[from Ellan Vannin vol 1 #1 p26/29 Dec 1923]


By the REV. H. S. TAGGART.

AMONG the names that will he handed down from one generation of Manxmen to another, with reverence and gratitude, as long as time shall last, the names of Thomas Wilson and Thomas Edward Brown will stand conspicuous. The one as the name of an Englishman who, having been once called to rule over the Church in Man, retained that office eight and fifty years, giving his whole heart to the land of his adoption, setting a fine example to his flock, ministering with diligence to the minds and souls and bodies of his people, by whom he was beloved, rejecting all offers of preferment, because he regarded the Diocese of Man as the portion of the vineyard that had been allotted to his care. The other as that of a Manxman, born in Douglas, who knew and loved the Island and its people as few have done, whose brilliant gifts of mind and spirit made it possible for him to think and write of his people in lines that will live as long as Manxmen love their homeland and their old traditions. The names of these two men, with all that has gathered round them or may yet be gathered, contribute largely to our inheritance as Manxmen, and if there be any knowledge we possess as individuals that can add to this common inheritance, it is clearly our duty that we should make it known.

It is my privilege to be in possession of a number of letters, hitherto unpublished, written by T. E. Brown to my father, my mother and myself. From some of these I propose taking such extracts as will serve to illustrate the mind and character of the man, adding only such information as may be necessary to make the meaning and the references clear. I have also a copy of an old bazaar guide book, in the drawing up of which I collaborated with T. E. Brown, he being the writer of the lines by which the various stalls were described. There are a few who may remember them, but to the majority they are as yet unknown.

It was on the eve of a bazaar in 1893 that the question of the opener arose and, T. E. Brown being one of the most valued helpers, his advice was sought and given as follows :—" As regards Mr. ——-, I certainly am most unwilling to ask him to do what I know will be sheer misery to him. However, as you seem in a difficulty, I will ask, but not press. I don’t at all think he will consent. Don’t count on him, therefore, but rather face the question of opening the bazaar on the second day yourself. That is undoubtedly the right solution. For where could you get a more popular functionary ? Also, observe the spirit in which your people would be sure to appreciate your action and recognize its appropriateness. I think I can hear them— " ‘ An’ who’s goin to open the Bazaar the sacon day? Pazon Target.’ Aw, the sakes !‘ Aye, woman, and wheer’s there a bathar man? or who’s gorragreater right to do the lek till our own Veckar ?‘ Further efforts were being made in 1895 for the New Church of S. Matthew, and the help of T. E. Brown was again sought and as readily given, in the form of a pamphlet, setting forth the needs and demands of the situation, with an appeal for assistance. "Are ye theer ?" he writes, "Is it you that’s in ? My gough ! I send you the Pamphlick. I think it contains the essentials. So theer ye are. No doubt it is very inadequate, certainly inadequate to express all I feel. But I hope the Committee (my fellow workers) will overlook all imperfections. Now I’m off to Glen Aldhyn." A further reference to the pamphlet was contained in the postscript of a later letter. "I think my signature would be better without any titles. This, not at all from false modesty, but simply because I identify myself with you all, not as Late Fellow of Oriel,’ etc., but as plain T. E. Brown. To me that looks heartier and even more effective."

We have seen T. E. Brown advising re the opening of a bazaar, now we see him face to face with the horror of opening one himself. He had been asked by my father to do this, and he replied as follows : " You seem the man born to move me from all my principles. Here am I, after a long and honourable life, going to open a Bazaar !" In the winter of 1895 my father had a long and serious illness, and being without a curate, it was no easy matter for him to arrange for the services of the Church. Then it was that T. E. Brown showed himself the good Samaritan he was and a true friend in need. " I am distressed to hear "he writes " that you have been so unwell. You must take care of yourself. Just consider how much depends upon you, and don’t be afraid to lay by for a while. By all means command my services. I have some slight trouble of the same nature as that from which you are ailing. But nothing depends on me, and I can well stand by in such a case. And this is, I fear, a case of that kind. Now, I mean this most solemnly, and be sure ye shout directly. It would make me seriously unhappy, if you thought my offer of assistance nothing but fine words. Faith! that’s not the surt of man I am at all." So his valuable help was sought and given, and for many weeks, he came down from Ramsey, "like a sunbeam " my mother used to say, "as if it was his greatest pleasure," asking for more work to do. "Try and invent some additional work for me on Sunday," he writes I’m fit enough for it ‘—-as oul’ Anthony Lewthwaite said to the Devil, Thou’re fit enough for it ‘—‘ Lay your head well to the wind,’ as Dickens’ old captain said, and I’ll look you up in the (Sunday) morning."

There were other occasions when T. E. Brown had to visit Douglas, as the following letter to my mother shows:

After a long beating about the bush, I have settled that my case is one for the dentist. Accordingly, Telletio Volente (or nolente), I shall come to Douglas tomorrow. I must bring your wrap which I have all but appropriated, you’ll be thinking. It is difficult to say when I shall call, but some time in the afternoon, I fancy, I can be heard of at Mr. Royston’s." Once only, I believe, was T. E. Brown unable to help my father when his assistance was sought, and the reason was as follows : —" It is impossible for me to comply with your request. When in England I caught a bad cold, which was aggravated by a twelve hours’ passage on the beloved old Ellan Vannin. Consequently, I am obliged to shut myself up for the winter and undertake no public duty till April. Tarble, is’nt it ? I am a positive wreck. April ! April ! Shall I ever see April, hear the cuckoos and pluck the bog-beans in the Curragh ? The ability to assist once more returned, and T. E. Brown was quite prepared to avail himself of it. " You’re hard on me though ! "he writes, "two sarmuns the same Sunday. Well, all right, only mom ye ! they’ll hey to be middlin shart—dy’e hear ? —morning ten minutes, evening fifteen, that’ll be aburr’it. I really am a great deal better, I’m thankful to say, and I have been using my newly gained strength pretty freely, why should I not use it for dear old St. Matthew’s? Faix ! I will; aye, man, aye. Laxey, with Glen Roy, has been my great delight lately. When you have a chance treat yourself to a Glen Roy ramble. It would be a great happiness to me to accompany you. The fact is you don’t get half enough steeping and soaking in Nature’s own baths. Dullish is all very well, but give me air baths, luft-bäder, far up among the hills."

[part 2 followed in Vol1 #2 pp67/71]

IT was about the month of July, 1897, when we were making final preparations for another bazaar, that T. E. Brown was asked to help by writing some verses for the guide book. This was his reply to my father : —" Kindly send me hints as to subject matter, etc., and I will do what I can. Would you mind deputing your paper of instructions to a good amanuensis (a gentle criticism of my father’s writing). Our attempts at commumcation by letter are not unlike the conversational efforts of the dumb people or deaf ditto. I suppose I may put a lot of Manx (Anglo-Manx) into the guide. You know that is my line; the occasion is Manx, your people are mainly Manx, and the back-endish date of the gathering throws us into Manx conditions."

The last letter I possess, dated September, 1897, was written to myself, and contains the matter for the guidebook. I may say that the design of the Bazaar was a Castle, and the stalls were to take the names of the various parts of a castle. Thus there were to be State rooms, Guard room, etc. Accordingly, T. E. Brown wrote for the Blue room, as follows

Now, don’t look blue, albeit the room is blue;
‘Tis guiltless of the rack, the boot," the screw,
One torture we confess, but that’s so nice;
Just stop a bit, and take a friend’s advice."

With the following lines he introduced the Guard Room :

" Turn out the Guard !" The Guard! What Guard ?
Is it Peel you’ve got, and the fella that dar’d
The big dog yandher, that tuk him and shuck him,
And ragged him, and tore him, and mauled him, and bruck him
In two, laak a steck across your knee ?
Stuff and nonsense and fiddle-de-dee!
And oul’ wives’ yarns. But times is changed—
See the beautiful arranged !
See the daycent people ! Fighting ?
No, but puffickly delightin,
Crowdin, shovin, buyin, sellin,
Actin, drinkin, tastin, sinellin,—
You’ll know the quality, my sonny—
Treminjis libbarl wiss theer money.
So that’s the deffar, to brew or bake,
That’s the deffar, and no mistake."

These were his lines on the Great Hall : —"

In the Great Hall
High Festival
Is heard no more,
The knights and barons bold
Are trodden into mould;
The gems they wore,
The shields they bore,
Are dust : the fiery hearts are cold.
Yet have hearts fire
And men aspire
To worthy deeds,
And blazon of renown,
To wear the civic crown.
Race, race succeeds,
Accepts the meeds,
And hands the hard-won trophy down."

Then came The Gallery, with the following lines : —

" Ancestral portraits, excellent!
Holbeins, and Vandykes, Lelys, Knellers,
And all the other painter fellows
Each venerable gent.
And lady praepotent;
That long-legged stiff,
Old hippogriff,
That aged belle,
Be-patched , be-wigged—ah well!
But how about onese darling creatures,
Who needs no paint to illustrate their features.
The living loves whom Nature paints,
Absolved from Art’s restraints,
And bids them flutter fair and free,
Not frames and hangs them in a gallery ?

Coming to The Ladies’ Bower we read : —

When civil dudgeon first grew high,
And man fell out, they knew not why."—[Hudibras.]
Still at some blessed hour,
Secure of tenderness and peace,
Of anger’s pause, and care’s release
They sought the Ladies’ Bower.’
So grace, refinement, kept the home
Stored up for happier years to come."

Next comes The Ballroom, with a little dig at modern tastes : —

" Conranto, Saiabands, Gavot,
Gigue, Cinq-pace, Minuet—what not?
Have had their days, and now
We care for nothing but a jolly row.
Though Harry Wood could play the lot,
Our Jeunesse dorée call them "rot."

There were some departments of the Bazaar to which no special title could be assigned—e.g., The Flower and Fruit Stall, to which patrons were thus invited:—

" Within these towers
Buy fruits and flowers—
The prettiest titillation
Your purse can woo—
Aw do! aw do!
And have a mixed sensation."

There was, of course, a Refreshment Stall; and who could have resisted an invitation such as this : —

Is it refreshments you’re wantin’ at all?
Well, then, here’ s the very stall.
Come in and sit down ! The seats is free,
The same as St. Matthew’s.
Now, what will it he?

To Mr. Carr the tobacconist, who had charge of the Tobacco Stall, the following lines were addressed : —

"Masthar Carr ! Masthar Carr!
The happy ye are! Aw well, I declar,
And you’re sellin’ thomhar—
—gar the bess, and the par—
—tial I was to the lek, and a- jar,
Allis full at me thar !
But a-var—
—st ! wud I dar’ ?
And at a Bazaar? [T
Har! Har!
Hush ! Hush ! Masthar Carr

The name of the lady who presided at the Fish Pond was Miss Ind, and so we read : —

" Treasures of Ind
Are here ; but chance is like wind—
Ghanging : Natherless she may be kind,
She must, I’ll try the fickle dame,
No blanks, all prizes ; that’ s the game.

Miss Lane, who was a great swimmer, and performed the most wonderful feats in the water, was also an excellent cook, and consented to utilize her skill in making dough-nuts for the benefit of the Bazaar. To this T. E. Brown made the following allusion:—

" In the water Miss Lane
is the Queens of the Naiads, that’s plain
But out of the water (hors d’eau),
Of course, she manipulates dough— Don’t-yer-know?
And a bad English rhyme, though in French precisely
The opposite, and does very nicely.

Little did we dream, when T. E. Brown was writing for us these merry rhymes, that we were so soon to lose him. The end came during the Bazaar itself, when his beautiful lines on Old and New St. Matthew’s were being read for the first time in this guide book. They were written when the Old Church was still standing and the New Church approached completion, and were, I believe, the last he wrote, and with them I can appropriately close :


OUR Mother sits on Douglas Quay,
And dreams, and passes patiently;
The midnight hour will soon be fled.
She has no doubts she has no fears,
Her thoughts are of departed years,
Her dreams are with the dead.
Strke gently, bell,
So gently, bell
She dreams, and dreams, and all is well.

For she is happy as she dies,
The Past is present to her eyes.
The dearly loved who went before,
She sees them in the heavenly land,
She hears them chant, a ransomed band,
Safe, safe upon the shore.
Strike gently, bell,
So gently, bell;
She dreams, and dreams, and all is well.

Who comes, and gathers to her side,
Fair, young, and clothed like a bride?
Her daughter, full of love and hope,
Revealed to her the Church that traces
Her mansions in the Heavenly places,
Revealed the further scope.
Strike gently, bell,
So gently, bell ;
She dreams, and dreams, and all is well.

And to that aged mother sweet
She whispers lowly, as is meek,
"Behold, in these we copy those’.
God’s House in Heaven we adumbrate
On earth, its beauty and its state,
As of a perfect rose."
Strike gently, bell,
So gently, bell;
She dreams, and dreams, and all is well.

" And, polishing our souls, we make them
God’s mirrors, and we humbly take them
To Him in prayer, and. one by one,
They body forth, as mern'ry brings
Assurance, bright immortal things
That are beyond the Sun."
Strike gently, bell,
So gently, bell;
She dreams, and dreams, and all is well.

J.M. Nicholson ? Douglas harbour ?


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