« PreviousContinue »
Art. XXIII.-New Facts in the Life of Thomas Nash, the Prose Satirist and Poet.
My friend, Mr. Albert Way, while stopping at Lowestoft, in Suffolk, in the summer of the present year, was induced at my request to examine the parish registers of the town, and extract whatever entries he could find in the earlier volumes relating to the family of Nash. I was led to make this request, remembering the poet's allusion to the place—" The head town in that island is Leystofe, in which, bee it knowne to all men, I was borne, though my father sprang from the Nashes of Herefordshire."
The registers at Lowestoft commence in 1561, and under the year 1567 the following christening is recorded :
“1567. Nouember [no day given] Thomas the son of Wyllyam Nayshe minester and Margaret his W." This, then, is the poet who was hitherto thought to have been born about the
1564." William Nash, the father, only officiated at Lowestoft, but was never instituted to the vicarage. He appears to have succeeded Thomas Downing in 1559; and in 1573 the name of Mr. William Bentlye, “vikar,” is placed at the foot of the several entries in the register. He appears to have been twice married; the Christian name of his wife being in both instances Margaret. This I gather from the entries in the register, the burial register for 1561-2 recording the interment of “ Margaret, the wyffe of Wyllyam Nayshe, ministar,” and the baptismal registry containing the following entries (of a subsequent date) relating to the children of “Wyllyam Nayshe, minester, and Margaret, his wife.”
" 1561-2. February 6. Mary the daughter of Wyllyam Nayshe minester."
- 1563. June 12. Nathaniell ye sonn of Wyllyam Nayshe minester and Margaret his wyfe.”
“ 1565. Aug. 17. Israell y.. sonn of Wyllyam Nayshe minester and Margret his wyfe."
" 1567. Nouember (no day given). Thomas the sonn of Wyllyam Nayshe minester and Margaret his W."
“ 1570. May 26. Martha the daughter of Wyllyam Nayshe p'cher and Margaret his wife."
“1572. April 13. Martha the daughter of Wyllyam Nayshe minister and Margaret his W."
“1573. Dec. 6. Rebeca the daughter of Wyllyam Nayshe minister and Margaret his W.”
Nathaniel, the eldest son, died when two years and a half old, and was buried at Lowestoft.
“1565. Dec. 7. Nathaniell the son of Wyllyam Nayshe minester.”
Israel, the second son, was married at Lowestoft 20 July, 1590, to “ Anne Grene;” Martha, the second daughter, was buried 27th April, 1571.
“15.71. April 27. Martha the daughter of Wyllyam Nayshe minester." And the second Martha was buried at the same place, on the 14th August, 1572. Two daughters, the eldest and youngest, Mary and Rebecca, and two sons, Israel and Thomas, survived their childhood.
Thomas, the youngest son “ of Wyllyam Nayshe, minester, and Margaret, his wife," was born at Lowestoft, in 1567, and entered of St. John's College, Cambridge, where he took the degree of B.A., in 1585. His residence at St. John's is remembered in his writings, where, when noticing Ascham's small commendation of the herring-men of Yarmouth for any cunning sailing at all, he adds, I will not quarrel with Ascham,
for “he was her maiesties schoolemaster, and at St. John's, in Cambridge, in which house once I tooke up my inne for seuen yere together, lacking a quarter, and yet loue it still, for it is and euer was the sweetest nurse of knowledge in all that University.” Of his after history, the little that is known seems to have been spent in London in controversy and altercation in an overflow of coarse but ready wit, and violent invective.
His earliest printed production was his prefatory epistle to Greene's “Menaphon,” 1587, and his latest “A Pleasant Comedie called Summer's last Will and Testament,” printed in 1600, and reprinted in the last edition of Dodsley's Old Plays. He assisted Marlowe in the tragedy of “Dido,” and was assisted by others in what he calls “that unfortunate, imperfect embrion of my idle hours, the Isle of Dogs...... An imperfect embrio I may well call it; for I hauing begun but the induction and first act of it, the other five acts, without my consent, or the least guesse of my drift or scope, by the players were supplied, which bred both their trouble and mine too." He was imprisoned in the Fleet on account of this unfortunate play; and the poet in fetters, with long, lank hair, is the subject of a woodcut in one of the pamphlets written against him by his unequal antagonist, Gabriel Harvey. The play was written for Henslowe's company.
Nash's tracts deserve collection. The best are, " An Almond for a Parrot,” “ Pierce Penniless," and his “Have with you to Saffron Walden.' If his poetical merits seem unusually slender, there is the praise of Drayton, when Nash had long been in his grave, to preserve the memory of his poetical powers :
Surely Nash, though he a proser were,
Sharply satiric was he.” Nor was he nnwilling to be regarded as a poet. sure the excellency of other men,” says Selden, “ by some
66 We mea
excellency we conceive to be in ourselves. Nash, a poet, poor enough, (as poets used to be) seeing an alderman with his gold chain, upon his great horse, by way of scorn, said to one of his companions, “Do you see yon fellow, how goodly, how big he looks ? Why, that fellow cannot make a blank verse.””
I have only to add that Nash was dead in or before 1601, and that the father was buried at Lowestoft 25th August, 1603.
Kensington, 17th August, 1847.
END OF VOL. III.
F. Shoberl, Jun., Printer to H.R.H. Prince Albert, Rupert Street, 11 ay sankci.