Pericles, by William Shakespeare

Act III

Prologue

Enter Gower

Gower

Now sleep y-slaked hath the rout;
No din but snores the house about,
Made louder by the o’er-fed breast
Of this most pompous marriage-feast.
The cat, with eyne of burning coal,
Now crouches fore the mouse’s hole;
And crickets sing at the oven’s mouth,
E’er the blither for their drouth.
Hymen hath brought the bride to bed.
Where, by the loss of maidenhead,
A babe is moulded. Be attent,
And time that is so briefly spent
With your fine fancies quaintly eche:
What’s dumb in show I’ll plain with speech.
Dumb Show.

Enter, Pericles and Simonides at one door, with Attendants; a Messenger meets them, kneels, and gives Pericles a letter: Pericles shows it Simonides; the Lords kneel to him. Then enter Thaisa with child, with Lychorida a nurse. The King shows her the letter; she rejoices: she and Pericles takes leave of her father, and depart with Lychorida and their Attendants. Then exeunt Simonides and the rest

By many a dern and painful perch
Of Pericles the careful search,
By the four opposing coigns
Which the world together joins,
Is made with all due diligence
That horse and sail and high expense
Can stead the quest. At last from Tyre,
Fame answering the most strange inquire,
To the court of King Simonides
Are letters brought, the tenor these:
Antiochus and his daughter dead;
The men of Tyrus on the head
Of Helicanus would set on
The crown of Tyre, but he will none:
The mutiny he there hastes t’ oppress;
Says to ’em, if King Pericles
Come not home in twice six moons,
He, obedient to their dooms,
Will take the crown. The sum of this,
Brought hither to Pentapolis,
Y-ravished the regions round,
And every one with claps can sound,
‘Our heir-apparent is a king!
Who dream’d, who thought of such a thing?’
Brief, he must hence depart to Tyre:
His queen with child makes her desire —
Which who shall cross? — along to go:
Omit we all their dole and woe:
Lychorida, her nurse, she takes,
And so to sea. Their vessel shakes
On Neptune’s billow; half the flood
Hath their keel cut: but fortune’s mood
Varies again; the grisly north
Disgorges such a tempest forth,
That, as a duck for life that dives,
So up and down the poor ship drives:
The lady shrieks, and well-a-near
Does fall in travail with her fear:
And what ensues in this fell storm
Shall for itself itself perform.
I nill relate, action may
Conveniently the rest convey;
Which might not what by me is told.
In your imagination hold
This stage the ship, upon whose deck
The sea-tost Pericles appears to speak.

Exit

Scene I:

Enter Pericles, on shipboard

Pericles

Thou god of this great vast, rebuke these surges,
Which wash both heaven and hell; and thou, that hast
Upon the winds command, bind them in brass,
Having call’d them from the deep! O, still
Thy deafening, dreadful thunders; gently quench
Thy nimble, sulphurous flashes! O, how, Lychorida,
How does my queen? Thou stormest venomously;
Wilt thou spit all thyself? The seaman’s whistle
Is as a whisper in the ears of death,
Unheard. Lychorida! — Lucina, O
Divinest patroness, and midwife gentle
To those that cry by night, convey thy deity
Aboard our dancing boat; make swift the pangs
Of my queen’s travails!

Enter Lychorida, with an Infant

Now, Lychorida!

Lychorida

Here is a thing too young for such a place,
Who, if it had conceit, would die, as I
Am like to do: take in your arms this piece
Of your dead queen.

Pericles

How, how, Lychorida!

Lychorida

Patience, good sir; do not assist the storm.
Here’s all that is left living of your queen,
A little daughter: for the sake of it,
Be manly, and take comfort.

Pericles

O you gods!
Why do you make us love your goodly gifts,
And snatch them straight away? We here below
Recall not what we give, and therein may
Use honour with you.

Lychorida

Patience, good sir,
Even for this charge.

Pericles

Now, mild may be thy life!
For a more blustrous birth had never babe:
Quiet and gentle thy conditions! for
Thou art the rudeliest welcome to this world
That ever was prince’s child. Happy what follows!
Thou hast as chiding a nativity
As fire, air, water, earth, and heaven can make,
To herald thee from the womb: even at the first
Thy loss is more than can thy portage quit,
With all thou canst find here. Now, the good gods
Throw their best eyes upon’t!

Enter two Sailors

First Sailor

What courage, sir? God save you!

Pericles

Courage enough: I do not fear the flaw;
It hath done to me the worst. Yet, for the love
Of this poor infant, this fresh-new sea-farer,
I would it would be quiet.

First Sailor

Slack the bolins there! Thou wilt not, wilt thou?
Blow, and split thyself.

Second Sailor

But sea-room, an the brine and cloudy billow kiss the moon, I care not.

First Sailor

Sir, your queen must overboard: the sea works high, the wind is loud, and will not lie till the ship be cleared of the dead.

Pericles

That’s your superstition.

First Sailor

Pardon us, sir; with us at sea it hath been still observed: and we are strong in custom. Therefore briefly yield her; for she must overboard straight.

Pericles

As you think meet. Most wretched queen!

Lychorida

Here she lies, sir.

Pericles

A terrible childbed hast thou had, my dear;
No light, no fire: the unfriendly elements
Forgot thee utterly: nor have I time
To give thee hallow’d to thy grave, but straight
Must cast thee, scarcely coffin’d, in the ooze;
Where, for a monument upon thy bones,
And e’er-remaining lamps, the belching whale
And humming water must o’erwhelm thy corpse,
Lying with simple shells. O Lychorida,
Bid Nestor bring me spices, ink and paper,
My casket and my jewels; and bid Nicander
Bring me the satin coffer: lay the babe
Upon the pillow: hie thee, whiles I say
A priestly farewell to her: suddenly, woman.

Exit Lychorida

Second Sailor

Sir, we have a chest beneath the hatches, caulked and bitumed ready.

Pericles

I thank thee. Mariner, say what coast is this?

Second Sailor

We are near Tarsus.

Pericles

Thither, gentle mariner.
Alter thy course for Tyre. When canst thou reach it?

Second Sailor

By break of day, if the wind cease.

Pericles

O, make for Tarsus!
There will I visit Cleon, for the babe
Cannot hold out to Tyrus: there I’ll leave it
At careful nursing. Go thy ways, good mariner:
I’ll bring the body presently.

Exeunt

Scene II. Ephesus. A room in Cerimon’s house.

Enter Cerimon, with a Servant, and some Persons who have been shipwrecked

Cerimon

Philemon, ho!

Enter Philemon

Philemon

Doth my lord call?

Cerimon

Get fire and meat for these poor men:
’T has been a turbulent and stormy night.

Servant

I have been in many; but such a night as this,
Till now, I ne’er endured.

Cerimon

Your master will be dead ere you return;
There’s nothing can be minister’d to nature
That can recover him.

To Philemon

Give this to the ’pothecary,
And tell me how it works.

Exeunt all but Cerimon

Enter two Gentlemen

First Gentleman

Good morrow.

Second Gentleman

Good morrow to your lordship.

Cerimon

Gentlemen,
Why do you stir so early?

First Gentleman

Sir,
Our lodgings, standing bleak upon the sea,
Shook as the earth did quake;
The very principals did seem to rend,
And all-to topple: pure surprise and fear
Made me to quit the house.

Second Gentleman

That is the cause we trouble you so early;
’Tis not our husbandry.

Cerimon

O, you say well.

First Gentleman

But I much marvel that your lordship, having
Rich tire about you, should at these early hours
Shake off the golden slumber of repose.
’Tis most strange,
Nature should be so conversant with pain,
Being thereto not compell’d.

Cerimon

I hold it ever,
Virtue and cunning were endowments greater
Than nobleness and riches: careless heirs
May the two latter darken and expend;
But immortality attends the former.
Making a man a god. ’Tis known, I ever
Have studied physic, through which secret art,
By turning o’er authorities, I have,
Together with my practise, made familiar
To me and to my aid the blest infusions
That dwell in vegetives, in metals, stones;
And I can speak of the disturbances
That nature works, and of her cures; which doth give me
A more content in course of true delight
Than to be thirsty after tottering honour,
Or tie my treasure up in silken bags,
To please the fool and death.

Second Gentleman

Your honour has through Ephesus pour’d forth
Your charity, and hundreds call themselves
Your creatures, who by you have been restored:
And not your knowledge, your personal pain, but even
Your purse, still open, hath built Lord Cerimon
Such strong renown as time shall ne’er decay.

Enter two or three Servants with a chest

First Servant

So; lift there.

Cerimon

  What is that?

First Servant

Sir, even now
Did the sea toss upon our shore this chest:
’Tis of some wreck.

Cerimon

Set ’t down, let’s look upon’t.

Second Gentleman

’Tis like a coffin, sir.

Cerimon

Whate’er it be,
’Tis wondrous heavy. Wrench it open straight:
If the sea’s stomach be o’ercharged with gold,
’Tis a good constraint of fortune it belches upon us.

Second Gentleman

’Tis so, my lord.

Cerimon

  How close ’tis caulk’d and bitumed!
Did the sea cast it up?

First Servant

I never saw so huge a billow, sir,
As toss’d it upon shore.

Cerimon

Wrench it open;
Soft! it smells most sweetly in my sense.

Second Gentleman

A delicate odour.

Cerimon

As ever hit my nostril. So, up with it.
O you most potent gods! what’s here? a corse!

First Gentleman

Most strange!

Cerimon

Shrouded in cloth of state; balm’d and entreasured
With full bags of spices! A passport too!
Apollo, perfect me in the characters!

Reads from a scroll

‘Here I give to understand,
If e’er this coffin drive a-land,
I, King Pericles, have lost
This queen, worth all our mundane cost.
Who finds her, give her burying;
She was the daughter of a king:
Besides this treasure for a fee,
The gods requite his charity!’
If thou livest, Pericles, thou hast a heart
That even cracks for woe! This chanced tonight.

Second Gentleman

Most likely, sir.

Cerimon

  Nay, certainly to-night;
For look how fresh she looks! They were too rough
That threw her in the sea. Make a fire within:
Fetch hither all my boxes in my closet.

Exit a Servant

Death may usurp on nature many hours,
And yet the fire of life kindle again
The o’erpress’d spirits. I heard of an Egyptian
That had nine hours lien dead,
Who was by good appliance recovered.

Re-enter a Servant, with boxes, napkins, and fire

Well said, well said; the fire and cloths.
The rough and woeful music that we have,
Cause it to sound, beseech you.
The viol once more: how thou stirr’st, thou block!
The music there! — I pray you, give her air.
Gentlemen.
This queen will live: nature awakes; a warmth
Breathes out of her: she hath not been entranced
Above five hours: see how she gins to blow
Into life’s flower again!

First Gentleman

The heavens,
Through you, increase our wonder and set up
Your fame forever.

Cerimon

  She is alive; behold,
Her eyelids, cases to those heavenly jewels
Which Pericles hath lost,
Begin to part their fringes of bright gold;
The diamonds of a most praised water
Do appear, to make the world twice rich. Live,
And make us weep to hear your fate, fair creature,
Rare as you seem to be.

She moves

Thaisa

O dear Diana,
Where am I? Where’s my lord? What world is this?

Second Gentleman

Is not this strange?

First Gentleman

Most rare.

Cerimon

Hush, my gentle neighbours!
Lend me your hands; to the next chamber bear her.
Get linen: now this matter must be look’d to,
For her relapse is mortal. Come, come;
And Aesculapius guide us!

Exeunt, carrying her away

Scene III. Tarsus. A room in Cleon’s house.

Enter Pericles, Cleon, Dionyza, and Lychorida with Marina in her arms

Pericles

  Most honour’d Cleon, I must needs be gone;
My twelve months are expired, and Tyrus stands
In a litigious peace. You, and your lady,
Take from my heart all thankfulness! The gods
Make up the rest upon you!

Cleon

Your shafts of fortune, though they hurt you mortally,
Yet glance full wanderingly on us.

Dionyza

O your sweet queen!
That the strict fates had pleased you had brought her hither,
To have bless’d mine eyes with her!

Pericles

We cannot but obey
The powers above us. Could I rage and roar
As doth the sea she lies in, yet the end
Must be as ’tis. My gentle babe Marina, whom,
For she was born at sea, I have named so, here
I charge your charity withal, leaving her
The infant of your care; beseeching you
To give her princely training, that she may be
Manner’d as she is born.

Cleon

Fear not, my lord, but think
Your grace, that fed my country with your corn,
For which the people’s prayers still fall upon you,
Must in your child be thought on. If neglection
Should therein make me vile, the common body,
By you relieved, would force me to my duty:
But if to that my nature need a spur,
The gods revenge it upon me and mine,
To the end of generation!

Pericles

I believe you;
Your honour and your goodness teach me to’t,
Without your vows. Till she be married, madam,
By bright Diana, whom we honour, all
Unscissor’d shall this hair of mine remain,
Though I show ill in’t. So I take my leave.
Good madam, make me blessed in your care
In bringing up my child.

Dionyza

I have one myself,
Who shall not be more dear to my respect
Than yours, my lord.

Pericles

Madam, my thanks and prayers.

Cleon

We’ll bring your grace e’en to the edge o’ the shore,
Then give you up to the mask’d Neptune and
The gentlest winds of heaven.

Pericles

I will embrace
Your offer. Come, dearest madam. O, no tears,
Lychorida, no tears:
Look to your little mistress, on whose grace
You may depend hereafter. Come, my lord.

Exeunt

Scene IV. Ephesus. A room in Cerimon’s house.

Enter Cerimon and Thaisa

Cerimon

Madam, this letter, and some certain jewels,
Lay with you in your coffer: which are now
At your command. Know you the character?

Thaisa

It is my lord’s.
That I was shipp’d at sea, I well remember,
Even on my eaning time; but whether there
Deliver’d, by the holy gods,
I cannot rightly say. But since King Pericles,
My wedded lord, I ne’er shall see again,
A vestal livery will I take me to,
And never more have joy.

Cerimon

Madam, if this you purpose as ye speak,
Diana’s temple is not distant far,
Where you may abide till your date expire.
Moreover, if you please, a niece of mine
Shall there attend you.

Thaisa

My recompense is thanks, that’s all;
Yet my good will is great, though the gift small.

Exeunt

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Last updated Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 22:30