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Act 1, Scene 1
Antioch. A room in the palace.
Enter ANTIOCHUS, Prince PERICLES, and followers
1 Young prince of Tyre, you have at large received
2 The task you undertake.
3 I have, Antiochus, and, with a soul
4 Embolden'd with the glory of her praise,
5 Think death no hazard in this enterprise.
6 Bring in our daughter, clothed like a bride,
7 For the embracements even of Jove himself;
8 At whose conception, till Lucina reign'd,
9 Nature this dowry gave, to glad her presence,
10 The senate-house of planets all did sit,
11 To knit in her their best perfections.
Music. Enter the Daughter of ANTIOCHUS
12 See where she comes, apparell'd like the spring,
13 Graces her subjects, and her thoughts the king
14 Of every virtue gives renown to men!
15 Her face the book of praises, where is read
16 Nothing but curious pleasures, as from thence
17 Sorrow were ever razed and testy wrath
18 Could never be her mild companion.
19 You gods that made me man, and sway in love,
20 That have inflamed desire in my breast
21 To taste the fruit of yon celestial tree,
22 Or die in the adventure, be my helps,
23 As I am son and servant to your will,
24 To compass such a boundless happiness!
25 Prince Pericles,--
26 That would be son to great Antiochus.
27 Before thee stands this fair Hesperides,
28 With golden fruit, but dangerous to be touch'd;
29 For death-like dragons here affright thee hard:
30 Her face, like heaven, enticeth thee to view
31 Her countless glory, which desert must gain;
32 And which, eye
33 Presumes to reach, all thy whole heap must die.
34 Yon sometimes famous princes, like thyself,
35 Drawn by report, adventurous by desire,
36 Tell thee, with speechless tongues and semblance pale,
37 That without covering, save yon field of stars,
38 Here they stand martyrs, slain in Cupid's wars;
39 And with dead cheeks advise thee to desist
40 For going on death's net, whom none resist.
41 Antiochus, I thank thee, who hath taught
42 My frail mortality to know itself,
43 And by those fearful objects to prepare
44 This body, like to them, to what I must;
45 For death remember'd should be like a mirror,
46 Who tells us life's but breath, to trust it error.
47 I'll make my will then, and, as sick men do
48 Who know the world, see heaven, but, feeling woe,
49 Gripe not at earthly joys as erst they did;
50 So I bequeath a happy peace to you
51 And all good men, as every prince should do;
52 My riches to the earth from whence they came;
53 But my unspotted fire of love to you.
To the Daughter of ANTIOCHUS
54 Thus ready for the way of life or death,
55 I wait the sharpest blow, Antiochus.
56 Scorning advice, read the conclusion then:
57 Which read and not expounded, 'tis decreed,
58 As these before thee thou thyself shalt bleed.
59 Of all say'd yet, mayst thou prove prosperous!
60 Of all say'd yet, I wish thee happiness!
61 Like a bold champion, I assume the lists,
62 Nor thought
63 But faithfulness and courage.
He reads the riddle
64 I am no viper, yet I feed
65 On mother's flesh which did me breed.
66 I sought a husband, in which labour
67 I found that kindness in a father:
68 He's father, son, and husband mild;
69 I mother, wife, and yet his child.
70 How they may be, and yet in two,
71 As you will live, resolve it you.
72 Sharp physic is the last: but, O you powers
73 That give heaven countless eyes to view men's acts,
74 Why cloud they not their sights perpetually,
75 If this be true, which makes me pale to read it?
76 Fair glass of light, I loved you, and could still,
Takes hold of the hand of the Daughter of ANTIOCHUS
77 Were not this glorious casket stored with ill:
78 But I must tell you, now my thoughts revolt
79 For he's no man on whom perfections wait
80 That, knowing sin within, will touch the gate.
81 You are a fair viol, and your sense the strings;
82 Who, finger'd to make man his lawful music,
83 Would draw heaven down, and all the gods, to hearken:
84 But being play'd upon before your time,
85 Hell only danceth at so harsh a chime.
86 Good sooth, I care not for you.
87 Prince Pericles, touch not, upon thy life.
88 For that's an article within our law,
89 As dangerous as the rest. Your time's expired:
90 Either expound now, or receive your sentence.
91 Great king,
92 Few love to hear the sins they love to act;
93 'Twould braid yourself too near for me to tell it.
94 Who has a book of all that monarchs do,
95 He's more secure to keep it shut than shown:
96 For vice repeated is like the wandering wind.
97 Blows dust in other's eyes, to spread itself;
98 And yet the end of all is bought thus dear,
99 The breath is gone, and the sore eyes see clear:
100 To stop the air would hurt them. The blind mole casts
101 Copp'd hills towards heaven, to tell the earth is throng'd
102 By man's oppression; and the poor worm doth die for't.
103 Kings are earth's gods; in vice their law's
104 their will;
105 And if Jove stray, who dares say Jove doth ill?
106 It is enough you know; and it is fit,
107 What being more known grows worse, to smother it.
108 All love the womb that their first being bred,
109 Then give my tongue like leave to love my head.
111Aside Heaven, that I had thy head! he has found
112 But I will gloze with him.--Young prince of Tyre,
113 Though by the tenor of our strict edict,
114 Your exposition misinterpreting,
115 We might proceed to cancel of your days;
116 Yet hope, succeeding from so fair a tree
117 As your fair self, doth tune us otherwise:
118 Forty days longer we do respite you;
119 If by which time our secret be undone,
120 This mercy shows we'll joy in such a son:
121 And until then your entertain shall be
122 As doth befit our honour and your worth.
Exeunt all but PERICLES
123 How courtesy would seem to cover sin,
124 When what is done is like an hypocrite,
125 The which is good in nothing but in sight!
126 If it be true that I interpret false,
127 Then were it certain you were not so bad
128 As with foul incest to abuse your soul;
129 Where now you're both a father and a son,
130 By your untimely claspings with your child,
131 Which pleasure fits an husband, not a father;
132 And she an eater of her mother's flesh,
133 By the defiling of her parent's bed;
134 And both like serpents are, who though they feed
135 On sweetest flowers, yet they poison breed.
136 Antioch, farewell! for wisdom sees, those men
137 Blush not in actions blacker than the night,
138 Will shun no course to light.
139 One sin, I know, another doth provoke;
140 Murder's as near to lust as flame to smoke:
141 Poison and treason are the hands of sin,
142 Ay, and the targets, to shame:
143 Then, lest my lie be cropp'd to keep you clear,
144 By danger which I fear.
145 He hath found the meaning, for which we mean
146 To have his head.
147 He must not live to trumpet forth my infamy,
148 Nor tell the world Antiochus doth sin
149 In such a loathed manner;
150 And therefore instantly this prince must die:
151 For by his fall my honour must high.
152 Who attends us there?
153 Doth your highness call?
155 You are of our chamber, and our mind partakes
156 Her private actions to your secrecy;
157 And for your faithfulness we will advance you.
158 Thaliard, behold, here's poison, and here's gold;
159 We hate the prince of Tyre, and thou must kill him:
160 It fits thee not to ask the reason why,
161 Because we bid it. Say, is it done?
162 My lord,
163 'Tis done.
Enter a Messenger
165 Let your breath cool yourself, telling your haste.
166 My lord, prince Pericles is fled.
167 As thou
168 Wilt live, fly after: and like an arrow shot
169 From a well-experienced archer hits the mark
170 His level at, so thou ne'er return
171 Unless thou say 'Prince Pericles is dead.'
172 My lord,
173 If I can get him within my pistol's length,
174 I'll make him sure enough: so, farewell to your highness.
175 Thaliard, adieu!
176 Till Pericles be dead,
177 My heart can lend no succor to my head.