Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: George Wilkins
Editors: Tom Bishop, Andrew Forsberg
Not Peer Reviewed

Wilkins: The Adventures of Pericles (Modern)


The Fourth Chapter.

460How Pericles puts forth to sea, suffers shipwreck, is relieved by certain poor fishermen, at last arrives at Simonides' court, King of Pentapolis, where in feats of arms he exceedeth all the princes that came to honor the birthday of his fair daughter, Thaisa, and with purpose also to sue to her for marriage.

465Prince Pericles having thus relieved Tharsus, and been warned (for the avoidance of a greater danger) by his good counselor, Helicanus, to forsake the city, though not without much sorrow of the citizens for his departure, he is once again at sea, seeking a new refuge, and accounting any country his best inn where he found the best safety.

No sooner were 470his wooden castles floating on the unconstant deeps but, as if Neptune himself, chief sovereign of that watery empire, would have come in person to have given calm gratulations and friendly welcomes to this courteous prince, the whole nation of the floods were at quiet: there were no winds blustering, no surges rising, no rains showering, no tempest storming, but 475all calmness was upon the face of this kingdom, only a troupe of cheerful dolphins, as ambassadors sent from their kingly master, came dancing on the waters for the entertaining of him. At which, his joyful mariners, being scarce from sight of land, with pleasant notes spread forth their comely sails, and with their brazen keels cut an easy passage on the 480green meadows of the floods.

At last, Fortune having brought him here where she might make him the fittest tennis-ball for her sport, even as suddenly as thought this was the alteration: the heavens began to thunder and the skies shone with flashes of fire; day now had no other show but only name, for darkness was on the whole face of the waters; hills of seas 485were about him, one sometimes tossing him to the face of heaven, while another sought to sink him to the roof of hell; some cried, others labored, he only prayed. At last, two ravenous billows meeting, the one with intent to stop up all clamor and the other to wash away all labor, his vessels, no longer able to wrestle with the tempest, were all 490split. In brief, he was shipwrecked, his good friends and subjects all were lost, nothing left to help him but distress, and nothing to complain unto but his misery.

O calamity! there might you have heard the winds whistling, the rain dashing, the sea roaring, the cables cracking, the tacklings breaking, the ship tearing, the men miserably crying out to 495save their lives. There might you have seen the sea searching the ship, the boards fleeting, the goods swimming, the treasure sinking, and the poor souls shifting to save themselves, but all in vain, for, partly by the violence of the tempest and partly through that dismal darkness which unfortunately was come upon them, they were all drowned, gentle 500Pericles only excepted, till (as it were Fortune being tired with this mishap) by the help of a plank, which in this distress he got hold on, he was, with much labor and more fear, driven on the shore of Pentapolis.

Where a while complaining him of his mishaps and accusing the gods of this injury done to his innocency, not knowing on what shore, 505whether friend or foe he had, being certain fishermen, who had also suffered in the former tempest and had been witnesses of his untimely shipwreck (the day being cleared again) were come out from their homely cottages to dry and repair their nets. Who being busied about their work, and no whit regarding his lamentation, passed away their labor with discourse 510to this purpose: in comparing the sea to brokers and usurers, who seem fair and look lovely till they have got men into their clutches, when one tumbles them and another tosses them, but seldom leaving until they have sunk them. Again comparing our rich men to whales, that make a great show in the world, rolling and tumbling up and down, but are 515good for little but to sink others; that the fishes live in the sea as the powerful on shore, the great ones eat up the little ones. With which moral observations driving out their labor, and Prince Pericles, wondering that from the finny subjects of the sea these poor country people learned the infirmities of men more than man's obduracy and dullness could 520learn one of another.

At length, overcharged with cold which the extremity of water had pressed him with, and no longer being able to endure, he was compelled to demand their simple help, offering to their ears the mishap of his shipwreck, which he was no sooner about to relate, but they remembered their eyes, not without much sorrow, to have been the witnesses 525thereof. And beholding the comely feature of this gentleman, the chief of these fishermen was moved with compassion toward him, and lifting him up from the ground, himself, with the help of his men, led him to his house, where, with such fare as they presently had or they could readily provide, they with a hearty welcome feasted him. And, the more to express 530their tenderness to his misfortune, the master dishabited himself of his outward apparel to warm and cherish him, which courtesy Pericles as courteously receiving, vowing, if ever his fortunes came to their ancient height, their courtesies should not die unrecompensed.

And being somewhat repaired in heart by their relief, he demanded of the country on the 535which he was driven, of the name of the king, and of the manner of the government; when the master fisherman commanding his servants to go drag up some other nets which yet were abroad, he seated himself by him, and of the question he demanded, to this purpose resolved him: "Our country here on the which you are driven, sir, is called Pentapolis, 540and our good king thereof is called Symonides." "The good king call you him?" quoth Pericles. "Yea, and rightly so called sir," quoth the poor fisherman, "who so governs his kingdom with justice and uprightness that he is no readier to command than we his subjects are willing to obey." "He is a happy king," quoth Pericles, "since he gains the name of good by his 545government."

And then demanded how far his court was distant from that place, wherein he was resolved, "some half a day's journey," and from point to point also informed that the king had a princely daughter named Thaisa, in whom was beauty so joined with virtue that it was as yet unresolved which of them deserved the greater comparison. And in memory 550of whose birthday, her father yearly celebrated feasts and triumphs, in the honor of which many princes and knights from far and remote countries came, partly to approve their chivalry but especially (being her father's only child) in hope to gain her love.

Which name of chivalry to approve, that all the violence of the water had not power to quench 555the nobleness of his mind, Pericles sighing to himself he broke out thus: "Were but my fortunes answerable to my desires, some should feel that I would be one there." When as if all the gods had given a plaudit to his words, the fishermen, who before were sent out by their master to drag out the other nets, having found somewhat in the bottom too 560ponderous for their strength to pull up, they began to lure and hallow to their master for more help, crying that there was a fish hung in their net like a poor man's case in the law: it would hardly come out. But industry being a prevailing workman, before help came, up came the fish expected, but proved indeed to be a rusty armor.

At the name of 565which word armor Pericles being roused, he desired of the poor fishermen that he, who better than they was acquainted with such furniture, might have the view of it. In brief, what he could ask of them was granted: the armor is by Pericles viewed, and known to be a defence which his father at his last will gave him in charge to keep, that it might prove 570to be a defender of the son which he had known to be a preserver of the father.

So accounting all his other losses nothing, since he had that again whereby his father could not challenge him of disobedience, and thanking Fortune, that after all her crosses, she had yet given him somewhat to repair his fortunes, begging this armor of the fishermen 575and telling them that with it he would show the virtue he had learned in arms and try his chivalry for their princess, Thaisa, which they applauding and one furnishing him with an old gown to make caparisonsfor his horse, which horse he provided with a jewel whom all the raptures of the sea could not bereave from his arm, and other furnishing him with 580the long side-skirts of their cassocks to make him bases, his armor rusted, and thus disgracefully habilited, Prince Pericles with their conduct is gone to the court of Symonides, where the fishermen had foretold him was all the preparation that either art or industry might attain unto to solemnize the birthday of fair Thaisa, the good King Symonides' 585daughter.

This is the day, this Symonides' court, where the king himself with the princess his daughter have placed themselves in a gallery to behold the triumphs of several princes, who in honor of the princess' birthday, but more in hope to have her love, came purposely thither to approve their chivalry.

They thus seated; and Prince Pericles, as well 590as his own providing and the fishermen's care could furnish him, likewise came to the court. In this manner also several princes (their horses richly caparisoned, but themselves more richly armed, their pages before them bearing their devices on their shields) entered then the tilting place. The first, a prince of Macedon, and the device he bore upon his shield 595was a black Ethiop reaching at the sun, the word, Lux tua vita mihi, which being by the knight's page delivered to the lady and from her presented to the king her father, he made plain to her the meaning of each imprese.

And for this first, it was that the Macedonian prince loved her so well he held his life of her. The second, a prince of 600Corinth, and the device he bare upon his shield was a wreath of chivalry, the word, Me pompae provexit apex: the desire of renown drew him to this enterprise. The third of Antioch, and his device was an armed knight being conquered by a lady, the word: Pue per dolcera qui per sforsa: more by lenity than by force. The fourth of Sparta, and the device he 605bore was a man's arm environed with a cloud, holding out gold that's by the touchstone tried, the word, Sic spectanda fides: so faith is to be looked into. The fifth of Athens, and his device was a flaming torch turned downward, the word, Qui me alit me extinguit: that which gives me life gives me death.

The sixth and last was Pericles, Prince of Tyre, 610who, having neither page to deliver his shield nor shield to deliver, making his device according to his fortunes, which was a withered branch being only green at the top, which proved the abating of his body, decayed not the nobleness of his mind, his word, In hac spe vivo, in that hope I live. Himself with a most graceful courtesy presented 615it unto her, which she as courteously received, whilst the peers attending on the king forbore not to scoff both at his presence and the present he brought, being himself in a rusty armor, the caparison of his horse of plain country russet, and his own bases but the skirts of a poor fisherman's coat.

Which the king mildly reproving them for, he told 620them that as virtue was not to be approved by words but by actions, so the outward habit was the least table of the inward mind, and, counseling them not to condemn ere they had cause to accuse, they went forward to the triumph, in which noble exercise they came almost all as short of Pericles' perfections as a body dying [does] of a life flourishing. 625To be short, both of court and commons, the praises of none were spoken of but of the mean knight's (for by any other name he was yet unknown to any).

But, the triumphs being ended, Pericles as chief (for in this day's honor he was champion), with all the other princes, were by the king's marshal conducted into the presence, where Simonides and his 630daughter, Thaisa, with a most stately banquet stayed to give them a thankful entertainment. At whose entrance, the lady first saluting Pericles, gave him a wreath of chivalry, welcomed him as her knight and guest, and crowned him king of that day's noble enterprise.

In the end, all being seated by the marshal at a table placed directly 635over-against where the king and his daughter sat, as it were by some divine operation both king and daughter at one instant were so struck in love with the nobleness of his worth that they could not spare so much time to satisfy themselves with the delicacy of their viands for talking of his praises; while Pericles, on the other side, observing the 640dignity wherein the king sat, that so many princes came to honor him, so many peers stood ready to attend him, he was struck with present sorrow by remembering the loss of his own. Which the good Symonides taking note of, and accusing himself before there was cause that Pericles' spirits were dumped into their melancholy through some dislike 645of the slackness he found in his entertainment or neglect of his worth, calling for a bowl of wine, he drank to him, and so much further honored him that he made his daughter rise from her seat to bear it to him, and withal willing her to demand of him his name, country and fortunes, a message (gentle lady) she was as ready to 650obey unto as her father was to command, rejoicing that she had any occasion offered her whereby she might speak unto him.

Pericles by this time hath pledged the king, and by his daughter (according to his request) thus returneth what he is: that he was a gentleman of Tyre, his name Pericles, his education been in arts and arms, who, looking 655for adventures in the world, was by the rough and unconstant seas most unfortunately bereft both of ships and men, and after shipwreck thrown upon that shore. Which mishaps of his the king understanding of, he was struck with present pity to him, and, rising from his state, he came forthwith and embraced him, bad him be cheered, and told him 660that whatsoever Misfortune had impaired him of, Fortune, by his help, could repair to him, for both himself and country should be his friends. And presently calling for a goodly milk-white steed and a pair of golden spurs, them first he bestowed upon him, telling him, they were the prizes due to his merit and ordained for that day's 665enterprise, which kingly courtesy Pericles as thankfully accepting.

Much time being spent in dancing and other revels, the night being grown old, the king commanded the knights should be conducted to their lodgings, giving order that Pericles' chamber should be next his own, where we will leave them to take quiet rest, and return back to Tyre.