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´╗┐Title: Edward FitzGerald and "Posh" - "Herring Merchants"
Author: Blyth, James
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Edward FitzGerald and "Posh" - "Herring Merchants"" ***

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Transcribed from the 1908 John Long edition by David Price, email






_Copyright by John Long, 1908_
_All Rights Reserved_



_March_, 1908

{"Posh" Fletcher in 1870.  Taken for Edward FitzGerald: p0.jpg}


There can be no better foreword to this little sketch of one of the
phases of Edward FitzGerald's life than the following letter, written to
Thomas Carlyle in 1870, which was generously placed at my disposal by Dr.
Aldis Wright while I was giving the sketch its final revision for the
press.  The portrait referred to in the letter is no doubt that
reproduced as the photograph of 1870.


   "Your 'Heroes' put me up to sending you one of mine--neither Prince,
   Poet, or Man of Letters, but Captain of a Lowestoft Lugger, and
   endowed with all the Qualities of Soul and Body to make him Leader of
   many more men than he has under him.  Being unused to sitting for his
   portrait, he looks a little sheepish--and the Man is a Lamb with Wife,
   Children, and dumber Animals.  But when the proper time
   comes--abroad--at sea or on shore--then it is quite another matter.
   And I know no one of sounder sense, and grander Manners, in whatever
   Company.  But I shall not say any more; for I should only set you
   against him; and you will see all without my telling you and not be
   bored.  So least said soonest mended, and I make my bow once more and
   remain your

   "Humble Reader,
   "E. FG."

Too much has been made by certain writers, with more credulity than
discretion, of some personal characteristics of a great-hearted man.  My
purpose in tendering this sketch to the lovers of FitzGerald is to show
that in many ways he has been calumniated.  The man who could write the
letters to his humble friend, which are here printed; the man who could
show such consistent tenderness and delicacy of spirit to his fisherman
partner, and could permit the enthusiasm of his affection to blind him to
the truth, was no sulky misanthrope; but a man whose heart, whose
intensely human heart, was so great as to preponderate over his
magnificent intellect.  Edward FitzGerald was a great poet, and a great
philosopher.  He was a still greater man.

Therefore, my readers, if, during the perusal of these few letters, you
"in your . . . errand reach the spot"--whether it be at Woodbridge,
Lowestoft, or in that supper-room in town "Where he made one"--". . .
turn down an empty glass" to his memory.

For there is no _Saki_ to do it, either here or with the houris.



Towards the end of the summer of 1906 I received a letter from Mr. F. A.
Mumby, of the _Daily Graphic_, asking me if I knew if Joseph Fletcher,
the "Posh" of the "FitzGerald" letters, was still alive.  All about me
were veterans of eighty, ay, and ninety! hale and garrulous as any
longshoreman needs be.  But it had never occurred to me before that
possibly the man who was Edward FitzGerald's "Image of the Mould that Man
was originally cast in," the east coast fisherman for whom the great
translator considered no praise to be too high, might be within easy

My first discovery was that to most of the good people of Lowestoft the
name of the man who had honoured the town by his preference was unknown.
A solicitor in good practice, a man who is by way of being an author
himself, asked me (when I named FitzGerald to him) if I meant that
FitzGerald who had, he believed, made a lot of money out of salt!  A
schoolmaster had never heard of either FitzGerald or Omar.

It was plain that the educated classes of Lowestoft could help me in my
search but little.  So I went down to the harbour basins and the fish
wharves, and asked of "Posh" and his "governor."

Not a jolly boatman of middle age in the harbour but knew of both.  "D'ye
mean Joe Fletcher, master?" said one of them.  "What--old Posh?  Why yes!
Alive an' kickin', and go a shrimpin' when the weather serve.  He live up
in Chapel Street.  Number tew.  He lodge theer."

So up I went to Chapel Street, one of those streets in the old North Town
of Lowestoft which have seen better days.  A wizened, bent, white-haired
old lady answered my knock, after a preliminary inspection from a third-
floor window of my appearance.  This, I learnt afterwards, was old Mrs.
Capps, with whom Posh had lodged since the death of his wife, fourteen
years previously.

"You'll find him down at the new basin," said the old lady.  "He's mostly
there this time o' day."

But there was no Posh at the new basin.  Half a dozen weather-beaten
shrimpers (in their brown jumpers, and with the fringe of hair running
beneath the chin from ear to ear--that hirsute ornament so dear to East
Anglian fishermen) were lounging about the wharf, or mending the small-
meshed trawl-nets wherein they draw what spoil they may from the depleted

All were grizzled, most were over seventy if wrinkled skin and white hair
may be taken as signs of age.  And all knew Posh, and (oh! shame to the
"educated classes!") all remembered Edward FitzGerald.  The poet, the
lovable, cultured gentleman they knew nothing of.  Had they known of his
incomparable paraphrase of the Persian poet, of his scholarship, his
intimacy with Thackeray, Tennyson, Carlyle, the famous Thompson, Master
of Trinity, they would have recked nothing at all.  But they remembered
FitzGerald, who has been called by their superiors an eccentric, miserly
hermit.  They remembered him, I say, as a man whose heart was in the
right place, as a man who never turned a deaf ear to a tale of trouble.

"Ah!" said one of them.  "He was a _good_ gennleman, was old Fitz."  (They
all spoke of him as "old Fitz."  They thought of him as a "mate"--as one
who knew the sea and her moods, and would put up with her vagaries even
as they must do.  His shade in their memories was the shade of a friend,
and a friend whom they respected and loved.)  "That was a good day for
Posh when he come acrost him.  Posh! I reckon you'll find him at Bill
Harrison's if he bain't on the market."

"Posh" was no fancy name of the poet's for Joseph Fletcher, but the
actual proper cognomen by which the man has been known on the coast since
he was a lad.  Most east coast fishermen have a nickname which supersedes
their registered name, and "Posh" (or now "old Posh") was Joseph

Bill Harrison's is a cosy little beerhouse in the lower North Town.  It
is called Bill Harrison's because Bill Harrison was once its landlord.
Poor Bill has left house and life for years.  But the house is still
"Bill Harrison's."

Here I found Posh.  At that time, little more than a year ago, I wrote of
him as "a hale, stoutly-built man of over the middle height, his round,
ruddy, clean-shaven face encircled by the fringe of iron-grey whiskers
running round from ear to ear beneath the chin.  His broad shoulders were
held square, his back straight, his head poised firm and alert on a
splendid column of neck."

Alas!  The description would fit Posh but poorly now.

"Yes," said he.  "I was Mr. FitzGerald's partner.  But I can't stop to
mardle along o' ye now.  I'll meet ye when an' where ye like."

I made an appointment with him, which he failed to keep.  Then another.
Then another, and another.  I lay wait for him in likely places.  I
stalked him.  I caught stray glimpses of him in various haunts.  But he
always evaded me.

I think old Mrs. Capps got tired of leaning her head out of the third-
floor window of No. 2 Chapel Street, and seeing me waiting patiently on
the doorstep expectant of Posh.

At length I cornered him (from information received) fairly and squarely
at the Magdala House, a beerhouse in Duke's Head Street, two minutes'
walk from his lodgings.

I got him on his legs and took him down Rant Score to Bill Harrison's.

"Now look here," said I.  "What's the matter?  You've made appointment
after appointment, and kept none of them.  Why don't you wish to see me?"

Posh shuffled his feet on, the sanded bricks.  He drank from the measure
of "mild beer" (twopenny), for which he will call in preference to any
other liquid.

"Tha'ss like this here, master," said he.  "I ha' had enow o' folks a
comin' here an' pickin' my brains and runnin' off wi' my letters and
never givin' me so much as a sixpence."

"Oho!" I thought.  "That's where the rub is."

I gave him a trifling guarantee of good faith, and his face brightened
up.  Gradually I overcame his reserve, and gradually I persuaded him that
I did not seek to rob him of anything.  I'm a bit of a sailor myself, and
I think a little talk of winds, shoals, seas, and landmarks did more than
the trifling guarantee of good faith to establish friendly relations with
the old fellow.

But he made no secret of his grievance, and I tell the tale as he told
it, without vouching for its accuracy, but confident that he believed
that he was telling me the truth.  And, if he was, the man referred to in
his story, the man who robbed him to all intents and purposes, is hereby
invited to do something to purge his offence by coming forward and
"behaving like a gennleman"--upon which I will answer for it that all
will be forgiven and forgotten by Posh.

"Ye see, master," said Posh, "that was a Mr. Earle" (I don't know if that
is the correct way of spelling the name, because Posh is no great
authority on spelling; but that's how he pronounced it) "come here,
that'll be six or seven year ago, and he axed me about the guv'nor, and
for me to show him any letters I had.  He took a score or so away wi'm,
and he took my phootoo and I told him a sight o' things, thinkin' he was
a gennleman.  Well, he axed me round to Marine Parade, where he was a
stayin' with his lady, and he give me one drink o' whisky.  And that's
all I see of him.  He was off with the letters and all, and never gave me
a farden for what he had or what he l'arnt off o' me.  I heerd arterwards
as the letters was sold by auction for thutty pound.  I see it in the
paper.  If he'd ha' sent me five pound I'd ha' been content.  But he
niver give me nothin' but that one drink.  And ye see, master, _I didn't
know as yew worn't one o' the same breed_!"

I have endeavoured to trace these letters, and to identify this Mr.
Earle.  Mr. Clement Shorter has been kind enough to do his best to help
me.  No record can be found.  And to clinch matters, Dr. Aldis Wright
(whom I cannot thank enough for all his kindness to me in connection with
this volume) tells me that he has never been able to find out where the
letters are or who has them.  One thing is certain: the person who took
advantage of Posh's ignorance will not be able to publish his ill-gotten
gains in England so long as any copyright exists in the letters.  For no
letter of FitzGerald's can be published without the consent of Dr. Aldis
Wright, and he is not the man to permit capital to be made out of sharp
practice with his consent.  I have heard rumours of certain letters to
Posh being published in America, with a photograph of Posh and Posh's
"shud."  They may have been published under the impression that they were
properly in the possession of the person holding them.  I know nothing of
that, nor of what letters they are, nor who published them, nor when and
where they were issued.  But I do know what Posh has told me, and if the
volume (if there is one) was published in America by one innocent of
trickery, here is his chance to come forward and explain.

I was glad to see that Posh no longer numbered me among "that breed."  But
I was no longer surprised at the difficulty I had experienced in getting
to close quarters with the man.  From that time on he was the
plain-speaking, independent, humorous, rough man that he is naturally.  He
has his faults.  FitzGerald indicates one in several of his letters.  He
is inclined to that East Anglian characteristic akin to Boer "slimness,"
and it is easy enough to understand that the breach between him and his
"guv'nor" was inevitable.  The marvel is that the partnership lasted as
long as it did, and that that refined, honourable gentleman (and I doubt
if any one was ever quite so perfect a gentleman as Edward FitzGerald)
was as infatuated with the breezy stalwart comeliness of the man as his
letters prove him to have been.

As all students of FitzGerald's letters know, the association between
FitzGerald and Posh ended in a separation that was very nearly a quarrel,
if a man like FitzGerald can be said to quarrel with a man like Posh.  But
Posh never says a word against his old guv'nor's generosity and kindness
of heart.  He puts his point of view with emphasis, but always maintains
that had it not been for other "interfarin' parties" there would never
have been any unpleasantness between him and the great man who loved him
so well, and whom, I believe in all sincerity, he still loves as a kind,
upright, and noble-hearted gentleman.

And as Posh's years draw to a close (he was born in June, 1838) I think
his thoughts must often hark back to the days when he was all in all to
his guv'nor.  For evil times have come on the old fellow.  He is no
longer the hale, stalwart man I first saw at Bill Harrison's.

A little before the Christmas of 1906 he was laid up with a severe cold.
But he was getting over that well, when, one Sunday, a broken man, almost
decrepit, came stumbling to my cottage door.

"The pore old lady ha' gorn," he said.  "She ha' gorn fust arter all.
Pore old dare.  She had a strook the night afore last, and was dead afore

Into the circumstances of his old landlady's death, of the action of her
legal personal representatives, I will not go here.  It suffices to say
that Posh and the other lodgers in the house were given two days to
"clear out" and that I discovered that the old fellow had been sleeping
in his shed on the beach for two nights, without a roof which he could
call his home.  Thanks to certain readers of the _Daily Graphic_ and to
the members of the Omar Khayyam Club, I had a fund in hand for Posh's
benefit, and immediately put a stop to his homelessness.  Indeed, he knew
of this fund, and that he could draw on it at need when he chose.  But I
believe the old man's heart was broken.  He has never been the same man
since.  The last year has put more than ten years on the looks and
bearing of the Posh whom I met first.  But his memory is still good, and
I was surprised to see how much he remembered of the people mentioned in
the letters published in this volume when I read them through to him the
other day.  He cannot understand how it is that these letters have any
value.  He tells me he has torn up "sackfuls on 'em" and strewn them to
the winds.  The actual letters have been sold for his benefit, and I
think that FitzGerald would be pleased if he knew (as possibly he does
know) that his letters to his fisherman friend, have proved a stay to his
old age.

{Posh in 1907: p26.jpg}

I have done my best to give approximate dates to the letters, and where I
have succeeded in being absolutely correct I have to thank Dr. Aldis
Wright, whose courtesy and kindliness, the courtesy and kindliness from a
veteran to a tyro which is so encouraging to the tyro, have been beyond
any expression of thanks which I can phrase.  I hope that the letters and
notes may help to make a side of FitzGerald, the simple human manly side,
better known, and to enable my readers to judge his memory from the point
of view of those old shrimpers by the new basin as a "_good_ gennleman,"
as a noble-hearted, courageous man, as well as the more artificial
scholar who quotes Attic scholiasts in a playful way as though they were
school classics.  Every new discovery of FitzGerald's life seems to
create new wonder, new admiration for him; and there are, I hope, few who
will read without some emotion not far from tears the sentence in his
sermon to Posh.

"Do not let a poor, old, solitary, and sad Man (as I really am, in spite
of my Jokes), do not, I say, let me waste my Anxiety in vain.  I thought
I had done with new Likings: and I had a more easy Life perhaps on that
account: _now_ I shall often think of you with uneasiness, for the very
reason that I had so much Liking and Interest for you."


The biography of a hero written by his valet would be interesting, and,
according to proverbial wisdom, unbiased by the heroic repute of its
subject.  But it would be artificial for all that.  Even though the hero
be no hero to his valet, the valet is fully aware of his master's fame;
indeed, the man will be so inconsistent as to pride himself, and take
pleasure in, those qualities of his master, the existence of which he
would be the first to deny.

Where, however, a literary genius condescends to an intimacy with a
simple son of sea and shore who is not only practically illiterate but is
entirely ignorant of his patron's prowess, the opinions of the illiterate
concerning the personal characteristics of the genius obtain a very
remarkable value as being honest criticism by man of man, uninfluenced by
the spirit either of disingenuous adulation or of equally disingenuous
depreciation.  That these opinions are in the eyes of a disciple of the
great man quaint, almost insolently crude is a matter of course.  But
when they tend to show the master not only great in letters but great in
heart, soul, human kindness, and generosity, they form, perhaps, the most
notable tribute to a great personality.

{Cottage at corner of Boulge Park, where FitzGerald lived for many years:

With the exception of Charles Lamb, no man's letters have endeared his
memory to so many readers as have the letters of Edward FitzGerald.  But
FitzGerald's friends (to whom most of the letters hitherto published were
addressed) were cultured gentlemen, men of the first rank of the time, of
the first rank of all time, men who would necessarily be swayed by the
charm of his culture, by the delicacy of his wit, by the refinement of
his thoughts.

In the case of "Posh," however (that typical Lowestoft fisherman who
supplied "Fitz" with a period of exaltation which was as extraordinary as
it was self-revealing), there were no extraneous influences at work.  Posh
knew the man as a good-hearted friend, a man of jealous affection, as a
free-handed business partner, as a lover of the sea.  He neither knew nor
cared that his partner (he would not admit that "patron" would be the
better word!) was the author of undying verse.  To this day it is
impossible to make him understand that reminiscences of FitzGerald are of
greater public interest than any recollection of him--Posh.

It was not easy to explain to him that it was his first meeting with
Edward FitzGerald that was the thing and not the theft of his (Posh's)
father's longshore lugger which led to that meeting.  However, time and
patience have rendered it possible to separate the wheat from the tares
of his narrative; and what tares may be left may be swallowed down with
the more nutritious grain without any deleterious effect.

In the early summer of 1865 some daring longshore pirate made off with
Fletcher senior's "punt," or longshore lugger, without saying as much as
"by your leave."  The piracy (as was proper to such a deed of darkness)
was effected by night, and on the following morning the coastguard were
warned of the act.  These worthy fellows (and they are too fine a lot of
men to be disbanded by any twopenny Radical Government) traced the boat
to Harwich.  Here the gallant rover had sought local and expert aid to
enable him to bring up, had then raised an awning, as though he were to
sleep aboard, and, after thus satisfying the local talent to whom he was
still indebted for their services, had slunk ashore and disappeared.  Old
Mr. Fletcher, on hearing the news, started off to Harwich in another
craft of his, and (fateful fact!) took his son Posh with him.

Both the Fletchers were known to Tom Newson, a pilot of Felixstowe Ferry,
and they naturally looked him up.

For years Edward FitzGerald had been accustomed to cruise about the Deben
and down the river to Harwich in a small craft captained by one West.  But
in 1865 he was the owner of a smart fifteen-ton schooner, which he had
had built for him by Harvey, of Wyvenhoe, two years previously, and of
which Tom Newson was the skipper and his nephew Jack the crew.  According
to Posh, the original name of this schooner was the _Shamrock_, but she
has become famous as the _Scandal_.  It happened that when the Fletchers
were at Harwich in search of the stolen punt, Edward FitzGerald had come
down the river, and Newson made his two Lowestoft friends known to his

There can be no doubt that at that time, when he was twenty-seven years
of age, Posh was an exceptionally comely and stalwart man.  And he was,
doubtless, possessed of the dry humour and the spirit of simple jollity
which make his race such charming companions for a time.  At all events
his personality magnetised the poet, then a man of fifty-six, already a
trifle weary of the inanities of life.

FitzGerald must have been tolerably conversant with the Harwich and
Felixstowe mariners--with the "salwagers" of the "Ship-wash"--and the
characters of the pilots and fishermen of the east coast.  But Posh seems
to have come to him as something new.  How it happened it is impossible
to guess.  Posh has no idea.  He has a more or less contemptuous
appreciation of FitzGerald's great affection for him.  But he cannot help
any one to get to the root of the question why FitzGerald should have
singled him out and set him above all other living men, as, for a brief
period of exaltation, he certainly did.

From the first meeting to the inevitable disillusionment FitzGerald
delighted in the company of the illiterate fisherman.  Whether he took
his protege cruising with him on the _Scandal_, or sat with him in his
favourite corner of the kitchen of the old Suffolk Inn at Lowestoft, or
played "all-fours" with him, or sat and "mardled" with him and his wife
in the little cottage (8 Strand Cottages, Lowestoft) where Posh reared
his brood, FitzGerald was fond even to jealousy of his new friend.  The
least disrespect shown to Posh by any one less appreciative of his merits
FitzGerald would treat as an insult personal to himself.  On one occasion
when he was walking with Posh on the pier some stranger hazarded a casual
word or two to the fisherman.  "Mr. Fletcher is _my_ guest," said
FitzGerald at once, and drew away his "guest" by the arm.

It must have been soon after their first meeting that FitzGerald wrote to
Fletcher senior, Posh's father:--

   "March 1.


   "Your little boy Posh came here yesterday, and is going to-morrow with
   Newson to Felixtow Ferry, for a day or two.

   "In case he is wanted at Lowestoft to attend a _Summons_, or for any
   other purpose, please to write him a line, directing to him at

   "Thomas Newson's,
   "Felixtow Ferry,

   "Yours truly,

   {11 Market Hill, Woodbridge (showing tablet outside FitzGerald's old
   rooms): p36.jpg}

At this time Posh was earning his living as the proprietor of a longshore
"punt," or beach lugger.  In those days there were good catches of fish
to be made inshore, and it was not unusual for a good day's long-lining
(for cod, haddock, etc.) to bring in seven or eight pounds.  Shrimps and
soles fell victims to the longshoremen's trawls, and altogether there
were a hundred fish to be caught to one in these days.  Moreover, before
steam made coast traffic independent of wind, the sand-banks outside the
roads were a great source of profit to the beach men, who went off in
their long yawls to such craft as "missed stays" coming through a "gat,"
or managed to run aground on one of the sand-banks in some way or other.
The methods of the beach men were sometimes rather questionable, and
Colonel Leathes, of Herringfleet Hall, tells a tale of a French brig,
named the _Confiance en Dieu_, which took the ground on the Newcome Sand
off Lowestoft about the year 1850.  The weather was perfectly calm, but a
company of beach men boarded her and got her off, and so established a
claim for salvage.  As a result she was kept nine weeks in port, and her
skipper, the owner, had to pay 1200 pounds to get clear.

All things considered, it is probable that a Lowestoft longshoreman, in
the sixties and seventies of the nineteenth century, could make a very
good living of it, and even now, now when poverty has fallen on the
beach, no beach man, unspoilt by the curse of visitors' tips, would bow
his head to any man as his superior.

FitzGerald always took a humorous delight in the business of "salwaging"
(as the men call it), and in his _Sea Words and Phrases along the Suffolk
Coast_ (No. II), he defines "Rattlin' Sam" as follows: "A term of
endearment, I suppose, used by Salwagers for a nasty shoal off the Corton
coast."  In the same publication (I) he defines "saltwagin."  "So
pronounced (if not _solwagin_') from, perhaps, an indistinct implication
of _salt_ (water) and _wages_.  _Salvaging_, of course."

Posh tells how his "guv'nor" would clap him on the back and laugh
heartily over a "salwagin'" story.  "You sea pirates!" he would say.  "You
sea pirates!"

In the spring of 1866 FitzGerald stayed at 12 Marine Terrace, Lowestoft,
in March and April, and passed most of his time with Posh.  In the
evenings he would sit and smoke a pipe, or play "all-fours."  In the day
he liked to go to sea with Posh in the latter's punt, the _Little
Wonder_.  The _Scandal_ was not launched that year till June, and
although he "got perished with the N.E. wind" (_Two Suffolk Friends_, p.
101), he revelled in the rough work.

{12 Marine Terrace, Lowestoft: p39.jpg}

He must have been a quaint spectacle to the Lowestoft fishermen, for Posh
assures me that he always went to sea in a silk hat, and generally wore a
"cross-over," or a lady's boa, round his neck.  Now a silk hat and a
lady's boa aboard a longshore punt would be about as incongruous as a
court suit in a shooting field.  But FitzGerald was not vain enough to be
self-conscious.  He knew when he was comfortable, and that was enough for
his healthy intelligence.  Why should he care for the foolish trifles of
convention?  So to sea he went, top hat and all.  And a good and hardy
sailor man he was, as all who remember his ways afloat will testify.

Shortly before or after his visit to Lowestoft in the spring of 1866
FitzGerald wrote to Posh:--



   "When I came in from my Boat yesterday I found your Hamper of Fish.
   Mr. Manby has his conger Eel: I gave the Codling to a young Gentleman
   in his ninetieth year: the Plaice we have eaten here--very good--and
   the Skaite I have just sent in my Boat to Newson.  I should have gone
   down myself, but that it set in for rain; but, at the same time, I did
   not wish to let the Fish miss his mark.  Newson was here two days ago,
   well and jolly; his Smack had a good Thing on the Ship-wash lately;
   and altogether they have done pretty well this Winter.  He is about
   beginning to paint my Great Ship.

   "I had your letter about Nets and Dan.  You must not pretend you can't
   write as good a Letter as a man needs to write, or to read.  I suppose
   the Nets were cheap if good; and I should be sorry you had not bought
   more, but that, when you have got a Fleet for alongshore fishing, then
   you will forsake them for some Lugger; and then I shall have to find
   another Posh to dabble about, and smoke a pipe, with.  George Howe's
   Schooner ran down the Slips into the Water yesterday, just as I was in
   time to see her Masts slipping along.  In the Evening she bent a new
   Main-sail.  I doubt she will turn out a dear Bargain, after all, as
   such Bargains are sure to.

   "I was looking at the Whaleboat I told you of, but Mr. Manby thinks
   she would . . . you propose.

   "Here is a long Yarn; but to-morrow is Sunday; so you can take it
   easy.  And so 'Fare ye well.'


The boat referred to in this letter was probably a small craft in which
FitzGerald had been in the habit of cruising up and down river with one
"West."  It certainly was not the _Scandal_, for as transpires in the
letter, that "Great Ship" was not yet painted for the yachting season.

Mr. Manby was a ship agent at Woodbridge.

The "Ship-wash" was, and is, the "Rattlin' Sam" of Felixstowe, and Tom
Newson, FitzGerald's skipper, had evidently had a good bit of

"Dan" is not the name of a man, but of a pointed buoy with a flag atop
wherewith herring fishers mark the end of their fleets of nets, or (vide
_Sea Words and Phrases_, etc.).  "A small buoy, with some ensign atop, to
mark where the fishing lines have been _shot_; and the _dan_ is said to
'watch well' if it hold erect against wind and tide.  I have often
mistaken it for some floating sea bird of an unknown species."

The prophecy that as soon as Posh got his longshore fleet complete he
would wish to go on a "lugger," that is to say, to the deep-sea fishing,
was destined to be fulfilled, and that with the assistance of FitzGerald
himself.  But no one ever took Posh's place.  FitzGerald's experience as
a "herring merchant" began and ended with his intimacy with Posh.

{Old Lowestoft herring-drifter with "Dan" fixed to stem: p43.jpg}

George Howe, whose schooner was launched so that FitzGerald was just in
time to see her masts slipping along, was one of the sons of "old John
Howe," who, with his wife, was caretaker of Little Grange for many years.
The schooner was, Posh tells me, exceptionally cheap, and FitzGerald's
reference to her meant that she was too cheap to be good.

Since Posh's letter-writing powers received praise from one so qualified
to bestow it, there must have been a falling off from want of practice,
or from some other cause, for the old man is readier with his cod lines
than with his pen by a very great deal, and it is difficult to believe
that he ever wielded the pen of a ready writer.  But perhaps FitzGerald
was so fascinated by the qualities which did exist in his protege that he
saw his friend through the medium of a glamour which set up, as it were,
a mirage of things that were not.  Well, it speaks better for a man's
heart to descry non-existent merits than to imagine vain defects, and it
was like the generous soul of FitzGerald to attribute excellencies to his
friend which only existed in his imagination.


In 1866 Posh became the owner of a very old deep-sea lugger named the
_William Tell_, and, to enable him to acquire the nets and gear necessary
for her complete equipment as a North Sea herring boat, he borrowed a sum
of 50 pounds from Tom Newson, and a further sum of 50 pounds from Edward
FitzGerald.  FitzGerald thought that Newson should have security for his
loan (vide _Two Suffolk Friends_, p. 104), but Newson refused to accept
any such thing.  He, too, seems to have been under the influence of
Posh's fascination.  On October 7th, 1866, FitzGerald wrote (_Two Suffolk
Friends_, p. 105): "I am amused to see Newson's _devotion_ to his young
Friend. . . .  He declined having any Bill of Sale on Posh's Goods for
Money lent; old as he is (enough to distrust all Mankind) . . . has
perfect reliance on his Honour, Industry, Skill and Luck."

About this time FitzGerald must have written the following fragment, in
which he refers to Newson's loan:--

   "You must pay him his Interest on it when you can, and then I will
   take the Debt from him, adding it to the 50 pounds I lent you, and
   letting all that stand over for another time.

   "My dear Posh, I write all this to you, knowing you are as honest a
   fellow as lives: but I never cease hammering into everybody's head
   Remember your Debts, Remember your Debts.  I have scarcely ever
   [known?] _any one_ that was not more or less the worse for getting
   into Debt: which is one reason why I have scarce ever lent money to
   any one.  I should not have lent it to _you_ unless I had confidence
   in you: and I speak to you plainly now in order that my confidence may
   not diminish by your forgetting _one farthing_ that you owe any man.

   "The other day an old Friend sent me 10 pounds, which was one half of
   what he said he had borrowed of me _thirty years ago_!  I told him
   that, on my honour, I wholly forgot ever having lent him any money.  I
   could only remember once _refusing_ to lend him some.  So here is
   _one_ man who remembered his Debts better than his Creditor did.

   "I will ask Newson about the Cork Jacket.  You know that I proposed to
   give you each one: but your Mate told me that no one would wear them.

   "Yesterday I lost my purse.  I did not know where: but Jack had seen
   me slip into a Ditch at the Ferry, and there he went and found it.  So
   is this Jack's Luck, or mine, eh, Mr. Posh?

   "E. FG."

The debt to Newson was subsequently taken over by FitzGerald, and a new
arrangement made on the building of the _Meum and Tuum_ in the following
year.  But this fragment is important, in that it strikes a note of
warning, which had to be repeated again and again during the partnership
between the poet and the fisherman.  Posh was happy-go-lucky in his
accounts.  I believe he was perfectly honest in intention, but he did not
understand the scrupulosity in book-keeping which his partner thought
essential to any business concern.

FitzGerald himself was very far from being meticulous where debts due to
him were concerned.  Dr. Aldis Wright can remember more than one instance
in which FitzGerald tore up an acknowledgment of a loan after two or
three years' interest had been paid.  "I think you've paid enough," or "I
think he's paid enough," would be his bland dismissal of the debt due to
him.  Many Woodbridge people had good cause to know the generosity of the
man as well as ever Posh had cause to know it.  FitzGerald may not have
opened his heart to his Woodbridge acquaintance so freely as he did to
Posh, but he was always ready to loosen his purse-strings.

The cork jackets were afterwards supplied to the crew of the _Meum and
Tuum_, as will be apparent in the letters.

"Jack," who found the purse, was Jack Newson, Tom Newson's nephew, and
the "crew" of the _Scandal_.


In 1867 Posh sold the old _William Tell_ to be broken up.  She was barely
seaworthy and unfit to continue fishing.  An agreement was entered into
with Dan Fuller, a Lowestoft boat-builder, for a new lugger to be built,
on lines supplied by Posh, at a total cost (including spars) of 360
pounds.  FitzGerald had suggested that the boat should be built by a Mr.
Hunt, of Aldeburgh, but Posh persuaded him to consent to Lowestoft and
Dan Fuller instead.  "I can look arter 'em better," said he, with some
show of reason.

The agreement was, in the first instance, between Dan Fuller and Posh,
but FitzGerald took a fancy to become partner with Posh in the boat and
her profits.  He was to find the money for the new lugger, and to let the
sums already due from Posh remain in the partnership, while Posh was to
bring in the nets and gear he had.

But by this time FitzGerald had seen symptoms in Posh which caused him
anxiety.  He loved his humble friend, and his anxiety was on account of
the man and not on account of the possibilities of pecuniary loss
incurred through Posh's weakness.  On December the 4th, 1866, he wrote to
Mr. Spalding, of Woodbridge: "At eight or half-past I go to have a pipe
at Posh's, if he isn't half-drunk with his Friends" (_Two Suffolk
Friends_, p. 107).

On January 5th, 1867, he wrote to the same correspondent (_Two Suffolk
Friends_, p. 108) referring to Posh: "This very day he signs an Agreement
for a new Herring-lugger, of which he is to be Captain, and to which he
will contribute some Nets and Gear. . . .  I believe I have smoked my
pipe every evening but one with Posh at his house, which his quiet little
Wife keeps tidy and pleasant.  The Man is, I do think, of a Royal Nature.
I have told him he is liable to one Danger (the Hare with many
Friends)--so many wanting him _to drink_.  He says it's quite true and
that he is often obliged to run away: as I believe he does: for his House
shows all Temperance and Order.  This little lecture I give him--to go
the way, I suppose, of all such Advice. . . ."

I fear that poor Posh's limbs soon grew too stiff to permit him to run
away from the good brown "bare."  But the lecture which FitzGerald
mentions so casually was surely one of the most delicately written
warnings ever penned.  The sterling kindness of the writer is as
transparent in it as is his tenderness to an inferior's feelings.  No one
but a very paragon of a gentleman would have taken the trouble to write
so wisely, so kindly, so tenderly, and so earnestly.  The appeal must
surely have moved Posh, for the pathos of the reference to his patron's
loneliness could not but have its effect.

But to touch on the sacred "bare" of a Lowestoft fisherman is always
dangerous.  There are many teetotallers among them now, and they would
resent any imputation on their temperance.  But those who are not
teetotallers would resent it much more.  FitzGerald warned his friend in
as beautiful a letter as was ever written.  But Posh could never regard
the "mild bare," the "twopenny" of the district, as an enemy.  He rarely
touched spirits.  Now, at the age of sixty-nine, he enjoys his mild beer
more than anything and cares little for stronger stuff.  But there is no
doubt that this same mild beer inserted the edge of the adze which was to
split the partnership in a little more than three years' time--this and
the "interfarin' parties," whom Posh blames for all the misunderstandings
which were to come.



   "My Lawyer can easily manage the Assignment of the Lugger to me,
   leaving the Agreement as it is between you and Fuller.  But you must
   send the Agreement here for him to see.

   "As we shall provide that the Lugger when built shall belong to me; so
   we will provide that, in case of my dying _before_ she is built, you
   may come on my executors for any money due.

   "I think you will believe that I shall propose, and agree to, nothing
   which is not for your good.  For surely I should not have meddled with
   it at all, but for that one purpose.

   "And now, Poshy, I mean to read you a short Sermon, which you can keep
   till Sunday to read.  You know I told you of _one_ danger--and I do
   think the only one--you are liable to--_Drink_.

   "I do not the least think you are _given_ to it: but you have, and
   will have, so many friends who will press you to it: perhaps _I_
   myself have been one.  And when you keep so long without _food_;
   _could_ you do so, Posh, without a Drink--of some your bad Beer
   [_sic_] too--now and then?  And then, does not the Drink--and of bad
   Stuff--take away Appetite for the time?  And will, if continued, so
   spoil the stomach that it will not bear anything _but_ Drink.  And
   this evil comes upon us gradually, without our knowing how it grows.
   That is why I warn you, Posh.  If I am wrong in thinking you want my
   warning, you must forgive me, believing that I should not warn at all
   if I were not much interested in your welfare.  I know that you do
   your best to keep out at sea, and watch on shore, for anything that
   will bring home something for Wife and Family.  But do not do so at
   any such risk as I talk of.

   "I say, I tell you all this for your sake: and something for my own
   also--not as regards the Lugger--but because, thinking you, as I do,
   so good a Fellow, and being glad of your Company; and taking
   _Pleasure_ in seeing you prosper; I should now be sorely vext if you
   went away from what I believe you to be.  Only, whether you do well or
   ill, _show me all above-board_, as I really think you have done; and
   do not let a poor old, solitary, and sad Man (as I really am, in spite
   of my Jokes), do not, I say, let me waste my Anxiety in vain.

   "I thought I had done with new Likings: and I had a more easy Life
   perhaps on that account: _now_ I shall often think of you with
   uneasiness, for the very reason that I have so much Liking and
   Interest for you.

   "There--the Sermon is done, Posh.  You _know_ I am not against Good
   Beer while at Work: nor a cheerful Glass after work: only do not let
   it spoil the stomach, or the Head.

   "Your's truly,
   "E. FG."


FitzGerald having made up his mind to give Posh a lift by going into
partnership with him began by finding not only the money for the building
of the boat but a name for her when she should be ready for sea.  It
seemed to him that "Meum and Tuum" would be an appropriate name, and the
_Mum Tum_ is remembered along the coast to this day as a queer,
meaningless title for a boat.  At a later date FitzGerald is reported to
have said that his venture turned out all Tuum and no Meum so far as he
was concerned.  But it is possible that Posh dealt more fairly with him
than he thought.  At all events Posh thinks he did.

The boat was to be paid for in instalments.  So much on laying the keel,
so much when the deck was on, etc., etc., and FitzGerald took the
greatest interest in her building.  He had first thought of christening
the lugger "Marian Halcombe," after Wilkie Collins's heroine in _The
Woman in White_, as appears from a letter to Frederic Tennyson, written
in January, 1867 (_Letters_, II, 90, Eversley Edition):--

   "I really think of having a Herring-lugger I am building named Marian
   Halcombe. . . .  Yes, a Herring-lugger; which is to pay for the money
   she costs unless she goes to the Bottom: and which meanwhile amuses me
   to consult about with my Sea-folks.  I go to Lowestoft now and then by
   way of salutary Change; and there smoke a Pipe every night with a
   delightful Chap who is to be Captain."

Again on June 17th (_Letters_, II, 94, Eversley Edition) he wrote to the
late Professor Cowell of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge:--

   "I am here in my little Ship" (the _Scandal_) "with no company but my
   crew" (Tom Newson and his nephew Jack) ". . . and my other--Captain of
   the Lugger now a-building: a Fellow I never tire of studying--If he
   _should_ turn out knave, I shall have done with all Faith in my own
   Judgment: and if he should go to the Bottom of the Sea in the Lugger--I
   shan't cry for the Lugger."

There was some delay in getting the deck planks on the lugger, for
FitzGerald wrote to Mr. Spalding on May 18th, 1867 (_Two Suffolk
Friends_, p. 110), that she would be decked "next Week," whereas her
planking was not finished till June, and, on a Friday in June, FitzGerald
wrote to Posh:--

   "WOODBRIDGE, _Friday_.


   "I am only back To-day from London, where I had to go for two days:
   and I am very glad to be back.  For the Weather was wretched: the
   Streets all Slush: and I all alone wandering about in it.  So as I was
   sitting at Night, in a great Room where a Crowd of People were eating
   Supper, and Singing going on, I thought to myself--Well, Posh might as
   well be here; and then I should see what a Face he would make at all
   this--This Thought really came into my mind.

   "I had asked Mr. Berry to forward me any Letters because I thought you
   might write to say the Lugger was planked.  But now you tell me it is
   no such thing: well, there is plenty of time: but I wished not to
   delay in sending the Money, if wanted.  I have seen, and heard, no
   more of Newson; nor of _his_ new Lugger from Mr. Hunt--I am told that
   one of the American yachts, _The Henrietta_, is a perfect Model: so I
   am going to have a Print of her that I may try and learn the Stem from
   the Stern of a Ship.  If this North-Easter changes I daresay I may run
   to Lowestoft next week and get a Sail, but it is too cold for that

   "Well, here is a letter, you see, my little small Captain, in answer
   to yours, which I was glad to see, for as I do not forget you, as I
   have told you, so I am glad that you should sometime remember the Old
   Governor and Herring-merchant


It should be observed that in this letter, as in several of those written
to Posh, FitzGerald signed his name, "Edward FitzGerald," in full, a
practice from which he was averse owing to certain facts connected with
another Edward Fitzgerald.  Those who have heard the story of the
historic first meeting between the poet and the late Mr. Bernard Quaritch
will remember why _our_ FitzGerald disliked the idea of being confused
with the other Edward Fitzgerald.

{Posh and his old "Shud," in which nets, etc., belonging to the
partnership were stored, and where the letters now published were found:

The letter here given forces a delightful picture upon us.  Its
simplicity makes it superbly graphic.  Think of FitzGerald, refined in
feature and reserved in manner, a little unconventional in dress, but not
sufficiently so to be vulgarly noticeable--think of the man who has given
us the most poetical philosophy and the most philosophical poetry, all in
the most exquisite English, in our language, sitting probably at Evans's
(it sounds like Evans's with the suppers and the music) and looking a
little pityingly at the reek about him like the "poor old, solitary, and
sad Man as he really was in spite of his Jokes"; and then imaging in his
mind's eye the handsome stalwart fisherman whom he loved so truly, and
believing that he was as morally excellent as he was physically!  "What a
Face he would make at all this!" thought the poet.

Five or six years ago a good friend of mine, the skipper of one of the
most famous tugs of Yarmouth, had to go up to town on a salvage case
before the Admiralty Court.  With him as witnesses went one or two beach
men of the old school, wind-and sun-tanned old shell-backs, with voices
like a fog-horn, and that entire lack of self-consciousness which is
characteristic of simplicity and good breeding.  My friend the skipper
was cultured in comparison with the old beach men, and he was a little
vexed when one old "salwager" insisted on accompanying him to the Oxford
Music Hall.  All went well till some conjurers appeared on the stage.
Then the skipper found that he had made a mistake in edging away from the
beach man.  For that jolly old salt hailed him across the house.  "Hi,
Billeeoh!  Bill Berry!  Hi! Lor, bor, howiver dew they dew't?  Howiver
dew they dew't, bor?  Tha'ss whoolly a masterpiece!  Hi!  Billeeoh!  Theer
they goo agin!"

The skipper always ends the story there.  He is as brave a man as any on
the coast.  It was he who stood out in Yarmouth Roads all night to look
for the Caistor life-boat the night of the disaster--a night when the
roads could not be distinguished from the shoals, so broken into tossing
white horses was the whole offing--but I believe he slunk down the stairs
of the Oxford that night, and left the old beach man still expressing his
delighted wonder.

Perhaps FitzGerald thought that Posh would be as excited as the old beach

"Mr. Berry" (as every one knows who knows anything about FitzGerald) was
the landlord of the house on Markethill, Woodbridge, where the poet
lodged.  (By the way, he was, so far as I know, no relation of my Bill
Berry.)  A sum of 50 pounds was due to Dan Fuller on the planking being
completed, and FitzGerald was anxious to let Posh have the money as soon
as it was needed.  He "remembered his debts" even before they became due.

I have already stated that Hunt was a boat-builder at Aldeburgh, and that
FitzGerald had, at first, wished Posh to employ him to build the _Mum
Tum_, as the _Meum and Tuum_ was fated to be called.

The kindly jovial relations between the "guv'nor" and his partner could
not be better indicated than by the name FitzGerald gives himself at the
close, just before he once more signs his name in full.  Well, perhaps
the legal luminary of Lowestoft would justify his inquiry if Edward
FitzGerald was the man who made a lot of money out of salt by saying,
"Well, he called himself a herring-merchant."

The schoolmaster who had never heard of either FitzGerald or Omar Khayyam
would (according to the nature of the breed) sniff and say "What?  A
herring-merchant and a tent-maker!  My boys are the sons of gentlemen.  I
can't be expected to know anything about tradesfolk of that class."

But Posh has a sense of humour, and he says, "Ah!  He used to laugh about
that, the guv'nor did.  He'd catch hold o' my jersey, so" (here Posh
pinches up a fold of his blue woollen jersey), "and say, 'Oh dear!  Oh
dear, Poshy!  Two F's in the firm.  FitzGerald and Fletcher, herring
salesmen--when Poshy catches any, which isn't as often as it might be,
you know, Poshy!'  And then he'd laugh.  Oh, he was a jolly kind-hearted
man if ever there was one."

And then Posh's eyes will grow moist sometimes, I think perhaps with the
thought that he might--ah, well!  It's too late now.

Posh wishes me to give the dimensions of the lugger, as she was of his
own designing and proved a fast and stiff craft.  He had given her two
feet less length than her beam called for, according to local ideas, and
FitzGerald called her "The Cart-horse," because she seemed broad and
bluff for her length.  She was forty-five feet in length, with a fifteen-
foot beam and seven-foot depth.  She was first rigged as a lugger, but
altered to the more modern "dandy" (something like a ketch but with more
rake to the mizzen and with no topmast on the mainmast) before she was
sold.  Any one about the herring basins who has arrived at fisherman's
maturity (about sixty years) will remember the _Mum Tum_, and, so far as
she was concerned, the partnership was entirely successful, for no one
has a bad word to say for her.


It is impossible to arrive at the exact sum of money which FitzGerald
brought into the partnership between him and Posh, but it must have been
something like five hundred pounds.  The lugger cost 360 pounds to build,
and, in addition, Posh was paid 20 pounds for his services (see
_Letters_, p. 309), and various payments had to be made for "sails,
cables, warps, ballast, etc."  Posh brought in what nets and gear he had,
and his services.  The first notion was that FitzGerald should be owner
of three-fourths of the concern; but on a valuation being made it was
found that the nets and gear contributed by Posh were of greater value
than had been supposed, and before the _Meum and Tuum_ put to sea it was
understood that Posh should be half owner with his "guvnor."  Posh is
very firm in his conviction that up to the return of the boat from her
first cruise there had been no mention of any bill of sale, or mortgage,
of the boat and gear to FitzGerald to secure the money he had found.
According to him his partner was to be a sleeping partner and no more,
and the entire conduct and control of the business were to be vested in
Posh.  The quarrels and misunderstandings which subsequently arose on
this point Posh attributes to certain "interfarin' parties" (and
especially to a Lowestoft lawyer), who were under the impression that
FitzGerald had not looked after himself so well as he might have done and
who thought that this omission should be remedied.  Possibly they had an
idea that they might "make somethin'" in the course of the remedial

Early in August Posh sailed north with his crew to meet the herring on
their way down south.  His luck was poor, and on August 26th FitzGerald
wrote him from Lowestoft:--

   "LOWESTOFT, _Monday_, _August_ 26.


   "As we hear nothing of you, we suppose that you have yet caught
   nothing worth putting in for.  And, as I may be here only a Day
   longer, I write again to you: though I do not know if I have anything
   to say which needs writing again for.  In my former letter, directed
   to you as this letter will be, I desired you to get a Life Buoy as
   soon as you could.  _That_ is for the Good of your People, as well as
   of yourself.  What I now have to say is wholly on your own Account:
   and that is, to beg you to take the Advice given by the Doctor to your
   Father: namely, _not_ to drink _Beer_ and _Ale_ more than you can
   help: but only _Porter_, and, every day, some Gin and Water.  I was
   talking to your Father last Saturday; and I am convinced that you
   inherit a family complaint: if I had known of this a year ago I would
   not have drenched you with all the Scotch, and Norwich, Ale which I
   have given you. . . .  Do not neglect this Advice, as being only an
   old Woman's Advice; you have, even at your early time of life,
   suffered from _Gravel_; and you may depend upon it that Gravel will
   turn to _Stone_, unless you do something like what I tell you, and
   which the Doctor has told your Father.  And I know that there is no
   Disease in the World which makes a young Man _old_ sooner than Stone:
   No Disease that _wears_ him more.  You should take plenty of _Tea_;
   some Gin and Water every night; and _no_ Ale, or Beer; but only
   Porter; and not much of that.  If you do not choose to buy Gin for
   yourself, buy some for _me_: and keep it on board: and drink some
   every Day, or Night.  Pray remember this: and _do it_.

   "I have been here since I wrote my first Letter to Scarboro'; that is
   to say, a week ago.  Till To-day I have been taking out some Friends
   every day: they leave the place in a day or two, and I shall go home;
   though I dare say not for long.  Your wife seems nearly right again; I
   saw her To-day.  Your Father has engaged to sell his Shrimps to Levi,
   for this season and next, at 4s. a Peck.  Your old _Gazelle_ came in
   on Saturday with all her Nets gone to pieces; the Lugger _Monitor_
   came in here yesterday to alter her Nets--from _Sunk_ to _Swum_, I
   believe.  So here is a Lowestoft Reporter for you: and you may never
   have it after all.  But, if you do, do not forget what I have told
   you.  Your Father thinks that you may have missed the Herring by going
   _outward_, where they were first caught: whereas the Herring had
   altered their course to inshore. . . .  Better to miss many Herrings
   than have the Stone.

   "E. FG."

Here, again, the delicate solicitude of this perfect gentleman is
apparent.  "If you do not choose to buy Gin for yourself, buy some for
_me_: and keep it on board: and drink some every Day, or Night."  That is
to say, "If you think that you cannot afford to buy gin for yourself
don't worry about the expense.  I'll see you are not put to any extra
cost.  But I can't bear to think that you may suffer for the want of a
medicine because of your East Anglian parsimony."

It must be remembered that East Anglia was notorious for the frequency of
the disease in question.  The late William Cadge, of Norwich, probably
the finest lithotomist in the world (as Thompson was the greatest
lithotritist), once told me that he had performed over four hundred
operations in the Norwich Hospital for this disease alone.

But FitzGerald's fears concerning Posh were not realised.  He seems to
have had an especial dread of the disease (as who has not?), for in a
letter to Frederic Tennyson of January 29th previously (II, 89, Eversley
Edition) he wrote (of Montaigne): "One of his Consolations for _The
Stone_ is that it makes one less unwilling to part with Life."

Levi was a Lowestoft fishmonger, referred to in the footnote of _Two
Suffolk Friends_, p. 108.

The _Gazelle_ was the "punt" or longshore boat which Posh bought at
Southwold, and called (by reason of her splendid qualities) _The Little

The difference between "sunk" and "swum" herring nets would be
unintelligible to a modern herring fisher.  Now the nets are thirty feet
in depth, are buoyed on the surface of the sea, and are kept
perpendicular (like a wall two miles long) by the weight of heavy cables
or "warps" which stretch along the bottom of the nets.  I am, of course,
referring to North Sea fishing only, and not to the longshore punts,
whose nets are not half the depth of the North Sea fleets.

In FitzGerald's time if the herring were expected to swim deep the nets
were sunk _below_ the cables or warps which strung them together, and if
they were thought to be swimming high they were buoyed above the warps,
the system of fishing being called "sunk" in the former case and "swum"
in the latter.  Now _all_ nets are "swum," that is to say, all are above
the warps and are buoyed on the surface.  But the depth has increased so
much (to what is technically known as "twenty-score mesh," which comes to
about thirty feet) that there is no need to alter their setting.

Posh's wife, whose state of health is referred to in this letter,
survived till 1892, but for many years suffered from tuberculosis in the

The _Monitor_ was a Kessingland craft, and belonged to one Hutton.

But whether Posh fished with "sunk" or "swum" nets his luck was out for
the season of 1867.  The fish as a rule get down to the Norfolk coast
about the beginning of October, and Posh had followed them down from
Scarborough.  About the end of September, or the beginning of October,
FitzGerald wrote to his partner, addressing the letter to 8 Strand
Cottages, Lowestoft, in the expectation that the _Meum and Tuum_ had come
south with the rest of the herring drifters, Yarmouth, Lowestoft, North
and South Shields, and Scotch.

{Strand Cottages, where Posh lived.  No. 8, his cottage, is marked with a
white cross: p77.jpg}

   "WOODBRIDGE, _Saturday_.


   "I write you a line, because I suppose it possible that you may be at
   home some time to-morrow.  If you are not, no matter.  I do not know
   if I shall be at Lowestoft next week: but you are not to suppose that,
   if I do do [_sic_] not go there just now I have anything to complain
   of.  I am not sure but that a Friend may come here to see me, and
   also, unless the weather keep warmer than it was some days ago, I
   scarce care to sleep in my cabin: which has no fire near it as yours

   "If I do not go to Lowestoft just yet, I shall be there before very
   long: at my friend Miss Green's, if my Ship be laid up.

   "I see in the Paper that there have been some 40 lasts of Herring
   landed in your market during this last week: the Southwold Boats doing
   best.  I began to think the Cold might keep the Fish in deep water, so
   that _swum_ nets would scarce reach them yet.  But this is mere guess.
   I told you not to answer all my letters: but you can write me a line
   once a week to say what you are doing.  I hope _our_ turn for
   "Neighbour's fare" is not quite lost, though long a coming.

   "Newson and Jack are gone home for Sunday.  To-night is a grand
   Horsemanship, to which I would make you go if you were here.  Remember
   me to all your People and believe me yours

   "E. FG.

   "I see that the . . . [illegible] vessel: and, as far as I see,
   deserved to do so."

Miss Green was the landlady of the house at 12 Marine Terrace, Lowestoft,
where FitzGerald usually stayed when he did not sleep aboard the

Up to the date of the letter, and, indeed, throughout the season of 1867,
the _Meum and Tuum_ had bad luck.  FitzGerald thought it was time that
the luck should change, for "Neighbour's fare" is defined in _Sea Words
and Phrases along the Suffolk Coast_ as "Doing as well as one's
neighbours.  'I mayn't make a fortune, but I look for "Neighbour's fare"


"Neighbour's fare" was long in coming to FitzGerald in his venture as a
"herring merchant."  But he was happy enough in the consciousness that he
was doing Posh a good turn.  Whether or not Posh had a greater share of
the earnings of the boat than he was entitled to I cannot say.  Certainly
he began to thrive exceedingly about this time, and, as an old
longshoreman seven years Posh's senior, said to me the other day, "He
might ha' been a gennleman!  He used to kape his greyhounds, and he had
as pratty a mare as the' wuz in Lowestoft.  Ah! Mr. FitzGerald was a
_good_ gennleman to him--that he _wuz_!"

Once again the epithet "good," which he so pre-eminently merited.

But whether the year had been bad or good, it was necessary for the
sleeping partner to look into the accounts of the firm.

On Christmas Day of 1867, when the season was over and all the herring
drifters had "made up," that is to say, had worked out their accounts and
struck a balance of profit or loss, Fitzgerald wrote to Posh:--

   "WOODBRIDGE, _Christmas Day_.


   "Unless I hear from you to-morrow that _you_ are coming over _here_, I
   shall most likely run over myself to Miss Green's at Lowestoft--by the
   Train which gets there about 2.

   "I shall look in upon you in the evening, if so be that I do not see
   you in the course of the day.  I say I shall look in upon [_sic_] _to-
   morrow_, I dare say:--But, as this is Christmas time and I suppose you
   have many friends to see, I shall not want you to be at school every

   "This is Newson's piloting week, so he cannot come.

   "E. FG."

Posh did not go to Woodbridge, so FitzGerald went to Miss Green's,
whence, on December the 28th, he wrote one of his most characteristic
letters (in that it embraced interests so widely different) to Professor
Cowell.  The letter begins with a reference to M. Garcin de Tassy and his
"annual oration," and continues with some passages of great interest
concerning the _Rubaiyat_ and Attar's "Birds."  (Dr. Aldis Wright's
Eversley Edition of _Letters_, II, 100.)  Then from a delicate and dainty
piece of criticism the poet turns to his herring business.  "I have come
here to wind up accounts for our Herring-lugger: much against us as the
season has been a bad one.  My dear Captain [Posh], who looks in his
Cottage like King Alfred in the Story, was rather saddened by all this,
as he had prophesied better things.  I tell him that if he is but what I
think him--and surely my sixty years of considering men will not so
deceive me at last!--I would rather lose money with him than gain it with
others.  Indeed I never proposed Gain, as you may imagine: but only to
have some Interest with this dear Fellow."

Well, he had his wish, though Posh maintains that there _was_ gain in the
business at a certain time to be referred to hereafter, and that there
might have been plenty of gain but for the "interfarin' parties" before

From the first there was a difficulty in persuading Posh to keep any
accounts of either outgoings or incomings.  He seems to have paid a bill
when he thought of it, or when he had the money for it handy.  But no
idea of book-keeping, even in its most rudimentary form, was ever
entertained by him.

And FitzGerald had, before ever the partnership was an accomplished fact,
impressed on Posh the importance of remembering his debts.

Before the spring fishing began in 1868 the question of accounts came to
the fore.  On March the 29th the sleeping partner wrote from Woodbridge:--


   "I have your Letter of this Morning:--I suppose that you have got mine
   also.  I hope that you understood what I said in it--about the Bills,
   I mean--that you should put down in writing _all_ outgoings, and in
   such a way as you, or I, might easily reckon them up: I mean, so as to
   see what _each_ amounts to--No man's Memory can be trusted in such
   matters; and I think that _your_ Memory (jostled about, as you say,
   with many different calls, [_sic_ no close to parenthesis] needs to
   have _writing_ to refer to.  _Do not suppose for one moment_ that I do
   not trust you, my good fellow: nor that I think you have made any
   great blunder in what Accounts you _did_ keep last year.  I only mean
   that a man ought to be able to point _out at once_, to himself or to
   others, all the items of an Account; to do which, you know, gave you
   great Trouble--You must not be too proud to learn a little of some one
   used to such business: _as Mr. Spalding_, for instance.

   "If you think the Oil and _Cutch_ are as good, and as cheap, at
   Lowestoft as I can get them here, why not get them at once at
   Lowestoft?  About that _green Paint_ for the Lugger's bottom:--Mr.
   Silver got some _so very good_ for _Pasifull's_ Smack last year that I
   think it might be worth while to get some, if we could, from _his_
   Merchant.  You told me that what _you_ got at Lowestoft was _not_ very

   "I am _very glad_ that the Lugger is so well thought of that any one
   else wants to build from her.  For she was _your_ child, you know.

   "Mr. Durrant has never sent me the plants.  I doubt he must have lost
   some more children.  Do not go to him again, if you went before.  I
   daresay I shall be running over to Lowestoft soon.  But I am not quite

   "E. FG.

   "Remember me to your Family: you do not tell me if your Mother is

The Mr. Spalding here referred to was at that time the manager for a
large firm of agricultural implement makers.  Subsequently he became the
curator of the museum at Colchester, and the letters from FitzGerald to
him which were handed to Mr. Francis Hindes Groome formed the most
valuable part of the second part of _Two Suffolk Friends_ called "Edward
FitzGerald.  An Aftermath."

"Oil" and "cutch" are preservatives for the herring nets.  The oil is
linseed, and the nets are soaked in it before they are tanned by the
cutch.  Cutch is a dark resinous stuff, which is thrown into a copper
full of water and boiled till it is dissolved.  Then the liquid is thrown
over the nets and permitted to soak in.  After the nets are soaked in
linseed oil, and before they are tanned, they are hung up to dry in the
open air.  The process has to be repeated several times during each
fishing, and those who are familiar with Lowestoft and Yarmouth must also
be familiar with the sight and smell of the nets, hanging out on
railings, either on public open spaces or in private net yards.  Where
rails are not obtainable the nets are often spread on the ground, and an
ingenious idea for the quaint shape of Yarmouth (unique with its narrow
"rows") is that the rows represent the narrow footpaths between the
spaces on which the nets used to be laid to dry.

"Pasifull" is sometimes called "Percival," sometimes "Pasifall," and
sometimes as in this letter.  His Christian name was Ablett, and he was
both a fisherman and a yacht hand.

Mr. Durrant was a market gardener and fruiterer in Lowestoft, and his
sons carry on the same business in three shops in Lowestoft now.  One of
them remembers FitzGerald as a visitor and "a queer old chap," and that's
all he knows about him.

I do not think Posh troubled himself much about the accounts.  But there
was another subject already broached which was to cause some
unpleasantness between the partners.

Some of FitzGerald's friends, both at Lowestoft and elsewhere, had become
uneasy at the hold which Posh had obtained over him.  They feared lest he
should become a baron of beef at which Posh could cut and come again.
More than one advised him that he should have some better security than a
mere partnership understanding, that he should, in fact, insist on having
a bill of sale, or mortgage of the _Meum and Tuum_ and her gear to secure
the money he had found.  Possibly he was swayed by Posh's backwardness in
the matter of account.  Certainly he came to the conclusion that his
friends were right, and that he should have a charge on the boat and her
gear.  Now I believe that Posh tells the truth when he says that in the
first instance there was no mention of any such charge.  And he was not a
business man enough to see the reasonableness of FitzGerald's demand.  He
was, moreover, urged by the secretiveness of his race, the love of
keeping private affairs from outsiders, and he bitterly resented the
proposition.  Indeed, during the early months of 1868, there were
constant semi-quarrels, which were as constantly patched up.  FitzGerald
loved the man too well to quarrel with him definitely.  Besides, Posh had
not been well.  In January FitzGerald wrote to Professor Cowell
(_Letters_, II, 103, Eversley Edition): "I have spent lots of money on my
Herring-lugger, which has made but a poor season.  So now we are going
(like wise men) to lay out a lot more for Mackerel; and my Captain (a
dear Fellow) is got ill, which is the worst of all."

But in this first instance Posh gave way.  On April 14th FitzGerald wrote
Mr. Spalding: "I believe that he and I shall now sign the Mortgage Papers
that make him owner of _Half Meum and Tuum_.  I only get out of him that
he can't say he sees much amiss in the Deed."  But Posh is still bitter
about that deed, and still blames his old "guv'nor" for having listened
to the "interfarin' parties."  He does not know what was the matter with
him that spring.  "I was quare, sir," he says.  "I don't know what ta
was.  But I was quare."

He got well in time to go off after the spring mackerel, which used to be
a regular fishing season off Lowestoft, though now mackerel are getting
as scarce as salmon off the Norfolk and Suffolk coast.  But the _Meum and
Tuum's_ bad luck still followed her with the longer and bigger meshed
nets.  On June 16th, 1868, FitzGerald wrote to Mr. Spalding (_Two Suffolk
Friends_, p. 113):--

   "Mackerel still come in very slow, sometimes none at all: the dead
   calm nights play the deuce with the Fishing, and I see no prospect of
   change in the weather till the Mackerel shall be changing their
   Quarters.  I am vexed to see the Lugger come in Day after day so
   poorly stored after all the Labour and Time and Anxiety given to the
   work by her Crew; but I can do no more, and at any rate take my share
   of the Loss very lightly.  I can afford it better than they can.  I
   have told Newson to set sail and run home any Day, Hour, or Minute,
   when he wishes to see his Wife and Family."

Newson and Jack were down at Lowestoft with the _Scandal_, and it was
characteristic of FitzGerald to give his skipper leave to run home when
he wished.  FitzGerald always liked the _Meum and Tuum_ to be in harbour
on a Sunday so that the men could see their wives and families and have a
"good hot dinner."


Now that the _Meum and Tuum_ was ready for work FitzGerald's anxiety for
the lives of her crew made him insist upon their taking life-belts aboard
with them, although the mate had stated that no one would wear them.  On
April 24th a letter was written to Posh from Woodbridge.


   "I hear from Mr. Birt this morning that the Life Belts were sent off
   to you yesterday--_directed to your house_.  So I suppose they will
   reach you without your having to go look for them.  But you can
   enquire at the Rail if they don't show up.

   "Mr. Birt says that he makes the Belts of _two_ sizes for the Life
   Boat.  But he has sent _all_ yours of the large size, except one for
   the Boy.  I had told him I thought you were all of you biggish Men,
   except the Boy.  I suppose I have blundered as usual.  But if the
   Jackets are too big you must change some of them.  That will only cost
   carriage; and that I must pay for my Blunder.

   "I doubt you have been unlucky in your drying days--yesterday we had
   such violent showers as would have washed out your oil, I think.  And
   it must have rained much last night.  But you share in _my_ luck now,
   you know.

   "But I am very glad the children are better.  I thought it was bad
   weather for fever.  There has been great sickness here, I think.  Mr.
   Gowing and his house are as tedious as Mr. Dove and _my_ house; we
   must hope that does not mean to play as false.

   "I am very sorry for your loss of lines and anchors.

   "E. FG."

Mr. Gowing was, so far as Posh can recollect, a Woodbridge builder, and
Mr. Dove was the Builder who altered Little Grange for FitzGerald.
Whether or not the life-belts fitted or were ever used I can't ascertain.
But I believe that one was in existence a year or so ago.  The "lines and
anchors" were, Posh thinks, lost from his old punt the _Gazelle_.

For the sake of convenience I give a letter here which is somewhat out of
date, but inasmuch as it has nothing to do with the fishing but only with
the trust which FitzGerald had in Posh it may very well come in here.

   "MARKETHILL, WOODBRIDGE, _October_ 2_nd_.


   "I forgot to tell you that I had desired a Day and Night Telescope to
   be left _for me_ at the Lowestoft Railway Station--Please to enquire
   for it: and, if it be there, this Letter of mine may be sufficient
   Warrant for _you_ to take the Glass.

   "Do not, however, take the Glass _out to sea_ till we have tried it.

   "We got here yesterday.  I shall not be at Lowestoft _this week_ at
   any rate.


   "Please to send me word about the Glass.  I left a note for you in
   George Howe's hands before we started.  I was sorry not to see you;
   but you knew where to find me on Monday Evening."

The glass was, Posh assures me, a good one.  But no one knows what became
of it.  Later FitzGerald again mentions the glass.

   "WOODBRIDGE, _Monday_.


   "If I could have made sure from your letter that you were going to
   stop on shore this Day, I would have run over to see you.  You tell me
   of getting a Job done: but I cannot be sure if you are having it done
   To-day: and I do not go to Lowestoft for fear you may be put to sea

   "Of course you will get anything done to Boat or Net that you think

   "You did not tell me how the Spy-Glass answers.  But do not trouble
   yourself to write.

   "Yours truly,

{Woodbridge River (evening) where the "scandal" berthed: p97.jpg}

As soon as I asked Posh the meaning of the signature "Flagstone
FitzGerald" he burst out laughing.  "What!" said he.  "Hain't yew niver
heard about ole Flagstone?  He was a retail and wholesale grocer and
gin'ral store dealer at Yarmouth name ---" (well, we will say Smith for
purposes of reference.  As the man's sons still carry on his old business
here in Lowestoft it is as well not to give the true name.  By the way, I
do not mean that the sons carry on the "flagstone" business), "and he
owned tew or t'ree boots and stored 'em hisself.  Well, when they come to
make up (and o' coorse he'd chudged the men for the stores, ah! and
chudged 'em high!) they went t'rew the stores an' found as he'd weighted
up the sugar and such like wi' flagstone!  Well, they made it sa hot for
him at Yarmouth that he had ta mewve ta Lowestoft, and he was allust
called Flagstone Smith arter that.  I reckon as the Guv'nor heerd the
yarn and liked it.  Ha!  Ha!  Ha!"

And it isn't a bad yarn for one which is actually true in every respect.

About the same time, or a little later (for it is impossible to fix the
date of these letters definitely), Fitzgerald wrote:--

   "WOODBRIDGE, _Saturday_.


   "I suppose the Lugger had returned, and that you had gone out in her
   again before my last Note, with Newson's Paper, reached you.  I have a
   fancy that you will go home this evening.  But whether you are not
   [_sic_] do not _stay_ at home to answer me.  I have felt, as I said,
   pretty sure that the Boat was back from Harwich: and we have had no
   such weather as to make me anxious about you.  One night it blew; but
   not a gale: only a strong Wind.

   "I shall be expecting Newson up next week.

   "I have thought of you while I have been walking out these fine
   moonlight nights.  But I doubt your fish must have gone off before

   "You see I have nothing to say to you; only I thought you might to
   [_sic_] hear from me whenever you should come back.

   "E. FG."


The poor mackerel season ended in the second week of July.  Why, when
mackerel were so scarce, the _Meum and Tuum_ did not give up the fishing
and try for "midsummer herring" it is difficult to understand, and Posh
does not remember the reason, if there was one.  Possibly the change of
nets, etc., etc., was too much trouble.  Anyhow, the season was
unprofitable for the mackerel boats.  On Monday, July 13th, FitzGerald
was still on the _Scandal_ at Lowestoft, and wrote from there to Mr.
Spalding (_Two Suffolk Friends_, p. 113): "Posh made up and paid off on
Saturday.  I have not yet asked him, but I suppose he has just paid his
way, I mean so far as Grub goes. . . .  Last night it lightened to the
South, as we sat in the Suffolk Gardens--I, and Posh, and Mrs. Posh. . . ."

The "making up" may require some little explanation.  The "drift"
fishing--i.e. the herring and mackerel fishing (for though sprats and
pilchards are caught by drift nets, it is unnecessary to consider them
when dealing with the great North Sea drift fishing)--is carried on on a
system of sharing profits between owners and fishermen.  Trawlers, i.e.
craft that fish with a "trawl" net for flat fish, haddocks, etc., etc.,
are managed differently.

"Making up" is the technical term for balancing profit and loss of a
season, and ascertaining the sums which are due to owners and crew

In the days when Fitzgerald was a "herring merchant," the systems of
Yarmouth and Lowestoft were different.  At Yarmouth the owner of the boat
took nine shares out of sixteen, and bore all losses of damaged or lost
nets, etc., the remaining seven shares being divided among the crew in
varying proportions.  For instance, the skipper took 1.75 or two shares,
the mate 1.25 or 1.5, and so on down to the boy with his one-half or
three-eighths share.  At Lowestoft the shares were also divided into
sixteen; but the owner took only eight, and the crew the other eight.  The
losses of gear, nets, etc., however, were borne equally between the two
lots of eight shares, and, on the whole, I believe the Yarmouth system
was more favourable to the men, though the Lowestoft system made the
skipper and crew more careful of the nets and gear than they might have
been did not they suffer for any loss of them.  The introduction of steam
drifters has made the shares complicated in the extreme.  The owners take
so much as owners of the boat, so much for the engines, etc., etc., and,
in fact, the owners get the share of a very greedy lion.  However, the
prices rule so high nowadays, and the catches are occasionally so large
(the other day a steam drifter brought in over 200 pounds worth of fish
to Grimsby as the result of one night's fishing), that the great
Martinmas fishing of the east coast has become a gamble in which fortunes
may be made and lost.  Many a boat earns over 2000 pounds from October to
December.  A lucky skipper may take 200 pounds for his share of the home
fishing alone.  But such figures would have sounded fantastic in
FitzGerald's day, for I have been assured over and over again by herring
fishers that in the sixties and seventies, ay, even in the eighties of
last century, 20 pounds was a "good season's share" for a prominent hand
of a successful drifter.

Posh, as half owner, would take four-sixteenth shares, and as skipper
would probably take another two-sixteenths, so that he would draw more
than any one else.

Some time during the spring or summer of 1868 there was great excitement
amongst the fishing-boat owners of Lowestoft and other ports on account
of an Act just passed regulating the building of vessels, having especial
regard to the ventilation of the cuddy, forecastle, or the men's sleeping
quarters.  Posh tells me that many owners of drifters considered that the
Act applied to all craft, including fishing boats, and that great expense
was undergone by some over-conscientious owners in fitting ventilating
drums and shafts in accordance with the Act.  If the statute applied to
any drifter it would apply to the _Meum and Tuum_, and FitzGerald
evidently thought that the intention of the Act was that fishing boats
should be exempt.  He proved to be right, for the regulations were never
enforced on fishing boats.  He wrote to Posh:--

   "WOODBRIDGE, _Saturday_.


   "You must lay out three halfpence on the _Eastern Times_ for last
   Friday.  In that Newspaper there is a good deal written about that Act
   for altering Vessels: the Writer is quite sure--that the Act does
   _not_ apply to Fishing craft; and he writes as if he knew what he was
   writing about.  But most likely if he had written just the contrary,
   it would have seemed as right to me.  Do you therefore fork out three
   halfpennies, as I tell you, and study the matter and talk it over with
   others.  The owners of Vessels should lose no time in meeting, and in
   passing some Resolution on the Subject.

   "I have not seen Newson, but West was down at the Ferry some days back
   and saw him.  For a wonder, he [Newson] was _Fishing_!--for
   Codlings--for there really was nothing else to do: no Woodbridge
   Vessels coming in and out the Harbour, nor any work for the Salvage
   Smacks.  He spoke of his Wife as much the same: Smith, the Pilot,
   thought her much altered when last he saw her.

   "You will buy such things as you spoke of wanting at the Lowestoft
   Sales if they go at a reasonable price.  As to the claim made by your
   Yawl, I suppose it will come down to half.  The builders are coming to
   my house again next week, I believe, having left their work undone.

   "Now, here is a Letter for your Mantelpiece to-morrow--Sunday--I don't
   think I have more to say.

   "Yours E. FG.

   "Mr. Durrant has never sent me the hamper of Flowers he promised.

   "P.S.  I post this letter before Noon so as you will receive it this
   evening: and can get the Newspaper I tell you of:

   "_Eastern Times_ for _Friday_ last sold at Chapman's."

Posh does not remember whether he laid out the three halfpence or not.
But he doubts it.  "I knowed as that couldn't ha' nothin' ta dew along o'
us," says he.  And he stuck to his guns and proved to be right.

"West" has been mentioned before as being an old fellow with whom
FitzGerald used to navigate the river Deben in a small boat before the
building of the _Scandal_.  Newson's wife, like Posh's, was often ailing.
Kind "Fitz" had written previously (July 25th, 1868; _Letters_, Eversley
Edition, p. 106) to Professor Cowell:--

   ". . . I only left Lowestoft partly to avoid a Volunteer Camp there
   which filled the Town and People with Bustle: and partly that my
   Captain might see his Wife: who cannot last very much longer I think:
   scarcely through the Autumn, surely.  She goes about, nurses her
   children, etc., but grows visibly thinner, weaker and more ailing."

{The "Happy New Year" yawl, belonging to Posh's beach company: p107.jpg}

The "claim made by your yawl" refers to a claim for salvage made by the
company of beach men (of which Posh was a member) owning a yawl.
FitzGerald (as has been seen before) always took a humorous interest in
the doings of the "sea pirates," yclept beach men or "salwagers," and he
doubtless enjoyed his little chuckle at Posh's expense.

The builders were at work on Little Grange, which FitzGerald predicted he
would never live in but would die in.  However, he falsified both
predictions, for he lived in the house ten years and died in Norfolk.

Mr. Durrant was still in default.  I doubt if FitzGerald ever got those
flowers.  They were plants, Posh tells me, which FitzGerald wished to
plant out at Little Grange.

I can find no record of the principal, the Martinmas or Autumn, fishing
of 1868.  But in the spring of 1869 the _Meum and Tuum_ went to the "West
Fishing" for mackerel, even as a large number of our modern steam
drifters go now, to the indignation of the pious fishermen of Penzance,
Newlyn, and St. Ives.  These good fellows of the west have, I think, some
reason to complain that it is unfair that they should suffer for
righteousness' sake.  Looking at the point in dispute impartially, it
_does_ seem hard that the men of the locality should see Easterlings
bringing in good catches of fish as the result of what the Cornishmen
regard as a desecration of "the Lord's Day."  The religious sentiment
which prevents the western and southern men from putting off on Sunday is
genuine and sincere enough.  The Scotch herring boats, which come in
their thousands to Yarmouth and Lowestoft for the autumn fishing, are
always in harbour from Saturday night to Monday morning, though the local
boats fish all days and nights.  But by keeping in harbour the Scotchmen
offend the sensibilities of no one, whereas there is much bitterness
caused in the west by the refusal of the Easterlings to fall in with
local custom.

On March 1st, 1869, FitzGerald wrote to Professor Cowell (_Letters_, II,
107, Eversley Edition):--


   ". . . My lugger Captain has just left me to go on his Mackerel Voyage
   to the Western Coast; and I don't know when I shall see him again. . .
   .  You can't think what a grand, tender Soul this is, lodged in a
   suitable carcase."

FitzGerald thought very highly of that "carcase" of Posh's, as will be
seen from the story of the Laurence portrait, set forth hereinafter, as
the lawyers, whom Posh hates so much, would say.

The sleeping partner throughout seems to have had more anxiety on account
of Posh's sea hazards than on account of business losses.  How the
mackerel paid I do not know, but Posh was in time to go north for the
beginning of the herring fishing in July.


There must always be an interval ashore between the return of the
drifters from the western voyage and their sailing north to follow the
herring down from Aberdeen to Yarmouth.  And during this interval, in
1869, FitzGerald wrote one or two letters to Posh which have survived
that wholesale destruction of which their recipient speaks.

   "WOODBRIDGE, _Friday_.

   "Newson is up here with the Yacht, Posh; and we shall start to-morrow
   with the Tide about 10.30.  I doubt if we shall get out of the
   harbour: or, even if we do that, get to Lowestoft in the Day.  But you
   can just give a look to the Southward to-morrow evening, or Sunday.  I
   write this, because we _may_ not have more than a day to stay at

   "E. FG."

Despite his silk hat and his boa, FitzGerald was a keen and genuine lover
of yachting.  Even in the way in which he took his enjoyment of this he
was original.  Posh asserts that he has seen his "guv'nor" lying in the
lee scuppers while the _Scandal_ was heeling over in a stiff breeze, and
permitting the wash of the sea to run over him till he was drenched to
the skin.  Indeed, although his long lean body looked frail, he was
reckless in the way in which he treated it.  Posh tells one story which I
give in his words.  He vouches for its truth, and I give it on his
authority and not as vouching for its accuracy myself.  Personally I
believe the tale is true enough, but I admit that it requires a power of
assimilation which is not given to all.

   "He! he!" says Posh.  "He was a rum un sometimes, was my guv'nor!  I
   remember one day when the _Scandal_ was a layin' agin' the wharf where
   the trawl market is now.  Mr. Sims Reeves, the lawyer [this was a
   prominent counsel on the Norwich circuit, not the famous tenor], and
   some other friends came over for a sail, and they and Tom [Newson] was
   below while me and Jack and the guv'nor was on deck, astarn.  The
   mains'l was h'isted, but there wasn't no heads'l on her, and we lay
   theer riddy to get unner way.  There was a fresh o' wind blowin' from
   the eastard, not wery stiddy, and as we lay theer the boom kep' a
   wamblin' and a jerkin' from side to side, a wrenchin' the mainsheet
   block a rum un.  The guv'nor was a readin' of a letter as had just
   been brought down by the poost.  'Posh,' he say, 'here's a letter with
   some money I niver expected to git,' he say.  'That's a good job,'
   when just then the boom come over wallop and caught him fair on the
   side of his hid, and knocked him oover into the harbour like one
   o'clock.  He was a wearin' of his topper same as us'al, and all of a
   sudden up he come agin just as Jack an' me was raychin' oover arter
   him.  His topper come up aisy like, as though 'twas a life-buoy if I
   may say soo, and unnerneath it come the fur boa, and then the guv'nor.
   And as true as I set here he was still a holdin' that letter out in
   front of him in both hands.  Well, I couldn't help it.  I bust out a
   laughin', and soo did Jack an' all, and then we rayched down and
   copped hold on him and h'isted him aboord all right and tight, but as
   wet as a soused harrin'.  He come up a laughin', playsed as Punch, an'
   give orders to cast off and git up headsail ta oncet.  And would yew
   believe me, he wouldn't goo below ta shift afore we got right out to
   the Corton light, though Mr. Reeves axed him tew time and time agin!
   Not he.  That was blowin' a fresh o' wind, an' he jest lay down in the
   lee scuppers, and 'I can't get no wetter, Posh,' he say, and let the
   lipper slosh oover him.  Ah!  He was a master rum un, was my ole

The northern herring voyage of the _Meum and Tuum_ in 1869, that is to
say, the eight weeks' fishing down the east coast from Aberdeen to
Lowestoft from the beginning of August to the end of September, seems to
have been about up to what FitzGerald might have called "Neighbour's
fare."  He wrote to Mrs. W. H. Thompson (the wife of the Master of
Trinity): "My lugger has had (along with her neighbours) such a Season
hitherto of Winds as no one remembers.  We made 450 pounds in the North
Sea" (that is to say, in the north fishing before the home Martinmas
fishing began); "and (just for fun) I did wish to realise 5 pounds in my
pocket.  But my Captain would take it all to pay Bills.  But if he makes
another 400 pounds this Home Voyage!  Oh, then we shall have money in our
pockets.  I do wish this.  For the anxiety about all these people's lives
has been so much more to me than all the amusement I have got from the
Business, that I think I will draw out of it if I can see my Captain
sufficiently firm on his legs to carry it on alone.  True, there will
still be the same risk to him and his ten men, but they don't care; only
I sit here listening to the Winds in the Chimney, and always thinking of
the eleven hanging at my own finger ends" (_Letters_, II, 110, Eversley

{A Lowestoft "Dandy": p116.jpg}

The number of hands on a herring drifter used to be eleven, which seemed
excessive till the labour of hauling nearly two miles of nets by hand is
remembered.  Now that almost every drifter which goes into the North Sea
has a donkey engine to do the hardest work of the hauling the number
aboard the dandies is lessened to nine.

This letter to Mrs. Thompson is the first suggestion that FitzGerald has
any idea of ending the partnership, a suggestion which became fully
developed in 1870.

But before Posh was hard at it every day, fishing off the Norfolk coast,
his "guv'nor" wrote him a note in a much more cheerful strain.  Indeed,
this is a letter by itself, unlike any other of the writer's which I have
seen, though (as Dr. Aldis Wright says) "FitzGerald never wrote a letter
like any one else."  The power of throwing himself "into the picture,"
the humour of conscious imitation, were never more brilliantly
illustrated than by this hail-fellow-well-met letter, written by the
scholar and poet:--


   "Now then, Posh, here is a letter for you, sooner than you looked for,
   and moreover you will have to answer it as soon as you can.

   "I want you to learn from your friend _Dan Fuller_ what particulars
   you can about that Lugger we saw at Mutford Bridge.  Draft of Water,
   Length of Keel, What sails and Stores; and what _Price_; and any other
   Questions you may think necessary to ask.  If the man here who has a
   notion of buying such a Vessel to make a Yacht of on this river sees
   any hope of doing so at a reasonable rate, and with a reasonable hope
   of Success, he will go over next week to look at the Vessel.  He of
   course knows he would have to alter all her inside: but I told him
   your Opinion that she would do well _cutter rigged_.

   "So now, Poshy, do go down as soon as is convenient, to Dan, and stand
   him _half a pint_ and don't tell him what you are come about, but just
   turn the conversation (in a _Salvaging_ sort of way) to the old Lugger
   and get me the particulars I ask for.  Perhaps Dan's heart will
   open--_over Half a Pint_--as yours has been known to do.  And if you
   write to me as soon as you can what you can learn, why I take my
   Blessed Oath that I'll be d---d if I don't stand you Half a Pint, so
   help me Bob, the next time I go to Lowestoft.  I hope I make myself

   "The _Elsie_ is being gutted, and new timbered, and Mr. Silver has
   bought a new dandy of forty tons, and Ablett Percival" (cf. spelling
   in other letters) "is to be Captain.  I think of going down the river
   soon to see Captain Newson.  I have been on the River To-day and
   thought that I should have been with you on the way to Yarmouth or
   Southwold if I had stayed at Lowestoft.  Instead of which I have been
   to the Lawyer here.

   "Good-bye, Poshy, and believe me always yours to the last Half Pint.

   "E. FG.

   "I enclose a paper with my questions marked, to which you can add
   short answers."

Dan Fuller was the builder of the _Meum and Tuum_.  His son is still
living, and a well-known mechanic in Lowestoft.  Mutford Bridge will be
better recognised as the bridge at Oulton Broad.

Once again FitzGerald chuckles at the morality of the "salwagers," and
chuckles again at the expansiveness of the East Anglian "half a pint,"
which may mean anything between its nominal measure and the full holding
capacity of the drinker--which is as vague as "half a pint," itself.

The _Elsie_ was a yacht which belonged to a syndicate of Woodbridge
yachtsmen, of whom Mr. Silver (a Woodbridge friend of FitzGerald's) was
one and Mr. Manby was another.  The two friends who went to Mutford
Bridge to look at the lugger were (so far as Posh can remember) Mr.
Silver and Mr. Cobbold, of Cobbold's Bank.  Posh says that the lugger was
a beauty.  But nothing came of the visit, and the Woodbridge man did not
buy her.

As yet the warning which FitzGerald had given Posh in his sermon had (so
far as the letters tell us) served its purpose.  But the letters appear
to be deceitful in this, and the next chapter must deal with a painful
phase of the partnership.


The hopes for the home fishing of 1869 should have been good.  On August
30th, 1869 (_Two Suffolk Friends_, p. 114), FitzGerald wrote to Mr.
Spalding from Lowestoft: "You will see by the enclosed that Posh has had
a little better luck than hitherto.  One reason for my not going to
Woodbridge is, that I think it possible that this N.E. wind may blow him
hither to tan his nets.  Only please God it don't tan him and his people

Herring are, as our East Anglian fishermen say, "ondependable" in their
travels.  They come south along the coast from the north of Scotland till
they are in their prime (full-roed, fat fish) off Yarmouth in October.
But their arrival at the various ports along the east coast can never be
fixed for a certain date.  This year, for instance (1907), owing to the
warm August and September they have been late in coming south from Hull.
Generally "longshores" are caught off Lowestoft late in August or early
in September, and by the end of September the home and Scotch fleets are
congesting the herring basins.  This year, however, I had my first
longshores brought me yesterday, the 1st of October, and there are not a
dozen Scotch craft to be seen in the basins.

FitzGerald stayed at Lowestoft till the north-easters _did_ blow Posh
home.  And perhaps he would have been happier had he gone back to
Woodbridge before the return of the _Meum and Tuum_.  As it was, Posh had
"some bare" on regatta day (very late that year), and this upset his
"guv'nor."  He wrote to Mr. Spalding on the 4th September (_Two Suffolk
Friends_, p. 115): "I would not meddle with the Regatta. . . .  And the
Day ended by vexing me more than it did him [Newson]. . . .  Posh drove
in here the day before to tan his nets: could not help making one with
some old friends in a Boat-race on the Monday, and getting very fuddled
with them on the Suffolk Green (where I was) at night.  After all the
pains I have taken, and all the real anxiety I have had.  And worst of
all after the repeated promises he had made!  I said there must be an end
of Confidence between us, so far as _that_ was concerned, and I would so
far trouble myself about him no more.  But when I came to reflect that
this was but an outbreak among old friends, on an old occasion, after (I
do believe) months of sobriety; that there was no concealment about it;
and that though obstinate at first as to how little drunk, etc., he was
very repentant afterwards--I cannot let this one flaw weigh against the
general good of the man.  I cannot if I would: what then is the use of
trying?  But my confidence in that respect must be so far shaken, and it
vexes me to think that I can never be sure of his not being overtaken so.
I declare that it makes me feel ashamed very much to play the judge on
one who stands immeasurably above me in the scale, whose faults are
better than so many virtues.  Was not this very outbreak that of a great
genial Boy among his old Fellows?  True, a Promise was broken.  Yes, but
if the Whole Man be of the Royal Blood of Humanity, and do Justice in the
Main, what are _the people_ to say?  _He_ thought, if he thought at all,
that he kept his promise in the main.  But there is no use talking,
unless I part company wholly, I suppose I must take the evil with the
good. . . ."

FitzGerald probably got to the very heart of the misunderstanding between
himself and Posh as to the merits and demerits of "bare" when he wrote
that Posh was a little obstinate as to "how little drunk," etc.  Moreover
he understood the nature of the man--"a great genial boy"--but he did not
understand that these "great genial boys" have all the mischievous
tendencies, and all the irresponsibility of real boys.  He was kind and
forbearing enough, God knows.  But he had set up his Posh on such a
pinnacle of pre-eminence over all his fellow-men that it is possible that
his bitterness in discovering that after all his protege was merely a
well-built, handsome, ordinary longshoreman caused a greater revulsion
than would have occurred had his first estimate of Posh's character been
less exalted.

It is to the credit of the great heart of the man that he never lost his
love of Posh (Posh is certain about this), though he undoubtedly did lose
his confidence in and respect for him.

And Posh did not give way to his "guv'nor" as he might have done.  That
fine old East Anglian spirit of independence (which is so generally
admirable) was in this particular instance sheer brutal ingratitude when
shown by Posh to FitzGerald.  No one has a greater admiration than I for
this magnificent claim of a MAN to be MAN'S equal.  It kept the race of
Norfolk and Suffolk longshoremen worthy of their traditions until the
cockney visitors, with their tips and their hunger for longshore lies,
ruined the nature of many of our beach folk.  But with FitzGerald, that
kind, solicitous gentleman who never asserted the claims of his station
in life before an inferior, the obtrusive display of this spirit of
independence was as unnecessary as it was cruel.  And I think Posh
understands this now.  He certainly never meant to hurt the feelings of
his old governor.  But he chafed at the care which his friend took of
him.  He said to me the other day that he wished his old master were
alive now to take such care.  "Ah!" he said, "he'd take hold o' me like
this here" (and here, as I have described on a previous page, Posh
pinched up his blue knitted jersey), "and say, 'Oh, my dear Poshy!  Oh
dear!  Oh dear!  To think you should be like this!  Oh dear!  Oh dear!'"

And Posh's old eyes will water.  Indeed, I have noticed a likeness
between the thoughts of Posh in reference to FitzGerald and the remorse
of the son of a loving father who had tried his sire hard in lifetime and
understood that he had done so after his father's death.  Even now, this
old man of sixty-nine leans, metaphorically, on the recollection of the
man who loved him so.  Even now he says, "Ah! that would ha' upset him if
he'd known I should ha' come to this!"

But in 1869 Posh thought that he was a very fine fellow indeed, and was
not going to be "put upon" by any "guv'nor," no matter how kind the
"guv'nor" had been to him.  He was half owner of a fine drifter and
skipper as well, to say nothing of having designed the boat.  He would
assert himself.

He did.


Posh says that there "were lots o' breezes" between him and his
"guv'nor," and when the reader of this study (who should have got to know
something of FitzGerald's attitude by now) realises this he will be able
to appreciate the long-suffering generosity of this cultured scholar whom
fools have painted as a mere eccentric hermit.  Posh, now that he was
well started by the aid of his governor, began to yearn for independence.
Possibly he had some reason to complain that his sleeping partner
interfered in matters of which he was ignorant.  On September 21st, 1869,
FitzGerald wrote to Mr. Spalding (_Two Suffolk Friends_, p. 118):--

   "Posh came up with his Lugger last Friday, with a lot of torn nets,
   and went off again on Sunday.  I thought he was wrong to come up, and
   not to transmit his nets by Rail, as is often done at 6d. a net.  But
   I did not say so to him--it is no unamiable point in him to love
   _home_: but I think he won't make a fortune by it.  However, I may be
   very wrong in thinking he had better _not_ have come.  He has made
   about the average fishing, I believe: about 250 pounds.  Some boats
   have 600 pounds, I hear; and some few not enough to pay their way.

   "He came up with a very bad cold and hoarseness; and so went off, poor
   fellow: he never will be long well, I do think."

Probably Posh knew all about the best way of making a profit out of
herring drifters, and FitzGerald may have been wrong in fearing that he
did not.  FitzGerald, with his superb culture, may not (I do not say he
did not) have understood that Posh, on his native North Sea, may have
been more than a match for all the culture in the world.  For what I know
of the old longshoreman, I am convinced that if he brought his nets home
in his lugger he did so because he thought it was the most profitable way
of bringing them back.  But FitzGerald grew anxious, and his anxiety was
not understood by the natural child of the beach, and caused friction and
mutual irritation.

But this did not break out till the north voyage was over and the _Meum
and Tuum_ had been on the home fishing for more than a month.  Then Posh
began to have the fingering of a good deal of money, and FitzGerald had
already had reason to doubt his abilities to keep his credit and debit
sides of account in proper order.  Moreover, the usual autumn gales had
been bringing the stormy and dark nights which are as profitable as they
are dangerous to the drifters.  On Monday, November 1st, 1869 (one of the
few letters of FitzGerald's which I have seen completely dated), the
sleeping partner wrote on a sheet of paper headed by a monogram which is
"S.W. & B." so far as I can make out.  To make up for the fullness of the
date there is no address.

   "I cannot lay blame to myself, Posh, in this matter, though I may not
   have known you were so busy with the boat as you tell me.  Hearing of
   great disasters by last week's gale, I was, as usual, anxious about
   you.  Hearing nothing from you, I telegram'd on Thursday Afternoon to
   Mr. Bradbeer: his answer reached me at 5 p.m. that you had come in on
   Tuesday, and were then safe in harbour.  Being then afraid lest you
   should put off paying away the money, which, as I told you, was a
   positive _danger_ to Wife and Children, I directly telegram'd to _you_
   to do what I had desired you to do the week before.  Busy as you were,
   five minutes spent in writing me a line would have spared all this
   trouble and all this vexation on both sides.

   "As to my telegrams telling all the world what you wish to keep
   secret; how did they do that?  My telegrams to Mr. Bradbeer were
   simply to ask if you were _safe_.  My telegram to you was simply to
   say, 'Do what I bid you'; Who should know _what_ that was, or that it
   had anything to do with paying the Boat's Bills?  People might guess
   it had _something_ to do with the Boat: and don't you suppose that
   every one knows pretty well how things are between us?  And why should
   they not, I say, when all is honestly done between us?  The Custom
   House people must know (and, of course, tell others) that you are at
   present only Half-owner; and would suppose that _I_, the other Half,
   would use some Authority in the matter.

   "You say truly that, when we began together, you supposed I should
   leave all to you, and use _no_ Authority (though you have always asked
   me about anything you wished done).  Quite true.  I never did wish to
   meddle; nor did I call on you for any Account, till I saw last year
   that you forgot a really important sum, and that you did not seem
   inclined to help your Memory (as every one else does) by writing it
   down in a Book.  In two cases this year I have shown you the same
   forgetfulness (about your liabilities I mean) and I do not think I
   have been unjust, or unkind, in trying to make you bring _yourself_ to
   Account.  You know, and ought to believe, that I have perfect
   confidence in _your honour_; and have told you of the one defect I
   observed in you as much for your sake as mine.

   "_Quite as much_, yes!  For the anxiety I have . . . [word illegible]
   [? suffered] these two years about your eleven lives is but ill
   compensated by all these squalls between us two; which I declare I
   excuse myself of raising.  If, in this last case, you really had not
   time to post me a line or two to say you were all safe, and that you
   had done what I desired you to do; I am very sorry for having written
   so sharply as I did to you: but I cannot _blame_ myself for the
   mistake.  No: this I will say: I am not apt to think too much of my
   doings, and dealings with others.  But, in my whole sixty years, I can
   with a clear conscience say that I have dealt with _one man_ fairly,
   kindly, and not ungenerously, for three good years.  I may have made
   mistakes; but I can say I have done _my_ best as conscientiously as he
   can say he has done his.  And I believe he _has_ done his best, though
   he has also made mistakes; and I remain his sincerely,

   "E. FG."

Mr. Bradbeer was a herring merchant, and his family is still prominent in
the fishing industry of Lowestoft.  Posh's letter, to which the above is
a reply, must have been very characteristic of his race, to which secrecy
concerning their private affairs is a first nature.  The mistrust of the
privacy of the "telegrams" may possibly have had some justification.  Even
in these days there are East Anglian villages where the contents of
private telegrams are sometimes known to the village before the actual
information reaches the addressee.  And in 1869 Lowestoft was not much
more than a village, and telegraphy was in its infancy.  Possibly Posh
exaggerated the importance of secretiveness, and FitzGerald the security
of privacy.  But apart from all questions of "the rights of the matter,"
what a letter it is!  What a splendid justification for almost any
action.  I fear, however the matter in dispute be looked at, Posh cannot
have the best of it in this case.  He had fired up at an imaginary
slight, wrong, whatever he chose to think it, and if he has any excuse at
all, it is that, but for his unreasonableness, we should not have this

One would have thought that it might have given Posh pause if even he
felt disposed to show his independence again.  But this "squall" between
these two curious partners was not destined to be the last.  For the time
it blew over, and the mutual relations between Posh and his "guv'nor"
were as friendly as ever.


During the winter of 1869-70 it seems that Posh conceived the idea that
the capital of the firm of FitzGerald and Fletcher justified the working
partner in increasing the stock-in-trade.  A boat-building company at
Southwold put up some craft at auction, and among them was one which had
already seen a good deal of sea service named the _Henrietta_.  This Posh
bought for about 100 pounds without consulting his partner.  It
transpired afterwards that the sale was not acceptable to all the
shareholders of the company that owned the boat, especially to a Jerry
Cole, one of the principal shareholders, and there was a good deal of
bother for Posh in obtaining delivery of his purchase.  It may be as well
to include all the letters relating to this transaction in one chapter
without regard to dates.

The first is dated February 1st--that is to say, February 1st, 1870--and
was written at Woodbridge by FitzGerald to his partner.  The letter, as
handed to me by Posh, was incomplete, and lacked signature.  No doubt the
second sheet had been lost with those "sackfuls."

   "WOODBRIDGE, _February_ 1_st_.


   "Mr. Spalding was with me last night; and I asked him if I was
   justified in the scolding I gave you about buying the Lugger and Nets
   too; telling him the particulars.  He would not go so far as to say I
   was _wrong_; but he thought that you were not to blame either.
   Therefore I consider that I _was_ wrong; and, as I told you, I am very
   glad to find myself wrong, though very sorry to have been so: and I
   cannot let a day pass without writing to say so.  You may think that I
   had better have said nothing to anybody about it: but I always do ask
   of another if I am right.  If Mr. Spalding had been at Lowestoft at
   the time all this would not have happened: as it _has_ happened, I
   wish to take all the blame on myself.

   "All this will make you wish the more to be quit of such a _Partner_.
   I am sure, however, that I _thought_ myself right: and am glad to
   recant.  Perhaps another Partner would not do so much: but you say you
   will not have another.

   "Mr. Spalding thinks you would have done better to stick to _one_
   Lugger, considering the double trouble of two.  But he says he is not
   a proper judge.  _I_ think the chief evil is that this new Boat will
   keep you ashore in the Net-room, which I am persuaded hurts you.  I
   told you I was sure the _Dust_ of the nets hurt you: and (oddly
   enough) the first thing I saw, on opening a Paper here on my return,
   was a Report on the influence of _Dust_ in causing Disease.  I hope
   you have seen the Doctor and told him all--about last Summer's
   Illness.  Let me hear what he says.  I should have advised
   _Worthington_, but he is very expensive.  One thing I am sure of: _the
   more you eat_, _and the less you drink_, _the better_."

Even here, when Posh had obviously gone beyond his rights and bought
another boat without consultation with his capitalist partner, FitzGerald
shows his anxiety and solicitude for the man.

There _is_ a good deal of dust flying about the net chambers; for the
cutch and oil and thread all shred off and poison the air.  "Why," said
Posh the other day, "he bought me one o' them things that goo oover the
mouth" (a respirator), "but lor!  I should ha' been ashamed ta be seed a
wearin' on it!"

Dr. Worthington referred to in the letter is one of a long line of
medical practitioners, and was the Lowestoft medical attendant of
FitzGerald himself.  I have experienced great kindness from both this Dr.
Worthington and his son Dr. Dick Worthington.  The former tells me that
FitzGerald would never enter his house, but would stand on the doorstep
to consult.  He had no objection to the doctor entering his
(FitzGerald's) lodgings, and on one occasion when Dr. Worthington called
on him at 12 Marine Terrace the doctor saw all his medicine bottles
unopened in a row.  "You know this isn't fair to me," said the justly
irritated doctor.  "I do what I can for you, and you won't take my
medicines."  "My dear doctor," said FitzGerald, "it does me good to see

Dr. Aldis Wright says that this is merely an instance of FitzGerald's
rule that he would never enter the house of his equal.  Of course his
"social" equal is inferred, for the rule would have been unnecessary if
the "equal" bore another significance.  His inferiors in station he would
visit and charm by his manner and speech.  But the house of a society
equal he avoided, lest he should be compelled, for mere courtesy, to go
where he would not.

I have, of course, chuckled over the opinion that Dr. Worthington senior
was "very expensive."  But I believe that FitzGerald was one of those (I
might almost say "of us") who regarded all doctor's bills as luxuries!  At
all events, if FitzGerald was right, I can say that Dr. Dick Worthington
is not atavistic in this particular!

Mr. Spalding's opinion inclined FitzGerald to make no difficulty about
finding the money for the _Henrietta_.  He lodged it at his bankers' for
Posh to draw when occasion required.  But Posh seems to have been a
little in advance.  There is no heading whatever to the following letter.


   "I don't understand your letter.  That which I had on _Friday_,
   enclosing Mr. Craigie's, said that you had not _drawn_ the money, your
   letter of _To-day_ tells me that you _had_ drawn the money, _before
   the Letter from Southwold_ came.  Was not that letter Mr. Craigie's

   "Anyhow, I think you ought not (after all I have said) to have drawn
   the money (to keep in your house) till you wanted it.  And you could
   have got it at the Bank _any_ morning on which you got _another_
   letter from Southwold, telling you the business was to be settled.

   "Moreover, I think you should have written me on _Saturday_, in answer
   to my letter.  You are very good in attending to any letters of mine
   about stores, or fish, which I don't care about.  But you somehow do
   not attend so regularly to things which I _do_ care about, such as
   gales of wind in which you are out, and such directions as I have
   given over and over again about money matters.

   "However, I don't mean to kick up another row; provided you _now_ do,
   and at once, what I positively desire.

   "Which is; to take the money directly to Mr. Barnard, and ask him, as
   from _me_, to pay it to my account at Messrs. Bacon and Cobbold's Bank
   at Woodbridge.  Then if you tell me the address of the Auctioneer or
   Agent, at Southwold who manage [_sic_] the business, Bacon and Cobbold
   will write to them at _once_ that the money is ready for them directly
   the Lugger is ready for you.  And, write me a line to-morrow to say
   that this is done.

   "This makes a trouble to you, and to me, and to Bankers, but I think
   you must blame yourself for not attending to my directions.  But I am
   yours not the less.

   "E. FG.

Mr. Craigie was an old Southwold friend of the Fletcher family, with whom
Fletcher senior (Posh's father) had spent Christmas for over forty years.
The criticism of Posh's system appears, to the impartial critic, to be
both painful and true.  But Posh, in this case, was not altogether to
blame.  This Mr. Jerry Cole, before mentioned, was keeping things back.
He had a preponderating interest in that Southwold company, and he
thought that the _Henrietta_ had been sold too cheap, and that hung up
the delivery.  At least that's what Posh tells me, and at this date I
can't get any better evidence than his.

Shortly after the last letter FitzGerald wrote again.  Now his kind
anxiety about this man, whom he still loved, outweighed all thought of
money.  It was a bitter winter, and Posh, he thought, was not over-hale.

   "WOODBRIDGE, _Saturday_.


   "Whatever is to be done about the money, do not you go over to
   Southwold while this weather lasts.  I think it is colder than I ever
   knew.  Don't go, I say--there can be no hurry for the boat (even if
   you _can_ get it) for a a [_sic_] week or so.  Perhaps it may be as
   well at Southwold as at Lowestoft.

   "I wish you were here to play Allfours with me To-night.

   "E. FG."

Posh got the lugger in March, 1870, and on March 2nd FitzGerald wrote to
Mr. Spalding (_Two Suffolk Friends_, p. 118): "Posh has, I believe, gone
off to Southwold in hope to bring his Lugger home.  I advised him last
night to ascertain first by letter whether she _were_ ready for his
hands; but you know he will go his own way, and that generally is as good
as anybody's.  He now works all day in his Net-loft: and I wonder how he
keeps as well as he is, shut up there from fresh air and among frowsy
Nets. . . .  I think he has mistaken in not sending the _Meum and Tuum_
to the West this spring. . . .  But I have not meddled, nor indeed is it
my Business to meddle now. . . ."

I think this must have been written about the date of the letter with
which I commence the next chapter, or possibly a little later.  It would,
almost certainly, be _after_ the catches of mackerel mentioned by "Mr.
Manby" as hereinafter appears, and, very likely, after the termination of
the partnership.


Either in March or April, 1870, FitzGerald wrote to Posh the quaint
letter which follows:--


   "I never wanted you to puzzle yourself about the Accounts any more,
   but only to tell me at a rough estimate what the chief expenses
   were--as, for instance, Shares, &c.--I beg to say that I _never had_
   asked you--nor had you told me this at Lowestoft: if you had I should
   not have wanted to ask again.  And my reason _for_ asking, was simply
   that, on Monday Mr. Moor here was _asking me_ about what a Lugger's
   expenses were, and I felt it silly not to be able to tell him the
   least about it: and I have felt so when some one asked me before: and
   that is why I asked you.  I neither have, nor ever had, any doubt of
   your doing your best: and you ought not to think so.

   "You _must please yourself_ entirely about Plymouth: I only wish to
   say that I had not spoken as if I wanted you to go.  Go by all means
   if you like.

   "When I paid the Landlady of the Boat Inn for Newson and Jack she
   asked me if you had explained to me about the Grog business.  I said
   that you could not understand it at first, but afterwards supposed
   that others might have been treated at night.  She said--Yes; drinking
   rum-flip till two in the morning.  She says it was Newson's doing, but
   I think _you_ should have told me _at once_, particularly as your not
   doing so left me with some suspicion of the Landlady's fair dealing.
   You did not choose to leave the blame to Newson, I suppose, but I
   think I deserve the truth at your hands as much as he does the
   concealment of it.

   "E. FG."

{The "Boat Inn," Quay Lane, Woodbridge: p151.jpg}

Mr. Moor was FitzGerald's Woodbridge lawyer, and no doubt he and other
friends of FitzGerald thought that the affairs of the partnership of
FitzGerald and Fletcher were not carried on with such precision as was
desirable.  Possibly they were right.  But then, Posh couldn't be
precise.  I have failed to get any intelligible account out of Posh as to
that rum-flip orgy.  All he could do was to chuckle.  The question of
loyalty raised in the letter is a nice one.  But Posh and his kind would
only answer it in one way.  They would regard it as treachery to their
order to betray each other to a "gennleman," however kind the
"gennleman," may have been.

On April 4th FitzGerald wrote to Posh from Woodbridge:--


   "I _may be_ at Lowestoft some time next week.  As it is I have still
   some engagements here; and, moreover, I have not been quite well.

   "If you want to see me, you have only to come over here any day you
   choose.  To-morrow (Sunday) there is a Train from Lowestoft which
   reaches Woodbridge at about 3 in the afternoon.  I tell you this in
   case you might want to see or speak to me.

   "Mr. Manby told me yesterday that there was a wonderful catch of
   Mackerel down in the West.  I have no doubt that this warm weather and
   fine nights has to do with it.  I believe that we are in for a spell
   of such weather:--but I suppose you have no thought of going Westward

   "I have desired that a . . . [word missing] of the Green Paint which
   Mr. Silver used should be sent to you.  But do not you _wait_ for it,
   if you want to be about the Lugger at once.  The paint _will keep_ for
   another time: and I suppose that the sooner the Lugger is afloat this
   hot and dry weather the better.

   "Remember me to your Family.

   "Yours always,
   "E. FG."

Mr. Manby has been already mentioned, and we have previously heard of the
excellence of Mr. Silver's green paint.  But this letter must have been
almost the last written by the sleeping partner before the termination of
the partnership; for on April the 12th Mr. W. T. Balls, of Lowestoft,
valued the _Meum and Tuum_, and "Herring and Mackerel Nets, Bowls,
Warpropes, Ballast, and miscellaneous Fishing Stock belonging jointly to
Edward FitzGerald and Joseph Fletcher."

FitzGerald had started Posh, put him on his legs, and, as he believed,
given him a chance to become a successful "owner."  But the poet was
weary of the partnership.  He had found it impossible to persuade Posh to
keep accounts such as should be kept in every business, and had been
disappointed more than once by the intemperance of the man.  But as yet
the kindly, generous-hearted gentleman had no thought of breaking with
his protege altogether, or of depriving him of the use of the _Meum and
Tuum_ or _Henrietta_, both of which had been bought with his,
FitzGerald's, money.  But he would no longer be a partner.  So Mr. Balls
was called in to value the stock-in-trade, with a view to arranging that
a bill of sale for the half-value to which FitzGerald was entitled should
be given him, and that Posh should thereafter carry on the business of a
herring-boat owner by himself, subject to the charge in favour of his old

Despite the various "squalls," there had, as yet, been no serious quarrel
between these two.  Indeed, FitzGerald's kind heart never forgot Posh,
and the fascination of the man.  But for the future FitzGerald and Posh
were no longer partners.  FitzGerald's experience as a "herring merchant"
was at an end.


Previously to the termination of the partnership FitzGerald had
commissioned S. Laurence to paint a portrait of Posh.  On the 13th
January, 1870, he wrote to Laurence from Woodbridge (_Letters_, II, 113,
Eversley Edition):--

   ". . .  If you were down here, I think I should make you take a life-
   size Oil Sketch of the Head and Shoulders of my Captain of the Lugger.
   You see by the enclosed" (a copy of the photograph of 1870, no doubt)
   "that these are neither of them a bad sort: and the Man's Soul is
   every way as well proportioned, missing in nothing that may become a
   Man, as I believe.  He and I will, I doubt, part Company; well as he
   likes me, which is perhaps as well as a sailor cares for any one but
   Wife and Children: he likes to be, what he is born to be, his own sole
   Master, of himself, and of other men.  So now I have got him a fair
   start, I think he will carry on the Lugger alone: I shall miss my
   Hobby, which is no doubt the last I shall ride in this world: but I
   shall also get eased of some Anxiety about the lives of a Crew for
   which I now feel responsible. . . ."

On January 20th FitzGerald wrote another letter to Laurence on the same

   ". . .  I should certainly like a large Oil-sketch like Thackeray's,
   done in your most hasty, and worst, style, to hang up with Thackeray
   and Tennyson, with whom he shares a certain Grandeur of Soul and Body.
   As you guess, the colouring is (when the Man is all well) the finest
   Saxon type: with that complexion which Montaigne calls 'vif, Male, et
   flamboyant'; blue eyes; and strictly auburn hair, that any woman might
   sigh to possess.  He says it is coming off, as it sometimes does from
   those who are constantly wearing the close, hot Sou'-westers.  We must
   see what can be done about a Sketch" (_Letters_, II, 115, Eversley

In February of the same year FitzGerald went down to Lowestoft, and wrote
another letter from there with reference to the proposed portrait
(_Letters_, II, 115, Eversley Edition).  It is obvious from these letters
that there was no bitterness on his side which led to the ending of the
partnership.  His long-suffering endured to the last.


   ". . . I came here a few days ago, for the benefit of my old Doctor,
   The Sea, and my Captain's Company, which is as good.  He has not yet
   got his new Lugger home; but will do so this week, I hope; and then
   the way for us will be somewhat clearer.

   "If you sketch a head, you might send it down to me to look at, so as
   I might be able to guess if there were any likelihood in that way of
   proceeding.  Merely the Lines of Feature indicated, even by Chalk,
   might do.  As I told you, the Head is of the large type, or size, the
   proper Capital of a six-foot Body, of the broad dimensions you see in
   the Photograph.  The fine shape of the Nose, less than Roman, and more
   than Greek, scarce appears in the Photograph; the Eye, and its
   delicate Eyelash, of course will remain to be made out; and I think
   you excel in the Eye.

   "When I get home (which I shall do this week) I will send you two
   little Papers about the Sea words and Phrases used hereabout, for
   which this Man (quite unconsciously) is my main Authority.  You will
   see in them a little of his simplicity of Soul; but not the Justice of
   Thought, Tenderness of Nature, and all other good Gifts which make him
   a Gentleman of Nature's grandest Type."

{Little Grange: p161.jpg}

The new Lugger was, of course, the _Henrietta_.  The portrait was,
according to Posh, painted during the summer at Little Grange, the house
which FitzGerald built for himself, or rather altered for himself, at
Woodbridge.  Dr. Aldis Wright was under the impression that the portrait
was never finished; but Posh is very certain about it.  "I mind settin'
as still as a cat at a mouse-hole," says he, "for ten min't or a quarter
of an hour at a time, on and off, and then a stretchin' o' my legs in the
yard.  Ah!  I was somethin' glad when that wuz finished, that I was!
Tired! Lor! I niver knowed as dewin' narthen' would tire ye like that.
The picter was sold at Mr. FitzGerald's sale, and bought by Billy Hynes
o' Bury St. Edmunds.  He kep' a public there.  I reckon he's dead by

Up to the date of going to press I have been unable to trace this
portrait, and it is, of course, possible, that in spite of Posh's vivid
recollection, Dr. Aldis Wright's impression may be the right one.

A letter to Laurence of August 2nd, 1870, corroborates Posh to the extent
of proving that the painter had certainly seen the fisherman.  On that
date FitzGerald wrote (_Letters_, II, 118, Eversley Edition):--

   ". . . The Lugger is now preparing in the Harbour beside me; the
   Captain here, there, and everywhere; with a word for no one but on
   business; the other side of the Man you saw looking for Birds' Nests:
   all things in their season.  I am sure the Man is fit to be King of a
   Kingdom as well as of a Lugger. . . .

   "I declare, you and I have seen A Man!  Have we not?  Made in the
   mould of what Humanity should be, Body and Soul, a poor Fisherman.  The
   proud Fellow had better have kept me for a Partner in some of his
   responsibilities.  But no; he must rule alone, as is right he should
   too. . . ."

Yes.  It would certainly have been better for Posh if he had kept his
"guv'nor" for a partner.  But the "squalls," the occasional beer bouts
(or "settin' ins," as they call them in East Anglia), had excited the
spirit of independence of my gentleman.  Possibly FitzGerald himself had,
by too open a display of his admiration for his partner, this typical
longshoreman, contributed to the personal self-satisfaction which must
have been at the bottom of the man's reasons for wishing to be free of
one who had befriended him so delicately and so generously.  Posh himself
admits, or rather boasts, that the "break" was owing to his own action.
From first to last it seems that FitzGerald, the cultured gentleman, the
scholar, the poet of perfect language and profound philosophy, regarded
Posh as almost more than man--certainly as more than average man--and
there can be no greater token of the sweet simplicity of the scholar.


In September, 1870 (which would be just before the home voyage began and
after the Northern voyage was over), Posh seems to have "celebrated" more
than his whilome partner and then mortgagee thought proper.  On the 8th
of the month FitzGerald wrote to Mr. Spalding (_Two Suffolk Friends_, p.

   ". . . I had a letter from Posh yesterday, telling me he was sorry we
   had not 'parted Friends.'  That he had been indeed '_a little the
   worse_ for Drink'--which means being at a Public-house half the Day,
   and having to sleep it off the remainder: having been duly warned by
   his Father at Noon that all had been ready for sailing 2 hours before,
   and all the other Luggers gone.  As Posh could _walk_, I suppose he
   only acknowledges a _little_ Drink; but, judging by what followed on
   that little Drink, I wish he had simply acknowledged his Fault.  He
   begs me to write: if I do so I must speak very plainly to him: that,
   with all his noble Qualities, I doubt I can never again have
   Confidence in his Promise to break this one bad Habit, seeing that He
   has broken it so soon, when there was no occasion or excuse: unless it
   were the thought of leaving his Wife so ill at home.  The Man is so
   beyond others, as I think, that I have come to feel that I must not
   condemn him by general rule; nevertheless, if he ask me, I can refer
   him to no other.  I must send him back his own written Promise of
   Sobriety, signed only a month before he broke it so needlessly: and I
   must even tell him that I know not yet if he can be left with the
   Mortgage as we settled it in May. . . .

   "P.S.--I enclose Posh's letter, and the answer I propose to give to
   it.  I am sure it makes me sad and ashamed to be setting up for Judge
   on a much nobler Creature than myself. . . .  I had thought of
   returning him his written Promise as worthless: desiring back my
   direction to my Heirs that he should keep on the Lugger in case of my
   Death. . . .  I think Posh ought to be made to feel this severely:
   and, as his Wife is better I do not mind making him feel it if I can.
   On the other hand, I do not wish to drive Him, by Despair, into the
   very fault which I have so tried to cure him of. . . ."

His mother did not try to excuse him at all: his father would not even
see him go off.  She merely told me parenthetically, "I tell him he seem
to do it when the Governor is here."

If FitzGerald had not set poor Posh (for in a way I am sorry for the old
fellow) on a pedestal, he would have understood that to a longshoreman or
herring fisher who drinks it (there are many teetotallers now), "bare"
can never be regarded as an enemy.  Posh did not think any excuse was
necessary for having had, perhaps, more than he could conveniently carry.
It was his last day ashore (though I can't quite understand what fishing
he was going on unless the herring came down earlier than they do now),
and he was "injyin' of hisself."  In the old days they took a cask or so
aboard.  This is never done now, and the chief drink aboard is cocoa
(pronounced, as FitzGerald writes, "cuckoo").  Posh no doubt thought
himself hard done by that such a fuss should have been made about a
"drarp o' bare."  He doubtless wished that FitzGerald should forgive him.
For, despite his conduct, he did, I truly believe, love his "guv'nor."  As
for the father and mother, well, they smoothed down the "gennleman" and
sympathised with their son according to their kind and to mother nature.
The Direction to FitzGerald's Heirs, which he refers to, is still in
existence, and reads as follows:--

   "LOWESTOFT, _January_ 20_th_, 1870.

   "I hereby desire my Heirs executors and Assigns not to call in the
   Principal of any Mortgage by which Joseph Fletcher the younger of
   Lowestoft stands indebted to me; provided he duly pays the Interest
   thereon; does his best to pay off the Principal; and does his best
   also to keep up the value of the Property so mortgaged until he pays
   it off.

   "This I hereby desire and enjoin on my heirs executors or assigns
   solemnly as any provision made by Word or Deed while . . . [word
   missing] any other legal document.


This solemn injunction was written on a sheet of note-paper, and in the
fold, over a sixpenny stamp, FitzGerald wrote: "This paper I now endorse
again on legal stamp, so as to give it the authority I can.  Edward
FitzGerald, July 31, 1870."

Surely never man had so kind and considerate a friend as Posh had in


Though the partnership was over, FitzGerald by no means gave up his
friendship for Posh.  From time to time he saw him, and from time to time
he wrote to him, and always he retained the affection for the
longshoreman which had sprung up in him so suddenly and (I fear) so

On February 5th, 1871, FitzGerald wrote to Mr. Spalding (_Two Suffolk
Friends_, p. 121):--

   ". . . Posh and his Father are very busy getting the _Meum and Tuum_
   ready for the West; Jemmy, who goes Captain, is just now in France
   with a _Cargoe_ of salt Herrings.  I suppose the Lugger will start in
   a fortnight or so. . . .  All-fours at night."

In April of the same year FitzGerald wrote to Posh:--

   "WOODBRIDGE, _Monday_.


   "Come any day you please.  The Horse Fair is on Friday, you had better
   come, at any rate; by Thursday, so as to catch the Market.  For I
   think your Lugger must have got away before that.

   "A letter written by Ablett Pasefield [otherwise called Percival]
   yesterday tells me there are four Lowestoft Luggers in Weymouth.  I
   fancy that even if they were on the Fishing ground, the wind must be
   too strong to be at work.

   "It was Mr. Kerrich who died suddenly this day week--and I suppose is
   being buried this very day.

   "Yours, E. FG.

   "Mr. Berry tells me that the Poultry Show here is on Thursday.  You
   can, as I say, come any Day you please.  I see the Wind is got West,
   after the squalls of Hail."

{Geldeston Hall, the Norfolk seat of the Kerrich Family: p173.jpg}

Ablett Pasefield (or Percival), the fisherman and yacht hand, has been
mentioned before, and will be mentioned again.  He was one of
FitzGerald's favourites.  Mr. Kerrich was FitzGerald's brother-in-law,
the husband of the poet's favourite sister, who had predeceased him in
1863.  On August 5th in that year FitzGerald wrote to Professor Cowell
(_Letters_, II, 46, Eversley Edition): ". . . I have lost my sister
Kerrich, the only one of my family I much cared for, or who much cared
for me."

* * * * *

Mr. Kerrich lived at Geldeston Hall, near Beccles, which is still in
possession of the same family.

Mr. Berry (as we know) was FitzGerald's landlord at Markethill,

At this time Posh was a man of means, and drove his smart gig and mare,
and it was with some idea of buying a new horse that he was to go to
Woodbridge Horse Fair.  In the seventies the horse fairs of Norwich and
other East Anglian towns were important functions.  The Rommany
gryengroes had not then all gone to America, and those who know their
George Borrow will remember with delight his description of the scene at
the horse fair on Norwich Castle Hill, when Jasper Petulengro first
brought himself to the recollection of Lavengro (or the "sap-engro") as
his "pal"--that memorable day when George Borrow saw the famous entire
Norfolk cob Marshland Shales led amongst bared heads, blind and grey with
age, but triumphant in his unequalled fame (_Lavengro_, p. 74, Minerva

But Posh bought no new horse.  And his recollection does not permit of
any trustworthy account of his visit.

Perhaps it was during this trip to Woodbridge (and the carping reader
will be justified in saying "and perhaps it wasn't") that Posh witnessed
the curious and characteristic meeting between FitzGerald and his wife.

If this meeting were characteristic, still more so was the history of the

FitzGerald had been a great friend of Bernard Barton, the Woodbridge
quaker poet, and on the death of his friend he wished to save Miss Barton
from being thrown on the world almost destitute and almost friendless.
The only way of doing it without creating scandal (and he changed the
name of his yacht from the _Shamrock_ to the _Scandal_ because he said
that scandal was the principal commodity of Woodbridge) was to make her
his wife.  This he did.  But there were many reasons why the marriage was
not likely to prove a happy one.  It did not, and both parties recognised
that the wisest thing to do was to separate without any unnecessary fuss.
They did so.  And no doubt their action proved to be for the happiness of
each of them.

Posh was walking with FitzGerald on one occasion down Quay Lane,
Woodbridge, when Mrs. FitzGerald (who was living at Gorleston at the
time, but had gone over to Woodbridge, possibly to see some old friends)
appeared walking towards them.  FitzGerald removed the glove he was
wearing on his right hand.  Mrs. FitzGerald removed the glove she was
wearing on her right hand.  There was a momentary hesitation as the
husband passed the wife.  But Posh thinks that the two hands did not
meet.  FitzGerald bowed with all his courtesy, and passed on.

Posh says that Mrs. FitzGerald was a "fine figure of a woman."  And I
believe that she was, indeed, so fine a figure of a woman that the length
of her stride excited the admiration of the local schoolboys when she was
still Miss Barton.  She was older than FitzGerald when he married her,
and both were nearer fifty than forty.

In this context I give the following letter from FitzGerald to Posh,
though I have been unable to fix its date with any certainty.

   "WOODBRIDGE, _Tuesday_.


   "I find that I may very likely have to go to London on Thursday--not
   to be home till Friday perhaps.  If I do this it will be scarce worth
   while your coming over here to-morrow, so far as _I_ am concerned;
   though you will perhaps see Newson.

   "Poor young Smith of the Sportsman was brought home ill last week, and
   died of the very worst Small Pox in a Day or two.  There have been
   _three_ Deaths from it here: all from London.  As young Smith died in
   _Quay Lane_ leading down to the Boat Inn, I should not like you to be
   about there with any chance of Danger, though I have been up and down
   several times myself.

   "Ever yours,
   "E. FG."

"The Sportsman" was a public-house at Woodbridge, and it is probable that
FitzGerald had helped "poor young Smith" substantially.  His anxiety lest
Posh should contract smallpox, and his indifference as to himself, are
admirably illustrative of the man's unselfishness.

But now that the partnership was at an end he began to frequent Lowestoft
less.  During 1871 he sold the _Scandal_, and on September 4th he wrote
to Dr. Aldis Wright from Woodbridge (_Letters_, II, p. 126, Eversley
Edition): "I run over to Lowestoft occasionally for a few days, but do
not abide there long: no longer having my dear little Ship for company. . . ."

Who bought the _Scandal_ I do not know.  Posh has no recollection, and
Dr. Aldis Wright has been unable to trace with certainty the subsequent
owner of her, though he has reason to think that she was sold to Sir
Cuthbert Quilter.  She had served her purpose.  She was, as Posh assures
me, a "fast and handy little schooner."

After her sale FitzGerald still remained the mortgagee of the _Meum and
Tuum_ and the _Henrietta_.  But this was not to last indefinitely.  Posh's
spirit of independence and love of "bare" were fated to put an end to all
business relations between his old "guv'nor" and him.


Matters were still progressing fairly satisfactorily when FitzGerald
visited Lowestoft in September, 1872.  On the 29th of that month he wrote
to Mr. Spalding (_Two Suffolk Friends_, p. 122):--

   ". . . Posh--after no fish caught for 3 weeks--has had his boat come
   home with nearly all her fleet of nets torn to pieces in last week's
   winds. . . . he . . . went with me to the theatre afterwards, where he
   admired the 'Gays,' as he called the Scenes; but fell asleep before
   Shylock had whetted his knife in the Merchant of Venice. . . ."

"Gays" is East Anglian for pictures.

* * * * *

Towards the end of 1873 relations began to be severely strained between
mortgagor and mortgagee.  On December the 31st FitzGerald wrote from 12
Marine Terrace, Lowestoft:--

   "_December_ 31.


   "As you cannot talk with me without confusion, I write a few words to
   you on the subject of the two grievances which you began about this

   "1st.  As to your being _under_ your Father: I said no such thing: but
   wrote that he was to be _either_ Partner, or (with your Mother)
   constantly employed, and consulted with as to the Boats.  It is indeed
   for _their_ sakes, and that of your own Family, that I have come to
   take all this trouble

   "2ndly.  As to the Bill of Sale to me.  If you could be calm enough,
   you would see that this would be a Protection _to yourself_.  You do
   not pay your different Creditors _all_ their Bill at the year's end.
   Now, if any one of these should happen to want _all_ his Money; he
   might, by filing a Bankruptcy against you, seize upon your Nets and
   everything else you have to pay his Debt.

   "As to your supposing that _I_ should use the Bill of Sale except in
   the last necessity (which I do not calculate upon), you prove that you
   can have but little remembrance of what I have hitherto done for you
   and am still willing to do for your Family's sake quite as much as for
   your own.

   "The Nets were included in the Valuation which Mr. Balls made of the
   whole Property; which valuation (as you ought to remember) I reduced
   even lower than Mr. Balls' Valuation; which you yourself thought too
   low at the time.  Therefore (however much the Nets, &c. may have been
   added to since) surely _I_ have the first claim on them in Justice, if
   not by the Mortgage.  I repeat, however, that I proposed the Bill of
   Sale quite as much as a Protection to yourself and yours as to myself.

   "If you cannot see all this on reflection, there is no use my talking
   or writing more about it.  You may ask Mr. Barnard, if you please, or
   any such competent person, if _they_ object to the Bill of Sale, I
   shall not insist.  But you had better let me know what you decide on
   before the end of the week when I shall be going home, that I may
   arrange accordingly.


Mr. Barnard was a Lowestoft lawyer for whom Posh had no great love.  It
is hardly necessary to say that he did not "ask" him.  He still raises
his voice and gets excited when he discusses the grievances of which he
made complaint in the winter of 1873.  "He wouldn't leave me alone," says
Posh.  "It was 'yew must ax yar faa'er this, an' yew must let yar mother
that, and yew mustn't dew this here, nor yit that theer.'  At last I up
an' says, 'Theer!  I ha' paid ivery farden o' debts.  Look a here.  Here
be the receipts.  Now I'll ha'e no more on it.'  And I slammed my fist
down like this here."

(Posh's fist came down on my Remington's table till the bell jangled!)

"'Oh dear! oh dear, Posh!' says he.  'That it should ever come ta this!
And hev yew anything left oover?'

"'Yes,' I say.  'I've got a matter of a hunnerd an' four pound clear
arter payin' ivery farden owin', an' the stock an' nets an' gear and tew
boots {184} an' all wha'ss mortgaged ta yew.  Now I'll ha'e no more on't.
Ayther I'm master or I ha' done wi't.'

"'Oh dear! oh dear!  Posh,' he say, 'I din't think as yew'd made so

That is Posh's account of the final disagreement which led to the sale of
the boats in 1874.  Even if it be true one cannot say that the bluff
independence came off with flying colours in this particular instance.
But FitzGerald could have told another story, if one may judge from his
letter to Mr. Spalding of the 9th January, 1874, written from Lowestoft
(_Two Suffolk Friends_, p. 123):--

   ". . . I have seen no more of Fletcher since I wrote, though he called
   once when I was out. . . .  I only hope he has taken no desperate
   step.  I hope so for his Family's sake, including Father and Mother.
   People here have asked me if he is not going to give up the business,
   &c.  Yet there is Greatness about the Man.  I believe his want of
   Conscience in some particulars is to be referred to his _Salwaging_
   Ethics; and your Cromwells, Caesars, and Napoleons have not been more
   scrupulous.  But I shall part Company with him if I can do so without
   Injury to his Family.  If not I must let him go on _under some_
   '_Surveillance_': he _must_ wish to get rid of me also, and (I
   believe, though he says _not_) of the Boat, if he could better

Posh's story is that after the letter of December 31st, 1873, FitzGerald
tried to find him.  He went to his father's house, and (says Posh, which
we are at liberty to doubt) "cried like a child."  He sent Posh a paper
of conditions which must be agreed to if he, Posh, were to continue to
have the use of the _Meum and Tuum_ and the _Henrietta_.  The last one
was (Posh says, with a roar of indignation), "that the said Joseph
Fletcher the younger shall be a teetotaller!"

"Lor'!" says Posh, "how my father did swear at him when I told him o'

No doubt he did.  And no doubt in the presence of FitzGerald the "slim"
old Lowestoft longshoreman raised his mighty voice in wrath and
indignation that he should have begotten a son to disgrace him so
cruelly!  FitzGerald was too open a man, too honest-hearted, too
straightforward to understand that a father could encourage his son
insidiously, and swear at him, FitzGerald, at the same time as he
deprecated that son's conduct.  But FitzGerald's eyes, long closed by
kindness, were partly open at last.  He would not go on without some
better guarantee of conduct, some better security that the boats' debts
would be paid.  On January 19th, 1874, he wrote to Posh (and the
handwriting of the letter suggests disturbance of mind) from Woodbridge:--

   "I forgot to say, Fletcher, that I shall pay for any work done to my
   two Boats, in case that you get another Boat to employ the Nets in.
   That you _should_ get such another Boat, is, I am quite sure, the best
   plan for you and for me also.  As I wrote you before, I shall make
   over to you all my Right to the Nets on condition that you use them,
   or change them for others to be used, in the Herring Fishing, in any
   other Boat which you may buy or hire.  I certainly shall not let you
   have the use of my Boats, unless under _some_ conditions, _none_ of
   which which [_sic_] you seemed resolved to submit to.  It will save
   all trouble if you take the offer I have made you, and the sooner it
   is settled the better.


But Posh "worn't a goin' ta hev his faa'er put oover him, nor he worn't a
goin' ta take no pledge.  Did ye iver hear o' sich a thing?"

So in due course, on the 17th February, 1874, Mr. W. T. Balls, of
Lowestoft, sold by auction the "Lugger _Meum and Tuum_" (she had been
converted into a dandy-rigged craft about 1872) "and the _Henrietta_ by
direction of Edward FitzGerald as mortgagee."

{Edward FitzGerald's gravestone in Boulge churchyard; at the head of the
grave is a rose bush raised from seed brought from Omar's tomb: p200.jpg}

So Mr. Balls writes me.  But he has no letters from FitzGerald, and was
kind enough to look up the valuation and sale transactions in his books
at my request.

The _Meum and Tuum_ was a favourite of Posh's and he tried to buy her for
himself.  But although she had only cost 360 pounds to build in 1867, in
1874 she fetched over 300 pounds, and Posh could not go so high as that.
So he made other arrangements, and his fishing interests with FitzGerald
were finally ended.

One would have thought that there would be no more letters beginning
"Dear Posh."  But though FitzGerald had found himself obliged to end his
association with Posh in the herring fishing, he never ended his
friendship, even if, during the last years of his life, he neither saw
nor wrote to his former partner.

The _Meum and Tuum_ made several more voyages in the North Sea and to the
west, and, when she was no longer strictly seaworthy, was sold to a Mr.
Crisp, of Beccles, a maltster and general provision merchant, who turned
her into a storeship, and anchored her off his wharf in the river
Waveney.  When she became so rotten as to be unfit even for a storage
ship she was broken up, and her name-board was bought by Captain Kerrich,
of Geldeston Hall (the son of FitzGerald's favourite sister), who was
kind enough to present it to the Omar Khayyam Club.  But as the club has
no "local habitation"--only a name--it now remains in the charge of Mr.
Frederic Hudson, one of the founders of the club.


Posh does not remember the last occasion on which he spoke to his old
"guv'nor," but he says that whenever he did see him he, FitzGerald, would
take him by the blue woollen jersey and pinch him, and say, "Oh dear, oh
dear, Posh!  To think it should ha' come to this."  Well, this may
possibly have been the case.  There is no doubt that FitzGerald resumed
friendly relations with the fisherman, for on August 29th, 1875, he wrote
from Woodbridge to his former partner:--

   "WOODBRIDGE, _August_ 29.


   "I have posted you a Lowestoft Paper telling you something of the
   Regatta there.  But as you say you like to hear from me also, I write
   to supply what the Paper does not tell: though I wonder you can care
   to hear of such things in the midst of your Fishing.

   "I, and every one else, made sure that the little _Sapphire_ would do
   well when it came on to blow on Thursday: she went to her moorings as
   none of the others did except the _Red Rover_.  But, directly the Gun
   fired, the _Otter_ (an awkward thing) drove down upon, and broke up
   her Chain-plates, or stenctions [_sic_], to which the wire rigging
   holds: so she could not sail at all: and the _Red Rover_ got the
   Prize, after going only _two_ rounds instead of _three_: which is odd
   work, I think.  Major Leathes' mast went over in the first round, as
   it did a year ago.  At Evening, the _Otter_ grounded as she lay by the
   South Pier: and would have knocked her bottom out had not Ablett
   Pasifull gone off to her and made them hoist their main-sail.

   "Ablett and Jack got more and more uncomfortable with their new Owner,
   who is a Fool as well as a Screw.  At last Ablett told him that he
   himself and Jack had almost been on the point of leaving him, and
   _that_, I think, will bring him to his senses, if anything can.

   "On Friday we saw _Mushell_ coming in deeply laden, and we heard how
   he had just missed putting three lasts on board of you.  I sent off a
   Telegram to you that same evening, as Mushell knew you would be
   anxious to know that he had come in safe through the wind and Sea of
   Thursday night.  He was to have started away again on Sunday: but one
   of his men who had gone home had not returned by one o'clock, when I
   came away.  _This_, I always say, is one of the Dangers of coming
   home, but, as Things were, _Mushell_ could scarce help it, though he
   had better have gone to Yarmouth to sell his Fish.  He seems a good

   "All these mishaps--I wonder any man can carry on the trade!  I think
   I would rather be in my own little Punt again.  But, while you will go
   on, you know I will stand by you.  Your mare is well, and the sore on
   her Shoulder nearly gone.  Mr. and Mrs. Howe send their Regards.
   Cowell is gone off to Devonshire instead of coming to meet me at
   Lowestoft: but I dare say I shall run over there again before long.

   "Yours always,
   "E. FG."

{Boulge church: p201.jpg}

The "little _Sapphire_" I cannot identify.  One gentleman has been kind
enough to try to help me, and thinks that she was the _Scandal_.  But
this cannot be so, for the _Scandal_ was built for FitzGerald at Wyvenhoe
in 1863, was first called the _Shamrock_ and then the _Scandal_.
Personally, I remember the names of a good many of the yachts of the
Norfolk and Suffolk coast of the period, but I can't identify the
_Sapphire_.  The _Red Rover_ was a river craft, a cutter, with the one
big jib of our river craft instead of jib and foresail, belonging to the
late Mr. Sam Nightingale, of Lacon's Brewery.  She was originally about
twelve tons, but by improvements and additions, when Mr. Nightingale died
in the eighties, was eighteen tons.  For many years she was the fastest
yacht in the Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht Club, and though she was
occasionally beaten on fluky days she never lost possession of the
challenge cup for long.  Fred Baldry, who steered her with extraordinary
skill, is, I believe, still alive, and lives on Cobholm Island, Yarmouth.

The _Red Rover_ was not only successful on the rivers and Broads, but in
the Yarmouth Roads.  I was on her when she was beating the famous Thames
twenty-tonner _Vanessa_, when the _Red Rover_ carried away her bowsprit
(a new stick) as she was beating on the sands to dodge the tide, and I
remember how we were hooted all the way up Gorleston Harbour when Mr.
William Hall's steam launch towed us in.

I believe that when the little ten-ton _Buttercup_ (unbeaten at her best)
came down and gave the poor old _Red Rover_ the worst dressing down she
had ever experienced it broke Mr. Nightingale's heart.  He died soon
after, and he left a direction in his will that the _Red Rover_ should be
broken up and burnt.  It would, I think, have been a kinder and better
direction to have left the yacht to Fred Baldry, who had steered her to
victory so often.

Although I have described her as a river yacht, she was purely a racing
machine, and used to be accompanied (in the home waters at all events) by
a wherry, with all spare spars and sails, on which everything unnecessary
for sailing was stowed before the starting gun was fired.

Once a year she carried a picnic party over Breydon Water, on which
occasion, I believe, Mrs. Nightingale was invariably seasick going over
to Breydon.  Neither Mr. nor Mrs. Nightingale ever used her for pleasure
except on that one annual excursion up to Reedham.

Well, well!  There are no _Red Rovers_ now, and no Fred Baldrys coming
on.  But there are plenty of stinking black tugs and filthy coal barges
embellishing the lovely Norfolk waters.  I do not wonder that Colonel
Leathes, mentioned in the last quoted letter, has taken his yacht _off_
the public waters and confined her to the beautiful wooded reaches of
Fritton Mere.

The _Otter_ was a rival of the _Red Rover_ in the early days of the
latter yacht, and was a clumsy, rather ugly, ketch-rigged craft belonging
to Sir Arthur Preston.  Major Leathes' (now Colonel Leathes) boat was a
yawl named the _Waveney Queen_, and the Colonel tells me that he carried
away his mast twice, each time because he would "carry on" too long.

I can't ascertain who was the "new owner" of Ablett Percival and Jack--and
if I could I suppose it wouldn't do to name him, in view of FitzGerald's
stringent criticism of him.  Subsequently Jack Newson went on the _Mars_,
the sea-going craft belonging to the late J. J. Colman, M.P., but this
was later than 1875.

"Mushell" was the nickname of Joe Butcher, the former skipper of the
_Henrietta_, under Posh, as owner.

I must admit that this letter is hard to fit in with the year 1875, when
the _Meum and Tuum_ and the _Henrietta_ had been sold, and the separation
between Posh and his "guv'nor" final, so far as herring fishing was
concerned.  The last paragraph, in which FitzGerald writes that so long
as Posh goes on he will stand by him, seems in flat contradiction to what
happened in 1874.  But Colonel Leathes puts the date as 1875, and Dr.
Aldis Wright has been kind enough to look up old almanacs in his
possession and corroborates this view.  It speaks with extraordinary
eloquence of FitzGerald's affection for Posh, of his patience with the
man, that after the want of recognition of his kindness shown in 1874 he
should have written to him in such a manner in 1875.

"Mr. and Mrs. Howe" were, as I have stated before, the caretakers at
Little Grange.  "Cowell" was, no doubt, Professor Cowell, though it seems
strange that FitzGerald should have mentioned him to Posh without any
prefix to his name.

That is the last letter in which I can find any reference to Posh, and
the last letter in Posh's possession which was written to him.  I dare
say there were later letters, but if so they have been destroyed.

FitzGerald had tried a new experiment, and it was ended.

   Myself, when young, did eagerly frequent
   Doctor and Saint, and heard great argument
      About it and about: but evermore
   Came out by the same door wherein I went.

He had found a new love, a new interest, and believed that he had found a
new trustworthiness.  But he returned through the same door by which he
entered; and he was an old man for disillusionment.

Posh was, no doubt, rude, harsh, overbearing with the old gentleman, but
his eyes grow moist now when he speaks of him.  I think he would
surrender a good deal of his boasted independence if only he could have
FitzGerald for his friend again.

The last time he was with me I read him

   The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
   Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
       Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
   Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.

"Well tha'ss a rum un!" said Posh.




{184}  In East Anglia "boat" is pronounced to rhyme with "foot."

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