Images de page

entered a sharp war about it, every one of them laying claim to him as their own : and to this effect hath Buchanan an epigram :

Urbes certarunt septem de patria Homeri,

Nulla domus vivo patria nulla fuit.

Seven cities strove, whence Homer first should come,
When living, he no country bad nor home.

I alledge this tale to show how much better my lack was

than Homer's (though all the King of Spain's Indies will not create ine such a niggling hexameter-founder, as he was) in the first proclaiming of my bank-rout indigence and beggary, to bend my course to such a courteous compassionate clime as Yarmouth; and to warn others that advance their heads above all others, and have not respected, but rather flatly opposed themselves against the friar mendicants of our profession, what their amercements, and unreprieveable penance, will be, except they tear open their oystermouthed pouches quickly, and make double amends for their parsimony. I am no Tiresias or Calchas to prophesy, but yet I cannot tell, there may be more resounding bell metal in my pen, than I am aware; and, if there be, the first peel of it is Yarmouth's: for a pattern or tiny sample, what my elaborate performance would be in this case, had I a full-sailed gale of prosperity to encourage me; whereas, at the dishumoured composing hereof, I may justly complain with Ovid;

Anchora jam nostram non tenet ulla ratem,

My state is so tost and weather-beaten, that it hath now no anchorhold left to cleave unto. I care not, if, in a dim fair of landskip, I take the pains to descrihe this supereminent principal metropolis of the red fish. A town it is, that, in rich situation, exceedeth many cities, and withoạt the which, Caput gentis, the swelling battlements of Gurguntus, a head city of Norfolk and Suffolk, would scarce retain the name of a city, but become as ruinous 'and desolate as Thetford or Ely, qut of ay hill or heap of sand, reared and forced from the sca most miraculously, and by the singular policy and uncessant inestimable expence of the inhabitants, so firmly piled and rampired against the fumish waves battery, or suing the least action of recovery, that it is more conjectural of the twain, the land, with a writ of an Ejectio firma, will get the ypper hand of the ocean, than the ocean one crow's skip prevail against ihe continent. Forth of the sands, thus strugglingly as it lexalteth and lifts up its glittering head; so of the neighbouring sands, no less semblably (whether, in recordation of their worn out affinity, or no, I know not) it is so inamorately protected and patronised, that they stard as a trench or guard about it in the night, to keep off their enemies. Now, in that drowsy empire of the pale-laced queen of shades, maugre letting drive upon their barricadoes, or impetuously contending to break through their chain or bar, but they intomb and balist with sudden destruction. In this transcursive reportory, without some observant


glance, I may not dully overpass the gallant beauty of their haven, which having but as it were a welt of land, or as M. Camden calls it lingulam terræ, a little tongue of the carth, betwixt it and the wide main, sticks not to manage arms, and hold its own undefeasably against that universal unbounded empire of surges, and so hath done for this hundred years. Two miles in length it stretches its winding current, and then meets with a spacious river or back,water, that feeds it. A narrow channel or isthmus, in rash view, you would opinionate it; when this I can devoutly aver, I beholding it with both my eyes this last fishing, six hundred reasonabļe barks and vessels of good burthen, with advantage, it hath given shelter to, at once, in her harbour, and most of them riding abreast before the key betwixt the bridge and the south-gate. Many bows length beyond the mark, my pen roves not, I am certain; if I do, they stand at my elbow that can 'correct The delectablest lusty sight and imovingest object methought it was that our isle sets forth, and nothing behind in number with the invincible Spanish Armada, though they were not such Gargantuan boisterous gulliguts as they; though ships and galleasses they would have becn reckoned in the navy of King Edgar, who is chronicled and registered, with three thousand ships of war, to have scoured the narrow seas, and sailed round about England every summer. That which especially nourished the most prime pleasure in ine, was after a storm, when we were driven in swarms, and lay close pestered together as thick as they could pack; the next day following, if it were fair, they would cloud the whole sky with canvas, by spreading their drabbled sails in the full lue abroad a drying,

nd make a braver shew with them, than so many banners and streamers displayed against the sun, on a mountain top. Bui how Yarmouth, of itself so innumerably populous and replenished, and in so barren a spot seated, should not only supply her inhabitants with plentiful purveyance of sustenance, but provide and yictual moreover this monstrous army

of strangers, was a matter that egregiously puzzled and intranced my apprehension, Hollanders, Zelanders, Scots, French, Western-men, Northern-zen, besides all the hundreds, and wapentakes, nine miles distance, fetch the best of their viands and mangery from her market, For ten weeks together, this rabble-rout of outlandishers are billetted with her, yet, in all that while, the rate of no kind of foot is raised, nor the plenty of their markets one pint of butter rebated ; and at the te'n weeks end, when the camp is broken up, no impression of any dearth lett, but rather more store than before. Some of the town clwellers have so large an opinion of their settled provision, that if all her Majesty's fleet at once should put into their bay, within twelve days warning, with so much double beer, beef, fish, and bisket, they would bulk them as they could wallow away

with. Here I could break out into a boundless race of oratory, in shrill trumpeting and concelebrating the royal magnificence of her ment, that, for state and strict civil ordering, scarcely admitteth any rivals

. But I fear it would be a theme displeasing to the gruve modesty of the discreet present magistrates; and therefore consultively I uverslip je; howscever I purpose not in the like nice respect to leap over thio



laudable pedigree of Yarmouth, but will fetch her from her swadling clouts or infancy; and reveal to you when and by whom she was fisrt forced out of the ocean's arms, and started up and aspired to such starry sublimity; as also acquaint you with the notable immunities, franchises, and privileges she is endowed with, beyond all her confiners, by the descending line of Kings from the conquest.

There are of you, it may be, that will account me a palterer for hanging out the sign of the Red-Herring in my title-page, and no such feast towards, for aught you can see.

Soft and fair, my masters ; you must walk and talk before dinner an hour or two, the better to whet your appetites to taste of such a dainty dish as the red-herring; and, that you may not think the time tedious, I care not if I bear you company, and lead you a sound walk round about Yarmouth, and shew you the length and breadth of it.

The masters and batchelors commencement dinners, at Cambridge and Oxford, are betwixt three and four in the afternoon, and the rest of the antecedence of the day worn o’t in disputations. Imagine this the act or commencement of the red-herring, that procecdeth batchelor, master, and doctor, all at once; and therefore his disputations must be longer. But to the point: May it please the whole generation of my auditors to be advertised, how that noble carth, where the town of Great Yarmouth is now mounted, and where so much fish is sold, in the days of yore hath been the place where you might have catched fish, and as plain a sea, within these six-hundred years, as any boat could tumble in; and so was the whole level of the marshes betwixt it and Norwich, Anno Domini 1000, or thereabouts (as I have scraped out of worm-eaten parchment) and in the reign of Canutus, he that died drunk at Lạmbeth, or Lome-hith, somewhat before, or soinewhat after, not an apprenticeship of years varying,

Caput extulit undis,
The sands set up shop for themselves;

and, from that moment to this sextine century (or, let me not be taken with a lye, five-hundred ninety-eight, that wants but a paire of years to make me a true man) they would no more live under the yoke of the sea, or have their heads washed with his bubbly spurn, or barber's balderdash, but clearly quitted, disterminated, and relegated themselves from his inflated capriciousness of playing the dictator over them.

The northern wind was the clanging trumpeter, who, with the terrible blast of his throat, in one yellow heap, or plump-clustered, or congested them together, eyen as the western gales in Holland, right over. against them, have wrought unruly havock, and thrashed and swept the sands so before them, that they have choaked or clammed up the middle walk, or door of the Rhine, and made it as stable a clod-mould, or turf-gronnd, as any hedger can drive stake into. Caster, two miles distant from this New Yarmouth we treat of, is inscribed to be that Old Yarmouth, whereof there are specialties to be seen in the oldest writers, and yet, some visible apparent tokens remain of a haven that ran up to it, and there had its entrance into the sea, by aged fishermen commonly termed Grubs Haven, though now it be gravell. ed up, and the stream, or tide-gate, turned another way. But this is most warrantable, the Alpha of all the Yarmouths it was, and not the Omega correspondently, and, from her withered root, they branch the high ascent of their gencalogy. Omnium rerum ricissitudo est, one's falling is another's rising; and so it fell out with that ruined dorpe, or hamlet, which, after it had relapsed into the lord's hands for want of reparations, and there were not men enough in it to defend the shore from invasion, one Cerdicus, a plashing Saxon, that had revelled here, and there, with his battle-axe, on the bordering banks of the decrepid overworn village, now surnamed Gorlstone, threw forth bis anchor, and, with the assistance of his spear, instead of a pike-staff, leaped a-ground like a sturdy brate, and his yeomen bold cast their heels in their necks, and frisked it after him; and thence sprouted that obscene appellation of Sarding Sands, with the draff of the carterly hoblobs thereabouts, concocted or digested for a scripture verity, when the right Christendom of it is Cerdick Sands, or Cerdick Shure, of Cerdicus so denominated, who was the first maylord, or Captain of the Morris-dance, that, on those imbenched shelves, stamped his footing where cods and dog-fish swam not a warp of weeks forerunning, and, till he had given the onset, they baulked them as quicksands. By and by, after his jumping upon them, the Saxons, for that Garianonum, or Yarmouth, that had given up the ghost, in those slimy plashy fields of Gorlstone trouled up a second Yarmouth, abutting on the west-side of the shore of this Great Yarmouth, that is ; but, feeling the air to be unwholsome and disagrecing with them, to the overwhart brink or verge of the flood, that writ all one style of Cerdick-Sands, they dislodged, with bag and baggage, and there laid the foundation of a third Yarmouth, Quam nulla potest abolere vetustas, that I hope will hold up her head till Doomsday. In this Yarmouth, as Mr. Camden saith, there were seventy inhabitants, or housholders, that paid scot and lot in the time of Edward the Confessor; but a chronographical Latin table, which they have hanging up in their Guildhall, of all their transmutations fiom their cradlehood, infringeth this a little, and flatters her she is a great deal younger, in a fair text hand, texting unto us, how, in the scepterdom of Edward the Confessor, the sands first began to grow into sight at luw water, and more shallow at the mouth of the river Hirus or lerus, whereupon it was dubbed Ternmouth, or Yarmouth; and then there were two channels, one on the north, another on the south, where through the fishermen did wander and waver up to Norwich, and divers parts of Suffolk and Norfolk, all the fenny Lerna betwixt, that, with reed, is so imbristled, being, as I have forespoken or spoken before, Madona, Amphitrile, fluctuous demesnes, or fee-simple.

: From the city of Norwich on the cast part, it is sixteen miles disjunct and dislocated; and, though betwixt the sea and the salt food it be interposed, yet in no place about it can you dig six feet deep, but you shall have a gushing spring of fresh or sweet water for all uses, as apt and accommodated as St. Winifred's well, or Tower-Hill water at London, so much praised and sought after. My tables are not yet one quarter emptied, of my notes out of their table, which because it is,

[ocr errors]


as it were, a' sea rudder diligently kept amongst them from age

to age, of all their ebbs and flows, and winds that blew with or against them, I tie myself to more precisely, and thus it leadeth on :

In the time of King Harold and William the Conqueror, this sand of Yarmouth grew to a settled lump, and was as dry as the sands of Arabia, so that throngiog theatres of people (as well aliens as Englishmen) hived thither about the selling of fish and herring, from St. Michael to St. Martin, and there built sutlers booths and tabernacles, to canopy their heads in from the rheum of the heavens, or the clouds dissolving cataracts. King William Rufus having got the golden wreath about his head, one Herbertus, bishop of the See of Norwich, hearing of the gangs of good fellows that hurtled and bustled thither, as thick as it had been to the shrine of St. Thomas à Becket, .or our lady of Walsingham, built a certain chapel there for the service of God, and salvation of souls.

In the reign of King Henry the First, King Stephen, King Henry the Second, and Richard de Cæur de Lyon, the apostasy of the sands froin the yelping world was so great, that they joined themselves to the main land of Eastfege, and whole tribes of males and females trotted, barged it thither, to build and inhabit, which the said kings, whilst they wielded their swords temporal, animadvertised of, assigned a ruler or governor over them, that was called the King's Provost; and that manner of provostship or government remained in full force and vertue of all their four throneships, alias a hundrd years, even till the inauguration of King John, in whose days the forewritten of Bishop of Norwich, seeing the numerous Increase of souls of both kinds, that there had framed their nests, and meant not to, forsake them till the soul-bell tolled them thence, pulled down his chapel, and, what by himself and the devout oblations and donatives of the fisherinen upon every return with their nets full, re-edified and raised it to a church of that magnitude, as, under-minsters and cathedrals, very easily; it admits any, hail, fellow, well met; and the church of St. Nicholas, he hallowed it, whence Yarıouth road is nicknamed the road of St. Nicholas. King John, to comply, and keep consort with bis ancestors, in furthering of this new water-work, in the ninth year of the ingirting his anointed brows with the refulgent Ophir circle, and, Anno, 1209, set a fresh gloss upon it, of the town or tree borough of Yarmouth, and furnished it with many substantial privileges and liberties, to have and to hold the same of him, and his race, for fiftyfive pounds yearly. In Anno 1240, it perched up to be governed by bailiffs, and, in a narrower limit than the forty years under meal of the seven sleepers, it had so much tow, to her distaff, and was so well lined and bumbasted, that, in a sea-battle, her ships and men conflicted the Cingue Ports, and therein so laid about them, that they burnt, took, and spoiled the most of them; whercof such of them as were sure flights, (saving a reverence of their manhoods) ran crying and complaining to King Henry the Second, who, with the advice of his council, set a fine of a thousand pounds on the Yarmouth men's heads for that offence, which fine, in the tenth of his reign, he dispensed with, and pardoned.

« PrécédentContinuer »