The Self-Tormentor, by Terence

Act the Third.

Scene I.

Chrem. ’Tis now just daybreak. — Why delay I then
To call my neighbor forth, and be the first
To tell him of his son’s return? — The youth,
I understand, would fain not have it so.
But shall I, when I see this poor old man
Afflict himself so grievously, by silence
Rob him of such an unexpected joy,
When the discov’ry can not hurt the son?
No, I’ll not do’t; but far as in my pow’r
Assist the father. As my son, I see,
Ministers to th’ occasions of his friend,
Associated in counsels, rank, and age,
So we old men should serve each other too.

Scene II.

Enter Menedemus .

Mene. (to himself). Sure I’m by nature form’d for misery
Beyond the rest of humankind, or else
’Tis a false saying, though a common one,
“That time assuages grief.” For ev’ry day
My sorrow for the absence of my son
Grows on my mind: the longer he’s away,
The more impatiently I wish to see him,
The more pine after him.

Chrem. But he’s come forth. (Seeing Menedemus .)
Yonder he stands. I’ll go and speak with him.
Good-morrow, neighbor! I have news for you;
Such news as you’ll be overjoy’d to hear.

Mene. Of my son, Chremes?

Chrem. He’s alive and well.

Mene. Where?

Chrem. At my house.

Mene. My son?

Chrem. Your son.

Mene. Come home?

Chrem. Come home.

Mene. My dear boy come? my Clinia?

Chrem. He.

Mene. Away then! prithee, bring me to him.

Chrem. Hold!
He cares not you should know of his return,
And dreads your sight because of his late trespass.
He fears, besides, your old severity
Is now augmented.

Mene. Did not you inform him
The bent of my affections?

Chrem. Not I.

Mene. Wherefore, Chremes?

Chrem. Because ’twould injure both yourself and him
To seem of such a poor and broken spirit.

Mene. I can not help it. Too long, much too long,
I’ve been a cruel father.

Chrem. Ah, my friend,
You run into extremes; too niggardly,
Or, too profuse; imprudent either way.
First, rather than permit him entertain
A mistress, who was then content with little,
And glad of any thing, you drove him hence:
Whereon the girl was forc’d against her will,
To grow a common gamester for her bread:
And now she can’t be kept without much cost,
You’d squander thousands. For to let you know
How admirably madam’s train’d to mischief,
How finely form’d to ruin her admirers,
She came to my house yesternight with more
Than half a score of women at her tail,
Laden with clothes and jewels. — If she had
A Prince to her gallant, he could not bear
Such wild extravagance: much less can you.

Mene. Is she within too?

Chrem. She within! Aye, truly.
I’ve found it to my cost: for I have given
To her and her companions but one supper;
And to give such another would undo me.
For, not to dwell on other circumstances,
Merely to taste, and smack, and spirt about.
What quantities of wine has she consum’d!
This is too rough, she cries; some softer, pray!
I have pierc’d every vessel, ev’ry cask;
Kept ev’ry servant running to and fro:
All this ado, and all in one short night!
What, Menedemus, must become of you,
Whom they will prey upon continually?
Now, afore Heaven, thinking upon this,
I pitied you.

Mene. Why let him have his will;
Waste, consume, squander; I’ll endure it all,
So I but keep him with me.

Chrem. If resolv’d
To take that course, I hold it of great moment
That he perceive not you allow of this.

Mene. What shall I do then?

Chrem. Any thing much rather
Than what you mean to do: at second-hand
Supply him; or permit his slave to trick you;
Though I perceive they’re on that scent already,
And privately contriving how to do’t.
There’s Syrus, and that little slave of yours
In an eternal whisper: the young men
Consulting too together: and it were
Better to lose a talent by these means,
Than on your plan a mina: for at present
Money is not the question, but the means
To gratify the youth the safest way.
For if he once perceives your turn of mind,
That you had rather throw away your life,
And waste your whole estate, than part with him,
Ah, what a window to debauchery
You’ll open, Menedemus! Such a one,
As will embitter even life itself;
For too much liberty corrupts us all.
Whatever comes into his head, he’ll have;
Nor think if his demand be right or wrong.
You, on your part, to see your wealth and son
Both wreck’d, will not be able to endure.
You’ll not comply with his demands; whereon
He falls to his old fence immediately,
And knowing where your weak part lies, will threaten
To leave you instantly.

Mene. ’Tis very like.

Chrem. Now on my life I have not clos’d my eyes,
Nor had a single wink of sleep this night,
For thinking how I might restore your son.

Mene. Give me your hand: and let me beg you, Chremes,
Continue to assist me!

Chrem. Willingly.

Mene. D’ye know what I would have you do at present?

Chrem. What?

Mene. Since you have found out they meditate
Some practice on me, prithee, urge them on
To execute it quickly: for I long
To grant his wishes, long to see him straight.

Chrem. Let me alone. I must lay hold of Syrus,
And give him some encouragement. — But see!
Some one, I know not who, comes forth: In, in,
Lest they perceive that we consult together!
I have a little business too in hand.
Simus and Crito, our two neighbors here,
Have a dispute about their boundaries;
And they’ve referr’d it to my arbitration,
I’ll go and tell them, ’tis not in my power
To wait on them, as I propos’d to-day.
I will be with you presently.

Mene. Pray do.

Exit Chremes .
Gods! that the nature of mankind is such,
To see and judge of the affairs of others
Much better than their own! Is’t therefore so,
Because that, in our own concerns, we feel
The influence of joy or grief too nearly?
How much more wisely does my neighbor here,
Consult for me, than I do for myself!

Chrem. (returning.) I’ve disengag’d myself! that I might be
At leisure to attend on your affairs.

Exit Menedemus .

Scene III.

Enter Syrus at another part of the stage.

Syrus (to himself.) One way, or other, money must be had,
And the old gentleman impos’d upon.

Chrem. (overbearing.) Was I deceiv’d in thinking they were at it?
That slave of Clinia’s, it should seem, is dull,
And so our Syrus has the part assign’d him.

Syrus. Who’s there (seeing Chremes). Undone if he has overheard me. (Aside.)

Chrem. Syrus.

Syrus. Sir!

Chrem. What now?

Syrus. Nothing. — But I wonder
To see you up so early in the morning,
Who drank so freely yesterday.

Chrem. Not much.

Syrus. Not much? You have, Sir, as the proverb goes,
The old age of an eagle.

Chrem. Ah!

Syrus. A pleasant,
Good sort of girl, this wench of Clinia’s.

Chrem. Aye, so she seems.

Syrus. And handsome.

Chrem. Well enough.

Syrus. Not like the maids of old, but passable,
As girls go now: nor am I much amaz’d
That Clinia dotes upon her. But he has,
Alas, poor lad! a miserable, close,
Dry, covetous, curmudgeon to his father:
Our neighbor here; d’ye know him? — Yet, as if
He did not roll in riches, his poor son
Was forc’d to run away for very want.
D’ye know this story?

Chrem. Do I know it? Aye.
A scoundrel! should be horse-whipp’d.

Syrus. Who?

Chrem. That slave
Of Clinia’s —

Syrus. Troth, I trembled for you, Syrus! (Aside.)

Chrem. Who suffer’d this.

Syrus. Why what should he have done?

Chrem. What? — have devis’d some scheme, some ways and means
To raise the cash for the young gentleman
To make his mistress presents; and have done
A kindness to th’ old hunks against his will.

Syrus. You jest.

Chrem. Not I: it was his duty, Syrus.

Syrus. How’s this? why prithee then, d’ye praise those slaves,
Who trick their masters?

Chrem. Yes upon occasion.

Syrus. Mighty fine, truly!

Chrem. Why, it oft prevents
A great deal of uneasiness: for instance,
My neighbour Menedemus, well deceiv’d,
Would ne’er have seen his son abandon him.

Syrus. I don’t know whether he’s in jest or earnest,
But it gives me encouragement to trick him.(Aside.)

Chrem. And now what is’t the blockhead waits for, Syrus?
Is’t till his master runs away again,
When he perceives himself no longer able
To bear with the expenses of his mistress?
Has he no plot upon th’ old gentleman?

Syrus. He’s a poor creature.

Chrem. But it is your part,
For Clinia’s sake, to lend a helping hand.

Syrus. Why, that indeed I easily can do,
If you command me; for I know which way.

Chrem. I take you at your word.

Syrus. I’ll make it good.

Chrem. Do so.

Syrus. But hark ye, Sir! remember this,
If ever it hereafter comes to pass,
— As who can answer for th’ affairs of men!
That your own son —

Chrem. I hope ’twill never be.

Syrus. I hope so too; nor do I mention this
From any knowledge or suspicion of him:
But that in case — his time of life, you know;
And should there be occasion, trust me, Chremes,
But I could handle you most handsomely.

Chrem. Well, well, we’ll think of it, when that time comes.
Now to your present task!

Exit Chremes .

Scene IV.

Syrus alone.

I never heard
My master argue more commodiously;
Nor ever was inclin’d to mischief, when
It might be done with more impunity.
But who’s this coming from our house?

Scene V.

Enter Clitipho, and Chremes following.

Chrem. How now?
What manners are these, Clitipho? does this
Become you?

Clit. What’s the matter?

Chrem. Did not I
This very instant see you put your hand
Into yon wench’s bosom?

Syrus. So! all’s over:
I am undone. (Aside.)

Clit. Me, Sir?

Chrem. These very eyes
Beheld you: don’t deny it. — ’Tis base in you
To be so flippant with your hands. For what
Affront’s more gross than to receive a friend
Under your roof, and tamper with his mistress?
And, last night in your cups too, how indecent
And rudely you behav’d!

Syrus. ’Tis very true.

Chrem. So very troublesome, so help me Heav’n,
I fear’d the consequence. I know the ways
Of lovers: they oft take offense at things
You dream not of.

Clit. But my companion, Sir,
Is confident I would not wrong him.

Chrem. Granted.
Yet you should cease to hang forever on them.
Withdraw, and leave them sometimes to themselves.
Love has a thousand sallies; you restrain them.
I can conjecture from myself. There’s none,
How near soever, Clitipho, to whom
I dare lay open all my weaknesses.
With one my pride forbids it, with another
The very action shames me: and believe me,
It is the same with him; and ’tis our place
To mark on what occasions to indulge him.

Syrus. What says he now? (Aside.)

Clit. Confusion!

Syrus. Clitipho,
These are the very precepts that I gave you:
And how discreet and temperate you’ve been!

Clit. Prithee, peace!

Syrus. Aye, I warrant you.

Chrem. Oh, Syrus,
I’m quite asham’d of him.

Syrus. I do not doubt it.
Nor without reason; for it troubles me.

Clit. Still, rascal?

Syrus. Nay, I do but speak the truth.

Clit. May I not then go near them?

Chrem. Prithee, then,
Is there one way alone of going near them?

Syrus. Confusion! he’ll betray himself before
I get the money. (Aside.) — Chremes, will you once
Hear a fool’s counsel?

Chrem. What do you advise?

Syrus. Order your son about his business.

Clit. Whither?

Syrus. Whither! where’er you please. Give place to them.
Go take a walk.

Clit. Walk! where?

Syrus. A pretty question!
This, that, or any way.

Chrem. He says right. Go!

Clit. Now, plague upon you, Syrus! (Going.)

Syrus (to Clitipho, going). Henceforth, learn
To keep those hands of yours at rest.

Exit Clitipho .

Scene VI.

Chremes, Syrus .

D’ye mind?
What think you, Chremes, will become of him,
Unless you do your utmost to preserve,
Correct, and counsel him?

Chrem. I’ll take due care.

Syrus. But now’s your time, Sir, to look after him.

Chrem. It shall be done.

Syrus. It must be, if you’re wise:
For ev’ry day he minds me less and less.

Chrem. But, Syrus, say, what progress have you made
In that affair I just now mention’d to you?
Have you struck out a scheme that pleases you?
Or are you still to seek?

Syrus. The plot, you mean,
On Menedemus. I’ve just hit on one.

Chrem. Good fellow! prithee now, what is’t?

Syrus. I’ll tell you.
But as one thing brings in another —

Chrem. Well?

Syrus. This Bacchis is a sad jade.

Chrem. So it seems.

Syrus. Aye, Sir, if you knew all; nay, even now
She’s hatching mischief. — Dwelling hereabouts,
There was of late an old Corinthian woman,
To whom this Bacchis lent a thousand pieces.

Chrem. What then?

Syrus. The woman’s dead; and left behind
A daughter, very young, whom she bequeath’d,
By way of pledge, to Bacchis for the money.

Chrem. I understand.

Syrus. This girl came here with Bacchis,
And now is with your wife.

Chrem. What then?

Syrus. She begs
Of Clinia to advance the cash; for which
She’ll give the girl as an equivalent.
She wants the thousand pieces.

Chrem. Does she so?

Syrus. No doubt on’t.

Chrem. So I thought. — And what do you
Intend to do?

Syrus. Who? I, Sir? I’ll away
To Menedemus presently; and tell him
This maiden is a rich and noble captive,
Stolen from Caria; and to ransom her
Will greatly profit him.

Chrem. ’Twill never do.

Syrus. How so?

Chrem. I answer now for Menedemus.
I will not purchase her. What say you now?

Syrus. Give a more favorable answer!

Chrem. No,
There’s no occasion.

Syrus. No occasion?

Chrem. No.

Syrus. I can not comprehend you.

Chrem. I’ll explain.
— But hold! what now? whence comes it that our door
Opens so hastily?

Scene VII.

Enter at a distance Sostrata with a ring, and the Nurse .

Sostra. Or I’m deceiv’d,
Or this is certainly the very ring;
The ring with which my daughter was expos’d.

Chrem. (to Syrus, behind). What can those words mean, Syrus?

Sostra. Tell me, Nurse!
Does it appear to you to be the same?

Nurse. Aye, marry: and the very moment that
You show’d it me, I said it was the same.

Sostra. But have you thoroughly examin’d, Nurse?

Nurse. Aye, thoroughly.

Sostra. In then, and let me know
If she has yet done bathing; and meanwhile
I’ll wait my husband here.

Exit Nurse .

Syrus. She wants you, Sir!
Enquire, what she would have. She’s very grave.
’Tis not for nothing; and I fear the cause.

Chrem. The cause? pshaw! nothing. She’ll take mighty pains
To be deliver’d of some mighty trifle.

Sostra. (seeing them). Oh husband!

Chrem. Oh wife!

Sostra. I was looking for you,

Chrem. Your pleasure?

Sostra. First, I must entreat you then,
Believe, I would not dare do any thing
Against your order.

Chrem. What! must I believe
A thing past all belief? — I do believe it.

Syrus. This exculpation bodes some fault, I’m sure. (Aside.)

Sostra. Do you remember, I was pregnant once,
When you assur’d me with much earnestness,
That if I were deliver’d of a girl,
You would not have the child brought up?

Chrem. I know
What you have done. You have brought up the child.

Syrus. Madam, if so, my master gains a loss.

Sostra. No, I have not: but there was at that time
An old Corinthian woman dwelling here,
To whom I gave the child to be expos’d.

Chrem. O Jupiter! was ever such a fool!

Sostra. Ah, what have I committed?

Chrem. What committed!

Sostra. If I’ve offended, Chremes, ’tis a crime
Of ignorance, and nothing of my purpose.

Chrem. Own it or not, I know it well enough,
That ignorantly, and imprudently,
You do and say all things; how many faults
In this one action are you guilty of!
For first, had you complied with my commands,
The girl had been dispatch’d; and not her death
Pretended, and hopes given of her life.
But that I do not dwell upon: You’ll cry,
“ — Pity, — a mother’s fondness.” — I allow it.
But then how rarely you provided for her!
What could you mean? consider! — for ’tis plain,
You have betray’d your child to that old beldam,
Either for prostitution, or for sale.
So she but liv’d, it was enough, you thought:
No matter how, or what vile life she led.
— What can one do, or how proceed, with those,
Who know of neither reason, right, nor justice?
Better or worse, for or against, they see
Nothing but what they list.

Sostra. My dearest Chremes,
I own I have offended: I’m convinc’d.
But since you’re more experienc’d than myself,
I pray you be the more indulgent too,
And let my weakness shelter in your justice.

Chrem. Well, well, I pardon you: but, Sostrata,
Forgiving you thus easily, I do
But teach you to offend again. But come,
Say, wherefore you began this?

Sostra. As we women
Are generally weak and superstitious,
When first to this Corinthian old woman
I gave the little infant, from my finger
I drew a ring, and charg’d her to expose
That with my daughter: that if chance she died,
She might have part of our possessions with her.

Chrem. ’Twas right: you thus preserv’d yourself and her.

Sostra. This is that ring.

Chrem. Where had it you?

Sostra. The girl
That Bacchis brought with her —

Syrus. Ha! (Aside.)

Chrem. What says she?

Sostra. Desir’d I’d keep it while she went to bathe.
I took no notice on’t, at first; but I
No sooner look’d on’t than I knew’t again,
And straight ran out to you.

Chrem. And what d’ye think,
Or know concerning her?

Sostra. I can not tell,
Till you inquire it of herself, and find,
If possible, from whence she had the ring.

Syrus. Undone! I see more hope than I desire.
She’s ours, if this be so. (Aside.)

Chrem. Is she alive
To whom you gave the child?

Sostra. I do not know.

Chrem. What did she tell you formerly?

Sostra. That she
Had done what I commanded her.

Chrem. Her name;
That we may make inquiry.

Sostra. Philtere.

Syrus. The very same! she’s found, and I am lost.


Chrem. In with me, Sostrata!

Sostra. Beyond my hopes.
How much I fear’d you should continue still
So rigidly inclin’d, as formerly,
When you refus’d to educate her, Chremes!

Chrem. Men can not always be as they desire,
But must be govern’d by their fortunes still.
The times are alter’d with me, and I wish
To have a daughter now; then, nothing less.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:01