ACT V. Scene I.
Elsinore. A churchyard.
Enter two Clowns, [with spades and pickaxes].
Clown. Is she to be buried in Christian burial when she wilfully
seeks her own salvation?
Other. I tell thee she is; therefore make her grave straight.
The crowner hath sate on her, and finds it Christian burial.
Clown. How can that be, unless she drown'd herself in her own
Other. Why, 'tis found so.
Clown. 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;
argal, she drown'd herself wittingly.
Other. Nay, but hear you, Goodman Delver!
Clown. 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?
Clown. Ay, marry, is't- crowner's quest law.
Other. Will you ha' the truth an't? If this had not been a
gentlewoman, she should have been buried out o' Christian burial.
Clown. Why, there thou say'st! And the more pity that great folk
should have count'nance in this world to drown or hang themselves
more than their even-Christen. 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?
Clown. 'A was the first that ever bore arms.
Other. Why, he had none.
Clown. What, art a heathen? How dost thou understand the Scripture?
The Scripture says Adam digg'd. 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!
Clown. 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
Clown. 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
Clown. Ay, tell me that, and unyoke.
Other. Marry, now I can tell!
Other. Mass, I cannot tell.
Enter Hamlet and Horatio afar off.
Clown. Cudgel thy brains no more about it, for your dull ass will
not mend his pace with beating; and when you are ask'd this
question next, say 'a grave-maker.' The houses he makes lasts
till doomsday. Go, get thee to Yaughan; fetch me a stoup of
[Exit Second Clown.]
[Clown 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.
Ham. Has this fellow no feeling of his business, that he sings at
Hor. Custom hath made it in him a Property of easiness.
Ham. 'Tis e'en so. The hand of little employment hath the daintier
But age with his stealing steps
Hath clawed me in his clutch,
And hath shipped me intil the land,
As if I had never been such.
Genesis of the Theatre
(King William Version)
In the beginning Mount Olympus hatched the actors and the theatre.
But the theatre was without much humour, and monotonous,
with Greek Choruses answering on the wings of the Athens stage.
After a time, a Bard appeared over the grim footlights.
And Will said, Let there be mirth, and there was mirth.
And Will saw that mirth was fit and well;
so he split the whole canon into the mirth and the sadness.
And Will called the mirth Comedy, and the other heavy thoughts
he labelled Tragedy. And the entrances and the exits were the First Act.
And Will said, But let there be some thoughtful quiet
in the centre of the noisy action, and let it cleave
the prior acts from the latter ones.
So Will's curious innovation grew in the theatre;
and lo, he saw that it was worthwhile.
And he called his phenomenon The Interval.
And the entrances and the exits were the Second Act.
And Will said: Let the folk be put together in one holy place,
with rows of low cushions to lounge on as the action is shown: and it was so.
And The Bard dubbed his summer place The Globe, and the
subsequent grouping of paying humans he wittily called The Critics:
and lo, it was most worthwhile.
And Will spoke: Let all young folk who are gay come forth to act on the stage,
to sew the gowns and costumes, and to work with cosmetics: and it was so.
And the gay folk came forth to act on the stage, to sew the gowns and costumes,
and to work with cosmetics: and lo, their agents saw that it was worthwhile.
And the prologues and the epilogues were the Third Act.
And Will said, Let all the theatres in the city be of two sorts,
according to the chosen will of the people; and let these be shrines
to their mythology, misogyny, matrimony, and melancholy,
And the vanquishing of man's shortcomings
through the power of visible art: and lo, it was so.
Thus The Bard wrought two places for the usually humorous shows:
The West End for the unsavoury tourist, and The Fringe
for savvy men and women with high thoughts.
And, anachronistically, he made The Telly also.
And the Bard established them there, along with the occasional comic book,
for the fascination of old philosophers and the interior entertainment of the soul;
To own the world, and rule over the unwashed masses
who prefer whiskey over Hamlet: and lo, he saw that it was worthwhile.
And the comings and the goings were the Fourth Act.
Hence the works of Will Shakespeare begat all manner of unique visions:
the plays of famous authors such as Beaumont, Fletcher, Congreve, Wycherley,
Marlowe, Mortimer, Shirley, Galsworthy, and the notorious Anonymous;
variations which ultimately lead to numerous harsher things, such as:
The horrible British University Varsity Revue,
a film heroine called Hermione Granger,
the laboured modernism of Stephen Fry,
and the nearly inharmonic music of Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Pondering this, The Bard saith: Right, that's enough.
That last one is overly shrill, inherently senseless, and a right wanker.
Forsooth, it is no longer worthwhile!
There is no Fifth Act. Exeunt omnes.