The Self-Tormentor, by Terence

Act the Fifth.

Scene I.

Menedemus alone.

That I’m not overwise, no conjurer,
I know full well: but my assistant here,
And counselor, and grand controller Chremes,
Outgoes me far: dolt, blockhead, ninny, ass;
Or these, or any other common terms
By which men speak of fools, befit me well:
But him they suit not: his stupidity
Is so transcendent, it exceeds them all.

Scene II.

Enter Chremes .

Chrem. (to Sostrata, within). Nay prithee, good wife, cease to stun the Gods
With thanking them that you have found your daughter;
Unless you fancy they are like yourself,
And think they can not understand a thing
Unless said o’er and o’er a hundred times.
— But meanwhile (coming forward) wherefore do my son and Syrus
Loiter so long?

Mene. Who are those loiterers, Chremes?

Chrem. Ha, Menedemus, are you there? — Inform me,
Have you told Clinia what I said?

Mene. The whole.

Chrem. And what said he?

Mene. Grew quite transported at it,
Like those who wish for marriage.

Chrem. Ha! ha! ha!

Mene. What do you laugh at?

Chrem. I was thinking of
The cunning rogueries of that slave, Syrus. (Laughing.)

Mene. Oh, was that it?

Chrem. Why, he can form and mould
The very visages of men, a rogue! (Laughing.)

Mene. Meaning my son’s well-acted transport?

Chrem. Aye. (Laughing.)

Mene. The very thing that I was thinking of.

Chrem. A subtle villain! (Laughing.)

Mene. Nay, if you knew more,
You’d be still more convinc’d on’t.

Chrem. Say you so?

Mene. Aye; do but hear.

Chrem. (laughing). Hold! hold! inform me first
How much you’re out of pocket. For as soon
As you inform’d your son of my consent,
Dromo, I warrant, gave you a broad hint
That the bride wanted jewels, clothes, attendants;
That you might pay the money.

Mene. No.

Chrem. How? No?

Mene. No, I say.

Chrem. What! nor Clinia?

Mene. Not a word;
But only press’d the marriage for to-day.

Chrem. Amazing! — But our Syrus? Did not he
Throw in a word or two?

Mene. Not he.

Chrem. How so?

Mene. Faith I can’t tell: but I’m amaz’d that you,
Who see so clearly into all the rest,
Should stick at this. — But that arch villain Syrus
Has form’d and moulded your son too so rarely.
That nobody can have the least suspicion
That this is Clinia’s mistress.

Chrem. How?

Mene. I pass
Their kisses and embraces. All that’s nothing.

Chrem. What is there more that he can counterfeit?

Mene. Ah! (Smiling.)

Chrem. What d’ye mean?

Mene. Nay, do but hear. I have
A private snug apartment, a back room,
Whither a bed was brought and made.

Chrem. What then?

Mene. No sooner done, than in went Clitipho.

Chrem. Alone?

Mene. Alone.

Chrem. I tremble.

Mene. Bacchis follow’d.

Chrem. Alone?

Mene. Alone.

Chrem. Undone!

Mene. No sooner in,
But they made fast the door.

Chrem. Ha! And was Clinia
Witness to this?

Mene. He was. — Both he and I.

Chrem. Bacchis is my son’s mistress, Menedemus.
I’m ruin’d.

Mene. Why d’ye think so?

Chrem. Mine is scarce
A ten-days’ family.

Mene. What are you dismay’d
Because he sticks so closely to his friend?

Chrem. Friend! His she-friend.

Mene. If so —

Chrem. Is that a doubt?
Is any man so courteous, and so patient,
As tamely to stand by and see his mistress —

Mene. Ha, ha, ha! Why not? — That I, you know,
Might be more easily impos’d upon. (Ironically.)

Chrem. D’ye laugh at me? I’m angry with myself:
And well I may. How many circumstances
Conspir’d to make it gross and palpable,
Had I not been a stone! — What things I saw!
Fool, fool! But by my life I’ll be reveng’d:
For now —

Mene. And can’t you then contain yourself?
Have you no self-respect? And am not I
A full example for you?

Chrem. Menedemus,
My anger throws me quite beside myself.

Mene. That you should talk thus! is it not a shame
To be so lib’ral of advice to others,
So wise abroad, and poor in sense at home?

Chrem. What shall I do?

Mene. That which but even now
You counsel’d me to do: Give him to know
That you’re indeed a father: let him dare
Trust his whole soul to you, seek, ask of you;
Lest he to others have recourse, and leave you.

Chrem. And let him go; go where he will; much rather
Than here by his extravagance reduce
His father to distress and beggary.
For if I should continue to supply
The course of his expenses, Menedemus,
Your desp’rate rakes would be my lot indeed.

Mene. Ah, to what evils you’ll expose yourself,
Unless you’re cautious! You will seem severe,
And yet forgive him afterward, and then
With an ill grace too.

Chrem. Ah, you do not know
How much this grieves me.

Mene. Well, well, take your way.
But tell me, do you grant me my request
That this your new-found daughter wed my son?
Or is there aught more welcome to you?

Chrem. Nothing.
The son-in-law and the alliance please me.

Mene. What portion shall I tell my son you’ve settled!
Why are you silent?

Chrem. Portion!

Mene. Aye, what portion?

Chrem. Ah!

Mene. Fear not, Chremes, though it be but small:
The portion nothing moves us.

Chrem. I propos’d,
According to my fortune, that two talents
Were full sufficient: But you now must say,
If you’d save me, my fortune, and my son,
That I have settled all I have upon her.

Mene. What mean you?

Chrem. Counterfeit amazement too,
And question Clitipho my reason for it.

Mene. Nay, but I really do not know your reason.

Chrem. My reason for it? — That his wanton mind,
Now flush’d with lux’ry and lasciviousness,
I may o’erwhelm: and bring him down so low,
He may not know which way to turn himself.

Mene. What are you at?

Chrem. Allow me! let me have
My own way in this business.

Mene. I allow you.
Is it your pleasure?

Chrem. It is.

Mene. Be it so.

Chrem. Come then, let Clinia haste to call the bride.
And for this son of mine, he shall be school’d,
As children ought. — But Syrus!

Mene. What of him?

Chrem. What! I’ll so handle him, so curry him,
That while he lives he shall remember me.

Exit Menedemus .
What, make a jest of me? a laughing-stock?
Now, afore Heav’n, he would not dare to treat
A poor lone widow as he treated me.

Scene III.

Re-enter Menedemus, with Clitipho and Syrus .

Clit. And can it, Menedemus, can it be,
My father has so suddenly cast off
All natural affection? for what act?
What crime, alas! so heinous have I done?
It is a common failing.

Mene. This I know,
Should be more heavy and severe to you
On whom it falls: and yet am I no less
Affected by it, though I know not why,
And have no other reason for my grief,
But that I wish you well.

Clit. Did not you say
My father waited here?

Mene. Aye; there he is.

Exit Menedemus .

Chrem. Why d’ye accuse your father, Clitipho?
Whate’er I’ve done, was providently done
Tow’rd you and your imprudence. When I saw
Your negligence of soul, and that you held
The pleasures of to-day your only care,
Regardless of the morrow; I found means
That you should neither want, nor waste my substance.
When you, whom fair succession first made heir,
Stood self-degraded by unworthiness,
I went to those the next in blood to you,
Committing and consigning all to them.
There shall your weakness, Clitipho, be sure
Ever to find a refuge; food, and raiment,
And roof to fly to.

Clit. Ah me!

Chrem. Better thus,
Than, you being heir, for Bacchis to have all.

Syrus. Distraction! what disturbances have I,
Wretch that I am, all unawares created!

Clit. Would I were dead!

Chrem. Learn first what ’tis to live.
When you know that, if life displeases you,
Then talk of dying.

Syrus. Master, may I speak?

Chrem. Speak.

Syrus. But with safety?

Chrem. Speak.

Syrus. How wrong is this,
Or rather what extravagance and madness,
To punish him for my offense!

Chrem. Away!
Do not you meddle. No one blames you, Syrus!
Nor need you to provide a sanctuary,
Or intercessor.

Syrus. What is it you do?

Chrem. I am not angry, nor with you, nor him:
Nor should you take offense at what I do.

Exit Chremes .

Scene IV.

Manent Clitipho, Syrus .

Syrus. He’s gone. Ah, would I’d ask’d him —

Clit. Ask’d what, Syrus?

Syrus. Where I should eat, since he has cast us off.
You, I perceive, are quarter’d on your sister.

Clit. Is’t come to this, that I should be in fear
Of starving, Syrus?

Syrus. So we do but live,
There’s hope —

Clit. Of what?

Syrus. That we shall have rare stomachs.

Clit. D’ye jest at such a time as this;
And lend me no assistance by your counsel?

Syrus. Nay, I was studying for you even now.
And was so all the while your father spoke.
And far as I can understand this —

Clit. What?

Syrus. Stay, you shall have it presently. (Thinking.)

Clit. Well, what?

Syrus. Thus then: I don’t believe that you’re their son.

Clit. How Syrus! are you mad?

Syrus. I’ll speak my thoughts.
Be you the judge. While they had you alone,
While yet there was no other nearer joy,
You they indulg’d, and gave with open hand:
But now a daughter’s found, their real child,
A cause is found to drive you forth.

Clit. ’Tis like.

Syrus. Think you this fault so angers him?

Clit. I think not.

Syrus. Consider too; ’tis ever found that mothers
Plead for their sons, and in the father’s wrath
Defend them. ’Tis not so at present.

Clit. True.
What shall I do then, Syrus?

Syrus. Ask of them
The truth of this suspicion. Speak your thoughts.
If ’tis not so, you’ll speedily incline them
Both to compassion; or, if so, be told
Whose son you are.

Clit. Your counsel’s good. I’ll do’t.

Scene V.

Syrus alone.

A lucky thought of mine! for Clitipho:
The less he hopes, so much more easily
Will he reduce his father to good terms.
Besides, who knows but he may take a wife?
No thanks to Syrus neither. — But who’s here?
Chremes! — I’m off: for seeing what has pass’d,
I wonder that he did not order me
To be truss’d up immediately. I’ll hence
To Menedemus, and prevail on him
To intercede for me: as matters stand,
I dare not trust to our old gentleman.

Exit Syrus .

Scene VI.

Enter Chremes, Sostrata .

Sostra. Nay indeed, husband, if you don’t take care,
You’ll bring some kind of mischief on your son:
I can’t imagine how a thought so idle
Could come into your head.

Chrem. Still, woman, still
D’ye contradict me? Did I ever wish
For any thing in all my life, but you
In that same thing oppos’d me, Sostrata?
Yet now if I should ask wherein I’m wrong,
Or wherefore I act thus, you do not know.
Why then d’ye contradict me, simpleton?

Sostra. Not know?

Chrem. Well, well, you know: I grant it, rather
Than hear your idle story o’er again.

Sostra. Ah, ’tis unjust in you to ask my silence
In such a thing as this.

Chrem. I do not ask it.
Speak if you will: I’ll do it ne’ertheless.

Sostra. Will you?

Chrem. I will.

Sostra. You don’t perceive what harm
May come of this. He thinks himself a foundling.

Chrem. A foundling, say you?

Sostra. Yes indeed, he does.

Chrem. Confess it to be true.

Sostra. Ah, Heav’n forbid!
Let our most bitter enemies do that!
Shall I disown my son, my own dear child!

Chrem. What! do you fear you can not at your pleasure
Produce convincing proofs that he’s your own?

Sostra. Is it because my daughter’s found you say this?

Chrem. No: but because, a stronger reason far,
His manners are so very like your own,
They are convincing proofs that he’s your son
He is quite like you: not a vice, whereof
He is inheritor, but dwells in you:
And such a son no mother but yourself
Could have engender’d. — But he comes. — How grave!
Look in his face, and you may guess his plight.

Scene VII.

Enter Clitipho .

Clit. Oh mother, if there ever was a time
When you took pleasure in me, or delight
To call me son, beseech you, think of that;
Pity my present misery, and tell me
Who are my real parents!

Sostra. My dear son,
Take not, I beg, that notion to your mind,
That you’re an alien to our blood.

Clit. I am.

Sostra. Ah me! and can you then demand me that?
So may you prosper after both, as you’re
Of both the child! and if you love your mother,
Take heed henceforward that I never hear
Such words from you.

Chrem. And if you fear your father,
See that I never find such vices in you.

Clit. What vices?

Chrem. What? I’ll tell you. Trifler, idler,
Cheat, drunkard, whoremaster, and prodigal.
— Think this, and think that you are ours.

Sostra. These words
Suit not a father.

Chrem. No, no, Clitipho,
Though from my brain you had been born, as Pallas
Sprang, it is said, from Jupiter, I would not
Bear the disgrace of your enormities.

Sostra. The Gods forbid —

Chrem. I know not for the Gods:
I will do all that lies in me. You seek
For parents, which you have: but what is wanting,
Obedience to your father, and the means
To keep what he by labor hath acquir’d,
For that you seek not. — Did you not by tricks
Ev’n to my presence introduce — I blush
To speak immodestly before your mother:
But you by no means blush’d to do’t.

Clit. Alas!
How hateful am I to myself! how much
Am I asham’d! so lost, I can not tell
How to attempt to pacify my father.

Scene VIII.

Enter Menedemus .

Mene. Now in good faith our Chremes plagues his son
Too long and too severely. I come forth
To reconcile him, and make peace between them.
And there they are!

Chrem. Ha, Menedemus! wherefore
Is not my daughter summon’d? and the portion,
I settled on her; ratified by you?

Sostra. Dear husband, I beseech you not to do it!

Clit. My father, I entreat you pardon me!

Mene. Forgive him, Chremes! let his pray’rs prevail!

Chrem. What! shall I then with open eyes bestow
My whole estate on Bacchis? I’ll not do’t.

Mene. We will prevent that. It shall not be so.

Clit. If you regard my life, forgive me, father!

Sostra. Do, my dear Chremes!

Mene. Do, I prithee now!
Be not obdurate, Chremes!

Chrem. Why is this?
I see I can’t proceed as I’ve begun.

Mene. ’Tis as it should be now.

Chrem. On this condition,
That he agrees to do what I think fit.

Clit. I will do ev’ry thing. Command me, father!

Chrem. Take a wife.

Clit. Father!

Chrem. Nay, Sir, no denial!

Mene. I take that charge upon me. He shall do’t.

Chrem. But I don’t hear a word of it from him.

Clit. Confusion!

Sostra. Do you doubt then, Clitipho?

Chrem. Nay, which he pleases.

Mene. He’ll obey in all;
Whate’er you’d have him.

Sostra. This at first is grievous,
While you don’t know it; when you know it, easy.

Clit. I’m all obedience, father!

Sostra. Oh my son,
I’ll give you a sweet wife, that you’ll adore,
Phanocrata’s, our neighbor’s daughter.

Clit. Her!
That red-hair’d, blear-eyed, wide-mouth’d, hook-nos’d wench?
I can not, father.

Chrem. Oh, how nice he is!
Would any one imagine it?

Sostra. I’ll get you
Another then.

Clit. Well, well; since I must marry,
I know one pretty near my mind.

Sostra. Good boy!

Clit. The daughter of Archonides, our neighbor.

Sostra. Well chosen!

Clit. One thing, father, still remains.

Chrem. What?

Clit. That you’d grant poor Syrus a full pardon
For all that he hath done on my account.

Chrem. Be it so. — (To the Audience.) Farewell Sirs, and clap your hands!

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Last updated Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 20:04