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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
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    The London Prodigal (Folio 3, 1664)

    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
    and odde pounds, and a daily friend beside, by this hand,
    Uncle, 'tis true.
    Unc. Why, any thing is true for ought I know.
    Flow. To see now: why you shall have my bond Un-
    100cle, or Tom Whites, James Brocks: or Nick Halls, as
    good rapier and dagger men, as any be in England, let's
    be damn'd if we do not pay you, the worst of us all will
    not damne our selves for ten pound. A pox of ten pound.
    Unc.Cousin, this is not the first time I have believ'd you.
    105Flow. Why trust me now, you know not what my fall:
    If one thing were but true, I would not greatly care,
    I should not need ten pound, but when a man cannot be
    believ'd, there's it.
    Unc. Why what is it, cousin?
    110Flow. Marry this Uncle, can you tell me if the Katern-
    hue be come home or no?
    Unc. I marry is't.
    Flow. By God I thank you for that news.
    What is't in the pool can you tell?
    115Unc. It is; what of that?
    Flow. What? why then I have six pieces of velvet sent
    I'le give you a piece, Uncle: for thus said the letter,
    A piece of Ash-colour, a three-pil'd black, a colour'd, de-
    A crimson, a sad green, and a purple: yes ifaith.
    120Unc. From whom should you receive this?
    Flow. From who? why from my father? with com-
    mendations to you, Uncle, and thus he writes: I know,
    saith he, thou hast much troubled thy kind Unkle, whom
    God-willing at my return I will see amply satisfied;
    125Amply, I remember was the very word; so God help me.
    Unc. Have you the letter here?
    Flo. Yes I have the letter here, here is the letter: no, yes,
    no, let me see, what breeches wore I on Saterday: let me
    see, a Tuesday, my Calymanka, a Wednesday, my peach-
    130colour Sattin, a Thursday my Vellure, a Friday my Ca-
    lymanka again, a Saterday, let me see, a Saterday, for in
    those breeches I wore a Saterday is the letter: O my ri-
    ding breeches, Uncle, those that you thought had been
    velvet, In those very breeches is the letter.
    135Unc. When should it be dated?
    Flow. Marry Didissimo tersios Septembris, no, no,
    tridissimo tertios Octobris, I Octobris, so it is.
    Unc.Dicditimo tersios Octobris: and here receive I a
    letter that your father died in June: how say you, Kester?
    140Fath. Yes truly, sir, your father is dead, these hands
    of mine holp to winde him.
    Flow. Dead?
    Fath. I, sir, dead.
    Flow. 'Sbloud, how should my father come dead?
    145Fath. Ifaith sir, according to the old Proverb,
    The child was born, and cryed, became man,
    After fell sick, and died.
    Unc. Nay, cousin, do not take it so heavily.
    Flow. Nay I cannot weep you extempory, marry
    150some two or three dayes hence, I shall weep without any
    stintance. But I hope he dyed in good memory.
    Fath. Very well, sir, and set down every thing in
    good order,
    And the Katherine and Hue you talkt of, I came over in;
    155And I saw all the bills of lading, and the velvet
    That you talkt of, there is no such aboard.
    Flo. By God I assure you, then there is knavery abroad.
    Fath. I'le be sworn of that: there's knavery abroad,
    Although there were never a piece of velvet in Venice.
    160Flow. I hope he died in good estate.
    Fath. To the report of the world he did, and made his
    Of which I am an unworthy bearer.
    Flow. His will, have you his will?
    Fath. Yes, sir, and in the presence of your Uncle,
    165I was willed to deliver it.
    Unc. I hope, cousin, now God hath blessed you with
    wealth, you will not be unmindfull of me.
    Flow. I'le do reason, Unkle; yet ifaith I take the
    denial of this ten pound very hardly.
    170Unc. Nay I deny'd you not.
    Flow. By God you deni'd me directly.
    Unc. I'le be judg'd by this good-fellow.
    Fath. Not directly, sir.
    Flow. Why he said he would lend me none, and that
    175had wont to be a direct denial, if the old phrase hold:
    Well, Uncle, come we'll fall to the Legasies,
    In the name of God, Amen.
    Item, I bequeath to my brother Flowerdale, three hun-
    dred pounds, to pay such trivial debts as I owe in London.
    180Item, to my son Mat Flowerdale, I bequeath two bail
    of false dice, Videllicet, high men and low men, fullomes,
    stop cater traies, and other bones of function.
    Flow. 'Sbloud what doth he mean by this?
    Unc. Proceed, Cousin.
    185Flow. These precepts I leave him, let him borrow of his
    For of his word no body will trust him.
    Let him by no means marry an honest woman,
    For the other will keep her self.
    Let him steal as much as he can, that a guilty conscience
    190May bring him to this destinate repentance,
    I think he means hanging. And this were his last will
    and Testament, the Devil stood laughing at his beds
    feet while he made it. 'Sbloud, what doth he think to fop
    off his posterity with Paradoxes.
    195Fath. This he made, sir, with his own hands.
    Flow. I, well, nay come, good Uncle, let me have this
    ten pound, Imagine you have lost it, or rob'd of it, or
    misreckon'd your self so much: any way to make it come
    easily off, good Uncle.
    200Unc. Not a penny.
    Fath. Ifaith lend it him, sir,; I my self have an e-
    state in the City worth twenty pound, all that I'le ingage
    for him, he saith it concerns him in a marriage.
    Flow.I marry doth it, this is a fellow of some sense,
    205this: come, good Uncle.
    Unc. Will you give your word for it, Kester?
    Fath. I will, sir, willingly.
    Unc. Well, cousin, come to me some hour hence, you
    shall have it ready.
    210Flow. Shall I not fail?
    Unc. You shall not, come or send.
    Flow. Nay I'le come my self.
    Fath. By my troth, would I were your worships man.
    Flow. What? would'st thou serve?
    215Fath. Very willingly, sir.
    Flow. Why I'le tell thee what thou shalt do, thou
    saist thou hast twenty pound, go into Burchin Lane,
    put thy self into cloaths, thou shalt ride with me to
    Croyden Fayr.
    220Fath.I thank you, sir, I will attend you.
    Flow. Well, Uncle, you will not fail me an hour hence.
    Unc. I will not, cousin.
    Flow. What's thy name, Kester?
    Fath. I, sir.
    Flo. Well, provide thy self: Uncle, farewell till anon.
    Exit Flowerdale.
    Unc. Brother, how do you like your son?
    Fath. Ifaith brother, like a mad unbridled colt,
    Or as a Hawk, that never stoop'd to lure:
    The one must be tamed with an iron bit,
    230The other must be watch'd, or still she is wild,
    Such is my son, a while let him be so;
    For counsel still is follies deadly foe.
    I'le serve his youth, for youth must have his course,
    For being restrain'd, it makes him ten times worse:
    235His pride, his riot, all that may
    be nam'd,
    Time may recall, and all his madnesse tam'd.