PERICLES PRINCE OF TYRE by William Shakespeare
My Dionyza, shall we rest us here, And by relating tales of others' griefs, See if 'twill teach us to forqet our own?
That were to blow at fire in hope to quench it; For who digs hills because they do aspire Throws down one mountain to cast up a higher. O my distressed lord, even such our griefs are; Here they're but felt, and seen with mischief's eyes, But like to groves, being topp'd, they higher rise.
O Dionyza, Who wanteth food, and will not say he wants it, Or can conceal his hunger till he famish? Our tongues and sorrows do sound deep Our woes into the air; our eyes do weep, Till tongues fetch breath that may proclaim them louder; That, if heaven slumber while their creatures want, They may awake their helps to comfort them. I'll then discourse our woes, felt several years, And wanting breath to speak help me with tears.
This Tarsus, o'er which I have the government, A city on whom plenty held full hand, For riches strew'd herself even in the streets; Whose towers bore heads so high they kiss'd the clouds, And strangers ne'er beheld but wonder'd at; Whose men and dames so jetted and adorn'd, Like one another's glass to trim them by: Their tables were stored full, to glad the sight, And not so much to feed on as delight; All poverty was scorn'd, and pride so great, The name of help grew odious to repeat.
But see what heaven can do! By this our change, These mouths, who but of late, earth, sea, and air, Were all too little to content and please, Although they gave their creatures in abundance, As houses are defiled for want of use, They are now starved for want of exercise: Those palates who, not yet two sumMers younger, Must have inventions to delight the taste, Would now be glad of bread, and beg for it: Those mothers who, to nousle up their babes, Thought nought too curious, are ready now To eat those little darlings whom they loved. So sharp are hunger's teeth, that man and wife Draw lots who first shall die to lengthen life: Here stands a lord, and there a lady weeping; Here many sink, yet those which see them fall Have scarce strength left to give them burial. Is not this true?
O, let those cities that of plenty's cup And her prosperities so largely taste, With their superflous riots, hear these tears! The misery of Tarsus may be theirs.
We have descried, upon our neighbouring shore, A portly sail of ships make hitherward.
I thought as much. One sorrow never comes but brings an heir, That may succeed as his inheritor; And so in ours: some neighbouring nation, Taking advantage of our misery, Math stuff'd these hollow vessels with their power, To beat us down, the which are down already; And make a conquest of unhappy me, Whereas no glory's got to overcome.
That's the least fear; for, by the semblance Of their white flags display'd, they bring us peace, And come to us as favourers, not as foes.
Thou speak'st like him's untutor'd to repeat: Who makes the fairest show means most deceit. But bring they what they will and what they can, What need we fear? The ground's the lowest, and we are half way there. Go tell their general we attend him here, To know for what he comes, and whence he comes, And what he craves.
Welcome is peace, if he on peace consist; If wars, we are unable to resist.
Lord governor, for so we hear you are, Let not our ships and number of our men Be like a beacon fired to amaze your eyes. We have heard your miseries as far as Tyre, And seen the desolation of your streets: Nor come we to add sorrow to your tears, But to relieve them of their heavy load; And these our ships, you happily may think Are like the Trojan horse was stuff'd within With bloody veins, expecting overthrow, Are stored with corn to make your needy bread, And give them life whom hunger starved half dead.
The gods of Greece protect you! And we'll pray for you.
Arise, I pray you, rise: We do not look for reverence, but for love, And harbourage for ourself, our ships, and men.
The which when any shall not gratify, Or pay you with unthankfulness in thought, Be it our wives, our children, or ourselves, The curse of heaven and men succeed their evils! Till when, -- the which I hope shall ne'er be seen, -- Your grace is welcome to our town and us.
23.1.1. ACT II.
Mere have you seen a mighty king His child, I wis, to incest bring; A better prince and benign lord, That will prove awful both in deed word. Be quiet then as men should be, Till he hath pass'd necessity. I'll show you those in troubles reign, Losing a mite, a mountain gain. The good in conversation, To whom I give my benison, Is still at Tarsus, where each man Thinks all is writ he speken can; And, to remember what he does, Build his statue to make him glorious: But tidings to the contrary Are brought your eyes; what need speak I?
Good Helicane, that stay'd at home. Not to eat honey like a drone From others' labours; for though he strive To killen bad, keep good alive; And to fulfil his prince' desire, Sends word of all that haps in Tyre: How Thaliard came full bent with sin And had intent to murder him; And that in Tarsus was not best Longer for him to make his rest. He, doing so, put forth to seas, Where when men been, there's seldom ease; For now the wind begins to blow; Thunder above and deeps below Make such unquiet, that the ship Should house him safe is wreck'd and split; And he, good prince, having all lost, By waves from coast to coast is tost: All perishen of man, of pelf, Ne aught escapen but himself; Till fortune, tired with doing bad, Threw him ashore, to give him glad: And here he comes. What shall be next, Pardon old Gower, -- this longs the text. [Exit.]
23.2. SCENE I. Pentapolis. An open place by the sea-side.
Yet cease your ire, you angry stars of heaven! Wind, rain, and thunder, remember, earthly man Is but a substance that must yield to you; And I, as fits my nature, do obey you: Alas, the sea hath cast me on the rocks, Wash'd me from shore to shore, and left me breath Nothing to think on but ensuing death: Let it suffice the greatness of your powers To have bereft a prince of all his fortunes; And having thrown him from your watery grave, Here to have death in peace is all he'll crave.
Look how thou stirrest now! come away, or I'll fetch thee with a wanion.
'Faith, master, I am thinking of the poor men that were cast away before us even now.
Alas, poor souls, it grieved my heart to hear what pitiful cries they made to us to help them, when, well-a-day, we could scarce help ourselves.
Nay, master, said not I as much when I saw the porpus how he bounced and tumbled? they say they're half fish, half flesh: a plague on them, they ne'er come but I look to be washed. Master, I marvel how the fishes live in the sea.
Why, as men do a-land; the great ones eat up the little ones: I can compare our rich misers to nothing so fitly as to a whale; a' plays and tumbles, driving the poor fry before him, and at last devours them all at a mouthful. such whales have I heard on o' the land, who never leave gaping till they they've swallowed the whole parish, church, steeple, bells, and all.
A pretty moral.
But, master, if I had been the sexton, I would have been that day in the belfry.
Because he should have swallowed me too; and when I had been in his belly, I would have kept such a jangling of the bells, that he should never have left, till he cast bells, steeple, church, and parish, up again. But if the good King Simonides were of my mind, --
We would purge the land of these drones, that rob the bee of her honey.
How from the finny subjec of the sea These fishers tell the infirmities of men; And from their watery empire recollect All that may men approve or men detect! Peace be at your labour, honest fishermen.
Honest! good fellow, what's that; If it be a day fits you, search out of the calendar, and nobody look after it.
May see the sea hath cast upon your coast.
What a drunken knave was the sea to cast thee in our way!
A man whom both the waters and the wind, In that vast tennis-court, have made the ball For them to play upon, entreats you pity him; He asks of you, that never used to beg.
No, friend, cannot you beg? Here's them in our country of Greece gets more with begging than we can do with working.
Canst thou catch any fishes, then?
I never practised it.
Nay, then thou wilt starve, sure; for here's nothing to be got now-a-days, unless thou canst fish for 't.
What I have been I have forgot to know; But what I am, want teaches me to think on: A man throng'd up with cold: my veins are chill, And have no more of life than may suffice To give my tongue that heat to ask your help; Which if you shall refuse, when I am dead, For that I am a man, pray see me buried.
Die quoth-a? Now gods forbid! I have a gown here; come, put it on; keep thee warm. Now, afore me, a handsome fellow! Come, thou shalt go home, and we'll have flesh for holidays, fish for fasting-days, and moreo'er puddings and flap-jacks, and thou shalt be welcome.
I thank you, sir.
Hark you, my friend; you said you could not beg.
I did but crave.
But crave! Then I'll turn craver too, and so I shall 'scape whipping.
Why, are your beggars whipped, then?
O, not all, my friend, not all; for if all your beggars were whipped, I would wish no better office than to be beadle. But, master, I'll go draw up the net.
How well this honest mirth becomes their 1abour!
Hark you, sir, do you know where ye are?
Why, I'll tell you: this is called Pentapolis, and our king the good Simonides.
The good King Simonides, do you call him?
Ay, sir; and he deserves so to be called for his peaceable reign and good government.
He is a happy king, since he gains from his subjects the name of good government. How far is his court distant from this shore?
Marry sir, half a day's journey: and I'll tell you, he hath a fair daughter, and to-morrow is her birth-day; and there are princes and knights come from all parts of the world to just and tourney for her love.
Were my fortunes equal to my desires, I could wish to make one there.
O, sir, things must be as they may; and what a man cannot get, he may lawfully deal for -- his wife' soul.
Help, master, help! here's a fish hangs in the net, like a poor man's right in the law; 'twill hardly come out. Ha! bots on't, 'tis come at last, and 'tis turned to a rusty armour.
An armour, friends! I pray you, let me see it. Thanks, fortune, yet, that, after all my crosses, Thou givest me somewhat to repair myself, And though it was mine own, part of my heritage, Which my dead father did bequeath to me, With this strict charge, even as he left his life. 'Keep it, my Pericles; it hath been a shield 'Twixt me and death;' -- and pointed to this brace; -- For that it saved me, keep it; in like necessity -- The which the gods protect thee from! -- may defend thee.' It kept where I kept, I so dearly loved it; Till the rough seas, that spare not any man, Took it in rage, though calm'd have given't again: I thank thee for 't: my shipwreck now's no ill, Since I have here my father's gift in's will.
What mean you' sir?
To beg of you, kind friends, this coat of worth, For it was sometime target to a king; I know it by this mark. He loved me dearly, And for his sake I wish the having of it; And that you'ld guide me to your sovereign court, Where with it I may appear a gentleman; And if that ever my fortune's better, I'll pay your bounties; till then rest your debtor.
Why, wilt thou tourney for the lady?
I'll show the virtue I have borne in arms.
Why, do'e take it, and the gods give thee good on 't!
Ay, but hark you, my friend; 'twas we that made up this garment through the rough seams of the waters: there are certain condolements, certain vails. I hope, sir, if you thrive, you'll remember from whence you had it.
Believe't I will. By your furtherance I am clothed in steel; And, spite of all the rapture of the sea, This jewel holds his building on my arm: Unto thy value I will mount myself Upon a courser, whose delightful steps Shall make the gazer joy to see him tread. Only, my friend, I yet am unprovided Of a pair of bases.
We'll sure provide: thou shalt have my best gown to make thee a pair; and I'll bring thee to the court myself.
Then honour be but a goal to my will, This day I'll rise, or else add ill to ill.