3.1.5. Nashe, Strange Newes, 1593


Thomas Nashe, Strange Newes of the intercepting certain letters, and a convoy of verses, as they were going privily to victual the Low Countries [Jan.] 1593 [1]


When Gabriel Harvey levelled his insults against Robert Greene he can't have been expecting the vehement and caustic response that he provoked from Thomas Nashe (1567-1601) alias “Pierce Penniless”. The rhetorician probably didn't know that the sharp tongued satirist would draw on the support of a powerful friend from the company of good fellows.

In 1590, Nashe had written a stern piece directed at Martin Marpelate: An Almond for a Parrot. The rebellious puritan wrote under the pseudonyms “Martin Marpelate” and “Martin Junior”. Thomas Nashe (alias Cuthbert Curryknave) gives himself the name: “Mar-Mar prelate Junior”. Just like the earlier pamphlets by Lyly, Munday and Greene, An Almond for a Parrot had been commissioned by the Anglican Archbishop, John Whitcraft. However, the idea of paying Marpelate back in his own coin (with fantasy, impudence and humour), probably came from another man. Although he is not named directly; in Nashe’s burlesque Summers Last Will and Testament (October 1592) this man is featured as the personification of spring: “VER. Truth, my Lord, to tell you plain, I can give you no other account: nam quae habui, perdidi; what I had, I have spent on good fellows.”

“What plant can spring that feels no force of Ver?” wrote Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford, in his poems (see 5.2.1 Poems, No. 40).  Nashe makes it perfectly clear that; in Summers Last Will and Testament , he is refering to the Earl when he uses the name ‘Ver’: “VER. If you will dance a Galliard, so it is; if not, Falangtado, Falangtado, to wear the black and yellow: Falangtado, Falangtado, my mates are gone, I'll follow.” (See 5.2.2 Poems, No. 75.) This self same man who spent so much “on good fellows” (i.e. the Anti-Marprelate-company), appears in Nashes Strange Newes as -- “the grandam of good fellowship.”

Nashe makes significant allusions to the identity of his patron (and potential protector), right from the opening dedication, calling him “the most copious Carminist”, “your Worship”, “infinite Maecenas”; he speaks of “his old tawny Purse”, (tan being the colour of the Earl of Oxford's servant's livery.) He mentions his three daughters and the animal featured on his coat of arms, the wild boar. Alluding to the bovine nature of the name “Oxford” he calls him “Master Apis Lapis”: the Stone Bull. He talks about the gravity of his “round cap” and his “dudgeon-dagger.” – Later on, in the main section of the work (The Four Letters Confuted), the satirist mentions his fellow “Will. Monox”, the man with the “great dagger.” And he says: “a nobleman stood in his [Harvey’s] way as he was vomiting, and from top to toe he all-to-bewrayed him with Tuscanism” – “A per se a? Passion of God, how came I by that name? My godfather Gabriel gave it me, and I must not refuse it... Before I had the reversion of it, he bestowed it on a nobleman”.

There is an old connection between Oxford (alias Master Apis Lapis) and Gabriel Harvey. In spite of the fact that the Earl of Oxford had supported and encouraged the rhetorician in his younger years, Gabriel Harvey ridiculed, and insulted his former benefactor in 1580 with his “Mirror of Tuscanismo”. Bearing this insult and the motto “tolerate an old wrong and you may invite a new one” in mind, Nashe encourages ‘Master Apis Lapis’ to: “Go to, take example by him to wash out dirt with ink, and run up to the knees in the channel if you be once wet-shod.”

It is obvious that “Master William, that learned writer Rhenish wine & Sugar” alias “Will. Monox” also has his connections to Shakespeare’s hero “Sir John Sack & sugar”. (See 10.1.4 The Date of Henry the Fourth.) Just like Sir John Falstaff “Master William” likes to drink from the “pottle-pot” and scorns “small beer”. “Doth it not show vilely in me to desire small beer?”, asks Prinz Hal in 2Henry IV, II/2 – and Bardolph rants at the page : “What a maidenly man-at-arms are you become! Is’t such a matter to get a pottle-pot’s maidenhead?” (2Henry IV, II/2) – “If I had a thousand sons”, muses Falstaff, “the first humane principle I would teach them should be to forswear thin potations and to addict themselves to sack.” (2Henry IV, IV/3.) And just like “Master William” Sir John is a coney-catcher: “There is no remedy”, says Sir John in The Merry Wives of Windsor (I/3), “I must conycatch; I must shift”. And right at the beginning of the same play (I/1) he and his friends poke fun at Slender:

FALSTAFF. Slender, I broke your head; what matter have you against me?
SLENDER. Marry, sir, I have matter in my head against you; and against your conycatching rascals, Bardolph, Nym, and Pistol. They carried me to the tavern, and made me drunk, and afterwards pick’d my pocket.
BARDOLPH. You Banbury cheese!

To the most copious Carminist of our time[2], and famous persecutor of Priscian[3], his very friend, Master Apis lapis[4]: Tho. Nashe wisheth new strings to his old tawny
Purse[5], and all honourable increase of
acquaintance in the Cellar.

Gentle M. William, that learned writer Rhenish wine & Sugar [6], in the first book of his Comment upon Red-noses [7], hath this saying, Veterem ferendo iniuriam invitas novam [8] [tolerate an old wrong and you may invite a new one], which is as much in English as one Cup of nippitaty pulls on another[9]. In moist consideration whereof, as also in zealous regard of that high countenance you show unto Scholars[10], I am bold, instead of new Wine, to carouse to you a cup of news: Which, if your Worship (according to your wonted Chaucerism [11]) shall accept in good part, I’ll be your daily Orator to pray that that pure sanguine complexion of yours may never be famished with pot-luck, that you may taste till your last gasp, and live to see the confusion of both your special enemies, Small beer and Grammar rules[12].

It is not unknown to report what a famous pottle-pot patron you have been to old poets[13] in your days, & how many pounds you have spent (and, as it were, thrown into the fire) upon the dirt of wisdom, called Alchemy[14]: Yea, you have been such an infinite Maecenas [15] to learned men that not any that belong to them (as Sumners, and who not) but have tasted of the cool streams of your liberality.

I would speak in commendation of your hospitality likewise, but that it is chronicled in the Archdeacon's Court[16], and the fruits it brought forth (as I guess) are of age to speak for themselves. Why should virtue be smothered by blind circumstance? An honest man of Saffron Walden kept three sons at the University [17] together a long time, and you kept three maids together in your house a long time[18]. A charitable deed, & worthy to be registered in red letters[19].

Shall I presume to dilate of the gravity of your round cap and your dudgeon-dagger?[20] It is thought they will make you be called upon shortly to be Alderman of the Stilliard[21]. And that's well remembered; I heard say, when this last Term was removed to Hertford [22] , you fell into a great study and care by yourself, to what place the Stilliard should be removed. I promise you truly, it was a deep meditation, and such as might well have beseemed Elderton's parliament of noses[23] to have sit upon.

A Tavern in London, only upon the motion, mourned all in black, and forbare to girt her temples with ivy because the grandam of good fellowship[24] was like to depart from amongst them. And I wonder very much that you sampsownd not yourself into a consumption[25] with the profound cogitation of it.

Diu vivas in amore iocisque [may you long live amid love and jests], whatsoever you do, beware of keeping diet[26]. Sloth is a sin, and one sin (as one poison) must be expelled with another. What can he do better that hath nothing to do, than fall a-drinking to keep him from idleness? Faugh! Methinks my jests begin already to smell of the cask, with talking so much of this liquid provender.

In earnest thus: there is a Doctor and hisFart [27] that have kept a foul stinking stir in Paul's Churchyard. I cry him mercy. I slandered him; he is scarce a Doctor till he hath done his Acts. This doddypoll [fool], this didapper, this professed political braggart[28], hath railed upon me without wit or art in certain four pennyworth of letters and three farthingworth of sonnets[29]. Now do I mean to present him and Shakerley[30] to the Queen's fool-taker for coach-horses, for two that draw more equally in one Oratorial yoke of vainglory there is not under heaven.

 What say you, Master Apis lapis, will you, with your eloquence and credit, shield me from carpers [captious critics]? Have you any odd shreds of Latin to make this letter-monger a coxcomb of?[31] It stands you in hand to arm yourself against him, for he speaks against Cony-catchers, and you are a Cony-catcher, as Cony-catching is divided into three parts: the Verser, the Setter, and the Barnacle [32]. A Setter I am sure you are not, for you are no Musician; nor a Barnacle, for you never were of the order of the Barnardines; but the Verser I cannot acquit you of, for M. Vaux of Lambeth brings in sore evidence of a breakfast you won of him one morning at an unlawful game called riming[33]. What lies not in you to amend, play the Doctor and defend.

A fellow that I am to talk with by and by, being told that his Father was a Ropemaker, excused the matter after this sort: And hath never saint had a reprobate [abandoned] to his Father? [34]  They are his own words; he cannot go from them. You see here he makes a Reprobate and a Ropemaker voces convertibiles [convertible voices]. Go to, take example by him to wash out dirt with ink[35], and run up to the knees in the channel if you be once wet-shod. You are amongst grave Doctors and men of judgement in both Laws[36] every day; I pray, ask them the question in my absence, whether such a man as I have described this Epistler to be, one that hath a good handsome picke-devant [a short beard trimmed to a point], and a pretty leg to study the Civil Law with, that hath made many proper rimes of the old cut in his day, and deserved infinitely of the state by extolling himself and his two brothers in every book he writes, whether (I say) such a famous pillar of the Press, now in the fourteenth or fifteenth year of the reign of his Rhetoric[37], giving money to have this illiterate Pamphlet of Letters printed (whereas others have money given them to suffer themselves to come in Print), it is not to be counted as flat simony [trading in religious offices], and be liable to one and the same penalty?

I tell you, I mean to trounce him after twenty in the hundred, and have a bout with him with two staves and a pike for this gear. If he get anything by the bargain, let whatsoever I write henceforward be condemned to wrap bombast [raw cotton] in. Carouse to me good luck, for I am resolutely bent; the best blood of the brothers[38] shall pledge me in vinegar. O, would thou hadst a quaffing-bowl which, like Gawain's skull, should contain a peck[39] [the fourth part of a bushel], that thou might’st swap off a hearty draught to the success of this voyage. By whatsoever thy visage holdeth most precious I beseech thee, by Iohn Davies' soul[40] and the blue Boar in the Spittle[41] I conjure thee, to draw out thy purse and give me nothing for the dedication of my pamphlet.

Thou art a good fellow[42], I know, and hadst rather spend jests than money. Let it be the task of thy best terms to safe-conduct this book through the enemy's country.[43] Proceed to cherish thy surpassing carminical art of memory[44] with full cups (as thou dost); let Chaucer be new scored [new arranged] against the day of battle, and Terence come but in now and then[45] with the snuff of a sentence, and Dictum puta [let it be said], we'll strike it [the enemy’s country] as dead as a door-nail. Haud teruntii estimo [I don’t value him a quarter worth], we have cat's-meat and dog's-meat enough[46] for these mongrels. However I write merrily, I love and admire thy pleasant witty humour, which no care or cross can make unconversable. Still be constant to thy content, love poetry, hate pedantism[47]. Vade, vale, cave ne titubes, mandataque; frangas [48] [Go, farewell, take care, don’t stumble and damage your load“.]

Thine entirely, Tho. Nashe


To the Gentlemen Readers.[49]

 Gentlemen, the strong faith you have conceived that I would do works of supererogation[50] in answering the Doctor hath made me break my day with other important business I had, and stand darting of quills awhile like the Porpentine [porcupine]. I know there want not well-willers to my disgrace, who say my only Muse is contention … I will not hold the candle to the Devil, unmask my holiday Muse to envy, but if any such deep-insighted detractor will challenge me to whatsoever quiet adventure of Art wherein he thinks me least conversant, he shall find that I am Tam Mercurio quam Marti [51] [as much to Mercury as to Mars], a Scholar in something else but contention… A number of Apes may get the glow-worm in the night, and think to kindle fire with it because it glisters so, but, God wot, they are beguiled. It proves in the end to be but fool's fire; the poor worm alone with their blowing is warmed, they starved for cold whiles their wood is untouched. Who but a Fop will labour to anatomize a Fly? … From the admonition of these uncourteous misconstruers, I come to The kill-cow champion of the three brethren [52]; he, forsooth, will be the first that shall give Pierce Pennilesse a non placet. It is not enough that he bepissed his credit about twelve years ago with Three proper and witty familiar letters, but still he must be running on the letter, and abusing the Queen's English without pity or mercy. Be it known unto you (Christian readers), this man is a forestaller of the market of fame, an engrosser of glory, a mountebank of strange words, a mere merchant of babies and conyskins.

Hold up thy hand, G. H., thou art here indicted for an encroacher upon the fee-simple [absolute possession] of the Latin, an enemy to Carriers, as one that takes their occupation out of their hands, and dost nothing but transport letters up and down in thy own commendation; a conspirator and practiser to make Printers rich by making thyself ridiculous; a manifest briber of Booksellers and Stationers to help thee to sell away thy books (whose impression thou paid’st for), that thou mayest have money to go home to Trinity Hall to discharge thy commons. I say no more but Lord have mercy upon thee, for thou art fallen into his hands that will plague thee.

Gentlemen, will you be instructed in the quarrel that hath caused him to lay about him with his pen and ink-horn so courageously. About two years since (a fatal time to familiar Epistles), a certain Theological gimpanado[53], a demi divine, no higher than a Tailor's pressing iron, brother to this huge book-bear that writes himself One of the Emperor Justinian's Courtiers, took upon him to set his foot to mine, and over-crow me with comparative terms. I protest I never turned up any cowsherd [cow-dung] to look for this scarab fly. I had no conceit as then of discovering a breed of fools in the three brothers' books: marry, when I beheld ordinance planted on edge of the pulpit against me, & that there was no remedy but the blind Vicar[54] would needs let fly at me with his Churchdoor keys, & curse me with bell, book and candle, because in my Alphabet of Idiots I had overskipped the H's; what could I do but draw upon him with my pen, and defend myself with it and a paper buckler as well as I might? Say I am as very a Turk as he that three years ago ran upon ropes, if ever I spelled either his or any of his kindred's name in reproach, before he barked against me as one of the enemies of the Lamb of God, and fetched allusions out of the Buttery[55] to debase me. Here beginneth the [af]fray. I upbraid godly predication with his wicked conversation, I squirt ink into his decayed eyes with iniquity to mend their diseased sight, that they may a little better descend into my scholarship and learning. The Ecclesiastical dunce, instead of recovery, waxeth stark blind thereby (as a preservative to some is poison to others); he gets an old Fencer, his brother, to be revenged on me for my Physic, who, flourishing about my ears with his two hand sword of Oratory and Poetry, peradventure shakes some of the rust of it on my shoulders[56], but otherwise strikes me not but with the shadow of it, which is no more than a flap with the false scabbard of contumely: whether am I, in this case, to arm myself against his intent of injury, or sit still with my finger in my mouth, in hope to be one of simplicity's martyrs.

A quest of honourable minded Cavaliers go upon it, and if they shall find by the Law of arms or of ale that I, being first provoked, am to be enjoined to the peace, or be sworn true servant to cowardice & patience, when wrong presseth me to the wars; then will I bind myself prentice to a Cobbler, and fresh underlay all those writings of mine that have trod awry. Be advertised (gentle audience) that the Doctor's proceedings have thrust upon me this souterly Metaphor, who first contriving his confutation in a short pamphlet of six leaves like a pair of summer pumps: afterward (winter growing on) clapped a pair of double soles on it like a good husband, added eight sheets more, and pricked those sheets or soles as full of the hobnails of reprehension as they could stick. It is not those his new clouted startups, iwis, that shall carry him out of the dirt.

Sweet Gentlemen, be but indifferent, and you shall see me desperate. Here lies my hat, and there my cloak, to which I resemble my two Epistles, being the upper garments of my book, as the other of my body: Saint Fame for me, and thus I run upon him.[57]

Tho. Nashe.


 The Four Letters Confuted.

 Gabriel, and not only Gabriel, but Gabrielissime Gabriel, no Angel but ANGELOS, id est, Nuntius, a Fawnguest Messenger [fawning parasite, sycophant, toady] twixt Master Bird and Master Demetrius : Behold, here stands he that will make it good on thy Four Letters’ body that thou art a filthy vain fool. Thy book I commend as very well printed: and like wondrous well because all men dislike it. - Let this be spoken once for all, as I have a soul to save, till this day in all my life, with tongue nor pen, did I ever in the least word or tittle derogate from the Doctor. If his brother (without any former provocation on my part, God is my witness) railed on me grossly, expressly named me, compared me to Martin, endeavoured to take from me all estimation of art or wit, have I not cause to bestir me?

Gabriel, I will bestir me, for all like an Ale-house Knight thou cravest of Iustice to do thee reason; as for impudence and calumny, I return them in thy face, that in one book of ten sheets of paper hast published above two hundred lies. - Had they been witty lies, or merry lies, they would never have grieved me, but palpable lies, damned lies, lies as big as one of the Guards’ chines of beef, who can abide? … But it may be thou hast a sider cloak for this quarrel; thou wilt object thy Father was abused, & that made thee write. What, by me, or Greene, or both?

If by Greene and not me, thou shouldst have written against Greene and not me. If by both, I will answer for both. But not by both, therefore I will answer but for one… We shall have a good son of you anon if you be ashamed of your father’s occupation; ah, thou wilt ne’er thrive, that art beholding to a trade and canst not abide to hear of it. Thou dost live by the gallows, & wouldst not have a shoe to put on thy foot if thy father had no traffic with the hangman. Had I a Ropemaker to my father, & somebody had cast it in my teeth, I would forthwith have writ in praise of Ropemakers[58], & proved it by solid syllogistry to be one of the seven liberal sciences. - Somewhat I am privy to the cause of Greene’s inveighing against the three brothers. Thy hot-spirited brother Richard (a notable ruffian with his pen), having first took upon him in his blundering Percival[59] to play the Iack of both sides twixt Martin and us, and snarled privily at Pap-hatchet, Pasquil & others that opposed themselves against the open slander of that mighty platformer of atheism, presently after dribbed forth another fool’s-bolt, a book, I should say, which he christened The Lamb of God [60]… Not me alone did he revile and dare to the combat, but glicked at Pap-hatchet once more, and mistermed all our other poets and writers about London piperly make-plays and makebates. Hence Greene, being chief agent for the company[61] (for he writ more than four other, how well I will not say, but Sat cito, si sat bene [62] [soon enough, if but well enough]), took occasion to canvass him a little in his Cloth-breeches and Velvet-breeches[63], and because by some probable collections he guessed the elder brother’s [Richard’s] hand was in it, he coupled them both in one yoke, and, to fulfil the proverb Tria sunt omnia [64] [three are all], thrust in the third brother, who made a perfect pair-royal of Pamphleters.

About some seven or eight lines it was which hath plucked on an invective of so many leaves. Had he lived, Gabriel, and thou shouldst so unartificially and odiously libelled against him as thou hast done, he would have made thee an example of ignominy to all ages that are to come, and driven thee to eat thy own book buttered, as I saw him make an Apparitor once in a Tavern eat his Citation, wax and all, very handsomely served twixt two dishes. Out upon thee for an arrant dog-killer; strike a man when he is dead?[65]

So Hares may pull dead lions by the beards [66].

Memorandum: I borrowed this sentence out of a Play. The Theatre Poets’ hall, hath many more such proverbs to persecute thee with, because thou hast so scornfully derided their profession, and despitefully maligned honest sports. - Let all Noblemen take heed how they give this Thraso the least beck or countenance[67], for if they bestow but half a glance on him, he’ll straight put it very solemnly in print, and make it ten times more than it is.

  I’ll tell you a merry jest.

The time was when this Timothy Tiptoes made a Latin Oration to her Majesty[68]. Her Highness, as she is unto all her subjects most gracious: so to scholars she is more loving and affable than any Prince under heaven. In which respect, of her own virtue and not his desert, it please her so to humble the height of her judgement as to grace him a little, whiles he was pronouncing, by these or suchlike terms. ‘Tis a good pretty fellow, a looks like an Italian, and after he had concluded, to call him to kiss her royal hand. Hereupon he goes home to his study, all entranced, and writes a whole volume of Verses; first, De vultu Itali, of the countenance of the Italian; and then De osculo manus, of his kissing the Queen’s hand. Which two Latin Poems he published in a book of his, called Aedes Valdinenses [69], proclaiming thereby (as it were to England, France, Italy and Spain), what favour he was in with her Majesty. I dismiss this Parenthesis, and come to his next business, which indeed is his first business: for till Greene awaked him out of his self-admiring contemplation, he had nothing to do but walk under the yew-tree at Trinity Hall, and say:

What may I call this tree? An yew-tree? O bonny yew-tree [70],
Needs to thy boughs will I bow this knee, and vail my bonneto.

Or make verses of weathercocks on the top of steeples, as he did once of the weathercock of All Hallows in Cambridge:

O thou weathercock that stands on the top of the church of All Hallows [71],
Come thy ways down if thou dar’st for thy crown, and take the wall on us [take the precedence].

O Heathenish and Pagan Hexameters, come thy ways down from thy Doctorship, & learn thy Primer of Poetry over again, for certainly thy pen is in a state of a Reprobate with all men of judgement and reckoning.

Come thy ways down from thy Doctorship, said I? Erravi demens [I erred crazily], thou never went’st up to it yet. Fie on hypocrisy and Dissimulation, that men should make themselves better than they are. Alas, a God’s will, thou art but a plain moth-eaten Master of Art, and never polluted’st thyself with any plaster of Doctorship. List, Paul’s Churchyard (the peruser of every man’s works, & Exchange of all authors), you are a many of you honest fellows, and favour men of wit. So it is that a good Gown and a well pruned pair of mustachios[72], having studied sixteen year to make thirteen ill english Hexameters, came to the University Court regentium & non, to sue for a commission to carry two faces in a hood; they not using to deny honour to any man that deserved it, bade him perform all the Scholarlike ceremonies and disputative right appertaining thereto, and he should be installed.

Hold up thy head, man, take no care; though Greene be dead, yet I may live to do thee good. But by the means of his death thou art deprived of the remedy in law which thou intended’st to have had against him for calling thy Father Ropemaker. - Mass, that’s true. What Action will it bear? Nihil pro nihilo, none in law; what it will do upon the stage I cannot tell, for there a man may make action besides his part when he hath nothing at all to say: and if there, it is but a clownish action that it will bear: for what can be made of a Ropemaker more than a Clown? Will Kempe, I mistrust it will fall to thy lot for a merriment one of these days.[73] In short terms, thus I demur upon thy long Kentish-tailed declaration against Greene. He inherited more virtues than vices; a jolly long red peak, like the spire of a steeple, he cherished continually without cutting, whereat a man might hand a jewel, it was so sharp and pendent.

Why should art answer for the infirmities of manners? He had his faults, and thou thy follies. Debt and deadly sin, who is not subject to? With any notorious crime I never knew him tainted (& yet tenting is no infamous surgery for him that hath been in so many hot skirmishes). A good-fellow he was, and would have drunk with thee for more angels than the Lord thou libelledst on gave thee in Christ’s College[74], and in one year he pissed as much against the walls as thou and thy two brothers spent in three. In a night & a day would he have yarked up a pamphlet as well as in seven year, and glad was that Printer that might be so blest to pay him dear for the very dregs of his wit. He made no account of winning credit by his works, as thou dost that dost no good works, but thinks to be famoused by a strong faith of thy own worthiness; his only care was to have a spell in his purse to conjure up a good cup of wine with at all times. For the lousy circumstance of his poverty before his death, and sending that miserable writ to his wife, it cannot be but thou liest, learned Gabriel.

I and one of my fellows, Will. Monox (Hast thou never heard of him and his great dagger?) were in company with him a month before he died[75], at that fatal banquet of Rhenish wine and pickled herring (if thou wilt needs have it so), and then the inventory of his apparel came to more than three shillings (though thou sayest the contrary). I know a broker in a spruce leather jerkin with a great number of gold rings on his fingers and a bunch of keys at his girdle shall give you thirty shillings for the doublet alone, if you can help him to it. Hark in your ear, he had a very fair cloak with sleeves, of a grave goose-turd green; it would serve you as fine as may be…

Alas, even his fellow writer, that proper young man [76],” almost scorns to cope with thee, thou art such a crow-trodden Ass; dost thou “in some respects wish him well, and spare his name?” In some respects so doth he wish thee as well (hoc est [that’s  it], to be as well known for a fool as my Lord Welles[77]), and promiseth by me to talk very sparingly of thy praise. For thy name, he will not stoop to pluck it out of the mire and put it in his mouth. By this blessed cup of sack which I now hold in my hand and drink to the health of all Christian souls in, thou art a puissant Epitapher.

” etc.

Ille ego qui quondam gracili modulatus avena [78] [I am he who once composed a song on a slender pipe].

Ah, neighbourhood, neighbourhood, dead and buried art thou with Robin Hood; a poor creature here is fain to commend himself for want of friends to speak for him. Not the least, but the greatest, scholars in the WORLD have not only, but exceedingly, fed him fat in his humour of Braggadocio Glorioso [79] …

Young blood is hot, youth hasty, ingenuity open, abuse impatient, choler stomachous, temptations busy. In a word, the gentleman was vexed, and cut his bridle for very anger… Needs he must cast up certain crude humours of English hexameter verses that lay upon his stomach; a nobleman stood in his way as he was vomiting, and from top to toe he all-to-bewrayed him with Tuscanism[80]. The Map of Cambridge lay not far off when he was in the depths of his drudgery; some part of the excrements of his anger fell upon it: poor Doctor’s Perne’s picture[81] stood in a corner of that Map, and by the misdemeanour of his mouth it was clean defaced. Signor Immerito (so called because he was and is his friend undeservedly)[82] was counterfeitly brought in to play a part in that his Enterlude of Epistles that was hissed at, thinking his very name (as the name of Ned Alleyn on the common stage) was able to make an ill matter good.

Wert thou put in the Fleet for pamphleting? Bedlam were a meeter place for thee[83]. Be not ashamed of your promotion; they did you honour that said you were Fleet-bound, for men of honour have sailed in that Fleet…I have seen your name cut with a knife in a wall of the Fleet, I, when I went to visit a friend of mine there. Let Master Butler of Cambridge’s testimonial[84] end this controversy, who at that time that thy joys were in the Fleeting, and thou crying for the Lord’s sake out at an iron window in a lane not far from Ludgate Hill, questioned some of his companions very inquisitively that were newly come from London what novelties they brought home with them; amongst the rest, he broke into this hexameter interrogatory very abruptly:

But ah, what news do you hear of that good Gabriel Huff-Snuff [85],
Known to the world for a fool, and clapped in the Fleet for a rimer?

Is’t true, Gibraltar? Have I found you? It was not without foundation that you burst into that magnifical insultation, I THAT IN MY YOUTH FLATTERED NOT MYSELF, ETC., for M. Butler, for a physician being none of the least scholars, hath commended you exceedingly for a fool & a rimer.

He that threatened to conjure up Martin’s wit ” hath written something too in your praise[86], in Pap-hatchet, for all you accuse him to have courtly incensed the Earl of Oxford against you[87]. Mark him well; he is but a little fellow, but he hath one of the best wits in England. Should he take thee in hand again (as he flieth from such inferior concertation), I prophesy that there would more gentle Readers die of a merry mortality, engendered by the eternal jests he would maul thee with, than there have done of this last infection. I myself, that enjoy but a mite of wit in comparison of his talent, in pure affection to my native country make my style carry a press sail, am fain to cut off half the stream of thy sport-breeding confusion, for fear it should cause a general hicket [hiccup] throughout England. - Greene, I can spare thy revenge no more room in this book. Thou hast physician John [Harvey] with thee; cope thou with him, & let me alone with the civilian & divine [Gabriel and Richard], whom, if I live, I will so uncessantly haunt that, to avoid the hot chase of my fiery quill, they shall be constrained to ensconce themselves in an old urinal case that their brother left behind him.

Richardread the Philosophy Lecture in Cambridge with good liking and singular commendation, when A per se a was not so much as Idoneus auditor civilis scientiae[88] [a proper disciple of civil science].” Gabriel reports him “to the favourablest opinion of those that know A per se a his Prefaces, rimes, and the very tympany of his Tarltonizing wit, his Supplication to the Devil. Quiet yourselves a little, my Masters, and you shall see me disperse all those clouds well enough. That Richard read the philosophy lecture at Cambridge, I do not withstand; but how? - Very Lentenly and scantly (far be it we should slander him so much as his brother hath done, to say he read it with good liking and singularity). Credit me, any that hath but a little refuse Colloquium Latin to interseam a lecture with, and can say but Quapropter vos mei auditores, may read with equivalent commendation and liking … His conscience accuseth him, he is struck stark dumb; only by signs he craves to be admitted in forma pauperis [(in the manner of a pauper], that we should let him pass for a poor fellow, and he will sell his birthright in learning, with Esau, for a mess of porridge… For this once we dispense with you, because you look so penitently on it, but let not me catch you selling any more such twice-sodden sawdust divinity as The Lamb of God and his enemies, for if I do, I’ll make a dearth of paper in Pater-noster-row (such as was not this seven year) only with writing against thee.

A per se a can do it; tempt not his clemency too much.

A per se a?

Passion of God, how came I by that name? My godfather Gabriel gave it me, and I must not refuse it. Nor if you were privy whence it came would you hold it worthy to be refused, for before I had the reversion of it, he bestowed it on a nobleman[89], whose new fashioned apparel and “Tuscanish gestures, cringing sideneck, eyes’ glancing, fisnamy smirking,” having described to the full, he concludes with this verse:

Every inch A per se a, his terms and braveries in print. 

Hold you your peace, Nashe; “that was before you were Idoneus auditor ciuilis scientiae.” - It may be so, for thou wert a Libeller before I was born. - Thou art mine enemy, Gabriel, and that which is more, a contemptible underfoot enemy, or else I would teach thy old Truantship the true use of words, as also how more inclinable verse is than prose to dance after the horrisonant pipe of inveterate antiquity. - It is no matter. Since thou hast brought godly instruction out of love with thee, use thy own destruction, reign sole Emperor of inkhornism[90]; I wish unto thee all superabundant increase of the singular gifts of absurdity and vainglory. From this time forth for ever, ever, evermore mayest thou be canonized as the Non pareille of impious epistlers; the short shredder out of sandy sentences without lime, as Quintilian termed Seneca all lime and no sand, all matter and no circumstance; the factor for the Fairies and night Urchins in supplanting and setting aside the true children of the English, and suborning ink-horn changelings in their stead; the gallimaufrier of all styles in one standish, as imitating everyone, & having no separate form of writing of thy own; and, to conclude, the only feather-driver of phrases, and putter of a good word to it when thou hast once got it, that is bewixt this and the Alps. So be it world without end. Chroniclers, hear my prayers. Good Master Stowe [91] be not unmindful of him.

Whereas thou sayest the Ass, in a manner, is the only Author I allege, I must know how you define an Ass before I can tell how to answer you, for Cornelius Agrippa maketh all the Philosophers, Orators and Poets that ever were, Asses[92]. And if so you understand that I allege no Author but the Ass, for all Authors are Asses, why I am for you; if otherwise, thou art worse than a Cumane Ass [93], to leap before thou look’st, and condemn a man without cause.- What Authors dost thou allege in thy book? Not two but any Grammar Scholar might have alleged ? There is not three kernels of more than common learning in all thy Four Letters. Common learning? not common sense in some places. Of force I must grant that Greene came oftener in print than men of judgement allowed of, but nevertheless he was a dainty slave to content the tail of a Term, and stuff Serving-mens pockets. - An Ass, Gabriel, it is hard thou shouldst name him: for calling me Calf, it breaks no square, but if I be a calf, it is in comparison of such an Ox as thyself.

The chieftains of licentiousness, and, truth can say, the abominable villainies of such base shifting companions, good for nothing, etc. I am of the mind we shall not digest this neither. Answer me succincte & expedite [succinctly and promptly], what one period any way leaning to licentiousness canst thou produce in Pierce Pennilesse?  I talk of a great matter when I tell thee of a period, for I know two several periods or full points in this last epistle at least forty lines long apiece. For the order of my life, it is as civil as a civil [=Seville] orange[94]; I lurk in no corners, but converse in a house of credit, as well governed as any College, where there be more rare qualified men and selected good Scholars than in any Nobleman’s house that I know in England[95]. - If I had committed such abominable villainies, or were a base shifting companion, it stood not with my Lord’s honour to keep me[96], but if thou hast said it & canst not prove it, what slanderous dishonour hast thou done him, to give it out that he keeps the committers of abominable villainies and base shifting companions [97], when they are far honester than thyself. - If I were by thee, I would pluck thee by the beard and spit in thy face but I would dare thee, and urge thee beyond all excuse, to disclose and prove for thy heart-blood, what villainy or base shifting by me thou canst; I defy all the world in that respect. - Because thou used’st at Cambridge to shift for thy Friday at night suppers, and cozen poor victuallers and pie-wives of Doctors’ cheese and puddings, thou think’st me one of the same religion too… Let us hear how we are good for nothing but to cast away ourselves, spoil our adherents, prey on our favourers, dishonour our Patrons. Have I ever took any likely course of casting away myself? Whom canst thou name that kept me company, and reaped any discommodity by me? I can name divers good Gentleman that have been my adherents and favourers a long time. Let them report how I have spoiled them, or preyed on them, or put them to one penny detriment since I first consorted with them. - Have an eye to the main chance, or no sooner shall they understand what thou hast said by me of them, but they’ll go near to have thee about the ears for this gear, one after another[98]. My Patrons, or any that bind me to them by the least good turn, there is no man in England that is, or shall (for my small power) be more thankful unto than I. Never was I unthankful unto any, no, not to those of whom for deeds I received nothing but unperformed deed-promising words. It is an honour to be accused, and not convinced.

Lord, if it be thy will, let him be an Ass still. Gentlemen, I have no more to say to the Doctor; dispose of the victory as you please. Shortly I will present you with something that shall be better than nothing, only give me a gentle hire for my dirty day-labour, and I am your bounden Orator forever.

Tho. Nashe.



- Strange Newes of the Intercepting Certain Letters, and a Convoy of Verses, as they were going privily to victual the Low Countries. By Tho. Nashe, gentleman. London 1592 [=1593]

- Thomas Nashe, The Works of T. N., ed. by Ronald B. McKerrow (5 vols). London 1904-1910 (Reprint 1958).



[1] “certain letters, and a convoy of verses, as they were going privily to victual the Low Countries”: Nashe jokingly says that Harvey's letters and sonnets where written with the intention of feeding the “low” countries, or the nether regions. (That’s an ironical answer to Harvey’s title: “Four Letters And Certain Sonnets Especially touching Robert Greene and other parties by him abused.”) – The Knight of the Post tells Pierce in Nashe’s  Pierce Pennilesse (1592): “Why, every day, for there is not a cormorant that dies, or cutpurse that is hanged, but I dispatch letters by his soul to him, and to all my friends in the Low Countries.”  Luxurio in The Return from Parnassus (the Cambridge University play of 1598) says: “When I am made tapster of the lower countries”, meaning “when I die”.) - To date see Francis R. Johnson, The Library 1934-5, XV, pp.212-23.

[2] “To the most copious Carminist of our time”: In connection with “persecutor of Priscian”, “learned writer”, “your wonted Chaucerism”, “the Verser I cannot acquit you of”, “thy surpassing carminical art of memory” and “thy content, love poetry” we can safely assume that “Master Apis lapis “ is a poet- whereby the words “Carminist” and “carminical” are Anglicized forms of the Latin nomen ‘carmen’ = song, tune, poem. (See note 44.)

[3] “famous persecutor of Priscian”: Priscian (~500 A.D.) was a Latin grammarian. That means the “most copious Carminist” did not abide by the rules of grammar. This is in keeping with Charlie Chaplin's thoughts on the matter: “I am not concerned with who wrote the works of Shakespeare, but I can hardly think it was the Stratford boy. Whoever wrote them had an aristocratic attitude. His utter disregard for grammar could only have been the attitude of a princely, gifted mind.”

[4]Master Apis lapis”: Nashe wanted to leave clues for the informed reader, however he had neither authority nor inclination to make the matter too obvious. It would have been far too easy to simply “Latinise” the name. However since the ingenious forger John Payne Collier interpreted “Apis lapis” as meaning “bee-stone = Master Beeston” in 1837, the higher circle of academic personages hasn't let go of the idea; in spite of the fact that there isn't a single poetic ‘beestone’ to be found in the world of English literature. Gerald W. Phillips wrote in 1936, in Lord Burghley in Shakespeare: „Apis here means the sacred bull of Egypt, frequently mentioned by Greek and Roman writers.“ So Master Apis Lapis in Nashe’s pun becomes Master Bull Stone or Master Ox Stone.

Charles Wisner Barrell (New Milestone in Shakespeare Research, 1944) remarks: “Lord Oxford was familiarly called ‚Oxe’ in the counter-charges filed against him by Charles Arundell in 1580-81, after the Earl had turned Arundell in as a Spanish secret agent.” - See also Robert Brazil (http://www.shakespeare-oxford.com/?p=535): “Apis Lapis, when Apis is translated as ‚ox’ becomes ‚ox stone.’  The Elizabethans used the gallstones of oxen for a variety of purposes, among other things, they were a crucial component of black writing ink.”

[5] “new strings to his old tawny Purse”: This is an allusion to the Earl of Oxford's financial problems: tan (tawny) was the heraldic colour on the Earl of Oxford's coat of arms. - See Thomas Nashe, Summers Last Will (Oct. 1592):

VER. What I had, I have spent on good fellows; in these sports you have seen, which are proper to the Spring, and others of like sort (as giving wenches green gowns, making garlands for Fencers, and tricking up children gay) have I bestowed all my flowery.

[6] “Gentle M. William, that learned writer Rhenish wine & Sugar”: With that Nashe has actually dropped a bombshell but everybody pretends not to have noticed it.

Where had Nashe heard the pseudonym “William Shakespeare” in the beginning of the year 1593? The author of Venus and Adonis –SHAKESPEARE- didn't enter the work in to the Stationers' Register until April of 1593. Did the dramatist already go by the name of “William”, (or “Will-I-am”) in his circle of close friends? (“Make but my name thy love, and love that still, / And then thou lov'st me for my name is Will.” – Sonnet 136.) This assumption is supported by the well known reference to Shakespeare’s 3Henry VI in Groatsworth of Wit from October (!) 1592: “his tiger’s heart wrapped in a player’s hide”. (See 3.4.3 Chettle - Greene, Commentary to "an upstart crow" by K.K.)

In analogy to “Sir John Sack & Sugar” (1HenryIV, I/2) Nashe refers to a “learned writer Rhenish wine & Sugar. There was a tradition in 16th century England to name authors after the characters whom they created. ( Pierce Pennilesse =Thomas Nashe; Amintas =Thomas Watson; Leander =Christopher Marlowe; Rosamonde = Samuel Daniel; Adon = William Shakespeare.) By giving his “fellow” the nick name that had been adapted from Falstaff's nick name Nashe gives away that Edward de Vere created the character Falstaff when writing under the pseudonym “William Shakespeare”. (See 10.1.4 The Date of Henry the Fourth.)

[7] “in the first book of his Comment upon Red-noses”: As Nashe indicates later, the red noses have their origin in Elderton’s parliament of noses.

There hath been great sale and utterance of wine,
Besides beer and ale, and ippograss fine,
In every country, region and nation,
But chiefly in London, at the Salutation;
And at the Boar’ head, hard by London Stone;
And the Swan at Dowgate, a tavern will known;
The Myter [Metre] in Cheape; and then the Bull head,
And many like places to make noses red.

In Elderton’s ballade, the gods sit together with the reddest nose in the seats of honour. The noses even glow in the dark, just as they do in the “Boar’s Head” of Hostess Quickly. – “The first book” of Master William’s “Comment upon Red-noses” is nothing other than The First Part of King Henry the Fourth with its enlightening remarks from Sir John in III/3:

BARDOLPH. Why, you are so fat, Sir John, that you must needs be out of all compass – out of all reasonable compass, Sir John.
FALSTAFF. Do thou amend thy face, and I’ll amend my life. Thou art our admiral, thou bearest the lantern in the poop – but ‘tis in the nose of thee. Thou art the Knight of the Burning Lamp.
BARDOLPH. Why, Sir John, my face does you no harm.
FALSTAFF. No, I’ll be sworn. I make as good use of it as many a man doth of a death’s-head or a memento mori. I never see thy face but I think upon hellfire and Dives that lived in purple; for there he is in his robes, burning, burning. If thou wert any way given to virtue, I would swear by thy face; my oath should be ‘By this fire, that’s God’s angel.’ But thou art altogether given over, and wert indeed, but for the light in thy face, the son of utter darkness. ... O, thou art a perpetual triumph, an everlasting bonfire-light! Thou hast saved me a thousand marks in links and torches, walking with thee in the night betwixt tavern and tavern; but the sack that thou hast drunk me would have bought me lights as good cheap at the dearest chandler’s in Europe. I have maintained that salamander of yours with fire any time this two-and-thirty years. God reward me for it!
BARDOLPH. ‘Sblood, I would my face were in your belly!
FALSTAFF. God-a-mercy! so should I be sure to be heart-burn’d.

[8]Veterem ferendo iniuriam invitas novam”: Publilius Syrus, Sententiae V16. = Tolerate an old wrong and you may invite a new one. This is an allusion to Harvey's insulting lines in Speculum Tuscanismi from 1580. (See 3.1.2 Harvey, Three Letters.)

[9] “one Cup of nippitaty pulls on another”: A challenge comes seldom alone. Once you rise to one challenge, the next is on its way.

[10] “that high countenance you show unto Scholars”: Between 1564 and 1591 twenty academic or artistic literary works were dedicated to the Earl of Oxford:

1564  Arthur Golding: The Histories of Trogus Pompeius.
1569  Thomas Underdowne: An Æthiopian Historie.
1570  Edmund Elviden: Peisistratus and Catanea.
1571  Thomas Bedingfield: Cardanus Comfort.
1571  Arthur Golding: The Psalms of David.
1573  Thomas Twyne: The Breviary of Britain (Humfred Lhuyd).
1574  George Baker: Oleum Magistral (Galenus).
1577  John Brooke: The Staff of Christian Faith (Guido de Bray).
1579  Geoffrey Gates: The Defence of Militarie Profession.
1579  Anthony Munday: The Mirror of Mutability.
1580  Anthony Munday: Zelauto. The fountaine of Fame.
1580  John Lyly: Euphues and His England.
1580  John Hester: Phioravanti's Short Discourse upon Surgery.
1581  Thomas Stocker: Diverse Sermons of Calvin.
1582  Thomas Watson: The Hekatompathia.
1584  Robert Greene: Gwydonius, the Carde of Fancie.
1584  John Southern: Pandora.
1586  Angel Day: The English Secretary.
1588  Anthony Munday: Palmerin d'Oliva.
1591  John Farmer: Plainsong Diverse & Sundrie.

[11] “if your Worship (according to your wonted Chaucerism)”: In the Earl of Oxford's poems as well as the plays of William Shakespeare, we find many references,allegories and quotes from Geoffrey Chaucer (c.1343-1400), the most vibrant, well informed, descriptive and humorous writer English poet, prior to Shakespeare. - The tittle “Your Worship” was reserved for the higher dignitaries of state and church.

[12] “your special enemies, Small beer and Grammar rules”: See W. Shakespeare, 2Henry IV, II/2:

  PRINCE. Before God, I am exceeding weary.
  POINS. Is't come to that? I had thought weariness durst not have
    attach'd one of so high blood.
  PRINCE. Faith, it does me; though it discolours the complexion of
    my greatness to acknowledge it. Doth it not show vilely in me to
    desire small beer?
  POINS. Why, a prince should not be so loosely studied as to
    remember so weak a composition.
  PRINCE. Belike then my appetite was not-princely got; for, by my
    troth, I do now remember the poor creature, small beer.

“If I had a thousand sons”, muses Falstaff, “the first humane principle I would teach them should be to forswear thin potations and to addict themselves to sack.” (2Henry IV, IV/3.) 

[13] “what a famous pottle-pot patron you have been to old poets”: See W. Shakespeare, 2Henry IV, II/2: “What a maidenly man-at-arms are you become! Is’t such a matter to get a pottle-pot’s maidenhead?”

The Earl of Oxford supported the otherwise destitute poet, Thomas Churchyard (c.1520-1604) financially.

[14] “upon the dirt of wisdom, called Alchemy”: This is an allusion to a paste called “Lutum Sapientiae”, a mixture of clay, ash, and dung that alchemists used to make their pottery vessels resilient to fire. – Nashe thinks on literary alchemy, the ambitious venture with the production of eternal poetry.

[15] “Yea, you have been such an infinite Maecenas”: See Robert Greene’s Dedication of Gwydonius, the Carde of Fancie (1584) to the Earl of Oxford:

Wheresoever Maecenas lodgeth, thither no doubt will scholars flock. And your Honour being a worthy favorer and fosterer of learning, hath forced many through your excellent virtue to offer the first fruits of their study at the shrine of your Lordship's courtesy.

[16] “your hospitality … is chronicled in the Archdeacon's Court”: This is an allusion to the Earl of Oxford's extra marital affair with Anne Vavasour from which an illegitimate son ensued; Edward Vere (1581-1629). The services of the “sumners” (or summoning officers) were engaged in the matter, for which (according to Nashe's irreverent insinuations) they received a handsome sum of money.

[17]An honest man of Saffron Walden kept three sons at theUniversity”: The father of  of Richard, John and Gabriel Harvey was a rope maker from Saffron Walden, Essex.

[18] “and you kept three maids together in your house a long time”: The Earl of Oxford's three daughters Elizabeth, Bridget and Susan. Oxford was separated from their mother until 1583. In 1588 their mother (Anne Cecil) died and the they went to live with their grandfather, leaving only five years when Oxford actually lived with his daughters. This is a clear case of ironic, dark humour.

[19] “worthy to be registered in red letters”: The section “Yea, you have been such an infinite Maecenas”, up to “registered in red letters” was replaced, in the second edition of Strange Newes (June or July 1593) by this somewhat less offensive version:

Yea, you are such an infinite Mecaenas to learned men, that there is not that morsel of meat they can carve you, but you will eat for their sakes, and accept very thankfully. Think not, though under correction of your boon companionship, I am disposed to be a little pleasant, I condemn you of any immoderation either in eating or drinking, for I know your government and carriage to be every way Canonical. Verily, verily, all poor Scholars acknowledge you as their patron, providitore, and supporter, for there cannot a thread-bare Cloak sooner peep forth, but you straight press it to be an outbrother of your bounty: three decayed Students you kept attending upon you a long time.

The court censors considered the original passage to be dishonourable. Harvey must have been very pleased about Nashe's humiliation. “The hugest miracle remains behind, / The second Shakerley Rash-Swash [=Nashe] to bind.” (A New Letter of Notable Contents, [Oct.] 1593.)  (DANKE)

[20] “the gravity of your round cap and your dudgeon-dagger”: The aristocratic feathered bonnet and a small sword. The dudgeon is a peculiar kind of handle to a dagger. – “The dagger” appears later as a catch-phrase with which to identify “Will Monox”: “I and one of my fellows, Will. Monox (Hast thou never heard of him and his great dagger?)”

[21] “to be Alderman of the Stilliard“: The Steelyard, from the German Stalhof. ‘Stilliards, or in German, Hanse, a confederation of many cities and communities, established for safe trading on land and sea, lastly for tranquillity and peace in public affairs and for the honourable education for the young. Granted privileges and concessions most of all by the rulers of England, France, Denmark, and Great Moscow, also of Flanders and Brabant. It has four markets, called counting house by some, in which the merchants reside and conduct their business. One of these is salient here in London for domestic trade, namely the teutonic Guildhal, commonly known as Stilliard.’ (Londinum Feracissimi Angliae Regni Metropolis, Braun & Hogenberg, 1572.)

Robert Detobel: “The German merchants were given the right of representation within the City by an alderman who himself was an Englishman. The Steelyard was definitively closed in 1598 and the incidents early in the 1590s were preluding the end of the privilege.”

[22] “when this last term was removed to Hertford”: In 1592 the Michaelmas Law Term (from October to Christmas) was transferred from Westminster to Hertford; this was decided on by the Privy Council on 1 October. See, Thomas Nashe, Summers Last Will and Testament (Oct. 1592): “The want of Term is town and Cities’ harm”.

[23]Elderton's parliament of noses”: At this point Nashe chooses to explicitly refer the reader to William Elderton's ballad which leaves no room for error as to the interpretation of “red noses”: Being the red nose that a men gets with time when they consume too much alcohol. This jocular reference to the Earl's affinity to strong drink (“your special enemy small beer”) is made at the expense of Sir John Falstaff. (See note 7.)

[24] “the grandam of good fellowship”: This unusual and adventurous expression is understandable when we look at the Earl of Oxford's role in the Anti-Marpelate-company. See Nashe, Summers Last Will and Testament (1592): “VER. What I had, I have spent on good fellows”. - The expression  “grandam” may well have inspired Harvey to refer to the Earl of Oxford as the “excellent Gentlewoman”.

[25] “that you sampsownd not yourself into a consumption”: See, Thomas Nashe, Summers Last Will and Testament: “BACCHUS [to SUMMER]. Never cup of Nipitaty in London come near thy niggardly habitation. I beseech the gods of good fellowship, thou may'st fall into a consumption with drinking small beer.”

The unusual word sampsown is taken from Chaucer, where the poet uses it in The Pardoner's Tale to reproduce phonetically the heavy-breathing meditation of a wine-bibber.

And yet, God wot, Sampsoun drank never no wyn.
Thou fallest, as it were a stiked swyn;
Thy tonge is lost, and al thyn honest cure;
For dronkenesse is verray sepulture
Of mannes wit and his discrecioun.
In whom that drinke hath dominacioun,
He can no conseil kepe, it is no drede.
Now kepe yow fro the whyte and fro the rede,
And namely fro the whyte wyn of Lepe,
That is to selle in Fish-strete or in Chepe.
This wyn of Spayne crepeth subtilly
In othere wynes, growing faste by,
Of which ther ryseth swich fumositee,
That whan a man hath dronken draughtes three,
And weneth that he be at hoom in Chepe,
He is in Spayne, right at the toune of Lepe,
Nat at the Rochel, ne at Burdeux toun;
And thanne wol he seye, ‘Sampsoun, Sampsoun.’

(Samson in the Bible never had a drop to drink. You should stay away from both white and red wine, particularly from those cheap wines from Lepe in Spain that are sold on Fishstreet and Cheapside. Drink that stuff and in no time you’ll be saying “Sampsoun, Sampsoun” for sure.

[26] “beware of keeping diet”: An allusion to Falstaff.

[27] “there is a Doctor and hisFart”: Doctor Gabriel Harvey with his “Three” and “Foure Letters”.

[28] „this professed political braggart”: Nashe uses the term “political” in its negative crafty, Machiavellian, cynical sense.

[29] “certain four pennyworth of letters and three farthingworth of sonnets”: See W. Shakespeare, Loves labors lost (1598):

Now will I looke to his remuneration.
Remuneration, O that's the latine word for three-farthings:
Three-farthings remuration, What's the price of this incle?

Pray you sir, How much Carnation Ribbon may
a man buy for a remuneration?
O what is a remuneration?
Mary sir, halfepenny farthing.
O, why then, threefarthing worth of Silke.
I thanke your worship, God be wy you.

[30] “him and Shakerley”: Peter Shakerley was a bragging megalomaniac of some renown in St Paul's Churchyard who died in September 1593. In Pierces Supererogation the rhetorician counters Nashe’s remark with: “I have touched the booted Shakerley [=Nashe] a little, that is always riding, and never rideth.” In A New Letter of Notatble Contents (Oct. 1593), Harvey calls his enemy “the Second Shakerley of Paul’s”.

[31] “Have you any odd shreds of Latin to make this letter-monger a coxcomb of?”: This question is obviously connected with the request that Nashe makes to Oxford shortly thereafter: “let Chaucer be new scored (= new arranged) against the day of battle”. Apparently, Nashe is familiar with an earlier work from the Earl of Oxford in which he attacked Gabriel Harvey.

[32] “for he speaks against Cony-catchers, and you are a Cony-catcher, as Cony-catching is divided into three parts: the Verser, the Setter, and the Barnacle: See, Robert Greene, The Books of Coney-catching, Volume I: A Notable Discovery of Cozenage, now daily practiced by sundry lewd persons, called Coney-catchers and Cross-biters (1591), Preface: "The Verser who counterfeits [mimics] the landed man comes … to call the Barnard  [=Barnacle]  more near to laugh at his folly. Between them two the matter shall be so workmanly conveyed and finely argued, that out comes an old pair of Cards, whereat the Barnard teaches the Verser a new game, that he says cost him for the learning two pots of Ale not two hours ago, the first wager is drink, the next two pence or a groat, and lastly to be brief they use the matter so, that he [the duped countryman] that were a hundred year old, and never played in his life for a penny, cannot refuse to be the Verser's half, and consequently at one game at Cards, he loses all they play for be it a hundred pound." See  http://www.luminarium.org/renascence-editions/greene3.html.

In The Merry Wives of Windsor (I/3) Sir John Falstaff proudly declares himself to be a “coney-catcher”.

FALSTAFF. There is no remedy; I must cony-catch; I must shift.

He includes his cronies, Bardolph, Nym, and Pistol in this game (The Merry Wives of Windsor, I/1):

FALSTAFF. Good worts! good cabbage! Slender, I broke your head; what matter have you against me?
SLENDER. Marry, sir, I have matter in my head against you; and against your cony-catching rascals, Bardolph, Nym, and Pistol. They carried me to the tavern, and made me drunk, and afterwards pick'd my pocket.                                                                                         

[33] “for M. Vaux of Lambeth brings in sore evidence of a breakfast you won of him one morning at an unlawful game called riming”:  The name “Master Vaux of Lambeth” is probably a pseudonym for John Whitgift (c.1530-1604), Archbishop of Canterbury, also called “the Falk of Lambeth”. He was Thomas Nache’s employer during the time of the Anti-Marprelate-campgne. This powerful man resided in Lambeth Hall, and possessed a country seat in Croydon where he put on a production of Nashe’s burlesque: “Summer's Last Will and Testament”. (In this text we find a reference to the plague: “London doth mourn, Lambeth is quite forlorn”.)

Nashe follows the same etymology as was used when the residence of the officer Falkes de Breauté (died 1226) became known as Falkeshall, later Foxhall and later still, Vauxhall (an inner area in the London Borough of Lambeth). By going along this trail of development in reverse, Nashe turns the “Falk of Lambeth” in to “The Vaux of Lambeth”.

Robert Detobel offered the theory that Lord William Vaux was the man behind “Master Vaux of Lambeth”, however, apart from being summoned to Lambeth on one occasion, he had no connections to the borough. Furthermore, there is no evidence that he was befriended with the Earl of Oxford, so how were they supposed to conduct as wager over who was to pay for breakfast?

It is unlikely that the Earl of Oxford and the Archbishop of Canterbury actually had a rhyming competition. The “breakfast” that Oxford won refers far more likely to the “unlawful game” of coney-catching. (See, Robert Greene, A Notable Discovery of Cozenage (1591), The Art of Conny-catching: “The countryman content, offers to change the money. Nay faith friend, says the verser, tis ill luck to keep found money, we’ll go spend it in a pottle of wine, or in a breakfast, dinner or supper, as the time of day requires.”)

Probably the Earl talked the Archbishop in to a wager that he was bound to lose. Perhaps it related to the suggestion to fight the upstart church critic Martin Marpelate with literary weapons, with the help of the “company of special good-fellows,” consisting of Anthony Munday, John Lyly, Robert Greene and Thomas Nashe. (It would appear that Marpelate was more resilient to ridicule than was originally thought, causing the Archbishop to call off the campaign in the summer of 1590.)

Some years later John Florio (1553-1625), the famous translator of Montaigne, will blame Thomas Nashe for having insulted a befriended poet (“that loved better to be a Poet than to be counted so”) when he called him a “rymer”.

And here might I begin with those notable Pirates in our paper-sea, those sea-dogs or land-Critics, monsters of men, if not beasts rather than men, whose teeth are Canibals, their tongues adder-forks, their lips asps-poison, their eyes basilisks, their breath the breath of a grave, their words like swords of Turks, which strive which shall dive deepest into the Christian lying bound before them. But for these barking and biting dogs, they are well known as Scylla and Charybdis. There is another sort of leering curs, that rather snarl than bite, wherof I could instance in one, who lighting upon a good sonnet of a gentleman, a friend of mine, that loved better to be a Poet than to be counted so, called the author a rymer, notwithstanding he had more skill in good poetry than my sly gentleman seemed to have in good manners of humanity. (A Worlde of Words, 1598.)

Nashe had published an unauthorised edition of Sidney's Astrophel and Stella (1591), thereby acting as “a pirate on paper-sea”. As an enemy of Martin Marprelate Nashe liked to be seen as a hell-hound. “It was his glory to be a hell-hound incarnate,” says Gabriel Harvey in A New Letter of Notable Contents (1593). - Therefore John Florio could only have been referring to Oxford's dedicational poem from 1591: “Phaeton to his Friend Florio,” included in Florio’s Second Frutes, to be gathered of Twelve Trees. (“Sweet friend, whose name agrees with thy increase / How fit a rival art thou of the spring!”) - Nashe felt that Florio was addressing him. In Lenten Stuffe (1599) he remarks: “Noble Caesarean Charlemagne herring! I do not see why any man should envy thee, since thou art none of these lurcones [gourmands] or epulones [banquetters], gluttons or flesh-pots of Egypt … but only by the water art thou nourished, and naught else, and must swim as well dead as alive. (Nashe takes the terms “lucrone” and “epulone” from Florio's dictionary.) 

[34]And hath never saint had a reprobate to his father?”:  See Harvey, Foure Letters: “Every man is to answer for his own defaults; my trespass is not my father’s, nor my father’s mine. A Ghibelline may have a Guelph to his son, as Barthol saith, and hath never a saint had a reprobate to his father? Are all worthy minds the issue of noble houses, or all base minds the offsprings of rascal stocks?  … Or might not Greene and his complices have been much better than they were, or are, although their parents had been much worse than they were, or are?”

[35] “take example by him to wash out dirt with ink”: Alludes to Gabriel Harveys mocking lines in Speculum Tuscanismi (1580) – and his attacks against Nashe.

[36] “You are amongst grave Doctors and men of judgement in both Laws”: Among other trials the “learned writer” Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, was a member of the panel of judges at the high court proceedings whereby Mary Queen of Scots was condemned to death.

[37] “now in the fourteenth or fifteenth year of the reign of his Rhetoric”: Harvey first appears as a rhetorician in 1577, with his work: Gabrielis Harveii Rhetor, vel duorum dierum oratio, de natura, arte, & exercitatione rhetorica, G. Harveii Rhetor, Londini … 1577. 

[38] “the best blood of the brothers”: The brothers Richard, John and Gabriel Harvey. – Gabriel Harvey later responds with: “It had been a worthy exploit, and beseeming a wit of supererogation, to have dipped a sop in a goblet of rhenish wine, and, naming it Gabriel (for you are now grown into great familiarity with that name), to have devoured him up at one bit: or taking a pickle-herring by the throat, and, christening it Richard (for you can christen him at your pleasure), to have swallowed him down with a stomach…”. – Costard in Loves labors lost (1598) says zu Moth: “I marvaile thy Master hath not eaten thee for a worde.”

[39] “would thou hadst a quaffing-bowl which, like Gawain's skull, should contain a peck [the fourth part of a bushel]”: Tom Nashe changes the form of address from “you” to “thou”. - These gargantuan metaphors show that the satirist is familiar with Sir John Falstaff's jokes (The Merry Wives of Windsor, III/4):

FALSTAFF. But mark the sequel, Master Brook-I suffered the pangs of three several deaths: first, an intolerable fright to be detected with a jealous rotten bell-wether; next, to be compass'd like a good bilbo in the circumference of a peck, hilt to point, heel to head; and then, to be stopp'd in, like a strong distillation, with stinking clothes that fretted in their own grease.

[40] “by Iohn Davies' soul”: John Davies' poem, Of the Soul of Man (the second part of Nosce Teipsum) (ed. 1599). Charles Wisner Barrell comments (New Milestone in Shakespeare Research, 1944): “There is evidence that Davies' Soul was in existence when Nashe wrote The Epistle. For in 1697, when Nahum Tate republished the poem, he included a dedication of the work to Queen Elizabeth, signed by Davies and dated ‘July 11, 1592.’ This indicates that Tate had access to a manuscript copy which had been presented to the Queen long before Davies’ complete work was entered for publication on April 10, 1599.”

The Davies-Shakespeare association has long been discussed as the result of the discovery in the Stationers' Register of the entry of a license granted to a bookseller named Eleazer Edgar, under date of January 3, 1600, for the publication of A Booke called Amours by J. D., with certain other Sonnetes by W.S. 

[41] “the blue Boar in the Spittle”: No, this is not a pub sign from William Elderton, even if it looks as though it could be. The “blue boar” is taken from the heraldic coat of arms of the de Vere family. In this case the term is used to depict the 17th Earl of Oxford.

“The Spittle” refers to the building that used to house Saint John's Hospital in Clerkenwell (London Islington), where Oxford as a playwright and theatrical patron had considerable interests: „In Elizabeth's reign, when sacred things were roughly handled, Tylney, the queen's Master of the Revels, resided at St. John's, with all his tailors, embroiderers, painters, and carpenters, and all artificers required to arrange court plays and masques. In this reign Master Tylney licensed all plays, regulated the stage for thirty-one years, and passed no less than thirty of Shakespeare's dramas, commencing with Henry IV. and ending with Anthony and Cleopatra; he might have told us one or two things about the “great unknown," but he died in 1610, and left no diary or autobiography.” (Walter Thornbury, Old and New London: Vol. 2, 1878.) See http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=45103)  - “The children of Paul's” under the patronage of the Earl of Oxford and the direction of John Lyly, enjoyed a certain success in the early 1580s. In 1584, they had to leave the Blackfriar's theatre and it is safe to assume that they rehearsed (among other places) in “The Spittle”. In the years that followed “The children of Paul's”, thanks to the efforts of John Lyly along with the help of John Heywood, established a virtual monopoly of court performances. Along with many other works, the troupe performed the following plays from John Lyly:Gallathea (1585-88), Endymion (c.1587-88) and Mother Bombie (1587-90). (See Herbert Berry, Where was the Playhouse in Which the Boy Choristers of St Paul’s Cathedral Perfomed Plays?, Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England 13 (2001), pp.101-116.) A popular ballad of the period shows that “The children of Paul's” were also known as “The Children of the Hospital”. The title of the ballad in question was: A Joyfull Ballad of the Roiall entrance of Quene Elizabeth into the Cyty of London the 24th of November, 1588 (cited by A.M.W. Stirling, Life’s Little day (1924) and B. M. Ward, The Seventeenth Earl of Oxford (1928), pp.293-94). There is mentioned the Queen's visit to St Paul's, where

The lord marquess of Winchester bareheaded there was seen,
Who bare the sword in comely sort before our noble queen;
The noble earl of Oxford, then High Chamberlain of England,
Rode right before Her Majesty his bonnet in his hand …
And after by two noblemen along the church was led,
With a golden canopy o’er her head.
The clergy with procession brought Her Grace into the quire;
Whereas Her Majesty was set the service for to hear.
And afterwards unto Paul’s Cross she did directly pass,
There by the Bishop of Salisbury a sermon preached was.
The earl of Oxford opening then the windows for her Grace, 
The Children of the hospital she saw before her face.

The Earl who opened for “the children of the hospital was called by Nashe “the blue Boar in the Spittle”.

[42] “Thou art a good fellow”: See note 24.

[43] “Let it be the task of thy best terms to safe-conduct this book through the enemy's country”: Nashe's overt request to the Earl of Oxford, that he join him in the war of words against Harvey.

[44] “thy surpassing carminical art of memory”: This is a term for poetry which strives to be the “architecture of memory”. Not only does the artist draw from existing classical texts, he also strives to create an independent and lasting creative entity. A typical example would be Shakespeare's sonnet number 55. On one hand, a tribute to Horazens Carmen III,30 “Exegi monumentum”, yet, on the other hand, a valuable poetic entity in its own right: 

Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
Of princes shall outlive this powerful rhyme,
But you shall shine more bright in these contents
Than unswept stone, besmeared with sluttish time.
When wasteful war shall statues overturn,
And broils root out the work of masonry,
Nor Mars his sword, nor war's quick fire shall burn:
The living record of your memory.
'Gainst death, and all-oblivious enmity
Shall you pace forth, your praise shall still find room,
Even in the eyes of all posterity
That wear this world out to the ending doom.
So till the judgment that your self arise,
You live in this, and dwell in lovers' eyes.

(See Günter Walch, Shakespeares Sonettdichtung als Gedächtniskunst. In: Shakespeares Sonette in europäischen Perspektiven, Ein Symposium. Studien zur Englischen Literatur, hrg. von Dieter Mehl, Hamburg 1993.)

In anticipation of this objection, most of the sonnets will have been finished before the end of 1592. They begin in the summer of 1590 the time at which the Earl of Southampton was supposed to have married the Earl of Oxford's daughter, Elizabeth. Shakespeare speaks of three winters which have passed since his first meeting with the youth, out in the country:  “To me fair friend you never can be old, / For as you were when first your eye I eyed, / Such seems your beauty still: three winters cold, / Have from the forests shook three summers' pride.”

[45] “let Chaucer be new scored against the day of battle, and Terence come but in now and then”: Strange though it may seem, these two remarks are “prophesing” the ‘Braggart’ in Loves Labours lost, i.e. the comedy with which Shakespeare responds to the grotesque quarrel between Harvey and Nashe! With his ‘Braggart’ (or Don Adriano de Armado), Shakespeare re-activates the memories of two literary versions of the character of “miles gloriosus”: ‘Thraso,’ the braggart soldier in Terence’s play Eunuchus -  and the boastful ‘Sir Thopas’ in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.

This raises the suspicion that Nashe knew of an earlier version of Shake-speare’s comedy. He demands: “let Chaucer be new scored (= new arranged) against the day of battle”, and he also seems to allude to the “odd shreds of Latin” which are to be found in Loves Labours lost . Nashe's familiarity with the works of the Earl of Oxford don't need to come as a big surprise to us. The two men knew each other very well (see note 75).

[46] “we have cat's-meat and dog's-meat enough”: See, John Lyly, Mother Bombie, Act II, Sc. 2: “The boy hath wit sans measure, more than needs; cat's meat and dog's meat enough for the vantage.”

[47] “Still be constant to thy content, love poetry, hate pedantism”: To cite Robert Detobel’s essay Love's Labours Lost and Thomas Nashe (2009): “Oxford and Harvey are pitched against each other as representatives of lyrics and pedantism… Nashe simply wants to indicate that ‘Master William’ was in the anti-pedantist camp.”

[48]Vade, vale, cave ne titubes, mandataque; frangas”: ‘Go, farewell, take care, don’t stumble and damage your load’. From Horace, Epistles I.13 (To Vinius): “As I told you often, at length, on leaving, Vinius, deliver these volumes, sealed, to Augustus … If you find my pages’ heavy burden chafes you, leave it, rather than dashing your packsaddle down wildly where you were told to deliver it, turning your father’s name, of Asina, into a joke … On now: Farewell: take care, don’t stumble and damage your load.”


[49]To the Gentlemen Readers”: Nashe’s address to “The Gentlemen Readers” and his pamphlet “The Four Letters Confuted” are reduced to approximately a seventh of their original length.

[50] “works of supererogation”: Harvey will adopt the term “supererogation” (OED: performance of more than duty or circumstances require), with the deliberate intention of being sarcastic, for the title of his next pamphlet: Pierces Supererogation (Sept. 1592).

[51]Tam Mercurio quam Marti”: Dedicated as much to Mercury as to Mars. Here we see mirrored George Gascoigne’s motto “ Tam Marti, quam Mercurio”. A man who can handle a pen as well as he can handle a sword.

[52]The kill-cow champion of the three brethren”:  The champion swashbuckler, braggadocio, or the champion butcher of the three brethren, that’s Gabriel Harvey.

[53] “a certain Theological gimpanado”: This is the theologian and brother of Gabriel Harvey, Richard Harvey (1560-1630) who allowed himself to be drawn into the quarrel between his brother and the bold satirist Thomas Nashe. (See 3.1.3 Lyly, Pap Hatchet, Commentary.)   - Note from Ronald B. McKerrow in his edition of Nashe’s Works (vol.I., London 1904):  “This is the only instance of the word in N.E.D.  No explanation is attempted. One might perhaps conjecture some affinity to the word ‘jimp’: trick, prank.”

[54] “the blind Vicar”: Richard Harvey's eyesight was failing rapidly.

[55] “and fetched allusions out of the Buttery”: In the preface to The Lamb of God, Richard Harvey wrote:: “Iwis this Thomas Nashe, one whom I never heard of before (for I cannot imagine him to be Thomas Nashe, our butler of Pembroke Hall, albeit peradventure not much better learned) showeth himself none of the meetest men to censure Sir Thomas More... ” – - A series of jibs and insults grew on the fertile soil of this impertinence. Nashe: “Had he [Robert Greene] lived, he would have … driven thee to eat thy own book buttered…”, or “Why, thou arrant butter-whore…”. Harvey: “…till his [Nashe’s] frisking pen began to play the sprite of the buttery”, or: “when the buttermilk goeth on pilgrimage, you must give the butter-whore leave to play the arrant knight a crash…” – In Shakespeare's play Don Armado fall in love with the milk-maid Jacquenetta.

[56] “he [Richard] gets an old Fencer, his brother [Gabriel] … who, flourishing about my ears with his two hand sword of Oratory and Poetry, peradventure shakes some of the rust of it on my shoulders”: The image of the comical figure of Braggadoccio, fighting with a two-hand-sword, was adopted by George Peele (1556-1596) in his burlesque The Old Wives Tale (1595): “Enter Huanebango with his two hand sword, and Booby the Clown.” (See 3.1.8 Peele, The Old Wives Tale, Commentary.)

[57] “Saint Fame for me, and thus I run upon him”: Pheme (Roman equivalent: Fama) was the personification of fame and renown, her favour being notability, her wrath being scandalous rumors. Nashe used the term “Saint Fame” as the embodiment of his achievements; Harvey used it for the embodiment of showing off  inspite of a lack of content and of talent – and as the name for Nashe’s black angel.

[58] “Had I a Ropemaker to my father, & somebody had cast it in my teeth, I would forthwith have writ in praise of Ropemakers”: See Nashe’s prologue, addressed to Master William: “he makes a Reprobate and a Ropemaker voces convertibiles [convertible voices].”

[59] “his blundering Percival”: Either Nashe makes a mistake here, or he deliberately falsifies the statement. Plaine Percevall, The Peace-Maker of England (1590) originaly came from Henry Chettle (c.1564-c.1606) who enters his nickname Kind-heart” in the text. “Gape Martin that I may see thy age, but take heed, thou bite me not; I thought so; the mark is not out of thy mouth, for thy hast a Colt’s tooth in thine head still: if thou wilt have it drawn by foul means, thes Roisters have beetles to knock it out; if gently, let me be thy tooth drawer, I have a kind heart of mine own, and that name hath been good at such a practice heretofore.”

[60] “another fool’s-bolt, a book, I should say, which he christened The Lamb of God”: Richard Harvey, A theologicall discourse of the Lamb of God and his enemies, London 1590.

[61]Greene, being chief agent for the company”: This statement is important in our search for the author who called himself Pasquil of England. In The Lamb of God (1590) Richard Harvey names the three leading members of the anti-Marprelate-company: “Yet let not Martin [Marprelate], or Nashe, or any such famous obscure man, or any other piperly make-play or makebate, presume overmuch of my patience as of simplicity, but of choice. As I am easily ruled by reason, no fierce or proud passion can overrule me; no carping censor, or vain Pap-Hatchet [John Lyly], or madbrain Scogan, or gay companion [Thomas Nashe], anything move me.”  His brother Gabriel is more precise in the Foure Letters (1592): “If Mother Hubbard in the vein of Chaucer happen to tell one canicular tale, Father Elderton [here compared to Lyly] and his son Greene, in the vein of Skelton or Scogan, will counterfeit an hundred dogged fables, libels, calumnies…”.  See John Lyly alias Pap Hatchet (1589): “there is a book coming out of a hundred merry tales and the pedigree of Martin, fetched from the burning of Sodom.” (See 3.1.3. Pappe with an hatchet, note 6.)  - In view of the fact that the literary styles of John Lyly and Thomas Nashe, with regard to their mannerisms and their use of foreign words, are completely different to that of Pasquil and with regard to the fact that Pasquil presaged a treaty, titled “The Lives of the Saints” that was partially worked out in Robert Greene’s deliberately sarcastic Books of Coney-catching (1591), we can identify Robert Greene as being the man behind the pseudonym “Pasquil of England”. At once “Pasquil” is identical to his alter-ego, “Marforius”.

The authors in the anti-Marprelate-company (or Mar-Mar-prelate company) were:

- [John Munday] A whip for an Ape: Or Martin displaied. [No imprint or date. London, Mai/Juni 1589.]

- [Robert Greene] Pasquil of England, Cavaliero: A Countercuffe given to Martin Junior, [August]1589 

- [John Lyly] Pappe with an hatchet Alias A Figge for my God son, [October] 1589 

- [Robert Greene] Pasquill of England, Cavaliero: The Return of the renowned Cavaliero Pasquill of England from the other side the Seas, (written) 20 October 1589

- [Robert Greene] Marforius: Martin’s Month’s Mind [Dec.? ] 1589

- [Thomas Nashe] An Almond for a Parrot, or Cutbert Curry-knave's Alms, [April] 1590

- [Richard Bancroft?] Pasquill of England: First part of Pasquill's Apologie, [July] 1590 ­

[62]Sat cito, si sat bene”: Soon enough, if but well enough. A saying attributed to Cato by S. Jerome, Ep. 66, 9.

[63] “Cloth-breeches and Velvet-breeches”: Robert Greene’s A Quip for an Upstart Courtier or a Quaint Dispute between Velvet-Breeches and Cloth-Breeches (1592), which contains an offensive passage about the three Harvey brothers. A Quip for an Upstart Courtier compares the lives of the courtier (Velvet Breeches) and the merchant (Cloth Breeches) in order to find which is deserving of more respect.  

[64]Tria sunt omnia”: Three are all. See Aristoteles, De caelo, lib.1, cap.1 – Thomas Nashe was probably thinking about: The Choise of Change: Containing the Triplicitie of Divinitie, Philosophie, and Poetrie … Tria sunt omnia, London 1585.

[65] “strike a man when he is dead?”: Shakespeare parodies in Loves labors lost (1598):

[Ay] and Hector's a Greyhound.
BRAGGART [= Armado].
The sweete War-man is dead and rotten,
Sweete chucks beat not the bones of the buried:
When he breathed he was a man.

[66]So Hares may pull dead lions by the beards”: This line comes from Thomas Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy, I/2 (written between 1585-87).

[67] “Let all Noblemen take heed how they give this Thraso the least beck or countenance”: Thraso, the braggart soldier in Terence's play Eunuchus (see note 45).

In Have with You to Saffron Walden (1596) Nashe describes the attitude and the bearing of Gabriel Harvey  when he goes before the Queen and her lords:

but now he was an insulting monarch above Monarcha … & would make no bones to take the wall [to take the precedence] of Sir Philip Sidney and another honourable knight (his companion) about court yet attending, to whom I wish no better fortune than the forelocks of Fortune he had hold of in his youth…

[68] “when this Timothy Tiptoes made a Latin Oration to her Majesty”: To go on tiptoes was synonymous with to bear oneself proudly. – Harvey’s oration was made on the occasion of Elizabeth's visit to Audley End, in July, 1578. She was there visited by the Earl of Leicester, William Cecil Lord Burghley, Earl of Sussex, Earl of Oxford, Lord Charles Howard, Baron of Effingham, Lord Hunsdon, Sir Christopher Hatton, Sir Francis Knollys, Sir Thomas Heneage, Philip Sidney – and from the Duke of Alençon's representatives in the matter of the wedding. The Masters of various Colleges of Cambridge made her various presents, and entertained her with Latin orations, and with a philosophical disputation.

[69]Aedes Valdinenses”: Gabrielis Harveii Gratulationum Valdinensium Libri Quatuor (1578).

[70]What may I call this tree? An yew-tree? O bonny yew-tree”: Verses in a letter to Spenser in Three Proper Letters (1580).

[71]O thou weathercock that stands on the top of the church of All Hallows”: Note from Ronald B. McKerrow in his edition of Nashe’s Works (vol.I., London 1904):  “The lines, if not the invention of Nashe, must have been gathered by him from tradition. They do not appear in Harvey's works.“ - See William Shakespeare, Loves labors lost (1598):

What plume of fethers is he that indited this letter?
What vaine? What Wethercock? Did you ever heare better?

[72] “and a well pruned pair of mustachios”: See Shakespeare, Loves labors lost (written 1594/95):

BRAGGART. But let that passe for I must tell thee it will please his Grace (by the worlde) sometime to leane upon my poor shoulder, and with his royall finger thus dally with my excrement, with my mustachy.

Pleased, and encouraged by Shakespeare’s joke, Nashe later mocks Harvey with the words “vagrant mustachio” in Have with You at Saffron Walden (1596).

[73] “what it will do upon the stage I cannot tell … Will Kempe, I mistrust it will fall to thy lot for a merriment one of these days”: With this, Nashe threatens Harvey with Will Kempe of the Lord Strange's Men (later known as the Lord Chamberlain's men). One thing was certain, if Will Kempe, actor and clown, parodied a person on the stage then that person would be an object of ridicule.

[74] “A good-fellow he was, and would have drunk with thee for more angels than the Lord thou libelledst on gave thee in Christ’s College”: Greene was, as once again here emphasised, a “good fellow”-- an anti-pedant and anti-Marprelate-writer. The “Lord thou libellest on” is the Earl of Oxford, of whom Harvey says in The Foure Letters (1592): “whose noble Lordship I protest I never meant to dishonour with the least prejudicial word of my Tongue or pen, but ever kept a mindful reckoning of many bounden duties toward The-same; since in the prime of his gallantest youth he bestowed Angels upon me in Christ's College in Cambridge.” (See 3.1.4 Harvey, Foure Letters.)

[75] “I and one of my fellows, Will. Monox (Hast thou never heard of him and his great dagger?) were in company with him a month before he died”: Again we see the key words “Will”, “fellow” and “dagger” from which we can identify “Will. Monox”, the “good fellow” as being the owner of the “dungeon dagger” (see note 20). - Monox is an anagram of M[aster] Oxon (Oxon being an abrieviated form of Oxoniensa =Oxford.

The revelation that the Earl of Oxford is the identity of Will. Shakespeare is herewith reduced to a short formula (‘Will. Monox’), the solution of which solves the Shakespeare mystery.

According to his own words; in the beginning of August, Nashe and Greene met the Earl of Oxford, probably in Oxford’s house. It is safe to assume that refreshments were offered and not only the notorious “pickled herring”; Harvey claimed that the herring caused green's death, a diagnosis that Nashe found so inappropriate that he didn't refused to comment on it (“if thou wilt needs have it so”).

Nashe left London about one week later. He wrote in the preface to Pierce Pennilesse ( the first edition was entered in to the Stationer's Register on 8 August 1592, the first copies appeared in September) to his publisher Richard Jones: “Had you not been so forward in the republishing of it, you should have had certain epistles to orators and poets to insert to the latter end, as, namely, to the ghost of Machiavel, of Tully, of Ovid, of Roscius, of Pace, the Duke of Norfolk's jester, and, lastly, to the ghost of Robert Greene, telling him what a coil there is with pamphleting on him after his death.These were prepared for Pierce Penilesse' first setting forth, had not the fear of infection detained me with my Lord in the country.” – “My Lord”: At that point in time, Nashe could only have been refering to the Earl of Oxford. His destination on this trip out of London was Croydon, the country residence of Bishop John Whitgift, where his burlesque Summers Last Will and Testament.

[76]his fellow writer, that proper young man”: Greene’s friend, Tom Nashe.

[77] “to be as well known for a fool as my Lord Welles”: Blore's History of Rutland says:

„King-making Warwick was plotting the restoration of the same Henry VI whom he had dethroned. Sir Robert Welles (sometimes styled Lord Willoughby), being appointed by the Earl of Warwick to be a captain of an army raised in Lincolnshire for the support of the cause of Henry VI, proceeded with the Lancastrian forces, amounting to thirty thousand men, towards Stanford (Stamford). King Edward, hearing of this insurrection, sent instantly to the Lord Welles, as the author of it, to appear before him, upon the pain of death if he should disobey the summons. The Lord Welles at first doubted what course to take; but, after some deliberation, commenced his journey, attended by his son-in-law, Sir Thomas Dimocke; yet, when the travellers came near to London, they heard so many reports of King Edward's anger that their resolution began to fail them; and, under the impression of their fears, they threw themselves into sanctuary at Westminster, instead of proceeding directly to the king. They were soon, however, persuaded to relinquish that miserable protection for their lives, by promises of pardon. King Edward proceeded with an army, superior in numbers to that of the insurgents, towards Stanford, near which place the latter were then assembled; but Sir Robert Welles kept his camp, and prepared for the king's approach. The contending parties met at Hornefield on the 12th March, 10th Edward IV (1469-70), and, after a dreadful conflict, in which both sides resolutely maintained the cause which they had espoused, Sir Robert Welles and Sir Thomas de la Launde were taken prisoners, and their followers were completely routed. Sir Robert Welles and Sir de la Launde were beheaded at Doncaster seven days afterwards.“ (See http://www.luminarium.org/encyclopedia/losecoat.htm )

[78]Ille ego qui quondam gracili modulatus avena”:  „I am he who once composed a song on a slender pipe.” The words that Virgil was believed to have used to introduce the Aeneid.

[79] “Not the least, but the greatest, scholars in the WORLD have … fed him fat in his humour of Braggadocio Glorio”:  “Braggadocchio“ is a comic knight with no sense of honour in Edmund Spenser’s Faery Queene (1590). He is not evil, just a dishonourable braggart. However, it is more likely that Spencer modelled the character of Braggadochio on Ariostos Rodomonte than on Gabriel Harvey.

In Edward Forsett’s (1553-1630) Pedantius (written 1581) the pedant is individualised into a caricature of Gabriel Harvey.  See Thomas Nashe, Have with You to Saffron Walden (1596):

I'll fetch him aloft in Pedantius, that exquisite comedy in Trinity College, where, under the chief part from which it took his name, as namely the concise and firking [forcing] finical-do fine schoolmaster, he was full drawn & delineated from the sole of the foot to the crown of his head.

There were others who were wont to empty their cauldrons of scorn on Gabriel Harvey's head; after a dispute with the cantankerous rhetorician in 1583, Giordani Bruno portrayed him as “Torquato” in the famous Cena de le ceneri [The Ash Wednesday Supper] (London 1584):

Learn how he pelied to the arguments; how the miserable doctor, who cam forward on that grave occasion as a leder of the Academy, stumbled fifteen timesover fifteen syllogisms, like a hen amongst the stubble. Learn with what incivility and discourtesy that pig proceeded…

Furthermore (just like the two, previously mentioned, authors) Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, may well have based the character of “The Braggart” in his first version of LLL on the learned Gabriel Harvey.

[80] “and from top to toe he all-to-bewrayed him with Tuscanism”: Nashe simply can't leave it alone. Time after time he brings up Harvey's unfortunately inappropriate remarks to the Earl. It would appear that the Earl of Oxford is every bit as important to him as Harvey.

[81] “poor Doctor’s Perne’s picture”: Harvey had already lambasted Doctor Andrew Perne (c.1519-1589), Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University and dean of Ely. In Pierces Supererogation (1593) his resumes his caustic attacks most extensively over several pages.

[82]Signor Immerito (so called because he was and is his friend undeservedly)”: One of the elegant satirical phrases for which we wish to place a garland of laurel leaves on Nashe's head.

[83] “Bedlam were a meeter place for thee”: The response to Harvey's impertinent little ryhm: “Here Bedlam is, and here a poet garish,/ Gaily bedecked, like fore-horse of the parish.

[84] “Master Butler of Cambridge’s testimonial”: William Butler (1535-1618), a Fellow of Clare Hall, Cambridge, and a very celebrated physician.

[85]that good Gabriel Huff-Snuff”: A huff-snuff  is a conceited fellow who gives himself airs and is quick to take offence; a braggart, hector. – The hexameters, slightly varied, are given again in Nashe’s Have with You to Saffron Walden (1596), where they are attributed to Thomas Watson.

[86]He that threatened to conjure up Martin’s wit hath written something too in your praise”: This is a reference to John Lyly (alias Pap Hatchet) who formulated the sarcastically intended praise: “If he [Harvey] join with us, periisti [miserable] Martin, thy wit will be massacred“.

[87] “to have courtly incensed the Earl of Oxford against you”: See 3.1.4 Harvey, Foure Letters, note 27.

[88]when A per se a was not so much as Idoneus auditor civilis scientiae”: In his Foure Letters Harvey made the mistake of calling Nashe a name that he had used on the Earl of Oxford twelve years previously: “A per se a”. Nashe did a thorough job of rubbing it in at every opportunity.

[89] “for before I had the reversion of it, he bestowed it on a nobleman”: In 1580 Harvey wrote on Oxford: “Every one A per se A, his terms, and braveries in Print, / Delicate in speech, quaint in array: conceited in all points” (‘Speculum Tuscanismi’, in Three proper and wittie familiar Letters.)

[90] “sole Emperor of inkhornism”: The emperor of pedantic expressions or ink-horn terms.

[91] “Master Stowe“: John Stow (c.1525-1605), the diligent English historian and antiquarian.

[92]Cornelius Agrippa maketh all the Philosophers, Orators and Poets that ever were, Asses”: In his De incertitudine et vanitate scientiarum et artium [On the Uncertainty and Vanity of the Arts and Sciences] (1530).

[93]  “worse than a Cumane ass”: In the fable from Aesop, the donkey of Cumae creeps in to a dead lion's skin thereby convincing himself that he's turned in to a lion.

[94] “it is as civil as a civil [=Seville] orange”: See W. Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing, II/1:

BEATRICE. The Count is neither sad, nor sick, nor merry, nor well; but civil count--civil as an orange, and something of that jealous complexion.

[95] “but converse in a house of credit, as well governed as any College, where there be more rare qualified men and selected good Scholars than in any Nobleman’s house that I know in England”: In connection with the Shakespeare quotation, this “house of credit” signifies the house of ‘Will Monox’ or ‘Apis lapis’ (=the Earl of Oxford). (See notes 75 and 96.)

[96] “it stood not with my Lord’s honour to keep me”: The “Lord” in question is the Earl of Oxford. (See Gabriel Harvey, Pierces Supererogation, 1593: “I have touched the booted Shakerley [=Nashe] a little … that shamefully and odiously misuseth every friend or acquaintance, as he hath served some of his favourablest Patrons (whom for certain respects I am not to name), M. Apis Lapis, Greene, Marlowe, Chettle, and whom not?” -- We see further proof of Nashe's close association with the Earl in the forword to the second printing of Pierce Pennilesse: “the fear of infection detained me with my Lord in the country.”

[97] “what slanderous dishonour hast thou done him, to give it out that he keeps the committers of abominable villainies and base shifting companions”: Nashe threatens Harvey with his powerful patron in a subtle manor.

[98] “they’ll go near to have thee about the ears for this gear, one after another”: The threats become increasingly ominous.