[from Ellan Vannin vol 1 #2 p63/64 June 1924]



(Master of St. Catherine’s College, Cambridge.)

Prince Lucien was greatly interested in the Manx Language, his copy of the Manx Bible, being the 1775 Quarto Edition, of which only fifty copies were printed, is now in the Library of the Manx Museum.—Ed. "E.V."]

THERE are few now alive who can remember the visit of Prince Lucien Bonaparte to the Isle of Man, in the "50’s" of last century. Yet, like. the visit of Mr. Gladstone, to study Home Rule, and of Mr. Keble, to trace the memories of Bishop Wilson, it would be a pity if no record of those visits remained.

Prince Lucien was a nephew of the Great Napoleon, and cousin of Napoleon III. He was no politician, but a student of Chemistry and Philology. It was the latter study that brought him one summer day to Braddan Vicarage, seeking the aid of my father, to whom he had been directed as learned in the Manx tongue. The result was a friendship which lasted as long as my father lived, and which I was myself destined to enjoy until I attended, at the Prince’s request, his funeral in Kensal Green Cemetery. He was keenly interested in all the four Keltic languages, and erected at his own expense the monument to Dolly Pentreeth (the last of those who spoke the Cornish language), near Penzance. But he had a special interest :in the Manx dialect, often speaking of its remarkable " initial changes." (e.g., Yn Chiarn, O Hiarn, my Hiarn). He studied it with my father, my grandmother at Snugborough, and Mr. Curphey, Vicar of Jurby. It was my privilege to continue the study with him when I lived in London, and together we wrote, phonetically, the first few Chapters of St. Matthew.

He spoke little of his imperial experiences, and always shrank from his annual visit to the Empress Eugene, as her talk was " all politic, all politic." His devotion to our Great Queen was unbounded, and a letter from her was so prized that he ordered it to be placed in his left breast pocket when buried. He told me that he was born on board an English Man-o’-War, during the French war. He died during a visit to Italy.

[see also Manx Yarns Chap 4 p111 for another anecdote]


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