Internet Shakespeare Editions

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Not Peer Reviewed

Wilkins: The Adventures of Pericles (Modern)


The Sixth Chapter.

How Prince Pericles is married to Thaisa, King Symonides' daughter; and how, after he hath heard news of Antiochus' death, he with his wife departeth toward his own country of Tyre.

740Prince Pericles, having had (as before is mentioned) his lodging directed next adjoining to the king's bed-chamber, whereas all the other princes upon their coming to their lodgings betook themselves to their pillows and to the nourishment of a quiet sleep, he of the gentlemen that attended him (for it is to be noted that, upon the grace that the 745king had bestowed on him, there was of his officers toward him no attendance wanting) he desired that he might be left private, only that for his instant solace they would pleasure him with some delightful instrument, with which, and his former practice, he intended to pass away the tediousness of the night, instead of more fitting slumbers.

750His will was presently obeyed in all things, since their master had commanded he should be disobeyed in nothing. The instrument is brought him, and, as he had formerly wished, the chamber is disfurnished of any other company but himself, where presently he began to compel such heavenly voices from the senseless workmanship, as if Apollo 755himself had now been fingering on it, and as if the whole synod of the gods had placed their deities round about him of purpose to have been delighted with his skill and to have given praises to the excellency of his art. Nor was this sound only the ravisher of all hearts but from his own clear breast he sent such cheerful 760notes, which by him were made up so answerable to the other's sound, that they seemed one only consort of music, and had so much delicacy, and out of discords making up so excellent a conjunction, that they had had power to have drawn back an ear half-way within the grave to have listened unto it.

For thus much by our story we are certain of, 765that the good Symonides (being by the height of night and the former day's exercise in the ripeness of his contentful sleep) he rejoiced to be awakened by it, and not accounting it a disease that troubled him in the hearing but a pleasure wherewith he still wished to be delighted. In brief, he was so satisfied to hear him thus express his excellence 770that he accounted his court happy to entertain so worthy a guest and himself more happy in his acquaintance. But day that hath still that sovereignty to draw back the empire of the night, though a while she in darkness usurp, brought the morning on, and while the king was studying with what answerable present wherewith to gratify this 775noble prince for his last night's music, a gentlewoman, whose service was thither commanded by his daughter, brought him a letter, whose inside had a suit to him to this purpose.

The Lady Thaisa's letter to the King, her father.

"My most noble father, What my blushing modesty forbids me to780speak, let your fatherly love excuse that I write: I am subdued by love; yet not enthralled through the licentiousness of a loose desire, but made prisoner in that noble battle 'twixt affection and zeal. I have no life but in this liberty, neither any liberty but in this thralldom, nor shall your tender self, weighing my affections truly in the scale of your 785judgement, have cause to contradict me, since him I love hath as much merit in him to challenge the title of a son as I blood of yours to inherit the name of daughter. Then if you shall refuse to give him me in marriage, deny not, I pray you, to make ready for my funeral. 'Tis the stranger, Pericles.

790Which request of hers, when the king her father had thus understood of, he began first to examine with himself what virtue was in this choice that should bind her thoughts to this liking, and what succeeding comfort he might expect, the expectation of which might invite him to his consent.

First he began to 795remember himself that he came unto his court but poor -- "And for poverty," quoth the good king, "'tis a workmanship that Nature makes up even for others to contemn, and which, in these times, is grown odious to keep company withal"--; that to marry her which was his only child and the expectation of his subjects with 800one of so low blood and mean descent would return rather a dishonor than a dignity to his name, since parents rather expect the advancement of titles and the raising of their houses in the uniting of their issue than the declining. But in the end, when he had put all the interjections he could between her love and his 805liking, his uprightness made him see that in Virtue consisted man's only perfection, and in him, as her befitting court, she thought it fittest to keep her royal residence. And in that opinion allowing of his daughter's choice, he thought himself happy to live father to such a virtuous son, and his daughter more happy to be coupled 810to so noble a husband.

And as he was now thus contracting them together in his rejoicing thoughts, even in the instant came in Pericles to give his grace that salutation which the morning required of him, when the king, intending to dissemble that in show which he had determined on in heart, he first told him that his daughter 815had that morning sent unto him that letter, wherein she entreated of him that his grace would be pleased that himself (whom she knew to call by no other name but the stranger, Pericles) might become her schoolmaster, of whose rarity in music, excellency in song, with comeliness in dancing, not only she had heard, but 820himself had borne testimony to be the best that ever their judgements had had cause to judge of.

When Pericles, though willing to yield any courtesies to so gracious a lady, and not disdaining to be commanded any services by so good a lord, yet replied [that] though all his abilities were at his grace's pleasure, yet he thought himself 825unworthy to be his daughter's schoolmaster: "Ay, but," quoth Symonides, "she will not be denied to be your scholar; and for manifest proof thereof here is her own character, which to that purpose she hath sent unto us, and we to that purpose give you leave to read." Which Pericles overlooking, and finding the whole tenor thereof to be 830that his daughter from all the other princes -- nay from the whole world -- solicited him for her husband, he straightway rather conjectured it to be some subtlety of the father to betray his life than any constancy of the princess to love him.

And forthwith, prostrating himself at the king's feet, he desired that his grace would no way 835seek to stain the nobleness of his mind by any way seeking to entrap the life of so harmless a gentleman or that with evil he would conclude so much good which he already had begun toward him, protesting that, for his part, his thoughts had never that ambition so much as to aim at the love of his daughter, nor any 840action of his gave cause of his princely displeasure.

But the king, feigning still an angry brow, turned toward him and told him that like a traitor, he lied. "Traitor," quoth Pericles?" "Ay, traitor," quoth the king, "that thus disguised art stolen into my court, with the witchcraft of thy actions to bewitch the 845yielding spirit of my tender child." Which name of traitor being again redoubled, Pericles then instead of humbleness seemed not to forget his ancient courage, but boldly replied that were it any in his court except himself durst call him traitor, even in his bosom he would write the lie, affirming that he came into 850his court in search of honor, and not to be a rebel to his state; his blood was yet untainted but with the heat got by the wrong the king had offered him; and that he boldly durst and did defy himself, his subjects, and the proudest danger that either tyranny or treason could inflict upon him.

Which nobleness of his the king 855inwardly commending, though otherwise dissembling, he answered he should prove it otherwise, since by his daughter's hand, it there was evident both his practice and her consent therein. Which words were no sooner uttered, but Thaisa (who ever since she sent her father her letter could not contain herself in any 860quiet till she heard of his answer) came now in, as it had been her part to make answer to her father's last syllable, when Prince Pericles, yielding his body toward her, in most courteous manner demanded of her, by the hope she had of heaven or the desire she had to have her best wishes fulfilled here in the 865world, that she would now satisfy her now-displeased father if ever he by motion or by letters, by amorous glances or by any means that lovers use to compass their designs, had sought to be a friend in the nobleness of her thoughts or a co-partner in the worthiness of her love.

When she, as constant to finish 870as she was forward to attempt, again required of him that: "suppose he had, who durst take offence thereat, since that it was her pleasure to give him to know that he had power to desire no more than she had willingness to perform?" "How, minion," quoth her father (taking her off at the very word "who dare be displeased 875withal") "Is this a fit match for you? A straggling Theseus born we know not where! One that hath neither blood nor merit for thee to hope for, or himself to challenge even the least allowance of thy perfections." When she, humbling her princely knees before her father, besought him to consider that suppose his birth were base 880(when his life showed him not to be so) yet he had virtue, which is the very ground of all nobility, enough to make him noble. She entreated him to remember that she was in love, the power of which love was not to be confined by the power of his will. "And my most royal father," quoth she, "what with my pen 885I have in secret written unto you, with my tongue now I openly confirm, which is that I have no life but in his love, neither any being but in the enjoying of his worth."

"But daughter," quoth Symonides, "equals to equals, good to good is joined. This not being so, the bavin of your mind, in rashness kindled, must 890again be quenched, or purchase our displeasure. And for you sir," speaking to Prince Pericles, "first learn to know: I banish you my court -- and yet: scorning that our kingly enragement should stoop so low, for that your ambition, sir, I'll have your life." "Be constant," quoth Thaisa, "For every drop of blood he sheds 895of yours, he shall draw another from his only child." In brief, the king continued still his rage, the lady her constancy, while Pericles stood amazed at both.

Till at last the father being no longer able to subdue that which he desired as much as she, catching them both rashly by the hands, as if he meant straight to have 900enforced them to imprisonment, he clapped them hand in hand, while they as lovingly joined lip to lip, and, with tears trickling from his aged eyes, adopted him his happy son, and bade them live together as man and wife.

What joy there was at this coupling, those that are lovers and enjoy their wishes can better conceive 905than my pen can set down: the one rejoicing to be made happy by so good and gentle a lord, the other as happy to be enriched by so virtuous a lady.

What preparation there was for their marriage is sufficiently expressed in this: that she was the only daughter to a king, and had her father's liking in her love. What speed there 910was to that marriage, let those judge who have the thoughts of Thaisa at this instant. Only conceive the solemnities at the temple are done, the feast in most solemn order finished, the day spent in music, dancing, singing, and all courtly communication, half of the night in masques and other courtly shows, and the 915other half in the happy and lawful embracements of these most happy lovers. The discourse at large of the liberal challenges made and proclaimed, at tilt, barriers, running at the ring, ioco di can, managing fierce horses, running on foot and dancing in armors, of the stately presented plays, shows disguised, 920speeches, masques and mummeries, with continual harmony of all kinds of music, with banqueting in all delicacy, I leave to the consideration of them who have beheld the like in courts and at the wedding of princes, rather than afford them to the description of my pen. Only let such conceive all things in 925due order were accomplished, the duties of marriage performed, and fair Thaisa this night is conceived with child.

The next day, joy dwelling through the whole kingdom for this conjunction, every man arose to feasting and jollity, for the wedding triumphs continued a whole month, while Time with his feathered wings 930so fanned away the hours and with his slippery feet so glided over the days that nine moons had almost changed their light ere half the time was thought to be expired; when it happened, that as the good Symonides and princely Pericles with his fair Thaisa were walking in the garden adjoining to 935their palace, one of the lords, who (as before) were sent by grave and careful Helicanus in search of their absent prince, came hastily in to them, who upon his knee delivered unto the young prince a letter, which being opened the contents therein spoke thus unto him: That Antiochus and his daughter (as is 940before described) were with the violence of lightning shot from heaven struck suddenly dead. And moreover, that by the consent of the general voices, the city of Antioch with all the riches therein and the whole kingdom were reserved for his possession and princely government.

Which letter when 945he had read, he presently imparted the news thereof to his kingly father, who upon view received he straight knew what until then the modesty of Pericles had concealed: that his son, whom from poverty he advanced to be the bedfellow of his daughter, was Prince of Tyre, who for the fear he had of 950Antiochus had forsook his kingdom and now had given unto him the kingdom of Antiochus for recompense; that grave Helicanus had, not without much labor, appeased the stubborn mutiny of the Tyrians, who in his absence would have elected him their king; and that to avoid a future insurrection, [and keep] his whole 955state in safety, how necessary it was for him to make a speedy return, which gladness Symonides imparted to his daughter, who as gladly received them.

While Pericles intending a while to leave his dearest dear behind him, considering how dangerous it was for her to travel by sea being with child and so near 960her time, he began to entreat of his kingly father of all necessary provision for his departure, since the safety of two kingdoms did importune so much; when on the other side Thaisa falling at her father's feet, her tears speaking in her suit faster than her words, she humbly requested that, as his 965reverend age tendered her or the prosperity of the infant wherewith she thought herself happy to be emburdened, he would not permit her to remain behind him; which tears of hers prevailing with the aged king, though compelling his tears to take a loth and sorrowful departure of her.

Their 970ships being strongly appointed and fraught with all things convenient -- as gold, silver, apparel, bedding, victuals and armor -- and, fearing what unfortunately happened, causing an aged nurse called Lychorida, a midwife, with other handmaids to attend her; they are shipped and he on shore, the one gazing 975after the other with a greedy desire, until the high usurping waters took away the sight from them both.