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The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

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Act V, Scene 1

Elsinore. A churchyard.


Enter two Clowns, [with spades and pickaxes].

  • First Clown. Is she to be buried in Christian burial when she wilfully seeks her own salvation?
  • Second Clown. I tell thee she is; therefore make her grave straight.
    The crowner hath sate on her, and finds it Christian burial. 3350
  • First Clown. How can that be, unless she drown'd herself in her own
  • First 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 3355
    act hath three branches-it is to act, to do, and to perform;
    argal, she drown'd herself wittingly.
  • First 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, 3360
    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.
  • First Clown. Ay, marry, is't- crowner's quest law. 3365
  • Second Clown. Will you ha' the truth an't? If this had not been a
    gentlewoman, she should have been buried out o' Christian burial.
  • First 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 3370
    ancient gentlemen but gard'ners, ditchers, and grave-makers. They
    hold up Adam's profession.
  • First 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-
  • First Clown. What is he that builds stronger than either the mason, the
    shipwright, or the carpenter?
  • Second Clown. The gallows-maker; for that frame outlives a thousand
  • First Clown. I like thy wit well, in good faith. The gallows does well. 3385
    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!
  • Second Clown. Who builds stronger than a mason, a shipwright, or a
    carpenter? 3390

Enter Hamlet and Horatio afar off.

  • First 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. 3400

[Exit Second Clown.]

[Clown digs and] sings.

  • First Clown. In youth when I did love, did love,
    Methought it was very sweet;
    To contract- O- the time for- a- my behove, 3405
    O, methought there- a- was nothing- a- meet.
  • Hamlet. Has this fellow no feeling of his business, that he sings at
  • Horatio. Custom hath made it in him a property of easiness.
  • Hamlet. 'Tis e'en so. The hand of little employment hath the daintier 3410
  • First Clown. [sings]
    But age with his stealing steps
    Hath clawed me in his clutch,
    And hath shipped me intil the land, 3415
    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, 3420
    which this ass now o'erreaches; one that would circumvent God,
    might it not?
  • 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 3425
    prais'd my Lord Such-a-one's horse when he meant to beg it- might
    it not?
  • 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, 3430
    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
  • First Clown. [Sings]
    A pickaxe and a spade, a spade, 3435
    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? 3440
    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 3445
    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 3450
    scarcely lie in this box; and must th' inheritor himself have no
    more, ha?
  • Hamlet. Is not parchment made of sheepskins?
  • Horatio. Ay, my lord, And of calveskins too. 3455
  • Hamlet. They are sheep and calves which seek out assurance in that. I
    will speak to this fellow. Whose grave's this, sirrah?
  • First Clown. Mine, sir.
    [Sings] O, a pit of clay for to be made
    For such a guest is meet. 3460
  • Hamlet. I think it be thine indeed, for thou liest in't.
  • First 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. 3465
  • First Clown. 'Tis a quick lie, sir; 'twill away again from me to you.
  • Hamlet. What man dost thou dig it for?
  • Hamlet. Who is to be buried in't?
  • First 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 3475
    of the peasant comes so near the heel of the courtier he galls
    his kibe.- How long hast thou been a grave-maker?
  • First 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? 3480
  • First 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?
  • First Clown. Why, because 'a was mad. 'A shall recover his wits there; 3485
    or, if 'a do not, 'tis no great matter there.
  • First Clown. 'Twill not he seen in him there. There the men are as mad as
  • First Clown. Why, here in Denmark. I have been sexton here, man and boy 3495
    thirty years.
  • Hamlet. How long will a man lie i' th' earth ere he rot?
  • First 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 3500
    you nine year.
  • Hamlet. Why he more than another?
  • First 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 3505
    you i' th' earth three-and-twenty years.
  • First Clown. A whoreson, mad fellow's it was. Whose do you think it was?
  • First Clown. A pestilence on him for a mad rogue! 'A pour'd a flagon of 3510
    Rhenish on my head once. This same skull, sir, was Yorick's
    skull, the King's jester.
  • Hamlet. Let me see. [Takes the skull.] Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, 3515
    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 3520
    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. 3525
  • Hamlet. Dost thou think Alexander look'd o' this fashion i' th' earth?

[Puts down the skull.]

  • 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. 3535
  • 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? 3540
    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- 3545
    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 3550
    Fordo it own life. 'Twas of some estate.
    Couch we awhile, and mark.

[Retires with Horatio.]

  • Hamlet. That is Laertes, 3555
    A very noble youth. Mark.
  • 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, 3560
    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 3565
    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 3570
    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 3575
    When thou liest howling.
  • Hamlet. What, the fair Ophelia?
  • Gertrude. Sweets to the sweet! Farewell.
    [Scatters flowers.]
    I hop'd thou shouldst have been my Hamlet's wife; 3580
    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 3585
    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 3590
    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 3595
    Like wonder-wounded hearers? This is I,
    Hamlet the Dane. [Leaps in after Laertes.]

[Grapples with him.]

  • Hamlet. Thou pray'st not well. 3600
    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!
  • All. Gentlemen!

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

  • Hamlet. Why, I will fight with him upon this theme 3610
    Until my eyelids will no longer wag.
  • 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? 3615
  • Gertrude. 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? 3620
    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, 3625
    Singeing his pate against the burning zone,
    Make Ossa like a wart! Nay, an thou'lt mouth,
    I'll rant as well as thou.
  • Gertrude. This is mere madness;
    And thus a while the fit will work on him. 3630
    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? 3635
    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.


  • Claudius. I pray thee, good Horatio, wait upon him. 3640
    [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. 3645
    An hour of quiet shortly shall we see;
    Till then in patience our proceeding be.