Cony-Catching - To the Courteous Reader

To the Courteous Reader


            Gentlemen, I know you have long expected the coming forth of my Black Book, which I long have promised, and which I had many days since finished, had not sickness hindered my intent: Nevertheless, be assured it is the first thing I mean to publish after I am recovered. This messenger to my Black Book I commit to your courteous censures, being written before I fell sick, which I thought good in the meantime to send you as a fairing, discoursing Ned Browne's villainies, which are too many to be described in my Black Book.

            I had thought to have joined with this treatise, a pithy discourse of the repentance of a cony-catcher lately executed out of Newgate, yet forasmuch as the method of the one is so far differing from the other, I altered my opinion, and the rather for that the one died resolute and desperate, the other penitent and passionate. For the cony-catcher's repentance which shall shortly be published, it contains a passion of great importance. First how he was given over from all grace and godliness, and seemed to have no spark of the fear of God in him: yet nevertheless, through the wondrous working of God's spirit, even in the dungeon at Newgate the night before he died, he so repented him from the bottom of his heart, that it may well beseem parents to have it for their children, masters for their servants, and to be perused of every honest person with great regard.

            And for Ned Browne of whom my Messenger makes report, he was a man infamous for his bad course of life and well-known about London: He was in outward show a gentlemanlike companion, attired very brave, and to shadow his villainy the more would nominate himself to be a marshal-man, who when he had nipped a bung or cut a good purse, he would steal over in to the Low Countries, there to taste three or four stoops of Rhenish wine, and then come over forsooth a brave soldier: But at last he leapt at a daisy for his loose kind of life, and therefore imagine you now see him in his own person, standing in a great bay window with a halter about his neck ready to be hanged, desperately pronouncing this his whole course of life and confesseth as followeth.

Yours in all courtesy, R. G.

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