The London Prodigal, Act One, Scene One

Return to Dramatis Personæ

Enter OLD FLOWERDALE and his Brother.

 FATHER
Brother, from Venice, being thus disguised,
I come to prove the humours of my son.
How hath he borne himself since my departure,
I leaving you his patron and his guide?

UNCLE
I’faith, brother, so, as you will grieve to hear,
And I almost ashamed to report it.

FATHER
Why, how is’t, brother?  What, doth he spend beyond the allowance I left him?

 UNCLE
How!  Beyond that? And far more.  Why, your exhibition is nothing. He hath spent that and since hath borrowed, protested with oaths, alleged kindred to wring money from me.  By the love I bore his father, by the fortunes might fall upon himself, to furnish his wants.  That done, I have had since his bond, his friend and friend’s bond.  Although I know that he spends is yours, yet it grieves me to see the unbridled wildness that rains over him.

 FATHER
Brother, what is the manner of his life?  How is the name of his offences?  If they do not relish altogether of damnation, his youth may privilege his wantonness.  I myself ran an unbridled course till thirty; nay; almost till forty.  Well, you see how I am.  For vice, once looked into with the eyes of discretion, and well-balanced with the weights of reason, the course past seems so abominable that the landlord of himself, which is the heart of the body, will rather entomb himself in the earth or seek a new tenant to remain in him; which once settled, how much better are they that in their youth have known all these vices, and left it, than those that knew little, and in their age runs into it?  Believe me, brother, they that die most virtuous hath in their youth lived most vicious, and none knows the danger of the fire more than he that falls into it.  But say, how is the course of his life?  Let’s hear his particulars.

 UNCLE
Why, I’ll tell you, brother.  He is a continual swearer, and a breaker of his oaths, which is bad.

 FATHER
I grant indeed to swear is bad, but not in keeping those oaths is better; for who will set by a bad thing?  Nay, by my faith, I hold this rather a virtue than a vice.  Well, I pray, proceed.

 UNCLE
He is a mighty brawler, and comes commonly by the worst.

FATHER
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 man or child more to virtue than correction?  What reigns over him else?

UNCLE
He is a great drinker, and one that will forget himself.

FATHER
Oh, best of all!  Vice should be forgotten.  Let him drink on, so he drink not churches.  Nay, and this be the worst, I hold it rather a happiness in him than any iniquity.  Hath he any more attendants?

UNCLE
Brother, he is one that will borrow of any man.

FATHER
Why, you see, so doth the sea; it borrows of all the small currents in the world, to increase himself.

UNCLE
Ay, but the sea pales it again, and so will never your son.

FATHER
No more would the sea neither, if it were as dry as my son.

UNCLE
Then, brother, I see you rather like these vices in your son, than any way condemn them.

FATHER
Nay, mistake me not, brother, for though I slur them over now, as things slight and nothing, his crimes being in the bud, it would gall my heart they should ever reign in him.

FLOWERDALE
[Within.] Ho!  Who’s within?  Ho!                                                              [Knocks.

UNCLE
That’s your son.  He is come to borrow more money.

FATHER
For God’s sake, 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 myself, which I’ll deliver him.

UNCLE
Go to, brother, no more.  I will.

FLOWERDALE
[Within.] Uncle, where are you.  Uncle!

UNCLE
Let my cousin in there.

FATHER
I am a sailor come from Venice, and my name is Christopher.

Enter FLOWERDALE.

 FLOWERDALE
By the Lord, in truth, Uncle—

UNCLE
“In truth” would a’ served, cousin, without the Lord.

FLOWERDALE
By you leave, Uncle, the Lord is the lord of truth.  A couple of rascals at the gate set upon me for my purse.

UNCLE
You never come, but you bring a brawl in your mouth.

FLOWERDALE
By my truth, Uncle, you must needs lend me ten pound.

UNCLE
Give my cousin some small beer here.

FLOWERDALE
Nay, look you, you turn it to a jest now.  By this light, I should ride to Croyden fair, to meet Sir Lancelot Spurcock.  I should have his daughter Luce, and for scurvy ten pound, a man shall lose nine hundred threescore and odd pounds and a daily friend beside.  By this hand, Uncle, ‘tis true.

UNCLE
Why, anything is true for aught I know.

FLOWERDALE
To see now!  Why, you shall have my bond, Uncle, or Tom White’s, James Brock’s, or Nick Hall’s; as good rapier and dagger men as any be in England.  Let’s be damned if we do not pay you.  The worst of us all will not damn ourselves for ten pound.  A pox of ten pound!

UNCLE
Cousin, this is not the first time I have believed you.

FLOWERDALE
Why, trust me now, you know not what may fall.  If one thing were but true, I would not greatly care.  I should not need ten pound, but when a man cannot be believed, there’s it.

UNCLE
Why, what is it, cousin?

FLOWERDALE
Marry, this, Uncle—can you tell me if the Katern-hue be come home or no?

UNCLE
Ay, marry is’t.

FLOWERDALE
By God, I thank you for that news.  What is’t in the pool.  Can you tell?

UNCLE
It is.  What of that?

FLOWERDALE
What?  Why then I have six pieces of velvet sent me.  I’ll give you a piece, Uncle, for thus said the letter:  a piece of ashcolour, a three-piled black, a colour de roi, a crimson, a sad green, nd a purple.  Yes, i’faith.

UNCLE
From whom should you receive this?

FLOWERDALE
From who?  Why, from my father, with commendations to you, Uncle, and thus he writes:  “I know,” says he, “thou hast much troubled thy kind uncle, whom, God willing, at my return I will see amply satisfied.”  “Amply,” I remember was the very word, so God help me.

UNCLE
Have you the letter here?

FLOWERDALE
Yes, I have the letter here.  Here is the letter.  No, yes, no, let me see.  What breeches wore I a’ Saturday?  Let me see.  A’ Thursday my Salamanca; a’ Wednesday my peach colour satin; a’ Thursday my velour; a; Friday my Salamanca again; a’ Saturday—let me see—for in these breeches I wore a’ Saturday is the letter.  Oh, my riding breeches, Uncle.  Those that you thought had been velvet.  In those very breeches is the letter.

UNCLE
When should it be dated?

FLOWERDALE
Marry, Decimo tertio septembris.  No, no.  Decimo tertio Octobris.  Aye, Octobris, so it is.

UNCLE
Decimo tertio Octobris.  And here receive I a letter that your father died in June.  How say you, Kester?

FATHER
Yes, truely, sir, your father is dead.  These hands of mine holp to wind him.

FLOWERDALE
Dead?

FATHER
Aye, sir, dead.

FLOWERDALE
S’blood, how should my father come dead?

FATHER
I’faith, sir, according to the old proverb, “The child was born and cried, became man, and after sick, and died.

UNCLE
Nay, cousin, do not take it so heavily.

FLOWERDALE
Nay, I cannot weep your extempore.  Marry, some two or three days hence I shall weep without any stintance.  But I hope he died in good memory.

FATHER
Very well, sir, and set down every thing in god order; and the Katherine and Hue you talked of, I came over in, and I saw all the bills of lading, and the velvet that you talked of.  There is no such aboard.

FLOWERDALE
By God, I assure you then, there is knavery abroad.

FATHER
I’ll be sworn of that.  There’s knavery abroad, although there were never a piece of velvet in Venice.

FLOWERDALE
I hope he died in god estate.

FATHER
To the report of the world he did, and made his will, of which I am an unworthy bearer.

FLOWERDALE
His will!  Have you his will?

FATHER
Yes, sir, and in the presence of your uncle I was willed to deliver it.

FLOWERDALE
I’ll do reason, Uncle, yet, i’faith.  I take the denial of this ten pound very hardly.

UNCLE
Nay, I denied you not.

FLOWERDALE
By God, you denied me directly.

UNCLE
I’ll be judged by this good fellow.

FATHER
Not directly, sir.

FLOWERDALE
Why, he said he would lend me none, and that had wont to be a direct denial, if the old phrase hold.  Well, Uncle, come, we’ll fall to the legacies.  [Reads.] “In the name of God, Amen.  Item:  I bequeath to my brother Flowerdale three hundred pounds to pay such trivial debts as I owe in London.  Item:  to my son Matt Flowerdale, I bequeath two bale of false dice; Videlicet, high men and low men, fullomes, stop cater traies, and other bones of function.”  S’blood, what does he mean by this?

UNCLE
Proceed, cousin.

FLOWERDALE
[Reads.] “These precepts I leave him.  Let him borrow of his oath, for of his word nobody will trust him.  Let him by no means marry an honest woman, for the to her will keep herself. Let him steal as much as he can, that a guilty conscience may bring him to his destinate repentance.”  I think he means hanging.  And this were his last will and testament, the devil stood laughing at his bed’s feet while he made it.  S’blood, what, doth he think to fop of his posterity with paradoxes?

FATHER
This he made, sir, with his own hands.

FLOWERDALE
Aye, well.  Nay, come, good Uncle, let me have this ten pound.  Imagine you have lost it, or been robbed of it, or misreckoned yourself so much.  Any way to make it come so easily off, good Uncle.

UNCLE
Not a penny.

FATHER
I’faith, let it him, sir.  I myself have an estate in the city worth twenty pound.  All that I’ll engage for him.  He saith it concerns him in a marriage.

FLOWERDALE
Aye, marry, it doth.  This is a fellow of some sense, this.  Come, good Uncle.

UNCLE
Will you give your word for it, Kester?

FATHER
I will, sir, willingly.

UNCLE
Well, cousin, come to me some hour hence, you shall have it ready.

FLOWERDALE
Shall I not fail?

UNCLE
You shall not, come or send.

FLOWERDALE
Nay, I’ll come myself.

FATHER
By my troth, would I were your worship’s man.

FLOWERDALE
What, wouldst thou serve?

FATHER
Very willingly, sir.

FLOWERDALE
Why, I’ll tell thee what thou shalt do.  Thou saith thou hast twenty pound.  Go into Burchin Land; put thyself into clothes.  Thou shalt ride with me to Croyden fair.

FATHER
I thank you, sir.  I will attend you.

FLOWERDALE
Well, Uncle, you will not fail me an hour hence?

UNCLE
I will not, cousin.

FLOWERDALE
What’s thy name?  Kester?

FATHER
Aye, sir.

FLOWERDALE
Well, provide thyself.  Uncle, farewell till noon.                                   [Exit.

UNCLE
Brother, how do you like your son?

FATHER
I’faith, brother, like a man unbridled colt
Or as a hawk that never stooped to lure;
The one must be tamed with an iron bit,
The other must be watched or still she is wild.
Such is my son.  Awhile let him be so,
For counsel still is folly’s deadly foe.
I’ll serve his youth, for youth must have his course.
For being restrained, it makes him ten times worse.
His pride, his riot, all that may be named
Time may recall, and all his madness tamed.                                 [Exeunt.

Proceed to the next scene

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