3.5.6. Henry Chettle, Englands Mourning Garment, 1603


Henry Chettle (c.1560-c.1606) was not only well acquainted with Robert Greene’s works but an insider of the literary world. The title of his booklet commemorating the deceased queen in 1603, England’s Mourning Garment, is borrowed from Greene’s pastoral novel Greene’s Mourning Garment, with which it otherwise has almost nothing in common. Not even the style. Here Chettle rather imitates Edmund Spenser’s (who had died early in 1599) The Shepheardes Calender (published in 1579) and adopts Spenser’s most frequent pastoral name, Colin (Clout) which he spells Collin.
In 1603 Chettle, contrary to his attitude in 1592, seems to have implicitly acknowledged the authorship of Greene's Groatsworth of Wit in his epistle to the readers of England's Mourning Garment. The epistle is not signed, but a motto is subscribed: Fœlicem fuisse infaustum (“to be happy one must have been unhappy”). This motto, as far as I know never used by Robert Greene, appears thrice in Greene's Groatsworth of Wit: on the title-page, toward the end just before the closing farewell letter Greene allegedly wrote to his wife, and, after the letter itself, at the very end.
England's Mourning Garment is a pastoral retrospective on the reign of the deceased queen in a purposely Spenserian style as the traditional names of the two shepherds, Collin and Thenot, suggest. Elizabeth Tudor overcame factional strife and restored peace. When it comes to the War with Spain Collin remarks that Elizabeth has been held accountable for that war: “And albeit I know some (too humorously affected to the Roman government) make question in this place, whether her highnesse first brake not the truce with the King of Spaine: to that I could answere ... that her highnes suffred many wrongs before she left off the league”. To which Thenot replies: ' O, saith Thenot, in some of those wrongs resolve us, and thinke it no unfitting thing, for thou that hast heard the songs of that warlike Poet Philesides, good Melœbee, and smooth tongued Melicert, tell us what thou hast observed in their sawes, seene in thy owne experience, and heard of undoubted truths touching those accidents: for that they adde, I doubt not, to the glory of our Eliza.'
Toward the end of his retrospective Chettle reproaches several other authors not to have written an elegy on the queen. These are Samuel Daniel, William Warner , George Chapman (Coryn), Ben Jonson (English Horace), William Shakespeare (silver tonged Melicert) with a reference to The Rape of Lucrece, Michael Drayton (Coridon), Thomas Lodge (Musidore) and most likely Thomas Dekker (Antihorace), John Marston (young Moelibee) and Henry Petowe.
The question who this first Melicert was has troubled scholars. Either he was the same Melicert as later addressed in the poem (= Shakespeare) or reasons must be offered why Chettle should give the same pastoral name to two different persons in one and the same work. One person could have several pastoral names and the same pastoral name could be used for different persons but hardly in one and the same work. Answers were given by C. Elliot Browne (1873), Brinsley Nicholson (1874) and C.M. Ingleby (1874). Elliot Browne wrote on Shakespeare’s Pastoral Name in Notes and Queries (XII, Dec. 27, 1873, p. 509-10). “Where did Chettle get the name Melicert?”, he says. “It is scarcely likely that he intended to allude to the son of Ino, who was no shepherd, but it is probable, I think, that he referred to the Melicertus of Greene's Menaphon, one of the principal characters in the most popular fiction of Shakspeare's old antagonist...”. – See note 3.

R. D.


Henry Chettle, Englands Mourning Garment, 1603

Worn here by plain Shepherds, in memory of their sacred Mistress, ELIZABETH; Queen of Virtue while she lived, and Theme of Sorrow being dead.
To the which is added the true manner of her Emperial Funeral. With many new additions, being now again the second time reprinted, which was omitted in the first Impression.
After which followeth the Shepherds Spring-Song, for entertainment of King JAMES our most potent Sovereign.
Dedicated to all that loved the deceased Queen, and honour the living KING.
Imprinted at London for Thomas Millington, and are to be sold at the sign of the Crane in Paules Churchyard by Walter Burre.


To all true Lovers of the right gracious Queen Elizabeth, in her life; being undoubtedly those faithful Subjects that now honour and affect our most potent Lord, King James, after her death.

MY Epistle to you is like the litle Town that the Cynic would have persuaded the Citizens was ready to run out at the great gates, being scarce so long as the Title. In a word, the negligence of many better able, hath made me bold to write a small Epitomy, touching the abundant virtues of  our late sacred Mistress. Entreating of her Princely birth, chaste life, royal government, and happy death; being a Lady born, living, reigning, dying, all for good. The manner is handled between Shepherds, the form of speech like the persons, rude: Affection exceedeth Eloquence, and I have not shown much Art; but expressed the duty of a loving heart: Shed some tears in reading our Shepherds’ sorrow; and in that true passion, let your love to our royal Lord be shown: who hateth hypocrites as just men hell. Farewell all of you, that give the dead Queen a sad Farewell, and the living King a glad Welcome; the rest are Time-pleasers, and I write not to them.

Foelicem fuisse infaustum.

Wrought by plain Shepherds, for the death of that most excellent Empress Elizabeth, Queen of Virtue, while she lived; and Theme of Sorrow, being dead.




Collin, thou look'st as lagging as the day, When the Sun setting toward his western bed, Shows that like him all glory must decay, And frolic life with murky clowds o're-spred, Shall leave all earthly beauty mongst the dead; Such is the habit of thy new array: Why art thou not prepared to welcome May, In whose clear Moon thy jinglings shall be fed, With night’s sweet dews, and open flowers of day?


I answer thee with woe and wellaway, I am in sable clad, sith she cannot be had That me and mine did glad; there's all I'le say.


Well spoken, Swain, let me my sorrow ken, Rich soul, though wrong'd by idle Antic men, And driven by falsehood to a clowdy den, Tell me thy grief.


O it is past relief; and which is worst of worst Bayards and beasts accursed, with grossest flattery nursed: Have sung her sacred name, and prais'd her to their shame, Who was our last and first.


Dear Collin, do not check the humblest song, The will is ever master of the work, Those that can sing, have done all Shepherds wrong, Like losels in their cottages to lurk: The air's the air, though it be thick and murk, If they to whom true Pastorals belong In needful layes, use neither pipe nor tongue, Shall none the virtuous raise?


Yes, those that merit Bays Though tears restrain their lays, Some weeping hours or days will find a time: To honour honour still, not with a rural quill, But with the soul of skill, to bless their rime. Aye me! why should I dote, on rimes, on songs, or note, Confusion can best quote, sacred Eliza’s loss, Whose praise doth grace all verse, that shall the same rehearse, No gold need deck her hearse; to her all gold is dross.

 With that Collin in discontent, brake his pipe, and in that passion, as if his heart had been like his Pipe, parted each piece from the other, he fell without sense on the earth, not then insensible of his sorrow; for it yielded, wept and groaned at once with his fall, his weepings and his sighs. Poor Thenot shouted for help; at whose call came some Nymphs full of sorrow for their sovereign; and no whit amazed to see him lie as dead, their hearts were so dead, with thinking of that which had astonied his. But yet, as gathering of companies draw more and more to wonder, so prooved it among the shepherds, that left none but their curs to attend their flocks, themselves flocking about Thenot and Collin, who now recovered from his trance, and all asking the reason of this grief, with tears abounding in his eyes, that likewise drew more abundantly from theirs, he distractedly answered,

Illum nec enim reprehendere fas est,
Qui fleat hanc, cujus fregerunt stamina parcæ,
Solus honour sequitur mortales ille misellos. [Odyssee]

 And therewithal making a sign for the Shepherds and Nymphs to sit down, he told them, they had lost that sacred Nymph, that careful Shepherdess Eliza, but if it pleased them to lend attention, he would repeat something of her, worth memory, that should live in despite of death: whereupon a still silence seized them all saving only now and then, by sighing they expressed their hearts’ sorrow: and Collin thus began

 Seeing Honour only followeth mortals, and the works of the virteous die not with their deaths, and yet those works nevertheless with the honours and rites due to the departed, might be much blemished, if there were no gratitude in their successors: let us poor Rurals (though no other ways able to erect statues for our late dread Sovereign worthy all memory) among ourselves repeat part of her excellent Graces, and our benefit obtained by her Government: for, to reckon all, were Opus infinitum, a labour without end. … Preserved she was from the violence of death, her blood was precious in the sight of God, as is the blood of all his Saints, it was too dear to be powered out like water on the greedy earth, she lived and we have lived under her forty and odd years so wonderfully blessed, that all Nations have wondered at their own afflictions and our prosperity, and she died as she lived with us, still careful of our peace; finishing even then the greatest wonder of all, our deserts considered by appointing the Kingdom to so just and lawful a Ruler to succeed her: whom all true English knew for their undoubted lord, immediately after her death. But lest we end ere we begin, I will return to her: who being seated in the throne of Majesty, adorned with all the virtues divine and moral, appeared to us like a goodly Palace where the Graces kept their several mansions.  First, faith abundantly shown in her then young, and lost not her brightness in her age, for she believed in her Redeemer, her trust was in the King of Kings, who preserved her as the apple of his eye from all treacherous attempts, as many being made against her life, as against any Princess that ever lived; yet she was still confident in her Saviour, whose name she glorified in all her actions, confessing her victories, preservings, dignities to be all his, as appeared by many luculent examples, this one serving for the rest, that after the dissipation of the Spanish Armatho accounted invincible, she came in person to Paul’s cross, and there, among the meanest of her people, confessed, Non nobis Domine, non nobis; sed nomini tuo Gloria. And as she was ever constant in cherishing that faith wherein she was from her infancy nourished, so was she faithful of her word, with her people, and with foreign nations. And albeit I know some (too humorously affected to the Roman government) make a question in this place, whether her highness first brake not the truce with the King of Spain: to that I could answer, were it pertinent to me in this place, or for a poor shepherd to talk of state, with unreprovable truths that her highness suffered many wrongs before she left off the league.  O saith Thenot, in some of those wrongs resolve us, and think it no unfitting thing, for thou that hast heard the songs of that warlike Poet Philesides [1], good Meloebee [2], and smooth tongued Melicert [3], tell us what thou hast observed in their saws [sayings], seen in thy own experience, and heard of undoubted truths touching those accidents; for that they add, I doubt not, to the glory of our Eliza.

 To this entreaty Collin condescended, and thus spake. It is not unknown the Spaniard a mighty nation, abounding with treasure, being war’s sinewes, torn from the bowels of Mines, fetched from the sands of Indian Rivers by the miserable captived natives, have purposed to be Lords of Europe. France they have attempted and failed in, Navarre they have greatly distressed, Lombardy the garden of the world, they are possessed of; Naples and Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica are forced to obey their laws, and that they reckoned England should be theirs, with such small ease, even in a manner with threatening: their songs taught little infants from Andalusia to Galizia are witness. The dice were cast: her Majesty’s subjects craftily put into the Inquisition upon every small colour, if they scaped, which seldom sorted out so well, alive, could of their goods have no restitution. Their King gave pensions to our Queen’s rebellious fugitve subjects, and not only to such, that in regard of their Religion fled the land, but unto such as had attempted to resist her in active rebellion: and yet not staying there out of his treasury proposed rewards for sundry to attempt the murder of her sacred person: of which perfidious guilt she never was tainted: let any Spaniard, or Spanish affected English, prove where she ever hired, abetted, or procured any such against their kings Majesty, and I will yield to be esteemed as false as falsehood itself: nay, they cannot deny, but that even with the Rebels of her Realm of Ireland, stirred up to a barbarous and inhumane outrages by the Spanish policy, she hath no way dealt but by fair and laudable war…      

Besides to express her farther intent: to preserve faith and league, notwithstanding infinite of open wrongs: and certain knowledge that a Navy for invasion of this Realm had been preparing more than fifteen year; yet did she bear, until against all law of Nations, the Ambassador ledger of Spain, honoured with many favours, did notwithstanding plot and confeder with native traitors of this land and the matter being apparently proved; he was by her mild sufferance admitted to depart the Realm, without any violence: to his perpetual reproach, and her never dying glory. Well, I will here conclude touching this virtue of faith both toward God and man: she was firm in the one as mortality could be; and in the other approved glorious among all the Princes of her time.

For Hope, the second divine virtue, she rather therein abounded, than was any way wanting; for her Hope was no way wandering: she believed, and it came to pass; her enemies’ arise, but before their arising, she was certain to see them fall; she having by example of things past, nothing doubted of things to come. And she was not deceived till the hour of her death. For ever her expectation was fulfilled; she kept peace within, chased the spoiler without; and even as it is sung of Epaminondas that valiant Theban Captaine, in his last victorious battle, wherein yet death of him got victory, he thus gloried: Herein am I comforted, that I die a conqueror. For even when death laid his last siege to her yet unvanquished life, [Hugh O’Neill, Earl of] Tyrone, the long disturber of her State, besought by agents mercy at her feet. O Nymphs and Shepherds, doubt not she was full of divine Hope, whose heart obtained ever the thing it faithfully desired; and that her desires were all of faith, I could add infinite examples to these already alleged: but that it is needless to cast water in the Sea, or to make question of that all men know, and will confess, except some whose hearts are strangers from Truth, and the professed Receptacles of falsehood.

Her Charity the third and principal divine Grace to the eye of mortals: (for that Faith and Hope bend principally their service to Heaven, and Charities effects are manifested on earth) hath been extended over all her Realmes, and stretched to the comfort of her oppressed neighbours. … As for the poor and decrepit with age, her Royal Majesty had this charitable care so for souldiers, and suiters, she was very provident. The last being oppressed in any part of her Realms by men of much wealth and little conscience, she allowed them counsel and proceedings in Forma pauperis, and maintenance weekly in the Terms, for some part of their succour: if any were delayed and abused, it was utterly against her will. For souldiers, and men of service, her decrees of provision are extant: besides, it is most clear, no Prince in the world, to land, or Sea-men, was more bountiful, or at least willing, than her Highness: out of her Coffers it went; but there is an old proverb Thenot, carriage is dear: and I have heard, but I will stand to nothing; base Ministers, and under-officers, curtail the liberalities of great and potent Masters. …

As she was richly stored with divine graces, so in moral virtues, no Princess ever-living in the earth can be remembered to exceed her. Her wisdom was without question in her life by any unequalled, she was sententious, yet gracious in speech; So expert in Languages, that she answered most Embassadors in their Native tongues: her capacity was therewith so apprehensive, and invention so quick, that if any of them had gone beyond their bounds, with gracious majesty she would have limited them within the verge of their duties, as she did royally, wisely, and learnedly, the last strutting Poland Messenger, that thought with stalking looks, and swelling words to daunt her undaunted Excellence. But as he came proud, he returned not without repentance; having no other wrong here but the shame of his own saucinesse…

Thenot, did not assurance of our kingly Poets’ [Philesides, Meloebee, Melicert] love to the Muses somewhat comfort me, I should utterly dispair ever to hear Pastoral song again, filed with any conceit; seeing her Excellence, whose brain was the Helicon of all our best and quaint inventions, is dried up by the inevitable heat of death.

Her own justice was such, as never any could truly complain of her; neither did she pardon faults unpardonable, as murder, rape, Sodomy, that sin almost not to be named: neither was there in her (with her knowlege) extremity of justice shown to other malefactors: if any such did fall, it was either by falsehood or malice of the evidence, practice of corrupt men or some other secret wherewith poor Shepherds are unacquainted: only this we are taught: that God sometime punisheth the sins of parents on their children to many generations.

But for herself, she was always so inclined to equity, that if she left Justice in any part, it was in showing pitty … Of her mercy nothing can be said more, but that it equalled, or rather as I said before, exceeded her justice. Among infinite numbers whom she pardoned, that one especially being a clear witness, who shot the Gun off against Greenwich, even into her Majesty’s barge, hurt the next man to her, at broad daylight; almost impossible to be excused by negligence or ignorance; for that any man having his piece charged, would rather upon retiring home, have discharged it among the reeds, than toward the breadth of the River, whose silver breast continually bore up a number of vessels, wherein men passed on sundry affairs. How ever wilful or unwilful the act was, done it was, and by a jury he was found guilty, and adjudged to die: toward execution he was led, with such clamour and injuries of the multitude, as seldom any the like hath been seen or heard; so heinous and odious his offence appeared unto them, that being upon the ladder ready to be cast off, the common people had no pity of him: when even just in that moment of dispair and death, her Majesty sent a gracious pardon, which delivered him to all mens’ wonder.

I want but the Arcadian Shepherds enchanting phrase of speaking, that was many times witness to her just mercies, and merciful justice: yet rude as I am, I have presumed to handle this excellent theme, in regard the Funeral hastens on, of that sometime most Serene Lady, and yet I see none, or at least past one or two that have sung any thing since her departure worth the hearing; and of them, they that are best able, scarce remember her Majesty. I cannot now forget the excellent and cunning Collin indeed, (for alas, I confess myself too too rude,) complaining that a liberal Maecenas long since dying, was immediatly forgotten, even by those that living most laboured to advance his fame: and these as I think close part of his songs:

Being dead no Poet seeks him to revive,
Though many Poets flattered him alive. [4]

Somewhat like him, or at least to that purpose of a person more excellent, though in ruder verse I speak.

Death now hath seiz'd her in his icy arms,
That sometime was the Sun of our delight;
And, pitiless of any after harms,
Hath veil'd her glory in the cloud of night:
Nor doth one Poet seek her name to raise,
That living, hourly, striv'd to sing her praise.

He that so well could sing the fatal strife
Between the Royal Roses White and Red,
That prais'd so oft Eliza in her life,
His Muse seems now to die, as she is dead :
Thou sweetest song-man of all English swains,
Awake for shame, honour ensues thy pains.   [SAMUEL DANIEL[5]]

But thou alone deserv'dst not to be blam'd:
He that sung forty years her life and birth,
And is by English Albion so much fam'd,
For sweet mixt lays of majesty with mirth,
Doth of her loss take now but little keep;
Or else I guess he cannot sing, but weep.   [WILLIAM WARNER[6]]

Neither doth Corin, full of worth and wit,
That finish'd dead Musaeus' gracious song,
With grace as great, and words, and verse as fit,
Chide meagre death for doing virtue wrong:
He doth not seek with songs to deck her hearse,
Nor make her name live in his lively verse.   [GEORGE CHAPMAN[7]]

Nor does our English Horace, whose steel pen
Can draw Characters which will never die,
Tell her bright glories unto list'ning men,
Of her he seems to have no memory:
His Muse another path desires to tread,
True Satyrs scourge the living, leave the dead.   [BEN JONSON[8]]

Nor doth the silver tongued Melicert,
Drop from his honied Muse one sable tear
To mourn her death that graced his desert,
And to his laies open’d her Royal ear,
Shepherd, remember our Elizabeth,
And sing her Rape, done by that Tarquin, Death.   [WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE[9]]

No less do thou (sweet singer Coridon),
The theme exceedeth Edward's Isabel.
Forget her not in Poly-Albion,
Make some amends, I know thou lov'dst her well.
Think 'twas a fault to have thy verses seen,
Praising the King, ere they had mourn'd the Queen.   [MICHAEL DRAYTON[10]]

And thou delicious sportive Musidore,
Although thou hast resign'd thy wreath of Bay,
With bind thy temples, and deplore
Eliza's winter in a mournful Lay:
I know thou can'st, and none can better sing
Hearse Songs for her, and Paeans to our King.   [THOMAS LODGE[11]]

Quick Antihorace though I place thee here,
Together with young Moelibee thy friend:
And Hero's last Musaeus, all three decree,
All such whose virtues highly I commend:
Prove not ingrate to her that many a time
Hath stooped her Majesty, to grace your rime.   [DEKKER / MARSTON / PETOWE[12]]

At this Thenot and the rest desired him to proceed in his discourse of her virtues; remembring where he left, at Justice, and though the matter pleased them so well that they could endure the hearing many days, yet seeing the Sun began to die the West Sea with vermilion tincture, the palace of the morning being hidden in sable clouds, and that the care of their flocks must be respected, requested him to be as brief, as the time limited him.

To which Collin answered; Thenot, I perceive thou art as all or the most part of the world is, careful only of thine own: and how ever friends fall, yet profit must be respected. Well, thou dost well; and in this I doubly praise thee: to cark [be anxious] for sheep and lambs that cannot tend themselves, and not to mourn as without hope our great Shepherdess; who after long life and glory on earth, hath obtained a longer and more glorious life in heaven. But to proceed. As she was constant in faith, steadfast in hope, cheerful in giving, prudent in speaking, just in punishing, but most merciful in pardoning: so for the third moral Virtue Temperance, there was in no age before, a woman so exalted to earthly honour ever read of; that so long, so graciously, in outward and domestic affairs governed her kingdom, family, and person, with like moderation.

First, for her kingdom, what can be devised more near the mean than she hath in all things followed? For in religion as in other things, there hath been an extreme erring from the truth, which like all virtues, (being indeed the head of all) keepeth place in the midst; so hath she established the true Catholic and Apostolical Religion in this Land, neither mingled with multitudes of idle superstitions; nor yet wanting true honour and reverence for the Ministery, in laudable and long received ceremonies.

But I wonder saith Thenot, she in so many years built no goodly Aedifice wherein her memory might live.

So did she, answered Collin, the goodliest buildings in the earth, such as like fleeting Iles commanded the seas, whose outward walls are dreadful Engines of brass, sending fearful thunder among enemies. And the inhabitants of those wooden Iles, are worthy seamen, such as dread to danger, but for her would have run even into destruction’s mouth. I tell thee, Thenot, I have seen in a fight some like nimble spirits hanging in the air by little cords, some lading ordinance with deathful powder; some charging Muskets, and discharging ruin on their enemies; some at the foreship, others busy at helm, skipping here and there like Roes in lightness, and Lions in courage; that it would have powered spirit into a sick man to see their resolutions. For such tenants made she many buildings, exceeding any Emperors Navy in the earth: whose service I doubt not will be acceptable to her most worthy Successor, our dread Sovereign Lord and King.

Other Palaces she had great store of, which she maintained and yearly repaired, at least would have done, if those that had care of her surveying, would have been as careful for hers as for their own.

What should I say of her? the clowdy mantle of the night covers the beauty of the heaven: and this evening looks like those four days that preceeded the morning of her death. The beasts, the night that she ended her fate in earth, kept an unwonted bellowing, so that I assure thee Thenot, being assured of her sickness, I was troubled (being awakened with their cries) with imagination of her death, that I pittied not my bleating flock, who with their innocent notes kept time with my true tears, till the hour of her death was passed, when immediately a heavy sleep shut up the windows of mine eyes: at which time, (as I have since heard) death’s eternal sleep utterly benumbed all her senses, whose soul (I doubt not) hath already entered endless rest, whither God will draw her glorified body in his great day. … This evening let us be like the Evening, that drops dewy tears on the earth: and while our hinds shut up the sheep in their folds, sing a Funeral song for the loss of divine Elizabeth; invocating absent Scholars to bewail her, whom in sundry schools she cherisht, and personally in either of their Universities visited: let us bid soldiers lament her, toward whom, besides many apparent signs of her exceeding love, this is one most worth memory; she came amongst them mounted at Tilbury, being gathered into a royal Army against the Spanish Invasion; promising to share with them in all fortunes, if the enemy durst but show his face aland. Let Citizens likewise shed tears for her loss, especially those of London, to whom she was ever a kind Sovereign, and bountiful neighbour.

I need not bid the Courtiers weep, for they can never forget the countenance of their gracious Mistress, till they have engraven in their hearts the favour of their most Royal Master. For us poor Shepherds; though we are not able to suit ourselves in black, fine enough to adorn so Royal an Interment, yet Thenot quicken thy invention, Dryope and  Chloris shall bear part; and let us conclude our sorrow for Eliza in a Funeral Hymne; that shall have power to draw from the swelling clowds, waters to assist our woe. The Springs, taught by the tears that break from our eyes, already overflow their bounds: The birds sit mute to hear our music, and our harmless flock hearken to our moans.

To this they all, as gladly as their grief would suffer them, consented. Collin for his broken Pipe took Cuddye’s [13], who could neither sing nor play, he was so full of passion and sighs.

The Funeral Song between Collin and Thenot; Dryope and Chloris, upon the death of the sacred Virgin ELIZABETH.

Ye sacred Muses dwelling,
Where Art is ever swelling;
Your learned Fount forsake,
Help Funeral Songs to make:
Hang them about her Hearse
That ever loved Verse:
Clio writ down her Story,
That was the Muses Glory.

And ye soft-footed Hours,
Make ready Cypress Bowers:
Instead of Roses sweet
(For pleasant Spring-time meet)
Strew all the pathes with Yew,
Night-shade and bitter Rue.
Bid Flora hide her Treasure:
Say ’tis no time of pleasure.

And you divinest Graces,
Veil all your sacred faces
With your bright shining hair;
Show every sign of care:
The heart that was your Fane [temple],
The cruel Fates have slain:
From earth no power can raise her,
Only our Hymns may praise her.

These Epitaphs ended, the Nymphs and Shepherds led by Collin and Thenot, who afore played heavy tunes on their oaten pipes, got to their several cottages, and spent their time till midnight, mourning for Eliza: But Sleep, the equaller of Kings and captives, banished their sorrows. What humour they are in after rest, you shall in the morning hear: for commonly, as the day is, so are our affections disposed.


Chettle’s Authorship of Englands Mourning Garment cannot be doubted. There is no author's name on the title-page, nor subscribed to the prefacing epistle. But at the end there is this short note :

To the Reader. - I love as little as any man to come into print: but seeing affection hath made me commit this fault, I pray you pardon it; and amend in reading the Printers errors; where, being ill acquainted with Poetrie, he hath passed Herores for Heroes; what ever else seemes harsh, imagine I can write English, and make the fault not mine.

Farewell. Hen: Chettle.

A similar comment is found in his apology prefacing Kindheart’s Dream.

To come in print is not to seeke praise, but to crave pardon: I am urged to the one; and bolde to begge the other.

Henry Chettle died before 1607, when Dekker in his Knight's Conjurer described him joining the poets in Elysium: “in comes Chettle sweating and blowing by reason of his fatness”.


NOTES by Robert Detobel and KK

[1] “that warlike Poet Philesides”: At several instances the poet Sir Philip Sidney (1554-1586) was referred to as Philisides. That is just another form of “Astrophel”, Star-Lover, the name he tooks in his sonnet sequence Astrophel and Stella (ed. 1591).

[2] “good Meloebee”: In An Eglogue upon the death of the Right Honorable Sir Francis Walsingham (1590), Thomas Watson calls the late Sir Francis Walsingham (1532-1590) "Sweet Meliboeus", probably in allusion to Chaucer's The Tale of Melibee (Chaucer's Melibee seeks appropriate means to defend himself from his enemies).

In The Ruins of Time (1591), Edmund Spenser mentions “Good Melibae” thereby drawing attention to Thomas Watson's elegy:

Good Melibae, that hath a poet got To sing his living praises being dead …

In the ‘Sixt Eglogue’ of The Shepheard's Garland (1593) Michael Drayton (1593) speaks of "Good Melibeus" as of a living person.

And, gentle Shepheards (as sure some there be)
That living yet, his Vertues doe inherit,
Men from base envy and detraction free
Of upright Hearts, and of as humble Spirit:
Thou, that down from the goodly Western waste
To drink at Avon driv'st thy sunned Sheep,
Good Melibeus, that so wisely hast
Guided the Flocks delivered thee to keep.

“Goodly Western waste” is probably a reference to Samuel Daniels Rosamond (1592), l. 520 ff.

The solitary Country may not stay her,
Here is the center of all beauties’ best,
Excepting Delia, left to adorn the West.

“To drink at Avon driv'st thy sunned Sheep” refers most certainly to the last four lines of Daniel’s Sonnet 48 (1592):

But Avon, rich in fame though poor in waters,
Shall have my song, where Delia hath her seat.
shall be my , and she my song;
tis sound her name the river all along.

With “Good Melibeus” Michael Drayton therefore means the poet Samuel Daniel (1562-1619). - In Greenes funerall, Sonnet VIII (1594) Richard Barnfield also speaks of "Meliboeus" as a living author. Since Barnfield shows marked similarities to Drayton, he probably also means Samuel Daniel.

And thou Shepheards Swain, that keeps thy sheep by the mountains,
(Mountains of Sicily, and sweet Arcadian Iland),
Oh Meliboeus: leave, Oh leave any more to be mourning.

We are now faced with the difficult question as to whether Henry Chettle (1603) was referring to Thomas Watson and Edmund Spenser, or to Michael Drayton and Richard Barnfield .

As a poet, Samuel Daniel fits quite well in the same category as Sidney and Shakespeare.

Though neither Sidney nor Shakespeare (nor Daniel) took a position on the question of Spain's guilt concerning the war, “the kingly Poets” are called witnesses for Elizabeth’s flawless (reformatory) politics.

It should also be emphasized that Chettle’s “Good Meloebee” and his “young Moelibee” (the friend of Antihorace=Dekker) are two different people. (See note 12).

[3] “smooth tongued Melicert”: Elliot Browne (1873) remarks that the way Robert Greene depicted Melicertus in his novel would well fit Shakespeare: “The character was evidently a favourite with Greene, who has put into his mouth the best poetry in the book. There are certainly some points of resemblance between Melicertus and the traditional idea of Shakespeare. Melicertus is a great maker of sonnets, and after his poetical excellence, the leading quality ascribed to him is the possession of a very ready and smooth wit, which enables him to shine in the euphuistic chaffing-matches with which the work is interlarded.” (See 3.5.4 Greene, Menaphon.)

Brinsley Nicholson wrote in Notes and Queries Feb. 7, 1874, p.109-11: “In the case of Melicert the epithets ‘smooth-tongued’ and ‘silver-tongued’ [see note 9] are rather akin; ‘smooth,’ ‘filed,’ ‘refined,’ ‘honey-tongued,’ ‘silver-tongued,’ were fairly frequent equivalents for eloquence and poetical language.”

[4] “Being dead no Poet seeks him to revive, / Though many Poets flattered him alive”: Chettle alludes with his Maecenas to Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester (1532-1588). In The Ruines of Time (1591) Edmund Spenser (1552-1599) says:

Ne any poet seeks him to revive,
Yet many poets honoured him alive.

[5] [SAMUEL DANIEL]: Samuel Daniel is not given a pastoral name but there is a clear allusion to his Civil Wars: 'He that so well could sing the fatall strife/ Betweene the royall Roses White and Red.'

[6] [WILLIAM WARNER]: The second poet is William Warner, author of England’s Albion (1586). He has been compared to Homer; Francis Meres in his “Comparative Discourse” within Palladis Tamia (1598) ranks him at the same level as Edmund Spenser. Both rankings are, of course, nonce glorifications; but Warner was none the less a respected poet.

[7] [GEORGE CHAPMAN]: George Chapman finished Musaeus’ epyllion Hero and Leander.

[8] [BEN JONSON]: Ben Jonson is given the name of his beloved Roman poet: 'Nor does our English Horace, whose steele pen/ Can drawe Characters which will never die'; We know from Thomas Dekker’s satirical play Satiromastix (1601) on Jonson, that the latter, named Horace, was aready translating Horace’s Ars Poetica, not printed until 1640. In 1603 the other path Ben Jonson was treading was satirical comedy.

[9] [WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE]: The last line is evidently a reference to Shakespeare’s Rape of Lucrece. - But what could Chettle have meant by “graced his desert”? The allusion would be clear if Chettle was thinking of Oxford; and if we could trust the information of Vicar John Ward of Stratford that Shakespeare “supplied the stage with two plays every year, and for it had an allowance so large, that he spent at the rate of a £1,000 a year, as I have heard.” Edmund K. Chambers classifies vicar Ward’s entry in his diary about the year 1660 under “Shakespeare Mythos” (Chambers, Shakespeare, vol. II, Oxford, 1930, p. 249), doubtlessly precisely because of this incredibly huge annuity. However, if applied to Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, the £1,000 annuity is a historical fact which during Elizabeth’s reign can apply only to him. Later, in the first years of James I’s reign, similar annuities were granted to the presidents of the Council of the North and of Wales and the Marches to augment “their grossly inadequate official salaries and to cover the cost of maintaining a suitable establishment, and the £1,000 a year for the Earl of Oxford…” (Stone, Lawrence, The Crisis of the Aristocracy 1558-1641, Oxford, 1965, p. 419). Stone further: “A large amount of the grants and even more of the fruits of office were spent on the maintenance of a style of living appropriate to the recipient’s position and status, and on expenditure directly in the service of the State. “(p. 481). Indeed, as Norbert Elias in The Court Society stresses, status was not defined by the size of the estate but by the size of spending. Sir Thomas Smith (1513-1577), eminent statesman and professor of civil law, wrote “and in England no man is created baron, except he may dispend of yearly revenue one thousand pounds or one thousand marks at least.” (De Republica Anglorum, chapter 17, published in 1582). So, if we can believe what Vicar John Ward, writing shortly after 1661, had heard, Skakespeare spent at the yearly rate of a baron or earl; and the Earl of Oxford received an annuity enabling to spend according to his rank… for the theatre, vicar Ward had heard.

There is another strong argument for identifying silver tongued Melicert as Shakespeare = Edward de Vere. Chettle chooses all of his code and/or pastoral names from a literary context. The name Melicertus occurs only once, in Greene’s pastoral romance Menaphon (1589). Melicertus is the pastoral name of a poet, the main character in Greene’s romance. – See also note 3.

[10] [MICHAEL DRAYTON]: Drayton, too, is identified through a work of his, Poly-Albion. “Edwards Isabell” is a reference to Drayton's long poem on Edward II's favourite Piers Gaveston (published in 1595), favorite of king Edward II, the queen being the French princess Isabella. Poly-Olbion was not published until 1611/12 but as early as 1598 it was known to be in the making; Francis Meres mentions it in his “Comparative Discourse” within Palladis Tamia.

[11] [THOMAS LODGE]: Thomas Lodge had stopped writing poetry by 1603 (“resigned thy wreath of bay” or “laurel”).

[12] [DEKKER/MARSTON//PESTOWE]: The next poets are most likely Thomas Dekker and John Marston. As already mentioned, Thomas Dekker had written a comedy in which Ben Jonson was satirized as Horace, hence “Anti-Horace”. The satire was a reply to Jonson’s own satirizing of Dekker and Marston, who had also attacked Ben Jonson in certain comedies, as Demetrius and Crispinus in his comedy Poetaster (1601). So Marston is probably “young Mœlibee”, friend of Antihorace/Dekker.

As for “last Musœs”. C.M. Ingleby writes: he “should be Henry Petowe, who published in 1598, The Second Part of the Loves of Hero and Leander” (Shakspere Allusion-Books, London 1874, p. xiv.), which was, like Chapman’s, a continuation of Marlowe’s translation of Musaios’ poem.

[13]Collin for his broken Pipe took Cuddye’s”: Remarkably, at the end of his reflections, Henry Chettle speaks of the shepherd Cuddie, who appears only once - in Edmund Spenser’s The Shepheardes Calender, ‘Aegloga decima’ (1580). Spenser referred to Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford :

‘In Cuddie is set out the perfect pattern of a Poet, which finding no maintenance of his state and studies, complaineth of the contempt of Poetry, and the causes thereof.’

Later on, Spenser is referring to Oxford’s first poetic statement in the foreword to Cardanus Comforte in which the poet compares himself to a common labourer who is cheated out of his pay: “For he that beats the bush the bird not gets, / But who sits still and holdeth fast the nets.” Spenser lets Cuddie say:

CUDDIE. To feed youthes fancy, and the flocking fry,
Delighten much: what I the bet for thy?
They han the pleasure, I a slender prise.
I beat the bush, the birds to them do flie:
What good thereof to Cuddie can arise?