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  • Title: Hamlet (Modern, Folio)
  • Editor: David Bevington
  • ISBN: 978-1-55058-434-9

    Copyright David Bevington. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: David Bevington
    Not Peer Reviewed

    Hamlet (Modern, Folio)

    Enter two Clowns [with spades and mattocks].
    Is she to be buried in Christian burial, that willfully seeks her own salvation?
    I tell thee she is, and therefore make her grave straight. The crowner hath sat on her, and finds it 3195Christian burial.
    How can that be, unless she drowned herself in her own defense?
    Why, 'tis found so.
    It must be se offendendo , it cannot be else. For here lies the point: if I drown myself wittingly, it 3200argues an act, and an act hath three branches: it is an 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. 3205Here 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 of 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 gravemakers. They hold up 3220Adam's profession.
    Was he a gentleman?
    He was the first that ever bore arms.
    Why, he had none.
    Why, art a heathen? How dost thou 3225understand 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--
    Go to.
    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 3235does 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 3240shipwright, or a carpenter?"
    Ay, tell me that, and unyoke.
    Marry, now I can tell.
    Mass, I cannot tell.
    3245Enter Hamlet and Horatio afar off.
    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 that he makes lasts till doomsday. Go, get thee 3250to Youghan, fetch me a stoup of liquor.
    [Exit Second Clown.] [The First Clown digs.]
    In youth when I did love, did love,
    Methought it was very sweet
    To contract--oh--the time for--a--my behove,
    3255Oh, methought there was nothing meet.
    Has this fellow no feeling of his business, that he sings at grave-making?
    Custom hath made it in him a property of easiness.
    'Tis e'en so. The hand of little employment hath the daintier sense.
    Clown sings.
    But age with his stealing steps
    Hath caught me in his clutch,
    3265And hath shipped me intil the land,
    As if I had never been such.
    [The Clown throws up a skull.]
    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 3270might be the pate of a politician, which this ass o'er-offices, one that could 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 3275might 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 3280spade. 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.
    Clown 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.]
    There's another. Why might not that be the 3290skull 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 3295time 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 3300double 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 the inheritor himself have no more? Ha?
    Not a jot more, my lord.
    Is not parchment made of sheepskins?
    Ay, my lord, and of calves' skins too.
    They are sheep and calves that seek out assurance in that. I will speak to this fellow.--Whose grave's this, sir?
    Mine, sir.
    Oh, 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 it is not yours. 3315For my part, I do not lie in't, and yet it is mine.
    Thou dost lie in't, to be in't and say 'tis thine. 'Tis for the dead, not for the quick; therefore thou liest.
    'Tis a quick lie, sir; 'twill away again from me 3320to 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.
    Hamlet[To Horatio]
    How absolute the knave is! We must speak by the card, or equivocation will undo us. By the 3330Lord, 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 our courtier he galls his kibe.--How long hast thou been grave-maker?
    Of all the days i'th'year, I came to't that day 3335that our last King Hamlet o'ercame 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 was mad and sent into England.
    Ay, marry, why was he 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 be seen in him. There the men are as mad as he.
    How came he mad?
    Very strangely, they say.
    How strangely?
    Faith, e'en with losing his wits.
    Upon what ground?
    Why, here in Denmark. I have been sexton here, man and boy, thirty years.
    How long will a man lie i'th'earth ere he rot?
    I'faith, if he be not rotten before he die--as we have 3355many pocky corses nowadays 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 tanned with his trade that 3360he will keep out water a great while; and your water is a sore decayer of your whoreson dead body. [He picks up a skull.]Here's a skull now: this skull has lain in the earth three-and-twenty years.
    Whose was it?
    A whoreson mad fellow's it was. 3365Whose do you think it was?
    Nay, I know not.
    A pestilence on him for a mad rogue! 'A poured a flagon of Rhenish on my head once. This same skull, sir, this same skull, sir, was Yorick's skull, the King's jester.
    E'en that.
    Let me see. [He 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 how 3375abhorred my imagination 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 3380jeering? Quite chopfall'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.
    What's that, my lord?
    Dost thou think Alexander looked o' this fashion i'th'earth?
    E'en so.
    And smelt so? Puh!
    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 bunghole?
    'Twere to consider too curiously to consider so.
    No, faith, not a jot. But to follow him thither 3395with 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?
    3400Imperial 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! Here comes the King,
    3405Enter King, Queen, Laertes, and a coffin [of Ophelia, in funeral procession, with a Priest], with Lords attendant.
    The Queen, the courtiers. Who is that they follow,
    And with such maimèd rites? This doth betoken,
    The corse they follow did with desperate hand
    3410Fordo it own life. 'Twas some estate.
    Couch we awhile and mark.
    [Hamlet and Horatio conceal themselves. Ophelia's body is taken to the grave.]
    What ceremony else?
    Hamlet[To Horatio]
    That is Laertes, a very noble youth. Mark.
    What ceremony else?
    Her obsequies have been as far enlarged
    As we have warrantise. Her death was doubtful,
    And, but that great command o'ersways the order,
    She should in ground unsanctified have lodged
    Till the last trumpet. For charitable prayer,
    3420Shards, 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.
    Must there no more be done?
    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.
    Lay her i'th'earth,
    3430And 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[To Horatio]
    What, the fair Ophelia?
    3435Queen[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 t'have strewed thy grave.
    Oh, terrible woe
    3440Fall 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.
    3445Now 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 griefs
    3450Bears such an emphasis, whose phrase of sorrow
    Conjure[s] the wand'ring stars, and makes them stand
    Like wonder-wounded hearers? This is I,
    Hamlet the Dane.
    Laertes[Grappling with Hamlet]The devil take thy soul!
    Thou pray'st not well.
    I prithee take thy fingers from my throat.
    Sir, though I am not splenative and rash,
    Yet have I something in me dangerous,
    Which let thy wiseness fear. Away thy hand!
    Pluck them asunder.
    Hamlet, Hamlet!
    Good my lord, be quiet.
    [Hamlet and Laertes are parted.]
    Why, I will fight with him upon this theme
    Until my eyelids will no longer wag.
    Oh, my son, what theme?
    I loved Ophelia. Forty thousand brothers
    Could not, with all their quantity of love,
    Make up my sum. What wilt thou do for her?
    Oh, he is mad, Laertes.
    For love of God, forbear him.
    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?
    3475To 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,
    3480Make Ossa like a wart. Nay, an thou'lt mouth,
    I'll rant as well as thou.
    This is mere madness,
    And thus awhile the fit will work on him;
    Anon, as patient as the female dove
    3485When that her golden couplet are disclosed,
    His silence will sit drooping.
    Hamlet[To Laertes]Hear you, sir:
    What is the reason that you use me thus?
    I loved you ever. But it is no matter.
    3490Let Hercules himself do what he may,
    The cat will mew, and dog will have his day.
    I pray you, good Horatio, wait upon him.
    [Exit Horatio.]
    [Aside to Laertes] Strengthen then you[r] patience in our last night's speech;
    We'll put the matter to the present push.--
    3495Good 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.