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inclined to vent his displeasure, but un. willing to incur sufpicion.
King. But now, my coufin Hamlet, and my son
Averfion has no reference to any thing amiable or respectable. Indignation is different. It arifes, as the etymology of the word indicates, from the sense of something unworthy. But the unworthy in human conduct affects us by contrast: And this contrast is either between the antecedent behaviour or imagined good character of the agent, and the particular actions that expose him to our present cenfure; or it is between the merits of a sufferer, and the injuries he sustains. We say, your deed is unworthy, if you act inconsistently with your usual good conduct; and that you suffer unworthily, if behaving honourably you are defamed. The indignation of Hamlet arises from both of
these sources, both from the merit of his father, and from the behaviour of Gertrude. It is, therefore, vehement. But, as the circumstances of the times render it dangerous for him to discover his fentiments, and the real state of his mind, he governs them, as far as the ardour of his emotions allows him, and disguises their external symptoms. His indignation labours for utterance ; And his reason strives to restrain it. He inveighs with keenness, but obliquely, against the infincerity of Gertrude's sorrow; and, in an indirect, but stinging manner, opposes her duty to her actual conduct.
Seems, Madam ? nay, it is; I know not seems
But I have that within, which passeth shew ;
The human mind, possessed of distinguished faculties, and actuated by various principles, is, nevertheless, extremely limited. As the understanding is capable of attending but to a certain number of objects at a time; fo the heart is never at the same time influenced by a number of violent passions. Perhaps there is a greater difference in the minds of men, in regard to the capacity of the understanding, than in regard to that of the heart : One man, perhaps, may contemplate at the same moment a wider range of ideas than another, but cannot, at the same moment, be agitated by a greater number of pasfions. It may, indeed, be a question, how far the capacity of the understanding may not influence the passions. In governing them, it may have some effect, as it may enable us to consider the object of our emotions under different aspects. For,
does it not often happen, that a partial view of an object renders the passion it excites more violent? Yet, if the soul is exceedingly moved, our thoughts will not arise in their natural and common order, but will be entirely regulated by the prefent paflion or ftate of mind. It is a certain fact, confirmed by universal experience, and it may be laid down as an important axiom in the study of human nature, that our notions and opinions are ever influenced by our present temper. Happy is the man who is often calm and dispassionate, who, impelled by no eager appetite, nor urged by any restless affection, sees every object by the unerring light of reason, and is not imposed upon by the fallacious medium of his defires. Men of a susceptible nature, the prey of successive emotions, forever happy or miserable in extremes, often capricious and inconsistent, ought to cherish their lucid intervals, and dwell upon, and treasure
up in their minds those maxims of wisdom and of virtue, that, in times of internal tumult, may assuage their disorder, and administer peace to their souls. In consequence of the limited nature of the human heart, ever apt to be engrossed and occupied by present emotions, and of the power of paffion to enslave the understanding, and poffefs it with notions suited to its own complexion ; the mind of Hamlet, violently agitated, and filled with displeasing and painful images, loses all sense of felicity; and he even wishes for a change of being. The appearance is wonderful, and leads us to inquire into the affections and opinions that could render him so despondent. The death of his father was a natural evil, and as such he endures it. That he is excluded from succeeding immediately to the royalty that þelongs to him, seems to affect him slightly; for to vehement and vain ambițion he appears superior. He is moved