ACT I
Scene IV.
 

Rome. PHILARIO'S house

Enter PHILARIO, IACHIMO, a FRENCHMAN, a DUTCHMAN, and a SPANIARD

IACHIMO
Believe 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 look'd on him
without the help of admiration, though the catalogue of his
endowments had been tabled by his side, and I to peruse him by
items.

PHILARIO
You speak of him when he was less furnish'd than now he
is with that which makes him both without and within.

FRENCHMAN
I have seen him in France; we had very many there could
behold the sun with as firm eyes as he.

IACHIMO
This 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.

FRENCHMAN
And then his banishment.

IACHIMO
Ay, 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 it
he is to sojourn with you? How creeps acquaintance?

PHILARIO
His father and I were soldiers together, to whom I have
been often bound for no less than my life.

Enter POSTHUMUS

Here comes the Briton. Let him be so entertained 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 hereafter, rather than story him in his
own hearing.

FRENCHMAN
Sir, we have known together in Orleans.

POSTHUMUS
Since when I have been debtor to you for courtesies,
which I will be ever to pay and yet pay still.

FRENCHMAN
Sir, you o'errate my poor kindness. I was glad I 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
By your pardon, sir. I was then a young traveller;
rather shunn'd 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, and
by such two that would by all likelihood have confounded one the
other or have fall'n both.

IACHIMO
Can we, with manners, ask what was the difference?

FRENCHMAN
Safely, I think. 'Twas a contention in public, which
may, without contradiction, suffer the report. 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, chaste, constant, qualified, and less
attemptable, than any the rarest of our ladies in France.

IACHIMO
That lady is not now living, or this gentleman's opinion,
by this, worn out.

POSTHUMUS
She holds her virtue still, and I my mind.

IACHIMO
You must not so far prefer her fore ours of Italy.

POSTHUMUS
Being so far provok'd as I was in France, I would abate
her nothing, though I profess myself her adorer, not her friend.

IACHIMO
As fair and as good- a kind of hand-in-hand 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 precious diamond that
is, nor you the lady.

POSTHUMUS
I prais'd her as I rated her. So do I my stone.

IACHIMO
What do you esteem it at?

POSTHUMUS
More than the world enjoys.

IACHIMO
Either your unparagon'd mistress is dead, or she's
outpriz'd by a trifle.

POSTHUMUS
You 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.

IACHIMO
Which the gods have given you?

POSTHUMUS
Which by their graces I will keep.

IACHIMO
You may wear her in title yours; but you know strange fowl
light upon neighbouring ponds. Your ring may be stol'n too. So
your brace of unprizable estimations, the one is but frail and
the other casual; a cunning thief, or a that-way-accomplish'd
courtier, would hazard the winning both of first and last.

POSTHUMUS
Your Italy contains none so accomplish'd a courtier to
convince the honour of my mistress, if in the holding or loss of
that you term her frail. I do nothing doubt you have store of
thieves; notwithstanding, I fear not my ring.

PHILARIO
Let us leave here, gentlemen.

POSTHUMUS
Sir, with all my heart. This worthy signior, I thank
him, makes no stranger of me; we are familiar at first.

IACHIMO
With 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.

POSTHUMUS
No, no.

IACHIMO
I 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
lady in the world.

POSTHUMUS
You are a great deal abus'd in too bold a persuasion,
and I doubt not you sustain what y'are worthy of by your attempt.

IACHIMO
What's that?

POSTHUMUS
A repulse; though your attempt, as you call it, deserve
more- a punishment too.

PHILARIO
Gentlemen, enough of this. It came in too suddenly; let
it die as it was born, and I pray you be better acquainted.

IACHIMO
Would I had put my estate and my neighbour's on th'
approbation of what I have spoke!

POSTHUMUS
What lady would you choose to assail?

IACHIMO
Yours, whom in constancy you think stands so safe. I will
lay you ten thousand ducats to your ring 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 reserv'd.

POSTHUMUS
I will wage against your gold, gold to it. My ring I
hold dear as my finger; 'tis part of it.

IACHIMO
You are a friend, 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.

POSTHUMUS
This is but a custom in your tongue; you bear a graver
purpose, I hope.

IACHIMO
I am the master of my speeches, and would undergo what's
spoken, I swear.

POSTHUMUS
Will you? I Shall but lend my diamond till your 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.

PHILARIO
I will have it no lay.

IACHIMO
By the gods, it is one. If I bring you no sufficient
testimony that I have enjoy'd 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 yours-
provided I have your commendation for my more free entertainment.

POSTHUMUS
I 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 to understand you have prevail'd, I am
no further your enemy- she is not worth our debate; if she remain
unseduc'd, you not making it appear otherwise, for your ill
opinion and th' assault you have made to her chastity you shall
answer me with your sword.

IACHIMO
Your 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 wagers recorded.

POSTHUMUS
Agreed.

Exeunt POSTHUMUS and IACHIMO

FRENCHMAN
Will this hold, think you?

PHILARIO
Signior Iachimo will not from it. Pray let us follow 'em.

Exeunt