness is next to Godliness," " Taking Care of Number 1," "Stop, Thief !" " A Lion in the Way," "Keep to the Right," etc., etc. I myself remember the interest manifested in these remarkable lectures, and their being published week by week as penny tracts, As many as 4,000 persons would form the audience. Another institution he organised was a bank in connection with the church, Three thousand persons were depositors, and £80,000 was entrusted to the care of the officials.
In 1873 Hugh Stowell Brown realised one of the great desires of his life, by paying a visit to the United States and Canada. He was twelve weeks from home, and travelled all through North America, and his impressions are given in his own inimitable fashion. The Americans, it is needless to say, greatly enjoyed his visit,
Hugh Stowell Brown being a Manxman, we should expect that his countrymen were proud of him, So they were; and his church had in it many Manx people who greatly admired and appreciated his talents, I myself spent eight months in Liverpool in the 'seventies, and frequently went with Manx friends to hear the great preacher, His style was very plain and direct, You could not possibly misunderstand him, and his splendid delivery greatly added to his influence. There was nothing deep or profound in his preaching, but nevertheless he was full of information on all kinds of subjects, and theology in his hands was, a bright and attractive subject. I have heard him lecture on " Proverbs," and can distinctly I remember how spellbound was the audience.
He took a great interest, too, in the inception and continuation of the Manx Society in Liverpool not the present excellent society, but the first one which was started, It was at one of the great Manx meetings that he delivered a remarkable speech, which caused great offence to his countrymen. They did not see it at first they rather enjoyed his good-humoured sallies; but when they saw it in cold type, and read it again and again, they were greatly incensed, And to the eternal shame of Manx people, they never forgave him, I confess I see nothing to offend anyone, It was meant to take his countrymen down a peg or two, but surely it was not an unpardonable offence, The final result has been that a better Manx Society now exists in Liverpool,
Hugh Stowell Brown was twice married, His first wife was Alice Chibnall Sirett, whom he met at Wolverton. She died in 1869, and was the mother of all his children, He afterwards married Miss Phoebe Cain, daughter of Mr Nathaniel Caine, ironfounder, and sister of the late Mr W, S, Caine, M.P., the great temperance philanthropist and reformer; and I think Mr W. S. Caine married one of his daughters.
Hugh Stowell Brown died on the 24th February, 1886, having been pastor of the ore church for 39 years. His name, let us hope, will live for a long time; and it is with this object that I have presumed to give utterance to these disjointed remarks,
S. K. BROADBENT.
Friends and fellow-countrymen,-When natives of Scotland, Ireland, or Wales meet together in England to hold some Caledonian, Hibernian, or Cambrian festival, we generally find that in their speeches they extol to the stars their native land, Whatever can be said truthfully, and almost whatever can be said untruthfully, to its praise, is delivered with great fervour and received with great applause, On the whole face of the earth there is no spot so favoured as that in which these patriotic men were born. In their country the fields are greener than anywhere else; its shores are washed by the clearest of seas; upon it looks down the bluest of blue skies; over it blows the freshest of air; and perhaps it is sometimes added as another recomendation that its people drink the best whisky in the world (laughter and applause) that its men are the bravest of the brave, and its women the fairest of the fair (applause) and, altogether, that it is the bonniest, pleasantest, and jolliest of all lands (applause), And when its praises have been thus sung, an impartial person is apt to ask why those fellows were such fools to leave it (laughter), or whether there may not have been some awkward or ugly reason for their having done so (renewed laughter), Now, I should not like any unpleasant questions to be raised in regard to our having left our native Island, and therefore I think it may be well not to say too much in its favour. Were I to describe it as the paradise which Scotchmen, Irishmen, and Welshmen represent their respective countries to be, I might suggest a suspicion that we were expelled from it for misbehaviour (laughter), and that we had " left our country for our country's good" (laughter), I am not very much given to flattery, and perhaps I may be excused for the remarks I am about to make, but, indeed, I do not think that we can hardly say very much for the Isle of Man. It is a very small place you know, so small that the story goes that a man, travelling on foot, visited in one day every one of the 17 parish churches to post some notices upon their doors (laughter). We cannot boast that the Isle of Man is a " great country" in the sense in which a Cincinnati farmer once boasted to me of America, " Its a great country, sir, and we kill a million of hogs every year " (laughter). Then, again, it is not a rich place, for the land is, for the most part, rather poor and bare, and a very great portion of it is still untilled and unenclosed ; the minerals so far discovered in its rocky strata are not extraordinarily valuable, and but few of the people can be called wealthy, I do not think that in comparison with other parts of them Islands it can be called beautiful or magnificent in scenery, In mountains, glens, rivers, lakes, woods, and all other elements of the picturesque, it really is far surpassed by the countries that surround it, Even its weather is not very much to be praised. Though neither very hot nor very cold, it certainly is very wet, and the recollections of my boyhood are to a great, extent recollections of incessant rain and of harvests rotting in the saturated fields, Then, with the exception of one or two old ruins like Peel Castle, and the other castle that is not a ruin Castle Rushen I do not think there is a building from the Point of Ay ro to the Calf which a man would think it worth his while to cross the street to see (laughter). I have been in very many towns, but meaner, dirtier, nastier towns than Douglas, Castletown, Ramsey, and Peel, I do not remember (laughter and applause, mingled with some disapprobation). Perhaps the few who seem to dissent from that sentiment do not know those four towns as long ago as I knew them (applause). I admit that there is some improvement, and I contend that there is room for more (applause), Then, as to the ancient language of our country, I never had any great acquaint, ante with it, and I must say that it struck rather unpleasantly upon my car; but at any rate it seems to be made no little account of by those who should best know its value that they are allowing it almost entirely to die out. Our natives in England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales in every shire of those countries boast of the great men that have been born within their limits, Our mediocrity, if not something worse, is attested by the fact that very few Manxmen have risen to eminence in any work of life; indeed I can think of only one who might be placed in the first rank of men I mean the late Professor Edward Forbes (applause), and how far he was a Manxman in blood I hardly know, for Forbes is a more northerly name than the Isle of Man, our character has not stood very high in a moral point of view, I am sorry to say, At one time, I suppose, most of the inhabitants of the Island were smugglers (laughter and applause) and with a very remarkable simplicity of mind belonging to Islanders, they used to call it the "smugglers' trade," as if it was quite as right and lawful as any other sort of business in which a man could engage. Then the place was in old times I do not say that it is now a refuge for runaway debtors and other rogues (laughter) and people of desperate fortunes from all parts, who, intermarrying with the natives, did not much improve the breed (renewed laughter). In such evil repute were we that, in an old Scotch rhyme, we were thus held up to execration :
When Sathane tried his arts in vaine
The worship of the Lord to gain,
The yird, said he, and all be thine
Except one place; it xnaun be mine,
Though bare it is and scarce a span,
By mortals called the Isle of Man,
That is a place I cannot spare,
For all my choicest friends are there. (much laughter).
Such used to be our ancestors, and perhaps the less we say about them the better, Perhaps in tracing our pedigree we should some of us get rather awkwardly near to Castle Rushen (laughter). Well, then, further, we cannot say that our Island is a place in which a man can get on very well in the world, No trade, no manufactures, no commerce worth speaking of, no scope for enterprise of any sort; most of the you,:g men must leave it or they will never make money, and consequently most of the young women must leave it too or they will never get married (laughter and applause). Thus I think I have shown that,while it is very pertinent and proper to ask the Welshman who praises his Principality, the Irishman who shouts about his Emerald Isle, and the Scotchman whose heart is always in the Highlands, why they should leave their blessed countries, it is an impertinent and absurd thing to put such a question to a Manxman, None will suspect us of having left our country because it was too hot to hold us; we might say it was too cold, too hard, too poor, and so we came away to try what we could do elsewhere. Don't you think, now, that it is the honestest way of putting it ? (hear, hear), Yet it is a curious place, that Isle of Man, I believe that some geologists suppose it to be the last fragment of an extensive tract of land that once united Ireland to Great Britain and is now covered by the Irish Sea, and that all the rest is gone but the rocks of Mona, which have successfully battled with the waves and still hold their own against all the storms that evermore sweep sullenly around them The name of our native Island is a puzzle to our philologists; it is called the Isle of Man, as if, says one, it were an epitome of the whole world. Perhaps we had better go no further, as going further we might fare worse; so let us be content with this the Isle of Man. You know there is a place called the Isle of Dogs: well, I am thankful I don't belong to that, The Isle of Man is a place in which preeminently men are grown; but, unfortunately, if we were asked to point to the preeminent men we are rather at a loss, I must say. The arms of the Isle of Man, which are its legs, present another mystery which has not perhaps been explained to everybody's satisfaction, The best explanation I have heard is that those legs, formidably armed and spurred, and striking out so vigourously, are meant to signify the Island's independence and self-reliance (applause), defying England, defying Scotland, defying Ireland, and prepared to trample upon them all, Certainly it has in a large measure retained its independence; it has not been absorbed into any county of the three surrounding countries; it is no part of the three kingdoms, but it is a fourth place altogether. The fact is it has its home rule (applause) and I believe it got it and kept it without any fighting, or any rows, or even any spouting about it (applause). We had no Mr Butt, or anybody of that sort; indeed, if we had had such spouters we should not have had home rule as long as the world lasted, but happily we have not any such people to stand in the way, and so we got it and we have kept it, Then its church holds its thorough independence still. It resisted some years ago, as I well remember and my father was one of the fighting men in the cause it resisted being absorbed into the diocese of Carlisle; and I think that if our Liverpool merchants in their greed and meanness, and to save their own pockets, if a diocese of Liverpool is to be formed, again, as they have done before, look covetously upon the poor, modest, almost apostolic patrimony of that church, I hope that church will refuse to listen to the voice of the charmer, charm he never so wisely (applause), For 800 years the Manxmen have assembled at Tynwald Hill to hear the proclamation of their laws in their own language; it is an autonomy worthy of consideration of the high powers and plenipotentiaries that are trying to settle the Eastern question. Although I do not myself put a very high esteem upon the physical charms of our Island, I must, nevertheless, defer in a measure to the public taste, and I think that a large portion of the public by visiting and revisiting it summer after summer in thousands and tens of thousands has very decidedly pronounced its opinion in favour of the place as one in which some health and pleasure may be had, Although the enterprising Isle of Man Steamship Company have placed on the station steamers that, to my positive knowledge and experience, excel almost all the coasting steamers of Great Britain, nevertheless you know the sea is still what it was when we had frequently to spend eleven or twelve hours in crossing, it is often wild and stormy; still such are the attractions of the Island that no chance of bad weather or of seasickness deter the vast multitudes from visiting its ironbound shores, bathing in its crystal waters, and breathing the invigorating air that blows upon its hills. My recollections of the Island goes back further, perhaps, than some people would like to confess; they go back far more than forty years. I distinctly remember the tolling of the bell of St. Matthew's, in Douglas market-place on the occasion of the death of George IV, ; I can remember the time when there was no Tower of Refuge on Conister Rock in Douglas Bay, and I witnessed the wreck of a steamer on that rock before the tower was built. There were no water works, but water was sold by the bucket from carts in the street; and we had no gasworks, but we had lamps that gave no light, and never were intended to give any light. They glimmered like glowworms about 200 yards apart, and a man had to make his way like a mariner at sea by going from one to the next, Most of you know the streets in the old part of Douglas. The house in which I was born stands in one of the narrowest of them, but it is rather an aristocratic street, as its name, New Bond-street, implied (laughter), Some of the best society in the town lived in that quarter; respectable and proud old people who were carried to church in sedan chairs and turned up their noses at the shoddy people who lived in such upstart places as Athol-street and Finch-road. And I have reason to believe, not only from personal recollection, but from the testimony of people older than myself I daresay I could gather some such testimony from a few of my seniors who are present this evening that in those times, when we had very little connection with England, and the place was altogether unknown as a resort for visitors, there was in the dingy old houses of those quiet, narrow, dark, and dirty streets, a class of society composed of old Manx families and a few English, Scotch, and Irish emigrants, which was as thoroughly intellectual and refined as could be found now in the most elegant residences that of late years have sprung into existence, If it was not invidious I could mention the names names familiar to me in my boyhood, names of persons whom it would certainly be difficult to equal for intelligence and refinement amongst the inhabitants of Douglas or any other part of the Isle of Man at the present day, With all the disadvantages of the place, lads had a jolly life in Douglas, for the schoolmasters mine, at any rate used to allow us to play truant as much as we pleased, and were rather gratified at not having the trouble of teaching us, Indeed their chief exertion was the boxing us with their fists on our ears, and breaking wooden rulers on our heads, so that truant playing was a temptation that very few of us could resist. And what was to be expected from a generation of young rascals, whose fathers and grandfathers were smugglers? It was in the blood (laughter), and I am afraid it is in the blood still, Well, we were punished if we went to school, and we were no worse punished if we stayed away. So we went to the shore or to the harbour and. fished at the end of the pier, and we went amongst the creeks at the Head to bathe We very frequently made no bones of loosing a painter and stealing a boat for a day or so, that we might go out to sea and scull and fish, and so on, A dreadful way to be brought up, some people might think, I daresay it was very wild, very independent, very dangerous, and very undisciplined; but, after all, perhaps it made men of us, just as much as any system of compulsory attendance and competitive examinations in schools is likely to make men of the poor pedagogue-ridden wretches of these times (applause),
For a playground we had not a few square yards of land either flagged over or with puddles in the middle, or part of it covered, lest the poor boys should get wet, and furnished with some fantastic sticks called a gymnasium our playground consisted of the whole town, and of the country round about, and the shore, and the rocks, and the sea, as far as we liked to go. For a gymnasium we had a grand gymnasium in the masts, and spars, and rigging of the vessels in the harbour. Well, I can call to remembrance some very curious things, which I suppose have passed away. My father was the vicar of Kirk Braddan They call it Braddan now, and that is considered genteel, as if the kirk had gone (laughter), Dissenter as I am, I am too much of a churchman to leave out the kirk. When I am speaking of the parish, I prefer the old style Kirk Onchan, Kirk Braddan, and so on, Well, in the churchyard of Kirk Braddan, every Sunday morning, as we came out of church, there stood the parish sumner on a tombstone, announcing, first in Manx and then in English, all the sales of cattle, corn, and household furniture which were to take place in the parish during the week, My father tried to put the practice clown, but utterly failed in the attempt, and incurred a great deal of popular indignation. There was no Tithe Commutation Acts in those days; the tithes were paid in kind, and I have often gone with our servant man and marked the tenth stock in the field, He was not much of a scholar, and was liable to make mistakes in counting as high as ten, and I used to go and mark the stooks, and then fork them into the cart, amidst the murmurs and the curses of the dissatisfied farmers. For my countrymen I have certainly one thing to say and I said something equivalent to it in a letter I sent a year or two ago to a Manx gathering held in Manchester and that is that they are for the most part poor, and many of them are compelled to leave the Island in search of employment, Well, I do not hesitate to say that was my case that if I did not leave my country for my country's good, I left it for my own, and Liverpool is, of course, the place to which most of such emigrants come, I have been in Liverpool a long time, and I do not think I can speak otherwise than truthfully when I say that I have. been rather extensively known here that, at any rate, Manxmen who were largely acquainted with my father's family could have no difficulty in finding me, and ministers are discovered somehow by all. sorts of people in needy circumstances, Now, I am sure in 30 years I have not had at my door as many Manx people seeking relief, while people of other countries have swarmed, not that there was any good reason for expecting much, but they have come the Scotch in dozens, the English in scores, the Welsh in hundreds, and the Irish in thousands (laughter and applause), I say literally in thousands, for four or five Irish beggars in a week is a very low average, I think if the three legs symbolise independence and self-reliance, there is in the fact I have just mentioned a justification of that symbol. In the Island there are poor folk, very independent folk too, but still a little help unasked by them would be very welcome; and when I was asked to take part in this meeting, I said I hoped that we should turn the occasion to some sensible and practical account, and meet not merely to enjoy ourselves in partaking of the refreshments provided, and in listening to the music and songs, but also to think kindly of our poor suffering friends in our Island home, and I hope this design will be carried out by the committee that has so well arranged the affairs of this festive occasion. I hope there will be something handsome to spare for some of our poor folk in the Isle of Man, and whatever is done I think I may pledge myself will be made known through the newspapers, so that there will be no suspicion of any hole and corner work about the matter. And should we be asked why we have thus met why, instead of leaving undisturbed our entire absorption into the nationality of the land in which we live, we should set ourselves up as distinct from our neighbours, I think we shall have an answer to give, which no one can severely criticise, and we can say that one object of our help, though on a humble scale, to those in whom it is only natural that we should feel a special interest (loud applause).