1598
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Prayse of Lady Pecunia.

The Encomion of Lady Pecunia: or the Praise of Money. By Richard Barnfeild, Graduate in Oxford.

Richard Barnfield


A mock encomium addressed, in lieu of a patron, to the goddess of wealth. Richard Barnfield includes a digression on Queen Elizabeth as the defender of Protestantism: "And as the Coyne she hath repurifyde, | From baser substance, to the purest Mettels: | Religion so, hath shee refinde beside, | From Papistrie, to Truth; which daily settles | Within her Peoples harts" Sig. Cv. Several stanzas were added in 1605.

Henry John Todd: "It may not be foreign to the subject of this passage [FQ 2.7.44.] to observe, that [Johann] Secundus's verses [Reginae Pecuniae Regia] appear to have also influenced a professed disciple of Spenser in his choice of a poetical theme; viz. LADY PECUNIA, or The Praise of Money, by Richard Barnfield" Works of Spenser (1805) 3 452n.

John Payne Collier: "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.... 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.... 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'" Bibliographical and Critical Account (1866) 1:60-62



I sing not of Angellica the faire,
(For whom the Palladine of Fraunce fell mad)
Nor of sweet Rosamond, olde Cliffords heire,
(Whose death did make the second Henry sad)
But of the fairest Faire Pecunia,
The famous Queene of rich America.

Goddesse of Golde, great Empresse of the Earth,
O thou that canst doo all Thinges under Heaven:
That doost convert the saddest minde to Mirth;
(Of whom the elder Age was quite bereaven)
Of thee Ile sing, and in thy Prayse Ile write;
You golden Angels helpe me to indite.

You, you alone, can make my Muse to speake;
And tell a golden Tale, with silver Tongue:
You onely can my pleasing silence breake;
And adde some Musique, to a merry Songue:
But amongst all the five, in Musicks Art,
I would not sing the Counter-tenor part.

The Meane is best, and that I meane to keepe;
So shall I keepe my selfe from That I meane:
Lest with some Others, I be forc'd to weepe,
And cry Peccavi, in a dolefull Scaene.
But to the matter which I have in hand,
The Lady Regent, both by Sea and Land.

When Saturne liv'd, and wore the Kingly Crowne,
(And Jove was yet unborne, but not unbred)
This Ladies fame was then of no renowne;
(For Golde was then, no more esteem'd then Lead)
Then Truth and Honesty were onely us'd,
Silver and Golde were utterly refus'd.

But when the Worlde grew wiser in Conceit,
And saw how Men in manners did decline,
How Charitie began to loose her heate,
And One did at anothers good repine,
Then did the Aged, first of all respect her;
And vowd from thencefoorth, never to reject her.

Thus with the Worlde, her beauty did increase;
And manie Suters had she to obtaine her:
Some sought her in the Wars; and some in peace;
But few of youthfull age, could ever gaine her:
Or if they did, she soone was gone againe;
And would with them, but little while remaine.

For why against the Nature of her Sexe,
(That commonlie dispise the feeble Olde)
Shee, loves olde men; but young men shee rejects;
Because to her, their Love is quicklie colde:
Olde men (like Husbands jealous of their Wives)
Lock her up fast, and keepe her as their Lives.

The young man carelesse to maintaine his life,
Neglects her Love (as though he did abhor her)
Like one that hardly doeth obtaine a wife,
And when he hath her once, he cares not for her:
Shee, seeing that the young man doeth despyse her,
Leaves the franke hart, and flies unto the Myser.

Hee intertaines her, with a joyfull hart;
And seemes to rue her undeserved wrong:
And from his Pressence, she shall never part;
Or if she doo, he thinks her Absence long:
And oftentimes he sends for her againe,
Whose life without her, cannot long remaine.

And when he hath her, in his owne possession,
He locks her in an iron-barred Chest;
And doubting somewhat, of the like Transgression,
He holds that iron-walled Prison best.
And least some rusty sicknesse should infect her,
He often visits her, and doeth respect her.

As for the young man (subject unto sinne)
No marvell though the Divell doe distresse him;
To tempt mans frailtie, which doth never linne)
Who many times, hath not a Crosse to blesse him:
But how can hee incurre the Heavens Curse,
That hath so many Crosses in his Purse?

Hee needes not feare those wicked sprights, that waulke
Under the Coverture of cole-blacke Night;
For why the Divell still, a Crosse doeth baulke,
Because on it, was hangd the Lorde of Light:
But let not Mysers trust to silver Crosses,
Least in the End, their gaines be turnd to losses.

But what care they, so they may hoorde up golde?
Either for God, or Divell, or Heaven, or Hell?
So they may faire Pecuniaes face behold;
And every Day, their Mounts of Money tell.
What tho to count their Coyne, they never blin,
Count they their Coyne, and counts not God their sin?

But what talke I of sinne, to Usurers?
Or looke for mendment, at a Mysers hand?
Pecunia, hath so many followers,
Bootlesse it is, her Power to with-stand.
King Covetise, and Warinesse his Wife,
The Parents were, that first did give her Life.

But now unto her Praise I will proceede,
Which is as ample, as the Worlde is wide:
What great Contentment doth her Pressence breede
In him; that can his wealth with Wysdome guide?
She is the Soveraigne Queene, of all Delights:
For her the Lawyer pleades; the Souldier fights.

For her, the Merchant venters on the Seas:
For her, the Scholler studdies at his Booke:
For her, the Usurer (with greater ease)
For sillie fishes, layes a silver hooke:
For her, the Townsman leaves the Countrey Village:
For her, the Plowman gives himselfe to Tillage.

For her, the Gentleman doeth raise his rents:
For her, the Servingman attends his maister:
For her, the curious head new toyes invents:
For her, to Sores, the Surgeon layes his plaister.
In fine for her, each man in his Vocation,
Applies himselfe, in everie sev'rall Nation.

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

Admit thou come, into a place unknowne;
And no man knowes, of whence, or what thou art:
If once thy faire Pecunia, shee be showne,
Thou art esteem'd a man of great Desart:
And placed at the Tables upper ende;
Not for thine owne sake, but thy faithfull frende.

But if you want your Ladies lovely grace,
And have not wherewithall to pay your shot,
Your Hostis pressently will step in Place,
You are a Stranger (Sir) I know you not:
By trusting Divers, I am run in Det;
Therefore of mee, nor meate nor Bed you get.

O who can then, expresse the worthie praise,
Which faire Pecunia justly doeth desarve?
That can the meanest man, to Honor raise;
And feed the soule, that ready is to starve.
Affection, which was wont to bee so pure,
Against a golden Siege, may not endure.

Witnesse the Trade of Mercenary sinne;
(Or Occupation, if you list to tearme it)
Where faire Pecunia must the suite beginne;
(As common-tride Experience doeth confirme it)
Not Mercury himselfe, with silver Tongue,
Can so inchaunt, as can a golden Songue.

When nothing could subdue the Phrygian Troy,
(That Citty through the World so much renowned)
Pecunia did her utterly destroy:
And left her fame, in darke Oblivion drowned.
And many Citties since, no lesse in fame,
For Love of her, have yeelded to their shame.

What Thing is then, so well belov'd as money?
It is a speciall Comfort to the minde;
More faire then Women are; more sweet then honey:
Easie to loose, but verry harde to finde.
In fine, to him, whose Purse beginns to faint,
Golde is a God, and Silver is a Saint.

The Tyme was once, when Honestie was counted
A Demy god; and so esteem'd of all:
But now Pecunia on his Seate is mounted;
Since Honestie in great Disgrace did fall.
No state, no Calling now, doeth him esteeme;
Nor of the other ill, doeth any deeme.

The reason is, because he is so poore:
(And who respects the poore, and needie Creature?)
Still begging of his almes, from Doore to Doore:
All ragd, and torne; and eeke deformd in feature.
In Countinance so changde, that none can know him;
So weake, that every vice doeth overthrow him.

But faire Pecunia, (most divinely bred)
For sundrie shapes, doth Proteus selfe surpasse:
In one Lande, she is suted all in Lead;
And in another, she is clad in Brasse:
But still within the Coast of Albion,
She ever puts, her best Apparell on.

Silver and Golde, and nothing else is currant,
In Englands, in faire Englands happy Land:
All baser sortes of Mettalls, have no Warrant;
Yet secretly they slip, from hand to hand.
If any such be tooke, the same is lost,
And pressently is nayled on a Post.

Which with Quick-silver, being flourisht over,
Seemes to be perfect Silver, to the showe:
As Woemens paintings, their defects doe cover,
Under this false attyre, so doe they goe.
If on a woollen Cloth, thou rub the same,
Then will it straight beginne to blush, for shame.

If chafed on thy haire, till it be hot,
If it good Silver bee, the scent is sweete:
If counterfeit, thy chafing hath begot
A ranke-smelt savour; for a Queene unmeete:
Pecunia is a Queene, for her Desarts,
And in the Decke, may goe for Queene of harts.

The Queene of harts, because she rules all harts;
And hath all harts, obedient to her Will:
Whose Bounty, fame unto the Worlde imparts;
And with her glory, all the Worlde doeth fill:
The Queene of Diamonds, she cannot bee;
There is but one, ELIZA, thou art shee.

And thou art shee, O sacred Soveraigne;
Whom God hath helpt with his Al-mighty hand:
Blessing thy People, with thy peacefull raigne;
And made this little Land, a happy Land:
May all those live, that wish long Life to thee,
And all the rest, perish eternally.

The tyme was once, when faire Pecunia, here
Did basely goe attyred all in Leather:
But since her raigne, she never did appeere
But richly clad; in Golde, or Silver either:
Nor reason is it, that her Golden raigne
With baser Coyne, eclypsed should remaine.

And as the Coyne she hath repurifyde,
From baser substance, to the purest Mettels:
Religion so, hath shee refinde beside,
From Papistrie, to Truth; which daily settles
Within her Peoples harts; though some there bee,
That cleave unto their wonted Papistrie.

No flocke of sheepe, but some are still infected:
No peece of Lawne so pure, but hath some fret:
All buildings are not strong, that are erected:
All Plants prove not, that in good ground are set:
Some tares are sowne, amongst the choicest seed:
No garden can be cleansd of every Weede.

But now to her, whose praise is here pretended,
(Divine Pecunia) fairer then the morne:
Which cannot be sufficiently commended;
Whose Sun-bright Beauty doeth the Worlde adorne,
Adorns the World, but specially the Purse;
Without whose pressence, nothing can be woorse.

Not faire Haesione (King Priams sister)
Did ever showe more Beauty, in her face,
Then can this lovely Lady, if it list her
To showe her selfe; admir'd for comely grace:
Which neither Age can weare, nor Tyme conclude;
For why, her Beauty yeerely is renude.

New Coyne is coynd each yeare, within the Tower;
So that her Beauty never can decay:
Which to resist, no mortall man hath Power,
When as she doeth her glorious Beames display.
Nor doeth Pecunia, onely please the eie,
But charms the eare, with heavenly Harmonie.

Lyke to an other Orpheus, can she play
Upon her treble Harpe, whose silver sound
Inchaunts the eare, and steales the hart away:
Nor hardly can deceit, therein be found.
Although such Musique, some a Shilling cost,
Yet is it worth but Nine-pence, at the most.

Had I the sweet inchaunting Tongue of Tully,
That charmd the hearers, lyke the Syrens Song;
Yet could I not describe the Prayses fully,
Which to Pecunia justly doe belong.
Let it suffice, her Beauty doeth excell:
Whose praise no Pen can paint, no Tongue can tell.

Then how shall I describe, with artlesse Pen,
The praise of her, whose praise, all praise surmounteth?
Breeding amazement, in the mindes of men:
Of whom, this pressent Age so much accounteth.
Varietie of Words, would sooner want,
Then store of plentious matter, would be scant.

Whether yee list, to looke into the Citty:
(Where money tempts the poore Beholders eye)
Or to the Countrey Townes, devoyde of Pitty:
(Where to the poore, each place doeth almes denye)
All Things for money now, are bought and solde,
That either hart can thinke, or eie beholde.

Nay more for money (as report doeth tell)
Thou mayst obtaine a Pardon for thy sinnes:
The Pope of Rome, for money will it sell;
(Whereby thy soule, no small salvation winnes)
But how can hee (of Pride the chiefe Beginner)
Forgive thy sinnes, that is himselfe a sinner?

Then, sith the Pope is subject unto sinne,
No marvell tho, divine Pecunia tempt him,
With her faire Beauty; whose good-will to winne,
Each one contends; and shall we then exempt him.
Did never mortall man, yet looke upon her,
But straightwaies he became, enamourd on her.

Yet would I wish, the Wight that loves her so,
And hath obtain'd, the like good-will againe,
To use her wisely, lest she prove his foe;
And so, instead of Pleasure, breed his paine.
She may be kyst; but shee must not be clypt:
Lest such Delight in bitter gall be dypt.

The juyce of grapes, which is a soveraigne Thing
To cheere the hart, and to revive the spirits;
Being usde immoderatly (in surfetting)
Rather Dispraise, then commendation merits:
Euen so Pecunia, is, as shee is used;
Good of her selfe, but bad if once abused.

With her, the Tenant payes his Landlords rent:
On her, depends the stay of every state:
To her, rich Pressents every day are sent:
In her, it rests to end all dire Debate:
Through her, to Wealth, is raisd the Countrey Boore:
From her, proceedes much proffit to the poore.

Then how can I, sufficiently commend,
Her Beauties worth, which makes the World to wonder?
Or end her prayse, whose prayses have no End?
Whose absence brings the stoutest stomack under:
Let it suffice, Pecunia hath no peere;
No Wight, no Beauty held; more faire, more deere.

HIS PRAYER TO PECUNIA.
Great Lady, sith I have compylde thy Prayse,
(According to my skill) and not thy merit:
And sought thy Fame above the starrs to rayse;
(Had I sweete Ovids vaine, or Virgills spirit)
I crave no more but this, for my good-will,
That in my Want, thou wilt supplye me still.

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