[This petit rien is for Dark Dianora.]
Translator's Note: The author of this account obviously knew Shakespeare's play, for the manuscript occasionally contains phrases which are literal translations from Hamlet into Danish. While I have made no attempt to translate this document into Elizabethan English, I do retain Shakespeare's wording in the quotations (which are otherwise unmarked). -- Harald Berg.
'Tis I, Hamlet the Dane, or, if you prefer, Hamlet the second of the name to rule Denmark. The upstart Englander with the masturbatory surname rewrote the history of my country, perhaps to satisfy his royal mistress's taste for gory tragedies. I write this brief narrative to set the record straight.
It is ironic, I think, that, despite the many raids my countrymen made into England and our more or less successful colonization of the Danelaw for centuries, a play about my family and our royal court should first come to mind when many Englanders think of Denmark.
To give the English actor his due, he was correct when he wrote that the villainous Claudius most foully murdered my revered father. He even managed to find out how I used the "mousetrap" to verify the usurper's guilt. He does not adequately suggest, however, the extent to which my beautiful Italian friend Horatio helped me as, once sure of Claudius's guilt, we publicly confronted him, extracted a confession, and dispatched him. As readers of the play may recall, Horatio and I had met while at the University in Wittenberg. A typical prudish Englishman, apparently, the playwright only hints that Horatio and I may have been lovers. Which we most assuredly are.
When he heard of Claudius's demise and my accession to the throne, the noble Laertes returned to Elsinore to pay homage to his new liege. That he also wanted to assure himself of the well being of his father and sister does him great credit. He was much relieved to find that both held honored positions in the royal household. It was Horatio, his dark eyes sparkling, who suggested how we might reward Laertes for his loyalty. The three of us partook of the royal rouse. I must say, however, that I have discontinued the sounding of drum and trumpet every time I down a quaff of Rhenish. A silly custom, more honored in the breach than the observance. Later we withdrew to the royal chambers. The next day Laertes set out for Paris a happy man. It's as well he was traveling by ship, however, for he might have found sitting a steed painful for some days. I must say that he entered into his duties as royal brother-in-law elect with vigour, nay abandon, and he has continued on the completion of his studies to perform them with a fervour tempered only by his admirable discretion.
After my accession I permitted the venerable Polonius to retire (with all due honours, to be sure). Again it was Horatio who suggested that the old man would be pleased if he were asked to write his memoirs, or perhaps catalogue his advice to young people. With an endless supply of pens, ink, and foolscap, the old man is now happily removed from affairs of state as he expounds endlessly - but harmlessly - on everything under the heavens.
Polonius's daughter and I were married amidst national rejoicing a few months after my coronation. As Horatio has said, two royal events are better than one. Nine months after the union was consummated Ophelia presented me with the royal brat who will someday reign as Edvard, King of the Danes. My queen has blossomed with motherhood. As her figure has taken on substance she has grown to be less the ingénue, more the regal woman. She spends her days happily with her ladies. She and the dowager queen Gertrude dote on the prince. He has, I fear, been allowed too much time with the women. I shall soon have to see that the boy is provided with some royal playmates of his own age - and sex.
A propos of youthful friends, I most emphatically deny that I caused anything evil to happen to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, as they would attest if they were here at court rather than living together in France, where, according to my spies, they entertain only the most desirable of noble young Frenchmen in their chateau.
As for me, I have no plans to shuffle off this mortal coil. I do what I can to ensure the peace and stability of the realm and the happiness of my subjects. I retire to my chamber each night with Lord Horatio, whom I continue to wear in my heart's core, in my heart of heart. He demonstrates his devotion in myriad ways, always leaving me a well-contented monarch as he says, "Good night, sweet Prince."