« PreviousContinue »
“ CLINTON, PURSER, and ARNOLD to their Countryemen, wheresoever. Wherein is described by their own hands their unfeigned penitence for their offences past: their patience in welcoming their Death, and their duetiful minds towards her most excellent Majestie.—London. Imprinted by John Wolfe, and are to be sold at the middle shop in the Poultry, joyning to S. Mildredes Church."
This publication explains how it happened that, on page 70 of Mr. Field's reprint of “ Fortune by Land and Sea," Clinton calls Purser Tom Watton
“ Thinks Tom Watton,
Watton was a misprint for Walton, unless we suppose that the man's real name was Watton, and not Walton. It is easy to imagine that he obtained the sobriquet of “ Purser,” from the office he held among the crew; but his true name was certainly Walton, or Watton, for he subscribes the stanzas printed in his name,
“ THOMAS WALTON, alias PURSER."
Mr. Field concludes that Watton is “ an alias for Purser; but Purser was in fact an alias for Watton, or Walton, and in his supposed poem Walton calls himself expressly “The Purser." He opens it thus :
Lordings, that list to heare a dreery tale,
Where every Comma showes a Corosive,
My sighes may serue your loaden barkes to driue
Alongst the shore, where sorrowes ships arriue;
“Not long since, then, I held a haplesse Shippe,
Precisely riggd, and furnisht for the nones :
And dasht my state so stifly gainst the stones,
As brake my barke, and brused all my bones;
He afterwards informs us that his capture was effected by “ two lofty sail ;” and we may conclude that Heywood and Rowley represented him as having been taken by young Forrest for the purpose of his drama, and not because it was consistent with history. Walton also asserts that he was not the first to open
the fire, and concludes with these two stanzas:
“ Some faithlesse French are pleasd to see, perhaps,
That his goodwill hath wrought him this reward,
Which had his realme and rightes in such regard,
And bet them backe, that els your martes had mard;
“ As for myselfe, I owe a due to Death,
And I respect it not in that I die,
Is cause that I for some compassion cry:
My soule is sau’d, where ere my body lie.
Hath brought me thus to this vntimely end.” Arnold, whose poetical address comes next in the tract, does not, like Walton, address himself to the “Lordinges whom he imagines listening to his story, but to Heaven :
“ Ne in furore, oh, my sovereigne God!
Reprove me not in wrath, I thee desire," &c.
And afterwards he thus speaks of himself, and of his birthplace and misfortunes :
“ First then, suppose that you in presence see
An aged man, of no great personage,
More nobly bent than seemed by mine age;
Who mongst the thickest thrust vnto the stage,
“Arnold I hight, by birth a gentleman,
Of honest parents, and in Hamshire borne,
In th' Irish bogges a soldier to be sworne :
Howbeit, a priest was cause of all my scorne,
He subsequently adds :
“This made me first to set my farmes to sale ;
This droue poore Arnold out of house and home,
Amongst my friendes enforced was to rome;
What Arnold states in the first of the following stanzas is probably historical:
“On seas I met a sort of faithles French,
That through a leake their ship had welny lost ;
For which good deed they bad me, fare well frost :
A tunne of coales, nought els my labour cost;
“Short tale to make, of force I must confesse,
My God my life no longer would deferre :
To warne the rest, that otherwise might erre,
To cut me off it also pleased her:
is subscribed “ Finis. Arnold," as if the real writer did not know the man's Christian name; and the same observation will apply to the effusion attributed to Clinton, which has only “Finis Clinton” at the end of it. Clinton, among other things, says of himself
“My selfe sometime, not least in Fortune's love,
May best giue instance of her great disgrace,
And mongst the proudest gaind the chiefest place,
Till trustlesse she gan turne away her face ;
“ Besides my selfe who bare so braue a sway?
Who raigned more than I that ruld the roast?
And boldly be it spoke, withouten boast,
Who more than Clinton scowrd in euery coast ?
Like the two others, he complains that injustice had been done him in charging him with cruelty; and he dwells upon the malignity of his enemies, observing
“ Yet such they are as worke my present woe,
As vnacquainted with my better deedes,
But my good workes are choaked vp with weedes, ,
Such kankered malice their supposes feedes. .
He ends with the following appeal to the “ Lordings,” to whom he is offering the excuse and explanation of his conduct:
“Loe ! Lordings, thus I leaue my last adue
what ere of me become.
You may belieue what I herein have done:
My paine is past, though yet my glasse doth runne. This grieues me most, that many a poore man lackes The gelt that I have giuen the sea by sackes.”
I am not aware that it is necessary to add anything to the above, beyond the remark, that in the Bodleian Library the tract, from which I have quoted somewhat at large, is considered unique, no other copy of it being known. It would entitle each of these parties to a place in Ritson's “ Bibliographia Poetica,” where however they are not found, nor in any other work of the same kind that I have been able to consult. I have also searched in vain in Mr. Heber's, Mr. Bright's, and other salecatalogues.
OXONIENSIS and a MEMBER. February 21, 1847.