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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 she excelled many: but I have not seen the most precious diamond that is, nor you the lady'.
"A mother, and a mistress, and a friend,
This word, though with some degradation, is still current among the harlotry of London, who, (like Macheath's doxies,) as often as they have occasion to talk about their absent keepers, invariably call them their friends. In this sense the word is also used by Iago, in Othello, Act IV. Sc. I.:
"Or to be naked with her friend abed."
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 whom I enjoy.-I rather profess to describe her with the devotion of a worshipper, than the raptures of a lover. This sense of the word also appears to be confirmed by a subsequent remark of lachimo :
"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. STEEVENS.
7 If she went before others I have seen, as that diamond of yours out-lustres 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.] The old copy reads-" I could not believe she excell❜d many;" but it is on all hands allowed that the reasoning of lachimo, as it stands there, is inconclusive.
On this account, Dr. Warburton reads, omitting the word—not, "I could believe she excelled many."
Mr. Heath proposes to read, "I could but believe," &c.
Mr. Malone, whom I have followed, exhibits the passage as it appears in the present text.
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 outprized 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.
LACH. Which the gods have given you?
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-wayaccomplished courtier, would hazard the winning both of first and last.
POST. 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.
* First folio omits of.
The reader who wishes to know more on this subject, may consult a note in Mr. Malone's edit.  vol. viii. p. 327, 328, and 329. STEEVENS.
As Mr. Steevens has withdrawn his former opinion with regard to this passage, I have not inserted Mr. Malone's reply here, but, as it has been referred to, have given it at the end of the play.
8- if there were-] Old copy-or if-for the purchases, &c. the compositor having inadvertently repeated the word-or, which has just occurred. The correction was made by Mr. Rowe. MALONE. 9to CONVINCE the honour of my distress ;] Convince, for WARBURTON.
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 in too bold a persuasion; and I doubt not you sustain what you're worthy of, by your attempt.
LACH. 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.
LACH. 'Would I had put my estate, and my neighbour's, on the approbation of what I have spoke.
POST. What lady would you choose to assail? LACH. Your's; whom in constancy, you think,
abused-] Deceived. JOHNSON.
So, in Othello:
"The Moor's abus'd by some most villainous knave."
2- approbation -
66 how many, now in health,
"Shall drop their blood in approbation
"Of what your reverence shall incite us to." VOL. XIII.
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.
POST. I will wage against your gold, gold to it: my ring I hold dear as my finger; 'tis part of it. LACH. You are a friend, and therein the wiser 3.
3 You are a FRIEND, and therein the wiser.] I correct it: "You are afraid, and therein the wiser."
What Iachimo says, in the close of his speech, determines this to have been our poet's reading:
But, I see, you have some religion in you, that you fear." WARBURTON.
You are a friend to the lady, and therein the wiser, as you will not expose her to hazard; and that you fear is a proof of your religious fidelity. JOHNSON.
Though Dr. Warburton affixed his name to the preceding note, it is taken verbatim from one written by Mr. Theobald on this passage.
[But let it be remembered, that Dr. Warburton communicated many notes to Theobald before he published his own edition, and complains that he was not fairly dealt with concerning them.
REED.] A friend in our author's time often signified a lover. Iachimo therefore might mean that Posthumus was wise in being only the lover of Imogen, and not having bound himself to her by the indissoluble ties of marriage. But unluckily Posthumus has already said he is not her friend, but her adorer: this therefore could hardly have been lachimo's meaning.
I cannot say that I am entirely satisfied with Dr. Johnson's interpretation; yet I have nothing better to propose. "You are a friend to the lady, and therefore will not expose her to hazard. This snrely is not warranted by what Posthumus has just said. He is ready enough to expose her to hazard. He has actually exposed her to hazard by accepting the wager. He will not indeed risk his diamond, but has offered to lay a sum of money, that Iachimo, "with all appliances and means to boot," will not be able to corrupt her. I do not therefore see the force of lachimo's observation. It would have been more "german to the matter" to have said, in allusion to the former words of Posthumus-You are not a friend, i. e. a lover, and therein the wiser: for all women are corruptible. MALONE.
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.
POST. This is but a custom in your tongue; you bear a graver purpose, I hope.
IACH. I am the master of my speeches; and would undergo what's spoken, I swear.
POST. Will you ?—I shall but lend my diamond till your return :-Let there be covenants drawn between us: My mistress exceeds in goodness the hugeness of your unworthy thinking: I dare you to this match: here's my ring.
PHI. I will have it no lay.
LACH. 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.
POST. I embrace these conditions ; let us have
See p. 30, and 31, n. 6. Though the reply of lachimo may not have been warranted by the preceding words of Posthumus, it was certainly meant by the speaker as a provoking circumstance, a circumstance of incitation to the wager. STEEVENS.
Does it not mean-You shew yourself a friend to your ring which you have described as being so dear to you, by not risking it on such a wager, and your prudence is evinced by your caution? BOSWELL.
4 I am the master of my speeches ;] i. e. I know what I have said; I said no more than I meant. STEEVENS.
5 Iach. - 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, &c.
Post. I embrace these conditions ; &c.] This was a wager between the two peakers. Iachimo declares the conditions of it; and Posthumus embraces them, as well he might; for Iachimo