SCENE II. Tyre. A room in the palace.

[Enter Pericles.]

PERICLES. [To Lords without.]
Let none disturb us. -- Why should this change of thoughts,
The sad companion, dull-eyed melancholy,
Be my so used a guest as not an hour,
In the day's glorious walk, or peaceful night,
The tomb where grief should sleep, can breed me quiet?
Here pleasures court mine eyes, and mine eyes shun them,
And danger, which I fear'd, is at Antioch,
Whose arm seems far too short to hit me here:
Yet neither pleasure's art can joy my spirits,
Nor yet the other's distance comfort me.
Then it is thus: the passions of the mind,
That have their first conception by mis-dread
Have after-nourishment and life by care;
And what was first but fear what might he done,
Grows elder now and cares it be not done.
And so with me: the great Antiochus,
'Gainst whom I am too little to contend,
Since he 's so great can make his will his act,
Will think me speaking, though I swear to silence;
Nor boots it me to say I honour him.
If he suspect I may dishonour him:
And what may make him blush in being known,
He'll stop the course by which it might be known;
With hostile forces he'11 o'erspread the land,
And with the ostent of war will look so huge,
Amazement shall drive courage from the state;
Our men be vanquish'd ere they do resist,
And subjects punish'd that ne'er thought offence:
Which care of them, not pity of myself,
Who am no more but as the tops of trees,
Which fence the roots they grow by and defend them,
Makes both my body pine and soul to languish,
And punish that before that he would punish.

[Enter Helicanus, with other Lords.]

FIRST LORD.
Joy and all comfort in your sacred breast!

SECOND LORD.
And keep your mind, till you return to us,
Peaceful and comfortable!

HELICANUS.
Peace, peace, and give experience tongue.
They do abuse the king that flatter him:
For flattery is the bellows blows up sin;
The thing the which is flatter'd, but a spark,
To which that blast gives heat and stronger glowing:
Whereas reproof, obedient and in order,
Fits kings, as they are men, for they may err.
When Signior Sooth here does proclaim a peace,
He flatters you, makes war upon your life.
Prince, pardon me, or strike me, if you please;
I cannot be much lower than my knees.

PERICLES.
All leave us else; but let your cares o'erlook
What shipping and what lading is in our haven,
And then return to us.

[Exeunt Lords.]

Helicanus, thou
Hast moved us: what seest thou in our looks?

HELICANUS.
An angry brow, dread lord.

PERICLES.
If there be such a dart in princes' frowns,
How durst thy tongue move anger to our face?

HELICANUS.
How dare the plants look up to heaven, from whence
They have their nourishment?

PERICLES.
Thou know'st I have power
To take thy life from thee.

HELICANUS. [Kneeling.]
I have ground the axe myself;
Do you but strike the blow.

PERICLES.
Rise, prithee, rise.
Sit down: thou art no flatterer:
I thank thee for it; and heaven forbid
That kings should let their ears hear their faults hid!
Fit counsellor and servant for a prince,
Who by thy wisdom makest a prince thy servant,
What wouldst thou have me do?

HELICANUS.
To bear with patience
Such griefs as you yourself do lay upon yourself.

Pericles Prince of Tyre Page 06

William Shakespeare Plays

Free Books in the public domain from the Classic Literature Library ©

William Shakespeare
Classic Literature Library

All Pages of This Book