« ZurückWeiter »
Lords, Ladies, Knights, Gentlemen, Sailors, Pirates, Fishermen,
and Messengers, &r.
SCENE,-Dispersedly in various Countries.
PERICLES, PRINCE OF TYRE.
Before the Palace of ANTIOCH.
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, o melius,
If you, born in these latter times,
When wit's more ripe, accept my rhymes,
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 pheere,
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 :
By custom, what they did begin,
Was, with long use, account no sin,
The beauty of this sinful dame
Made many princes thither frame,
To seek her as a bed-fellow,
In marriage pleasures play-fellow :
Which to prevent, he made a law,-
To keep her still, and men in awe,-
That whoso ask'd her for his wife,
His riddle told not, lost his life :
So for her many a wight did die,
As yon grim looks do testify.
What now ensues, to the judgment of your eye
I give, my cause who best can justify.
Enter ANTIOCHUS, Pericles, and Attendants.
Ant. Young prince of Tyre, you have at large receiv'd
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;
At whose conception, (till Lucina reign’d,)
Nature this dowry gave, to glad her presence,
The senate-house of planets all did sit,
To knit in her their best perfections.
Enter the Daughter of ANTIOCHUS.
Per. See where she comes, apparell'd like the spring,
Graces her subjects, and her thoughts the king
Of every virtue gives renown to men!
Her face the book of praises, where is read
Nothing but curious pleasures, as from thence
Sorrow were ever ras'd, and testy wrath
Could never be her mild companion.
Ye gods, that made me man, and sway in love,
That have 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 ld 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 gair;
And which, without desert, because thine eye
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.
Per. Antiochus, I thank thee, who hath taught
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 woe,
Gripe not at earthly joys, as erst they did :
So, I bequeath a happy peace to you,
And all good men, as every prince should do;
My riches to the earth from whence they came;
[To the Daughter of ANTIOCHUS
But my unspotted fire of love to you.
Thus, ready for the way of life or death,
I wait the sharpest blow.
Ant. Scorning advice, read the conclusion, then ;
Which read and not expounded, 'tis decreed,
As these before thee, thou thyself shalt bleed.
Daugh. Of all, 'say'd yet, mayst thou prove prosperous !
Of all, 'say'd yet, I wish thee happiness.
Per. Like a bold champion, I assume the lists,
Nor ask advice of any other thought
But faithfulness, and courage.
[Reads the riddle “ I am no viper, yet I feed
On mother's flesh, which did me breed;
I sought a husband, in which labour,
I found that kindness in a father :
He's father, son, and husband mild ;
I mother, wife, and yet his child.
How they may be, and yet in two,
As you will live, resolve it you."
Sharp physic is the last : but, O you powers !
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
[Takes the hand of the Princess.
Fair glass of light, I lov'd you, and could still,
Were not this glorious casket stor'd with ill :
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 man his lawful music,
Would draw heaven down, and all the gods, to hearken
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,
As dangerous as the rest. Your time's expir'd :
Either expound now, or receive your sentence.
Per. Great king,
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,
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 will;
And if Jove stray, who dares say Jove doth ill ?
It is enough you know; and it is fit,
What being more known grows worse, to smother it
All love the womb that their first being bred,
Then give my tongue like leave to love my head.