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1596: A Letter from Thomas Nashe to his friend, Mr. William Cotton

(A transcription of the original letter which is in the British Library, ref: Cotton MS Jul C III, f. 280: taken from R.B. McKerrow, 'The Works of Thomas Nashe',
Vol 5: London, 1910)

(For an image of the actual letter, visit the excellent Luminarium site.)


For my modern-language version, select here.

 [Address, at back] To my worshipfull good freinde Mr. William Cotton geue these

Sir this tedious dead vacation is to mee as vnfortunate as a
terme at Hertford or St Albons to poore cuntry clients or Iack
Cades rebellion to the lawyers, wherein they hanged up the L cheife
iustice / In towne I stayd (being earnestly inuited elsewhere) vpon
had I wist hopes, & an after harvest I expected by writing
for the stage & for the presse, when now the players as if they
had writt another Christs tears, ar piteously psecuted by the
L. Maior & the aldermen, & however in there old Lords tyme
they thought there state setled, it is now so vncertayne they cannot
build vpon it; & for the printers there is sutch gaping amongst
them for the coppy of my L. of essex voyage and the ballet of
the threscore and four knights that though my lord Marquesse
write a second parte of his feuer lurden or idlenesse..........
..................................................... or Churchyarde
[e]nlarge his Chips, saying they were the very same wch christ in
[Car]penters hall is paynted gathering vp as Ioseph his father
[sta]nds hewing a peice of timber, & Mary his mother sitts
[sp]inning by, yet wold not they giue for them the price of a
[pr]oclamation out of date, or which is the contemptiblest summe
[tha]t may bee, (worse than a scute or a dandiprat) the price of
[        ] Harveys works bound up together.    Only mr harrington
{of} late hath sett up sutch filthy stinking iakes in pouls
churchyard, that the stationers wold giue any mony for a couer
[fo]r it.      what shold moue him to it I know not, except he
[m]eant to bid a turd in all gentle readers teeth, or whereas
[D]on Diego & Brokkenbury beshitt pouls, to prevent the like incon-
[u]enience, he hath reuiued an old innes a court tricke of turning
[         ]out in a paper, & framed close stools for them t[o] carry
[in] there pockets as gentlewomen do there spuges th[         ]
[         ] O it is detestable and abhominable, farre worse then
[Mu]nday[s] ballet of vntruesse, or Gillian a Braynfords
[Wi]ll in which she bequeathed a score of farts amongst her frends
[&] able to make any man haue a stinking breath that lookes
[b]ut on the outstide of it.   Sure had I beene of his
cousayle he shold haue sett for ye mott or word before it
Fah, & dedicated it to the house of the shakerlies that
giue for there armes thre doggs turds reaking,       For my
paarte I pitty him & pray for him that he may haue
many good stooles to his last ending, & so I wold wish
all his frends to pray, for otherwise it is to be feared
yt according as Seneca reports the last words Claudi-
ius Ces was hard to speake were Hei mihi vereor
concacaui me
so he will die with a turd in his mouth at
his last gaspe & bee coffind vp in a iakes farmer tunne
no other nosewise christian, for his horrible pfume being
able to come nere him.          well some men for sorrow singe as
it is in the ballet of Iohn Carelesse in the booke of
martirs & I am merry whe[n] I haue nere a penny in my
purse. God may moue you though I say nothing, in wch
hope that that wch wilbee shalbe I take my leaue. yours in acknowledgement
of the deepest [bond]

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