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



1.—Of Captain Christians the old Governor, yet in prison; what he suffers there, but just; 2—and the Earl would farther punish him, but the judges say they want precedents; hardly any punishment in the Isle of Man but may be got of, except the crime sheep-stealing. 3.—The Earl will provide better laws hereafter; if he does not, he advises his son to do it. 4. Captain Christian pretends he suffers for the people; so that a jury would acquit him. But the Earl thinks he may be fined, and deeply.

I WILL return unto Captain Christian, whose business must be heard the next week. He is still in prison; and I believe many wonder thereat, as savouring of injustice, and that his trial should be so long deferred. But, in my own knowledge he deserves what he hath, and a great deal more. Also his business is of that condition, that it concerns not himself alone. And if sometimes we endure, ourselves or friends, for a general good, much more may we let a knave feel a little of that misery he would have brought on many an honest man.

2. I believe such course will be taken, that he shall groan under the burden of it. But, whether it will reach his life, I know not; for his judges do pretend they want precedent And, indeed, in this country any offence will be excused, if never so high a nature, provided he steal not sheep; and that because the judges be sheep-masters.

3. But, God willing, I will have laws declared for treason and-the like. If I do not, be it your task.

4. If a jury of the people do pass upon him (being he hath so cajoled them to believe he suffers for their sakes), it is likely they would quit him. And then might he laugh at us; whom I had rather he had betrayed. So as I think, according to custom for some offences of that nature, he will be fined; though haply deeper than usual. Nevertheless, I may so handle it, that little shall stick by me, though himself be no whit favoured. I remember one said, it was safer much to take men's lives than their estates. For their children will sooner much forget the death of their father than the loss of their patrimony.


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