Home  »  The Oxford Shakespeare  »  Pericles, Prince of Tyre

William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Oxford Shakespeare. 1914.

Act II. Scene I.

Pericles, Prince of Tyre

Pentapolis.An open Place by the Sea-side.

Enter PERICLES, wet.

Per.Yet cease your ire, you angry stars of heaven!

Wind, rain, and thunder, remember, earthly man

Is but a substance that must yield to you;

And I, as fits my nature, do obey you.

Alas! the sea hath cast me on the rocks,

Wash’d me from shore to shore, and left me breath

Nothing to think on but ensuing death:

Let it suffice the greatness of your powers

To have bereft a prince of all his fortunes;

And having thrown him from your watery grave,

Here to have death in peace is all he’ll crave.

Enter three Fishermen.

First Fish.What, ho, Pilch!

Sec. Fish.Ha! come and bring away the nets.

First Fish.What, Patch-breech, I say!

Third Fish.What say you, master?

First Fish.Look how thou stirrest now! come away, or I’ll fetch thee with a wannion.

Third Fish.Faith, master, I am thinking of the poor men that were cast away before us even now.

First Fish.Alas! poor souls; it grieved my heart to hear what pitiful cries they made to us to help them, when, well-a-day, we could scarce help ourselves.

Third Fish.Nay, master, said not I as much when I saw the porpus how he bounced and tumbled? they say they’re half fish half flesh; a plague on them! they ne’er come but I look to be washed. Master, I marvel how the fishes live in the sea.

First Fish.Why, as men do a-land; the great ones eat up the little ones; I can compare our rich misers to nothing so fitly as to a whale; a’ plays and tumbles, driving the poor fry before him, and at last devours them all at a mouthful. Such whales have I heard on o’ the land, who never leave gaping till they’ve swallowed the whole parish, church, steeple, bells, and all.

Per.[Aside.]A pretty moral.

Third Fish.But master, if I had been the sexton, I would have been that day in the belfry.

Sec. FishWhy, man?

Third Fish.Because he should have swallowed me too; and when I had been in his belly, I would have kept such a jangling of the bells, that he should never have left till he cast bells, steeple, church, and parish, up again. But if the good King Simonides were of my mind,—


Third Fish.We would purge the land of these drones, that rob the bee of her honey.

Per.[Aside.]How from the finny subject of the sea

These fishers tell the infirmities of men;

And from their watery empire recollect

All that may men approve or men detect!

[Aloud.]Peace be at your labour, honest fishermen.

Sec. Fish.Honest! good fellow, what’s that? if it be a day fits you, search out of the calendar, and nobody look after it.

Per.Y’ may see the sea hath cast me on your coast.

Sec. Fish.What a drunken knave was the sea, to cast thee in our way!

Per.A man whom both the waters and the wind,

In that vast tennis-court, have made the ball

For them to play upon, entreats you pity him;

He asks of you, that never us’d to beg.

First Fish.No, friend, cannot you beg? here’s them in our country of Greece gets more with begging than we can do with working.

Sec. Fish.Canst thou catch any fishes then?

Per.I never practised it.

Sec. Fish.Nay then thou wilt starve, sure; for here’s nothing to be got now-a-days unless thou canst fish for ’t.

Per.What I have been I have forgot to know,

But what I am want teaches me to think on;

A man throng’d up with cold; my veins are chill,

And have no more of life than may suffice

To give my tongue that heat to ask your help;

Which if you shall refuse, when I am dead,

For that I am a man, pray see me buried.

First Fish.Die, quoth-a? Now, gods forbid! I have a gown here; come, put it on; keep thee warm. Now, afore me, a handsome fellow! Come, thou shalt go home, and we’ll have flesh for holidays, fish for fasting-days, and moreo’er puddings and flap-jacks; and thou shalt be welcome.

Per.I thank you, sir.

First Fish.Hark you, my friend; you said you could not beg.

Per.I did but crave.

Sec. Fish.But crave! Then I’ll turn craver too, and so I shall ’scape whipping.

Per.Why, are all your beggars whipped, then?

Sec. Fish.O! not all, my friend, not all; for if all your beggars were whipped, I would wish no better office than to be beadle. But, master, I’ll go draw up the net.[Exit with Third Fisherman.

Per.How well this honest mirth becomes their labour!

First Fish.Hark you, sir; do you know where ye are?

Per.Not well.

First Fish.Why, I’ll tell you: this is called Pentapolis, and our king the good Simonides.

Per.The good King Simonides do you call him?

First Fish.Ay, sir; and he deserves to be so called for his peaceable reign and good government.

Per.He is a happy king, since he gains from his subjects the name of good by his government. How far is his court distant from this shore?

First Fish.Marry, sir, half a day’s journey; and I’ll tell you, he hath a fair daughter, and to-morrow is her birthday; and there are princes and knights come from all parts of the world to just and tourney for her love.

Per.Were my fortunes equal to my desires, I could wish to make one there.

First Fish.O! sir, things must be as they may; and what a man cannot get, he may lawfully deal for his wife’s soul,—

Re-enter Second and Third Fishermen, drawing up a net.

Sec. Fish.Help, master, help! here’s a fish hangs in the net, like a poor man’s right in the law; ’twill hardly come out. Ha! bots on ’t, ’tis come at last, and ’tis turned to a rusty armour.

Per.An armour, friends! I pray you, let me see it.

Thanks, Fortune, yet, that after all my crosses

Thou giv’st me somewhat to repair myself;

And though it was mine own, part of mine heritage,

Which my dead father did bequeath to me,

With this strict charge, even as he left his life,

‘Keep it, my Pericles, it hath been a shield

’Twixt me and death;’—and pointed to this brace;

‘For that it sav’d me, keep it; in like necessity—

The which the gods protect thee from!—’t may defend thee.’

It kept where I kept, I so dearly lov’d it;

Till the rough seas, that spare not any man,

Took it in rage, though calm’d they have given ’t again.

I thank thee for ’t; my shipwrack now’s no ill,

Since I have here my father’s gift in ’s will.

First Fish.What mean you, sir?

Per.To beg of you, kind friends, this coat of worth,

For it was sometime target to a king;

I know it by this mark. He lov’d me dearly,

And for his sake I wish the having of it;

And that you’d guide me to your sovereign’s court,

Where with it I may appear a gentleman;

And if that ever my low fortunes better,

I’ll pay your bounties; till then rest your debtor.

First Fish.Why, wilt thou tourney for the lady?

Per.I’ll show the virtue I have borne in arms.

First Fish.Why, do’e take it; and the gods give thee good on ’t!

Sec. Fish.Ay, but hark you, my friend; ’twas we that made up this garment through the rough seams of the water; there are certain condolements, certain vails. I hope, sir, if you thrive, you’ll remember from whence you had it.

Per.Believe it, I will.

By your furtherance I am cloth’d in steel;

And spite of all the rapture of the sea,

This jewel holds his biding on my arm:

Unto thy value will I mount myself

Upon a courser, whose delightful steps

Shall make the gazer joy to see him tread.

Only, my friend, I yet am unprovided

Of a pair of bases.

Sec. Fish.We’ll sure provide; thou shalt have my best gown to make thee a pair, and I’ll bring thee to the court myself.

Per.Then honour be but a goal to my will! This day I’ll rise, or else add ill to ill.[Exeunt.