The Brothers – Act V
Enter Syrus, drunk, and Demea, on the opposite side of the stage.
Syr. Upon my faith, my dear little Syrus, you have taken delicate care of yourself, and have done your duty83 with exquisite taste; be off with you. But since I’ve had my fill of every thing in-doors, I have felt disposed to take a walk.
Dem. (apart.) Just look at that—there’s an instance of their good training!
Syr. (to himself.) But see, here comes our old man. (Addressing him.) What’s the matter? Why out of spirits?
Dem. Oh you rascal!
Syr. Hold now; are you spouting your sage maxims here?
Dem. If you were my servant——
Syr. Why, you would be a rich man, Demea, and improve your estate.
Dem. I would take care that you should be an example to all the rest.
Syr. For what reason? What have I done?
Dem. Do you ask me? in the midst of this confusion, and during the greatest mischief, which is hardly yet set right, you have been getting drunk, you villain, as though things had been going on well.
Syr. (aside.) Really, I wish I hadn’t come out.
Enter Dromo in haste, from the house of Micio.
Dro. Halloo, Syrus! Ctesipho desires you’ll come back.
Syr. Get you gone.
Pushes him back into the house.
Dem. What is it he says about Ctesipho?
Dem. How now, you hang-dog, is Ctesipho in the house?
Syr. He is not.
Dem. Then why does he mention him?
Syr. It’s another person; a little diminutive Parasite. Don’t you know him?
Dem. I will know him before long. (Going to the door.)
Syr. (stopping him.) What are you about? Whither are you going?
Dem. (struggling.) Let me alone.
Syr. (holding him.) Don’t, I tell you.
Dem. Won’t you keep your hands off, whip-scoundrel? Or would you like me to knock your brains out this instant?
Rushes into the house.
Syr. He’s gone! no very pleasant boon-companion, upon my faith, particularly to Ctesipho. What am I to do now? Why, even get into some corner till this tempest is lulled, and sleep off this drop of wine. That’s my plan.
Goes into the house, staggering.
Enter Micio, from the house of Sostrata.
Mic. (to Sostrata, within.) Every thing’s ready with us, as I told you, Sostrata, when you like.—Who, I wonder, is making my door fly open with such fury?
Enter Demea in haste, from the house of Micio.
Dem. Alas! what shall I do? How behave? In what terms exclaim, or how make my complaint? O heavens! O earth! O seas of Neptune!
Mic. (apart.) Here’s for you! he has discovered all about the affair; and of course is now raving about it; a quarrel is the consequence; I must assist him, however. Dem. See, here comes the common corrupter of my children.
Mic. Pray moderate your passion, and recover yourself.
Dem. I have moderated it; I am myself; I forbear all reproaches; let us come to the point: was this agreed upon between us,—proposed by yourself, in fact,—that you were not to concern yourself about my son, nor I about yours? Answer me.
Mic. It is the fact,—I don’t deny it.
Dem. Why is he now carousing at your house? Why are you harboring my son? Why do you purchase a mistress for him, Micio? Is it at all fair, that I should have any less justice from you, than you from me? Since I do not concern myself about your son, don’t you concern yourself about mine.
Mic. You don’t reason fairly.
Mic. For surely it is a maxim of old, that among themselves all things are common to friends.
Dem. Smartly said; you’ve got that speech up for the occasion.
Mic. Listen to a few words, unless it is disagreeable, Demea. In the first place, if the extravagance your sons are guilty of distresses you, pray do reason with yourself. You formerly brought up the two suitably to your circumstances, thinking that your own property would have to suffice for them both; and, of course, you then thought that I should marry. Adhere to that same old rule of yours,—save, scrape together, and be thrifty for them; take care to leave them as much as possible, and takethat credit to yourself: my fortune, which has come to them beyond their expectation, allow them to enjoy; of your captial there will be no diminution; what comes from this quarter, set it all down as so much gain. If you think proper impartially to consider these matters in your mind, Demea, you will save me and yourself, and them, considerable uneasiness.
Dem. I don’t speak about the expense; their morals—
Mic. Hold; I understand you; that point I was coming to. There are in men, Demea, many signs from which a conjecture is easily formed; so that when two persons do the same thing, you may often say, this one may be allowed to do it with impunity, the other may not; not that the thing itself is different, but that he is who does it. I see signs in them, so as to feel confident that they will turn out as we wish. I see that they have good sense and understanding, that they have modesty upon occasion, and are affectionate to each other; you may infer that their bent and disposition is of a pliant nature; at any time you like you may reclaim them. But still, you may be apprehensive that they will be somewhat too apt to neglect their interests. O my dear Demea, in all other things we grow wiser with age; this sole vice does old age bring upon men: we are all more solicitous about our own interests than we need be; and in this respect age will make them sharp enough.
Dem. Only take care, Micio, that these fine reasonings of yours, and this easy disposition of yours, do not ruin us in the end.
Mic. Say no more; there’s no danger of that. Now think no further of these matters. Put yourself to-day into my hands; smooth your brow.
Dem. Why, as the occasion requires it, I must do so; but to-morrow I shall be off with my son into the country at daybreak.
Mic. Aye, to-night, for my share; only keep yourself in good-humor for the day.
Dem. I’ll carry off that Music-girl along with me as well.
Mic. You will gain your point; by that means you will keep your son fast there; only take care to secure her.
Dem. I’ll see to that; and what with cooking and grinding, I’ll take care she shall be well covered with ashes, smoke, and meal; besides all this, at the very mid-day I’ll set her gathering stubble; I’ll make her as burned and as black as a coal.
Mic. You quite delight me; now you seem to me to be wise; and for my part I would then compel my son to go to bed with her, even though he should be unwilling.
Dem. Do you banter me? Happy man, to have such a temper! I feel—
Mic. Ah! at it again!
Dem. I’ll have done then at once.
Mic. Go in-doors then, and let’s devote this day to the object to which it belongs.
Goes into the house.
Dem. Never was there any person of ever such well-trained habits of life, but that experience, age, and custom are always bringing him something new, or suggesting something; so much so, that what you believe you know you don’t know, and what you have fancied of first importance to you, on making trial you reject; and this is my case at present: for the rigid life I have hitherto led, my race nearly run, I now renounce. Why so?—I have found, by experience, that there is nothing better for a man than an easy temper and complacency. That this is the truth, it is easy for any one to understand on comparing me with my brother. He has always spent his life in ease and gayety; mild, gentle, offensive to no one, having a smile for all, he has lived for himself, and has spent his money for himself; all men speak well of him, all love him. I, again, a rustic, a rigid, cross, self-denying, morose and thrifty person, married a wife; what misery I entailed in consequence! Sons were born—a fresh care. And just look, while I have been studying to do as much as possible for them, I have worn out my life and years in saving; now, in the decline of my days, the return I get from them for my pains is their dislike. He, on the other hand, without any trouble on his part, enjoys a father’s comforts; they love him; me they shun; him they trust with all their secrets, are fond of him, are always with him. I am forsaken; they wish him to live; but my death, forsooth, they are longing for. Thus, after bringing them up with all possible pains, at a trifling cost he has made them his own; thus I bear all the misery, he enjoys the pleasure. Well, then, henceforward let us try, on the other hand, whether I can’t speak kindly and act complaisantly, as he challenges me to it: I also want myself to be loved and highly valued by my friends. If that is to be effected by giving and indulging, I will not be behind him. If our means fail, that least concerns me, as I am the eldest.
Syr. Hark you, Demea, your brother begs you will not go out of the way.
Dem. Who is it?—O Syrus, my friend, save you! how are you? How goes it with you?
Syr. Very well.
Dem. Very good. (Aside.) I have now for the first time used these three expressions contrary to my nature,—“O Syrus, my friend, how are you?—how goes it with you?” (To Syrus.) You show yourself far from an unworthy servant, and I shall gladly do you a service.
Syr. I thank you.
Dem. Yes, Syrus, it is the truth; and you shall be convinced of it by experience before long.
Enter Geta, from the house of Sostrata.
Geta (to Sostrata, within). Mistress, I am going to see 247after them, that they may send for the damsel as soon as possible; but see, here’s Demea. (Accosting him.) Save you!
Dem. O, what’s your name?
Dem. Geta, I have this day come to the conclusion that you are a man of very great worth, for I look upon him as an undoubtedly good servant who has a care for his master; as I have found to be your case, Geta; and for that reason, if any opportunity should offer, I would gladly do you a service. (Aside.) I am practicing the affable, and it succeeds very well.
Geta. You are kind, sir, to think so.
Dem. (aside.) Getting on by degrees—I’ll first make the lower classes my own.
Enter Æschinus, from the house of Micio.
Æsch. (to himself.) They really are killing me while too intent on performing the nuptials with all ceremony; the whole day is being wasted in their preparations.
Dem. Æschinus! how goes it?
Æsch. Ha, my father! are you here?
Dem. Your father, indeed, both by affection and by nature; as I love you more than my very eyes; but why don’t you send for your wife?
Æsch. So I wish to do; but I am waiting for the music-girl and people to sing the nuptial song.
Dem. Come now, are you willing to listen to an old fellow like me?
Æsch. What is it?
Dem. Let those things alone, the nuptial song, the crowds, the torches, and the music-girls, and order the stone wall in 248the garden here to be pulled down with all dispatch, and bring her over that way; make but one house of the two; bring the mother and all the domestics over to our house.
Æsch. With all my heart, kindest father.
Dem. (aside.) Well done! now I am called “kind.” My brother’s house will become a thoroughfare; he will be bringing home a multitude, incurring expense in many ways: what matters it to me? I, as the kind Demea, shall get into favor. Now then, bid that Babylonian pay down his twenty minæ. (To Syrus.) Syrus, do you delay to go and do it?
Syr. What am I to do?
Dem. Pull down the wall: and you, Geta, go and bring them across.
Geta. May the Gods bless you, Demea, as I see you so sincere a well-wisher to our family.
Geta and Syrus go into Micio’s house.
Dem. I think they deserve it. What say you, Æschinus, as to this plan?
Æsch. I quite agree to it.
Dem. It is much more proper than that she, being sick and lying-in, should be brought hither through the street.
Æsch. Why, my dear father, I never did see any thing better contrived.
Dem. It’s my way; but see, here’s Micio coming out.
Enter Micio, from his house.
Mic. (speaking to Geta, within.) Does my brother order it? Where is he? (To Demea.) Is this your order, Demea?
Dem. Certainly, I do order it, and in this matter, and in every thing else, wish especially to make this family one with ourselves, to oblige, serve, and unite them.
Æsch. Father, pray let it be so.
Mic. I do not oppose it.
Dem. On the contrary, i’ faith, it is what we ought to do: in the first place, she is the mother of his wife (pointing to Æschinus).
Mic. She is. What then?
Dem. An honest and respectable woman.
Mic. So they say.
Dem. Advanced in years.
Mic. I am aware of it.
Dem. Through her years, she is long past child-bearing; there is no one to take care of her; she is a lone woman.
Mic. (aside.) What can be his meaning?
Dem. It is right you should marry her; and that you, Æschinus, should use your endeavors to effect it.
Mic. I, marry her, indeed?
Dem. You, I say.
Mic. You are trifling!
Dem. Æschinus, if you are a man, he’ll do it
Æsch. My dear father——
Mic. What, ass! do you attend to him?
Dem. ’Tis all in vain; it can not be otherwise.
Mic. You are mad!
Æsch. Do let me prevail on you, my father.
Mic. Are you out of your senses? Take yourself off.
Dem. Come, do oblige your son.
Mic. Are you quite in your right mind? Am I, in my five-and-sixtieth year, to be marrying at last? A decrepit old woman too? Do you advise me to do this?
Æsch. Do; I have promised it.
Mic. Promised, indeed; be generous at your own cost, young man.
Dem. Come, what if he should ask a still greater favor?
Mic. As if this was not the greatest!
Dem. Do comply.
Æsch. Don’t make any difficulty.
Dem. Do promise.
Mic. Will you not have done?
Æsch. Not until I have prevailed upon you.
Mic. Really, this is downright force.
Dem. Act with heartiness, Micio.
Mic. Although this seems to me to be wrong, foolish, absurd, and repugnant to my mode of life, yet, if you so strongly wish it, be it so.
Æsch. You act obligingly.
Dem. With reason I love you; but——
Dem. I will tell you, when my wish has been complied with.
Mic. What now? What remains to be done?
Dem. Hegio here is their nearest relation; he is a connection of ours and poor; we ought to do some good for him.
Mic. Do what?
Dem. There is a little farm here in the suburbs, which you let out; let us give it him to live upon.
Mic. But is it a little one?
Dem. If it were a large one, still it ought to be done; he has been as it were a father to her; he is a worthy man, and connected with us; it would be properly bestowed. In fine, I now adopt that proverb which you, Micio, a short time ago repeated with sense and wisdom—it is the common vice of all, in old age, to be too intent upon our own interests. This stain we ought to avoid: it is a true maxim, and ought to be observed in deed.
Mic. What am I to say to this? Well then, as he desires it (pointing to Æschinus), it shall be given him.
Æsch. My father!
Dem. Now, Micio, you are indeed my brother, both in spirit and in body.
Mic. I am glad of it.
Dem. (aside.) I foil him at his own weapon.
Enter Syrus, from the house.
Syr. It has been done as you ordered, Demea.
Dem. You are a worthy fellow. Upon my faith,—in my opinion, at least,—I think Syrus ought at once to be made free.
Mic. He free! For what reason?
Dem. For many.
Syr. O my dear Demea! upon my word, you are a worthy man! I have strictly taken care of both these sons of yours, from childhood; I have taught, advised, and carefully instructed them in every thing I could.
Dem. The thing is evident; and then besides all this, to cater for them, secretly bring home a wench, prepare a morning entertainment; these are the accomplishments of no ordinary person.
Syr. O, what a delightful man!
Dem. Last of all, he assisted to-day in purchasing this Music-wench—he had the management of it; it is right he should be rewarded; other servants will be encouraged thereby: besides, he (pointing to Æschinus) desires it to be so.
Mic. (to Æschinus.) Do you desire this to be done?
Æsch. I do wish it.
Mic. Why then, if you desire it, just come hither, Syrus, to me (performing the ceremony of manumission); be a free man.
Syr. You act generously; I return my thanks to you all;—and to you, Demea, in particular.
Dem. I congratulate you.
Æsch. And I.
Syr. I believe you. I wish that this joy were made complete—that I could see my wife, Phrygia, free as well.
Dem. Really, a most excellent woman.
Syr. And the first to suckle your grandchild, his son, today (pointing to Æschinus).
Dem. Why really, in seriousness, if she was the first to do so, there is no doubt she ought to be made free.
Mic. What, for doing that?
Dem. For doing that; in fine, receive the amount from me at which she is valued.
Syr. May all the Gods always grant you, Demea, all you desire.
Mic. Syrus, you have thrived pretty well to-day.
Dem. If, in addition, Micio, you will do your duty, and lend him a little ready money in hand for present use, he will soon repay you.
Mic. Less than this (snapping his fingers).
Æsch. He is a deserving fellow.
Syr. Upon my word, I will repay it; only lend it me.
Æsch. Do, father.
Mic. I’ll consider of it afterward.
Dem. He’ll do it, Syrus.
Syr. O most worthy man!
Æsch. O most kind-hearted father!
Mic. How is this? What has so suddenly changed your disposition, Demea? What caprice is this? What means this sudden liberality?
Dem. I will tell you:—That I may convince you of this, Micio, that the fact that they consider you an easy and kind-hearted man, does not proceed from your real life, nor, indeed, from a regard for virtue and justice; but from your humoring, indulging, and pampering them. Now therefore, Æschinus, if my mode of life has been displeasing to you, because I do not quite humor you in every thing, just or unjust, I have done: squander, buy, do what you please. But if you would rather have one to reprove and correct those faults, the results of which, by reason of your youth, you can not see, which you pursue too ardently, and are thoughtless upon, and in due season to direct you; behold me ready to do it for you.
Æsch. Father, we leave it to you; you best know what ought to be done. But what is to be done about my brother?
Dem. I consent. Let him have his mistress: with her let him make an end of his follies.
Mic. That’s right. (To the Audience.) Grant us your applause.