Act I - Act I, Scene 4


Rome. PHILARIO'S house.


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

You speak of him when he was less furnish'd 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 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 matter.

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 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.--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 shunn'd
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 slight.

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 mind.

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

Being so far provok'd 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

I prais'd her as I rated her; so do I my stone.

What do you esteem it at?

More than the world enjoys.

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

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.

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-
accomplish'd courtier, would hazard the winning both of first
and last.

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.

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 reputation; and,
to bar your offence herein too, I durst attempt it against any
lady in the world.

You are a great deal abus'd 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 neighbour's on the 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 reserv'd.

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

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 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.

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 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.



Will this hold, think you?

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