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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)

    The London Prodigal.
    The holy Church-man pronounc'd these words but now,
    I must not leave my Husband in distresse:
    Now I must comfort him, not go with you.
    1155Lance. Comfort a cozener? on my curse forsake him:
    Luc. This day you caused me on your curse to take him:
    Do not I pray my grieved soul oppresse,
    God knows my heart doth bleed at his distresse.
    Lan. O M. Weathercock, I must confess I forc'd her to (this match.
    1160Led with opinion his false will was true.
    Wea. A, he hath over-reached me too.
    Lan. She might have liv'd like Delia, in a happy Vir-
    gins stato.
    Delia. Father, be patient, sorrow comes too late.
    1165Lance. And on her knees she begg'd and did entreat,
    If she must needs taste a sad marriage life,
    She craved to be Sir Arthur Greensheild's Wife.
    Ar. You have done her and me the greater wrong.
    Lance. O take her yet.
    1170Arthur. Not I.
    Lanc. Or M. Oliver, accept my Child, and half my
    wealth is yours.
    Oli. No, sir, chill break no Lawes.
    Luce. Never fear, she will not trouble you.
    1175Delia. Yet, sister, in this passion doe not run head-
    long to confusion. You may affect him, though not fol-
    low him.
    Frank. Doe, sister, hang him, let him go.
    Wea. Doe faith, Mistresse Luce, leave him.
    1180Luc. You are three grosse fooles, let me alone,
    I swear I'le live with him in all moan.
    Oli. But an he have his Legs at liberty,
    Cham aveard he will never live with you.
    Art. I, but he is now in hucksters handling for run-
    1185ning away.
    Lanc. Huswife, you hear how you and I am wrong'd,
    and if you will redresse it yet you may:
    But if you stand on tearmes to follow him,
    Never come near my sight, nor look on me,
    1190Call me not Father, look not for a Groat,
    For all the portion I will this day give
    Unto thy sister Frances.
    Fran. How say you to that, Tom? I shall have a good (deale,
    Besides I'le be a good Wife, and a good Wife
    1195Is a good thing I can tell.
    Civ. Peace, Franck, I would be sorry to see thy sister
    Cast away, as I am a Gentleman.
    Lance. What, are you yet resolved?
    Luc. Yes, I am resolved.
    1200Lanc. Come then away, or now, or never come.
    Luc. This way I turn, go you unto your feast,
    And I to weep, that am with grief opprest.
    Lanc. For ever flie my sight: come, Gentlemen,
    Let's in, I'le help you to far better Wives then her.
    1205Delia, upon my blessing talk not to her,
    Base Baggage, in such haste to beggery?
    Unc. Sheriffe, take your prisoner to your charge.
    Flo. Unckle, be-god you have us'd me very hardly,
    By my troth, upon my wedding Day.

    1210Exeunt all: young Flowerdale, his Father, Unckle,
    Sheriffe, and Officers

    Luc. O, M. Flowerdale, but hear me speak,
    Stay but a little while, good M. Sheriffe,
    If not for him, for my sake pitty him:
    1215Good sir, stop not your cares at my complaint,
    My voyce growes weak, for womens words are faint.
    Flow. Look you, she kneeles to you.
    Unc. Fair maid, for you, I love you with my heart,
    And grieve, sweet soul, thy fortune is so bad,
    1220That thou should'st match with such a gracelesse Youth,
    Go to thy Father, think not upon him,
    Whom Hell hath mark'd to be the son of shame.
    Luc. Impute his wildnesse, sir, unto his youth,
    And think that now is the time he doth repent:
    1225Alass, what good or gain can you receive,
    To imprison him that nothing hath to pay?
    And where nought is, the King doth lose his due,
    O pitty him as God shall pitty you.
    Unc. Lady, I know his humours all too well,
    1230And nothing in the world can doe him good,
    But misery it self to chain him with.
    Luc. Say that your debts were paid, then is he free?
    Unc. I, Virgin, that being answered, I have done.
    But to him that is all as impossible,
    1235As I to scale the high Piramidies.
    Sheriffe, take your Prisoner, Maiden, fare thee well.
    Luc. O go not yet, good M. Flowerdale:
    Take my word for the debt, my word, my bond.
    Flow. I, by God, Unckle, and my bond too.
    1240Luc. Alass, I ne're ought nothing but I paid it;
    And I can work, alass, he can doe nothing:
    I have some friends perhaps will pity me,
    His chiefest friends doe seek his misery.
    All that I can, or beg, get, or receive,
    1245Shall be for you: O doe not turn away:
    Me thinks within a face so reverent,
    So well experienced in this tottering world,
    Should have some feeling of a maidens grief:
    For my sake, his Fathers and your Brothers sake,
    1250I, for your souls sake that doth hope for joy,
    Pitty my state, doe not two soules destroy.
    Vnc. Fair maid, stand up, not in regard of him,
    But in pitty of thy haplesse choyce,
    I doe release him: M. Sheriffe, I thank you:
    1255And Officers, there is for you to drink.
    Here, maid, take this money, there is a hundred Angels;
    And for I will be sure he shall not have it,
    Here, Kester, take it you, and use it sparingly,
    But let not her have any want at all.
    1260Dry your eyes, Niece, doe not too much lament
    For him, whose life hath been in riot spent:
    If well he useth thee, he gets him friends,
    If ill, a shamefull end on him depends.
    Exit Vncle.
    1265Flow. A plague go with you for an old fornicator:
    Come, Kit, the money, come, honest Kit.
    Fath. Nay by my faith, sir, you shall pardon me.
    Flow. And why, sir, pardon you? give me the money,
    You old Rascall, or I shall make you.
    1270Luc. Pray hold your hands, give it him honest friend.
    Fath. If you be so content, withall my heart.
    Flow. Content, sir, 'sblood she shall be content
    Whether she will or no. A rattle-baby come to follow me?
    Go, get you gone to the greasie chuffe your Father,
    1275Bring me your Dowry, or never look on me.
    Fath Sir, she hath forsook her Father, and all her
    friends for you.
    Flow. Hang thee, her friends and Father altogether.
    Fath. Yet part with something to provide her lodging.
    1280Flo. Yes, I mean to part with her and you, but if I
    part with one Angel, hang me at a poste. I'le rather