Manx Worthies

FOR HIS PART IN THE WORK OF TRANSLATING THE SCRIPTURES INTO MANX, PHILIP MOORE HAS ONE DEFINITE CLAIM TO A PLACE AMONG MANX WORTHIES. Beside this, what he was is more interesting than what he did. When he was in Kirk Marown, before he came to Douglas, he was under reproof from Bishop Wilson, for levity of conduct. The levity was described as culpable in the particular sense of being inconsistent with the gravity of demeanour to be expected from a clergyman. There were two charges. In the first case he had attempted to explode some ghost or buggane scare, by stalking about St. Trinion's at midnight, so that somebody actually saw 'the buggane,' or 'ghost,' or whatever was said to be there. The people had their belief in the buggane confirmed, and then, much to their chagrin, exploded again, by finding that the 'unquestionable appearance' was the 'curate.' The second charge was of a more culpable kind, and, if proved, would have been, in the language of Lord Shaftesbury, ' simply abominable.' He was said to have written some sarcastic letter or letters in ridicule of his brother clergy. There actually was a letter, shown in confidence to somebody, who in confidence told somebody else; and in the usual way made a public affair of it. It was not so serious after all. But Bishop Wilson wrote a letter of remonstrance to the curate of Marown. An apology, or explanation, or something of the kind, appears to have been made ; and so the affair completed. Philip Moore became remarkable rather for his absolute evenness of character than for utterances of a disturbing kind. At the same time in his letters there is a way of speaking that might be very effective in satire.

In connection with the translation of the Scriptures into Manx, some not quite familiar facts may be mentioned. Several distinguished persons in England were appealed to by Bishop Hildesley for assistance in money. Between these persons and Bishop Hildesley the Isle of Mann, at that time, was in a state of darkness quite pitiable, and the help in money was freely given. Meanwhile, there is evidence that among people of influence in the Isle of Mann, there was some actual opposition to the translation, and their opposition possibly arose from their desire that the English language should come into general use. The following are extracts from letters of Bishop Hildesley to the Rev. Philip Moore:-

Bishop H- TO P. MOORE, Nov. 4th, 1763.

. . . . In the towns (of the island) 'have fear of affronting them with a language (Manx) they begin to be almost ashamed of."

Bishop H- TO P. MOORE, Dec. 3rd, 1763.

Has your assistant made a Manx sermon yet ? if he has not 'tis fit he should ; unless he is one of those geniuses of the south, (viz., Douglas and Castletown), who thinks the cultivation of that language unnecessary."

BISHOP H- TO P. MOORE, Dec. 21st, 1763.

. . . . Let the native railers against Manx printing vent their remarks with as much wit and acrimony as they please; whilst our foreign (viz., English) friends go on to promote it." it should not be said, absolutely, that Bishop Hildesley looked on the Manx language as an interesting curiosity, and made a sentiment of its preservation and general use. But of this there was something in him, enough to provoke the remark. Philip Moore is himself illustration of the degree to which an education was English at that time in the Isle of Mann.

He has left many letters ; and all these well worth preserving. On an average there are two quotations from Latin authors in each letter. In all the letters together there are but two or three quotations of anything Manx, and these not of ballad, or proverb, or old saying, but single word expressions. And, in the same letter in which one of these Manx expressions occurs there is the following:-


I do not pretend to a profundity of skill in our language, but am only a plain Manxman."

The work of translating was shared by most of the contemporaneous clergymen of the Manx Church. Philip Moore had, as his share, The Psalms, and (probably) the four Gospels and Acts. Besides this, he revised the whole of the translations of the several parts of the Old Testament, made by the others, and in the case of the New Testament, he revised the later editions of it.

REV. P. MOORE To DR. WALKER, MOFFAT, N.B., Nov. 14th, 1768.

"* ' . . In the reign of Charles II., Bishop Barrow established an Academy at Castletown, for the education of young men to serve the church ; who receive their instru(ftion from an academical professor, who is a M.A., from one of the Universities. There is a competent salary for the teacher, and a handsome exhibition for the three or four youths in the establishment. There is also at Douglas, a benefaction from a gentleman lately deceased for the educatioin of two canididates for the ministry."


. . . . Let me not, however, arrogate the whole merit of this performance, which I could not so readily have accomplished, without the assistance of Mr. Kelly, a very ingenious young man, trained up for this service, and a candidate for holy orders, who has been from the first my adjutant in revising and correcting, and now transcribing, a fair copy of the whole Bible. He was also corrector of the press at Whitehaven."

This ingenious young, man was a native of the island, born at Algare, in Baldwin, and an exhibitioner in the Douglas Academy. He was Philip Moore's favourite pupil. Bishop Hildesley died before Mr. Kelly could be ordained. Bishop Richmond and Philip Moore were not on good terms. Either the Bishop would not ordain Philip Moore's pupil, or Philip Moore would not suffer his pupil to seek ordination from that Bishop. Mr. Kelly was ordained at Carlisle, where Philip Moore had connections by his marriage. This 'ingenious young man' became Episcopalian minister in Ayr, N.B., where he lived contemporaneous with another person, at that time obscure enough, but since then become somewhat famous, viz., the poet Burns. Mr. Kelly then became tutor to the family of Gordon, Marquis of Huntley; afterwards rector of Ardleigh, in Essex, and has since become commonly famous as Dr. Kelly, compiler of a Manx Dictionary. A few years ago, Mrs. Gordon Kelly, a daughter-in-law of his, gave a sum of £100, to be used in the furtherance of education in the place where her honoured father-in-law had been, and as a tribute to his memory. Naturally, this might be thought to be Douglas. But it was probably considered that Douglas had no establishment of an educational kind worthy to receive such a subsidy; or that Douglas had no educational wants to be supplied. The old Academy founded by Bishop Wilson (the old Douglas Grammar School of Philip Moore and Dr. Kelly, of Mr. Brown and Mr. Cannell) had died a natural death or had became merged in the ecclesiastical side. Thus £100 of Mrs. Gordon Kelly's benefaction went to found the Kelly Manx Prize at King William's College; and £1000 to found the Kelly exhibition from King William's College to one of the Universities.

Life in the Isle of Mann was an uneasy thing for Bishop Hildesley. He was weary of its isolation and monotony. He found fault with the Island for being insular. Besides, there were "contraband dealings;" and it was "a poor despised smuggling island." Many of his letters were written merely to relieve the tedium of life.

REV. PHILIP MOORE To Bishop H-, Dec. 17th, 1763.

. . . . To exculpate us of contraband dealings will not very easily be done, otherwise than by candidly owning the fact, so far as it is admissible; and then, by putting the saddle on the right horse, etc., etc . . . . . . our people in the several parishes, who 'but subsist not by smuggling, but by agriculture, handicraft trades and manual labour,-these may be proved to have as much religion as any people of their rank in any other part of the world. These are properly speaking our People."


What you say of the moderation and gentleness of the Manx towards the distresses of unfortunate persons suffering shipwreck, 'believe may be an observation just enough so far as respects open violence. But with regard to stealing the goods as well as the parts of a ship broken, I fancy that experience will show that we are no honester than other people."

REV. P. M- To Bishop H-, SEPT. 12th, 1761.

A Guinea-man was shipwrecked here last Sunday evening, on St. Mary's Rock, in our bay. This misfortune is laid to the charge of our unreasonable discipline, and rigorous observance of the Lord's Day, in not permitting these conscientious people to set our porters to work; to set open our warehouses, and let them take in cargoes on that day!' And for this indulgence friend Gr- is a most strenuous advocate; alleging necessity in opposition to the command of God; which 'told him, they would better first get abolished by Act of Parliament, and then they might do what they would . . . These Guinea-traders imagine they may take the same liberties here, as on the coast of Africa.'"

The year 1777 was the third of the American war of Independence. American privateers-notably Paul Jones, who robbed the Earl of Selkirk's house on the Solway, and fired the shipping at Whitehaven-were on the coast. There was agitation in Ireland, by Grattan and others, which led to the independence of the Irish parliament in 1782. Philip Moore, a Conservative Manxman, took this view of the situation:-


I have sent you a parcel of Dublin papers, new and old, to let you see what manner of spirit your countrymen (the Irish) are of-American to the blood and bone. 'wonder what these Amalekites would be at ? If you lose America, Ireland would soon be a poor pitiful province of France, and Great Britain too. There must be a superiority and a subordination somewhere; and where can it be better placed than where it is at present ? If we but knew when we are well-but that foolish men never knew yet; and never will know


. . . . Be quiet and never mind these American Rovers-the likes of you and 'have nothing to fear from the likes of them. Let the rich fat ransomers look to themselves. They that have nothing to lose, can nothing lose. Our friend at Andreas talks of being murdered in our beds. 'wonder what should put that in his head. For these Buccanneers have murdered nothing, but a few shipsthat 'can hear of-they would much rather, 'believe, meet with some of your Linnen fleet-for 'fancy the poor devils, many of them, may want a shirt to their backs."


,, 'have taken the liberty to send my niece a set of crockery ware. " . . . "A lucky thought !-if Catharine should ever happen at any time to give herself airs-of pouting, or frowning, or frumping, or snapping-Petruchio has nothing to do but deliberately to break a cup or a saucer from time to time, and occasionally as long as they may last, and my life for 't you'll not hear a wry mouthed word in a month, vive la Baggatelle."

Vive la bagatelle at 76

Douglas Grammar School.




[see Memoirs of Bishop Hildesley for letters]


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