[Continuation of Chapter 4 of Manx Yarns]
While narrating stories of the Manx clergy, it may not be out of place to perform the same office for their rivals, the country local preachers. These form no unimportant part of the community, for there is undoubtedly a considerable predominance of Nonconformity in the Island, and the Nonconformist denominations always provide every opportunity and encouragement for the " local brethren," and it is, of course, a truism that in the chapels the sermon is generally considered the principal part of the service. There is a great deal of native eloquence of one sort or another among the Manx, and perhaps the lesser Manx novelist, the Rev. John Quine, was not far wrong when he referred to the " plan-moar " as a great temptation to many men to prefer chapel to church. It is certainly a fact that the Isle of Man contains more local preachers in proportion to its population than any other part of the kingdom. The " plan " is really a valuable educative force, and many a public man of the Island first attained fluency of speech and quickness of resource by his early efforts in the rostrums of the country chapels. Local preachers may perhaps be divided into two schools, the old school and the young school, and it is with the old school that most of my yarns deal. The older local preachers were an interesting body of menquaint in action and expression, shrewd enough in most cases, frequently uneducated, and often very bigotedthough the younger generation have scarcely improved upon them in that last respect. I once heard a smart conundrum that has considerable point : " Why is a local preacher like a weather cock ?Because he looks down upon the Church . " He does indeed . I remember on one occasion; that the Church childrens treat in Peel fell on a wet day, while that in connection with the Wesleyan Sunday-school was favoured with gloriously fine weather. And this was the explanation given a day or two after by a "local " to his friend : " You see, Tommy, the Lord knows His own."
Perhaps the most famous of the old Manx local preachers was William Cowley, otherwise known as " Iliam-e-Close, so called after his farm. He was a man of wonderfully ready wit, and many stories are told of him. On one occasion an English; visitor, who knew Illiam, and took an interest; in him took him to task for his; preaching, and asked him what new thing there was he could tell anyone ? " If it was me, now," he remarked, " there might be some sense in it. I have travelled a good deal, and could tell people something they didnt know before." Illiam's reply was characteristic. " Humph! The divel went furder than ever ye did, wandherin' to and fro on the face of the earth, and it was niawthin but lies he was tellin' when he came back!"
The old Manxman, like the Scotchman, religiously keeps the Sabbath, though I will not go sot far as to finish the comparison. Lord Loch, when Governor of this Isle, once went to a farmer to talk over some business; on a Sunday. The only advice or information he could extract from the farmer was : "Sunday, your Excellency ; Sunday, your Excellency."
Manxmen generally are proud of the fact that John Wesley himself once visited the Island, and wrote favorably of its people in his famous journal. The following story concerning his visit was sent me by a Manx woman :
" When John Wesley came to the Island he stayed at her great grandfathers house, preached in the field below the home, and, at leaving, put his hand on the head of one of the children, her grandfather, in fact, saying to the boy: What are you going to be when you are a man ?The boy answered : A preacher ; for theres always a good dinner when the preachers are here."
This was evidently the experience or a local preacher some time ago, much the the detriment of his oratorial powers. In the afternoon, after partaking of dinner at the house of a hospitable worshipper, he preached his sermon, but endeavoured vainly to fix the attention of his congregation. Whether from the dulness of his discourse, or the enervating influence of the hot afternoon, they all nodded their heads drowsily, and at last the preacher exclaimed, in a tone of desperate remonstrance, " Bless me, how can you expect me to preach through three basins of broth and a big plate of pudding ?"
In a morning service, however, a congregation need not fear of a preachers dinner interfering with his sermon the danger is rather that his sermon will interfere with their dinners. I remember hearing a worshipper describe a sermon thus : " It was good enough, but it clean spoilt a goose worth two of it." On one occasion, a Wesleyan minister of prolix eloquence, stationed in a Manx circuit, was preaching his farewell sermon, and all the "lights" of the circuit were present to hear what he should say. He spoke from the parable of the net cast into the sea, which included all kind of fish in its haul. The sermon was eloquent, but, above all, it was comprehensive. He preached for an hour, and still went on. The people in the chapel heard the bells of the church announce that that more fortunate congregation were released, and thought longingly of their dinners but dinner seemed the thought furthest away from the preacher mind. His congregation began to withdraw, but still he went an, till he had preached the whole of them out of the chapel.
A local preacher once, describing the abundance of the Gospel Feast, went direct to the repertoire of figures of speech familiar to himself and his hearers, and used the terms : "Mountains of thick porridge, and rivers of butter milk."
Porridge and buttermilk, be it observed, is a diet in great favour among Manx people, as is also " praase aa keddyn " (potatoes and herring), and, of a Sunday; broth and pudding I heard recently of a prominent but simple-lived insular politician, who, in explaining to an audience the difference between a simple opinion, which he would be quite ready to sacrifice in deference to another persons wish, and a principle which he would feel himself bound to maintain with all his energy, gave as an example of an opinion his opinion that " there was nothing like a good basin of porridge three or four times a day to grow strong upon." In this connection, there is a story of Prince Lucian Bonaparte, of the family of the great Emperor, and a Celtic scholar and numismatist, who once came to the Island on a visit of research. One day he and several clerical gentlemen, all interested in the same hobby, went to explore the coinage and other treasures of a farmer in the parish of Jurby. When they arrived at the farmhouse they were famished, and the family were having porridge and milk for dimmer. It was a new dish to the Prince, who desired to partake thereof. He asked to be shown how to eat it. The elder of the clergy was requested to demonstrate, when he bashfully replied : " Aw, not before the Prince at all ; aw, not before the Prince at all." One of the younger men, with a fearful appetite, volunteered, and cleaned the platter clean. Some more porridge was cooked, and the Prince ate and enjoyed the meal thoroughly.
"With this brief digestion," as a "local" is reported to have once said , I will continue my stories of local preachers. At a Methodist chapel in " the North," a local preacher was dividing his discourse under heads, and was rather deliberate and slow about it. A rival preacher, who was in the congregation, rather critical and anxious to appear smart, called out : "Give us meal, man. ! Give us meat ! !"
The preacher paused, eyed his man, and quietly rejoined : " Take thy time, man! take thy time! Houl on till Ive done the carvin." [see Hall Caine's Account]
Another local preacher, a celebrity in his way, was speaking about Samsons slaying the Philistines with the jaw-bone of an ass. The preacher was a man of shrewd common sense, and had a peculiar way of explaining scriptural difficulties. He observed that considering other feats of Samson., the jaw-bone of an ass was too small a weapon ; the passage must be a mistranslation. He, had no doubt that Samson took up the ass by the two hind leg and swung him right and left, using the head like the blade of a hatchet, or the head of a sledge-hammer.
An old woman was lamenting that Neddy Caine-y-Muck ( Caine the pig) had stolen her fowls and " wudn' get no punishment, nither in this worl' nor in the nex' !"
"Aw, youre mistook ; ill be the wuss for himself !" said a local pracher, to console her.
" No, no! not a bit the wuss! not by your own showin. Hell get nothin' in this worl', because he wasn seen takin them ; and for the nex' worl' , by all accounts, hell get forgiveness. Issn that what youre prachin' ? Well, what wuss will it be for himself ? Rubbidge!"
One day, during the passage from Douglas to Ramsey in the steamer, an old farmer and a learned scholar, having a friendly chat, got into a hot argument on the abstruse subject of the transmigration of souls. The Manxman, on getting the worst of the argument, naively finished the dispute thus : " Well, masthar, maybe so, maybe so ; still an for all, youll get have Im not sayin youre right or youre wrong, but Im thinkin a donkey must have died when thou wass born !"
The Isle of Man, like many other places, contains some good stories relating to certain texts and their peculiar significance on certain occasions.
A few years back, an ambitious Wesleyan local preacher made his public debut at a country chapel, where old Mr Bridson, Ballavarrane, attended. The " local brother" went through his preliminaries very creditably and gave out his text., with emphasis, " What think ye of Christ." After a few minutes had gone., his eloquence came to a standstill, and he stuck fast., blew his nose several times, and kept repeating the text. At last Mr Bridson stood up in his pew, and said : " We think highly of Christ, but we wonder what Christ will think of you, as a preacher of the Gospel, and a seller of grog." At this the preacher collapsed and never made a second attempt at preaching.
Another form of the same story that: that when the preacher stuck, and repeated his text, " What think ye of Christ ? one of the congregation remarked, " We were waitin to see what thou were thinkin of him, bhoy."
That reminds me of the old rhyme :
" We hear in language highly spiced
That Crowe does not believe in Christ;
But what we really want to know
Is whether Christ believes in Crowe."
A local preacher in Laxey, who was of very diminutive stature and whose head could scarcely be seen above the pulpit, on one occasion nearly convulsed his hearers by flourishing his arms, and giving out the text : " It is I, be not afraid."
Some years ago, a very old local preacher wars conducting service at a country chapel in the vicinity of Castletown, and gave out the text : "A little while, and ye will see Me, and again a, little while, and ye will not see Me," etc. During the repetition of the latter sentence, the stool on which he was standing collapsed, and he disappeared from view, amidst the titters of the congregation.
A certain " local " is reported, while advocating charity and tolerance among all denominations, to have observed that "the fact is, brethren, so long as a mans heart is in the right place, it doesnt matter what sex he belongs to!" Of course, he had committed the vulgar error of pronouncing " sect" as " sex."
Some years ago, in Cardle Voar Chapel, Maughold, a rising young " local" was having a "good time" in delivering one of his first sermons. He was holding forth eloquently, and inwardly congratulating himself on the success of his efforts. His discourse was upon St. Johns Vision in the Isle of Patmos, and he waxed eloquent in his description of the streets of gold and the pearly gates and sapphire throne. Immediately in front of him sat one of the stewards of the chapel, apparently fast asleep. The adjoining field on one side of the chapel was level with the chapel window sill. During the course of the sermon, a herd of swine strayed up to the chapel window, attracted by the preachers voice. At this juncture, up started the sleeping man, and, waving his arms, windmill fashion, ejaculated : " Hudjags, pigs ; Hudjags, pigs !" and rushed to the window. The preacher came to an abrupt stop, and, in suppressed laughter, dismissed the congregation. "Hudjags " is a word used by farmers to send pigs away.
"Chalsee-Killey," a harmless, half-witted man, immortalised in Tom Browns verses, had a penchant for preaching, and used to hold forth on his two only subjects, teetotalism and no-Popery, whenever he could gather a crowd. On one occasion, he finished thus : " If every man in the world was one man, what a big, big man he would be! If every stone in the world was one stone, what a hg, big stone it would be ! If all the water in the world was one dub (pool), what a big, big dub it would be! And if the big, big man took up the big, big stone, and: threw it into the big, big dub, my gracious, what a, splash ! ! Now, then, well purceed to the collection."
On another occasion, Chalse walked around a brewery in the South of the Island for a whole day, protesting against the liquor traffic, and blowing a horn. The walls did not fall down, like those of Jericho, but, strange to say, the brewery took fire next day, and was burnt to the ground.
Tom Brown, in one of his early letters, gives an example of a local preachers eloquence. In the course of a very crude sermon, reference was made to that pathetic passage:
"Demas hath forsaken me. " The preacher paused, and then apostrophized Demas thus : "Aw, Demas! Demas! what for did you do yhandhar ?
A Maughold man, on his way home, rather the worse for liquor, was passing Ballajora Chapel, and as a revival was going on inside., he paused, and went to the door . A woman was giving her experience, testifying that " the devil was playing hard " with her. The man at the door called out : " Keep your eye on him! Hes playin hard with meself, too!"
A story with a somewhat similar moral is told concerning the late Mr James Cowin, a prominent temperance reformer, and Mr Laughton, High-Bailiff of Peel. One day Mr Laughton met, Mr Cowin, in the street, and jocularly greeted him as follows : " What! hasnt the devil got you yet ?" when the gruff retort came : " No, but he troubles me a, bit. He never bothers you, for he knows he has you safe."
Revivals are always a great attraction to the good folk in the Island, and some of the methods employed in them are, to say the least, decidedly peculiar. The following story, concerning these methods, and also concerning the commonness of the surname Christian in the Island, is very good: A revivalist accosted a Maughold farmer with a solicitous air, and said to him:
" My friend, what place of worship do you attend ? Do you go to chapel, may I ask?"
"Aye! a chance time."
" You go to church, perhaps ?"
" Aye ! a chance time."
" I see ; so you are not a Christian, in fact ?"
" Me ? No, Im a Kerruish. Booil-y-Velt, you know."
"Ahm, you misunderstand me."
" Iss like you'll be a, stranger in the neighbourhood. Theres a Christian in Lewaigue, and another in Baldromma, or is it the Ballure Christians youve got ?"
Let me conclude this section of the chapter by giving two characteristic samples of the, local preacher's art : A quasi learned local preacher was once trying to illustrate to his audience the long word " in-stan-tane-ous" in the following manner. " Well, once of a day there was an oul philosopha named Archimadisisand may be you have hard of him and may be you havn anyway, this Archimadisis lived in a place they were callin Syracusia ; and oul Archimadisis would of a rule be mosly always thinking of a problem ! So one day, though, he was thinking of a very hard problemaw, hard, very. And there, though, the real philosopha wass. And couldn' get the problem at all, at all ! no, couldn' get the problem.! Well, though, he was at this problem reglar, very reglar, an couldn get it, an couldn get it ! Well, to cut a long story short, one day though, oul Archimadisis was in a bath, an' he was thinkin' very hard of his problem in his bath, an behoul' you ! he got the problem in the bath ! Aw, aye, gorrit, gorrit in the bath! An he out of the bath as he was, yes, as he was! and fled, fled through the streets of Syracusia crying out : Hoorooka ! which is by interpretation, I hath it ! I hath it ! "
" Awake, my glory ! awake Psaltery and harp : I myself will awake early "(Ps. 57, 8).
On this text a most extraordinary sermon was preached at -- Chapel. First came a long explanation of " my glory ", wonderful beyond relation . Psaltery was read " pozzle-tree." Discarding the accurate text., the preacher said : " Wake up pozzle-tree!" His exposition and application were in this styleno printed words, of course, being able more than to suggest the pitch of voice, the groans, and ejaculatory explosions of unction :
" But ye dont know, maybe, whass a pozzle-tree! Well, a pozzle-tree is a three, though,thass well known in the Eas (east). A three, aw, aye, that of a rule is growin up agin the walls of houses ; well, a three very lek hibbon (ivy) ; an, aye, thass the pozzle-tree. Now the Psalmis' Davad, you see, had a thremenjous fine pozzle-three growin in his garden, aw aye, growin agin the gavle (gable) of the house ; and him thremenjous proud of the pozzle-three; aw, fond of it uncommon. An when the Psalmnis now an again would be takin' his harp an gazin on the starry skoy, an' composin the Psalms,it would be at the foot of the pozzle-three he would be sittin ; aw, aye, sittin' an composin the Psalms.
" But one night, though, there was a storm ! aw aye, a thremenjous storm ! An the Psalmis', lyin in his bed, h'ard the storm, an was thinkin of the pozzle-three, and wonderin how the poor pozzle-three was gettin' on, wraslin wiss the storm. Aw, aye! Well, though, the poor, pozzlethree had a hard time of it that night; the storm was too many for the poor pouzle-three ; the storm got the batthar of it. Aw, aye, an when Davad got up in the mornin' , an went out to the gavle of the house, to hev a look at the pozzle-three, behoul' ye, the poor pozzle-three was lyin' on the ground, tore away from the gavle of the hous be the storm in the night sason, an' tore up be the roots urrov (out of) the very groundaw aye! lyin on the groun' in the mornin'. Now, what did the Psalmnis' say, me brethren What did the Psalmis' say, under them circumstances ? In the words of the tex : Wake up, pozzle-three, wak.~ up, an dont be lyin there lek that ! Aw aye, but the poor pozzle-three couldn. No, aw, no! It couldn', couldn', couldn', I tell youwas'n able, ye see. So the Psalmis' tuk an lifted the poor puzzle-three up, an set it in the groun again ; an it tuk root accordantly an began to grow again, mosly as fne as ever. Aw, aye! Aw, aye!
" But theres an application, me brethren ; aw, aye, an application." (Tremendous pause and look round, all in suspense.) "Some of yea is lek that pozzle-three ; aw, aye! Some of you has been in the storm! Aw, aye ! you men! aw, aye ! you women ! In the storm of temptationwraslin wis the storm., in the night sason. Aye, an the storm has got the batthar of ye. The storm of temptation in the night sason has been too many for ye ; an where are ye? Lyin on the groun', lyin lek the poor pozzle-three, on the grown." (Pause of suspense.) "An what does my tex say to you in them circumstances ? Aw, aye ! it says : Wake up, pozzle-three !' Wake up, pozzle-three! an dont be lyin there lek that. Aye, but ye cant, ye cant wake up, aw no ; youre lek the poor pozzle-three, that had to be lifted up, aw aye, that had to be lifted up." (Obvious opening for further enforcing the peculiar doctrine of instantaneous grace and conversion.)
It, is generally admitted and experienced on all hands that each profession and occupation has its stock jokes, its stories innumerable, and to each belongs a flavour all its own. That the point of a jest lies not in the tongue that speaks, but in the ear that hears, is the testimony of the great dramatist. The doctor on his rounds, and the judge upon the bench, have each an indulgent audience, ever willing to accept as the highest wit the bon mots of the speaker in sick room or court. In connection with the awful subject of death, and all its concomitants, such as physic and medical operations, there is very little scope for wit and humour. There is not much merriment in visiting sick people and listening to their complaints, and relieving their many ailments. But a medical man must, in his " rounds," often come across comical sights, droll incidents, and witty remarks ; and he may, if he be a wise man and discreet, often raise a drooping spirit by the judicious narration of a humorous incident. And truly a cheerful disposition is the best antidote for disease. Let me start my medical yarns with the following anecdote, in which I have a personal interest, and consequently prefer giving it as told by my old friend Flaxney Stowell in his " Reminiscences of Castletown a Hundred Years Ago." In quaintly describing the old and old-fashioned mansions of the town in those days, he says : "Another house was occupied by Dr. LaMothe, in exile. He was one of a number of Frenchmen taken prisoners after the battle off Ramsey Bay in 1760. He was lodged in Castle Rushen, but in time set at large to an extent. Dr. LaMothe practised medicine and became highly respected amongst his captors. Descendants of these Frenchmen are still to be found on the Island, and the LaMothes have made their mark and been a power for good among its people. Dr. LaMothe married a Castletown lady, a Miss Corrin, and the story goes that during his incarceration in Castle Rushen, he was visited by some of the Castletown ladies. One of them fell ill with the brightness and smartness of his naval uniform. The lady was Miss Corrin, and the Doctor spent the rest of his life in trying to cure her . They were laid to rest together in Malew Churchyard, where their gravestone may still be seen by anyone who cares to visit it."
There is a tradition in the family, I may say, that the Doctor attended the wife of the then Governor, Basil Cochrane, and acted with such great skill that he was released from imprisonment. He practised in Castletown for 47 years.
In Laxey, some years ago, the resident doctor and his wife were one day taking a walk near the village, when they came to a pretty thatched cottage, at the side of the road. There stood at the door an old woman in a sun bonnet., knitting a stocking, and waiting for someone to pass and have a "cooish" with her. To get to know the "newses" of the parish was this womans weakness, and here, she thought, was a splendid opportunity. She politely invited the doctor and his good lady into the cottage, remarking that 'A cup of tay would ruin no one, and it would be ready in no time'. The guests enjoyed the tea, and after all the "newses" were got out of them, the old woman began to talk about her own ailments, and told the doctor she had "a mortal sore toe", and whipped off her shoe and stocking to see if the doctor could cure it. He examined it., and said it was a "corn", much inflamed, and wrote out a prescription for her to take to the druggist. She did so, and got a lotion which soon cured the toe. About three months after this interview, the old woman received a bill from the doctor for attendance, for 2s. 6d. The old lady, on receipt of this bill, was, as she put it., " mad orra massy, to think that the doctor would charge her 2s. 6d. for only purrin a swint on her toe, air makin half-a-dozen scratches wis a pen on a paper ; it didn take half the time nor quarter the expense of the two cups of tay" . To square matters, however, the old woman wrote on the bill , "Settled by contra account, two cups of tay, 2s. 6d.," and sent it back by post to the doctor.
Manx people are very prone to clip or shorten their words. It is common to hear of a "chis-an-drawers," or a "chiss " only, instead of a chest-of-drawers. Concerning this dialectical peculiarity, an amusing story is told by Dr. Craine, of Ramsey. He once called to see a patient, who was confined to bed with a bad cold, and ordered him to put his feet in hot water, and put a mustard plaster on his chest. Next morning he called upon the man again, and asked him if he had carried out his instructions. "Yes," replied the old man, pointing to a, chest of drawers by the bedside, whereupon reposed the mustard plaster, "and I have kept it on all night, as you may see". The old mans idea of his " chiss," and the doctors idea, were distinctly different.
Some years ago a comical incident happened at the Douglas Hospital. A deaf and dumb man presented himself at the door of that useful institution, being the worse for liquor and having a neglected and forlorn appearance generally, and, of course, speaking never a word . Under the circumstances, the authorities ordered him a bath, had his hair cut, and himself put carefully to bed. The doctor, going his rounds next morning, discovered, in conversation by the dumb alphabet, that the new comer was a friend of one of the patients in the Hospital, and had merely called to see how he was getting on.
Every feble wit has a licence to be funny at the expense of the doctor and his unsuccessful ministrations, and a number of stories of that class are told in the Isle of Man. Many years ago a Dr. S . was practising on the Island. He was fond of the bottle, and also of a days shooting, and, if the truth must be told, often neglected his patients to pursue his favourite sport, it being said of him that he had "never killed a man, but he had let many a good man slip." One day, when he was out shooting, he let go both barrels at a fine hare. Pussy ran into a barn, where threshing operations were going on, and the farmer hit the hare with a flail, and threw it under the straw. Presently the excited doctor came rushing into the barn, and asked if they had seen a hare go past. " No," said the farmer. The doctor replied, " Well, I gave him a pill anyway." "Aw, well, hes sure to die then," was the retort.
Until recently there was no law in the Island to prevent unqualified persons from practising as doctors, and a great number of unqualified persons practised upon the bodies of Her Majestys lieges without let or hindrance. Bone-setters and herbalists, with a good deal of rudimentary knowledge of the art of healing, and an inexhaustible stock of old grandmothers' remedies, were greatly in demand (the best known, perhaps, being one "Clucas the Strang"), and the unmitigated quack also often found a happy hunting ground. One country practitioner was once heard to declare, " I can cure my patients equal to any regular doctor, but Ive got no licence to kill game."
Dr. Montford, a witty Irishman., who had a large practice in Douglas, one day was called in to see a patient living in a new house not quite finished, and overlooking St. Georges Churchyard. A joiner was busy at some wood work in the house, and the doctor officiously pointed out to the joiner some badly executed work. " Oh, well," said the joiner, looking out at the tombstones below, "come and see your own bad work down there in the churchyard. Ah ! Doctor, there have been many worse jobs than these of mine."
Three young and energetic medicos, called Hall, Paulin, and Pullen, started practising in Peel. The rivalry between them, was keen, and they were ever on the look out for patients. One day a steam crane was at work in Peel harbour, when suddenly some part of the machinery gave way, and the crane fell into the harbour, severely crushing one of the workmen. The injured man was carried home, unconscious, and with several bones badly fractured. His; wife sent for Dr. Hall, but, as the case was serious, Drs. Paulin and Pullen were also called in. Their surgical skill and operations were without avail, however, and the poor man died. A witty Douglas doctor, hearing of the case, exclaimed : "Good heavens ! no wonder the patient died, when he had to submit to Hall-in, Paulin, and Pullen.."
The laws for the Isle of Man are, as everyone knows, made by the Manx people themselves, through their Legislature, consisting of the Legislative Council, a body of judicial and ecclesiastical officials, and the House of Keys, consisting of twenty-four popular representatives, and supposed to have been the earliest body of popularly chosen legislators known to history. It consequently follows, although., especially in recent years, the English law is usually carefully studied, and, wherever advisable, assimilated, whom any new legislation comes before the insular Parliament, that the laws of the Island contain many and varied discrepancies between those in force in the " adjacent Isles." The Island has a Bar of its own, the members of which must be specially qualified before they can practise in the Island. Perhaps owing to the disadvantage under which the members of the Manx Bar are placed in being unable to look for better positions across the water without having to undergo a, fresh course of study in English or Colonial law, the "plums of the profession" are pretty numerous, to serve as encouragement to brilliant young natives of the Island to take up the legal profession in their own country. And the Manx advocates are by no means pleased when, as has happened more than once, a high official appointment is conferred upon a member of the English Bar. It is also safe to say that plurality of offices is not a system greatly favoured by themexcept, of course, by those who have obtained the offices. One day Mr A. N. Laughton, the present High-Bailiff of Peel, and one of the wits of the Island, was looking for an empty railway carriage at the Douglas Station, when the guard found him one with the late Mr Ridgeway Harrison as the sole occupant. Mr Harrison was a persona grata in high quarters, and many official posts were bestowed upon him. The guard politely opened the carriage door for Mr Laughton to enter, when he ejaculated, "Oh, dear, I cannot travel in this carriage, it is full of people," and counted on his fingers the following personages : The Receiver-General, Water-Bailiff, Tithe Agent., Seneschal, Crown Receiver, Agent of Her Majestys Woods and Forests, an Advocate, a Notary Public, and an Agent for the Sun Insurance Company. Verily a. good carriage full. But Mr Laughton had perforce to find room with all that company.
The story given among the clerical anecdotes, concerning the method of ordination in vogue at a certain, period of the history of the diocese, has its counterpart in the following : A candidate for the Bar presented himself at the office of the Deemster who was to examine him, naturally in some trepidation. After the usual greeting, the following dialogue ensued:
" Hows your father ?"
" Very well, sir, thank you."
." Wha sort of a day is it going to be, do you think "
" The weather is unsettled ; I can hardly say what it will turn out."
" Hm. Have you got the fifty pounds with you ?"
" Yes, sir." (The bank notes are produced, handed over, counted and put away).
" Very well, Mr , I have much pleasure in declaring you admitted to the Bar. Come and lunch with me at the Royal. Im busy this morning."
" Is that all you require, sir ?"
" Yes , oh, yes ; nothing else."
" Thank you, sir. " (Exit new advocate).
Despite the difficulties of becoming acquainted with two or more systems of jurisprudence, many of our young lawyers have found the Island too small for them, and several gentlemen whose names are still upon the list of members of the Manx Bar are now following their profession in the Colonies.
A member of the Manx Bar, when on a visit to the National Gallery in London, encountered, in front of a picture that had caused some sensation, Mr Spencer Walpole, then Governor of the lisle of Man.
" Whats your opinion of the picture, Mr ?" asked the Governor.
" Well," answered the lawyer, deprecatingly, " your Excellency is aware that I am not a judge, though I hope to be so, when"
Then came the crushing retort from the Governor:
" Oh, Mr , which of the Colonies do you intend emigrating to ?"
A very good pun was perpetrated recently at a court held by Mr A. N. Laughton, High-Bailiff of Peel aforementioned. A suit for a small debt was called, the plaintiff being a man named Crowe. As the plaintiff came forward to swear to the correctness of the claim, the High-Bailiff observed : " I dont see anyone appearing to this suit, only a crow". The advocate for plaintiff smiled, and replied, " Yes, your Worship, but hes got a good caws ( cause), whereat these present in the Court. smiled yet the more. After Crowe had deposed that the debt was due, judgment was granted in his favour. No doubt he and his advocate did some more crowing then.
Another witty answer was made some time ago in the Liverpool Police Court by that famous Manxman, Mr W. H. Quilliam, otherwise known as the Sheikh-ul-Islam of the British Isles. Mr Quilliam appeared in a case where a man and a woman were each placed in the dock charged with having " feloniously wounded" one another. Certainly their respective craniums bore evidence of the use of pokers or other weapons upon them. A mass of contradictory evidence was given on both sides, and the Stipendiary confessed himself puzzled which side to believe. " This is a most extraordinary story," he said. " Yes," replied Mr Quilliam, " and well illustrated by cuts" pointing to the scars on the prisoners heads. The magistrate and the court were convulsed with laughter. The Stipendiary said, "The prisoner whom you defend is discharged, Mr , whereupon the legal gentleman turned to his client and said : " His Worship says you can cut ; but mind it is not to be cut and come again'. " Another roar of laughter followed this sally, and the fortunate prisoner left the dock.
Vicar-General Corlett, in his day one of the leading members of the Manx Bar, had a weakness for shooting fowls that strayed into his garden, and then adding insult to injury, by sending for the owners to come and take them away. As the law had been broken on both sides, nothing more would be heard about the matter. One day, however, a client came in a great rage to consult the man of the law. His case was that his favourite game cock had been shot, and he wanted to find out the transgressor. " What value do you put on your fowl ?" asked Mr Corlett. " Five shillings," said the man. " Well, this is a matter than can easily be settled without law. I shot your bird, and as you owe me five shillings for advice, we are quits."
Fees are, of course, an important consideration to the limb of the law, and in England and Manxland many stories are told of the extreme brevity of the legal advice for which " five shillings", or " six and eightpence, " was demanded. One day an old farmer was greatly beset in Douglas by the "Mob-beg," a name applied to noisy street rabble, in particular to disorderly boys. The "Mob-beg" of Douglas had in former days a bad reputation for irrepressible and pertinacious attention to any oddity from the country. This farmer, in desperation, went into Mr A. W. Adams office, and ejaculated : " Mr Adams, is there any law agin the Mob-beg ?" " No." "Well! (inarticulate with disgusted exasperation). " However, you owe me five shillings, my man." "What ? "(breathless with amazement.). " Yes, the advice .-." The old man paid the money in silence, and went his way a sadder and somewhat wiser man.
The following query is said to have been propounded by an irate lawyer who had just lost a promising case :
" Why is Deemster like necessity ? Because he knows no law!"
My father, the late F. J. D. LaMothe, was counsel in a case where he found it important to expose the ignorance of a witness, to show that the, witness could neither read nor write-in short, to discredit the witness down to the ground. The man was exasperated and disposed to retaliate, which he did most curiously.
"Iss a pup you are ; and thrue to your name!" he told the lawyer.
" Oh! And how is that, my friend ?" asked the lawyer.
"Lhea Mauthe, thass your name ; and the meaning of that iss a pup, isnt it.?"
La.Mothe replied : " The only branch of learning my friend has gone in for is etymology ; it may have a.bearing on the case, your Worship. "
[" Lhea Mauthe " (half-dog, in Man) is an expression used for a well-grown pup. LaMothe is, as I have said, a French name, and means, I believe, an anthill.]
John C. LaMothe and John Kelly, both now deceased, were opposing counsel in a lengthy case, and had reached a point when Mr LaMothe thought an adjournment for lunch would be opportune.
" My friend has the stomach of a horse, your Honour," said Kelly.
" Of my friends stomach I know nothing," said LaMothe ; " I eat in good company, where observations of that sort are never made. But I know something of my friends head. Your Honour is aware that he has the head of an ass."
" Gentlemen, since you are in that humour, Ill adjourn for lunch," said Deemster Stephen.
Once my father, in examining a witness in a sheep stealing case, asked if he thought stealing a sheep on Sunday was not breaking two commandments at once?
" A better man than thee or me has done five times worse than that in his day," said the man.
" Oh ! And who was the man ?" asked LaMothe.
" Moses, isa like ; didnt he break all the ten togather ? Didnt he break the tablets to pieces ?"
On another occasion he was cross-examining a red-haired witness whose father was an old man named Aaron, and was involved in the case. In badinage, LaMothe said to the witness (there being a brother to be examined, also red-haired), that he was one of Aarons golden calves. To exasperate the witness, he spoke to him in the third person. At a certain stage of the case he put the question : "And what did Aarons calf do ?"
" Went for a lawyer," said the witness.
The Manx people were, in past days, litigiousboth by disposition and opportunity. Law was cheap ; and, by all accounts, nasty. Stray stories abounded apropos of the odium in which their favourite vice, viz., the lawyer, was held.. One man had a petition of his own in the Litany "From doctors and lawyers, Good Lord, deliver us!" There was a proverbial expression touching a lawyer that "it took a pound to open his mouth, but two to shut it.."
The Manx temperament is exemplified well in the following : " A Kirk Marown man lost his suit in Court. As he went out, he repeated to everybody : Aw, theyre broibed ! theyre broibed! In this vaguely comprehensive way he swept in judge, jury, his own advocate, the whole Bar, and the whole community."
Apparently the potentialities of a bribe were considered great seventy or eighty years ago, according to a story told by the late Mr Samuel Harris, High-Bailiff of Douglas, when opening the new covered market at Douglas two or three years ago. In the year 1830 a great regatta was to have been held at Douglas, the attraction being a massive challenge cup, and a number of yachtsmen and those interested in aquatic sports came over to the town. All the arrangements were made when a message came that George IV. had departed this life, and that., of course,.stopped all the amusenent. The young gentlemen from on, board the yachts and those who came from England for the rowing match were in the old British Hotel, enjoying themselves over the dinner table, when the chapel bell at St.. Matthews began to ring. Some of the gentlemen looked out at the window into the street and sent for Harry Taggart and Danny Mylchreest, general factotums of the society of the town, whom they told they could not permit the bell to be rung. "We are enjoying ourselves," they said, " our songs are not finished, and you must stop the bell." Danny Mylchreest was a little man that could not take his own part with them. He was alarmed, and asked "What was he to do ?" " Go up and tell the chaplain that the gentlemen in the British Hotel want to enjoy themselves, and they must stop the bell." Danny went, and came back with; the message that they could not stop the bell for gentlemen who were amusing themselves. They replied : " We came here for amusement, and amusement we are going to have. We cannot help the death of the King, we could not keep the King alive, and we will have our evenings amusement. Get us a ladder, and put it against the steeple of St. Matthews Church." Someone did so, and one of the young gentlemen went up and cut the rope. They got the rope, put it round their necks, and marched in procession: up Duke.street, and there they met Tommy Mat, one of the four constables of the town. When they met Tommy he stopped them. " Gentlemen,, you must not do this. You are disturbing the public peace". " We cannot help the public peace," said they, " if it is so easily disturbed. We have mony that will compensate the public if they are disturbed." They marched on, and who should they meet but the High-Bailiff. " Stop, boys," said Tommy, " heres the High-Bailiff." " Oh.," said the young gentlemen, " tip him a shilling, and he will pass by, too." However, the whole matter was finally compromised.
Another amusing story was told by the High-Bailiff on the occasion in question. In his youth, he said, " there was a great ball in the assembly room of the British Hotel, kept by Mrs Johnson, and there was an old lady, who was determined to get to the ball. There was only one sedan at the time, and that was kept in the neighbouring building, St. Matthews Chapel. What was she to do ? She could not get in the sedan, and had no carriages, nor landaus, nor waggonettes, nor dog carts, and all that kind of nonsense, which they have introduced all round in the Island to pay rates, and bring the drivers before the High-Bailiff of Douglas if they go on the stand or do anything that is improper ; and the poor unfortunate High-Bailiff has to listen to all kinds of stories and to judge of and believe what he knows in many cases to be quite untrue. How do you think she got to the ball ? I was one of the unfortunate young men in those days who took liberties with the aged. I hope you wont take liberties with the old men of Douglas, because if you do you will mark me out as the first to lay hold of. She was determined to get to the ball, and we were determined that she should not be disappointed ; old Harry Taggart could not accommodate her, but nothing would do but that she must go. There had been a great importation of earthenware in the town, and into one of the earthenware crates we popped her and took her into the ballroom in triumph."
The late Vicar-General Jebb was a lawyer and an excellent judge, but, unfortunately, very deaf. His deafness led to frequent blunders and misapprehensions in his courts. He had, moreover, a brusque manner that had a confusing effect, on timid persons finding themselves in the environment, of a court of law. At a Probate Court, in Castletown, he once asked a man in the witness box " Did your brother die intestate ?"
The word intestate was one too many for the witness, and he remained silent.
" Did your brother die intestate?" again said the Vicar-General, in a sudden burst of impatience, quite usual with him.
" No, sir ; he died on the Calf."
" Stronan Barrule, " an expression used contemptuously, was frequently applied to these who boasted of valour, but.were reputed, in the words otf the seventeenth century writer, " bravest most when the danger was not near." The expression arose out of a tale told by a Kirk German man, who had been to the Court at Castletown, and had lost his case. He connsoled himself by telling his friends how he had given a bit of his mind to the " Demsther."
A. : " But did thou say that to the Demsther?
B. : "Aye, did I ; every word. That wasnt all either."
A. : " But, bless me, thou must harre been savage with him?"
B. : " Aw well, no matter ; I said it, annyway."
A. : " But did thou say it in Coort ?"
B. : " In the Coort ? Aw, no ; the Coorl was over."
A. : " But did thou say it to his face ?"
B. : " Face or no face, I said it, annyway."
A. : " But who heard theo ?"
B. : " Deed I dont know who heard me. I didnt regard who hard me."
A. : " Didnt regard who heard thee ? Bhoy veen, where were thou, for all, when thou said it ?"
B . : " Aw, I said it at Strooan Barrule, man."
[ Strooan Barrule is a little stream on the mountain ridge, six miles out of Castletown, where one for the first time loses sight of the ancient metropolis and seat of law and litigation. This worthy opened on the Deemster when he had got, not only out of hearing, but also out af sight. This sort of prudent valour is, I think, characteristically Manx ; nothing, perhaps, is so precisely the pink of Manxness.]
A variant of the same story is that the cautiously choleric litigant, on his return home, informed a neighbour, who had also a case to be heard at the next Court, of the manner in which he had " blackguarded " the Deemster. His friend decided to do the same if he should lose his case, and when opportunity arose, he ailso delivered himself of his sentiments, with the result that he spent the next few days in rueful rumination in Custie Rushen. :His friend, on being informed of the sad results, told him that he should have done as I did. I waited till I got to Strooan Barrule, and then, my gough ! I lerrim have it.!"
Deemster Drinkwater was only a little man in point of stature, but had a great reputation for wisdom. It is stated that a rather simple countryman, on being shown the Deemster, refused to believe that " that lil man " really was he, having, apparently, an idea in his head that such a great man must be great physically. On one occasion a litigant who had been taking rather more drink than necessary rushed into Court with the exclamation : " Hi ! lil Demstha ! wisest man in the worl' ! I want my case calling."
One is sorry to have to record the Deemsters reply.
" Who is that man ? Hmfive days imprisonment for contempt of court."
Another interesting story is told by the Rev. T. E. Brown of another of the Deemsters experiences : Deemster Drinkwater and a friend were strolling along the Dhoo River just below the Union Mills, when a small farmer suddenly burst out from his hay-meadow, and roared out : " I dont allow any thresspassing on my lands. Go your ways back !" The friend thought to settle the matter easily by telling the man of acres that it was Deemster Drinkwater he was speaking to. To no purpose, however. " I dont care whether hes the Demstha or the Govna or the Lord Bishop : hes not goin to lord it over my land !" " But Deemster Drinkwater " No mattha, Demstha Drinkwater, or Demstha Heywood, or Demstha Gawne, or Demstha Who.you-like, hes not goin' to lord it, no, nor Demstha it, over my lans. Go back !" " He perfectly right in the contentiona little heated in the mannera style suitable in addressing a jury, perhaps," said the Deemster, and he apologised for inadvertent trespass, and turned back.
Deemster Drinkwater was, however, perhaps equally particular about his own rights in such a matter. A small boy living in Douglas, and possessed of plenty of assurance, wanted to go rooks nestimg, and climbed up a tree on an estate belonging to the Deemster. There he was in due time observed by the Deemster, who called him down, and gave him a lengthy address on the subject of meum and tuum, finishing an unusually interesting legal dissertation with the words : " Now, the next time you want to go rooksnesting on my trees, just come and ask my permission." Some time afterwards, the boy was again possessed of a longing for that form of amusement, and he went up to the Deemsters house and knocked at the door. A foot-man appeared, and enquired of him what he wanted. " I want to see the Deemster." " You cant see him now; hes at his dinner. What do you want with him ?" " Oh, he told me that when I wanted to get rooks nests on his trees I must come and ask his permission., and I want to climb to get some now . " He did not see the Deemster, or get the required permissiom, but was unceremoniously and unpleasantly sent away by the footman .
As has been said, the Island has a number of laws peculiar to itself, and also a number of laws which are now centuries out of practice, but which have never been repealed. One day, in the Appeal Court, where the Governor sits as President, the question was being argued as to whether an unrepealed law, obsolete, but still on the Statute Book, was in force. Lord Loch, the then Governor, rather impetuously pronounced the opinion that the law was in force. Whereupon counsel drew His Excellencys attention to the unrepealed statute : "All Scots to void the Island, with the next vessell that gooth to Scotland, upon paine of forfeiture of his goodes and his body to prison." Lord Loch was a Scotsman, and consequently liable, according to the statute, to instant deportatiotn, and he quickly reconsidered his opinion about the case in question.
[See also A.N.Laughton for another Scots Governor tale - possibly the same one ?]
An advocate, who fancied himself a smart brow-beater, once got a fall from a man of imperturbable gravity.
" I understand, Mr. , that you once officiated in a pulpit ?
" Well, sir, I have held the candle"
" Candle ? Oh, the Court understands that it was something quite different. They supposed the discourse came from you ?"
" No, sir ; I have only thrown light on the matter ."
" Ah, so you say ; and from whom did the discourse come then, Mr.
" God Himself, sir."
The following is an amusing contribution to the discussion on the vexed question of what constitutes hearsay.
At a right-of-way case, a farmer in the witness box was beginning : " I remember my grandfather saying"
" Stop ! stop ! that is hearsay, not evidence, your Honour," said the lawyer on the side.
" It, depends on the circumstances of the case. For instance" began the Deemster.
" For instance, if my learned friend had a boil on the back of his neck, your Worship" said counsel on the other side.
" I was going to say," continued the Deemster, " you have no doubt as to who was your own father, Mr. ? But that is on the basis of hearsay, I think."
The question of when a man is or is not drunk is also a vexed question. I was once cross-examining a witness in the Peel Police Court, and asked him if he could swear if a certain man was absolutely drunk on the day in question. " Well, no", he said, " I wont say he was absolutely drunk, but I tell you what, sirhe was beastly drunk."
A Laxey woman called another woman " out of her name", and was summoned before the Magistrates Court for the offence. The language used was not fit for ears, much less for lips polite. The offender had the option of a fine or an apology. She apologised, but said, before leaving the Court : " Im not allowed to say what I think; still I'm allowed to think what I think ; and I think of that woman the same thing still."
A well-known Peel character was once told by a young lawyer that if he did not receive a certain amount due within a stated time, he (the lawyer) would have to take the necessary steps. " Deed," answered the debtor, philosophically ; " if youre goin' to take steps, you might as well take the whole house while youre at it.."
The Manx language has its uses sometimes. Two neighbours once had a law suit, and a mutual friend was summoned by the Coroner, John Stephen, as a witness for the plaintiff. The witness told the Coroner he could not speak English, and an interpreter would have to be sworn in at Court.. This statement, however, was rather doubted by the counsel engaged in the case, and finally the man was brought into the witness-box without the desired interpreter. The man, however, was determined to know no English for the purposes of this suit, and to every question asked by the Deemster, the witness asked the coroner, in Manx, " What does the good man say now ?" At length the Deemster, in an angry tone, ordered the witness to stand down, and, if he had done so, he would have been caught in his deception. Craftily, the witness stuck to his question : " What does the good man say now ?"
A well-known character in Douglas at the beginning of last century was one " Buck Kewin," a barber by trade, and a clever draughtsman and wit to boot. The barbers shop is always the place par excellence to obtain " newses," and Bucks establishment was greatly resorted to for that purpose. Mr Mark Antony Mills, compiler of Mills Statutes, published in a Manx newspaper an article which gave offence to one of the then Deemsters. The Deemster, not apparently having much confidence in the administration of the law in the courts of those days, publicly horse-whipped the unfortunate Mills. The day after, " Buck Kewin " exhibited in his shop window, for the edification of the public, a well-drawn cartoon, representing Mills undergoing his punishment, and bearing the legend at the foot : " Deemster Heywoods Patent for Thrashing Mills."
Let me now narrate a few witty sayings and answers emanating from the schoolroom. The wit and humour of the schoolroom is too valuable to be lost. It would be amusing and very interesting if every teacher would record the humorous incidents they hear in their classes. Our Teachers Association should appoint recorders of humour, to whom teachers could send merry sketches and bright answers given in their schoolrooms. The best humour is always that which is unconscious, and if this is agreed upon, it follows that children are the worlds greatest humorists.
One hears numerous stories about the innocently ludicrous answers given by children in replying to questions from their teachers, both in matters of secular and religious instruction. The enumeration of all the " howlers " perpetrated by children in the Island might take a whole chapter of this book to itself, but here are a few of the best : In the Clothworkers School, in Peel, some time ago, an inspector was examining a class of small boys on simple geometrical subjects, when he asked the following questions : " If I stand perfectly straight up on my feet, what kind of a line do I make?"
The correct answer was given, viz., " Perpendicular."
Next came the question : " If I lie flat on the floor, how am I then?"
" Horizontal ," came the answer.
" Do I ever make an oblique line ?" continued the inspector.
All the class looked puzzled for a time, until a boy shouted out : " Yes, when you are drunk."
An excellent manner of revealing the ideas (sometimes very mixed ideas) latent in the childish minds, is giving a class the task of writing an essay on some general subject. The following, from a composition by a boy on " The person I would choose for my friend, and why," is delightfully naive, though the moral is somewhat questionable : "The friend I like best is a friend that has a good character. The friend I like best is Jimmy C, he goes with me every day. Every day when I am in the shop buying sweets (Jimmys mother keeps a sweet shop which Jimmy often has to " mind "), he gives me more sweets than the weighs (scales) will hold. Every time I am in trouble he fights for me." A very accommodating and desirable sort of friend indeed.
Essays on historical subjects or upon matters in which the class has been recently instructed also elicit many remarkable misconceptions of facts, or the blending of one fact with another, culled from a widely different source, into a comical conglomeration. Everyone has heard of the famous sentence from an essay : " Titus was a Roman emperor ; supposed to have written the epistle to the Hebrews ; his other name was Oates." " What do you know of George Washington ? " Please, sir; he had a little cat, and it used to stand on its hind leg, and beg, and say, Turn again, Washington."
One of the best of similar selections from the efforts of Manx children runs as follows : " As Elijah went up to Heaven., he dropped his mantle, and Queen Elizabeth walked over"
A boy, being interrogated on Bible subjects, was asked, "What was the Red Sea famous for ?" His answer was:
" Red herrings." The same bright youth is reported to have defined " incense " as "insects," and to have stated that John the Baptist " lived in the wilderness on crocuses and wild honey."
A lad was once asked : " What do you know of the cedar tree ?" His knowledge of the " glory of Mount Lebanon", was that " it had dark leaves, and the pencils hung on the branches."
Some very quaint definitions are sometimes given in the schoolroom. A country schoolboy was once asked what dust was, and replied, " Mud with the juice squeezed out." Similar to this is the statement that "grass is whiskers on the face of the earth" ; and the youthful idea, of sexual distinctions shown in, the statement that "girls are known from boys by the clothes they wear and being afraid to go out at night." The utter lack of ideas sometimes experienced by a scholar is exemplified in the following, : A class of girls were given certain difficult words, to which they had to assign meanings. One of the words was "mandarin," and at this novel word one of the girls stuck hopelessly. She had recourse to her next neighbour for assistance, and the latter, who was better informed on the subject, whispered : "A Chinese noble." The girl sadly misinterpreted her neighbours reply, and wrote down in her book : "A Chinese snowball."
Of course Shakespeare is an important part of the present day school curriculum, and the imaginative phase of his plays has often proved a sore stumbling block to the unsophisticated mind of youth. In one of the schools of the Island the story of the "Merchant of Venice" was being discussed, and proved very interesting to the scholars, who were delighted at Shylocks defeat. After a pause, a lad inquired, " Please, is all this true ?" The teacher was compelled to reply that he was afraid it was not. " Well then," answered the lad dejectedly, " Shakespeare was a bad man if he made up all them lies." The same question has puzzled the minds of many older people with limited understanding.
Speaking of Shakespeare, another amusing instance of the confusion of ideas can be given. A rather dull boy, in an essay on " Julius Caesar," affirmed that " it took two-and-a-half years to kill Caesar." The explanation of this grotesque error is that the teacher hed previously informed the class that the play of " Julius Caesar " extended over a period of two years. Verily, as one of the unfortrrnate lads schoolmates observed afterwards, " Caesar must have been a tough chicken."
That such advanced subjects as Shakespeare were not always expounded in the schools of the Island may be inferred from the following notice which was affixed to a. church gate in the Island in the year 1824
" On Monday the Tweleveth of January I will with all care and diligence Teach and Begin to learn a few Schollars for Writers ninepence a Month and beginers sixpence a Month and Entry sixpence for both Likewise Night school three half-pence a week and one Candle 10 January 1824 John Cain."
Verily, "if the blind lead the blind, they shall both fall in the ditch."
The Sunday School teacher also has often to dispel many peculiar delusions, and is, perhaps, occasionally a little crude in his or her own ideas. A Sunday School teacher in Peel once explained the text, " In my Fathers house are many mansions," in the following original manner. She told the children that in Peel there were no mansions, as the houses were too small, but that the Lunatic Asylum was a good specimen of one.
At St. Johns, a teacher asked a small boy what was an unclean spirit. ? The boy answered : " A dirty divil."
The following is a good example both of youthful precocity, and of the badinage with which a teacher in a Sunday School has to put up : A lady teacher was instructing a boys class, and asked them what was their duty towards their neighbour, when the correct answer was given, viz., " to love your neighbour as yourself." The teacher then asked : " Who is your neighbour ?" and a big gawky lad at the bottom of the class said " You." Whereupon a smart little boy shouted out : " Dont believe him, teacher ; hes got a gel of his own."
Naturally, this little Island affords no scope for really great men, although, considering its size, we have a large number of men of great minds, who have risen to peculiar distinction in their native sphere, and left behind them a lasting name. Manxland, also, has contributed its quota to those great men who have in thelr day and generation stood out in the national life of the British Isles and Empire. At the present day we have such men as the famous novelist, Mr. Hall Caine ; Taubman and Swynnerton, rising sculptors; Robert E. Morrison, artist, ; Sir George Taubman Goldie, of Nigeria fame, one of the great builders of the British Empire ; and others. And in the past days there have been numerous sons of Mona who have served faithfully and ably the country of their choice, and reflected credit upon their native land.
Among them, I shall first mention Captain Hugh Crowe, an eighteenth century sailor, who rose to eminence in his profession. He was the hero of a score of naval engagements with the French and Spanish, when a privateer in the wars that engrossed the whole of that century. Captain Crowe was a brave sailor, and a born leader of men. It is related that on one occasion he was overhauled by two men-of-war in the night, and, supposing them to be French vessels, fought desperately for four hours against tremendously superior force. At daylight, the grimly humorous discovery was made that he had been fighting two English ships..
Chief of our great Manxmen, in a scholastic sense was Edward Forbes, F.R.S., Professor of Natural History in the University of Edinburgh. Professor Forbes father was a Douglas merchant, perhaps of Scottish extraction ; his mother was a Manx woman named Corlett. He gained a world-wide fame in his profession.
Again there is Colonel Mark Wilks, a most distinguished officer in the Army. He was Governor of St. Helena when the fallen,Napoleon was exiled there, and is honourably mentioned by Barry OMeara, for his courtesy and attention to the great prisoner. Colonel Wilks fought in India under Cornwallis and Wellesley, and shortly after his retirement and return to his native Island, became Speaker of the House of Keys. The gallant Colonel rose from a modest sphere of life, his father being Rector of Ballaugh.
Another great soldier was Sir Mark Cubbon, K.C.B.
Sir Mark, whose father was Thomas Cubbon, Vicar of Maughold, and Vicar-General of the Island, went to India under the patronage of Colonel Wilks. Step by step he rose, and became eventually Commissioner of Mysore, where he ruled wisely and successfully millions of British subjects.
During the terrible days of the Mutiny, the district he ruled remained quiet and contented. After sixty years service far the State, he died on his passage home.
Among famous preachers of Manx birth and blood, the Rev. Canon Hugh Stowell and the Rev. Hugh Stowell Brown in recent years, are especially deserving of mention
In literature, of course, the late T. B. Brown, our great scholar and true poet, and the eminent and popular novelist, Hall Caine, have both attained a prominent renown and world-wide reputation.
Let me finish my list with the name of the late Sir James Gell, Knight, C.V.O., Clerk of the Rolls, our "grand old man." Unlike some of the others I have mentioned, Sir James was entirely and wholly a Manxman ; his boast and pride was that every drop of his blood was Manx. Crowned with all the honours of the Manx Bar, he filled with distinction the appointments of High-Bailiff of Castletown, His Majestys Attorney-General, Deemster, Clerk of the Rolls, the Acting-Governor. He was a true native oak no man could get his arms round. In Sir James Gells death the Island lost the foremost of her sons, and his name will be ever cherished and enshrined in the. hearts of his fellow-countrymen, at home and abroad, as that of a great lawyer and judge and patriotic Manxman.
Of great men, in another sense, i.e., men of extraordinary size and strength, the Island has had several.
As a, race, the Manx are above the average size, and at the time of the Irish rebellion of 1798, when the Manx Fencibles were quartered in the Emerald Isle, they were said to cover more space than any other regiment.
The Manx Giant, Arthur Caley, and his wife
The man said to be the biggest and strongest ever born in the Island was Arthur Caley, of Sulby. He was the twelth child in a family of thirteen children, and was a quiet peaceable man, until his anger was aroused, when his strength was terrible. Seven feet eleven inches in height some say moreCaleys weight was 44 stone. His shoes were 15 inches long, and six inches wide. I have seen a cast of his hand, and could only encircle his thumb with my fore finger and thumb. In the palm of his hand he could hold a quarter of a cwt. of apples, and he could hold his two brothers upon the palms of his hands, and dance them about like a pair of small dolls. When quite a young man he was kidnapped by his uncle and carried by force to England, and there exhibited. His professional name was Colonel Ruth Goshen. Tradition saith that his life being heavily insured, he was reported to have died, and a heavy log of wood was placed in the coffin, and buried. The giant, with his insurance money, went off to America, where he died a short time ago at the age of 68 years . He was married, but had no children.
Kewin Moar, a cousin of Caleys, was of great strength. He was double-jointed, and had plates of bone instead of ribs. He could haul a train of nets unaided on board his fishing lugger by brute force, and could snap rope as if it were sewing thread.
Another family of giants were the old Karrans, of Cregneish. They were very big men, and powerful, and were said to be the offspring of the Spaniards of the Armada who were wrecked on Spanish Head. The father of the Karrans was a very big man, and he had some very strong sons. They went herring fishing in rowing boats, all the Karrans in one boat. Once one of them was not able to go to sea with the boat, and they got another man in his place, and they had a good haul of herrings that night. When they came to divide the money, however, they gave the strange man only half a share, for they reckoned him only half a man, and on the matter going to law, Deemster Lace upheld their action. Harry Karran was much bigger than the common run of men in the Island, and very powerful , but a very quiet man that would not harm anyone. Another big man in the parish called " Thommy Howlym Whither," very quarrelsome and a great bully, once quarrelled with Harry Karran was no boxer, though very strong and when Howlym got up and ran at him, taking him by surprise, he caught hold of Howlym and squeezed him. Howlym fainted, and was left on the road. He came to himself after a while, but he never got over the squeeze, and did not live many years afterwards.
Perhaps the two richest men of the Island, certainly the two richest of modern times, were Pierre Henri Joseph Baume, who died in 1876, and Henry Bloom Noble, who passed away only recently.
Baume, it is said, was at one time secretary to Maximilian, the ill-fated Emperor of Mexico, and also to the King of Naples. He is said to have left to the trustees of his estate a history of his life, the tenor of it very discreditable to himself. At any rate, they saved his reputation, if it was of any consequence, by not publishing the document. He devised £20,000 for charitable purposes, mainly the education of the poor ; but his life was that of a miser, depriving himself of all but the barest necessaries of life. He was a visionary ; always devising schemes of eccentric philanthropy, though doing nothing to carry them out in his own way, or during his lifetime. He purposed to have a colony of poor people in a mountain locality, and to have schools to educate them ; but, seemingly, he loved his money too much to part with it till he could hold to it no longer. Apparently as part of his project, he became a squatter, and built himself a small hut at Knocksharry near Peel. He roamed round to farmsteads, and, like the Prodigal Son, literally ate pigs' meat. He was once seen very late on a moonlight night, seated on a tombstone in Peel Cemetery, a white sheet about him, and, at the same time, eating what, from his known habits, was probably sweets. In appearance and guise he was a wretched vagrant. To have lived so long in the miserable way he did implies that he was a man of extraordinary vitality. He was always what is commonly called crazy, though that word crazy is a vague expression. . He was crazy, but keenly intelligent, and, perhaps, considering the objects to which he devoted his money ultimately, a man of real benevolence.
Mr H. B. Noble was, to use a hackneyed phrase, the architect of his own fortune, and left nearly half a million, practically all of which is being devoted to charitable purposes. In 1835 he came to the Island from Cumberland, and commenced life as an office boy in the employ of Mr A. Spittall, lawyer, and also wine and spirit merchant. In describing to a friend the humble way in which he started business, he once said : " When I came to the Island, I had one one pair of breeches, and they were patched." Mr Noble loved making money, but hated spending it, especially upon himself. Unlike Carnegie, he did not believe in being his own executor and spending or distributing his vast wealth while living. However, his great wealth will do great service to Church and State, and in days to come the poor and needy may revere and bless his memory.
Besides having great men as natives, the Island has seen some great men visiting its shores. To say nothing of the memorable occasion in August, 1902, when their Majesties the King and Queen visited our shores, Manxland will remember with pride that in 1886, perhaps the most distinguished statesman of the nineteenth century, W. E. Gladstone, came to the Island. Concerning that visit, one or two good stories are told. During a walk through a little village, he came upon a woman pitching corn from a cart to a stack. This, anybody knows who has tried it, is exceedingly hard labour. Mr Gladstone stopped, and, admiring the womans strength, remarked : " My good woman, that is exceedingly hard work, and you look well and strong ; may I ask how old you are ?" " How old art thou theeeself, thou imperent old man ?" was the reply.
There is a good story told in the Isle of Man of Mr Gladstones visit to Port Erin. On one occasion, when at Port Erin) he ordered his breakfast very early in order that he might get down to the train to see some friend off to catch the morning boat in Douglas. The breakfast was a little too tardy in arriving, and Mr Gladstone took one cup of tea, and popped the teapot down in the corner of the hearth to keep it warm, intending to have some more on his return. The waiter thought he had gone away himself, and rushed to the manager, saying : " Has he paid his bill ?" " Who ?" asked the manager. " Im wot's ad breakfast. Anyow, es been and took the silver teapot." Ere long Mr Gladstone returned, and, quietly sauntering to the fire-place, took up the pot and renewed his seat at the table.
"You ass," said the manager to the waiter, " thats the G.O.M.
It is not generally known that the notorious poisoner Palmer lived in lodgings in Onchan village for a year, or two, Of course, he had a victim to dispose of by poison. He was the companion and associate of a man named Spurrier, possessed of considerable wealth, and as the story goes, heir to a large landed property. The next heir leagued with the arch-poisoner Palmer to dispose of Spurrier. They used often to drive about the Island in a four-in-hand, and Palmer used to secretly put poison into Spurriers drink. One day, Suddenly, Spurrier died in Peel Castle Hotel, presumably by excessive drinking. Palmer vanished, and no more was thought of it. On the eve of his execution Palmer confessed to this case among scores of others. Even to this day, old people, if they hear, in the dead of the night, the sound of a carriage driving into Peel along Douglas Street, will say : "There goes Spurriers ghost driving to the Peel Castle Hotel."
While on the subject of great men, we cannot leave without referring to those truly great and sage men, the law-making farmers and grocers of the House of Keys. Of that highly important body, there are many stories told. Their general tenor is to express contempt, chiefly at the expense of the "country member". But the " House" as a whole does not escape. The following are some odds and ends apropos :
VERSES BY A VISITOR.
Ive roamed your hills
Ive climbed your passes!
How strange (I said), I see no asses;
"Aw, well," said the guide, serenely spittin,
"You see, the House of Kays is sittin ."
The following was a way of expressing, comprehensively an opinion of a member about to contest another election, and of what might be expected of him : "Aw, hell be get'n with the white handkerchief at him, and hell have nothin to say but Im agreeable."
A Northside member was commonly reputed to have never once spoken in the "House," and bore the sobriquet of the " silent member." The fact was that he spoke once in a period of seven years, as follows : An agricultural measure was being discussed, and the point for the moment was whether geese were to be included in a trespass clause (horses, cows, sheep, goats, swine, yes ; but geese ?). The silent member rose suddenly : " Geese is mis-cheev-ious things ! Geese is very mis-cheev-ious things !" (Suddenly collapses and sits down.)
A Northside member, just before going into the Tynwald Court, came to Mr. , the Governors secretary, to ask him to confer with the Governor and obtain a general intercession for rain, the whole country being parched with drought.
Secretary : But the Governor has nothing to do with it; its the Bishops business.
Mr K : Aw, well, Im a Nonconformiss. If its the Bishop thats going to order it, well, the prayers wont be much use, Im afraid.
Secretary : Good gracious! Why not ? Wouldnt you join in?
Mr K : Well, Mr , the Lord knows
Secretary : Exactly! The Lord knows why not See the Governor yourself.
Mr K saw the Governor the next day, and suggested that, to spare the feelings of the Nonconformists, the Bishop should be dispensed with, and the Governor should personally order prayers for rain.
Governor : But, Mr K, the Church people! What would they say to that sort of order ? Really, Mr K, couldnt you unite over a matter of this sort ? My order would
Mr K : Then we would rather do without any prayers at all, if so be.
Governor : Indeed, I quite agree. Then, Mr K, well have it so. Excuse me, no other business ? Good-morning!
Elections are in the Island, as elsewhere, a keen source of interest, and many stories are told of the manner in which the " free and independent" have exercised their privileges. At the last general election, the reason given by some old women why they would record their votes for " Willie " Radcliffe, and not for the other man, is characteristic : " Chut! what, vote for him ? A man that wouldnt come to our funeral ! Willie is the man ; Willie will come to see us buried."
At the first popular election in the Island, in the year 1867, a number of sacks of flour were procured and placed ready for use outside Douglas polling station, and out of these the rival factions pelted each other, to the accompaniment of the following crude rhyme : " Dumbell (or Sherwood, according to the particular side the voter favoured) for ever, Sherwoods a beggar, well duck him in the doily tub, and dolly him for ever." Nowadays the small boy announces his intention to " hang old on a sour apple tree, as we go marching on."
At the Peel election in 1881Cubbon v. Moore the same procedure was adopted. A black pony was turned white ; a patient moke made " the colour." The only coat safe to wear was a white mackintosh ! Moore scored exactly double as many votes as Cubbon (probably due to the resentment felt by the Peel people that any one not of their own community should seek to represent them), and the unsuccessful candidate, as white as a miller, had to escape out of a billiard room window, to avoid being mobbed.
At the last general election, in Ramsey, an old hawker went about in a donkey cart. He was a Tory (dark blue). The night before the polling day some wags painted the old mans donkey red, the Radical colour. Nevertheless, the old man drove his painted donkey up to the polling place amid the gibes of the crowd and cried out : "A plumper for Kermode," the Tory candidate. When asked by a "red" for whom his donkey voted, he replied excitedly : " Oh, he brays for the other dunkey (Hall Caine), like the rest of his sort!"
Recently, at an election, a canvasser asked an old voter if he had crossed out the right name of one of the two candidates seeking election, when the laconic reply came:
" Yes, mesthar, I sthruck him out like a dog." Similarly, at the North Douglas contest of 1898, an ardent supporter of the teetotal candidate, W. J. Kermode, expressed his opinion of the other candidates (and, incidentally, spoilt his voting paper) by crossing their names out and writing in the margin opposite such epithets as "scoundrel," " turn-coat," etc. In the Island, until very recently, one voted by crossing out on the ballot paper the name of the candidate one did not prefer.
On another occasion, a rather stupid elector in Ayre thought ho could have the run of the whole sheading, and remarked to the Returning-Officer : " Alfred Corlett and Percy Brooke are very decent men, and Ill vote for them." The Returning-Officer explained that these two men were not candidates in the contest, but the old man refused to vote for any other candidates, and indignantly left the voting station without recording his vote at all.
At another election for a member of the House of Keys, a farmer was debating in his mind which of the two candidates he would vote for, and finally observed : " Ill not vote far the lil man, the Hairy (Mr R. Teare). Whats the use of voting for a donkey when you can vote for a horse."
Manx servant girls are a class unto themselves, and the following stories will illustrate their chief characteristics : A Vicar was preparing candidates for Confirmation, and he asked a servant lass the question : " What do you mean by the words, brought out of the land of Egypt, and out of the house of bondage ?" She remained obstinately mute. After the question had been repeated, in as persuasive a manner to obtain an answer as the good man knew how, he received this reply, delivered with a sudden burst of vexation : " Aw, deed, masthar, I wass naver in the land of Egypt, nor the house of bondage, neither No pazon thats the truth, I naver wass in such places, an thass the way hes iss gem about."
An emotionally religious girl, accustomed to chapel-going, came to be servant at Mrs Cs, where she was required to go to church. In the prayers, the girl had acquired the habit of ejaculating aloud. Mrs C told her she should follow the prayers in silence, and to encourage her in self-control, promised her a new frock. Habit was stronger than self-control, and the next time the girl was at church, her mistress heard her, first in a low tone, then slightly crescendo, and finally in ear-splitting shouts : "Frock or no frock, Glory be to God ! Frock or no frock, Praise the Lord!"
The Rev. Thomas Stowell, Rector of Ballaugh, had a gardener, who lost no chance of taking things easy. Betty Corlett, the cook, had a very poor opinion of him, and gave no quarter to his evasion of his work. The Rector was from home one day, and old Betty knew that if Bill Caley got a hint of it, there would be little done in the garden. Accordingly she brought a big oil painting and set it at a judicious distance within the Rectors study window, face to the garden. Bill saw this, took it to be his master, and put in a fair days work.
An old Manx servant., whose vocabulary was limited to a point short of the luxury of synonyms, expressed herself thus : " Miss Bessie, maam ? Yiss, maam, in the garden, pickin gilvers (wallflowers), to make a stink (!) in the parlour, maam. Shes the mischief for havin them, in every room in the house. Miss Bessie is always expectin chaps after her, reglar."
In the past generation in the Island, servants, while waiting at the table, had much greater scope of speech than in our own times. Their opinion, for instance, would be asked on subjects under discussion. They were allowed, moreover, to address the younger members of the household quite familiarly. I remember, as a child, instances such as the following : " Eat ! eat ! Theres nothing like it for beauty" (bringing round more pancakes). To a greedy person, one old servant would say : " Dont put your shouldher out ; pick light, pick light." Another old servant, when thanked, always replied : "Your welcome."
Tom Brown, tells a characteristic yarn of an old servant at Braddan Vicarage who surprised them by "giving notice."
"But, Amelia," said Mrs Brown, "why?"
" Aw, Mrs Brown, I'm to get married!"
" You, Amelia ? Good gracious! And whos the happy man ?"
Amelia (hesitant but smiling, and fingering the hem of her apron) suddenly : " Ned Kelly, the fool!"