The Complete Works of William Shakespeare

Page 75 of 119


Enter Gower.

Here have you seen a mighty king
His child, iwis, to incest bring;
A better prince and benign lord,
That will prove awful both in deed word.
Be quiet then as men should be,
Till he hath pass’d necessity.
I’ll show you those in troubles reign,
Losing a mite, a mountain gain.
The good in conversation,
To whom I give my benison,
Is still at Tarsus, where each man
Thinks all is writ he speken can;
And to remember what he does,
Build his statue to make him glorious:
But tidings to the contrary
Are brought your eyes; what need speak I?

Dumb-show. Enter at one door Pericles talking with Cleon; all the train with them. Enter at another door a Gentleman with a letter to Pericles; Pericles shows the letter to Cleon; gives the Messenger a reward, and knights him. Exit Pericles at one door, and Cleon at another.

Good Helicane, that stay’d at home.
Not to eat honey like a drone
From others’ labours; for though he strive
To killen bad, keep good alive;
And to fulfil his prince’ desire,
Sends word of all that haps in Tyre:
How Thaliard came full bent with sin
And had intent to murder him;
And that in Tarsus was not best
Longer for him to make his rest.
He, doing so, put forth to seas,
Where when men been, there’s seldom ease;
For now the wind begins to blow;
Thunder above and deeps below
Make such unquiet, that the ship
Should house him safe is wreck’d and split;
And he, good prince, having all lost,
By waves from coast to coast is tost:
All perishen of man, of pelf,
Ne aught escapen but himself;
Till Fortune, tired with doing bad,
Threw him ashore, to give him glad:
And here he comes. What shall be next,
Pardon old Gower, — this longs the text.


SCENE I. Pentapolis. An open place by the seaside.

Enter Pericles, wet.

Yet cease your ire, you angry stars of heaven!
Wind, rain, and thunder, remember earthly man
Is but a substance that must yield to you;
And I, as fits my nature, do obey you:
Alas, the sea hath cast me on the rocks,
Wash’d me from shore to shore, and left me breath
Nothing to think on but ensuing death:
Let it suffice the greatness of your powers
To have bereft a prince of all his fortunes;
And having thrown him from your watery grave,
Here to have death in peace is all he’ll crave.

Enter three Fishermen.

What, ho, Pilch!

Ha, come and bring away the nets!

What, Patch-breech, I say!

What say you, master?

Look how thou stirrest now! Come away, or I’ll fetch thee with a wanion.

Faith, master, I am thinking of the poor men that were cast away before us even now.

Alas, poor souls, it grieved my heart to hear what pitiful cries they made to us to help them, when, well-a-day, we could scarce help ourselves.

Nay, master, said not I as much when I saw the porpus how he bounced and tumbled? They say they’re half fish, half flesh: a plague on them, they ne’er come but I look to be washed. Master, I marvel how the fishes live in the sea.

Why, as men do a-land; the great ones eat up the little ones: I can compare our rich misers to nothing so fitly as to a whale; a’ plays and tumbles, driving the poor fry before him, and at last devours them all at a mouthful. Such whales have I heard on o’ the land, who never leave gaping till they swallowed the whole parish, church, steeple, bells and all.

[Aside.] A pretty moral.

But, master, if I had been the sexton, I would have been that day in the belfry.

Why, man?

Because he should have swallowed me too; and when I had been in his belly, I would have kept such a jangling of the bells, that he should never have left, till he cast bells, steeple, church and parish up again. But if the good King Simonides were of my mind, —

[Aside.] Simonides?

We would purge the land of these drones, that rob the bee of her honey.

[Aside.] How from the finny subject of the sea
These fishers tell the infirmities of men;
And from their watery empire recollect
All that may men approve or men detect!
Peace be at your labour, honest fishermen.

Honest! good fellow, what’s that? If it be a day fits you, search out of the calendar, and nobody look after it.

May see the sea hath cast upon your coast.

What a drunken knave was the sea to cast thee in our way!

A man whom both the waters and the wind,
In that vast tennis-court, have made the ball
For them to play upon, entreats you pity him;
He asks of you, that never used to beg.

No, friend, cannot you beg? Here’s them in our country of Greece gets more with begging than we can do with working.

Canst thou catch any fishes, then?

I never practised it.

Nay, then thou wilt starve, sure; for here’s nothing to be got now-a-days, unless thou canst fish for’t.

What I have been I have forgot to know;
But what I am, want teaches me to think on:
A man throng’d up with cold: my veins are chill,
And have no more of life than may suffice
To give my tongue that heat to ask your help;
Which if you shall refuse, when I am dead,
For that I am a man, pray see me buried.

Die quoth-a? Now gods forbid’t, and I have a gown here; come, put it on; keep thee warm. Now, afore me, a handsome fellow! Come, thou shalt go home, and we’ll have flesh for holidays, fish for fasting-days, and moreo’er puddings and flap-jacks, and thou shalt be welcome.

I thank you, sir.

Hark you, my friend; you said you could not beg?

I did but crave.

But crave! Then I’ll turn craver too, and so I shall ’scape whipping.

Why, are your beggars whipped, then?

O, not all, my friend, not all; for if all your beggars were whipped, I would wish no better office than to be beadle. But, master, I’ll go draw up the net.

[Exit with Third Fisherman.]

[Aside.] How well this honest mirth becomes their labour!

Hark you, sir, do you know where ye are?

Not well.

Why, I’ll tell you: this is called Pentapolis, and our King, the good Simonides.

The good Simonides, do you call him?

Ay, sir; and he deserves so to be called for his peaceable reign and good government.

He is a happy king, since he gains from his subjects the name of good government. How far is his court distant from this shore?

Marry sir, half a day’s journey: and I’ll tell you, he hath a fair daughter, and tomorrow is her birth-day; and there are princes and knights come from all parts of the world to joust and tourney for her love.

Were my fortunes equal to my desires, I could wish to make one there.

O, sir, things must be as they may; and what a man cannot get, he may lawfully deal for — his wife’s soul.

Re-enter Second and Third Fishermen, drawing up a net.

Help, master, help! here’s a fish hangs in the net, like a poor man’s right in the law; ’twill hardly come out. Ha! bots on’t, ’tis come at last, and ’tis turned to a rusty armour.

An armour, friends! I pray you, let me see it.
Thanks, Fortune, yet, that, after all my crosses,
Thou givest me somewhat to repair myself,
And though it was mine own, part of my heritage,
Which my dead father did bequeath to me,
With this strict charge, even as he left his life.
‘Keep it, my Pericles; it hath been a shield
’Twixt me and death;’ — and pointed to this brace;—
‘For that it saved me, keep it; in like necessity —
The which the gods protect thee from! — may defend thee.’
It kept where I kept, I so dearly loved it;
Till the rough seas, that spares not any man,
Took it in rage, though calm’d have given’t again:
I thank thee for’t: my shipwreck now’s no ill,
Since I have here my father gave in his will.

What mean you sir?

To beg of you, kind friends, this coat of worth,
For it was sometime target to a king;
I know it by this mark. He loved me dearly,
And for his sake I wish the having of it;
And that you’d guide me to your sovereign court,
Where with it I may appear a gentleman;
And if that ever my low fortune’s better,
I’ll pay your bounties; till then rest your debtor.

Why, wilt thou tourney for the lady?

I’ll show the virtue I have borne in arms.

Why, d’ye take it, and the gods give thee good on’t!

Ay, but hark you, my friend; ’twas we that made up this garment through the rough seams of the waters: there are certain condolements, certain vails. I hope, sir, if you thrive, you’ll remember from whence you had them.

Believe’t I will.
By your furtherance I am clothed in steel;
And spite of all the rapture of the sea,
This jewel holds his building on my arm:
Unto thy value I will mount myself
Upon a courser, whose delightful steps
Shall make the gazer joy to see him tread.
Only, my friend, I yet am unprovided
Of a pair of bases.

We’ll sure provide: thou shalt have my best gown to make thee a pair; and I’ll bring thee to the court myself.

Then honour be but a goal to my will,
This day I’ll rise, or else add ill to ill.


SCENE II. The same. A public way, or platform leading to the lists. A pavilion by the side of it for the reception of the King, Princess, Lords, etc.

Enter Simonides, Thaisa, Lords and Attendants.

Are the knights ready to begin the triumph?

They are, my liege;
And stay your coming to present themselves.

Return them, we are ready; and our daughter,
In honour of whose birth these triumphs are,
Sits here, like beauty’s child, whom Nature gat
For men to see, and seeing wonder at.

[Exit a Lord.]

It pleaseth you, my royal father, to express
My commendations great, whose merit’s less.

It’s fit it should be so; for princes are
A model, which heaven makes like to itself:
As jewels lose their glory if neglected,
So princes their renowns if not respected.
’Tis now your honour, daughter, to entertain
The labour of each knight in his device.

Which, to preserve mine honour, I’ll perform.

The first Knight passes by, and his Squire presents his shield to Thaisa.

Who is the first that doth prefer himself?

A knight of Sparta, my renowned father;
And the device he bears upon his shield
Is a black Ethiope reaching at the sun:
The word, Lux tua vita mihi.

He loves you well that holds his life of you.

The second Knight passes by, and his Squire presents his shield to Thaisa.

Who is the second that presents himself?

A prince of Macedon, my royal father;
And the device he bears upon his shield
Is an arm’d knight that’s conquer’d by a lady;
The motto thus, in Spanish, Piu por dulzura que por forza.

The third Knight passes by, and his Squire presents his shield to Thaisa.

And what’s the third?

The third of Antioch;
And his device, a wreath of chivalry;
The word, Me pompae provexit apex.

The fourth Knight passes by, and his Squire presents his shield to Thaisa.

What is the fourth?

A burning torch that’s turned upside down;
The word, Quod me alit me extinguit.

Which shows that beauty hath his power and will,
Which can as well inflame as it can kill.

The fifth Knight passes by, and his Squire presents his shield to Thaisa.

The fifth, an hand environed with clouds,
Holding out gold that’s by the touchstone tried;
The motto thus, Sic spectanda fides.

The sixth Knight, Pericles, passes in rusty armour with bases, and unaccompanied. He presents his device directly to Thaisa.

And what’s the sixth and last, the which the knight himself
With such a graceful courtesy deliver’d?

He seems to be a stranger; but his present is
A wither’d branch, that’s only green at top;
The motto, In hac spe vivo.

A pretty moral;
From the dejected state wherein he is,
He hopes by you his fortunes yet may flourish.

He had need mean better than his outward show
Can any way speak in his just commend;
For by his rusty outside he appears
To have practised more the whipstock than the lance.

He well may be a stranger, for he comes
To an honour’d triumph strangely furnished.

And on set purpose let his armour rust
Until this day, to scour it in the dust.

Opinion’s but a fool, that makes us scan
The outward habit by the inward man.
But stay, the knights are coming.
We will withdraw into the gallery.

[Exeunt. Great shouts within, and all cry ‘The mean Knight!’]

SCENE III. The same. A hall of state: a banquet prepared.

Enter Simonides, Thaisa, Lords, Attendants and Knights, from tilting.

To say you’re welcome were superfluous.
To place upon the volume of your deeds,
As in a title-page, your worth in arms,
Were more than you expect, or more than’s fit,
Since every worth in show commends itself.
Prepare for mirth, for mirth becomes a feast:
You are princes and my guests.

But you, my knight and guest;
To whom this wreath of victory I give,
And crown you king of this day’s happiness.

’Tis more by fortune, lady, than by merit.

Call it by what you will, the day is yours;
And here, I hope, is none that envies it.
In framing an artist, art hath thus decreed,
To make some good, but others to exceed;
And you are her labour’d scholar. Come queen of the feast, —
For, daughter, so you are, — here take your place:
Marshal the rest, as they deserve their grace.

We are honour’d much by good Simonides.

Your presence glads our days; honour we love;
For who hates honour hates the gods above.

Sir, yonder is your place.

Some other is more fit.

Contend not, sir; for we are gentlemen
Have neither in our hearts nor outward eyes
Envied the great, nor shall the low despise.

You are right courteous knights.

Sit, sir, sit.
By Jove, I wonder, that is king of thoughts,
These cates resist me, he but thought upon.

By Juno, that is queen of marriage,
All viands that I eat do seem unsavoury,
Wishing him my meat. Sure, he’s a gallant gentleman.

He’s but a country gentleman;
Has done no more than other knights have done;
Has broken a staff or so; so let it pass.

To me he seems like diamond to glass.

Yon king’s to me like to my father’s picture,
Which tells me in that glory once he was;
Had princes sit, like stars, about his throne,
And he the sun, for them to reverence;
None that beheld him, but, like lesser lights,
Did vail their crowns to his supremacy:
Where now his son’s like a glow-worm in the night,
The which hath fire in darkness, none in light:
Whereby I see that time’s the king of men,
He’s both their parent, and he is their grave,
And gives them what he will, not what they crave.

What, are you merry, knights?

Who can be other in this royal presence?

Here, with a cup that’s stored unto the brim, —
As you do love, fill to your mistress’ lips, —
We drink this health to you.

We thank your grace.

Yet pause awhile. Yon knight doth sit too melancholy,
As if the entertainment in our court
Had not a show might countervail his worth.
Note it not you, Thaisa?

What is’t to me, my father?

O attend, my daughter:
Princes in this should live like god’s above,
Who freely give to everyone that comes to honour them:
And princes not doing so are like to gnats,
Which make a sound, but kill’d are wonder’d at.
Therefore to make his entrance more sweet,
Here, say we drink this standing-bowl of wine to him.

Alas, my father, it befits not me
Unto a stranger knight to be so bold:
He may my proffer take for an offence,
Since men take women’s gifts for impudence.

How? Do as I bid you, or you’ll move me else.

[Aside.] Now, by the gods, he could not please me better.

And furthermore tell him, we desire to know of him,
Of whence he is, his name and parentage.

The king my father, sir, has drunk to you.

I thank him.

Wishing it so much blood unto your life.

I thank both him and you, and pledge him freely.

And further he desires to know of you,
Of whence you are, your name and parentage.

A gentleman of Tyre; my name, Pericles;
My education been in arts and arms;
Who, looking for adventures in the world,
Was by the rough seas reft of ships and men,
And after shipwreck driven upon this shore.

He thanks your grace; names himself Pericles,
A gentleman of Tyre,
Who only by misfortune of the seas
Bereft of ships and men, cast on this shore.

Now, by the gods, I pity his misfortune,
And will awake him from his melancholy.
Come, gentlemen, we sit too long on trifles,
And waste the time, which looks for other revels.
Even in your armours, as you are address’d,
Will well become a soldier’s dance.
I will not have excuse, with saying this,
‘Loud music is too harsh for ladies’ heads’
Since they love men in arms as well as beds.

[The Knights dance.]

So, this was well ask’d, ’twas so well perform’d.
Come, sir; here is a lady which wants breathing too:
And I have heard you knights of Tyre
Are excellent in making ladies trip;
And that their measures are as excellent.

In those that practise them they are, my lord.

O, that’s as much as you would be denied
Of your fair courtesy.

[The Knights and Ladies dance.]

Unclasp, unclasp:
Thanks gentlemen, to all; all have done well.
[To Pericles.] But you the best. Pages and lights to conduct
These knights unto their several lodgings.
[To Pericles.] Yours, sir, we have given order to be next our own.

I am at your grace’s pleasure.

Princes, it is too late to talk of love;
And that’s the mark I know you level at:
Therefore each one betake him to his rest;
Tomorrow all for speeding do their best.


SCENE IV. Tyre. A room in the Governor’s house.

Enter Helicanus and Escanes.

No, Escanes, know this of me,
Antiochus from incest lived not free:
For which the most high gods not minding longer
To withhold the vengeance that they had in store
Due to this heinous capital offence,
Even in the height and pride of all his glory,
When he was seated in a chariot
Of an inestimable value, and his daughter with him,
A fire from heaven came and shrivell’d up
Their bodies, even to loathing, for they so stunk,
That all those eyes adored them ere their fall
Scorn now their hand should give them burial.

’Twas very strange

And yet but justice; for though this king were great;
His greatness was no guard to bar heaven’s shaft,
But sin had his reward.

’Tis very true.

Enter two or three Lords.

See, not a man in private conference
Or council has respect with him but he.

It shall no longer grieve without reproof.

And cursed be he that will not second it.

Follow me, then. Lord Helicane, a word.

With me? and welcome: happy day, my lords.

Know that our griefs are risen to the top,
And now at length they overflow their banks.

Your griefs! for what? Wrong not your prince you love.

Wrong not yourself, then, noble Helicane;
But if the prince do live, let us salute him.
Or know what ground’s made happy by his breath.
If in the world he live, we’ll seek him out;
If in his grave he rest, we’ll find him there.
We’ll be resolved he lives to govern us,
Or dead, give’s cause to mourn his funeral,
And leave us to our free election.

Whose death’s indeed the strongest in our censure:
And knowing this kingdom is without a head, —
Like goodly buildings left without a roof
Soon fall to ruin, — your noble self,
That best know how to rule and how to reign,
We thus submit unto, — our sovereign.

Live, noble Helicane!

For honour’s cause, forbear your suffrages:
If that you love Prince Pericles, forbear.
Take I your wish, I leap into the seas,
Where’s hourly trouble for a minute’s ease.
A twelvemonth longer, let me entreat you
To forbear the absence of your king;
If in which time expired, he not return,
I shall with aged patience bear your yoke.
But if I cannot win you to this love,
Go search like nobles, like noble subjects,
And in your search spend your adventurous worth;
Whom if you find, and win unto return,
You shall like diamonds sit about his crown.

To wisdom he’s a fool that will not yield;
And since Lord Helicane enjoineth us,
We with our travels will endeavour us.

Then you love us, we you, and we’ll clasp hands:
When peers thus knit, a kingdom ever stands.


SCENE V. Pentapolis. A room in the palace.

Enter Simonides reading a letter at one door; the Knights meet him.

Good morrow to the good Simonides.

Knights, from my daughter this I let you know,
That for this twelvemonth she’ll not undertake
A married life.
Her reason to herself is only known,
Which yet from her by no means can I get.

May we not get access to her, my lord?

Faith, by no means; she hath so strictly tied
Her to her chamber, that ’tis impossible.
One twelve moons more she’ll wear Diana’s livery;
This by the eye of Cynthia hath she vow’d,
And on her virgin honour will not break it.

Loath to bid farewell, we take our leaves.

[Exeunt Knights.]

So, they are well dispatch’d; now to my daughter’s letter:
She tells me here, she’ll wed the stranger knight,
Or never more to view nor day nor light.
’Tis well, mistress; your choice agrees with mine;
I like that well: nay, how absolute she’s in’t,
Not minding whether I dislike or no!
Well, I do commend her choice;
And will no longer have it be delay’d.
Soft! here he comes: I must dissemble it.

Enter Pericles.

All fortune to the good Simonides!

To you as much. Sir, I am beholding to you
For your sweet music this last night: I do
Protest my ears were never better fed
With such delightful pleasing harmony.

It is your grace’s pleasure to commend;
Not my desert.

Sir, you are music’s master.

The worst of all her scholars, my good lord.

Let me ask you one thing:
What do you think of my daughter, sir?

A most virtuous princess.

And she is fair too, is she not?

As a fair day in summer, wondrous fair.

Sir, my daughter thinks very well of you;
Ay, so well, that you must be her master,
And she will be your scholar: therefore look to it.

I am unworthy for her schoolmaster.

She thinks not so; peruse this writing else.

[Aside.] What’s here? A letter, that she loves the knight of Tyre!
’Tis the king’s subtlety to have my life.
O, seek not to entrap me, gracious lord,
A stranger and distressed gentleman,
That never aim’d so high to love your daughter,
But bent all offices to honour her.

Thou hast bewitch’d my daughter,
And thou art a villain.

By the gods, I have not:
Never did thought of mine levy offence;
Nor never did my actions yet commence
A deed might gain her love or your displeasure.

Traitor, thou liest.


Ay, traitor.

Even in his throat — unless it be the king —
That calls me traitor, I return the lie.

[Aside.] Now, by the gods, I do applaud his courage.

My actions are as noble as my thoughts,
That never relish’d of a base descent.
I came unto your court for honour’s cause,
And not to be a rebel to her state;
And he that otherwise accounts of me,
This sword shall prove he’s honour’s enemy.

Here comes my daughter, she can witness it.

Enter Thaisa.

Then, as you are as virtuous as fair,
Resolve your angry father, if my tongue
Did e’er solicit, or my hand subscribe
To any syllable that made love to you.

Why, sir, say if you had,
Who takes offence at that would make me glad?

Yea, mistress, are you so peremptory?
[Aside.] I am glad on’t with all my heart. —
I’ll tame you; I’ll bring you in subjection.
Will you, not having my consent,
Bestow your love and your affections
Upon a stranger? [Aside.] Who, for aught I know
May be, nor can I think the contrary,
As great in blood as I myself. —
Therefore hear you, mistress; either frame
Your will to mine, and you, sir, hear you,
Either be ruled by me, or I will make you —
Man and wife. Nay, come, your hands,
And lips must seal it too: and being join’d,
I’ll thus your hopes destroy; and for further grief,
God give you joy! What, are you both pleased?

Yes, if you love me, sir.

Even as my life my blood that fosters it.

What, are you both agreed?

Yes, if’t please your majesty.

It pleaseth me so well, that I will see you wed;
And then with what haste you can, get you to bed.


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