Internet Shakespeare Editions

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Not Peer Reviewed

Wilkins: The Adventures of Pericles (Modern)


The Seventh Chapter.

How fair Thaisa died in travail of childbirth upon the sea, and, being thrown for burial in the waters, was cast ashore at Ephesus; and how by the 980excellent labor of Lord Cerimon, a skilful physician, she was restored to her life again and by her own request placed to live a votary in the Temple of Diana.

Prince Pericles, with his queen Thaisa, being thus on shipboard, and their mariners merrily having hoisted up their sails, their vessels, as proud of such a fraught wherewith they 985were enriched, galloped cheerfully on the ocean. Fortune did now seem to look fairly, neither was there promise of any other alteration: the day looked lovely and the sea smiled for joy to have her bosom pressed with these burdens.

But nothing in this world that is permanent; Time is the father of Fortune, he 990is slippery, and then of necessity must his child be fickle, and this was his alteration: a cloud seemed to arise from forth the south, which, being by the master and mariners beheld, they told Prince Pericles that it was messenger of a storm, which was no sooner spoken, but, as if the heavens had conspired with the 995waters and the winds been assistant to both, they kept such a blustering and such an unruly stir that none could be heard to speak but themselves. Seas of waters were received into their ships while others fought against them to expel them out. "Stop the leakage there!" cries out one. "Hale up the main-bowlines there!" 1000calls out another, and with their confusion, neither understanding other since the storm had got the mastery, they made such a hideous noise that it had had power to have awakened Death and to have affrighted Patience.

Nor could it choose then but bring much terror to our seasick queen, who had been used to better 1005attendance than was now offered her by these ill-tutored servants, Wind and Water; but they who neither respect birth nor blood, prayers nor threats, time nor occasion, continued still their boisterous havoc. With which stir (good lady) her eyes and ears having not till then been acquainted, she is struck into 1010such a hasty fright that welladay she falls in travail, is delivered of a daughter, and in this childbirth dies, while her princely husband being above the hatches, is one while praying to heaven for her safe deliverance, another while suffering for the sorrow wherewith he knew his queen was emburdened. He chid1015the contrary storm, as if it had been sensible of hearing, to be so unmannerly in this unfitting season, and when so good a queen was in labor, to keep such a blustering.

Thus, while the good prince remained reproving the one and pitying the other, up comes Lychorida, the nurse sent along by good Symonides with 1020his daughter, and into his arms delivers his sea-born babe. Which he taking to kiss and pitying it with these words: "Poor inch of Nature," quoth he, "thou art as rudely welcome to the world as ever princess babe was, and hast as chiding a nativity as fire, air, earth, and water can afford thee." 1025When, as if he had forgot himself, he abruptly breaks out: "But say, Lychorida, how doth my queen?" "O sir," quoth she, "she hath now passed all dangers, and hath given up her griefs by ending her life." At which words, no tongue is able to express the tide of sorrow that over-bounded Pericles, 1030first looking on his babe and then crying out for the mother, pitying the one that had lost her bringer ere she had scarce saluted the world, lamenting for himself that had been bereft of so inestimable a jewel by the loss of his wife.

In which sorrow as he would have proceeded, up came the master to him, 1035who, for that the storm continued still in his tempestuous height, brake off his sorrow with these syllables: "Sir, the necessity of the time affords no delay, and we must entreat you to be contented to have the dead body of your queen thrown overboard." "How varlet!" quoth Pericles interrupting him, 1040"wouldst thou have me cast that body into the sea for burial who being in misery received me into favor?" "We must entreat you to temperance, sir," quoth the master, "as you respect your own safety, or the prosperity of that pretty babe in your arms." At the naming of which word, babe, Pericles, looking 1045mournfully upon it, shook his head, and wept. But the master going on, told him, that by long experience they had tried that a ship may not abide to carry a dead carcass nor would the lingering tempest cease while the dead body remained with them.

But the prince, seeking again to persuade them, 1050told them that it was but the fondness of their superstition to think so. "Call it by what you shall please, sir," quoth the master, "but we that by long practice have tried the proof of it, if not with your grant then without your consent (for your own safety which we with all duty tender) must so dispose 1055of it." So, calling for his servants about him, he willed one of them to bring him a chest, which he forthwith caused to be well bitumed and well leaded for her coffin. Then, taking up the body of his (even in death) fair Thaisa, he arrayed her in princely apparel, placing a crown of gold upon her 1060head, with his own hands (not without store of funeral tears) he laid her in that tomb, then placed he also store of gold at her head and great treasure of silver at her feet, and having written this letter which he laid upon her breast, with fresh water flowing in his eyes, as loth to 1065leave her sight, he nailed up the chest, the tenor of which writing was in form as followeth:

If e'er it hap this chest be driven
On any shore, on coast or haven,
I, Pericles, the Prince of Tyre,
1070(That, losing her, lost all desire)
Entreat you give her burying,
Since she was daughter to a king.
This gold I give you as a fee,
The gods requite your charity.

1075The chest then being nailed up close, he commanded it to be lifted overboard, and then, naming his child Marina for that she was born upon the sea, he directed his master to alter the course from Tyre, (being a shorter cut to Tharsus) and for whose safety he thither intended, where, with his host 1080Cleon and Dionyza, his wife, he intended to leave his little infant to be fostered and brought up. The dead body being thus thrown overboard, when, as if Fortune had bethought her that she had wrought her utmost spite to him by bereaving him of so great a comfort, even in the instant 1085the tempest ceaseth, where we will leave Prince Pericles upon calm waters, though not with a calm mind, sailing to Tharsus.

And behold, the next morning: by which time the waves had rolled from wave to wave this chest to land and cast it ashore on the coast of Ephesus, in which city 1090lived a lord called Cerimon, who, though of noble blood and great possessions, yet was he so addicted to study and in searching out the excellency of arts, that his felicity consisted in contemplation, wisely foreknowing so icy is the state of riches that it is thawed to nothing by the least 1095adversity, that careless heirs may dispend and riot consume them, when one virtue, and our deserved fame, attendeth immortality. This consideration made him so to apply his time in letters and in searching out the nature of simples that he grew so excellent in the secret of physic as if 1100Apollo himself or another Aesculapius had been his schoolmaster. Nor was he of this plenty a niggard to the needy, but so bountiful to the distressed that his house and hand were accounted the hospitals for the diseased.

This Lord Cerimon had his residence built so near the shore that 1105in his windows he overlooked the sea; and being this morning in conference with some that came to him both for help for themselves and relief for others, and some that were relating the cruelty of the last night's tempest, on a sudden casting his eye from forth his casement towards the main, he might 1110espie the waters as it were playing with the chest wherein the dead queen was encoffined, and which was upon the sudden by a more eager billow cast on his banks.

When presently, thinking it to be the remnant of some shipwreck caused in the last night's storm, calling for his servants, he 1115forthwith commanded them to have it brought up to him as forfeited unto him, being cast on his ground, which accordingly performed, he as presently gave charge it should be opened, when not without much wonder he straightway viewed the dead body of the queen, so crowned, so royally appareled, so 1120entreasured as before. And, taking up the writing which he likewise found placed upon her breast, he read it to the gentlemen who at that time accompanied him, and knowing it thereby to be the dead queen to Prince Pericles: "Now surely," quoth Cerimon, "thou hast a body even drowned with woe for 1125the loss of so goodly a creature. For gentlemen," said he, "as you may perceive, such was the excellency of her beauty that grim Death himself hath not power to suffer any deformity to accompany it."

Then laying his hand gently upon her cheek, he bethought him that life had not lost 1130all the workmanship that Nature had bestowed upon her, for even at the opening of the chest, and as it were she then receiving fresh air, he might perceive a new but calm glowing to respire in her cheeks. With which being somewhat amazed, "Now surely gentlemen," quoth he, turning to them 1135who were greedily set round about him, "this queen hath not long been entranced, and I have read of some Egyptians who, after four hours death (if man may call it so), have raised impoverished bodies, like to this, unto their former health; nor can it be disparagement to me to use my best 1140practice on this queen." To which by the gentlemen that accompanied him he was encouraged to attempt, since that the recovery of her could not but appear to be a work of wonder, and since that his fortune was so successful in his ministering that all Ephesus was replete with his help.

1145So, calling for a servant of his to attend him with certain boxes which he named were in his study, as also with fire and necessary linen, invoking Apollo to be gracious to his empiric and the work in hand, he began to apply to her. First pulling down the clothes from off the lady's bosom, 1150he poured upon her a most precious ointment, and, bestowing it abroad with his hand, perceived some warmth in her breast, and that there was life in the body. Whereat somewhat astonished, he felt her pulses, laid his cheek to her mouth, and, examining all other tokens that he could devise, 1155he perceived how death strove with life within her, and that the conflict was dangerous, and doubtful who should prevail. Which being done, he chafed the body against the fire until the blood which was congealed with cold was wholly dissolved, when, pouring a precious liquor into her mouth, 1160he perceived warmth more and more to increase in her, and the golden fringes of her eyes a little to part.

Then calling softly to the gentlemen who were witnesses about him, he bade them that they should command some still music to sound. "For certainly," quoth he, "I think this queen will 1165live, and suppose that she hath been much abused, for she hath not been long entranced" -- condemning them for rashness so hastily to throw her overboard. And when he had so said, he took the body reverently into his arms and bare it into his own chamber, and laid it upon his bed, groveling 1170upon the breast. Then took he certain hot and comfortable oils, and, warming them upon the coals, he dipped fair wool therein and fomented all the body over therewith until such time as the congealed blood and humors were thoroughly resolved; and the spirits in due form recovered their 1175wonted course, the veins waxed warm, the arteries began to beat and the lungs drew in the fresh air again. And being perfectly come to herself, lifting up those now again priceless diamonds of her eyes, "O Lord," quoth she, "where am I? For it seemeth to me that 1180I have been in a strange country. And where's my lord I pray you? I long to speak with him."

But Cerimon, who best knew that now with anything to discomfort her might breed a relapse which would be unrecoverable, entreated her to be cheered, for her lord was well, and 1185that anon, when the time was more fitting and that her decayed spirits were repaired, he would gladly speak with her. So, as it were being but newly awaked from death to the great amazement of the beholders, she presently fell into a most comfortable slumber, which Lord Cerimon giving 1190charge none should disturb her of, he in the meantime and against she should awake, provided cherishing meats, and, as her strength grew, gave wholesome clothes to refresh her with.

But not long after, weakness being banished from her, and Cerimon by communication knew that she 1195came of the stock of a king, he sent for many of his friends to come unto him and adopted her for his own daughter, and related unto her how after so grievous a tempest in what manner she was found. In which tempest she supposing her kingly husband to be shipwrecked, she 1200with many tears entreated that, since he had given her life, he would be pleased to give her leave to live unknown to any man. To which Cerimon accorded; and for that intent placed her in the Temple of Diana which was there consecrated at Ephesus.