Page images


(Shakspeare.) ACT V. SCENE I.-A Churchyard. Ham. Hath this fellow no feeling of his business that he sings at grave-making ?

Hor. Custom hath made it in him a property of easiness.

Ham. 'Tis e'en so : the hand of little employment hath the daintier sense. I Clo. [Sings.]

But age with his stealing steps

Hath caught me in his clutch,
And hath shipped me intill the land,
As if I had never been such.

[Throws up a skull. Ham. That skull had a tongue in it, and could sing once : how the knave jowls it to the ground, as if it were Cain's jaw-bone, that did the first murder! It might be the pate of a politician, which this ass now o'er-reaches; one that would circumvent God, might it not ?

Hor. It might, my lord.

Ham. Or of a courtier : which could say, “Goodmorrow, 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?

Hor. Ay, my lord.

Ham. Why, e'en so; and now my lady Worm's; chapless, and knocked about the mazzard 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 loggats with 'em ? mine ache to think on't.


i Clo. [Sings.]

A pick-axe, 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. Ham. There's another: why might not that be the 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? Humph! 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 the inheritor himself have no more ? ha ?

Hor. Not a jot more, my lord.
Ham. Is not parchment made of sheep-skins ?
Hor. Ay, my lord, and of calves'-skins too.

Ham. They are sheep, and calves, which seek
out assurance in that. I will speak to this fellow.
Whose grave's this, sir?
I Clo. Mine, sir. [Sings.]

O, a pit of clay for to be made

For such a guest is meet. Ham. I think it be thine, indeed; for thou liest in't.

I Clo. You lie out on't, sir, and therefore it is not yours: for my part, I do not lie in't, and yet it is mine.

Ham. 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.

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

Ham. What man dost thou dig it for ?
I Clo. For no man, sir.
Ham. What woman, then ?
I Clo. For none, neither.
Ham. Who is to be buried in't ?

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

Ham. 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 gravemaker?

I Clo. Of all the days i' the year, I came to 't that day that our last king-Hamlet, o'ercame

, Fortinbras,

Ham. How long is that since ?
I Clo. 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.

Ham. Ay, marry, why was he sent into England ?

I Clo. Why, because he was mad : he shall recover his wits there ; or, if he do not; 'tis no great matter there.

Ham. Why?

I Clo. 'Twill not be seen in him there; there the men are as mad as he.

Ham. How came he mad?
I Clo. Very strangeiy, they say.
Ham. How strangely?


I Clo. 'Faith, e'en with losing his wits.
Ham. Upon what ground?

I Clo. Why, here in Denmark: I have been sexton here, man and boy, thirty years.

Ham. How long will a man lie i' the earth ere he rot ?

I Clo. 'Faith, he will last you some eight year or nine. Here's a skull now; this skull hath lain you i' the earth three and twenty years.

Ham. Whose was it ?

I Clo. A mad fellow's it was : whose do you think it was ?

Ham. Nay, I know not.

I Clo. 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.

Ham. This ?
I Clo. E'en that.

Ham. 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 any 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 jeering ? 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.

Hor. What's that my lord ?

Ham, Dost thou think Alexander looked o' this fashion i' the earth ?

Hor. E'en so.
Ham. And smelt so ? pah! [Puts down the skull.
Hor. E'en so, my lord.

Ham. To what base uses may we return, Horatio ! Why may not imagination trace the noble dust of Alexander, till he find it stopping a bung-hole ?

Hor. 'Twere to consider too curiously, to consider so.

Ham. 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 ?

Imperial Cæsar, 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 !

“The poet's eye in a fine frenzy rolling,

Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven,
And, as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen
Turns them to shape, and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name."

[ocr errors]

“Glory is like a circle in the water
Which never ceaseth to enlarge itself,
Till, by broad sprcading, it disperses to nought.”


« PreviousContinue »