Phormio, by Terence

Act the Fourth.

Scene I.

Demipho, Geta .

Dem. ’Tis our own fault that we encourage rogues,
By overstraining the due character
Of honesty and generosity.
“Shoot not beyond the mark,” the proverb goes.
Was’t not enough that he had done us wrong,
But we must also throw him money too,
To live till he devises some new mischief?

Geta. Very right!

Dem. Knavery’s now its own reward.

Geta. Very true!

Dem. How like fools have we behav’d!

Geta. So as he keeps his word, and takes the girl,
’Tis well enough.

Dem. Is that a doubt at present?

Geta. A man, you know, may change his mind.

Dem. How! change?

Geta. That I can’t tell: but, if perhaps, I say.

Dem. I’ll now perform my promise to my brother,
And bring his wife to talk to the young woman.
You, Geta, go before, and let her know
Nausistrata will come and speak with her.

Exit Demipho .

Scene II.

Geta alone.

The money’s got for Phædria: all is hush’d:
And Phanium is not to depart as yet.
What more then? where will all this end at last?
— Alas! you’re sticking in the same mire still:
You’ve only chang’d hands, Geta. The disaster
That hung but now directly over you,
Delay perhaps will bring more heavy on you.
You’re quite beset, unless you look about.
— Now then I’ll home; to lesson Phanium,
That she mayn’t stand in fear of Phormio,
Nor dread this conf’rence with Nausistrata.


Scene III.

Enter Demipho and Nausistrata .

Dem. Come then, Nausistrata, afford us now
A little of your usual art, and try
To put this woman in good humor with us;
That what is done she may do willingly.

Naus. I will.

Dem. And now assist us with your counsel,
As with your cash a little while ago.

Naus. With all my heart: and I am only sorry
That ’tis my husband’s fault I can’t do more.

Dem. How so?

Naus. Because he takes such little care
Of the estate my father nurs’d so well:
For from these very farms he never fail’d
To draw two talents by the year. But ah!
What difference between man and man!

Dem. Two talents?

Naus. Aye — in worse times than these — and yet two talents?

Dem. Huy!

Naus. What, are you surpris’d?

Dem. Prodigiously.

Naus. Would I had been a man! I’d show —

Dem. No doubt.

Naus. — By what means —

Dem. Nay, but spare yourself a little
For the encounter with the girl: lest she,
Flippant and young, may weary you too much.

Naus. — Well, I’ll obey your orders: but I see
My husband coming forth.

Scene IV.

Enter Chremes, hastily.

Chrem. Ha! Demipho!
Has Phormio had the money yet?

Dem. I paid him

Chrem. I’m sorry for’t. — (Seeing Nausistrata .) — My wife!
I’d almost said too much. (Aside.)

Dem. Why sorry, Chremes?

Chrem. Nothing. — No matter.

Dem. Well, but hark ye, Chremes!
Have you been talking with the girl, and told her
Wherefore we bring your wife?

Chrem. I’ve settled it.

Dem. Well, and what says she?

Chrem. ’Tis impossible
To send her hence.

Dem. And why impossible?

Chrem. Because they are both so fond of one another.

Dem. What’s that to us?

Chrem. A great deal. And besides,
I have discover’d she’s related to us.

Dem. Have you your wits?

Chrem. ’Tis so. I’m very serious.
— Nay, recollect a little!

Dem. Are you mad?

Naus. Good now, beware of wronging a relation!

Dem. She’s no relation to us.

Chrem. Don’t deny it.
Her father had assum’d another name,
And that deceiv’d you.

Dem. What! not know her father?

Chrem. Perfectly.

Dem. Why did she misname him then?

Chrem. Won’t you be rul’d, nor understand me then?

Dem. What can I understand from nothing?

Chrem. Still? (Impatiently.)

Naus. I can’t imagine what this means.

Dem. Nor I.

Chrem. Would you know all? — Why then, so help me Heaven,
She has no nearer kindred in the world
Than you and I.

Dem. Oh, all ye powers of heaven!
— Let us go to her then immediately:
I would fain know, or not know, all at once. (Going.)

Chrem. Ah! (Stopping him.)

Dem. What’s the matter?

Chrem. Can’t you trust me then?

Dem. Must I believe it? take it upon trust?
— Well, be it so! — But what is to be done
With our friend’s daughter?

Chrem. Nothing.

Dem. Drop her?

Chrem. Aye.

Dem. And keep this?

Chrem. Aye.

Dem. Why then, Nausistrata,
You may return. We need not trouble you.

Naus. Indeed, I think, ’tis better on all sides,
That you should keep her here, than send her hence.
For she appear’d to me, when first I saw her,
Much of a gentlewoman.

Exit Nausistrata .

Scene V.

Manent Demipho and Chremes .

Dem. What means this?

Chrem. (looking after Nausistrata). Is the door shut?

Dem. It is.

Chrem. O Jupiter!
The Gods take care of us. I’ve found my daughter
Married to your son.

Dem. Ha! how could it be?

Chrem. It is not safe to tell you here.

Dem. Step in then.

Chrem. But hark ye, Demipho! — I would not have
Even our very sons inform’d of this.


Scene VI.

Antipho alone.

I’m glad, however my affairs proceed,
That Phædria’s have succeeded to his mind.
How wise to foster such desires alone,
As, although cross’d, are easily supplied!
Money, once found, sets Phædria at his ease;
But my distress admits no remedy.
For, if the secret’s kept, I live in fear;
And if reveal’d, I am expos’d to shame.
Nor would I now return, but in the hope
Of still possessing her. — But where is Geta?
That I may learn of him the fittest time
To meet my father.

Scene VII.

Enter, at a distance, Phormio .

Phor. (to himself). I’ve receiv’d the money;
Paid the procurer; carried off the wench;
Who’s free, and now in Phædria’s possession.
One thing alone remains to be dispatch’d;
To get a respite from th’ old gentlemen
To tipple some few days, which I must spend
In mirth and jollity.

Ant. But yonder’s Phormio. — (Goes up.)
What now?

Phor. Of what?

Ant. What’s Phædria about?
How does he mean to take his fill of love?

Phor. By acting your part in his turn.

Ant. What part?

Phor. Flying his father’s presence. — And he begs
That you’d act his, and make excuses for him;
For he intends a drinking-bout with me.
I shall pretend to the old gentlemen
That I am going to the fair at Sunium,
To buy the servant-maid that Geta mention’d:
Lest, finding I am absent, they suspect
That I am squandering the sum they paid me.
— But your door opens.

Ant. Who comes here?

Phor. ’Tis Geta.

Scene VIII.

Enter hastily, at another part of the stage, Geta .

Geta. O fortune, O best fortune, what high blessings,
What sudden, great, and unexpected joys
Hast thou shower’d down on Antipho to-day! —

Ant. What can this be he’s so rejoic’d about?

Geta. — And from what fears deliver’d us, his friends?
— But wherefore do I loiter thus? and why
Do I not throw my cloak upon my shoulder,
And haste to find him out, that he may know
All that has happen’d?

Ant. (to Phormio). Do you comprehend
What he is talking of?

Phor. Do you?

Ant. Not I.

Phor. I’m just as wise as you.

Geta. I’ll hurry hence
To the procurer’s. — I shall find them there. (Going.)

Ant. Ho, Geta!

Geta. Look ye there! — Is’t new or strange,
To be recall’d when one’s in haste? (Going.)

Ant. Here, Geta!

Geta. Again? bawl on! I’ll ne’er stop. (Going on.)

Ant. Stay, I say!

Geta. Go, and be drubb’d!

Ant. You shall, I promise you,
Unless you stop, you rascal!

Geta (stopping). Hold, hold, Geta!
Some intimate acquaintance this, be sure,
Being so free with you. — But is it he
That I am looking for, or not? — ’Tis he.

Phor. Go up immediately. (They go up to Geta .)

Ant. (to Geta). What means all this?

Geta. O happy man! the happiest man on earth!
So very happy, that, beyond all doubt,
You are the God’s chief fav’rite, Antipho.

Ant. Would I were! but your reason.

Geta. Is’t enough
To plunge you over head and ears in joy?

Ant. You torture me.

Phor. No promises! but tell us
What is your news?

Geta. Oh, Phormio! are you here?

Phor. I am: but why d’ye trifle?

Geta. Mind me then! (To Phormio .)
No sooner had we paid you at the Forum,
But we return’d directly home again.
— Arriv’d, my master sends me to your wife. (To Antipho .)

Ant. For what?

Geta. No matter now, good Antipho.
I was just entering the women’s lodging,
When up runs little Mida; catches me
Hold by the cloak behind, and pulls me back.
I turn about, and ask why he detains me.
He told me, “Nobody must see his mistress:
For Sophrona,” says he, “has just now brought
Demipho’s brother, Chremes, here; and he
Is talking with the women now within.”
— When I heard this, I stole immediately
On tip-toe tow’rd the door; came close; stood hush;
Drew in my breath; applied my ear; and thus,
Deep in attention, catch’d their whole discourse.

Ant. Excellent, Geta!

Geta. Here I overheard
The pleasantest adventure! On my life,
I scarce refrain’d from crying out for joy.

Ant. What?

Geta. What d’ye think? (Laughing.)

Ant. I can’t tell,

Geta. Oh! it was (laughing.)
Most wonderful! — most exquisite! — your uncle
Is found to be the father of your wife.

Ant. How! what?

Geta. He had a sly intrigue, it seems,
With Phanium’s mother formerly at Lemnos. (Laughing.)

Phor. Nonsense! as if she did not know her father!

Geta. Nay, there’s some reason for it, Phormio,
You may be sure. — But was it possible
For me, who stood without, to comprehend
Each minute circumstance that pass’d within?

Ant. I have heard something of this story too.

Geta. Then, Sir, to settle your belief the more,
At last out comes your uncle; and soon after
Returns again, and carries in your father.
Then they both said, they gave their full consent
That you should keep your Phanium. — In a word,
I’m sent to find you out, and bring you to them.

Ant. Away with me then instantly! D’ye linger?

Geta. Not I. Away!

Ant. My Phormio, fare you well!

Phor. Fare you well, Antipho!


Scene IX.

Phormio alone.

Well done, ’fore Heaven!
I’m overjoy’d to see so much good fortune
Fallen thus unexpectedly upon them:
I’ve now an admirable opportunity
To bubble the old gentlemen, and ease
Phædria of all his cares about the money;
So that he need not be oblig’d to friends.
For this same money, though it will be given,
Will yet come from them much against the grain;
But I have found a way to force them to’t.
— Now then I must assume a grander air,
And put another face upon this business.
— I’ll hence a while into the next by-alley,
And pop upon them as they’re coming forth.
— As for the trip I talk’d of to the fair,
I sha’n’t pretend to take that journey now.


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