Item 6 - Letter from G. C. Moore Smith to R. B. McKerrow

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Letter from G. C. Moore Smith to R. B. McKerrow


  • 13 Nov. 1908 (Creation)

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2 folded sheets, 1 envelope

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[Sheffield.]—Comments on passages in the Works of Nashe. Is thinking of publishing extracts from Gabriel Harvey’s marginalia.

(With envelope, postmarked at Sheffield.)



13 Nov. 1908

Dear McKerrow,

I have been turning over the pages of your Vol IV—It is indeed a marvellous storehouse of out of the way information. Are you going to provide an Index? I suppose so.

At this stage comments are of no use to you—but I will give you one or two. {1}

I 183. 17. In the expression ‘S. Nicholas Clerks’ is it clear that there is any reference to the devil? Chambers Book of Days II p 661 bot. explains the phrase in relation to a legend of St Nicholas.—On the other hand our ‘Old Nick’ is often said to be a name transferred to the Devil from Macchiavelli.

(Your page of Vol IV) 141. mid. {2} ‘at the university town of which’ should be ‘at the university of which town’ I suppose.

I p. 274. 21. I dont understand what you mean by saying the real point of the saying against ropemakers has not been explained.—Do you mean their ‘walking backwards’? In a little book I have on Trades &c. (titlepage lost) the ropemaker, it is said, fixes the hemp to his wheel—‘He then runs backwards giving out hemp as he goes!’ {3}

I 285. 21. {4} Better to have said ‘a pedant’ or ‘a scholastic philosopher’ as Pedantius himself is also a pedant, indeed, as a Schoolmaster, a pedant par excellence.

II 184 11. {5} In his MS. notes on Gascoigne’s ‘Notes of instruction on rime. &c’ in the Bodleian copy Harvey dissents from Gascoigne’s approval of monosyllables ‘the more monosyllables you shall use the truer Englishman you shall seem’—‘Non placet. A great Grace and Majesty in longer Wordes, so they be current Inglish. Monosyllables ar good to make up a hobling and hudling verse.’ {6}

III. 16. 10. If you mean St John’s College, Camb.—the Visitor at present is The Bishop of Ely. & he was so from the foundation of the College [without any break I imagine] {7}

III 41. 35 arsedine. {8} Edward Carpenter {9} was telling me the other day that Sheffield grinders say (or did till lately) ‘as thin as an assidine’ tho’ none of them know what an assidine is

III 43 14. There is a well known inn between Whittlesey & Thorney called ‘The dog in a doublet’ with a sign. An uncle of mine had a seizure on the ice & died there.

III 46. 6. The DNB. says that Harvey practised in the Court of Arches I think. I had thought there was some authority—but I dont remember it.

III 116 33. Our Johnian antiquary Thos. Baker has transcribed a lot of notes of Harvey made in a copy of his own Ciceronianus & other books—Among them a letter from Tho. Hatcher remonstrating with him for not having mentioned Haddon in his Ciceronianus—also Harvey’s reply. both in Latin Hatcher’s letter is 23 Nov 1577 and refers to Harvey’s having recently visited him at Careby near Stamford.

III 126 31. {10} Cp. Pedantius l. 194. At occuritur Aristotelem non vidisse verum in spirituali-bus.

I have been looking through my extracts from Harvey’s marginalia—& I believe they would make a very interesting book for a limited audience. {11} One might start with a sketch of Harvey’s life & character, & attainments, as illustrated by the marginalia—& then print a selection of marginalia from each annotated book of his that I have been able to see. It occurred to me today that it would be very nice if Sidgwick & his partner {12} would do it. But I should not wish to involve Sidgwick in any loss over it.

Thank you for your letter about the English Association. {13} Boas is Secretary. It is like the Mod. Language Association, but for English only.

I hope when you have finished with Nashe, you will start an edition of Dekker’s plays.

Ever yours
G. C. Moore Smith

I shall look forward eagerly to your Vol V.

[Added on the back of the envelope:] Ellis has just sent me the Harvey book to copy the notes. Not of much importance.

[Direction on envelope:] R. B. McKerrow Esq. | 4 Phoenix Lodge Mansions | Brook Green | Hammersmith | London W


The envelope was postmarked at Sheffield at 11 a.m. on 14 November 1908, and at Paddington, W, at 5.15 p.m. the same day. Besides the note by Moore Smith mentioned above, the envelope is marked ‘Work | From Prof G. C. Moore-Smith’, and elsewhere ‘See to this’.

{1} The succeeding notes relate to Nashe’s works Pierce Penilesse, Strange Newes, Christ’s Teares over Jerusalem, and Have With You to Saffron-Walden. Several of the suggestions were incorporated in the Errata and Addenda appended to the fifth volume of McKerrow’s edition; see below.

{2} Cf. Works of Nashe, v. 375 (note on i. 227, 3–239, 2).

{3} Closing inverted comma supplied.

{4} Cf. Works of Nashe, v. 376.

{5} Cf. Works of Nashe (1958), v. Supp., p. 32.

{6} Single inverted comma supplied in place of double inverted commas.

{7} The square brackets are original.

{8} See OED, s.v. ‘orsedue’.

{9} Edward Carpenter lived at Millthorpe, between Sheffield and Chesterfield. See ODNB.

{10} Cf. Works of Nashe, v. 379.

{11} Moore Smith’s selection of Gabriel Harvey’s Marginalia was published in 1913.

{12} R. C. Jackson. The firm of Sidgwick & Jackson had only just been established, on the 2nd of the month.

{13} The English Association was founded in 1906 by a small group of English teachers and scholars including F. S. Boas, A. C. Bradley, and Israel Gollancz.

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