Posted on October 9, 2010


Just thought I’d add the classic letter from the Rev Clarke of 1872 which is available on the Manx note book. Only part of the original Manx is here but the sentiments about the decline of the language are ones that friends of the language can sympathise with.

Read at Yn Lhaih Gailckagh at Douglas, February 19th, 1872.

My ghooinney cheerey, te jannoo lane taitnys da my chree (ga bunnys three keead veeilley jeh) dy chlashtyn dy vel Manninee feiy-yerrey, ga yn laa lurg y vargey, doostey seose ass nyn merriud-haveenagh dy hauail chengey ny mayrey veih ve ooilley-cooidjagh oanluckit ‘syn oaie. Ga dy vel eh roie dy tappee gour-y-vullee goll-rish ny banglaneyn elley jeh’n chenn ghlare-ghooie, va keayrt dy row gurneil un tress ayrn jeh’n Rank, ny-yei cha vel eh yindys erbee, dy vel ad ooilley goll sheesh ny lhargey, agh er-lheh yu Ghailck Vanninagh son te cha beg dy chummaltee ‘syn Ellen. Ta Jee er choyrt wheesh dy cheeayl da dooinney nish, dy vel eh gimman ny greinyn-aileagh t’eh jannoo eer er famman ny geayee, as ta wheesh dy schlei currit da dy vel eh er n’ yannoo mollagyn-aeragh dy chur lhieu seose eh dys ny bodjallyn. Ta siyn-hiaullee echey myrgeddyn dy gholl veih cheer dy heer, eer noi sooill-ny-geayee, tidaghyn ny marrey as gaalyn yu eer. Eer er grunt y cheayn-vooar hene ta saase ec dooinney dy chur chyrrys veih un ayrn jeh’n seihll dye ayrn elley lesh vieauid yn tendreil. Shen-y-fa ta sleih ny cruinney mestit fud-y-cheilley wheesh shen smoo na v’ad rieau roie dy re yn ghlare s’cadjin te ‘sy theihll vees y ghlare smoo ymmyd vees jeant j’ee. She shoh yn oyr son y chooid smoo dy vel yn Ghailck Vanninagh ain er gholl kione-ny-lhie cha tappee. Ta Mannin nish jeant myr dy beagh ee ayrn jeh Sestyn read ta’n Vaarle glare chadjin y theay. Ayns Sostyn er-y-fa shen chs vel yn Ghailck dys ymmyd erbee. Myr shoh ta’n Vaarle goaill yn reiltys as yn reiltys vees ec. Ta’n oyr feer vaghtal. Ta dellal Vannin currit lesh cheu-sthie jeh queig ny shey dy ooryn dye margaghyn Hostyn, as dy ghellal ayndoo shen she Baarle as Baarle ynricky n sheign ve oc. Ta sleih-aegey Vannin myrgeddyn chammah as yn chenn-diaght troilt veih boayl dy voayl er-feiy-ny-cruinney, paart dys yu aill, paart dys keird, as paart elley goll er-shiaulley foddey job dy hagglym cooid as cowreyn gour y laa-fliaghee. Son y cooid smoo she Baarle t’ad loayrt as ayns Baarle t’ad dellal . Fakin shoh ro-laue eisht ta sleih coontey beg jeh’n ghlare ghooie oc-hene, ec y traa cheddin oddagh Gailck ve oc chammah as y Vaarle, fegooish yn derrey yeh cheet ayns raad y jeh elley. Ta yn fardailys smoo ‘sy theihll dy chredjal dy jinnagh tushtey jeh taggloo as lhaih yn Ghailck dy bragh cheet ‘sy raad oc ayns gynsagh y Vaarle. Cha daink shoh my raad’s ayns gynsagh yn Vaarle. Ec jeih bleeaney dy eash va mee abyl dy loayrt dy floail ayns Gailck rish cotlaryn my yishag nagh. row Baarle erbee oc, as roish va mee feed blein dy eash va ymmeddee lioraryn veggey Vaarlagh chyndaait aym jys Gailck as er nyn gloughey son ymmyd y theay. Nish lash ooilley’n obbyr shoh ayns Gailck cha row eh rieau ayns my raad eddyr ayns loayrt ny lhaih y Vaarle Agh ta ard-reiltee Ellan Vannin noi yn Ghailck ; ta shirveishee yn Goo jeh dy chooilley chredjue noi ec; ta briwnyn as leighderyn noi ec; as ta’n aegid troggit seose nish ny s’mee-hushtey jeh chengey-ny-marrey na masse dy vagheragh cliagh-tey ve. Ayns traa Aspick Wilson as Aspick Mark [Hildesley] cha voddagh dooinney aeg erbee gheddyn stiagh ayns oik y taggyrtys fegooish Gailck vie echey. Tra va kiare-as-feed ny gharrane reill roish nish, she Gailck ooilley v’oc. As ayns yn Vriw Lace as yn Vriw Crellin cha b’loys da turneyr erbee cheat kiongoyrt roo nagh voddagh argane eh ayns Gailck. Ta cooinaghtyn aym-pene ayns laghyn my aegid dy re ayns Gailck va shin ooilley loayrt rish nyn gabbil as nyn ollagh. Eer moddee hene mannagh loayragh shin roo ayns Gailck, cha jinnagh ad cloh dooin, agh jeeaghyn mygeayrt-y-moo goaill yn yindys smoo ‘sy theihll c’red va shin laccal ad dy yannoo dooin. Cha row ny moddee voghtey hene toiggal Baarle, son she Gailck ooilley v’oc, as cha row ad goaill nearey j’ee noadyr! Cha nhimmey blein er dy henney neayr’s verr mee er shenn ghooinney ‘sy raad vooar geiyrt roish lieh ghuasan dy vooaghyn vluight roish y vagher raad v’ad or ve gyndyr dy chur stiagh ad ‘sy thie-ollee. Va injeig veg choon combaasal yn vwaane. Cha leah’s hooar ny booaghyn stiagh ayns shen lesh ny muilg lane hie ad dy ghleck rycheilley chouds va’n chenn ghooinney fosley yn dorrys dy gheddyn stiagh ad Cha leah as haink, eh magh, ghow eh ny vud oc ayns farg eulys, bunnys brishey ny asnaghyn ayndoo lesh y vad v’echey ny laue, gyllagh ny onmyn oc ayns Gailck my va’d broo ry-cheilley lesh nyn eirkyn, as gra, “Ghonnag! y veeaitaig dyn nearey myr t’ou, gow stiagh dys dty eishtyr as gow fea.[rest tba] My fellow countryman., it delights my heart (though nearly three hundred miles away) to hear that at last Manxmen, although the day after the fair, are waking up out of their lethargy to save the mother tongue from being altogether buried in the grave. Though it is rapidly hastening to its end, like the other branches of the old native tongue, it once held sway over the third part of France, nevertheless it is no wonder that they are all going down-hill, but especially the Manx Gaelic, for there are so few inhabitants of the Island. God has given so much wisdom to man nowadays that he drives the steam engines [fiery engines] he makes even on the tail of the wind, and has given him so much skill that he has made balloons to take him up to the clouds. He has vessels also to go from country to country, even against the eye of the wind, the tides of the sea and the gales of heaven. Even on the bottom of the ocean itself man has means to send a message from one part of the world to another with the speed of lightning. Therefore the people of the world are mixed together much more than they ever were before, so that the most common language in the world will be that of which the most use will be made. This is the reason, for the most part, why our Manx Gaelic has declined so rapidly. The Isle of Man is now become as it were a part of England, where English is the common language of the people. In England, therefore, Manx is of no use at all. Thus the English takes the rule, and the rule she will have. The reason is very plain. The trade of the Island is brought within five or six hours to the markets of England, and to trade there English, and English only, they must have, Young people of the Isle of Man also, as well as the old, travel from place to place throughout the world, some to service, some to business, and others go sailing far off to amass goods and wealth against a rainy day. For the most part it is English they speak, and in English they trade. Foreseeing this then, people despise their native tongue, yet they could have both Manx as well as English, without the one coming in the way of the other. It is the greatest mistake in the world to believe that the knowledge of talking and reading Manx would ever come in their way in learning English. This never came in my way in learning English. At ten years of age I was able to speak fluently in Manx to my father’s tenants, who had no English at all, and before I was twenty years of age I had translated many little English books into Manx and printed [them] for the use of the people. Now with all this work in Manx, it was never in my way either in speaking or reading English. But the rulers of the Isle of Man are opposed to the Manx; the ministers of the Word of every faith are against it; judges and lawyers are against it; and the youth are now brought up more ignorant of the mother-tongue than the beasts of the field used to be. In the time of Bishop Wilson and Bishop Mark [Hildesley], no one could enter the office of the priesthood unless he had good Manx. When the twenty-four carrane* [keys] ruled [the land] formerly they all had Manx. And in the time of Deemster Lace and Deemster Crellin [d.1816] no advocate dared come before them unless he could plead in Manx. I myself remember in the days of my youth that it was in Manx that we all spoke to our horses and cattle. Even the dogs themselves, unless we spoke to them in Manx, would not herd for us, but would look around them wondering what in the world we were wanting them to do. The poor dogs themselves were not understanding English, for they all had Manx, and they were not ashamed of it either! Not many years since, I overtook an old man in the high-road driving half-a-dozen milch cows from the field where they had been grazing, to put them into the cow-house. There was a little narrow paddock surrounding the shed. As soon as the cows got in there with their bellies full, they began to jostle each other whilst the old man was opening the door to let them in. As soon as he came out he set on to them in a rage, almost breaking their ribs with the stick that was in his hand, shouting their names in Manx, as they were butting each other with their horns, and saying: ” Donnag !2 shameless hussy that thou art, go into thy halter and be quiet. Briggan!3 unless you give over at once I will break the bones in thee, the dirty thing that thou art! In with thee, I tell thee. Dooag ! 4 bold thing, give up; give up” ; and he threw his stick at her. It struck her on the horns, and she fell down on her knees. I thought sure enough that her horns were broken. At last by shouting and beating he got them all into their tethers, and there was peace.My old man,” said I to him, ” thy cattle have been well taught in Manx.” ” Poor Manx on them!”” said he “when their bellies are full, and they go in, their jostling and pranks are enough to provoke Job himself if he were amongst them. But I have given their bones a good cracking, and let them take that for their supper.” So you see that even the beasts of the field in old times knew Manx better than most people do now. ” Let it go,” say they, ” of what value is it to us now? We cannot trade in it in England or scarcely anywhere else. It is therefore of no use to the Island nowadays. Let it go where it will.” 

But there are about a thousand Manxmen in a part of America called Cleveland, who would not say this: ” Let it go where it will.” It is Manx that they all have at their gatherings, in their everyday business, in promulgating the Word of God to the people, and in almost everything else. At the same time there are no people around them who have better English than they have. Two of them were at my house a good many years ago. One of them was born in America, though of Manx father and mother. He was educated for a lawyer. The other man was sister’s son to myself, who went away in his youth to America, and when he left the Island he knew nothing but English. They made me wonder to hear the good Manx they had, and it did no harm to their English. They had two languages in the place of one. I have one other thing that I will tell you about, and I will bring my remarks to an end. About three and twenty years ago, I went one day to see the Calf with an old friend who came to see me from London. When we reached the top of the Howe, there was a place where at some time the rocks had been cleft and torn asunder in a very wonderful way by a great earthquake. The place is called the Chasms. There were several small boys there of ten or twelve years of age, pulling ling for fuel. I asked the biggest of them in English whore the Chasms were. They looked at me and coloured up in the face, but I got not one word of answer. I asked again of the biggest boy, in English, because of the stranger who was with me, ” had they lost their tongues in the ling?” I was no wiser than I was before. The boys opened their mouths like an old skate on a hook, and one would think that their eyes swelled in their sockets with wonder. I thought at once of Manx, and I asked them why they did not answer me when I spoke to them in English.. As soon as they heard the Manx you would think that a new spirit was infused into them, for they hopped, skipped and jumped, contending among therfiselves who would be first to show us the place. At last, before we left them, I asked them if there were a schoolhouse in their neighbourhood to teach English. ” Oh, there was,” they said, ” but we have no time to go to it. There is one little boy over there who goes, and he has the English, but he knows Manx well.” When I was going to leave them, the eldest of them looked very merrily up in my face, and with very roguoish eyes asked me why I didn’t speak to them first of all in Manx; but before I had time to answer him, he said to those about him with much wonder, ” But who would imagine there would be Manx at a white oollar?” I fully believe, Dawson*, there are scores yet in our Island here and there, both of the young and of the old, who cannot read the Word of God either in English or Manx. Now, though the Manx is almost out of use (and it will come one of these days), surely we all believe that everyone ought to be taught to read the Word of God in that language that is best known to them. I very well know that those who have been roared from the cradle in Manx, as it were, learn to read in Manx in a quarter the time they would learn the English, because every word they are learning to read they know beforehand. This is the only advan-tage, so far as I can judge, which would arise from teaching all those who have no school in the Island to read the Word of God in the mother-tongue, that it would lead to the salvation of their souls. I: am not advising you to accept anything which I have not myself gone through and proved. Before I was twenty years of age I had two Manx schools in the parish of Jurby, and a hundred and fifty scholars in them. Some of them had grandchildren. Though for the most part they had not much schooling before, nevertheless some of them could read English very well. But it is wonderful what pleasure old and young took in learning to read the Manx, and it came to them almost immediately, because they understood every word which they were taught. Many of them went afterwards to America, taking their Manx knowledge with them, which remains amongst them to this day. Many of them also, who remained at home, acknowledged on their death-beds that it was the pleasure they took in reading the Manx that led them every day to read some part or other of the Word of God and at last led them to Christ our Saviour for forgiveness of sins and a lively faith in His name. There were some of them when their souls flew home to God at whose, side that holy book in which they took so much pleasure in reading in their native tongue was found lying by their side when the spirit had fled. Therefore, if you have a heartfelt desire to teach people to read the Word of God in Manx, a language.which they were accustomed to understand much better than English; if it is in order to draw people to a know-ledge of God through Christ that you wish to revive the Manx that is very speedily vanishing, what more can I say to you than I have said but this: ” Good luck to you. Ride on because of the word of truth, of meekness, and of righteousness, and may God give thee His blessing.”


February 16th, 1872.

Posted in: history