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AQUES, in AS-YOU-LIKE-IT, is
exhibited to us in extraordinary cir. cumstances, and in a situation very romantic.
Lord. To-day my Lord of Amiens, and myself,
That from the hunters' aim had ta'en a hurt,
Duke. But what said Jaques ?
Lord. O yes, into a thousand fimilies.
The most striking character in the mind of Jacques, according to this description,
is extreme sensibility. He difcovers a heart strongly difpofed to compaffion, and susceptible of the most tender impressions of friendship : for he who can fo feelingly deplore the absence of kindness and humanity, must be capable of relishing the delight annexed to their exercise. But sensibility is the soil where nature has planted social and sweet affections: By sensibility they are cherished, and grow mature. Social dispositions produce all those amiable and endearing connections that alleviate the sorrows of human life, adorn our nature, and render us happy. Now Jaques, avoiding society, and burying himself in the lonely forest, seems to act inconsistently with his conftitution. He poffeffes sensibility; sensibility begets affection; and affection begets the love of society. But Jaques is unsocial. Can these inconsistent qualities be reconciled ? Or has Shakespeare exhibited a character of which the parts are incongruous, and
discordant? In other words, how happens it that a temper disposed to beneficence, and addicted to social enjoyment, becomes folitary and morose ? Changes of this kind are not unfrequent : And, if researches into the origin or cause of a diftemper can direct us in the discovery of an antidote or of a remedy, our present inquiry is of importance. Perhaps, the excess and luxuriancy of benevolent dispon sitions blighted by unkindness or ingratitude, is the cause that, instead of yielding us fruits of complacency and friendship, they shed bitter drops of misanthropy.
Aversion from fociety proceeds from diflike to mankind, and from an opinion of the inefficacy, and uncertainty of external pleasure. Let us consider each of these apart: Let us trace the progress by which they established themselves in the mind of Jaques, and gave his temper an unnatural colour.
I. The gratification of our social affections supposes friendship and esteem fot others; and these dispositions suppose in their object virtues of a corresponding character : For every one values his own opinion, and fancies the person to whom he testifies esteem actually deserves it. If beneficent affections, ardent and undisciplined, predominate in our constitution, and govern our opinions, we enter into life strongly prepossessed in favour of mankind, and endeavour, by a generous and disinterested conduct, to render ourselves worthy of their regard. That spirit of diffufive goodness, which eloquent and benign philofophy recommends, but without success, to men engaged in the commerce of the world, operates uncontrouled. The heart throbs with astonishment and indignation at every act of injustice, and our bowels yearn to relieve the afflicted. Our beneficence is unlimited : We are free from suspicion : Our friend