1819 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Nashe

Thomas Campbell, in Specimens of the British Poets (1819; 1845) 65.



THOMAS NASH was born at Lowestoft in Suffolk, was bred at Cambridge, and closed a a calamitous life of authorship at the age, it is said, of forty-two. Dr. Beloe has given a list of his works, and Mr. D'Israeli an account of his shifts and miseries. Adversity seems to have whetted his genius, as his most tolerable verses are those which describe his own despair; and in the midst of his woes, he exposed to just derision the profound fooleries of the astrologer Harvey, who, in the year 1582, had thrown the whole kingdom into consternation by his predictions of the probable effects of the junction of Jupiter and Saturn. Drayton, in his Epistle of Poets and Poesy, says of him—

Sharply satyric was he, and that way
He went, since that his being to this day,
Few have attempted, and I surely think
These words shall hardly be set down with ink,
Shall blast and scorch so as his could.

From the allusion which he makes in the following quotation to Sir P. Sydney's compassion, before the introduction to the following lines [from Pierce Penniless], it may be conjectured that he had experienced the bounty of that noble character.