Enter Philario, Iachimo, a Frenchman, a Dutchman,
and a Spaniard
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 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.
You speak of him when he was less furnished than
now he is with that which makes him both without
I have seen him in France: we had very many
there could behold the sun with as firm eyes as he.
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
And then his banishment.
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 judgement,
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
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.
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.
Sir, we have known together in Orleans.
Since when I have been debtor to you for courtesies
which I will be ever to pay, and yet pay still.
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.
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 be guided by others' experiences:
but upon my mended judgement – if I offend not to
say it is mended – my quarrel was not altogether
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 fallen both.
Can we with manners ask what was the difference?
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
That lady is not now living; or this gentleman's
opinion, by this, worn out.
She holds her virtue still, and I my mind.
You must not so far prefer her 'fore ours of Italy.
Being so far provoked as I was in France, I would
abate her nothing, though I profess myself her
adorer, not her friend.
As fair, and as good – a kind of hand-in-hand
comparison – had been something too fair, and too good
for any lady in Britany. If she went before others I
have seen, as that diamond of yours outlustres many
I have beheld, I could not believe she excelled many:
but I have not seen the most precious diamond that
is, nor you the lady.
I praised her as I rated her: so do I my stone.
What do you esteem it at?
More than the world enjoys.
Either your unparagoned mistress is dead, or she's
outprized by a trifle.
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.
Which the gods have given you?
Which by their graces I will keep.
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 unprizable
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.
Your Italy contains none so accomplished 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.
Let us leave here, gentlemen.
Sir, with all my heart. This worthy signior, I thank
him, makes no stranger of me; we are familiar at
at once, immediately, from the start
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
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.
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.
A repulse: though your attempt – as you call it –
deserve more; a punishment too.
Gentlemen, enough of this, it came in too suddenly;
let it die as it was born, and I pray you be better
Would I had put my estate and my neighbour's on
th' approbation of what I have spoke!
What lady would you choose to assail?
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 reserved.
I will wage against your gold, gold to it: my ring I
hold dear as my finger, 'tis part of it.
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.
This is but a custom in your tongue: you bear a
graver purpose I hope.
I am the master of my speeches, and would undergo
what's spoken, I swear.
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.
I will have it no lay.
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
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 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 th' assault you have
made to her chastity, you shall answer me with your
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
Exeunt Posthumus and Iachimo
Will this hold, think you?
Signior Iachimo will not from it. Pray, let us follow