HAMLET ACT V. Scene I.
[Enter two Clowns, with spades, &c.]
Is she to be buried in Christian burial when she wilfully
seeks her own salvation?
I tell thee she is; and therefore make her grave straight: the
crowner hath sat on her, and finds it Christian burial.
How can that be, unless she drowned herself in her own defence?
Why, 'tis found so.
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 drowned herself wittingly.
Nay, but hear you, goodman delver,--
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.
But is this law?
Ay, marry, is't--crowner's quest law.
Will you ha' the truth on't? If this had not been a
gentlewoman, she should have been buried out o' Christian burial.
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.--Come, my spade. There is no
ancient gentlemen but gardeners, ditchers, and grave-makers: they
hold up Adam's profession.
Was he a gentleman?
He was the first that ever bore arms.
Why, he had none.
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,--
What is he that builds stronger than either the mason, the
shipwright, or the carpenter?
The gallows-maker; for that frame outlives a thousand tenants.
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.
Who builds stronger than a mason, a shipwright, or a carpenter?
Ay, tell me that, and unyoke.
Marry, now I can tell.
Mass, I cannot tell.
[Enter Hamlet and Horatio, at a distance.]
Cudgel thy brains no more about it, for your dull ass will
not mend his pace with beating; and when you are asked this
question next, say 'a grave-maker;' the houses he makes last
till doomsday. Go, get thee to Yaughan; fetch me a stoup of
[Exit Second Clown.]
[Digs and sings.]
In youth when I did love, did love,
Methought it was very sweet;
To contract, O, the time for, ah, my behove,
O, methought there was nothing meet.
Has this fellow no feeling of his business, that he sings at
Custom hath made it in him a property of easiness.
'Tis e'en so: the hand of little employment hath the daintier
But age, with his stealing steps,
Hath claw'd me in his clutch,
And hath shipp'd me into the land,
As if I had never been such.
[Throws up a skull.]
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 murder! This might be the pate of a politician,
which this ass now o'erreaches; one that would circumvent God,
might it not?
It might, my lord.
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
praised my lord such-a-one's horse when he meant to beg
it,--might it not?
Ay, my lord.
Why, e'en so: and now my Lady Worm's; chapless, and knocked
about the mazard with a sexton's spade: here's fine revolution,
an 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
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].
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 the inheritor himself have no
Not a jot more, my lord.
Is not parchment made of sheep-skins?
Ay, my lord, And of calf-skins too.
They are sheep and calves which seek out assurance in that. I
will speak to this fellow.--Whose grave's this, sir?
O, a pit of clay for to be made
For such a guest is meet.
I think it be thine indeed, for thou liest in't.
You lie out on't, sir, and therefore 'tis not yours: for my part,
I do not lie in't, yet it is mine.
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.
'Tis a quick lie, sir; 't will away again from me to you.
What man dost thou dig it for?
For no man, sir.
What woman then?
For none neither.
Who is to be buried in't?
One that was a woman, sir; but, rest her soul, she's dead.
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 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?
Of all the days i' the year, I came to't that day that our
last King Hamlet overcame Fortinbras.
How long is that since?
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
Ay, marry, why was be sent into England?
Why, because he was mad: he shall recover his wits there;
or, if he do not, it's no great matter there.
'Twill not he seen in him there; there the men are as mad as he.
How came he mad?
Very strangely, they say.
Faith, e'en with losing his wits.
Upon what ground?
Why, here in Denmark: I have been sexton here, man and boy,
How long will a man lie i' the earth ere he rot?
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.
Why he more than another?
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 hath lain
in the earth three-and-twenty years.
Whose was it?
A whoreson, mad fellow's it was: whose do you think it was?
Nay, I know not.
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.
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-fallen? 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.--Pr'ythee, Horatio,
tell me one thing.
What's that, my lord?
Dost thou think Alexander looked o' this fashion i' the earth?
And smelt so? Pah!
[Throws down the skull.]
E'en so, my lord.
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?
'Twere to consider too curiously to consider so.
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 to expel the winter's flaw!
But soft! but soft! aside!--Here comes the king.