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1589 - Nashe, Thomas - Return of Pasquill

Date 1589
Author Nashe, Thomas
Title The Retvrne of Pasquill
Mentions May-game; Ape; Owl; [John] Penry; morris dance; Martin [Marprelate]; Maid Marian; Dame [Margaret] Lawson; [Giles] Wigginton; Eusebius Paget

By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2013-08-01. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2014-07-01.


Howe whorishlie Scriptures are alleaged by them [sc. the Martinists], I will discour (by Gods helpe) in another new worke which [vol. I, p. 83:] I haue in hand, and intituled it, The May-game of Martinisme. Verie defflie set out, with Pompes, Pagents, Motions, Maskes, Scutchions, Emblems, Impreases, strange trickes, and deuises, betweene the Ape and the Owle, the like was neuer yet seene in Paris-garden. Penry the welchman is the foregallant of the Morrice, with the treble belles, shot through the wit with a Woodcocks bill: I woulde not for the fayrest horne-beasts in all this Countrey, that the Church of England were a cup of Metheglin, and came in his way when he is ouer-heated; euery Bishopricke woulde prooue but a draught, when the Mazer is at his nose. Martin himselfe is the Mayd-marian, trimlie drest vppe in a cast Gowne, and a Kercher of Dame Lawsons, his face handsomlie muffled with a Diaper-napkin to couer his beard, and a great Nosegay in his hande, of the principalest flowers I could gather out of all hys works. Wiggenton daunces round about him in a Cotten-coate, to court him with a Leatherne pudding, and a wodden Ladle. Paget marshalleth the way, with a couple of great clubbes,one in his foote, another in his head, & he cryes to the people with a loude voice, Beware of the Man whom God hath markt. I can not yet find any so fitte to come lagging behind, with a budget on his necke, to gather the deuotion of the lookers on, as the stocke-keeper of the Bridewel-house of Canterburie; he must carrie the purse, to defray their charges, and then hee may be sure to serue himselfe.[1]

Source notes

P. 83: The May-game of Martinisme] Another book which never appeared.
2. defflie] A frequent form of 'deftly'. [p. 55:]
5. Paris-garden] See Collier, Hist. E. Dr. Poet., 1831, iii. 278, &c.; a paper by W. Rendle in Harrison's Descr. of Eng., ed. N. S. S., Pt. iii, apx. I; Mr. Ordish's Early London Theatres, cap. 5, and Henslowe's Diary, ed. W. W. Greg, pt. ii, p. 35. The whole subject of Paris Garden is somewhat complicated, but it seems fairly safe to say that originally bear-baitings were held within the manor of Paris (or Parish) Garden, a district of considerable size, and that when later – though many years before Nashe wrote – they were transferred to the Bear Garden, an amphitheatre on the Bankside, near, but not within, the manor, the name of the Parish Garden baitings still clung to them. Thus, at the end of the sixteenth century, 'Parish Garden' generally meant the Bear Garden, and not – except in topographical writings – the manor properly so called; cf. i. 281. 6-8. Besides the bear-baiting there seem to have been other entertainments. Among these an ape which rode a dwarf pony is frequently mentioned: cf. iii. 104. 6 and note. Of the owl I know nothing.
Penry] John Penry (or ap-'Henry), born in 1559 in Brecknockshire, matriculated at Peterhouse, Cambridge, in 1580, B.A. 1583-4, M.A. 1586, is said at one time to have held Catholic opinions, but before he left Cambridge became an extreme Puritan. He did not take orders but travelled about in Wales preaching. Being greatly impressed with the spiritual destitution of the country, which he attributed to the non-residence and incompetency of the clergy, he published in 1587, at Oxford, a Treatise... containing the Aequity of an Humble Supplication in the behalfe of... Wales, urging the necessity of immediate reform of the clergy of that country. This work roused the resentment of Whitgift, who caused the books to be seized, and had Penry imprisoned for a month. His treatment seems, however, to have rendered him still more determined to persevere in his efforts for reform, and that not only in the Welsh Church but in the Church of England also. It being now, of course, no longer possible to get his works licensed and printed in the ordinary way, he determined to start a press of his own, and with the assistance of Waldegrave the Martinist press was founded. It cannot be stated with certainty what share Penry had in the actual composition of the Martinist tracts; there is, however, evidence that part of the copy was in his writing, and that he corrected a passage in one of them to which the compositor objected as being without sense (Arber, Introd. Sketch, 117. 10-11; 127. 29-35: but cf. 134. 24-31), and it is further said that in the MS. of More Work for Cooper there was in two or three places a slip into the first person where the writer was referring to Penry (I.S., 117. 18-20). Without wishing to speak positively, I may say that after reading all the 'Martinist' publications and several of those issued under Penry's name I see so little resemblance in the style that I can hardly believe them to be the work of the same author, and further, that I do not think anything in the conduct of the Martinists justifies us in disregarding the very definite statement made by 'Martin Senior' regarding Penry, Sharpe and Waldegrave: 'I dare sware of them, [they] did neuer medle nor make at anie time, with the metropoliticall writings of our renowned father,' Just Censure B 2.
In January, 1589-90, an attempt was made to apprehend Penry at Northampton, but he escaped to Scotland, where he was well received [p. 56:] by the Presbyterian clergy, and where he remained until September, 1592. In this month he returned to London, apparently with the intention of proceeding to Wales and renewing his preaching there. Delaying in London, he was, however, recognized, arrested in March, 1592-3, and committed to the Poultry Counter. In May, 1593, he was brought to trial on the charge of having, by works written at Edinburgh, attempted to excite rebellion and insurrection in England, the charge being based on certain manuscripts found in his rooms. He was not, however, charged with complicity in the Martinist publications, possibly because the evidence was insufficient, or rather perhaps because, the controversy having subsided, the bishops feared to arouse it again. He was sentenced to death and hanged a week later on May 29, 1593. (Chiefly from D.N.B.)
5-22. Penry the welchman is the foregallant of the Morrice... markt] This passage was apparently suggested by one in The Just Censure, where 'Martin Senior' proposes various persons for offices in Whitgift's household: John Bridges, dean of Sarum, is to be his fool, Doctor Underhill his almoner, Bancroft and drunken Gravate the yeomen of his cellar; 'Anderson parson of Stepney, should make roome before him with his two handstaffe, as he did once before the morrice daunce, at a market towne in the edge of Buckingham or Bedford shires, where he bare the Potters part. His two supporters alwayes to leade him by the armes, must be sir Lenard Wright, and sir Tom Blan o Bedford, the one whereof also must carrie his bable, and the other a looking glasse for their Maister, to see whether his catercappe doth euery way reach ouer his eares, and so stand according to his calling. As for Mar-Martin, and Iohn Fregueuile, they alterius vicibus, shall be the groomes of his stoole' (C 2v ). To Anderson's name there is a marginal note: 'This chaplein robbed the poore mens box at Northampton, played the Potters part in the morriee ( sic ) daunce, and begotte his maide with child in Leicestershire: and these things hee did since he was firste Priest.'
6. foregallant of the Morrice] As to the morris-dance see Mr.E.K. Chambers's Medieval Stage, i. 195, &c. The 'foregallant' is, I presume, the leader, probably the lover of Maid Marian; but details of the dance are almost entirely wanting. Most of the performers wore bells attached to a strap or garter below the knees.
7. Woodcocks bill] I do not understand this; but a woodcock was of course proverbial for foolishness. Possibly there is some sort of jesting allusion to one William Woodcock, whose 'divinity' is twice referred to in the Epitome, ed. Petheram, pp. 22, 25. From the allusions one might suppose that the 'divinity' was a printed book, but I can learn nothing of it.
9. Metheglin] The Welsh drink of the period, 'whereof', as Harrison says, 'the Welshmen make no lesse accompt and not without cause if it be well handled than the Greeks did of their Ambrosia or Nectar' (Descr. of Engl. in Holinshed's Chron., ed. Furnival, for N.S.S.i. 161). It was a kind of mead, but the 'swish swash' they called mead in Essex and elsewhere differed from it as chalk from cheese. (Harrison, loc. cit.)
13. a Kercher of Dame Lawsons] Dame Margaret Lawson is frequently referred to in the Martinist controversy, but, so far as I am [p. 57:] aware, there is nothing known of her save what can be gathered from such references. In the Epistle she is called 'the shrew at Pauls gate and enemie to all dumb dogs and tyrannical Prelates in the land', and speeches of hers to the Bishop of London and to the Archbishop of Canterbury are reported (ed. Arber, 11,12). See Cooper's reply to this in the Admonition, ed. Arber, p. 33. From Hay any Work, ed. Peth. 62, it appears that her husband's name was Thomas. She is mentioned in Martin's Month's Mind, G I v, as Martin's 'deare sister' to whom he bequeaths his scolding and railing, Nashe, ed. Grosart, i. 189; cf. also Almond for a Parrot, iii. 344. 9-12; 348. 12-15; 351. 5-7. Nashe refers to the mention of her in the Almond in Strange News, i. 268. 15-17.
17. Wiggenton] Giles Wigginton ( fl. 1569-92), a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, vicar of Sedbergh in Yorkshire, 1579, deprived on account of his Calvinistic views in 1586 but reinstated in 1592 ( D.N.B. ). So far as I am able to discover he had nothing whatever to do with the Marprelate controversy, though its seems to have been assumed by the anti-Martinists that, as a well- known extreme Puritan, he must have had. He is mentioned in An Almond for a Parrot, iii. 350. 13; 363. 2, &c.; 364. 21-3. His deprivation is, however, referred to in the Epistle, ed. Arber, 26, 27; Cooper's Admonition, ed. Arber, 37; and Hay any Work, ed. Petheram, 69.
18. Leatherne pudding] Presumably some form of the bladder which was carried by fools. For the ladle cf. iii. 240. 199 note.
19. Paget] Eusebius Pagit (1551 ?-1617) studied first at Oxford, then at Christ Church, Cambridge, B.A. 1567. He was rector of Kilkhampton in Cornwall, 1574-85, when he was deprived for non-conformity to the Anglican ritual (D.N.B.). He is mentioned in the Just Censure, D2, as living at Hounslow, änd [IRHB: sic] it is clear from the context that he was looked upon as one of the most prominent of the Puritan party, but I find no evidence that he was associated with the Martinists. He is referred to several times in the course of the controversy, in the anti-Martinist tracts almost always with jeers at his lameness; cf. 85. 25-9, and Almond, iii. 347. 18-19; 350. 13; 362. 9-11, 25-6.
20. another [club] in his head] There is not the least need to read 'hand' for 'head', as Grosart did. The allusion is to 'club-headed', meaning 'blockhead'; cf. 'a club-headed companion', Anatomy, i. 7. 27.
24-5.stocke-keeper of the Bridewel-house at Canterburie] Cf. Countercuffe, 61. 3-8.[2]}}

* P. 83, 5. Penry] The statement at the foot of iv. 55 is incorrect; see Mr. J. Dover Wilson's article in the Library, Oct., 1907, where it is shown that the date of the first raid, when certain books were seized in Penry's study, was Jan., 1588-9. There appears, however, to have been a later raid on the house of Henry Godley, Penry's father-in-law, in the autumn of 1589; see Arber, Intr. Sketch, 181. 22-8.
* 19. Paget] Mr.Pierce, Hist. Intro. to Martinist Controversy, p. 283, states that Pagit was not club-footed and that 'it was his arm that was "lame"'.[3]



Also see


  1. Nashe, Thomas; McKerrow, Ronald Brunlees, ed.; Wilson, F.P., ed. The Works of Thomas Nashe (Oxford, 1966), vol. I, pp. 82-83; notes: vol. IV, pp. 54-57; vol. V, p. 8.
  2. Nashe. op. cit., vol. IV, pp. 54-57.
  3. Nashe. op. cit., vol. V, p. 8.