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Within these few months; then you were the gallant:
No meeting at the horse-race, cocking, hunting,
Shooting, or bowling, at which Master Luke
Was not a principal gamester, and companion
For the nobility.
Luke. I have paid dear
For those follies, my good lord; and 'tis but justice
That such as soar above their pitch, and will not
Be warn'd by my example, should, like me,
Share in the miseries that wait upon it.
Your honour, in your charity, may do well
Not to upbraid me with those weaknesses,
Too late repented.
L. Lacy. I nor do, nor will;
And you shall find I'll lend a helping hand
To raise your fortunes : how deals your brother with you?
Luke. Beyond my merit, I thank his goodness for 't.
I am a free man, all
debts discharged ; Nor does one creditor, undone by me, Curse
loose riots. I have meat and clothes,
Time to ask heaven remission for what 's past;
Cares of the world by me are laid aside,
My present poverty's a blessing to me;
And though I have been long, I dare not say
I ever lived till now.
SCENE III. The extravagance and pride of “ The City Madam" and her daughters, who have rejected the suit of two bonourable men in the wantonness of their ambition, determine Sir John Frugal, in concert with Lord Lacy, to give out that he has retired into a monastery, and has left all his riches to his brother. Luke soliloquizes upon his great
Luke. 'Twas no fantastic object, but a truth,
A real truth; nor dream: I did not slumber,
And could wake ever with a brooding eye
To gaze upon 't! it did endure the touch ;
I saw and felt it! Yet what I beheld
And handled oft, did so transcend belief,
(My wonder and astonishment pass'd o’er,)
I faintly could give credit to my senses.
Thou dumb magician,-[Taking out a key] --that without a charm
Didst make my entrance easy, to possess
What wise men wish, and toil for! Hermes' moly,
Sibylla's golden bough, the great elixir,
Imagined only by the alchemist,
Compared with thee are shadows, -thou the substance,
And guardian of felicity! No marvel
My brother made thy place of rest his bosom,
Thou being the keeper of his heart, a mistress
To be hugg'd ever! In by-corners of
This sacred room, silver in bags, heap'd up
Like billets saw'd and ready for the fire,
Unworthy to hold fellowship with bright gold
That flow'd about the room, conceal'd itself.
There needs no artificial light; the splendour
Makes a perpetual day there, night and darkness
By that still-burning lamp for ever banish'd !
But when, guided by that, my eyes had made
Discovery of the caskets, and they open'd,
Each sparkling diamond, from itself, shot forth
A pyramid of flames, and, in the roof,
Fix'd it a glorious star, and made the place
Heaven's abstract, or epitome !-rubies, sapphires,
And ropes of orient pearl, these seen, I could not
But look on with contempt. And yet I found,
What weak credulity could have no faith in,
A treasure far exceeding these : here lay
A manor bound fast in a skin of parchment,
The wax continuing hard, the acres melting;
Here a sure deed of gift for a market-town,
If not redeem'd this day, which is not in
The unthrift's power; there being scarce one shire
In Wales or England, where my monies are not
Lent out at usury, the certain hook
To draw in more. I am sublimed!
Supports me not; I walk on air.
Luke, who, in his abasement, was all gentleness and humility, treats his brother's creditors with the most wanton harshness; and degrades his sister-in-law and nieces to the condition of menials. The ladies appear before him, clothed in the coarsest weeds :Luke. Save
I now dare style you so: you were before
Too glorious to be look'd on, now you appear
Like a city matron; and my pretty nieces
Such things as were born and bred there. Why should you ape
The fashions of court-ladies, whose high titles,
And pedigrees of long descent, give warrant
For their superfluous bravery ? 'twas monstrous :
Till now you ne'er look'd lovely.
L. Frugal. Is this spoken
In scorn ?
Luke. Fie ! no; with judgement. I make good
My promise, and now shew you like yourselves,
In your own natural shapes; and stand resolved
You shall continue so.
L. Frugal. It is confess'd, sir.
Luke. Sir! sirrah: use your old phrase, I can bear it.
L. Frugal. That, if you please, forgotten, we acknowledge
We have deserv'd ill from you; yet despair not,
Though we are at your disposure, you 'll maintain us
Like your brother's wife and daughters.
Luke. 'Tis my purpose.
L. Frugal. And not make us ridiculous.
Luke. Admired rather,
As fair examples for our proud city dames,
And their proud brood to imitate. Do not frown;
If you do, I laugh, and glory that I have
power, in you, to scourge a general vice,
And rise up a new satirist : but hear gently,
And in a gentle phrase I'll reprehend
Your late disguised deformity, and cry up
This decency and neatness, with the advantage
You shall receive by 't.
L. Frugal. We are bound to hear you.
Luke. With a soul inclined to learn. Your father was An honest country farmer, goodman Humble, By his neighbours ne'er call’d master. Did your pride Descend from him? but let that pass : your fortune, Or rather your husband's industry, advanced you To the rank of a merchant's wife. He made a knight, And your sweet mistress-ship ladyfied, you wore Satin on solemn days, a chain of gold, A velvet hood, rich borders, and sometimes A dainty miniver-cap, a silver pin, Headed with a pearl worth three-pence, and thus far You were privileged, and no man envied it; It being for the city's honour that There should be a distinction between The wife of a patrician, and plebeian. Milliscent. Pray you, leave preaching, or choose some other
Your rhetoric is too moving, for it makes
Your auditory weep.
Luke. Peace, chattering magpie !
I'll treat of you anon :- but when the height
And dignity of London's blessings grew
Contemptible, and the name lady mayoress
Became a by-word, and you scorn'd the means
By which you were raised, my brother's fond indulgence,
Giving the reins to it; and no object pleased you
But the glittering pomp and bravery of the court;
What a strange, nay, monstrous, metamorphosis follow'd !
No English workman then could please your fancy,
The French and Tuscan dress your whole discourse ;
This bawd to prodigality, entertain'd
To buzz into your ears what shape this countess
Appear’d in the last masque, and how it drew
eyes upon her; and this usher
Succeeded in the eldest prentice' place,
To walk before you-
L. Frugal. Pray you, end.
Holdfast (Sir John Frugal's steward). Proceed, sir;
I could fast almost a prenticeship to hear you,
You touch them so to the quick.
Luke. Then, as I said,
The reverend hood cast off, your borrow'd hair,
Powder'd and curl'd, was by your dresser's art
Form'd like a coronet, hang'd with diamonds,
And the richest orient pearl ; your
That did adorn your neck, of equal value:
Your Hungerland bands, and Spanish quellio ruffs ;
Great lords and ladies feasted to survey
Embroider'd petticoats ; and sickness feign'd,
That your night-rails of forty pounds a-piece
Might be seen, with envy, of the visitants ;
Rich pantofles in ostentation shewn,
And roses worth a family : you were served in plate,
Stirr'd not a foot without your coach, and going
To church, not for devotion, but to shew
Your pomp, you were tickled when the beggars cried,
Heaven save you honour! this idolatry
Paid to a painted room.
And when you lay
In childbed, at the christening of this minx,
I well remember it, as you had been
An absolute princess, since they have no more,
Three several chambers hung, the first with arras,
And that for waiters; the second crimson satin,
For the meaner sort of guests; the third of scarlet
Of the rich Tyrian die ; a canopy
To cover the brat's cradle; you in state,
Like Pompey's Julia.
L. Frugal. No more, I pray you.
Luke. Of this, be sure, you