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Enter EUNOMIA and MEGADORUS, from their house.
I could wish you, brother, to think that I utter these words by reason of my own regard and your welfare, as is befitting your own sister to do. Although I'm not unaware that we women are accounted troublesome; for we are all of us deservedly considered very talkative, and, in fact, they say at the present day that not a single woman has been found dumb1 in any age. Still, brother, do you consider this one circumstance, that I am your nearest relation, and you in like manner are mine. How proper it is that I should counsel and advise you, and you me, as to what we may judge for the interest of each of us; and for it not to be kept concealed or kept silence upon through apprehension, but rather that I should make you my confidant, and you me in like manner. For that reason, now, have I brought you here apart out of doors, that I might here discourse with you upon your private concerns. MEGADORUS
Best of women, give me your hand. Takes her hand. EUNOMIA
looking about . Where is she? Who, pray, is this best of women? MEGADORUS
Do you say so? MEGADORUS
If you say no, I say no. EUNOMIA
Indeed, it's right that the truth should be spoken; for the best of women can nowhere be found; one is only worse than another, brother. MEGADORUS
I think the same, and I'm determined never to contradict you on that point, sister. What do you wish? EUNOMIA
Give me your attention, I beg of you. MEGADORUS
'Tis at your service; use and command me, please, if you wish for aught. EUNOMIA
A thing that I consider very greatly for your advantage I'm come to recommend you. MEGADORUS
Sister, you are doing after your usual manner. EUNOMIA
I wish it were done. MEGADORUS
What is it, sister? EUNOMIA
That you may enjoy2 everlasting blessings in being the father of children. MEGADORUS
May the Gods so grant it. EUNOMIA
I wish you to bring home a wife. MEGADORUS
Ha! I'm undone. EUNOMIA
How so? MEGADORUS
Because, sister, your words are knocking out the brains of unfortunate me; you are speaking stones3. EUNOMIA
Well, well, do this that your sister requests you. MEGADORUS
If she requests me, I will do it. EUNOMIA
'Tis for your own interest. MEGADORUS
Yes, for me to die before I marry. Let her who comes here to-morrow, be carried out4 of the house the day after, sister; on that condition, give me her whom you wish to give; get ready the nuptials. EUNOMIA
I am able, brother, to provide you with a wife with a very large marriage-portion. But she's somewhat aged; she's of the middle-age of woman. If you request me, brother, to ask her for you, I'll ask her. MEGADORUS
Would you like me to ask you a question? EUNOMIA
Yes, if you like, ask it. MEGADORUS
Suppose any old man, past mid-age, brings home a middle-aged wife, if by chance he should have a child by this old woman, do you doubt at all but that the name of that child is Posthumus5, all prepared? Now, sister, I'll remove and lessen this labour for you. I, by the merits of the Gods and of my forefathers, am rich enough; these high families, haughty pride6, bountiful portions, acclamations, imperiousness, vehicles inlaid with ivory, superb mantles and purple, I can't abide, things that by their extravagance reduce men to slavery. EUNOMIA
Tell me, pray, who is she whom you would like to take for a wife? MEGADORUS
I'll tell you. Do you know that Euclio, the poor old man close by? EUNOMIA
I know him; not a bad sort of man, i' faith. MEGADORUS
I'd like his maiden daughter to be promised me in marriage. Don't make any words7 about it, sister; I know what you are going to say; that she's poor. This poor girl pleases me. EUNOMIA
May the Gods prosper it. MEGADORUS
I hope the same. EUNOMIA
What do you want me now for? Do you wish for anything? MEGADORUS
And you the same, brother. Goes into the house. MEGADORUS
I'll go meet Euclio, if he's at home. But, see! the very person is betaking himself home, whence, I know not.
1 Has been found dumb: Not seeing the sarcasm intended against the female sex in this passage, Lambinus seriously takes the trouble to contradict Eunomia; his words are, "I myself, who am at present in my fifty-sixth year have seen no less than two dumb women."
2 That you may enjoy: Quod tibi sempiternum salutare sit. This was a formula frequently introduced in announcing intelligence, or in making a proposition, and was considered to be significant of a good omen.
4 Be carried out: "Feratur," "may be carried out to burial." "Fero" and "effero" have that especial signification. The body was carried out to burial on a bier, which resembled a bed or couch.
5 Is Posthumus: Children, who were born after their father's decease were called "posthumi," a term which is still retained. By speaking of an old woman, "anus," as the mother, he seems also to allude to the chance of the child losing its mother as well, at the moment of its birth
6 Haughty pride: He means to say, that these evils are attendant upon marrying a woman with a large dowry.
7 Don't make any words: Ben Jonson has imitated this passage in his Silent Woman, Act I., sc. 5:
“I know what thou wouldst say:
She's poor, and her friends deceased.
She has brought a wealthy dowry in her silence.
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