"The Lucre of Marchandie": Poet, Patron, and Payment in Gower's "Confessio Amantis."

Gastle, Brian L.

"The Lucre of Marchandie": Poet, Patron, and Payment in Gower's "Confessio Amantis."

Gastle, Brian L. "'The Lucre of Marchandie': Poet, Patron, and Payment in Gower's "Confessio Amantis'." In Russell A. Peck and R. F. Yeager, eds. John Gower: Others and the Self. Publications of the John Gower Society XI (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2017), pp. 283-94.

This essay focuses on the specifically "Ricardian" dedicatory passages at the beginning and end of the CA as compared with the passages that replaced them in "recensions" of the CA addressed to Henry IV. As Gower describes his chance encounter with Richard II on the royal barge in Ricardian version of the poem, he received a "charge" from his king to perform the "busynesse" of manufacturing a product, a poem (285, citing CA Prol.47-56*). The poet's humble service and the commercial quality of the transaction are reinforced in the closing dedicatory passage of the Ricardian version (CA VIII.3050-52*, discussed at 289). In the replacement passage found in the Henrician Prologue, Gower abandons the persona of the dependent/supplicant to state his authorial intention with a bold first person indicative verb (CA Prol.52-52, 62-63, discussed at 289). In the final dedicatory passage as found in the Henrician version, Gower deleted the suggestion of patronage by expressing his moral agenda--to advise on the common good--in first person indicative constructions, with himself as subject, and with no suggestion of subservience or hope of royal favor (291). In the same passage, he indicates his discomfort with the "business" of exchanging payment for product—"the lucre of marchandie" (CA VIII.3037, discussed at 292)—as tending to corruption. It seems his intent was to establish a moral voice independent of patronage: "In the end, his most significant allegiance is neither to Richard nor to Henry, but to his craft" (294). [LBB. Copyright. John Gower Society. JGN 36.2].


Gower Subjects
Confessio Amantis
Biography of Gower