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Tyre. A Room in the Governor's House.
Enter HELICANUS and ESCANES.
HEL. No, no, my Escanes; know this of me,3Antiochus from incest liv'd 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, and his daughter with him, In a chariot of inestimable value,
A fire from heaven came, and shrivell❜d up
No, no, my Escanes ; &c. The old copy:
But this line being imperfect, I suppose it should be read as I have printed it. STEEVENS.
No, Escanes;] I suspect the author wrote-Know, Escanes; &c. MALOne.
A fire from heaven came, and shrivell'd up
Their bodies,] This circumstance is mentioned by Gower: they hym tolde,
"That for vengeance as God it wolde,
"With thonder and lightnyng is forsmitte.
• That all those eyes ador'd them, ere their fall, Scorn now &c.] The expression is elliptical:
That all those eyes which ador'd them &c. MALONE.
ESCA. 'Twas very strange.
HEL. And yet but just; for though This king were great, his greatness was no guard To bar heaven's shaft, but sin had his reward.
ESCA. 'Tis very true.
Enter Three Lords.
1 LORD. See, not a man in private conference, Or council, has respect with him but he."
2 LORD. It shall no longer grieve without reproof.
3 LORD. And curs'd be he that will not second it. 1 LORD. Follow me then: Lord Helicane, a word.
HEL. With me? and welcome: Happy day, my lords.
1 LORD. Know, that our griefs are risen to the top, And now at length they overflow their banks. HEL. Your griefs, for what? wrong not the prince you love.
1 LORD. Wrong not yourself then, noble Helicane;
But if the prince do live, let us salute him,
6 See, not a man &c.] To what this charge of partiality was designed to conduct, we do not learn; for it appears to have no influence over the rest of the dialogue. STEEVENS.
And be resolv'd, he lives to govern us,7
Or dead, gives cause to mourn his funeral,
2 LORD. Whose death's, indeed, the strongest in our censure: 9.
And knowing this kingdom, if without a head,'
* And be resolv'd, he lives to govern us,] Resolv'd is satisfied, free from doubt. So, in a subsequent scene :
"Resolve your angry father, if my tongue," &c.
• And leaves us -] The quarto, 1609, reads-And leave us, which cannot be right. MALOne.
• Whose death's, indeed, the strongest in our censure:] i. e. the most probable in our opinion. Censure is thus used in King Richard III:
"To give your censures in this weighty business."
The old copies read-whose death indeed, &c. MALONE.
And knowing this kingdom, if without a head,] They did not know that the kingdom had absolutely lost its governor; for in the very preceding line this Lord observes that it was only more probable that he was dead, than living. I therefore read, with a very slight change,-if without a head. The old copy, for if, has-is. In the next line but one, by supplying the word will, which I suppose was omitted by the carelessness of the compositor, the sense and metre are both restored. The passage as it stands in the old copy, is not, by any mode of construction, reducible to grammar. MALONE.
(Like goodly buildings left without a roof,)] The same thought occurs in King Henry IV. Part II: leaves his part-created cost
"A naked subject to the weeping clouds,
ALL. Live, noble Helicane!
HEL. Try 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 then entreat you To forbear choice i'the absence of your king; If in which time expir'd, he not return, I shall with aged patience bear your yoke. But if I cannot win you to this love,
Try honour's cause;] Perhaps we should read:
Take I your wish, I leap into the seas,
I leap into the seat,
So, in Macbeth:
It must be acknowledged that a line in Hamlet"Or to take arms against a sea of troubles," as well as the rhyme, adds some support to this reading: yet I have no doubt that the poet wrote:
I have no spur
"To prick the sides of my intent, but only
On ship-board the pain and pleasure may be in the proportion here stated; but the troubles of him who plunges into the sea, (unless he happens to be an expert swimmer) are seldom of an hour's duration. MALONE.
Where's hourly trouble, for a minute's ease.] So, in King Richard III:
"And each hour's joy wreck'd with a week of teen.” MALONE.
• To forbear &c.] Old copy:
The expression is figurative, and by the words-I leap into the seas, &c. I believe the speaker only means-I embark too hastily on an expedition in which ease is disproportioned to labour. STEEVENS.
To forbear the absence of your king. Some word being omitted in this line, I read:
To forbear choice i'the absence of your king.
Go search like noblemen, like noble subjects,
1 LORD. To wisdom he's a fool that will not
And, since lord Helicane enjoineth us,
HEL. Then you love us, we you, and we'll clasp hands;
When peers thus knit, a kingdom ever stands.
and win unto return,
You shall like diamonds sit about his crown.] As these are the concluding lines of a speech, perhaps they were meant to rhyme. We might therefore read:
and win unto renown.
i. e. if you prevail on him to quit his present obscure retreat, and be reconciled to glory, you shall be acknowledged as the brightest ornaments of his throne. STEEVENS.
7 We with our travels will endeavour it.] Old copy: We with our travels will endeavour.
Endeavour what? I suppose, to find out Pericles. I have therefore added the syllable which appeared wanting both to metre and sense. STEEVENS.
The author might have intended an abrupt sentence.
I would readily concur with the opinion of Mr. Malone, had passion, instead of calm resolution, dictated the words of the speaker. STEEVENS.