Hamlet

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 5 Scene 2

page Act 5 Scene 2 Page 2

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HORATIO

    Is ’t possible?

HORATIO

Is it possible?

HAMLET

(shows HORATIO a document)
Here’s the commission. Read it at more leisure.
But wilt thou hear me how I did proceed?

HAMLET

(he shows HORATIO a document) Here’s the document. Read it in your free time. But do you want to hear what I did then?

HORATIO

30I beseech you.

HORATIO

Yes, please tell me.

HAMLET

Being thus benetted round with villainies—
Ere I could make a prologue to my brains,
They had begun the play—I sat me down,
Devised a new commission, wrote it fair.
35I once did hold it, as our statists do,
A baseness to write fair, and labored much
How to forget that learning, but, sir, now
It did me yeoman’s service. Wilt thou know
Th' effect of what I wrote?

HAMLET

So there I was, caught in their evil net. Before I could even start processing the situation, they had started the ball rolling. I sat down and wrote out a new official document with new instructions. I wrote it in a bureaucrat’s neat handwriting. I used to think having nice handwriting was for servants, just like our politicians think, and I had to work hard to overcome that prejudice—but it sure came in handy then. Do you want to know what I wrote?

HORATIO

40Ay, good my lord.

HORATIO

Yes, my lord.

HAMLET

An earnest conjuration from the king,
As England was his faithful tributary,
As love between them like the palm might flourish,
As peace should stiff her wheaten garland wear
45And stand a comma ’tween their amities,
And many suchlike “as’s” of great charge,
That, on the view and knowing of these contents,
Without debatement further, more or less,
He should the bearers put to sudden death,
50Not shriving time allowed.

HAMLET

A sincere plea from the king, who commands the respect of England, and who hopes that the love between the two countries can flourish, and that peace can join them in friendship—and other fancy mumbo jumbo like that—saying that, once they read this document, without any debate, the ones delivering the letter should be put to death immediately, without giving them time to confess to a priest.

HORATIO

How was this sealed?

HORATIO

But how could you put an official seal on it?