|Samuel Richardson, by Joseph Highmore|
of the Land. And what would have become of Old England long ago but for them?
The above is the 2nd epigraph from Lowry's first novel Ultramarine. The epigraph is taken from Samuel Richardson's Letters written to and for particular Friends, on the most important Occasions, Directing not only the requisite Style and Forms to he observed in writing Familiar Letters ; but how to think and act justly and prudently, in the common Concerns of Human Life. (1741). The title moreover states that the volume contains "One Hundred and Seventy-three Letters, None of which were ever before Published"; and it was "printed for C. Eivington, in St. Paul's Churchyard ; J. Osborn, in Pater-noster Row; and J. Leake, at Bath'.
Whether Lowry actually read the letters is open to debate and there is no documentary evidence. The fact that the epigraph is missing the source of the quote may be significant. One possible source is Austin Dobson's Samuel Richardson (1902) which quotes the letter from which the epigraph is drawn. It is possible that Lowry picked up the the quote from another source such as magazine such as Blue Peter as later nautical sources have quoted Richardson's words.
There may be a few reasons why Lowry chose the words for an epigraph. The nautical would have appealed to him in writing a novel which features the lives of ordinary sailors. Austin Dobson quotes the phrase in a chapter entitled "From Birth to Authorship" which reflects the fact that Ultramarine was Lowry's first novel and recognition as an author. Finally if we look at the full context of the quote from Dobson's book - we can see that there is a drink connotation which would have appealed to Lowry:
A Sea Officer, writing to his wife from abroad, sends her a " small Parcel of Cyprus wine "; while a Sailor, not to be behind-hand, forwards to his Peggy from Barbadoes, " as a Token of my Love," six bottles of Citron-water, which " is what, they say, Ladies drink, when they can get it." To which Peggy returns, in the true " Rule Britannia " vein, — " Let who will speak against Sailors; they are the Glory and the Safeguard of the Land. And what would have become of Old England long ago but for them? I am sure the lazy good-for-nothing Land-lubbers would never have protected us from our cruel Foes." (Pg. 23)