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PRONOUNS, PERSONAL. Thou an insult, except to friends and inferiors

Thou towards strangers who were not inferiors was an insult. "If thou thouest him some thrice, it shall not be amiss," (T. N. iii. 2. 48,) is the advice given to Sir Andrew Aguecheek when on the point of writing a challenge.

In addressing Angelo, whose seat he occupies, the Duke in the following passage begins with ironical politeness, but passes into open contempt:

Duke (to Escalus). What you have spoke I pardon; sit you down;
We'll borrow place of him. (To Angelo.) Sir, by your leave,
Hast thou or word or wit or impudence,
That now can do thee office?

Thou is also used in a contemptuous "aside."

Hastings. 'Tis like enough for I stay dinner there.
Buckingham (aside). And supper too, although thou know'st
it not.
Come, will you go?

And, where there is no contempt, Cassius passes into thou when he addresses Brutus absent, whereas in his presence he restricts himself to you (J. C. i. 2. 311). The former is the rhetorical, the latter the conversational pronoun. So

“Be thou my witness,
You know that I held Epicurus strong.

This explains the apparent liberty in

“O wise young judge, how I do honour thee!

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