ACT V
Scene 1
 

Elsinore. A churchyard.

Enter two Clowns, [with spades and pickaxes].

CLOWN
Is she to be buried in Christian burial when she wilfully
seeks her own salvation?

OTHER
I tell thee she is; therefore make her grave straight.
The crowner hath sate on her, and finds it Christian burial.

CLOWN
How can that be, unless she drown'd herself in her own
defence?

OTHER
Why, 'tis found so.

CLOWN
It must be se offendendo; 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, she drown'd herself wittingly.

OTHER
Nay, but hear you, Goodman Delver!

CLOWN
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.

OTHER
But is this law?

CLOWN
Ay, marry, is't- crowner's quest law.

OTHER
Will you ha' the truth an't? If this had not been a
gentlewoman, she should have been buried out o' Christian burial.

CLOWN
Why, there thou say'st! And the more pity that great folk
should have count'nance in this world to drown or hang themselves
more than their even-Christian. Come, my spade! There is no
ancient gentlemen but gard'ners, ditchers, and grave-makers. They
hold up Adam's profession.

OTHER
Was he a gentleman?

CLOWN
'A was the first that ever bore arms.

OTHER
Why, he had none.

CLOWN
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-

OTHER
Go to!

CLOWN
What is he that builds stronger than either the mason, the
shipwright, or the carpenter?

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

CLOWN
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!

OTHER
Who builds stronger than a mason, a shipwright, or a
carpenter?

CLOWN
Ay, tell me that, and unyoke.

OTHER
Marry, now I can tell!

CLOWN
To't.

OTHER
Mass, I cannot tell.

Enter Hamlet and Horatio afar off.

CLOWN
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 he makes lasts
till doomsday. Go, get thee to Yaughan; fetch me a stoup of
liquor.

[Exit Second Clown.]

[Clown 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.

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

HORATIO
Custom hath made it in him a property of easiness.

HAMLET
'Tis e'en so. The hand of little employment hath the daintier
sense.

CLOWN
(sings)
But age with his stealing steps
Hath clawed me in his clutch,
And hath shipped me intil the land,
As if I had never been such.

[Throws up a skull.]


HAMLET
That skull had a tongue in it, and could sing once. How the
knave jowls it to the ground,as if 'twere Cain's jawbone, that
did the first murther! This might be the pate of a Politician,
which this ass now o'erreaches; one that would circumvent God,
might it not?

HORATIO
It might, my lord.

HAMLET
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?

HORATIO
Ay, my lord.

HAMLET
Why, e'en so! and now my Lady Worm's, chapless, and knock'd
about the mazzard with a sexton's spade. Here's fine revolution,
and we had the trick to see't. Did these bones cost no more the
breeding but to play at loggets with 'em? Mine ache to think
on't.

CLOWN
(Sings)
A pickaxe 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].

HAMLET
There's another. Why may not that be the skull of a lawyer?
Where be his quiddits now, his quillets, his cases, his tenures,
and his tricks? Why does he suffer this rude knave now to knock
him about the sconce 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. 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
scarcely lie in this box; and must th' inheritor himself have no
more, ha?

HORATIO
Not a jot more, my lord.

HAMLET
Is not parchment made of sheepskins?

HORATIO
Ay, my lord, And of calveskins too.

HAMLET
They are sheep and calves which seek out assurance in that. I
will speak to this fellow. Whose grave's this, sirrah?

CLOWN
Mine, sir.

[Sings] O, a pit of clay for to be made
For such a guest is meet.

HAMLET
I think it be thine indeed, for thou liest in't.

CLOWN
You lie out on't, sir, and therefore 'tis not yours.
For my part, I do not lie in't, yet it is mine.

HAMLET
Thou dost lie in't, to be in't and say it is thine. 'Tis for
the dead, not for the quick; therefore thou liest.

CLOWN
'Tis a quick lie, sir; 'twill away again from me to you.

HAMLET
What man dost thou dig it for?

CLOWN
For no man, sir.

HAMLET
What woman then?

CLOWN
For none neither.

HAMLET
Who is to be buried in't?

CLOWN
One that was a woman, sir; but, rest her soul, she's dead.

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

CLOWN
Of all the days i' th' year, I came to't that day that our
last king Hamlet overcame Fortinbras.

HAMLET
How long is that since?

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

HAMLET
Ay, marry, why was be sent into England?

CLOWN
Why, because 'a was mad. 'A shall recover his wits there;
or, if 'a do not, 'tis no great matter there.

HAMLET
Why?

CLOWN
'Twill not he seen in him there. There the men are as mad as
he.

HAMLET
How came he mad?

CLOWN
Very strangely, they say.

HAMLET
How strangely?

CLOWN
Faith, e'en with losing his wits.

HAMLET
Upon what ground?

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

HAMLET
How long will a man lie i' th' earth ere he rot?

CLOWN
Faith, if 'a be not rotten before 'a die (as we have many
pocky corses now-a-days that will scarce hold the laying in, I
will last you some eight year or nine year. A tanner will last
you nine year.

HAMLET
Why he more than another?

CLOWN
Why, sir, his hide is so tann'd with his trade that 'a 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 hath lien
you i' th' earth three-and-twenty years.

HAMLET
Whose was it?

CLOWN
A whoreson, mad fellow's it was. Whose do you think it was?

HAMLET
Nay, I know not.

CLOWN
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.

HAMLET
This?

CLOWN
E'en that.

HAMLET
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 chap- fall'n? 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.

HORATIO
What's that, my lord?

HAMLET
Dost thou think Alexander look'd o' this fashion i' th' earth?

HORATIO
E'en so.

HAMLET
And smelt so? Pah!

[Puts down the skull.]

HORATIO
E'en so, my lord.

HAMLET
To what base uses we may return, Horatio! Why may not
imagination trace the noble dust of Alexander till he find it
stopping a bunghole?

HORATIO
'Twere to consider too curiously, to consider so.

HAMLET
No, faith, not a jot; but to follow him thither with modesty
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?
Imperious Caesar, 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 t' expel the winter's flaw!
But soft! but soft! aside! Here comes the King-

Enter [priests with] a coffin [in funeral procession], King, Queen, Laertes, with Lords attendant.]

The Queen, the courtiers. Who is this they follow?
And with such maimed rites? This doth betoken
The corse they follow did with desp'rate hand
Fordo it own life. 'Twas of some estate.
Couch we awhile, and mark.

[Retires with Horatio.]

LAERTES
What ceremony else?

HAMLET
That is Laertes,
A very noble youth. Mark.

LAERTES
What ceremony else?

PRIEST
Her obsequies have been as far enlarg'd
As we have warranty. 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 prayers,
Shards, flints, and pebbles should be thrown on her.
Yet here she is allow'd her virgin rites,
Her maiden strewments, and the bringing home
Of bell and burial.

LAERTES
Must there no more be done?

PRIEST
No more be done.
We should profane the service of the dead
To sing a requiem and such rest to her
As to peace-parted souls.

LAERTES
Lay her i' th' 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.

HAMLET
What, the fair Ophelia?

QUEEN
Sweets to the sweet! Farewell.

[Scatters 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 have strew'd thy grave.

LAERTES
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 awhile,
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
T' o'ertop old Pelion or the skyish head
Of blue Olympus.

HAMLET

[comes forward] 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 in after Laertes.]

LAERTES
The devil take thy soul!

[Grapples with him].

HAMLET
Thou pray'st not well.
I prithee take thy fingers from my throat;
For, though I am not splenitive and rash,
Yet have I in me something dangerous,
Which let thy wisdom fear. Hold off thy hand!

KING
Pluck them asunder.

QUEEN
Hamlet, Hamlet!

ALL
Gentlemen!

HORATIO
Good my lord, be quiet.

[The Attendants part them, and they come out of the grave.]

HAMLET
Why, I will fight with him upon this theme
Until my eyelids will no longer wag.

QUEEN
O my son, what theme?

HAMLET
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!

HAMLET
'Swounds, show me what thou't do.
Woo't weep? woo't fight? woo't fast? woo't tear thyself?
Woo't drink up esill? 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 are disclos'd,
His silence will sit drooping.

HAMLET
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 thee, good Horatio, wait upon him.

Exit Horatio.

[To Laertes] Strengthen your patience in our last night's speech.
We'll put the matter to the present push.-
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.