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About this text

  • Title: Cymbeline (Modern)
  • Editor: Jennifer Forsyth
  • ISBN: 1-55058-300-X

    Copyright Jennifer Forsyth. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: Jennifer Forsyth
    Peer Reviewed

    Cymbeline (Modern)


    Enter Philario, Iachimo, a Frenchman, a 315Dutchman, and a Spaniard
    Iachimo 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 320admiration, though the catalogue of his endowments had been tabled by his side and I to peruse him by items.
    Philario You speak of him when he was less furnished than now he is with that which makes him both without and within.
    325Frenchman 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 330his own, words him, I doubt not, a great deal from the matter.
    Frenchman And then his banishment.
    Iachimo Aye, and the approbation of those that weep this lamentable divorce under her colors are wonderfully 335to 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 340whom I have been often bound for no less than my life.
    Enter Posthumus
    [To Iachimo, Frenchman, Dutchman, and Spaniard] Here comes the Briton. Let him be so entertained amongst you as suits with gentlemen of your knowing to a stranger of his quality. [Posthumus joins them] [To Iachimo, Frenchman, Dutchman, and Spaniard] I beseech you all be better 345known 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.
    Frenchman Sir, we have known together in Orleans.
    350Posthumus 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 355mortal 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 traveler: rather shunned to go even with what I heard than in my every action to be guided by others' experiences; but 360upon my mended judgment (if I offend not to say it is mended) my quarrel was not altogether slight.
    Frenchman Faith, yes, to be put to the arbitrament of swords, and by such two that would by all likelihood have confounded one the other, or have fallen both.
    365Iachimo 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 370night, where each of us fell in praise of our countrymistresses, 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 375France.
    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 380Italy.
    Posthumus Being so far provoked 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 385comparison, had been something too fair and too good for any lady in Brittany. If she went before others I have seen as that diamond of yours outlusters many I have beheld, I could not but believe she excelled many; but I have not seen the most precious diamond that is, 390nor you the lady.
    Posthumus I praised 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 unparagoned mistress is dead, or 395she's outprized by a trifle.
    Posthumus 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.
    400Iachimo 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 neighboring ponds. Your ring may be stolen too; so, your brace of 405unprizable 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.
    Posthumus Your Italy contains none so accomplished a 410courtier 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.
    Philario Let us leave here, gentlemen.
    415Posthumus 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, 420even 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 425something, but I make my wager rather against your confidence than her reputation. And, to bar your offense herein to, I durst attempt it against any lady in the world.
    Posthumus You are a great deal abused in too bold a 430persuasion, 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.
    435Philario 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 neighbor's on th'approbation of what I have spoke!
    440Posthumus What lady would you choose to assail?
    Iachimo Yours, whom in constancy you think stands so safe. I will lay you ten thousands ducats to your ring that, commend me to the court where your lady is, with no more advantage than the opportunity of a 445second conference, and I will bring from thence that honor of hers which you imagine so reserved.
    Posthumus I will wage against your gold, gold to it: my ring I hold dear as my finger; 'tis part of it.
    450Iachimo 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 455bear 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. 460My 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 465sufficient 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 470your 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 prevailed, I am no further your 475enemy; 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 sword.
    Iachimo Your hand; a covenant. We will have these 480things 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]
    485Frenchman Will this hold, think you?
    Philario Signior Iachimo will not from it. Pray let us follow 'em.