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Henry IV Part 2

William Shakespeare

  Act 4 Scene 3

page Act 4 Scene 3 Page 2

Original Text

Modern Text


Nothing but well to thee, Thomas of Clarence.
20How chance thou art not with the Prince thy brother?
He loves thee, and thou dost neglect him, Thomas.
Thou hast a better place in his affection
Than all thy brothers. Cherish it, my boy,
And noble offices thou mayst effect
25Of mediation, after I am dead,
Between his greatness and thy other brethren.
Therefore omit him not; blunt not his love,
Nor lose the good advantage of his grace
By seeming cold or careless of his will.
30For he is gracious if he be observed;
He hath a tear for pity and a hand
Open as day for melting charity;
Yet notwithstanding, being incensed he is flint,
As humorous as winter, and as sudden
35As flaws congealed in the spring of day.
His temper therefore must be well observed.
Chide him for faults, and do it reverently,
When thou perceive his blood inclined to mirth;
But, being moody, give him time and scope
40Till that his passions, like a whale on ground,
Confound themselves with working. Learn this, Thomas,
And thou shalt prove a shelter to thy friends,
A hoop of gold to bind thy brothers in,
That the united vessel of their blood,
45Mingled with venom of suggestion
(As, force perforce, the age will pour it in),
Shall never leak, though it do work as strong
As aconitum or rash gunpowder.


Only good things for you, Thomas. Why aren’t you with the Prince, your brother? He loves you and you are neglecting him. He cares more about you than any of his other brothers, Thomas; cherish that fact, my boy. After I’m dead, you’ll be in a strong position to help maintain good relations between Prince Hal and his brothers.
So don’t ignore him. Don’t turn away his love, and don’t ruin your good relationship with him by seeming cold or distant. He’s kind if he gets his way; he has compassion for others, and he’s generous with charity. But despite all this, once he gets angry, he becomes like a stone. He can be as tempestuous as winter, and can change himself as suddenly as snowflakes at dawn can turn to hail. So watch his temper.
When he does something wrong, let him know it—gently, and when he’s in a happy mood. But when he’s ornery, give him room. Wait till his bad mood works itself out, like a beached whale that kills itself by struggling to return to sea. If you can do this, you’ll be a shelter for your friends, and a golden chain that links your brothers together. Once they’re united, the poison of criticism and rumor—which in this day and age is sure to be aimed at them—can’t do them any harm, no matter how explosive and destructive it may be.


I shall observe him with all care and love.


I’ll watch over him with as much care and love as possible.


50Why art thou not at Windsor with him, Thomas?


Then why aren’t you with him at Windsor?

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