by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

Gives him three thousand crowns in annual fee
75And his commission to employ those soldiers,
So levied as before, against the Polack,
With an entreaty, herein further shown,
That it might please you to give quiet pass
Through your dominions for this enterprise,
80On such regards of safety and allowance
As therein are set down. (gives CLAUDIUS a document
The old king was so overjoyed by this promise that he gave young Fortinbras an annual income of three thousand


A crown is a kind of gold coin.

and permission to lead his soldiers into Poland, asking you officially in this letter to allow his troops to pass through your kingdom on their way to Poland. He’s assuring you of your safety. (he gives CLAUDIUS a document
    It likes us well,
And at our more considered time we’ll read,
Answer, and think upon this business.
Meantime we thank you for your well-took labor.
85Go to your rest. At night we’ll feast together.
Most welcome home!
I like this news, and when I have time I’ll read this and think about how to reply. Meanwhile, thank you for your efforts. Go relax now. Tonight we’ll have dinner. Welcome back!
This business is well ended.
My liege and madam, to expostulate
What majesty should be, what duty is,
90Why day is day, night night, and time is time,
Were nothing but to waste night, day, and time.
Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief: your noble son is mad.
95Mad call I it, for, to define true madness,
What is ’t but to be nothing else but mad?
But let that go.
Well, that turned out well in the end. Sir and madam, to make grand speeches about what majesty is, what service is, or why day is day, night is night, and time is time is just a waste of a lot of day, night, and time. Therefore, since the essence of wisdom is not talking too much, I’ll get right to the point here. Your son is crazy. “Crazy” I’m calling it, since how can you say what craziness is except to say that it’s craziness? But that’s another story.
More matter, with less art.
Please, stick to the point.
Madam, I swear I use no art at all.
100That he is mad, ’tis true. Tis true, ’tis pity,
And pity ’tis ’tis true—a foolish figure,
But farewell it, for I will use no art.
Mad let us grant him then. And now remains
Madam, I’m doing nothing but sticking to the point. It’s true he’s crazy, and it’s a shame it’s true, and it’s truly a shame he’s crazy—but now I sound foolish, so I’ll get right to the point.