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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: March ::
Chettle, Greene, Shake-scene
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0258  Friday, 31 March 2006

From: 		Jeffrey Jordan <
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Date: 		Thursday, 30 Mar 2006 23:53:26 -0600
Subject: 17.0242 Chettle, Greene, Shake-scene
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0242 Chettle, Greene, Shake-scene

Replying to Bob Grumman.

(I'll refer to Shakespeare as "S" for brevity.  I've gotta do something 
for brevity, considering how long my replies run.)

 >The main reason I think Chettle was probably apologizing
 >to Marlowe and Shakespeare, as I've said, is that they were
 >the two playwrights most insulted. There's no reason Chettle
 >should have gone into detail about exactly what he was
 >apologizing to either for. In fact, it would have been impolite
 >--for putting the insults into circulation again. ...

Marlowe wasn't just insulted, his liberty, in the Elizabethan theocracy, 
was threatened.  He wasn't complaining about a personal insult.

If the GW problem were Greene's slur on S's public reputation, there's 
every reason S would have wanted Chettle to be clear about what the 
problem was.  He would have wanted an express statement from Chettle, at 
the next opportunity, that what Greene said was wrong, and he was a fine 
playwright, etc.  But KH contains no such thing.  Chettle only calls it, 
mysteriously, a "private cause," which public reputation as a playwright 
is not.  It makes no sense - an apology that's no real apology, a 
retraction that retracts nothing in particular.

Certainly, Chettle couldn't mention the accusation of Marlowe's atheism 
again in print.  That would have made it worse.  But there was nothing 
stopping Chettle from an overt statement about S being a good 
playwright, if that's really what the GW problem was, and if it was 
really S who visited Chettle.  It doesn't add up.

 >As I argue in my Internet essay, Chettle DID refer near-directly
 > to what Greene said about Shakespeare, pretty much
 >apologizing for each insult separately.

I don't find that in KH.  Chettle said the second person had a civil 
demeanor, as Chettle saw him.  But Green's complaint about S wasn't 
about his demeanor, but rather about his play writing.

There's Chettle's mention of "quality."  I'm aware that word is often 
taken to refer to stage acting, but it doesn't mean exactly that, in my 
judgment.  "Quality" was a word used for people of high status.  Stage 
actors were required by law to be under the sponsorship of a noble, else 
they were classed as "vagabonds," etc.  So actors gained "quality" by 
being employed by a noble.  Acting companies were even referred to by 
the name of the noble, as in, for example, "the Lord Leicester, his 
servants," or some similar phrase.  That's why "quality" was used to 
refer to properly-sponsored actors, (as best I can tell.)  But any 
person sponsored by, or employed by, a noble would also have "quality" 
in that same way, and John Lyly was "esquire to the body," as they 
called it, for Queen Elizabeth.  "Quality," indeed.

Chettle doesn't say the "diverse of worship" told him personally about 
the second person.  It seems highly unlikely that persons of worship 
would rub elbows with a lowly printer/compositor like Chettle.  In KH, 
about the "reports from diverse of worship," Chettle was most likely 
referring to things he'd read, or learned second-hand.  But there's 
nothing known in print about S before that time, to associate him with 
any persons of high status.  V&A, S's first publication, with the 
dedication to Southampton, was a year later, or so.  For Lyly, it's 
quite different.  He was well associated in print with persons of the 
highest status, including the Queen, and he had some five plays in print 
by then.

There's the mention of "facetious grace" in KH.  Much of S's writing is 
facetious - the comedies, of course - but I wouldn't say that's a very 
good description of the history plays, which seem to have been S's 
first, and what would have been known in 1592 (and also specifically 
what Greene alluded to, a history play.)  Chettle's phrase "facetious 
grace" doesn't match with the reasonable S play chronology (unless I'm 
out of touch on that.)  However, "facetious grace," in 1592, fits John 
Lyly to a T, because, as I mentioned, "Eupheus" is from the Greek for 
"graceful."  It's as though Chettle is intentionally hinting that it's Lyly.

 >The idea that Shakespeare would not have cared what Greene
 >said about him doesn't make sense to me.

It does to me.  GW was only a pamphlet, and S was a working theatrical 
guy.  The best way for S to prove Greene wrong was in merely continuing 
to do what he was doing.  Why bother Chettle?  Greene was dead, so 
what's the point for S?

Lyly had a good reason to go to Chettle, hoping for some way to get a 
retraction about Marlowe's atheism - politics.  Among other things, Lyly 
was a member of Parliament, and it would have been a problem for him to 
be assocated with alleged atheists, and with university atheists, 
allegedly, since he was a university fellow.  Lyly's motivation is clear 
enough.

 >... But Shakespeare and his fellow actors depended
 >on those playwrights, so Shakespeare would likely have wanted
 >to stay in their good graces...

Which could have best been achieved with a clear statement from Chettle, 
that KH did not provide.  But, how was S staying in the good graces of 
other playwrights by going to Chettle, a printer, and for essentially no 
result?  Chettle had nothing directly to do with stage acting, in those 
days, and S wasn't having his plays printed in those days, so Chettle 
would have meant little or nothing to him.

Why would S need Chettle to be friendly with other playwrights?  And it 
was Greene's essential point, and complaint, that "Shake-scene," the 
actor, wrote his own plays.

 >As for Lyly, he would seem to have been insulted much less than
 >the others, ...

It wasn't that Lyly was personally insulted, but he would have had that 
problem of being associated with alleged atheists.

 >.... I would add, that Lyly had been around a long time,
 >so it would seem odd to me that Chettle didn't know him. ...

The English class system was a virtually tangible presence in those 
days.  Chettle was the son of a London dyer, who had been an apprentice 
stationer, and he was the junior partner in the printing company that 
did GW.  There's no chance he would have been in Lyly's social circle.

 >..., he wouldn't have had to
 >be told by "divers of worship" that he was an upstanding fellow,
 >considering Lyly's reputation then.

Yes, that's the exact point.  Chettle would have known about the reports 
of the diverse of worship about Lyly either from what he'd read, or from 
general talk about people.

 >Nothing with Shakespeare's name on it? I don't understand
 >what that has to do with it. ...

It's the anachronism, for one thing.  "Shakespeare" was not a famous 
name at that time, as far as any evidence shows.  V & A hadn't been 
published yet.  The basic problem in taking S as the second person who 
visited Chettle is that Chettle's description doesn't match anything 
documented about S in 1592.  There isn't any evidence that any persons 
of high status would have had anything to say about S in 1592.

 >Read my essay. Chettle's preface is full of sloppy grammar
 >and illogic, ...

I flatly disagree.  Chettle's writing is "literary," which in 
Elizabethan terms can get pretty wild, but it's both grammatical and 
logical, when you wade through it.

 >Is the Chettle preface on the Internet somewhere, by the way?

There's a pretty good original spelling copy of Kind-hearts here, the 
whole thing.

http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/%7Erbear/kind.html

--Jeff

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