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Which read and not expounded, 'tis decreed,
Daugh. In all, save that, may'st thou prove prosperous!
In all, save that, I wish thee happiness!3
Per. Like a bold champion, I assume the lists, Nor ask advice of any other thought
But faithfulness, and courage.4
These lines in the old copies stand as follows:
"Scorning aduice; read the conclusion then:
Unbroken measure, as well as the spirit of this passage, perhaps decide in favour of its present arrangement. Steevens. 3 In all, save that, &c.] Old copy:
Of all said yet, may'st thou prove prosperous!
'Said is here apparently contracted for assay'd, i. e. tried, attempted. Percy.
She cannot wish him more prosperous, with respect to the exposition of the riddle, than the other persons who had attempted it before; for as the necessary consequence of his expounding it would be the publication of her own shame, we cannot suppose that she should wish him to succeed in that. The passage is evidently corrupt, and should probably be corrected by reading the lines thus:
In all, save that, may'st thou prove prosperous!
In all, save that, I wish thee happiness!
Her father had just said to Pericles, that his life depended on his expounding the riddle; and the daughter, who feels a regard for the Prince, expresses it by deprecating his fate, and wishing him success in every thing except that. She wishes that he may not expound the riddle, but that his failing to do so may be attended with prosperous consequences. When we consider how licentious Shakspeare frequently is in the use of his particles, it may not perhaps be thought necessary to change the word of, in the beginning of these lines, for the word in. There is no great difference in the traces of the letters between said and save; and the words that and yet have one common abbreviation, viz. y. M. Mason.
I have inserted Mr. M. Mason's conjecture in the text, as it gives a more reasonable turn to the speech than has hitherto been supplied; and because it is natural to wish that the only words assigned to this lady, might have some apt and determinate meaning. Steevens.
4 Nor ask advice of any other thought
But faithfulness, and courage.] This is from the third Book of Sidney's Arcadia: "Whereupon asking advice of no other
[He reads the Riddle.5)
I am no viper, yet I feed
On mother's flesh, which did me breed:
Sharp physick is the last: but O you powers!
thought but faithfulnesse and courage, he presently lighted from his own horse," &c. edit. 1633, p. 253. Steevens.
5 He reads the Riddle.] The riddle is thus described in Gow"Questio regis Antiochi.-Scelere vehor, maternâ carne vescor, quero patrem meum, matris meæ virum, uxoris meæ filium. "With felonie I am upbore,
"I ete, and have it not forlore,
"Which is the sonne eke of my wife,
"Hereof I am inquisitife.
"And who that can my tale save,
"All quite he shall my doughter have.
"Of his answere and if he faile,
"He shall be dead withouten faile." Malone.
* I sought a husband, in which labour,
I found that kindness in a father.] The defective rhyme which labour affords to father, and the obscurity indeed of the whole couplet, induce me to suppose it might originally have stood thus:
I sought a husband; in which rather
I found the kindness of a father.
In which (i. e. in whom, for this pronoun anciently related to persons as well as things) I rather found parental than marital love. Steevens.
' as you will live, resolve it you.] This duplication is common enough to ancient writers. So, in King Henry IV, Part I:
"I'll drink no more, for no man's pleasure I." Malone. 8 Sharp physick is the last :] i. e. the intimation in the last line of the riddle that his life depends on resolving it; which he properly enough calls sharp physick, or a bitter potion. Percy. That give heaven countless eyes to view men's acts,] So, in A Midsummer Night's Dream:
who more engilds the night, "Than all yon fiery oes and eyes of light." Malone.
Why cloud they not their sights perpetually,
[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,2 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,3 Would draw heaven down, and all the gods to hearken; But, being play'd upon before your time,
Hell only danceth at so harsh a chime :4
Good sooth, I care not for you.
Ant. Prince Pericles, touch not, upon thy life,"
As dangerous as the rest. Your time 's expir'd;
Few love to hear the sins they love to act;
Why cloud they not-] So, in Macbeth:
66 stars, hide your fires,
"Let not light see," &c. Steevens.
2 For he 's no man on whom perfections wait,] Means no more than-he's no honest man, that knowing, &c. Malone.
3 — to make man —] i. e. to produce for man, &c. Malone.
4 But &c.
Hell only danceth at so harsh a chime :] Somewhat like this occurs in Milton's Ode at a Solemn Musick:
"Jarr'd against nature's chime, and with harsh din
5 Prince Pericles, touch not, upon thy life,] This is a stroke of nature. The incestuous king cannot bear to see a rival touch the hand of the woman he loves. His jealousy resembles that of Antony:
to let him be familiar with
"My play-fellow, your hand; this kingly seal,
"And plighter of high hearts." Steevens.
Malefort, in Massinger's Unnatural Combat, expresses the like impatient jealousy, when Beaufort touches his daughter Theocrine, to whom he was betrothed. M. Mason.
Who has a book of all that monarchs do,
For vice repeated, is like the wandring wind,
Blows dust in others' eyes, to spread itself;] That is, which blows dust, &c.
The man who knows of the ill practices of princes, is unwise if he reveals what he knows; for the publisher of vicious actions resembles the wind, which, while it passes along, blows dust into men's eyes. When the blast is over, the eye that has been affected by the dust, suffers no farther pain, but can see as clearly as before; so by the relation of criminal acts, the eyes of mankind (though they are affected, and turn away with horror,) are opened, and see clearly what before was not even suspected: but by exposing the crimes of others, the relater suffers himself; as the breeze passes away, so the breath of the informer is gone; he dies for his temerity. Yet, to stop the course or ventilation of the air, would hurt the eyes; and to prevent in formers from divulging the crimes of men would be prejudicial
Such, I think, is the meaning of this obscure passage. Malone. 7 The breath is gone, and the sore eyes see clear:
To stop the air would hurt them.] Malone has mistaken the meaning of this part of the speech of Pericles :-There should be no stop after the word clear, that line being necessarily connected with the following words; and the meaning is this: "The breath is gone, and the eyes, though sore, see clear enough to stop for the future the air that would annoy them."
Malone supposes the sentence to end with the first of these lines, and makes the other a general political aphorism, not perceiving that, "to stop the air would hurt them;" means only to stop the air that would hurt them;" the pronoun being omitted; an ellipsis frequent not only in poetry, but in prose.
Pericles means only, by this similitude, to show the danger of revealing the crimes of princes; for as they feel themselves hurt by the publication of their shame, they will, of course, prevent a repetition of it, by destroying the person who divulged it: He pursues the same idea in the instance of the mole, and concludes with requesting that the king would
"Give his tongue like leave to love his head." That is, that he would not force his tongue to speak what, if spoken, would prove his destruction.
In the second scene Pericles says, speaking of the king:
Copp'd hills towards heaven, to tell, the earth is wrong'd
What being more known grows worse, to smother it.
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.3 [Aside.] Young prince of Tyre,
"And what may make him blush in being known,
"He'll stop the course by which it might be known."
Which confirms my explanation. M. Mason.
8 Copp'd hills-] i. e. rising to a top or head. So, in P. Holland's translation of the eleventh Book of Pliny's Nat. Hist. "And few of them have cops or crested tufts upon their heads."
Copped Hall, in Essex, was so named from the lofty pavilion on the roof of the old house, which has been since pulled down. The upper tire of masonry that covers a wall is still called the copping or coping. High-crowned hats were anciently called copatain hats. Steevens.
9 the earth is wrong'd
By man's oppression;] Old copies—throng'd. For this change I am answerable. Steevens.
and the poor worm doth die for 't.] I suppose he means to call the mole, (which suffers in its attempts to complain of man's injustice) a poor worm, as a term of commiseration. Thus, in The Tempest, Prospero speaking to Miranda, says:
"Poor worm! thou art infected."
The mole remains secure till he has thrown up those hillocks, which, by pointing out the course he is pursuing, enable the vermin-hunter to catch him. Steevens.
2 Heaven, that I had thy head!] The speaker may either mean to say, 0, that I had thy ingenuity! or, O, that I had thy head, sever'd from thy body! The latter, I believe, is the meaning.
3 But I will gloze with him.] So, Gower:
"With slie wordes and with felle
"He sayth: My sonne I shall thee telle,
Though that thou be of littel witte," &c. Malone.