Internet Shakespeare Editions

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Not Peer Reviewed

Wilkins: The Adventures of Pericles (Quarto)


670

The fift Chapter.

How Helicanus heard newes of Antiochus and his daughters deaths, and of his sending of other Lords in search of their Prince Pericles.

Antiochus, who as before is discoursed, hauing committed with his owne daughter so foule a sinne, shamed not in the same foulenesse to remaine 675in it with her, neither had shee that touch of grace, by repentaunce to constraine him to abstinence, or by perswasion to deny hiscontinuance: long, like those miserable serpents did their greatnesse flourish, who vse fairest shewes for fowlest euills, till one day himselfe seated with her in a Charriot, made of the purest golde, attended by his peeres, and 680gased on by his people, both apparrelled all in Iewells, to out face suspition, and beget wonder (as if that glorious outsides were a wall could keepe heauens eye from knowing our intents) in great magnificence rode they through Antioch: But see the Justice of the Highest, though sinne flatter, and man perseuere, yet surely Heauen at length dooth 685punish. For as thus they rode, gazing to be gazed vpon, and prowd to be accompted so, Vengeance with a deadly arrow drawne from foorth the quiuer of his wrath, prepared by lightning, and shot on by thunder, hitte, and strucke dead these prowd incestuous creatures where they sate, leauing their faces blasted, and their bodies such a contemptfull 690obiect on the earth, that all those eyes, but now with reuerence looked vpon them, all hands that serued them, and all knees adored them, scorned now to touch them, loathd now to looke vpon them, and disdained now to giue them buriall. Nay, such is heauens hate to these and such like sinnes, and such his indignation to his present euill, that twixt his 695stroke and death, hee lent not so much mercy to their liues, wherein they had time to crie out; Iustice, be mercifull, for we repent vs. They thus dead, thus contemned, and insteede of kingly monument for their bodies left, to be intoombed in the bowelles of rauenous fowles, if fowles would eate on them. The strangenesse of their deaths were 700soone rumored ouer that part of the world, and as soone brought to the eares of Helycanus, who was a carefull watchman to haue knowledge of whatsoeuer hapned in Antioch, and by his knowledge to preuent what daunger might succeede, eyther to his Prince, or to his subiectes in his absence, of which tragedy he hauing notice, presently he 705imparted the news thereof to his graue and familiar friend Lord Eschines, and now told him what till now hee had concealed, namely of their incest together, and that onely for the displeasure which princely Pericles feared Antiochus bore towardes him, and might extend to his people, by his knowledge thereof hee thus long by his counsell 710had discontinued from his kingdome.

Now it hapned that these tydings arriued to his eares, iust at the instant, when his graue counsell could no longer alay the head-strong multitude from their vnciuil and giddy muteny: and the reason of them (who most commonly are vnreasonable in their actions) 715to drawe themselues to this faction, was, that they supposed their prince was dead, and that being dead, the kingdome was left without a successefull inheritor, that they had bin onelie by Helicanis with vaine hope of Pericles returne, deluded, and that euen now the power being, by his death, in their hands, they would create to themselues 720a new soueraigne, and Helycanus should be the man. Many reasons hee vsed to perswade them, many Arguments to withstand them: nothing but this onely preuailed with them, that since he only knew their Prince was gone to trauell, and that, that trauell was vndertaken for their good, they would abstainebut for three months longer from bestowing 725that dignity which they calld their loue, though it was his dislike vpon him, and if by that time (which they with him should still hope for) the gods were not pleased for their perpetuall good to restore vnto them their absent Prince, hee then with all willingnesse would accept of their suffrages. This then (though with much trouble) was 730at last by the whole multitude accepted, and for that time they were all pacified, when Helicanus assembling all the peeres vnto him, by the aduise of all, chose some from the rest, and after his best instructions, or rather by perswasions and graue counsell giuen, hee sent them to inquire of their Prince, who lately left at Pentapolis was 735highly honoured by good Symonides.