1842 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Nashe

C. H. Timperley, in Encyclopaedia of Literary and Typographical Anecdote (1842) 1:436-37.



1600. Died, THOMAS NASH, a writer of very considerable bearing, but of great severity of style. He is called by Dr. Lodge, in his Wits Misery and Worlds Madness, discovering the Devil's Incarnate of the Age, the true English Aretine. He was the writer against the Martin Marprelates. He wrote a great deal, both in prose and verse, particularly of the satirical kind. He obtained considerable reputation as an author, and was praised by many of his cotemporaries. He is thus described by Michael Drayton:

And surely Nash, tho' he a proser were,
A branch of laurel yet deserves to bear;
Sharply satyrick 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 in ink.
Shall scorch and blast, so as his could when he
Would inflict vengeance.

In a very curious and scarce play, called the Return from Parnassses; or, the Scourge of Simony, acted by the students of St. John's college, Cambridge, 1606. After introducing Spencer, Constable, Lodge, Daniel, Watson, Drayton, Davis, Marston, Marlowe, Shakspeare, and Churchyard, the Interlocutors, Ingenioso and Judicio, thus proceed:

Thomas Nash
Ingenioso
I here is a fellow, Judicio, that carried the deadly stocke in his pen, whose muse was armed with a jag tooth, and his pen possest with Hercules furyes.

Judicio.
Let an his faults sleepe with his mourneful chest,
And there for ever with his ashes rest;
His stile was witty, though he had some gall;
Something be might have mended, so may all.
Yet this I say, that for a mother wit
Few men have ever seen the like of it

Nash was born at Leostoffe, in the county of Suffolk. His father was descended from the Nashes of Herefordshire, as he himself informs us in his whimsical production, called the Praise of a Red Herring. He was educated at Cambridge, and was, for almost seven years a member of St. John's college. Mr. Gifford observes, that Nash had an inexhaustible vein of caustic raillery, never yet surpassed. In 1599 it was ordered "that all Nashes bookes and Dr. Harvey's bookes be taken wheresoever they may be found, and that none of the same bookes be ever printed hereafter."