1844 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Henry Chettle

Robert Chambers, in Cyclopaedia of English Literature (1844; 1850) 1:174-75.



In the throng of dramatic authors, the names of ANTHONY MUNDAY and HENRY CHETTLE frequently occur.... Chettle was engaged in no less than thirty-eight plays between the years 1597 and 1603, four of which have been printed. Mr. Collier thinks he had written for the stage before 1592, when he published Greene's posthumous work, "A Groat's Worth of Wit." Among his plays, the names of which have descended to us, is one on the subject of Cardinal Wolsey, which probably was the original of Shakspeare's Henry VIII. The best drama of this prolific author which we now possess, is a comedy called Patient Grissel, taken from Boccaccio. The humble charms of the heroine are thus finely described:—

See where my Grissell and her father is,
Methinks her beauty, shining through those weeds,
Seems like a bright star in the sullen night.
How lovely poverty dwells on her back!
Did but the proud world note her as I do,
She would cast off rich robes, forswear rich state,
To clothe her in such poor habiliments.