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

GEORGE HORSELEY WOOD (b. 1794, d. 1874),

a son of General Wood, and grandson of John Wood, Governor of the Isle of Man from 1761 to 1777, was educated at the Cathedral College, Hereford, and went into the army, joining the 20th Regiment, then in the Peninsula. He afterwards went to India, and then, about the year 1818, to St. Helena, where his regiment guarded Napoleon till his death. It is evident from his poem relating to St. Helena—which he re-visited in1826-and to the emperor's death that he regarded Napoleon with the greatest affection and veneration,* not unmixed with dread:—

Oft have I gazed on this wondrous man,
But aye with a strange emotion undefined
Akin to fearful dread and wonderment
As if oppress'd by some mysterious power.

In 1821, on the return of the regiment from St. Helena, he left the army and went to his native island." He occupied the rest of his long life in writing poems, critiques on metaphysical subjects, mainly on the opinions of Bishop Berkeley, of whom he was a fervent admirer, and in the exercise of his considerable musical and elocutionary talents. Some of his poems were published in 1827, and a more complete edition, with the critiques referred to, was issued in 1853. Of the poems it will suffice to say that though many of them are melodious, they are not sufficiently striking to stand out from many similar volumes of forgotten verse, and of the critiques, that they do not betoken the profound philosophy of which he believed himself the possessor. Lieut. Wood was, nevertheless, a genius, though an erratic one, and his wide knowledge was evident, though his fantastic and dogmatic opinions frequently caused him to be regarded with ridicule instead of respect. "With him," writes T. E. Brown, "to believe, or even to see intensely, a truth was to be possessed as if with some veritable demon of conviction, assertion, propagandism. By dint of force and a dialectic method sufficiently unscrupulous, though by him regarded as perfectly honest, by the wildest gesticulation, by paradox, by terror, he would reduce an opponent to silence."+ Besides metaphysics, he had two other favourite pursuits—music and public reading. He had taken lessons on the contra-bass from Dragonetti, and this instrument, as well as the violin, he played very well. His reading was very remarkable, and never to be forgotten, owing to what Mr Brown calls " a trick of snorting," which had an indescribable effect.. It is, in fact, quite impossible to adequately portray him to anyone who did not know him. (Partly from " Manx Recollections," by Katherine A. Forrest.)

* In 1852, he visited Napoleon III. at the Elysee Palace, and presented him with an original portrait of his uncle, drawn by an artist at St. Helena as he lay in death. In return he received a beautiful diamond and emerald ornament.

+ As there has been some doubt as to whether Lieutenant Wood was a Manxman, let us remind our readers that in the introduction to his poems, and in the poems themselves he several times claims the Isle of Man as his birthplace, for instance, in a poem to " Mona: Land of the generous and free, blest Isle of my nativity."

* In " Manx Recollections," by Katherine Forrest.


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