Page images
PDF
EPUB

The imports are manufactured goods of almost every description, chiefly from Liverpool; coal from Liverpool, and from the ports of Cumberland; wine from Oporto and Guernsey; brandy and geneva from Guernsey; and rum from England : the balance of trade being greatly against the island. The deficiency may, perhaps, be made up by remittances to strangers, who, in order to avoid the sight of a bailiff, or the extravagance of English living, take up their temporary or permanent abode in this country.

Gold coin is not plentiful, and silver coin is very scarce. The copper coinage is peculiar to the island, fourteen Manks pence making one English shilling. Greenock guinea notes are the chief substitute for gold. Mr. Scott, the collector of the customs, being a partner in the Greenock bank, has, in most of the notes, the initials of his name in water-mark, and gives them every currency in his power. The merchants and manufacturers are very desirous of preventing any inconvenience that might arise from the scarcity of silver, by issuing as many as they can of their one-shilling, half-a-crown,, three-shilling, five-shilling, and seven-shilling tickets or cards. One of these is usually accom.',

F

panied with the motto, “pro bono publico;" and the form of the engagement generally runs thus: “I promise to pay the bearer on demand - shillings, on his bringing the change of a one pound note.” Tickets with only one signature are not much liked, since, in case of the death of the party, the executors are not obliged to pay his debts till the expiration of three years.

Till the act of revestment in 1765, and the subsequent regulations, the chief business of the place was smuggling. The annual returns of this trade exceeded 350,0001. and by some were estimated so high as half a million, while the value of seizures was not more than 10,0001. so that the profits to those engaged in it were probably enormous. The Duke of Athol, having a small duty upon imports, rather encouraged than set his face against it. The place formed completely the harbour and the storehouse of smugglers, whence they shipped their goods, as occasion offered, to England, Ireland, or Scotland, to the great detriment of the British revenue. Many persons being by its failure thrown out of employment, emigrated to America; some went to sea ; some engaged themselves in the fisheries ; and others turned their

[ocr errors]

attention to the cultivation of the ground. To exchange an irregular and idle life for one of constant activity and industry is no easy achieve ment: the waste lands and short crops evince how much remains to be done. .

The following is an extract from an account of the smuggling trade, written about 1753: '

“The English government perhaps do not know to what a height it is come. The captain of a cruiser did venture to do his duty by following a valuable Dutch dogger into port and seizing her. But the man found himself mistaken. Acts of parliament and English commissions could not protect him in that petty principality. Five of his men, who had taken possession of the dogger, were thrown into a gaol, where they will probably lie till their death. The captain himself with two men and a boy 'narrowly escaped to Whitehaven. Quere, whether the Officers of the Isle of Man are not guilty of an act of rebellion in seizing the king's boats and arms ? .“ The loss to the revenue, upon the most moderate calculation, is, at least, 200,0001. a year. “ In short, this island may be looked upon as

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

a fortress in the hands of our enemies : and the whole question is, whether we ought to dispossess them or not; a question that admits of no dispute.” *

Since the year 1765, the contraband trade has been nearly annihilated. The little that is now done is supposed to be by means of coasting vessels, or of ships, which, on account of bad wind or weather, anchor for a short time in some of the harbours of the island.

: * Postlewaite's Commercial Dictionary, fol. vol. ii.

CHAPTER VI.

On the Herring and the Herring Fishery. THE herring fishery, giving rise to the chief commerce of the Isle of Man, I shall a little enlarge upon, beginning with the natural history of the fish, extracted from the approved works of Pennant, Shaw, Bloch, and oceasionally Buffon, generally retaining the language of the two former naturalists, and translating from the French that of the two latter.

The Clupea Harengus, common herring, is eminently important in a commercial view, and may justly be said to form one of the wonders of the northern world. It is principally distinguished by the brilliant silvery colour of its body, the advancement of the lower jaw beyond the upper, and by the number of rays in the anal fin, which, in by far the greater number of specimens, are found to amount to seventeen.* The back is of a dusky hue, or greenish cast; and in the recent or living fish, the gill-covers

* Mr. Pennant says, the usual number is fourteen.

« PreviousContinue »