Scene 1
Enter Gravedigger and Another.

GRAVEDIGGER    Is she to be buried in Christian burial,
when she willfully seeks her own salvation?
OTHER    I tell thee she is. Therefore make her grave
straight. The crowner hath sat on her and finds it
Christian burial.
GRAVEDIGGER    How can that be, unless she drowned
herself in her own defense?
OTHER    Why, ’tis found so.
GRAVEDIGGER    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
drowned herself wittingly.
OTHER    Nay, but hear you, goodman delver—
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.
OTHER    But is this law?
GRAVEDIGGER    Ay, marry, is ’t—crowner’s ’quest law.
OTHER    Will you ha’ the truth on ’t? If this had not been
a gentlewoman, she should have been buried out o’
Christian burial.
GRAVEDIGGER    Why, there thou sayst. 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
ancient gentlemen but gard’ners, ditchers, and
grave-makers. They hold up Adam’s profession.
OTHER    Was he a gentleman?
GRAVEDIGGER    He was the first that ever bore arms.
OTHER    Why, he had none.
GRAVEDIGGER    What, 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—
OTHER    Go to!
GRAVEDIGGER    What is he that builds stronger than
either the mason, the shipwright, or the carpenter?
OTHER    The gallows-maker; for that frame outlives a
thousand tenants.
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.
OTHER    “Who builds stronger than a mason, a shipwright,
or a carpenter?”
GRAVEDIGGER    Ay, tell me that, and unyoke.
OTHER    Marry, now I can tell.
OTHER    Mass, I cannot tell.

Enter Hamlet and Horatio afar off.

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 in, and fetch me a
stoup of liquor.
The Other Man exits and the Gravedigger digs and sings.
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.
HAMLET    Has this fellow no feeling of his business? He
sings in grave-making.
HORATIO    Custom hath made it in him a property of
HAMLET    ’Tis e’en so. The hand of little employment
hath the daintier sense.
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.
He digs 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 murder!
This might be the pate of a politician which this ass
now o’erreaches, 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 went 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, an we had
the trick to see ’t. Did these bones cost no more the
breeding but to play at loggets with them? Mine
ache to think on ’t.
A pickax 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.
He digs up more skulls.
HAMLET    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?
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.—
Whose grave’s this, sirrah?
GRAVEDIGGER    Mine, sir.
Sings. O, 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.
GRAVEDIGGER    You lie out on ’t, sir, and therefore ’tis
not yours. For my part, I do not lie in ’t, yet it is
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
GRAVEDIGGER    ’Tis a quick lie, sir; ’twill away again
from me to you.
HAMLET    What man dost thou dig it for?
GRAVEDIGGER    For no man, sir.
HAMLET    What woman then?
GRAVEDIGGER    For none, neither.
HAMLET    Who is to be buried in ’t?
GRAVEDIGGER    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 took 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
GRAVEDIGGER    Of all the days i’ th’ year, I came to ’t
that day that our last King Hamlet overcame
HAMLET    How long is that since?
GRAVEDIGGER    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.
HAMLET    Ay, marry, why was he sent into England?
GRAVEDIGGER    Why, because he was mad. He shall
recover his wits there. Or if he do not, ’tis no great
matter there.
HAMLET    Why?
GRAVEDIGGER    ’Twill not be seen in him there. There
the men are as mad as he.
HAMLET    How came he mad?
GRAVEDIGGER    Very strangely, they say.
HAMLET    How “strangely”?
GRAVEDIGGER    Faith, e’en with losing his wits.
HAMLET    Upon what ground?
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?
GRAVEDIGGER    Faith, if he be not rotten before he die
(as we have many 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
HAMLET    Why he more than another?
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 hath lien you i’ th’ earth
three-and-twenty years.
HAMLET    Whose was it?
GRAVEDIGGER    A whoreson mad fellow’s it was.
Whose do you think it was?
HAMLET    Nay, I know not.
GRAVEDIGGER    A pestilence on him for a mad rogue!
He poured a flagon of Rhenish on my head once.
This same skull, sir, was, sir, Yorick’s skull, the
King’s jester.
HAMLET    This?
GRAVEDIGGER    E’en that.
HAMLET , taking the skull    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? Not one now to mock your
own grinning? Quite chapfallen? 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 o’ this
fashion i’ th’ earth?
HORATIO    E’en so.
HAMLET    And smelt so? Pah!He puts the skull down.
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
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.
O, that that earth which kept the world in awe
Should patch a wall t’ expel the winter’s flaw!

Enter King, Queen, Laertes, Lords attendant, and the corpse of Ophelia, with a Doctor of Divinity.

But soft, but soft awhile! Here comes the King,
The Queen, the courtiers. Who is this they follow?
And with such maimèd rites? This doth betoken
The corse they follow did with desp’rate hand
Fordo its own life. ’Twas of some estate.
Couch we awhile and mark.They step aside.
LAERTES    What ceremony else?
HAMLET    That is Laertes, a very noble youth. Mark.
LAERTES    What ceremony else?
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
Yet here she is allowed her virgin crants,
Her maiden strewments, and the bringing home
Of bell and burial.
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.
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 , to Horatio    What, the fair Ophelia?
QUEEN    Sweets to the sweet, farewell!
She scatters flowers.
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    O, treble 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
T’ o’ertop old Pelion or the skyish head
Of blue Olympus.
HAMLET , advancing    
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.
LAERTES , coming out of the grave    
The devil take thy soul!
HAMLET    Thou pray’st not well.They grapple.
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!
ALL    Gentlemen!
HORATIO    Good my lord, be quiet.
Hamlet and Laertes are separated.
Why, I will fight with him upon this theme
Until my eyelids will no longer wag!
QUEEN    O 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?
KING    O, he is mad, Laertes!
QUEEN    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
Woo’t drink up eisel, 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.
QUEEN    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.
Hamlet exits.
I pray thee, good Horatio, wait upon him.
Horatio exits.
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 thereby shall we see.
Till then in patience our proceeding be.
They exit.