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Gripe not at earthly joys, as erst they did;
[To the Daughter of ANTIOCHUS, Thus ready for the way of life or death, I wait the sharpest blow, Antiochus, Scorning advice,
former; but at length feeling themselves decaying, grasp no longer at temporal pleasures, but prepare calmly for futurity. MALONE.
Malone has justly explained the meaning of this passage, but he has not shown how the words, as they stand, will bear that meaning: Some amendment appears to me to be absolutely necessary, and that which I should propose is to read
Who now in the world see heaven, &c.
That is, who at one time of their lives find heaven in the pleasures of the world, but after having tasted of misfortune, begin to be weaned from the joys of it. Were we to make a further alteration, and read-seek heaven, instead of-see heaven, the expression would be stronger; but that is not necessary. M. MASON.
• Read the conclusion then ;] This and the two following lines are given in the first quarto to Pericles; and the word Antiochus, which is now placed in the margin, makes part of his speech. There can be no doubt that they belong to Antiochus. MALONE,
These lines in the old copies stand as follows:
Unbroken measure, as well as the spirit of this passage, perhaps decide in favour of its present arrangement. STEEVENS.
DAUGH. In all, save that, may'st thou prove prosperous!
In all, save that, I wish thee happiness!3
PER. Like a bold champion, I assume the lists, Nor ask advice of any other thought But faithfulness, and courage.*
› In all, save that, &c.] Old copy:
Of all said yet, may'st thou prove prosperous! Of all said yet, I wish thee happiness! 'Said is here apparently contracted for assay'd, i. e. tried, at tempted. PERCY.
She cannot wish him more prosperous, with respect to the exposition of the riddle, than the other persons who had attempted it before; for as the necessary consequence of his expounding it would be the publication of her own shame, we cannot sup pose that she should wish him to succeed in that. The passage is evidently corrupt, and should probably be corrected by reading the lines thus:
In all, save that, may'st thou
prove prosperous! In all, save that, I wish thee happiness! Her father had just said to Pericles, that his life depended on his expounding the riddle; and the daughter, who feels a regard for the Prince, expresses it by deprecating his fate, and wishing him success in every thing except that. She wishes that he may not expound the riddle, but that his failing to do so may be attended with prosperous consequences. When we consider how licentious Shakspeare frequently is in the use of his particles, it may not perhaps be thought necessary to change the word of, in the beginning of these lines, for the word in. There is no great difference in the traces of the letters between said and save; and the words that and yet have one common abbreviation, viz. y'. M. MASON.
I have inserted Mr. M. Mason's conjecture in the text, as it gives a more reasonable turn to the speech than has hitherto been supplied; and because it is natural to wish that the only words assigned to this lady, might have some apt and determinate meaning. STEEVENS.
* Nor ask advice of any other thought
But faithfulness, and courage.] This is from the third Book of Sidney's Arcadia: "Whereupon asking advice of no other thought but faithfulnesse and courage, he presently lighted from his own horse," &c. edit. 1633, p. 253. STEEVENs.
[He reads the Riddle."]
I am no viper, yet I feed
" He reads the Riddle.] The riddle is thus described in Gower: "Questio regis Antiochi-Scelere vehor, maternâ carne vescor, quero patrem meum, matris meæ virum, uxoris meæ filium. "With felonie I am upbore, "I ete, and have it not forlore, "My moders fleshe whose husbonde "My fader for to seche I fonde, "Which is the sonne eke of my wife, "Hereof I am inquisitife. "And who that can my tale save,
"All quite he shall my doughter have.
"He shall be dead withouten faile." MALONE.
"I sought a husband, in which labour,
I found that kindness in a father.] The defective rhyme which labour affords to father, and the obscurity indeed of the whole couplet, induce me to suppose it might originally have stood thus:
I sought a husband; in which rather
I found the kindness of a father.
In which (i. e. in whom, for this pronoun anciently related to persons as well as things) I rather found parental than marital love. STEEvens.
7 As you will live, resolve it you.] This duplication is common enough to ancient writers. So, in King Henry IV. Part I:
"I'll drink no more, for no man's pleasure I."
Sharp physick is the last : but O you powers!
But, being play'd upon before your time,
8 Sharp physick is the last:] i. e. the intimation in the last line of the riddle that his life depends on resolving it; which he properly enough calls sharp physick, or a bitter potion. PERCY.
That give heaven countless eyes to view men's acts,] So, in A Midsummer Night's Dream:
who more engilds the night,
"Than all yon fiery oes and eyes of light." MALONE,
Why cloud they not-] So, in Macbeth:
"Let not light see," &c. STEEVENS.
For he's no man on whom perfections wait,] Means no more than-he's no honest man, that knowing, &c. MAlone.
to make man— -] i. e, to produce for man, &c.
* But &c.
Hell only danceth at so harsh a chime:] Somewhat like this occurs in Milton's Ode at a Solemn Musick:
"Jarr'd against nature's chime, and with harsh din
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;
Prince Pericles, touch not, upon thy life,] This is a stroke of nature. The incestuous king cannot bear to see a rival touch the hand of the woman he loves. His jealousy resembles that of Antony:
to let him be familiar with
"My play-fellow, your hand; this kingly seal,
Malefort, in Massinger's Unnatural Combat, expresses the like impatient jealousy, when Beaufort touches his daughter Theocrine, to whom he was betrothed. M. MASON.
For vice repeated, is like the wand'ring wind,
Blows dust in others' eyes, to spread itself;] That is, which blows dust, &c.
The man who knows of the ill practices of princes, is unwise if he reveals what he knows; for the publisher of vicious actions resembles the wind, which, while it passes along, blows dust into men's eyes. When the blast is over, the eye that has been affected by the dust, suffers no farther pain, but can see as clearly as before; so by the relation of criminal acts, the eyes of mankind (though they are affected, and turn away with horror,) are opened, and see clearly what before was not even suspected: but by exposing the crimes of others, the relater suffers himself; as the breeze passes away, so the breath of the informer is gone; he dies for his temerity. Yet, to stop the course or ventilation of the air, would hurt the eyes; and to prevent informers from divulging the crimes of men would be prejudicial to mankind. Such, I think, is the meaning of this obscure passage.