Extracts from Wesley's Journal relating to the Isle of Man

These extracts are from the condensed edition of Wesley's journal 'Wesley His own biographer' 1890


Friday, 30.—I went on to Whitehaven, where I found a little vessel waiting for me. After preaching in the evening, I went on board about eight o'clock, and before eight in the morning landed at Douglas, in the Isle of Man.
Douglas exceedingly resembles Newlyn in Cornwall; both in its situation, form,and buildings; only it is much larger, and has a few houses equal to most in Penzance. As soon as we landed, I was challenged by Mr. Booth, who had seen me in Ireland, and whose brother has been for many years a member of the society in Coolalough. A chaise was provided to carry me to Castletown. I was greatly surprised at the country. All the way from Douglas to Castletown it is as pleasant and as well cultivated as most parts of England, with many gentlemen's seats. At six I preached near the castle, I believe, to all the inhabitants of the town. Two or three gay young women showed they nothing about religion; all the rest were deeply serious. Afterwards I spent an hour very agreeably at Mrs. Wood's, the widow of the late Governor

Sunday June 1 - Mr Corbett said, he would gladly have asked me to preach but that the Bishop had forbidden him; who had also forbidden all his clergy to admit any Methodist preacher to the Lord s Supper
But is any clergyman obliged, either in law or conscience, to obey such a prohibition? By no means. The will even of the king does not bind any English subject, unless it be seconded by an express law. How much less the will of a bishop ? "But did not you take an oath to obey him ~" No, nor any clergyman in the three kingdoms. This is a mere vulgar error. Shame that it should prevail almost universally!

Monday, 2.—The greater part of them were present at five in the morning. A more loving, simple-hearted people than this I never saw. It is supposed to contain near thirty thousand people, remarkably courteous and humane. Ever since smuggling was suppressed, they diligently cultivate their land: and they have a large herring fishery, so that the country improves daily. The old castle at Peel (as well as the cathedral built within it) is only a heap of ruins. It was very large, and exceeding strong, with many brass guns; but they are now removed to England.

I set out for Douglas in the one-horse chaise, Mrs. Smyth riding with me. In about an hour, in spite of all I could do, the headstrong horse ran the wheel against a large stone: the chaise overset in a moment; but we fell so gently on smooth grass, that neither of us was hurt at all. In the evening I preached at Douglas, to near as large a congregation as that at Peel, but not near so serious. Before ten we went on board, and about twelve on Tuesday, 3, landed at Whitehaven.


MAY JUNE. 1781

Wednesday, 30. —I embarked on board the packet-boat, for the Isle of Man. We had a dead calm for many hours: however, we landed at Douglas on Friday morning. Both the preachers met me here, and gave me a comfortable account of the still increasing work of God.
Before dinner; we took a walk in a garden near the town, wherein any of the inhabitants of it may walk. It is wonderfully pleasant; yet not so pleasant as the gardens of the Nunnery, (so it is still called,) which are not far from it. These are delightfully laid out, and yield to few places of the size in England.
At six I preached in the market-place, to a large congregation; all of whom, except a few children, and two or three giddy young women, were seriously attentive.
Saturday, JUNE 2 —I rode to Castleton. All the day I observed, wherever I was, one circumstance that surprised me:—In England we generally hear the birds singing, morning and evening; but here thrushes, and various other kinds of birds, were singing all day long. They did not intermit, even during the noon-day heat, where they had a few trees to shade them.
Sunday, 3. —Between six and seven I preached on the sea-shore at Peel, to the largest congregation I have seen in the island: even the society nearly filled the house. I soon found what spirit they were of. Hardly in England (unless perhaps at Bolton) have I found so plain, so earnest, so simple people.
Monday, 4. —We came to Bishop's-court, where good Bishop Wilson resided near threescore years. There is something venerable, though not magnificent, in the ancient palace; and it is undoubtedly situated in one of the pleasantest spots of the whole island.
At six in the evening I preached at Balleugh; but the preaching-house would not contain one half of the congregation; of which the vicar, Mr. Gilling, with his wife, sister, and daughter, were a part. He invited me to take a breakfast with him in the morning, Tuesday, 5; which I willingly did.
Wednesday, 6. —This morning we rode through the most woody, and far the pleasantest, part of the island;—a range of fruitful land, Lying at the foot of the mountains, from Ramsay, through Sulby, to Kirkmichael. Here we stopped to look at the plain tomb-stones of those two good men, Bishop Wilson and Bishop Hildesley; whose remains are deposited, side by side, at the east end of the church. We had scarce reached Peel before the rain increased; but here the preaching-house contained all that could come. Afterwards Mr. Crook desired me to meet the singers. I was agreeably surprised. I have not heard better singing either at Bristol or London. Many, both men and women, have admirable voices; and they sing with good judgment. Who would have expected this in the Isle of Man ?
Thursday, 7.—I met our little body of preachers. They were two-and-twenty in all I never saw in England so many stout, well-looking preachers together. If their spirit be answerable to their look, I know not what can stand before them. In the afternoon I rode over to Dawby, and preached to a very large and very serious congregation.
Friday, 8.—Having now visited the island round, east, south, north, and west, I was thoroughly convinced that we have no such circuit as this, either in England, Scotland, or Ireland. It is shut up from the world; and, having little trade, is visited by scarce any strangers. Here are no Papists, no Dissenters of any kind, no Calvinists, no disputers. Here is no opposition, either from the Governor, (a mild, humane man,)from the bishop, (a good man,) or from the bulk of the clergy. One or two of them did oppose for a time; but they seem now to understand better. So that we have now rather too little, than too much, reproach; the scandal of the Cross being, for the present. ceased. The natives are a plain, artless, simple people; unpolished, that is, unpolluted; few of them are rich or genteel; the far greater part, moderate, and most of the strangers that settle among them are men that have seen affliction. The local-preachers are men of faith and love, knit together in one mind and judgment. They speak either Manx or English, and follow a regular plan, which the assistant gives them monthly.
The isle is supposed to have thirty thousand inhabitants. Allowing half of them to be adults, and our societies to contain one or two and twenty hundred members, what a fair proportion is this! What has been seen like this, in any part of Great Britain or Ireland ?
Saturday, 9.-We would willingly have set sail; but the strong north-east prevented us.
Monday, 11.-It being moderate, we put to sea: but it soon died awe'ealm;

(See also article by J.D.Kerruish in Mannin)



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