Hamlet By William Shakespeare Act V: Scene 1

1 CLOWN.
[Sings.]
A pickaxe 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].

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
scarcely lie in this box; and must the inheritor himself have no
more, ha?

HORATIO.
Not a jot more, my lord.

HAMLET.
Is not parchment made of sheep-skins?

HORATIO.
Ay, my lord, And of calf-skins too.

HAMLET.
They are sheep and calves which seek out assurance in that. I
will speak to this fellow. — Whose grave's this, sir?

1 CLOWN.
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.

1 CLOWN.
You lie out on't, sir, and therefore 'tis not yours: for my part,
I do not lie in't, 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.

1 CLOWN.
'Tis a quick lie, sir; 't will away again from me to you.

HAMLET.
What man dost thou dig it for?

1 CLOWN.
For no man, sir.

HAMLET.
What woman then?

1 CLOWN.
For none neither.

HAMLET.
Who is to be buried in't?

1 CLOWN.
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, 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 grave-maker?

1 CLOWN.
Of all the days i' the year, I came to't that day that our
last King Hamlet overcame Fortinbras.

HAMLET.
How long is that since?

1 CLOWN.
Cannot 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.

Continued on next page...

Back to Top

Take the Quiz

Approximately how much time has passed between the death of King Hamlet and the remarriage of Gertrude to Claudius?




Quiz