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A Very Merry - Wherry - Ferry Voyage

by John Taylor


And thus half soused, half stewed, with sea and sweat,
We land at Cromer Town half dry, half wet;
But we supposing all was safe and well,
In shunning Scylla on Charybdis fell;
For why, some women and some children there
That saw us land, were all possessed with fear;
And much amaz’d ran crying up and down,
That enemies were come to take the town.
Some said that we were pirates, some said thieves,
And what the women says, the men believes.
With that four constables did quickly call,
Your aid! to arms your men of Cromer all.
Then straightway forty men with rusty bills,
Some arm’d in ale, all of approved skill,
Divided into four stout regiments,
To guard the city from dangerous events.
Brave Captain Pescod did the vanguard lead,
And Captain Clarke the rearward governed,
Whilst Captain Wiseman and hot Captain Kimble,
Were in main battalia fierce and nimble. 

...Some rascals ran into my boat apace,
And turn'd and tumbled her, like men of Gotham,
Quite topsy-turvy upward with her bottom,
Vowing they would in tatters piece-meal tear
They cursed pirate's boat, that bred their fear;
And I am sure, their madness (to my harm)
Tore a board out much longer than mine arm.
And they so bruis’d and split our wherry, that
She leaked, we cast out water with a hat.
Now let men judge, upon this truth revealing,
If Turks or Moors could use more barb’rous dealing;
Or whether it be fit I should not write,
Their envy, foolish fear, and mad despite.
What may wise men conceive, when they shall note,
That five unarmed men in a wherry boat,
Naught to defend, or to offend with stripes,
But one old sword and two tobacco pipes;
And that of constables a murnivall,
Men, women, children, all in general,
And that they all should be so valiant wise,
To fear we would a market town surprise. 

…Sweet Mr. Pescod’s double diligence,
Had horsed himself to bear intelligence
To justices of peace within the land,
What dangerous business there was now at hand.
There was I forced to tarry all the while,
Till some said he rode four-and-twenty mile,
In seeking men of worship, peace, and quorum,
Most wisely to declare strange news before um.
And whatsoever tales he did recite,
I sure he caused Sir Austin Palgrave, knight,
And Mr. Robert Kemp, a justice there,
Came before me to know how matters were.
As conference ‘twixt them and I did pass,
They quickly understood me what I was;
And though they knew me not in prose and looks,
They had read of me in my verse and books.
My businesses account I there did make,
And I and all my company did take
The lawful oath of our allegiance then,
By which we were believed for honest men.

…besides, Sir Austin Palgrave bade me this,
To go but four miles, where his dwelling is,
And I and all my company should there
Find friendly welcome, mixed with other cheer.
I gave them thanks, and so I’ll give them still,
And did accept their cheer in their good will.
Then 3 o’clock at afternoon and past,
I was discharged from Cromer at the last.
But for men should not think that enviously
Against this town I let my lines to fly;
And that I do not lie, or scoff, or fable,
For then I will write something charitable.
It is an ancient market town that stands
Upon a lofty cliff of mouldring sands;
The sea against the cliffs doth daily beat,
And every tide into the land doth eat.
The town is poor, unable by expense,
Against the raging sea to make defence;
And every day it eateth further in,
Still waiting, washing down the sand doth win,
That if some course be not ta’en speedily,
The town’s in danger in the sea to lie.
A goodly church stands on these brittle grounds,
Not many fairer in Great Britain’s bounds;
And if the sea shall swallow it as some fear,
‘Tis not ten thousand pounds the like could rear.
No Christian can behold it but with grief,
And with my heart I wish them quick relief.
So farewell, Cromer, I have spoke for thee,
Though you did’st much unkindly deal with me…

Norfolk Poems




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