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Rome. An Apartment in Philaṛrio's House.

Enter PHILARIO, IACHIMO, a Frenchman, a Dutchman, and a Spaniard1.

Iach. 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.

Phi. You speak of him when he was less furnished, than now he is, with that which makes? him both without and within.

French. I have seen him in France: we had very many there, could behold the sun with as firm eyes as he.

Iach. 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 matter3.

French. And then his banishment:

Iach. 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


1 This enumeration of persons is from the old copy; but Mynheer and the Don are mute characters.

2 i. e. accomplishes him.

3 Words him-a great deal from the matter,' makes the description of him very distant from the truth.

4 i. e. to magnify his good qualities. See Act i, Sc. 1, note 3, P. 6.

flat, for taking a beggar without more quality. But how comes it, he is to sojourn with you? How creeps acquaintance?

Phi. 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.

French. Sir, we have known together in Orleans. Post. Since when I have been debtor to you for courtesies, which I will be ever to pay, and yet pay still.


French. Sir, you o'er-rate my poor kindness: I was glad I did atone 6 my countryman and you; 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.

Post. 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

5 The old copy reads, less, The poet has in other places entangled himself with the force of this word in construction, Thus in the Winter's Tale :

I ne'er heard yet

That any of these bolder vices wanted

Less impudence to gainsay what they did,
Than to perform it first.'

See vol. iv. p. 49.

6 i. e. reconcile. Vide vol. iii. p. 211.

7 Importance is importunity. See vol, i. p. 394,

others' experiences: but, upon my mended judgment (if I offend not to say it is mended), my quarrel was not altogether slight.

French. 'Faith, yes, to be put to the arbitrement of swords; and by such two, that would, by all likelihood, have confounded9 one the other, or have fallen both.

Iach. Can we, with manners, ask what was the difference?

French, Safely, I think: 'twas a contention in publick, 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 attemptible, than any the rarest of our ladies in France.

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

Post. She holds her virtue still, and I my mind. Iach. You must not so far prefer her 'fore ours of Italy.

Post. Being so far provoked as I was in France, I would abate her nothing; though I profess myself her adorer, not her friend 10.

8 Rather studied to avoid conducting himself by the opinions of others, than to be guided by their experience.'

9 i. e.

e. destroyed. So in Antony and Cleopatra, Act iii. Sc. 2, p. 445:

'What willingly he did confound he wail'd.'

10 Friend and lover were formerly synonymous. Posthumus means to bestow the most exalted praise on Imogen, a praise the more valuable as it was the result of reason, not of amorous dotage. I make my avowal, says he, in the character of her adorer, not of her possessor. I speak of her as a being I reverence, not as a beauty I enjoy. I rather profess to describe her with the devotion of a worshipper, than the raptures of a lover.

Iach. As fair, and as good (a kind of hand-inhand 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 out-lustres many I have beheld, I could not but believe 11 she excelled many: but I have not seen the most precious diamond that is, nor you the lady.

Post. I praised her, as I rated her: so do I my


Iach. What do you esteem it at?

Post. More than the world enjoys.

Iach. Either your unparagoned mistress is dead, or she's outpriz'd by a trifle.

Post. 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.

Iach. Which the gods have given you?

Post. Which, by their graces, I will keep. 1 Iach. You may wear her in title yours: but, you

know, strange fowl light upon neighbouring ponds. Your ring may be stolen too: so, of your brace of unprizeable 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.

Post. Your Italy contains none so accomplished a courtier, to convince 12 the honour of my mistress; This sense of the word also appears in a subsequent remark of Iachimo:

'You are a friend, and therein the wiser.'

i. e. you are a lover, and therefore show your wisdom in opposing all experiments that may bring your lady's chastity into question.

11 The old copy reads, 'I could not believe she excell'd many.' Mr. Heath proposed to read, I could but believe,' &c. The emendation in the text is Malone's.

12 i. e. overcome. See vol. i. p. 237 and 301.

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.

Phi. Let us leave here, gentlemen.

Post. Sir, with all my heart. This worthy signior, I thank him, makes no stranger of me: we are familiar at first.

Iach. 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.

Post. No, no.

Iach. I dare, thereon, 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.

Post. You are a great deal abused 13 in too bold a persuasion; and I doubt not you sustain what you're worthy of, by your attempt.

Iach. What's that?

Post. A repulse: Though your attempt, as you call it, deserve more; a punishment too.

Phi. Gentlemen, enough of this: it came in too suddenly; let it die as it was born, and, I pray, you, be better acquainted.

Iach. 'Would I had put my estate, and my neighbour's, on the approbation 14 of what I have spoke. Post. What lady would you choose to assail?

13 i. e. deceived.

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The Moor's abused by some most villanous knave.'

14 i, e. proof.


how many now in health

Shall drop their blood in approbation

Of what your reverence shall incite us to.'


King Henry V.

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