1866 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Richard Barnfield

John Payne Collier, "Lady Pecunia, or the Praise of Money" in Bibliographical and Critical Account of the Rarest Books (1866) 1:58-62.



It is no small tribute to Barnfield that two poems printed by him, or for him, in 1598, having in the next year been inserted in Shakspeare's Passionate Pilgrim, were long thought by many to be the property of Barnfield, on account of his priority of claim. In 1598 the fine sonnet in praise of Dowland and Spenser, "If music and sweet poetry agree," and the beautiful lyric, "As it fell upon a day," were first published as Barnfield's, in a work which then bore the following title:—

The Encomion of Lady Pecunia, or The praise of Money. — quaerenda pecunia primum est, Virtus post nummos. — London, Printed by G. S. for Iohn laggard, and are to be solde at his shoppe neere Temple-barre, at the Signe of the Hand and starre. 1598. 4to.

John Jaggard, who published the above, was brother to William Jaggard, who published Shakspeare's Passionate Pilgrim, and in some unexplained manner the two poems we have designated, "If music and sweet poetry agree," and "As it fell upon a day," the authorship of our great dramatist, found their way out of the bands of W. Jaggard into those of John Jaggard who, we may suppose, was, in 1598, on the point of publishing Barnfield's Encomion of Lady Pecunia: there he inserted them; but they, nevertheless, made their appearance in 1599 in The Passionate Pilgrim, by which it was made to seem as if W. Jaggard had stolen the poems from J. Jaggard, because the latter had printed them as Barnfield's in the year preceding. The reverse was, however, the fact; and the matter stood thus doubtfully until the year 1605, when Barnfield, (perhaps partly on this account,) putting forth a new impression of his Encomion under a different title, and with many important changes, expressly excluded from that reimpression the two poems, which he knew did not belong to him, and which he presumed were the property of Shakspeare.

Hence the especial value of the second edition of the Encomion, since it may be said to ascertain that John Jaggard, wishing to swell Barnfield's small volume in 1598, did so by inserting in it two pieces that did not belong to the author of the rest. The second edition of Barnfield's Encomion, under the title of Lady Pecunia, or the praise of Money, was not known at all until a comparatively recent date; and still more recently it was discovered that it did not contain the poems to which Barnfield seemed to have the earliest title. In 1605 Barnfield was too honest to retain what had been improperly attributed to him in 1598. The Sonnet and the Poem are therefore not to be traced in the volume in our hands, which forms part of the Library at Bridgewater House.

As the earliest impression was accurately reprinted for the Roxburghe Club in 1816, it is hardly necessary here to say more about it, than that in 1598 it was made especially applicable to Elizabeth and her reign. In 1605 all the lines mentioning or alluding to her were omitted or altered to suit the altered circumstances of the time: thus, for a passage, heaping well-worded adulation upon the queen, we meet with the following, which extravagantly applauds her successor, and forms the 37th and 38th stanzas of the main poem, which is headed "Lady Pecunia":—

But now more Angels than on Earth yet weare
Her golden impresse, bane to Heaven attended
Her Virgin-soule: now, now, she sojornes there,
Tasting more joyes then may he comprehended.
Life she hath changde for life, (oh, countleese gaine!)
An earthlie rule for an eternall Raigne.

Such a Successor leaving in her stead,
So peerelesse worthie, and so Royall wise,
In him her vertues live, though she be dead:
Bounty and Zeale in him both soveranize.
To him alone Pecunia doth obay;
He ruling her that doth all others sway.

Barnfield proceeds in the same strain for three other stanzas. It is a very clever poem, and it is not surprising that it was popular, although no other copy of this edition is known, and those of 1598 are of the utmost rarity. The subsequent are four stanzas from an earlier part of Lady Pecunia, numbered severally 16, 17, 18, and 19: —

But now unto her praise I will proceed,
Which is as ample as the world is wide.
What great Contentment doth her presence breed
In him that can his wealth with Wisdome guide!
She is the Soveraine Queene of all Delights:
For her the Lawyer pleads, the Souldier fights.

For her the Merchant ventures on the seas;
For her the Scholler studies at his booke;
For her the Usurer (with greater ease)
For silly fishes lays a silver hooke;
For her the Townsman leaves the country village;
For her the Plowman gives himselfe to tillage.

For her the Gentleman doth raise his rentes;
For her the Servingman attends his mayster;
For her the curious head new toyes invents;
For her to sores the Surgeon lays his playster:
In fine, for her each man in his Vocation
Applies himselfe in every sev'rall Nation.

What can thy hart desire, but thou mayst have it,
If thou have ready money to disburse?
Then, thanke thy Fortune that so freely gave it,
For of all friends the surest is thy Pursse.
Friends may prove fals, and leave the in thy need,
But still thy purse will be thy friend indeed.

"Lady Pecunia" consists of 56 such stanzas, followed by "the Author's Prayer to Pecunia," and by "The Combat betwixt Conscience and Covetousness in the minde of Man," a sort of Dialogue, in couplets, occupying four leaves. "The Complaint of Poetry," &c. (which in the copy of 1598 precedes "The Combat," &c.) is in 45 stanzas, concluding with "A comparison of the Life of Man," in seven lines. On the last page, in 1605, is the following remarkable "Remembrance of some English Poets," viz., Spenser, Daniel, Drayton, and Shakspeare.

Live Spenser ever, in thy Fairy Queene,
Whose like (for deepe Conceit) was never seene:
Crownd mayst thou be, unto thy more renowne,
(As King of Poets) with a Lawrell Crowne.

And Daniell, praised for thy sweet-chast verse:
Whose Fame is grav'd on Rosamond's blacke Herse:
Still mayst thou live, and still be honoured,
For that rare worke, the White Rose and the Red.

And Drayton, whose well-written Tragedies,
And sweet Epistles, soare thy fame to skies,
Thy learned Name is equall with the rest,
Whose stately Numbers are so well addrest.

And Shakespeare, thou, whose hony flowing vaine,
(Pleasing the World) thy Praises doth containe;
Whose Venus, and whose Lucrece (sweet, and chast)
Thy name in Fame's immortall Booke have plac't,
Live ever you, at least in Fame live ever:
Well may the Body die, but Fame die never.

These verses vary only literally in the two editions of 1598 and 1605. The whole work is introduced by eight dedicatory lines, not addressed to any particular person, and by two pages of prose "to the gentlemen Readers," in which Barnfield mentions his Cynthia. In the Epistle before that poem, printed in 1595, he speaks of his Affectionate Shepherd as his "first-fruit." Cynthia was his second production; and the tract under review his third. It is now ascertained that Barnfield was not the author of Greene's Funerals, 1594, attributed to him by Ritson and others. In the introductory matter to his Cynthia, he mentions that a second book had been falsely assigned to him, probably referring to Orpheus his Journey to Hell, 1595, to which his initials R. B. seem to have been fraudulently affixed.

Barnfield's Praise of Money, in 1598, was, no doubt, the occasion of a poem called The Massacre of Money, by Thomas Achelley, in 1602, for an account of which see p. 9.