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reading, then thinking, part 2.

ok, this is growing beyond what i initially had in mind. in any case, this is not the promised response of part 1…instead, i have decided to add one more transcript excerpt.

this time, we go back a few years (the sixteenth century) to desiderius erasmus. the abbot and the learned lady. if you have ever received an email from me on my personal gmail, you may have seen a bit of this in my signature. the full translation can be found here.

Ant: You seem to be a Sophistress, you argue so smartly.

Mag: I won’t tell you what you seem to me to be. But why does this Houshold–Stuff displease you?

Ant: Because a Spinning–Wheel is a Woman’s Weapon.

Mag: Is it not a Woman’s Business to mind the Affairs of her Family, and to instruct her Children?

Ant: Yes, it is.

Mag: And do you think so weighty an Office can be executed without Wisdom?

Ant: I believe not.

Mag: This Wisdom I learn from Books.

Ant: I have threescore and two Monks in my Cloister, and you will not see one Book in my Chamber.

Mag: The Monks are finely look’d after all this While.

Ant: I could dispense with Books; but I can’t bear Latin Books.

Mag: Why so?

Ant: Because that Tongue is not fit for a Woman.

Mag: I want to know the Reason.

Ant: Because it contributes nothing towards the Defence of their Chastity.

Mag: Why then do French Books that are stuff’d with the most trifling Novels, contribute to Chastity?

Ant: But there is another Reason.

Mag: Let it be what it will, tell me it plainly.

Ant: They are more secure from the Priests, if they don’t understand Latin.

Mag: Nay, there’s the least Danger from that Quarter according to your Way of Working; because you take all the Pains you can not to know any Thing of Latin.

Ant: The common People are of my Mind, because it is such a rare unusual Thing for a Woman to understand Latin.

Mag: What do you tell me of the common People for, who are the worst Examples in the World that can be follow’d. What have I to do with Custom, that is the Mistress of all evil Practices? We ought to accustom ourselves to the best Things: And by that Means, that which was uncustomary would become habitual, and that which was unpleasant would become pleasant; and that which seemed unbecoming would look graceful.

Ant: I hear you.

part three coming soon.

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