on those who ‘anatomize abuses and stub up sinne by the roots’ is an attack on Philip Stubbes, the puritan author of the ‘Anatomie of Abuses’ (1583).
At the time puritan pamphleteers under the pseudonym of Martin Mar-Prelate were waging a desperately coarse and libellous war upon the bishops and episcopal church-government. Nash's hatred of puritanism was ingrained. His powers of sarcasm rendered him an effective controversialist. The fray consequently attracted him, and he entered it with spirit. The publisher John Danter doubtless encouraged him to engage in the strife, and Gabriel Harvey afterwards sneered at Nash as ‘Danter's gentleman.’ All the actors in this controversial drama wrote anonymously, and it is not easy to describe with certainty the part any one man played in it. Internal evidence shows that Nash's customary nom de guerre was Pasquil. This pseudonym he probably borrowed from the satiric ‘Pasquil the Playne’ (1540) of Sir Thomas Elyot [q. v.], a writer whom he frequently mentioned with respect. The earliest of the tracts claiming to proceed from Pasquil's pen seems to have been circulated in August 1589; it was entitled ‘A Countercuffe given to Martin Junior, by the venturous, hardie, and renowned Pasquill of England Cauiliero. Not of olde Martin's making, which newlie knighted the Saints in Heauen, with rise uppe Sir Peter and Sir Paule. But latelie dubd for his service at home in the defence of his Countrey, and for the cleane breaking of his staffe vpon Martins face. Printed between the skye and the grounde, wythin a myle of an Oake, and not manie Fields off from the vnpriuiledged Presse of the Ass-ignes of Martin Junior,’ 4to, 1589 (cf. Brit. Bibl. ii. 124). Nash re-entered the combat in October, with ‘The Returne of the renouned Cavaliero Pasquil, of England from the other side of the Seas and his meeting with Marforius at London upon the Royall Exchange, where they encounter with a little household Talke of Martin and Martinisme, discovering the Scabbe that is bredde in England, and conferring together about the speedie Dispersing of the Golden Legende of the Lives of the Saints …’ 4to, 1589. The latest contribution to the controversy that can safely be assigned to Nash was ‘The First Parte of Pasquils Apologie. Wherein he renders a reason to his Friendes of his long Silence, and gallops the fielde with the treatise of Reformation, late written by a fugitive, John Penrie, Anno Domini, 1590,’ 4to.
Frequent references are made by Pasquil and other writers to Pasquil's resolve to expose exhaustively the theories and practices of the puritans in a volume to be entitled ‘The Lives of the Saints’ or the new ‘Golden Legend.’ He also promised in the same interest an ‘Owls' Almanack’ and ‘The May-game of Martinisme,’ but the battle seems to have ceased before these pieces of artillery were constructed. That Nash was responsible for other published attacks on Martin Mar-Prelate is, however, very possible. A marginal note in the ‘Stationers' Registers’ tentatively assigns to Nash ‘A Mirror for Martinists’ (22 Dec. 1589). This was ‘published by T. T.,’ doubtfully interpreted as Thomas Thorpe, and ‘printed by Iohn Wolfe, 1590’ (Lambeth and Britwell). Two other clever pamphlets which did notable havoc on the enemy have been repeatedly assigned to Nash, with some plausibility. The first is ‘Martins months minde that is, a certaine Report and true Description of Death and Funeralls of olde Martin Marre-prelate, the great Makebate of England and Father of the Factious, contayning the cause of his death, the manner of his buriall, and the right copies both of his will and such epitaphs as by sundrie his dearest friends and other his well wishers were framed for him …’ August 1589, 4to. But the fact that the dedication is addressed by a pseudonymous Marphoreus to ‘Pasquin,’ i.e. Pasquil, renders it probable that it is by an intimate associate of Nash, but not by himself (cf. Brit. Bibl. ii. 124, 127). To the same pen should probably be allotted one of the latest of the Martin Mar-Prelate lucubrations: ‘An Almond for a Parrat, or Cuthbert Curry-knaues Almes’ (1590). This is dedicated to William Kemp [q. v.] the actor, and the writer claims to have travelled in Italy. John Lyly [q. v.] was closely associated with Nash during the controversy, but it is unlikely that he was responsible for these two sparkling libels. To Lyly, however, should be ascribed the ‘Pappe with a Hatchet,’ which often figures in lists of Nash's works.
In the opinion of the next generation, Nash's unbridled pen chiefly led to the discomfiture of the ‘Martinists.’ Many pamphleteers claiming to be his disciples attempted to employ his weapons against the sectaries of Charles I's reign. In 1640 John Taylor the water-poet issued ‘Differing Worships … or Tom Nash his ghost (the old Martin queller) newly rous'd and is come to chide … nonconformists, schismatiques, separatists, and scandalous libellers.’ In 1642 another disciple published ‘Tom Nash his Ghost to the three scurvy Fellowes of the upstart family of the Snufflers, Rufflers, and Shufflers … a little revived since the 30