THE MATCHLESS PICARO; OR, A short Essay of the Fortune and Virtues of Seignior Don Tomaso Ganderfieldo, alias Francisco De COROMBONA.
Bray a Fool in a Mortar, yet he will not depart from his Folly.
BEing importun'd by some friends to write a Narrative of the Famous At∣chievements of the Virtuoso who accus'd Me, I have endeavour'd their sa∣tisfaction; But upon a diligent Search, I find the Records of his Worth so many, and so chargable to take off, that neither my Pen nor my Purse are able to perform their Request. But because their Expectation should not wholly be frustrated, I have review'd his half-witted Narrative, between which, and that of the worthy Gentleman Mr. Roderick Mansel,* I find so great an agreement, as satisfies me they had accorded their Stories before the Papers were lodg'd in Ax-yard Westmin∣ster: And also, that both Naratives were dictated by the same Spi∣rit, (one being a true Transcript of the other;) but chiefly, that Don Roderigo, and Seignior Thomazo, are both right Romantick Heroes, and have added much to the small adventures of others, and related many imaginary ones of me, which never entred into my thoughts, I having from my Childhood abominated such Pra∣ctices.
But they have been very silent in their own most Stupendious Acts and Endeavours. But all their Squires being absent, it would much have derogated from their Worth to have blown the Trumpets of their own fame; And because I am inform'd that a Person of great Understanding in the Worthy Collonels Affairs, is writing a large Narrative of his Projects in IRELAND, and HERE also; Therefore I will say no more, but leave him to that Fate which u∣sually attends Men of his Spirit and Loyalty, both in this World, and in the next; And give you an Abstract of Seignior Don Thomazo Ganderfieldo, Fran∣cisco de Corombona, &c. his Recorded Virtues, and what himself hath told to many Per∣sons that are ready to attest it upon Oath, together with the great Character I have re∣ceiv'd of him from the Inhabitants of Waltham Abby, the place of his Nativity, where they affirm, that before he was Seven years of age, his Fingers were such Lime-twigs, that he could not enter into any House but something would stick to them; and being corrected by his Father, (for the many Thefts he committed,) he ran away; and wan∣dring up to London, was receiv'd into St. Bartholomew's Hospital, where at 10 years old his Father found him: But (as he hath done since,) he stoutly disown'd his Father, and would not go with him; However, his Father took him home, and (if himself may be credited,) from that time he studied to be a Rogue, and before eleven years of age he agreed with one Jemmy a Scotch-Man, and robb'd his Father, and run away into Scot∣land, where, (as young as he was) he committed some Crime which he said would have cost him his Life, had not the Laird of— (before whom Jemmy's Fa∣ther and his Prosecutor brought him) taken pitty on his Youth, and dismist him with a small sum of Money to bring him to Edenborough; where the young Don being arriv'd, and finding Scotland no place for his purpose, he projected how to change Page 44 Countreys: And some Gentlemen being then at Edenbrough ready to Imbarque for Spain, they entertain'd him for a Lacquey, and transported him into a warmer Climate, but soon turn'd him out for his *old Tricks; then (as he says) he turn'd Mendicant from Dore to Dore for about a Month; after which he became a Soldiers Boy, and not being able to live on Three Halfpence a Day, he then re∣solv'd to fall to the practice of the Roguery he had so long studied, and attain'd to a great perfection in the Thieving Trade; And amongst other Virtues, he also learn'd to Guild Copper Cobs, and made them pass for Gold, and plaid such Pranks, that (being too young to be put to Death) he was mark'd by the Ezecutioner of Port Ferara with an N and a G in large Gun-powder Letters on the Back of his Right Hand, and then lasht out of the Town. And being almost starv'd, a Master of an English Vessel in Charity brought him back for England, being now about 14 or 15 years of age. Then the wandring Don return'd to the Father he formerly deny'd to own; But he refus'd to receive him, yet had Compassion on his miserable condition, and put him as an Apprentice to a Barber, from whom he ran, and fell so close to the Thieving Trade, that by his own Confession, and the Testimony of others, he was condemn'd to be hang'd before he was 17, but obtain'd a Pardon of Transportation, and went into Flanders; But though he chang'd Countries, Qualities he chang'd not, for in a few years he be∣came so great a proficient, that he counterfeited the Prince of Orange's Hand and Seal, and was committed to the Castle of Antwerp, where he lay long, and had been starv'd, (as himself says,) but for the Charity of the English Nuns, who every day sent him Meat and Drink. About 12 Weeks after his Commitment, he was try'd and condemn'd to be Hang'd; But Father Worsly, an English Priest, (after the charitable example of the English Nuns at Antwerp, who not only fed this starv'd Snake, but also sav'd and sup∣ported Captain Spurn-Cow in the like Danger) by earnest solicitations procured his Par∣don, and brought it at the critical Minute, when one end of the Halter was about his Neck, and the other tied to the Gallows, and the Ladder ready to be taken away. This charitable Person also collected 30 odd Pounds, and gave it him, to bring him over into England, and to put him into an honest way to live, and so dismist him, with much good Counsel, which he never had Grace to follow.
Some Months after, he was 18 years old, he arriv'd in England, and fell close to his old Trade, and had such success therein, that in the 19th. year of his age, and,
London ss. In the 25th. Year of His now Majesties Reign, he was indicted at the Old Baily, for stealing a Tortoice-shell Cabinet, and ten pieces of old Gold out of the House of Robert Blagrave, the Vintner that now keeps the Crown-Tavern behind the Old Exchange. The Jury found the Bill, and he was afterwards try'd thereupon, and found Guilty, and being brought to receive Sentence, and ask't what he had to say for him∣self that Judgment should not pass upon him according to Law? he said, he was a Clark, and prayed the benefit of the Book; which was granted, and he read, and was burn'd in the left Hand.
Essex. ss. At Chelmsford, in the said County, the first day of March, in the 27th. Year of His now Majestie's Reign, at the Assizes held there before Sir Thomas Twisden Kt. & Baronet, John Howel Serjant at Law, and their Associates, &c.
The Grand Jury being sworn, did find the Bill, wherein Thomas Dangerfield, late of Walcham Abby, Labourer, the 29th. of January, in the 26th. Year of His now Majestie's Reign, was indicted for Feloniously stealing and taking away the goods of one Robert Tetterson Shoe-maker, of Windsmore-Hill, a Linnen-bag worth a penny, and 4 l. 10 s. in mony. And the said Dangerfield before he came to his Tryal, broke the Prison, and so got away, and thereupon was out law'd for the Fellony, as by the Record appears.
Wilts. ss. At the Assizes held for the County of Wilts, the 4th. of August in the 29 year of his new Majesty, before Sir Thomas Jones, Knight; Thomas Burton, Ser∣jeant at Law, and other Associates, &c.
The Jury being sworn, and upon their Oaths did find the Bill, wherein Thomas Willoughby alias Feild, late of Wilton, Labourer; did stand Indicted for uttering false Guineys to one John Penny.
To which Indictment he Pleaded Guilty, and was adjudged to stand in the Pillory Page 45 next Market day in the open Market-place for three hours, from 9 till 12 with a Paper on his forehead, signifying his Crime, and afterwards to pay 5 l. to the King, and to lie in Prison till he paid it.
Wilts. ss. At the same Assizes he was indicted of the like Fact, for uttering a false Guiny at Broad-Chalk, he pleaded Guilty, and was fined five Pounds, and to stand on the Pillory three hours at New-Sarum another Market day, with a Paper; on his Forehead, as before.
Wilts. ss. At the same Assizes he was indicted for the like Fact, he Pleaded Guilty, and was fined five Pounds, and to stand on the Pillory at Wilton three hours, with an In∣scription on his Forehead.
He stood on the Pillory twice at Sarum, and broke the Goal before he was to stand the third time.
Midlesex. ss. In the 30th. year of his now Majesties Reign, he was indicted at Hicks's Hall, before Sir Reginald Foster, Sir Philip Matthews, Thomas Harriot Esq and Associates, by the name of Thomas Dangerfield, alias Willoughby, alias Moor, Labourer, for uttering 20 false Guinnies in the Parish of St. Leonard Shoreditch. The Bill was found against him.
That Sessions he was tryed and convict at the Old-Baily, and was fin'd fifty Pounds, and to lie in Prison till he paid it.
Whilst he lay in Prison for his Fine, he there Practiced Forgery, as Captain Richardson testified upon Oath, October the 〈◊〉 1679. before the Lords of his Majesties most Honourable Privy Counsell; as also, that he never had in his Custody a more Notorious Rogue.
About November or December following, he broke a hole through the Prison with the help of his fellows, pretending he would teach them how to make an escape; but by a Letter to Captain Richardson, gave him notice of their Intentions, and they were surpriz'd going forth, and rewarded according to their merit; But the Don escap'd Scot-free, and in reward of this Service, Captain Richardson, in the January following, got him into a general New-gate Pardon, for which he hath since rewarded him with the same gratitude wherewith he has ever repay'd his Benefactors; proving the old Proverb true, Save a Thief from the Gallows, and he will hang thee if he can.
There he lay till the May following, for want of Mony to pay his Fees, at which time I paid them, and what else I did for him, and upon what inducements you may read Page the 12. and 13. How he has required me I need not relate, His Gratitude is Publickly Notorious like his other virtues; in pursuit of which, I searched till I found his Name Recorded in 28 places, having been Transported, Burnt in the Hand, five times Adjudged to the Pillory, seven times Fin'd, twice Out-law'd for Fellony, and broke the Goal in several places eight times; but the great Charge forced me to desist, though I have been credibly inform'd that his Acts were Recorded in many places more, both in England, Wales, Cornwal, and Ireland, but to give him his due, not one of these Records that I know of, is for Robbing on the High-way. He is too tender of his own safety, and has too great a Veneration for the memory of his Murther'd Mother, to expose her Son to any such audacious enterprise; all his Atchievements are House-breaking, Picking of Pockets, Cheats, Forgeries, and Petty Larcenies, &c.
But to return to the Gentlemans Narrative, wherein he says Page 24 on the top of the leaf, that his pretended Confessor Mr. Sharp, injoyn'd him for his Pennance, that twice a night, for five nights following, he should walk bare-footed from Powis House in Lincolns-Inn Fields, to Lincolns-Inn back gate, and back again, which he saith he did accordingly, and that every morning for five mornings he should Discipline his naked shoulders with some Franciscan Cords which he gave him, and bid him be sure to follow his Advice, if he would escape Damnation.
Surely the Gentlemans Wits were gone a Wool-gathering, else he would have told his Confessor, that if lashing could secure him from Damnation, he had enough of that both in England, Cornwal, Spain and Flanders, having perform'd many memorable Pe∣nances of that kind; and particularly that of Reading, where he marched bare-footed, and bare-headed before the Beadle to the Towns-end, attended by all the Youth of the Place, being scourged all the way, and at the end of the Town, had 20 lashes given him extraordinary, because he had not money to pay the Goaler.
And having thus exercised his Passive Valour to the satisfaction of all the Spectators, Page 46 he was with great shoutings and acclamations, turn'd off to seek his Fortune; in pursuit of which he went to the next Town, where a Company of Soldiers was then quartered, and with great Lamentation told them he had been set upon by Foot-Pads, and by them robbed of a considerable sum of mony, and most cruelly beaten. These honest Souldiers received him with much humanity, fed and cloathed him as well as they could, pro∣mising him to prevail with their Captain to receive him into the Company; But the next day the fraud was discovered, for some Persons coming from Reading, made known his good qualities, with the exemplary Reward he had so lately received: The Soul∣diers were so offended at their misplaced Charity, that they beat and kickt him up and down like a foot-Ball, resolving to lash him severely with their Matches; and in order to it, pluckt off his venerable Coat, and the bloody Rag he called his Shirt, but when they saw his back so pittifully mortify'd, they (to use his own words) scorned to fling water upon a drowned Mouse, but let him go whither he would, and he di∣rected his course towards London, where he arrived in great state, riding upon his Fathers two legg'd Colt, having been entertained on the way by the Charity of well-disposed Persons, &c.
Certainly, had he told Mr. Sharp his Story, he could not have been so severe to him; especially, if he had produced that undenyable proof he always carries about him, as plainly appeared to some Gentlemen that went into the Water with him last Summer, and are ready to depose that the Marks of the Lashes which have been so freely laid on are still visible on his back in long blue Stigma's; Yea, as visible as the Letters on his right hand, and much more then that in the brawn of his left Thumb. This Heroe is too well markt to be forgotten, though his modesty has made him so silent in his own praise, that he has omitted most of his strange and unparallell'd Adventures in England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Spain, Flanders, and Holland, and elsewhere on the Coast of Guiny and Barbadoes, &c. Together with the Just and Generous Entertainments he found in the In∣chanted Castles of Chelmsford, Newgate, Antwerp, York, Callice, Salisbury, Winbourn, West-chester, Reading, Abbington, the Gate-house, Dublin, the Counter, the Kings-bench, with many more, too long to be related, and too Chargeable for me to take off the Records.
But as the skilful Statuary could guess at Hercules's height by the length of his foot, so I doubt not but the judicious Reader by the sight of the Records I have produc'd, will ea∣sily be perswaded to believe the rest, and think his life so remarkable, that it exceeds all the Worthies of his quality that have gone before him, and is unmatchable, Even in this Age, That produces such Monstrous Gigantick Masters of the Diabolical Arts, as him∣self, Captain Spurn-Cow the Horse-stealer; Parson lack La∣tine; Don Cappadocia, Squire of the Plow-tail; Horse Proud, The Narrative Collonel, Merry Tom of St. Anns Lane, West∣minster*; And the rest, whose Histories when they appear to future Ages, will much out do the Spanish Guzman, the English Rogue, and the Italian Bandetto mengone, that is made famous to Posterity, by being adjudged to end his days in an Iron Cage on the top of a Tower, where he lived Twen∣ty odd years, a great example of Gods Justice, and at the end thereof, beat out his Brains against the Bars of the Cage, as Bajazet had done be∣fore him, this being within Mans memory, and some persons as I am credibly informed, yet living in London that have seen him; And if these Worthies of our Age have Justice done them according to their Merrit, the same perhaps may live to see them as well provided for at the Publick Charge.
Psal. 121.1, 3. The Fool hath said in his Heart there is no God, they are corrupt, they have done abominable Works, there is none that doth good. They are all gone aside, they are altogether filthy, there is none that doth good, no not one.
Psal. 50.22. Now consider this ye that forget God, lest he tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver.
I understand that the Gentleman is going to Publish his life at large, by the name of Don Francisco de Corombona, in attestation of the Truth of which, this short Epistle of his Fortunes and Vertues is Published by