Sostrata, Canthara .
Sos. Prithee, good nurse, how will it go with her?
Can. How go with her? Why well, I warrant you.
Sos. Her pains begin to come upon her, nurse.
Can. You’re as much frighten’d at your time of day,
As if you ne’er was present at a labor,
Or never had been brought to bed yourself.
Sos. Alas, I’ve no soul here: we’re all alone.
Geta is absent; nor is there a creature
To fetch a midwife, or call Æschinus.
Can. He’ll be here presently, I promise you:
For he, good man, ne’er lets a single day
Go by, but he is sure to visit us.
Sos. He is my only comfort in my sorrows.
Can. Troth, as the case stands, madam, circumstances
Could not have happen’d better than they have:
And since your daughter suffer’d violence,
’Twas well she met with such a man as this;
A man of honor, rank, and family.
Sos. He is, indeed, a worthy gentleman:
The gods preserve him to us!
Enter Geta hastily at another part of the stage.
Geta. We are now
So absolutely lost, that all the world
Joining in consultation to apply
Relief to the misfortune that has fallen
On me, my mistress, and her daughter, all
Would not avail. — Ah me! so many troubles
Environ us at once, we sink beneath them.
Rape, poverty, oppression, solitude,
And infamy! oh, what an age is this!
O wicked, oh vile race! — oh impious man!
Sos. (to Canthara). Ah, why should Geta seem thus terrified
Geta (to himself.) Wretch! whom neither honor,
Nor oaths, nor pity could control or move!
Nor her approaching labor; her, on whom
He shamefully committed violation!
Sos. I don’t well understand him.
Can. Prithee then
Let us draw nearer, Sostrata!
Geta (to himself.) Alas,
I’m scarcely in my perfect mind, I burn
With such fierce anger. — Oh, that I had all
That villain-family before me now,
That I might vent my indignation on them,
While yet it boils within me. — There is nothing
I’d not endure to be reveng’d on them.
First I’d tread out the stinking snuff his father,
Who gave the monster being. — And then, Syrus,
Who urg’d him to it, — how I’d tear him! — First
I’d seize him round the waist, and lift him high,
Then dash his head against the ground, and strew
The pavement with his brains. — For Æschinus,
I’d tear his eyes out, and then tumble him,
Head foremost down some precipice. — The rest
I’d rush on, drag, crush, trample under foot.
But why do I delay to tell my mistress
This heavy news as soon as possible! (Going.)
Sos. Let’s call him back. — Ho, Geta!
You are, excuse me.
Sos. I am Sostrata.
Geta. Where, where is Sostrata? (Turns about.) I sought you, Madam;
Impatiently I sought you: and am glad
To have encounter’d you thus readily.
Sos. What is the matter? why d’ye tremble thus?
Sos. Take breath! — But why thus mov’d, good Geta?
Geta. We’re quite —
Sos. Quite what?
Geta. Undone: We’re ruin’d, Madam.
Sos. Explain, for Heaven’s sake!
Geta. Ev’n now —
Sos. What now?
Geta. Æschinus —
Sos. What of Æschinus?
Geta. Has quite
Estrang’d himself from all our family.
Sos. How’s that? confusion! why?
Geta. He loves another.
Sos. Wretch that I am!
Geta. Nor that clandestinely;
But snatch’d her in the face of all the world
From a procurer.
Sos. Are you sure of this?
Geta. Sure? With these very eyes I saw it, Madam.
Sos. Alas, alas! What then can we believe?
To whom give credit? — What? our Æschinus!
Our very life, our sole support and hope!
Who swore he could not live one day without her,
And promis’d he would place the new-born babe
Upon his father’s lap, and in that way
Wring from him his consent to marry her!
Geta. Nay, weep not, mistress; but consider rather
What course were best to follow: to conceal
This wrong, or to disclose it to some friend?
Can. Disclose it! Are you mad? Is this a thing
To be disclos’d, d’ye think?
Geta. I’d not advise it.
For first, that he has quite abandon’d us,
The thing itself declares. If we then make
The story known, no doubt but he’ll deny it.
Your reputation, and your daughter’s life
Will be endanger’d: or if he confess,
Since he affects another, ’twere not good
That he should wed your daughter. — For which reasons,
Silence is requisite.
Sos. Ah, no: not I.
Geta. What mean you?
Sos. To disclose the whole.
Geta. How, Madam!
Think what you are about.
Sos. Whatever happens,
The thing can’t be in a worse state than now.
In the first place my daughter has no portion,
And that which should have been her second dowry
Is also lost; and she can ne’er be giv’n
In marriage as a virgin. For the rest,
If he denies his former commerce with her,
I have the ring he lost to vouch the fact.
In short, since I am conscious to myself.
That I am not to blame in this proceeding,
And that no sordid love of gain, nor aught
Unworthy of my daughter or myself,
Has mix’d in this affair, I’ll try it, Geta.
Geta. Well, I agree, ’twere better to disclose it.
Sos. You then away, as fast as possible,
And run to Hegio our good friend and kinsman,
To let him know the whole affair: for he
Was the chief friend of my dear Simulus,
And ever show’d a great regard for us.
Geta. And well he does, for no one else cares for us.
Sos. And you, good Canthara, away with haste,
And call a midwife; that we may be sure
Of her assistance in the time of need.
Enter Demea .
Dem. Confusion! I have heard that Ctesipho
Was present with his brother at this riot.
This is the sum of all my miseries,
If he, even he, a sober, hopeful lad,
May be seduc’d into debaucheries.
— But where shall I inquire for him? I warrant
They have decoy’d him into some vile brothel.
That profligate persuaded him, I’m sure.
— But here comes Syrus. — I shall know from him
What is become of Ctesipho. — And yet
This rascal’s of the gang; and if he once
Perceives that I’m enquiring after him,
He’ll never tell, a villain! — I’ll take care
To cover my design.
Enter Syrus at another part of the stage.
Syrus (to himself). We’ve just disclos’d
The whole of this affair to Micio,
Exactly as it happen’d. I ne’er saw
The good old gentleman more pleas’d.
Dem. Oh Heav’n,
The folly of the man! (Listening.)
Syrus (to himself). He prais’d his son;
Me, who concerted the whole scheme, he thank’d.
Dem. I burst with rage. (Listening.)
Syrus (to himself). He told the money down
Immediately, and threw us in beside,
To make an entertainment, a half-mina:
Which I’ve laid out according to my liking.
Dem. So! if you’d have your business well discharg’d,
Commit it to this fellow!
Syrus (overhearing). Who’s there? Demea!
I did not see you, Sir. How goes it?
I can’t sufficiently admire your conduct.
Syrus (negligently). Silly enough, to say the truth, and idle.
(To servants within). Here! Hark ye, Dromo! see you gut and scale
The other fish immediately: But let
That large eel play a little in the water.
When I return it shall be bon’d; till then
It must not be.
Dem. Are crimes like these —
Syrus (to Demea). Indeed
I like them not, and oft cry shame upon them.
— (To servants within.) See that those salt fish are well soak’d, Stephanio.
Dem. Gods! is this done on purpose? Does he think
’Tis laudable to spoil his son? Alas!
I think I see the day when Æschinus
Shall fly for want, and list himself a soldier.
Syrus. O Demea! that is to be wise: to see,
Not that alone which lies before your feet,
But ev’n to pry into futurity.
Dem. What! is the Music-Girl at your house?
Dem. What! and is Æschinus
To keep her at home with him?
Syrus. I believe so;
Such is their madness.
Dem. Is it possible?
Syrus. A fond and foolish father!
Dem. I’m asham’d
To own my brother; I’m griev’d for him.
There is a deal of diff’rence, Demea,
— Nor is’t because you’re present that I say this —
There is a mighty difference between you!
You are, from top to toe, all over wisdom:
He a mere dotard. — Would you e’er permit
Your boy to do such things?
Dem. Permit him? I?
Or should I not much rather smell him out
Six months before he did but dream of it?
Syrus. Pshaw! do you boast your vigilance to me?
Dem. Heav’n keep him ever as he is at present!
Syrus. As fathers form their children, so they prove.
Dem. But, prithee, have you seen the lad to-day? (With an affected carelessness.)
Syrus. Your son, d’ye mean? — I’ll drive him out of town.
He’s hard at work upon your grounds by this time.
Dem. Ay? Are you sure he’s gone into the country?
Syrus. Sure? I set out with him myself.
Dem. Good! good!
I was afraid he loiter’d here. (Aside.)
Syrus. And much
Enrag’d, I promise you.
Dem. On what account?
Syrus. A quarrel with his brother at the Forum,
About the Music-Girl.
Syrus. Aye, faith:
He did not mince the matter: he spoke out;
For as the cash was telling down, in pops,
All unexpected, Master Ctesipho:
Cries out — “Oh Æschinus, are these your courses?
These your persuits? enormities like these?
Oh shame! oh scandal to our family!”
Dem. Oh, oh, I weep for joy.
Syrus. — “You squander not
The money only, but your life, your honor.”
Dem. Heav’n bless him; he is like his ancestors. (Weeping.)
Syrus. Father’s own son, I warrant him.
Dem. Oh, Syrus!
He’s full of all those precepts, he!
Syrus. No doubt on’t:
He need not go from home for good instruction.
Dem. I spare no pains; neglect no means; I train him.
— In short, I bid him look into the lives
Of all, as in a mirror, and thence draw
From others an example for himself.
— “Do this.” —
Dem. “Fly that.”
Syrus. Very good!
Dem. “This deed
Is highly commendable.”
Syrus. That’s the thing!
Dem. “That’s reprehensible.”
Syrus. Most excellent!
Dem. “And then moreover — ”
Syrus. Faith, I have not time
To give you further audience just at present,
I’ve got an admirable dish of fish;
And I must take good care they are not spoil’d.
For that were an offense as grievous, Demea,
In us, as ’twere in you to leave undone
The things you just now mentioned: and I try,
According to my weak abilities,
To teach my fellow-slaves the self-same way.
— “This is too salt. — This is burnt up too much.
That is not nice and cleanly. — That’s well done.
Mind, and do so again.” — I spare no pains,
And give them the best precepts that I can.
In short, I bid them look into the dishes,
As in a mirror, Demea, and thence learn
The duty of a cook. — This school of ours,
I own, is idle: but what can you do?
According to the man must be the lesson.
— Would you aught else with us?
Dem. Your reformation.
Syrus. Do you go hence into the country?
Syrus. For what should you do here, where nobody,
However good your precepts, cares to mind them?
I then will hence, since he, on whose account
I hither came, is gone into the country.
He is my only care, He’s my concern.
My brother, since he needs will have it so,
May look to Æschinus himself. — But who
Is coming yonder? Hegio, of our tribe?
If I see plainly, beyond doubt ’tis he.
Ah, we’ve been old acquaintance quite from boys;
And such men nowadays are wondrous scarce.
A citizen of ancient faith and virtue!
The commonwealth will ne’er reap harm from him.
How I rejoice to see but the remains
Of this old stock! Ah, life’s a pleasure now.
I’ll wait, that I may ask about his health,
And have a little conversation with him.
Enter Hegio, Geta conversing at a distance.
Hegio. Can it be true?
Geta. Ev’n so.
Hegio. A deed so base
Sprung from that family? — Oh Æschinus,
This was not acting like your father.
Dem. (behind.) So!
He has just heard about this Musick-Girl,
And is affected at it, though a stranger,
While his good father truly thinks it nothing.
Oh monstrous! would that he were somewhere nigh,
And heard all this!
Hegio. Unless they do you justice
They shall not carry off the matter thus.
Hegio. Unless they do what’s just,
They shall not carry off the matter thus.
Geta. Our only hope is in you, Hegio.
You’re our sole friend, our guardian, and our father,
On his death-bed, the good old Simulus
Bequeath’d us to your care. If you desert us,
We are undone indeed.
Hegio. Ah, name it not!
I will not, and with honesty, I can not.
Dem. I’ll go up to him. — Save you, Hegio!
Hegio. The man I look’d for. — Save you, Demea!
Dem. Your pleasure!
Hegio. Æschinus, your elder son,
Your brother’s by adoption, has committed
A deed unworthy of an honest man,
And of a gentleman.
Dem. How so?
Hegio. You knew
Our friend and good acquaintance, Simulus?
Dem. Aye, sure.
Hegio. He has debauch’d his daughter.
Hegio. Hold, Demea, for the worst is still to come.
Dem. Is there aught worse?
Hegio. Much worse: for this perhaps
Might be excus’d. The night, love, wine, and youth,
Might prompt him. ’Tis the frailty of our nature.
— Soon as his sense returning made him conscious
Of his rash outrage, of his own accord
He came to the girl’s mother, weeping, praying.
Entreating, vowing constancy, and swearing
That he would take her home. — He was forgiven;
The thing conceal’d; and his vows credited.
The girl from that encounter prov’d with child:
This is the tenth month. — He, good gentleman,
Has got a music-girl, Heav’n bless the mark!
With whom he means to live, and quit the other.
Dem. And are you well assur’d of this?
Hegio. The mother,
The girl, the fact itself, are all before you,
Joining to vouch the truth on’t. And besides,
This Geta here — as servants go, no bad one,
Nor given up to idleness — maintains them;
The sole support of all the family.
Here take him, bind him, force the truth from him.
Geta. Aye, torture me, if ’tis not so, good Demea!
Nay, Æschinus, I’m sure, will not deny it.
Bring me before him.
Dem. (aside). I’m asham’d: and what
To do, or what to say to him, I know not.
Pamphila (within). Ah me! I’m torn in pieces! — Racking pains!
Juno Lucina, help me! save, I pray thee!
Hegio. Ha! Is she then in labor, Geta?
Geta. Yes, Sir.
Hegio. Hark! she now calls upon your justice, Demea!
Grant her then freely, what law else will claim.
And Heaven send, that you may rather do
What honor bids! but if you mean it not,
Be sure of this; that with my utmost force
I’ll vindicate the girl, and her dead father;
He was my kinsman; we were bred together
From children; and our fortunes twin’d together
In war, and peace, and bitter poverty.
Wherefore I’ll try, endeavor, strive, nay lose
My life itself, before I will forsake them.
— What is your answer?
Dem. I’ll find out my brother:
What he advises, I will follow, Hegio.
Hegio. But still remember, Demea, that the more
You live at ease; the more your pow’r, your wealth,
Your riches, and nobility; the more
It is your duty to act honorably,
If you regard the name of honest men.
Dem. Go to: we’ll do you justice.
Hegio. ’Twill become you.
Geta, conduct me in to Sostrata.
Exit with Geta .
This is no more than I foretold: and well
If his intemp’rance would stop here! — But this
Immoderate indulgence must produce
Some terrible misfortune in the end.
— I’ll hence, find out my brother, tell my news,
And empty all my indignation on him.
Re-enter Hegio, speaking to Sostrata at the door.
Be of good cheer, my Sostrata; and comfort,
As much as in your pow’r, poor Pamphila!
I’ll find out Micio, if he’s at the Forum,
And tell him the whole story: if he’ll act
With honor in it, why ’tis well; if not,
Let him but speak his mind to me, and then
I shall know how to act accordingly.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:01