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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.
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
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
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.
Britain. CYMBELINE'S palace
Enter QUEEN, LADIES, and CORNELIUS
QUEEN. Whiles yet the dew's on ground, gather those flowers;
Make haste; who has the note of them?
LADY. I, madam.
QUEEN. Dispatch. Exeunt LADIES
Now, Master Doctor, have you brought those drugs?
CORNELIUS. Pleaseth your Highness, ay. Here they are, madam.
[Presenting a box]
But I beseech your Grace, without offence-
My conscience bids me ask- wherefore you have
Commanded of me these most poisonous compounds
Which are the movers of a languishing death,
But, though slow, deadly?
QUEEN. I wonder, Doctor,
Thou ask'st me such a question. Have I not been
Thy pupil long? Hast thou not learn'd me how
To make perfumes? distil? preserve? yea, so
That our great king himself doth woo me oft
For my confections? Having thus far proceeded-
Unless thou think'st me devilish- is't not meet
That I did amplify my judgment in
Other conclusions? I will try the forces
Of these thy compounds on such creatures as
We count not worth the hanging- but none human-
To try the vigour of them, and apply
Allayments to their act, and by them gather
Their several virtues and effects.
CORNELIUS. Your Highness
Shall from this practice but make hard your heart;
Besides, the seeing these effects will be
Both noisome and infectious.
QUEEN. O, content thee.
[Aside] Here comes a flattering rascal; upon him
Will I first work. He's for his master,
An enemy to my son.- How now, Pisanio!
Doctor, your service for this time is ended;
Take your own way.
CORNELIUS. [Aside] I do suspect you, madam;
But you shall do no harm.
QUEEN. [To PISANIO] Hark thee, a word.
CORNELIUS. [Aside] I do not like her. She doth think she has
Strange ling'ring poisons. I do know her spirit,
And will not trust one of her malice with
A drug of such damn'd nature. Those she has
Will stupefy and dull the sense awhile,
Which first perchance she'll prove on cats and dogs,
Then afterward up higher; but there is
No danger in what show of death it makes,
More than the locking up the spirits a time,