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Enter SOSTRATA and PAMPHILUS.

SOSTRATA
It is not unknown to me, my son, that I am suspected by you as the cause of your wife having left our house in consequence of my conduct; although you carefully conceal your knowledge of it. But so may the Gods prosper me, and so may you answer all my hopes, I have never knowingly deserved that hatred of me should with reason possess her; and while I thought before that you loved me, on that point you have confirmed my belief: for in-doors your father has just now related to me in what way you have preferred me to your passion. Now it is my determination to return you the favor, that you may understand that with me lies the reward of your affection. My Pamphilus, I think that this is expedient both for yourselves and my own reputation. I have finally resolved to retire hence into the country with your father, that my presence may not be an obstacle, and that no pretense may remain why your Philumena should not return to you.

PAMPHILUS
Pray, what sort of resolution is this? Driven away by her folly, would you be removing from the city to live in the country? You shall not do so; and I will not permit, mother, any one who may wish to censure us, to say that this has been done through my perverseness, and not your inclination. Besides, I do not wish you, for my sake, to forego your friends and relations, and festive days.1

SOSTRATA
Upon my word, these things afford me no pleasure now. While my time of life permitted it, I enjoyed them enough; satiety of that mode of life has now taken possession of me: this is at present my chief concern, that the length of my life may prove an annoyance to no one, or that he may look forward with impatience to my death.2 Here I see that, without deserving it, I am disliked; it is time for me to retire. Thus, in the best way, I imagine, I shall cut short all grounds of discontent with all; I shall both free myself from suspicion, and shall be pleasing them. Pray, let me avoid this reproach, which so generally attaches on women to their disadvantage.

PAMPHILUS
aside. How happy am I in other respects, were it not for this one thing alone, in having such a good mother, and her for my wife!

SOSTRATA
Pray, my Pamphilus, can you not, seeing how each woman is, prevail upon yourself to put up with one matter of inconvenience? If every thing else is according to your wish, and such as I take it to be-my son, do grant me this indulgence, and take her back.

PAMPHILUS
Alas! wretched me!

SOSTRATA
And me as well; for this affair does not cause me less sorrow than you, my son.

1 And festive days: "Festos dies." The days for sacrificing to particular Divinities, when she would have the opportunity of meeting her friends, and making herself merry with them.

2 Look forward with impatience to my death: Colman says: "This idea of the long life of a step-mother being odious to her family, is applied in a very beautiful and uncommon manner by Shakspeare:

Now, fair Hippolyta, our nuptial hour
Draws on apace; for happy days bring in
Another morn; but oh, methinks how slow
This old morn wanes! she lingers my desires
Like to a step-dame, or a dowager,
Long withering out a young man's revenue."

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load focus Latin (Edward St. John Parry, Edward St. John Parry, M.A., 1857)
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    • William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream, 1.1
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