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Hamlet :: Scenes :: Hamlet: Act V, Scene 1

Scene 1

Elsinore. A churchyard.

(First Clown; Second Clown; Hamlet; Horatio; King; Queen; Laertes; Doctor of Divinity; Lords; Attendants)

Two gravediggers prepare a spot for Ophelia, though they think it wrong that a suspected suicide be given Christian burial. They suspect that it is only because she was upper-class that this is happening. Hamlet and Horatio come in as the gravedigger tosses out of bones and skulls from the grave as he makes room for the new arrival. Talking with the man, he discovers that he is holding the skull of his father’s jester Yorick, a great favorite of his when he was a child. He contemplates how everyone will end up looking no prettier than that skull. The King and Queen enter with the funeral procession and a cranky priest who is only given Ophelia burial rites because of the direct orders he has received; believing her a suicide he does not think she should have any. Hamlet realizes from what Laertes says that it is Ophelia who is being buried. The Queen reveals her wish that Ophelia might have married Hamlet. When Laertes jumps into the grave in grief, Hamlet springs up and then joins him, and the two fight over who loved her most. Claudius tells Horatio to keep Hamlet calm, and tells Laertes to remember that he’ll be able to get back at Hamlet soon. ( line)

Enter two Clowns with spades and mattocks.

1. CLO.

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

2. CLO.

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

1. CLO.

How can that be, unless she drown’d herself in her own defense?

2. CLO.

Why, ’tis found so.

1. CLO.

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, to perform; argal, 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 an’t? If this had not been a gentlewoman, she should have been buried out a’ Christian burial.

1. CLO.

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-Christen. Come, my spade. There is no ancient gentlemen but gard’ners, ditchers, and grave-makers; they hold up Adam’s profession.

2. CLO.

Was he a gentleman?

1. CLO.

’A 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 he makes lasts till doomsday. Go get thee in, and fetch me a sup of liquor.

Exit Second Clown. First Clown digs.

Song.

“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? ’A sings in grave-making.

HOR.

Custom hath made it in him a property of easiness.

HAM.

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

1. CLO.

Song.

“But age with his stealing steps

Hath clawed me in his clutch,

And hath shipped me into the land,

As if I had never been such.”

Throws up a shovelful of earth with a skull in it.

HAM.

That skull had a tongue in it, and could sing once. How the knave jowls it to the ground, as if ’twere Cain’s jaw-bone, that did the first murder! This 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, sweet lord?” This might be my Lord Such-a-one, that prais’d my Lord Such-a-one’s horse when ’a meant to beg it, might it not?

HOR.

Ay, my lord.

HAM.

Why, e’en so, and now my Lady Worm’s, chopless, 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 loggats with them? Mine ache to think on’t.

1. CLO.

Song.

“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.

HAM.

There’s another. Why may not that be the skull of a lawyer? Where be his quiddities now, his quillities, his cases, his tenures, and his tricks? Why does he suffer this mad 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?

HOR.

Not a jot more, my lord.

HAM.

Is not parchment made of sheep-skins?

HOR.

Ay, my lord, and of calves’-skins too.

HAM.

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

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 ’tis not yours; for my part, I do not lie in’t, yet it is mine.

HAM.

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.

1. CLO.

’Tis a quick 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, this three years I have took note of it: the age is grown so pick’d that the toe of the peasant comes so near the heel of the courtier, he galls his kibe. How long hast thou been grave-maker?

1. CLO.

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

HAM.

How long is that since?

1. CLO.

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

HAM.

Ay, marry, why was he sent into England?

1. CLO.

Why, because ’a was mad. ’A shall recover his wits there, or if ’a do not, ’tis 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’ th’ earth ere he rot?

1. CLO.

Faith, if ’a be not rotten before ’a die—as we have many pocky corses, that will scarce hold the laying in—’a 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 ’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 hath lien you i’ th’ 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, sir, Yorick’s skull, the King’s jester.

HAM.

This?

Takes the skull.

1. CLO.

E’en that.

HAM.

Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio, a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. He hath bore me on his back a thousand times, and now how abhorr’d 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 chop-fall’n. Now get you to my lady’s chamber, and tell her, let her paint an inch thick, to this favor 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 a’ this fashion i’ th’ 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 ’a find it stopping a bunghole?

HOR.

’Twere to consider too curiously, to consider so.

HAM.

No, faith, not a jot, but to follow him thither with modesty enough and likelihood to lead it: Alexander died, Alexander was buried, Alexander returneth to 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 awhile, here comes the king.

Enter King, Queen, Laertes, and a Doctor of Divinity, following the corpse, 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

Foredo it 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?

DOCTOR.

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 been 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 crants,

Her maiden strewments, and the bringing home

Of bell and burial.

LAER.

Must there no more be done?

DOCTOR.

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.

LAER.

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.

HAM.

What, the fair Ophelia!

QUEEN.

Scattering flowers.

Sweets to the sweet, farewell!

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.

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

T’ o’ertop old Pelion, or the skyish head

Of blue Olympus.

HAM.

Coming 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!

Hamlet leaps in after Laertes.

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 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!

PALL.

Gentlemen!

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’t do.

Woo’t weep, woo’t fight, woo’t fast, woo’t tear thyself?

Woo’t drink up eisel, eat a crocadile?

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, and 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 disclosed,

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 Hamlet.

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.

 
 
 
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