This page contains the original text of Pericles Act 2, Scene 1. Shakespeare’s original Pericles text is extremely long, so we’ve split the text into one Scene per page. All Acts are listed on the Pericles text page, or linked to from the bottom of this page.
Pericles, Act 2, Scene 1. Pentapolis. An open place by the sea-side.
Enter PERICLES, wet
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
What, ho, Pilch!
Ha, come and bring away the nets!
What, Patch-breech, I say!
What say you, master?
Look how thou stirrest now! come away, or I’ll
fetch thee with a wanion.
Faith, master, I am thinking of the poor men that
were cast away before us even now.
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.
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.
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.
[Aside] A pretty moral.
But, master, if I had been the sexton, I would have
been that day in the belfry.
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,–
We would purge the land of these drones, that rob
the bee of her honey.
[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!
Peace be at your labour, honest fishermen.
Honest! good fellow, what’s that? If it be a day
fits you, search out of the calendar, and nobody
look after it.
May see the sea hath cast upon your coast.
What a drunken knave was the sea to cast thee in our
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 used to beg.
No, friend, cannot you beg? Here’s them in our
country Greece gets more with begging than we can do
Canst thou catch any fishes, then?
I never practised it.
Nay, then thou wilt starve, sure; for here’s nothing
to be got now-a-days, unless thou canst fish for’t.
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.
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.
I thank you, sir.
Hark you, my friend; you said you could not beg.
I did but crave.
But crave! Then I’ll turn craver too, and so I
shall ‘scape whipping.
Why, are all your beggars whipped, then?
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
Exit with Third Fisherman
[Aside] How well this honest mirth becomes their labour!
Hark you, sir, do you know where ye are?
Why, I’ll tell you: this is called Pentapolis, and
our king the good Simonides.
The good King Simonides, do you call him.
Ay, sir; and he deserves so to be called for his
peaceable reign and good government.
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?
Marry, sir, half a day’s journey: and I’ll tell
you, he hath a fair daughter, and to-morrow is her
birth-day; and there are princes and knights come
from all parts of the world to just and tourney for her love.
Were my fortunes equal to my desires, I could wish
to make one there.
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
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.
An armour, friends! I pray you, let me see it.
Thanks, fortune, yet, that, after all my crosses,
Thou givest me somewhat to repair myself;
And though it was mine own, part of my 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 saved me, keep it; in like necessity–
The which the gods protect thee from!–may
It kept where I kept, I so dearly loved it;
Till the rough seas, that spare not any man,
Took it in rage, though calm’d have given’t again:
I thank thee for’t: my shipwreck now’s no ill,
Since I have here my father’s gift in’s will.
What mean you, sir?
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 loved me dearly,
And for his sake I wish the having of it;
And that you’ld guide me to your sovereign’s court,
Where with it I may appear a gentleman;
And if that ever my low fortune’s better,
I’ll pay your bounties; till then rest your debtor.
Why, wilt thou tourney for the lady?
I’ll show the virtue I have borne in arms.
Why, do ‘e take it, and the gods give thee good on’t!
Ay, but hark you, my friend; ’twas we that made up
this garment through the rough seams of the waters:
there are certain condolements, certain vails. I
hope, sir, if you thrive, you’ll remember from
whence you had it.
Believe ‘t, I will.
By your furtherance I am clothed in steel;
And, spite of all the rapture of the sea,
This jewel holds his building on my arm:
Unto thy value I will 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.
We’ll sure provide: thou shalt have my best gown to
make thee a pair; and I’ll bring thee to the court myself.
Then honour be but a goal to my will,
This day I’ll rise, or else add ill to ill.
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