Nashe’s shopping list 3: a surfeit o’ pickled herring

herrings

I know, I know. We started imagining what would go into Nashe’s shopping basket, but I think we can safely assume that he wouldn’t be having his 450th birthday party at his place. Thomas Middleton certainly doesn’t think Nashe would have lived in salubrious surroundings. In The Blacke Booke (1604) Nashe’s persona Pierce Penilesse is renting a room in a brothel. The visitor

“stumbled up two payre of stayres in the darke, but at last caught in mine eyes the sullen blaze of a melancholy lampe, that burnt very tragically uppon the narrow Deske o a halfe Bedstead, which descryed all the pittifull Ruines throughout the whole chamber, the bare privities of the stone-walls were hid with two pieces of painted Cloth; but so ragged and tottred, that one might haue seene all neuerthelesse…The Testerne or the shadow over the bed was made of foure Elles of Cobwebs, and a number of small Spinners Ropes hung downe for Curtaines… in this unfortunate Tyring-house lay poore Pierce uppon a Pillow stuffed with horse meat, the sheets smudged so dirtily, as if they had been stolen by night out of Saint Pulcher’s churchyard when the sexton had left a grave open.” (sigs. D1r-v)

Continue reading Nashe’s shopping list 3: a surfeit o’ pickled herring

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