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Drawn by report, advent'rous by defire,
Tell thee with speechlefs tongues, and femblance pale,
That, without covering, fave yon field of ftars,6
PER. Antiochus, I thank thee, who hath taught My frail mortality to know itself,
And by thofe fearful objects to prepare
without covering, fave yon field of Stars,] Thus, Lucan, Lib. VII:
cœlo tegitur qui non habet urnam." STEEVENS. "And with deud cheeks advife thee to defift,] Thus, in Romeo and Juliet:
think upon thefe gone;
"Let them affright thee." STEEVENS.
For going on death's net,] Thus the old copies, and rightly. Mr. Malone would read-From going &c. but for going means the fame as for fear of going. So, in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Lucetta fays of the fragments of a letter:
"Yet here they shall not lie for catching cold." i. e. for fear of it. See Vol. IV. p. 195, n. 4.
It were eafy to fubjoin a croud of inftances in fupport of this original reading. STEEVENS.
I would read-in death's net.
like to them, to what I must:] That is, to prepare this body for that state to which I must come. MALONE.
Who know the world, fee heaven, but feeling woe, &c.] The meaning may be-I will act as fick men do; who having had experience of the pleafures of the world, and only a vifionary and diftant profpect of heaven, have neglected the latter for the
Gripe not at earthly joys, as erft they did;
And all good men, as every prince fhould do;
[To the Daughter of ANTIOCHUS.
Thus ready for the way of life or death,
Read the conclufion then ;* Which read and not expounded, 'tis decreed, As thefe before thee thou thyfelf fhalt bleed.
former; but at length feeling themselves decaying, grafp ne longer at temporal pleasures, but prepare calmly for futurity.
Malone has juftly explained the meaning of this paffage, but he has not fhown how the words, as they ftand, will bear that meaning: Some amendment appears to me to be abfolutely neceffary, and that which I fhould propofe is to read—
Who now in the world fee heaven, &c.
That is, who at one time of their lives find heaven in the pleafures of the world, but after having tasted of misfortune, begin to be weaned from the joys of it. Were we to make a further alteration, and read-feek heaven, inftead of fee heaven, the expreffion would be ftronger; but that is not neceffary.
2 Read the conclufion then ;] This and the two following lines are given in the firft quarto to Pericles; and the word Antiochus, which is now placed in the margin, makes part of his fpeech. There can be no doubt that they belong to Antiochus.
Thefe lines in the old copies stand as follows:
"Thus ready for the way of life or death
Unbroken meafure, as well as the fpirit of this paffage, perhaps decide in favour of its present arrangement. STEEVENS.
Sharp phyfick is the last: but O you powers 1
But, being play'd upon before your time,
8 Sharp phyfick is the laft:] i. e. the intimation in the laft line of the riddle that his life depends on refolving it; which he properly enough calls Sharp phyfick, or a bitter potion. PERCY. 9 That give heaven countless eyes to view men's acts,] So, in A Midfummer Night's Dream:
who more engilds the night,
"Than all yon fiery oes and eyes of light." MALONE.
"Let not light fee," &c. STEEevens.
2 For he's no man on whom perfections wait,] Means no more than-he's no honeft man, that knowing, &c. MALONE.
3 to make man-] i. e. to produce for man, &c.
4 But &c.
Hell only daneeth at fo harfh a chime :] Somewhat like this -occurs in Milton's Ode at a Solemn Mufick:
Jarr'd againft nature's chime, and with harsh din
ANT. Prince Pericles, touch not, upon thy life,s For that's an article within our law,
As dangerous as the reft. Your time's expir'd;
Few love to hear the fins they love to act;
5 Prince Pericles, touch not, upon thy life,] This is a stroke of nature. The incestuous king cannot bear to fee 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 feal,
"And plighter of high hearts." STEEVENS.
Malefort, in Maflinger's Unnatural Combat, expreffes the like impatient jealoufy, when Beaufort touches his daughter Theocrine, to whom he was betrothed. M. MASON.
For vice repeated, is like the wand'ring wind,
Blows duft in others' eyes, to Spread itself ;] That is, which blows duft, &c.
The man who knows of the ill practices of princes, is unwife if he reveals what he knows; for the publisher of vicious actions resembles the wind, which, while it paffes along, blows duft into men's eyes. When the blast is over, the eye that has been affected by the duft, fuffers no farther pain, but can fee as clearly as before; fo by the relation of criminal acts, the eyes of mankind (though they are affected, and turn away with horror,) are opened, and fee clearly what before was not even suspected: but by expofing the crimes of others, the relater fuffers himfelf; as the breeze paffes away, fo the breath of the informer is gone; he dies for his temerity. Yet, to ftop the courfe or ventilation of the air, would hurt the eyes; and to prevent informers from divulging the crimes of men would be prejudicial to mankind. Such, I think, is the meaning of this obfcure paffage.
The breath is gone, and the fore eyes fee clear:
Copp'd hills towards heaven, to tell, the earth is wrong'd
By man's oppreffion; and the poor worm doth die
The breath is gone, and the fore eyes fee clear:
To ftop the air would hurt them.] Malone has mistaken the meaning of this part of the speech of Pericles :-There should be no ftop after the word clear, that line being neceffarily connected with the following words; and the meaning is this: "The breath is gone, and the eyes, though fore, fee clear enough to ftop for the future the air that would annoy them."
Malone fuppofes the fentence to end with the first of these lines, and makes the other a general political aphorifm, not perceiving that, "to ftop the air would hurt them;" means only to "ftop the air that would hurt them;" the pronoun being omitted; an ellipfis frequent not only in poetry, but in profe.
Pericles means only, by this fimilitude, to fhow the danger of revealing the crimes of princes; for as they feel themselves hurt by the publication of their fhame, they will, of course, prevent a repetition of it, by deftroying the perfon who divulged it: He purfues the fame idea in the inftance 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 deftruction.
In the second scene Pericles fays, fpeaking of the King:
"And what may make him blush in being known,
"He'll flop the course by which it might be known." Which confirms my explanation. M. MASON.
8 Copp'd hills-] i. e. rifing to a top or head. So, in P. Holland's tranflation of the eleventh Book of Pliny's Nat. Hift. "And few of them have cops or crefted tufts upon their heads."
Copped Hall, in Effex, was fo named from the lofty pavilion on the roof of the old house, which has been fince pulled down. The upper tire of mafonry that covers a wall is ftill called the copping or coping. High-crowned hats were anciently called copatain hats. STEEVENS.
9 the earth is wrong'd
By man's oppreffion;] Old copies-throng'd. change I am anfwerable. STEEVENS.