William Shakespeare's Cymbeline in the complete original text.
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Cymbeline

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Act I. Scene IV.

Scene IV.—Rome. A Room in PHILARIO'S
House.

Enter PHILARIO, IACHIMO, a Frenchman, a
Dutchman, and a Spaniard.

Iach. Believe it, sir, I have seen him in
Britain; he was then of a crescent note, ex-
pected 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 admiration,
though the catalogue of his endowments had
been tabled by his side and I to peruse him
by items.
Phi. You speak of him when he was less
furnished than now he is with that which makes
him both without and within.
French. I have seen him in France: we had
very many there could behold the sun with as
firm eyes as he.
Iach. 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.
French. And then, his banishment.
Iach. 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?
Phi. His 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 amongst you as suits, with
gentlemen of your knowing, to a stranger of his
quality.

Enter POSTHUMUS.
I beseech you all, be better known to this gentle-
man, 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.
French. Sir, we have known together in
Orleans.
Post. Since when I have been debtor to you
for courtesies, which I will be ever to pay and
yet pay still.
French. Sir, you o'er-rate 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.
Post. By your pardon, sir, I was then a young
traveller; rather shunned to go even with what I
heard than in my every action to bo guided by
others' experiences; but, upon my mended judg-
ment,—if I offend not to say it is mended,—my
quarrel was not altogether slight.
French. Faith, yes, to be put to the arbitre-
ment of swords, and by such two that would by
all likelihood have confounded one the other, or
have fallen both.
Iach. Can we, with manners, ask what was
the difference?
French. 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 gentle-
man at that time vouching—and upon warrant
of bloody affirmation—his to be more fair, vir-
tuous, wise, chaste, constant, qualified, and less
attemptable, than any the rarest of our ladies in
France.
Iach. That lady is not now living, or this
gentleman's opinion by this worn out.
Post. She holds her virtue still and I my
mind.
Iach. You must not so far prefer her 'fore
ours of Italy.
Post. Being so far provoked as I was in
France, I would abate her nothing, though I
profess myself her adorer, not her friend.
Iach. 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.
Post. I praised her as I rated her; so do I
my stone.
Iach. What do you esteem it at?
Post. More than the world enjoys.
Iach. Either your unparagoned mistress is
dead, or she's outprized by a trifle.
Post. You are mistaken; the one may be
sold, or given; or 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.
Iach. Which the gods have given you?
Post. Which, by their graces, I will keep.
Iach. You 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 unprizeable 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.
Post. Your Italy contains none so accom-
plished 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.
Phi. Let us leave here, gentlemen.
Post. Sir, with all my heart. This worthy
signior, I thank him, makes no stranger of me;
we are familiar at first.
Iach. With five times so much conversation
I should get ground of your fair mistress, make
her go back, even to the yielding, had I admit-
tance and opportunity to friend.
Post. No, no.
Iach. 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 repu-
tation; and, to bar your offence herein too, I
durst attempt it against any lady in the world.
Post. You are a great deal abused in too bold
a persuasion; and I doubt not you sustain what
you're worthy of by your attempt.
Iach. What's that?
Post. A repulse; though your attempt, as
you call it, deserves more,—a punishment too.
Phi. Gentlemen, enough of this; it came in
too suddenly; let it die as it was born, and, I
pray you, be better acquainted.
Iach. Would I had put my estate and my
neighbour's on the approbation of what I have
spoke!
Post. What lady would you choose to assail?
Iach. 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 ad-
vantage than the opportunity of a second
conference, and I will bring from thence that
honour of hers which you imagine so reserved.
Post. I will wage against your gold, gold to it:
my ring I hold dear as my finger; 'tis part of it.
Iach. You 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.
Post. This is but a custom in your tongue;
you bear a graver purpose, I hope.
Iach. I am the master of my speeches, and
would undergo what's spoken, I swear.
Post. 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.
Phi. I will have it no lay.
Iach. By the gods, it is one. If I bring you
no 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 yours; provided I have
your commendation for my more free entertain-
ment.
Post. 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 that you
have prevail'd, I am no further your enemy; she
is not worth our debate: if she remain un-
seduced.—you not making it appear otherwise,—
for your ill opinion, and the assault you have
made to her chastity, you shall answer me with
your sword.
Iach. 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.
Post. Agreed.
[Exeunt POSTHUMUS and IACHIMO.
French. Will this hold, think you?
Phi. Signior lachimo will not from it. Pray,
let us follow 'em. [Exeunt.
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