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1592 - Nashe, Thomas - Pierce Penniless

Allusion to Adam Bell
Date 1592
Author Nashe, Thomas
Title Pierce Penilesse His Svpplication to the Divell
Mentions Clim of the Clough

By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2014-07-23. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2018-07-28.

Allusion

Clim of the clough, thou that vsest to drinke nothing but scalding lead and sulphur in hell, thou art not so greedie of thy night geare.[1]

Source notes

"P. 206, I. Clim of the clough] Collier refers to the well-known ballad of Adam Bell, Clim of the Clough, and William of Cloudeslie (see Hazlitt's Early Pop. Poetry, ii. 131, and Laing's Pop. Poet. of Scotland, ed. Hazlitt, ii. 90, &c.), but remarks that it is not clear why the devil should be called by this name. There is nothing in the ballad about drinking scalding lead and sulphur in hell.
From N. Breton's Pasquil's Pass and passeth not, 1600, B2v, it would appear that 'Clim of the Clough' had some other sense, but the passage is very obscure. Can this have been the nickname of some contemporary clown, or possibly fire-eater? The stanza runs:

He that will passe into a Clownes conceit,
Let him take heede he know a clouted shooe,
Lest he be cousoned with a close deceit:
When seely Fooles know not what Knaues can doe,
With, Yea, and Nay, to bring an Ideot to:
But if he kindly know Clim of the Clough,
Then let him passe, he shall doe well enough.

Compare also The Alchemist, I. ii:

I bring you
No cheating Clim o'the Cloughs, or Claribels
That look as big as five-and-fifty, and flush;
And spit out secrets like hot custard.

So too Gascoigne, Wks., ed. Hazlitt, i. 72. 6, 'Clim of the Clough then takes his heeles, tis time for him to creepe,' but this passage also is far from clear."[2]

Editions

Notes

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