To see a commentary note, click on a blue square. To see the Latin text, click on a green square. To see a corresponding scene in Charles Johnson’s Fortune in her Wits, click on a grey square


CAL. Oh me, a clumsy boy!
EU. Oh me, an unlucky girl!
CAL. Loving is the most free thing, but I am forced to love.
EU. Hating is the most free thing, but I am forbidden to hate.
CAL. Why do the gods chose the woman whom we must love, but our fathers choose the woman with whom we must live?
EU. Why do our fathers have power over our bodies, but the gods over our minds?
CAL. Eucomissa’s here. I should say something, but I don’t know what to say. Eucomissa —
EU. What?
CAL. May I not fare well, if I speak a word of marriage. O Eucomissa —
EU. What? Let me know, if you want something.
CAL. Me? Nothing?
EU. So why did you call me?
CAL. It’s only, may you fare well. And — I certainly want to say something else if your hearing is kindly.
EU. It is, but be brief.
CAL. If ever I —
EU. That’s your exordium, Calliphanes? As if I must be made docile and kindly? Get to the point.
CAL. I’ll put it in a word. Farewell. (Exit.)
EU. Indeed, toward that my hearing is kindly. Farewell. Indeed’ I’m an unlucky girl, who has obtained such a sweet lover! Distempers grip this man, but much more my father, who would give me to him in marriage today. Oh Aemylio! I must live with you alone, if I am to live. Father has captured you, you have captured me, you have avenged your fortune’s injury. (Calliphanes returns.)
CAL. Greetings, Eucomissa. I must ask you something, because of which I have returned myself to you in this breathless condition.
EU. Are you tedious enough? I beg you be sane.
CAL. Your request isn’t fair, because it is not even in the gods’ power to love and be wise. But today, Eucomissa?
EU. They say.
CAL. What about your father?
EU. He orders, he insists, he urges.
CAL. If you’re going to marry me today, tomorrow you’ll bury me.
EU. You’re wrong. For if I marry you today, I’ll be dead tomorrow.
CAL. My epitaph will serve for my wedding-hymn.
EU. My marriage-bed will play the part of my bier.
CAL. Now at last you please me with that elegant statement. For that’s when I could almost take you for my wife. How delightful your voice sounds when it promises, how sweet when it denies!
EU. By heavens, now I can scarcely persuade myself not to love you, you act so loving when you refuse to be loved.
CAL. Oh argument sweeter than any love!
EU. Oh strife preferable to any peace!
CAL. Thus the turtledoves, gentler than their Venus, both murmur and groan, and complain in turn, but amidst their complaints, their groaning and murmur, they love.
EU Thus when theft becomes welcome to our ears, a warlike peace is waged amidst the chords, the sounds both make harmonize and strive against each other.
CAL. By Venus, Eucomissa, you’re noble-minded. If I were given the choice, I’d ask for no other wife from the gods themselves. But we do everything else of our own volition, we love according to Fate.
EU. So Fate, not my father, must be obeyed.
CAL. May I die, when I regard your face, if any is a better one, your brow’s so smooth, how it displays the brightness of your eyes! Your tresses are born to conquer souls. The hue of your cheeks is modest, such as other women must borrow from shame, and your lips copy your cheeks. Let us depart, for if I look at you any longer I shall die, honeyed poisons are creeping in my marrow. Do you want to be given to me as my wife, Eucomissa? I desire it, by the gods I desire. Eucomissa, speak. But don’t yield, I hope you do not yield. Unless you remain harsh and difficult, you kill me. For I have sworn an oath to take no wife but Aegle.
EU. Aegle, Calliphanes?
CAL. No, no, no. Ah, what have I done. I meant to name another.
EU. Today I’ll give you some good news, Calliphanes: if you adore Aegle, she reciprocates.
CAL. What are you saying? Ah, don’t cast me into a passing hope. Aegle adore me?
EU. More than her own eyes, I tell you.
CAL. If that’s true, I’m a god. Oh Eucomissa, give your hand so I may humbly kiss it. May I not live, unless I always honor your for this favor!
EU. Go to Aegle, I grant you my permission. Meanwhile we’ll search for some plan. Farewell.
CAL. Now this is it, when —
EU. Pish, leave off those words.
CAL. I’m going — but, Eucomissa — good, I’m going. (Exit.)


AEM. By heavens, this scheme I have in hand is going smoothy, thus they’ve readied everything needful for the art of joking. Dinon’s furnished them some ready money to use, and now, I think, they’ve opened the school.
EU. [Aside.] Ha! He’s here, there’s no need to conceal my love any longer. [Aloud.] Come here, Aemylio, I want a few words with you.
AEM. Greetings, Eucomissa.
EU. I’m being married today, Aemylio.
AEM. May the gods let it turn out well.
EU. Nor can I persuade Father to put it the wedding off a few days. Isn’t this miserable?
AEM. Indeed, nothing more fortunate. You’ll lose your virginity the sooner.
EU. But imagine, Aemylio, I were going to marry you, would you do the thing so casually? Would you marry me out of the blue?
AEM. Would that you put me to the test! I’d prefer nothing else.
EU. By heavens, assume that were the case. I love you, but Father is standing fast against us. So what would you do?
AEM. What? If your father were multiplied a hundredfold, I’d give him a case of glaucoma so that he wouldn’t see what he’s looking at. So I’m asking you first, do you want to marry me today?
EU. I want to.
AEM. You’re playing your part elegantly, but give me your pledge.
EU. I give you Venus as my witness.
AEM. And I give you Mars as mine, that I’ll marry you today. Let us seal our words with a kiss. O happy crime! By Hercules, now you’re my wife in earnest. Give me another kiss.
EU. Gods’ faith, the man’s bold face!
AEM. I’ll break off the kissing, if my face doesn’t please you. But something will happen during the night, because of which you’ll love me deservedly.
EU. Get away quickly, I tell you, for should you take in another sense what I said in jest, you impudent man? By heaven, I’ll bright it about that you won’t mock me with impunity. Where do you get this confidence? What money do you have? What class do you belong to? Remember that you are a captive servant.
AEM. But I’m freeborn, and from a thriving family.
EU. Hold your tongue, or I’ll tell Father that you’re urging me into nonsense.
AEM. By Hercules, this conclusion makes a fine thing turn out badly. So farewell, if you like. I’ll betake myself to the new school and buy some jokes against an irate maiden. [He starts to leave.]
EU. How haplessly stupid I’m being! I’m afraid I may have been harsh. What if I call him back? Return, Aemylio. Why do put a bad construction on things said in jest, so contrary to your habit and your nature? Did you imagine I was speaking seriously?
AEM. Seriously? No, no. I don’t think a woman can do that.
EU. Take for yourself this ring, a gift unworthy of you. If I slip out of your memory, let this assist you.
AEM. A rung? Excellent, but now were you speaking seriously.
EU. Oh Aeymlio, if you knew — But why shouldn’t you know?
AEM. Whey? Because I’m no Oedipus. Except for the ring, I understand nothing.
EU. Are you so slow? Your hardly behaving in your usual way. Just read my face, read my sighs. Read this ring itself, in my silence I am eloquent enough.
AEM. I’ll read it most gladly, by Hercules — oh — With this ring — what’s this? This word doesn’t want to be read, Eucomissa. — Oh — I’ll make it want to — With this ring goes my mind.
EU. You’re inept, if you conduct your other business this way. Farewell. What did I say. Yes, farewell, but don’t go.
AEM. [Aside.] Hum! This is certainly it, for if I remember aright I am possessed of a comely face, goodly stature, and I’m of the right age. I’ll put it to the test. [Aloud.] Pay attention, Eucomissa. Oh Eucomissa, for a long time I’ve adored you desperately.
EU. Ha!
AEM. Until now, I’ve dared do nothing, except feed my eyes on you. I’m being killed by love’s doldrums. So now I want to see what’s on your mind. I’m tied up by hope and fear. Eucomissa, speak.
EU. [Aside.] I’m ashamed to confess it. Oh, what shall I do in my misery? [Aloud.] Me? Don’t you fear my father’s anger? But I dismiss my father —
AEM. Dismiss this modesty. Do you want me for a husband? Answer in a word.
EU. My husband? Ha! What if I should want that most of all? I should want that? No, Aemylio, I refuse. You have it most briefly. What is you answer?
AEM. That I’m unhappy. Farewell.
EU. No, no, just wait. I accept, I say I accept. Oh Aemylio, I’m yours, I entrust myself to your faith.
AEM. And I am yours. As the gods love me, I’m not in my right mind for joy. But let’s dismiss these things, people are here who can overhear us.


CAL. You’ve made me blessed. With what you say, you’ve given me back my mind. I don’t value the anger of men or gods at a farthing. Eucomissa — Aemylio — We’ve obtained the life of the gods.
AEM. What, sister? You’re in love with Calliphanes?
AEG. I love myself less.
EU. Up to now we’re frustrated. What answer will we give Father?
CAL. Ha! Father? Out of how great happiness I’ve suddenly fallen! Can’t we work some trick about the marriage, Aemylio?
AEM. My own business is being transacted, no less than yours. Therefore cease admonishing me.
EU. But if you can, Aemylio.
AEM. Is he going to bestow you on Calliphanes today?
EU. Yes.
AEM. Say you’re willing.
EU. Ah Aemylio, is your mind alienated from me so suddenly?
AEM. Gods avert the omen! Nobody but death will ever steal you from me. Now hear what I’m about to do. Today is appointed for the marriage. Let your father think it genuine, although it won’t be. For Aegle will spend the night with Calliphanes in your place. For a while you’ll be his wife by day. For perhaps within a few days something else will occur to us. But hasten away from here, if my plan pleases you.
EU. I see none better.
CAL. Let’s go, Aegle. (Exeunt.)


GNO. To the chair, quickly, to the chair, for a stranger’s here, and he’s hopping from foot to foot, and is a man whose dense to man.
ACAD. You’re the Master of the school?
MOR. Hey! Master! Nobody ever looks for me, I’m too disguised by these clothes.
ACAD. The University Reader of Jokes will joke in public next week. So he sent me to greet you, and asks your help and advice in this matter. And so he prays this favor of you, that you advise him fairly and well.
GEL. Money from him! Gods fare him better, he’s my brother.
ACAD. And so may you receive it better, for he’s afraid of his brothers.
GNO. Although, my joking brother, you have now spent a year in gathering witticisms against this time, and in a university at that, and should abound in the precepts and doctrines of this art because of the wit of your doctoral self and your college, nevertheless (as we seem), we shall confer a great boon on you, and this, as it were, in passing. I often get carried away in my oratory.
GEL. I’d put no other business before this one. But does he make jokes himself?
ACAD. He collects some, but up to now, as far as I know, he himself has made very few. Perhaps two or three semi-jokes.
GEL Hand me that piece of paper, Morion. This is my Tripos of jokes, for in my homeland England we call a Professor of Jokes a Tripod. Here it is for you.
ACAD. Will these neatly fall into his examination?
GEL. Neatly by Hercules, both into his examination and into any other. Let him employ this in lieu of an exordium, then let the questioning follow far behind, and he himself will set forth its terms. And if they refuse to make their entrance, let him drag them along with himself even against their will, as we not infrequently see happen. So this is the greeting to all his hearers, where in passing he pokes fun at all the Professors of Medicine and Law, and especially at all the Doctors. For without this nobody ever gets applause. But (I almost forgot to say this) let no comedy be acted about this time.
ACAD. But indeed one’s being acted today.
GEL. Ha, ha, he. Bah, the unlucky poet. For, whoever he is, next week he’ll be slaughtered by my witticisms. Take this piece of paper. Here he’ll find something written which in future will amply suffice to make fun of all the comedies.
ACAD. May the gods grant you what you wish, farewell.
GEL. Sh! You hear? I want three words with you. He’ll play with that comedy. You get it? A drama is called a play. Now I’ll send you off. Farewell. (Exit Academic.)


GEL. I get enough use out of my eyes, no? Heavens, that’s a vigorous girl, I’ll make her love me with all her might.
MOR. I saw her at first too, but I can’t stay any longer. She so elegant, I’m so very base in these clothes.
AEM. Prepare yourself now, Psecas. If your heart is clever you’ll give them hardships.
PS. Pish, worry about something else. I’ll handle this donkey magnificently. Oh, Venus! Is this the school? By heavens it’s an elegant place! I’ve always greatly adored witticisms, and my nurse used to tell them to me, “Get away, get away, I fear how lively you are, thus you are clever beyond your years.” And I would laugh. “You laugh?” she’d say. Good goods, how I’ll never forget her!
AEM. Pish, get to the point.
PS. How often something of no importance lingers in one’s memory when one’s at leisure. Oh, Diana! Back in those days how joking was food to me! We’d often sit by the hearth. I would tell stories, say many jolly things, dissolve everything in laughter. No girl (though I say so myself) was more the mistress of these first arts. But where’s the Master? I would very much like to see him, for we can exchange witticisms between ourselves, he will not hold my assistance in disdain, I’m quote sure. Where is he?
GNO. I am present, him whom you are seeking, Trojan Aeneas. [Aside.] I need to find a new expression for this thing.
PS. Oh Muses! You’ve studied the Liberal Arts. I recognize that’s a borrowing from Vergil, indeed, I’ve read the poets. Thus I am, but I can’t express in words how much in very fact I adore verses. And indeed I’ve made my own mediocre ones.
GNO. Neither men nor gods have given props for people to be mediocre poets.
GEL. Oh, oh, oh! Somebody has enchanted me. As I never thought to be possible, I can’t make a single little joke. Hum. Is it thus? Oh! At length I return to myself. Oh you whose cheeks the roses envy, and blush for shame alone, and then —
MOR. Ha, ha, ha! Very pretty! If I were clad in my virtues, thus I’d approach the girl. For he would adore that face —
AEM. Do you alone govern here? Where, if it please you, are re rest.
GNO. Sh! Gelasimus.
GEL. Oh yes. The moon grows pale, and admits herself defeated. I’ll join you presently — nor do the stars — Hum! I don’t like that. The stars have yielded. Yielded? Ha, he, how this joke has eluded me unawares!
GNO. Hey, Morion, where are you?
MOR. Sh! I’m not here.
AEM. Ha, ha, ha, does he claim to be absent when he’s present? We won’t believe you, Morion, except upon your oath.
MOR. By the gods I’m absent. (Aside.) How cleverly I’ve deceived these gentlemen. They don’t know I’m here, he, ha, ha.
GNO. Is Morion affected by black bile? That is, is he delirious? Shall I delay in drawing him out of this snare, to put it elegantly? Come here, Morion. (Draws him out.)
AEM. Ha, ha! How he stands! With Philosophy contradiction, I should deny him to be rational, if I didn’t seem laughable.
GNO. To err is to be human. And you certainly are in error, friend, for every man is rational, as Simplicius most accurately observes.
AEM. Please don’t mock me. Good heavens, how modest he is!
MOR. He’s praising me.
GEL. Good! Now I have him.
MOR. By heavens, I’ll speak boldly. Greetings, you whose cheeks the roses envy, and blush for shame alone.
GEL. Oh you whipping-stock. He anticipates me in speaking my oration. How he loses me six jokes and three amatory turns of phrase!
GNO. Continue, Morion.
MOR. You continue, if you want. I’ve said enough.
GNO. Come here, Gelasimus. Here’s the joker whose heart the Titan made out of a superior sort of mud.
PS. By heavens, he has a freeborn spirit. Great greetings, reputation has magnified you alone out of all men, and so we have come to visit you. For they call me witty too, even if I don’t bestow this praise upon myself.
GEL. I have less gratitude to the star under whose auspices I was born than to the stars of your eyes, which just gazed upon me. [Aside.] Ha, ha! I always speak excellently when I extemporize, which is a sign of a good wit. Undoubtedly she’s mine. [Aloud.] Who is this girl, pray?
AEM. She’s of the highest class and abounding in riches. She’s the daughter of Bombardomachides, that most energetic general.
GEL. I know that Bombardomachides all too well. (I make fun of him, but that’s all the better.)
AEM. [Aside.] Has any man ever had so much stupidity in him? What if I have some fun with these people? All right. [Aloud.] Hey! Do you hear me? Since you people boast so about these arts, I’ll give you my pledge that with my jokes I’ll reduce each and every one of you to silence. Come, if you want, let’s see who can do the most in this respect.
PS. First see what you can do. I’ll take his part.
GEL. My part. I don’t know how it comes about that I’m much more blessed than the common run of men, every girl who hears me voice immediately falls desperately in love with me. Gods above! I thank you, you’ve done much on my behalf. Hey, you bold fellow, since you want to be murdered to the quick, climb up on this little chair. I’ll be the first to oppose you, but I feel sorry for you.
MOR. You do well, by Hercules, I’ll be your second. Depart, you bold little fellow, depart to the Tullianum.
AEM. And you be our moderator.
GNO. I’ll be the agonothete (from the Greek contest and establish), for so the learned call it. Morion, you’ll oppose him in the second place.
MOR. Right, I’ll retire a bit and practice my refutation of his oration.
GNO. Before you know what it is?
MOR. Know what it is? Nobody is unable to refute after he knows his opponent’s speech. I’ll be unusual.
PS. My mind’s tormented that the custom does not allow a woman to dispute in public, for I’d like these men as my opponents.
GNO. Let the joker ascend. It is recorded in history that the ancient philosophers were wont to recreate themselves after their great exertions. So come, let us seize this happy day, for a bow over-stretched is quickly broken. The Muses have their sports, and Apollo, the father of the Muses, sometimes hides, sometimes shows himself. But you must be an ornament to this school you have gained, so that your modesty may show itself no less, or even more, than your genius. Beware of your seniors, for they will not tolerate wit, and always be careful, together with the poet, to spare persons, and speak of vices.
AEM. Your speech —
GNO. I don’t want to tolerate this impudence, mind your own business.
AEM. You do wisely, because you don’t want your speech to be repeated.
GNO. I bid you submit to this authority entrusted me by Apollo.
PS. Ha, ha, he! Would that this authority were entrusted me by Apollo!
AEM. The art of joking is not granted — I shall begin from the final term of joking, which is the Hilarity Term. I omit the art, since doing so is customary. The word is given: for these days such a thing does not exist. Some things are said to be given properly and simply, but this sense of the word is now obsolete. But others are given improperly and in consideration for something, such as academic degrees; and in the colleges —
GNO. Omit that word, we know what you mean.
AEM. But, lest you err in this matter, I shall tell you what should be given, and what not. First of all you will give me, if I please you, your applause, and, if not, your pardon. You will give the courtier new oaths, for he has broken all his old ones. He doesn’t even think about going to heaven, for there are no barbers and haberdashers there, and so he has never uttered a prayer in all his life, he has only told God he is His thrice-humble servant. And yet he hates the Devil, because the Devil has horns, and so rather resembles his creditors. In the second place, you will give words to the Puritans, for a silence is imposed upon them. If they ever preach in private, you will give them your ears, for they have lost their own. You will give the academics —
GNO. I do not wish that to be said, we should not be ridiculed. Even if some men blush, you have performed your office. I would like to respond to you, but (save for one man) I know of nobody in my position who replies to trifles of this kind. Let the first opponent climb up. We shall postpone the disputation until another day, right now you should only answer briefly. Come, be an ornament to this discipline you have gained.
GEL. I shall do so, but count my jokes as I respond.
GNO. It’s the mark of a pauper to count his cattle. Count this, Gelasimus. I beg of you, my hearers, that not take it in bad part that I, being of this rank of dignity, sometimes joke contrary to custom.
AEM. If you err in that direction, indeed we shall easily forgive you. But, trust me, most learned moderator, so far you are free of that fault.
GNO. He calls me most learned, today I won’t murder him.
GEL. Since you have given us the rules of giving, there is one great joke.
AEM. So great, by Hercules, that it’s invisible.
GEL. Pish? Am I not playing on a reduplication of the word “give.”
GNO. That’s certainly a half of a joke.
AEM. Oh! Perhaps he believes the half is greater than the whole.
GEL. May the goddess and goddesses, the gods above and the gods below destroy me with the worst of punishments if I wasn’t about to say that. Count it for me, Gnomicus, he stole it out of my mind.
AEM. By Hercules, you’re on the right path to becoming witty if you steal what I say.
PS. It’s the height of wit to do that, for now he’s killing you with your own sword. I’ll go up there too, for I’m ashamed to remain silent among so many jokers.
GEL. But let us return from this digression. Therefore I shall tell you what the King of Macedon gave me —
AEM. Why not continue?
GEL. Because now you’re supposed to say, “What did he give you? Money?”
AEM. What if I don’t want to say that? Will you make me?
GEL. No, but unless the straight line be granted, who can joke?
AEM. Good, if you ask me I’ll say it, for I don’t want you to be shamefully silent in front of this noble lady.
GEL. And I answer thus: “No, no. He gave he his back”, or “He gave me forfeits.” There are two jokes, Gnomicus But other than that — You said that the art of joking is not given. False! For the art of joking is an ingenious thing, but an ingenious thing is given. For, trust me, giving is a thing of genius.
AEM. That’s an expensive joke, for they’re asking three thousand for it. I’ve never heard an orator, when he’s lost his place in his text (as often happens), go about in so many circles looking for it. The Welsh reckon their ancestry in pretty much this same way: “the art of ap joking is ap given ap an ingenious ap trust me giving is a thing of genius.”
GEL. Next you heaped the courtiers with imprecations, but very boorishly. I’m mocking him again for his boorishness, Gnomicus. There is a certain elegant antithesis between “courtiers” and “boorish.” I pass over what you added about the Puritans, untouched, for you imitated what I said this morning when I bade them go to New England. The rest has escaped my memory.
PS. I can’t but clap my hands. And thus I would wish everybody to do when they hear something that pleases them.
GNO. You have fulfilled your duty, let Morion climb up.
MOR. Thus I do. Please count my jokes, Gnomicus.
AEM. Hey! You’re going to dispute in those clothes? They lack style and shape. There’s no consequence between their parts.
MOR. Do my clothes harm you?
AEM. Just now they terrified me when you climbed up.
MOR. Ha, ha, he. As he saw me the man fell into a panic. He recognized who I am. What about when he hears me? Pay attention, I’m beginning now. In the exordium of your oration you had something about my praises, but I frankly admit I have not deserved such praises.
AEM. I had something about your praises? Heavens, you could deservedly refute me if I had had any such thing.
MOR. Pish! I supply this — therefore I am now continuing. Count, Gnomicus. Furthermore you said something about the Philosophical Ocean.
AEM. What? About the Philosophical Ocean? But so far that hasn’t even been on the tip of my tongue. If you’ve made up your mind to mock the Philosophical Ocean, I’ll grant you my permission.
MOR. No? Then this is your fault, Gelasimus. Didn’t you say that nobody will ever omit the Philosophical Ocean?
EVERYBODY Ha, ha, he.
MOR. Are they laughing at me?
GNO. Continue, Morion.
MOR. Let whoever wants continue, if you laugh. I’ve fulfilled my duty. The rest has slipped my memory. And thus I make my ending. (Climbs down.)
GNO. So I dismiss you all with deserved praise. Both you and he are worthy of a calf. Both Arcadians, equal at singing, and ready to make answer.
PS. Good gods! How prettily you all proceeded today. I myself will dispute with you at the next exchange. Farewell, learned moderator, may the gods grant you your wishes.
GNO. And farewell, a long farewell, Iola, said he.
GEL. I’m blessed! I gladly follow. How indebted I am to the great gods for making me such a wit!
PS. Lead the way, Aemylio. Pish, stop these ceremonies.
MOR. I’ll accompany them, I’ve joked enough for today. (Exeunt.)
GNO. But I’ll betake myself indoors, today we have done well. Go home, my well-fed goats, the evening star arrives.

Go to Act V