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Pericles, Prince of Tyre: Act 1 Scene 2
Scene II Tyre. A room in the palace.
- [Enter PERICLES]
- [To Lords without] Let none disturb us.--Why should
- this change of thoughts,
- The sad companion, dull-eyed melancholy,
- Be my so used a guest as not an hour,
- In the day's glorious walk, or peaceful night,
- The tomb where grief should sleep, can breed me quiet?
- Here pleasures court mine eyes, and mine eyes shun them,
- And danger, which I fear'd, is at Antioch,
- Whose aim seems far too short to hit me here:
- Yet neither pleasure's art can joy my spirits,
- Nor yet the other's distance comfort me.
- Then it is thus: the passions of the mind,
- That have their first conception by mis-dread,
- Have after-nourishment and life by care;
- And what was first but fear what might be done,
- Grows elder now and cares it be not done.
- And so with me: the great Antiochus,
- 'Gainst whom I am too little to contend,
- Since he's so great can make his will his act,
- Will think me speaking, though I swear to silence;
- Nor boots it me to say I honour him.
- If he suspect I may dishonour him:
- And what may make him blush in being known,
- He'll stop the course by which it might be known;
- With hostile forces he'll o'erspread the land,
- And with the ostent of war will look so huge,
- Amazement shall drive courage from the state;
- Our men be vanquish'd ere they do resist,
- And subjects punish'd that ne'er thought offence:
- Which care of them, not pity of myself,
- Who am no more but as the tops of trees,
- Which fence the roots they grow by and defend them,
- Makes both my body pine and soul to languish,
- And punish that before that he would punish.
- [Enter HELICANUS, with other Lords]
- FIRST LORD
- Joy and all comfort in your sacred breast!
- SECOND LORD
- And keep your mind, till you return to us,
- Peaceful and comfortable!
- Peace, peace, and give experience tongue.
- They do abuse the king that flatter him:
- For flattery is the bellows blows up sin;
- The thing which is flatter'd, but a spark,
- To which that blast gives heat and stronger glowing;
- Whereas reproof, obedient and in order,
- Fits kings, as they are men, for they may err.
- When Signior Sooth here does proclaim a peace,
- He flatters you, makes war upon your life.
- Prince, pardon me, or strike me, if you please;
- I cannot be much lower than my knees.
- All leave us else; but let your cares o'erlook
- What shipping and what lading's in our haven,
- And then return to us.
- [Exeunt Lords]
- Helicanus, thou
- Hast moved us: what seest thou in our looks?
- An angry brow, dread lord.
- If there be such a dart in princes' frowns,
- How durst thy tongue move anger to our face?
- How dare the plants look up to heaven, from whence
- They have their nourishment?
- Thou know'st I have power
- To take thy life from thee.
- I have ground the axe myself;
- Do you but strike the blow.
- Rise, prithee, rise.
- Sit down: thou art no flatterer:
- I thank thee for it; and heaven forbid
- That kings should let their ears hear their
- faults hid!
- Fit counsellor and servant for a prince,
- Who by thy wisdom makest a prince thy servant,
- What wouldst thou have me do?
- To bear with patience
- Such griefs as you yourself do lay upon yourself.
- Thou speak'st like a physician, Helicanus,
- That minister'st a potion unto me
- That thou wouldst tremble to receive thyself.
- Attend me, then: I went to Antioch,
- Where as thou know'st, against the face of death,
- I sought the purchase of a glorious beauty.
- From whence an issue I might propagate,
- Are arms to princes, and bring joys to subjects.
- Her face was to mine eye beyond all wonder;
- The rest--hark in thine ear--as black as incest:
- Which by my knowledge found, the sinful father
- Seem'd not to strike, but smooth: but thou
- know'st this,
- 'Tis time to fear when tyrants seem to kiss.
- Such fear so grew in me, I hither fled,
- Under the covering of a careful night,
- Who seem'd my good protector; and, being here,
- Bethought me what was past, what might succeed.
- I knew him tyrannous; and tyrants' fears
- Decrease not, but grow faster than the years:
- And should he doubt it, as no doubt he doth,
- That I should open to the listening air
- How many worthy princes' bloods were shed,
- To keep his bed of blackness unlaid ope,
- To lop that doubt, he'll fill this land with arms,
- And make pretence of wrong that I have done him:
- When all, for mine, if I may call offence,
- Must feel war's blow, who spares not innocence:
- Which love to all, of which thyself art one,
- Who now reprovest me for it,--
- Alas, sir!
- Drew sleep out of mine eyes, blood from my cheeks,
- Musings into my mind, with thousand doubts
- How I might stop this tempest ere it came;
- And finding little comfort to relieve them,
- I thought it princely charity to grieve them.
- Well, my lord, since you have given me leave to speak.
- Freely will I speak. Antiochus you fear,
- And justly too, I think, you fear the tyrant,
- Who either by public war or private treason
- Will take away your life.
- Therefore, my lord, go travel for a while,
- Till that his rage and anger be forgot,
- Or till the Destinies do cut his thread of life.
- Your rule direct to any; if to me.
- Day serves not light more faithful than I'll be.
- I do not doubt thy faith;
- But should he wrong my liberties in my absence?
- We'll mingle our bloods together in the earth,
- From whence we had our being and our birth.
- Tyre, I now look from thee then, and to Tarsus
- Intend my travel, where I'll hear from thee;
- And by whose letters I'll dispose myself.
- The care I had and have of subjects' good
- On thee I lay whose wisdom's strength can bear it.
- I'll take thy word for faith, not ask thine oath:
- Who shuns not to break one will sure crack both:
- But in our orbs we'll live so round and safe,
- That time of both this truth shall ne'er convince,
- Thou show'dst a subject's shine, I a true prince.