Nonfiction > Henry Craik, ed. > English Prose > Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century
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Henry Craik, ed.  English Prose.  1916.
Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century
 
A Rake’s Progress
By Thomas Lodge (1558–1625)
 
From An Alarum against Usurers

THUS, thus, alas! the father before his eyes, and in his elder years, beholdeth as in a mirror the desolation of his own house, and hearing of the profuseness of his ungracious son calleth him home, rebuketh him of his error, and requesteth an account of his money misspended. He (taught and instructed sufficiently to colour his folly by his ungodly mistress, and cursed misleader) at his return to his father maketh show of all honesty, so that the old man, led by natural affection, is almost persuaded that the truth is untruth; yet remembering the privy conveyance of his youthly years, and deeming them incident to his young son, he discourseth with him thus:
  1
  O, my son! if thou knewest thy father’s care, and wouldest answer it with thy well doing, I might have hope of the continuance of my progeny, and thou be a joy to my aged years. But, I fear me, the eyes of thy reason are blinded, so that neither thy father’s tears may persuade thee, nor thine own follies laid open before thine eyes reduce thee, but that my name shall cease in thee, and other covetous underminers shall enjoy the fruits of my long labours. How tenderly, good boy, in thy mother’s life wast thou cherished! How dearly beloved! How well instructed! Did I ever entice thee to vice? Nay, rather enforced I thee not to love virtue? And whence cometh it that all these good instructions are swallowed up by one sea of thy folly? In the universities thy wit was praised, for that it was pregnant; thy preferment great, for that thou deservedst it; so that, before God, I did imagine that my honour should have beginning in thee alone, and be continued by thy offspring; but being by me brought to the Inns of Court, a place of abode for our English gentry, and the only nursery of true learning, I find thy nature quite altered, and where thou first shouldest have learnt law, thou art become lawless. Thy modest attire is become immodest bravery; thy shamefast seemliness to shameless impudency; thy desire of learning to loitering love; and from a sworn soldier of the muses, thou art become a master in the university of love; and where thou knowest not any way to get, yet fearest thou not outrageously to spend. Report, nay, true report, hath made me privy to many of thy escapes, 1 which as a father though I cover, yet as a good father tenderly I will rebuke. Thy portion by year from me is standing forty pounds, which of itself is sufficient both to maintain you honestly and cleanly: besides this, you are grown in arrearages within this two years no less than 100 pound, which, if thou wilt look into, is sufficient for three whole years to maintain an honest family. Now, how hast thou spent this? forsooth in apparel; and that is the aptest excuse, and lavishness in that is as discommendable as in any other. If in apparel thou pass thy bounds, what make men of thee? A prodigal proud fool; and as many fashions as they see in thee, so many frumps 2 will they afford thee, counting thee to carry more bombast about thy body, than wit in thy head. Nay, my son, muse not upon the world, for that will but flatter thee, but weigh the judgment of God, and let that terrify thee; and let not that which is the cause of pride nussell 3 thee up as an instrument of God’s wrathful indignation. What account reaps a young man by brave attire? Of the wise he is counted riotous; of the flatterer a man easily to be seduced; and where one will afford thee praise, a thousand will call thee proud. The greatest reward of thy bravery is this,—“See, yonder goes a gallant young gentleman.” And count you this praise worth ten score pounds? Truly, son, it is better to be accounted witty than wealthy, and righteous than rich: praise lasteth for a moment that is grounded on shows, and fame remaineth after death that proceedeth of good substance. Choose whether thou wilt be infamous with Erostratus, or renowned with Aristides; by one thou shalt bear the name of sacrilege, by the other the title of just: the first may flatter thee with similitude, the last will honour thee indeed, and more when thou art dead. Son, son, give ear to thy father’s instructions, and ground them in thy heart; so shalt thou be blessed among the elders, and be an eyesore unto thy enemies.  2
 
Note 1. escapes = escapades or freaks. [back]
Note 2. frumps = gibes or flouts. [back]
Note 3. nussell, or nousle, = nurse. [back]
 
 
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