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Friday, April 28, 2006

Thomas Nashe, Roundhead

Inkhorn has truly lived up to his name this time. In his comments on "My Bird is a Round-head," which I wrote contained a "stock woodcut" of a man on its right-hand side to represent (presumably) the puritan in the ballad and to save the publisher the cost of a custom-made woodcut, Inkhorn wrote (in part): "That woodcut of the man isn't quite so general: I think it's Thomas Nashe. Or, the woodcut was used to represent Thomas Nashe in a 1597 pamphlet called, The Trimming of Thomas Nashe."

Here's the woodcut from the 1642 ballad again (Wing C7285B):

And here's the woodcut on sig. E2r of The trimming of Thomas Nashe Gentleman, by the high-tituled patron Don Richardo de Medico campo, barber chirurgion to Trinitie Colledge in Cambridge (1597, STC 12906), probably by Gabriel Harvey:

No doubt about it: that's the same woodcut, much the worse for wear over the 45-year interim. No wonder the man doesn't dress like a roundhead. And no doubt about it: that's an awfully impressive feat of the Renaissance art of memory from Inkhorn.

The Trimming was printed by Edward Allde for Philip Scarlet, while the ballad was printed for Richard Harper. ESTC does not identify a printer for the ballad. I'd bet that if one traced the fate of Allde's type stock down through the years (who inherited his printing material, and so on), we'd know who printed the ballad. And I'd be surprised if the woodcut didn't turn up periodically in other books between 1597 and 1642 (or after). Anyone want to take up that task of bibliographical sleuthing? Perhaps there's a Nashe scholar out there who already knows the afterlife of this woodcut.

As Inkhorn wrote in his comment, I'm not sure this history tells us anything about the ballad (although Inkhorn's suggestion about the Nashe/Marprelate nexus is intriguing), but at least it tells us that the man in the 1642 version is not holding what it looks like he's holding in his right hand--there's supposed to be a chain attached to leg-irons there.

 Scribble some marginalia

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