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  • Title: The London Prodigal (Folio 3, 1664)

  • Copyright Digital Renaissance Editions. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Authors: Anonymous, William Shakespeare
    Not Peer Reviewed

    The London Prodigal (Folio 3, 1664)

    The London PRODIGAL

    Written by W. Shakespeare.

    Enter old Flowerdale and his brother.
    Rother, from Venice, being thus disguis'd,
    I come to prove the humours of my son:
    5How hath he born himself since my departure,
    I leaving you his patron and his guide?
    Unc. Ifaith, brother, so as you will grieve to hear,
    And I almost asham'd to report it.
    Fath. Why how is't, brother? what doth he spend
    10Beyond the allowance I left him?
    Unc. How! beyond that? and far more: why, your
    exibition is nothing, he hath spent that, and since hath
    borrowed, protested with oaths, alledged kindred to
    wring money from me, by the love I bore his father, by
    15the fortunes might fall upon himself, to furnish his wants:
    that done, I have had since, his bond, his friend and friends
    bond, although I know that he spends is yours; yet it
    grieves me to see the unbridled wildnesse that raigns over
    20Fath. Brother, what is the manner of his life? how is
    the name of his offences? if they do not rellish altoge-
    ther of damnation, his youth may priviledge his wan-
    tonnesse: I my self ran an unbridled course till thirty, nay
    almost till forty; well, you see how I am: for vice once
    25looked into with the eyes of discretion, and well ballanced
    with the weights of reason, the course past, seems so abo-
    minable, that the Landlord of himself, which is the heart
    of his body, will rather intombe himself in the earth,
    or seek a new Tenant to remain in him, which once set-
    30tled, how much better are they that in their youth have
    known all these vices, and left it, then those that knew
    little, and in their age runs into it? Belive me, brother,
    they that die most vertuous, hath in their youth, lived
    most vicious, and none knows the danger of the fire, more
    35then he that falls into it: But say, how is the course of
    his life? let's hear his particulars.
    Unc. Why I'le tell you, brother, he is a continual swearer,
    And a breaker of his oaths, which is bad.
    Fath. I grant indeed to swear is bad, but not in keeping
    40those oaths is better: for who will set by a bad thing?
    Nay by my faith, I hold this rather a vertue then a vice,
    Well, I pray proceed.
    Unc. He is a mighty brawler, and comes commonly
    by the worst.
    45Fath. By my faith this is none of the worst neither,
    for if he brawl and be beaten for it, it will in time make
    him shun it: For what brings a man or child, more
    to vertue, then correction? What raigns over him else?
    Unc. He is a great drinker, and one that will forget
    Fa. Obest of all, vice should be forgotten: let him drink
    So he drink not Churches.
    Nay and this be the worst, I hold it rather happinesse in
    Then any iniquity. Hath he any more attendants?
    55Unc. Brother, he is one that will borrow of any man.
    Fa. Why you see so doth the sea, it borrows of all the
    Currents in the world, to encrease himself.
    Un. I, but the sea paies it again, & so will never your son.
    Fath. No more would the sea neither, if it were as dry
    60as my son.
    Unc. Then, brother, I see you rather like these vices in
    Then any way condemne them.
    Fath. Nay mistake me not, brother, for though I slur
    them over now,
    65As things slight and nothing, his crimes being in the bud,
    It would gall my heart, they should ever raign in him.
    Flow. Ho! who's within ho?
    Flowerdale knocks within.
    Unc. That's your son, he is come to borrow more
    Fath. For Godsake give it out I am dead, see how he'll
    take it,
    Say I have brought you news from his father.
    I have here drawn a formal will, as it were from my self,
    75Which I'le deliver him.
    Unc. Go too, brother, no more: I will.
    Flow. Uncle, where are you, Uncle?
    Unc. Let my cousin in there.
    Fath. I am a Saylor come from Venice, and my name
    80is Christopher.
    Enter Flowerdale.
    Flow. By the Lord, in truth Uncle.
    Unc. In truth would a serv'd, cousin, without the Lord.
    Flow. By your leave, Uncle, the Lord is the Lord of
    A couple of rascalls at the gate, set upon me for my purse.
    Unc. Yournever come, but you bring a brawl in your
    Flow. By my truth, Uncle, you must needs lend me ten
    90Unc. Give my cousin some small beer here.
    Flow. Nay look you, you turn it to a jest now, by
    this light,
    I should ride to Croydon Fayr, to meet sir Lancelot Spur-
    I should have his daughter Luce, and for scurvy
    95Ten pound, a man shall lose nine hundred three-score