Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

PERICLES, PRINCE OF TYRE.

ACT I.

Enter Gower1.

Before the Palace of Antioch.
To sing a song that old2 was sung,
From ashes ancient Gower is come3;
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 purchase5 is to make men glorious ;
Et bonum quo antiquius, eo melius.

1 Chorus, in the character of Gower, an ancient English poet, who has related the story of this play in his Confessio Amantis.

2 i. e. that of old.

3 The defect of metre (sung and come being no rhymes ) points out that we should read

From ancient ashes Gower sprung;' alluding to the restoration of the Phenix.

4 That is, says Dr. Farmer, by whom this emendation was made, church-ales. The old copy has holy days.' Gower's speeches were certainly intended to rhyme throughout.

5. The purchase' is the reading of the old copy; which Steevens, among other capricious alterations, changed to purpose. That Steevens and Malone were ignorant of the true meaning of the word purchase I have shown in vol. v. p. 148, note 21. It was anciently used to signify gain, profit; any good or advantage obtained; as in the following insiances :-James the First, when he made the extravagant gift of 30,0001. to Rich, -aid, You think now that you have a great purchase; but I am far happier in giving you that sum than you can be in receiving it.'

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 you, like taper-light-
This Antioch then, Antiochus the Great
Built up this city for his chiefest seat;
The fairest in all Syria;
(I tell you 'what mine authors say):
This king unto him took a pheereb,
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, accounts no sin.
The beauty of this sinful dame
Made many princes thither frame,
To seek her as a bed-fellow,
In marriage-pleasures playfellow:
Which to prevent, he made a law
(To keep her still, and men in awelo),
That whoso ask'd her for his wife,

No purchase passes a good wife, no losse
Is, tban a bad wife, a more cursed crosse.'

Chapman's Georgics of Hesiod, b. ii. 44, p. 32.
Long would it be ere thou hast purchase bought,
Or welthier wexen by such idle thought

Hall, eatire ii. b, 2. Some fall in love with accesse to princes, others with popular fame and applause, supposinge they are things of greate purchase, when in many cases they are but matters of envy, perill, and impediment.'-Bacon Adv. of Learning. 6 Wife: the word signifies a mate or companion.

i. e. completely csuberantly beautiful. A full fortune, in Othello, means a complete one.

8 Account for accounted.
9 i. e. shape or direct their course thither.

18. To keep her still to himself, and do deter others from demani. ing her in marriage.'

His riddle told not, lost his life:
So for her many a wight did die,
As yon grim looks do testify11,
What now ensues, to the judgment of your eye
I give, my cause who best can justify 12. [Erit.

SCENE I.

Antioch. A Room in the Palace.

Enter AntiochUs, Pericles, and Attendants. Ant. Young prince of Tyrel, you have at large

receiv'd The danger of the task you undertake.

Per. I have, Antiochus, and with a soul Embolden'd with the glory of her praise, Think death no hazard, in this enterprise. [Music.

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 presence3),

12

11 Gower must be supposed to point to the scene of the palace gate at Antioch, on which the heads of those unfortunate wights were fixed.

Which (the judgment of your eye) best can justify, i. e. prove its resemblance to the ordinary course of nature. Thus afterward:

· When thou shall kneel and justify in knowledge.' ! It does not appear in the present drama that the father of Pericles is living. By prince, therefore, throughout this play, we are to onderstand prince regnant. In the Gesta Romanorum Appolonius is king of Tyre ; and Appolyn in Copland's translation from the French. In Twine's translation he is repeatedly called prince of Tyrus, as he is in Gower. 2 In the old copy this line stands :

"Musie, bring in our daughter, clothed like a bride." Malone thinks it a marginal direetion, inserted in the text by mistake. Mr. Boswell thinks it only an Alexandrine, and adds, • It does not seem probable that music would commence at the close of Pericles' speech, without an order from the king

3 The words whose and her refer to the daughter of Antiochus. The construction is, at whose conception the senate-house of planets all did sit, &e. ; and the words, till Lucina reign'd, Natore,' &c are parenthetical. The leading thought may have been taken from Sidney's Arcadia, book ii, :— The senate-house of the planets was Shed their selectest influence.' 4 “The Graces are her subjects, and her thoughts the sovereign of every virtue that gives renown to men.'. The ellipsis in the second line is what obscured this passage, which Steevens would have altered, because he did not coin prehend it.

The senate-house of planets all did sit,
To knit in her their best perfections.

Enter the Daughter of ANTIOCHUS.
Per. See, where she comes, appareli'd like the

spring,
Graces her subjects, and her thoughts the king
of every virtue gives renown to men4!
Her face, the book of praisess, where is read
Nothing but curious pleasures, as from thence
Sorrow were ever ras'd, and testy wrath
Could never be her mild companione.
Ye 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 :

[ocr errors]

at no time to set for the decreeing of perfection in a man,' &c. Thus also Milton, Paradise Lost, viii. 511:

all heaven,
And happy constellations, on that bour

5. Her face is a book where may be read all that is praiseworthy, everything that is the cause of admiration and praise.' Shakspeare has often this image.

6 By her mild companion the companion of her mildness' is meant.

? Hesperides is here taken for the name of the garden in which the golden apples were kept ; as we find it in Love's Labour's Lost, Act iv. See yol. ii. p. 346, note 26.

And which, without desert, because thine eye
Presumes to reach, all thy whole heap must die.
Yon sometime famous princes, like thyself,
Drawn by report, advent'rous by desire,
Tell thee with speechless tongues, and semblance pale,
That without covering, save yon field of starsø,
They here 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 must10:
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

woell, 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; But 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, Antiochus.

Ant. Scorning advice.- Read the conclusion then; Which read and not expounded, 'tis decreed, As these before thee thou thyself shalt bleed.

8 Thus Lucan, lib, vii :

-- cælo tegitur qui non habet urnam.' 9 i. e. ' for fear of going,' or "lest they should go.' See vol i. p. 104, note 12; and vol. iii. p. 266, note 4. Dr. Percy proposed to read, 'in death's pet;' but on and in were anciently used the one for the other.

10 That is, to prepare this body for that state to which I must come.'

11 “I will act as sick men do ; who having had experience of the pleasures of the world, and only a visionary and distant prospect of heaven, have neglected the latter for the former ; but at length, feeling themselves decaying, grasp no longer at temporal pleasures, but prepare calmly for futurity.'

« FöregåendeFortsätt »