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PRONOUNS, PERSONAL. Thou, apparent exceptions

Thou. Apparent exceptions.

“If he be leaden, icy-cold, unwilling,
Be thou so too, and so break off your talk.

Here "your talk" means the talk between "thee and him."

In Hamlet, i. 2. 41-49, the King, as he rises in his profession of affection to Laertes, passes from you to thou, subsequently returning to you.

In the following instance a kiss induces the speaker to pass from your to thou:

Goneril. Decline your head. (Kisses Edmund.) This kiss,
if it durst speak,
Would raise thy spirits up into the air.

The most difficult passage is:

“If thou beest not immortal, look about you.

In this short scene Cæsar is six times addressed by the soothsayer in the solemn and prophetic thou and thee, but once, as above, you. I can only suggest that "look about you" may mean "look about you and your friends."

In almost all cases where thou and you appear at first sight indiscriminately used, further considerations show some change of thought, or some influence of euphony sufficient to account for the change of pronoun.

The French Herald addresses Henry V. as thou, not for discourtesy (Hen. V. iv. 7. 74), but in the "high style" appropriate between heralds and monarchs. Few subjects would address their lords as thou. Only a Caliban addressing his Stephano would in the ordinary language say:

“Good my lord, give me thy favour still.

Caliban almost always thou's unless he is cursing (Temp. i. 2. 363), or when he is addressing more than one person.

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