Nashe, And Gosse On Nashe

Here is another excerpt from Nashe’s Lenten Stuff:

There was a herring, or there was not, for it was but a cropshin, one of the refuse sort of herrings, and this herring, or this cropshin, was censed and thurified in the smoke, and had got him a suit of durance that would last longer than one of Erra Pater’s almanacs, or a constable’s brown bill, only his head was in his tail, and that made his breath so strong that no man could abide him. Well, he was a Triton of his time, and a sweet-singing calandra to the state, yet not beloved of the showery Pleiades, or the Colossus of the Sun, however he thought himself another tumidus Antimachus, as complete an adelantado as he that is known by wearing a cloak of tuftaffaty eighteen year, and to Lady Turbot there is no demur but he would needs go a-wooing, and offered her for a dower whole hecatombs and a two-hand sword; she stared upon him with Megaera’s eyes, like Iris, the messenger of Juno, and bade him go eat a fool’s-head and garlic, for she would none of him; thereupon particularly strictly and usually he replied, that though thunder ne’er lights on Phoebus’ tree, and Amphion, that worthy musician, was husband to Niobe, and there was no such acceptable incense to the heavens as the blood of a traitor, revenged he would be by one chimera of imagination or other, and hamper and embrake her in those mortal straights for her disdain, that, in spite of divine symmetry & miniature, into her busky grove she should let him enter, and bid adieu, sweet lord, or the cramp of death should wrest her heart-strings.

I was going to post some Daily Nashe for a while, but it seems to me I could happily quote the entire book, so perhaps it is a better idea for you to go and read it directly – PDF here. You might also like to know what Edmund Gosse had to say about it, in An Essay On The Life & Writings Of Thomas Nashe (1892):

“Lenten Stuff” gives us evidence that Nashe had now arrived at a complete mastery of the fantastic and irrelevant manner which he aimed at. This book is admirably composed, if we can bring ourselves to admit that the genre is ever admirable. The writer’s vocabulary has become opulent, his phrases flash and detonate, each page is full of unconnected sparks and electrical discharges. A sort of aurora borealis of wit streams and rustles across the dusky surface, amusing to the reader, but discontinuous, and insufficient to illuminate the matter in hand. It is extraordinary that a man can make so many picturesque, striking, and apparently apposite remarks, and yet leave us so frequently in doubt as to his meaning.

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