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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? Fair glass of light, I loved you, and could still, [Takes hold of the hand of the Princess. Were not this glorious casket stored 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, fingered to make man his lawful music, Would draw heaven down, and all the gods to hearken; But, being played 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 expired;
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
Copped hills towards heaven, to tell, the earth is thronged
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 beings bred;
Then give my tongue like leave to love my head.
Ant. Heaven, that I had thy head! he has found the meaning;
But I will gloze with him. [Aside.] Young prince of Tyre,
Though by the tenor of our strict edict,
Your exposition misinterpreting,
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 honor, and your worth.
[Exeunt ANT., his Daughter, and Attend.
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 light.
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 cropped to keep you clear,
By flight I'll shun the danger which I fear.
Ant. He hath found the meaning, for the which we mean To have 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;
For by his fall my honor must keep high.
Who attends on us there?
Doth your highness call? Ant. Thaliard, you're of our chamber, and our mind Partakes her private actions to your secrecy;
VOL. IV. 17
And for your faithfulness we will advance you.
Thaliard, behold, here's poison, and here's gold.
We hate the prince of Tyre, and thou must kill him;
It fits thee not to ask the reason why,
Because we bid it. Say, is it done?
Enter a Messenger.
Let your breath cool yourself, telling your haste.
Mess. My lord, Prince Pericles is fled.
Wilt live, fly after; and, as an arrow, shot
From a well-experienced archer, hits the mark
His eye doth level at, so ne'er return,
Unless thou say, Prince Pericles is dead.
Thal. My lord, if I
Can get him once within my pistol's length,
I'll make him sure; so farewell to your highness.
Ant. Thaliard, adieu! till Pericles be dead,
My heart can lend no succor to my head.
SCENE II. Tyre. A Room in the Palace.
Enter PERICLES, HELICANUS, and other Lords.
Per. Let none disturb us; why should this change of thought?
The sad companion, dull-eyed melancholy,
By me so used a guest is, not an hour,
In the day's glorious walk, or peaceful night,
(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,
Nor yet the other's distance comfort me.
Then it is thus: the passions of the mind,
That have their first conception by misdread,
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 silence;
Nor boots it me to say, I honor him,
If he suspect I may dishonor him.
And what may make him blush in being known,
He'll stop the course by which it might be known;
With hostile forces he'll o'erspread the land,
And with the ostent of war will look so huge,
Amazement shall drive courage from the state;
Our men be vanquished, ere they do resist,
And subjects punished, that ne'er thought offence:
Which care of them, not pity of myself,
(Who am no more but as the top of trees,
Which fence the roots they grow by, and defend them,)
Makes both my body pine, and soul to languish,
And punish that before, that he would punish.
1 Lord. Joy and all comfort in your sacred breast! 2 Lord. And keep your mind, till you return to us, Peaceful and comfortable!
Hel. Peace, peace, my lords, and give experience tongue. They do abuse the king that flatter him;
For flattery is the bellows blows up sin;
The thing the which is flattered, but a spark,
To which that breath gives heat and stronger glowing;
Whereas reproof, obedient, and in order,
Fits kings, as they are men, for they may err.
When seignior Sooth here does proclaim a peace,
He flatters you, makes war upon your life.
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 o'erlook What shipping, and what lading's in our haven, And then return to us. [Exeunt Lords.] Helicanus, thou Hast moved us; what seest thou in our looks?
Hel. An angry brow, dread lord.
Per. If there be such a dart in princes' frowns, How durst thy tongue move anger to our face?
Hel. How dare the plants look up to heaven, from whence They have their nourishment?
Thou know'st I have power
To take thy life.
Hel. [Kneeling.] I have ground the axe myself;
Do you but strike the blow.
Rise, pr'ythee rise;
Sit down, sit down; thou art no flatterer.
I thank thee for it; and high Heaven forbid,
That kings should let their ears hear their faults hid!
Fit counsellor, and servant for a prince,
Who by thy wisdom mak'st a prince thy servant,
What would'st thou have me do?
With patience bear
Such griefs as you do lay upon yourself.
Per. Thou speak'st like a physician, Helicanus ;
Who 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,
From whence an issue I might propagate,
Are arms to princes, and bring to subjects joys.
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
Seemed not to strike, but smooth; but thou know'st this,
'Tis time to fear when tyrants seem to kiss.
Which fear so grew in me, I hither fled,
Under the covering of a careful night,
Who seemed my good protector; and being here,
Bethought me what was past, what might succeed.
I knew him tyrannous; and tyrants' fears
Decrease not, but grow faster than their 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,
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 him.
When all, for mine, if I may call't offence,
Must feel war's blow, who spares not innocence;
Which love to all (of which thyself art one,
Who now reprov'st me for it)-
Per. Drew sleep out of mine eyes, blood from my cheeks, Musings into my mind, a 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.
Hel. Well, my lord, since you have given me leave to speak,
Freely I'll speak. Antiochus you fear,
And justly too, I think, you fear the tyrant,
Who, either by public war, or private treason,