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On the Character, Manners, and Customs of
the Inhabitants. Language. Attractions of the Island.
THE Manks are reckoned to be naturally of an indolent and credulous, often of a superstitious, and gloomy disposition. I do not know of any one that has rendered himself eminent by a great proficiency, or useful discovery in the arts or sciences, by fire of genius or profundity of learning. Characters endowed with piety, benevolence, and other virtues, in general, I trust, less remarkable, have not been rare. I would particularize several, were I not afraid of omitting others of perhaps equal merit. Some of the women of the higher classes are well informed and accomplished : most of the lower classes, civil and industrious. To thesc may be applied the character which one of the author's of King's Cheshire gives to the women of that country: they are usually, says he, very prolific after marriage, and sometimes before.
An honest and industrious servant girl is not ruined by becoming a mother, though for the sake of decency her place is lost. To this laxity of morals is attributed the absence, even in Douglas, of those women which so frequently swarm in towns. I was informed that their trade had been tried, but found not to answer. The servants of Man are more dirty and untidy than the English, but less so than the Scotch or Irish.
The people are attached to their native vales and mountains, to their ancient customs, and their laws. They considered themselves independent of the English nation, and were greatly affected by the sale of the island which they thought would blend the countries. Though few the enjoyments of the lower orders, their cares are also few. Over a jug of ale their troubles are frequently forgotten; and, when again remembered, are expected to terminate with the next fishing season. The cheapness of law encourages strife: many a quarrel, which in England, would be amicably adjusted, is here brought into court. Rancour, when long indulged, it is not easy to eradicate.
Insanity among the natives is reckoned rather common: it is usually of a melancholy, not of a violent description. Persons, afflicted with this calamity, if not kept at home by their friends, are permitted to roam at large.
The middle and higher ranks mix too much with the English to retain any peculiar characteristic of their native country. The chief trade and much of the farming business is carried on by strangers. Civilization is little, if at all, behind the remoter parts of England. An anonymous writer of the last century says, that knives and forks were scarcely known here; that when a person gave a dinner, the appendage was a few butchers knives for carvers; that their thumbs and fingers and their teeth were the only implements allotted to the guests. He was either misinformed himself or attempted to mislead his readers.
The people are hospitably and charitably disposed. One of their proverbs is, “When one poor man relieves another God himself laughs for joy.” Poor's rates and most other parochial rates are things unknown; and there is not in the whole island either hospital, workhouse, or house of correction. A collection is made after the morning service of every Sunday for the relief of such poor of the parish as are thought de
serving of charity. The donation is optional; but it is usual for every one to give something. Beggars are little encouraged and rarely met with. The want of poor's rates and workhouses is by some thought a disadvantage; while others, judging by their effect in England, and reasoning upon general principles, imagine that, while they are a tax upon the higher and middle classes, they are rather detrimental than beneficial to the industrious poor, and consequently prejudicial to a nation.
In every parishi is at least one charity school, and often a small library. These were founded by Bishops Barrow and Wilson, are supported by voluntary contributions, and many of them have funds arising from legacies and donations.
The inhabitants have nothing peculiar in their dress ; sandals or kerranes being now seldom seen. Blue cloaks are more common here than red ones in London or Dublin. The market baskets and panniers are made of straw-bands, crossing each other at right angles, usually from two to four inches apart, in a manner not unlike that before described for fastening down a thatch. The common dress of strangers is a sailor's jacket and trowsers of fine blue cloth.
It is termed the Manks' livery; but when or
The language of Man is naturally Erse; and many of the country people do not understand a word of English. I subjoin as a specimen a translation of the Lord's prayer from the Manks' prayer book :
“ Ayr ain t'ayns niau, casheric dy row dt ennym, dy jig dty reeriaght, dty aigney dy row jeant ev y thalloo myr t’yh ayns niau; cur dooin nyn arran jiu as gagh-laa, as leigh dooin nyn loghtyn, myr ta shin leigh daues yn ta jannoo loghtyn nyn 'oi. As ny lecid shin ayns miolagh, agh livrey shin veigh olk. Son Chiat's yn reeriaght, as yn phooar, as yn ghloyr, son dy' bragh as dy bragh. Amen.”
For the infoi mation or rather amusement of the reader, I shall here insert an extract of a letter written to Camden, at the time that he was composing his Britannia, by John Meryk, Bishop of the Isle
“ This island not only supplies its own wants, but exports many cattle and fish, and much corn. The abundance of its produce is to be ascribed rather to the pains and industry of the