Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century
By Thomas Nashe (15671601)
From Pasquils Return to England
A FACTION in a kingdom may well be compared to a spark of fire: it catcheth hold at the first in some obscure corner, in a shop, in a stable, or in a rick of straw, where it lieth covert a little time, but by little and little it gathers strength, till it rear itself up to great houses, palaces, and princes courts, and at last it rageth and overruns whole cities and countries, without quenching before they be utterly overthrown. In the time of Justinian the Emperor, about the credit and advancement of two colours, Blue and Green, there grew in Constantinople two mighty factions, which made such a head the one against the other, that in one day it cost many thousands of men their lives, and the Emperor himself was brought in great hazard both of his empire and his own person. Upon as light an occasion in the dukedom of Florence, for the two colours of Black and White very pestilent quarrels began there, and the factions of the Bianchi and the Neri, breaking forth like a lightning out of the clouds, scoured and wasted the country where they went. These were but little sparks in the rushes, that every man treadeth on, and very trifles at the first, yet you see how foul a cockatrice may be hatcht of so small an egg. If I should rip up the stomachs of some in England, when we consider the brawls, the garboils,1 the tragical exclamations for church-apparel, may we not say that England is fallen into that fanatical faction of Florence, for Black and White? Where had this brabbler2 his first beginning but in some obscure corner, in the tip of the tongue of some blind parlour-preacher in the land, in shops, in stalls, in the tinkers budget, the tailors shears, and the shepherds tarbox? I doubt not, Marforius, but it will wither where it sprang, and end where it began, in shame and ignorance. Thou knowest, that the surest prop of all princes is to promote true religion, and to keep it inviolable when it is established, for this is the well-tempered mortar that buildeth up all estates. He that honours Me (saith God), I will honour him. But this chopping and changing of the religion of the land is nothing else, but to pick out the mortar by little and little, that at the next push Martin and his companions might overthrow the state, and make the imperial crown of her majesty kiss the ground.