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Before the Palace of Antioch.
Gow. To sing a song that old was sung,
From ashes ancient Gower is come;
Assuming man's infirmities,
To glad your ear and please your eyes.
It hath been sung at festivals,
On ember-eves and holy-ales ;
And Lords and Ladies in their lives
Have read it for restoratives :
The purchase is to make men glorious;
Et bonum quo antiquius, eo melius.
If you, born in these latter times,
When wit 's more ripe, accept my rhymes,
And that to hear an old man sing
May to your wishes pleasure bring,
I life would wish, and that I might
Waste it for
This Antioch, then, Antiochus the Great
up, this city, for his chiefest seat;
The fairest in all Syria-
what mine authors say :
This King unto him took a fere,
Who died and left a female heir,
So buxom, blithe, and full of face,
As Heaven had lent her all his grace;
With whom the father liking took,
And her to incest did provoke:
Bad child; worse father! to entice his own
To evil should be done by none:
By custom what they did begin
Was with long use account no sin.
The beauty of this sinful dame
Made many Princes thither frame,
To seek her as a bed-fellow,
In marriage-pleasures play-fellow;
Which to prevent he made a law
(To keep her still, and men in awe)
That whoso ask'd her for his wife,
His riddle told not, lost his life :
So for her many a wight did die,
As yon grim looks do testify.
What now ensues, to the judgment of your eye
I give, my cause who best can justify. [exit.
Enter ANTIOCHUS, PRINCE PERICLES, and Followers.
Ant. Young Prince of Tyre, you have at large receiv'd
The danger of the task
undertake. PER. I have, Antiochus, and, with a soul
Embolden'd with the glory of her praise,
Think death no hazard in this enterprise.
Ant. Bring in our daughter, clothed like a bride,
For the embracements even of Jove himself;
At whose conception, till Lucina reign'd,
Nature this dowry gave, to glad her presence,
The senate-house of planets all did sit,
To knit in her their best perfections.
Music. Enter the Daughter of ANTIOCHUS.
PER. See where she comes, apparell'd like the Spring,
Graces her subjects, and her thoughts the King
Of every virtue gives renown to men!
Her face the book of praises, where is read
Nothing but curious pleasures, as from thence
Sorrow were ever raz’d, and testy Wrath
Could never be her mild companion.
You Gods that made me man, and sway in love, ,
That have inflam'd desire in my breast
To taste the fruit of yon celestial tree,
Or die in the adventure, be my helps,
As I am son and servant to your will,
To compass such a boundless happiness!
Ant. Prince Pericles-
PER. That would be son to great Antiochus.
Ant. Before thee stands this fair Hesperides,
With golden fruit, but dangerous to be touch'd;
For Death-like dragons here affright thee hard :
Her face, like Heaven, enticeth thee to view
Her countless glory, which desert must gain;
And which, without desert, because thine eye
Presumes to reach, all thy whole heap must die.
Yon sometimes-famous Princes, like thyself,
Drawn by report, adventurous by desire,
Tell thee, with speechless tongues and semblance pale,
That, without covering, save yon field of Stars,
Here they stand martyrs, slain in Cupid's wars;
And with dead cheeks advise thee to desist
For going on Death's net, whom none resist.
PER. Antiochus, I thank thee, who hath taught
My frail mortality to know itself,
And by those fearful objects to prepare
This body, like to them, to what I must;
For Death remember'd should be like a mirror,
Who tells us Life's but breath; to trust it, error.
I'll make my will, then; and, as sick men do,
Who know the world, see Heaven, but, feeling woe,
Gripe not at earthly joys, as erst they did;
So I bequeath a happy peace to you
And all good men, as every Prince should do;
My riches to the earth from whence they came;
my unspotted fire of love to you.
[to the Daughter of ANTIOCHUS.
Thus, ready for the way of life or death,
I wait the sharpest blow.
Ant. Scorning advice, read the conclusion, then;
Which read and not expounded, 'tis decreed,
As these before thee, thou thyself shalt bleed.
Daugh. Of all said yet, may’st thou prove prosperous !
Of all said yet, I wish thee happiness !
PER. Like a bold champion, I assume the lists,
Nor ask advice of any other thought
But faithfulness and courage.
[He reads the riddle.
I am no viper, yet I feed
On mother's flesh which did me breed.
I sought a husband, in which labour
I found that kindness in a father :
He's father, son, and husband mild;
I mother, wife, and yet his child.
How they may be, and yet in two,
will live, resolve it you. .
Sharp physic is the last : but,
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 lov’d you, and could still,
(takes hold of the hand of the PRINCESS.
Were not this glorious casket stor'd 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 are a fair viol, and your sense the strings;
Who, finger'd to make man his lawful music,
Would draw Heaven down, and all the Gods, to hearken;
But, being play'd 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 expir’d:
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 shewn:
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
Copp'd hills towards Heaven, to tell the Earth is throng'd
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 being bred,
Then give my tongue like leave to love my head.
Ant. [aside.] Heaven, that I had thy head! he has found
But I will gloze with him.—Young Prince of Tyre,
Though by the tenour of our strict edict,
Your exposition misinterpreting,
We might proceed to cancel of your days ;
Yet hope, succeeding from so fair a tree
fair self, doth tune us otherwise.
Forty days longer we do respite you;
If by which time our secret be undone,
This mercy shews we'll joy in such a son;
And until then your entertain shall be
As doth befit our honour and your worth.
[Exeunt all but PERICLES. PER. How courtesy would seem to cover sin,
When what is done is like an 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 an 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