342. SAILORS SAVED THROUGH THE POWER OF FAITH.
Illustration -- The Rescue of Gregory Crowe
Forasmuch as we are now in the month of May, before we overpass the same, and because the story is not long, and not unworthy peradventure of noting, it shall not grieve the studious reader, a little to give the hearing thereof, whereby to learn to marvel and muse at the great works of the Lord. They that go down, saith the psalmist, into the sea, labouring upon the water, have seen the works of the Lord, and his mighty wonders upon the deep, &c. The truth whereof may well appear in this story following: which story, as it is signified and written to me by relation of the party himself, which was doer thereof, called Thomas Morse, so I thought to purport the same as followeth:
"Upon Tuesday after Whitsunday, which was the twenty-sixth day of May, in this present year, 1556, (or else, as he rather thinketh, in the year next before, which was 1555,) a certain poor man whose name was Gregory Crow, dwelling in Malden, went to the sea, minding to have gone into Kent for fulling earth; but by the way, being foul weather, was driven upon a sand, where presently the boat sank, and was full of water, so that the men were forced to hold themselves by the mast of the boat, and all things that would swim did swim out of her: amongst which Crow saw his Testament in the water, and caught it and put it in his bosom. Now it was ebbing water, so that within one hour the boat was dry, but broken so as they could not save her: but they went themselves upon the sand, (being ten miles at the least from the land,) and there made their prayers together, that God would send some ship that way to save them, (being two men and one boy in all,) for they might not tarry upon the sand but half an hour, but it would be flood; in the which time they found their chest, wherein was money to the sum of five pound six shillings and eight pence, the which money the man which was with the said Crow (whose name I know not) took and gave it unto Crow, who was owner thereof, and he cast it into the sea, saying, 'If the Lord will save our lives, he will provide us a living.' And so they went upon the mast there, hanging by the arms and legs for the space of ten hours, in the which time the boy was so weary and beaten with the sea, that he fell off and was drowned.
"And when the water was gone again, and the sand dry, Crow said to his man, 'It were best for us to take down our masts, and when the flood cometh, we will sit upon them, and so it may please God to bring us to some ship that may take us up.' Which thing they did, and so at ten of the clock in the night of the same Tuesday, the flood did bear up the mast whereupon they sat.
"And upon the Wednesday, in the night, the man died, being overcome with hunger and watching. So there was none left but this Crow, who, driving up and down in the sea, called upon God as he could, and might not sleep, for fear that the sea would have beaten him off.
"So at length, I myself (said Thomas Morse) being laden to Antwerp with my crayer, going from Leigh upon Friday, having within my crayer, of mariners and merchants, to the number of forty-six persons; and so coming to the Foreland, the wind was not very good, so that I was constrained to go somewhat out of my way, being in the afternoon about six of the clock, where at the last we saw a thing afar off, appearing unto us like a small buoy, that fishermen do use to lay with their hooks.
"When we saw it, some said, 'Let us have some fish.' And I said to him that was at the helm, Keep your course away, for we shall but hinder the fisherman, and have no fish neither;' and so at my commandment he did. But at length he at the helm standing higher than all we did, said, 'Methink, master, it is a man.' But yet they, being in doubt that it was but a fisher's buoy, returned the ship from him again to keep their course.
"Crow, beholding the ship to turn from him, being then in utter despair, and ready now to perish with watching and famine, and moreover miserably beaten with the seas, at last took his mariner's cap from his head, and holding up the same with his arm, as high as he could, thought by shaking it as well as he might, to give them some token of better sight. Whereupon the steersman more sensibly perceiving a thing to move, advertised us again, declaring how he did see plainly a man's arm; and with that we all beheld him well, and so came to him and took him up. And as soon as we had him in our ship, he began to put his hand in his bosom; and one asked him if he had money there. 'No,' said he, 'I have a book here, I think it be wet; 'and so drew out his Testament, which we then dried. But the sea had so beaten him, that his eyes, nose, and mouth were almost closed with salt, that the heat of his face and the weather had made. So we made a fire and shifted him with dry clothes, and gave him aqua composite to drink, and such meat as was in the ship; and then let him sleep.
"The next day we awaked him about eight of the clock in the morning, and his blood began somewhat to appear in his flesh, (for when we took him up, his flesh was even as though it had been sodden, or as a drowned man is,) and then we talked with him of all the matter before rehearsed. And so, sailing to Antwerp, the merchants, which saw the thing, published the same in Antwerp; and because it was wonderful, the people there, both men and women, came to the ship to see him, many of them. Some gave him a petticoat, and some a shirt, some hosen, and some money (always noting how he cast away his money, and kept his book). And many of the women wept when they heard and saw him. And Master Governor of the English nation there had him before him, and talked with him of all the matter; and, pitying his case, commanded the officer of the English house to go with him to the free post-houses amongst the English merchants, and I with them; and at three houses there was given him six pound ten shillings. And so from thence he went with me to Rouen, where the people also came to him to see him, marvelling at the great works of God."
And thus much concerning this poor man with his New Testament preserved in the sea (which Testament the pope's clergy condemneth on the land) ye have heard, as I received by the relation of the party above-named, who was the doer thereof, and yet alive dwelling in Leigh, well known to all merchants of London. In which story this by the way understand, good reader, (which rightly may be supposed,) that if this poor man, thus found and preserved in the sea with a New Testament in his bosom, had had instead of that a pix with a consecrated host about him, no doubt it had been rung ere this time all Christendom over for a miracle, so far as the pope hath any land. But to let the pope with his false miracles go, let us return again to our matter begun, and adjoin another history of much like condition, testified likewise by the information of the said Thomas Morse above mentioned, to the intent to make known the worthy acts of the Almighty, that he may be mag-nified in all his wondrous works. The story is thus declared, which happened anno 1556, about Michaelmas.
Another like story of God's providence upon three men delivered upon the sea.
"There was a ship," (saith the said Thomas Morse,) "whereof I had a part, going towards the Bay for salt, with two ships of Brightlingsea, which were all together going for salt, as before is said. At what time we were within ten miles of the North Foreland, otherwise called Thanet, the wind did conue so contrary to our ship, that we were forced to go clean out of the way; and the other two ships kept their course still, until our ship was almost out of sight of them. And then they saw a thing driving upon the sea, and hoisted out their boat and went unto it; and it was three men sitting upon a piece of their ship, who had sitten so two days and two nights.
"There had been in their ship eight men more, which were drowned, being all Frenchmen, dwelling in a place in France called Oleron. They had been at Dantzic, and lost their ship about Orfordness, as might be learned by their words. They were men that feared God; the one of them was owner of the ship. Their exercise, while they were in our ship, was, that after their coming in, they gave thanks for their deliverance. Both morning and evening they exercised prayer, and also before and after meat. And when they came into France, our ships went to the same place where these men dwelt; and one of them did sell unto our men their ship's lading of salt, and did use them very courteously and friendly; and not at that time only, but always whensoever that ship cometh thither, (as she hath been there twice since,) he always doth for them, so that they can lack nothing. I should have noted, that after our ship had taken up those three men out of the sea, they had the wind fair presently, and came and overtook the other two ships again, and so they proceeded in their voyage together."
For the more credit of this story above recited, to satisfy either the doubtful, or to prevent the quarreller, I have not only alleged the name of the party which was the doer thereof, but also expressed the matter in his own words, as I of him received it; the party and reporter himself being yet alive, and dwelling at Leigh, a man so well known amongst the merchants of London, that whosoever heareth the name of Thotnas Morse, will never doubt there-of. And again, the matter itself being so notoriously known to merchants as well here as at Antwerp, that though his name were not expressed, the story can lack no witnesses.