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Cymbeline

Please see the bottom of the page for explanatory notes.

ACT I SCENE IV Rome. Philario's house. 
 Enter PHILARIO, IACHIMO, a Frenchman, a Dutchman, 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
 admiration, 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. 
Frenchman I have seen him in France: we had very many there 10
 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 20
 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. 
 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. 30
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'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. 
POSTHUMUS 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: 40
 but upon 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 arbitrement of swords,
 and by such two that would by all likelihood have 
 confounded one the other, or have fallen 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 50
 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. 60
IACHIMO You must not so far prefer her 'fore ours of Italy. 
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
 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 praised her as I rated her: so do I my stone. 
IACHIMO What do you esteem it at? 71
POSTHUMUS More than the world enjoys. 
IACHIMO Either your unparagoned mistress is dead, or she's
 outprized 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. 80
IACHIMO 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 accomplished 
 courtier, would hazard the winning both of first and last. 
POSTHUMUS Your Italy contains none so accomplished 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. 91
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. 103
POSTHUMUS 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. 
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. 112
IACHIMO Would I had put my estate and my neighbour's on the 
 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 reserved. 
POSTHUMUS I will wage against your gold, gold to it: my ring
 I hold dear as my finger; 'tis part of it. 123
IACHIMO 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.
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. 136
IACHIMO 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 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 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. 150
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.
 [ Exeunt.  


Cymbeline, Act 1, Scene 5

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Explanatory Notes for Act 1, Scene 4
From Cymbeline. A.W. Verity. Cambridge, University Press.

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1. Philario has been praising Posthumus, and his friends show a touch of jealousy.

2. crescent note, growing reputation. The affected euphuistic style is that of the courtier Osric in Hamlet. It is satirised in Twelfth Night, III. 1. 76-102.

8. makes him; is the making of him -- as we say.

14. words him ... from the matter, gives him a notoriety beyond his real merits.

16-21. A fantastic way of saying that the partisans of Imogen will exaggerate the merits of Posthumus, in order to justify her marrying beneath her rank.

19, 20. without less quality; the reduplication of the negative idea in phrases denoting want is common in Shakespeare and similar to his use of double negatives for emphasis. quality, qualifications, qualities to recommend him.

35. atone, reconcile; see Glossary.

40, 41. rather shunned to go even. This seems to mean 'was less disposed to judge things for myself than to follow the experience of others, the beaten track.' But does he picture himself as modest, or presumptuous with the self-confidence of youth?
Furness paraphrases: "rather than appear to be guided by others' experience, I avoided giving assent to what I heard."

45. confounded; a stronger word then; 'destroyed.' Cf. confusion ('ruin'), III. 1. 64.

50. suffer the report, bear repeating. This leads up to the wager.

54, 55. constant-qualified, of a constant (i.e. faithful) quality.

63. friend, lover; a common Elizabethan euphemism. The contrast is between the rhapsody of a lover and the graver, more measured, eulogy of a worshipper.

81. in title, nominally.

83, 84. i.e. it is so with your articles esteemed priceless: one (the woman) is but frail, the other (the ring) subject to accidents, e.g. liable to be lost or stolen.

88. to convince the honour, to overcome the chastity. For the verb cf. Macbeth, I. 7. 64, IV. 3. 142. Lat. con, implying 'wholly' + vincere, 'to conquer.'

93. signior; the Shakespearean form of Mod. Ital. signor (Lat. senior).

104. abused, mistaken in your assurance. See G.

113, 114. put ... on the approbation, staked on making good.

124. You are afraid. F. has a Friend, which might possibly mean: 'you are a friend to the lady, and therein the wiser, as you will not expose her to hazard' (by wagering your diamond) -- Johnson. But the correction is generally adopted; it anticipates "you fear."

126. religion; used sometimes with the idea 'religious fidelity, conscientious devotion.'

131. undergo, undertake, perform; cf. III. 5. 109.

136. i.e. I forbid the wager.

141, 142. provided I have, etc., provided you give me an introduction to her and the Court which will ensure my reception.

143. articles, a formal agreement; "a covenant".



How to cite the explanatory notes:
Shakespeare, William. Cymbeline. Ed. A.W. Verity. Cambridge, University Press, 1899. Shakespeare Online. 10 Dec. 2013. < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/cymbel_1_4.html >.

How to cite the sidebar:
Mabillard, Amanda. Notes on Shakespeare. Shakespeare Online. 10 Dec. 2013. < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/cymbel_1_4.html >.
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More to Explore

 Cymbeline: The Play with Commentary
 Cymbeline Plot Summary
 Famous Quotations from Cymbeline
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 Introduction to Imogen
 Introduction to Guiderius and Arviragus
 Introduction to Cloten
 Introduction to Cymbeline
 Introduction to Posthumus
 Introduction to Iachimo
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