Henry IV, Part II "Hand Open As Day"
by William Shakespeare

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"Hand Open As Day"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Clearly death is near for King Henry IV, who has known illhealth and civil strife. The ailing king is surrounded by several close followers, including his sons Thomas of Clarence and Humphrey of Gloucester. Addressing Clarence, the king inquires about his eldest son and heir Prince Henry and commands Clarence, whom the prince loves the most of all his brothers, to appreciate this affection, to act as a go-between for Prince Henry and his brothers, and to acknowledge certain qualities of the Prince of Wales:

. . .
How 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
Of 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,
For 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's flint,
As humorous as winter, and as sudden
As flaws congealed in the spring of day. . . .