Act 5, Scene 1

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[Enter two Gravediggers with spades and picks.]

First Gravedigger

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

Second Gravedigger

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

First Gravedigger 

How can that be, unless she drowned herself in her own 
defense?

Second Gravedigger

Why, 'tis found so.

First Gravedigger 

It must be so 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 an act, to do, and to
perform. Argal, she drowned herself wittingly.    

Second Gravedigger

Nay, but hear you, goodman delver ...

First Gravedigger

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. 

Second Gravedigger   

But is this law?

First Gravedigger

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

Second Gravedigger

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

First Gravedigger

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 gravemakers. They
hold up Adam's profession.

Second Gravedigger   

Was he a gentleman?

First Gravedigger   

He was the first that ever bore arms.

Second Gravedigger   

Why, he had none.

First Gravedigger 

Why, art a heathen? How dost thou understand the
Scripture? The Scripture says Adam digged. Could    
he dig without arms? I'll put another question to thee.
If thou answerest me not to the purpose, confess thyself.    

Second Gravedigger   

Go to.

First Gravedigger

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

Second Gravedigger

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

First Gravedigger

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.

Second Gravedigger

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

First Gravedigger   

Ay, tell me that, and unyoke.    

Second Gravedigger   

Marry, now I can tell.

First Gravedigger   

To't.

Second Gravedigger   

Mass, I cannot tell.
[Enter Hamlet and Horatio afar off.]

First Gravedigger

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 lasts till doomsday. Go, get thee to
Yaughan, fetch me a stoup of liquor.
[Exit Second Gravedigger. The First Gravedigger digs and sings.]
In youth when I did love, did love, 
Methought it was very sweet
To contract...uh...the time for...uh...my behove,
Oh, methought there...uh...was nothing...uh...meet.

Hamlet

Has this fellow no feeling of his business, that he 
sings at gravemaking?

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.

First Gravedigger   

[Sings]
But age with his stealing steps 
Hath caught me in his clutch,
And hath shipped me into the land,
As if I had never been such.
[He throws up a skull.]

Hamlet

That skull had a tongue in it and could sing once. 
How the knave jowls it to th' ground, as if it were Cain's
jawbone, that did the first murder! It might be the pate of
a politician, which this ass now o'er-offices, 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, sweet 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?

Horatio   

Ay, my lord.

Hamlet

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, if 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.

First Gravedigger   

[Sings.]
A pickax and a spade, a spade, 
For and a shrouding sheet;
Oh, a pit of clay for to be made
For such a guest is meet.
[He 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 hardly 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 calves' skins too.

Hamlet

They are sheep and calves which seek out assurance in that.     
I will speak to this fellow.
[To First Gravedigger] Whose grave's this, sir?

First Gravedigger

Mine, sir.
[Sings.]
Oh, 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.

First Gravedigger

You lie out on't, sir, and therefore 'tis not yours. 
For my part, I do not “lie” in't, and 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.

First Gravedigger

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

Hamlet   

What man dost thou dig it for?

First Gravedigger   

For no man, sir.

Hamlet   

What woman, then?

First Gravedigger   

For none, neither.

Hamlet   

Who is to be buried in't?

First Gravedigger

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

Hamlet

[To Horatio] 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
heels of the courtier he galls his kibe.     
[To First Gravedigger] How long hast thou been grave-maker?

First Gravedigger

Of all the days i'th' year, I came to't that day that our
last King Hamlet o'ercame Fortinbras.

Hamlet   

How long is that since?

First Gravedigger

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.

Hamlet

Ay, marry, why was he sent into England?

First Gravedigger

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

Hamlet   

Why?

First Gravedigger

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

Hamlet

How came he mad?

First Gravedigger   

Very strangely, they say.

Hamlet   

How, strangely?

First Gravedigger   

Faith, e'en with losing his wits.

Hamlet   

Upon what ground?    

First Gravedigger

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? 

First Gravedigger

Faith, if he be not rotten before 'a die — as we have many
pocky corpses that will scarce hold the laying in — he
will last you some eight year, or nine year. A tanner will 
last you nine year.

Hamlet   

Why he more than another?

First Gravedigger

Why, sir, his hide is so tanned 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.
[He picks up a skull.] 
This skull hath lain i'th' earth three-and-twenty years.

Hamlet   

Whose was it?

First Gravedigger

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

Hamlet   

Nay, I know not.

First Gravedigger

A pestilence on him for a mad rogue! 
'A poured a flagon of Rhenish on my head once. 
This same skull, sir, was Yorick's skull, the king's jester.

Hamlet   

This?

First Gravedigger  

E'en that.

Hamlet

Let me see. 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 abhorred in my imagination it is! My gorge rises
at it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed 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? No 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.

Horatio   

What's that, my lord? 

Hamlet

Dost thou think Alexander looked of this fashion i'th' earth?

Horatio   

E'en so.

Hamlet   

And smelt so? Pah!

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 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 turned to clay, 
Might stop a hole to keep the wind away.
Oh, that that earth which kept the world in awe
Should patch a wall t'expel the winter's flaw!
But soft, but soft, aside! 
[Enter King, Queen, Laertes, a Priest, and a coffin with Lords Attendant]
                                      Here comes the king, 
The queen, the courtiers. Who is that they follow,
And with such maimèd rites? This doth betoken,
The corpse they follow did with desperate hand
Fordo it own life. 'Twas some estate.
Couch we awhile and mark.
[Hamlet and Horatio conceal themselves.]

Laertes

What ceremony else

Hamlet

That is Laertes, a very noble youth. Mark.

Laertes   

What ceremony else?

Priest

Her obsequies have been as far enlarged
As we have warranty. Her death was doubtful,
And, but that great command o'ersways the order,
She should in ground unsanctified been lodged
Till the last trumpet. For charitable prayers,
Shards, flints, and pebbles should be thrown on her.
Yet here she is, allowed 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 sage 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!

Gertrude

[Scattering flowers]
Sweets to the sweet. Farewell. 
I hoped thou shouldst have been my Hamlet's wife.
I thought thy bride-bed to have decked, sweet maid,
And not have strewed thy grave.

Laertes

                                                      Oh, terrible woe 
Fall ten times treble on that cursèd head,
Whose wicked deed thy most ingenious sense
Deprived 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
To o'ertop old Pelion, or the skyish head
Of blue Olympus.

Hamlet   

[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 into the grave and starts grappling with Laertes.]

Laertes   

The devil take thy soul!

Hamlet

                                        Thou pray'st not well! 
I prithee, take thy fingers from my throat.
Sir, though I am not splenitive and rash,
Yet have I in me something dangerous,
Which let thy wiseness fear. Away thy hand!

Claudius   

Pluck them asunder.

Gertrude

Hamlet, Hamlet! 

Horatio

                             Good my lord, be quiet!
[Hamlet and Horatio are separated.]

Hamlet

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

Gertrude   

Oh, my son, what theme?

Hamlet

I loved Ophelia. Forty thousand brothers
Could not with all their quantity of love
Make up my sum. What wilt thou do for her?

Claudius   

Oh, he is mad, Laertes.

Gertrude  

               [To Claudius]  For love of God, 
forbear him.

Hamlet

                         Come, show me what thou'lt do. 
Woo't weep? Woo't fight? Woo't tear thyself?
Woo't drink up eisil? 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.

Claudius

                                       This is mere madness, 
And thus awhile 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.

Hamlet

                                                  Hear you, sir,
What is the reason that you use me thus?
I loved 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.]

Claudius

I pray thee, good Horatio, wait upon him. 
[Exit Horatio.] 
[Aside to Laertes] Strengthen your patience in our last night's speech.
We'll put the matter to the present push.
[Aloud] Good Gertrude, set some watch over your son. 
This grave shall have a living monument.    
An hour of quiet thereby shall we see. 
Tell then, in patience our proceeding be.
[Exit.]