MERC. But, gracious me! Cleanthis, they are still lovers. There comes a certain age
when all this passes away; what suits them well in these early days would look ridiculous
in us, old married people. It would be it fine sight to see us embracing each other, and
saying sweet nothings!
CLE. Oh! You perfidious wretch, must I give up hope that a heart sighs for me?
MERC. No, I should be sorry to say that; but I have too long a beard to dare to sigh; I
should make you die of laughter.
CLE. You brute, do you deserve the good fortune of having a virtuous woman for your
MERC. Good Heavens! You are but too virtuous; this fine virtue is not worth anything to
me. Do not be quite so honest a woman, and don't bother me so much.
CLE. What? Do you blame me for being too honest?
MERC. A woman's gentleness is what charms me most: your virtue makes a clatter that
never ceases to deafen me.
CLE. You care for hearts full of false tenderness, for those women with the laudable and
fine talent of knowing how to smother their husbands with caresses in order to make
them oblivious of the existence of lovers.
MERC. Well! Shall I tell you what I think? An imaginary evil concerns fools only; my
device should be: 'Less honour and more peace.'
CLE. Would you, without any repugnance, suffer me openly to love a gallant?
MERC. Yes, if I were no longer worried by your tongue, and if it changed your temper
and your goings-on. I prefer a convenient vice, to a fatiguing virtue. Adieu, Cleanthis, my
dear soul; I must follow Amphitryon. (He goes away.)
CLE Why has not my heart sufficient resolution to punish this infamous scoundrel? Ah,
how it maddens me, now, that I am an honest woman!
END OF THE FIRST ACT