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Enter MICIO, from the house of SOSTRATA.
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. DEMEA
Alas! what shall I do? How behave? In what terms exclaim, or how make my complaint? O heavens! O earth! O seas of Neptune ! MICIO
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,1 however. DEMEA
See, here comes the common corrupter of my children. MICIO
Pray moderate your passion, and recover yourself. DEMEA
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. MICIO
It is the fact,--I don't deny it. DEMEA
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. MICIO
You don't reason fairly. DEMEA
No ? MICIO
For surely it is a maxim of old, that among themselves all things are common to friends. DEMEA
Smartly said; you've got that speech up for the occasion. MICIO
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 take that credit to yourself: my fortune, which has come to them beyond their expectation, allow them to enjoy; of your capital 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. DEMEA
I don't speak about the expense; their morals---- MICIO
Hold; I understand you; that point I was coming to.2 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. DEMEA
Only take care, Micio, that these fine reasonings of yours, and this easy disposition of yours, do not ruin us in the end. MICIO
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. DEMEA
Why, as the occasion requires it, I must do so; but to-morrow I shall be off with my son into the country at day-break. MICIO
Aye, to-night, for my share; only keep yourself in good-humor for the day. DEMEA
I'll carry off that Music-girl along with me as well. MICIO
You will gain your point; by that means you will keep your son fast there; only take care to secure her. DEMEA
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-day3 I'll set her gathering stubble; I'll make her as burned and as black as a coal. MICIO
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. DEMEA
Do you banter me? Happy man, to have such a temper! I feel---- MICIO
Ah ! at it again! DEMEA
I'll have done then at once. MICIO
Go in-doors then, and let's devote this day to the object4 to which it belongs. Goes into the house.
1 I must assist him: Colman remarks on this passage: "The character of Micio appears extremely amiable through the first four Acts of this Comedy, and his behavior is in many respects worthy of imitation; but his conduct in conniving at the irregularities of Ctesipho, and even assisting him to support them, is certainly reprehensible. Perhaps the Poet threw this shade over his virtues on purpose to show that mildness and good-humor might be carried to excess."
2 That point I was coming to: Colman observes here: "Madame Dacier makes an observation on this speech, something like that of Donatus on one of Micio's above; and says that Micio, being hard put to it by the real circumstances of the case, thinks to confound Demea by a nonsensical gallimatia. I can not be of the ingenious lady's opinion on this matter, for I think a more sensible speech could not be made, nor a better plea offered in favor of the young men, than that of Micio in the present instance."
3 At the very mid-day: Exposed to the heat of a mid-day sun.
4 To the object: The marriage and its festivities.
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