Gabriel Harvey's battle with Nashe and Oxford

Gabrie Harvey (c1545 -1630), was a few years older than Oxford. Harvey spent most of his life in shire Essex, and must have been keenly aware of the Vere legacy. As an elder student at Cambridge, Harvey clearly felt an intellectual superiority to Edward de Vere (at first), though gradually succumbing to the force and fury of the younger man's poetry, prose, and drama. No wonder he told Oxford in 1578 to put down his pen and pick up a weapon (and go die in a foreign war like a good nobleman and fightin' Vere.)

Harvey's "Vultus Tela Vibrat" (your Look Shakes Spears) gave Oxford (I think) the idea for his famous pen-name.

I want to share with you all something interesting of which you may be unaware.

There is only one contemporary 'llustration' of Gabriel Harvey --- though it's just a woodcut image of a "generic" man, probably cut out from a larger block. But it appeared in Nashe's caustic Have with you to Saffron-walden. Or, Gabriell Harveys hunt is up, 1596. In which Nashe claims to have created the illustration himself (doubtful in extremis) to illustrate Harvey on his way to the Ajax (an outhouse or indoor WC). What is equally fascinating is that Nashe had the printer (Danter) set up the page so that the toilet-attack on Harvey follows immediately Nashe's statement that Harvey had abused the Earl of Oxford! It's an amazing visual juxtaposition.

Harington's Metamorphosis of Ajax (a jakes) appeared to great controversy in 1596. The Nashe book and illustration followed. Interestingly, "Shakespeare" makes an Ajax / Jakes joke in Love's Labors Lost, printed 1598, which also may contain further send-ups of Harvey. The 1598 LLL says that it is an improved edition. Thus, there may have been a (lost) 1st book of LLL in 1596 or 1597.

Gabriel Harvey - previous page

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