1598 - Nashe, Thomas - Nashe's Lenten Stuff (2)

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Date 1598
Author Nashe, Thomas
Title Nashes Lenten Stuffe
Mentions Robin Hood and Little John

By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2013-08-01. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2021-01-07.


One becke more to the balies of the cinque portes, whome I were a ruder Barbarian then Smill the Prince of the Crims & Nagayans, if in this actiõ I should forget (hauing had good cheare at their tables more then once or twice whiles I loytred in this paragõlesse fishtown). Citty, towne, cuntry, Robin hoode and little Iohn, and who not, are industrious and carefull to squire and safe conduct him in, but in vshering him in, next to the balies of Yarmoth, they trot before all, and play the prouost [p. 187:] marshals, helping to keep good rule the first three weeks of his ingresse, and neuer leaue roaring it out with their brasen horne as long as they stay, of the freedomes and immunities soursing frõ him.[1]

Source notes

"27-8. Smil, the Prince of the Crims & Nagayans] From Hakluyt, Princ. Nav., 1589, p. 349 (ed. 1903-5, ii. 454), 'Departing from Perouolog...we saw a great heard of Nagayans...: that Hord was belonging to a great Murse called Smille, the greatest prince in all Nagay, who hath slaine and driuen away all the rest, not sparing his owne brethren and children.' Cf. also p. 350 for (457), 'the aforesayd Tartar< prince called Murse Smille.' The Crimmes, Nagaians, and the whole nation of the Tartarians' are referred to on p. 343 (438) of the book, and frequently.
31. Robin hoode and little Iohn] I have not met elsewhere with this equivalent of 'Tom, Dick, and Harry'."
[Vol. IV, p.375.]
"12. H.S.] He was certainly Hugh (not Henry) Sanford, secretary to the Earl of Pembroke (d. 1601) and tutor to his son William Herbert. See the evidence presented by F. A. Yates, John Florio, 1934, p. 192 ff." (Vol. V, p. 53.)

IRHB comments

McKerrow is no doubt right that "Robin hoode and little Iohn" are here used as synonyms for "Tom, Dick, and Harry", but I think the whole situation is reminiscent of spring and summer festivals: Robin and John being "industrious and carefull to squire and safe conduct", "vshering" in, trotting, and playing "the prouost".

Lenten Stuffe also includes a passage probably alluding to Morris dancing (and just possibly to a May or summer king): "To his worthie good patron, Lustie Humfrey, according as the towns-men doo christen him, little Numps, as the Nobilitie and Courtiers do name him, and Honest Humfrey, as all his friendes and acquaintance esteeme him, King of the Tobacconists hic & vbique, and a singular Mecænas to the Pipe and the Tabour (as his patient liuery attendant can witnesse) his bounden Orator T.N. most prostrately offers vp this tribute of inke and paper. (Vol. III, p. 147.)

McKerrow notes that Humfrey King "[...] was the author of a work of which the third impression was published in 1613 under the title of An Halfe-penny-worth of Wit in a Penny-worth of Paper. Or the Hermites Tale. See Hazlitt, Handbook, 318 b. Practically nothing is known about him. The Hermit's Tale is mentioned by Nashe at 150. 9-10." He also notes with regard to the mention of "the Tabour": "Joking, of course, on the pipe and tabour of the morris-dance." (Vol. IV, p. 374.)

Wilson adds: "To Humphrey King are also dedicated N. Breton's Pasquil's Mistress, 1600 (Poems, ed. J. Robertson, 1952, p. 81) and Anthony Chute's Tabacco (1595). Breton's dedication was clearly influenced by N's. The DNB calls King a shopkeeper, but 'tobacconist' (147. 6) means at this time a user, not a seller, of tobacco. See R. J. Kane (loc. cit.), p. 157. King appears to have been short of stature. N calls him 'little Numps' (147. 3) and Chute refers ironically to 'his Excelsitude'." (Vol. V, p. 53.)



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