3.1.6. Harvey, Pierces’s Supererogation

 

3.1.6.  Gabriel Harvey, Pierces Supererogation or A new prayse of the Old Asse, A Preparative to certain larger discourses, entitled Nashe’s St. Fame [August/Sept.] 1593

 

In Strange Newes Thomas Nashe describes the Earl of Oxford as being a “most copious Carminist”, he addresses him as “Master William” and praises his “surpassing carminical art of memory”. By attributing characteristics normally associated with Falstaff  to the Earl, Nashe builds a bridge towards William Shakespeare and his play King Henry the Fourth.

However, this bridge would have been left hanging in mid air were it not for the response that it prompted from Nashe's rival - the academic marathon speaker, Gabriel Harvey. It is important that we interpret Harvey's response correctly, bearing in mind that 1580 Harvey got himself punished after he had ruffled the Earl's feathers. Harvey would certainly have been more inclined to bite his own tongue rather than go through that again. However, making the best use of his talents for innuendo, Harvey set about telling everything he knew. The rhetorician knows , right from the start, which of the “good fellows” it is with whom Nashe wishes to form an allegiance. Fully aware of Nashe's hopes of Oxford's further patronage, Harvey gives a brilliant answer to Nashe's sarcastic question “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.” - The only Author’, replies Harvey, and the much inconvenient patron of Nashe (= the young ass, or ‘young Apuleius’) is “the Old Ass”, or “the Golden Ass”, or “the Ass in print” (the academic ass). Harvey especially gazes on the Earl of Oxford. In the 1570s Oxford had compared himself to Lucius Apuleius (the hero of the ‘Golden Ass’), as can be seen from his poem “This Apuleius was in Afric born” (No. 57). That is why Harvey can say, without fear of repercussions: “I go not about to discover an Ass in an Ox’s hide” – and “the Ox and the Ass are good-fellows” - and “blame him not, or blame him gently, that would be a little loath to be dieted at the rack of the old Ass, or to be bitten of the young dog” – and “young Apuleius, the heir apparent of the old Ass, the most glorious old Ass” – and “the old Ass, the great A, and the est Amen of the new Supererogation”.

Harvey also had another surprise up his sleeve: The excellent Gentlewoman. Harvey takes great pains to present this most unique woman, avoiding confusion with other women, (e.g. Mary Herbert, Philip Sydney's sister). Harvey requests that the ‘excellent Gentlewoman’ speak out in his defence, claiming that her knowledge will silence all of Nashe's statements. Although he praises her virtue in the most ardent manner imaginable, we see that the woman in question is not a poetic invention, as infered in Thomas Nashe's Have with You to Saffron Walden (1596). She has genuine human characteristics, and the industrious pedant claims to have shared several experiences with her. - There was another matter that put more wind in Harvey's sails: At some time between April and June of 1593 he found out that the dedication to Oxford that Nashe wrote in Strange Newes wasn't received with boundless joy by the Earl. In fact, in the second edition of Strange Newes, of August 1593, Nashe had been obliged to “correct” a passage in the dedication. In Teares over Ierusalem (Sept. 1593) Nashe weaves an, almost penitent, explanation into the work, for the benefit of his enemy, Gabriel Harvey. Intoxicated by triumph, the rhetorician loses himself in a sea of speculation as to the nature of  “certain Discourses of regard”, which the “excellent Gentlewoman” or “sweetest Venus” would be preparing.

Does this mean that Harvey also envisioned the Earl of Oxford behind the name “Master William”?

Dear reader, you are invited most cordially to delve into Gabriel Harvey's bizarre, saturnine mind and the wild jungle of our footnotes.

 

Pierce's Supererogation[1],
or
A New Praise of the Old Ass[2].
A Preparative to certain larger discourses, entitled Nashe’s St. Fame
Gabriel Harvey
Il vostro malignare non giova nulla [Your ill will is to no avail] 
London
Imprinted by John Wolfe
1593

 

To my very gentle and liberal Friends, M. Barnabe Barnes, M. Iohn Thorius, M. Anthony Chewt, and every favourable reader.

Loving M. Barnabe, M. Iohn, and M. Anthony (for the rest of my partial Commenders must pardon me, till the Print be better acquainted with their names), I have lately received your thrice-courteous Letters, with the Overplus of your thrice-sweet Sonnets annexed, the liberallest gifts, I believe, that ever you bestowed upon so slight occasion, and the very prodigallest fruits of your flourishing wits. Whose only default is, not your, but my, default, that the matter is nothing correspondent to the manner[3], and myself must either grossly forget myself, or frankly acknowledge my simple self an unworthy subject of so worthy commendations. Which I cannot read without blushing, repeat without shame, or remember without grief[4], that I come so exceeding short in so excessive great accounts, the sums of your rich largess, not of my poor desert, and percase devised to advertise me what I should be, or to signify what you wish to be, not to declare what I am, or to insinuate what I may be.[5]

You may easily persuade me to publish that was long sithence finished in writing, and is now almost dispatched in Print (the amends must be addressed in some other more material Treatise or more formal Discourse, and haply Nashe’s St. Fame may supply some defects of Pierce's Supererogation[6]).

May it please the favourable Reader to vouchsafe me the Courtesy of his Patience until he hath thoroughly perused the whole Discourse at his hours of leisure (for such scribblings are hardly worth the vacantest hours); I am not to importune him any farther, but would be glad he might find the Whole less tedious in the end that some Parts in the beginning or midst, or, at least, that one piece might help to furnish out amends for another. And so taking my leave with the kindest Farewell of a most thankful mind, I desist from wearying him with a tedious Preface whom I am likely to tire with so many superfluous Discourses. Howbeit, might it happily please the sweetest Intercessor to ensweeten the bitterest gall of Spite, and to encalm the roughest tempest of Rage, I could cordially wish that Nashe's St. Fame might be the Period of my Invectives, and the Gentlewoman, my Patroness, or rather Championess, in this quarrel[7], is meeter by nature, and fitter by nurture, to be an enchanting Angel with her white quill than a tormenting Fury with her black ink[8]. It remaineth at the election of one, whom God endue with more discretion[9].

At London, this 16th of Iuly, 1593. The inviolable friend of his entire friends,

Gabriel Harvey.

 

Her own Prologue[10], or Demur [delay, doubt].

O muses, may a woman poor and blind,
A Lion-dragon or a Bull-bear bind?[11]
Is't possible for puling wench [a weak young woman] to tame
The furibundal [furious, raging, mad] Champion of Fame?
He brandisheth the whirlwind in his mouth,
And thunderbolteth so confounding shot;
Where such a Bombard-goblin[12], North or South,
With dread Pen-powder, and the conquerous pot?
Silly it is, that I can sing or say,
And shall I venture such a blusterous fray?
Hazard not, panting quill, thy aspen self;
He'll murder thy conceit, and brain thy brain.
Spare me, ô super-domineering Elf,
And most Railipotent for ever reign.

Si tibi vis ipsi parcere, parce Mihi
[If you wish to protect yourself, begin by protecting me.]

 

Her Counter-sonnet[13], or Correction of her own Preamble.

Scorn, frump, the meacock Verse that dares not sing,
Drooping, so like a flagging flower in rain;
Where doth the Urany or Fury ring
That shall enfreight my stomach with disdain?
Shall Friend put up such braggardous affronts?
Are milksop Muses such white-liveried Tronts [flaunt walkers]?
Shall Boy the gibbet be of Writers all,
And none hang up the gibbet on the wall?[14]
If dreary hobbling rime heart-broken be,
And quake for dread of Danter's scarecrow Press[15],
Shrew Prose thy pluck-crow implements address,
And pay the hangman pen his double fee.
Be Spite a Sprite, a Termagant[16], a Bug,
Truth fears no ruth, and can the Great Devil tug.

Ultrix accincta flagello
[As a well equipped revenger I am prepared to scourge.]

 

Her old Comedy, newly entitled.[17]

My Prose is resolute as Bevis' sword[18];
March, rampant beast in formidable hide,
Superrogation Squire[19] on cock-horse ride;
Zeal shapes an answer to the bloodiest word.
If nothing can the booted Soldier tame,
Nor Rime, nor Prose, nor Honesty, nor Shame,
But Swash will still his trumpery advance[20],
I'll lead the gag-toothed fop a new-found dance.
Dear hours were ever cheap to piddling me;
I knew a glorious and braving Knight,
That would be deemed a truculental [base, mercenary] wight,
Of him I scrawled a doughty Comedy.
Sir Bombarduccio was his cruel name,[21]
But Gnasharduccio the sole bruit of Fame.[22]
        L'Envoy [23]
See, how He brays and fumes at me, poor lass,
That must immortalize the kill-cow Ass [a swashbuckler, bully, braggadocio-monkey].

 

The Printer's Advertisement to the Gentleman Reader.

Courteous gentlemen, it seemed good to M. Doctor Harvey, for brevity's sake, and because he liked not over-long Preambles or Postambles to short Discourses, to omit the commendatory Letters and Sonnets of M. Thorius, M. Chute and divers other his affectionate friends of London, and both the Universities. Which nevertheless are reserved to be prefixed, inserted or annexed, either in his defensive Letters, enlarged with certain new Epistles of more special note, or in his Discourses of Nashe’s St. Fame, already finished & presently to be published[24], as these shall like their entertainment, of whose favourable & plausible Welcome divers learned and fine wits have presumed the best…

 

A Preparative to certain larger Discourses, entitled Nashe’s St. Fame. 

I protest, I have these many years, not in pride, but in judgement, scorned to appear in the rank of this scribbling generation, and could not have been hired with a great fee to publish any Pamphlet of whatsoever nature in mine own name had I not been intolerably provoked, first by one rake-hell [John Lyly], and now by another [Thomas Nashe], the two impudentest mates that ever haunted the press (some have called them knaves in gross; I have found them fools in retail), but when it came to this desperate point, that I must needs either be a base writer, or a vile Ass in print[25], the less of the two evils was to be chosen, and I compelled rather to alter my resolution for a time, than to prejudice myself forever. They that list may feed at the manger with the sons of the Mule; it is another Table-Philosophy that I fancy… Blame him not, or blame him gently, that would be a little loath to be dieted at the rack of the old Ass, or to be bitten of the young dog[26].

He that will be made a sheep shall find wolves enough, but forsooth this exceeding wise world is a great Ass-maker, and he that will suffer himself to be proclaimed an Ass in print shall be sure never to want load, and load enough. Who so ready to call her neighbour a scold as the rankest scold of the parish, or who so forward to accuse, to debase, to revile, to crow-tread another as the arrantest fellow in a country? Let his own mouth be his passport, or his own pen his warrant, and who so lewd as his greatest adversary, modesty; or so honest as his dearest friend, villainy; or so learned as his learnedest counsel, vanity; or so wise as his profoundest Author, young Apuleius?[27] What familiar sprite of the Air or fire like the glib & nimble wit of young Apuleius? or where is the Eloquence that should describe the particular perfections of young Apuleius? Prudence may borrow discretion; Logic, arguments; Rhetoric, colours; Fantasy, conceits; Steel, an edge; and Gold, a lustre, of young Apuleius. O the rare and quaint Invention, ô the gallant and gorgeous Elocution, ô the brave and admirable amplifications, ô the artificial and fine extenuations, ô the lively portraitures of egregious praises and dispraises, ô the cunning and strange mingle-mangles, ô the pithy jests and marvellous girds of young Apuleius, the very prodigality of Art and Nature. What greater impossibility than to decipher the high and mighty style of young Apuleius without a liberal portion of the same elevate spirit? Happy the old father that begat, and thrice happy the sweet Muses that suckled and fostered, young Apuleius[28]. Till Admiration hath found out a smoother and tricksier quill for the purpose, Desire must be content to leave the supple and tidy constitution of his omnisufficient Wit undisplayed… He knoweth not to manage his pen that was not born with an Ass in his mouth, a fool in his throat, and a knave in his whole body. Simple men may write aginst other, or plead for themselves: but they cannot confute cuttingly, like a hackster [a ‘hacker’; a cut-throat; a swaggering ruffian] of Queen-Hith, or bellow lustily, like the foreman of the Herd. I go not about to discover an Ass in an Ox’s hide[29]; he needeth no other to pull him by the famous ears that is so hasty to descry, and so busy to bestir, his wisest parts. But what a notable Ass indeed was I, that sought the wings of a mounting Pegasus[30], or a flying Phoenix, where I found the head & feet of a braying creature?

Examples are infinite, and no exercise more ancient than Iambics amongst poets, Invectives amongst Orators, Confutations amongst Philosophers, Satires amongst Carpers, Libels amongst factioners, Pasquils amongst Malcontents, and quarrels amongst all. But the Old Age was an infant in wit, and a Grammar-Scholar in Art; Lucian's Rhetor[31], never so bravely furnished, will be heard with an Echo; Iulian will rattle Christendom; Arrius will shake the Church; Machiavel will yerk the Commonwealth; Unico Aretino will scourge Princes; and here is a lusty lad of the Castle that will bind Bears, and ride golden Asses to death[32]. Were the pith of courage lost, it might be found in his pen, or were the marrow of conceit to seek, where should wit look for wit but in his Ink-bottle? Art was a Dunce till He was a writer, and the quickest Confuter a drowsy dreamer till he put a life into the dead quill, & a fly into the wooden box of forlorn Pandora. A point for the Satirist whose conceit is not a Ruffian in folio, and a fig for the Confuter that is not a Swashbuckler with his pen...

It is neither reason, nor rime, nor wit, nor art, nor any imitation that he regardeth; he hath builded towers of Superarrogation[33] in his own head, and they must stand, whosoever fall… Martin [=Marprelate] himself but a meacock [a coward, weakling], and Pap-hatchet [=John Lyly] himself but a milksop to him [Nashe]: that inditeth with a pen of fury and the ink of vengeance, and hath cartloads of paper-shot and chain-shot at commandment. Tush, no man can blazon his Arms but himself. Behold the mighty Champion, the double sword-bearer, the redoubtable fighter with both hands, that hath robbed William Conqueror of his surname[34], and, in the very first page of his Strange News, choppeth-off the head of four Letters at a blow…

It is not long since the goodliest graces of the most noble Commonwealths upon Earth, Eloquence in speech and Civility in manners, arrived in these remote parts of the world; it was a happy revolution of the heavens, and worthy to be chronicled in an English Livy, when Tiberis flowed into the Thames, Athens removed to London, pure Italy and fine Greece planted themselves in rich England, Apollo with his delicate troop of Muses forsook his old mountains and rivers and frequented a new Parnassus and another Helicon, nothing inferior to the old when they were most solemnly haunted of divine wits that taught Rhetoric to speak with applause, and Poetry to sing with admiration. But even since that flourishing transplantation of the daintiest and sweetest learning that humanity ever tasted, Art did but spring in such as Sir Iohn Cheke and M. Ascham, and Wit bud in such as Sir Philip Sidney & M. Spenser, which were but the violets of March or the primroses of May : till the one [=Art] began to sprout in M. Robert Greene, as in a sweating Imp [sapling, offspring] of the ever-greene Laurel; the other [=Wit] to blossom in M. Pierce Pennilesse, as in the rich garden of poor Adonis[35]; both to grow to perfection in M. Thomas Nashe, whose prime is a harvest, whose Art a mystery, whose wit a miracle, whose style the only life of the press, and the very heart-blood of the Grape… Nay, it is a certain pregnant and lively thing without name, but a quaint mystery of mounting conceit, as it were a knack of dexterity, or the nippitaty of the nappiest grape, that infinitely surpasseth all the Invention and Elocution in the world, and will bung Demosthenes' own mouth with newfangled figures of the right stamp, maugre all the thundering and lightning Periods of his eloquentest orations, forlorn creatures. I have had some pretty trial of the finest Tuscanism in grain[36], and have curiously observed the cunningest experiments and bravest complements of aspiring emulation, but must give the bell of singularity to the humorous wit, and the garland of victory to the domineering Eloquence. I come not yet to the Praise of the old Ass; it is young Apuleius that feedeth upon this glory[37]: and having enclosed these rank commons to the proper use of himself & the capricious flock, adopteth whom he listeth, without exception: as Alexander the Great had a huge intention to have all men his subjects[38], and all his subjects called Alexanders. It was strange news for some to be so assified, and a work of Supererogation for him, so bountifully to vouchsafe his golden name [Golden Ass], the appropriate cognizance of his noble style. Goodnight poor Rhetoric of sorry books: adieu good old Humanity: gentle Arts and Liberal Sciences, content yourselves: Farewell, my dear mothers, sometime flourishing Universities: some that have long continued your sons in Nature, your apprentices in Art, your servants in Exercise, your lovers in affection, and your vassals in duty: must either take their leaves of their sweetest friends, or become the slaves of that domineering eloquence, that knoweth no Art but the cutting art, nor acknowledgeth any school but the Courtesan school...

Lay open his vanity or foolery, who knoweth it not? yet who so eager to defend, or offend, with tooth or nail, by hook or crook? The Art of figs had ever a dapper wit, a deft conceit, a slick forehead, a smug countenance, a stinging tongue, a nipping hand, a biting pen, and a bottomless pit of Invention, stored with neverfailing shifts of counterfeit cranks: and my betters by many degrees have been fain to be the Godsons of young Apuleius[39]. Divers excellent men have praised the old Ass[40]: give the young Ass leave to praise himself, and to practise his minion Rhetoric upon other. There is no dealing where there is no healing. To strive with dirt is filthy; to play with edged tools, dangerous; to encounter Demosthenes' Viper, or Apollo's Basilisk, deadly… But without more circumlocution, pride hath a fall, and as of A Cat, so of Pierce himself, howsoever inspired or enraged, you can have but his skin, puffed up with wind, and bombasted with vanity[41]. Even when he striveth for life to show himself bravest in the flaunt-aflaunt of his courage, and when a man could verily believe he should now behold the stately personage of heroical Eloquence face to face, or see such an unseen Frame of the miracles of Art as might amaze the heavenly eye of Astronomy : holla, sir, the sweet Spheres are not too prodigal of their sovereign influences. Pardon me, St. Fame[42]. What the first pang of his divine Fury, but notable Vanity? What the second fit, but worthy vanity? What the third career, but egregious vanity? what the glory of his ruffian Rhetoric and courtesan Philosophy, but excellent villainy?[43] That, that is Pierce's Supererogation, and were Pennilesse a person of any reckoning, as he is a man of notorious fame, that, that perhaps, in regard of the outrageous singularity, might be supposed a Tragical or Heroical villainy, if ever any villainy were so entitled. That, that is Pierce's Supererogation: and were Pennilesse a person of any reckoning, as he is a man of notorious fame, that, that perhaps, in regard of the outrageous singularity, might be supposed a Tragical or Heroical villainy, if ever any villainy were so entitled... The present consideration of which singularity occasioneth me to bethink me of One[44] that this other day very soberly commended some extraordinary gifts in Nashe: and when he had gravely maintained that in the resolution of his conscience he was such a fellow as some ways had few fellows, at last concluded somewhat more roundly.

Well, my masters, you may talk your pleasures of Tom Nashe, who yet sleepeth secure, not without prejudice to some that might be more jealous of their name: but assure yourselves, if M. Pennilesse had not been deeply plunged in a profound ecstasy of knavery, M. Pierce had never written that famous work of supererogation that now staineth all the books in Paul's Churchyard, and setteth both the universities to school. Till I see your finest humanity bestow such a liberal exhibition of conceit and courage upon your neatest wits, pardon me though I prefer one smart Pamphlet of knavery before ten blundering volumes of the nine Muses. Dreaming and smoke amount alike: Life is a gaming, a juggling, a scolding, a lawing, a skirmishing, a war; a Comedy, a Tragedy: the stirring wit, a quintessence of quicksilver [45]; and there is no dead flesh in affection, or courage. You may discourse of Hermes' ascending spirit, of Orpheus' enchanting harp, of Homer's divine fury, of Tyrtaeus' enraging trumpet, of Pericles' bouncing thunderclaps, of Plato's enthusiastical ravishment, and I wot not what marvellous eggs in moonshine: but a fly for all your flying speculations when one good-fellow with his odd jests, or one mad knave with his awk hibber-gibber, is able to put down twenty of your smuggest artificial men, that simper it so nicely and coyly in their curious points. Try, when you mean to be disgraced: & never give me credit if Sanguine wit put not Melancholy Art to bed [46] You that purpose with great sums of study & candles to purchase the worshipful names of Dunces & Doddypolls may closely sit, or soakingly lie at your books, but you that intend to be fine companionable gentlemen, smirking wits and whipsters in the world, betake ye timely to the lively practice of the minion profession, and enure your Mercurial fingers [47] to frame semblable works of Supererogation. Certes other rules are fopperies, and they that will seek out the Archmystery of the busiest Modernists shall find it neither more nor less than a certain pragmatical secret called Villainy, the very science of sciences, and the Familiar Spirit of Pierce's Supererogation. Cozen not yourselves with the gay nothings of children & scholars; no privity of learning, or inspiration of wit, or revelation of mysteries, or Art Notory countervailable with Pierce's Supererogation: which, having none of them, hath them all, and can make them all Asses at his pleasure. The Book-worm was never but a peak-goose [48] [dolt, simpleton, ninny]; it is the Multiplying spirit, not of the Alchimist, but of the Villainist [!], that knocketh the nail on the head, and spurreth cut farther in a day than the quickest Artist in a week. Whiles other are reading, writing, conferring, arguing, discoursing, experimenting, platforming, musing, buzzing, or I know not what, that is the spirit that, with a wondrous dexterity, shapeth exquisite works, and achieveth puissant exploits of Supererogation. O my good friends, as ye love the sweet world, or tender you dear selves, be not unmindful what is good for the advancement of your commendable parts. All is nothing without advancement [49]. Though my experience be a Cipher in these causes, yet having studiously perused the new Art-notory, that is, the foresaid Supererogation, and having shaken so many learned asses by the ears, as it were by the hands, I could say no less, and might think more.

Gentlemen, you that think promise a bond, and use to perform more than you threaten, never believe Braggadocio again for his sake[50]. When he hath done his best and his worst, trust me, or credit your own eyes, his Best best is but Cat's-meat, & his worst Worst but Dog's-meat enough[51]… Be it known unto all men by these presents that Thomas Nashe, from the top of his wit, looking down upon simple creatures, calleth Gabriel Harvey a Dunce, a fool, an idiot, a dolt, a goose-cap [a booby, noodle, numskull], an ass, and so forth (for some of the residue is not to be spoken but with his own mannerly mouth), but the wise man in print should have done well in his learned Confutation to have showed particularly which words in my Letters were the words of a Dunce; which Sentences, the sentences of a fool; which Arguments, the arguments of an Idiot; which Opinions, the opinions of a dolt; which Conclusions, the conclusions of an Ass. Either this would be done (for I suppose he would be loath to prove some Asses that in favour have written otherwise, and in reason are to verify their own testimonies), or he must be fain himself to eat his own Cat's-meat, & Dog's-meat: and swallow down a Dunce, a fool, an idiot, a dolt, a goose-cap, an ass in his own throat, the proper case of his filthiest excrements, and the sink of the famous rascal that had rather be a Polecat with a stinking stir than a musk-cat [civet-cat] with gracious favour[52]

It is the least of his famous adventures that he undertaketh to be Greene's advocate: as divine Plato assayed to defend Socrates at the Bar: and I know not whether it be the least of his doughty exploits that he salveth his friend's credit as that excellent disciple saved his master's life. He may declare his dear affection to his Paramour [sweetheart], or his pure honesty to the world, or his constant zeal to play the Devil's Orator: but no Apology of Greene like Greene's Groatsworth of Wit: and when Nashe will indeed accomplish a work of Supererogation, let him publish Nashe's Pennyworth of Discretion[53]. If he be learneder or wiser than other in so large an assize as should appear by the report of his own mouth, it is the better for him: but it were not amiss he should sometime look back to the budget of Ignorance and Folly that hangeth behind him, as otherwhiles he condescendeth to glance at the satchel of his grammar books...

When witty girding faileth, as it pitifully faileth in every page of that Superarrogatory work, Lord, what odious baggage, what rascal stuff, what villainous trumpery filleth up the leaf, and how egregiously would he play the vengeable Sycophant[54] if the conveyance of his Art or wit were in any measure of proportion correspondent to his pestilent stomach? But in the fellest fit of his Fury, even when he runneth upon me with openest mouth, & his Spite, like a poisonous toad, swelleth in the full, as if some huge tympany of wit would presently possess his brain, or some horrible Fiery Spright would fly in my face, and blast me to nothing : then good Dick Tarleton is dead[55], & nothing alive but Cat's-meat & Dog's-meat enough. Nay, were it not that he had dealt politicly in providing himself an authentical surety, or rather a mighty protector at a pinch, such a devoted friend and inseparable companion as Aeneas was to Achates[56], Pylades to Orestes, Diomedes to Ulysses, Achilles to Patroclus, and Hercules to Theseus : doubtless he had been utterly undone. Compare old and new histories of far & near countries, and you shall find the late manner of Sworn Brothers to be no new fashion, but an ancient guise and heroical order, devised for necessity, continued for security, and maintained for profit and pleasure. One man, nobody, and a daily friend as necessary as our daily bread. No treasure more precious, no bond more indefeasible, no castle more impregnable, no force more invincible, no truth more infallible, no element more needful, than an entire & assured associate, ever pressed, as well in calamity to comfort or in adversity to relieve, as in prosperity to congratulate or in advancement to honour…  Life is sweet, but not without sweet society, & an inward affectionate friend (as it were an other The-same, or a second Self), the very life of life, and the sweetheart of the heart. Nashe is learned, and knoweth his Liripoop[57].

Where was Euryalus, there was Nisus; where Damon, there Pythias; where Scipio, there Laelius; where Apollonius, there Damides; where Proclus, there Archiadas; where Pyrocles, there Musidorus; where Nashe, there his Nisus, his Pythias, his Laelius, his Damides, his Archiadas, his Musidorus, his indivisible companion, with whose puissant help he conquereth, wheresoever he rangeth. Nay, Homer not such an author for Alexander, nor Xenophon for Scipio, nor Virgil for Augustus, nor Iustin for Marcus Aurelius, nor Livy for Theodosius Magnus, nor Caesar for Selimus, nor Philip de Comines for Charles the Fifth, nor Machiavel for some late princes, nor Aretine for some late Courtesans, as his Author for him, the sole author of renowned victory[58]. Marvel not that Erasmus hath penned the Encomium [eulogy] of Folly, or that so many singular learned men have laboured the commendation of the Ass: he it is that is the godfather of writers, the superintendent of the press, the muster-master of innumerable bands, the General of the great field; he and Nashe will confute the world.[59] And where is the Eagle's quill that can sufficiently advance the first spoils of their new conquests?

Whist, sorry pen, and be advised how thou presume above the highest pitch of thy possibility. He that hath christened so many notable authors, censured so many eloquent pens, enrolled so many worthy garrisons, & encamped so many noble and reverend Lords, may be bold with me[60]. If I be an Ass, I have company enough, and if I be an Ass, I have favour to be installed in such company. The name will shortly grow in request, as it sometime flourished in glorious Rome, and who then will not sue to be free of that honourable Company[61]?

Who is not limned with some default, or who readier to confess his own imperfections than myself? but when in professed hatred, liked a mortal feudist, he hath uttered his very uttermost spite, & wholly disgorged his rancorous stomach, yet can he not so much as devise any particular action of trespass, or object any certain vice against me, but only one grievous crime called Pumps and Pantofles (which indeed I have worn, ever since I knew Cambridge), & his own dearest heart-root, Pride, which, I protest before God and man, my soul in judgement as much detesteth as my body in nature loatheth poison, or anything abhorreth his deadly enemy, even amongst those creatures which are found fatally contrary by natural Antipathy. It is not excess, but defect of pride that hath broken the head of some men's preferment… It may seem a rude disposition that sorteth not with the quality of the age, & Policy deemeth that virtue a vice; that modesty, simplicity; that resoluteness, dissoluteness; that conformeth not itself with a supple & deft correspondence to the present time, but no such Ox in my mind as Tarquinius Superbus, no such calf as Spurius Maelius[62], no such colt as Publius Clodius[63], no such Ape as Lucian's Rhetorician, or the Devil's Orator. Blind ambition, a noble bayard [bay horse]; proud arrogancy, a golden Ass; vain conceit, a gaudy Peacock: all bravery that is not effectual, a gay nothing. He upbraideth me with his own good nature, but where such an insolent braggart, or such a puffing thing, as himself, that in magnifying his own bauble, & debasing me, revileth them whose books or pantofles he is not worthy to bear. If I be an Ass, what Asses were those courteous friends, those excellent learned men, those worshipful & honourable personages, whose Letters of undeserved but singular commendation may be shown? What an Ass was thyself, when thou didst publish my praise amongst the notablest writers of this realm?[64] or what an Ass art thyself, that in the spitefullest outrage of thy maddest Confutation, dost otherwhiles interlace some remembrances of more account than I can acknowledge without vanity, or desire without ambition? The truth is, I stand as little upon others' commendation or mine own titles as any man in England whosoever if there be nothing else to solicit my cause, but being so shamefully and intolerably provoked in the most villainous terms of reproach, I were indeed a notorious insensate Ass in case I should either sottishly neglect the reputation of so worthy favourers[65], or utterly abandon mine own credit. Sweet gentlemen, renowned knights, and honourable Lords, be not ashamed of your Letters, imprinted or written; if I live, seeing I must either live in tenebris with obloquy, or in luce with proof, by the leave of God I will prove myself no Ass...

Never poor Doctorship was so confuted. The best is, I dote not upon it, and would rather be actually degraded than any way disparage the degree, or derogate from them that are worthier of it. Rest you quiet, and I will not only not struggle with you for a title, but offer here to renounce the whole advantage of a late inquisition upon a clamorous denunciation of St. Fame herself, who presumed she might be as bold to play the blab with you, as you were to play the sloven [knave, rascal] with her.[66] Or if your pen be so rank that it cannot stand upon any ground but the soil of Calumny in the muck-yard of Impudency, or your tongue so laxative that it must utterly utter a great horrible deal more than all, whist awhile, and for your instruction, till some pregnanter lessons come abroad, I will briefly tell you in your ear a certain familiar history of more than one or two breakfasts wherein some eight or nine eggs, & a pound of butter, for your poor part, with God's plenty of other victuals, & wine enough, poured in by quarts and pottles, was a scant pittance for an invincible stomach, two hours before his ordinary…

No remedy, you must be dieted, & let blood in the Cephalica vein of Asses, fools, dolts, idiots, Dunces, doddypolls, and so forth infinitely, & never trust me if you be not as tame-tongued and barren-witted as other honest men of Lombardy & the Low Countries... Only in that singular vein of asses thou art incomparable, and such an egregious arrant fool-monger as liveth not again. She [the Gentlewoman] knew what she said, that entitled Pierce the hogshead of wit; Pennilesse, the tosspot of eloquence; & Nashe, the very inventor of Asses. She it is that must broach the barrel of thy frisking conceit, and canonize the Patriarch of new writers[67].

I will not here decipher thy unprinted packet of bawdy and filthy Rimes in the nastiest kind[68]; there is a fitter place for that discovery of thy foulest shame, & the whole ruffianism of thy brothel Muse, if she still prostitute her obscene ballads, and will needs be a young Courtesan of old knavery. Yet better a Confuter of Letters than a confounder of manners, and better the dog's-meat of [Cornelius] Agrippa, or cat's-meat of Poggius [Florentinus], than the swine's-meat of Martial, or goat'smeat of Aretine. Cannot an Italian ribald vomit out the infectious poison of the world, but an English horel-lorel must lick it up for a restorative, and attempt to putrify gentle minds with the vilest imposthumes of lewd corruption?

 

England, since it was England, never bred more honourable minds, more adventurous hearts, more valorous hands, or more excellent wits, than of late; it is enough for Filly-folly to intoxicate itself, though it be not suffered to defile the land, which the water environeth, the Earth enricheth, the air ensweeteneth, and the Heaven blesseth…ô heavens, what exploits of worth, or rather what miracles of excellency, might be achieved in an age of Policy, & a world of Industry[69]. The date of idle vanities is expired: away with these scribbling paltries: there is another Sparta in hand, that indeed requireth Spartan Temperance, Spartan Frugality, Spartan exercise, Spartan valiancy, Spartan perseverance, Spartan invincibility, and hath no wanton leisure for the Comedies of Athens[70], nor any bawdy hours for the songs of Priapus, or the rimes of Nashe...

What should I speak of the two brave Knights, Musidorus and Pyrocles, combined in one excellent knight, Sir Philip Sidney[71], at the remembrance of whose worthy and sweet Virtues my heart melteth? Will you needs have a written Palace of Pleasure, or rather a printed Court of Honour? Read The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia, a gallant Legendary, full of pleasurable accidents and profitable discourses, for three things especially very notable: for amorous Courting (he was young in years), for sage counselling (he was ripe in judgement), and for valorous fighting (his sovereign profession was Arms), and delightful pastime by way of Pastoral exercise may pass for the fourth… There want not some little Stratagems of importance, and some politic Secrets of privity, and he that would skilfully and bravely manage his weapon with a cunning Fury, may find lively Precepts in the gallant Examples of his valiantest Duellists, especially of Palladius and Daiphantus … Pyrocles and Anaxius, Musidorus and Amphialus, whose lusty combats may seem Heroical Monomachies. And that the valour of such redoubted men may appear the more conspicuous and admirable by comparison and interview of their contraries, smile at the ridiculous encounters of Dametas & Dorus, of Dametas and Clinias, and ever when you think upon Dametas[72], remember the Confuting Champion, more surquidrous than Anaxius, and more absurd than Dametas: and if I should always hereafter call him Dametas[73], I should fit him with a name as naturally proper unto him as his own.

Gallant gentlemen, you that honour Virtue, and would enkindle a noble courage in your minds to every excellent purpose: if Homer be not at hand (whom I have often termed the Prince of Poets, and the Poet of Princes), you may read his furious Iliads & cunning Odysseys in the brave adventures of Pyrocles and Musidorus, where Pyrocles playeth the doughty fighter, like Hector or Achilles; Musidorus the valiant Captain, like Pandarus or Diomedes; both, the famous errant Knights, like Aeneas or Ulysses. Lord, what would himself have proved in fine, that was the gentleman of Courtesy, the Esquire of Industry[74], and the Knight of Valour at those years? Live ever, sweet Book, the silver Image of his gentle wit and the golden Pillar of his noble courage, and ever notify unto the world that thy Writer was the Secretary of Eloquence, the breath of the Muses, the honey-bee of the daintiest flowers of Wit and Art, the Pith of moral & intellectual Virtues, the arm of Bellona in the field, the tongue of Suada in the chamber, the spirit of Practice in esse, and the Paragon of Excellency in Print...

And what an infinite course were it, to run-through the particular commendations of the famous redoubted actors, or the notable pregnant writers, of this age, even in the most puissant Heroical and Argonautical [] kind?

Nimble Entelechy[75] hath been a stranger in some Countries, albeit a renowned Citizen of Greece, and a free Denizen of Italy, Spain, France, and Germany, but welcome the most natural inhabitant of the world, the sail of the ship, the flight of the bow, the shot of the gun, the wing of the Eagle, the quintessence of the mind, the course of the sun, the motion of the heavens, the influence of the stars, the heat of the fire, the lightness of the Air, the swiftness of the wind, the stream of the water, the fruitfulness of the Earth, the singularity of this age: and thank thy most-vigorous self[76] for so many precious works of divine fury and powerable consequence, respectively comparable with the richest Treasuries and bravest armories of Antiquity. Thrice happy, or rather a thousand times happy, Creature, that with most advantage of all honourable opportunities, & with the extremest possibility of his whole powers, inward, or outward, employeth the most excellent excellency of human or divine Nature[77]. Other Secrets of Nature and Art deserve an high reputation in their several degrees, and may challenge a sovereign entertainment in their special kinds, but Entelechy is the mystery of mysteries under heaven, and the headspring of the powerfullest Virtues that divinity infuseth, humanity embraceth, Philosophy admireth, wisdom practiseth, Industry emproveth, valour extendeth; or he conceived, that, conceiving the wonderful faculties of the mind, & astonished with the incredible force of a ravished & enthusiastical spirit, in a profound contemplation of that elevate and transcendent capacity (as it were in a deep ecstasy, or Seraphical vision), most pathetically cried out, ô magnum miraculum Homo.[78]

No marvel, ô great miracle, & ô most powerful Entelechy, though thou seemest a Pilgrim to Dametas, that art the Familiar Spirit of Musidorus, & what wonder though he impeach thy estimation[79], that despiseth the graces of God, flouteth the constellations of heaven, frumpeth the operations of nature, mocketh the effectuallest & availablest Arts, disdaineth the name of Industry or Honesty, scorneth whatsoever may appear Virtuous, fawneth only upon his own conceits, claweth only his own favourites, and quippeth, bourdeth, girdeth, asseth, the excellentest writers of whatsoever note, that tickle not his wanton sense. Nothing memorable or remarkable with him that feasteth not the riotous appetite of the ribald, or the humorous conceit of the fantast. It is his St. Fame to be the infamy of learning[80]; his reformation to be the corruption of his reader; his felicity to be the misery of youth; his health to be the scurf of the City, the scab of the University, the bile of the Realm: his salvation to be the damnation of whatsoever is termed good, or accounted honest...

But Lord, that so invincible a Gentleman should make so solemn account of confuting, and reconfuting, a person of so little worth in his valuation? Sweet man, what should you think of troubling yourself with so tedious a course, when you might so blithely have taken a quicker order, and may yet proceed more compendiously? 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[81] (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… Other spoil or victory (by the leave of the foresaid redoubted daring) will prove a busy piece of work for the son of a mule, a raw Grammarian, a brabbling Sophister, a counterfeit crank, a stale rake-hell, a piperly rimer, a stump-worn railer, a dodkin author, whose two swords are like the horns of a hodmandod; whose courage, like the fury of a gad-Bee; and whose surmounting bravery, like the wings of a butterfly. I take no pleasure to call thee an Ass, but thou provest thyself a Haddock, and although I say not, Thou art a fool, yet thou wilt needs bewray thy diet, and disgorge thy stomach of the Lobster and cod's-head wherewith thou didst englut thyself since thy notorious surfeit of pickle-herring and dogfish[82].

Meanwhile it hath pleased some sweet wits of my acquaintance (whom Heaven hath baptized the Spirits of harmony, and the Muses have entertained for their Paramours), to reacquite Sonnets with Sonnets, and to snib the Thrasonical rimester with Angelical metre, that may haply appear in fit place, and finely discover young Apuleius in his ramping robe, the fourth Fury in his Tragical Pageant[83], the new Sprite in his proper haunt or buttery, and the confuting Devil in the horologe. One She, and two He’s[84], have vowed they will pump his Railing ink-horn as dry as ever was Holborn Conduit[85], and squeeze his Craking Quill to as empty a sponge as any in Hosier Lane… The desperate mind that assayeth impossibilities in nature, or undertaketh incredibilities in Art, must be content to speed thereafter. When every attempt faileth in performance, and every extremity foileth the enterpriser, at last even Impudency itself must be fain to give over in the plain field, and never yield credit to the word of that most credible Gentlewoman[86], if the very brazen buckler prove not finally a notorious Dash-Nashe. He summed all in a brief but material sum that called the old Ass the great A, and the est Amen of the new Supererogation[87].

And were I here compelled to dispatch abruptly (as I am presently called to a more commodious exercise), should I not sufficiently have discharged my task, and plentifully have commended that famous creature whose praise the Title of the Pamphlet professeth? He that would honour Alexander may crown him the great A of puissance: but Pyrrhus, Hannibal, Scipio, Pompey, Caesar, divers other mighty Conquerors, & even some modern Worthies, would disdain to have him sceptred the est Amen of Valour. What a brave and incomparable Alexander is that great A that is also the est Amen of Supererogation[88]; a more miraculous and impossible piece of work than the doughtiest puissance, or worthiest valour, in the old or new world? Shall I say blessed, or peerless, young Apuleius, that from the swathing-bands of his infancy in Print was suckled of the sweetest nurses[89], lulled of the dearest grooms, cockered of the finest minions, colled [embraced] of the daintiest paramours, hugged of the enticingest darlings, and more than tenderly tendered of the most delicious Muses, the most amiable Graces, and the most powerful Virtues of the said unmatchable great A, the grand founder of Supererogation, and the sole Patron of such meritorious clients.[90]

As for other remarkable Particulars in the Strange News, Ink is so like Ink, spite so like spite, impudency so like impudency, brokage so like brokage, and Tom-Pennilesse now so like Pap-hatchet [John Lyly] when the time was, that I need but overrun an old censure of the One by way of new application to the Other… Pap-Hatchet, desirous for his benefit to curry favour with a noble Earl, and, in defect of other means of Commendation, labouring to insinuate himself by smooth glozing & counterfeit suggestions (it is a Courtly feat to snatch the least occasionet of advantage with a nimble dexterity), some years since provoked me… For what other quarrel could Greene or this dogfish ever pick with me, whom I never so much as twitched by the sleeve before I found myself and my dearest friends unsufferably quipped in most contumelious and opprobrious terms. But now there is no remedy, have amongst you, blind Harpers of the Printing-house, for I fear not six hundred Crowders [fiddlers], were all your wits assembled in one cap of Vanity, or all your galls united in one bladder of choler. I have lost more labour than the transcripting of this Censure, which I dedicate neither to Lord not Lady, but to Truth and Equity, on whose sovereign Patronage I rely.

[…][91]

So then of Pappadocio [Lyly], whom nevertheless I esteem a hundred times learneder, and a thousand times honester, than this other Braggadocio [Nashe], that hath more learning than honesty, and more money than learning, although he truly entitle himself Pierce Pennilesse, and be elsewhere styled the Gentleman Ragamuffin [a dirty, shabbily-clothed child; an urchin]. Nashe, the Ape of Greene; Greene, the Ape of Euphues[92]; Euphues, the Ape of Envy, the three famous mammets [Mahomets] of the press, and my three notorious feudists, draw all in a yoke, but some Scholars excel their masters, and some lusty blood will do more at a deadly pull than two or three of his yoke-fellows. It must go hard, but he will emprove himself the incomparable darling of immortal Vanity. Howbeit his friends could have wished he had not shown himself to the world such a ridiculous Suffenus or Shakerley[93] to himself, by advancing the triumphal garland upon his own head before the least skirmish for the victory, which if he ever obtain by any valiancy, or bravure (as he weeneth himself the valiantest and bravest Actor that ever managed pen), I am his bondman in fetters, and refuse not the humblest vassalage to the sole of his boot… Yet well worth the Master-Ape and Captain-mammet that had a hatchet as well as Pap, a Country cuff as well as a fig; a crabtree cudgel as well as a nut; something of a man's face, with more of an Ape's face. Had his pen been muzzled at the first, as his mouth hath been bunged since, these fresh Euphuists would never have adventured upon the whip or the bob, but Silence is a slave in a chain, and Patience the common Pack-horse of the world. Even this brat of an Ape's-clog, that can but mow with his mouth, gnash with his teeth, quaver with his ten bones, and brandish his goose-quill, presuming of my former sufferance, layeth about him with the said quill as if it were possessed with the sprite of Orlando Furioso, or would teach the club of Gargantua to speak English[94]

Blessed Euphues, thou only happy, that hast a train of such good countenances in thy flourishing greene-motley livery: miserable I, the unhappiest on earth, that am left desolate. Ah, but that might be endured: every man is not born to be the leader of a band, every bird carrieth not Argus' eyes displayed in her tail, Fame is not everybody's saint…

Iwis [surely] it were purer Euphuism[95] to win honey out of the thistle, to sweeten Aloe with sugar, to perfume the stinking Sagapenum [a gum-resin] with musk, and to mitigate the heat of Euphorbium with the juice of the lily. Tush, you are a silly humanitian of the old world; that was the simplicity of the age that loved friendship more than gold, & esteemed everything fine that was neat & wholesome; all was pure that was seasoned with a little salt, & all trim that was besprinkled with a few flowers; now the fiercest Gunpowder, and the rankest pike sauce, are the bravest figures of Rhetoric in esse: and he the only man at the Scrivener's Pistol[96], that will so incessantly haunt the Civilian and Divine, that to avoid the hot chase of his fiery quill, they shall be constrained to ensconce themselves in an old Urinal case[97]. Give me such a Bonifacius. Now well worth some terms of Aqua fortis at a pinch: and welcome Urinal case, a fit sconce for such valiant terms, and a meet Bulwark against that fiery quill. I have already felt his pulse, and cannot well cast his water without an Urinal, either old or new. But an old Urinal will not so handsomely serve the turn; it would be as new as the Capcase of Strange News, but a pure mirror of an impure stale, neither gross, the clearer to represent a gross substance, nor green, the livelier to express some greene colours & other wanton accidents, nor any way a harlot, the trulier to discover the state of a harlotry. I have seen as hot an Agent made a tame Patient, and glad to ensconce the dregs of his shame in an old Urinal. It is a blab [blabber], but not every man's blab, that casteth a sheep's eye out of a Calf's head, but a blab with judgement, but a blab that can make excrements blush, and teach Chaucer to retell a Canterbury Tale. But such great Iudicials require some little study: and St. Fame is disposed to make it Holiday[98]. She hath already put on her wispen garland over her pouting Cross-cloth, and behold with what an Imperial Majesty she cometh riding in the ducking-chariot of her Triumph. I was never so sick of the milt but I could laugh at him that would seem a merry man, & cannot for his life keep in the breath of a fumish fool. Fie, Long Meg of Westminster would have been ashamed to disgrace her Sunday bonnet with her Saturday wit. She knew some rules of Decorum, and although she were a lusty bouncing ramp [a vulgar, ill-behaved woman], somewhat like Gallemella [gall-mellé], or Maid Marian, yet was she not such a roinish rannell [scurvy hussy], or such a dissolute gillian-flirts [a young woman of a giddy character], as this wainscot-faced Tomboy, that will needs be Danter's Malkin[99], and the only hag of the Press...

I would I might make it a Policy to make my adversary much and much and much better than he is, that I might reencounter him with the more reputation, or the less disparagement, but it is his glory to shame himself notoriously, and he will needs proclaim his own vanities in a thousand sentences, and whole Volumes of ribaldry, not to be read but upon a muckhill, or in the priviest privy of the Bordello… They that have leisure to cast away (who hath not some idle hours to lose?) [100] may peruse his gewgaws [gaudy trifles, toys or baubles] with indifferency, and find no Art but Euphuism, no wit but Tarletonism, no honesty but pure Scoganism, no religion but precise Marlowism, no consideration but mere Nashery… St. Fame, the goddess of his devotion; St. Blaze, the idol of his Zeal; St. Audrey, the lady of his love[101]; and the young Vicar of St. Fools, his ghostly Father. I have heard of many notable proud fools: read of many egregious aspiring fools …but to overcrow an Ass is a sorry Conquest, and a miserable Trophy for so doughty a Squire.

Vain Nashe, whom all posterity shall call vain Nashe; were thou the wisest man in England, though wouldst not, or were thou the valiantest man in England, thou durst not have written as thou hast desperately written, according to thy greene wit[102]: but thou art the boldest bayard in Print, a hare-brained fool in thy head, a vile swad in thy heart, a foul lie in thy throat, and a vainglorious Ass in thy pen, as I will prove upon the carcass of thy wit and courage throughout all the Predicaments of proof. I hate malice in myself, but love not to be an Upholster of stuffed and bombasted malice in other…

Thy wit already maketh buttons, but I must have St. Fame disclaim her black Sanctus[103], and Nashe's devout Supplication to God to forgive Pierce's reprobate Supplication to the Devil. It must be roundly done, or I will, with a charm for a full stomach, make the gorge of thy belching Rhetoric, & the paunch of thy surfeiting Poetry, fling figures upward and downward… I have twenty and twenty charms for the breaking of stubborn jades, for the biting of mad dogs, for the stinging of Scorpions, for the darting of Urchins, for the haunting of sprites, for the storming of tempests, for the blazing of lightning, for the rattling of thunder, and so forth, even for the craking of an hundred Pap-hatchets, or a thousand Greenes, or ten thousand Nashe's Peagooses [dolts, simpletons]. [104] And in case all happen to fail (for it must be a mighty Exorcism that can conjure down Spite), I have a Probatum est [an unfailing tool], of a rare and powerable virtue, that will hold the nose of his or his conceit to the grindstone, and make gentle Villainy confess all the shreds and rags of his flashingest terms are worn to the stumps. The desperate fool may claw-back himself awhiles, but it is possible he may soon find by sound Experience. He [Harvey] brayeth open war against him that can bray the Ass-drum in a mortar, & stamp his Iew's trump to Pin-dust. Tom Drum, reconcile thyself with a Counter-supplication, or surely it is fatally done, and thy St. Fame utterly undone world without end[105]. As savoury a Saint, by the verdict of that Gentlewoman, as the cleanly disbursing of the dirt-purse of Sir Gargantua[106], that made King Charlemagne and his worthy chivalry laugh so merrily that their heads ached eight days after. A meet Idol for such a Beadsman...

I stand not upon the point of honour, or upon terms of reputation, but as it is a glory for the inferior to offer the combat, like the Champion of prowess, or the Duellist of courage, so I would the superior might refuse that without prejudice which he cannot undertake without disparagement, or perform without obloquy. To spoil Pierce Pennilesse were a poor booty: and to make Thomas Nashe kiss the rod (by her favour that hath pleasurably made him a Sultan Tomumboius, & another Almannus Hercules, the great Captain of the Boys), were as sorry a victory, but only in her Bello Euboico, or in her main battle of Scolds[107]. Yet seeing he provoketh me so malapertly hand to hand, & seeing the infancy of his fancy will not otherwise be weaned from his crank conceit: better such a victory with some inconvenience (for I hope I may without arrogancy presume of the victory), than continual disturbance with more and more mischief...

Thy tongue is a mighty Loadstone of Asses, and must do as much for thine own natural ears as the Magnes[108] doth for iron. As good do it at first as at last, and better voluntary confession with favour, than enforced profession with more shameful penance...  Every Ass is naturally a well disposed creature, and (as the learned Rabbins have written), a mirror of clemency, patience, abstinence, labour, constancy, and divine wisdom. No such Schoolmaster for a wild boy, or a rash fool, as the sober and staid Ass, the Countryman of the wise Apollo, and the seven wise masters…[109] What should I surcharge your memory with more histories at once? He that remembreth the government of Balaam's Ass, Aesop's Ass, Lucian's Ass, Apuleius' Ass, Machiavel's Ass, Agrippa's Ass, the Cumane Ass, the rabbins' Ass, Apollo's Ass, the seven sages' Ass, Silenus' Ass, Priapus' Ass, Achitophel's Ass, and Absolon's mule, little needeth any other tutor or counsellor… Agrippa, Cardan, Trithemius, Erasmus[110], and divers other notable Scholars, affecting to show the variety of their reading, and the omnisufficiency of their learning, have been bolder in quoting such reverend examples upon as light, or lighter, occasion, but humanity must not be too saucy with divinity, & enough is better than a Feast. Sweet Apuleius [Nashe], when thou hast wiped thy mouth with thine own Ass-dung, and thine own tongue hath said unto thy pen, Pen, thou art an Ass: then fellow-asses may shake hands, and they clap their hands that have heard the comedy of Adelphi, or the two Asses[111]: a more notable Pageant than the Interlude of the two Sosias, of the two Amphitryos, or the two Menaechmi, or the two Martin Guerras[112], or any such famous Pair of the true person and the counterfeit. But Asses carry mysteries, and what a riddle is this? that the true man should be the counterfeit, and the false fellow, the true Ass...

And ô, sweet Muses of Parnassus, are not the sweetest pipes and pleasantest instruments made of Asses bones? or do not the skilful Geographers, Strabo and Pliny, call dainty Arcadia in Peloponnesus (the native country of the great Apollo), the Land of Asses? Was not the renowned Pan, the Politic Captain of the conquerous Bacchus, & a supposed God in the Paynim [pagan] world, an Arcadian Ass? Was not Prince Arcas, the brave son of king Iupiter, after his death honoured with the glorious memorial of the Great Bear in heaven, an Arcadian Ass? …

But what an Ass am I, that proceed so coldly and dully in the Apology of so worthy a Creature? What will you say, Gentlemen, if I can prove with pregnant arguments, artificially drawn from all the places of Invention, according to Ramus', Rodolphus' [Agricola’s], or Aristotle's Logic, that the fire-breathing Oxen and mighty Dragon which kept the most famous Golden Fleece, the glorious prize of brave Iason, were Asses of Colchos[113]; that the watchful and dreadful dragon which kept the goodly Golden Apples in the Occidental Islands of the Ocean, called Hesperides, one of the renowned prizes of doughty Hercules, was a West Indian Ass; that the golden-horned and brazen-footed Maenalian hart, the fierce Erymanthean Boar, the hideous birds Stymphalides, the puissant Nemean Lion[114], and the seven-headed Lernaean Hydra, which Hercules slew, were Asses of Arcadia… I skip a thousand memorable Histories; that all they, by whatsoever noble or glorious names entitled, that having charge of greatest importance and inestimable Value committed to their vigilant and jealous custody, did at once forego their treasure, their honour, and their life (as many great personages, for want of circumspection, have done), were notorious Arch-asses. If I cannot substantially prove all this, and, for a need, evict by necessary and immediate demonstration, that the great world is a great Ass, as well actu as Potentia [as actually as potential], and the Microcosm a little Ass, as well habitu as affectione [as habitually as affectionally]: say I am a notable Ass, as well re as nomine [as factually as nominally]…

The world was never given to singularities, and no such monster as Excellency. He that speaketh, as other use to speak, avoideth trouble: and he that doth, as most men do, shall be least wondered at. The Ox and the Ass are good-fellows[115]; the Leopard and the Fox, quaint wizards; whatsoever is above the common capacity or usual ability, a Paradox. I will not bethink myself of the vigorous sentences of Stoical Philosophers, or the biting Apothegms of seditious Malcontents, or the angry sayings of froward Saturnists, or the tumultuous Proverbs of mutinous people (I have small affection to the reasons that are drawn from affection): but were not the world an Universal Ox, and man a general Ass[116], how were it possible that so many counterfeit sleights, crafty conveyances, subtle Sophistications, wily cozenages, cunning impostures, and deep hypocrisies should overflow all: so many opinions, paradoxes, sects, schisms, heresies, apostacies, idolatries, atheisms, should pester the church; so many frauds, shifts, collusions, covens, falsifications, subornations, treacheries, treasons, factions, commotions, rebellions, should disturb the Commonwealth? It  is a world to consider what a world of Follies and Villainies possesseth the world: only because the world is a world, id est, an Ass. And would the Press suffer this scribbling Ass to domineer in Print, if it were not a Press, id est, an Ass? Might it please his confuting  Assship [Nashe], by his honourable permission to suffer One [Harvey] to rest quiet, he might, with my good leave, be the grand General of Asses, or reign alone in his proper dominion, like the mighty Assyrian king, even Phul Assar himself, the famous son of the renowned Phul Bullochus[117]. For so the Gentlewoman hath entitled him [Phul Assar] in a place or two, that [the Gentlewoman] hath vowed the Canonization of Nashe’s St. Fame in certain discourses of regard[118], already dispatched to my satisfaction, & almost accomplished to her own intention[119]. It may peradventure be his fortune to leave as glorious a nephew behind him as ever was the redoubted Lob[lout]-assar -duck[120], another noble king of Assyria, not forgotten by the said Gentlewoman, but remembered with such a grace as beautifieth divine wits. Kind-heart hath already offered fair for it, & were it not that the great Phul Assur himself had forestalled and engrossed all the commodities of Assyria, with the whole Encomium of Asses, into one hand: it should have gone very hard, but this redoubted Lob-assar-duck would have retailed, and regrated, some precious part of the said commodities and advancements. He may haply in time, by especial favour and approved desert (what means of preferment to especial favour and approved desert?), be entertained as a chapman of choice, or employed as a factor of trust, and have some stables of Asses at his appointment, as may seem meetest for his carriages, and conveyances. For mine own part, I must be contented to remain at his devotion, that hath the whole generation of Assyrians at commandment , with a certain personal privilege, or rather an Imperial Prerogative, to create and install Asses at pleasure. Had I not lately revisited the Assyrian [=Ass-yrian] History with the said virtuous Gentlewoman[121], one of the gallantest ornaments of her sex, I might perchance have omitted this small parcel of his great honour, and left the commendation of the Ass more unperfect, which, notwithstanding, I must still leave most unperfect, in respect of his unspeakable beau-desert. Unto whom, for a farewell, I can wish no more than accomplished honour, nor no less than athletical health… I were best to end before I begin, and to leave the Author of Asses where I found the Ass of Authors. When I am better furnished with competent provision (what provision sufficient for so mighty a Province?), I may haply assay to fulfil the Proverb, by washing the Asses head, and setting the crown of highest praise upon the crown of young Apuleius, the heir apparent of the old Ass, the most glorious old Ass[122].

I have written in all sorts of humours privately, I am persuaded, more than any young man of my age in England”. They be the words of his own honourable mouth, and the golden Ass, in the superabundance of his rich humours, promiseth many other golden mountains, but hath never a scrat of silver. Had Aristophanes' Plutus been outwardly as liberal as Greene's Mercury was inwardly prodigal, he must needs have been the only Oriental Star of this Language? and all other writers, old or new, in prose or verse, in one humour or other, but sorry Occidental Stars. Only external defects, quoth himself, are cast in his dish; for internal graces, and excellentest perfections of an accomplished mind, who but he? Come, divine Poets and sweet Orators, the silver-streaming fountains of flowingest wit and shiningest art; come, Chaucer and Spenser[123], More and Cheke, Ascham and Astley, Sidney and Dyer; come,the dearest sister of the dearest brother, the sweetest daughter of the sweetest Muses[124], only One excepted, the brightest Diamond of the richest Eloquence, only One excepted, the resplendentest mirror of Feminine valour, only One excepted, the Gentlewoman of Courtesy, the Lady of Virtue, the Countess of Excellency, and the Madam of immortal Honour[125]: come, all the daintiest dainties of this tongue, and do homage to your Vertical Star, that hath all the sovereign influences of the eloquent and learned Constellations at a beck, and Paradiseth the Earth with the ambrosial dews of his incomprehensible wit. But what should I dally with honey-bees, or presume upon the Patience of the gentlest Spirits that English Humanity affordeth? Pardon me, Excellent minds: and I will here dismiss my poor milkmaid, nothing appliant to the delicate humour of this minion Humorist, and Courtesan Secretary.  

Aretine and the Devil's Orator [Nashe] would be ashamed to be convicted or indicted of the least respective or ceremonious phrase, but in mockage or cozenage… Whom durst not he [Aretine] appeach, revile, or blaspheme, that forged the abominablest book in the world, De tribus impostoribus mundi[126] …   His wanton disciples, or Vain-conceited favourites (such crows, such eggs), in their fantastical Letters, and Bacchanal Sonnets, extol him monstrously, that is, absurdly: as the only Monarch of wit, that is, the Prodigal son of conceit, and the mortal God of all Virtue, that is, the immortal Devil of all Vice. Oh, what grandiloquous Epithets, and supereminent Titles of incredible and prodigious excellency, have they bestowed upon the Arch-miracle of the world, Signior Unico [Aretine]? not so little as the huge Gargantua of prose, and more than the heaven-surmounting Babel of Rime.

But what approved man of learning, wisdom, or judgement ever deigned him [Aretine] any honour of importance, or commendation of note: but the young darling of St. Fame, Thomas Nashe, alias Pierce Pennilesse, the second Leviathan of Prose, and another Behemoth of rime?[127] He it is that is born to glorify Aretine, to disgrace Bartas[128], and to undo me. Say I, write I, or do I what I can, he will haunt and trounce me perpetually, with spritish works of Supererogation, incessant tormentors of the Civilian, and the Divine. Yet somebody was not wont to indite upon aspen leaves of paper, and take heed, Sirrah, of the Fatal Quill, that scorneth the sting of the busy Bee, or the scratch of the kittish shrew. A Bee? a drone, a dor, a dor-beetle, a dormouse. A shrew? a drab, a hag, a flibbertigibbet [a chattering person, a devil or fiend], a makebate, the pickthank of Vanity, the pickpocket of foolery, the pickpurse of all the paltries and knaveries in Print[129]. She doth him no wrong that doth him right, like Astraea, and hath styled him with an immortal pen[130], the Baw-waw of Scholars, the Tut of gentlemen, the Tee-hee of gentlewomen, the Fie of citizens, the Blurt of courtiers, the Pooh of good Letters, the Faph of good manners, the whoop-hoo of good boys in London streets[131].  Nashe, Nashe, Nashe (quoth a lover of truth and honesty), vain Nashe, railing Nashe, craking Nashe, bibbing Nashe, baggage Nashe, swaddish Nashe, roguish Nashe, Nashe the bell-wether of the scribbling flock, the swish-swash of the press, the bum of Impudency, the shambles of beastliness, the polecat of Paul's Churchyard, the shritch-owl of London, the toadstool of the Realm, the scorning-stock of the world, & the horrible Confuter of four Letters. Such an Antagonist hath fortune allotted me, to purge melancholy, and to thrust me upon the Stage: which I must now load, like the old subject of my new praise[132]. There is no warring with Destiny, and the Lord of my leisure will have it so. Much good may it do the puppy of  St. Fame[133] so to confute, and so to be confuted.

He weeneth himself a special penman, as he were the headman of the Pamphleting crew[134], next, and immediately after, Greene, and although he be a harsh Orator with his tongue (even the filed Suada of Isocrates wanted the voice of a Siren, or the sound of an Echo), yet would he seem as fine a Secretary with his pen as ever was [Petrus] Bembus in Latin, or [Niccolò] Machiavel in Italian, or [Antonio de] Guevara in Spanish, or [Jacques] Amyot in French[135], and with a confidence presseth into the rout of that humorous rake, that affecteth the reputation of supreme Singularity. But he must crave a little more acquaintance at the hand of Art, and serve an apprenticehood of some nine or ten years in the shop of curious Imitation (for his wild Fantasy will not be allowed to maintain comparison with curious Imitation), before he will be able to perform the twentieth, or fortieth, part of that sufficiency whereunto the crankness of his Imagination already aspireth, as more exquisite than the Atticism of Isocrates, or more puissant than the fury of Tasso...

Alas, thy wit is as tame as a duck; thy art as fresh as sour ale in summer; thy brazen shield in thy forehead; thy brazen boots in thy heart; thy weaver's beam in thy tongue, a more terrible lance than the hideous spear, were the most of thy Power equivalent to the least of thy Spite… Was Pegasus ever a cow in a cage, or Mercury a mouse in a cheese, or Industry a snail in a shell[136], or Dexterity a dog in a doublet, or legerdemain [fr.: léger de main; jugglery; conjuring tricks] a slow-worm, or Vivacity a lazy-bones, or Entelechy a slugplum?[137] Can lively and winged spirits suppress the divinity of their ethereal and seraphical nature?[138] Can the thunder tongue-tie, or the lightning smother, or the tempest calm, or love quench, or Zeal lukewarm, or valour manacle [to fetter or confine], or excellency mew up, or perfection geld, or supererogation comb-cut [take down] itself? Is it not impossible for Humanity to be a spittle-man, Rhetoric a dummerell [a dummy], Poetry a tumbler, History a bankrupt, Philosophy a broker, wit a cripple, courage a jade? How could the sweet Mermaids, or dainty Nymphs, find in their tender hearts to be so far divorced from their quaintest and galliardest minion?  

Art, take heed of an eager appetite, if a little greedy devouring of singularity will so soon get the hicket [hiccup][139], and make thee (as it were) belch the sloven's [knave’s] Oratory, and (as a man would say), parbreak [spew, vomit] the slut's Poetry.

Pure Singularity, wrong not thy arch-excellent Self, but embrace him with both thy arms, that huggeth thee with his fine wits[140], and cowl [put a monk's cowl on, make a monk of] him with thy two coral bracelets, that busseth thee with his two ruby lips, and his three diamond powers, natural, animal, and vital. Precious Singularity, how canst thou choose but dote [be foolishly in love] upon his alabaster neck[141], whose inventive part [th’ inventive part of Singularity] can be no less than a sky-coloured Sapphire, like the heavenly devises of the delicious Poetess Sappho, the godmother of that azure gem; whose Rhetorical figures, sanguine and resplendishing Carbuncles, like the flamy Pyropes of the glistering Palace of the Sun; whose alluring persuasions, Amethysts; whose cutting girds, adamants; whose conquering Ergos, loadstones; whose whole conceit as greene as the greenest Iasper; whose Orient [precious, brilliant] wit, the renowned achates of King Pyrrhus[142], that is, the tabernacle or chancel of the Muses, Apollo sitting in the midst, and playing upon his ivory harp most enchantingly. Is it possible those powerful words of antiquity, whose mighty influence was wont to debase the miraculous operation of the most virtuous stones, herbs, and stars (Philosophy knoweth the incredible force of stones, herbs, & stars), should be to seek in a panting inspired breast, the closet of revealed mysteries, and garden of infused graces? What locks, or bars of Iron, can hold that quicksilver Mercury[143], whose nimble vigour disdaineth the prison, and will display itself in his likeness, maugre whatsoever impeachment of iron Vulcan, or wooden Daedalus?

I hoped to find that I lusted to see, the very singular subject of that invincible & omnipotent Eloquence, that in the worthiest age of the world, entitled heroical, put the most barbarous tyranny of men, and the most savage wildness of beasts, to silence[144], and areared wonderful admiration in the heart-root of obstinatest Rebellion, otherwise how untractable? Had I not cause to platform new Theorics [theories, discourses], and Idees of monstrous excellency, when the parturient mountain of miracles [= Thomas Nashe] was to be delivered of his mighty burden of Supererogation? Who would not ride post [ride rapidly] to behold the chariot of his Triumph, that glorieth as if he had won both the Indies from the Spaniard, or Constantinople from the Turk, or Babylon from the Sophy?

But holla, brave Gentlemen, and alack, sweet Gentlewomen, that would so fain behold St. Fame in the pomp of her majesty[145]; never poor suckling hope so incredibly crossbitten [deceived] with more than excessive defection. I looked and looked for a shining Sun of Singularity, that should amaze the eyes, and astonish the hearts of the beholders, but never poor shimmering Sun of Singularity so horribly eclipsed[146]. I perceive one good honest acre of performance may be more worth than a whole land of Promise.

Take heed, aspiring minds [like Nashe], you that deem yourselves the Paragon wits of the world, lest your hills of jollity be converted into dales of obscurity, and the pomp of your glory become like this pump of shame. Even when Envy boiled his ink, Malice scotched his pen, pride parched his paper, Fury inflamed his heart, St. Fame raged like St. George's dragon[147], mark the Conclusion: the weather was cold, his style frost-bitten, and his wit nipped in the head. Take away the flaunting and huffing braveries of his railing tropes and craking figures, and you see the whole galliard of his Rhetoric, that flouteth the poor Philippics of Tully and Demosthenes, and mocketh him [Harvey] that chanced to name them once in Four Letters; as he used their word Entelechy, now a vulgar French and English word, once in four and twenty Sonnets [Sonnet XIV]. The wise Priest could not tell whether Epiphany [striking appearance] were a man-saint, or a woman-saint, or what the devil it was. Such an Epiphany to this learned man is Entelechy, the only quintessence of excellent and divine minds[148], as is above mentioned, showing whence they came by their heavenly and perpetual motion. What other word could express that noble and vigorous motion, quicker than quicksilver, and the lively spring, or rather the Vestal fire, of the ever-stirring Virtue of Caesar[149], Nescia stare loco [it could never rest]: a mystery, and a very Chimera, [compared] to this swad of swads, that beginneth like a Bull-bear, goeth on like a bullock, endeth like a bullfinch, and hath never a sparkle of pure Entelechy.

(…)[150]

He were very simple that would fear a conjuring Hatchet [John Lyly], a railing Greene, or a threatening Nashe but the old dreamer, like the old dog, biteth sore, and no foe to the flattering Perne, or pleasing Titius[151], that have sugar in their lips, gall in their stomachs; water in one hand, fire in the other; peace in their sayings, war in their doings; sweetness in their exhortations, bitterness in their canvasses; reverence in their titles, coven in their actions: notable men in their kind, but pitch-branded with notorious dissimulation; large promisers, compendious performers; shallow in charity, profound in malice; superficial in theory, deep in practice; masters of Sophistry, Doctors of Hypocrisy; formal friends; deadly Enemies; thrice-excellent Impostors. These, these, were the Only men that I ever dreaded: especially that same odd man Trium Litterarum[152] [of three letters], that for a linsey-woolsey wit, & a cheverel conscience was A per se A[153]: other braggarts or threateners whatsoever I fear as I fear Hobgoblin, & the Bugs of the night…

It is little of Value, either for matter, or manner[154], that can be performed in such perfunctory Pamphlets on either side, but how little soever it be, or may appear, for mine own part, I refuse not to underlie the Verdict of any courteous or equal censure that can discern betwixt chalk and cheese.

Touching the matter, what wanteth, or might be expected here, shall be particularly and largely recompensed, as well in my Discourses entitled Nashe’s St. Fame[155], which are already finished, and attend the Publication: as also in other Supplements thereof, especially those of the above-mentioned Gentlewoman, whom, after some advertisement, it pleased to make the Strange News of the railing Villain the cushionet of her needles and pins[156]. Though my scribblings may fortune to continue awhile, and then have their desert according to the laudable custom (what should toys, or dalliances, live in a world of business?), yet I dare undertake with warrant, whatsoever she writeth must needs remain an immortal work[157], and will leave, in the activest world, an eternal memory of the silliest vermin that she should vouchsafe to grace with her beautiful and allective style, as ingenious as elegant.

Touching the manner, I take it a nice and frivolous curiosity for my person to bestow any cost upon a trifle of no importance: and am so overshadowed with the flourishing branches of that heavenly plant[158], that I may seem to have purposely prevented all comparison in yielding that homage to her divine wit which at my hands she hath meritoriously deserved[159]. Albeit I protest, she was neither bewitched with entreaty, nor juggled with persuasion, nor charmed with any corruption, but only moved with the reason which the Equity of my cause, after some little communication, in her Unspotted Conscience suggested[160]. They that long to advance their own shame (I always except a phoenix or two), may bravely enter the lists of comparison, & do her the highest honour in despite that they could possibly devise in a serviceable devotion.

She hath, in my knowledge, read the notablest Histories of the most singular women of all ages, in the Bible, in Homer, in Virgil (her three sovereign Books, the divine Archetypes of Hebrew, Greek, and Roman Valour), in Plutarch, in Polyen, in Petrarch, in Agrippa, in Tyraquel[161], in whom not, that have specially rendered their diligent devoir [dutiful respect] to honour the excellentest women that have lived in the world, and, commending the meanest, extolling the worthiest, imitating the rarest, and approving all, according to the proportion of their endowments, envieth none but Art in person and Virtue incorporate, the two preciousest creatures that ever flourished upon earth. Other women may yield [give as due, or thank] to Penelope: Penelope to Sappho: Sappho to Arachne: Arachne to Minerva: Minerva to Iuno: Iuno to none of her sex: She to all that use her and hers well[162]: to none of any sex that misuse her, or hers. She is neither the noblest, nor the fairest, nor the finest, nor the richest Lady, but the gentlest, and wittiest, and bravest, and invinciblest Gentlewoman that I know[163]. Not such a wench [young woman] in Europe to unswaddle a fair Baby, or to swaddle a foul puppy[164]. Some of you may aim at her personage, and it is not the first time that I have termed her style the tinsel [a rich material of silk interwoven with gold or silver thread] of the daintiest Muses and sweetest Graces[165], but I dare not Particularize her Description, according to my conceit of her beau-desert, without her licence or permission, that standeth upon masculine, not feminine, terms[166], and is respectively not to be dealt withal, in regard of her courage, rather than her fortune.

And what if she can also publish more works in a month than Nashe hath published in his whole life, or the pregnantest of our inspired Heliconists[167] can equal? Could I dispose of her Recreations, and some others' Exercises, I nothing doubt but it were possible (notwithstanding the most curious curiosity of this age), to breed a new admiration in the mind of Contempt[168], & to restore the excellentest books into their wonted estate, even in integrum [restoration to original condition] [169]. Let me be notoriously condemned of Partiality, and simplicity, if she fail to accomplish more in gallant performance [fulfilment] (now she hath condescended to the spinning up of her silken task[170]), than I ever promised before, or may seem to insinuate now. Yet she is a woman, and for some passions may challenge [claim for] the general Privilege of her sex, and a special dispensation in the cause of an affectionate friend devoted to the service of her excellent desert[171], whom he hath found no less than the Handmaid of Art, the mistress of Wit, the Gentlewoman of right Gentleness, and the Lady of right Virtue. Howbeit even those passions she hath so ordered and managed, with such a witty temper of violent, but advised, motions, full of spirit and blood, but as full of sense and judgement, that they may rather seem the marrow of reason than the froth of affection: and her hottest fury may fitly be resembled to the passing of a brave career by a Pegasus, ruled with the reins of a Minerva's bridle[172]. Her pen is a very Pegasus indeed, and runneth like a winged horse[173], governed with the hand of exquisite skill. She it is that must return the mighty famous work of Supererogation with Benet and Collect[174].  

I have touched the booted Shakerley a little, that is always riding, and never rideth[175]; always confuting, and never confuteth; always ailing [refuting, troubling] something, and railing anything; 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[176], Greene, Marlowe, Chettle, and whom not?[177] that saluteth me with a Gabrielissime Gabriel, which can give him the farewell with a Thomassissime Thomas, or an Assissime Ass, yet have not called him a filthy companion, or a scurvy fellow, as all the world that knoweth him, calleth him, that in his Pierce Pennilesse and Strange News, the Bull-beggars of his courage, hath omitted no word or phrase of his railing Dictionary, but only Tu es Starnigogulus[178], and hath Valiantly vowed to have the last word, to die for 't.

Plaudite Victori, Iuvenes hic quotquot adestis;
Nam me qui vicit, doctior est Nebulo.[179]

The best is, where my Answer is, or may be deemed, Unsufficient (as it is commonly over-tame for so wild a Bullock), there She, with as Visible an Analysis as any Anatome, strippeth his Art into his doublet, his wit into his shirt[180], his whole matter & manner into their first Principles…. I desire no other favour at the hands of Courtesy, but that Art and Wit may be her readers, & Equity my judge, to whose Unpartial Integrity I humbly appeal in the Premises, with dutiful recommendation of Nashe’s St. Fame, even to St. Fame herself[181], who with her own flourishing hands is shortly to erect a Maypole in honour of his [Nashe’s] Victorious Last Word.

Doubt ye not, gallant Gentlemen, he shall find the guerdon of his Valour, & the meed of his meritorious work. Though my Pen be a slugplum, look for a quill as quick as quicksilver, & pity the sorry swain that hath incurred the indignation of such a quill, and may everlastingly be a miserable Spectacle for all libelling rake-hells, that otherwise might desperately presume to venture the foil of their crank folly. The stay of the Publication resteth only at my instance, who can conceive small hope of any possible account or regard of mine own discourses, were that fair body of the sweetest Venus in Print, as it is redoubtedly armed with the complete harness of the bravest Minerva[182].

When his necessary defence hath sufficiently accleared him, whom it principally concerneth to acquit himself: She shall no sooner appear in person, like a new Star in Cassiopeia, but every eye of capacity will see a conspicuous difference between her and other mirrors of Eloquence: and the woeful slave of St. Fame[183] must either blindfold himself with insensible perversity, or behold his own notorious folly with most shameful shame. It will then appear, as it were in a clear Urinal, whose wit hath the greene-sickness[184]: and I would deem it a greater marvel than the mightiest wonder that happened in the famous year '88, if his cause should not have the falling-sickness[185], that is encountered with an arm of such force.  

M. Stow, let it be enchronicled for one of the singularities, or miracles of this age, that a thing lighter than Tarleton's Toy, and vainer than Shakerley's conceit, that is, Nashe, should be the subject of so invaluable a work[186], and be it known to Impudency by these Presents, that his brazen wall is battered to Pin-dust, and his Iron gate shaken all to nothing. It is in the least of her energetical lines to do it, more easily than a fine thread cracketh a jangling Bell. A pretty experiment, &, not unlike some of her strange inventions and rare devises, as forcible to move, as feat to delight.  The issue will resolve the doubtfullest mind, and I am content to refer Incredulity to the visible and palpable evidence of the Term Probatory. When either the Light of Nature and the Sun of Art must be in Eclipse: or the shining rays of her singular gifts will display themselves in their accustomed brightness, and discover the base obscuring of that mischievous Planet that, in a vile ambition, seeketh the exaltation of his fame by the depression of their credit that are able to extinguish the proudest glimpse of his Lamp. Her rare perfections can liveliest blazon themselves: and this [=my] pen is a very unsufficient Orator to express the heavenly beauties of her mind: but I never knew Virtue a more inviolable Virgin than in her excellent self, and the day is yet to come wherein I ever found her Wit a defective or Ecliptic creature.

She knoweth I flatter not her Fortune[187]: and if I honour her Virtue, whose confirmed modesty I could never see disguised with any gloze of commendation, who can blame me for discharging some little part of a great duty? She hath, in mere gratuity, bestowed a largess upon her affectionate servant, that imputeth the same, as an excessive favour, to her hyperbolical courtesy, not to any merit in himself: but the lesser my desert, the greater her liberality[188], whom I cannot any way reacquite farther than the zeal of a most devoted mind may extend, as incessantly thankful as infinitely debtful[189]. For to address a plausible discourse, or to garnish a Panegyrical Oration in her praise, as occasion may present, will appear to be a task of Civil Iustice, not any piece of Civil courtesy, when her own silver Tracts shall publish the precious valour of her golden Virtues, and decipher the inestimable worth of the Author by her divine handiwork[190]. At the first view whereof, as at the piercing sight of the amiablest Beauty, who can tell how sudden Passions may work? or what a sting some tickling Interjection may leave in the heart and liver of affection?

I am ever prone to hope, as I wish, even the best of the worst: and although wilful Malice be a stiff and stubborn adversary to appease, yet I have seen a greater miracle than the pacification of Paper-wars, or the atonement of Inkhorn foes.

There She standeth, that with the finger of Industry[191], and the tongue of Affability, hath achieved some stranger wonders, upon as rough and harsh fellows, as

The noddy Nashe, whom every serving-swash
With pot-jests dash, and every whip-dog lash :

(for the rime is more famous than was intended), and with the same causes emproved, why may She not directly, or violently, accomplish the same effects?[192] or what is impossible to the persuasive and Pathetical influence of Reason, and Affection? It is a very dismal and caitiff Planet that can find in his heart to encounter those two gracious Stars [reason and affection] with malicious aspects: which he must despitefully encounter, that will obstinately oppose his peevish rancour to her sweet Civility.

In case nothing else will prevail with insatiable Envy, and unquenchable Malice (for so I am eftsoons informed, whatsoever course be taken for the mitigation of his rage): yet I am vehemently persuaded in Physic, and resolved in Policy, that the Oil of Scorpions will finally heal the wounds of Scorpions… If Peace, or Treaty, may not be heard, War shall command Peace; and he muzzle the mouth of rankest Impudency, or fiercest hostility, that can do it, and do it otherwise than is yet imagined: and yet nothing like that inspired Gentlewoman. Whose Pen is the shot of the musket, or rather a shaft of heaven[193], swifter than any arrow, and mightier than any hand-weapon, when Courtesy is repulsed, and hostility must enforce amity: but otherwise how graciously amiable, how divinely sweet?[194]  Gentlemen, look upon the lovely glistering Star of the morning, and look for such an Orient Star, when She displayeth the resplendishing beams of her bright wit, and pure bounty.

Meanwhile, if some little shimmering light appear at a little crevice, I have my request, and some pretty convenient leisure to take order with another kind of Strange News in Westminster Hall.

It is some men's fortune to have their hands full of unneedful business at once: and for myself, I should make no great matter of two, or three, such glowing Irons in the fire, were it not some small grief or discouragement to consider that nothing can be perfectly, or sufficiently, performed by halves, or fragments. Which necessary interruption hath been the utter disgrace of the premises, and a great hindrance to my larger Discourses, more ample trifles.

I can but crave pardon, and prepare amends as leisure and occasion may afford opportunity.

Learned wits can skilfully examine, and honest minds will uprightly consider Circumstances, with courteous regard of Favour, or due respect of Reason: in whose only Indifferency, as in a safe and sweet harbour, I repose my whole affiance and security, as heretofore. And so for this present I surcease to trouble your gentle courtesies: of whose Patience I have (according to particular occasions), sometime unmannerly, but modestly; often familiarly, but sincerely; mostwhat freely, but considerately; always confidently, but respectively; in every part simply, in the whole tediously, presumed under correction.

I writ only at idle hours, that I dedicate only to Idle Hours[195]: or would not have made so unreasonably bold, in no needfuller Discourse, than The Praise, or Supererogation of an Ass [196].

This 27 of April, 1593[197]. Your mindful debtor, G. H.

FINIS

 

 

His Sonnet, that will justify his word, and dedicateth Nashe’s St. Fame to Immortality.[198]

A Dame more sweetly brave than nicely fine[199],
Yet fine as finest Gentlewomen be,
Brighter than Diamond in every line,
Is Pennilesse so Witless still? quoth She.
If Nashe will felly gnash, and rudely slash,
Snip-snap a crash may lend St. Fame a gash.[200]
Skill read the Rime, and put it in Truth's purse;
(Experience kisseth Reconcilement's hand).
If warning-piece be scorned, Spite may hear worse;
Though Love no warrior be, Right leads a band.
How fain would Courtesy these jars surcease?
How glad would Charity depart in peace?
But if Sir Rash continue still Sir Swash,
He lives that will him dash, and lash, and squash.
Haec quoque; culpa tua est: haec quoque; poena tua est.
[That is your fault, and that is your punishment.]

 

Another occasional admonition.

Fame roused herself, and gan to swash about[201];
Boys swarmed, youths thronged, bloods swore, brutes reared the hoot [outcry],
Her meritorious work, a Wonderclout [a strange rag, patch];
Did ever Fame so bravely play the Lout?
I chanced upon the Rime, and wondered much
What courage of the world, or Mister wight[202],
Durst terrible St. Fame so rashly touch,
Or her redoubtable Bull-begging knight[203].
Incontinent [at once] I heard a piercing voice,
Not Echo's voice, but shriller [more melodious] than a Lark:[204]
Sith destiny allots no wiser choice,
Pastime appose [range side by side] the Pickle-herring clerk[205].
Quiet thy rage, Imperious Swish-swash,
Or Woe be to thy horrible trish-trash.
Est bene, non potuit dicere: dixit, Erit.
[She couldn't say: it is good; she said: it will be good.]

 

The printer's postscript.

Sweet Gentlemen, having committed the Premises to the Press, and acquainting certain learned and fine men with some other of the commendatory Letters and Sonnets of M. Thorius and M. Chute, there was such an especial liking conceived of two other their writings that I was finally entreated, or rather overtreated, to give them also their welcome in Print… I can but recommend their learned exercise, and mine own unlearned labour, to your gentle acceptation.

 

To the right worshipful, my very assured friend, M. Doctor Harvey.

My silence thus long, good M. Doctor Harvey, was not occasioned either by forgetfulness, or by negligence… I leave you with my most hearty and humble recommendations.

Oxford, the 3rd of August, 1593.[206]

Yours always at command, Iohn Thorius.

 

In his never ending pamphlet Harvey discloses everything- truely everything concerning the identity of “Master William”, who, in his opinion, should be parodying Thomas Nashe and not himself, in his next comedy. He tells us of “Will.Monox” who is an oxen or an ‚old Ass’, if he will support Thomas Nashe. He tells us of “Master Apis Lapis”, whom Nashe served badly. Furthermore, he brings a new and fascinating figure on to the literary chess board: “The excellent Gentlewoman”, who shows all of the characteristics of a lance bearer, or a spear shaker and is revered as England's finest author, in spite of her anonymity.

We were ready for anything- but perhaps not such an obvious declaration, without its equal in the entire Elizabethan period. We did however know that William Shake-speare would respond, heartily, openly and with his brilliant tongue firmly in the literary cheek.

How on earth was it possible for Harvey to reveal so much about Shake-speare's identity without subsequent generations understanding what he said?

The first line of the open secret's defence was Harvey's academic mannerisms. Who, we ask ourselves, over the last 400 years has had the tenacity to wade through the exorbitant labyrinths of Harvey's arguments in their entirety. (A complete understanding of Harvey's meanderings requires a firm knowledge of Elizabethan literature and the history of the period.)

The only people who we can, in fairness, expect to understand Harvey's pamphlets are: His publisher and biographer: Sir Egerton Brydges (1815), John Payne Collier (1870), Edward J. L. Scott (1884), Alexander B. Grosart (1884-85), G. C. Moore Smith (1913), Virginia F. Stern (1979) and Peter B. Roberts (2010), along with the publishers and comentators of Thomas Nashe: R. B. McKerrow (London. 1904-1910) und G. R. Hibbard (1962).

We then have a parade of Shakespearian scholars and publishers who made their attempts at an analysis of “Pierces Supererogation” with varying degrees of success: H. C. Hart (1906), John Dover Wilson (1923) and Rupert Taylor (1932). In 1956 Willem Schrickx did his level best to explain Harvey’s ‘superarrogation’ to us. From the Oxfordian Charles W. Barrell (who traced “the muster-master of innumerable bands” back to the Earl of Oxford ), to Elizabeth Appleton (who triggered an avalanche of misinterpretations), Robert Detobel (thorough and reliable as always) and myself or, as Master F. I. would have said: “my poor I”.

 

 

Sources:


1) Pierces supererogation or A new prayse of the old asse A preparative to certaine larger discourses, intituled Nashes S. Fame. Gabriell Harvey.  London : Imprinted by Iohn Wolfe, 1593.  

2) Sir Egerton Brydges, Old English Prose Tracts, vol.II, London 1815

http://books.google.de/books?id=TEZAAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA148&lpg=PA148&dq=harvey+brydges+%22at+the+scrivener's+pistol%22&source=bl&ots=4dz-lMqXjX&sig=wtrttBuiMr3rJ_2eL1cEl8mHTr8&hl=de&sa=X&ei=AKzqUbPKKM3HtAbz1YHgAw&ved=0CC8Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=harvey%20brydges%20%22at%20the%20scrivener's%20pistol%22&f=false

or

http://www.archive.org/stream/piercessupererog00harvrich/piercessupererog00harvrich_djvu.txt

3) The Works of Gabriel Harvey, ed. by Alexander B. Grosart (3 vols). Huth Library 1884–85 (Reprint, Kessinger 2007)

4) Gabriel Harvey: an edition of the anti-Nashe tracts by P.B. Roberts. Cardiff University, 2010.

 

Notes:


[1] “Pierce's Supererogation”: The original work is 220 pages long. Havey's anti-Lyly pamphlet (An Advertisement for Pap-Hatchet and Martin Marprelate), along with other passages, has been deleted, reducing the work to a fifth of its original length. (See note 91.) – Supererogation: OED: Performance of more than duty or circumstances require; doing more than is needed.

[2] “A New Praise of the Old Ass”: Harvey refers, first and foremost, to The Golden Ass from Lucius Apulejus and also to Desiderius Erasmus’ Praise of the Ass (in the famous satire: Moriae encomium from 1511). In doing so he comes uncomfortably close to the man who compared himself (in the role of Master Fortunatus Infoelix) to Lucius Apulejus. (See “This Apuleius was in Afric born”; No. 57).

(In The Shepheardes Calender (January 1580) Edmund Spencer hails the poetic Earl with the name Cuddie: the little ass. A year later Harvey gives him donkey's ears just like those of King Midas: “Eyed like to Argus, eared like to Midas, nos'd like to Naso”.)

[3] “the matter is nothing correspondent to the manner”: one of Harvey's favourite topoi, of which he already makes extensive use in his study of the causes of earthquakes ( in Three proper and wittie familiar Letters, 1580) and in Foure Letters (1592). - Shakespeare parodies “matter and manner” in Loves labors lost (ed. 1598):

CLOWNE [=Costard]. The matter is to me sir, as concerning Iaquenetta: The manner of it is, I was taken with the manner.

BEROWNE. In what manner?

CLOWNE [=Costard]. In manner and forme folowing sir all those three. I was seene with her in the Manner house, sitting with her uppon the Forme, and taken following her into the Parke: which put togeather, is in manner and forme following. Now sir for the manner, It is the manner of a man to speake to a woman, for the forme in some forme.

[4] “Which I cannot read without blushing, repeat without shame, or remember without grief”: One of Harvey's rhetorical tirades that Shakespeare parodies in Loves labors lost (1598):

CONSTABLE.  Sir, the Dukes pleasure is that you keepe Costard safe, and you must suffer him to take no delight, nor no penance, but a'must fast three dayes a weeke: for this Damsell I must keepe her at the Parke, she is alowde for the Day woman [as dairymaid]. Fare you well.

ARMADO.  I do betray my selfe with blushing: Maide.

MAIDE.  Man.

[5] “to advertise me what I should be, or to signify what you wish to be, not to declare what I am, or to insinuate what I may be”: Shakespeare parodies in Loves labors lost:

(BOYET, reading Armado’s letter). Who came? the King.Why did he come? to see. Why did he see? to overcome. To whom came he? to the Begger. What saw he? the Begger. Who overcame he? the Begger. The conclusion is victory: On whose side? the King: the captive is inricht, on whose side? the Beggers.

[6]Nashe’s St. Fame may supply some defects of Pierce's Supererogation”: Nashe’s St. Fame is the intended title of “certain larger discourses” which Harvey repeatedly heralds.

“Saint Fame” refers ironically to Nashe's statement in Strange Newes (1593): “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. With the term “Saint Fame” Nashe means the personification of fame and success. Harvey uses the same term but with a sarcastic switch; with “St Fame”, he means celebrity without merit, a big noise about nothing. He insinuates that “St Fame” is Thomas Nashe's muse. (See note 66.)

[7]the Gentlewoman, my Patroness, or rather Championess, in this quarrel”: Gabriel Harvey names the unknown (yet excellent) gentlewoman as his patroness in the quarrel with Thomas Nashe - as we will see later the “Gentlewoman” is non other than the Earl of Oxford, whose allegiance is also sought after by Thomas Nashe (“Go to, take example by him to wash out dirt with ink.”).

In the interests of clarity, all references to the “excellent Gentlewoman” in the text will be marked in the colour red. (See also 3.1.7.1. The excellent Gentlewoman.)

[8] “meeter by nature, and fitter by nurture, to be an enchanting Angel with her white quill than a tormenting Fury with her black ink”: It is thus alluded to by the celebrated old poet, Thomas Churchyard (c.1520-1604), in a stanza from his Pleasant Conceit penned in Verse (1593).

No writer now dare say, the Crowe is blacke
For cruell Kytes will crave the cause, and why?
A fair white Goose bears feathers on her backe,
That giggles still, much like the chattering Pye.
The Angel bright, that Gabrill is in sky,
Shall know that Nashe I love, and will doe still,
When Gabril’s words scarce winne our world’s good will.

In Loves labors lost Shakespeare picks up on Harvey's obviously constructed turn of phrase and and uses it literally.

ARMADO: Where? where I meane, I did incounter that obseene & most propostrous event that draweth from my snow-white pen the ebon coloured Incke ..?

(The Gentlewoman made her own black ink from the “Ox Stone”, or “Apis lapis”. The gall stones from oxen were used to make black ink.)

[9] “the election of one, whom God endue with more discretion”: Shakespeare uses this rather odd, self enamoured expression in Loves labors lost [V/2]:

BRAGGART [= Armado]. For mine owne part I breath free breath: I have seene the day of wrong through the litle hole of discretion, and I will right my selfe like a Souldier.

[10]Her own Prologue”: Harvey attributes the three prologue poems ( “Prologue”, “Counter sonnet” and “Her old comedy”) to the “Gentlewoman”.

[11] “O muses, may a woman poor and blind, /A Lion-dragon or a Bull-bear [a spectre; a scare-crow; a bugbear] bind?”: Nashe, knowing that Harvey feigns to hate ballads, answers with: “The epistle dedicatory past, the gentlewoman's demur or prologue staggers next after, the first line whereof is stolen out of the ballad of Anne Askew, for, as that begins, I am a woman poor and blind, so begins this: O muses, may a woman poor and blind.”  - Anne Askew  (c.1521-1546) was an English Protestant who was condemned and burnt as a heretic in the last year of Henry VIII's reign.) - We can see that the term “puling wench”, which Harvey uses in the next sentence, was not meant in a detrimental manner by the fact that it was also employed in Love’s Labour’s Lost, IV/1: “when Queen Guinever of Britain was a little wench.”

[12] “Where such a Bombard-goblin”: A goblin is a mischievous and ugly demon. To which demon was was Harvey referring? In the third prologue poem he mentions a Sir Bombarduccio: “I knew a glorious and braving Knight”, says the Gentlewoman. “Of him I scrawled a doughty Comedy.” In 1Henry IV, II/4, Shakespeare calls his immortal character Sir John Falstaff: “that huge bombard of sack”. See note 21.

[13]Her Counter-sonnet”: If you want to learn German (a good idea!), see my translation.

Rümpf die Nase über das weibische Versgeklingel, das wie die Fahne kopflos im Regen hängt. Soll sich mein Magen erleichtern, wenn die Furien singen? Soll mein Freund (Harvey!!) es sich gefallen lassen, wenn man ihn ans Schienbein tritt? Wie fett wollen sich Nashe’s Milchbubi-Musen noch aufblähen? Sollen sich alle Schreiber am Galgen dieses Jungen erhängen? Und keiner hängt den Galgenstrick auf? Wenn der schaurig hinkende Reim den Herzkaspar hat und aus Angst nach Danter’s Vogelscheuchen-Presse verlangt, macht sich eine rabenschwarze Prosa auf den Weg und hilft der verfluchten Feder auf die Sprünge. Auch wenn der Hass ein Kobold ist oder ein Götze oder ein Gespenst: die Wahrheit kennt keine Sorge und wird den Teufel an der Nase packen.

[14] “Shall Boy the gibbet be of Writers all, /And none hang up the gibbet on the wall?”: A reference to the idioms: ‘he's a gallows boy’ – and ‘he be a notable gallows’.

[15] “Danter’s scarecrow Press”: Thomas Nashe's Strange Newes (Jan. 1593) and Have with You to Saffron Walden (Sept. 1596) were printed by John Danter.

[16] “a Termagant”: OED: Name of an imaginary deity held in mediæval Christendom to be worshipped by Muslims: in the mystery plays represented as a violent overbearing personage.

[17]Her old Comedy, newly entitled”: Possibly a reference to Henry the Fourth - original title: “Sir Oldcastle” - see note 7.

[18]My Prose is resolute as Bevis’ sword”: Sir Bevis was the giant warder who guarded the gate of the old Arundel Castle (called in Le Morte d'Arthur the ‘Castle of Magouns’) with his sword Morglay. – The first indication that the “Gentlewoman” was in fact a man.

[19]Superrogation Squire”: A play on the word ‘supererogation’. Rogatio (lat.) means a demand, or an entreaty. Nashe is a Superrogation Squire, because he makes an inappropriate request to the Earl of Oxford.

[20] “But Swash will still his trumpery advance”: “Swash” is one of the many insulting nick names that Harvey gives Nashe. Others are: dash, gnash, Sir Rash, Gnasharduccio, swishswash, gash, rash-swash, swashbuckler.

[21]I knew a glorious and braving Knight … / Of him I scrawled a doughty Comedy. / Sir Bombarduccio was his cruel name”: In 1Henry IV, II/4, Shakespeare calls the fat Sir John: “that huge bombard of sack”. With The Merry Wives of Windsor the dramatist dedicated an entire comedy to Sir John Falstaff.  (The above is to be regarded as a thesis, pending further verification.)

[22] “But Gnasharduccio the sole bruit of Fame”: Tom Nashe is the sole noise (clamour, renown) of Fame. In this setting Fame can be seen as St. Fame, Nashe's black goddess. (At the end of the pamphlet, Harvey calls his enemy “St. Fame’s redoubtable Bull-begging knight”.)

[23]L'Envoy”: In Loves labors lost (1598), Shakespeare parodies one of Harvey's favourite terms. The l’ernvoy is the concluding part of a poetical composition; the author's parting words; a dedication, a postscript.

ARMADO. Some enigma, some riddle, come, thy Lenvoy begin.

CLOWNE [=Costard]. No egma, no riddle, no lenvoy, no salve, in thee male sir.
O sir, Plantan, a pline Plantan: no lenvoy, no lenvoy, no Salve sir, but a Plantan. 

ARMADO. By vertue thou inforcest laughter, thy silly thought, my spleene, the heaving of my lunges provokes me to radiculous smiling: O pardone me my starres, doth the inconsiderate take salve for lenvoy, and the word lenvoy for a salve?

[24] “Discourses of Nashe’s St. Fame, already finished & presently to be published”: Harvey's prematurely heralded pamphlet, which never actually appeared under this title.

[25] “a vile Ass in print”: An author who is prepared to put up with being called an ass.

[26] “to be dieted at the rack of the old Ass, or to be bitten of the young dog”: In this particular context, John Lyly is meant by the term “old Ass”; the “rake hell” who pressed charges before the Earl of Oxford against the outspoken Harvey . (Harvey had to account for himself to the Privy Council.) “The young dog” is Thomas Nashe who called himself “Mar-Marprelate”. – Harvey liked to throw insults like “dog”, “curl”, “hell-hound” etc. , at Nashe.

[27] “his profoundest Author, young Apuleius”: Harvey liked to say that every dishonourable person chose the young Apuleius as his paragon. In this particular case it is up to the reader to decide whether he meant Lucius Apuleius (c.125-c.180) , the author of The Golden Ass, his enemy Thomas Nashe - or both.

[28] “Happy the old father that begat, and thrice happy the sweet Muses that suckled and fostered, young Apuleius”: As of this point the term: “young Apulius” is a synonym for Thomas Nashe. That explains Harvey's sarcastic statement:  “What greater impossibility than to decipher the high and mighty style of young Apuleius without a liberal portion of the same elevate spirit?”  - Later on the rhetorician goes on to say: “Shall I say blessed, or peerless, young Apuleius, that from the swathing-bands of his infancy in Print was suckled of the sweetest nurses and the most powerful Virtues of the said unmatchable great A, the grand founder of Supererogation, and the sole Patron of such meritorious clients.”

If there had been a real live person who supported Nashe during his younger years then this person must have been the Earl of Oxford – “the great Maecenas” as Nashe called him. In other words: Nashe's Lord with whom he drank Rhine wine along with Robert Greene. (See 3.1.5. Nashe, Strange Newes, note 75.)

[29] “I go not about to discover an Ass in an Ox’s hide”: This could be a reference to John Lyly, Oxford's one-time secretary; or it could mean the Earl's new protégé Thomas Nashe. However shortly thereafter Harvey makes the following admission: “But what a notable Ass was I that sought the wings of a mounting Pegasus, or a flying Phoenix, where I found the head & feet of a braying creature?” With this Harvey means that he had previously misjudged Nashe when he described him as being “a proper young man” in Foure Letters . (This supports the equation: ‘The Ox’ = Nashe’s Lord = ‘The old Ass’.)

[30] “that sought the wings of a mounting Pegasus”: Harvey, who calls himself an ass, hopes that the reckless rider Nashe will, one day, fall from the winged horse, Pegasus. Later Harvey will go on to say: “He will soon be ripe, that already giveth so lusty onsets, & threateneth such desperate main careers, as surpass the fiercest cavalcades of Bellerophon.” (Bellerophon was the horseman whom Zeus punished when he tried to fly to the pinnacle of Mount Olympus on Pegasus.)

[31] “Lucian's Rhetor”: Rhetorum praeceptor from Lucian of Samosata (c.120-180). Lucian had long been accused of nihilism. Harvey goes on to denounce the following historical personages as being negative figures: Julian, emporor of Rome (331-363), Arrius Antoninus (1st century AC), Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527) and Pietro Aretino (1492-1556).

[32] “here is a lusty lad of the Castle that will bind Bears, and ride golden Asses to death”: In his Foure Letters (1592) Harvey considered John Lyly to have been one of the “Lads of the Castle”, that means a friend of the Earl of Oxford. “Yet never child so delighted in in his rattling baby,” Harvey said, “as some old Lads of the Castle have sported themselves with their rapping bauble”). He now calls his rival, Tom Nashe a “a lusty lad of the Castle”. With that, Harvey is again referring to Sir John Oldcastle and that in conjunction with the Earl of Oxford. (In the first version of Henry the Fourth, Sir John Falstaff was called “Sir Oldcastle”.) With the term “a lusty lad of the Castle” Harvey advances his enemy to a follower of Sir John, or rather of Sir John’s creator, William Shake-speare.

In Pierce Pennilesse (1592) Nashe wrote: “We want an Aretine here among us, that might strip these golden asses out of their gay trappings, and after he had ridden them to death with railing, leave them on the dunghill for carrion.”

[33] “towers of Superarrogation”: Again, a play on the word “supererogation”. Towers of extreme arrogance.

[34] “that hath robbed William Conqueror of his surname”: A deliberate double entendre. Because of his behaving like a wild conqueror Nashe stole William the Conqueror's surname. By dedicating Strange Newes to “Master William” (no surname) he robbed him of his surname.

[35] “[wit began] to blossom in M. Pierce Pennilesse, as in the rich garden of poor Adonis”: “Pierce Pennilesse” is both the name of the hero in Nashe’s prose satire Pierce Pennilesse, and the pen-name of Thomas Nashe. When a wild boar killed “poor Adonis”, flowers bloomed where his blood fell on the ground. Harvey wished a similar fate upon his enemy Thomas Nashe.

[36] “I have had some pretty trial of the finest Tuscanism in grain”: In the wake of his rhetorical pontifications, Harvey hatches out a dangerous play on the word: “Tuscanism”.

[37] “I come not yet to the Praise of the old Ass; it is young Apuleius that feedeth upon this glory”: This is a reference to The Golden Ass of Apulius, the epitome of the folly of sholarship.

[38] “as Alexander the Great had a huge intention to have all men his subjects”: See 3.1.1 Gabriel Harvey, Gratulationes Valdinenses (1578): “A single Alexander now strikes me as a thousand tyrants, now as a thousand mortals, now as a thousand leaders. Let each finger guide its own world; let each hair guide its; let the head sustain a thousand others; let him place a thousand on his shoulders, a thousand on his arms and on his foot: will you not have then a Great Porter.” - The term “The old Ass” in relation to “finest Tuscanism” and “Alexander the Great” suggests (albeit, not decisively) that the Earl of Oxford is meant. Later, Harvey comes back to these terms with the remark: “He summed all in a brief but material sum that called the old Ass the great A, and the est Amen of the new Supererogation.” (See note 87.)

[39] “my betters by many degrees have been fain to be the Godsons of young Apuleius”: See note 37.

[40] “Divers excellent men have praised the old Ass”: A satirical reference to the praise bestowed on the academic and literary ass by Erasmus, Agrippa, Cardano etc.

[41] “puffed up with wind, and bombasted with vanity”: Nashe, the pseudo-Gargantua.

[42] “Pardon me, St. Fame”: Saint Fame, the dark side of the Greek Goddess Pheme - elected, by Harvey, to be Nashe's patron saint. (See note 6).

[43] “excellent villainy”: Harvey's favourite insult, already used in Speculum Tuscanismi (1580): “Tuscanism gan usurp, / Vanity above all: Villainy next her”. - In Loves labors lost (1598) the Spaniard Don Amado is introduced with the following words:

CONSTABLE. Signeour Arme Arme commendes you:
Ther's villany abroad, this letter will tell you more.  

[44] “The present consideration … occasioneth me to bethink me of One”: Harvey recollects the author John Eliot (1562-c.1594), who published a headstrong language manual entitled Ortho-epia Gallica in April 1593. Harvey puts the following words into his mouth even though Eliot had nothing to do with it. (See Frances A. Yates, John Florio, The Life of an Italian in Shakespeare's England, Cambridge 1934.)

[45] a quintessence of quicksilver”: The Mercury principle. (Mercury is a god of transitions, he is quick and cunning, and moved freely between the worlds of the mortal and divine, as emissary and messenger of the gods.)

[46]never give me credit if Sanguine wit put not Melancholy Art to bed”: An ironic statement. The constructed, forced humour of people like Nashe will eventually triumph over true meaningful art. - Shakespeare takes up this anti-thesis in Loves labors lost  (1598). The last words of the play are Don Adriano de Armado’s lament: “The wordes of Mercury are harsh after the songes of Apollo.” – We find Harvey's words parodied in The Return from Parnassus, Part One, the Cambridge University play of 1599, when the pedant; “Luxurio” says: “Melancholick art, put down thy hose, here is a sudden wit, that will lash thee in the time to come.”  

[47]betake ye timely to the lively practice of the minion profession, and enure your Mercurial fingers”: Nashe, according to Harvey is pre-determined for a life of sponging off others, when he's not actually stealing.

[48]The Book-worm was never but a peak-goose”: This offers Shakespeare an opening of which he makes full use in Loves labors lost [III/1]:

ARMADO.
  The Foxe, the Ape, and the Humble-Bee,
  Were still at odds, being but three.
PAGE [= Boy =Moth].
  Untill the Goose came out of doore,
  And staied the odds by adding foure.

[49]All is nothing without advancement”: In the Eliot-speech Harvey makes it clear that he regards Nashe's address to the Earl of Oxford as being nothing more than cadging.

[50] “never believe Braggadocio again for his sake”: “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. Nashe und Harvey like to mock each other as “Braggadocchio“. (See 3.1.5. Nashe, Strange Newes, note 75.) – Shakespeare portrays Gabriel Harvey in Loves labors lost (1598) as ‘Don Adriano de Armado’, or ‘Braggart’.

[51] “his Best best is but Cat's-meat, & his worst Worst but Dog's-meat enough”: Harveys response to Nashe's remark: “we have cat's-meat and dog's-meat enough for these mongrels.”

[52] “that had rather be a Polecat with a stinking stir than a musk-cat with gracious favour”: In oder to exact his revenge for this insult Nashe improvises the following dialogue between his (imaginary) friends Bentívole and Carneades in Have with You to Saffron Walden (1596):

Bentivole: I smell him, I smell him; the wrongs that thou hast offered him are so intolerable as they would make a Cat speak; therefore look to it, Nashe, for with one Pole-cat perfume or another he will poison thee, if he be not able to answer thee.

Carneades: Pole-cat and Musk cat? There wants but a Cat a mountain [leopard, panther], and then there would be old scratching.

Bentivole: Aye, but not only no ordinary Cat, but a Musk-cat, and not only a Musk-cat, but a Musk-cat with gracious favour (which sounds like a Prince's style Dei gratia): not Tibault or Isegrim, Prince of Cats, were ever endowed with the like title.

[53] “let him publish Nashe's Pennyworth of Discretion”: An allusion to Nashe's indiscretion with his address to “Master William” or “Will Monox”. – In Loves labos lost [V/1] Costard says to Moth, the Boy:

CLOWNE [= Costard]. And I had but one peny in the world thou shouldst have it to buy Ginger bread: Holde, there is the verie Remuneration I had or thy Maister, thou halfepenny purse of wit, thou Pidgin-egge of discretion.

[54] “the vengeable Sycophant”: An informer, tale-bearer, malicious accuser; a calumniator, slanderer, inclined to take vengeance.

[55] “good Dick Tarleton is dead”: Dick Tarleton, a popular actor of the period, sometimes called: “The king of clowns” died in September 1588.

[56] “Nay, were it not that he [Nashe] had dealt politicly in providing himself an authentical surety, or rather a mighty protector at a pinch, such a devoted friend and inseparable companion as Aeneas was to Achates”:  An unmistakable play on Nashe's cunning attempt to make an “assured associate” and a “sworn Brother” of the Earl of Oxford.

[57] “Nashe is learned, and knoweth his Liripoop”: Liripoop - the long tail of a graduate's hood; ‘rôle’, or ‘part’; a shrewd trick (OED). In Harvey's opinion Nashe is a tody, that is the reason that Harvey feels that he has a chance to win the Earl over to his side.

[58] “Nay, Homer not such an author for Alexander, nor Xenophon for Scipio … nor Aretine for some late Courtesans, as his Author for him, the sole author of renowned victory”: Harvey is creating caustic double entendres. On the one hand; “The “sole author of renowned victory” is the “ass in print”, ironically thus praised by Erasmus and Cardano. On the other hand, in view of Nashe's attempt to win his allegiance, our glance is drawn to the Earl of Oxford.

[59] “he it is [the Ass] that is the godfather of writers, the superintendent of the press, the muster-master of innumerable bands, the General of the great field; he and Nashe will confute the world”: The “Ass” - the Golden Ass of Apuleius, the father of all donkeys - but (to be more precise) also the man who could protect Nashe, should he so wish. To a great extent, this description fits the Earl of Oxford; the Earl encouraged and inspired the authors John Lyly, Anthony Munday, Thomas Watson, Thomas Lodge, Robert Greene, Thomas Nashe and George Chapman. He was the patron of two acting companies “The Lord Oxford’s Men” and “The Oxford’s Boys”, his literary advice was sought as was his opinion on the subject of censorship. (Charles Wisner Barrell brought Harvey's sentence to general attention in 1944.)

[60] “He that hath christened so many notable authors, censured so many eloquent pens, enrolled so many worthy garrisons, & encamped so many noble and reverend Lords, may be bold with me”: The “Ass in Print” could hardly “be bold with” Gabriel Harvey. (Therefore the ass is a lord.)

[61] “who then will not sue to be free of that honourable Company”: A rather impertinent play on “The company of good fellows”. (See 3.1.5. Nashe, Strange Newes, note 24.)

[62] “no such Ox in my mind as Tarquinius Superbus, no such calf as Spurius Maelius”: Tarquinius Superbus, the last king of Rome, driven into exile in 509 by a band of angry aristocrats who proceeded to found the Roman Repupublic. – Spurius Maelius, killed by an angry aristocrat for allegedly seeking to restore the kingship. - Charles Wisner Barrell comments (The Sole Author of Renowned Victorie, 1944): “In suggesting, that Nashe may be a Spurius Maelius, Harvey is warning the satirist that disgrace and death were the fruits of that promising young Roman's efforts to win popularity and place by sensational means.“

[63] “no such colt as Publius Clodius”: WIKIPEDIA: Publius Clodius Pulcher (c.93 BC – 52 BC ) was a Roman politician known for his popularist tactics. As tribune, he pushed through an ambitious legislative program, including a grain dole, but is chiefly remembered for his feud with Cicero and Milo, whose supporters murdered him in the street.

[64] “What an Ass was thyself, when thou didst publish my praise amongst the notablest writers of this realm?”: The praise that Nashe bestowed on Harvey in Preface to Menaphon (1589) was, as we may well imagine, not to be taken at face value: “… the number of good poets are very small, and, in truth (Master Watson except, whom I mentioned before), I know not almost any of late days that hath showed himself singular in any special Latin poem, whose Amyntas, and translated Antigone, may march in equipage of honour with any of our ancient poets. I will not say but we had a [Walter] Haddon [1516-1572], whose pen would have challenged the laurel from Homer, together with [Nicholas] Carr [1524-1568], that came as near him as Virgil to Theocritus. But Thomas Newton with his [John] Leland, and Gabriel Harvey, with two or three other, is almost all the store that is left us at this hour.”

[65] “the reputation of so worthy favourers”: Harvey refers to Edmund Spenser; Thomas Watson; Daniel Rogers; Doctor Griffin Floyd, the Queen's professor of law at Oxford; Doctor Bartholomew Clerke, late Dean of the Arches; Doctor William Lewen, judge of the Prerogative Court; Sir Philip Sidney; Sir Thomas Smith; Sir Walter Mildmay; Milord the Bishop of Rochester; Milord Treasurer Burghley; and Milord the Earl of Leicester, “unto whose worshipful and honourable favours I have been exceedingly beholding for letters of extraordinary commendation”.

[66] “but offer here to renounce the whole advantage of a late inquisition upon a clamorous denunciation of St. Fame herself, who presumed she might be as bold to play the blab with you, as you were to play the sloven [knave] with her”: Harvey is probably referring to Audrey, Thomas Nashe's lady friend and earthly muse. (See below: “St. Fame, the goddess of his devotion; St. Blaze, the idol of his zeal; St. Audrey, the lady of his love; and the young vicar of St. Fools, his ghostly father.”)

[67]She knew what she said, that entitled Pierce the hogshead of wit; Pennilesse, the tosspot of eloquence; & Nashe, the very inventor of Asses. She it is that must broach the barrel of thy frisking conceit, and canonize the Patriarch of new writers”: It is obvious that Harvey was referring to “the Gentlewoman” when he says “she” because he later goes on to say:  “the Gentlewoman … that hath vowed the canonization of Nashe’s St. Fame in certain discourses of regard”. - Just as Nashe assumes that “Master William” (= Oxford) will cover his back in his literary conflict with Harvey, Harvey reckons with the same support. (See notes 7 and 21.) Albeit, Harvey (in person) fabricates the “Gentlewoman's” attack on Pierce-Pennilesse-Nashe in A new Letter of Notable Contents (Oct. 1593), attributing the following words to her: “We must have at least three Peccavies of Pierce Pennilesse, and three Misereres of the Confuting Tosspot” and “my mortar is a pestle for Assa foetida [=resinous gum].”

Shakespeare makes a joke of the matter, writing the following dialogue between Nathaniel, the Parson, and Costard, the Clown in Loves labors lost (1598):

NATHANIEL. Maister Person, quasi Person? And if one shoulde be perst, Which is the one?

CLOWNE. Marry M. Scholemaster, he that is liklest to a hoggshead.

NATHANIEL. Of persing a Hogshead, a good luster of conceit in a turph of Earth, Fier enough for a Flint, Pearle enough for a Swine: tis pretty, it is well.

[68] “I will not here decipher thy unprinted packet of bawdy and filthy Rimes in the nastiest kind”: McKerrow identifies these verses as “The Choosing of Valentines” (dedicated to a ‘Lord S.’ [=Lord Southampton]), a poem which circulated in manuscript, and which was not printed in full until 1899. ‘Decipher’ could mean generally ‘to reveal, make known’, but it is worth noting that one of the manuscripts collated by McKerrow is written partly in cryptography. - In Have with You to Saffron Walden (1596), Nashe replies: “As newfangled and idle, and prostituting my pen like a Courtesan is the next Item that you tax me with, well, it may and it may not be so, for neither will I deny it nor will I grant it, only thus far I'll go with you, that twice or thrice in a month, when res est angusta domi, the bottom of my purse is turned downward, & my conduit of ink will no longer flow for want of reparations, I am fain to let my Plow stand still in the midst of a furrow, and follow some of these newfangled Galiardos and Seignior Fantasticos, to whose amorous Villanellas and Quipassas I prostitute my pen in hope of gain, but otherwise there is no newfangleness in me but poverty.”

[69] “an age of Policy, & a world of Industry”: Shakespeare mocks Harvey's devotion to “industry” (ingenuity, dexterity; exertion, effort; diligent work) in Loves labors lost. Amando's letter to the country wench, Jaquenetta, ends with the words: “I prophane my lippes on thy foote, my eyes on thy picture, and my hart on thy every part. Thine in the dearest designe of industry, Don Adriana [!] de Armatho.”

[70] “there is another Sparta in hand … and hath no wanton leisure for the Comedies of Athens”: Gabriel Harvey called for a Spartan, or war like England. He didn't make his appellations from a warhorse at the fore of a cavalry charge. He made them from a comfortable chair behind a desk, which he had no intention of leaving, demanding that the “Athenian comedy” be swept from the table. Shakespeare's response was to make Don Adriano de Armado play the part of Hector (“Hector in Armes”) in Loves labors lost :

BEROWNE. This cannot be Hector.
DUMAINE. Hee's a God or a Painter: for he makes faces.
BRAGGART [= Armado].  The Armipotent Mars, of Launces the almighty, gave Hector a gift.
DUMAINE. A gift Nutmegg.
BEROWNE. A Lemmon.
LONGAVILL. Stucke with Cloves.
DUMAINE. No, cloven.

[71] “Musidorus and Pyrocles, combined in one excellent knight, Sir Philip Sidney”: Sidney’s romance The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia (first printed 1590)  comprises five books or acts, organized according to the five-part structure of classical dramaturgy. The combination of prose romance and classical drama allows Sidney to contain the diverseness of romance within the cohesiveness of the dramatic arc. – The leading characters Musidorus and Pyrocles are princes, and best friends, and are famous throughout Greece for their heroic exploits.

[72] “and ever when you think upon Dametas”: The boorish servant of the retired Duke of Arcadia.

[73] “if I should always hereafter call him Dametas”: After this, Harvey only called Nashe ‘Dametas’ once. See note 79.

[74] “the Esquire of Industry”:  Thomas Nashe polemicizes in Have with You to Saffron Walden (1596):  

Carneades: The Esquire of Industry? O scabbed scald squire (Scythian Gabriel) as thou art, so underfoot to commend the clearest mirror of true nobility.

Consiliadore: What a mischief does he taking any man's name in his ulcerous mouth, that being so festered and rankled with barbarism is able to rust and canker it, were it never so resplendent.

[75]Nimble Entelechy”: Wiktionary:  In Aristotelian philosophy the complete realisation and final form of some potential concept or function. The adjective “nimble” refers to the Mercury principle.

[76] “the singularity of this age: and thank thy most-vigorous self”: The rhetorician uses a form of speech more likely to be used when addressing a woman. With this he paves the way for the concept of the “excellent Gentlewoman”. The “most-vigorous self ” is a numinosum (an experience of the divine). Harvey calls it: miracle singularity, Entelechy.

[77] “Thrice happy, or rather a thousand times happy, Creature, that with most advantage of all honourable opportunities, & with the extremest possibility of his whole powers, inward, or outward, employeth the most excellent excellency of human or divine Nature”: Harvey is not speaking of an abstract concept but of a concrete singularity. – See Speculum Tuscanismi (1580): “O thrice ten hundred thousand times blessed and happy, / Blessed and happy Travail, Travailer most blessed and happy.” – Thomas Nashe warns in Have with You to Saffron Walden: “In all his praises he is the most forspoken [one who is speaking evil] and unfortunate under heaven.”

[78]ô magnum miraculum Homo”: Refers to Cornelius Agrippa of Nettesheim, De triplici ratione cognoscendi Dei : “O magnum miraculum homo, praecipue autem Christianus, qui in mundo constitutus, ea quae supra mundum sunt, ipsiusque mundi autorem cognoscit, tum in eo ipso inferiora quaeque cernit et intelligit.” (Such a wonder is man. Most wondrous the Christian believer who, placed in the world, recognizes the creator of the world by an act of his faith but still has his feet firmly on the ground, understanding the ways of the world with his God given intelligence.)

[79] “No marvel, ô great miracle, & ô most powerful Entelechy, though thou seemest a Pilgrim to Dametas, that art the Familiar Spirit of Musidorus, & what wonder though he impeach thy estimation”:

Harvey is speaking of non other than the Earl of Oxford whom Nashe is trying to make his ally.  (See note 73.) The rhetorician warns Oxford saying that he mustn't be surprised if, at the end of the day, Nashe just laughs in his face. (He that “flouteth the constellations of heaven” etc.)

[80] “It is his St. Fame to be the infamy of learning”: In this connotation, “his St. Fame” means “his bad reputation”.

[81] “to have dipped a sop in a goblet of rhenish wine, and, naming it Gabriel”: Refers to Nashe's exclamation: “the best blood of the brothers shall pledge me in vinegar.” Later Harvey calls his adversary: “such a Gargantuist as can devour me quick in a salad.” - In Loves labors lost (1598) the clown (Costard) says to Moth: “I marvaile thy Master hath not eaten thee for a worde.”

[82] “thy notorious surfeit of pickle-herring and dogfish”: Robert Greene's much cited last meal that he shared with “Will Monox” (see Nashe, Strange Newes, note 75).

[83] “the fourth Fury in his Tragical Pageant”: Virgil recognized three Furies; Alecto (“unnameable”), Megaera (“grudging”), and Tisiphone (“vengeful destruction”). – Possibly alluding ironically to Nashe's burlesque: Summers Last Will and Testament (1592).

[84] “One She, and two He’s”: This obviously means “the Gentlewoman” (“my Patroness, or rather Championess”) and the two friends who contributed sonnets to Harvey's pamphlet; the literary figure Antony Chute and the translator John Thorius.

[85] “as dry as ever was Holborn Conduit”: Named after the Hole-bourne (the stream in the hollow, also known as the River Fleet) which flowed through the area from north to south, to the Thames. - A referrence to the drying out of the Thames in 1592.

[86] “and never yield credit to the word of that most credible Gentlewoman, if the very brazen buckler prove not finally a notorious Dash-Nashe”: Harvey recalls a promise, made by the excellent Gentlewoman, that she would admonish Nashe. (Even though the promise was his own invention.) - See: “She it is that must broach the barrel of thy frisking conceit.”

[87] “He summed all in a brief but material sum that called the old Ass the great A, and the est Amen of the new Supererogation”:  With “he” Harvey actually means himself. The rhetorician is referring to an earlier remark that he made himself:  „I come not yet to the Praise of the old Ass; it is young Apuleius that feedeth upon this glory, and having enclosed these rank commons to the proper use of himself & the capricious flock, adopteth whom he listeth without exception, as Alexander the Great had a huge intention to have all men his subjects, and all his subjects called Alexanders. It was strange news for some to be so assified, and a work of Supererogation for him [Nashe] so bountifully to vouchsafe his golden name, the appropriate cognizance of his noble style.” (See note 38.)

Harvey then goes one step further and lets the cat out of the bag; “The old Ass” he says, is “the great A” – i.e. “Alexander the Great” and “A per se a”  (known to us from Harvey’s Speculum Tuscanismi).

[88] “What a brave and incomparable Alexander is that great A that is also the est Amen of Supererogation”: Harvey „has discharged his task“ by showing that “The old Ass” and “The great A” are one and the same person. Obviously, this is a reference to the Earl of Oxford.

[89] “young Apuleius, that from the swathing-bands of his infancy in Print was suckled of the sweetest nurses”: See note 28.

[90] “the most powerful Virtues of the said unmatchable great A, the grand founder of Supererogation, and the sole Patron of such meritorious clients”: This sarcastic mock praise with its deliberate double meaning is aimed at “the old Ass” (old Apuleius) and the person behind the figure: Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford.

[91] […]At this space we find the pamphlet An Advertisement for Pap-Hatchet and Martin Marprelate, that Harvey wrote in 1589 attacking John Lyly.

 

Up until this point Harvey's mysterious “Gentlewoman” only appears as a peripheral figure; in the beginning as “the Gentlewoman, my Patroness”, later as “that most credible Gentlewoman”. As of now, she move more to the centre of our attention. In the course of the work, the rhetorician probably decides to bring more of the “singularity” of the figure to the fore. After which he must have rewritten some of the earlier parts of the work accordingly.

 

[92] “Greene, the Ape of Euphues”: John Lyly was also called ‘Euphues’ - after his novel: Euphues, The Anatomy of Wit (1578).

[93] “Suffenus or Shakerley”: In Carmen 22 Catull mocks , a man who writes poems that are not only poor in quality but also too long. - Peter Shakerley of Ditton was a haughty egocentric, frequenting the St. Paul's Churchyard area where his overbearing behaviour was the subject of indignant comment.

[94] “possessed with the sprite of Orlando Furioso, or would teach the club of Gargantua to speak English”: Ludovico Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso (1516, 1521; first translated by John Harington in 1591) and François Rabelais’ Les horribles et épouvantables faits et prouesses du très renommé Pantagruel Roi des Dipsodes, fils du Grand Géant Gargantua (1532). See, Anne Lake Prescott, Imaging Rabelais in Renaissance England, 1998.

[95] “it were purer Euphuism”: Euphuism, taken fron the Greek “Euphues=graceful and witty” was a style of writing made famous by John Lyly with Euphues, The Anatomy of Wit (1578) and Euphues and His England (1580). It's popularity was short lived. In “Euphuism” what is being said is of secondary importance to the manner in which it is said.

An example of Euphuism: “Can any treasure in this transitory pilgrimmage be of more value than a friend? In whose bosom thou mayest sleep secure without fear, whom thou mayest make partner of all thy secrets without suspicion of fraud, and partaker of all thy misfortune without mistrust of fleeting. Who will account thy bale his bane, thy mishap his misery, the pricking of thy finger the piercing of his heart” (Euphues).

[96] “and he the only man at the Scrivener's Pistol”: This unintentionally modern phrase has two meanings: Harvey has his sights on both the figure “Pistol”, the adventurer and vagabond from 2HenryIV, and his rival Thomas Nashe whom he later compares to Pistol (see note 107).

[97]they shall be constrained to ensconce themselves in an old Urinal case”: Nashe wrote in Strange Newes (1593): “Greene, I can spare thy revenge no more room in this book. Thou hast physician John [Harvey] with thee [who died in 1592]; 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.”

[98] “St. Fame is disposed to make it Holiday”: Harvey is of the opinion that Nashe's dark goddess (or is she his lover, or his whore) has abandoned him. All the same, whatever her faults, her moral integrity is greater than that of Nashe.

[99] “Danter's Malkin”: A malkin is an untidy female, esp. a servant; a slut, slattern, a drab. Tom Nashe is the malkin of John Danter, the printer.

[100] “who hath not some idle hours to lose”: Contrary to the subsequent quote, and the personalization of “Idle Hours”, in  this case “idle hours” is written without capital letters. (See note 195.)

[101] “St. Audrey, the lady of his love”: Harvey inserts the name of Nashe's lover into a list of known idiots.

[102] “according to thy greene wit”: See W. Shakespeare, Loves labors lost (1598):

ARMADO. Greene in deede is the colour of Lovers: but to have a love of that colour, mee thinkes Sampson had small reason for it. He surely affected her [Delila] for her wit.
BOY. It was so sir, for she had a greene wit. 

[103] “I must have St. Fame disclaim her black Sanctus”: Harvey wishes that St. Fame, Nashe’s dark goddess, withdraws her blessing from him. (The ‘black Sanctus’ is a burlesque of a hymn.) – See note 6.

[104] “or ten thousand Nashe's Peagooses”: peak-goose, ninny. See note 48.

[105] “and thy St. Fame utterly undone world without end”: Harvey calls St. Fame Nashe's “Jew trump”, a deceptive trump that, if it is not withdrawn, causes the downfall of he who plays it out. However, when Nashe recants, Harvey will show no reaction. (See A New Letter of Notable Contents.)

[106] “As savoury a Saint, by the verdict of that Gentlewoman, as the cleanly disbursing of the dirt-purse of Sir Gargantua”: With praiseworthy skill, Harvey inserts his “Patroness” or “Championess”, the “excellent Gentlewoman”, as a counterpart to Nashe's “St. Fame”, into the game. The Gentlewoman calls Nashe's goddess a fart (“The cleanly disbursing of the dirt-purse of Sir Gargantua” simply is a clean fart from the behind of the huge Gargantua.) The “dirt purse” refers to “Pierce” or dirty Tom Nashe. - See, Anne Lake Prescott, Imaging Rabelais in Renaissance England, 1998, p.199: “Harvey was happy to treat any available Gargantua as an enlarged Nashe. And he remembers how English ale disagreed with the ‘chapbook Gargantua’: to the hilarity of Arthur’s coutiers, who laugh so hard have a week-long headache, the distresses giant empties himself against London’s city walls.”

[107] “To spoil Pierce Pennilesse were a poor booty: and to make Thomas Nashe kiss the rod (by her favour that hath pleasurably made him a Sultan Tomumboius, & another Almannus Hercules, the great Captain of the Boys), were as sorry a victory, but only in her Bello Euboico, or in her main battle of Scolds”:

With this Harvey has set us a riddle! If, as we already assumed, “the excellent Gentlewoman” refers to Shakespeare (see note 21), there must be a solution waiting to be discovered. What is behind the term: “the Gentlewoman's Bello Euboico”? Who, or what, has “the Lady” turned Nashe in to? The “Euboean or Lelantine War” (between c. 710 and 650 BC.) was a military conflict between the two ancient Greek city states Chalkis and Eritrea in Euboea. - “The war between Chalcis and Eretria was the one in which most cities belonging to the rest of Greece were divided up into alliances with one side or the other.” (Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, I. 15, 3). If the “excellent Gentlewoman” is indeed Shakespeare, then her Euboean War is the drama Henry the Fourth, in which the author discusses the fraternal conflicts between Henry IV and Henry Percy, otherwise known as “Hotspur”. In 1Henry IV, II/4 Sir John Falstaff is also called “that huge bombard of sack”, a title which (we assume) Harvey transposed to “Sir Bombarduccio”. To go one step further: Which character from Henry the Fourth is behind the name: “Almannus Hercules, the great Captain of the Boys” (= Sultan Tomboy)? There is only one ‘captain of the boys’ (or “Alemannic Hercules”) in Henry the Fourth who is always blustering, always looking for trouble: “Captain Pistol”. In 2Henry IV,II/4 Shakespeare stages a comic “battle of scolds”:

PISTOL. Then to you, Mistress Dorothy; I will charge you.
DOLL. Charge me! I scorn you, scurvy companion. What! you poor, base, rascally, cheating, lack-linen mate! Away, you mouldy rogue, away! I am meat for your master.
PISTOL. I know you, Mistress Dorothy.
DOLL. Away, you cut-purse rascal! you filthy bung, away! By this wine, I'll thrust my knife in your mouldy chaps…
PISTOL. God let me not live but I will murder your ruff for this.
FALSTAFF. No more, Pistol; I would not have you go off here.
Discharge yourself of our company, Pistol.
HOSTESS. No, good Captain Pistol; not here, sweet captain.
DOLL. Captain! Thou abominable damn'd cheater, art thou not ashamed to be called captain? An captains were of my mind, they would truncheon you out, for taking their names upon you before you have earn'd them. You a captain! you slave, for what? For tearing a poor whore's ruff in a bawdy-house? He a captain! hang him, rogue! He lives upon mouldy stew'd prunes and dried cakes. A captain…
BARDOLPH. Pray thee go down, good ancient.
PISTOL. I'll see her damn'd first; to Pluto's damn'd lake, by this hand, to th' infernal deep, with Erebus and tortures vile also. Hold hook and line, say I. Down, down, dogs! down, faitors! Have we not Hiren here?
HOSTESS. Good Captain Peesel, be quiet; 'tis very late, i' faith; I beseek you now, aggravate your choler. (…)
FALSTAFF. Give me my rapier, boy. [Drawing and driving PISTOL out]

Captain Pistol – or Peesel – is the spokesman for a gang of thieving drunkards (Poins, Bardolph, Peto) with whom John Falstaff is associated. In this scene Sir John defends Doll Tearsheet and throws the upstart, Pistol, down stairs.

Shakespeare didn't base the character of Pistol on Thomas Nashe. However, in hind sight Harvey found similarities between the two of them. His equation ‘cut-purse’ =‘dirt-purse’ =‘Pierce’ springs to mind. The fact that Nashe was forced to rewrite a passage of his dedication (see Nashe, Strange Newes, note 19), caused Harvey to believe that he has scored a major victory over his nemesis, Nashe. That Shake-speare has shunned him, or in other words: that the excellent Gentlewoman has kicked him downstairs. - Or: SHE (the shaker of the spear, like Minerva) had made him, Tom Nashe, another “Almannus Hercules”, the great Captain of the Boys (or “good fellows”), in her Bello Euboico.

[108] “the Magnes”: A lodestone (as in Anastasius Kirchner, Magnes sive De Arte Magnetica, 1641).

[109] “the sober and staid Ass, the Countryman of the wise Apollo, and the seven wise masters”: Harvey means The Golden Ass,  the famous work of Lucius Apuleius (c. 125 – c. 180 CE). - The Seven Wise Masters (also called The Seven Sages or The Seven Sages of Rome) is a cycle of stories of  Persian or Hebrew origins. The Latin romance was frequently printed in the 15th century, and Wynkyn de Worde printed a first English version about 1515.

[110] “Agrippa, Cardan, Trithemius, Erasmus”: Refers to the ironies of Erasmus in his praise of folly (Desiderius Erasmus, Moriae Encomium , 1511), of Agrippa of Nettesheim in his dispraise of sciences (De incertitudine et vanitate scientiarum et artium / On the Uncertainty and Vanity of the Arts and Sciences, 1530), and of Cardano in his apology of Nero (Encomium Neronis, 1562).

[111] “the comedy of Adelphi, or the two Asses”: Adelphi is a comedy by Terence. “The comedy of the two Asses”: Amphitryon, the comedy of Asses by Plautus.

[112] “the two Sosias, of the two Amphitryos, or the two Menaechmi, or the two Martin Guerras”: Sosia I & II (=Mercur), Amphitruos I & II (=Jupiter), Manaechmus I & II are characters in the comedies of Plautus; „the two Martin Guerras” is another name for Martin Mar-prelate and his ficticious son, Martin junior. (See Harvey’s terminology in Pierces Supererogation: „be Martin a Martin Guerra”.)

[113] “the fire-breathing Oxen and mighty Dragon which kept the most famous Golden Fleece … were Asses of Colchos”: The Golden Fleece, placed in an oak tree in a sacred grove, was guarded by a dragon that never slept. After Jason and the Argonauts had reached Colchis, King Aeëtes refused to give up the Golden Fleece unless Jason could harness two fire-breathing bulls to a plough, plant dragons’ teeth in the ground, and defeat the warriors that sprang up from the teeth. – Are we to believe that coincidence brought a fire breathing oxen, along with its metamorphosis into a donkey to Harvey's satire?

[114] “the puissant Nemean Lion”: According to Greek mythology, Hercules killed the Nemean lion with his bare hands although it was said that the lion was invincible.- In Loves labours lost [IV/1] Don Adriano de Armando writes a love-poem to the day-woman (dairymaid) Jacquenetta, comparing himself to the Nemean lion.

Thus dost thou heare the nemean Lion roare,
Gianst thee thou Lambe, that standest as his pray:
Submissive fall his princely feete before,
And he from forrage will incline to play.
But if thou strive (poore soule) what art thou then?
Foode for his rage, repasture for his den.

[115] “The Ox and the Ass are good-fellows”: It is quite easy to see what Harvey intends with this ironical remark. He wishes to make a snide play on “ox” and “ass” (=Oxford and Nashe) and the “good fellowship” between them. Prior to this the rhetorician said: “I go not about to discover an Ass in an Ox’s hide (see note 29).

[116] “the world an Universal Ox, and man a general Ass”: See note 115.

[117] “like the mighty Assyrian king, even Phul Assar himself, the famous son of the renowned Phul Bullochus”: Read: ‘Ass-yrian King’, ‘Full Ass-ar’ and ‘Full Bullock’. See Robert Detobel, The Harvey-Nashe Quarrel and Love’s Labour’s Lost. http://www.elizabethanauthors.org/harvey-nashe001.htm

[118] “For so  the Gentlewoman hath entitled him [Phul Assar =Nashe] in a place or two, that [the Gentlewoman] hath vowed the Canonization of Nashe’s St. Fame in certain discourses of regard”: Harvey says earlier: “She it is that must … canonize the Patriarch of new writers” (see note 67).

On the face of it, the name; Phul Bullochus (= Full Bullock) appears to be another variation on the name Will. Monox (= Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford). However, so as not to wander on to thin ice, Harvey makes deliberate use of ambiguity. He continues: “For so the Gentlewoman [the author of the Old Comedy] hath entitled him [Nashe] in a place or two” - which, in its turn, is a reference to 2Henry IV  (see note 107). There is a crafty character in 2Henry IV who bought himself free of military duties and who goes by the name of : “Peter Bullcalf”. In all likelihood, he is the character behind the name “Phul Bullochus”. If we follow this trail of logic, Phul Assar is his “son” (i.e. Peter Bullcalf =Full Bullochus senior;  Phul Assar = Full Bullochus junior = Nashe.

[119] “& almost accomplished to her own intention”: At some time between April and June of 1593, Harvey must have got wind of the fact that Strange Newes with its dedication to Oxford, didn't meet with such a joyful reception as Nashe had hoped for. (In the second edition Nashe had to alter a passage, and in Teares over Ierusalem - September 1593 – he had to weave in an explanation (almost an excusion) to his enemy Gabriel Harvey. Delighted to receive this news, Harvey lises himself on a sea of speculation concerning the “certain discourses of regard”, on which “the excellent Gentlewoman” was working.- The big question is: did Oxford (or Shake-speare) already plan to write the comedy Loves Labors lost at this point in time?

[120] “the redoubted Lob[lout]-assar –duck”:  Harvey leaves no room for speculation about whom he means. He says: “Kind-heart hath already offered fair for it.” With “Kind -Heart” he points at Henry Chettle, the man who wrote Robert Greene's address to the play-makers in Groatsworth of Wit (October 1592). (See: Introduction to 3.1.4 Harvey, Foure Letters.) - In his treatise Kind-Heart’s Dream (Dec. 1592) Chettle lets the dead Robert Greene speak to Pierce Penniless (=Thomas Nashe):  “What canst thou tell if (as myself) thou shalt be with death prevented, and then how can it be but thou diest disgraced, seeing thou hast made no reply to their twofold edition of invectives? - It may be thou thinkest they will deal well with thee in death, and so thy shame in tolerating them will be short; forge not to thyself one such conceit, but make me thy precedent, and remember this old adage: Leonem mortuum mordent Catuli. [Even flies bite a dead lion.] - Awake (secure boy); revenge thy wrongs, remember me. Thy adversaries began the abuse; they continue it. If thou suffer it, let thy life be short in silence and obscurity, and thy death hasty, hated, and miserable.”

[121] “Had I not lately revisited the Assyrian History with the said virtuous Gentlewoman”: It is hardly likely that Harvey met “the excellent Gentlewoman” in the summer of 1593.

[122] “young Apuleius, the heir apparent of the old Ass, the most glorious old Ass”: The old Ass is The Golden Ass, or the “ass in print” (see note 58.)

[123] “come, Chaucer and Spenser” etc.: With sardonic intent, Harvey invites the ghosts of enlightened literary personages to come and offer praise to the young ass, Thomas Nashe.

[124] “come,the dearest sister of the dearest brother, the sweetest daughter of the sweetest Muses”: As in the beginning of A New Letter vof Notable Contents, 1593, the lady to whom this invitation is extended is Sir Philip Sidney's sister Mary Sidney, Countess of Pembroke (1561-1621). In 1590 she translated the drama Antonius from the original French, demonstrating an extensive literary education.

[125]only One excepted, the brightest Diamond of the richest Eloquence, only One excepted, the resplendentest mirror of Feminine valour, only One excepted, the Gentlewoman of Courtesy, the Lady of Virtue, the Countess of Excellency, and the Madam of immortal Honour”: Here we have a very important clue! Directly after the request to Mary Sidney comes the request that “the Gentlewoman” not attend the meeting of the literary ghosts. Mary Sidney and “the excellent Gentlewomen” are herewith incompatible entities. The one virtuous lady is invited to bestow mock praise on Thomas Nashe, the other, who is, in fact, no lady, is not invited. - It would be a disaster for Harvey should the spear shaking “excellent Gentlewoman” answer Nashe’s call: “Let it be the task of thy best terms to safe-conduct this book through the enemy's country… Let Chaucer be new scored [new arranged] against the day of battle, and Terence come but in now and then with the snuff of a sentence, and Dictum puta [let it be said], we'll strike it as dead as a door-nail.”

[126]De tribus impostoribus mundi”: The Treatise of the Three Impostors is the name of a book denying all three Abrahamic religions: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. The three “impostors” of the title were Christ, Moses and Muhammed. The existence of such a book, and the attribution of its authorship to various heretics and political enemies, was a running theme from the 11th Century to the 18th. – It is imperative that Pietro Aretino (1492-1556) should not be regarded as being the author of this work.

[127] “the second Leviathan of Prose, and another Behemoth of rime”: After Aretino, the second biggest sea monster of prose or land monster of rhyme.

[128] “to disgrace Bartas”: Guillaume de Salluste Du Bartas (1544-1590) was a French epic poet. A Huguenot, he served under Henry of Navarre. - His La Sepmaine, ou Creation du monde (1578) was a hugely influential hexameral work, relating the creation of the world and the history of man.

[129] “the pickpurse of all the paltries and knaveries in Print”: “The pickpurse” is a play on “Pierce Pennilesse” =Thomas Nashe. Similar to Shakespeare's Loves labors lost (1598): “CLOWNE. Holde, … thou halfepenny purse of wit.”

[130] “She doth him no wrong that doth him right, like Astraea, and hath styled him with an immortal pen”: Harvey repeats his theory that the “excellent Gentlewoman” portrayed Nashe in her  “old Comedy” (see note 17); that she used him as the basis for several characters, e.g. “Captain Pistol” or “Peter Bullcalf” (in 2Henry IV). (See notes 107 and 118). – Astraea: In Greek mythology, Astraea  (“star-maiden”) was a daughter of Zeus and Themis or of Eos and Astraeus. She and her mother were both personifications of justice, though Astraea was also associated with innocence and purity. (Source: Wikipedia.)

[131] “the whoop-hoo of good boys in London streets”: Again a reference to Pistol, the great captain of the boys, in 2Henry IV (see note 107). - Harvey characterises Nashe as a bad boy in Falstaff’s company; a pseudo-Gargantua; a pseudo-Hercules; a “truculent wight” at the “scrivener’s Pistol”, “puffed up with wind, and bombasted with vanity”.

[132] “Such an Antagonist hath fortune allotted me, to purge melancholy, and to thrust me upon the Stage: which I must now load, like the old subject of my new praise”:  Sein Schicksal, sagt Harvey ironisch, hätte ihm diesen Gegner zugedacht, um ihn auf die öffentliche Bühne zu werfen. Diese Bühne müsse er nun (mit Worten) beladen wie den alten Esel / like the old Ass (= “the old subject of my new praise”). – Bezieht sich wohl auf Nashes Überlegung in Strange Newes: “Nihil pro nihilo … 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.” (See 3.1.5 Nashe, Strange Newes, note 73.)

[133] “the puppy of  St. Fame”: St. Fame is Nashe’s dark muse.

[134] “the headman of the Pamphleting crew”: An allusion to the anti-Marprelate company.

[135] “yet would he seem as fine a Secretary with his pen as ever was Bembus in Latin, or Machiavel in Italian, or Guevara in Spanish, or Amyot in French”: Harvey mocks Nashe's ambition to be a refined and dignified secretary (to the Earl of Oxford). The humanistic scholar and poet, Cardinal Petrus Bembus (Pietro Bembo) was the sectretary of Pope Leo 10th; the philosopher, politician and poet Niccolò Machiavelli was elected  secretary to the Ten of War in Florence; the writer, Antonio de Guevara was court secretary to Charles V; the cleric, humanist and translator, Jacques Amyot was rewarded by Francis I with the abbey of Bellozane.

[136] “or Industry a snail in a shell”: See note 69.

[137] “Was Pegasus ever a cow in a cage, or Mercury a mouse in a cheese … or Entelechy a slugplum?”: Entelechy: In Aristotelian philosophy the complete realisation and final form of  some potential concept or function. As we remember, Harvey called the Gentlewoman an “Entelechy”. - “Slugplum”: a make up word meaning a slow-coach. The rhetorician simply couldn't resist making this joke.

[138] “Can lively and winged spirits suppress the divinity of their ethereal and seraphical nature?”: This, and that which follows is an urgent entreaty to the “excellent Gentlewoman”.

[139] “Art, take heed of an eager appetite, if a little greedy devouring of singularity will so soon get the hicket”: Being the personification of art, singularity,humanity, rhetoric and poetry the “Gentlewoman” (i.e. the Earl of Oxford) should beware of the “rake-hell”, Thomas Nashe.

[140]Pure Singularity, wrong not thy arch-excellent Self, but embrace him with both thy arms, that huggeth thee with his fine wits”: The rhetorician applies a surprising tactic: the “singularity” (“the very singular subject of that invincible & omnipotent eloquence”) shall take the brazen Nashe in her arms and crushing him with her embrace, transform him, with her bracelets (or handcuffs) to a monk.

[141]Precious Singularity, how canst thou choose but dote upon his alabaster neck”: Obviously enjoying himself, Harvey continues with this satirical pastiche: How can the singularity (“the excellent Gentlewoman”) possibly resist Tom Nashe's proposals? (After all he did have an “alabaster neck.”) However when he speaks of the divine beauty of  “precious Singularity” for once, he is not being sarcastic.

[142] “whose Orient wit, the renowned achates of King Pyrrhus”: According to Plinius Historia Naturalis 37,5, King Pyrrhus of Epirus owned an agate whose naturally occurring streaks depicted Apollo and the nine Muses.

[143] “What locks, or bars of Iron, can hold that quicksilver Mercury”: The Mercury principle is associated with the “pure & precious Singularity” and “invincible & omnipotent Eloquence.” (See notes 45 and 46.)

[144] “the very singular subject of that invincible & omnipotent Eloquence, that in the worthiest age of the world, entitled heroical, put the most barbarous tyranny of men, and the most savage wildness of beasts, to silence”: This is an allusion to Orpheus in the here and now who, (just like the Orpheus of mythology) has the power to mesmerise humans and animals with his voice. (See Thomas Nashe, Have with You to Saffron Walden, 1596: “Our patron, our Phoebus, our first Orpheus or quintessence of invention he is, wherefore either let us jointly invent some worthy subject to eternize him or let war call back barbarism from the Danes, Picts and Saxons to suppress our frolic spirits.”)

[145] “that would so fain behold St. Fame in the pomp of her majesty”: Again irony: The audience wish to see how “precious Singularity” embraces the wild Tom Nashe and how his dark muse, “St Fame” triumphs, but these hopes are thwarted: “never poor suckling hope so incredibly crossbitten [deceived] with more than excessive defection.”

[146] “but never poor shimmering Sun of Singularity so horribly eclipsed”: Harvey maintains that Nashe's wishes are the cause of the sun not wanting to show itself.

[147] “St. Fame raged like St. George's dragon”: Nashe's Muse, the perfidious rumour monger.

[148] “The wise Priest could not tell whether Epiphany were a man-saint, or a woman-saint, or what the devil it was. Such an Epiphany to this learned man is Entelechy, the only quintessence of excellent and divine minds”:

Harvey begins, in a round about way, to speak of the true gender of the “excellent Gentlewoman” (or “Entelechy”). Obviously, the person is more likely to be a man than a woman, as he says later: “I dare not Particularize her Description, according to my conceit of her beau-desert, without her licence or permission, that standeth upon masculine, not feminine, terms.”

[149] “that noble and vigorous motion, quicker than quicksilver, and the lively spring, or rather the Vestal fire, of the ever-stirring Virtue of Caesar”: A picture of perpetual creative activity, at the same time an unusual mixture of masculine and feminine attributes.

[150] (…) : The following is a most unpleasant pamphlet directed against Doctor Andrew Perne (c.1519-1589) , Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University and dean of Ely.

[151] “the flattering Perne, or pleasing Titius”: Harvey compares Doctor Andrew Perne to Titus Livius whom he holds low in his esteem..

[152] “that same odd man Trium Litterarum [of three letters]”: Andrew Perne - whom Harvey called “the Fox”.

[153]A per se A”: Harvey calls Andrew Perne “A per se A” just as he did with the Earl of Oxford in 1580 and Thomas Nashe in 1592. (See Nashe, 3.1.5 Strange Newes, notes 88 & 89.)

[154] “either for matter, or manner”: See note 3.

[155] “my Discourses entitled Nashe’s St. Fame”: Harvey portends to these “Discourses” both in the title and the foreward. See note 24.

[156]the above-mentioned Gentlewoman, whom, after some advertisement, it pleased to make the Strange News of the railing Villain the cushionet of her needles and pins”: Again the rhetorician refers to, what he chooses to call: the “almost accomplished discourses” of the “excellent Gentlewoman.” Perhaps he knew that the Earl of Oxford (or Shake-speare) had already begun work on the dramatic satire Loves labors lost. - See notes 67 and 119.

[157] “whatsoever she writeth must needs remain an immortal work”: Harvey begins with the praise of “the excellent Gentlewoman.” This is one of the first appraisals of Shakespeare's work from the pen of a contemporary. In his own cranky style, he acknowledges the merits of Shakespeare in a manner similar to that of literature experts four hundred years later. His words on the “Gentlewoman” are summarized in 3.1.7.1 The Gentlewoman.

[158] “I …am so overshadowed with the flourishing branches of that heavenly plant”: Compare this to the statement made later: “Though my Pen be a slugplum, look for a quill as quick as quicksilver, & pity the sorry swain [Nashe] that hath incurred the indignation of such a quill… The stay of the Publication [of the Gentlewoman’s discourses] resteth only at my instance, who can conceive small hope of … regard of mine own discourses, were that fair body [=work] of the sweetest Venus [= the excellent Gentlewoman] in Print.” - See note 182.

[159] “in yielding that homage to her divine wit which at my hands she hath meritoriously deserved”: Harvey acknowledges that he owes the “excellent Gentlewoman” high praise. However , both here and in A New Letter of Notable Contents (Oct. 1593) his acknowledgements are not entirely free of selfish motives.

[160] “Albeit I protest, she was neither bewitched with entreaty, nor juggled with persuasion, nor charmed with any corruption, but only moved with the reason which the Equity of my cause, after some little communication, in her Unspotted Conscience suggested”:

A reference to Harvey’s satire “Speculum Tuscanismi” in his Three proper and wittie familiar Letters (1580) and to the tip off that John Lyly gave to the Earl of Oxford concerning Harvey's impertinence. See Foure Letters (1592): “But the noble Earl, not disposed to trouble his Iovial mind with such Saturnine paltry, still continued like his magnificent self.” Here we see further confirmation that the “excellent Gentlewoman” and the Earl of Oxford are one and the same person.

[161]She hath, in my knowledge, read the notablest Histories of the most singular women of all ages, in the Bible, in Homer, in Virgil (her three sovereign Books, the divine Archetypes of Hebrew, Greek, and Roman Valour), in Plutarch, in Polyen, in Petrarch, in Agrippa, in Tyraquel”:

An indication, from one of the most highly respected academics of the time concerning the books that most influenced the Earl of Oxford: The Bible (The Geneva Bible, translated by William Whittingham, 1568), Homer (probably translated by Andreas Divus, 1537), Virgil, Plutarch and Petrarch. True to her reputation as an educated woman the “excellent Gentlewoman” also had to have studied: Polyen (Polyaenus, Strategemata VIII), Agrippa (Agrippa of Nettesheim, Declamatio de nobilitate et praecellentia foeminei sexus, 1529) and Tyraquel (Andreas Tiraquellus, De legibus connubialibus et iure maritali, 1569). These are all books that concern themselves with the rights and the duties of women.

[162]She [yields] to all that use her and hers well”: In accordance with the privileges granted to a great poet.

[163] “but the gentlest, and wittiest, and bravest, and invinciblest Gentlewoman that I know”: The attributes of spear-shaking Pallas Athena (=Minerva), or the Earl of Oxford, the spear-shaker.

[164] “Not such a wench in Europe to unswaddle a fair Baby, or to swaddle a foul puppy”:  i.e. not such a woman to free from bands a fair child, or to swathe a fop, a coxcomb. - Harvey gives Oxford tips as to how he should handle Tom Nashe. (See note 28.) – The term “wench” isn’t derogatory here. See Shakespeare, Love’s Labour’s Lost, IV/1: “when Queen Guinever of Britain was a little wench”.

[165] “Some of you may aim at her personage, and it is not the first time that I have termed her style the tinsel of the daintiest Muses and sweetest Graces”: The mysterious rhetorician indicates another impending riddle. He had already started to praise Oxford in Foure letters but he managed to repress it: “I dare not name the honourabler sons and nobler daughters of the sweetest & divinest muses that ever sang in English or other language, for fear of suspicion of that which I abhor, and their own most delectable and delicious exercises (the fine handiwork of excellent nature and excellenter art combined) speak incomparably more than I am able briefly to insinuate.”

[166] “but I dare not Particularize her Description, according to my conceit of her beau-desert, without her licence or permission, that standeth upon masculine, not feminine, terms”: Harvey reveals that he is under instruction to keep the identity of the “excellent Gentlewoman” a secret. Her manner of dealing with other people and the nature of her decisions indicate a predominantly masculine nature. Because of  “her” station and because of the firmness of “her” opinions, it is not possible to sway her decisions or make compromises with her.

[167] “or the pregnantest of our inspired Heliconists”: Poets (or poetesses), inspired by the muses, the inhabitants of the Helicon. – The information concerning the impressive productivity of the “excellent Gentlewoman” is important and should not be overlooked.

[168] “Could I dispose of her Recreations, and some others' Exercises, I nothing doubt but it were possible … to breed a new admiration in the mind of Contempt”: A clear indication of hitherto unpublished works from the “excellent Gentlewoman”. - Recreations: new creations; or comforts of the mind, or both.

[169] “& to restore the excellentest books into their wonted estate, even in integrum”: Harvey obviously feels that the scattered works from the “excellent Gentlewoman” should be collected, printed and properly catalogued.

[170] “now she hath condescended to the spinning up of her silken task”: This means the publishing of the epic poem Venus and Adonis (entered in the Stationers' Registers on 18 April 1593) in May or June 1593.

[171] “may challenge … a special dispensation in the cause of an affectionate friend devoted to the service of her excellent desert”: “The affectionate friend” is Gabriel Harvey, who, in a round about manner is asking for forgiveness for his behaviour in the year of 1580.

[172] “and her hottest fury may fitly be resembled to the passing of a brave career by a Pegasus, ruled with the reins of a Minerva's bridle”: Harvey alludes to the author's hot blooded nature, bridled by the spear-shaking Minerva, the muse who also gave him his name.

[173]Her pen is a very Pegasus indeed, and runneth like a winged horse”: Pegasus, a symbol of wisdom and fame, brought lightning and thunder from Olympus. In another passage Harvey speaks of “that inspired Gentlewoman, whose Pen is the shot of the musket, or rather a shaft of heaven.” (See note 193.)

[174] “with Benet and Collect”: Benet: The third of the four lesser orders in the Roman Catholic Church, one of whose functions was the exorcizing of evil spirits. Collect: A name given to ‘a comparatively short prayer, more or less condensed in form, and aiming at a single point, or at two points closely connected with each other’, one or more of which, according to the occasion and season, have been used in the public worship of the Western Church from an early date. (OED)

[175] “I have touched the booted Shakerley a little, that is always riding, and never rideth”: See note 93.

[176] “that shamefully and odiously misuseth … some of his favourablest Patrons (whom for certain respects I am not to name), M. Apis Lapis … and whom not?” : “Master Apis Lapis” is the patron whose identity Harvey betrays by the very omission of his name: the man who is addressed in Nashe’s Strange Newes as “Gentle M. William, that learned writer Rhenish wine & Sugar,” i.e. the Earl of Oxford. - The rhetorician is referring to the slanderous passage in Nashe's preface: “your hospitality … that it is chronicled in the Archdeacon's Court.”

[177] “Greene, Marlowe, Chettle, and whom not?”: Nashe in Have with you to Saffron Walden responds: “I never abused Marlowe, Greene, Chettle in my life”, reproducing a letter signed by Chettle to this effect.

[178]Tu es Starnigogulus”: A word that Harvey made up himself; referring to Gog and Magog in the bible.

[179]Plaudite Victori, Iuvenes hic quotquot adestis; Nam me qui vicit, doctior est Nebulo”:  ‘You young people gathered here, give praise to the victors! He who has defeated me, is more learned than the fog.’ Ct. Desiderius Erasmus (Erasmus of Rotterdam), De lusu, Ludus sphaerae per annulum ferreum (1522). 

[180] “there She, with as Visible an Analysis as any Anatome, strippeth his Art into his doublet, his wit into his shirt”: Shakespeare responds to this exorbitance in Loves labors lost [V/2] with:

BRAGGART. By the North Pole I do challenge thee.
CLOWNE. I will not fight with a Pole like a Northren man; Ile flash, Ile do it by the Sword: I bepray you let me borrow my Armes againe.
DUMAINE. Roome for the incensed Worthies!
CLOWNE. Ile do it in my shirt.
DUMAINE. Most resolute Pompey.
PAGE [= BOY]. Maister, let me take you a button hole lower. Do you not see, Pompey is uncasing for the Combat: What meane you? you will loose your reputation.
BRAGGART. Gentlemen and Souldiers, pardon me, I will not combat in my shirt.
DUMAINE. You may not deny it, Pompey hath made the challenge.
BRAGGART. Sweete bloodes, I both may and will.
BEROWNE. What reason have you for’t.
BRAGGART. The naked trueth of it is, I have no Shirt. I goe Woolward for pennance.

[181] “with dutiful recommendation of Nashe’s St. Fame, even to St. Fame herself”: Harvey said in advance that he was going to write a satire, the name of his work was Nashe’s St. Fame. Harvey depicts Nashe's patroness “St. Fame” as the mad Maid Marian.

[182] “were that fair body of the sweetest Venus in Print, as it is redoubtedly armed with the complete harness of the bravest Minerva”: Refers to the mysterious discourses of  “the excellent Gentlewoman”, or the “body” of her scriptures, just unprinted. Venus and the “excellent Gentlewoman” are one and the same person, because the “Gentlewoman” is the author of Venus and Adonis. - With this Harvey makes the rather astonishing claim that the Gentlewoman held back the satire on Nashe solely for his (Harvey's) benefit. See note 119.

[183] “the woeful slave of St. Fame”: Thomas Nashe. – See note 6.

[184] “It will then appear, as it were in a clear Urinal, whose wit hath the greene-sickness”: In Strange Newes (Jan. 1593) Tom Nashe wrote: “they [Gabriel and Richard Harvey] shall be constrained to ensconce themselves in an old urinal case that their brother [John] left behind him.”

William Shakespeare scoffs in Loves labors lost:

ARMADO. Tell me precisely of what complexion?
BOY. Of the sea-water Greene sir. 

[185] “and I would deem it a greater marvel than the mightiest wonder that happened in the famous year '88, if his cause should not have the falling-sickness”: The rhetorician was obviously labouring under the misconception that Nashe’s petition to the Earl of Oxford would be brusquely rejected. In this believe he will write  the poem “Gorgon, or the wonderful year” in September 1593, as a post script to A new Letter of notable Contents: “Though miracles surcease, yet Wonder see / The mightiest miracle of Ninety-Three.  (See 3.1.7, Harvey, A new Letter.) (See 3.1.7, Harvey, A new Letter.)

[186] “M. Stow, let it be enchronicled for one of the singularities, or miracles of this age, that … Nashe should be the subject of so invaluable a work”: John Stow (c.1525-1605) an English historian and antiquarian. – We are amazed at the extent of Harvey's self delusion. Are such sentences part of a mysterious rhetorical incantation? Or did Nashe know that Shakespeare was planning a comedy in which he was to be parodied?

[187]She knoweth I flatter not her Fortune”: Highly ambivalent flattery after the insult in Speculum Tuscanismi (1580).

[188] “but the lesser my desert, the greater her liberality”: See Harvey, Foure Letters: “But the noble Earl, not disposed to trouble his Iovial mind with such Saturnine paltry [rubbish], still continued like his magnificent self.”

[189] “as incessantly thankful as infinitely debtful”: See Harvey, Foure Letters: “since in the prime of his gallantest youth he [the Earl of Oxford] bestowed Angels upon me in Christ's College in Cambridge, and otherwise vouchsafed me many gracious favours.”

[190] “when her own silver Tracts shall publish the precious valour of her golden Virtues, and decipher the inestimable worth of the Author by her divine handiwork”: See Harvey, Four Letters: “I dare not name the honourabler sons and nobler daughters of the sweetest & divinest muses …; their own most delectable and delicious exercises (the fine handiwork of excellent nature and excellenter art combined) speak incomparably more than I am able briefly to insinuate.” - John Soowthern [Maurice Dennys], in Pandora (1584) wrote: “Among our well-renowned men, / De Vere merits a silver pen / Eternally to write his honour.” – Henry Chettle (1603) nennt Shakespeare “the silver tongued Melicert.”

[191] “There She standeth, that with the finger of Industry”: See note 69.

[192] “why may She not directly, or violently, accomplish the same effects?”: Harvey's audacious insistence corresponds to Nashe's invocation in Strange Newes: “and Dictum puta [let it be said], we'll strike it [the enemy’s country] as dead as a door-nail.”

[193]that inspired Gentlewoman. Whose Pen is the shot of the musket, or rather a shaft of heaven”: An elegant description of the art of William Shake-speare.

[194] “how divinely sweet?”: In 1598 Francis Meres referred to Shakespeare’s ‘sugared sonnets’: “As the soul of Euphorbus was thought to live in Pythagorus, so the sweet, witty soul of Ovid lives in mellifluous & honey-tongued Shakespeare; witness his Venus and Adonis, his Lucrece, his sugared sonnets among his private friends, &c.”

[195] “I writ only at idle hours, that I dedicate only to Idle Hours”: Harvey had obviously read Venus and Adonis (that was published in June 1593) before he completed his pamphlet of August 1593. Shakespeare dedicated his work to the Earl of Southampton with the words:

Right Honourable, I ... vow to take advantage of all idle hours, till I have honoured you with some graver labour.

(An aristocrat spent his working time dealing with the affairs of state, supervising his own estate and when necessary, fighting wars. If he then chose to write poetry he would do so in his “idle hours”.) - Nashe dedicated his work last word to “Master William” and in response, Harvey dedicates his pamphlet to Idle Hours. Just as the monarch of a country is sometimes referred to as “the crown”, because monarchs sometimes wear crowns; Harvey addresses William Shakespeare (= the Earl of Oxford) as Idle Hours because of the above use of the term. This rare figure of speech is called a metonymy. - The use of this metonymy, with its capital letters, was deliberate and most certainly not a coincidence. (See note 100.)

[196] “no needfuller Discourse, than The Praise, or Supererogation of an Ass”: Harvey dedicates his “Praise of an Ass” only “to [Master] Idle Hours”. As in previous passages the equation ‘The Earl of Oxford’ = ‘The Old Ass’ is subtly restated.

[197] “This 27 of April, 1593”: This date is in contrast to the the date that John Thorius gives as the date of composition “3rd of August, 1593”, in his closing letter at the end of the pamphlet. (See note 206.)

[198]His Sonnet that … dedicateth Nashe’s St. Fame to Immortality”: With the help of his own poem Harvey deems, himself, that he be immortal.

[199]A Dame more sweetly brave than nicely fine”: Once again, the masculine characteristics of the “Gentlewoman” are emphasised.

[200]Snip-snap a crash may lend St. Fame a gash”: Following Harvey's trail, Don Adriano de Armado wields the rhetoric shears.

BRAGGART. Now by the sault wave of the meditaranium, a sweete tutch, a quicke venewe of wit, snip snap, quicke and home, it rejoyceth my intellect, true wit.

[201]Fame roused herself, and gan to swash about”: This is a refference to ‘St. Fame’, Nashe's dishevelled muse. – The first four lines are direct speech.

[202] “What courage of the world, or Mister wight”: Harvey feigns ignorance of the origin of these words, hence the expression “Mister wight”. Shortly thereafter, a voice rings out clearer as the song of the lark (see note 204); clearly, the “excellent Gentlewoman” has spoken and is indeed still speaking.

[203]her redoubtable Bull-begging knight”:  St. Fame’s terrorizing Knight, i.e. Tom Nashe, or Gnasharduccio, the sole renown of Fame. Simultaneously, Harvey revives the Superrogation Squire (see note 19), the audacious petitioner who addresses himself to the “Bull.” - See 3.1.7 Harvey, A New Letter of Notable Contents: „Scanderbegging“ and „Bull-Beggar of the town“.

[204] “Incontinent I heard a piercing voice, / Not Echo's voice, but shriller than a Lark”: Harvey recognizes the voice of the  “Gentlewoman”. – Robert Detobel writes in Love's Labours Lost and Thomas Nashe (2009): “Is Harvey borrowing from Romeo and Juliet (III.5)?”

It was the nightingale, and not the lark,
That pierced the fearful hollow of thine ear.

Here we have an important clue: With this comparison, Harvey strengthens the equation: “the excellent Gentlewoman” = “William Shake-speare.”

[205]Pastime appose the Pickle-herring clerk”:  For purposes of entertainment, one sits down with the “pickle-herring clerk”. In other words: from the “Gentlewoman's” point of view, Robert Greene is the “pickle-herring eater” and Thomas Nashe is the “pickle-herring clerk.” She is the third in the company. She closes the circle because “the excellent Gentlewoman is none other than “Will.Monox” or the Earl of Oxford or Shake-speare. (See Nashe, Strange Newes, note 75.)

[206] “Oxford, the 3rd of August, 1593”: Harvey finished the manuscript of Pierce’s Supererogation after mid-August 1593 (see note 197.)