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Rome. Philario's house.
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 and within.

I have seen him in France: we
had very many there could behold the sun
with as firm eye 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 matter.

And then his banishment.

Ay, and the approbation of those
that weep this lamentable divorce under her
colors 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 acquaintance?

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 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

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 France.

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

She holds her virtue still and I my

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
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.

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, 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

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 neigh-
boring 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 honor 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 first.

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.

No, no.

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.

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.

What's that?

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 acquainted.

Would I had put my estate and my
neighbor's on the approbation of what I have

What lady would you choose to

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
honor 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 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.

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 honor 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.

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 the assault you have
made to her chastity you shall answer me with
your sword.

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.

Agreed. [Exeunt Posthumus and Iachimo.

Will this hold, think you?

Signior Iachimo will not from it.
Pray, let us follow 'em. [Exeunt.

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