« PreviousContinue »
ACT V..... SCENE I.
A Church Yard.
Enter Two Clowns, with Spades, &c. I Clo. Is she to be buried in christian burial, that wilfully seeks her own salvation?
2 Clo. I tell thee, she is; therefore, make her grave straight:5 the crowner hath set on her, and finds it christian burial.
1 Clo. How can that be, unless she drowned herself in her own defence ?
Clo. Why, 'tis found so. 1 Clo. 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, and to perform:6 Argal, she drowned herself wittingly.
2 Clo. Nay, but hear you, goodman delver.
1 Clo. Give me leave. Here lies the water; good: here stands the man; good: If the man go to this water, and
make her grave straight:) Make her grave from east to west in a direct line parallel to the church; not from north to south, athwart the regular line. This, I think, is meant. Fohnson.
I cannot think that this means any more than make her grave immediately. She is to be buried in christian burial, and consequently the grave is to be made as usual. My interpretation may be justified from the following passage in King Henry V, and the play before us : We cannot lodge and board a dozen or fourteen gentlewomen who live by the prick of their needles, but it will be thought we keep a bawdy-house straight.” Again, in Hamlet, Act III, sc. iv:
“ Pol. He will come straight." Again, in The Lover's Progress, by Beaumont and Fletcher:
“ Lis. Do you fight straight?
“ Clar. Yes presently.”.. Again, in The Merry Wives of Windsor :
we'll come and dress you straight." Again, in Othello : “ Farewel, my Desdemona, I will come to thee straight.
Steevens. Again, in Troilus and Cressida:
“ Let us make ready straight.” Malone.
an act hath three branches; it is, to act, to do, and to perform:] Ridicule on scholastick divisions without distinction ; and of distinctions without difference. Warburton. VOL. XV.
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.
2 Clo. But is this law?
2 Clo. Will you ha' the truth on 't? If this had not been a gentlewoman, she should have been buried out of christian burial.
1 Clo. Why, there thou say’st: And the more pity; that great folks 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 grave-makers; they hold up Adam's profession.
2 Clo. Was he a gentleman?
1 Clo. 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
their even christian.] So, all the old books, and rightly. An old English expression for fellow-christian. Thirlby.
So, in Chaucer's Jack Upland: “ If freres cannot or mow not excuse 'hem of these questions asked of 'hem, it seemeth that they be horrible giltie against God, and ther even christian;" &c. Again, in Gower, de Confessione Amantis, Lib. V, fol. 102:
“Of beautie sighe he never hir even.” Again, Chaucer's Persones Tale: ". of his neighbour, that is to sayn, of his even cristen,” &c. This phrase also occurs frequently in the Paston Letters. See Vol. III, p. 421, &c. &c. “That is to say, in relieving and sustenance of your even christen,” &c.-Again: to dispose and help your even christen."
Steevens. So, King Henry Eighth, in his answer to Parliament in 1546 :
- you might say that I, beyng put in so speciall a trust as I am in this case, were no trustie frende to you, nor charitable man to mine even christian, -" Hall's Chronicle, fol. 261. Malone.
8 2 Clo.] This speech, and the next as far as—without arms, is not in the quartos. Steevens. confess thyself -] and be hanged, the Clown, I
suppose, would have said, if he had not been interrupted. This was a common proverbial sentence. See Othello, Act IV, sc. i.-He might, however, have intended to say, confess thyself an ass.
2 Clo. Go to.
1 Clo. What is he, that builds stronger than either the mason, the shipwright, or the carpenter?
2 Clo. The gallows-maker; for that frame outlives a thousand tenants.
1 Clo. 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.
2 Clo. Who builds stronger than a mason, a shipwright, or a carpenter?
1 Clo. Ay, tell me that, and unyoke.
Enter HAMLET and HORATIO, at a distance. 1 Clo, Cudgel thy brains no more about it;3 for youis cull 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, and fetch me a stoup of liquor.
[Exit 2 Clo.
1 Who builds &c.] The inquisitive reader may meet with an assemblage of such queries (which perhaps composed the chief festivity of our ancestors by an evening fire) in a volume of very scarce tracts, preserved in the University Library, at Cambridge, D. 5. 2. The innocence of these Demaundes Joyous may deserve a praise which is not always due to their delicacy. Steevens.
Ay, tell me that, and unyoke.) If it be not sufficient to say, with Dr. Warburton, that this phrase might be taken from husbandry, without much depth of reading, we may produce it from a dittie of the workmen of Dover, preserved in the additions to Holinshed, p. 1546 :
“ My bow is broke, I would unyoke,
“ My foot is sore, I can worke no more.” Farmer. Again, in Drayton's Polyolbion, at the end of Song I:
“ Here I 'll unyoke a while, and turn my steeds to meat.” Again, in P. Holland's translation of Pliny's Natural History, p.
in the evening, and when thou dost unyoke.” Steevens. Cudgel thy brains no more about it: ] So, in The Maydes Metamorphosis, by Lyly, 1600:
“ In vain I fear, I beat my brains about
Proving by search to find my mistresse out." Malone.
593 : "
1 Clown digs, and sings.
Methought, it was very sweet,
O, methought, there was nothing meet.5 Ham. Has this fellow no feeling of his business? 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. But age, with his stealing steps,
Hath claw'd me in his clutch,
[Throws up a scull. Ham. That scull 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! This might be the pate of a politician, which this ass now o'er-reaches; one that would circumvent God, might it not?
* In youth, when I did love, &c.] The three stanzas, sung here by the Grave-Digger, are extracted, with a slight variation, from a little poem, called The Aged Lover renounceth Love, writ. ten by Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, who flourished in the reign of King Henry VIII, and who was beheaded 1547, on a strained accusation of treason. Theobald. 5 To contract, 0, the time, for, ah,
0, methought, there was nothing meer.] This passage, as it stands, is absolute nonsense ; but if we read “ for aye," instead of “ fór ah" it will have some kind of sense, as it may mean, " that it was not meet, though he was in love, to contract himself for ever.” M. Mason.
Dr. Percy is of opinion that the different corruptions in these stanzas, might have been “ designed by the poet himself, the better to paint the character of an illiterate clown.”
Behove is interest, convenience. So, in the 4th Book of Phaer's version of the Æneid:
wilt for thyne own behove.” Steevens. nothing meet.] Thus the folio. The quarto, 1604, reads:
O methought there a was nothing a meet. Malone. :6 As if I had never been such.] Thus, in the original :
For age with stealing steps
“ Hath claude me with his crowch; " And lusty youthe away he leapes,
" As there had bene none such." Steevens.
Hor. It might, my lord.
Ham. Or 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?
Hor. Ay, my lord.
Ham. Why, e'en so: and now my lady Worm's;9 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 them?1 mine ache to think on 't.
which this ass now o'er-reaches;] The folio reads--o'er offices. Steevens.
In the quarto,  for over-offices is over-reaches, which agrees better with the sentence: it is a strong exaggeration to remark, that an ass can over-reach him who would once have tried to circumvent - I believe, both these words were Shakspeare's. An author in revising his work, when his original ideas have faded from his mind, and new observations have produced new sentiments, easily introduces images which have been more newly impressed upon him, without observing their want of congruity to the general texture of his original design.
Fohnson 8 This might be my lord such-a-one, that praised my lord sucha-one's horse, when he meant to beg it;] So, in Timon of Athens, Act I:
my lord, you gave “ Good words the other day of a bay courser “ I rode on; it is yours, because you lik'd it.” Steevens.
and now my lady Worm's ;] The scull that was my lord Such-a-one's, is now my lady Worm's. Johnson.
to play at loggats with them?] This is a game played in several parts of England even at this time. A stake is fixed into the ground; those who play, throw loggats at it, and he that is nearest the stake, wins: I have seen it played in different counties at their sheep-shearing feasts, where the winner was entitled to a black fleece, which he afterwards presented to the farmer's maid to spin for the purpose of making à petticoat, and on condition that she knelt down on the fleece to be kissed by all the rusticks present. So, Ben Jonson, Tale of a Tub, Act IV, sc. vi:
“Now are they tossing of his legs and arms,
“ Like loggats at a pear-tree.” Again, in an old collection of Epigrams, Satires, &c.
“ To play at loggats, nine holes, or ten pinnes. Again, in Decker's If this be not a good P.lay, the Devil is in it, 1612: