Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Markham, Gervase
MARKHAM, GERVASE or JERVIS (1568?–1637), author, brother of Francis Markham [q. v.], and third son of Robert Markham of Cottam, Nottinghamshire, was born about 1568. In his early years he followed the career of arms in the Low Countries, and had a captaincy under the Earl of Essex in Ireland. Sir John Harington [q. v.] and Anthony Babington [q. v.] were first cousins of the father. A letter of Harington in the 'Nugæ Antiquæ'(i. 260) mentions that when in Ireland he received many kindnesses from his cousin Markham's three sons. The eldest brother, Robert, was, according to Thoroton, 'a fatal unthrift and destrover of this eminent family,' and is possibly identical with the Captain Robert Markham who published in verse 'The Description of … Sir John Bvrgh … with his last Seruice at the Isle of Reer (London, 1628, 4to; reissued as ' Memoirs of … Sir John Burroughs or Burgh, Knt.,' in 1758).
Apparently Gervase turned to literature in search of the means of subsistence. He was well equipped for his calling. He was at once a scholar, acquainted with Latin, French, Italian, Spanish, and probably Dutch; a mediocre poet and dramatist, not afraid of dealing at times with sacred topics; a practical student of agriculture; and a champion of improved methods of horse-breeding and of horse-racing. He was himself the owner of valuable horses, and is said to have imported the first Arab. In a list of Sir Henry Sidney's horses in 1589 'Pied Markham' is entered as having been sold to the French ambassador, and Gervase sold an Arabian horse to James I for 500l. His services to agriculture were long remembered. In 1649 Walter Blith, in his 'English Improver, or a new Survey of Husbandry,' wrote that divers of his pieces, containing much both for profit and recreation, 'have been advantageous to the kingdom' and 'worthy much honour,' He treats, Blith writes, 'of all things at large that either concerns the husbandman with the good housewife' (Brydges, Centura Lit. ii. 169-170). His industry was prodigious, and as a compiler for the booksellers on an exceptionally large scale he has been called ' the earliest English hackney writer,' His books shamelessly repeat themselves. He was in the habit of writing several works on the same subject, giving each a different title. He also reissued unsold copies of old books under new titles, and thus gives endless trouble to the conscientious bibliographer. On 24 July 1617 the booksellers, for their own protection, obtained the signature of Gervase Markham, 'of London, Gent.,' to a paper in which he promised to write no more books on the treatment of the diseases of horses and cattle. Ben Jonson scorned him, declaring that 'he was not of the number of the Faithfull, and but a base fellow' (Conversations with Drummond, p. 11). He appears to have collected a library, and one ot the first examples of an English plate, in a copy of Thomas à Kempis of 1584, is his.
As early as 1593 he revised for the press 'Thyrsis and Daphne,' a poem not known to be extant (cf. Stationers' keg. 23 April 1593). Two years later he published a poem on the fight of the Revenge, entitled 'The most Honorable Tragedie of Sir Richard Grinvile, Knight,' 1595, dedicated to Lord Mountjoy ; it also includes a sonnet addressed to Henry Wriothesley, earl of Southampton, whence Mr. Fleay awkwardly deduces a very strained argument to prove that Markham and Shakespeare were rivals for Southampton's favour, and that Shakespeare reflected on Markham in his sonnets. The original edition is a work of extreme rarity ; only two copies, in the British Museum and Bodleian respectively, are known. It was reprinted by Professor Arber in 1871. Gervase tells the thrilling story of Grenville's fight in 174 stanzas of eight lines each. Tennyson told the same tale in fifteen, and some of his expressions were doubtless suggested by Markham. Where Markham has ' Sweet maister gunner, split our keele in twaine,' Tennyson reads, 'Sink me the ship, master gunner; sink her — split her in twain,'
Markham's 'Poem of Poems, or Sion's Muse, contaynynge the Divine Song of Salomon in Eight Eclogues,' appeared in 1595, 12mo (Bodleian), 2nd edit. 1596 ; it is dedicated to Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Philip Sidney. Meres refers to it approvingly in his 'Palladia Tamia,' 1598. His Devoreux, or Verities Tears,' 1597, 4to, was a lament for the loss of Henry III of France and of Walter Deve- reux, the Earl of Essex's brother, who was slain before Rouen. It is a paraphrase from the French of Madame Genevieve Petau Maulette, and is dedicated to Dorothy, countess of Northumberland, and Penelope, lady Rich, Devereux's sisters. Two sonnets prefixed are by R. Allot and E. Guilpin respectively. In 1600 appeared Markhani's 'Tears of the Be- loved, or Lamentations of St. John concern- ing the Death and Passion of Christ Jesus our Saviour' (4to), and in 1601 ' Marie Mag- dalene's Lamentations for the Loss of her Master, Jesus,' The two last poems were reprinted and edited by Dr. Grosart in 1871. In 1600 John Bodenham mentioned Mark- ham among the poets whom he quoted in his 'Belvidere.'
Markham published in 1607' The English Arcadia alluding his beginning from Sir Philip Sydney's ending,' 4to. On the same subject he issued in 1613 ' The Second and Last Part of the First Book of the English Arcadia, making a Compleate End of the First History,' 4to ; a unique copy is in the Huth Library. Ben Jonson wrote that Markham 'added Arcadia.'
In 1608 appeared the English version of the ' Satires of Ariosto,' which is sometimes assigned to Markham, although it is almost certainly by Robert Tofte [q. v.] Tofte undoubtedly claimed the work in his ' Blazon of Jealousy,' 1615, and complained that it had been printed without his knowledge in another man's name. But Markham is clearly responsible for 'Ariosto's Conclusions of the Marriage of Rogero and Rodomontho,' 1598 (Ritson), which was reissued in 1608 as' Rodmouth's Infernall, or the Divell Conquered : paraphrastically translated from the Trench' of Philippe des Portes]. Another curious translation of his is 'The Famous Whore, or Noble Curtizan, conteining the Lamentable Complaint of Paulina, the famous Roman CurUzan, sometime Mrs. unto the great Cardinall Hypolito of Est,' translated into verse from the Italian, London (by N. B. for John Budge), 1609, 4to (Collier, Bibl. Cat. i. 516).
Markham collaborated with other writers in at least two dramatic pieces. Lewis Machin was his coadjutor in 'The Dumbe Knight,' published in 1608 (4to),and founded on a novel by Bandello [see under Machin, Henry]. 'Herod and Antipater,' printed in 1622, but played by the company of the Revels at the Red Bull Theatre long before, was by Markham and William Sampson Markham's practical prose treatises were more numerous and popular than his essays in pure literature. Of those treatingof horses the earliest, ' Discourse on Horseinanshippe,' London, 1593, 4to, was written when he was twenty-five, and dedicated to his father. It was licensed for the press 29 Jan. 1592-3, and much of it was reissued in 1596 as ' How to Chuse, Ride, Traine and Dyet both Hunting and Running Horses,' 4to (1599 and 1606), and 'How to Trayne and Teach Horses to Amble,' London, 1605, 4to. His next work on equine topics was ' Cavelarice, or the English Horseman,' in seven books, each dedicated to a distinguished personage, including the king and the Prince of Wales (1607, 2nd edit. 1616-17, 4to, 1625 with an eighth book on the tricks of Banks's horse). There followed four works on farriery, all practically identical, although differing in title: 'The Methode, or Epitome' (1616, :3rd edit. 1623), on the diseases of horses, cattle, swine, dogs, and fowls; 'The Faithfull Farrier, discovering some secrets not in print before,' 1635, 4to; 'The Masterpiece of Farriery,' 1636; and 'The Complete Farrier,' 1639. Finally, 'Le Marescale, or the Horse Marshall, containing those secrets which practice, but never imparted to any man,' is still in manuscript, and belongs to the writer of this article.
His sporting works include 'Country Contentments' (1611, 11th edit, enlarged 1675), the second book of which, 'The English Huswife,' treating of domestic subjects, was often issued separately; 'The Pleasures of Princes' (1615 4to, 1635), containing discourses on the arts of angling and breeding fighting-cocks (often issued with the 'English Husbandman'); 'Hunger's Prevention, or the whole Art of Fowling by Water and Land' (1621); and 'The Arte of Archerie' (1634). A very small 12mo volume, without date, is called 'The Young Sportsman's Instructor' in angling, fowling, hawking, and hunting; it was reprinted in 1829. Markham also brought out a new edition of Juliana Berners's 'Book of St. Albans,' under the title of 'The Gentleman's Academie, or the Booke of S. Albans,' London (for Humfrey Lownes), 1595, 4to; the third and last part, 'The Booke of Armorie,' has a new title-page.
In the interests of agriculture Markham edited Barnabe Googe's translation of 'The Art of Husbandry,' by Heresbach, in 1614 (another edit. 1631), and 'The Country Farm ' in 1616, a revision of Richard Surflet's translation (1600) of Liebault and Estienne's 'Maison Rustique,' with additions from French, Spanish, and Italian authors. Very similar treatises were the 'English Husbandman,' 3 pts. 1613-15 (4to), 1635 (part 3 is a reissue of 'The Pleasures of Princes'; 'Cheap and Good Husbandry,' 1614, 13th edit. 1676; 'A Farewell to Husbandry, or the Inriching of . . . Barren . . . Grounds' (1620, 10th edit. 1676); 'The Country House Wife's Garden,' 1623, 4to; 'The Way to get Wealth,' reprints of earlier tracts, with a chapter on gardening by William Lawson (1625, 14th edit. 1683); ' The whole Arte of Husbandry in four bookes' (1631); and the 'Inrichment of the Weald of Kent' (1625, five editions).
Four books may be referred to the results of Markham's military life, namely, 'Honour in his Perfection, or a Treatise in Commendation of . . . Henry, Earle of Oxenford, Henry, Earle of Southampton, Robert, Earle of Essex, and . . . Robert Bartue, Lord Willoughby of Eresby' (1624); 'The Souldier's Accidence, or an Introduction into Military Discipline' (1625); 'The Sovldier's Grammar' (1626-7, 1639, in two parts); and 'The Soldier's Exercise, in three books' (1639, 3rd edit. 1641). Markham's 'Vox Militis,' 1625, is a reissue of Barnaby Rich's 'Alarum to England.'
Several books, whose authors wrote under the initials J. M., G. M., or I. M., have been doubtfully assigned to Jervis, Gervase, or Iervis Markham. Among these is 'A Health to the Gentlemanly Profession of Servingmen, or the Serving Man's Comfort,' London (by W. W.), 1598, 4to. 'The Epistle to the Gentle Reader' is here signed J. M., but the writer describes the work as ' being primogeniti—the first batch of my baking;' and as Markham had published much before 1598, it seems unlikely that this book should be by him (Collier, Bibl. Cat. ii. 328-9). 'Conceyted Letters, newly layde open: or a most excellent bundle of new wit, wherin is knit up together all the perfections or arte of Episteling,' 1618, 4to, 1622, 1638, has a preface signed 'I. M.,' and may well be by Markham.
Markham married a daughter of J. Gelsthorp, but no children are recorded. He was buried at St. Giles's, Cripplegate, on 3 Feb. 1636-7. A portrait of him was engraved by T. Cross.
Markham has been confused, among others by Hume in his 'History of England,' with a very distant connection, Gervase Markham of Dunham, Nottinghamshire, perhaps son of John Markham of King's Walden, Bedfordshire (MS. Harl. 2109, f. 52), whose disreputable quarrels gave him an evil notoriety, in 1597 he had a quarrel with Sir John Holles, and on 27 Nov. 1616 was fined 500l. in the Star-chamber for sending a challenge to Lord Darcy. He died in 1636, and lies buried under a fine monument in Laneham Church.
[Brydges's Censura Literaria, passim; Langbaine's Dramatic Poets; Brydges's Restituta, ii. 469; Hunter's Chorus Vatum (MS. Addit. 24491, f. 245); Heay's Biog. Chronicle of the English Drama; Bakers Biog. Dram.; Lowndes's Bibl. Manual (Bohn); Brit. Mus. Cat.; Dr. Grosart's Memoir in his edition of Gervase's two sacred poems.]