THE HONEST MAN'S FORTUNE
The manuscript text (MS Dyce 9) reports that it was played in 1613; Sir Henry Herbert's comment at the end of the manuscript, supported by a note in his office-book, indicates that, in 1624, the original was lost but the play was being "re-allowed."
re-licensed 8 February 1624
a synoptic, alphabetical character list
Brother to Lady Orleans and neutral in the conflict between Orleans and Montaigne, Amiens nearly duels with Orleans when Orleans accuses Lady Orleans of adultery but is stopped by Lady Orleans's false confession, whereupon he goes to duel with Montaigne. Lady Orleans prevents that duel as well by admitting that she lied about having committed adultery in order to prevent the first duel. Amiens does not fight Montaigne, but neither does he help Lady Orleans, who is homeless and penniless. Amiens hears that Longavile has been dueling on Amiens' behalf and goes to duel him for his presumption, but Longavile's noble behavior wins him over, and Amiens takes Longavile into service. Amiens employs Longavile as a messenger to carry a love-letter to Lamira and a challenge to Orleans; Amiens goes to duel Orleans, but the duel is prevented by Longavile's actions. Amiens is believed to be Lamira's choice as husband, but accedes graciously to Lamira's choice of Montaigne as husband and blesses the wedding.
Lamira's woman, Charlotte woos Montaigne and eventually wins his agreement to marry her; when Lamira chooses Montaigne as her husband, however, Charlotte reveals that Charlotte had wooed Montaigne on Lamira's behalf, and she relinquishes her claim on Montaigne. Although Charlotte originally suspects Veramour of being a girl in disguise, she is soon convinced.
CREDITORS, FIRST, SECOND, and THIRD
These unnamed First, Second, and Third Creditors who, under Mallicorne's directions, have Montaigne arrested for non-payment of minor debts.
CREDITORS, FIRST and SECOND: WAITING
These two Creditors wait eagerly to find out whether Montaigne will win his case. They are paid even though they lose.
A loyal servant of Montaigne, Duboys pretends to be Longavile's and Amiens's enemy in order to take service with Orleans while continuing to serve Montaigne's interests. He disobeys Orleans' order to kill Montaigne, instead saving him from arrest and helping him to flee.
DUKE of ORLEANS
When the play begins, the Duke of Orleans is suing Montaigne for lands in Montaigne's possession. Envious of Montaigne's popularity and resentful that Montaigne was originally his wife's preference as husband, Orleans believes that Lady Orleans has been cuckolding him. He throws her out of the house to live with Montaigne as soon as Montaigne loses the court case. Orleans rewards Duboys for defending his name in a tavern dispute and takes Duboys into his service. Duboys offers to kill Montaigne for Orleans, which offer Orleans accepts; unbeknownst to Orleans, Duboys saves Montaigne from prison instead of killing him. Orleans and Amiens once again prepare to duel; Orleans rejects all efforts to prevent the duel until Longavile takes one of the dueling pistols, declares he will kill Orleans for the good of mankind, and shoots. Lady Orleans falls, and Orleans repents his harshness to his wife. Fortunately, Lady Orleans simply fainted from fear that Orleans had been shot, and the two are reconciled. During the final feast, Orleans also admits having cheated in the court case against Montaigne and returns Montaigne's lands.
Although Lady Orleans (also called Biancha) once favored Montaigne over the man who became her husband, the Duke of Orleans, she has been completely faithful to Orleans since their marriage; Orleans refuses to believe this, however, accusing her of having cuckolded him, and throws her out to live with the impoverished Montaigne. Lady Orleans demonstrates her loyalty to her husband and her brother by pretending that Orleans's accusations are true, thus preventing duels between Orleans and Amiens and then Amiens and Montaigne. After Lady Orleans resists Montaigne's feigned advances, he gives her half of his remaining money and sends her and Veramour, his page, to his friend Lamira, who welcomes them. Lamira compares marriage to slavery, but Lady Orleans maintains that no woman can be happy without a husband and defends her husband by claiming that he is only testing her. Lady Orleans hears that Orleans and Amiens once again intend to duel and goes to prevent the conflict, but when Longavile apparently shoots Orleans with a pistol, Lady Orleans herself collapses. Orleans, believing Lady Orleans to be dead, repents, and when Lady Orleans recovers from her faint, the two are reconciled.
An unmarried gentlewoman who prefers her estates in the country to the corruption at court, Lamira provides hospitality for Lady Orleans and Veramour and takes Montaigne into service when he becomes destitute. Lamira initially maintains that the unmarried life is the perfect state for women and rejects the suits of Mallicorne, La-poope and Laverdure but allows them to stay on her estate. She secretly admires Montaigne's restraint when insulted by Mallicorne, Lapoope and Laverdure. Lamira helps prevent the duel between Orleans and Amiens. After Orleans and Lady Orleans are reconciled, Lamira invites everyone to a feast where she will select a husband. At the feast, Lamira asks Montaigne who deserves her hand; Montaigne proposes Amiens, but Lamira chooses Montaigne because he has borne himself so humbly as her servant that she believes he will not abuse his power as her husband. Montaigne objects that he is betrothed to Charlotte, who releases him from his promise and says that she wooed him on behalf of Lamira. Lamira and Montaigne become engaged.
A captain who takes advantage of Montaigne's financial naivety in his straitened circumstances to bilk him out of money. He also is a rival for Lamira's hand. In the end, he is forced to apologize and make restitution.
A courtier who takes advantage of Montaigne's financial naivety in his straitened circumstances to bilk him out of money. He also is a rival for Lamira's hand. He believes that Veramour is a gentlewoman disguised as a page, and, after apologizing to Montaigne and offering to make restitution for his financial tricks, he asks for Veramour and is humiliated to discover that Veramour is in fact a boy.
LAWYERS, FIRST and SECOND
These two unnamed lawyers represent Montaigne in his legal defense against Orleans but insinuate it is Montaigne's fault when he loses.
A loyal servant to Montaigne, Longavile pretends to be Duboys' enemy in order to take service with Amiens while continuing to serve Montaigne's interests. Longavile also effects the reconciliation between Orleans and Lady Orleans by pretending to shoot Orleans.
Mallicorne is a merchant who takes advantage of Montaigne's financial naivety and straitened circumstances. He first bilks Montaigne out of money and then attempts to have him arrested for unpaid debts. He also is a rival for Lamira's hand. In the end, he is forced to apologize and make restitution.
Once a rival against Orleans for the woman who became Lady Orleans, Montaigne is sued by Orleans for lands in Montaigne's possession. When Orleans's suit is successful, Montaigne is virtually ruined; he determines never to spend excessively again so that he will be able to live within his means. He regretfully sends away Longavile and Duboys, but he does not send away the page, Veramour, who is too young to be on his own. Montaigne is prepared to defend Lady Orleans's reputation against Amiens, but this proves unnecessary; afterwards Montaigne pretends to try to seduce Lady Orleans, but when she resists, he tells her that he was testing her. He gives her half of his remaining money and sends her and Veramour to Lamira. He "invests" his remaining money with Mallicorne, La-poope and Laverdure, and then is arrested for non-payment of debts in a plot engineered by Mallicorne. With Duboys's help, Montaigne defeats the arresting officers and flees, mistakenly believing he has killed an officer, to Lamira's house, where Lamira hires him as a servant and he serves with noteworthy humility. Lamira's woman, Charlotte, woos Montaigne, who eventually agrees to marry her. Montaigne is unable at the duel to prevent Longavile's firing the pistol. At Lamira's feast, Montaigne is Lamira's chosen husband; Charlotte releases him from their engagement because she was wooing
Montaigne on Lamira's behalf.
OFFICERS, FIRST, SECOND, and THIRD
These three unnamed officers arrest Montaigne for non-payment of debts and fight when Duboys rescues Montaigne. The Third Officer is at first believed killed when Duboys rescues Montaigne; in fact, the officer has merely fallen from a kick.
Accompanies Amiens and Longavile to the duel; holds the pistols which Longavile seizes.
Helps to separate Longavile and Dubois in the tavern when they pretend to fight.
Carries messages within Lamira's house; refuses tips from Laverdure, La-poope, and Mallicorne.
SERVANTS, FIRST, SECOND, THIRD, and FOURTH
These four unnamed servants prepare Lamira's banquet and debate whom Lamira will choose as husband.
Montaigne's page, Veramour displays great loyalty and devotion to his master, even in his straitened circumstances. Veramour accompanies Lady Orleans to Lamira's estate. Laverdure believes that Veramour is a gentlewoman disguised as a page despite Veramour's denials. In the end, Veramour dresses as a woman and says that Laverdure is right; when Montaigne expresses disbelief, however, Veramour proves that he is in fact a boy and states that he dressed as a woman because it was the only way to silence Laverdure.