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To taste the fruit of yon celestial tree,
Or die in the adventure, be my helps,
As I am son and servant to your will,
To compass such a boundless happiness!
Ant. Prince Pericles,
Per. That would be son to great Antiochus.
Ant. Before thee stands this fair Hesperides,
With golden fruit, but dangerous to be touch'd;
For death-like dragons here affright thee hard :
Her face, like heaven, enticeth thee to view
A countless glory, which desert must gain:
And which, without desert, because thine eye
Presumes to reach, all thy whole heap must die.
Yon sometime famous princes, like thyself,
Drawn by report, advent'rous by desire,
Tell thee with speechless tongues, and semblance
That, without covering, save yon field of stars,
They here stand martyrs, slain in Cupid's wars;
And with dead cheeks advise thee to desist,
For going on death's net, whom none resist.
Per. Antiochus, I thank thee, who hath taught
My frail mortality to know itself,
And by those fearful objects to prepare
This body, like to them, to what I must:
For death remember'd, should be like a mirror,
Who tells us, life's but breath; to trust it, error.
I'll make my will then; and as sick men do,
Who know the world, see heaven, but feeling woe,
Gripe not at earthly joys, as erst they did;
So I bequeath a happy peace to you,
And all good men, as every prince should do;
My riches to the earth from whence they came; But my unspotted fire of love to you.
[To the daughter of Antiochus. Thus ready for the way of life or death, I wait the sharpest blow, Antiochus, Scorning advice. Ant.
Read the conclusion then; Which read and not expounded, 'tis decreed, As these before thee, thou thyself shalt bleed. Daugh. In all, save that, may'st thou prove
prosperous ! In all, save that, I wish thee happiness!
Per. Like a bold champion, I assume the lists, Nor ask advice of any other thought But faithfulness, and courage.
[He reads the Riddle.]
I am no viper, yet I feed
On mother's flesh, which did me breed :
I sought a husband, in which labour,
I found that kindness in a father.
He's father, son, and husband mild,
I mother, wife, and yet his child.
How they may be, and yet in two,
As you will live, resolve it
Sharp physick is the last: but, O you powers !
That give heaven countless eyes to view men's acts,
Why cloud they not their sights perpetually,
If this be true, which makes me pale to read it?
Fair glass of light, I lov'd you, and could still,
[Takes hold of the hand of the princess.
Were not this glorious casket stor’d with ill:
But I must tell you, - now, my thoughts revolt;
For he's no man on whom perfections wait,
That knowing sin within, will touch the gate.
You're a fair viol, and your sense the strings;
Who, finger'd to make man his lawful musick,
Would draw heaven down, and all the gods to
But, being play'd upon before your time,
Hell only danceth at so harsh a chime:
Good sooth, I care not for you.
Ant. Prince Pericles, touch not, upon thy life,
For that's an article within our law,
As dangerous as the rest. Your time's expir'd;
Either expound now, or receive your sentence.
Per. Great king Few love to hear the sins they love to act; 'Twould 'braid yourself too near for me to tell ite Who has a book of all that monarchs do, He's more secure to keep it shut, than shown; For vice repeated, is like the wand'ring wind, Blows dust in others' eyes, to spread itself; And yet the end of all is bought thus dear, The breath is gone, and the sore eyes see clear To stop the air would hurt them. The blind mole
casts Coppd hills towards heaven, to tell, the earth is
wrong'd By man's oppression; and the poor worm doth die
for't. Kings are earth's gods : in vice their law's their
And if Jove stray, who dares say, Jove doth ill?
It is enough you know; and it is fit,
What being more known grows worse, to smother.
All love the womb that their first being bred,
Then give my tongue like leave to love my
head. Ant. Heaven, that I had thy head! he has found
the meaning; But I will gloze with him. [Aside.] Young prince
Though, by the tenour of our strict edict,
Your exposition misinterpreting,
We might proceed to cancel of your days;
Yet hope, succeeding from so fair a tree
As your fair self, doth tune us otherwise:
Forty days longer we do respite you ;
If by which time our secret be undone,
This mercy shows, we'll joy in such a son:
And until then, your entertain shall be,
As doth befit our honour, and your worth.
[Ereunt Antiochus, his daughter, and Attend.
Per. How courtesy would seem to cover sin!
When what is done is like an hypocrite,
The which is good in nothing but in sight.
If it be true that I interpret false,
Then were it certain, you were not so bad,
As with foul incest to abuse your soul;
Where now you're both a father and a son,
By your untimely claspings with your child,
(Which pleasure fits an husband, not a father;)
And she an eater of her mother's flesh,
By the defiling of her parent's bed;
And both like serpents are, who though they feed
On sweetest flowers, yet they poison breed.
Antioch, farewel! for wisdom sees, those men
Blush not in actions blacker than the night,
Will shun no course to keep them from the light.
One sin, I know, another doth provoke;
Murder's as near to lust, as flame to smoke.
Poison and treason are the hands of sin,
Ay, and the targets, to put off the shame:
Then, lest my life be cropp'd to keep you clear,
By flight I'll shun the danger which I fear, [Exit.
Ant. He hath found the meaning, for the which
To have his head.
He must not live to trumpet forth my infamy,
Nor tell the world, Antiochus doth sin
In such a loathed manner:
And therefore instantly this prince must die;
For by his fall my honour must keep high.
Who attends on us there?
Doth your highness call?
Ant. Thaliard, you're of our chamber, and our
mind Partakes her private actions to your secresy;
; And for your faithfulness we will advance you. Thaliard, behold, here's poison, and here's gold; We hate the prince of Tyre, and thou must kill