Internet Shakespeare Editions


The attack retracted

By permission of the Folger Shakespeare Library.

A Groats-worth of Witte was seen through the press by a friend of Greene's, Henry Chettle; evidently, the pamphlet caused such a stir that Chettle's Kind-Harts Dreame (1592), published a few months later, included a reference to the controversy. He begins by describing the circumstances, and an apparent attack on him (since Greene was dead); he continues by defending his record, and ends with an apology.

About three moneths since died M. Robert Greene, leauing many papers in sundry Booke sellers hands, among other his Groatsworth of wit, in which a letter written to diuers play-makers, is offensively by one or two of them taken, and because on the dead they cannot be auenged, they wilfully forge in their conceites a liuing Author: and after tossing it two and fro, no remedy, but it must light on me. How I haue all the time of my conuersing in printing hindred the bitter inueying against schollers, it hath been very well knowne, and how in that I dealt I can sufficiently prooue. With neither of them that take offence was I acquainted, and with one of them I care not if I neuer be: The other, whome at that time I did not so much spare as since I wish I had, for that as I have moderated the heate of liuing writers, and might have vsed my owne discretion (especially in such a case) the Author being dead, that I did not, I am as sory, as if the originall fault had beene my fault, because my selfe haue seene his demeanor no lesse ciuil than he excelent in the qualitie he professes. Besides, diuers of worship have reported, his vprightnes of dealing, which argues his honesty, and his fatious grace in writting, which approues his Art.
From Kind-Harts Dreame (1592).

Shakespeare had defenders of some status-- "of worship." The one word which describes the actual work of the young Shakespeare, "facetious," sounds faint praise to modern ears, but to Chettle it probably meant something more like "witty," "polished," or "fluent."

If the last meaning is the one he intended, it is the first mention of a quality of Shakespeare as writer which has not always been seen as admirable, the apparent ease and rapidity with which he wrote.