ACT V SCENE I

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Hamlet


ACT V SCENE IA churchyard.
Enter two Clowns, with spades, &c.
First ClownIs she to be buried in Christian burial that
wilfully seeks her own salvation?
Second ClownI tell thee she is: and therefore make her grave
straight: the crowner hath sat on her, and finds it
Christian burial.
First ClownHow can that be, unless she drowned herself in her
own defence?
Second ClownWhy, ’tis found so.
First ClownIt 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.
Second ClownNay, but hear you, goodman delver,–
First ClownGive 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 ClownBut is this law? 20
First ClownAy, marry, is’t; crowner’s quest law.
Second ClownWill you ha’ the truth on’t? If this had not been
a gentlewoman, she should have been buried out o’
Christian burial.
First ClownWhy, 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
gentleman but gardeners, ditchers, and grave-makers:
they hold up Adam’s profession.
Second ClownWas he a gentleman? 30
First ClownHe was the first that ever bore arms.
Second ClownWhy, he had none.
First ClownWhat, 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 ClownGo to.
First ClownWhat is he that builds stronger than either the
mason, the shipwright, or the carpenter?
Second ClownThe gallows-maker; for that frame outlives a 40
thousand tenants.
First ClownI like thy wit well, in good faith: the gallows
does well; but how does it well? it does well to
those that do in: 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 Clown‘Who builds stronger than a mason, a shipwright, or
a carpenter?’
First ClownAy, tell me that, and unyoke.
Second ClownMarry, now I can tell. 50
First ClownTo’t.
Second ClownMass, I cannot tell.
Enter HAMLET and HORATIO, at a distance.
First ClownCudgel 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 last till
doomsday. Go, get thee to Yaughan: fetch me a
stoup of liquor.
Exit Second Clown
He 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. 61
HAMLETHas this fellow no feeling of his business, that he
sings at grave-making?
HORATIOCustom hath made it in him a property of easiness.
HAMLET‘Tis e’en so: the hand of little employment hath
the daintier sense.
First ClownSings.
But age, with his stealing steps,
Hath claw’d me in his clutch,
And hath shipped me intil the land, 69
As if I had never been such.
Throws up a skull.
HAMLETThat 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?
HORATIOIt might, my lord.
HAMLETOr 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? 80
HORATIOAy, my lord.
HAMLETWhy, e’en so: and now my Lady Worm’s; chapless, and
knocked about the mazzard 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 loggats with ’em? mine ache to think on’t.
First Clown: [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. 90
Throws up another skull.
HAMLETThere’s another: why may not that be the skull of a
lawyer? Where be his quiddities 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 the inheritor himself have no more, ha?
HORATIONot a jot more, my lord.
HAMLETIs not parchment made of sheepskins?
HORATIOAy, my lord, and of calf-skins too.
HAMLETThey are sheep and calves which seek out assurance
in that. I will speak to this fellow. Whose
grave’s this, sirrah?
First ClownMine, sir. 115
Sings.
O, a pit of clay for to be made
For such a guest is meet.
HAMLETI think it be thine, indeed; for thou liest in’t.
First ClownYou 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.
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 Clown‘Tis a quick lie, sir; ’twill away gain, from me to
you.
HAMLETWhat man dost thou dig it for? 120
First ClownFor no man, sir.
HAMLETWhat woman, then?
First ClownFor none, neither.
HAMLETWho is to be buried in’t?
First ClownOne that was a woman, sir; but, rest her soul, she’s dead.
HAMLETHow 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 a note of
it; the age is grown so picked that the toe of the
peasant comes so near the heel of the courtier, he
gaffs his kibe. How long hast thou been a
grave-maker?
First ClownOf all the days i’ the year, I came to’t that day
that our last king Hamlet overcame Fortinbras.
HAMLETHow long is that since?
First ClownCannot you tell that? every fool can tell that: it
was the very day that young Hamlet was born; he that
is mad, and sent into England.
HAMLETAy, marry, why was he sent into England?
First ClownWhy, because he was mad: he shall recover his wits
there; or, if he do not, it’s no great matter there. 141
HAMLETWhy?
First Clown‘Twill, a not be seen in him there; there the men
are as mad as he.
HAMLETHow came he mad?
First ClownVery strangely, they say.
HAMLETHow strangely?
First ClownFaith, e’en with losing his wits.
HAMLETUpon what ground?
First ClownWhy, here in Denmark: I have been sexton here, man
and boy, thirty years. 151
HAMLETHow long will a man lie i’ the earth ere he rot?
First ClownI’ 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.
HAMLETWhy he more than another?
First ClownWhy, 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; this skull has lain in the earth
three and twenty years.
HAMLETWhose was it? 162
First ClownA whoreson mad fellow’s it was: whose do you think it was?
HAMLETNay, I know not.
First ClownA 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.
HAMLETThis?
First ClownE’en that. 170
HAMLETLet 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 rims 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 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. Prithee, Horatio, tell
me one thing.
HORATIOWhat’s that, my lord?
HAMLETDost thou think Alexander looked o’ this fashion i’
the earth?
HORATIOE’en so.
HAMLETAnd smelt so? pah!
Puts down the skull.
HORATIOE’en so, my lord.
HAMLETTo 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? 191
HORATIO‘Twere to consider too curiously, to consider so.
HAMLETNo, 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 flaw!
But soft! but soft! aside: here comes the king.
Enter Priest, the Corpse of OPHELIA, LAERTES and Mourners following; KING CLAUDIUS, QUEEN GERTRUDE, their trains, &c.
The queen, the courtiers: who is this they follow?
And with such maimed rites? This doth betoken
The corse they follow did with desperate hand
Fordo its own life: ’twas of some estate.
Couch we awhile, and mark.
Retiring with HORATIO.
LAERTESWhat ceremony else?
HAMLETThat is Laertes,
A very noble youth: mark. 210
LAERTESWhat ceremony else?
First PriestHer 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 prayers,
Shards, flints and pebbles should be thrown on her;
Yet here she is allow’d her virgin crants,
Her maiden strewments and the bringing home
Of bell and burial. 220
LAERTESMust there no more be done?
First PriestNo 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.
LAERTESLay her i’ the earth:
And from her fair and unpolluted flesh
May violets spring! I tell thee, churlish priest,
A ministering angel shall my sister be,
When thou liest howling.
HAMLETWhat, the fair Ophelia!
QUEEN GERTRUDESweets to the sweet: farewell!
Scattering flowers.
I hoped thou shouldst have been my Hamlet’s wife; 230
I thought thy bride-bed to have deck’d, sweet maid,
And not have strew’d thy grave.
LAERTESO, treble woe
Fall ten times treble on that cursed 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 into 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.
HAMLETAdvancing. What is he whose grief
Bears such an emphasis? whose phrase of sorrow
Conjures the wandering stars, and makes them stand
Like wonder-wounded hearers? This is I,
Hamlet the Dane.
Leaps into the grave.
LAERTESThe devil take thy soul!
Grappling with him.
HAMLETThou pray’st not well.
I prithee, take thy fingers from my throat;
For, though I am not splenitive and rash,
Yet have I something in me dangerous,
Which let thy wiseness fear: hold off thy hand.
KING CLAUDIUSPluck them asunder.
QUEEN GERTRUDEHamlet, Hamlet! 250
AllGentlemen,–
HORATIOGood my lord, be quiet.
The Attendants part them, and they come out of the grave.
HAMLETWhy I will fight with him upon this theme
Until my eyelids will no longer wag.
QUEEN GERTRUDEO my son, what theme?
HAMLETI loved Ophelia: forty thousand brothers
Could not, with all their quantity of love,
Make up my sum. What wilt thou do for her?
KING CLAUDIUSO, he is mad, Laertes.
QUEEN GERTRUDEFor love of God, forbear him.
HAMLET‘Swounds, show me what thou’lt do: 260
Woo’t weep? woo’t fight? woo’t fast? woo’t tear thyself?
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 GERTRUDEThis is mere madness: 270
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.
HAMLETHear 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
KING CLAUDIUSI pray you, good Horatio, wait upon him.
Exit HORATIO.
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 shortly shall we see;
Till then, in patience our proceeding be.
Exeunt

Next: Hamlet, Act 5, Scene 2

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Explanatory Notes for Act 5, Scene 1

From Hamlet, prince of Denmark. Ed. K. Deighton. London: Macmillan.

_________

2. salvation, the clown’s blunder for damnation, as in M. A, iii. 3. 3.

4, 5. straight, forthwith, without delay: crowner, coroner, literally merely an officer of the crown, but used specially of one appointed to hold inquests into the cause of death. Skeat says that crowner, which has been generally regarded as a corruption of ‘coroner,’ is a correct form, ‘coroner’ being from the base coron– of the M.E. verb coronen, to crown, with the suffix –er, and thus = crown-erfinds … burial, decides that Christian burial may be granted, she not having committed the felony of suicide; finds, the technical term for the decision of the coroner; cp. A. Y. L. iv. 1. 101, “the foolish coroners of that age found it was ‘Hero of Sestos.'”

9. ‘se offendendo,’ another blunder of the Clown’s for se defendendo, in self defence, “a finding of the jury in justifiable homicide” (Caldecott).

11. three branches, “ridicule on scholastic divisions without distinction and of distinctions without diiference” (Warburton).

12. argal, a corruption of Lat. ergo, therefore.

13. goodman, a familiar appellation, frequent in Shakespeare, = old fellow; delver, digger, i.e.. grave-digger.

14. Give me leave, allow me to interrupt you.

16. will he, nill he, he goes whether his intention is to do so or not; nill, = ne will, not will; frequent in old English.

21. quest, inquest. This is supposed to be an allusion to an inquest in a case of forfeiture of a lease to the crown in consequence of the suicide by drowning of Sir John Hales, a case which Shakespeare may have heard talked about.

22. Will … on’t, do you wish to know the whole truth of the matter? If so, I will tell you that, etc.

23, 4. out … burial, i.e. as suicides are buried, sc. in the cross roads with a stake driven through the heart; cp. M. N. D. iii. 2. 383, “damned spirits all, That in crossways and floods have burial.”

25. there thou say’st, there you tell the truth, speak to the purpose.

26. should have … to, should be countenanced in drowning, etc., by being allowed Christian burial.

27. even Christian, fellow Christian: Come, my spade, come, let me take my spade, and get to my work.

28. 9. There is … profession, there are no gentlemen that can claim anything like old descent except gardeners, etc., and they alone still keep up the profession of the first of all ancestors, Adam.

30. a gentleman, one entitled to the term ‘gentle,’ as opposed to ‘simple.’

31. bore arms, used a double sense, (1) carrying arms – in Adam’s case a spade, and (2) having a coat of arms, a symbol of gentle birth.

36. arms, again in a double sense, (1) the arms of the body, (2) implements.

36. to the purpose, in a rational way; confess thyself — an ass, he was going to add.

37. Go to, pooh.

38. What is he, what kind of person is he.

41. tenants, occupants; as though a man when hanged took a lease of the gallows.

42, 3. the gallows does well, the gallows, as you well say, do well, though not in the way you say, that of lasting a long time. Dogberry-like, he patronizingly commends his comrade’s good sense in citing the gallows as doing well, but with his superior wisdom points out in what their doing well consists.

43, 4. it does … ill, sc. by putting them out of the way.

46. To’t again, come, make another effort to answer my question.

40. Ay, … unyoke, yes, answer that, and you may then give over your work; metaphorically unharness the oxen with which he is ploughing.

51 To’t, go at it, let me hear you answer.

52. Mass, i.e. by the mass; see note on ii. 1. 50.

53, 4. your dull ass, a dull ass like you; for this colloquial use of your, see Abb. § 220.

56. Yaughan, probalbly the best explanation of this word, about which there have been so many conjectures, is that suggested by Nicholson, that it was the name of an ale-house keeper in the neighbourhood of the Globe Theatre.

57. stoup, flagon; A.S. steap, a cup.

58-61. In youth … meet, the Clown’s version of part of a ballad in Tottel’s Miscellany, Arber’s Reprints, p. 173.

60. To contract … behove, these words probably have no meaning; the original runs “I lothe that I did love, In youth that I thought swete; As time requires for my behove Methinkes they are not mete.” Jennens points out that the oh! and the ah! form no part of the song, but are “only the breath forced out by the strokes of the mattock. ”

61. meet, fitting, suitable.

62. feeling of his business, no sense of the sadness of the task on which he is engaged.

64. Custom … easiness, from long habit, his occupation, as being his own (proper to him) has lost all unpleasant association; has made him callous to the fact of its being of a sad nature.

65, 6. the hand … sense, the hand which is least employed (i.e. in any rough work) is always the most delicately sensitive.

69. shipped, carted, as we might say: intil, into; to and til (till) are equivalent in sense. The original runs, “For age with steyling steppes, Hath clawed me with his cowche, And lusty life away she leapes, As there had bene none such.”

70. such, as I am; the words being made doubly ludicrous by his throwing up a skull as he utters them.

72. jowls, dashes; jowl, substantive, is the jaw, and here the idea is of the skull crashing against the ground as the jaws crash together if suddenly closed, more especially by a blow; cp. A. W. i. 3. 59, “they may jowl horns together, like any deer i’ the herd.”

74. politician, plotter, schemer; cp. T. N. iii. 2. 34, “I had as lief be a Brownist as a politician“; but as the Cl. Pr. Edd. remark, the word is always used by Shakespeare in a bad sense: over-reaches, used in a double sense of overtaking, getting hold of, with his spade, and of getting the better of by cunning.

79. lord Such-a-one, some lord or other whose name is not specified; Steevens compares Tim. i. 2. 216-8, “you gave Good words the other day of a bay courser I rode on: it is yours, because you liked it.”

82. my lady Worm’s, i.e. the property, perquisite of, etc.: chapless, with its jaws no longer adhering to the rest of the skull.

83. mazzard, a burlesque word for the head; supposed to be derived from mazer, or maser, a bowl.

84. revolution, used in a double sense of change, and of being rolled about: and … see’t, supposing we had the knack to understand it; for and, see Abb. § 93.

85. cost … breeding, gave no more trouble to breed; for the, preceding a verbal, see Abb. § 93.

85, 6. but to … ’em, than that they should be used for playing at loggats; the Cl. Pr. Edd., abridging a description of the game sent them by the Revd. G. Gould, say that the game resembled bowls, but with notable differences. First, it is played not on a green, but on a floor strewed with ashes. The Jack is a wheel made of some hard wood, the loggat, of which each player has three, is a truncated cone, held lightly at the thin end, and the object, as at bowls, is to pitch them so as to lie as nearly as possible to the Jack.

88. For and, Byce points out that these words answer to And eke in the original version.

89. for to, see note on iii. 1. 167.

92. quiddities, “Mid. Lat. quiditas, the whatness or distinctive nature of a thing, brought into a by-word by the nice distinction of the schools” (Wedgwood, Dict.): quillets, frivolous distinctions; probably from Lat. quidlibet, what do you choose?

93. tricks, legal chicaneries.

94. sconce, properly a small fort, in which sense it is used in H. V. iii, 6. 76; in C. E. ii. 2. 37, for a helmet; and i. 2. 75, for a head, as here.

95. of his action of battery, of the action for battery (assault) which, if he chose, he might bring against him.

97. 8. his statutes … recoveries, “A recovery with a double voucher is the one usually suffered, and is so denominated from two persons (the latter of whom is always the common crier, or some such inferior person) being successively vouched, or called upon, to warrant the tenant’s title. Both ‘fines’ and ‘recoveries’ are fictions of law, used to convert an estate tail into a fee simple. ‘Statutes’ are (not acts of parliament, but) statutes —merchant and staple, particular modes of recognizance or acknowledgment for securing debts, which thereby become a charge upon the party’s land. ‘Statutes’ and ‘recognizances’ are constantly mentioned together in the covenants of a purchase deed” (Ritson).

98. fine of his fines, the end of all his legal practice; all that comes of his long practising as a lawyer.

98, 9. the recovery of his recoveries, all that he recovers, gets in return for the recoveries in which, when alive, he was engaged: fine dirt, Rushton (Shakespeare as a Lawyer, p. 10) explains fine here, as in 1. 98, in the sense of last. “His fine pate is filled, not with fine dirt, but with the last dirt which will ever occupy it, leaving a satirical inference to be drawn, that even in his life-time his head was filled with dirt”; but if this be the primary sense, there must also be play upon the word in its ordinary sense.

100. vouch … purchases, give him no better title to his purchases, even though those vouchers were double ones.

101. than the … indentures, than the mere parchment on which indentures are written. “Indentures were agreements made out in duplicate, of which each party kept one. Both were written on the same sheet, which was cut in two in a crooked or indented line (whence the name), in order that the fitting of the two parts might prove the genuineness of both in case of dispute” (Cl. Pr. Edd.). Cp. The Knight of the Burning Pestle, iv. 2. 18,9, “prentice to a grocer in the Strand By deed indent, of which I have one part“; this part was called the ‘counterpane.’

102. The very … lands, the very title-deed by which his lands were conveyed (in a legal sense), transferred: box, coffin, with a reference to the boxes in which lawyers keep deeds, etc.

103. inheritor, possessor, owner; cp. L. L. L. ii. 1. 5, “To parley with the sole inheritor of all perfections”; R. III. iv. 3. 34, “Meantime, but think how I may do thee good, And be inheritor of thy desire. ”

103. and of … too, accurately speaking, it is vellum that is made of calf skins, parchment of sheep or goat skins.

107, 8. They are … that, those who trust to parchment are but dolts; “an ‘assurance’ is the legal evidence of the transfer of property” (Heard, Shakespeare as a Lawyer).

109. sirrah, sir; a term used more generally to inferiors, or with disrespect or unbecoming familiarity to superiors; occasionally applied to women.

113. liest, with a play upon the word in its two senses.

114. on ‘t, of it.

117. the quick, the living.

123. For none, neither, for neither the one nor the other, either.

127. absolute, precise, punctilious about accuracy.

127, 8. by the card, with precision; according to some the reference is to the mariners’ chart; according to others to the card on which the points of the compass were marked; according to others again to the card and calendar of etiquette, or book of manners, of which, says Staunton, several were published in Shakespeare’s time.

129. these three years, i.e. for a considerable time past.

130. picked, smart, spruce; cp. K. J. i. 1. 193, “My picked man of countries.”

131. kibe, chilblain; a sore on the hands or feet due to great cold.

133. Of all … year, if you wish me to be precise as to the exact day, why, etc. The Cl. Pr. Edd. quote R. J. i. 3. 16, “Even or odd, of all the days in the year, Come Lammas-eve at night shall she be fourteen,” where the speaker is an illiterate old nurse with the same passion for being precise.

141. it’s … there, it does not much matter.

143, 4. there … he, here again Marston, The Malcontent, iii. I. 400, 1, seems to have followed Shakespeare, “Your lordship shall ever find … amongst an hundred Englishmen, four-score and ten madmen.”

149. Upon what ground? owing to what cause? The clown in the next line takes ground in its literal sense.

154. pocky corses, bodies of those who have died of the smallpox.

154, 5. will scarce … in, will scarcely keep from decomposition till the funeral: you, thc colloquial dative.

166. A pestilence … rogue! curses on him, as such a mad rogue deserves!

167. Rhenish, Rhine wine.

168. Yorick, said to be the German and Danish GeorgJorg, our George, the English y representing the foreign j, and having the same sound.

172. a fellow … jest, a fellow of inexhaustible wit.

174. it, “used in reference to the idea of having been borne on the back of him whose skeleton remains are thus suddenly presented to the speaker’s gaze, the idea of having caressed and been fondled by one whose mouldering fleshless skull is now held in the speaker’s hand” (Clarke).

175. my gorge rises at it, I feel sick at the very idea; the gorge is the throat, and the ‘rising’ is that feeling in the throat which accompanies the inclination to vomit.

178. on a roar, we should now say ‘in a roar.’

179. quite chap-fallen, utterly downcast, without so much as a smile on your face: my lady’s, not a particular lady, but any one to whom the title was applicable.

180. let her paint, even if she should lay on the paint.

181. favour, appearance; used especially of the features.

185. i’ the earth, when buried.

189. return, sc. in returning to the dust of which we are made.

192. ‘Twere … so, to follow out the idea would be but idle speculation, a mere waste of ingenuity.

193, 4. with modesty, without any exaggeration.

196. loam, a mixture of clay and sand.

199. Imperious, imperial; though Shakespeare frequently uses Imperious, for imperial, he rarely, if ever, uses ‘imperial’ for imperious, in its modern sense of dictatorial.

202. flaw, sudden gust of wind.

203. aside, let us stand aside.

205. such maimed rites, such incomplete rites.

207. Fordo, destroy; cp. ii. 1. 103: for it = its, see note on i. 2. 216: estate, rank, position.

208. Couch we, let us lie close so as not to be seen; cp. A. W. iv. 1. 24, “But couch, ho! here he comes.”

209. What ceremony else? what further ceremonies have to be performed? i.e. surely this does not complete the usual rites.

212, 3. Her obsequies … warranty, we have gone as far in the matter of ritual observance as we have authority for doing: her death, the manner of her death.

214. but that … order, if it were not that the king’s command, which we dure not disobey, over-rules us as regards the proceedings usual in such a case.

216. for, in the place of.

217. Shards, potsherds, pieces of broken crockery.

218. crants, a coronet, or tire for the head; worn by maidens till they were married; a singular noun, from Ger. krantz. A writer in the Ed. Rer. for July, 1869, has shown by extracts from Weber’s introduction to the ballad ofChild Axe Wold, that “the burial of a northern maiden is still appropriately marked, as in the case of Ophelia, by the presence of her virgin crants, and maiden strewments.”

219. Her maiden strewments, the strewing of flowers upon the bier, such as was common at the funeral of a maid or wife, or on her grave after burial; cp. H. VIII. iv. 2. 168-70, ‘strew me over With maiden flowers, that all the world may know I was a chaste wife to my grave”: and Cymb. iv. 2. 218-20.

219, 20. and the … burial, “In these words, reference is still made to the marriage rites, which in the case of maidens are sadly parodied in the funeral rites. See R. J. iv. 5. 85-90. As the bride was brought home to her husband’s house with bell and wedding festivity, so the dead maiden is brought to her last home with ‘bell and burial'” (Cl. Pr. Edd.).

221. Must … done? is it forbidden to perform any further rites? In modern English the words would mean ‘is it not necessary to,’ etc.: No more be done! I have followed Staunton and Knight in putting a note of admiration after done, instead of a semi-colon. The priest seems to be indignantly repeating Laertes’ words, with a special emphasis on more, not to be confirming them.

223. To sing, by singing; if we were to sing; the indefinite infinitive: requiem, a mass for the repose of the dead, so called from beginning with the words Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine, grant eternal peace to them, O Lord; cp. dirge i. 2. 12.

224. peace-parted souls, souls which have departed the body in peace.

226. May violets spring! cp. Tennyson, In Memoriam, xviii. 3, 4, “And from his ashes may be made The violet of his native land”: churlish, in refusing her the full rites of burial.

228. howling, i.e. in the torments of hell.

230. I hoped … been … “in the Elizabethan, as in early English authors, after verbs of hoping, intending, or verbs signifying that something ought to have been done, but was not, the complete present infinitive is used” (Abb. § 360).

231. thought, fondly expected: deck’d, sc. with flowers.

232. t’ have, this is the reading of the folios; the quartos omit the sign of the infinitive.

234. thy most ingenious sense, thy sense, that most cunningly-devised creation of God: most shows, I think, that ingenious here is to be compared rather with its literal sense in Cymb, iv. 2. 186. “My ingeniousinstrument!” i.e. of curious construction, said of his harp rather than with Lear, iv. 6, 287, “how stiff is my vile sense That I stand up and have ingenious feeling Of my huge sorrows.”

235. Hold awhile, do not yet fill up the grave.

238. this flat, this level surface.

239. Pelion, a lofty range of mountains in Thessaly. In their war with the gods, the giants are said to have attempted to heap Ossa and Olympus on Pelion, or Pelion and Ossa on Olympus, in order to scale heaven:skyish, reaching ahnost to the sky, Olympus being the loftiest of the mountains in Greece.

240. What is he? what manner of man is he?

241. Bears such an emphasis, so mighty a stress laid upon it.

241. 2. whose phrase … stand, whose utterance of sorrow has such magic power over the planets as to arrest their motion; an allusion to the charms of witches who were supposed by them to be able to arrest the course of the moon and stars.

243. wonder-wounded, paralysed by wonder.

247. splenitive, given to sudden anger; the spleen was of old supposed to be the seat of anger, hatred, malice.

249. Which … fear, which it will be prudent in you to fear.

252. theme, subject.

253. wag, “the word had not the grotesque signification which it now has, and might be used without incongruity in the most serious passages” … (Cl. Pr. Edd.).

255. forty thousand, used for an indefinite number.

256, 7, Could not … sum, could not, however great their love, vie with me in loving her.

259. forbear him, do not attempt to touch him, for fear of the consequences.

260. ‘Swounds, see note on ii. 2. 549: do, emphatic; by what acts are you prepared to show that love which you have professed in such boastful words?

261. Woo ‘t, according to Singer, a common contraction in the northern counties for wouldst thou; used, says Halliwell, in the western counties for will thee.

262. eisel, the two most probable of the many explanations given of this word are (1) vinegar, (2) the name of some river; eisel, or eysell, for vinegar, occurs in Sonn. cxi. 10, and was a word of no unconnnon occurrence in Elizabethan literature; if it be Shakespeare’s word here, drink up will mean ‘greedily quaff.’ The advocates of the name of a river cite the Yssel in Flanders, the Oesil in Denmark, and the Weisel or Vistula, or consider it identical with Ousel, the diminutive of Ouse, a common name of rivers in England, and signifying a river or water: eat a crocodile, the advocates for the name of a river claim that their view is supported by this expression, which looks as if Hamlet were challenging Laertes to impossible feats.

264. To outface me, to outdare me; to put me to shame by the extravagant professions of your love.

266. prate, rant.

268. pate, used in a ridiculous sense.

269. Ossa, see note on 1. 239: like a wart, no bigger than a wart: mouth, talk big.

271. awhile … him, for a time his fit of madness will exercise its power over him.

273. golden couplets, the dove generally sits upon two eggs, and the young birds when hatched are covered with a yellow down: disclosed, by the breaking of the eggs; see note on iii. 1 . 166.

274. His … drooping, he will hang down his head in abashed silence.

277, 8. Let … day, i.e. nature will take her own course whatever mighty obstacles we may put in its way; it is no use my cavilling at this behaviour of Laertes; ‘a dog hath his day’ was a proverbial phrase meaning that every dog will at one time or another have its good time.

279. wait upon him, attend him to see that he does himself no injury.

280. Strengthen … speech, let what we talked about last night encourage you to be patient awhile; in, in the thought of; see Abb. § 162.

281. We’ll put … push, we will without delay give the matter a decisive impulse, one that will bring things to a definite issue.

283. This … monument, i.e. Hamlet’s life offered up by Laertes to his sister’s memory shall be a more lasting monument in men’s minds than any material one that could be built.

285. in patience … be, let us act with patience and control.

How to cite the explanatory notes:Shakespeare, William. Hamlet, prince of Denmark. Ed. K. Deighton. London: Macmillan, 1919.