Nashe's dedicatees: William Beeston and Richard Lichfield.
There is a famous passage in Strange Newes where Nashe speaks of the 'fatall banquet' which supposedly killed Robert Greene. It is the only mention of that banquet by one of its partakers, of whom the only ones named are Greene, Nashe, and 'one of my fellowes, Will. Monox (Hast thou neuer heard of him and his great dagger?)'(1) This friend of Nashe's with the dagger has proved untraceable(2) - for the reason, I believe, that the name is a pseudonym. This is only evident when we look at another pseudonym employed by Nashe in Strange Newes.
The pamphlet is dedicated to one 'Maister Apis lapis'. Nashe eulogizes him as 'the most copious Carminist of our time'.(3) McKerrow must be right in his conjecture that 'Apis lapis' is a macaronic translation of the name 'Beeston' (Bee-stone).(4) Nashe also gives us his Christian name, William;(5) but William Beeston has eluded scholars since his time, his 'copious carminism' notwithstanding. The 'Epistle Dedicatorie' contains numerous lightning-flash sketches of Beeston's character. He was clearly a poet, or at least a rhymester; Nashe jocularly regards him as a particular enemy to pedantry, if not to grammar itself, and as one prone to 'Chaucerisme'.(6) Beeston is presented above all as a toper and boon-companion. One glimpse of the man himself is particularly vivid: 'Shall I presume to dilate of the grauitie of your round cap, and your dudgen dagger?'(7)
The name Will, in conjunction with the dagger, must make us wonder. Could 'Monox' be yet another cypher for Beeston? Surely it is: mon-ox = 'one beast' = Beest-on. By splitting the word in two different spots, Nashe has managed to get both bees and oxen out of Beeston's name. So the reference is to the dedicatee, the boon companion with the 'dudgen dagger', who was himself with Nashe at the Greene banquet.
It would be pleasant to report some further particulars of the William Beeston who goes under both these pseudonyms, but I can learn nothing of him. It is natural to speculate, with E. K. Chambers, that William was some relation to Christopher Beeston, the actor in the Lord Chamberlain's men, to which company Nashe seems to have been attached later on.(8) Christopher Beeston became a prominent theatrical manager in the seventeenth century, and had a son named William - who persistently leads astray the researcher who seeks the William Beeston of c. 1592. On the other hand, since many families then (as now) habitually alternated two principal Christian names for their sons of successive generations, we may reasonably expect Christopher's father to have been a William.
McKerrow is right, I think, to say that this William Beeston seems to have been of a ripe age in 1592: 'It is not vnknowne to report, what a famous pottle-pot Patron you haue beene to olde Poets in your daies'.(9) It is tempting to take seriously the imputation that Beeston's 'hospitalitie' is 'chronicled in the Archdeacons Court' - but, Nashe demurs, why should he speak of it, since 'the fruites it brought foorth (as I gesse) are of age to speake for themselues'. Beeston is being accused of - at the very least - having grown-up offspring.(10)
But this is speculation. All I can offer is the consolation that we are looking for, not two obscure friends of Nashe, but only one.
2. Richard Lichfield
Nashe's Have with you to Saffron-walden (1596) is dedicated to the 'chiefe scauinger of chins' and 'speciall superuisor of all excrementall superfluities for Trinitie Colledge in Cambridge', Richard Lichfield, the college barber.(11) In response to Nashe's pamphlet, or rather to its dedicatory epistle, there appeared the next year The Trimming of Thomas Nashe (1597). This pamphlet is attributed on the title-page to 'Don Richardo de Medico campo, Barber Chirurgion to Trinitie Coiledge'. It was at one time assumed that Harvey was the author, but it is now accepted that Harvey has no connection with the Trimming. And yet one still finds the assertion that 'the actual author has never been pinpointed'.(12) That 'Richard Lichfield' is the name disguised is clear (medico, 'leech' = doctor, campo, field); 'Lichfield' is also spelt out elsewhere in the book. There is a fair amount of material surviving about Lichfield, including his appearance in one of Thomas Randolph's plays, and so a fuller biography may be of interest to students of Nashe, Randolph, and Cambridge.
The earliest notice of Lichfield I have found is from 1593, when he appears in the Churchwardens' Accounts of Great St Mary's, Cambridge, in a list of 'all suche sommes as hathe bynne Received [. . .] towards the repayre or bulding of the Steple'.(13) Lichfield's contribution, of 2s. 6d., is not among the most munificent, but a look at the list suggests that merely being on it carried some prestige value. He is described as 'barber of Trinete colledg'.
In 1596 came Nashe's Have with you and its satirical dedication. In the work itself, Lichfield is called 'a rare ingenuous odde merry Greeke, who (as I haue heard) hath translated my Piers Pennilesse into the Macaronicall tongue'.(14) In 1597 came Lichfield's retaliatory Trimming. In Lenten Stuffe (1599) Nashe promised an 'answere to the Trim Tram';(15) but in June of that year Nashe's (and Harvey's) writings were officially prohibited.(16) At the end of 1598 there was performed at St John's (Cambridge) The Pilgrimage to Parnassus, in which 'Leichfildes trimming of Nash' is briefly referred to; the authorship seems not to be in question, which is fairly evidential, since Lichfield was just next door in Trinity.(17)
It seems to have escaped students of the Nashe-Harvey controversy that Lichfield is represented in another, later Cambridge entertainment, Thomas Randolph's Aristippus.(18) This was performed in 1626 or 1627,(19) and was entered in the Stationers' Register on 26 March 1630.(20) Lichfield is portrayed under the name of 'Sir Signior Medico de Campo', which looks back to the name he used in his response to Nashe.(21) Lichfield's Nashe connection, however, is not stressed; the barber-surgeon had evidently remained a Cambridge character in his own right. Clearly this 'tribute', like Nashe's before it, is not wholly admiring; the manuscript version in the British Library has a dramatis personae which calls Medico de Campo 'a vaine glorious Quacksalve personating Dick Litchfeild a Barber Surgeon in Cambridge'.(22) Another interesting feature of the role is that 'Medico de Campo' closely resembles the Doctor of the mummers' plays. Structurally, he performs the pivotal function of employing his arts to revive the dead Aristippus, and he boasts of the cures he has learned on his exotic travels; further proof, if more were needed, that the folk-play's 'resurrection'-motif is of ancient date.
Lichfield's last will and testament is in the manuscript archives of the Cambridge University Library? It is dated 22 November 1630. Lichfield is on his deathbed, 'sicke and Weake in Body', and his signature is shaky.(24) The will reveals a surprisingly prosperous citizen: Lichfield bequeaths to his son William 'all my free hold houses, Messuages and Tenements in Burie in the county of Suffolk'; he leaves 100 pounds apiece to his eldest and youngest daughters, and 100 marks apiece to the two in the middle. His 'most beloved wife Margaret' is to receive 'All the residue', however much that may have been. The will was proved 21 January 1630 .
BENJAMIN GRIFFIN Magdalene College, Cambridge
1 Thomas Nashe, Works, ed. Ronald B. McKerrow, rev. edn with corrections by F. P. Wilson, 5 vols (Oxford, 1958), I, 287-8.
2 Charles Nicholl takes what he admits is 'a very long shot' at Will Monox and comes up with a George Monox in 1533: A Cup of News (London, 1984), 124, and note. McKerrow had come closer, with a 'Wm. Monnox' fl. 1598-1601 (Works, V, 19 n.).
3 Works, I, 255.
4 Works, IV, 154.
5 Works, I, 255.
6 Nashe's own opinion of Chaucer was low, as he indicates later in Strange Newes (I, 316).
7 Works, I, 256.
8 Chambers (in Malone Society Collections, I. 4-5, p. 345) observes that a '"Beeston and his felowes" are recorded as acting at Barnstaple in 1560-1'; and Nashe's Works, V, 194. Mark Eccles has shown that Christopher Beeston was born around 1580: 'Brief Lives: Tudor and Stuart Authors', Studies in Philology, lxxix, 4 (1982).
9 Works, I, 255.
10 This sort of offence against morals is the kind the Archdeaconry Courts would have handled (Works, I, 256, and commentary at IV, 154).
11 Explicitly identified by Nashe: Works, III, 33. Barbers were evidently the focus of some social interest in Cambridge at this time: see also the playlet Preist the Barbar, Sweetball his Man, in the Malone Society Collections, XIV (Oxford, 1988), 138-42.
12 Virginia F. Stern, Gabriel Harvey: His Life, Marginalia and Library (Oxford, 1979), 124.
13 Church wardens' Accounts of St Mary the Great Cambridge, ed. J. E. Foster (Cambridge, 1905), 240.
14 Works, III, 33. Nothing further is known of this 'translation', if it ever existed. Could Lichfield's taking this macaronic liberty be the source of Nashe's animosity?
15 Works, III, 151.
16 Works, V, 110.
17 The Three Parnassus Plays, ed. J. B. Leishman (London: Ivor Nicholson & Watson, 1949), 105.
18 Aristippus, Or The Joviall Philosopher: Demonstratively prooving, That Quartes, Pintes, and Pottles, Are sometimes necessary Authours in a Scholers Library. Presented in a private Shew [. . .] (Thomas Harper for John Marriot, 1630).
19 REED: Cambridge, ed. Alan H. Nelson, 2 vols (Toronto, 1989), 890-1 and 975.
20 Arber, Transcript, IV, 197.
21 Aristippus, 23.
22 Quoted in G. E. Bentley, The Jacobean and Caroline Stage, V (Oxford, 1956), 972.
23 University Archives, VC Court Wills, Bundle 10. There is also a transcript, which is easier to read in certain places where the original will has suffered damage (Probate Wills Trans. III, fo. 186).
24 His own signature is spelt 'Lichfeild'; this is also the spelling throughout the will, which is of course not in Lichfield's hand but might reflect his preference. It entered print, though, as 'Lichfield', and it would be fussy to change it.
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|Title Annotation:||English writer Thomas Nashe and characters to whom Nashe dedicated some of his works|
|Publication:||Notes and Queries|
|Date:||Mar 1, 1997|
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