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Pericles, Prince of Tyre

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Act II, Scene 1

Pentapolis. An open place by the sea-side.


[Enter PERICLES, wet]

  • Pericles. Yet cease your ire, you angry stars of heaven! 580
    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 585
    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. 590

[Enter three FISHERMEN]

  • First Fisherman. Look how thou stirrest now! come away, or I'll
    fetch thee with a wanion.
  • Third Fisherman. Faith, master, I am thinking of the poor men that
    were cast away before us even now.
  • First Fisherman. Alas, poor souls, it grieved my heart to hear what 600
    pitiful cries they made to us to help them, when,
    well-a-day, we could scarce help ourselves.
  • Third Fisherman. 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, 605
    they ne'er come but I look to be washed. Master, I
    marvel how the fishes live in the sea.
  • First Fisherman. 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 610
    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've swallowed the whole parish, church,
    steeple, bells, and all. 615
  • Third Fisherman. But, master, if I had been the sexton, I would have
    been that day in the belfry.
  • Third Fisherman. Because he should have swallowed me too: and when I 620
    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,— 625
  • Third Fisherman. We would purge the land of these drones, that rob
    the bee of her honey.
  • Pericles. [Aside] How from the finny subject of the sea
    These fishers tell the infirmities of men; 630
    And from their watery empire recollect
    All that may men approve or men detect!
    Peace be at your labour, honest fishermen.
  • Second Fisherman. Honest! good fellow, what's that? If it be a day
    fits you, search out of the calendar, and nobody 635
    look after it.
  • Pericles. May see the sea hath cast upon your coast.
  • Pericles. A man whom both the waters and the wind, 640
    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.
  • First Fisherman. No, friend, cannot you beg? Here's them in our
    country Greece gets more with begging than we can do 645
    with working.
  • Second Fisherman. Nay, then thou wilt starve, sure; for here's nothing
    to be got now-a-days, unless thou canst fish for't. 650
  • Pericles. 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; 655
    Which if you shall refuse, when I am dead,
    For that I am a man, pray see me buried.
  • First Fisherman. 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 660
    we'll have flesh for holidays, fish for
    fasting-days, and moreo'er puddings and flap-jacks,
    and thou shalt be welcome.
  • Second Fisherman. But crave! Then I'll turn craver too, and so I
    shall 'scape whipping.
  • Pericles. Why, are all your beggars whipped, then?
  • Second Fisherman. O, not all, my friend, not all; for if all your 670
    beggars were whipped, I would wish no better office
    than to be beadle. But, master, I'll go draw up the

[Exit with Third Fisherman]

  • Pericles. [Aside] How well this honest mirth becomes their labour! 675
  • First Fisherman. Why, I'll tell you: this is called Pentapolis, and
    our king the good Simonides.
  • Pericles. The good King Simonides, do you call him. 680
  • First Fisherman. Ay, sir; and he deserves so to be called for his
    peaceable reign and good government.
  • Pericles. He is a happy king, since he gains from his subjects
    the name of good by his government. How far is his
    court distant from this shore? 685
  • First Fisherman. 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.
  • Pericles. Were my fortunes equal to my desires, I could wish 690
    to make one there.
  • First Fisherman. O, sir, things must be as they may; and what a man
    cannot get, he may lawfully deal for—his wife's soul.

[Re-enter Second and Third Fishermen, drawing up a net]

  • Second Fisherman. Help, master, help! here's a fish hangs in the net, 695
    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.
  • Pericles. An armour, friends! I pray you, let me see it.
    Thanks, fortune, yet, that, after all my crosses, 700
    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 705
    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; 710
    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.
  • Pericles. 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's court, 720
    Where with it I may appear a gentleman;
    And if that ever my low fortune's better,
    I'll pay your bounties; till then rest your debtor.
  • Pericles. I'll show the virtue I have borne in arms. 725
  • Second Fisherman. 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 730
    whence you had it.
  • Pericles. 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: 735
    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. 740
  • Second Fisherman. We'll sure provide: thou shalt have my best gown to
    make thee a pair; and I'll bring thee to the court myself.
  • Pericles. Then honour be but a goal to my will,
    This day I'll rise, or else add ill to ill.