[From Manx Soc vol 3 - part 1 Letter of James 7th Earl]


1.–Connection. 2.–The Earl appoints a meeting of the natives; every man to give in his grievances. 3.–Upon which some think to outwit him; which he winks at; 4, 5, 6–being not ready for them; 7–therefore, cajoles and divides them. 8.–On the appointed day he appears with a good guard; the people give in their complaints quietly, and retire. 9.–Advice to his son about answering petitions.

IT is fit to have charity to think all men honest; but it is wisdom to suspect the most. And, being it is certain that the greatest number of men are bad, I may fear that few be good.

2. The sure way for a right knowledge in this case I do conceive to be the course I took–to appoint a meeting in the heart of the country, wishing every man freely to tell his grievance; that I would hear all complaints, and give remedy the best I could.

3. By this means, those who had bad designs conceived that by such leisure they might find excuses to justify themselves, and how to lay it on other men. And they imagined to flatter me into a good opinion of them; which I gave them leave to think a very easy matter, because of my good, easy nature.

4. And thus I rather chose to give them those hopes, than suffer some sudden and violent course, which desperate persons might have fallen into before I could be rightly provided for them And, indeed, I feared that so many engaged by oath and covenant, after the new manner (after the way of Scotland, the last rebellion), would not very easily be made to understand their error.

5. One saith, Insipiens esto cum tempus postulat aut res; and it was no wisdom (if a man had to spare) at that time to show much of it to the people. But I acquainted the Governor and some whom I trusted, that I would secure my forts and castles, and then I would boldly reason with them.

6. I remember well who said, that tumults are easilier allayed by undaunted men than wise. For people more esteem the breast than the brain; and are sooner much compelled than persuaded.

7. Nevertheless, matters were not yet so ripe as I wished them, and I thought it not amiss (because I could not possibly make believe that I was altogether ignorant of these proceedings) to address myself even unto the parties who were chief actors in the business, telling them somebody was much to blame; I knew the people were misled and misinformed; that it would be an acceptable service in those who could bring them off it; and if, by some under-hand means, they could get the common sort persuaded, it would hinder my farther searching in the business; and something to this purpose. So that thereby I do imagine some were glad of this occasion to bring themselves off the busi ness; others, to think they might go on by leisure,–for I was a good body, who wished peace, would easily forgive offences, and therefore they might try yet farther what could be done. And some did really confess their faults, and discovered to me the whole designs. So as I made one good step into business, which was to divide the faction; calling to mind the old proverb– Redivide et Tempera.

8. When the time came that the people should present their grievances, I appointed the Castle Rushen, a strong place; where, a few days before, I entertained into the garrison some soldiers (whom I brought with me out of England), and some commanders (who kept me company that day), though without any sign of the least apprehension of the people. The captain having been 3 while before affronted, I expected then some such like behaviour of some idle fellow, who I believed then might have been a good example. But each parish gave me a petition of their several grievances; and I gave them a few good words, promising to take the same into consideration; and they parted fairly.

9. By the way this. When any petition is given in public, I do think it dangerous to give a present answer; unless it be a very easy matter. For otherwise they that come to you with the same have armed themselves with proofs and motives already, and you in that may do something on the sudden which afterward may repent you; or, if you reason with them, you run a hazard. Sometimes a good cause is spoiled with bad handling. And there may be shame.

10. I would therefore advise the petitioner be appointed some other day for answer. Or, if you will have the same read at his importunity or so, let your counsel be about you to give their judgment thereof as well as you. And indeed it is more pleasing, as it is more laudable, that complaints be heard in the open court. But this you may do at first, or soon after you have received it, –cast your eye quick upon the several parts thereof, especially the prayer; and, if it touch any person or matter that you are unwilling to have scanned publicly, you may shift it off; but, if it be that wherein you are assured to give a ready answer, it is more praise for you to do it, and especially in open court.


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