« PreviousContinue »
that some employed twenty years in this course of education: they did not think it lawful to record these verses in writing, but sacredly handed them down by tradition from race to
The Druids lived together in colleges of societies, after the Pythagorean manner, and philosophising upon the highest subjects, asserted the immortality of the human soul t. They possessed, from very remote ages, an excellent system of discipline and manners, and there flourished among them the study of the most laudable arts, which appears to have had a deep and 'lasting influence over the ancient Celtæ, a great and mighty people, whose dominion extended over alĩ the west of Eul'ope.
The Druids had not only introduced and established in the island their own religion, laws, and ceremonies, for which they had been so highly celebrated, but had assumed, exclusively to themselves, the decision of all controversies, whether of a public or private na ture; and the people cheerfully attended the priest and magistrate from the altar to the tribunal; but whoever refused to abide by their judgment, was afterwards interdicted from béing present at their solemn sacrifices and holý rites, which was considered by the people as
* Cæsar's Commentaries, Strabo, Pliny.
+ This doctrine had been long received in the east, before it got any footing in the north-west parts of the world...-Strabo, Lucan.
I Ammianus Marcellinus.
the most grievous punishment ; such, indeed, was their fear and love for this eminent order of men, that Cratilinth and his successors found it extremely difficult to annihilatė or expel them.
But amidst all the darkness in which very remote ages must necessarily involve the early periods of legal learning; and after the Emperour Claudius had abolished the religion of the Druids in Gaul*, viz. about the commencement of the fourth-century, this celebrated order became wholly extinct, and the feudal system, which was planted in Europe by its Northern Conquerors, at the dissolution of the Roman Empire, was universally established in Mona. From that period, the whole body of the people, at the will of their chief, were convened at a place near the centre of the island, immemorially called the Tynwald Hill; from the Danish word Ting, (Forum judiciale) and Wald, fenced it, where every subject was expected to appear, in order to receive at stated periods the pleasure of his prince. This Court was always held sub dio, after the ancient manner of all the northern nations, where the king or lord, seated on the summit of a mount, or venerated barrow, and attended by the chiefs and elders of the land, promulgated his laws and ordinances, which were received by the surrounding multitude with awful silence and attention.
The above mode of publishing laws was observed in the neighbouring kingdom of Ireland; for we learn from Baron Finglas's breviate of that kingdom, that, 6 the laws and slatutes, made by the Irish on their hills, they keep firm and stable, without breaking men in the community, held their courts on the top of a hill called Cnoc an Eric, viz. the Hill of Pleas*."
The paucity of Manks history, throws only a faint gleam of light on the first legislators of this country, for the most ancient records were removed to Drontheim in Norway by Maude or Matilda, a princess of the ancient race, in the year 1292, and were afterwards destroyed by fire; what few remained in the island were carried' away by the illustrious Countess of Derby (who retained the glory of being the last person in the three kingdoms, and in all their dependent dominions, that submitted to the victorious Commonwealth *:), and from whom his Grace the Duke of Atholl is lineally descended
It is understood in the island, that Mannan Maclear was the prince, and first great legis lator of the Manks. It is believed that this chief flourished in the beginning of the fifth cen tury, and was the son of a king of Ulster, and brother to Fergus the Second, who restored the kingdom of Scotland in 422. The subjects of this Manks prince entertained so great an
* Macqueen on the Western Isles. +Hume, Hist. Eng.
opinion of his learning and abilities, that they attributed these attainments to some supernas tural agency; and he was by them deemed, like Zoroaster or Numa, a magician. The Manks, to this day, entertain a great veneration for this chief. In their ancient records they called him a paynim, and superstitiously affirmed, that, at his pleasure, he kept, by necromancy, the land of Man under mists, and, to an enemy, could make one man seem an hundred.
About this period St Patrick landed in Mona *, and, after labouring in the introduction of Christianity, he left Germanus, a canon of the Lateran, in the words of Jocelinus, “ ad regendum et erudendum populum in fide Chris, ti.
We learn, both from the antiquities of Glas'tonbury and Harding's Chronicle, that about the year 520, King Arthur conquered the Isle of Man, which he afterwards restored to the native prince. These chronicles do not men tion the name of this prince, but it is highly probable he was father to Brennus, or, as he is styled by Buchanan, “ Brendinus Regulus Eubonia,” and nephew to Aydan, King of Scotland, who was slain in 594, when fighting for his uncle at the head of his Manks men against the Picts. Soon afterwards Eugenius the Fifth, the son of Aydan, obtained the crown of Scotland ; and, in memory of his education in the island, and the kind reception he had found there, sent his three sons, Fer
* Joscelin, vita Pat. c. 92, A. D. 447. Usher's Antiq. p. 644.
the times had learned to practise and improve, gaard, Fiacre, and Donald, to be educated under Conanus, bishop of the Isle*. It is recorded to the honour of the Manks prince, that he was admitted one of the celebrated Knights of the Round Table. So associated, it is highly pro: bable that he would derive instruction, not on. ly in the romantic laws of chivalry and honour, which the ambition and peculiar character of
but also in the great principles of legislative government, then in its infancy, and which Alfred the Great, after he had attained the meridian of glory, so happily matured.
With respect to the celebrated trial by jury, which polity was afterwards improved and established in England, by the superior genius of Alfred, that tribunal was coëval with, and interwoven in the feudal constitution, and unia versally established amongst all the northern nations t, and, consequently, was not only used, but esteemed a privilege of the most extensive and beneficial nature in the Isle of Man.
Mr Camden, in his Britannia, furnishes us with an account of a long line of princes, of the Irish, Norwegian, Scottish, Manks, and English race, who were chiefly engaged in the contentions and warfare of those barbarous
pe riods, with little leisure or ability to cherish the arts of jurisprudence, or soften, by legisa lative wisdom, the uncivilized manners of the times. Probably Macon, who reigned in the tenth century, may be excepted from this
* Boeth. Hist. Scot. p. 114. Hollingsh. p. 144. + Blackstone, 1. 3. p. 350.