[From The Manxman, #6 1912]
"I would have men of such constancy put to sea that their business might be everything and their intent everywhere, for that's it that always makes a good voyage of nothing." -Twelfth Night.
It was only by the merest chance that I happened to spy a copy of the "Manxman" on the corner bookstall, as I made my way to the tea-shop this evening. How casually do our keenest pleasures come upon us! As you say, Old 'Un, we are indeed playthings of Fate. Fresh as I am from a happy and all too brief fortnight spent in the mountains behind Ramsey, I was able to toil with you and laugh with you with that freshness of experience and keenness of delight that almost amounts to pain. You know, don't you? Well, I do not need to ask. The almost oppressive weight of loveliness, the delirium of pleasure nearly past bearing alone, that one longs to throw out-no matter how; to relieve the bursting heart in prose or verse or sketch; to sound forth the pent-up feelings in unrestricted song: you must know these things. And you know also, perhaps, the agony of anxiety to catch every detail of the fair scene, the agony that comes of the consciousness of a treacherous memory, from which one fears so much of the beauty may fade. Perhaps such is not your experience. Happy you, if like those irrepressible birds that you and I have heard and love, you can live fully and freely in the enjoyment of the glorious present, with no regrets for the past and no qualms for the future.
And that you should have chosen Peel Road for your rhapsody ! Old man, I don't know who you are or what you are, but my heart goes out to you. Peel Road! The words have all the soul-stirring qualities of inspired music. They waken in me all beauty and all longing. They are "full of hope and yet of heartbreak." .
In my earliest recollections Peel Road and the Isle of Man are interchangable terms. South, West and North of a circle five miles out of Douglas, the Isle existed as a misty dream, much as the distant coast appears from the steamer's deck as it approaches Douglas.
Of Castletown and Port Erin and Ramsey I spoke familiarly, but as one might talk of St. Petersburg or Shanghai or Capetown, with no thought of ever visiting them.' Of the wonderful scenery which is still fresh and vivid in my experience, I knew nothing and cared less. Peel Road was a world in itself. There my grandfather had made to himself a dwelling house, and there, from the tender age of ten months, Sunimer after Summer, I made my pilgrimage. I cannot lay claim, as you can, Old 'Un, to have travelled the Fairy Way thirty-three years ago, having still a handful of years to go before I reach that 'vantage 'point, but in essence it must be the same.
As I followed you on your lonely way, I must needs stop and peep over the wicket-gate into "Fargher's Gardens." Of course they don't go by that name now, but to me they will never bear any other. The owners had rooms in my grandfather's house, and so, with a kind of "freeman" air we youngsters :would saunter through the gate and walk sedately. down the tree-darkened path. But once beyond the Argus eyes that guarded the entrance, oh, then - Hist though, Farghers still exist, and extradition orders are not obsolete.
Did; you notice the garden? "It, is just beyond the old "Brown Bobby:"', Beh´nd that' relic of old "daycency" there "was a glorious brew for Roly-poly. I seem to see a certain sedate and dignified lady bundling the lanky angular limbs of fifteen down a primrose bank and shrieking with delight to other hatless and bootless bales of femininity all converging in dangerously vanishing lines to a point on the river brink. Enough, the past is past. But the primroses are still there, I believe.
The same impudent, lovable, wide open primroses, which, placed in the fanlight on MayEve, discomfited and put to flights the mischievously-inclined hosts of the Good People. You see, old friend, whom I have never seen, you have got me wound up. How I could talk by the hour to one who loves Peel Road and that mystery stream of childhood, at Pulrose. But I must wait, however, impatiently, for another of those delightful discursions from the pen of The Old 'Un.
81, Sandhurst Street, Aigburth, Liverpool.