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ACT I SCENE IVRome. Philario’s house.
Enter PHILARIO, IACHIMO, a Frenchman, a Dutchman, and a Spaniard.
IACHIMOBelieve it, sir, I have seen him in Britain: he was
then of a crescent note, expected to prove so worthy
as since he hath been allowed the name of; but I
could then have looked on him without the help of 5
admiration, though the catalogue of his endowments
had been tabled by his side and I to peruse him by items.
PHILARIOYou speak of him when he was less furnished than now
he is with that which makes him both without and within.
FrenchmanI have seen him in France: we had very many there 10
could behold the sun with as firm eyes as he.
IACHIMOThis matter of marrying his king’s daughter, wherein
he must be weighed rather by her value than his own,
words him, I doubt not, a great deal from the matter.
FrenchmanAnd then his banishment. 15
IACHIMOAy, and the approbation of those that weep this
lamentable divorce under her colours are wonderfully
to extend him; be it but to fortify her judgment,
which else an easy battery might lay flat, for
taking a beggar without less quality. But how comes 20
it he is to sojourn with you? How creeps
PHILARIOHis father and I were soldiers together; to whom I
have been often bound for no less than my life.
Here comes the Briton: let him be so entertained 25
amongst you as suits, with gentlemen of your
knowing, to a stranger of his quality.
I beseech you all, be better known to this
gentleman; whom I commend to you as a noble friend
of mine: how worthy he is I will leave to appear 30
hereafter, rather than story him in his own hearing.
FrenchmanSir, we have known together in Orleans.
POSTHUMUS LEONATUSSince when I have been debtor to you for courtesies,
which I will be ever to pay and yet pay still.
FrenchmanSir, you o’er-rate my poor kindness: I was glad I 35
did atone my countryman and you; it had been pity
you should have been put together with so mortal a
purpose as then each bore, upon importance of so
slight and trivial a nature.
POSTHUMUS LEONATUSBy your pardon, sir, I was then a young traveller; 40
rather shunned to go even with what I heard than in
my every action to be guided by others’ experiences:
but upon my mended judgment–if I offend not to say
it is mended–my quarrel was not altogether slight.
Frenchman‘Faith, yes, to be put to the arbitrement of swords, 45
and by such two that would by all likelihood have
confounded one the other, or have fallen both.
IACHIMOCan we, with manners, ask what was the difference?
FrenchmanSafely, I think: ’twas a contention in public,
which may, without contradiction, suffer the report. 50
It was much like an argument that fell out last
night, where each of us fell in praise of our
country mistresses; this gentleman at that time
vouching–and upon warrant of bloody
affirmation–his to be more fair, virtuous, wise, 55
chaste, constant-qualified and less attemptable
than any the rarest of our ladies in France.
IACHIMOThat lady is not now living, or this gentleman’s
opinion by this worn out.
POSTHUMUS LEONATUSShe holds her virtue still and I my mind. 60
IACHIMOYou must not so far prefer her ‘fore ours of Italy.
POSTHUMUS LEONATUSBeing so far provoked as I was in France, I would
abate her nothing, though I profess myself her
adorer, not her friend.
IACHIMOAs fair and as good–a kind of hand-in-hand 65
comparison–had been something too fair and too good
for any lady in Britain. If she went before others
I have seen, as that diamond of yours outlustres
many I have beheld. I could not but believe she
excelled many: but I have not seen the most 70
precious diamond that is, nor you the lady.
POSTHUMUS LEONATUSI praised her as I rated her: so do I my stone.
IACHIMOWhat do you esteem it at?
POSTHUMUS LEONATUSMore than the world enjoys.
IACHIMOEither your unparagoned mistress is dead, or she’s 75
outprized by a trifle.
POSTHUMUS LEONATUSYou are mistaken: the one may be sold, or given, if
there were wealth enough for the purchase, or merit
for the gift: the other is not a thing for sale,
and only the gift of the gods. 80
IACHIMOWhich the gods have given you?
POSTHUMUS LEONATUSWhich, by their graces, I will keep.
IACHIMOYou may wear her in title yours: but, you know,
strange fowl light upon neighbouring ponds. Your
ring may be stolen too: so your brace of unprizable 85
estimations; the one is but frail and the other
casual; a cunning thief, or a that way accomplished
courtier, would hazard the winning both of first and last.
POSTHUMUS LEONATUSYour Italy contains none so accomplished a courtier
to convince the honour of my mistress, if, in the 90
holding or loss of that, you term her frail. I do
nothing doubt you have store of thieves;
notwithstanding, I fear not my ring.
PHILARIOLet us leave here, gentlemen.
POSTHUMUS LEONATUSSir, with all my heart. This worthy signior, I 95
thank him, makes no stranger of me; we are familiar at first.
IACHIMOWith five times so much conversation, I should get
ground of your fair mistress, make her go back, even
to the yielding, had I admittance and opportunity to friend.
IACHIMOI dare thereupon pawn the moiety of my estate to
your ring; which, in my opinion, o’ervalues it
something: but I make my wager rather against your
confidence than her reputation: and, to bar your
offence herein too, I durst attempt it against any 105
lady in the world.
POSTHUMUS LEONATUSYou are a great deal abused in too bold a
persuasion; and I doubt not you sustain what you’re
worthy of by your attempt.
IACHIMOWhat’s that? 110
POSTHUMUS LEONATUSA repulse: though your attempt, as you call it,
deserve more; a punishment too.
PHILARIOGentlemen, enough of this: it came in too suddenly;
let it die as it was born, and, I pray you, be
better acquainted. 115
IACHIMOWould I had put my estate and my neighbour’s on the
approbation of what I have spoke!
POSTHUMUS LEONATUSWhat lady would you choose to assail?
IACHIMOYours; whom in constancy you think stands so safe.
I will lay you ten thousand ducats to your ring, 120
that, commend me to the court where your lady is,
with no more advantage than the opportunity of a
second conference, and I will bring from thence
that honour of hers which you imagine so reserved.
POSTHUMUS LEONATUSI will wage against your gold, gold to it: my ring 125
I hold dear as my finger; ’tis part of it.
IACHIMOYou are afraid, and therein the wiser. If you buy
ladies’ flesh at a million a dram, you cannot
preserve it from tainting: but I see you have some
religion in you, that you fear. 130
POSTHUMUS LEONATUSThis is but a custom in your tongue; you bear a
graver purpose, I hope.
IACHIMOI am the master of my speeches, and would undergo
what’s spoken, I swear.
POSTHUMUS LEONATUSWill you? I shall but lend my diamond till your 135
return: let there be covenants drawn between’s: my
mistress exceeds in goodness the hugeness of your
unworthy thinking: I dare you to this match: here’s my ring.
PHILARIOI will have it no lay.
IACHIMOBy the gods, it is one. If I bring you no 140
sufficient testimony that I have enjoyed the dearest
bodily part of your mistress, my ten thousand ducats
are yours; so is your diamond too: if I come off,
and leave her in such honour as you have trust in,
she your jewel, this your jewel, and my gold are 145
yours: provided I have your commendation for my more
free entertainment.
POSTHUMUS LEONATUSI embrace these conditions; let us have articles
betwixt us. Only, thus far you shall answer: if
you make your voyage upon her and give me directly 150
to understand you have prevailed, I am no further
your enemy; she is not worth our debate: if she
remain unseduced, you not making it appear
otherwise, for your ill opinion and the assault you
have made to her chastity you shall answer me with 155
your sword.
IACHIMOYour hand; a covenant: we will have these things set
down by lawful counsel, and straight away for
Britain, lest the bargain should catch cold and
starve: I will fetch my gold and have our two 160
wagers recorded.
FrenchmanWill this hold, think you?
PHILARIOSignior Iachimo will not from it.
Pray, let us follow ’em. 165

Cymbeline, Act 1, Scene 5