As has been observed, Gascoigne did at times compose letters and pass
them off as being by someone else (usually a printer, though). However,
I've had another look at this one and it just doesn't read like that to
me. The first couple of sentences have very slight echoes of "Certayne
Notes of Instruction", so it may be worth considering the possibility
that he wrote them as a short preamble. But the rest just isn't literary
enough; it is formally structured but it does not use any of Gascoigne's
familiar rhetorical techniques, or even his vocabulary.
It may be worth mentioning that he isn't always as disingenuous as his
reputation suggests. Without more time to think about this, I see no
reason to think that it isn't a translation of a "private letter", as
it's described in the contents, or an "olde letter", as Gascoigne
describes it. I think its author is much more likely to be linked with
the Earl of Bedford's circle than with Leicester's: Gascoigne was
clearly looking to past contacts and patrons at this time, publishing
the Droomme for Bedford, the Steele Glas for Lord Grey of Wilton, and
the Delicate Diet for Lewis Dyve, head of another eminent Bedfordshire
family. So I'd look in Bedfordshire (Gascoigne's own county) first.
Regarding the initials, the 1586 edition is so badly set that I wouldn't
set much store by the initials "I.P." as they are probably a misprint
for "I.B.". (In the old STC there's a wonderful comment about it having
been set by a "mad, under-notice-to-quit, drunk and diseased apprentice"
- excuse my paraphrase.) So unless there is some other basis for the
attribution that would put John Phillips out of the picture, as Prof
I'll forward Julia's question to the Gascoigne discussion list and see
if anyone has any other ideas. It's an intriguing question!
Julia Staykova wrote:
> Dear List,
> I am trying to identify the author of a letter appended to Gascoigne's
> translation of Innocent III's treatise, The droomme of Doomes day (1576).
> The letter is entitled "A letter wrytten by I. B. vnto his famyliar frende
> G. P. teaching remedies against the bytternesse of Death." Gascoigne
> describes it as "an olde letter" in his dedication:
> I haue thought good to adde an olde letter which teacheth *Remedies against
> the bitternes of Death.* Being perticulerly and yet (in myne opinion)
> eloquently and well wrytten by the originall aucthour.The printer simply
> identifies it as "a private letter" in the table of contents. I am not a
> Gascoigne scholar; any clues as to who are JB and GP? Was the letter in
> Gascoigne's private possession? Or was it in wider circulation?Julia
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