Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: George Wilkins
Editors: Tom Bishop, Andrew Forsberg
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Wilkins: The Adventures of Pericles (Quarto)


200

The second Chapter.

How Pericles arriuing at Antioch, resolued the Kings Question: And how Thalyart Antiochus Steward was sent to murther him.

Whilest Antiochus continued thus exercising his tyranies on the liues of seuerall princes, Pericles the Prince of Tyre, wonne with the 205wonderfull report of this Ladies beauty, was (as other Princes before) drawne to the vndertaking of this desparate aduenture; and approching neere Antioch, where there were no sooner newes that he was comming, but there was as great a preparation for the receiuing of him, the Lords and Peeres in their richest ornaments to intertaine him, the people with their greedy and 210vnsatisfied eyes to gaze vpon him; for in that part of the world there was in those dayes no Prince so noble in Armes, or excellent in Artes, and had so generall and deserued a report by fame as Pericles Prince of Tyre. Which drew both Peere and People, with a ioyfull and free desire to allow him their imbracements, and to wish him happy successe, requiring no other but such a 215happy Soueraigne to hope in: for so cunningly had Antiochus dealt in this incest with his daughter, that it was yet vnsuspected of the neerest that attended him. With which solemnity and suffrages, being brought into the presence of the tyrant, and by him demaunded the cause of his arriuall at Antioch: and being by the Prince answered, that it was in loue to his daughter, 220and in hope to enioy her by resoluing of his question. Antiochus then first beganne to perswade him from the enterprise, and to discourage him from his proceedings, by shewing him the frightfull heads of the former Princes, placed vpon his Castle wall, and like to whome he must expect himselfe to be, if like them (as it was most like) hee failed in his attempt. But Pericles armed 225with these noble armours, Faithfulnesse and Courage, and making himselfe fitte for Death, if Death prooued fitte for him, replyed, That he was come now to meete Death willingly, if so were his misfortune, or to be made euer fortunate, by enioying so glorious a beauty as was inthrond in his princely daughter, and was there now placed before him: which the tyrant receiuing with an angry brow, 230threw downe the Riddle, bidding him, since perswasions could not alter him, to reade and die, being in himselfe confident the mysterie thereof was not to be vnfolded: which the Prince taking vp, read aloude, the purpose of which was in these wordes:

I am no viper, yet I feede
235On mothers flesh, that did me breede;
I sought a husband, in which labour
I found that kindnesse from a father:
Hee's Father, Sonne, and Husband milde,
I Mother, Wife, and yet his Childe:
240How this may be, and yet in two,
As you will liue, resolue it you.

Which secret, whilest Prince Pericles was reading, Antiochus daughter, whether it were, that shee now lothed that vnnecessary custome in which shee had so long continued, or that her owne affection taught her 245to be in loue with his perfections, our storie leaues vnmentioned: but this for certaine, all the time that the Prince was studying with what trueth to vnfolde this darke Enigma, Desire flew in a robe of glowing blushes into her cheekes, and loue inforced her to deliuer thus much from hir owne tongue, that he was sole soueraigne of all her wishes, and he the gentleman 250(of all her eies had euer yet behelde) to whome shee wished a thriuing happinesse. By which time the Prince hauing fully considered vpon what he had read, and found the meaning, both of the secret, and their abhominable sinnes, Antiochus rising vp, demanded the solution of his Question, or to attend the sentence of his death. But the gentle Prince wisely foreknowing, 255that it is as dangerous to play with tyrants euills, as the Flie to sport with the Candles flame, rather seemed to dissemble what he knew, than to discouer his insight to Antiochus knowledge, yet so circumspectly, that Antiochus suspected, or at least, his owne knowen guilt made him so suspect, that hee had found the meaning of his foule desire, and their more foule 260actions; and seeming (as it were) then to pitty him whom now in soule he hated, and that he rather required his future happinesse, than any blemish to his present fortunes, he tolde him, that for the honour of his name, the noblenesse of his woorth, nay his owne deere and present loue to him (were it not against the dignity and state of his owne loue) in his tender 265and princely disposition, he could from the whole world select him as a choice husband for his daughter, since hee found him so farre wide from reuealing of the secret; yet thus farre hee should perceiue his loue should extend towardes him, which before time had not beene seene to stretch it selfe to any of those decaied princes, of whose falls, his eies were carefull 270witnesses, that for forty dayes he gaue him onely longer respite, if by which time (and with all the indeuours, counsell and aduise hee could vse) he can finde out what was yet concealed from him, it should be euident how gladly he would reioyce to ioy in such a sonne, rather than haue cause of sorrow by his vntimely ruine: And in the meane time, in his owne Court, by the royaltie of 275his entertainment hee should perceiue his welcom. With which, and other such like gratulations their presences being diuided, Antiochus betooke himselfe to his Chamber, and princely Pericles to diligent consultations of his present estate, where when hee had a while considered with himselfe, that what he had found, was true, and this substantially was the true meaning of his Riddle, 280hee was become both father, sonne, and husband by his vncomely and abhorred actions with his owne child, and shee a deuourer of her mothers flesh, by the vnlawfull couplings with her owne father, and the defiling of her mothers bed, and that this curtesie of Antiochus toward him, was but his hypocrisie, to haue his sinne concealed, till he found fit occasion to take fit reuenge 285(by the instruments of tyrants,) poyson, treason, or by any meanes, he resolued himselfe with all expedition, (the next darknesse being his best conductor,) to flie backe to Tyre, which he effecting, and Antiochus being now priuate in his lodging, and ruminating with himselfe, that Pericles had found out the secret of his euill, which hee in more secret had committed; and knowing, that he had 290now power to rip him open to the world, and make his name so odious, that as now heauen did, so at the knowledge thereof all good men would contemne him. And in this study, not knowing how otherwise to helpe himselfe from this reproofe, he hastily calleth for one Thalyart, who was Steward of his housholde, and in many things before had receiued the imbracement of his minde; this 295Thalyart, (as Pericles fore-thought,) hee presently bribde with gold, and furthered with poyson, to be this harmles gentlemans executioner. To which purpose, as hee was about to receiue his othe, there came hastily a Messenger that brought him newes, the Tyrian shippes were that night departed his harbor, and that by intelligence hee had learned the Prince also was fled for Tyre: 300at whose escape Antiochus storming, but not desisting from his former practise, hee commaunded his murthering minister Thalyart, to dispatch his best performance after him, sometime perswading him, at others threatning him, in Tyre to see him, in Tyre to kil him, or back to Antioch neuer to returne, which villainous mind of his as ready to yeeld, as the tyrant was to commaund. Thaliart in all 305secresie is shipt from Antioch, while Pericles in this interim is arriued at Tyre, where, knowing what was past, and fearing what might succeed, not to himself, but for the care he had of his subjects, remembring his power, too weake if occasion were offred, to contend with the greatnes of Antiochus: he was so troubled in mind, that no aduise of counsell could perswade him, no 310delights of the eye content him, neither any pleasure whatsoeuer comfort him, but still taking to heart, that should Antiochus make warre vpon him, as fearing lest he should speake his shame which he intended not to reueale, his misfortune should be the ruine of his harmlesse people.

In this sorrowe consisting, one Helycanus a graue and wise Counsellor 315of his (as a good Prince is euer knowne by his prudent Counsell) as much greeued in mind for his Princes distemperature, as his Prince was troubled with the feare of his subiects mishap, came hastily into the chamber to him, and finding him so distasting mirth, that he abandoned all familiar society, he boldely beganne to reprooue him, and not sparingly tolde him, he did not 320wel so to abuse himselfe, to waste his body there with pyning sorrow, vpon whose safety depended the liues and prosperity of a whole kingdome, that it was ill in him to doe it, and no lesse in his counsell to suffer him, without contradicting it. At which, although the Prince bent his brow stearnely against him, he left not to go forward, but plainly tolde him, it was as fit 325for him being a Prince to heare of his owne errour, as it was lawfull for his authority to commaund, that while he liued so shut vp, so vnseene, so carelesse of his gouernment, order might be disorder for all him, and what detriment soeuer his subiects should receiue by this his neglect, it were iniustice to be required at his hands, which chiding of this good olde Lord, the gentle 330Prince curteously receiuing, tooke him into his armes, thankt him that he was no flatterer, and commaunding him to seat himselfe by him, he from poynt to poynt related to him all the occurrents past, and that his present sorrow was for the feare he had of Antiochus tyranny, his present studies were for the good of his subiects, his present care was for the continuing safety of 335his kingdome, of which himselfe was a member, which for slacknesse chide him: which vprightnes of this Prince calling teares into the olde mans eies, and compelling his knees to the earth, he humbly asked his pardon, confirming that what he had spoke, sprung from the power of his dutie, and grew not from the nature of disobedience. When Pericles no longer suffring such honored 340aged knees to stoope to his youth, lifting him vp, desired of him that his counsell now would teach him how to auoide that danger, which his feare gaue him cause to mistrust: which in this manner was by the good Helicanus aduised, and by princely Pericles yeelded vnto. That he should forthwith betake himselfe to trauel, keeping his intent whither, as priuate from his subiects, 345as his iourney was suddaine, that vpon his trust he should leaue the gouernment, grounding which counsel vpon this principle, Absence abates that edge that Presence whets. In breefe, Pericles knew Helicanus trusty, and consented: so with store of corne and all necessaries fit for a kingly voyage, he in secret hath shipt himselfe from Tyre. Helycanus is protector of the kingdome 350in his absence: and our Story now hath brought vs to the landing of Thaliart, with a body fraught as full of treason against Pericles, as his maister Antiochus was of tyranny, who no sooner a shore, but he had his eares fild with the generall lamentation of the Tyrian people, the aged sighed, the youth wept, all mourned, helping one another how to make vp sorrow to the highest 355heape, as if with the absence of their Prince they had lost their Prince, and with his losse they had present feeling of a succeeding ouerthrow, which the vilaine vnderstanding, and finding himselfe, both bereft of his purpose, and his maister of his intent, he, as traitors do, stole backe to Antioch resoluing Antiochus of what he knew: by which time, the clamors of the multitude being 360for a time pacified by the wisedome of Helicanus, and the peace of the common wealth by his prudence defended, our princely Pericles with spread sailes, faire winds, and full successe, is now arriued at Tharsus.