Poème en hommage à Thomas Nicholas, traducteur de Francisco López de Gómara (1511-1564)

En 1578, paraît à Londres, chez l’imprimeur-libraire Henry Bynneman (1542?-1583)1, une nouvelle traduction anglaise de l’Historia general de las Indias de Francisco López de Gómara (1511-1564), sous le titre : The pleasant historie of the conquest of the Weast India, now called new Spayne, atchieued by the worthy prince Hernando Cortes Marques of the valley of Huaxacac, most delectable to reade2

Elle est due à Thomas Nicholas (c. 1532-….) qui ne mentionne nulle part l’auteur original. Son propre nom n’est cité que sous forme de sigle sur la page de titre et n’est dévoilé qu’à la fin de l’épître dédicatoire. Cette première édition s’avère très rare, bien plus que la seconde édition de 1596.

L’ouvrage comprend une adresse To the reader et un poème de Stephen Gosson rédigé en hommage au traducteur et qui invoque les Aztèques vaincus, les Espagnols vainqueurs et la figure du conquistador Hernán Cortés :

Stephan Goßon, in prayſe of the tranſlator
Stephan Goßon, in prayſe of the tranſlator

Stephan Goßon, in prayſe of the tranſlator

The poet which sometimes hath trod awry,
And song in verse the force off fyry loue,
When he beholdes his lute with carefull eye,
Thinkes on the dumpes that he was wonte to proue :
His groning spright yprickt with tender ruth,
Calles then to minde the follies of his youth.

The hardr minde whiche all his honour gotte,
In blouddy fielde by fruyte of deadly farre,
When once he heares the noyse of thirled slotte,
And threatnyng trumpet sounde the poyntes of warre,
Remembers how through pykes he lovde to runne,
When he the pryce of endlesse glory wonne.

The traueller which neare refusde the payne
To passe the daunger of the sreightes he founde,
But hoysted sayle to searche the golden bayne
Which natures crafte hath hidden in the grounde,
When he percevues Don Cortez here so pearte,
May well be mindefull of his own deserte.

Then yeelde we thankes to Nicholas for his toyle,
Who strings the Lute that putteth us in minde
How doting dayes haue giuen us all the foyle,
Whilste learned wittes in forrayne landes doe finde,
That labour beares away the golden fleece,
And is rewarded with the flower of Greece,

Loe here the trumpe of euerlasting fame,
That rendes the ayre in sunder with his blaste,
And throwes abroade the prayses of their name,
Which ofte in fight haue made their foes agaste,
Though they be dead, their glory shall remayne,
To reare alofte the deedes of haughty Spayne.

Loe here the traueller, whose paynefull quill,
So lyuely payntes the Spanish Indies out,
That English Gentlemen may vew at will,
The manly prowesse of that gallant route.
And when the Spaniarde vaunteth of his golde,
Their owne renowne in him they may beholde.


En 1812, le révérend William Beloe (1756-1817), par ailleurs conservateur des livres imprimés au British Museum, republie le poème dans ses Anecdotes of literature and scarce books3 :

Stephan Gossa, in prayse of the translator

A la suite du poème, Willam Beloe fournit quelque éléments sur le poète Stephen Gosson (1554-1624) :

Stephen Gossan, or Gosson, the author of the preceding verses, was a very distinguished person in his time, and, according to Wood, “for his admirable penning of pastorals, was ranked with Sir P. Sidney, Tho. Chaloner, Edm. Spencer, Abrah. Fraunce, and Rich. Bernfield.”

Of his poetical talents, great as they were reputed to have been, I find no other specimen than that which I have given ; but he was also author of “ The School of Abuse, containing a pleasant invective against Poets, Pipers, Players Jesters, and such like caterpillars of the commonwealth, ” &c. This was published first in 1579, and afterwards in 1585, and was dedicated to Sir P. Sidney4.

Gossan afterwards wrote “ Plays confuted in five actions, proving that they are not to be suf fered in a Christian commonwealth. ”5 This was dedicated to Sir Francis Walsingham. He also printed a Sermon, which he preached at Paul’s Cross, and called “ The Trumpet of War. ”((The Trumpet of War: a sermon preached at Paul’s Cross the seventh of May 1598.))

The rare book from which these verses are taken is in Lord Valentia’s collection6.


  1. Voir : Plomer, Henry H., « Henry Bynneman, printer, 1566-83 », The Library, 1908, July, vol. s2-IX, n° 35, p. 225-244 et « Bynneman, Henry », CERL Thesaurus, 2006. Disponible sur Internet, url : <http://thesaurus.cerl.org/record/cni00022228>. []
  2. translated out of the Spanishe tongue, by T.N. [Thomas Nicholas], Anno. 1578, Imprinted at London : by Henry Bynneman, [1578], 1 vol. ([12], 405, [3] p.) ; in- 4°.
    Disponible sur Internet, url : <https://collections.library.yale.edu/catalog/15535473>. []
  3. Voir : Beloe, William, Anecdotes of literature and scarce books, London : F. C. and J. Rivington, 1812, vol. 6, p. 121-123. Disponible sur Internet, url : <https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=36cQAAAAIAAJ&rdid=book-36cQAAAAIAAJ&rdot=1>. []
  4. Ces premières éditions de cette charge contre les acteurs et la scène semblent rarissimes dans les bibliothèques qui ne possèdent le plus souvent que l’éd. de 1841 de la Shakespeare Society. []
  5. Playes confuted in fiue actions prouing that they are not to be suffred in a Christian common weale, by the waye both the cauils of Thomas Lodge, and the play of playes, written in their defence, and other obiections of players frendes, are truely set downe and directlye aunsweared, London : Imprinted for Thomas Gosson dwelling in Pater noster row at the signe of the Sunne, [1582]. Disponible sur Internet, url : <http://name.umdl.umich.edu/A01951.0001.001>. []
  6. Il s’agit sans doute du voyageur et vicomte George Valentia (1769-1844). []

OpenEdition vous propose de citer ce billet de la manière suivante :
Olivier Jacquot (15 septembre 2022). Poème en hommage à Thomas Nicholas, traducteur de Francisco López de Gómara (1511-1564). Amoxcalli. Consulté le 21 juillet 2024 à l’adresse https://doi.org/10.58079/b3qz

Olivier Jacquot

Chargé de collections : manuscrits des fonds américains, Service des manuscrits ORientaux (SOR), département des Manuscrits (MSS), Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF)

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