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To take him in the purging of his soul,
When he is fit and season'd for his passage?

You ask me, why he did not kill the Usurper? And I answer, because he was at that instant irresolute. This irresolution arose from the inherent principles of his constitution, and is to be accounted natural: it arose from virtuous, or at least from amiable sensibility, and therefore cannot be blamed. His sense of justice, or his feelings of tenderness, in a moment when his violent emotions were not excited, overcame his resentment. But you will urge the inconsistency of this account with the inhuman sentiments he expresses:

Up, sword, and know thou a more horrid hent:
When he is drunk, asleep, or in his rage, &c.
Then trip him, &c.

In reply to this difficulty, and it is not inconsiderable, I will venture to affirm, that these are not his real sentiments. There is nothing in the whole character of Hamlet that justifies such savage enormity. We are therefore bound, in justice and candour, to look for some hypothesis that shall reconcile what he now delivers, with his usual maxims and general deportment. I would ask, then, whether, on many occasions, we do not alledge those considerations as the motives of our conduct, which really are not our motives? Nay, is not this sometimes done almost without our knowledge? Is it not done when we have no intention to deceive others; but when, by the influences of some present passion, we deceive purselves? The fact is confirmed by experience, if we commune with our own hearts; and by observation, if we look around. When the profligate is accused of enormities, he will have them pass for manly spirit, or love of society; and imposes this opinion not upon others, but on himself. When the miser indulges his love of wealth, he says, and believes, that he follows the maxims of a laudable æconomy. So also, while the censorious and invidious slanderer gratifies his malignity, he boasts, and believes, that he obeys the dictates of justice. Consult Bishop Butler, your favourite, and the favourite of every real inquirer into the principles of human conduct, and

you will be satisfied concerning the truth of the doctrine.--Apply it, then, to the case of Hamlet: sense of supposed duty, and a regard to character, prompt him to slay his uncle; and he is with-held at that particular moment, by the ascendant of a gentle disposition; by the scruples, and

perhaps weakness of extreme sensibility. But how can he answer to the world, and to his sense of duty, for missing this opportunity? The real motive cannot be urged. Instead of excusing, it would expose him, he thinks, to censure; perhaps to contempt. He looks about for a motive;, and one better suited to the opinions of the multitude, and better calculated to lull resentment, is immediately suggested. He indulges, and shelters himself under the subterfuge. He alledges, as direct causes of his delay, motives that could never influence his conduct ; and thus exhibits a most.exquisite picture of amiable selfdeceit. The lines and colours are, indeed, very fine; and not very obvious to cursory observation. The beauties of Shakespeare, like genuine beauty of every kind, are often veiled; they are not forward nor obtrusive. They do not demand, though they claim attention. IV. I would now offer some observations concerning Hamlet's counterfeited or real madness; and as they are also intended to justify his moral conduct, let me beg of you to keep still in view, the particular circumstances of his situation, and the peculiar frame of his mind.

Harassed from without, and distracted from within, is it wonderful, if, during his endeavour to conceal his thoughts, he should betray inattention to those around him ; incoherence of speech and manner; or break out inadvertently, into expressions of displeasure? Is it wonderful that he should " forego all mirth,” become pensive, melancholy, or even morose? Surely, such disorder of mind, in characters like that of Hamlet, though. not amounting to actual madness, yet exhibiting reason in extreme perplexity, and even trembling on the brink of madness, is not unusual. Meantime, Hamlet was fully sensible bow strange those involuntary improprieties must appear to others: he was conscious he could not suppress them; he knew he was surrounded with spies; and was justly apprehensive, lest his suspicions

or purposes should be discovered. But how are these consequences to be prevented? By counterfeiting an insanity which in part exists. Accordingly, to Ophelia, to Polonius, and others, he displays more extravagance than his real disorder would have occasioned. This

This particular aspect of the human mind is not unnatural ; but is so peculiar and so exquisitely marked, that he alone who delineated the commencing madness, the blended reason and distraction of Lear, has ventured to pourtray its lineaments. That Hamlet really felt some disorder, that he studied concealment, and strove to hide his distraction under appearances of madness, is manifest in the following passage, among others of the same kind, where he discovers much earnestness and emotion, and at the same time, an affectation of sprightliness and unconcern:

Swear by my sword
Never to speak of this that you have heard.

Ghost. Swear by his sword.
Ham. Well said, old wole ! can'st work i' the earth

so fist?

A worthy pioneer! Once more remove, good friends.

Hor. O day and night, but this is wond'rous strange!

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