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The introductory part of this volume commences with a prose address “To the Reader,” followed by four verses from the author to his book in Latin, French, English, and Dutch; then occur numerous laudatory verses by Ralph Piggott, Esq.; J. A.; 0. B.; Owen Barne, Gent. (several); Tho. Parkin, Medecinæ Doctor (in Latin and English); Nich. Toll, Pastor at Lynn; Tho. Toll, Junior, Gent.; Tho. Leech, A.M., two anonymous; J. Bastard, A.B.; Carolus Cremer, Cantabr. Coll. Corp. Christi; Tho. Parkin, Junior, A.B.; J. B.; Robert Thorowgood, Merchant (in French); Jo. Bradford ; and W. Skynner, Gent. And in addition to these, there is in the present volume a manuscript copy of verses on the fly leaf signed K. addressed “Ad Authorem":
Sometimes the Muses frolicking on the Thames
Thus poetry wee defend: ye devills in't
If all miss thee: thou being thus in print. The introductory matter is closed with “The Invocation of the Author," “ To the most High God, His humble Servant implores his most favourable assistance.” Several of the Poems are addressed by Murford to friends and inhabitants of his own town of Lynn, and are written much in the same careless and inelegant style as those described in the preceding article. Among the rest is an “ Elegie by the Author unto his Yoak-fellow from beyond the Seas,” poetically described by the name of Amiana, and “An Elegie upon the Death of his Daughter Amy,” which closes with the following Epitaph
Here lies wiso and beauteous dust,
And as nine Muses verses showing.
Comment on a Copy of Verses.” This is a sort of com
ommentary or paraphrase on the well-known Verses termed "A Farewell to Folly," commencing
Farewell, ye gilded follies, pleasing troubles
Farewell, ye honour'd rags, ye christal bubbles, &c. which the reader will find at the end of the later editions of Witts Recreations, 1667, 8vo. The lines as given by Murford vary somewhat from the printed copy.
Murford, as we have already stated, was a Merchant at Lynn in Norfolk, and a married man with a family; and in his former capacity appears to have travelled much abroad in Germany, France, and the Netherlands, and to have been master of the languages of those countries. The first Poem in the lume, entitled “The storm and Calm,” was sent from Embden,” and there is “ A Song made at my last coming out of Germany," and in a Satyr addressed to Martin Holbeach, called “The Travells," he says
I've seen the seventeen-headed Belgia,
And Prophanation. We have seen from the preceding article, that Murford's latter days were embittered by poverty, debts, and imprisonment; but we are unable to
further record of his fate, or of the period of his death. In Osborne's Catal. for 1748, a copy of this volume (probably Coxeter's) is marked 18., but no mention is made of the rare portrait, No. 10,507, p. 28. The present copy, which has a beautiful impression of the portrait, was formerly in the possession of Mr. Park. It afterwards passed into the collection of Mr. Bindley, at whose second sale in Jan. 1819, it was purchased by Mr. Heber for 201., and was bought by the editor at his sale in 1834, p. iv, No. 1557.
Nash, (Thomas.) — Pierce Penilesse his Svpplication to the Diuell.
Barbaria grandis habere nichil.
London, printed by Abell Ieffes for J. B. 1592, 4to, pp. 76, blk. lett.
Of this work, which was the most popular of all Nash's productions, and probably the most popular piece of that day, the present is the third impression. It is a fact not generally noticed that there were at least three impressions in this year, the first “Imprinted by Richard Jhones;" and the other two by Abell Jeffes, one for John Busbie and the other for J. B. The first by Richard Jhones, having been obtained in an irregular manner, was printed by him in the absence of the author "uncorrected and unfinished”; and from the circumstance of Robert Greene's death, who did not die till September, 1592, being mentioned in the highly interesting private epistle from Nash to the printer, prefixed to the second edition, it must have been printed after his death, and was evidently the second impression, and, indeed, is so termed in that epistle. But the work became so popular and saleable that, though Nash's “ Have with you to Saffron Walden” was published in 1596, the present production, to quote his own words in that book, “had already passed at the least through the pikes of sixe Impressions." The present is the third of these, and differs very slightly from the preceding one. It commences with the curious “ private Epistle of the Author to the Printer, Wherein his full meaning and purpose in publishing this Booke is set foorth” (here comprized in two pages instead of three as before), which has been mentioned above, and which is deserving of consideration on several accounts. The title of the first edition had been “ Pierce Penilesse his Supplication to the Diuell. Describing the Ouerspreading of Vice, and Suppression of Vertue. Pleasantly interlaced with variable Delights: and pathetically intermixt with conceipted Reproofes." In this epistle to the printer he says: “Now this is that I woulde haue you to do in this second edition ; First, cut off that long-tayld Title, and let mee not in the fore front of my Booke, make a tedious Mountebanks Oration to the Reader, when in the whole there is nothing praiseworthie." Accordingly, in the second edition, the title is shortened, and the whole of the latter part omitted. He also says, “Had you not beene so forward in the republishing of it, you shold haue bad certayne Epistles to Orators and Poets, to insert at the later end; as namely, to the Ghost of Macheuill, of Tully, of Ovid, of Roscius, of Pace, the Duke of Norfolk's Iester; and lastly, to the Ghost of Robert Greene, telling him, what a coyle there is with pamphleting on him after his death. These were prepared for Pierce Penilesse first setting foorth, had not the feare of infection detained mee with my Lord in the Countrey," i.e., alluding to the plague which then prevailed in London. He adds: “I heare say there bee obscure imitators, that goe about to frame a second part to it, and offer it to sell in Paules Church-yard, and else-where, as from mee. Let me request you (as euer you will expect any fauour at my hands) to get some body to write an Epistle before it, ere you set it to sale againe, importing thus much; that if any such lewde deuise intrude itselfe to their hands, it is a coseanage and plaine knauery of him that sels it to get mony, and that I haue no manner of interest or acquaintance with it. Indeed if my leysure were, such as I could wish, I might bap (halfe a yeare hence) write the returne of the Knight of the Post from hel, with the Deuils answer to the Supplication: but as for a second part of Pierce Penilesse, it is a most ridiculous rogery.”
It is somewhat remarkable that that fourteen years after, in 1606, a work, now exceedingly rare, was published with this title by another person, by some supposed to be Dekker, who styled himself “the intimate and near companion of Nash," and who, in a sort of preliminary address alluding to Nash's death and to the above-mentioned passage, thus remarks:
About tenne yeares agone, when the Supplication of Pierce Penilesse was published, the Gentleman who was the author thereof, being mine intimate and neare companion, as one with whome I communicated both my love, mine estate, and my studies, and found euer out of his disposition an equall, or if possible a more feruent sympathie of like community and affection, so as I cannot chuse but still take much delight in his memory, would many times in his priuate conference with me vnfolde his determination touching the concluding and finishing vppe of that morall and wittie Treatise, which for as much as it could beare no second parte by the same title (as he publikelie did protest in an Epistle to the Printer ioyn'de to the same treatise) his resolution was to accomplish his desire by writing The returne of the Knight of the Post, and therein did many times at large discourse the maine plot and drift wherein hee meant to bestow great arte, witte, and laborious studie. Now death, who many times by an vncharitable or cruell anticipation preuenteth those deseignes which might administer much matter of regarde and commoditie, by taking him so earlie fro the world, who had he liued, would haue enrichte it with much wittinesse, left that vneffected which had it beene by him taken in hand would doubtlesse haue satisfied many learned expectations.
But Nash in this epistle not only denied that he had written a second part of Pierce Penilesse, but also that he was the author of Green's Groatsworth of Wit, published likewise in that year, 1592. And considering the terms of intimacy and friendship in which he had always lived with Greene, and that the latter was now dead, we confess our surprise at the contemptuous terms which Nash makes use of, on the mention of that wellknown work. “Other news I am aduertised of that a scald triuial lying pamphlet cald Greens groat-worth of wit is given out to be of my doing. God neuer have care of my soule, but vtterly renoūce me, if the least word or sillable in it proceeded from my pen, or if I were any way priuie to the writing or printing of it." He again goes on, “In one place of my Booke Pierce Penilesse saith, but to the Knight of the Post, I pray how might I call you, and they say I meant one Howe, a Knaue of that trade, that I neuer heard of before. The antiquaries are offended without cause, thinking I goe about to detract from that excellent profession, when (God is my witnesse) I reuerence it as much as any of them all, and had no manner of allusion to them that stumble at it. I hope they wil giue me leaue to think there be fooles of that Art as well as of al other; but to say I vtterly condemne it as an vnfruitfull studie, or seeme to despise the excellent qualified partes of it, is a most false and iniurious surmise.” He concludes this epistle with again alluding to the plague, “I am the Plagues prisoner in the Country as yet: if the sicknesse cease before the thirde impression I wil come and alter whatsoeuer may be offensiue to any man, and bring you the latter ende. Your friend, Tho. Nash.”
The work itself, which is written with great power and eloquence, is a most severe satire on the chief reigning vices and follies which then prevailed in England. The commencement of it is indited in a bitter strain of grief and repentance for past errors, and the following short poem inserted on the first page displays a “a very original and useful picture of the agonies of a repentant spirit.”
Why is't damnation to dispaire and die,
Diuines and dying men may talke of hell ;
But in my heart, her seueral tormentes dwell.
And yet my wantes perswade me to proceede,
Since none takes pitie of a Scollers neede.
Oh friends, no friends, that then vngently frowne,