[taken from Chapter 5 Manx Worthies, A.W.Moore, 1901]

JOHN STOWELL, (b. 1762, d. 1799),

the eldest son of Thomas Stowell and Ann Brown, an advocate and public notary, and on the staff of the "Manks Mercury and Briscoe's Douglas Advertiser," the first Manx newspaper,§ is chiefly known by his clever satirical poems. From two of them entitled " A Sallad for the Young Ladies and Gentlemen of Douglas, Raised by Tom the Gardener," and " The Retrospect, " we will give some quotations, to show his style of writing. His other satires are: (1) " A Literary Quixote; or, The Beauties of Townley Versified." In this he makes fun of the journal (chiefly concerned with the vagaries of Manx weather) of a valetudinarian Englishman who lived in the island for a short time at the end of the last century, (2) " A Switch for Tom the Gardener, or, The Sallad dressed and the Lamb roasted." Here the objects of his derision are the young ladies of Douglas.|| He also wrote the following poems, which are not satirical:—" On the Death of the much-esteemed Mrs Callow ;" "On the Death of Miss F. Bacon ," " An Elegiac Invocation of the Muses occasioned by the Death of. the amiable Miss Nessy Heywood ;" and " An Address to the Duchess of Atholl." All Stowell's poems were published anonymously in small pamphlets or broadsides which are now extremely scarce. In the " Sallad " he eulogises the good old times " ere Manxmen understood what noble was, and what plebeian blood," and he then proceeds to satirise the modern ways and fashions of young ladies:

The Packet's come, I'll lay my life upon it;
I know by Laura's strange new-fashioned bonnet.
Her clothes are all exactly in the ton
Could no one show her how to put them on ?
Manks born, Manks bred, Manks made, Manks fed, Manks taught,
She's Manks in everything but what she ought.
Pray what is that ? In modesty and sense
Virtues, alas ! too long departed hence.
Daphne would fain disown from whence she sprung
Although the herring scales are on her tongues

He then draws the following picture of the state of Douglas:

O Luxury ! whom Eastern kings revere,
Dost thou maintain a little empire here ?
Could not whole kingdoms thy desires allay,
But must poor simple Douglas be thy prey ?
Ah! see what desolation thou hast spread
Young Industry is sick and Virtue dead:
While Pride and Pomp so absolute are grown,
That friendless Modesty's kicked out of town.

He then diverges from his main subject with a reference to the Duke of Atholl's well-known practice of employing " foreigners " rather than Manxmen:

Alas ! I see the ease is but too plain,
A Native here may seek for bread in vain
Had'st thou been Welsh, Scotch, Irish, French, or Dutch,
The very name would recommend thee much.
Yon swindler just arrived, not worth a groat,
Gets credit here and wears a costly coat.

Fortunately all Manx men and women are not condemned by him, as he writes

There still are virgins, lovely, fair, and good;
Some worthy youths.

In the " Retrospect " he reviews the " memorable events of Mona " in 1790. The chief of them was the introduction of a Bill into the House of Commons on behalf of the Duke of Atholl to enable him to get further compensation for the loss of his sovereign rights:

Alas ! what language or what poet's quill
Can tell how Mona dreaded Atholl's Bit! ?
No timid dove so much the eagle feared
For partridge when the gunner's notes she heard.
'Twas confidently whispered by the wise,
He fully meant to pick out Mona's eyes.

The debate in the House of Keys on the subject is satirised as follows:

Senators are Senators though Manks
As well as Pitt and Fox with all their pranks.
How that his country's precious rights were sold
He tore his wig,—he let his oxen go.—
" O Yee !"* he cried, " what shall poor Mannin do !"
Then posted on, ten times as mad as Paul
Nor stops till he had reached the Council Hall;
Where in a gloomy sadly pompous state
The Great, the Grated, August Assembly sate.
Our hero made his motion to the House,
Thrice scratched his head,—the third time seized a l—se;
Nor smuggled him, as common people do
But held the culprit up to public view,
And in the presence of the Twenty-four,
Put him to death:—Could Cato have done more ?
" Thus ev'ry tyrant should be serv'd," he said,
" Who dares to trample on a Manksman's head."

He describes the result of the agitation:

Now glares the town,—a frightful aspect wears,—
A civil broil the peaceful neighbour fears:—
Nor fears in vain—so high the ferment rose—
" To what ?—to shooting or to vulgar blows ?"
Far worse—" What then ? to gibbets or to swords ?"
More grievous far,—to F

And, finally, being evidently a strong partisan of the duke's, he concludes:

And you, ye mimiek patriots of the day,
With love of country gilding love of sway,—
Trust me, your futile selfish schemes must fail,
Strong is the truth and Atholl will prevail.


+ Willimott. '
Thomas Stowell, C.P., was his brother.
++ was first published in 1792.
|| He also wrote a satire against the Earl of Lonsdale, but this is in no way connected with the Isle of Man.

[see also Manx Soc vol 16 p 123/4]


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