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Let it suffice the greatness of your powers,
Enter Three Fishermen.9
1 FISH. What, ho, Pilche!1
Again, in Chapman's version of the fifth Book of Homer's Odyssey, where the shipwrecked Ulysses is described: Two nights yet and days
"He spent in wrestling with the sable seas:
• Enter three Fishermen.] This scene seems to have been formed on the following lines in the Confessio Amantis : "Thus was the yonge lorde all alone, "All naked in a poure plite. "There came a fisher in the weye, "And sigh a man there naked stonde, "And when that he hath understonde "The cause, he hath of hym great routh; "And onely of his poure trouth "Of such clothes as he hadde "With great pitee this lorde he cladde: "And he hym thonketh as he sholde, "And sayth hym that it shall be yolde "If ever he gete his state ageyne; "And praith that he would hym seyne, "If nigh were any towne for hym. "He sayd, ye, Pentapolim,
"Where both kynge and quene dwellen.
"He gladdeth him, and gan beseche,
Shakspeare, delighting to describe the manners of such people, has introduced three fishermen instead of one, and extended the dialogue to a considerable length. MALONE.
'What, ho, Pilche!] All the old copies read-What to pelche. The latter emendation was made by Mr. Tyrwhitt. For the other I am responsible. Pilche, as he has observed, is a leathern
2 FISH. Ho! come, and bring away the nets. 1 FISH. What, Patch-breech, I say!
3 FISH. What say you, master?
1 FISH. Look how thou stirrest now! come away, or I'll fetch thee with a wannion.2
3 FISH. 'Faith, master, I am thinking of the poor men that were cast away before us, even now.
1 FISH. Alas, poor souls, it grieved my heart to hear what pitiful cries they made to us, to help them,3 when, well-a-day, we could scarce help ourselves.
3 FISH. Nay, master, said not I as much, when I saw the porpus, how he bounced and tumbled ?*
coat. The context confirms this correction. The first fisherman appears to be the master, and speaks with authority, and some degree of contempt, to the third fisherman, who is a servant.His next speech, What, Patch-breech, I say! is in the same style. The second fisherman seems to be a servant likewise; and, after the master has called-What, ho Pilche!-(for so I read,)-explains what it is he wants-Ho, come and bring away the nets. MALONE.
In Twine's translation we have the following passage:"He was a rough fisherman, with an hoode upon his head, and a filthie leatherne pelt upon his backe." STEEVENS.
with a wannion.] A phrase of which the meaning is obvious, though I cannot explain the word at the end of it. It is common in many of our old plays. STEEVENS.
Alas, poor souls, it grieved my heart &c.] So, in The Winter's Tale: "O the most piteous cry of the poor souls! Sometimes to see 'em, and not to see 'em ;-now the ship boring the moon with her main-mast, and anon swallowed with yest and froth, as you'd thrust a cork into a hogshead. And then for the land-service-To see how the bear tore out his shoulder-bone; how he cried to me for help." MALONE.
when I saw the porpus, how he bounced and tumbled?] The rising of porpuses near a vessel at sea, has long been considered by the superstition of sailors, as the fore-runner of a storm. So, in The Duchess of Malfy, by Webster, 1623: "He lifts up his nose like a foul porpus before a storm." MALONE.
they say, they are 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.
1 FISH. Why, as men do a-land;5 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 a'the land, who never leave gaping, till they've swallowed the whole parish, church, steeple, bells and all.
PER. A pretty moral.
3 FISH. But, master, if I had been the sexton, I would have been that day in the belfry."
2 FISH. Why, man?
3 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
Malone considers this prognostick as arising merely from the superstition of the sailors: but Captain Cook, in his second voyage to the South Seas, mentions the playing of porpusses round the ship as a certain sign of a violent gale of wind. M. MASON.
5 ——————- a-land ;] This word occurs several times in Twine's translation, as well as in P. Holland's translation of Pliny's Nat. Hist.
as to a whale; 'a plays and tumbles, driving the poor fry before him,] So, in Coriolanus:
like scaled sculls
"Before the belching whale." STEEVENS.
7 I would have been that day in the belfry.] That is, I should wish to have been that day in the belfry. M. MASON.
3 FISH. We would purge the land of these drones, that rob the bee of her honey.
PER. How from the finny subject of the seas These fishers tell the infirmities of men; And from their watry empire recollect All that may men approve, or men detect!— Peace be at your labour, honest fishermen.
2 FISH. Honest! good fellow, what's that? if it be a day fits you, scratch it out of the calendar, and no body will look after it."
the finny subject of the sea-] Old copies-fenny. Corrected by Mr. Steevens. MALONE.
This thought is not much unlike another in As you like it : this our life, exempt from publick haunt, "Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, "Sermons in stones, and good in every thing."
Honest! good fellow, what's that? if it be a day fits you, scratch it out of the calendar, and no body will look after it.] The old copy reads-if it be a day fits you, search out of the calendar, and nobody look after it.
Part of the emendation suggested by Mr. Steevens, is confirmed by a passage in The Coxcomb, by Beaumont and Fletcher, quoted by Mr. Mason:
"I fear shrewdly, I should do something
"That would quite scratch me out of the calendar."
The preceding speech of Pericles affords no apt introduction to the reply of the fisherman. Either somewhat is omitted that cannot now be supplied, or the whole passage is obscured by more than common depravation.
It should seem that the prince had made some remark on the badness of the day. Perhaps the dialogue originally ran thus: "Per. Peace be at your labour, honest fishermen;" "The day is rough and thwarts your occupation."
"2 Fish. Honest! good fellow, what's that? If it be not a day fits you, scratch it out of the calendar, and no body will look after it."
PER. Nay, see, the sea hath cast upon your
2 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, hath made the ball For them to play upon,2 entreats you pity him; He asks of you, that never us'd to beg.
1 FISH. No, friend, cannot you beg? here's them
The following speech of Pericles is equally abrupt and inconsistent:
"May see the sea hath cast upon your coast." The folio reads:
"Y' may see the sea hath cast me upon your coast." I would rather suppose the poet wrote:
Nay, see the sea hath cast upon your coastHere the fisherman interposes. The prince then goes on: "A man," &c. STEEVENS.
May not here be an allusion to the dies honestissimus of Cicero? "If you like the day, find it out in the almanack, and nobody will take it from you." Farmer.
The allusion is to the lucky and unlucky days which are put down in some of the old calendars. DOUCE.
Some difficulty, however, will remain, unless we suppose a preceding line to have been lost; for Pericles (as the text stands) has said nothing about the day. I suspect that in the lost line he wished the men a good day.
to cast thee in our way!] He is playing on the word cast, which anciently was used both in the sense of to throw, and to vomit. So, in Macbeth:
yet I made a shift to cast him." It is used in the latter sense above: " up again." MALONE.
till he cast bells, &c.
hath made the ball
For them to play upon,] So, in Sidney's Arcadia, Book V: "In such a shadow &c. mankind lives, that neither they know how to foresee, nor what to feare; and are, like tenis bals, tossed by the racket of the higher powers." STEEVENS.