[From Manx Soc vols 25+28 - Blundell's History]
THE air of this island is both sharp and cold in the winter months, yet I observed it to be much more mild than in Wales, which verifieth the opinion of some yt hold islands to be less cold than ye continents; and they have reason, for, as Cicero saith, islands are warmed with the environing seas, which have a heat enclosed, and the tides being in con tinual agitation, their motion must necessarily produce heat, according to Aristotle's axiom; and without heat there can be no motion at all, as Alphidus, the Chimic philosopher, truly observes; besides misty vapours there abounding are distilled and descend in showers of rain, which much miti gates the cold, as is observed in Ireland. But ye foggs and mists of this Island of Man, tho' frequent, yet neither do nor can corrupt the air, for that is cleansed as with brecons on the billows yt even work from her environing seas, whereby the air becomes more pure and subtil, and therefore very healthful, tho' with-all piercing and sharp, as some' have ob served in Normandy and the air of France. The islanders showed me divers observations of theirs demonstrating the island to be exceeding wholesome to live in, yt no damps or any venomous vapours have been seen to arise out of the earth in any part of the island at any time. The plague was never known to have been there in any of their ancestors' memory; the inhabitants there are long liv'd, even of both sexes; most of them ordinarily do live unto 80, many unto an 100 years and upwards; their women are very fruitful. Lastly, all observe what one delivereth as a maxim ye bat ful, fecond, fertile soil yield commonly the worst, the barron the best air. For tho' some mistaking have amiss inform'd us yt this island's soil is almost equal with Anglisey in fertility, for we acknowledge this island's northern part to be for the most healthy and gravelly ground, much resembling the mountainous parts of Wales; the southern is acknow ledged to have good meadow and pasture ground. All parts of the Island,' as well the north as the south, yieldeth store of all sorts of grain,2 both barley, wheat, rye, and oats (yet of ye last the most), but not only of each satisfying the inhabit ants' necessity, but also affording an overplus for exportation unto other parts; and ye corn of this Island is so purely good as yt you shall not find, no not in England, either better bread or better beer than is there commonly to be sold. It is a strange assertion (or a mistake of his sense of me) yt Josephus shou'd conceive yt no corn did grow in any islands, for whereas King Hiram required and King Solomon did furnish him with corn, Josephus saith he stood in need thereof, because he inhabited an island. It may be in Tyrus ~ there was none or not sufficient, for it is a rocky island; and even in these western islands of Scotland, antiently called Hebrides and Ebude because they yielded no corn, for the inhabitants lived upon fish and milk, saith Solinus, and ye old Britons called them Ed-eid, yt is without corn, by Camb den's interpretation, yet ye island of Sicily hath always been reputed the granary of Italy, and Anglisey, of minor circum ference than the Isle of Man, is known to be the granary of North Wales,4 for wheat groweth in such abundance there, as Mr. Gerald Cambrensis in his time, yt island was very proverbially called Mon Main Combrey, or, as some write it, Gumny, which is as much as to say Mon (yt is Anglisey) is the mother of Wales, for, as Polycron Mercator and John Speed write, when the provision in the other shires of Wales were either spent or their harvest failed, Anglisey alone, like a full-breasted mother, was always to sustain the rest;' and it is expected yt ye soil here will be much improved, and yC island much enabled to yield much more quantity of corn, by the late governor's practice (both for his own and ye islanders' profit), for they now marle their arable ground with lime, which was never there put in practice before; but in my opinion the expectation would be far greater if the natives knew the preparation of the sea-weed,' whereof they have great plenty cast up daily upon the shore by the flowing of the sea, and were taught the use and practice of it, as we have in England, where our allom mines are there were no marle comparable to it ; and it might easily be prepared within the island itself, without either much labour or almost any charge. Myself am able to discover much which I shall willingly do if they desire it, and yt freely.
This island, besides corn of all sorts, yieldeth good store of flax and hemp, neither is this little bee an idle droan, but affordeth both honey and wax, not only for the use of the iii- habitants, but for exportation also, for it employed the same heretofore to further and lighten the antient Christians in their synaxes, but is now employed for their patrons' uses to exchange for other necessaries with the shopkeepers which are wanting in the island. There is not much pasture ground, the most and best is in the Earl of Darby's possession, lying in the south part of the Island, near unto his castle of Rushin, and in the castle of Man, etc. Their neat,2 therefore, in gene ral are, by consequence, little, low, small, and poor (but not in extremity), resembiinr those of Ireland, but nothing near our breed of England, and no marvel, for they feed for the most part in heathy ground, lying continually in the open fields both winter and summer, never housed; neither is any hay or fodder given them, but are enforced to feed on what they find, those yt graze by ye sea shore or near thereto are observed every day of themselves to go down in com panics (nature and necessity only guiding) and there will they expect the ebbing of the water to have ye benefit to eat of ye sea tangle,' yt is those weeds which the sea, at the coming in of the tides, casteth upon the land, and ebbing, leaving them in great heaps. The cattle do more willingly, yea, I may truly say more greedily, feed on those weeds than upon grass or hay. And it is there observed yt those cows yt feed on them are far fairer, bigger-bodyed, fatter, and yield more milk than those of the inland yt have not the same coihodity for their saturation, sustentation, and nourishment. You need not to question whether amongst British animals, in every species, there be not sonie, as well as amongst men, which may be reputed not only in ye natura brevium, but meerly of the Pigmean races. For example, in horses in Eng land, we shall have those we call titts, the Irish their hobbys, the Scotch their Galloway naggs yt run wild all the summer on the mountains in Wales.2 But 5r. Evan Loyd's bred of the little dainty diminutive merlins do far exceed all the rest in a small, neat, curious composure, as if cast in a mold, but these are all of the Gentilesso. The Manks breed are low and little, equal with the least of these above named (except the merlin), and withal frightfully poor, and the most un sightly that may any where be found.3 As the Orcades horses are said to resemble ye French asses, so these do not differ either in height or shape from those, for you are scarce able to discover any head for hair,4 which is of a sooty black colour; I cou'd not discern any of them yt had so much as one white spot in foot or face, nor other colour but the chimenia black in any part of their body.
This long scaring stragling hair hangs dangling down al most 2 or 3 handfuls beneath the whole length of their bellies, their excoriated hides are not (by the bye) to be distinguished from a bear's skin. A reasonable tall man need no stirrups to ascend him, but being mounted, no man need to desire a better travailing beast; they will plod on freely and willingly with a soft and round amble, setting as easy as your Irish hobbies; you have no need of spurs or switch. In enduring labour and hardness they exceed others, they will travail the whole day and night also, if they be put to it, without either nicat or drink. Their sheep, therefore, thrive best in this Island; they are as fat and their flesh as well tasted as our mutton, but generally they are not so great of body; we cannot but admire yt some should relate all they do hear or read of all countries but seek not truth. Win. Harrison here deserves the whet stone, who seems to equal the sheep of this Island, with the weathers of Africa, described by Leo Afnicanus, whose tails outweigh the body of a calf, for he hath printed that the sheep of ye Island of Man are exceeding huge, well wooled, and their tails of such greatness as is almost incredible. Be sides I am to inform my readers that they be not misled by what either Cambden or Speed (both being misinformed by Bishop Merrick's relation) have showed us, that there are in this Island of Man mighty flocks of sheep and of other cattle for it is not so in either of them; there is sufficient store not only to nourish the natives, but some also may be allowed for transportation, but neither of beef or sheep, or any thing else which the Island yieldeth, is there any excessive or superabun dant number. Whatsoever the Island yieldeth is for quality very good, but this good falleth only short in quantity, for we observe to some countries nature seems to have showed herself more liberal, yea, to some in somethings as seeming pro digal, to this Island it hath given the mean; it neither abounds in superfluities nor is defective in necessaries. Before the Lord of Darby's residence in the Island, flying from the troubles then in Lancashire, it abounded plentifully with all necessaries.
The wool of their sheep is very good, but not to be coni pared to our Cotswold or Leicester, yet have they a little and but a little of a certain wool which I attempt one of the rari ties of the island, and far exceeds their other wool in fineness. This sort of wool they call Laughton wool, and ye sheep yt beareth yt coloured wool, the Manksmen call ye grayish co loured Laughton in their language, howbeit this coloured wool to me seemed rather to resemble the dear colour, in dining to fevill mort, and near but not so high tincted as ye hair colour. Mr. Chaloner calleth it a sand colour and not unfitly; but the rarity of this wool is very remarkable, for it is no certain place to be found in all the island. It is a monady, for one only sheep of the whole flock will have this coloured wool in any part of the Island, and they are ob served not to impart that colour to their lambs. Wherefore there is not much of it to be had thro'out the whole Island. Yet I did see the late Lord of Man, James, Earl of Darby, to wear an entire suit made of yt wool.
It is strange yt no enquiries have been made as yet to explore the true causes of this effect, whether this Laughton colour proceed from some vertue or propriety either of the soil or any spring or water of this island, for some soils and some waters have such a propriety as Dubartas, thus ren dered by Sylvester, confirmeth
Cerona Zanthe Cephisus do make'
The 30 flocks yt of them do water take.
Black red and white, and near the crimson,
Th' Arabian fountain maketh crimson sheep.
Pliny' saith ye waters of Busentor hath a propriety to dy the hair black, the river Crathis to tinct it yellow.
Crathis ad hinc Sybaris nostris conterminus oris,
Electro similes faciunt auroque capillas.
Or from the occult propriety of some herbs (not obvious in all places), which being by any sheep encountered and cropt, have any such secret quality to produce such an effect, my assent incineth to this last, for if it had proceeded from any vertue, or quality of any soil, spring, or water there, all the flock (probably) drinking and eating thereof and therein would all have been clothed with yt coloured wool.
Cambden2 and Speed say yt ye red soil of Rutlandshire dieth the wool of ye sheep red, but seeing there is but one only sheep (yt feedeth in the same field with 50 or 100 more) yt hath accidentally acquired this coloured wool, in all probability this solitary herb or tree must needs have the honour to pro duce this tincted colour, for casually being eaten up by this one sheep the other sheep could find no more individumens of ye same species to feed upon, until ye next spring yt it doth again sprout out leaves out of the same root. Let not this seem strange, for both herbs and trees have the same propriety to work the same effect, as Virgil testifieth of ye tamanisk.
Ipse sed in pratis aries jam suave rubenti,
Murice jam croceo mutabit vellera lute.
Tuto cito et jucunde.
But I have not read of a more strong strange effect in any place than in Gauth3 (west of Baugvan in Scotland), where is a hill called Doundee, yt is ye Golden Mountain, for the sheep yt feed therein are yellow and their teeth of the same colour, their flesh and wool red as tinctured with saffron. But I cannot forbear to acquaint you with what Augustin Etzlinus saith yt if a sheep by any accident do become coloured with any usual colour, it portends the happy affluence of all good things. Here I wou'd with yt Mr. James Chaloner advise (from the Lords of Man) were put in practice for ye profit of the islanders, by a manufactory of ye wools of ye island, in imitation of the island Jarsey yt hath no wool in it considerable or equal to Man, yet it maintaineth a great trade with the wools there wrought and brought out of other countries. In this island there are store of hoggs of an ordinary grandure, but I neither hear nor see of any in any part of the island of such a magnitude as were in a manner monstrous. As Wm. Harrison relateth all swine of what age so-ever (of delinquents) are ye lords, and all goats of what age soever are the queen's of Man, rabbits and all. Poultry are here sold at very small ratesa goose for a groat, ducks, hens, etc., in the like manner, and 10 or 12 eggs are ordinarily sold for a peny, there are, moreover, for yr recreation otters, badgers, foxes, hares, and coneys of all-sufficient store, but I cordially cou'd wish their hares were much more numerous in this island, but not so many as might super multiply, as once they did in the Balcares Islands, whose inhabitants, says Pliny, were informed to crave the assistance of a Roman regiment to destroy them, not yt more here were desired for the pleasure and recreation in hunting 'eni, for there are suf ficient store, as I said before, but for a rarity, which the hares here in the Isle of Man are famed for, which is another rarity. I observe there, which is found but in few if in any other countries, and yt is yt the hares there are very fat, their fat being an ingredient so much desired and admired both by the later and antient physicians for its many and rare vertues and propriety in healing many diseases in many bodies both inwardly and outwardly.
There are some deer in the mountains, but those belong to the Lord of Man, and therefore you must have his licence to hunt, or otherwise forfeit a fine of 3 pounds, besides im prisonment during his pleasure; this is one of their customary laws. You may there find a few aynies of excellent hawks, which are accounted to equal if not to exceed those of Ireland, and therefore our King Henry ye 4th in his Letters Patent' of ye grant of ye Island to Sr John Stanley, ye first king of Man of yt name and race, obliged him in lieu of all other gifts upon the day of his and his successor's coronation, yt he present him with a cast of hawks.
Hems also for your sport with the lord's leave, otherwise you are to pay the fine aforesaid, but you are to take any other fowls, either wild ducks, cranes, bittern, widgeans, or teal, etc. But neither patriges nor farkers will live there, altho' imported, as was experienc'd by James, late Lord of Man, who of purpose brought oven thither some out of England, but they cou'd no more thrive there than hares can live in his Island of Ithaca,2 or owles in the Island of Creet, or mice in the Island of Arren (by Ireland), on dogs in Sigaron, an island in Arabia Felix, whither voluntarily they will not enter, and if brought in they will not cease their running until they have run out their life, but of all fowles there the puffins are most numerous, but of them and of the barnacles, I have already made mention in the Calf of Man. John Speed wou'd persuade you that there are some woods in the Isle of Man ; but Cambden denies it, for he saith, yt this Island is Sylvis indig: the natives, and truly told me there were none, 'which our law-books and sr Edward Cook seem to confirm, for he citeth a law-case as a customary law in the Isle of Man, yt stealing of an ox or an horse is no felony why the law-book saith they cannot hide them as having no woods. This case was argued in ye 12th year of the reign of King Henry ye 8th. There hath been no woods in Man this 140 years past, and I do not remember to have seen any one hedge yt parted either field or pastures, but all were either of turfs or of earth stones or of both; and therefore of this Island is the old observation verified yt woods are in no place more decayed than where they have most decayed. I say abounded, yea I cou'd not observe one tree to be in any place but what grew in gardensthere is so great scarcity even of birch, as the mercers in y y Man, whom they call shopkeepers, when they come into England for other commodities, they buy up our birch brooms, and of them they make rods and sell them to parents to correct their children, and schoolmen to discipline their schollars.
Yet none can deny but that there have been great store of woods there,' seeing it is by all acknowledged to have been the prime seat of ye Druids, who never inhabited any place which was not stored with oakes. Polydore Virgil, in the time of Agricola his being in England, saith that Paulinus commanded that their woods shou'd be cut down because they were superstitiously abused by the Druids, yea Julius Agricola himself might give such a commandment, for Cooper saith he was himself in Man, and had conquered it after he had conquered Anglisey. But all the woods were not rooted up by either of them, for I read of this island long after the Druids,2 even above 1000 years after their extirpation in ye time of our Wm, the First, commonly called the Conqueror, yt there were great woods still in Man, especially in the north, as his history evinceth, which is taken out of their own chronicle written by ye Monks of Rushen, and copied out of them by Cambden, and J. Speed out of him.
There is one of ye 17 kirks or parishes of Man is called Kirkarberry because formerly it was surrounded with trees, arbolick. Godred Conan, the son of Harrold ye Black of Island (after ye death of Syrnick, king of Man), ano. 1066 or 1067, invaded the Isle of Man with a great fleet, and having been twice repulsed by the Islanders, at ye 3d attempt he attained yt by policy which he cou'd not obtain by force for entering the Bay of Ramsey with his fleet; he had 300 men in a wood, while the battle standing in doubtful suspense, ye 300 men in ambush violently rushed out and forced the Manksmen to fly. Since the woods were destroyed and no sea cole is as yet discovered in the Island, there is no want of any necessary thing for ye Island so much as fuelling, yet are they not much necessitated, and yt very seldom or never ex pect when it is overcharged, as it was during ye late troubles in England. In the want thereof they have sufficient store of sea cole imported thither at very easy rates both from Whitehaven in Cumberd and Weirwater and Liverpool in Lancashire, or from Bagot Moston, and ye north parts of Carnarvenshire and Flintshire in Wales.
The only fuelling which ye Island naturally produceth is gorse and heath, which they call ling; of these they have abundance, as also of broom, of turf yt is good they have some, but not in quantity, but they have great store of a courser, clammy, and more earthly turf where the poor make their fire, but the better sort do only make use thereof to mix wth their sea coal to make it burn the better.
You would admire to see this course turf sold here in the market; ye constant price of 12 loads is 10 pence, which any might presume were a cheap bargain. But their panniers are so little which they put upon those pygmean horses, as yt you shall be enforced to put upon your grate 3 horse loads at least to make one reasonable fire. Concerning quarries of stone one may suppose this Island to have suf fered a greater scattering and cleaving of stone and ye rocks by that stupendous subterranean earthquake at our Bd Saviour's death, than any other. I call it subterranean, because it seerneth it showed not its effects in any part of the superfices of the earth, for neither the sacred text, nor Josephus, nor any history, maketh mention yt any of ye towers of Jerusalem, or so much as a chimney, was shattered down either there or anywhere; but some conceived to have been universal, but more in Man than any other place (yt I have seen but only in North Wales). Ranulf of Chester saith, before our Bd. S'S. death all quarries were of one entire stone, but here and in Wales they are so extreamly broken, as if they were only piles of slates heaped one upon another. There hath not been discovered any mines of minerals of metals. Mr. Chaloner telleth us of one of lead near ye sea cragg called Mine hough, which was experienced by Capn. Edwd. Christian to hold much silver. No quarries of free-stone yet found, but upon the sea-side near Baladowle; but it is very difficult to be polished in regard to the hardness thereof, of which stone ye Castle of Rushin is built, and it may be the Abbey of Rushin also by Bala Sala. The minerals I make no doubt, but yt sea-coal, vitriol, and allom, might as well be found there (if sought) as well as in Wales; and if Mr Thos Bushel's melancholy would have permitted him to have left the Calf to have surveyed the Man itself, he should have found (I presume) more hopefull encouragements there then since he hath yet found in ye mountains of Talibunt Reginian, ye Darceubroom Loyd, Comerion Comsomlock, or in any other part of South Wales. Yet if a mine royal should at any time be discovered, it is to be feared least Man be coming rich the Manksmen become not miserable as ye Mexicans in America. Howsoever, I confide yt it will be experienced hereafter yt Man is far richer under ground than it is above. I find some heretofore yt had a mill, but none yt did attempt the search to make a real discovery. For Thos Earl of Darby, and King of Man, by a deed,' bearing date at his house in Lathom anno 1505, granted to Huan, Bishop of Sodor, all the mines of lead and iron he could find ; but it seemeth he found none, nor any other have discovered any since, but of limestones, till of late, as I mentioned above.
It is conceived yt 2 parts of 3 are mountains in this Island, wch from the eastern to the western do cross this Isle, and especially towards the midst of this Isle seems to swell into hills and mountains poorly clad with any verdure, but all usefull there to supply the place of watch-towers, yt whereon ~ Mathew, as in ye north part of ye Isle, and a part thereof runneth flat south toward the south, inclining west. I find ye Warehills, which extend themselves from the west coast even unto ye east, even to ye Burne Stream. I take these to be ye same yt ye Cronocle of Man calleth ye Watchful Hills, where Richard de Mandevil, with his Irish, fought a battle with the Manksmen, and overcame them, and plundered the Island.1
In Kirk Michael, on the hill Revernshing, was a court holden An. 1242. More elevated than these are Maroun and Colgreve, but the most eminent and conspicuous for altitude is Sneaful (Mr. Chaloner nameth it Snawfel), wherein you may, in calm and serene weather, recreate yourself with ye prospect of 3 Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland, yea of North Wales also. Under the hollow of this hill did Godred Crovan conceal his ambush of 300 men (as I showed you before), when ye 3d time he fought with the Manksmen, and obtained the Kingdom. Upon this hill is ye principal beacon of ye whole Island, always ready, and accomodated with a watch both day and night, winter and summer, as I shall more amply show you in ye 12th Chap. of this Book.
In these mountains are those deer which are in the Island, for there are no chases, forrests, or parks, or any inclosures for venery; here also (on the few trees left) are some ayres of excellent hawks. What treasures are within these moun tains inclosed, Time may discover to recompence the common want of wood. God hath gratified the islands with excellent fresh water, so pure and pleasant to ye taste of necessitated passengers, as yt I have heard them protest yt in their opinion there was not anything in this Island yt equalled ye goodness of their water, yet in the whole Isle there is not one deserving the name of a river, and not above 4 or 5 standing pools or loughs, which are especially northward. Both in the east and west, notwithstanding, the Island aboundeth with many currents of fresh water, which we may rather call rills and rivulets than rivers or floods, as being grandeured by the de scending springs and showers of rain from ye adjacent hills and mountains. Neither are they great, long, or navigable, but most places terminated not much above the flowing, or, as we call it, the high water mark, whereof those are the principal ye Neb, entering the sea of Peel Town, Clawnebey river ly in Kirk Kirkby, Solbe Flood on the north of ye haven of Ramsey, Colby Bourn in ye south, yt which runneth into Laxy Bay, ye Black and White Water yt meet at Douglas salmon river, with yt wch runneth under the castle walls of Rushin.
Ranulf, Monk of Chester,' and out of him Wm Harrison (but both misunderstanding of Ven Bede) aver that there are 2 rivers in this island, whose heads do join so near, yt they seem to part ye island into 2 parts, as it were into 2 islands. The first southward, this had better corn land, and contained 900. V. Bede and Winken de Word in his addition to Poli cronicon saith 960 householders. That northward 300 or more, as men guess, but ye mistaking is scarce excusable, for Ven Bede there wrote of King Edwin's conquest of ye Western Islands, in one of which he saith 900 families, English, might inhabit in the other 300 speaking of several islands and not of several parts of any one island, either of Man or any other.
The sea feedeth more of the Manksmen than of the soil, as I demonstrate in ye sequel It yieldeth to the islanders presently of divers sorts of fish, but of no one sort so much as of herrings in their season, of which more hereafter.2 There are great store of salmons, codds, haddocks, macarels, rayes, place, thornbecks, and more than I can name to you. They have also a small sort of ling, which they do commonly eat, being taken as other fish boiled, tho' some they salt in barrels to sell.
They have one sort of fish, and is only to be found in yt island. It is red of colour, and to look upon you may mistake it for flesh; but when you cut it is solid nor firm, yet it is savoury.
Their codds, thornbecks, and places, etc., they hang them upon the wall to dry them in the sun, which gives the taste of stockfish; but being dressed, minced, and mixed with butter, they do yield the taste of ling or haberdine.
There are few or no oysters or muscles ; but of crabbs, lobsters, and cockles, abundance in their seasons.
These, and whatsoever fish they take in the island, you may buy at very easy and cheap rates.
An expert lapidany or druggist at the ebbing of ye seatides may be here much recreated to survey wt ye flowing of the sea had cast up and left on the shore (being retired), for every day he shall find new discoveries, and sometimes rich commodities not understood by the natives.
This is demonstrated yt tho' this Isle of Man hath no manna in it, nor any delicacies of dainty, superfluities to nourish vice, vanity, and riot, yet hath this Man everything fit for man; nothing is there wanting to sustain the natives, seeing of itself in itself it is sufficiently furnished if not sur charged for strangers.
1 Clement Edinound, 1. 5, c. 5.
1 Polycron, L. 1, c. 44. 2 V. Bede, Hist. of Eng., 1. 2, c. 9.
~ Sand's Travails, 1. 4, p. 246. ~ Abridg. c. 15 of Eng.
' Alge, whereof the kelp is made. 2 Their cattle.
1 Alga. 2 At Gale in Denbyshire. ~ Hect. Boet., Descr. 16, 1, 9.
Wm. Hanson's Descr. of Scot., Ch. 12.
~ In the 3d of the 1st week.
1 Nat. Hist., 1. 3. 2 Camb.' Rutlandahire, p. 515, abr. in Rutland.
~ Hector B., Scotie Regni Descriptie, p. 9.
1 See ye Letters Patents, 1. 2, c. 4. 2 Pliny, 1. 6, c.
1 Hist. Anglisey, 1. 1. 2 De Insul Britannico, ab., c. 44.
See Monasticon Anglicanum. Part of ye 3d, where you may read the deed itself at large. [Printed in Oliver's "Monurnenta," vol. iii. pp. 27.31. Manx Society, Vol. IX. 1862.Editor.]
1 Policron, 1. 1, c. 44.
2 Chap. X.