« AnteriorContinuar »
character-here in this corner of the bay is the town of Douglas, with its houses, churches, chapels, and public buildings, rising up from the shore, one above another, to the summit of the hill beyond—the pier head just before us, is covered with crowds of people, who, as is their wont every day, have come down to witness the arrival of the steamers, and many of whom are expecting friends—here around us are the large boats of the Packet Company, which are come to fetch us on shore, as well as the handsome boats kept by the larger hotels, the men in which are continually shouting the names of their respective establishments—and there are numerous pleasure boats, with their happy parties pulling to and fro along the smooth surface of the bay, or gathering round our vessel to amuse themselves with the scuffle which is going on amongst us to get on board the boats.
But this was very well managed on the whole. The larger boats of the Company rapidly passing from vessel to pier, and returning for more, soon cleared the decks of men, women, and children, all of whom were safely landed.
Then, as is always the case, came another scuffle as to which porter should carry your luggage along the pier to the carriage stand—then another, as to whose carriage you would engage. These matters promptly settled, we were soon driven by a smart lad, up through the narrow streets of this queer old town to the boarding house to which we had been directed, and where, overlooking the town, we had a view of a part of the bay and the distant sea beyond.
Here I stop for a moment or two, just to say, that on the carriage stand at Douglas, are all kinds of vehicles ; but the most common, especially for the conveyance of passengers and their luggage, are those rough looking things called “Irish Jaunting Cars." This is a picture of one of the common sort; but some are larger, and fitted up with much taste
and regard to the comfort of the passengers. The small cars are usually drawn by one horse, but the larger by a pair, which, when fully equipped with a couple of spirited horses, an expert driver, and a full complement of travellers, has quite a respectable appearance when setting off on an excursion through the Island.
The weather being so favourable, and the special trains affording a cheap conveyance, it might be expected that the arrival of above 1000 visitors by the packets every day, as was the case for several days just now, would crowd the boarding and lodging houses, even if we deduct 500 departures every morning. We had to lodge out that evening; but some departures next morning made way for us. Our terms for board and lodging were at a fixed price per day, for breakfast, dinner, and a late tea, which included supper.
On sitting down to tea soon after our arrival, with a company of about forty, we found some friends from Cheshire,
with whoin we afterwards took a pleasant walk into the ‘Nunnery Grounds," which were heightened in their interest and beauty by the shades of evening twilight, while the cool but gentle breezes were peculiarly refreshing after the burning heat of a cloudless sun on the open deck of the steamer.
Next morning we rose early to make acquaintance with the shore, and its bathing accommodations. Already the sea had its visitors, and the machines were in full work. We soon joined the company of bathers, and again enjoyed a few refreshing plunges in the invigorating waters of old ocean. Of the Douglas sands, we can only say that there are better on our English boasts, and better accommodation; but we must not be too nice about the bathing matter, for it is but for a few minutes, and providing we do but get a good dip or two in real salt water, and take a few strokes in swimming, just to be sure that we can swim yet, is about all we require or care for.
After breakfast, we consulted as to how we should proceed in seeing what there was to be seen that was worth seeing on this "tight little island," of which we had as yet heard much, and seen nothing. There were, we were told, an abundance of natural curiosities, ancient remains, antique buildings, stupendous mountains, and romantic valleys-all of which we ought to see and must see, for if we did not we should never see such in the three kingdoms; for instance, there was one unique natural curiosity which no other island or continent upon earth could produce, not as Shakspeare wrote—"a rat without a tail”—but really and truly, “a cat without a tail !” born so ! But more about these curious cats,
which the Manx people call “rumpies,” by and bye. For the present, we agreed first to walk down into the old town of Douglas, and see what sort of a place it was.
We cannot say much in favour of the town. It is irregularly built on the side of the hill. The houses are chiefly of stone and white-washed; but the streets are narrow and dirty, and the stench in some parts, especially in the fish and fruit market and on the wharf, on that hot morning, was abominable. Well situated for draining off its impurities into the river that runs close by the town, the place appears to be innocent of all sanitary regulations. The Manx Parliament has not yet appointed a “Board of Health"- -no not by way of experiment for its principal town. There are many respectable shops in the main street, but all who can afford it seem to have fixed their abode on the hills, beyond the reach of the obnoxious effluvia, which must constantly exhale from many filthy localities.
We were glad to push our way through the market and the wharf to the pier, where we could breathe the fresh sea air. Much wants doing at Douglas to make the place what it ought to be and might be. As it is, it only looks well from the sea, as you approach it in the steamer. Pass through its wharf and market, and you are reminded of a “whited sepulchre," full of putrefactiona splendid introduction to a scene of corruption! We say this out of no ill-will, but from a desire to provoke the inhabitants of Douglas to set about the improvement of their beautiful position. They can afford to do so, for they must be reaping a pretty good harvest from their numerous visitors, and it would pay them well in the long run, as many more
respectable persons would visit the place again and again, who now make one visit their first and their last.
What Douglas wants is not only a Board of Health as the first thing, but a Board of Commissioners also to extend its pier, and carry it along outside the lower part of the town, to the open and spacious road which now runs along the bathing shore. This done, the visitors would avoid the inconvenience of passing through the intricate and narrow streets and lanes of the old town, and the place would then not only be more healthful and accessible, but more beautiful and attractive. Having thus described this chief landing place of visitors and principal town of the island, we shall soon have, we hope, something more pleasing to tell our young friends of other spots and places which we visited.
ROBINSON CRUSOE'S HYMN.
Around me and above,
And speaks thy boundless love.
The woods so dark and lone,
Worship the Holy One.
The prattling sparkling rill,
Repeat thy praises still,
Father, thou hearest me;
When I once think of Thee!