by: William Shakespeare

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Modern Text

And I do think—or else this brain of mine
Hunts not the trail of policy so sure
As it hath used to do—that I have found
The very cause of Hamlet’s lunacy.
And I believe—unless this brain of mine is not so politically cunning as it used to be—that I’ve found out why Hamlet’s gone crazy.
50Oh, speak of that. That do I long to hear.
Tell me! I want very much to find out.
Give first admittance to th' ambassadors.
My news shall be the fruit to that great feast.
All right, but first let the ambassadors speak. Then you can hear my news, as dessert.
Thyself do grace to them, and bring them in.
Then be so kind as to show them in.
He tells me, my dear Gertrude, he hath found
55The head and source of all your son’s distemper.
Gertrude, he says he’s found out the reason for your son’s insanity.
I doubt it is no other but the main:
His father’s death and our o'erhasty marriage.
I doubt it’s anything but the obvious reason: his father’s dying and our quick marriage.
Enter POLONIUS with ambassadors VOLTEMAND and CORNELIUS
POLONIUS enters with the ambassadors VOLTEMAND and CORNELIUS.
Well, we shall sift him.—Welcome, my good friends!
Say, Voltemand, what from our brother Norway?
Well, we’ll get to the bottom of it. Welcome, my good friends. Tell me, Voltemand, what’s the news from the king of Norway?
60Most fair return of greetings and desires.
Upon our first, he sent out to suppress
His nephew’s levies, which to him appeared
To be a preparation 'gainst the Polack,
But, better looked into, he truly found
65It was against your highness. Whereat grieved—
That so his sickness, age, and impotence
Was falsely borne in hand—sends out arrests
On Fortinbras, which he, in brief, obeys,
Receives rebuke from Norway, and in fine
70Makes vow before his uncle never more
To give th' assay of arms against your majesty.
Whereon old Norway, overcome with joy,
Greetings to you too, your Highness. As soon as we raised the matter, the king sent out messengers to stop his nephew’s war preparations, which he originally thought were directed against Poland but learned on closer examination were directed against you. He was very upset that Fortinbras had taken advantage of his being old and sick to deceive him, and he ordered Fortinbras’s arrest. Fortinbras swore never to threaten Denmark again.