[SCENE I. A churchyard]

Enter two CLOWNS [with spades and pickaxes]

1. CLO. Is she to be buried in Christian burial that wilfully seeks her own salvation?

2. CLO. I tell thee she is, and therefore make her grave straight. The crowner〖Coroner.〗 hath sat on her, and finds it Christian burial.

1. CLO. How can that be, unless she drown’d herself in her own defence?

2. CLO. Why, ’tis found so.

1. CLO. It must be “se offendendo,”〖The clown’s mistake for “se defendendo.”〗 it cannot be else. For here lies the point: if I drown myself wittingly, it argues an act, and an act hath three branches; it is, to act, to do, and to perform; argal,〖Ergo, therefore.〗 she drown’d herself wittingly.

2. CLO. Nay, but hear you, goodman delver,—

1. CLO. Give me leave. Here lies the water; good. Here stands the man; good. If the man go to this water and drown himself, it is, will he, nill he, he goes,—mark you that? But if the water come to him and drown him, he drowns not himself; argal, he that is not guilty of his own death shortens not his own life.

2. CLO. But is this law?

1. CLO. Ay, marry, is ’t; crowner’s quest law.

2. CLO. Will you ha’ the truth on ’t? If this had not been a gentlewoman, she should have been buried out o’ Christian burial.

1. CLO. Why, there thou say’st; and the more pity that great folk should have countenance in this world to drown or hang themselves, more than their even Christian.〖Fellow-Christian.〗 Come, my spade. There is no ancient gentlemen but gardeners, ditchers, and grave-makers; they hold up Adam’s profession.

2. CLO. Was he a gentleman?

1. CLO. He was the first that ever bore arms.

2. CLO. Why, he had none.

1. CLO. What, art a heathen? How dost thou understand the Scripture? The Scripture says Adam digg’d; could he dig without arms? I’ll put another question to thee. If thou answerest me not to the purpose, confess thyself—

2. CLO. Go to.

1. CLO. What is he that builds stronger than either the mason, the shipwright, or the carpenter?

2. CLO. The gallows-maker; for that frame outlives a thousand tenants.

1. CLO. I like thy wit well, in good faith. The gallows does well; but how does it well? It does well to those that do ill. Now, thou dost ill to say the gallows is built stronger than the church, argal, the gallows may do well to thee. To ’t again, come.

2. CLO. “Who builds stronger than a mason, a shipwright, or a carpenter?”

1. CLO. Ay, tell me that, and unyoke.

2. CLO. Marry, now I can tell.

1. CLO. To ’t.

2. CLO. Mass, I cannot tell.

Enter HAMLET and HORATIO, afar off

1. CLO. Cudgel thy brains no more about it, for your dull ass will not mend his pace with beating; and, when you are ask’d this question next, say “a grave-maker”; the houses that he makes lasts till doomsday. Go, get thee to Yaughan; fetch me a stoup of liquor. [Exit 2. Clown.]

[He digs, and] sings.

“In youth, when I did love, did love,

Methought it was very sweet,

To contract, O, the time for-a my behove,

O, methought, there-a was nothing-a meet.”

HAM. Has this fellow no feeling of his business, that he sings at grave-making?

HOR. Custom hath made it in him a property of easiness.〖A function he performs easily.〗

HAM. ’Tis e’en so. The hand of little employment hath the daintier sense.

1. CLO. (Sings.)

“But age, with his stealing steps,

Hath claw’d me in his clutch,

And hath shipped me intil the land,

As if I had never been such.”

[Throws up a skull.]

HAM. That skull had a tongue in it, and could sing once. How the knave jowls〖Knocks.〗 it to the ground, as if it were Cain’s jaw-bone,〖The ass’s jawbone with which, according to legend, Cain slew Abel.〗 that did the first murder! It might be the pate of a politician, which this ass now o’erreaches; one that would circumvent God, might it not?

HOR. It might, my lord.

HAM. Or of a courtier, which could say, “Good morrow, sweet lord!

How dost thou, good lord?” This might be my lord such-a-one, that prais’d my lord such-a-one’s horse, when he meant to beg it; might it not?

HOR. Ay, my lord.

HAM. Why, e’en so; and now my Lady Worm’s; chapless, and knock’d about the mazzard〖Head.〗 with a sexton’s spade. Here’s fine revolution, if we had the trick to see’t. Did these bones cost no more the breeding, but to play at loggats〖A game played with little logs of wood.〗 with’em? Mine ache to think on ’t.

1. CLO. (Sings.)

“A pick-axe, and a spade, a spade,

For and a shrouding sheet;

O, a pit of clay for to be made

For such a guest is meet.”

[Throws up another skull.]

HAM. There’s another. Why might not that be the skull of a lawyer? Where be his quiddits〖Subtleties and fine distinctions.〗 now, his quillets,〖Subtleties and fine distinctions.〗 his cases, his tenures, and his tricks? Why does he suffer this rude knave now to knock him about the sconce〖Head.〗 with a dirty shovel, and will not tell him of his action of battery? Hum! This fellow might be in ’s time a great buyer of land, with his statutes, his recognizances, his fines, his double vouchers, his recoveries.〖Technical legal terms.〗 Is this the fine of his fines, and the recovery of his recoveries, to have his fine pate full of fine dirt? Will his vouchers vouch him no more of his purchases, and double ones too, than the length and breadth of a pair of indentures? The very conveyances of his lands will hardly lie in this box, and must the inheritor himself have no more, ha?

HOR. Not a jot more, my lord.

HAM. Is not parchment made of sheep-skins?

HOR. Ay, my lord, and of calf-skins too.

HAM. They are sheep and calves that seek out assurance in that. I will speak to this fellow. Whose grave ’s this, sir?

1. CLO. Mine, sir.

[Sings.]“O, a pit of clay for to be made

For such a guest is meet.”

HAM. I think it be thine indeed, for thou liest in ’t.

1. CLO. You lie out on ’t, sir, and therefore it is not yours.

For my part, I do not lie in ’t, and yet it is mine.

HAM. Thou dost lie in ’t, to be in ’t and say ’tis thine. ’Tis for the dead, not for the quick, therefore thou liest.

1. CLO. ’Tis a quick〖Living.〗 lie, sir; ’twill away again, from me to you.

HAM. What man dost thou dig it for?

1. CLO. For no man, sir.

HAM. What woman, then?

1. CLO. For none, neither.

HAM. Who is to be buried in ’t?

1. CLO. One that was a woman, sir; but, rest her soul, she’s dead.

HAM. How absolute the knave is! We must speak by the card, or equivocation will undo us. By the Lord, Horatio, these three years I have taken note of it; the age is grown so picked〖Smart.〗 that the toe of the peasant comes so near the heels of our courtier, he galls his kibe.〖Chilblain.〗 How long hast thou been a grave-maker?

1. CLO. Of all the days i’ the year, I came to ’t that day that our last king Hamlet o’ercame Fortinbras.

HAM. How long is that since?

1. CLO. Cannot you tell that? Every fool can tell that. It was the very day that young Hamlet was born; he that was mad, and sent into England.

HAM. Ay, marry, why was he sent into England?

1. CLO. Why, because ’a was mad. He shall recover his wits there; or, if he do not, it’s no great matter there.

HAM. Why?

1. CLO. Twill not be seen in him there; there the men are as mad as he.

HAM. How came he mad?

1. CLO. Very strangely, they say.

HAM. How “strangely”?

1. CLO. Faith, e’en with losing his wits.

HAM. Upon what ground?

1. CLO. Why, here in Denmark. I have been sexton here, man and boy, thirty years.

HAM. How long will a man lie i’ the earth ere he rot?

1. CLO. I’ faith, if he be not rotten before he die—as we have many pocky corses now-a-days, that will scarce hold the laying in—he will last you some eight year or nine year. A tanner will last you nine year.

HAM. Why he more than another?

1. CLO. Why, sir, his hide is so tann’d with his trade that he will keep out water a great while, and your water is a sore decayer of your whoreson dead body. Here’s a skull now; this skull has lain in the earth three and twenty years.

HAM. Whose was it?

1. CLO. A whoreson mad fellow’s it was. Whose do you think it was?

HAM. Nay, I know not.

1. CLO. A pestilence on him for a mad rogue! ’A pour’d a flagon of Rhenish on my head once. This same skull, sir, was Yorick’s skull, the King’s jester.

HAM. This?

1. CLO. E’en that.

HAM. Let me see. [Takes the skull.] Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio; a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. He hath borne me on his back a thousand times. And now how abhorred in my imagination it is! My gorge rises at it. Here hung those lips that I have kiss’d I know not how oft. Where be your gibes now, your gambols, your songs, your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one now, to mock your own grinning?

Quite chopfallen? Now get you to my lady’s chamber, and tell her, let her paint an inch thick, to this favour she must come. Make her laugh at that. Prithee, Horatio, tell me one thing.

HOR. What ’s that, my lord?

HAM. Dost thou think Alexander look’d o’ this fashion i’ the earth?

HOR. E’en so.

HAM. And smelt so? Pah! [Puts down the skull.]

HOR. E’en so, my lord.

HAM. To what base uses we may return, Horatio! Why may not imagination trace the noble dust of Alexander, till he find it stopping a bung-hole?

HOR. ”Twere to consider too curiously, to consider so.

HAM. No, faith, not a jot; but to follow him thither with modesty〖Moderation.〗 enough and likelihood to lead it; as thus: Alexander died, Alexander was buried, Alexander returneth into dust, the dust is earth, of earth we make loam, and why of that loam whereto he was converted might they not stop a beer-barrel?

Imperial Cæsar, dead and turn’d to clay,

Might stop a hole to keep the wind away.

O, that that earth, which kept the world in awe,

Should patch a wall to expel the winter’s flaw!〖Gust.〗

But soft! but soft! Aside! Here comes the King,

Enter [Priests, etc., in procession;] KING, QUEEN, LAERTES,

and a Coffin, with Lords attendant

The Queen, the courtiers. Who is that they follow?

And with such maimed rites? This doth betoken

The corse they follow did with desperate hand

Fordo〖Destroy.〗 it〖Its.〗 own life. ’Twas of some estate.

Couch we a while, and mark. [Retiring with HORATIO.]

LAER. What ceremony else?

HAM. That is Laertes, a very noble youth. Mark.

LAER. What ceremony else?

PRIEST. Her obsequies have been as far enlarg’d

As we have warrantise. Her death was doubtful;

And, but that great command o’ersways the order,

She should in ground unsanctified have lodg’d

Till the last trumpet; for charitable prayer,

Shards,〖Potsherds.〗 flints, and pebbles should be thrown on her.

Yet here she is allowed her virgin rites,

Her maiden strewments,〖Strewing with flowers.〗 and the bringing home

Of bell and burial.

LAER. Must there no more be done?

PRIEST. No more be done.

We should profane the service of the dead

To sing such requiem and such rest to her

As to peace-parted souls.

LAER. Lay her i’ the earth,

And from her fair and unpolluted flesh

May violets spring! I tell thee, churlish priest

A minist’ring angel shall my sister be,

When thou liest howling.

HAM. What, the fair Ophelia!

QUEEN. Sweets to the sweet; farewell! [Scattering flowers.]

I hop’d thou shouldst have been my Hamlet’s wife.

I thought thy bride-bed to have deck’d, sweet maid,

And not to have strew’d thy grave.

LAER. O, treble woe

Fall ten times treble on that cursed head

Whose wicked deed thy most ingenious sense

Depriv’d thee of! Hold off the earth a while,

Till I have caught her once more in mine arms.

Leaps in the grave.

Now pile your dust upon the quick and dead,

Till of this flat a mountain you have made

To o’ertop old Pelion, or the skyish head

Of blue Olympus.

HAM. [Advancing.] What is he whose grief

Bears such an emphasis, whose phrase of sorrow

Conjures the wand’ring stars and makes them stand

Like wonder-wounded hearers? This is I,

Hamlet, the Dane! [Leaps into the grave.]

LAER. The devil take thy soul! [Grappling with him.]

HAM. Thou pray’st not well.

I prithee, take thy fingers from my throat,

For, though I am not splenitive〖Easily angry.〗 and rash,

Yet have I something in me dangerous,

Which let thy wiseness fear. Away thy hand!

KING. Pluck them asunder.

QUEEN. Hamlet, Hamlet!


HOR.] Good my lord, be quiet.

[The Attendants part them, and they

come out of the grave.]

HAM. Why, I will fight with him upon this theme

Until my eyelids will no longer wag.

QUEEN. O my son, what theme?

HAM. I lov’d Ophelia. Forty thousand brothers

Could not, with all their quantity of love,

Make up my sum. What wilt thou do for her?

KING. O, he is mad, Laertes.

QUEEN. For love of God, forbear him.

HAM. [’Swounds,] show me what thou ’lt do.

Woo ’t〖Wouldst thou.〗 weep? Woo ’t fight? [Woo ’t fast?] Woo ’t tear thyself?

Woo ’t drink up eisel?〖Vinegar.〗 Eat a crocodile?

I’ll do ’t. Dost thou come here to whine?

To outface me with leaping in her grave?

Be buried quick with her, and so will I;

And, if thou prate of mountains, let them throw

Millions of acres on us, till our ground,

Singeing his pate against the burning zone,

Make Ossa like a wart! Nay, an thou ’lt mouth,

I’ll rant as well as thou.

[QUEEN. ] This is mere madness,

And thus a while the fit will work on him.

Anon, as patient as the female dove,

When that her golden couplets〖Pair of young doves.〗 are disclos’d,

His silence will sit drooping.

HAM. Hear you, sir,

What is the reason that you use me thus?

I lov’d you ever. But it is no matter.

Let Hercules himself do what he may,

The cat will mew and dog will have his day. Exit.

KING. I pray you, good Horatio, wait upon him.


[To LAERTES.] Strengthen your patience in our last night’s speech;

We’ll put the matter to the present push.〖Immediate operation.〗

Good Gertrude, set some watch over your son.

This grave shall have a living monument.

An hour of quiet shortly shall we see;

Till then, in patience our proceeding be. Exeunt. 

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