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dulge his fufpicion, till, by the testimony of his senses, he is assured of the fact.
I'll watch to-night; perchance, 'twill walk again.
I cannot quit this admirable scene, without remarking the fuperiority of a natural, fimple, and unaffected dialogue to the vanity of figurative and elaborate dietion. It has been of late infinuated, that poetical genius is on the decline, and that, if modern dramatic writers abound in declamation and artificial ornament instead of the language of nature, it is owing to the languor and sterility of their invention. May not the cause be different? Are we confident, if there was exhibited to us a genuine representation of human paffions and manners, conveyed in artless unaffected language, that we would comply with the admonitions of nature, and applaud as our feelings dictate? Are we confident that the pride of learning and the vanity of possessing critical discern
ment, do not impose on our better judge ment, and that we are not more attentive to the harmony of a period, than to the happy utterance of an ardent passion ?
Hamlet, in some of the foregoing passages, betrays suspicion. But suspicion is not natural to a humane and ingenuous temper. Is it, therefore, a blemish, or the result of an amiable disposition influenced by a sense of virtue?
It is a property of the imagination, when governed by any passion or opinion, to follow the impulse it has received, and to diminish or aggrandize any object not perfectly known to us, according to the judgment we may have formed of it. Under the influence of fear, men, tainted with superstition, people darkness and the night with spectres, and terrify and torment themselves with imaginary danger. If we are threatened with
unusual calamity, the nature and extent of which is unknown to us, governed by our terrors,
we render its stature gigantic: But, if actuated by an intrepid spirit, we brave and undervalue it; approaching to temerity and overweening confidence, we are apt to lessen it beyond its real size. If a man of plausible manners, dextrous in displaying his genius and understanding, secures your esteem, and an opinion of his being endowed with uncommon abilities, you fet no limits to his capacity, and, imagining him wiser and more ingenious than he really is, you are almost led to revere him. To explain the cause of these appearances is difficult : Yet a conjecture may be hazarded. If we think attentively on any subject, a number of ideas arise in our minds concerning it. These ideas are of qualities and properties that may belong to it, or of the relations it may have to other objects, but of which we have no actual evidence. Yet, if we cannot negatively affirm that they do not belong to it; on the contrary, if they are agreeable
to its nature and circumstances, their fpontaneous appearance in our minds, as connected with it, affords a prefumption that they really exist. Our belief, though not absolutely confirmed, is yet swayed by a plausible probability; and what ftrengthens it still the more, is a reflection on the narrowness of our powers, and the imperfection of our senses. We reason from analogy, and think it imposfible that an object should be so completeJy known to us, as that we can pronounce with certainty that we are intimately acquainted with the whole of its structure; and that qualities agreeing perfectly with its nature do not reside in it, merely because we do not discern them. As we are naturally prone to action, a state of dubiety and fufpenfe is ever accompanied with uneasiness; we bear uncertainty with reluctance; we must be resolved ; and if we cannot prove a negative, even a slight probability will influence our belief. There
fore, fore, fince ideas of corresponding qualities and relations do arife, and engage the attention of our judging faculty, we feldom hesitate, but ascribe them immer diately to the cause or object of our emotion. According to the vivacity of the idea, will be the energy of its impression; and, according to the force of the impresfion, will be our eagerness to decide. But the vivacity of the idea depends on the strength of the exciting passion; therefore, proportioned to the vehemence of the pas fion will be our credulity and proneness to be convinced. It is also manifeft, that, if any object is naturally difficult to be ap. prehended, and is so complex or delicate, as to elude the acuteness of our discernment, or the intenseness of our inquiry, we shall be more liable to error in cases of this nature, than in those things that we perceive distinctly. Admiring the man of abilities, we cannot define with accuracy the precise boundaries of his 4