Page images
[blocks in formation]

Before the Palace of Antioch.
Enter GOWER.

To sing a song that old was sung,
From ashes ancient Gower is come,
Assuming man's infirmities,

To glad your ear, and please your eyes.
It hath been sung at festivals,
On ember-eves, and holy-ales;

And lords and ladies in their lives
Have read it for restoratives:

The purchase is to make men glorious;
Et bonum quo antiquius, eo melius.
If you, born in these latter times,


When wit's more ripe, accept my rimes, 12
And that to hear an old man sing
May to your wishes pleasure bring,
I life would wish, and that I might
Waste it for you like taper-light.

This Antioch, then, Antiochus the Great
Built up, this city, for his chiefest seat,
The fairest in all Syria,

I tell you what mine authors say:
This king unto him took a fere,
Who died and left a female heir,
So buxom, blithe, and full of face
As heaven had lent her all his grace;
With whom the father liking took,
And her to incest did provoke.


Bad child, worse father! to entice his own
To evil should be done by none.


[blocks in formation]

What now ensues, to the judgment of your eye

I give, my cause who best can justify. [Exit.

SCENE I.-Antioch. A Room in the Palace. Enter ANTIOCHUS, PERICLES, and Attendants. Ant. Young Prince of Tyre, you have at large receiv'd

20 The danger of the task you undertake.


Per. I have, Antiochus, and, with a soul Embolden'd with the glory of her praise, Think death no hazard in this enterprise.

Ant. Bring in our daughter, clothed like a bride,

For the embracements even of Jove himself;

[blocks in formation]

You gods, that made me man, and sway in love,
That hath inflam'd desire in my breast
To taste the fruit of yon celestial tree
Or die in the adventure, be my helps,
As I am son and servant to your will,
To compass such a boundless happiness!
Ant. Prince Pericles,-


Per. That would be son to great Antiochus. Ant. Before thee stands this fair Hesperides, With golden fruit, but dangerous to be touch'd; For death-like dragons here affright thee hard: Her face, like heaven, enticeth thee to view Her countless glory, which desert must gain; And which, without desert, because thine eye 32 Presumes to reach, all thy whole heap must die. Yon sometime famous princes, like thyself, Drawn by report, adventurous by desire, Tell thee with speechless tongues and semblance pale,


That without covering, save yon field of stars,
They here stand martyrs, slain in Cupid's wars;
And with dead cheeks advise thee to desist
For going on death's net, whom none resist. 40
Per. Antiochus, I thank thee, who hath


My frail mortality to know itself,
And by those fearful objects to prepare
This body, like to them, to what I must;
For death remember'd should be like a mirror,
Who tells us life's but breath, to trust it error.
I'll make my will then; and as sick men do,
Who know the world, see heaven, but feeling


[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

Sharp physic is the last: but, O you powers! 72 That give heaven countless eyes to view men's acts,

Why cloud they not their sights perpetually,
If this be true, which makes me pale to read it?
Fair glass of light, I lov'd you, and could still,
Were not this glorious casket stor❜d with ill: 77
But I must tell you now my thoughts revolt;
For he's no man on whom perfections wait
That, knowing sin within, will touch the gate.
You're a fair viol, and your sense the strings,
Who, finger'd to make men his lawful music,
Would draw heaven down and all the gods to

But being play'd upon before your time,
Hell only danceth at so harsh a chime.
Good sooth, I care not for you.


Ant. Prince Pericles, touch not, upon thy life,

For that's an article within our law,


[blocks in formation]

Few love to hear the sins they love to act;
'Twould braid yourself too near for me to tell it.
Who has a book of all that monarchs do,
He's more secure to keep it shut than shown;
For vice repeated is like the wandering wind, 96
Blows dust in others' eyes, to spread itself;
And yet the end of all is bought thus dear,
The breath is gone, and the sore eyes see clear
To stop the air would hurt them. The blind
mole casts


Copp'd hills towards heaven, to tell the earth is throng'd

By man's oppression; and the poor worm doth die for 't.

Kings are earth's gods; in vice their law's their


[blocks in formation]

You're of our chamber, and our mind partakes
Her private actions to your secrecy;
And for your faithfulness we will advance you.
Thaliard, behold, here's poison, and here's

We hate the Prince of Tyre, and thou must kill

It fits thee not to ask the reason why,
112 Because we bid it. Say, is it done?
Thal. My lord, 'tis done.
Ant. Enough.



We might proceed to cancel of your days;
Yet hope, succeeding from so fair a tree
As your fair self, doth tune us otherwise:
Forty days longer we do respite you;
If by which time our secret be undone,
This mercy shows we'll joy in such a son:
And until then your entertain shall be
As doth befit our honour and your worth.
[Exeunt all but PERICLES.
Per. How courtesy would seem to cover sin,
When what is done is like a hypocrite,
The which is good in nothing but in sight!
If it be true that I interpret false,
Then were it certain you were not so bad
As with foul incest to abuse your soul;
Where now you're both a father and a son,
By your untimely claspings with your child,–
Which pleasure fits a husband, not a father;
And she an eater of her mother's flesh,
By the defiling of her parent's bed;


And both like serpents are, who though they feed


On sweetest flowers, yet they poison breed.
Antioch, farewell! for wisdom sees, those men
Blush not in actions blacker than the night,
Will shun no course to keep them from the


One sin, I know, another doth provoke;
Murder's as near to lust as flame to smoke.
Poison and treason are the hands of sin,
Ay, and the targets, to put off the shame:
Then, lest my life be cropp'd to keep you clear,
By flight I'll shun the danger which I fear.




Enter a Messenger.



Let your breath cool yourself, telling your haste.
Mess. My lord, Prince Pericles is fled. [Exit.
[To THALIARD.] As thou
Wilt live, fly after; and, as an arrow shot
From a well-experienc'd archer hits the mark
His eye doth level at, so thou ne'er return 165
Unless thou say 'Prince Pericles is dead.'
Thal. My lord,

If I can get him within my pistol's length, 168
I'll make him sure enough: so, farewell to your

[blocks in formation]

My heart can lend no succour to my head. [Exit.

SCENE II.-Tyre. A Room in the Palace.

Per. [Tothose without.] Let none disturb us.—
Why should this change of thoughts,
The sad companion, dull-ey'd melancholy,
Be my so us'd a guest, as not an hour
In the day's glorious walk or peaceful night— 4
The tomb where grief should sleep-can breed
me quiet?

Here pleasures court mine eyes, and mine eyes
shun them,

And danger, which I feared, is at Antioch,
Whose arm seems far too short to hit me here;
Yet neither pleasure's art can joy my spirits, 9
Nor yet the other's distance comfort me.
Then it is thus: the passions of the mind,

Ant. He hath found the meaning, for which That have their first conception by mis-dread, 12

we mean

To take his head.


He must not live to trumpet forth my infamy,
Nor tell the world Antiochus doth sin
In such a loathed manner;

And therefore instantly this prince must die, 148
For by his fall my honour must keep high.
Who attends us there?


Have after-nourishment and life by care;
And what was first but fear what might be done,
Grows elder now and cares it be not done.
And so with me: the great Antiochus,-
'Gainst whom I am too little to contend,
Since he's so great can make his will his act, ---
Will think me speaking, though I swear to

[blocks in formation]

Hel. Peace, peace! and give experience

They do abuse the king that flatter him;
For flattery is the bellows blows up sin;
The thing the which is flatter'd, but a spark, 40
To which that blast gives heat and stronger

Whereas reproof, obedient and in order,
Fits kings, as they are men, for they may err:
When Signior Sooth here does proclaim a peace,
He flatters you, makes war upon your life. 45
Prince, pardon me, or strike me, if you please;
I cannot be much lower than my knees.
Per. All leave us else; but let your cares
What shipping and what lading's in our haven,
And then return to us.
[Exeunt Lords.
Helicanus, thou

[blocks in formation]

Fit counsellor and servant for a prince, Who by thy wisdom mak'st a prince thy servant, 64

What wouldst thou have me do?


To bear with patience

Such griefs as you yourself do lay upon your


Per. Thou speak'st like a physician, Helicanus,

That minister'st a potion unto me
That thou wouldst tremble to receive thyself.
Attend me then: I went to Antioch,


Where as thou know'st, against the face of death

I sought the purchase of a glorious beauty, 72 From whence an issue I might propagate

Are arms to princes and bring joys to subjects. Her face was to mine eye beyond all wonder; The rest, hark in thine ear, as black as incest; Which by my knowledge found, the sinful father Seem'd not to strike, but smooth; but thou know'st this,

[blocks in formation]


I knew him tyrannous; and tyrants' fears
Decrease not, but grow faster than the years.
And should he doubt it, as no doubt he doth,
That I should open to the listening air
How many worthy princes' bloods were shed, 88
To keep his bed of blackness unlaid ope,
To lop that doubt he'll fill this land with arms,
And make pretence of wrong that I have done

When all, for mine, if I may call 't, offence, 92
Must feel war's blow, who spares not inno-


Which love to all, of which thyself art one,
Who now reprov'st me for it,

Alas! sir.

Per. Drew sleep out of mine eyes, blood from my cheeks,


Musings into my mind, with thousand doubts How I might stop this tempest, ere it came; And finding little comfort to relieve them,

I thought it princely charity to grieve them. 100 Hel. Well, my lord, since you have given me leave to speak,

Freely will I speak. Antiochus you fear,
And justly too, I think, you fear the tyrant,
Who either by public war or private treason 104


· Will take away your life.

Therefore, my lord, go travel for a while,

Till that his rage and anger be forgot,

Took some displeasure at him, at least he judg'd so;

And doubting lest that he had err'd or sinn'd,

Or till the Destinies do cut his thread of life. 108 To show his sorrow he'd correct himself;
Your rule direct to any; if to me,

Day serves not light more faithful than I'll be.
Per. I do not doubt thy faith;

But should he wrong my liberties in my

Hel. We'll mingle our bloods together in the

From whence we had our being and our birth.
Per. Tyre, I now look from thee then, and to


Intend my travel, where I'll hear from thee, 116
And by whose letters I'll dispose myself.
The care I had and have of subjects' good
On thee I'll lay, whose wisdom's strength can
bear it.

I'll take thy word for faith, not ask thine oath;
Who shuns not to break one will sure crack
But in our orbs we'll live so round and safe,
That time of both this truth shall ne'er convince,
Thou show'dst a subject's shine, I a true prince.

SCENE III.-The Same. An Antechamber in the Palace.


Thal. So this is Tyre, and this the court. Here must I kill King Pericles; and if I do not, I am sure to be hanged at home: 'tis dangerous. Well, I perceive he was a wise fellow, and had good discretion, that, being bid to ask what he would of the king, desired he might know none of his secrets: now do I see he had some reason for it; for if a king bid a man be a villain, he is bound by the indenture of his oath to be one. Hush! here come the lords of Tyre. 10

Enter HELICANUS, ESCANES, and other Lords.
Hel. You shall not need, my fellow peers of

Further to question me of your king's depar


His sea!'d commission, left in trust with me, 13
Doth speak sufficiently he's gone to travel.


[ocr errors]


So puts himself unto the shipman's toil,
With whom each minute threatens life or

Thal. [Aside.] Well, I perceive

I shall not be hang'd now, although I would; But since he's gone, the king it sure must please:


He 'scap'd the land, to perish at the sea.
I'll present myself. [Aloud.] Peace to the lords
of Tyre.

Hel. Lord Thaliard from Antiochus is wel

[blocks in formation]

SCENE IV.-Tarsus. A Room in the
Governor's House.

Enter CLEON, DIONYZA, and Attendants.
Cle. My Dionyza, shall we rest us here,
And by relating tales of others' griefs,
See if 'twill teach us to forget our own?
Dio. That were to blow at fire in hope to
quench it;

For who digs hills because they do aspire
Throws down one mountain to cast up a higher.
O my distressed lord! even such our griefs are;
Here they're but felt, and seen with mischief's


[blocks in formation]

Or can conceal his hunger till he famish?
Our tongues and sorrows do sound deep
Our woes into the air; our eyes do weep
Till tongues fetch breath that may proclaim
them louder;

That if heaven slumber while their creatures


Thal. [Aside.] How! the king gone! Hel. If further yet you will be satisfied, Why, as it were unlicens'd of your loves, He would depart, I'll give some light unto you. Being at AntiochThal. [Aside.] What from Antioch? They may awake their helps to comfort them. Hel. Royal Antiochus-on what cause I I'll then discourse our woes, felt several years, know not20 And wanting breath to speak help me with tears.

« PreviousContinue »