Above All Thing Thow Arte a Kyng


1 And to wear their gorgeous clothing

2 In the highways there [are] splendid palfreys (saddle-horses)

3 "Nor provide lively entertainment, joyful welcome" (RHR)


Refrain, line 3. MS and Greene goste; RHR gost.

4 The word money in the margin appears to indicate the refrain after each quatrain for the first nine stanzas and also 11-12; stanzas 10 and 13-20 have the phrase money &c.

5 place thow makyste. MS palce tomakt thou makyste.

8 But thowght. MS but so thowght.

10 galandes. Gallants -- what later ages would call "swells" -- were fashionably-dressed young men. In moral lyrics they became symbols or topoi of pride and presumption. See, for example, "an acrostic on the name 'Galaunt' (built on the Seven Deadly Sins)" as printed in A Manual of the Writings in Middle English, 5:1469, and the three poems on galaunts mentioned on page 1470 (§§ 161-63). The MS seems to read garlandes rather than galandes (= RHR's and Greene's reading).

jett. Derives from Lat. and Fr jactare, jetter but has the sense of "to carry oneself confidently or conceitedly, to talk boastfully of oneself, to boast, brag, vaunt oneself, make an ostentatious display" (OED s.v. Jet v.1). See also The Simonie 118 and note.

13 the. So Greene and RHR; MS they (anticipation of hey weys).

15 dysguysynges. "Allegorical entertainments, the forerunners of the Tudor masques" (Greene).

17 wantyth. MS yt written above the line.

18 a mated chere. "With the air of one checkmated or baffled" (Greene, cited by RHR).

19 springe. So RHR; MS sprnge.

22 As kyng. MS and RHR at kyng; Greene As.

23 tables. Backgammon, as in Chaucer's Book of the Duchess, line 51: "Then playe either at ches or tables."

25 and knyght . . . wyghte. MS and & knyght . . . wyghe. Emendations by Greene and RHR.

28 Theyr. MS thery; RHR theyr, Greene Theyr.

33 incresse. MS Icresse; Greene, RHR emend to Incresse.

35 the. So MS; Greene emends to the[y]. RHR directs to line 67 (the crye), where Greene also reads the[y].

36 faders. MS fath faders.

39 oft. So MS and RHR; Greene of[t].

41 Westmyaster. MS wystmyaster; Greene emends to Westmynster, RHR to westmynster.

43 ther. So MS and Greene; RHR there.

45 Whatesoever. MS Whate so euery; RHR Whate-so-euer; Greene Whatsoeuer.

48 Shale prove not. So Greene and RHR; MS shale not proue not.

52 moyeny. So MS (e inserted above the line); RHR emends to money.

53 that be in. So MS and RHR; Greene that in.

55 Sum cutte. So RHR; MS Su[m] knowe cutte.

57 dothe. So MS and RHR; Greene doth.

60 peyne. So MS and RHR; Greene payne.

67 oft the. So MS; RHR of them. Greene reads of the[y].

75 moné. So MS and RHR; Greene emends to mone[y].

76 That he ys. So RHR; MS that he r ys. Greene That i heys.

79 Yt ys. MS ys yt ys.
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Above All Thing Thow Arte a Kyng

[Money, Money!]

(British Library MS Royal 17.B.xlvii fols. 160v-162r)

   Money, money, now hay goode day!
   Money, where haste thow be?
   Money, money, thow gost away
   And wylt not byde wyth me.
Above all thing thow arte a kyng,
   And rulyst the world over all;
Who lakythe the, all joy, pardé,
   Wyll sone then frome hym ffall!
In every place thow makyste solas,
   Gret joye, spoorte, and uelfare;
When money ys gone, comfort ys none,
   But thowght, sorowe, and care.
In kynges corte, where money dothe route,
   Yt makyth the galandes to jett,
And for to were gorgeouse ther gere, 1
   Ther cappes awry to sett.
In the heyweyes ther joly palfreys 2
   Yt makyght to lepe and praunce,
It maket justynges, pleys, dysguysynges,
   Ladys to synge and daunce.
For he that alway wantyth money
   Stondyth a mated chere,
Can never wel syng, lang daunce nor springe,
   Nor make no lusty chere. 3
At cardes and dyce yt bereth the pryce,
   As kyng and emperoure;
At tables, tennes, and al othere games,
   Money hathe ever the floure.
Wythe squyer and knyght and every wyghte
   Money maketh men fayne;
And causeth many in sume compeney
   Theyr felowes to dysdayne.
In marchandys who can devyse
   So good a ware, I say?
At al tymys the best ware ys
   Ever redy money.
Money to incresse, marchandys never to cease
   Wyth many a sotell wyle;
Men say the wolde for sylver and golde
   Ther owne faders begyle.
Women, I trowe, love money also
   To by them joly gere;
For that helpythe and oft causethe
   Women to loke full fayre.
In Westmyaster Hall the criers call;
   The sergeauntes plede apace.
Attorneys appere, now here, now ther,
   Renning in every place.
Whatesoever he be, and yf that he
   Whante money to plede the lawe,
Do whate he cane in ys mater than
   Shale prove not worthe a strawe.
I know yt not, but well I wotte
   I have harde often tymys tell,
Prestes use thys guyse, ther benefyce
   For moyeny to bey and sell.
Craftysmen that be in every cyté,
   They worke and never blynne;
Sum cutte, sume shave, sume knoke, sum grave,
   Only money to wynne.
The plowman hymselfe dothe dyge and delve
   In storme, snowe, frost, and rayne,
Money to get with laboure and swete,
   Yet small geynes and muche peyne.
And sume for money lye by the wey
   Another mannes purse to gett;
But they that long use yt amonge
   Ben hangyd by the neke.
The beggers eke in every strete
   Ly walowyng by the wey;
They begge, the crye, oft the cume by,
   And all ys but for money.
In every coste men love yt moste,
   In Ynglonde, Spayne, and Francs,
For every man lackyng yt than
   Is clene owte of countenaunce.
Of what degré so ever he be,
   Of werteouse conyng he have,
And wante moné, yet men wyll sey,
   That he ys but a knave.
Where indede, so God me spede,
   Sey all men whate they cane;
Yt ys allwayes sene nowadayes
   That money makythe the man.
have a
rule; everywhere
worships thee; by God
soon; from; (see note)
comfort; (see note)
diversion; prosperity
anxiety; (see note)
court; gather
gallants; swagger; (see note)
(see note)
jousts; masquerades; (see note)
always lacks; (see note)
flustered countenance; (see note)
long; (see note)
(see note)
backgammon, tennis; (see note)
is foremost
person; (see note)
(see note)
(see note)
subtle ruse
they; (see note)
deceive; (see note)
buy; apparel
(see note)
Westminster; (see note)
(see note)
(see note)
Lacks; plead
Whatever he can do in his lawsuit then
(see note)
buy; (see note)
Guildsmen; (see note)
hammer; engrave; (see note)
dig; (see note)
gains; (see note)
wait in ambush
Lie wallowing
they; (see note)
England; France
Is utterly humiliated
useful scholarship
If [he] lacks money; (see note)
(see note)
whatever they can
(see note)

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